Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas & Learning from the Biblical Ladies


We will post a year update sometime next week, but I just wanted to share our CHRISTmas greetings!!

And share the Christmas nugget I've had on my heart for the last few weeks....

Sometime in our Advent studies and Sunday morning sermons the conversation between Elizabeth and Mary in Luke 1!

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth 
has also conceived a son in her old age; 
and she who was called barren 
is now in her sixth month.
For nothing will be impossible with God. 
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; 
may it be done to me according to your word.” 
And the angel departed from her.

Although we've had a pretty "quiet" year, we've had plenty that has come before us that has been hard and some things just really seemed (and still seem) "impossible". I'm not going to share the who/when/where/whats but only want to go back to the Christmas Story and see the HOPE that is there.

For years Elizabeth had struggled with infertility, wanting a baby, having a natural God-given desire to mother a child. And in His time God allows that to happen in a miraculous way that fits into His plan. She is overwhelmed with joy. And when confronted with Mary's part she gets just a glimpse of understanding of who her own child will become, that he has a role in the bigger picture of God's plan of redeeming the world.

Speaking of that plan, people for generations before Elizabeth were also waiting and wanting. They were looking for one that God had promised centuries beforehand that was going to rescue His people, all those willing to make Him Lord.

I continue reading in the conversation and I am confronted with Mary's response. Obviously she is humble, but what strikes me is her willingness! She didn't ask to be the Mother of the Savior!! She didn't ask to carry the burden of a basically unwed mother within a society that could have cast stones at her... not words, real stones to kill her like the law would have allowed.

But she accepted it, willingly. And we see her at the crucifixion of Christ... a faithful, willing, and devoted mother.

I am definitely NOT saying that my struggles are made right because I've decided to "give them to the Lord" and be used by Him during the hard times. Or that my struggles compare in scope to these great biblical women.

But what I am suggesting is that maybe, just maybe, having an attitude and outlook that is focused on the Lord and trusting Him to work it all out in His time (while being faithful to do what I am supposed to be doing... like Gal 6:4,5 NLT) would help. I can still walk in faithfulness and joy and not let the situation weigh me down even when it feels like it's staring me down or holding me back. 

Maybe, just maybe, if I'm willing to trust and be used these struggles will one day seem soo distant and temporary and I will be able to see how God used these times to bring me or others to closer to Himself.... which has been His plan all along.

I just have to check my words and deeds and see if they demonstrate a heart that is willing to see struggles as not impossible to God but a means to fulfill His great plan. I have to be willing to confess when it's my heart and plans that are trying to lead instead of being lead by the Lord. 

Isn't it crazy how this simple event still carries soo much power! It's life-changing on the big Redemptive scale and on the small my life scale. 

Praying that in where ever life has lead you, that you would see the HOPE of the Christmas Story... that you can believe in the impossible and be willing to trust God... through the good times and bad! 

Merry CHRISTmas!! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tiny (but determined) Talk Tuesday

I think Nate is already showing promise as a lawyer.

Nate (4 yrs): Mom, do you want me to get in an accident and the police to come when I drive  a car?

Mom: No.

Nate: Well then... I need to watch Mickey Mouse Club because that tells me how to drive stuff.

LOL!! A very convincing argument, aimed straight at this mom's desire to protect her children. He is good! And extremely persistent.

On the tough side of Nate's "gift" of argument... is the argument part! Phew!

Teaching and trying to mold his heart  (his desires and then his words)  every.single.conversation  is exhausting.

It makes me thankful for the mommy wisdom God has allowed me to be exposed to these last few months through a conference, carving out time for reading my Bible, some pretty inspiring blogs and godly motherhood books.

