Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas Surprise…

beforecamera         aftercamera

…from the best husband ever! Since we usually do small gifts for each other, imagine my surprise to find this beauty waiting for me Christmas morning!! I have been longing for a better camera forever. I figured I’d be waiting at least until…retirement. But my husband had faith in my passion. The best part? I had no idea. Being an old married couple usually means we go for practical gifts, or things we discuss ahead of time. What a wonderful, amazing, epic surprise from an even more wonderful, amazing, epic husband!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A quick break from the craziness

luigikate                princessfrank 

Luigi reading in the living room. Cinderella taking her barbies for a swim in the sink. Banana bread hot from the oven. New additions to our family. All of my favorite people right here with me. Life is good.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”-Colossians 2:6-7

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Challenge-November 15

Today I am thankful for a life so busy and full that sometimes (ahem) I don't get a chance to blog. I remember a time, not too long ago, when I had a baby and a two year old. Forget blogging, back then I didn't have time to shower. At least I'm doing that regularly now...

Today I am thankful for crazy busy lives because it's really easy for me to get overwhelmed with enormity of the responsibility involved in the way we've chosen to raise our children. Homeschooling our children is not something we learned from our parents. Raising our children up in the Lord isn't something we learned from our parents. It's frustrating to have to constantly go against what has been ingrained in us. Sometimes I wish we could draw from our upbringings instead of starting at square one in everything we do.

And then there's the normal stuff that I think just comes with being a homeschooling mom. I feel like I'm always behind, like I never have time for anything. It's easy for me to feel frustrated because my house is a mess again, no matter how hard we work to keep it picked up. It's easy to be frustrated by all the things I feel I should be doing in our homeschool- there's always something I wish I were doing with them, or doing better. Or different. And I don't know how many times I wish I were more organized, more motivated, more...more.

But then I remember that someday my house will be clean all the time. Someday the hours of lesson planning will be done, and I'll have more free time than I know what to do with. Someday my house will be quiet; there will be no bickering children, no sounds of little girls playing dolls in the next room, no more teenagers music driving me crazy. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

So today I am thankful for all of the craziness. I'm thankful that my family is young and home with me where they belong, making a mess of things. I am thankful that our lives are so crazy busy, so full, so blessed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Challenge-November 11

Today I am thankful for all of the veterans and servicemen who protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
That is all :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gratitude Challenge-November 9

Today I am thankful for Bible study. There is nothing like being with a group of Christian women, studying God's word and strengthening my walk with Him. Right now we're doing Beth Moore's Believing God  study. I love Beth Moore, and I love the way God uses these studies to show me things I hadn't considered before. Since we are called to know His word, to study it and immerse ourselves in it-to live our lives accordingly, I am so thankful I have bible study time to help me dig deeper and learn so much more than I ever could on my own!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Challenge- November 8

Today I am thankful for my sister-in-law Bethany. My husband was away this weekend at a retreat with a bunch of guys from church, and she moved in and camped out with us while he was gone. That is just one very small example of her selflessness.

She loves my girls almost as much as we do; she always makes time to spend with them, and loves spoiling them with surprises. Most importantly, she knows and respects the way we want to raise them. I can trust her absolutely with all three of my girls. There are very few people in the world I can say that about.

She loves me almost as much as she loves my girls, and she spoils me more. She is loving and generous, and since she doesn't have a husband and kids of her own (yet!) we are the ones blessed by her enormous heart. What I love about her most is that I can talk to her. Really talk. I can yell and vent and cry and just completely melt down and she'll listen without judging me. She has seen me at my worst, and she loves me anyway.

She's intelligent, beautiful, creative, gifted, stubborn, many wonderful things. I thank God today for blessing us with her presence.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 5-TOS Review Crew

Today I am thankful to be a member of the TOS Review Crew. This is my first year, and it has been such a tremendous blessing-so much more than I ever could have imagined when I signed up. Not only am I blessed with great products to review, but there's an entire community full of amazing people that I get to belong to. Support, encouragement, advice...we get it all. What a wonderful group to be a part of!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 4-Homeschooling

Today I am thankful that I live in a country where I am free to school my children at home, my way.

We haven't always homeschooled. Our oldest daughter was in public school until sixth grade. From her first day of kindergarten she struggled. With the teachers. With learning. In second grade (seven years old) I got a call saying they thought she had ADHD. We did the meetings. And the rounds of tests. They gave her an IEP, and while saying they couldn't suggest medication, they suggested medication.

The next few years passed. She continued to struggle. She didn't like school, her grades were mediocre. I watched her change from a bright, happy girl to a sullen, withdrawn one. Her friends changed. She started having behavior problems.

