Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

JOY swap - show and tell

This was the first time I had taken part in one of Monica and Carrie's Sister Shoebox Swaps and it was sooo fun! My 'sister' was Peggy and it was wonderful getting to know her. She's a mom of boys, too, and we had so much in common!
I had so much fun putting a box together for her, but it was even more fun to get a box in the mail. It came on the day of Levi's birthday party so I wound up saving it to open as a little reward for myself after the craziness.
I loved absolutely everything! Homemade vanilla maple marshmallows, drinking chocolate, beautiful ornaments, tons of crafts supplies! Even whole nutmeg! I especially love the precious little notebook with both lined and graph paper. It's so handy to keep in my purse while I Christmas shopping. There was even a little tea wallet with 4 new-to-me kinds of tea - perfect for a relaxing cup...when I can tear myself away from the chocolate!
Thank you bunches, Peggy, for starting my season off on such a sweet note!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

This is my very favorite Thanksgiving picture. See the mother in the foreground rocking baby with one hand and holding onto the toddler with the other? I relate.
I'm preparing early for Thanksgiving this year since we will be eating at home this year! Casey's side of the family usually eats together at his sister's house, but this year I asked everyone to come to us so that the kids will have the yard to play in (and the toys!). I'm looking forward to it - must be my matriarch complex:)
My mother in law always make the dressing and lots of vegetables so get to do dessert. And I always make a little turkey since not everyone loves it like I do. This year we got two small turkey "roasts" - one to oven roast and one to smoke. And I'm making gravy and mashed potatoes to go with. Plus pumpkin rolls and 2 pies - pumpkin cream and pecan - and a cheesecake. Yum.
So my week should look like this...
Saturday - I made 24 rolls and 3 pie crusts (I only need one for the pecan pie, but the other two will make a nice pot pie with the turkey leftovers).
Monday - today I'm making broth with chicken wings for the gravy, peeling potatoes for make-ahead mashed potatoes and possibly working on the cheesecake.
Tuesday - thaw the turkey roasts, make pecan pie, make mashed potatoes, and the cheesecake. Finish up the gravy.
Wednesday - clean house and decorate, make pumpkin pie, smoke one turkey and brine the other for a little bit. Hopefully I'll also have time to fix up a few things for the kids to do - I love what Monica did for the little ones at her house.
Thursday! - roast turkey, heat up the potatoes and gravy, thaw rolls and bake (soften the butter!), make 3 pitchers of tea, set the tables and put the pie in the oven to warm up just as we sit down to eat.
I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Something to think about

Since Levi accidentally broke my camera the other day, I don't have any pictures to share. But I ran across this very interesting post about boys that I wanted to pass along.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Making My Home a Haven - Thursday

Well, wow. I started this week with a picture of all the projects I was going to cross off my to do list and how neat my house would be...everything in its little place. That's what I pictured when I thought of a haven. But this week hasn't been like that. I haven't actually gotten much done at all - in fact, my house may actually be in worse shape than when I started.

But maybe a neat house and completed projects aren't the only definition of a haven.

Christian's tantrums came to a head this week. He's not terribly vocal for a 3 year old...he can repeat anything we tell him to, he just isn't communicating much that way yet, and I know that frustrating for him. It's frustrating for me, too. Usually we handle the tantrum pretty quickly and move on but this week he and I have been caught in a tantrum spiral. He can't seem to stop himself from screaming and I can't seem to settle him down. It sure didn't seem like a haven around here with a screaming toddler, an edgy mom, and stressed kids. Looking at Christian, I kept thinking of the chapter Monica chose for this week - Psalm 107. He was very much "crying out in his trouble" - loudly! - and I could choose to try to repsond the way that God did, disciplining him for his own good and yet still bringing him out of his distress and blessing him. "They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." (Psalm 107:30). And at the same time, God is doing all of that and so much more for me! So now, while Christian naps quietly in his own bed, I do "give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men (and mommies and three year olds!)" (Psalm 107:31).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Making My Home a Haven - Wednesday

