Thursday, December 31, 2009

Levi on the steps

We've been so busy in my month-long blogging hiatus, but I have really enjoyed all the busyness:) Now, though, I'm looking forward to settling back down and getting caught up with everything and everyone.
Levi turned 8 this month and I can't help but be a little emotional about how fast he's growing up. I am enjoying having a big kid, though!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Field trip with Grandma Mary

The first is a series of field trips I'm calling "Not everything comes from Walmart" - my grandma took us to visit her cousin and see how cane syrup is made.
Brenna did not care to have her picture made, but Levi didn't mind. He was impressed with the whole process.

Jack was impressed by the fire! Here he is by the wood pile.
We had a wonderful time and got to spend the day with Grandma Mary. The kids went back to her house to decorate gingerbread men over the weekend. They are lucky, lucky kids to have great-grandparents who take up so much time with them. And Casey and I are truly blessed to have such awesome babysitters!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Christmas ideas

It's that time of year again...that time when I realize there are only 7 1/2 weeks until Christmas. And in that time we also have Thanksgiving, 2 birthdays, and a baby dedication. I want to be relaxed and able to enjoy each of those things so...I'd better get busy:) It's time to start planning what to cook, which traditions to focus on (cause they don't all fit every year!), and which presents to shop for. For example, Levi has asked for throwing knives. I need to think about that. For a few years.
My friend Betty and I are brainstorming some Christmas ides so if you have a favorite recipe or gift idea or tradition who'd be willing to share, please do! And head over to Betty's to talk about great gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for!

edited to add links
  • Owlhaven has some fun educational gift ideas here. The comments have some great ideas, too.
  • History, character training and paper dolls in one gift:)

Monday, October 26, 2009


I got a full day's worth of lessons done with the kids, cooked a real lunch, took everyone outside to play, did some laundry, doctored some owies and sniffles, and had dinner done on time.

My house looks like Martha Stewart's nightmare.

I can get it all cleaned up tomorrow...if it rains...and the kids don't mind granola bars for lunch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank Heaven for Little Boys

What a sweetheart. I almost don't even mind the (very) late nights. Almost.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A New Season

We are slowly coming out of the beautiful fog that comes with a new baby. I was determined this time to really slow down and just enjoy having a new baby in the house - I've only actually left home a handful of times since we brought him home. But it's time now to start easing back into a family of 7.
There are so many projects that I've put off over the last few months - lots of things I can't wait to get started on. But the first thing I need to concentrate on is getting us (big surprise here) organized. I love organizing. I love containers and sorting and decluttering and schedules and LISTS! But I don't seem to be quite so passionate about keeping things organized. And it's becoming quite obvious that running a household with 5 smallish children will require me to keep things organized or Casey and I will wind up divorcing over a lost shoe and my children will forget that not all foods are served between two pieces of bread. So it's time to get the essential stuff back on track...closets sorted for fall so laundry can be put away and not piled on the loveseat, menus planned in advance (including breakfast and lunch!) so I don't have to hear "I hate sandwiches!" ever again, my desk cleared off so I can find this week's lesson plan. And since we have several days of rain ahead, I should have plenty of inside time to get started.
I am planning some fun, too, though. We're ready to see how a family outing shapes up with 5 instead of 4 so we may venture out to the park for a picnic or to a fall festival or two. And my super sweet mother sent us a holiday in a box this week full of German treats so we'll be having an Oktoberfest family night on Friday or Saturday. I'm so excited to do something a little different and I know the kids will love it. We've...I mean, they've...already almost finished off the German cookies.
This new season is starting to shape up quite nicely.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Christian turned two!

Actually he turned two way back at the end of August. We celebrated with ice cream cake:) But in all the busyness of the new baby I forgot to post his picture on the steps. Isn't he adorable?!

Friday, September 11, 2009

NOW it's time for the new baby!

Luke Kersey
born September 10, 2009
8lbs 4 oz, 21 inches

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time for Baby

Actually, it's not quite time for baby - I'm only 36 weeks along - but, much like his big brothers, he seems interested in getting to the party already. The doctor started me on Bentyl last week which has all but stopped the contractions without most of the side effects from last time. It does cause insomnia though...just when I need my rest!
Admittedly I'm ready to see this little guy. My friend Claire, who was due on the same day as me, is already getting to hold and play with her new little guy. He was 5lbs and 9 oz born at just 35 weeks! I can't wait to see pictures!!!! (Claire, that's a hint!!!)
I am getting a lot done in these last few weeks. I've finished almost everything on my list from cooking for the freezer (now I just need to organize it!) to packing a hospital bag. I still have a few things to pick up or have delivered (the new carseat for example - hope it makes it on time!), but most of the plans are in place so I can sit back and relax a little:) Perfect timing since Casey's work hours have changed and we're trying to get used to a new schedule.
Well, that's the update. We have lots of other things on the back burner - our homeschool group is taking off and I'm planning a Medieval Times class to teach at our co-op this winter. We're finishing up our first school term for this year - it's gone really well so far but it will be nice to have a little break from planned lessons. I'm also trying to plan field trips for the year and wondering just how much I'll be able to juggle! I guess I'll have to wait and see.....

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Time for School

It's that time of year again when everyone is getting back to school. We've actually been doing school for a couple of weeks already and it's going really well. It just makes more sense for us (especially this year!) to start a little earlier when it's too hot to do much of anything anyway and then take off some extra time in the fall. This year our fall break will double as my maternity leave and the kids will get to spend time with daddy and visiting grandparents.

Levi is a 2nd grader this year and Brenna is doing 1st grade (she's just five but she just really loves school!). Jack is doing a small amount of preschool stuff and sitting in with us for most of the reading. Christian is learning too - how to make more messes, faster. In that particular area, I clearly have a genius on my hands:)

I started planning what to study way back in the spring. Once I had books in hand, I spend a day at my church having my own little planning retreat, drafting schedules and making copies. Time very well spent! We use The Well Trained Mind as a basic guide, but one of my very favorite things about homeschooling is personalizing the curriculum to fit us just right.

