Currently... | November 2019


Wearing: These new duck boots that I ordered here.  At first I felt a little clunky in them.  But I know they will be great for ice and snow this winter, so I kept them and they've been growing on me!



Drinking: Coffee with a splash of half-and-half.  Derek and I made a no-fancy-coffee pact for the month of November, and I'm trying my hardest to stick to it.  It is embarrassing how much I can spend in one month on just coffee!

Picking: Rock for behind the new wood stove that Derek is installing this week.  Our old house had a wood stove, and I loved that thing.  It added a coziness to the living room and was a life-saver when the power would go out.  I could even cook on it!  We decided we wanted one in our new house too, but I had a terrible time picking out the rock for it.  Our old wood stove had this really pretty grayish natural rock behind it, with lichen even growing on the rock, and it was so pretty.  But real rock is expensive, and fake rock doesn't grow lichen.  I made a decision though, and Derek took the week off to get the rock up!  It's going to look good I think.



Reading: Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz. The subtitle is "tracing the heart of the gospel from Christ to the Reformation", and it looks really fascinating!  I just started it.



Preparing: For the girls' birthday party this Saturday.  I have struggled for a long time on how to handle birthday parties with five kids.  Five individual parties each year was out of the question, but I also didn't want them to never have a birthday party during their growing up years.  I still don't know exactly what my plan is, but this year I decided we'd do one combined party for the girls, and one for the boys in the spring.  The girls requested a "princess tea party" birthday.  I just ordered candy canes so I can hot glue the curved part onto plastic cups - you know, to make little "tea cups".  I'm fancy like that.  Hey, you would be shocked how hard and expensive it is to find a basic teacup these days, so I had to improvise!

Feeling: Like I need next week off after all this party prep.  But moms don't get vacation time.

Trying: To be more consistent in my Bible reading.  I typically wake up before the kids each morning to read, which works great when I can make it happen.  However, I'm finding that other days the kids pull me in a million directions right after I wake up, which leads me to sometimes forget.  I've been feeling especially spiritually weary lately, and I know it's because I haven't had enough consistency in my daily quiet time.  This week I've been settling the kids with their breakfast and sneaking away while they eat, and that seems to be working better!

Following: Speaking of Bible reading, I started this Bible reading plan in earnest, and I am loving it.  It's been a while since I tried to read the Bible within a certain time frame. At first I was a little intimidated by the sheer volume of reading each day.  Now that I'm into it though, I am loving reading bigger chunks of Scripture at a time.  Going in-depth with one section is important and meaningful, but I'm at a stage in life where increasing the quantity of Bible reading is more doable.  The name is fitting, "keeping the feast".  I feel that way right now when I finish reading for the day, like I've had a feast.

Sporting: A new hair color!  I tried to edit this photo to make the color the most accurate. It's basically a little darker and richer than my natural color, and on my previous honey-highlights, it has a red-maroon tint.  Last winter I went with straight-up burgundy hair, so this is a subtler version of that.  I'm told it will fade out really well, and I'm liking it alot!



Wondering: If you've noticed that my blogroll in the sidebar has expanded a bit?  I found a few new blogs lately that I'm enjoying!

Considering: A social media break.  I took a Facebook break for the month of December last year, and it was so lovely.  This year I'm considering taking a break from Instagram too!  Just trying to figure out logistics of how to still share blog posts and still get Christmas photos printed into books easily (since I normally use Chatbooks connected with my Instagram).  Question: how do you typically read this blog?  Do you come to new posts through social media, or do you use a blog reader, or just type in the url when you want to read new posts?  I'll put a poll below.



Listening: To Christmas music.  Yes, I am.

Watching:  Derek and I recently re-started watching The Middle from the beginning.  We were watching Blue Bloods for a while, but we needed a break from drama.  In general we are more comedy-type people, and we relate to the Hecks!  Maybe you have to be from a certain type of family to appreciate that show, because the only people I know who have loved it as much as we do are other members of my family...but we all find it hilarious.

What have you all been up to?

Linking up here.




For Celebrating Reformation Day



This morning I was still laying in bed when I heard my kids shouting from their rooms.

"It's Reformation Day!"

Last year we played up Reformation Day quite a bit, but I wasn't feeling very organized this year, so I didn't plan anything.

"Mom, it's Reformation Day!  Did you make us new shirts?  Can we have chocolate pudding with worms in it again?"

So I guess it's a tradition now.