A new day! A good night's sleep (well, better than usual anyway!) helps so much. I woke up this morning with renewed determination to create a haven for all of us.
I plan to begin with a few minutes of prayer on my own...probably while I'm getting dressed. Then prayer all together - I think it helps the kids as much as it does me!
I am definitely, like Monica, staying home today. Hopefully, that'll give us all a chance to get caught up. I also plan on starting supper during my morning routine. Supper is probably the worst time of day lately...too much chaos while I try to cook and that spills over well after we all sit down. So today I'm going to make beef stew and bread during the day - no last minute cooking. And I think I will try feeding the baby early so he can just snack with us or maybe even just play with a toy.
And I need to catch up on chores - the laundry and the kitchen especially. But I also want to do something fun with the kids. I'm thinking maybe some apple cider outside and a little extra playtime.
So my plan for the day...
  • prayer
  • a peaceful supper, cooked ahead of time
  • lots of outside play in the fresh, crisp air
  • catch up on the laundry and clean the kitchen

then, as I have time....

  • complete our school plans for today (school will get done, but I won't stress if we don't finish every little thing on the plan)
  • make a menu for next week and a grocery list (Thur is usually grocery day)
  • clear my desk
  • do a science experiment with the kids

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My home was not a haven today...

I saw a lot of areas that need work today...especially the "witching hour" while I fix supper. But plan on spending time tonight praying about it and in the morning I hope to wake with a new attitude and a new plan!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Making My Home a Haven - Fall Edition

I just love it when Monica starts back up with her Make Your Home a Haven series. It seems to always come along just when my home is getting desperate! Here is Monica's post for this week. She's so encouraging!
My morning got off to an abnormal start since I had to run to the library first thing. Our morning routine got off to a slow start! But the afternoon is going nicely so I'm going to pick up where I am...
The first thing Monica recommended was refreshing our own spirit. My quiet time is usually shared with the kids - I just can't squeeze it in without them right now - and we usually read a Proverb to go with the date. Today, though, we read Psalms 107 along with Monica. The kids focused on the idea that no problem is to big for God, while I thought about the haven He provided.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and He guided them to their desired haven. Psalm 107
Calm in house with 5 little ones is hard to come by...impossible without His help. But with Casey working overtime this week, calm is just what we need.
So I'm spending a bit of time this afternoon on planning my week. For today my main goals are to finish our school work for the day, do two loads of laundry, plan the week and cook a yummy supper of chicken pot pie (x2 to put one in the freezer for another night) and salad.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Birthday boys

It's taken me awhile to get our traditional pictures on the steps posted from when my boys had birthdays.
Christian turned 3!

And Baby Luke is a big 1 year old now! Please ignore the giant bruise in the middle of his forehead. Learning to walk is tough!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cornerstones - An Organized Woman

This chapter is taking us a little longer to work through! Apparently I had a lot of work to do in this area:)
One project, convienently enough, was to plan a birthday party while sticking to a budget. Brenna had so much fun helping me with the party for Christian and Luke. I really enjoy planning parties, but I must not always show it because Brenna asked me several times if I liked doing so much "work." I assured her that I do love planning special things for my family and remembered to smile a lot more!
I also organized our school materials and two storage closets. The decluttering is firmly underway!
I do have one more project from this chapter for this week - organizing the kids clothes. It's just about time to switch over to fall/winter clothes and that will be soooo much easier with clean, organized closets to start from.

Monday, September 13, 2010


It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Christian and Luke both had birthdays - Christian turned 3 and Luke was 1! - so we split the difference and had a Vintage Toys party for both of them. It was so much fun! I got a lot of inspiration from this darling party, but I like to keep things simple and I didn't want to completely blow my budget ($40 for the whole party!).

Invitations were made with "borrowed" scrapbook paper and stamps. "Borrowed" because I could not find anything in town that I liked and no time or inclination to shop out of town.