For history, Levi and Brenna are both using Story of the World, vol 2 - The Middle Ages. Brenna listened to most of the reading we did last year on the ancients so I don't think she's missing anything by skipping ahead in time just a bit. I'm also going to teach a class in our co-op on the Middle Ages so we should be able to fit in lots of fun projects.

I'm really enjoying teaching Saxon Math this year - much better than last year! Turns out they don't have to complete every single problem on every single page - Levi will probably finish Math2 by Christmas and Brenna is zipping through Math 1. And this year, they like it!

Language Arts is no longer called Grammar in this house. Levi did not care for grammar at all, but he likes Language Arts just fine:) We switched to First Language Lessons this year from English for the Thoughtful Child. I really enjoyed Thoughtful Child, but Levi was just bored to tears with it. And First Language Lessons works well because Brenna and Levi can both work out of the same book - it covers 1st and 2nd grades.

Levi is also using Spelling Workout again this year. I skipped the B workbook though and went straight to C. He's just really an exceptional speller (which he did not get from me!). I'm probably going to start Brenna on workbook A later on in the year, but for now she's working on phonics and learning to read. We're using the Starfall program and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She loves Starfall but TYCTR can get kind of dull. It's very good though so we just take little bites:)

For science, we're studying the earth and space this year. I like to use the Usborne First Encyclopedias as a spine, but we do a lot of reading and projects to supplement that. We're planning a lot of stargazing this year with the telescope my parents bought us last year. I'd like to spend a lot more time on nature notebooks this year. I'm just really not a nature girl at all, so I'm hoping to get together with some other homeschoolers for this - I need a little accountability!

For Bible study, we're using Veritas Press The Gospels. It has a good bit of art appreciation built in to the study and lots of optional activities. This is the main part of our "Circle Time" - the only part for right now. "Circle Time" is still in development - it doesn't even have an actual name yet. "Circle Time" is "too babyish" for some of my little students so we're working on something that sounds a little more mature:)

We'll be going to homeschool co-op classes again this year, but those don't start until September so I'll probably post a little more about them later. Brenna is still crazy about the Kumon workbooks so I keep a few of those on hand, too. And Levi is begging for a robotics kit from Lego...until then he keeps busy building everything out of legos. Maybe he'll be an engineer.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cooking for the freezer

Finally, I feel like I'm getting something done! I really wanted to have the freezer packed with meals before the baby gets here (5 1/2 weeks, tops!), but I just knew that there was no way I'd be able to work in even one big mega cooking day. So I've just been making one or two extra things a day, usually just doubling whatever we're having for supper. Also I went ahead and invested in disposable pans and ziploc bags on our last trek to Sams. The pans worked out to be about 30 cents each. Compared to what we'll save by not having to eat out as often, that's not a bad deal.
Here's what I have in the freezer so far (numbers refer to how many meals worth, not individual servings).
  • 1 chili
  • 1 hamburgers
  • 2 meatballs
  • 3 grilled, sliced chicken breasts (for fajitas, chicken salads)
  • 3 chopped, grilled chicken (for quesadillas)
  • 4 browned, crumbled hamburger (for tacos, sloppy joes, emergency Hamburger Helper!)
  • 1 spaghetti sauce
  • 1 chicken pot pie
  • 2 banana streusel muffins
  • 1 twice baked potatoes

Still to make? Some of my favorites...tortellini soup (add the tortellini just before serving), the meat for Marlboro Man sandwiches, lasagna, and cinnamon rolls! Plus granola to take to the hospital with me.

A great cookbook for making food that freezes well and still tastes good - The Best Make Ahead Recipe Cookbook.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A brand new baby picture

Look at that little chubby cheek! At 32 weeks, I'm getting awfully ready to hold this little fella. Seeing him on the ultrasound actually makes my impatience worse. But we have six and a half weeks left - at the most - before the c-section and so much left to do! Hopefully that nesting urge will kick in soon because I do not want to go into labor with a messy house...again.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Visiting someone in the hospital

My granny had to be in the hospital last week so I wanted to take her some things to make her stay a little nicer. I'm hoping to make my own stay a little nicer in a few weeks, too, so any ideas are welcome! This is what I came up with.

The rooms themselves are always so sterile, it's nice to have some little luxuries around.

  • A nice pillowcase
  • colorful placemats for the bed tray
  • a small vase with flowers for the tray (large arrangements are wonderful, but too big to go next to your plate)
  • a subtle room or linen spray
  • maybe even a personal cd player with a cd of soothing sounds (my granny and I both love thunderstorm sounds)

Snack food is a good option, just keep in mind any dietary restrictions the patient might have. But even when the patient can't snack, the family members staying with them might appreciate a quick bite they can grab without leaving the room...

  • fresh fruit or veggies that won't be messy - grapes, baby carrots, or strawberries don't even leave a peel - in a resealable container
  • chocolate!
  • granola or cereal bars
  • cookies and a small jar of peanut butter (and a plastic knife)

Pampering products usually lift a person's spirits.

  • lotions (unscented unless you're pretty sure the patient will love the scent)
  • chapstick
  • super fluffy socks

Entertainment...there's only so much tv a person can watch!

  • playing cards (and offer to play a game while you visit)
  • beautiful magazines that don't require any deep thought
  • crossword puzzle books or even coloring books and crayons (not just for kids!)

And the thing I appreciate the most in hospital is good company!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Mermaid Birthday

What a fun party! Some things got done and some didn't...but everyone (including Mommy) relaxed and had fun so I'm counting it as a total success. And I stayed on budget - less than $30 for everything except gifts.

An ocean cake was blue, green, and purple on the inside. And this recipe for frosting really didn't melt, although it wasn't the yummiest I've ever had.

Brenna helped design her own invitations

We printed a mermaid picture and she colored it with a little help. I scanned them and had them printed (free prints from CVS), then we attached cardstock to make postcards.