Meanwhile, I'd started having conversations with my neighbor who homeschools. My husband and I talked and talked and talked about it. Could we do it? Is it what the Lord was calling us to do? I went back and forth, convinced I wasn't capable. We'd since had another daughter, and I didn't want to see the same things happen with her. Even if Sam had been a model student who loved school, there were many other things that bothered me about her experiences in public school.

After much conversation, research, and prayer we finally decided to take the plunge and just do it. Our first year was hard. Acclimating to being home was a challenge for her. She missed her friends. I wasn't her teacher, I was her mom. She hated everything and fought me constantly. I wasn't sure how on earth we were going to get through it.

But here we are three years later, and I've got my girl back. Some days are still a struggle, because she is a teenager after all, but what an amazing transformation! Not only does she do well, she enjoys what she's learning. What a difference it has made putting her in an environment conducive to learning and having the freedom to tailor her education to her specific learning style. AND she is an excellent student with outstanding grades without having to use medication to control her "ADHD". Imagine that.

Since making the decision to homeschool came before our younger two daughters were old enough for school, their educations have been at home from the beginning. Katie, our six year old, has scored years and years above her grade level for the past two years. Francesca, our four year old, is writing and reading and is also advanced beyond her years. But more important than the obvious benefits of homeschooling is that we're able to instill a love for learning in them. We're giving them a foundation full of love, family values, and morals that is just so different than what they would learn if they were out exposed to worldly lessons every day. My family, and future generations to come, will be stronger and closer because we answered our call to homeschool!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 3-Healthy Children

Today I am thankful for healthy children. After having sick kids for the past three weeks it is such a relief to not worry about breathing treatments, steroids, antibiotics, and high fevers anymore.

Having a child with a weak immune system who catches absolutely every germ she comes across from September through May is stressful. Especially since she doesn't just get a little sick, she gets sick. It's during those long winter months that my faith is tested. I live in a constant state of worry; there is nothing worse than having a child that feels terrible, nothing more terrifying than sitting in a steamy bathroom late at night with your six year old trying to open up her airways because she can't breathe. I tend to forget that God is in control-I am a worrier by nature and when it comes to my children-well, there's nothing like the worry a mother can work up when helpless to make her baby better.

Sitting here comfortably in the calm of three healthy girls, I wonder if He is trying to teach me something through these trials. Maybe I need to remember that God is in control; not just when it's easy for me to relinquish everything to Him, but most importantly when I'm terrified and desperate to do something to fix things. Hmmm. Isn't it interesting the way He shows us one thing when we're looking at another?

So today I have three girls who are feeling better. They're healthy, happy, and back to normal. Today, I am thankful for healthy children. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 2-My Love

After God, the next thing I'm thankful for is my husband. He is a loyal, hard-working, passionate man. He loves God and he loves his family. He goes to work every day, and works hard, to support our family so that I can be home with our girls. He is committed to homeschooling our children, and to raising them up to know and love the Lord. Through highs and lows, good times and bad, he is the one God chose for me to be with. He's my battle buddy, and my sparring partner. He's my companion and my best friend. From the sleepless nights of newborn land to the day we let them fly, he is my partner. When the whole world is going crazy and falling down around us...we're in this together.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 1-Because He Loves Me

Brenda, one of our fearless leaders over at the Homeschool Crew, has started a 30 day Gratitude Challenge. It's pretty simple. Each day for the month of November I will post something I'm thankful for.

Today I'm going to start at the top. I am most thankful for God. I'm thankful that He loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The many, many other things I'm grateful for just pale in comparison.

To join in, or to see what others had to say today, visit Brenda over at Garden of Learning

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fit Mommy Friday-10 week challenge

So. You may or may not have noticed that I have had a “weight loss” tab up with nothing going on there. I’ve been kicking this idea around for a little while now that if I could use my blog to just get it all out there, maybe I’d find a little accountability and drive to stick with it. However, I’ve been procrastinating because I wasn’t sure what I wanted this whole sharing thing to look like.
Today over at the Crew Forum, I read about this challenge. I think I’ve found my answer.
Two years ago I (finally!) quit smoking. A direct result of that has been some significant weight gain. Add to that having three children, a drop in my activity level after becoming a stay-at-home mom, and not having the advantage of a twenty-something year old metabolism anymore and here I am- the heaviest I’ve ever been- at about 70 pounds overweight. Ouch.
Although I’ve been down this road more time than I can count, I am confident this will be the time I succeed. I know because I’m just not going to stop this time. I know because I have had enough. I NEED to feel good again. I need to have the energy and stamina to keep up with my girls. I need to set a good example for my girls-to lead by example the importance of healthy eating and exercise. I need to be healthy so I can be around for them for a while…
So, my goals:
  • to lose 15 pounds by Dec. 31st. It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.
  • to increase my water intake to at least four glasses a day and gradually increase it
  • to eliminate junk food and get back to healthy, whole foods
  • to spend 30 to 45 minutes four days a week on the treadmill or some other form of movement
Fit Mommy Friday is a way for everyone involved to check-in and offer each other encouragement and accountability. So every Friday I will write about my progress, and visit others to see how they’re doing. Genius, right?!
Now I’m off to link my very first “exercise” post :D
See you Friday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: What I should have said