I'm spending the morning perusing my bookshelves, digging out that video about Martin Luther that we rented from the library, and trying to think of other last-minute things we can do to celebrate.  I'm not mad about this last-minute scramble though.  We don't celebrate Halloween, but last year I decided there is no reason we can't celebrate Reformation Day instead, and I love that my kids have latched onto it.

We dug out our shirts from last year, and they still fit, so we're all good.  Well, except for Georgie, but she doesn't know any different this year.



Protestants are notorious for knowing so little about their own history, and it's a pity because there are so many inspiring men and women who worked to spread God's Word and the truth of the Gospel!  Many gave their lives so others could know that they could be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

I want my kids to know that history, to be inspired by those men and women who were willing to give everything - their reputations, their livelihood, their lives - for their faith.  My tagline for this blog (back when people were really into taglines) used to be about living each day with eternity in mind.  Well, I can't think of any better example of that than these martyrs, and I'm glad that we have this day each year to remember the truth of the Gospel and be strengthened by the faith of those who have come before us.

So, anyway, if you are a Protestant family that would also like your children to have some grounding in church history, I've got a few resources for you.  Some to strengthen you, and some fun ones just for kids.  You don't have to start teaching kids about their Protestant heritage just on Reformation Day, you can start any time!



Also, throwing together some chocolate pudding with gummy worms definitely helps with the retention, in my experience.

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For Kids:

The Life Of Martin Luther - A fun pop-up book about Martin Luther's life!  I wrote about this last year too, you can read more here.

Reformation ABC's - This would honestly be a good resource to learn more about the Reformation for adults as well as kids.  Fun illustrations, and lots of great history.

Church History ABC's - I just ordered this one, and I haven't received it yet, but I think it is similar to the Reformation ABC's.  Basically, I think anything by Stephen J. Nichols is going to be good for church history.

Torchlighters: The Martin Luther Story - I'm not quite sure if my kids are ready for this one yet, so I'm holding off until I can watch it first, but this movie or something similar will definitely be in our Reformation Day celebrations in the future.

Tiny Theologians - If you haven't heard of this website, you need to go check it out!  Lots of colorful and fun tools for teaching kids theology and church history!

Sola Gratia Co - Last year I bought a couple of our Reformation Day shirts from Diet Of Worms Apparel - sadly the business closed, but Sola Gratia Co has some fun shirts that could also do the trick!  I really like the "soli deo gloria" ones.  Or you could make your own like I did, it wasn't that hard.  Maybe I'll do a how-to post one of these days.



For Adults:

The Reformation by Stephen J. Nichols - This is my go-to recommendation for a book to read about the Reformation. It's a short, readable book, with lots of information about the Reformers that I found so fascinating and inspiring!

Why The Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester - If you need some clarification about what the big deal even was about the Reformation, this book goes into the specific doctrines and differences between Protestants and Catholics.  Really informative and helpful.

Wretched Reformation Celebration - You can watch this video on Youtube - I haven't had a chance to sit and watch it yet, but Todd Friel puts out some great resources for Reformation Day each year, sharing stories of martyrs, etc.  There are some short video clips on this channel about the stories of some of the reformers too: here, here, and here, for example.

Five Minutes In Church History - A great podcast about church history!  I was searching through their archives this morning and specifically liked hearing R.C. Sproul talk about the Reformation here.

Foxe's Book Of Martyrs - I have never read this book, because I know it's obviously going to be hard to read.  But I need to just buckle down and start.  I know there are stories of martyrs from the Reformation period in here as well, and I think it's important to remember their stories.

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Even though I dropped the ball on Reformation Day this year, I am going to make sure I put some effort into it next year.  It's obviously become a fun memory for my kids.  Fond memories surrounding learning about church history?  Yes, please.

Have you ever done anything to celebrate or remember Reformation Day?




Two Years Of Sweetness



My Sweet Georgiana Bea,

My darling girl, I can't believe it's been two years since I first held you in my arms!  What a privilege it has been for the last two years to be your mama - to watch you grow and learn what makes you unique.

At two years old now, you are a such a cutie.  My favorite thing about you at this age is the way you say "mmm-hmm"or "uh-huh" to every question we ask you - we can gage what you actually mean by how enthusiastic your second syllable is though.  If you are unsure or just okay with it, it's a slow, thoughtful "mmm-hmm."  If it's exactly the thing you want, it's an enthusiastic "mmm-HMMM!".  Either way, it is ridiculously cute.  You also sometimes insert an "um" before launching off into one of your non-sensical (to us) baby sentences, and it melts my heart and makes me laugh! You say "dank-oo" (thank you) at every opportunity. You aggressively shout "Byyyyeee!" whenever anyone leaves.