No need for planned games. Casey set up sprinklers and kiddie pools...along with water guns and soaker balls, they kept the kids busy for two hours!

Instead of sending the kids home with candy and cheap junky toys, we gave each boy a watergun and each girl got a bubble wand. It may have cost a little bit more, but since we only had a few kids I was happy to skip all that sugar:)

Highlight of the day for me...Casey getting in the kiddie pool to play:)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Group photo

Thanks to my mother's generosity and my sister's gentle prodding:) we finally got pictures of all four (clean and combed!) kiddies. If you're an aunt or grandma who hasn't gotten your copy in the mail...well, that's because I haven't mailed them yet. Please do not hold your breath! But I promise I will get them to you asap(when there are four small children involved!).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How we had the perfect wedding without breaking the bank

Please ignore the crayon specks from my scanner :)

Brenna asked to watch our wedding video the other day. She loves to see us all dressed up and even likes to plan her own wedding. "I'm going to wear a big white dress like you, Mommy, but I'm not going to invite those noisy kids (her much older cousins)."
So I've been thinking how much I loved our wedding and how happy I still am about how it turned out. We spent about a 10th of the national average (and by we, I mostly mean my parents, who would've been happy to spend more-they're very generous like that). So how was it that we spent less and yet I'm still thrilled with it almost 12 years later? Especially considering that, since then, I've heard brides complaining at their own reception!
I think the most important thing we did was consider very carefully what kind of wedding we really wanted. Casey wanted only close family and friends - there were literally only a handful of people he felt had to be there. I wanted the whole thing to feel very homemade and familiar. And I knew I wanted our families to be very involved.
Small and homemade is naturally going to be less expensive than big and fancy! In fact, I skipped invitations entirely and either called or hand wrote notes to everyone. But we still had to figure out the details. We picked a date two days after Christmas, which worked out perfectly, even though it seemed crazy at the time. My granny provided most of the decorations just by moving her Christmas decorations to the rustic log cabin we rented for the ceremony and reception. I use the term rented pretty loosely there - I don't actually remember if we paid anything for it at all. And it was a Boy Scout cabin. But after (a lot of) cleaning it worked fine. I had a sentimental attachment to the cabin because we'd had my dad's welcome home party there when he came back from Desert Storm. And it was perfect for a Christmas wedding.
The flowers were one place I bucked all the money saving advice. I wanted real! My aunt was working with flowers at the time and I talked her into making my bouquet. We bought white roses (and pink for my little sister) and baby's breath and my aunt used greenery trimmed from ivy and ferns. We bought a few red roses for the men and that was it. My grandmother rescued the ivy (which represents fidelity, by the way) for me and rooted it so we both have all the ivy we could ever want.
My grandmother also made my wedding dress for me. She'd been sewing for me since I was born and I picked a pretty simple pattern. It also left her with extra fabric to make dedication gown for me when Levi was born. It's all about the sentimental stuff with me:) I slapped together my own headpiece at the last minute by attaching tulle and seed pearls to a ivory satin barrette.
Casey found a tux he really liked at the local bridal shop and rented it (after we looked at every suit in the mid-state area). His bestman rented the same one and my dad and brother both wore their military uniforms. My sister was my maid of honor, even though she was just seven and my uncle told her that if I backed out, she would have to marry Casey! My mom bought her a very cute Christmas dress that matched our colors and she got a little more wear out of.
The cake was my only disappointment. I asked at two bakeries about having a red velvet wedding cake and neither would do it! Since we were running out of time I ordered a regular white cake and had a red velvet groom's cake made for Casey. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have pushed harder:) "Different" wedding cakes are all the rage now...I was just ahead of my time:) But it did turn out nicely. We had the bakery frost the layers very simply and not stack them, then another aunt made floral toppers and we put them on pedestals of varying heights. Actually the pedestals were upside-down vases temporarily attached to glass plates.
The food was lots of dad and I made the majority of it the night before. I just thought of all my Christmas favorites (fudge, shrimp cocktail dip, apple cider, etc!) and we fancied it up as we went along! We borrowed lace tablecloths from everyone.
My mother really splurged on a photographer (not the one who took the above picture!). She's still splurging on pictures for me to this day! And my brother in law volunteered to video the whole thing for us. Unfortunately, my granny made him set up at the back so you can't really hear us, but you can hear my noisy nephews:) I'm glad to have the video because Brenna loves to watch it, but I probably wouldn't have paid for one. The pictures, though, I love.
I love weddings...I would love to get married again someday! But I'd always pick Casey:)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Reading about boys

Finding out that baby #5 is boy #4 has renewed my determination to raise Godly young men. That, and an influx of jokes about various bodily functions at my dinnertable, made Kay West's How to Raise a Gentleman required reading last week. Each chapter details manners for different situations - everything from sleepovers to sportsmanship. I don't think I can say I learned anything new - my mom was big on manners - but it was wonderfully fun to read through and I really needed the reminders.
My aunt's two boys have incredible manners - not just that they say "yes, ma'am" instead of "yeah," but also the way that they hop up to give up their seat or help entertain my kids without being asked. They're both exceptionally considerate and that's something I really hope my boys will learn.
I'm also re-reading two other books on raising boys. James Dobson's Bringing Up Boys and Raising a Modern Day Knight, both of which are really good.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

25 Week Update and other stuff

Our homeschool group's end of the year picnic was last week at a beautiful park near the river. We all had a blast, but it was hot in the sunshine! Christian had a lot of fun checking out other people's picnic baskets (maybe his nickname should be Yogi?) and chasing bubbles.

Week 25 has gotten here pretty quick. Only about 14 weeks left! The last week has been a little rough - I had some nerve pain from the old csection scar that was not fun and I've had pretty bad morning sickness for the last two days. But, overall, this has just been such an easy pregnancy compared to what I'm used to! I can't believe this little guy will be here so soon! Lots to do before I'm too big to do much of anything!