These cookies were every bit as much fun to make as they were to eat! And they were really yummy!

I bought myself a cookie jar to use for the party...and because I think mommies should get a present, too.

I found alphabet charts at the dollar store and thought they were suitably "vintage."

The cake was red velvet on the inside...

Luke enjoyed it.

Christian enjoyed the presents...except for the ones he was scared of. We don't know why - he loved them later:)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The New School Year - 1st Day Pictures

I love taking first day of school pictures. I always take them in the same corner of the kitchen so I can see how they've grown.

Brenna - 2nd grade

Levi - 3rd grade

Jack - Pre-school

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Wise Manager

Reading, c.1865 by Jerry Barrett

For my Cornerstones project this week I decided to work on the chapter A Wise Manager. The first project in every chapter is to study and memorize scripture so I thought I would share a few of the scriptures.

Proverbs 12:24
Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.
(in my own words....Excellence in your work leads to influence, but laziness leads to dependence on others.)

Ecclesiastes 4:9
Two are better than one, because the have a good return for their work.
(in other words...many hands make light work!)

Another project was to list all of a mother's (my) jobs and highlight the ones that could be delegated (or partially delegated) to children. That was eye opening. With a little training, the kids could be contributing so much more than they are. And not only would our home run more smoothly, it would also keep them out from in front of the TV. Always a plus:)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The New School Year - Our Morning Board

I wanted to try this out for awhile before I bragged on it, just to make sure it worked as well as I thought it would. But now that we've been back to school for a month, I can say it's definitely a hit!
I know I saw the idea somewhere and I wish I could remember exactly where to give credit...
We call it our morning board and it's just one of those wonderful foam project boards that I turned into a calendar with plenty of clear pockets to hold various things we're working on. Everything that isn't in a plastic pocket is laminated with shipping tape.
The pockets are sheet protectors cut to fit or, for the smaller ones, mini photo album pages. They hold cards with our name and address (mostly for Jack to memorize), catechism questions we're memorizing, our Bible card for the week (from Veritas Press - I love these cards and wanted to be able to see them through out the day), the kids' Bible verse for Sunday School, and President flash cards. As we go through the year I'll change things out to reflect new things we want to memorize or read about.
It's so helpful to have the little things that didn't exactly fit in a subject all in one place. And memorizing is so easy when you go over it every day - I'm even remembering things!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My baby girl turned 6!

I'm working my way back from my (unannounced) summer blog hiatus. While I was "gone," Brenna turned six year old. I'm amazed at how grown-up she seems lately and reminded of how fast this time with her is flying by. She's truly lovely and so sweet. I'm so grateful to be her mommy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A New Project...for me

I stumbled upon this book, Polished Cornerstones, at the homeschool booksale in May. I had seen it online before, but it seemed like something we might use when she's older and it was $48 so I didn't consider buying it right now. For $5 (in NEW condition) at the sale, though, I picked it up just to browse through. After all, I did commit to focusing on raising my young lady this year.
Well, I'm just now getting to really look it over and I love it! It's easily worth the original price. There are literally years of projects in this book for girls from preschool on up. Each chapter (and I think I counted 52) deals with a character trait or skill set and has between 25 and 50 projects to choose from. Everything from "A Patient Woman" or "A Woman Who Handles Money Wisely" to "A Modest Woman" and "A Teaching Woman." Some of the projects will be do-able even for non-readers and some are better suited for young women. All of them are adaptable and it's easy to pick and choose. Brenna and I could easily go through the book over and over again as she grows and, if she were to ever have a little sister (maybe, one day), she could use the book, too.
Actually, reading through it, I was wishing I'd had a book like this growing up. But it's never too late! SO I'm going through and picking out projects for myself as well. I'm hoping to get a project done every week between now and Thanksgiving...and maybe I'll get some batteries for my camera so I can share some pictures!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brenna's dollhouse

