The Young Family Farm »

Masthead header

Our Homeschool Classroom

While much of our learning takes place outside or at the kitchen table–everyone that home schools needs a place…home base…to organize and store the countless materials, books and manipulatives we talk ourselves into needing;). I taught public school for a handful of years during my single 20’s and the first years of marriage before our first was born. I never, ever thought I’d homeschool–and here we are…going on YEAR 5! This year I have a 5th grader, 4th grader, a 1st grader and one in Pre-1st.

I’ll share the curriculum we are using in our next homeschool post–but for now…welcome to our homeschool classroom that sits just off the back porch and kitchen area. (For the record: While the blue old school desks are cute, they aren’t cozy and the children don’t love them. They really are best for preschoolers so I hold on to them for Zeke and the cute factor now. For the most part we sit on that rug or the kitchen table to learn every day–and the desks are used when someone has individual work like math or writing and they don’t need the 4 year old’s input at the kitchen table;)


This year for history we are studying U.S. History. One of the SWEETEST things about homeschool is learning together–so instead of following a curriculum that has every child on a DIFFERENT history, science, Bible, and language program–we keep as many things together as possible. The only things we do individually and break up for individual learning are grade level subjects like language arts (phonics, spelling, reading & writing) and math. Everything else–we keep things simple on the teacher (ME) and stay together as a family…so much easier and so much more fun to do together.

I found this book spin display at a local antique shop. It wasn’t for sale–but you never know unless you ask:) While there are lots of books to choose from in our little library, this display is stocked with U.S. History specific literature…


I found the CUTEST library inserts to use in our little library, and the children practiced their typing skills by typing the titles and authors to each old school library card! AND they get to play library when our co-op friends who join us for learning on Monday when friends want to check out one of their books!FullSizeRender-6I just love old school everything–especially in a classroom so these posters by Cavallini & Co. make me smile every time I walk in our school room. AND the children actually have learned things that might not necessarily be in the curriculum for the year by having them always in front of them in our classroom…


We have the U.S. map as well as sign language and common chicken breeds up also:) I love this vintage U.S. Map…


And storage in large mason jar containers (found these at Hobby Lobby) and plastic shoe containers from Target. The wooden wall shelf is also from Target…and almost everything on that shelf is a treasure that reminds me of someone dear—-along with a few vintage old school card games that I can quickly match to a learning standard if I need to;) AND that roll of kraft paper to the side–that is what every room needs. A last minute extra large coloring paper to doodle on:) We use kraft paper for everything—and then use it for wrapping paper later. Having their art work or math practice on it makes it a sweet for gift-wrapping too:)


The library book shelving is from IKEA–and the top cubbies I use for each child’s curriculum book storage…with art supplies and workbox supplies (for when I need daddy to teach or mommy isn’t feeling well–the workbox system comes into play;)–more on that in another post;) OR you can search for that post on my site:) The orange boxes up top contain math flash cards, phonic reader books (Bob books) and stationary for letting writing. I’m teaching them the lost art of letter writing–so I try to keep that top stationary box filled to the brim with fun stationary packets.


I’ll share our curriculum choices for 2015-16 this weekend for anyone making any last minute additions or switch-a-roos! I try to stock grade-level books under their cubbies also.


So there’s just a little peak into our school room:) Happy Friday!!!


Andrea Young






The Young Family Farm! {Babe of my Heart}

After 7 years of writing on our family blog at Babe of my Heart, a blog I started to keep our family in-the-know during our first adoption journey that began 7 years ago…I decided to move my blog to a new domain with a new name–that embraces our “now”. While I love the name “Baby of My Heart”…that title seems to focus more on the babes that grew in my heart—our journey to them…and now—we are simply FAMILY.


With 5 littles–and a love for photography and writing…a blog and printing a blog to book may be the only way I remember our crazy…but being a homeschool mom who hangs out with 5 crazy kids all day–and processes through writing…and with my commitment to authenticity and my love for Jesus–I hope any mom who happens upon a post finds either encouragement or much needed laughter…knowing you aren’t alone. This mommy-thing…is one of the hardest, holiest, most tiring jobs we will ever get to spend our hearts on. But–its our most high calling–one that these memories we are making will be the ones we treasure on our rocking porch as we remember them one day.