In the meantime I'm busy planning a Mermaid birthday party, trying to keep the kids busy without schoolwork to do, reading fifty books with the kids for the library's reading club, figuring out how to make Father's Day extra special this year and trying to watch the first two seasons of Jericho on Netflix - I missed it when it was on tv. Hmm, that's weird. It doesn't sound as exciting when I write it all down.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting ready for baby, part II

Baby books alway have a list of things to do before you have a baby but I've noticed that they aren't as helpful as they could be and they're almost always written for first time moms. Some of these are things I've never seen in a magazine, but I'll be so glad they're done!

  • wash all the (boy!) baby clothes and baby sheet and receiving blankets

  • get the cradle all ready (make it up with layers - sheet, waterproof pad, sheet, waterproof pad, etc to make changing the bed in the middle of the night a little easier)

  • sterilize the breast pump just in case

  • pack a baby kit with nail clippers, infant tylenol, mylicon drops, thermometer, nose suction bulb thing, etc)

  • make a new baby carrier (I make ones like this wrap and pouches like this one - they're so easy!)

  • declutter everything I can find to declutter!

  • make a thank you note/birth announcement kit - something I can take to the hospital - with pens, notes, addressed envelopes, stamps, etc all in one place

  • pack a hospital bag with lots of little extras to make my stay a little more relaxing...especially takeout menus (hospital food is enough to make me want to take my iv and go home) and homemade granola

  • charge batteries for the camera and video camera

  • stock the pantry and the freezer with meals for at least three weeks

  • make plans for the kids (who will be with them and when they'll come to the hospital)

  • dig out some comfy non-maternity clothes to wear for those first weeks when nothing fits

  • move Christian into the big boy room and a big boy bed...I won't be able to lift him in and out of the crib and, by moving him before the baby's born we avoid the "who's this new kid taking my bed?" problem

  • start drinking red raspberry leaf tea

  • look for ways to boost milk supply

Well, that should keep me busy for awhile. But if anyone thinks of anything else they would do to get ready, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby News

The ultrasound waiting room was a bit parents, sister, grandmother, and all four kiddies waited to hear...

A brand new baby boy is on his way! Brenna was briefly disappointed at not getting a baby sister, but she seems to be enjoying her "only girl" status for now.
ed to add...we could not get a good picture of his face or profile so we have a wonderful shot of his little bitty foot and side (3d? or 4d?) picture of his hands over his ears, his body and little knee. Are we that loud already little guy?

Getting ready for baby

My parents went home yesterday. We had such a great visit...I'm always sad when they leave so I try to get busy doing something right away to take my mind off of it. Luckily, I have plenty to keep busy with. Besides trying to do some fixing up around the house, I have a baby to get ready for!

I started a list yesterday of things to do/buy/find before this little guy gets here. You would think with baby #5 that I would have everything all ready, but we've gotten to the point where a lot of our baby things are actually worn out!

Here are the necessities I need to have on hand...some I just have to unpack, but some I need to buy. Hopefully I'll have time to find some good deals!

  • diapers, 4 packs (these I have already, thanks to Kroger coupons I only paid $1 per pack)

  • wet wipes, 2 packs (for newborns I usually use water and old baby washcloths as much as possible so I don't need as many of these)

  • new washcloths for baby baths

  • nursing pads and nursing bras (at least 2, 3 is better)

  • bottles (when Christian was born, I did not have a single bottle in the my defense he was the first baby that I actually needed a bottle for)

  • a new carseat (convertible or infant? I still can't decide)

  • pack-n-play (I have a cradle that I love for my room, but I want something to keep in the toy room as well. A pack-n-play will also help corral a crawling baby during school time)

  • baby swing (we have been through two of these! my kids love them)

  • "new" dvds for the big kids, especially for the trips (an hour one way) to and from the hospital

  • coloring books, crayons and other activities to keep the kids busy

  • snack things that will be easy to grab for me and the kids

  • pantry necessities for the first month or two and things that will make housekeeping easier...paper plates, paper towels, laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent, toiletries and TP

Whew! And that's just the stuff to gather! The list to do is even longer so I think Ill make it a separate post. I know (and as my friends say, I speak from experience here!) getting this stuff taken care of now makes bringing a new baby home so much easier!

Homeschool Science Day

Our homeschool group invited Dr Craig Anderson to give a one-day science presentation - from all I've heard it was a huge hit! Casey took the day off to go with Levi and they both had a great time! I'm so glad that Levi had an exciting science experience since science is really not my thing:) But, considering what a great time they had, I might have to check it out myself next year!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trip to the Georgia

Casey and I took the boys to get haircuts last weekend. They love going to the barbershop because afterwards we stop by the hot dog stand next door so everyone was in good spirits...until Casey opened the car door. He calmly turned to me and said "don't freak out" (how well he knows me) "but there's a snake out here." In the parking lot. Where I had to put my actual feet and my precious children's feet. I was, in fact, about to freak out. Thankfully the snake was very dead...something I had Casey verify before I'd get out of the car. He handled it so well that the kids were totally unfazed. I, however, had to record the moment with photographic evidence that I had, in fact, been this close to a real snake.
It turns out that one of the barbers had killed the snake by his pond and brought it to work to mess with people (um, way to drum up business...put a deadly rattlesnake in front of the door). It was kind of funny, once we were safely inside and divided by glass from the dead snake, to see other people react...especially the grown man who lit out down the street running and left his friend to stumble across the rattler himself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fixing up the house

This is a picture of the house when we moved in. We've (well, Casey's) done lots of work, but it still looks a little Hopefully I can dress it up a little more.

Now that we are winding up school for the year, I decided to spend some time thinking about how to get the house in shape over our summer break. I went through each room thinking about what needed to be done and then tried to decide what I might actually be able to get done:) I have had a much easier pregnancy so far this time as far as being sick goes, but my energy level is usually pretty low. I hope having a plan will help me get more done on those days when I have a burst of nesting energy.