Someone that I love recently asked me how I know God exists. How do you prove God to someone who is on the fence and wants to know how you’re sure you aren’t just being brainwashed? How do you convey faith in concrete terms that makes someone who is trying to find theirs understand? This was one of the most important conversations I’ve had. We were talking about her soul, all of eternity. I felt so much pressure to say something profound, to get the words just right to make her suddenly see the light. And I didn’t. There was no profound moment of realization. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just gave her more questions.

That conversation has been weighing on me. I had been waiting for an opportunity to try to encourage her, to help her find her way to Him. I knew she needed to be saved, and I thought I was the one person in her life that could help her. And when we were finally alone with no distractions, when she was finally receptive to what I had to say…I fumbled. I failed her.

I’ve been having conversations with my daughter and my husband, asking them how they know God exists. While the topic has inspired some great conversation, I didn’t get any concrete answers I could use. Since this person reads my blog, I thought I could put together a powerful and moving post that would convince her beyond a doubt that there is a God, and that she needs Him in her life.

And then it hit me as I started writing. I can’t save her. It isn’t up to me. All this time I had been trying to figure out a way to make my faith something tangible, something she could see or touch to believe in. And faith, by definition, is exactly the  opposite. I wanted to give her something concrete that she couldn’t poke holes in, but I couldn’t. I realize that if it is your intent to disprove something, or to not believe in it, you will find a way no matter what you’re presented with.

I know God exists because I’ve read the Bible (that I can’t prove is real, and not altered in the translation) After reading it, after studying it and immersing myself in the word…there just isn’t any way I could doubt it’s authenticity. There are some things you just have to know to understand. The Bible is one of those things. (Photoshop is another ;)

I know God is real when I look at the amazing beauty of His creation. I know God is real because I’ve experienced the miracle of childbirth. Most of all, I know God is real because I felt His call. Five years ago when my heart was restless and in search of something, I felt Him. He relentlessly pursued my heart until I had no choice but to slow down and listen. And I’ve learned so much since then. And the more I learn about Him, the more I love Him and want to please Him. See, that’s what it’s about. Once I received Jesus as my Savior, all my sin was atoned for. There is nothing I can do or not do to get myself into Heaven. It isn’t about works, it’s about faith. BUT, I choose every single day to try to live my life the way He wants me to. I try to be the person He wants me to be because I love Him. Because I realize what an amazing sacrifice Jesus made on that cross. Because the more I learn about Him, I can’t help but be in awe of His magnificence.

So. It isn’t up to me. I can’t save her. I was foolish and naive to think that I could. I can live my life as an example of Christ’s love so that she can witness it. I can let the Lord work through me to get to her. But only God can save her. And He will. He’s pursuing her. He’s making Himself known in her life, and He’s speaking to her heart. All she has to do is slow down and listen.

To see more Word-filled Wednesday, visit Internet Cafe Devotions

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: Hebrews 11:6

My God, the God of the Bible, is an almighty and powerful God. If you don’t know Him, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, if you don’t want to shout about how awesome He is from the rooftops…find Him!! Find Him now before it’s too late. He’s there, waiting for you. He already loves you. All you have to do is seek Him. Nothing will ever be the same.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Girls

fshoes frankietellstime

All of my girls have been blessed with special and unique gifts. It is such a privilege to be able to watch them grow and develop their talents. Sam is an amazingly talented artist and writer. She has such a kind heart and an incredible sense of humor. She is becoming my companion as well as my daughter.With her I can see all the years of hard work starting to pay off.

Katie has a brilliant mind and a sharp wit. She is also compassionate and very loving. She is the love bug in our family. I’ve yet to meet a more affectionate child. She, too, has such a kind heart. That seems to be a trait all three of my girls share.

Francesca is thoughtful and creative. She is the most sensitive of all my girls, and she feels her emotions strongly. You never have to guess what’s going on with her. She’s persistent and determined, and just a joy to be around. But the thing that I admire most about her is her amazing ability to watch someone do something and then do it on her own. You may remember me telling you about Frankie writing letters on her own a while back. She also learned to tie her shoes on her own, just from observing Katie. Another was learning to tell time on a clock. She was in the room drawing when I was working on a lesson with Katie, and when Katie and I were done she just came over and showed me how to do it. It seems like Frankie amazes me almost daily!