Thank you Lauren Casper –my dear mommy and ministry side-kick…for designing something farm fresh for me:) I can’t wait to post many more of our memories here to share with family and friends:)

I’m going to work on adding pictures of the farm and farmhouse in the days and weeks ahead…and of course farm animal introductions and our homeschooling dailies too:)

Have a sweet week!





When grace, love and service leave the field…

This post was written 2 years ago–and never posted. Tonight–as I update categories to link up to my new blog…I ran across it. I think I’ve changed quite a bit in what I hesitate to post…in just 2 years. And this was truth then–and is still truth now. And really–the only thing that has changed is that little boy swinging the baseball bat…might just be a foot taller. Life is short…it flies by–may our days be full of grace, love and serving others.

I rarely share my soapboxes. But I think this morning I will.

Our family. We have 5 precious little ones ages 2, 4, 5, almost 8 and 9. We are in the middle of birthday parties every Saturday, dance classes, Nutcracker practices, music lessons and with 4 boys–soccer games every Saturday. Our days and our hearts are full–and Rico Suave and I–oh we love it! These are the golden years. Tired years. Sweet years. Years we will miss and talk about for the rest of our lives. We’ve been in diapers for 9 full years–and rarely had a full nights sleep. And we would not change a bit of it–for anything in this world.

When you choose to have a big family AND be very involved in each of your children’s lives–it is 24-7…no sitting it seems…tiring–but totally and completely our choice. And wonderful. With 5 active kids–there ARE even some games that double or triple up–so there are games or performances we some times as parents are forced to miss. But for our children–we see these few and far between unfortunate scheduling overlaps as blessings instead of a curse–giving our children the opportunity to see the world doesn’t completely revolve around them–and their audience should always be for One…to please their Lord in heaven with their attitude, sportsmanship and effort. He is enough for them–and this is a gift that comes naturally with a big family. We will not always be there for you son and daughter–but our Father in heaven will. A good and real truth.

And really–with all this crazy goodness–most would say that we shouldn’t say yes to much–but our hearts…they do. They do say yes to opportunities that we feel led to. And He gives us strength and equips us–and we do the best we can…and some how God uses it.

My Rico Suave. He is an amazing man. He makes me laugh how he wants so badly to be a part of every moment of these 5 little loves lives. My favorite is watching him sit through Nutcracker rehearsals and shows every year with that swooning look of joy and pride on his face. Never thought I’d see the day;). He signs up to coach sports every year–every season also…strategically rotating which child’s turn it is to have daddy coach. He coaches soccer in the fall. Basketball in the winter. And baseball in the spring–so not a year goes by where each child doesn’t have daddy coaching at least one of his sports. (And I know he’s secretly thankful the ballet studio won’t allow him help there too;). Every year he says he will take a break to help me chase the other 4 spectators. BUT every season, they call him–and being short of volunteers to serve–they ask him to coach. So he gladly signs up. And deep down–he is tickled to serve again. It is a joy. Pouring into these kids. Loving them. Cheering them on.

And every season. Without fail. At some point in the season. Grace, love and service–leave the field. And it reminds me–what a broken world we live in.

He walks through door several times every season–sighs deeply–and says, “I did it again.” His lacking in service–wasn’t perfect. Yet-he keeps running and tries harder–and I stand there…proud that he is an example to me–to keep running, to keep serving and to keep loving. Mother Teresa–she was a wise one–and she challenged us as followers of Jesus to love until it hurts. Good and hard advice. And it never gets easier–the hearing of the imperfection…whether you are serving in a church, in a ministry, in your work, in your child’s school or on your child’s team–it’s easy to let the weeds overshadow the beautiful harvest. And it’s no wonder–in the Christian world–when we choose to complain instead of encourage or step up to serve when we aren’t happy–why we are raising men and women who have unrealistic expectations, who expect things to be done without their service and who complain when they have unmet expectations or needs. I grieve on the couch–in my flesh immediately slip–and say how we should stop serving. But that is my flesh. And the risk for giving up is just too great. Because when you stop serving–grace and love tag along out the window with it…and these I need…these I cannot compromise…these I will fight for.