Now just to continue to apply all that wisdom into our days.  Not to grow weary, but to press on! Love, correct, love, referee an argument, love, guide, love, cook dinner, love, bathe, read, love, snuggle and tuck them in for the night;)

You will always harvest what you plant... 
 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. 
At just the right time we will reap 
a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:7b,9

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Lydia has begun the process of outgrowing her short hair. When growing out hair it always has to go through some "shaggy" stages:)

Last weekend as Lydia was busy carving her pumpkin, she asked for her hair to be "put up". I was excited and played around with her hair a bit:)


Obviously, I was working quickly (before she changed her mind) and without a good comb and brush (yay for Saturdays!)... but I had to take a picture because her little face reminded me of this...

June 2008

Awe! Cute to see what has and hasn't changed in my sweet Lydia's face!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Annual Pumpkin Carving

Our annual tradition:)



All drama:) Anything to get a laugh from his siblings!





And this year was soo awesome with the kids doing ALL the work...

and I did the clean up that was pretty simple since we worked outside!!


The girls worked for almost 2 hours on their pumpkin! They finally rested on their tummies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More Tiny Talk

Nate was looking at our world map in the school room and said,"See that really big orange spot on the map?"

Me: "Yes, Russia."

Nate responded,"No, it's Mississippi because it is so big!"


Lydia: "I'm on chapter 9 of Mr. Popper's Penguins. You know it's kind of a "how-to" book."

Me: "Really, a "how-to"?"

Lydia: "Yes, how to keep penguins in your house."


An afternoon TV show for Nate is sometimes a necessary evil so we can finish that last bit of home schooling. One afternoon the Roku was needing new batteries so Nate had to choose a DVD.

Nate was NOT please with any of the choices in the kids' DVDs. He opened the adult drawer and found Gilligan's Island! Excitedly, he ran around the house telling the other kids what he was going to watch and then instructing us what episode to turn on.

He's an old soul:)


One morning while working hard we all stopped to listen to the rain beat the house. A very hard rain!

Anna started the conversation, "Oh, wow look at the rain coming down. Do you think that it's going to flood today?"

Lydia was next,"Don't you remember? God promised He wouldn't flood the Earth again."

Chris replied to Lydia,"Oh, yeah. But there still are floods that happen in just certain places."

Then Nate chimes in,"Maybe God forgot?"

I am thankful daily for the conversations I get to have with the kids and that I get to watch them "make sense" of the world. They want to understand and to have all the dots connect. They want a logical explanation and pattern. It's exciting! And also challenging as I get to see (and hear) their thoughts and encourage them to understand what we can about God and His ways.

What are your kids saying?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I'm kind of in the "throwback" kind of mood lately :)

I just get soo wrapped up in TODAY that sometimes I miss out on "right now". Like today while trying to "school" the kids, they were just soo stinkn' giggly. The giggles that start because "nothing was funny but everything was funny". And I tried to be patient and play along... really, I did. And I loved the smiles and the laughter. But I was caught up in the tasks of the DAY and not the goofy kiddos in front of me.

If I can only hold onto those precious giggly kids... not always be pushing to the next task!


A picture from 2008 at Scott and Bea's wedding!  It's truly unbelievable that they've been married 6 years...

and that those sweet little chubby faces were so young, acting soo grown!

Those 6 years went WAY too FAST!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's That Time Again


Oh, no.....

not, again.

Is it really???



Time to get ready....

colorful jersey?

just as colorful socks? (really??)


shin guards?


Did anyone think of water?

We've practiced and scrimmaged each other.


We are all dressed up! Lined up! Zipped up! Taped up!


Ready and waiting!!!

And here comes the ball!!

We've waited all summer. We're ready to work hard

to taste victory!


October is soccer month in our area!! I have 3 kids playing this year, Anna, Chris, and Lydia, on two different teams!

Brian is co-coaching an 8 and under team that Chris and Lydia play on. So far they have really shown improvement! I really like soccer, so I'm so excited that they love playing and are really working hard this year. And we have a really sweet group of kids (and parents) on our team this year which makes it even more enjoyable!!