On a day when I’ve been crabby and overwhelmed, I’m thankful that the Lord has lead my heart (and this post) in a different direction. It’s good for us to be reminded of our blessings once in a while. And these girls; these amazing, talented, beautiful girls…what a gift it is to be their mother.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In case you’re wondering…

Things have been pretty busy around here. We’ve been having a good time getting back into the swing of things.

fmandmcolorsort frankielettera 

I put together a Letter of the Week curriculum for Frankie, pulling resources from Confessions of a Homeschooler, Homeschool Creations, and Hubbard's Cupboard, with some of our own activities thrown in there, too. This week our Letter of the Week was M. We read If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Muncha, muncha, muncha, and Moosetache. We practiced writing upper and lower case M’s on her dry erase board and in a dry erase book. We did many fun activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler, like M&M sorting (pictured above) and lots of Monkey activities. (Frankie is pictured practicing her A’s from last week. I didn’t get pics of her writing her M’s. She’s very good at them though. A natural, even)

This year I’ve decided to put together our own Science curriculum. To start the year we’re studying animals, so I’ve been trying to make our animals start with Frankie’s Letter of the Week. Last week we did Monkeys. It’s kind of nice to have all three girls learning together. I have worksheets and activities in varying degrees of difficulty for each of them, and we all work together drawing our animals each week in our Nature Journals. It is by far the most fun we’ve had doing Science. I’ve learned that one of the things that comes with experience is confidence. When we first started homeschooling I was terrified I would forget to teach them something critical, so I spent a fortune on curriculum and followed it exactly as directed. Now that we’re in our third year I’ve realized some things. First, learning is constantly taking place, not just during *official* school time. We’re outside and the kids see a cool bug or plant? Science time! Katie wants to know how many more silly bands she has then Frankie? Math lesson! Sam wants to know about Joan of Arc? History time! Also, who is to say when they “should” be learning something? I was so programmed by Sam’s time in public school that it’s taken me three years to realize that I say when it’s “time” to learn something!! And if I happen to overlook something? So what!! I’ll teach it to them when I realize I’ve forgotten! Homeschooling rocks!

frankiebunny katelisteningears twobunnies

We’ve started a new Character training study this year as well. Each week we have a new trait that God wants us to have. Last week was attentiveness. We read supporting bible stories from the story bible, verses from the Bible, and regular stories. For attentiveness we read about Samuel, and how he listened to God when He spoke to him. On the flip side of that story, we talked about what happened to Eli and his sons for not listening to God. We read a couple of stories, The Listening Walk, and Listen Buddy. Buddy is a rabbit who doesn’t listen very well. After we finished, we made listening bunny ears. The girls got a huge kick out of these ears. They wore them for days after we made them. It’s really great to be able to reinforce the lessons with fun crafts. And I love that this is another subject we can all work together on. (Sam wouldn’t let me photograph her with her bunny ears on. OK. If she had actually made bunny ears, she wouldn’t have let me photograph her with them on…)

frankiecuneiform katecuneifrom

In History we learned about the first forms of writing. Then we made clay tablets with our names on them in cuneiform writing. Sam is studying world history this year, and read A Murder for Her Majesty and The Kings Fifth. (Anyone else love Sonlight as much as we do?)

awana fcolorcubes katemath

Frankie has also been enjoying making patterns with her magnetic color cubes. (These blocks are actually much smaller than I thought they would be, and we could probably could have made them ourselves, but we love them!) Katie has been working on adding doubles, and we recently started Awana at our church.

fpuzzles sandkpuzzles

 Oh! And puzzles! Puzzles have been the life of the party around here lately. As you can see, Frankie enjoys doing puzzles in her evening wear. And Katie and Sam have been bonding over their shared puzzle love. Notice Sam’s shirt? It says “Jesus is my superhero” They were putting a puzzle together while singing along with Kari Jobe:



So, that’s what we’ve been up to lately. What about you?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: First Day of School

firstday2 firstday
I’ve been meaning to post first day of school pictures for weeks. Somehow the days just seem to get away from me. Who am I kidding? The weeks seem to get away from me around here. So here they are now. Do the peace signs give you any indicator that there is a teenage sister at work?  Speaking of teenagers, do you notice the absence of one in these first day of school shots? Well, maybe if she didn’t hide behind her book, or stick her tongue out at me, or make some other goofy face every single time she sees a camera (which, by the way, is a lot. I have my camera by my side most of the school day. Imagine how much time she spends hiding or with her face screwed up :) you would see more of her. Do you see how excited Frankie is? She can barely contain herself. Maybe her teenage sister needs to learn a thing or two from her…

Ni Hao Y'all
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