For Brenna's birthday she asked for a bike and a Barbie guitar (thank you, Grandma!), but I had lots of other ideas. She had lots of dollhouse furniture that she loves to play with, but she had long since outgrown her toddler-sized dollhouse. I'm hoping to get her a collectible dollhouse kit when she gets a bit older, but she needed something to play with now. So in my internet research I ran across this. Adorable and just what I wanted, but did you catch that price tag? So I kept browsing. And browsing. Until I came up with this. I started cutting out pictures to hang on the walls, but I only did a few because I knew Brenna would have definite ideas about what she wanted so she is adding to it (already she's had me cut some fabric to make tableclothes and rug, make a couch, draw a fireplace and make a tv (but she drew the show). I kind of want to make one for myself now, but Brenna says she'll share.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time to catch up...

Even for me, it's been awhile since I posted. We've been busy, busy, busy over the last month and a half. We wrapped up school for the year and we're taking the whole month of June off to catch our breath. Since summer is so miserably hot, I'm planning to start next year in July, right after the 4th, and take a few weeks off in August/September. The weather then should be perfect for some little trips and lots of playing outside. Almost accidentally, I managed to work out our calendar for next year so that we have some time off around every child's birthday (except Jack who still will get his big day off).

While we've been off, we've been busy relaxing:) Casey had some time off to go with us to Dauset Trails and Indian Springs! It was so good to get away even just for a little bit all together. We will definitely have to plan another trip!

The kids and I took another short trip with my family to the beach. We had a wonderful time with my parents and grandparents and favorite sister. As a kid, I was blessed to get to spend a lot of time with my grandparents and I'm always so thankful for my kids to get to do that, too. We attempted to take some family pictures on the beach, but some of us were less than cooperative...

We did get some good pictures, though, and we had a great time. Watching the kids see the ocean for the first time was so good for me. I was surprised at how refreshing even a short trip could be - we may have to squeeze in another quick trip before too long! And I'll definitely have to post some more pictures later.

And now I'm ready to jump back into life at home. I have so much planning still to do for next school year. I'm so excited about everything we're going to study! And I'm debating about squeezing in a yard sale. I would love to haul everything to the Salvation Army and be done with it, but our thrift stores are terribly disorganized - tons of good clothes get sold for rags because they simply don't have the manpower to sort it all. So I would rather have a yardsale with extremely good prices and just donate some of the money. I'm just trying to decide if I have a free Saturday and if the kids will need to be relocated:)
We still have fun stuff planned. Father's Day, Brenna's birthday, VBS and the fourth of July are coming right up, after all. I'm already looking forward to the relative slowness of our school schedule!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Neccessary Shelving

We needed some storage for the toy/school room...badly. Too many toys and not enough room for school! I browsed for ages online, looking for something that could contain the toys and make them easy to play with AND easy to put away. I finally settled on these great plans at Knock Off Wood. Unfortunately, neither of us had the time for even a quick project and I was out of patience with that room. You can see why...

Luckily, these $15 cheapo shelves from Walmart came to the rescue. This is the day we put them together and loaded them up...they'll look much better when I get a few more matching containers. But for $45 bucks total, it's a decent sized shelving unit and it's pretty sturdy, too.
I wish I'd taken a better picture of it all styled up, but remember the part of this post where I mentioned running low on time...?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter 2010

What a beautiful Easter morning. Levi picked 2 dogwood branches for me and Brenna - he can be so sweet:) It reminded me of the legend of the dogwood tree so we talked about that for bit before we left for my sister-in-law's annual Egg Hunt.
My parents and sister were here for the weekend, too - they're such a blessing!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I've been trying to do a little spring fixing up this week and finish a few projects. These shelves have been curtain-less for ages since I realized my original velcro tabs were not going to work. Finally I got them "mistreated" although I'm still planning on a little trim to go along the bottom edges (to hide the fact that I didn't hem). In the meantime, I'm happy with the sunny yellow and with the hidden storage!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grit, Spit and Sticktoitiveness

Well, it hasn't been quite as bad as this, but what a couple of weeks. I'm starting to feel the way this woman looks. And frankly my ponytail probably isn't doing any more for me than her kerchief is for her.