You are also starting to know your own mind, and occasionally we'll get an enthusiastic "no!" to a question.  However, it's not your favorite word as it is for some two year olds.  You are, in general, an agreeable little thing.

The way you run right now is another of my favorite things about you.  When you are trying to catch up to your siblings, you take off, but you look like a Weeble - you wobble, but you don't fall down.  You bounce from side to side as your little legs carry you as fast as you can go.  Someday when you are old enough to watch Monsters Inc, I'll point out the way the little cartoon girl runs in that movie.  You look just like that.

Speaking of your siblings, you are constantly chasing them around, trying to do whatever they are doing.  Sometimes they get you laughing, and your sweet little chortle and happy squeals fill the house.  You like to be tickled, and we love to tickle you because your laugh is so cute.

You are probably my most social two year old.  Every time you meet someone new that you like, you'll grin at them and charm them until they are completely smitten with you.  However, you are still most comfortable when I am within sight.  If I have to drop you off somewhere you will cry and reach for me.

I've stretched you far too long on the bottle - your "bah-whoa", as you call it.  It's mainly because letting you have a little milk in a bottle before nap time is still the best way to get some snuggles with you.  You'll fall asleep in my arms, your blanket curled in your fingers next to your face.  Your chubby cheeks relax and I can see how long your eyelashes are as you breathe quietly in your sleep.

Your smile though is the thing I think about first when I think of you.  You have two adorable dimples, one in each cheek, and they just make my heart squeeze each time I see them.  When you are especially happy you give me your biggest grin - cheeks stretching and eyes squinting until they are closed.  Even if I'm having a hard moment, I can't help but laugh when I see how happy you are.

Your personality is delightful and sweet at this age.  You love to "help" with things, and you are especially caring when you think someone is sad or hurt.  You'll hand me things that you think I need with a cheerful "here-go!".  If I stub my toe, you'll shout out "oh-tay, Mom-mee?"  Sometimes if I am distracted or stressed, you'll walk over to me with your little lips pressed together, saying "mmmm" - the signal for a kiss.  I hold your little face in my hands and kiss your nose, and everything is instantly better.

Georgie Bea, when you were born two years ago I was so thankful to hold you in my arms.  After wishing for a fifth baby, and then carrying you for nine months, I felt so peaceful and grateful when I finally got to look into your tiny eyes.  The Lord knew the desires of my heart, and He gave me you.  I still feel that way when I look at you. What a gift it is to get to be your mama.

I love you forever, Sweet Girl.  Happiest 2nd Birthday, Darling!

Love Always,

Mama






The Day I Became Pro-Life

(My precious Georgie, inside and outside the womb.)

I don't remember ever not being pro-life, but I do remember the day that term came to mean something to me.

In the early 2000's, the deabte was raging about whether partial birth abortion should be allowed.  For those who do not know, this is a procedure where a baby is partially delivered and the child is brutally killed in the process of birth, right before the baby is fully delivered.  I won't go into any more detail here, you can look it up if you need to know, but the fact that there was even a debate about whether to ban such a barbaric procedure is still shocking to me.

In the early 2000's, I did not know about the debate or the procedure.  I was 12 years old, and I knew about abortion but didn't think about it that much.

Around this time, Focus On The Family bought ad space in a newspaper to run comic strip in an attempt to clarify and impact the debate.  I'm sure it did have an impact too, because I know how it impacted me.

On the bulletin board at our Bible study, someone had pinned that comic strip.  One day, bored as I was waiting for my mom, it caught my eye.

I couldn't find the comic strip online to show you now, but the strip portrayed a baby in his mother's womb, learning new skills, growing and thriving.  Finally the time comes for the baby to be born, but right before he's about to enter the world...it's all over.  Nothing but darkness.

In the moment I really understood what happens in an abortion.  I knew about it before, but I didn't really know.  I thought about that comic all the way home and couldn't shake it the rest of the night.  And as I thought about it that night laying in my bed, tears ran down the sides of my face.

That was the day I truly became pro-life.

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From that day forward, the abortion issue was something I cared deeply about, but when I finally got pregnant with my first baby, it became all the more poignant.  I read the books about each stage of development, looked up pictures on the internet.  I felt his first little kicks at 16 weeks.  I cried when I thought that other babies the same age as my son, who might have been his friends someday, who were guilty of nothing except existing at the wrong time in the wrong place, who could acceptably be torn apart.