I thought of dividing up the summer and doing one room each week. That sounds so organized and efficient, doesn't it? But I work better if I go with my mood and inspiration. When I'm in the mood to work on dressing up the back porch, but it isn't the week I have scheduled for the back porch, then I'll wind up not working on the porch or whatever was on the schedule - nothing gets done!

So I'll look over the list every day and see if there's anything I can get done that day. And I'll have a better idea what supplies to be on the lookout for - fabric for curtains, a pretty planter for the front porch. And, hopefully, once I get in the flow of getting things done, I'll have more energy to move on to the next thing.

For now I'm going to post a few inspirational links so I can find them when I'm drawing a blank on a project.

I really need something for some organization in our play/school room. I also need something large to fill in a big empty wall. One wall has my office-in-an-armoire, but the other wall has toys all lined up in a row - not cute.

See The Nester's kitchen curtains? I think I need them...only blue. And stainproof.

The blue in my living room is too dark, but I love this lighter, summery shade. I'm sure blue and brown is not "in" anymore, but I love it. Now if I just had Meredith's knack for finding beautiful stuff at the thrift store!

I've been dying to do this to the mirror in our guest bathroom. The mirror in our bedroom has two gold mirrors hanging on top of it, which I like so I don't want to mess with it, but this will definitely look better than the mirror in the guest bath.

I need inspiration for lots of other places - the front porch, the back deck, my bedroom! But for now I think I have plenty to get started:)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Keeping Levi busy

Levi's spending a lot of his time working with k'nex. This is his latest creation, for which he wanted a grade - an A of course! We're winding down school for the year so he's finding himself with a little more freetime these days.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up planning for next year and making long lists of things I'd like to get done before Quincy gets here (Quincy means number five, but I have to say we will not actually be naming the baby Quincy - no offense to anyone named Quincy). My brain seems to be working fine, but I'm still to tired to carry out any of my big plans. Hopefully, with plans in place, I can at least get the most important stuff done in those rare bursts of energy.

I'm almost 20 weeks (later this week) - halfway there! We're all sooo excited to have the next sonogram (in two weeks) and see what we can find out about this little guy or girl. Either way we're going to celebrate by trying out the Johnny's Pizza across the street from my doctor's office. For someone who's never been there, Jack is very excited about Johnny's Pizza.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What's in Your Book Basket?

I love books. I especially love finding children's books that the kids and I all enjoy so when I saw this post over at The Happy Houswife's it was just the kick in the pants I needed to share some of the giant stack of books we brought home this week.
Spring Story by Jill Barklem. Brenna and I love these little books about the mice of Brambley Hedge. The artwork is gorgeous and their little homes are so neat and orderly and beautiful. Is it odd that the housekeeping of mice inspires me? I think yes.
The Quiet Way Home by Bonny Becker. I saw this one over at The Homespun Heart and thought it would be perfect for Brenna and I to read. Jack liked it too. It's especially good to read when we're winding down for Quiet Rest Time.
I checked out Sky Tree, My Favorite Tree and Franklin Plants a Tree to read for Arbor Day. We haven't read the Franklin book before but Sky Tree and My Favorite Tree are favorites. Sky Tree is full of beautiful artwork and science. Science is not usually my thing, but this book even holds my attention. My Favorite Tree has lovely pictures and lots of facts about 27 trees native to North America, including Hawaii. It doesn't include my favorite tree, the Pecan, but it does have the Dogwood and that's a close second:)
We also got Little Farm By the Sea. I just love this book. I talked about it before here. I need to just buy this - we've checked it out a couple of times this year. It always makes me wish we had a farm (I know in real life I couldn't pull it off, but I love the idea!).
I also got lots of homeschooling books to gear me up for planning next year. I got a good start on that the other day when Casey kept the kids to give me a little quiet planning time. I was astonished at how much I got done without anyone around. And we got books on the Celts since that's what we're studying for history. And a math book called A Place for Zero that Levi is reading now. And a bunch more that I don't remember! I know we could homeschool without the library, but I sure am glad we don't have to!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Post About Everything

It's busy and messy and busy around here. We had a great time last week at our homeschool group's Easter Party and spending time with friends who were on Spring Break. I even skipped lessons for a few days so we're making them up this week during our Spring Break:) But all's not lost, we're still taking it easy.
We only have a few weeks left for school this year so I'm doing my annual look back-look forward thing. Casey's given me a day off this weekend to go and sit and plan for next year - I'm borrowing the fellowship hall at my church where I'll have lots of space to spread out (and where it will be QUIET!). Things like this make me so grateful that Casey talked me into getting a laptop:)
We're going to my aunt's house for Easter this year, which is also my birthday! We usually go to my sister-in-law's house so this will be a change for us, but it will be so nice to visit with family that we rarely get to see. But I still haven't decided what to bring!
My new pantry is all set up...I'm anxious to finish the curtains so I can post pictures (if I can get my camera to work). The extra storage space is soooo nice.
I'm 17 weeks long this week so it's time for a little more blood work. I've been taking chlorophyll this time when I remember and so far it really seems to be helping. I'm still quite tired, quite often, but I'm not anemic and that's a big deal for me:) Almost halfway there!
Well, all's quiet here so I think I may take a little QRT myself :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still here...

It's been busy around our house lately. I seem to have just enough energy each day to get the absolute necessities done and then I crash. But I am feeling somewhat better than in the last few weeks. The house still has several areas that need attention, but a woman I don't know well used my bathroom yesterday and I didn't die from embarrassment. She had come with her husband to look at Casey's truck and they bought it. Since Casey cut out his side business, a truck isn't really a necessity anymore and with our family growing a bigger vehicle will be a nice change of pace.
I'm working on organizing lunch for our homeschool group's Easter Party. I've put meals together at church tons of times and I didn't expect this to be much different. But after I'd volunteered (read: opened my big mouth), I realized I had no idea how this group usually organized anything. We've been involved for about a year now, but we've never even been to a big get together with food. So I talked to one of the "founding members" and I think I have the kinks worked out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
In the meantime I'm juggling doctor's appointments for me, weighing the pros and cons of having the triple screen test, and getting ready for Easter. Oh and sorting the kids clothes - it's getting hot here!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I got SOMETHING done!

