Saturday, November 5, 2011

Introducing the Bryan Clan......

    I fully intended to introduce all of my kids to you in this post.......

     but.........once I got writing the intros for my kids, I found that I went with a little too much detail and now I have a mini-essay on each of them....and I left lots out!  : )  So, I will introduce them in pair a day. You may note that each essay may get slightly longer than the previous.

But first.......the overall idea:

     My husband and I have six offspring.  Since we had known we would homeschool our children before we had even married, they have been homeschooled their entire non-adult lives. At this point, all of them have expressed their satisfaction at having been homeschooled or being currently being homeschooled (after reading this line...the 14 year old declares he has never said this.......he is 14....'nough said).  Phew...that’s a relief!  : )

taken March 2011, a Southern California beach

Sarah 18, Malachy 9, Maddelyn 15, Anne 22, Garrett 14, Matthew 20

     We had five kids in eight years…..and four point five years later, we were joyfully joined by our sweet little man.  We have three boys and three girls……apparently an uncommon thing, to have boys and girls equally. As you will see….Willa’s family does not quite match that.  That is why my girls have had to provide “sisters” for that sister-less Ryan girl.

     My kids are each other’s best friends.  They are kindred spirits….with each other, and me, too. We love to spend time together. They enjoy a lot of the same interests: acting, singing, piano playing, dancing (ballroom or any other dancing), soccer, baseball, basketball, skiing & snowboarding, hiking, camping, traveling, tea time, movie viewing……….

     One of my favorite memories is of the year they put on two shows (plays) together.  Anne was the director, and so was in charge of everything, but the set design and building. Matthew designed and built the amazing sets as well as taking the leads in both plays.  Sarah assisted with costumes and did the hair and make-up, as well as having a supporting role in each.  And Maddelyn and Garrett also had supporting roles in addition to being all-around helpers.  There were other kids in the plays, too.  What amazes me the most is that they did all of this at age 20 years and under…..with hardly any outside adult help.  I only drove and took pictures.  The pictures you see will see are from the last play; these were their head-shots.  I know they are out-dated by a couple of years (2009), but they have not changed much……and these are some of my favorite pictures.  These actually lining my hallway wall...... with their baby pictures in 11x15 size, and these pics sized at 5x7 stuck in each corner.  Everyone loves to see the contrast.  I am so very glad that I got these pics at that time.  What a gift of memory they provide.

 And so……….

Kid #1

      Anne is our eldest, at 23 years. Born in the fall of 1988, in the third year of our marriage, Anne came into this world extremely fast…… the wrong hospital, the wrong town and the wrong state…without the aid of an MD!  She had classic colic the first three months and most days, ONLY slept at night, that is, after 8 hours of “loud persistent screaming for undetermined reasons” (my favorite definition of colic, courtesy of the La Leche League book). She walked early and was talking in paragraphs at age 18 months…and has been chatty ever since. Anne’s love language  is touch…...she is our child of extremes (see the birth note above)…..she can take joyful to its peaks and sadness to its depths.  Thankfully, she recovers quickly.  She grinned when she read this…..’cause she knows it is true. : )

Anne Catherine

     She is an incredibly gifted writer.  I hope to share some of her writings with you in the future.  And, for someone who “cannot write poetry”……she is quite capable. Anne is extremely well-read….something I am mildly jealous about.  I wish someone had guided me to read all of those great books when I was young……then I would have more time for other books now.  She has been dancing since she could walk and is still a graceful and accomplished dancer. A funny story: she made plans at age four to start her own dancing school, open to all younger than her.  : ) And that was a couple of years before she officially took up dancing.  She is a great cook.  She has a beautiful faith and loves God …..and St. Anthony, too…who has always shown special favor toward her. She is an excellent friend. In fact, she is a best friend to Willa’s Clare. She is a girly-girl and a true kindred spirit….to many.

      After graduation from our homeschool, she continued to live at home while she attended the local junior college, graduating with her AA in English in 2009.  During that time, she had an opportunity to direct two plays for the local charter school in which several of her own siblings performed.  She then spent a year in Nevada attending the University while living with my sister and her family.  That was an excellent way to live away from home for the first time as well as enjoy the opportunity to become close with her aunt and her cousins.  Anne also took a job during this time.  Realizing that she preferred a smaller school, and liking the idea of living a bit closer to home, she transferred last fall to a school in Oregon.  The school seems a much better fit for her and the side effect of being able to come home a few times each quarter has helped to keep her in good spirits.  We are pleased about this as well. She is almost one-third through her senior year. She is majoring in English Education……hoping to have a career as a homeschool mom who can tutor on the side.....but first, to travel! : )

Kid #2

     After the busy-ness of Anne, Matthew, born in 1990 and now 20 years of age (well, he will be 21 years in just a moment), was a blessed relief of quiet sweetness.  Not in quite the same hurry as his sister……(though technically, he came pretty fast, too…..the midwife made it to our first homebirth five minutes before he was born), he was much more relaxed and adaptable than his sister, who doted on him and dragged him everywhere…literally picking him up by the neck when he was 2 weeks old to bring him to me!  Developmentally, in so many ways, he took his own sweet time.  He spoke “Russian” till he was about six….and somewhere around 11-12 years, he finally took off with his reading and construction skills.  : )

Matthew James

     He is quite charming, a wonderful conversationalist, for anyone, anywhere….. and my very own Devil’s Advocate.  I do not advocate everyone having their own unless they love to debate and are pretty good at it (I am most certainly NOT one of those).  Even when he agrees with me, which is frequent enough, he still will argue the other side…or sides. I need to find others for him to hone his skills upon. I am very proud of how he proved his construction abilities, as well as his natural design skill, when he designed and built two sets for two plays during his senior year.  He is also an enjoyable stage actor, frequently resembling Jimmy Stewart.  He has managed to receive some good roles, and quite a few leads, from age 14 to 18, both in community and college shows.

     Matthew graduated from our homeschool in 2009.  Within a few months, he left home for the first time, spending a year in Switzerland as an exchange student with Rotary International.  This was his first time actually attending a “public” school.  He lived with three different families, learned to speak German and Swiss-German fluently and traveled Switzerland, making the country his “second” home.  He also had a great opportunity to see other parts of Europe.  After an experience like this, his thinking is most certainly more global.  I expect it will affect his life quite strongly.  I expect it may well influence his future career.  He has become addicted to the thought of learning more languages and of traveling the world. I cannot say that I blame him for this…and yes, I am somewhat jealous…as he lived one of my childhood dreams for myself. 

     Matthew is very well-read as well.   And his memory is astounding.  Even when small, and even though his academic skills were lagging......his memory was impressive.  That is indeed a gift. His sisters envy his ability to remember what he reads.  So does his mother.  He loves history and philosophy.  He is a natural leader.
     Oh, and his love language is quality time.  He is a very good sport in interacting with his four siblings who maul him with their “touch” love language.


........four more kids to follow over the next few days....or so.......




  1. Oh Chari - I so love reading about your dear family! Anne Catherine and Matthew give me a little glimpse into your dear, treasured home life and I am eager to hear about your other precious children! AND....I love hearing about love languages! This was so important to me when I discovered Dr. Chapman's books years ago, and I need to revisit it!

  2. Thanks, Jen! The kids and I have so much fun identifying love languages of real people, characters in literature or in movies. :)


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