Reunions




This time last year, my belly was just starting to round with a new little life (Georgie!) when we made the difficult decision to search for a new church.  I remember crying.  We had been going to our previous church for seven years, and it took a significant amount of that time to really start to feel involved there, like we belonged.  Though we had been praying about it and felt like this was the right decision, I wasn't looking forward to starting over.

I didn't write about it during that time, but it was a long, hard search until we found somewhere that met our standards and felt right.  Maybe I'll write more about the process of looking for a new church someday, but let's just say I'm relieved to have it behind us.  There is a sense in which any body of believers feels like family, but every time you start attending a new church it takes some time to feel like you belong.  We've been pleasantly surprised and blessed to feel at home here quickly, and that has helped ease the transition, helped us know that it was right.  

A couple of weeks ago after the church service, I pushed open the door to the ladies' room, and looked up and into the face of a dear lady from our former church.  She stared at me for a second, and I stared at her, and then we burst out with each other's names and rushed to give each other a hug.  We laughed about meeting again in a restroom of all places.  My family visited with their group in the hall well after most of the regular attenders had cleared out.  It was a reunion of sorts, and I couldn't stop grinning for the rest of the day.  Reunions, when they are sweet, will do that.

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March has been a month of reunions overall.  We also went out to visit my dear childhood friends on their ranch.  They can't get away that often, but once a year we make the trek out to see them.  I want to make it happen more often.  

We visited, caught up on each other's lives, introduced the baby.  We ate lunch, and remembered back to when we were kids, growing up in a little white church in the mountains.  Every summer there was an ice cream social, with real ice cream churned in vintage buckets, packed with snow from the nearest mountain pass.  There would be peach, and banana, and pralines and cream - the row of ice cream makers on the shelf above our heads brought it all back.  

























We will keep making this trip out to the ranch as long they will have us, because we love our friends so dearly, and our reunions make it seem as if we live much nearer than we do.  It always feels like we saw them last week instead of last year.

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Reunions don't always feel so sweet as all this, of course, but when I do have moments of happy reunions, it makes me think how beautiful Heaven will be.  I imagine we'll see everyone who we know here who has trusted in Jesus, and that will be one round of happy reunions.  Then we'll see all the people whose names we know but who we've never met - but it will seem as if we had known them all along.  Then we'll see all the people whom Jesus saved who we never met, and we never knew their names, but we're still all connected because we've all been adopted into this family, through the blood of Jesus.

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It's Good Friday today, when we remember Jesus's death on the cross.  My heart is heavy as I remember why He died - to pay the penalty for my crimes (and yours too), when He had no crimes of His own.  God became a man, lived without sin, and died in our place - covering our sin and reconciling us with Himself when we trust in Him to save us.

What kind of despair the disciples must have felt though, when He died.  I can't even imagine that feeling, because I've never had to feel it - we all have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, after all.  Seeing Jesus on the third day, alive again, had to be an unimaginable joy!

And now, I'm just waiting for my turn.  Because someday I'll see Him too, either when I die and enter eternity, or when He comes back on the clouds to take us home.  And boy, that will be the best reunion of all.

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Happy Resurrection Day (on Sunday), friends!  I pray that you know Jesus as your Savior too, and may you get a small taste of the joy of that coming reunion as we celebrate that our Savior is alive, forevermore!

"But the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. "  

Matthew 28:5-6a

Large Family Q&A - 5 Kids Under 7



People are curious about large families.  Curious enough to ask awkward questions of strangers (I speak from experience).  I don't blame them - I am even curious about families that are bigger than mine!

With five kids, I suppose we officially fall into the "large family" category, so I had a little fun with it recently and did a video with some common questions people seem to have about big families.  Now you don't have to ask me awkward questions, because I answered them for you here!  Watch the video (or scroll down for the short answers!).





1. How many children do you have? 
Five!


2. What are their ages? 

7, 5, 3, 2, 4 months.


3. What is your family structure? 
They're all our biological children.


4. How old were you when you had your first baby? 

Twenty-two, and I'd recommend young motherhood when possible. I got all five of my babies in before I turned 30!