The house was beginning to fall in around our ears. Between being sick (although not as debilitating as usual) and the exhaustion, the piles had started to pile up. Case in point, our bedroom...

Not exactly the peaceful retreat I had in mind. The corner chair and duck pictures are, ahem, not necessarily my style. They're very sentimental though and they make a nice corner for Casey when the chair isn't piled high with laundry. I have ideas for pillows and a throw that might help.

But for now I focused on the dresser. SO much better...

The vase is one the kids gave me for Mother's Day and the lamp belonged to my aunt - it's just needed a new shade. I've actually added just a teeny bit more - a blue and white figurine that plays my parent's wedding song (I'm not sure how I talked my mom out of that, but I've had it forever) and a porcelain baby doll that Brenna and I share. It's only a few inches tall and we like to hold it and talk about how big the new baby is right now. Hopefully it will survive until she's expecting her first baby and then I can pass it along.

With this project finished, I'm working on a few others in my bedroom and in the kitchen. I'm slower than usual, but it feels good to get something done:)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Good reading

I stumbled across this really pertinent article and thought I'd share it. I've noticed lately a bit of the sense of entitlement Miss Terry is talking about in our family. This post was a nice reminder about why we want to nip that in the bud.
Here's another excellent post on the topic.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pregnancy Exhaustion

The last few weeks have been blessedly free of the constant sickness I usually experience during pregnancy. I could not be any more thankful! I wish there was some method to the madness, something I could point to and say "I did this this time and so I'm not sick." But there's not. I haven't done anything different this time as far as I can tell, but I'm only nauseous a few times a day and hardly ever really sick. I can't attribute it to anything other than God and so I'm just very, VERY thankful.
I have been quite sleepy, though. Which isn't bad, actually, accept for the guilt over not getting anything done. My house is at its all-time messiest and if it weren't for Casey helping out, the piles of dishes and/or laundry would threaten the kids. Luckily, I have some helpers this time. I just realized today that I won't have to carry any groceries into the house during this pregnancy - Levi and Brenna bring them all upstairs for me now. And no turning blue from manning the dustpan this time either. Talk about blessings!
So I start week 11 today. A quarter of the way there! And now if I can just get some of these projects done...well, we'll see:)

One other thing...if you're looking for diapers here is a $3 off coupon for comforts diapers at Kroger. They're on sale this week for $5.99 which brings the total down to $2.99 a package. That's just 5cents each for size 1 diapers - less than half what I usually consider a good deal. Time to start stocking up for new baby:)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Well, finally

Finally we have a due date. I just love sonograms (or holograms, as Levi calls them...too much Star Wars, maybe?) - you get so much great information. And seeing that little heartbeat...I just melt every time. We'll probably meet this new baby in early September (unless he or she makes an early appearance like the last two).
Want to hear something oddly amusing (to me anyway). My friend Claire, who I've known since highschool, is also expecting. We've often found ourselves unexpectedly doing the same thing at the same time...we each had to move the summer before our senior year of highschool...we changed majors at the same time...we got married at the same time...things like that. Slightly strange considering we've lived on opposite sides of the country for most of our friendship. But this kind of takes the cake... According to our sonograms, we're due on the exact same day. Funny, huh:)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What we're up to

I usually send out a Christmas letter, but with my computer being in the shop for, oh, all of December, I didn't have time. I probably should've sent this out in January, but it's pretty fitting for Valentine's, too! Note the ending!

Turn on your speakers:)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What a sweet friend...

Holly is such a sweetheart - she gave me an award!

The Lemonade Award recognizes bloggers who are positive, show gratitude, and make the best of things. That is folks who make lemonade out of lemons.

Thank you so much, Holly. This just made my day! And it's such a wonderful reminder for those days when everything seems sour:)

The rules for the award are:
#1 You must link back to the person you received the award from.
#2 You have to pass this award on to ten more blogs, of your choice, which also demonstrate great attitude and/or gratitude!
#3 Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

Now I can't wait to pass this along!

My friend Betty hasn't posted in awhile (this is a hint! what are you up to?) but she definitley makes lemons out lemonade. After all, she made a lifelong friendship out of me (nearly) failing ninth grade speech.

Of course Meredith. Only she would serve the lemonade in a silver punchbowl that she found for two dollars and make you feel like royalty while you drank it. Why can't we all live next door to Meredith?

Dawn certainly deserves this award. Anyone who can be as cheerful as she is in the midst of all that snow deserves some lemonade!

And Monica at The Homespun Heart makes the most precious crafts out of the littlest things. And drawing closer to God through a run in your pantyhose? That's lemonade!
Now I know I'm breaking the rules here, but I'm up too late as it is:) I'm so tickled that we have "this internet thing" - y'all are all wonderful!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I forgot to post Jack's 3 year old on the steps picture. And those are threes he's holding up, not peace signs. Little monkey.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Every time I vow to post more often life seems to get crazier (than usual). The last two weeks have been consumed with potty training, head colds, and laundry (see potty training). Oh, and a birthday party. It was awsome according to the birthday boy. It does not take much to impress a three year old - thank goodness.

He wore his Batman cape...

and we had Batman cake

and all was well with the world. If only they stayed this easy to please:)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Finally, my computer is all fixed up and I can use it again! And just in time to post my second 101 in 1001 list. I'm actually already working on several of these things - hopefully I'll have some stuff to cross off soon.

