Monday, December 12, 2016

Kyleigh girl, our beloved retriever mix

On Thursday December 8th we said "goodbye" to our beloved 12 year old retriever mix.

Writing is good therapy for me so I wanted to share some about this sweet doggy. 

My senior year of college at Murray State, some good friends called to tell me there were golden retriever/ border collie mix puppies in the Wal Mart parking lot being given away by their owner. These friends knew I had grown up with a golden retriever mix and had just said goodbye to a border collie mix, so they thought I'd want a puppy. And I did. So Kyleigh (KY for Kentucky and Leigh after my best friend at the time, Annie Leigh) went to my mom's home in IL a couple of days later where she lived until I moved to Memphis 7 months later. It turns out Kyleigh was probably not part border collie, as she grew very quickly and ended up being 80 lbs! She must've been a golden retriever/black lab mix by the looks of her. She was the most beautiful dog ever. 

Kyleigh and I loved spending time walking the beautiful streets of Memphis and hiking at Shelby Farms. Kyleigh loved the large dog park with ponds where she could swim and retrieve. It was so much fun taking her there and seeing how much she loved the water. We spent hours there hiking. I'd hike and pray and she'd walk ahead but never get too far from me. Kyleigh was with me through three house moves as a single gal in Memphis. Then she was with me as I got married to Ben. Kyleigh was with me through 2 kids, another house move, and then one more kid. We've been through a lot together. It's been en eventful 12 years and it's very weird that she is no longer here. 

If you'd had seen Kyleigh three short years ago when she was 9, you'd have thought she was 4 or 5 years old. She still had tons of energy and exhibited no signs of being a senior dog. Then shortly after Elliot was born I found a tumor on her leg. It turned out to be cancerous and we had it removed. Shortly after this I noticed Kyleigh vomiting all the time. Eventually the vet decided a scope was needed and she was found to have inflammatory bowel disease. I tried altering her diet and feeding her several small meals a day, but the vomiting continued. She was put on steroids and had been on them up until her death. In the end the steroids took a toll on her body and she aged quickly over the last two years, especially the last 6 months. It was hard to watch. The steroids bought us some time with her that we wouldn't have had otherwise, but in the end they damaged her body. 

It was such a tough decision to have to make. I knew back in August that the time was coming, and I agonized over the "right timing". Dogs age so quickly and that's difficult. In my mind she was just a healthy doggy yesterday, and then suddenly I was taking care of my aging senior dog. 

We had a great last week with Kyleigh. Her birthday was on December 5th so we celebrated with a peanut butter cake from Three Dogs Bakery that she loved of course. On Tuesday we took Kyleigh swimming at PetFit rehab in Memphis where they have an indoor heated pool. She swam and retrieved and had so much fun. It did my heart so much good to be able to see her swimming one last time. This dog was made for the water and loved it more than anything! We took Kyleigh on walks and played fetch with her Kong as we usually did, and spent a lot of time laying on the floor cuddling with her and watching dog movies. She got lots of delicious food and treats her last week, and her last meal was a medium rare steak. 

Our vet was wonderful and came to our home to put Kyleigh down. He spoke so kindly to Brooklyn to explain the procedure and why this was a humane kindness to Kyleigh. He sedated her while she licked up a spoonful of peanut butter and we said our goodbyes as she fell asleep. Our vet then prayed for us and Kyleigh before administering the drug. He spoke such nice words to me while it was happening to distract me from what was taking place. When I began to sob he had more kind words. It was like he had done this before. :) Brooklyn did really well, and Annalise and Elliot haven't seemed to have been affected at all, which is strange to me but they are young. 

The few days after were extremely hard. But with enough people reassuring me of our decision and of how much Kyleigh knew we loved her, it has become easier. I am still extremely sad and miss her so much. It's very surreal. I keep looking out the window expecting for her to be looking back at me and she's nowhere to be seen. Walks will be so different without our Kyleigh girl with us. Going to Shelby Farms will just seem empty now without her for awhile. She was my first dog as an adult and my children's first pet. 

It deserves to be known that Kyleigh was always so gentle with the kids. She never snapped at them or growled, even when she was old and sick and not feeling well. I couldn't have asked for a dog to be a better pet for my children. Her and Brooklyn had especially developed such a special bond over the last few years. It was so sweet to witness. 

The house and yard seems like something is missing and it certainly is. She was a stubborn dog that we never properly trained so there were many frustrations, but the joy and love she brought us outweighed all the negative. She was so sweet and loved us so well. I hope we were decent owners and gave her a good life- I think we did the best we could. I'm sure we will get another dog one day, but no dog could replace Kyleigh or be as beautiful. She will always have a special place in our hearts, especially mine. 

We love you and miss you Kyleigh girl.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Bells...2016 Christmas Reflections

by Carl Larsson

Christmas Bells I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men! * And thought how, as the day had come, the belfries of all Christendom had rolled along the unbroken song of peace on earth, good-will to men! * Till ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day, a voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good-will to men! * Then from each black, accursed mouth the cannon thundered in the South, and with the sound the carols drowned of peace on earth, good-will to men! * It was as if an earthquake rent the hearth-stones of a continent, and made forlorn the households born of peace on earth, good-will to men! * And in despair I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth," I said; "For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!" * Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men." by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) 

 This poem was written during the Civil War, but it seems as if it could have been written yesterday. This is one of the poems our family is reading and reflecting on during this Advent season and almost every time I have read through it, I tear up in the last two stanzas. There doesn't seem to be much "peace on earth" right now does there? Hate is very strong and animosity is very real right now. Our nation may not be in the middle of an actual civil war, but it seems more divided than it has been in a long time. My heart has been heavy when I think of the evil and the pain and the social injustices in our country and in the world. There certainly doesn't seem to be much peace abounding these days. I have definitely bowed my head in despair a lot lately.