There is a reason we, as believers, are called to serve. On so many aspects it is hard–because it isn’t natural to WANT to serve. But Jesus. He was different. Anything BUT natural. And He–He came to be a ransom for many–to serve and not be served. If we want to live as He lived-then in the big and small we will rise. When we are needed and when we are able–we will rise no matter how small or big the task is as parents and bring service, grace and love the best we can with us offering to ourselves and to others–whether it’s coaching a pee wee league or leading a girls Bible study or taking a group of kids across the world. And we will fail. Because we aren’t perfect. But we open our hands and do what we can–and will choose to give grace, love and service even to believers who criticize and complain…because in all honesty–don’t they need grace, love and service too?

When we are serving unbelievers–then I think our expectations of being appreciated must be very, very different. There is another blog article for that–and for that…I have absolutely NO soapbox about. When you do not have the Holy Spirit in your heart–then it is unfair to expect someone to be Spirit led or to follow Philippians 2:14-16 or James 5:9. In fact–when someone is constantly complaining or dissatisfied it should be a clear indicator that they are not being Spirit led–and they need our love right now in their lives most of all. Yet–every church, team, school or job you find yourself in–you will also find the believer who has forgotten…and for many reasons–this makes our hearts even more heavy in service.

“Do everything without finding fault or arguing. Then you will be pure and without blame. You will be children of God without fault in a sinful and evil world. Among the people of the world you shine like stars in the heavens. You shine as you hold out to them the word of life. So I can brag about you on the day Christ returns. I can be happy that I didn’t run or work for nothing.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

“Brothers and sisters, don’t find fault with one another. If you do, you will be judged. And the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)

What happens when grace, love and service has left the tables of brothers and sisters in Christ is even more detrimental to the complainer. The stakes are high and it’s important to step back and realize the legacy we are really leaving our children and others who are influenced by us…

When grace, love and service leave the field–when we choose to criticize others for not performing to our expectations YET do nothing to be a part of the solution–we teach our children that when something isn’t to our standards you should complain instead of being a servant or a problem solver.

When grace, love and service leave the field–we tell our spouse we are going to have a different teacher/team/program/whatever next time instead of seeing the heart of others and wanting to join them in service–we teach our kids that if you aren’t satisfied with something and they are not meeting your needs–you leave…you leave the church, you leave the school, you leave the job…you church hop, school hop, job hop until your needs are met…however long that might be…instead of rising to the occasion and filling a gap that just maybe the Lord has set you a part to fill.

When grace, love and service leave the the field–we choose to complain about losing, complain about the teacher, school, pastor, coach, about the friends, players, or group–instead of enjoying the moment, seeing the good in each person and looking for God to show up and for the sweet treasure He just might want to teach us in this imperfect world.

When grace, love and service leave the field–we slowly become a drain–one that others will need to pour into it instead of being a life-source that is a magnet of fresh air–that others are challenged and blessed by.

And how do you know–when and if–grace, love and service as left your table? When you have complained, criticized or let yourself become frustrated with the team, the church, the family, the job, the friend, the ministry–yet you have not poured yourself out to the brim and back to be used and a part of the solution for the problem that the Lord has so evidently opened your eyes to–yet you have chosen complaining instead. But. But. This is the good stuff. It is NEVER too late. Thank you Jesus! The grace we have failed to give–is freely given back to us in return. Grace. Grace we give our believing brothers and sister. Grace Jesus gives us. Grace–grace–and more grace!

Grace is never too late.

Invite grace back to the table. Ask how you can love big. Ask how you can serve big.

Choose to encourage instead of criticize.

Choose to serve instead of be served.

Choose to encouarge instead of complain.

Choose to leave a legacy of grace, love and service—a legacy that tells your children you do not leave, quit or give up when things get hard–but rather pour in and make a difference.

I will never forget 4 years ago when Rico Suave and I began to feel like the church wasn’t meeting our needs–our ideals for what “we wanted” in a church. We picked it apart–how we felt. We started looking around…visiting other churches—yet the one we had been at was full of Biblical teaching and good worship. We just wanted more. More community. More this. More that. We had become whiney spiritual, needy brats who thought the church was supposed to serve us rather than be a place to heal the sick…a place to worship on our knees…a place to find strangers who looked lonesome in the halls to befriend…a place where the Holy Spirit would show us unmet needs–and just might use US to fill it. It had become about us–instead of about Him. And grace, love and service had left our field.