5. Were they all planned by you and your spouse, or do you leave it up to God? 

We had to try a bit for the first two, and the last three were surprises (sort-of).


6. What is your favorite reaction to telling someone how many children you have? 
My favorite reaction is when someone tells me how blessed I am, because that's how I feel!


7. How do you usually handle negative comments? 
Um...I don't really notice negative reactions most of the time. One of the benefits of being non-observant. Still looking for a good one-liner for the (thankfully very few) times we get a negative comment.


8. What does it cost to feed your large family? 

Well, our monthly grocery budget is currently $650, but most of the kids are pretty little and don't eat terribly much. It'll probably go up in the next few years.


9. Do you plan to have more children?  
I believe we're done, but hey, I'll never say never! Derek and I have talked about leaving adoption open as a possibility if the Lord calls us that way.


10. What is your family vehicle? 

Minivan, baby!


11. Do you ever eat out?  
Not very often, and if we do, it's usually fast food.


12. How much milk do you go through in a week? 
Two gallons? We probably could go through more, but we drink water more often than milk.


13. How many rolls of toilet paper do you go through each day? 
I don't even know!


14. What is your favorite go to meal? 
Burritos or some sort of noodles.


15. How do you spend one on one time with each of your children? 
I usually take one of them with me for the beginning-of-the-month grocery shopping trip, though we still need to get back into that since Georgie has been born. Homeschooling is also giving me some one-on-one time with the older kids while we do their work, and I totally count that. We bond over math.


16. How do you manage the clutter? 
We do pick-up times at designated times of the day, but let's just say I've become a lot more laid back about messes.


17. Do you homeschool, private school or public school? 
Homeschool!


18. How do you manage the chaos? 
By getting used to it?


19. What do you do IF you get free time? 
Blogging, dabbling in doing these videos, and reading.


20. What is your #1 tip for other large family moms?  

I don't know! I don't think I'm far enough in to give advice. Someone give me some tips!



If you have a large family, feel free to grab the questions and let me know where you answered so I can check it out!


When Is It Right To Die Review - Highly Recommend



(Affiliate link below.)

I live in a state with legalized assisted suicide, so when I saw When Is It Right To Die? by Joni Eareckson Tada up for review I thought it would be a really helpful read. I knew Joni Eareckson Tada is a voice on these subjects that I would truly respect, and I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say.


If you are interested in thinking on the subject of assisted suicide and other end-of-life decisions from a Christian perspective, I HIGHLY recommend this book. This book addresses not only those who might be considering assisted suicide, but those, like me, who are wanting to look at this subject in a God-honoring way.

Joni not only doesn’t preach in this book, but she presents a truly compassionate look at these subjects while remaining uncompromising. She addresses those who may be facing suffering or death with compassion and a challenge to use every day to God’s glory, and she addresses those around these people to consider the situation with compassion and biblical truth. She speaks from personal experience on both sides of these circumstances, and I don’t think you will find a more well-balanced Christian approach to end-of-life decisions than in this book.

As someone who is strongly against assisted suicide, I especially appreciated this book because it made me look at the whole subject with more compassion. Joni challenges you to think about the real people who are facing suffering and death, to put yourself in their shoes, to imagine yourself as their friend, and to consider how you would handle these things in a Christ-honoring way.

I also personally found some of her distinctions in the last section interesting as she addressed end-of-life decisions, and she made me realize I really should sit down and write an Advance Health Care Directive. Even though I’m healthy and don’t expect to die soon, you just never know. People get in care accidents every day, and it’s important to think about the potential healthcare decisions that could be made and how to approach these things in a way that glorifies God, should a difficult ending be part of my story.

I highly recommend this book for every Christian to read. It’s not a happy subject, it’s not one that’s “fun" to read about, but I think it’s important to think about these things from a biblical perspective - both for the sake of those who may be facing these kind of issues, and for ourselves should we, God forbid, face them ourselves on day.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts On Homeschool Rooms



Each year in the spring, I start to think in the direction of all things homeschooling (at least ever since my kids have been old enough for me to think about school).  I start planning next year's curriculum, I break out all my books about homeschooling, and I watch a bunch of videos on Youtube.  I happen to follow several homeschooling moms on Youtube (one of these days I'll put a list together for you), and I've come across quite a few "homeschool room tour" videos.