IMG_8970I have to share a story about Chris as the goalie! We played a tough team this week that was constantly shooting at the goal. Chris scares me because he comes soo far out of the goal. Anyway, for one attempt, there was a crowd of kids and I saw one the forwards kick hard right towards the goal. And at first I couldn't see Chris in the group of kiddies. It was then I saw him behind everyone catch the soccer ball right in his chest and bear hug it! He ran it towards the side of the goalie box and threw it to a team member to take down field!! He's really done well as a forward and goalie this year!

And yes, there was picture above of Lydia in goal. I don't think she likes the goal as much as Chris, but she has done very well in there, too!! She's also doing well as a forward and mid-fielder... I would love for her to score her 1st goal this year:)

Anna is playing on a 10 and under team. Thankfully she has a great coach who we attend church with and are friends with (that was a BIG answer to prayer since she couldn't be on her daddy's team any longer). Her team played well for their first game:) I loved how she really went after the ball and got it down field twice to attempt to score! That's my girl!

And yes, it means a month of late night dinners (planned ahead so we can actually eat something when we get home). And some other, awesome events we miss (always a bummer!). Some cool, damp nights. Grass cuttings dragged into the van. Stinky uniforms that need to be washed in 24 hours.

But we always have a good time!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tiny Talk Tuesday in the School Room

A question asked in the schoolroom, "Who is Sargon the Great?"

And answered by one smarty pants 10 yr old, "I know who that is! Its Willie Roberson's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather."


The question asked by the teacher-Momma, "What do we call it when a ruler uses an army to make people obey the laws?"

Chris confidently shouted out, "Dictation!!"

IMG_8439And this didn't take place in the schoolroom, but the items destroyed were created in there by one tired momma the night before the class:/

The afternoon after the destroying event....

In a forget moment of cuteness, I may have said to my dog, "Jack, you're such a good dog!"

Lydia snuggling Jack responded, "Jack is always good."

Me: "Yeah, like when he ripped up my children's church craft this morning [as we were getting ready for church, where the previously mentioned craft was going to be crafted]."

Sweet Lydia's gentle answer,"Well, everyone makes mistakes!"

Yep! We all do!

What are you all "talking" about today? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Students...

We LOVE starting our school year with our "Back-to-school" pictures! Eagerly the kids decorated their "grade" signs days before we actually started learning;) It's kind of a tradition now for the kids to paint/color them whatever they want:) And it's a physical sign that school is about to start.

This year we did all the prep work but didn't actually get the pictures on that first morning,
or the second,
or the third, fourth, fifth
or not even on the sixth!
Nope... on a random day during the 3rd week, we finally got it together to get the kids dressed nicely and all the smiles on;)

And honestly, I was disappointed that none of us really were ready for pictures during any of those days.... I still saw the need for them. It will be awesome looking back a year from now and being able to see how much they have grown:) Or looking back 20 years from now and seeing them all together... longing for those days to have continued a little longer.

So we did the picture thing.. a little late:)


This the crew all together (minus Jack-the dog)! They are super busy, loud, insightful, creative, interested. And can be somewhat distracted, whiny and messy! But they are my sweet little class and we have some crazy, fun and productive days, too!


The 5th Grader

She's our "time clock"!  Often, she will ask "when are we..." or "how much time before we...."! If I show up anywhere early/on-time/5 minutes late it's because Anna has planned our departure so we can be "on-time".

Often she is also the "guinea pig"... as all first-borns seem to be:) Thankfully she is a hard-worker and sees some of  the material or tasks I give her as a challenge and does her best to complete it.


The 3rd Grader

The "artist"! Chris is our resident drawing creator! He loves drawing and often will be sketching away as we read. It's always fun to listen to him explain the drawings from reading time. Often they are a narration of a part of the story.