And I know I might be losing some of you with this post.  "It's more complicated than that," you might say.  "What about what the mother is going through?"  And I agree with that, it is rather complicated, but also kind of not.  Because a baby is a baby.  We, especially the church, need to offer more support to empower mothers to choose life for their children.  I love being involved with a pregnancy center that is trying to do just that, while also making sure every woman who comes through their doors hears the Gospel.

Partial birth abortion became illegal nationally in 2003, but Illinois recently re-allowed it in their state.  I live in a state that allows a baby in utero to be killed at any time, up until birth, for any reason.  This just blows my mind.  But I'm encouraged that in other areas of the country, many pro-life laws are being passed.  The current generation is more pro-life than the one before it, and I think that's because we can see inside the womb better now than ever before.  And it's harder to pretend that abortion is something other than what it is.

When it comes down to it, once you know, you can't not know.  That's what happened to me all those years ago.

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There is a church in our area that fills its lawn with small blue and pink flags every October.  It looks like there are thousands of them out there.

There are signs as you drive past that say: "These flags represent the babies who have been lost to abortion, and the men and women who mourn that decision.  Jesus, Divine Healer."

Jesus, Divine Healer.

I'd just like to finish this post by saying that if any of you have had an abortion that you regret, I'm so sorry.  I am not judging you, my heart is just shattered for you.  Please know that I am praying for any who might be reading this who have gone through an abortion in the past, that you would know the healing and forgiveness that can be found in Christ.

And for anyone in my state, I'm working on a petition to get a measure on the ballot to limit abortions after 22 weeks, so if you are interested in signing and helping to stop late-term abortion in our state, send me an email!

The Happiest Place On Earth



We decide to skip the trolley.  After waiting in line for the ferry to leave Disney World for over an hour, I do not want to wait in another line.  "Let's just walk," I suggest, and I hope the parking lot is as close as I think it is.

We trudge across a nearly empty parking lot to a bridge that crosses over one of the many channels of water in Orlando.  Clouds cover the stars, but we can see the moon peeking out on the edges, a handbreadth up from the horizon.  We cross the bridge and I notice how the moonlight shines across the water through the trees.  The sound of junebugs are everywhere, and birds that are strange to our ears call from these little patches of nature in the middle of all the cement.

"Let's pretend we are explorers, and we just landed in the New World," I say as I push the stroller, trying to distract the big kids from their aching feet.  "See that little water channel, and those trees?  It would be like that everywhere.  And there would be birds calling, and crocodiles in the water, and maybe a panther in the trees!  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be here then?  Would you be scared?"

My oldest son's eyes light up as he considers the possibility, while my daughter looks happy that this is just a pretend game.  Up ahead I hear laughter, and I glance up to see Derek with our preschooler in one arm, and our near-kindergartner in the other.  They grin at me over his shoulders, and I grin back, listening as my oldest two beside me discuss how they would protect themselves in the jungle.  

And that's when I finally feel it.



We've been in the "happiest place on earth" all day, but here in this moment, walking on aching feet through a dark parking lot as if we are conquering explorers, this is when I feel the most magical.

And I realize now that we don't have to travel across the country and have "magic" manufactured for us.  We had tried that all day, and it was a failed attempt.  No, those blessed, happy, magic-filled moments can happen anywhere with a little imagination and gratitude, whenever I open my eyes to them.  They can happen with sore feet and damp hair, they can happen at home or far away, when we are doing something exciting or when we are so tired we are merely longing to be tucked under cool sheets.  

Just being with the people I love most in the world, laughing and walking along together, that is the happiest place on earth.  That is a beautiful blessing given to me by God Himself.



That is magical all by itself.

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I wrote this after our trip to Florida in August, and now seemed like a good time to share it, since my month of memory-keeping is almost over!  You can read all my posts in this series by clicking on the picture below.


Nuts And Bolts Of Memory-Keeping







Now that my month of memory-keeping is nearing an end, let's discuss that actual nuts and bolts of memory-keeping, specifically as moms, shall we?  I am still trying to figure out the best way to keep memories for my kids.  It's hard for me to find something that I can consistently do for each kid individually and our family as a whole, at least without letting it take over my life.

These are a few of the things I've tried so far.  As you'll see, many of my attempts have been less than stellar.  I'd love to hear any tips you all have in any of these sections!

(Note: This post contains an affiliate link.)

Baby Books

I got each of my kids a baby book and was relatively good about filling them out - but to be honest, I totally dropped the ball for my last two kids.  I was not going to be that mom that keeps meticulous records for her first child and then doesn't do anything for subsequent kids.  I made a valiant effort, and yet, here we are.