 Then I continue reading the last stanza and I can almost hear Longfellow shouting "God is not dead." Or maybe that's just how I read it, because I need to shout it to myself. I need this truth to get down deep into my soul. You see, I know God is not dead, but when I sink into despair and sadness I can almost begin acting and feeling as if He is. Yet, He is not! He is very much alive. He's alive and He is still in control. Although we might not be able to find much peace in this world right now, we can turn to Christ, who is the ultimate Peace. Jesus says in the Scriptures, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. " Jesus gives us a peace that transcends current events and the circumstances of our lives and the world. Jesus gives a peace that passes all understanding. He gives peace to the family that just buried their baby. He gives peace to the young widow left with 3 small children. He gives peace to the refugee wandering from country to country. He gives peace to those worried about our country's future. He gives peace to those who know Him as the Prince of Peace.

 You see, "peace on earth" was forfeited when Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, and we've been sinning and forfeiting our peace ever since. There's always been hate, and murder, and strife. A simple survey of human history will clearly show this. There is nothing new under the sun. Yet, 2,000 years ago a man came to bring peace to each human soul. Without a relationships with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we will know only turmoil, anxiety, and even hate at times--more often than we'd care to admit probably. But because of God's great love for mankind, He sent Jesus into this world of hate and turmoil to demonstrate His love for us. He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sin, while we were yet His enemies. He took our sin, shame, hate, turmoil, etc. onto Himself on the cross, and when we turn to Him to follow Him and love Him, He gives us forgiveness, healing, love, and PEACE.

 Jesus gives this peace to those who turn to Him and call out to Him by faith, through His grace. For those who follow Christ, the right will prevail, because Christ prevails. He will one day make everything right and those who follow Him will enter into His eternal kingdom and we will know Him- our peace, and we will know nothing but peace for all eternity. There may not be "peace on earth", but there is peace IN Christ while we still yet live on this earth, and a perfect peace that we look forward to and long for. I pray we will all turn to Christ as our peace, some maybe for the first time ever this Christmas.

 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Grace and Truth Learning Academy Advent 2016 Curriculum Guide

Grace & Truth Learning Academy
Advent 2016

Curriculum Guide, Resources, and Song Lists

...following the Charlotte Mason method of homeschool, but great for any family wanting to incorporate Christmas themed enrichment subjects into their homeschool or afterschool learning

nativity 1davinci.jpg
DaVinci, Nativity

For homeschooling ideas all year long visit: or

From my Home to Yours- Merry Christmas from Chalise Bondurant

Advent Curriculum Guide for 2016

Hymn Study: review-- Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Go Tell It on the Mountain, and Joy to the World. NEW-- Little Drummer Boy (Carol), Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Picture Study: The Nativity by Geraldine Elschner with pictures by Giotto, and selected pictures from Carl Larsson, & DaVinci Nativity

Music Study: Bach Christmas Oratorio & other classical Christmas music

Folk Song Study: The Friendly Beasts, Mary Had a Baby

Poetry Study: Christmas Bells by Longfellow, A Christmas Folk Song by Reese, Christ’s Nativity by Vaughan, A Christmas Carol by Chesterton (one for recitation)

Handicrafts: baking, homemade gifts and cards

Service: cards to neighbors, Christmas caroling, praying for countries as learning about Christmas traditions for countries we cover in geography, Operation Christmas Child, $ to charities

Bible/Devotional: using Jesus Storybook Bible or Catherine Vos’ Story Bible, or ESV Holy Bible

Literature: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, quality Picture Books, Classic Christmas Stories & Tales

Scripture Memory:  Luke 2:8-14, Isaiah 9:6-7 (also for recitation)

FULL PDF packet:

Advent Curriculum Resources

Music Playlists:

Scheduling Plans for December 1st- January 6th

Daily: Scripture Memory, Literature, Bible/Devotional

Once- Two Times a Week: Poetry, Picture Study, Hymn Study, Folk Song Study, Music Study

Spontaneous, As Able: Nature Study, Service, Handicrafts

(Try to continue regular schedule of math, reading, copywork, science, foreign language, and history/geography, but plan to have a “light” schedule the week of Christmas and following Christmas. Also, we consider our bible readings part of history.)

Example of a weekly Advent Schedule*




Math, Reading, Copywork
Scripture & Recitation


Math, Reading, Copywork
Foreign Language

Math, Reading, Copywork

Scripture & Recitation


Math, Reading, Copywork
Foreign Language

Math, Reading, Copywork

Nature Study
Music Study
Folk Song Study
Picture Study
Devotional or Literature
Hymn Study

Hymn Study
Devotional or Literature
Hymn Study & Family Devo
*Remember most subjects should be no longer than 10-15 minutes in length