The "distracted one". Oh Chris, my Chris! There are some days he finishes assignments so efficiently with enthusiasm. And then other days when the math lesson drags on for hours (or at least it seems). If I could just figure how to help make every day the former, we'd be good to go;)


The 2nd/3rd Grader

The "peacemaker". I'm not sure if all 3rd borns are as peacemaking as our Lydia, but I am thankful for her personality. She balances not getting walked over with compromising with her siblings so that everyone gets a little of what they wanted. And I'm praying that this isn't just a stage:)

Lydia also pushes herself to "keep up" with her older two siblings. For her it's motivating to finish work before them or to do the same projects. Or even not get as many wrong on the spelling test. While this is a GREAT quality it's also can cause extra pressure and discouragement, especially in the afternoon following an intensive morning school. And she really is keeping up!


The Pre-Ker

The "sponge". It is not unusual to hear this little guy answer a question that was asked of an older sibling. He's heard and been around schooling his whole life. And now we know he was just hanging out to absorb it all:)

The "attention getter". The youngest of 4 has to be loud (just for survival) and Nate fits that description well. Even his normal talking voice is loud. When it's not his words getting him into trouble; it's his antics and mischief made just for some attention!

Let's just say that the school room is NEVER boring... it's lively and full of busy little kids working and playing hard!!


Yep! Another crazy year!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up : The 1st Week

I honestly was a little worried about going from our relaxing and unscheduled summer days into a school day routine. We did start very slowly only adding a few subjects at first. In fact, there were a few subjects like Science and Logic that I had collected the materials for but didn't really plan to teach so we could really just ease in. But the kids asked... or more like begged! So we ended up covering a lot more than I had initially planned!

Glad I was ready:)

We started with Old Story New in the beginning of the week:) We started it last year, worked on a few weeks through the summer and so it felt very familiar. We also read and discussed some introductory verses from Tapestry of Grace, Year 1.

All three older kids jumped excitedly into their math:) They were sharing a computer, which I dreaded; but, it all worked out quite well. As they waited for each other to finish they worked on their own practice problems or fact sheet. Since the girls were starting with a new level they began with review, but Chris jumped right back into the middle of the 4th year... so it was a little tougher to zip through lessons, but he got the hang of it quickly!

We started with the IEW Ancients curriculum. We started on key word outlining because it matched our history topics better than the beginning assignments. The kids knew right what to do from our experience last year with IEW. It was exciting to see how quickly they remembered how to pick out the key words and then to use the outlines for their own summaries. Yipppeee!!

For our reading, we used the literature suggestions from Tapestry. Anna started the cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty and Lydia and Chris read other books about Egypt, Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile, Deserts and Peeps at Many Lands (on the Kindle). Anna quickly lost interest in The Cat of Bubastes and Peeps at Many Lands (with all the new words and places) got "too slow" for Lydia and Chris. So we changed it up a bit in the middle of the week:) I read Peeps at Many Lands to everyone (a chapter each day), we started reading The Golden Goblet in the evenings with Brian and the kids chose from a pile of Ancient Egypt books what they wanted to read during their structured reading time:)

One of the reasons I wanted to ease into school was so we could figure out how Tapestry would "fit" into the school day. I've already explained a bit how using Tapestry has affected our Bible time by reading and discussing passages suggested for the week. Our readings were based off of Tapestry suggestions as well. Surprisingly our history time looked some what similar to when we used SOTW because we pulled it out to read 2 chapters for this week.

When working on our paper maps, I used some of the suggested places/regions/etc from Tapestry (TOG) and blended the two. We did most of the bigger geographical identifications by the kids finding the locations on the map on the wall. For the terms (lots of terms) we made note cards. It was kid of cool to learn the differences between seas, gulfs and bays. And then we planned our salt map of Egypt:)... yes, just planned we didn't actually get to make it until Week #2.

Part of our reading talked about the meaning of history and that everyone has events in their life that makes up their own history, so we made our own timelines.

IMG_8180And then another section of reading talked about archeology. Nate and I went out one morning and buried some "treasures" (plastic plates, a homemade bracelet, pencil, etc) in the sandpit. Later in the afternoon the older kids went outside to dig it all up:) They tried to made some grid lines but then just started randomly digging and still did not find all the items (even with Nate helping them)! I think they learned a few of the challenges of archeology especially earlier when they wanted to go dig but it had just started raining!