101 in 1001 List (started January 13, 2009, ending October 11, 2011)

Plan another getaway with Casey
Plan 2 date nights with Casey every month, even if we stay at home
Plan a Valentine’s surprise for Casey
Do something special for Father’s Day
Plan a great birthday for Casey
Start getting up earlier to cook breakfast for Casey

In the Kitchen
Learn to make fabulous bread
Make pickles
Learn to make good biscuits
Learn to decorate cakes
Can tomato sauce
Learn to make Grandma’s strawberry jam

Finances and stuff
Make a new price book
Pay off all debt except the house
Lower grocery budget
Create and stick with a budget
Make a will
Get passports

Church and Spiritual
Improve church website
Choose curriculum for next Wed night class
Read through the Bible
Study Biblical women
Fast 1xweek for 2 months to pray
Learn hymns (make a list)
Listen to a sermon every week even if I can’t be “in” church
Make a decision about church

Attend a home school convention
Teach Brenna and Jack to read
Choose a language for the kids and I to learn (Greek?)
Read through Growing Little Women with Brenna (start on her birthday?)
Plan unit studies for each summer
Read a classic each season to the kids (and another to myself)
Build up our home library
Plan at least 6 field trips per school year
“Grow” picnic in the park day to include at least 7 more families
Read a home schooling book (or listen to a pod cast) every month

Health and Safety
Put together a disaster kit
Get a fire ladder and have a drill
Switch to non-toxic cleaner
Make a vaccination plan for our kids and complete it
Have my eyes checked
Be at my goal weight of 145lbs
Get Jack’s eczema under control
Stop drinking soda completely and stick with it
Study nutrition and help Jack gain weight
Keep 3 days worth of water on hand
Learn about natural meds

Crafty stuff
Make a family tree and hang it up
Paint more scripture on the walls
Complete the black and white picture frame
Make silhouettes of the kids
Sew dresses for Brenna
Make a headboard for our bed
Make a doll pillowcase for Brenna
Get a good camera and take our own portraits
Make scrapbooks

Cleaning House
Organize a neighborhood yardsale
Sell old clothes on ebay
Organize our books (use library thing?)
Schedule and complete a really thorough spring cleaning
Sort all kids clothes and prep for the consignment sale
Clean out my closet regularly

Have a birthday party for our house
Look into scouting and ballet
Visit Atlanta as a family - go to the zoo and aquarium
Catch up Brenna’s pearl necklace
Get a playhouse for the backyard
Visit my grandparents at least every other month
Visit my parents in Texas
Take a trip to the beach
Spend more time in the yard
Cut way back on tv
Potty train Jack and Christian
Pray about and research adopting
Take a family trip with my parents
Start a hope chest for Brenna
Have a family portrait made
Celebrate one new Old Testament festival each year
Plan a birthday party or mother-daughter tea for Granny
Attend Copeland family reunion
Have regular Family Dinners on Saturday nights

Sponsor a child
Send 4 shoeboxes Operation Christmas Child
Send a soldier care package

In the Yard
Plant roses
Begin to compost
Fence in the yard
Plant more flowers in the front flower bed
Plant a vegetable garden and fruit trees/bushes
Paint doors and shutters Charleston green

In the House
Decorate the house
Make the master bedroom and bathroom a retreat
Put a shelf up in Brenna’s room to hold my porcelain doll collection
Get really good sheets for our bed
Build a pantry and keep it well stocked

Assorted Other Stuff
Learn to cut hair
Stop complaining
Buy tall black boots
Read a new book on marriage or a new book on parenting every month
Write study guide to book I taught last summer

Monday, January 12, 2009

Computerless once again

I put my new computer in the shop with my old computer last week to have data transferred to the new laptop. "A day or two, tops", he promised. That was last Tuesday morning. I am getting more done (I think) but I definitely rely on that thing a lot more than I knew. My 101 in 1001 list is almost finished...hopefully I'll be able to post it in a few days. I did a few little things around the house that I wanted to post pictures of, too, mostly because it's been so long since I had time for any sprucing up around here.
But I guess until they release my computer I'll just stay busy folding clothes. That should keep me busy:)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rock Star Christmas

We had an awesome Christmas, although it is now a *three day* affair. Levi and my nephew, Eric, formed a band on Christmas Eve Eve at my house. They entertained us before we opened presents. Eric is definitely getting a harmonica next Christmas - he played with ours all night. All night.

Here are the little darlings at church for our annual Christmas picture. Some of us are more serious about photo opps than others. I'm so tickled with Brenna's dress because she loved it (lined, not scratchy) and because I only paid $6 for it. This place has huge outlet sales near here twice a year where every outfit is $6. Most outfits have several pieces and we've only had one or two things that I felt like were poor quality. The dresses are usually very nice. Brenna also got a lined velvet green embroidered Christmas jumper with a shirt and tights. So cute. Anyway.

Christmas was lots of fun. A little more laid back this year. We ordered almost all the kids' gifts (and got free shipping on everything). And it seems like we hit on just the right amount of stuff - it was nice not to have that overwhelmed feeling. One thing I'm especially crazy about was a present I found for Brenna - this book. It's really beautiful and Brenna loves it.

After Christmas, my parents kept all the kids so Casey and I could get away for our anniversary. It was the first time we'd left the kids overnight...ever. My parents are the only people I'd put through, I mean trust enough to do that to. The kids had an absolute ball. Casey and I stayed in Atlanta at The Ellis Hotel and I highly recommend it. It's right downtown and swanky (Levi asked if we had a butler in our's not that swanky). One highlight was having the entire (beautiful and fabulous but overpriced, of course) restaurant to ourselves. The staff made us feel like celebrities. We had a great time - hopefully we can keep that going:)

So now I'm ready to get started on 2009. Isn't it fun to have a fresh start every year?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Winding down on the 101 in 1001 list

I officially have until Jack's birthday on the 13th to finish this list, but I'm ready to start working on the next one already so I went over this one to do the final strikethrough:) I learned a lot about myself over the last 1001 days (minus a few). I think I accomplished about 50% (completed stuff is in red) of the things on the list. Fifty percent doesn't sound good, but I'm pretty happy with it! Some of the things that I accomplished I know I would not have done if I hadn't written them down - having a picnic with Casey for example. Somethings, like a neighborhood playgroup, that I thought were really important to me turned out to be lower priorities. Some things I still want to do so they'll appear on the next list and some opportunities are lost forever. When I started the first list I had no idea it would be something I'd want to do again, but it's a great project to get me thinking about the big picture and where I'd like to be (and where I'd like my family to be) in 1001 days. I hope to be able to post my next list this week, but I'm still praying about it right now...and that's not the part to rush!