Between stomach viruses, Casey's crazy hours, and the, oh, two dozen or so other things I've had going on lately -well, some times you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I know things will settle down soon. Until then, what was the end of that nursery rhyme.......?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Caring for the sick

From the 1896 Original Fannie Farmer Cookbook...

Take special care in setting an invalid's tray.
Cover with a spotless tray-cloth or dinner napkin, folding the same, if it
is larger than tray, that it may just come over the edge. Avoid a fringed
cloth, as the fringe is apt to prove annoying.

I certainly haven't had much time to consider whether or not a fringed napkin would prove annoying to my paitients, but I have been so very thankful that I'm able to be at home caring for them.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Making Our Home a Haven - the fresh start

I surprised myself last week by being able to accomplish more than I thought I would. It was a busy week and I'm proud of myself for getting it all done, even adding a few things in. But I'm really feeling it now...that worn-thin feeling. And with more busyness ahead - there's already too much ink on my calendar! - I know I need to spend some time focused on Home. So, even though I usually preach babysteps, this week I have several good-sized goals.

  • early to bed, early to rise...

  • clean out the storage room to sort kids' clothes in preparation for the consignment sale coming up

  • clean all the windows to let in the sunshine!

  • eating breakfast as a family

  • keeping the kitchen sparkly and shiny all week

How funny, before I had kids this would've been a good daily list!

Monica has a really good assignment this week - I hope to do a little work outside, too!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making my home...a haven?

My home has been anything but a haven these last few weeks. With Casey working overtime, he needs the haven more than ever. Meanwhile, I'm thinking cloning doesn't sound so bad after all.
I plan to be back on track by Friday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day

Casey bought me these beautiful beautiful girl helped pick them out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why I can't get anything done...

He's smiling at me like this all day long:)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Making Our Home a Haven, week 3

I didn't do nearly the planning I wanted to do. I plan my day every morning, but this week was just too crazy to get beyond that. I did plan Brenna's tea party (sort of at the last minute, but still) and we're planning one for this Sunday, too.
Monica's challenge for this week is chores and that's definitely something I need to work on. Now that the kids have a working schedule for getting theirs done, it's time for me to get a schedule for mine.
In the morning before school...
  • start laundry - load #1
  • put folded clothes away if I didn't get to it the night before
  • clean kitchen after breakfast
  • check the kids chores

After morning school...

  • switch laundry, start load #2
  • fix lunch
  • clean kitchen after lunch, sweep (teach Levi to sweep!)
  • start supper

After afternoon school...

  • laundry! - bring load #1 upstairs and fold (Brenna helps), put load #2 in the dryer
  • finish supper

After supper...

  • clean kitchen
  • bring up load #2 to fold, then put away

I usually do a big cleanup on Friday morning, but all too often it gets pushed back until Saturday when there are lots of better things to do with our weekend. I think I'll move it to Thursday afternoons and see if that helps.

Now I'm off to catch up on the planning from last week...and the laundry.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tea Party

I was so excited when Brenna asked to have a tea party - dressing up, making little snacks together, shopping for the perfect tea, doing a craft together, decorating a hat, beautiful invitations... I had soooo may lovely ideas. This was going to be the ultimate mommy-daughter tea party. Only it was never going to happen - when would I find time? But my little girl is growing up and I was tired of saying "maybe tomorrow, baby."
So now we're committed to a tea party every Sunday. This week I made the quickie snacks...on another week Brenna can help. One week we'll make the invitations...another we'll do a craft. For this week we drank some peach/mango tea I still had samples of. Some weeks we may heat up some lipton or have lemonade. The pickiness has got to go!
The important things are the time together and the tradition. My mother made the special little tea set for me in 1983. My granny gave Brenna the pink dishes. My grandmother and I had tea parties all the time when I was little. Funny, those were a highlight of my childhood, but I don't remember them being very fussy. Just a special little bit of girl time.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My boy is four! Squinting into the too bright sun, he still manages to look adorable.