I’m so thankful we didn’t leave. I’m so thankful we asked how to fill the gaps. I’m so thankful we opened our hands and chose to make our selfishness a battle that we were determined to win rather than using it to lead us in potentially the wrong direction. Some times God places us in circumstances where we see lacking and gaps–not for us to because weary, discouraged or complain–but so we may be a part of the body of Christ and fill it. This sense–this feeling of a gap–is in reality often the prompting of the Holy Spirit to show us where we can possibly be the hands and feet of Jesus and be used.

But unfortunately–some times we don’t see it for what it is–and we complain instead…get our panties all in a wad and stomp our feet if you will;). We voice to our family or even worse our children–that we are frustrated instead of voicing we see a fun way to serve.

You see–if you do this with your kid on the field–you most likely do this in other areas of your life too. If you model this for your child in something small, without realizing it–we are modeling this in a much bigger picture too. But everything changes–the minute we choose to invite grace, love and service back to our table. Everything changes, when we sit down with our kids–and say, “We see some gaps here at _______, and we want to pray as a family just maybe how God might use us to be grace, love and service–and be used to fill this gap.” We are teaching our kids something tremendously big when we choose this road–when we invite these three things back to the field.

For all of us–or at least I know for me–this will be a life long challenge. I pray this will be my perspective always…and although this perspective may make our hands full–it’s perfectly okay because this life isn’t supposed to be about us any way–but about Him. I don’t know about you–but I want to run this race well and shine like starts in the universe for His glory. And I can’t do it without running the race of service, pouring out lots of love and extending grace upon grace on the way.

Praying and hoping we run well!



Love to be real must cost; it must hurt; it must empty us of self. — Mother Teresa


The best time for moms to go on mission trips…

One thing that has shaped our children’s heart the most is going on trips to Zambia to Wiphan…without them.

Yes–there is a time to go together.

Yes–it’s hard to leave…but there will never be an easy time to go.

Yes–I’m a wife and mommy…but not first.

I believe there is nothing greater that I can show my kids that I’m the daughter of a King first and a follower of Christ.

Just as I want them to see how much I love their daddy…

I want them to see that I want to serve Jesus and follow Him most of all.

I will never forget seeking wise counsel about hosting a teenager or inviting a birthmom to live with us…”you are a mom to your babies first so I would say no”.

I’m so glad I didn’t take that advice and followed Jesus first.

Putting His voice first…

inviting brokenness into our home…

and teaching my kids that Jesus’s voice is the one we can trust even when it doesn’t make sense to the world…

Letting them see His faithfulness in our following…

Going when He says go…

Letting them see that mommies leave to serve but they also come back…


has changed them more…

Than staying right here and being safe ever could.


Dear Freshmen (a post after my 20th reunion)

This weekend I attended my 20th reunion. I signed up 2 days AFTER the deadline. I wasn’t sure if I would go. I almost didn’t. I’m so glad I did.

I left feeling like I could write a really inspirational, poignant senior commencement speech. And then I thought, “No–that’d be too late. They need to hear this in the beginning…” So…here goes—

Dear Freshman,

I just returned home from my 20th reunion, and I’m so glad that I went. I hope that 20 years…wait–24 years after today–you will go too…that you’ll WANT to go too.

I wish that I could impart to you the wisdom you will have at your 20th year reunion to take into your 4 years of high school. But…

That’s impossible.

If only you would read this slower–maybe twice–and take it in even if it doesn’t make sense now or it doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal.


Trust me.

It does.

And I promise–you’ll be glad you did.

1. Be kind.

You will walk into those high school walls wanting to be accepted. You are not alone. You will be tempted to say things or do things to be accepted…and some times you will tempted to even forget the preciousness of your heart–and you might be tempted at times to hurt others. But–BE KIND. You are not alone. Every single soul you pass–also wants to be accepted. Be different. Look hard to find something you appreciate and can love about every person you pass in the hallway. When others laugh or choose to be cruel–be different. BE KIND. (At your 20th year reunion–you will thank me.)