We began Science with learning about the different theories surrounding the formation of the world. We read from the Bible and sources confirming creation and then found sources explaining evolution. And we talked about other theories, like "old world" versus "new world" and intelligent design. We started reading a child's biography on Charles Darwin as well. The kids really liked the detailed coloring page from a our science book.

When "preparing" science I quickly realized how different this year of science is going to be for us. The book covers a lot of topics but is merely a guide not a full teaching curriculum - how spoiled I was after using Apologia! So there is a lot more preparations that need to be done each week (but after Week #2 I'm seeing that we are being challenged, I just need to be willing to find additional resources to make it more hands-on and "alive").

They begged to pull out the Mind Benders book:) I cut up little paper pieces so I wouldn't have to copy a page for each kid and we did each puzzle together. Just two or three puzzles during each session.

Preschool Corner
Nate and I began The Story of Ping. I got a lot of my printables from Royal Baloo and Mama's Learning Corner. After reading Ping and taking about the books some he jumped into some activities.

He  worked on beginning sounds printables and a few pages from an "old-school" pre-reading book I own.

He glue ducks to make a D. And we used some toys to learn some new things about water;)


You've got to love preschool in the bathtub:) We read a book about water and some of the things it does, while Nate was finishing his bath. And we used some toys to learn some new things about water;)

 Preschool is pretty short and sweet around here;) Although he did have a few practice sessions on listening quietly during Bible Time. And learning to finish a task when ask and cleaning up before pulling out a new toy:)

A few weeks ago we were given some tadpoles. I was super excited since we hadn't done the "tadpole thing" for a few years and Nate hadn't seen it yet. One morning, during our first week, we realized that some of the tadpoles had grown their back legs, so we added some rocks to their habitat.

Nate and I also took a little break from rowing Ping to read about tadpoles. He enjoyed seeing all the stages and then finding tadpoles in our batch that were at some of the different stages, too.

One morning while walking the dog we found a visitor:) This turtle looked a little different than the normal Eastern Box or Yellow-Bellied Sliders that usually bravely venture into our yard! The kids pointed out all the differences, like his nose and webbed feet, to try to figure out what he was. We're actually still not sure but we put him near the water since his feet were webbed.


Extra Adventures
We still got to the pool a few days last week:) It was a great motivation to get all the school work done... a perk to starting school while the pool is still open:)

On Friday we began final preparations for the kids snack sale at Grammie's community yard sale. The kids sold snacks, fruit and drinks. We bought their supplies and then taught them about paying for the supplies before calculating how much they actually got to keep. I really think it was a good 1st "business" adventure and they learning a lot about giving change back and talking to adult customers!! They each got to keep just over $4! So a pretty good experience overall!

Getting Ready!!

The snack crew...  such welcoming faces!! Don't you love the 100% little brother!

Overall a fun, busy, great week!! Things just clicked for us and we got off to a pretty good start.... don't think it's all peachy here because then Week #2 happened. The honeymoon-like 1st week was OVER. LOL!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tiny Talk Tuesday: Thought Provoking Questions from a 4-yr Old

Lately Nate has been full of some pretty deep questions... for a 4 yr old:)

"We have 4 pets. Why do pets have to live at our house?"


On the way to church one Sunday morning.
"Snakes don't have legs. Why don't snakes have legs?"

Then Chris (8 yr old) answered him with the story of the Fall:)


On the way to the pool one afternoon...

"Is God a girl or a boy?"


On another trip to the pool... :)

"I not sad that Pey and Great Grandma died and we tan't see them anymore. They are with Jesus now."


"Why do I only have two legs, but Jack (our dog) has four?"

This is little guy keeps us on our toes... not just because he's soo busy but because we have another little "thinker" in the family!!

What are you're kiddos saying to keep you sharp?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Welcome to the School/Play Room!!

I'm not sure I've shared our school room since moving into our house 2 YEARS ago.... crazy its been that long!!!  We are entering our 3rd year of working in the school room and I am just thankful for having this space.