He loves "gorilla" bars, they make his heart "beep" faster.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Making My Home a Haven, week 2

Last week went much better. The kids are picking up their chores and the kitchen is clean. And I've been able to keep up with my daily Bible reading and prayer time. Our morning routine is really working even when I have to adjust for nightowl babies.
Last Saturday's plans were changed for me - that happens some times! - so I'll try again this week to have everything done for dinner and for church by Saturday afternoon.
Monica's challenge this week is about planning. My favorite! Stopping to think things through is an absolute necessity. The things that really start to grate on my nerves are usually the same things that I haven't taken the time to plan (or maybe I had them all out but something changed...these kids are always growing and changing on me). Several things around here could stand to have a little thought applied...
  • Meals...I do usually plan suppers, but I don't always stick to the plan. And lunches and breakfast need more planning, too.
  • Luke's nap...he's been napping in the school room with us, but he's beginning to wake a little too easily for that so we need to find him a new spot.
  • School...the basics of school are planned out for the rest of this year, but I do need to make copies, reserve books, and plan projects. The fun stuff. And I want to start thinking about next year and plan a planning day like last year.
  • Tea time...Brenna's asked me to have a tea party with her so we're going to make this a regular girls only time on Sunday afternoons (although the boys will still be able to snack on any goodies we might have). I think I'm looking forward to this as much as she is!

That should provide a nice, full week. I don't usually have any free time to sit and think, but since Casey's going to work earlier, I'm planning to use that time. I'll just have to write myself a list of things to plan!

Thanks to Monica for hosting this lovely series!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Making My Home Home a Haven - Week 1

I got off to a slow start on this week's goals. Getting the kids back onto their chore schedule proved tough because of all the late nights I've been having with Luke and Christian. When Mommy sleeps too late mornings get off on the wrong foot! Getting the kitchen clean in the evenings fell prey to the same problem...I was too exhausted after supper most nights to worry about it.

But I got so much more done this week than I would've without the challenge! I read a chapter in my Bible every morning and wrote down my prayers every morning. That's something I've wanted to get back to for a long time so I'm really tickled about it. I did a little more blogging, too, which was nice. And I have this afternoon set aside to settle down with some tea and fill in my Bible - I've been looking forward to it all week.

For next week...
  • Continue working with the kids on their morning and afternoon chores. We're getting the toy room and bedrooms completely picked p today - that should help.
  • same goes for the kitchen!
  • I also need to gt to bed and get up earlier through the week.
  • On Saturday, I'm planning to have all my work cleaned, church clothes ironed, dinner three so that I can have a little time "off" and we can all have a relaxing evening together.

Thanks, Monica, for hosting this series. It's such a help!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Raising a young lady

Being the only girl in a houseful of brothers probably has its advantages. I do worry though that I will be so busy with these wild and crazy guys that she and I will miss out on all those wonderful girly things. I'm determined to spend more time this year focusing on raising a young lady...and painting our fingernails.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Making Your Home a Haven

I've always enjoyed this series that Monica hosts every so often, but these lovely hydrangeas just called out to me to join in.

We've been focused on school for the last few weeks so the house has had to make do with a lick and a promise. Hopefully over the next few weeks we can turn our comfy, lived in!, home into a true haven.

Here's what I'll work on this week.

  • starting the day with my Bible reading and written prayers. I'm working on reading just one chapter per day from the New Testament.

  • getting the kids back on the chore bandwagon. I've been very lax about reminding them lately and we all know how that works:)

  • cleaning the kitchen every night before bed. Nothing is more depressing than waking up to dirty dishes!

  • making time to blog a bit more often. This blog serves as my only scrapbook for right now and posting about what I've managed to accomplish is a big encouragement.