Now, most of you know that I was homeschooled growing up, and this homeschool room idea honestly surprised me.  I had never even heard of having a "homeschool room" until the last couple years.  

We do not have a homeschool room.  You can watch this little video to see our current homeschool setup:





We do most of our schoolwork together right now, and it happens most often at the kitchen table. 
The kids seem a little less wiggly when I have them sit at a table (which is probably also why most homeschool rooms feature a table).  Occasionally we do work on the couch, but that's always a little more chaotic.  Since the only table we have is in the kitchen, that's where we work.  This works out really well for us, and I'll often have Wyatt read to me while I fix dinner or whatever.  Having him at the kitchen table allows me to multitask part of the time (and he actually seems to read better when I'm not sitting right next to him looking over his shoulder).

When I was growing up, we did not have a homeschool room.  School was a more casual affair, and my mom gave us a lot of freedom as long as the work got done.  As a child, I would grab my schoolbooks in the morning, and take them wherever I felt like doing school that day.  My typical routine was to fix a big glass of ice water and lay down on my stomach in the morning sunlight that came through our living room window.  In the afternoon when the sun shifted, I often put on my swimsuit, gathered up my books, and did school in the hot tub (in retrospect, kudos to my mom for not worrying about me dropping my textbooks into the water).  Doing school wherever I wanted weirdly made the whole thing feel less like work and more like fun.

So honestly, even if I had an unused room, I'm not really sure if I would designate it as a homeschool room.  I don't want to restrict my kids to doing their schoolwork in just one area of the house.  As a former homeschool student, I know how much I enjoyed shifting to different areas throughout the day, and as the kids become more independent with their schoolwork I want them to have the freedom to go wherever is easiest and most fun for them too.

Though I tell you, if I had an extra room, I would definitely consider a homeschool library room...

Do you have a room designated for homeschooling?  Or do you just do schoolwork wherever, like me?


Baby Giggles - Georgie At Four Months



This shall be known as the month of the baby belly laughs.  (Referring to Georgie's baby belly, not mine.)

Georgie has been laughing so much lately!  If you caught my recent Instagram story, you'll see that she is even capable of making herself laugh.  The other day I was folding clothes, and she started looking around and scratched her clothes basket.  Apparently that was a pretty hilarious thing.  She repeatedly scratched it and burst out laughing for about two minutes straight.  What is it about baby laughs that make you want to laugh too?

Growth and Eating

We are nursing about three times a day and using formula the rest of the time.  I'm slightly bummed about this and so is my grocery bill, but what can ya do?  It's paying off though, because I think she has noticeably plumped up in the last couple weeks!  We visited the doctor for her four month checkup, and she is 25 inches long and weighs 12 lbs, 1 oz! So she's gained almost two pounds since her last weight check, and three pounds in the last month!  She is back on the charts at the 3rd percentile.  Still little, but I'm fine with that as long as she's moving in the right direction.

I'm taking her in next week to see a specialist about a possible tongue tie.  Angi suggested this possibility to me, but her doctor said Georgie didn't have one...but then another friend shared her story of a misdiagnosed tongue tie, and I thought it would be good to make sure.  So that's next week.

Sleeping

She is still sleeping 12 hours at night!  And it's still amazing.  She woke up twice in the last month for either a late night or early morning snack, and that's it.  I'm waiting for the four month growth spurt to hit any day now, but maybe we'll get lucky and this sleeping streak will just keep going!  A girl can dream, right?



Firsts

This month Georgie discovered toys.  I think this is the earliest any of my kids have been interested in toys, and it's so cute.  If you place a toy near her she'll stare at it and then death-grip it in her little fist.  