When we went house hunting, we KNEW we wanted schooling space. A place to school can be just about anywhere, but each home and model was judged on whether there was a good space to for us to use for schooling. We needed 3 bedrooms and a home schooling room:)

One of the BEST features about our house was the finished garage:) Yes, totally finished... with carpet and crown molding! And so when they placed our house on-site, they raised the garage to be the same level as our main house and voila... a perfect school room. And the door to the school room is heavy duty, too... so the room is great for the kids to play loudly in, too!!

Yes, I said "play"! Our room doubles as a playroom which means often it looks like this:/



Yes, even the whiteboard gets "hit" during playtime!!


But then Mom gets in there and works some magic:) And bans the kids from re-entering until I get some pictures of it clean to PROVE it does get cleaned!

The Play and Pre-School Side
The arrangement of having the school room and playroom co-exist has been good. Some are still learning some self-control by having to complete work before playing! But overall it's worked out really nicely to have Nate playing in the same room so I can keep an eye on him, help him and guide him to clean up. And he's also listening in and picking up some of what we're learning;)

We only have a few toys in the room, mostly building, educational activities and pretend play.

Nate's work for the day is in the colorful trays. He works on those activities with me and then plays with "quiet toys"... usually puzzles, LEGOs, Play-Doh... which are stored on the shelves. 


Jack (our dog) usually isn't allowed in the room because he loves to chew the kids' toys (and he'll steal pencils, too), but since it was clean we invited him in for a bit;)

The School Side
Actually school takes place all over, like the kitchen for experiments, living room for computers and videos, the couches for one-on-one reading, or bedrooms for nightly reading together! But the school side of the school room is where everything is housed and where most of the book learning takes place!!

Besides the big front windows, my favorite school room pieces are my wooden table and our whiteboard. Our table was purchased through Craigslist, given some TLC and new cushions and is used for hours!!  The whiteboard is a piece of bathroom laminate nailed to the wall and then edged with thin, simple molding (like totally under $20).


This is the middle of the room!! A pulled out couch for reading (or a napping Nate!), a freezer and a old dresser that houses the kids' LEGO projects!! I really, really fought the freezer being in the schoolroom but we really had no other place for it. About the time we were getting a freezer, I was looking for a big magnetic board for Nate! LOL!! Not pretty, but it works:) And doubles for a drying rack for painted projects, too!



Our large white cabinet was a "damaged" item that we found deeply discounted!! It's a work horse for us;) It holds all the craft supplies (markers, crayons, paper, paint, etc), math and science manipulatives, games and preschool boxed activities.

I know there has to be a better way to organize it. Here is what the inside looks like today!

And last year we discovered that the inside doors make some excellent "wall space". We can have extra places for some visuals that won't clutter up the walls:)

The top is also used to house the laminator and extra school supplies that the kids don't need to be reminded that I have... like new markers, crayons,etc that I like to "save" until ours need to be replaced.

No home school is complete without a bookshelf or more:)

The shelf on the left is one that we've had forever!! Brian got it while in seminary and it was cream, then I painted it green for Chris' room when he was a toddler and now it's white;) It houses our binders for finished work, free reading books an activities and then my top row of Momma helps (my guides and binders)!


The pair of shelves on the right were made by Brian when he was in high school!!! They are very simple and I just love how they match our table! These shelves hold our reference and resource books by subjects... our Science, History, nature guides, Bible, Art, Music, Language, etc!

Finally, we come to the kids' cubbies! We were given the little white shelves and they have been a perfect place for the kids to store their books.What they need each day is very accessible!

Last year, we moved the printer in the room with us! This is a much better arrangement since most of our printing is done for home schooling purposes;) And along with the printer came the black table;) It holds our paper supplies, clipboards and personal whiteboards.


We do really love our school room!! It's all mismatched but it allows us to have a great learning and messy space!!

We are participating in School Room Week @ iHomeschool Network!