In my defense, I did keep meticulous records for all of my kids here on this blog, which serves in the function of a baby book as well.  I just need to sit down and transfer the information I typed up here into my kids' actual baby books.  I still have my baby book that my mom filled out for me, and I think there is something special about seeing her words about me as a baby, written in her own handwriting.

Photo Albums

Once upon a time, before my third child, I printed up pictures from the first two years of my first baby's life.

And that's it.

I have alot of guilt related photo albums.  There are just so many pictures, I finally realized I can't possibly print them all.  Not only would it cost a fortune, but I don't have enough room in my house for that many photo albums. In addition, it's a huge chore choosing which pictures to print, and I just haven't made time for it yet.

However, currently the only child who has baby pictures to look through is Wyatt, and this is also unacceptable to me.  I remember loving to look through my baby pictures when I was a kid, and hearing my mom tell me stories about each photo.  So a big priority for the next few months is getting some pictures printed up!

More on my strategy in another post soon maybe, but I'd love to hear if you print pictures, and if so, how you choose and organize them.

This Blog

One reason I'm glad this blog never grew too much and I never tried to go too professional with it is that it not only serves as an outlet for my thoughts, but also as a record of our family's lives.  I recorded the kids' birth stories, month-by-month updates for the first year, yearly birthday letters, and a bunch of other random memories on here.

I would like to get caught up on printing my blog into a book.  There used to be a service for this (a very basic service called Blog2Print) which I used for the first few years, but I discovered a couple years ago that they raised their prices to ridiculous levels.  So I'm on the hunt for a better way to print everything here into a book, but at the very least I can print the posts I wrote for each kid and stick them in their baby books, like I mentioned above.  That gives me alot of comfort when I'm feeling like a memory-keeping failure.  The blog is the one area in which I haven't yet dropped the ball.

(If you've printed up blog posts recently and bound them in any way, I'd love to hear what you did!)

A Memory-Keeper Book





This is my latest endeavor.  Several months ago I realized that I would really like to have a better system for writing down cute things the kids say or do.  I have been recording things in my bullet journal off and on, but I wanted something a little more polished that my kids could also look through when they get older.

I purchased a Happy Memory-Keeper on sale, and I'm giving it a try.  The pages are pretty all by themselves and rather inspiring.  The boxes make me feel organized, and I can also easily add pictures or stickers to dress it up a little.

Most of the sections look like this:








I know myself, and I know I'm not going to write something down every day, so I'm just leaving the pages undated.  I'll fill in a box whenever something cute happens, and just make a note of the date until the whole page is full.  One page might last me a month this way, because I'm not going to slap stickers in all the spaces just to fill them up in a week.

The book also has some pages for special days:




So far I'm liking how it's going!  I make a note when something about our day stands out, and I will probably add pictures in some of the boxes eventually.



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As you can see, I have alot to figure out still when it comes to memory-keeping!  But I think the main thing is that I'm trying.  It may not be pretty or very organized, but I know eventually my kids will see the different way that I have tried to capture their growing-up years, and I hope when they do they can see how much I adored them.

How do you keep memories as a mom?

Stay tuned, I might do a more in-depth post about photo-keeping strategies I have tried! Some have worked, some not, but I'm slowly coming up with a plan.

A Typical Homeschool Week




I've thought for a while now of sharing one of our typical homeschool days.

The only problem is we don't really have "typical" homeschool days.

We don't do the same subjects every day.  Some days we might run errands or go on a nature hike, and school looks a little different.  Some weeks are lighter, and some weeks we really accomplish a lot.

What we do have is a typical homeschool week, so I thought I'd share a sample week for you to see how we fit everything in.  This is an actual week of school that I pulled right out of my record book.  I tried to pick a fairly average week.  Some weeks we squeeze in more (especially with science or history), some weeks we accomplish less.  This is just to give you an idea.

You might also notice that we don't necessarily do a math or reading lesson every day - that's because we are actually ahead of where I had scheduled us to be at this point in the year, so some days we skip.  I shared a video about how I planned out our school year, and as long as we are staying close to my goal points, I'm fine with giving us a break on certain subjects some weeks.

Okay, here we go!  I had to guess on some of the surrounding details since I don't remember exactly how the day went several weeks ago, but in general these kinds of days are pretty typical for us.