101 in 1001 list

1. Pray about our home school goals
2. have a homeschool planning time
3. Get rid of unwanted hs materials
4. attend hs convention
5. join hslda
6. teach Levi to read
7. start having a regular school time
8. have a big “starting homeschool” day this fall

Health & Safety
9. buy and take a quality vitamin everyday
10. put together an emergency/disaster kit
11. put together a first aid kit
12. serve a raw vegetable or fruit with every meal
13. get a fire ladder and have a fire drill
14. do a detox after weaning Jack (ed. Do this after weaning Christian)
15. drink only water for a week and see if I feel better
16. buy and try stevia instead of sugar
17. take Levi to the dentist
18. exercise 3x a week
19. use only nontoxic cleansers in the house
20. Lose 60 lbs ( I can’t believe I wrote down the number!)
21. go to bed and get up earlier

22. Hold a garage sale
23. Make a family tree and hang it up in the house
24. Decorate the playroom
25. Decorate Mbed and Bath – make it a retreat
26. Get rid of unwanted toys
27. Decorate the kids’ rooms
28. Fence in the yard
29. clean out my closet and get rid of all the clothes I don’t wear
30. get a new kitchen table and chairs
31. paint scripture on walls
32. complete my black and white picture frame of all our family
33. decorate patio
34. invite people over for supper at least 1x every other month
35. organize storage room to hold outgrown kids’ clothing
36. learn how to make really good biscuits
37. learn how to make a great 14 layer cake (well, I’m still working on the icing…it ain’t great yet!)
38. have Christmas presents made or bought and wrapped before Dec 1st
39. learn to cook cabbage the way Casey likes
40. put together a list of a months worth of well-liked meals
41. create and follow a workable cleaning schedule
42. make silhouettes of each of the kids to hang up
43. establish a chore chart for kids and use it
44. keep meals in the freezer to take to people in need
45. pack an emergency diaper bag for the trunk
46. read or get rid of all unread books
47. Reorganize all my books
48. make a price book for groceries & household stuff
49. grow an herb garden
50. try once a month cooking
51. Pay off all debt except house

52. sign Levi up for scouts
53. make Easter more meaningful – establish more traditions
54. take the kids to the zoo in Atlanta
55. take the kids to the aquarium in Atlanta
56. swim w/ kids
57. Start Brenna’s pearl necklace
58. Take the kids to the beach
59. Verbally praise more than verbally correct
60. teach kids good manners
61. Have a pajama ice cream run
62. Invite Bet to stay with us over the summer
63. be at Bethany’s high school graduation (I'm still a little upset that I didn't get to do this one - very early labor pains with Christian kept me from traveling)
64. plan fun things with nieces and nephews
65. start a playgroup in our neighborhood
66. get a playhouse for Brenna
67. have a traditional picnic with Casey and kids

Church Family
68. Encourage someone at church every week
69. Weekly praise a child that’s not my own
70. start a church library - I'm so glad to have this one done! It's really growing, too!
71. go to ladies retreat at least once
72. have a cookie decorating party for the kids at church

73. build a basic wardrobe
74. take better care of my skin
75. get teeth whitened
76. buy and wear really good makeup
77. get a cool shorter hairstyle
78. Take care of my nails

79. Memorize 3 scriptures per week for a month
80. Pray faithfully for family, church family and friends
81. Finish reading through the Bible
82. establish a daily Bible and prayer time and keep it consistently

83. pray with Casey every day
84. Pray for Casey daily (use POAPW)
85. plan an overnight getaway for me and Casey I got this one in just under the wire - we went away for our 11th anniversary and it was wonderful!

86. be an active prayer partner for a volunteer at the pregnancy center
87. find a way to volunteer at the pregnancy center
88. make shoeboxes at Christmas for the Christmas Child Project
89. sponsor a child
90. grow my hair to donate to Locks of Love

91. invite another woman over once every other month
92. get to know some neighbors
93. make a will and have it notarized (or whatever to make it official)
94. get a bigger vehicle
95. finish “baby” quilts for all three kids (now 4!)
96. learn more about the Old testament laws/ traditions
97. write something and submit it to be published
98. Write a letter explaining our “quiverfull” philosophy
99. write 1 letter a month to friends or family
100. Don’t check email on weekends
101. Catch up on scrapbooks

Saturday, January 03, 2009

We had a busy, busy month! Levi's 7th birthday was so much fun! I can't believe my baby is 7 - when did that happen? Last year 6 seemed so grown up... We've both had some growing pains this year. I've had a hard time adjusting to being the mom of a bigger kid - we aren't a family of babies anymore! There's suddenly a lot of Star Wars and Transformers talk around here.

He asked for a Star Wars birthday party this year. Since we only have parties every other year, I wanted to make this one especially fun.

The cake had a dark side and a light side. We also had dark force (coke) and light force (sprite) to drink. And pizza:) We had to order the plates since Walmart is the only local store that even carries party supplies and they didn't have anything star wars-y. But ebay saved the day.

The kids made their ownlight sabers out of pipe insulation tubes and colored duct tape. Casey and I put handles on each one ahead of time with silver duct tape. The kids loved making their own. Since it was warm outside they played two "space games" in the yard. In the first game they used balloons to practice their lightsaber skills (keeping the balloon off the ground using their sword) and they hunted for "meteors" (balled up alminum foil) which contained light sticks. The light sticks (a great present from my dad) kept them busy for a long time. It was fun to plan and Levi was very happy:) I remember now though why we only do this every other year. Soon I'll have to plan Jack's three year old party - he's requested Batman. Hmmm....