2. Have fun.

Life should always be fun whether you are 15 or 40. Look for ways to make the boring things fun–and don’t be afraid to take chances. So the drama club isn’t cool? Who cares;). Be confident. Try new things–and just have fun. I was terrible at Spanish. Hated it. But at my 20th reunion I ran into a classmate who shared with me how she looked forward to it–because I’d walk into the class and occasionally fake a fall to make everyone laugh. I totally didn’t remember this until she reminded me, but in that moment I was thankful as I remembered 20+ years later that I had made the hard things fun and funny. Create memories and have fun. There’s no reason school…or the memories you make during the next 4 years…should be boring;) But–don’t tell your teachers or your parents I said that if you choose to fall down tomorrow after sharpening your pencil or you decide to be silly and do something that we are still laughing about at the 20th reunion;)

3. Save the romantic relationships for marriage.

It was so much fun connecting with classmates without having any long-term dating relationships there to make things…with my husband present–weird. I was thankful my memories were full of funny friendship memories. You know those people who always had to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Well–you will meet them soon and oddly enough–they weren’t at the 10 or 20 year reunions. Know there’s value in pouring into friendships now most of all. If you spend your high school time just hanging out with 1 person–you really have very little reason to come and re-connect because you just spent your years absorbed with 1 person…um–no fun;). It rarely works–and if it does…if he really loves you girls–he’ll stick around for after high school and college…and let you have your friends in high school too:).

4. Live for others and put others first.

Young people–you have such an opportunity in your schools and communities to shine brightly now. Serve in the little things–just letting someone in front of you in the lunch line or reaching out to be friends with someone who looks more afraid than you are–might be what you are called to do tomorrow. Look for someone hurting–and just be there to listen and walk with them. This can be beautiful practice for much that is ahead–in friendships, marriage, parenting, work…the list goes on. Befriend someone you think is completely different than you–because trust me–they might just be someone you look up to 20 years from now. Look for the best in every single face–and put them first…considering their interests or needs before your own.

5. Dream big now.

Dreaming big can feel like such a distant “when I grow up” or after I go to college goal…but it starts now. Know that the Lord has a plan for your life. Remember that He has a great big plan as you make decisions–both big and small. Make decisions you will be proud of in 20 years. Be honest with your parents–and if you don’t have parents that really care about the nitty gritty–find a friend’s parents you can be honest with and ask them if they will be mentor/accountability parents for you. Dream big about how God might use your gifts for His glory–and never ever let anyone stomp those dreams that He places in your heart.

6. Be brave.

Be brave to put yourself out there over and over again no matter how many times your heart gets hurt and no matter how many times you fail. Both will happen–and it’s the getting back up and learning from the falls that will shape you. The world can be cruel–but it can also be beautiful. Give to the Lord what is just too much for you to carry–and rise each day knowing He has a plan. Take chances with your mind and heart and dreams–and know that while the world might laugh–He loves you. So be brave.

High school can be hard–but it can also be beautiful. You can make a difference starting right now…on your first day–all the way to that 20th year reunion and beyond. I will tell you that every face you pass–one day you will treasure. And those who were kind to everyone will stand the tallest. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. So many sweet memories are ahead! So–take chances and have fun! It’s going to be the ride of a life-time and full of memories you will treasure.

Trust Him for sweet friendships and rest in His grace and love. You WILL make mistakes, but I pray that you learn and grow from them becoming stronger and brighter and more like Him as you do.Do the best you can–and know that everything rests in His hands–and no matter what happens…He truly has a perfect plan for your life!


Pictured above my sweet friends in 1995 and 2015…24 years after our freshman year in high school–and 20 years after graduation:). I love each of you to the moon and back–and so thankful for the sweet memories you blessed me with!!! Thank you for seeing me through the crazy days, being there when I made bad decisions, being kind and being such good friends–and for loving me no matter what. You shaped who I am today–and I’m thankful. So blessed to call each of you friends.



Laura McBrayer - August 4, 2015 - 10:34 am

I’m going to let James and Rebekah read this – so good to hear all of this from someone they love who is not their momma.