Personality

Georgie is just so, so happy!  Her smile has gotten even quicker this month, and she has started giggling a lot more.  Sometimes I'll be talking to her and she'll surprise me with a giggle.  I love her laugh so much.  She grins at her brothers and sisters anytime they take a minute to entertain her, and she gives a baby grin when I kiss her now.  We've come a long way from her cringing response to my kisses when she was just born.

However, ever since we started her on formula she does get a lot more cranky when she is hungry.  She also doesn't like to be left alone - the one exception is when she is tucked safely into her carseat while we're getting ready to go.  But don't you lay her on the floor and walk away.  She is happiest when she's being held, especially by me - she's gotten to that stage when she leans toward me and follows me around the room with her eyes whenever I'm not holding her.  I'm not complaining!

She loves to talk.  Whenever she can catch your eye for long enough, she'll stare at you and start to coo.  She expects you to talk back, and then she'll coo again.  It's a little conversation.



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Georgie Bea,

Your personality has really started to shine this month!  I love what a happy baby you are.  Your sweet dimpled smile lights up my whole day, and when you laugh I couldn't feel stressed if I tried.  I still love carrying you around in our wrap, because that's the time when I can get you to fall asleep on me.  If I hold you without the wrap you crane your neck to see what's going on around you, or you look right in my eyes and try to talk to me.  I love our baby conversations, and I love how you grin whenever someone talks to you!  What a little joy you are to me, my sweetheart.  Keep that happy heart!

I love you more than words!

-Mama

Let's Talk About Easter Baskets



(Affiliate link below. Also note that I received the book mentioned in this post for free in exchange or a review. This is my honest opinion!)

Alright, I'm just going to get straight to the point - what do you put in your kids' Easter baskets?

Easter is less than a month away!  There have been years when I put a lot of effort into picking things for the kids' Easter baskets, but since we've had a fourth and fifth baby I've toned them down quite a bit.  Last year's baskets were definitely thrown together last minute.  This year I'd like to make them at least thoughtful, since they won't be elaborate by any means (five kids, remember)!

Here are some things I've included in the past:

Summer shoes - Why not go ahead and buy something I'm going to need to purchase anyway?
Swimsuits - Same reason.
Umbrellas - My kids loved these.
Sunglasses/hats - Are you noticing a theme here?  Easter feels like the official kick-off to spring, so I lean toward warm weather essentials.
Books - Of course.  I'm actually kind of doing the book gift early this year with this book from Tommy Nelson.






If anything can get you in the mood for Springtime, it's the cute illustrations in this book!  A Very Happy Easter Prayer is part of a series, so it's written in a similar style as some of our other books, with little poems on each page thanking God for some part of the season.  I like how this one incorporates Jesus's resurrection on the last page too.  It's adorable for my little ones as a transition into the Easter season, and gets us all looking forward to Easter!  If I hadn't already given the book to my kids I would probably stick this in one of their baskets, especially for my younger kiddos.

As I'm considering what to include in Easter baskets though, I'm at a bit of a loss.  I would kind of like whatever I put into their baskets to have some connection with spiritual growth and pointing my kids back to Jesus, because more than any other holiday, this holiday is really about Him!  In a lot of ways Resurrection Day is an even more important celebration for our faith than Christmas.  On Christmas He was born, and He was born that He might die to take the punishment for our sin.  While Christmas is happy (because we celebrate the long-awaited arrival of the Savior!), it's looking ahead to something sorrowful.

Resurrection Day, on the other hand, is pure joy.  He suffered and died, but then He showed His power, proved He is God, and conquered the grave! Without the resurrection we are still in our sins, but because He rose again we can be alive forever with Him!  It's triumphant in a way that even Christmas isn't, and I want to make sure that all doesn't get lost amidst lesser things.

And I don't think it necessarily will get lost because we'll be talking about the Resurrection and everything that means in all the days leading up to Easter - but I don't know, I'd like it reflected somehow in their little gifts on Easter morning.  Or maybe I'm just expecting too much from a present for this age group (0-7 years)?  Any suggestions for me?

What do you put in your kids' Easter baskets (if you do them)?
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