  • filling in my brand new family Bible - a Christmas present from my grandparents. I'm so excited about writing our family history in the front.

That's enough, I think, to keep me busy for one week.

"First" Day of School

Our first day of school for this year was actually back in July. Then we took a long fall break and official school days were all chaotic and twirly (but not in a good way) after that. So after Christmas break I was ready to get back to a regular routine. I commemorated the event by finally taking first day of school pictures for this year.

Levi is a second grader this year. He did not do well with the lack of routine over the last few months - I think school seemed a little too optional and, given the option he'd rather play than work. I can identify. But the last few weeks have seen a total turn around. Once he knew the (challenging) expectations, he's taken right off...most days he does even more than I expected.

Brenna has been the one begging for more school. She's only 5 1/2 but is doing mostly 1st grade work. Math seems to come naturally to her (which makes me scratch my head) and her reading skills are coming along. I haven't managed to teach her to love books yet...I'm beginning to think that isn't something you can teach. But I am planting all the seeds for it...

Jack is my preschooler this year. He loves the Kumon workbooks - working his way through Tracing and Sticker & Paste right now - but I'm also trying to spend time reading just with him every day. He was too young for a lot of the picture books and Bible stories when I was reading them to Brenna and Levi, so I'm rereading them with him now. He still listens in to everything the big kids do, though. Especially science. And we all are studying the catechism together.

I'm really excited about the last half of the school year. Our homeschool group has been a lifesaver! I'm teaching a short class on Medieval Times for the co-op that I'll share more about soon. It's so fun to work with all of these great kids and to see my kids making friends. Just the booster shot we need every now and then:) And I'm so glad I finally took their pictures...look how much they've grown since last year!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Luke's Baptism

We had Luke's Baptism on our anniversary. It was really precious to me - he grinned at the pastor and seemed to enjoy it, too. Just about our whole family was able to be there.
Luke and my dad

Here are Casey and the rest of our little tribe. Brenna had a hard time deciding between gold bows and a gold headband for her hair. That was (miraculously!) the biggest drama of our morning.

Casey, Christian, Levi, Brenna, and Jack

After church everyone came back to our house for an extremely casual meal of make-your-own subs and some yummy desserts. It was so fun to have everyone together to visit and relax. The kids played outside (and got my nephew's brand new rc helicopter stuck in a tree) and the grownups stayed in and talked and snacked and talked. Lovely.

pictures by my sister, btw. I never would've included the mayo jar:)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'm still wrapping up 2009, but in my head I'm making big plans for 2010. More on that later. In the meantime I thought I'd catch everyone up on the last few months of 2009 since posting got lower than usual on my priority list after Luke was born.
Casey's work went back and forth between too few hours and overtime, causing quite a bit of upheaval. It was well worth it though to have him home a little more often.
Our schooling was very slow to pick back up after the fall break we took when Luke was born. We did the bare minimum most days and I postponed a lot of extras, but we kept up with our great co-op group and went on a fun field trip.
The most difficult thing we did this year, by far, was leaving our church. It's a decision we've been praying over for a very long time...God was gracious enough to keep repeating Himself while I hemmed and hawed. But we've settled in a new church and been very blessed by it. The pastor was even kind enough to work Luke's baptism into the holiday schedule so that our family could all be there.
The baptism was a truly happy day. Luke grinned through the whole thing - he's a happy little fella. And then we had friends and family over to the house for a (very relaxed!) lunch.
Casey and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary just after Christmas by going out to dinner while my parents watched *all* of the kids. So nice. I'm so thankful that God brought us together when we were so young and has held us together since then. Sometimes I feel like we're toddlers on His lap and, whether we play happily or push and pull and try to escape, He holds us there, loving arms restraining and protecting us. This past year we've played happily with only a very few minor tantrums:)
And now I'm looking forward to getting 2010 off to a good start. I'm full of ideas for school and home. I can't wait to make a brand new notebook! But first I think I'll get the Christmas tree put away:)