Monday

The kids wake up around the same time that I do, but I tell them to stay in their rooms until at least 7:00 while I try to squeeze my devotions in.  Some days I can do morning devotions before starting the day, some days I can't.

I get the kids eating breakfast, and fix my makeup.  Then they play while I eat my breakfast and watch the news.  We enjoy having slow mornings.

Sometime around 10:00 or 11:00, I get Wyatt started on doing his math on the computer.  We are supplementing with an online curriculum this year, so some days he does math on the computer, and some day we do one-on-one instruction.  

He finishes math, so I have him practice his cursive while I do a reading lesson with Gwen.  The reading lesson goes quick so we move right on to Gwen's math.

After Gwen is finished I switch back to Wyatt, and we do a reading lesson.  Then I take a break to start lunch.

After we eat, as I'm getting Georgie down for a nap, I have Wyatt start outlining his writing assignment for the week and cut out his "mini books" for his science notebook.  I settle Clyde in with his kindergarten workbook too.  Gwen reads or plays quietly.  I help Wyatt with writing after Georgie is settled, and then we enjoy what's left of the afternoon.

Tuesday

I decide to try to get an early start today, so I start working on reading and math lessons with Wyatt right after breakfast.  As he finishes worksheets or math problems, I start working on spelling with Gwen.  When Wyatt is finished, he takes a break while I move on to Gwen's math.  I want to get her ahead, and she's already got a handle on the concepts in these lessons, so we do three in a row before we quit.  The little kids interrupt us a few times, but mostly play together upstairs, and Wyatt reads a book in the play room.

I make lunch and have Wyatt do an extra computer math lesson while I put Georgie down for a nap.  In the afternoon I work with him on adjectives and verbs, and we start writing his story for the week.  Then he practices his Spanish lessons for co-op before we quit for the day.

Wednesday

It's a rough morning, and we get a late start.  An hour before lunch I get Wyatt started on a math lesson, and Gwen started on writing practice.  We're going to focus on science and history lessons today, so I read a chapter of our Astronomy textbook to all the kids as we eat lunch.  We're learning about Venus, and they are fascinated.  After I get Georgie down, we do our Bible lesson and read a little bit of a book about Lottie Moon, since we are studying China in our history/geography curriculum right now.

We don't have time for anything more since I have to leave around 4:00 to take Wyatt to his soccer practice.  But after dinner, Derek and I pack up pajama-clad kids in the car and take them as far from civilization as we can so we can stargaze.  We see a few planets and identify several constellations.  We give the kids cookies on the way home, and they ask to go stargazing again soon.

Thursday

We have errands to run this morning, so I have the kids take some of their work on the go.  Gwen does math practice in the car and works on handwriting (this is probably tricky to accomplish while we are driving, now that I'm thinking about it).  Wyatt does some cursive practice, and reads his current chapter book, a kids' version of Swiss Family Robinson.  When we get home, I feed everyone lunch and Wyatt does a computer math lesson while I get the littlest ones down for a nap.  We are all wiped out, so I help Wyatt finish his story before co-op tomorrow, and we call it a day.

Friday

Co-op this morning!  We run around like crazy people trying to get out the door, but we manage to get there in a reasonable amount of time.  We are all scattered on co-op mornings.  The kids go into their classes and learn some subjects together with other homeschoolers their age.  Gwen and Clyde hear a history lesson, do a science experiment, and do literature (which involves picture books and possibly a craft).  Clarice and Georgie are in the "preschool" class, so it's mostly playing, snacking, and crafts.  Wyatt has a spanish lesson, science experiments, and writing (which I help to teach).

I always have good intentions of doing some extra "fun stuff" when we get home from co-op - like music or art practice.  But honestly, we usually come home and just crash.

Weekend

Typically we do nothing on weekends, but this particular weekend we squeezed in a field trip to a "Living History Days" event after Wyatt's soccer game!  The kids got to see how people lived and worked in colonial times, which is very appropriate since that's what we're studying in our co-op history this year.



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And that's it guys!  A typical week in our homeschool.  Here is a breakdown of what we accomplished.

Wyatt (3rd Grade):

6 math lessons
2 reading lessons
3 days of writing work
2 days of cursive practice
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of free reading time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op

Gwen (1st Grade):

4 math lessons, and 1 day of practice pages
1 reading lesson (which is fine, because that's all I planned for the week since she is ahead of schedule)
1 spelling lesson (only one is planned per week)
2 days of writing work
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of free book and play time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op

Clyde (Kindergarten): 

Kindergarten workbook pages
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of play time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op


Clarice and Georgie (4 and almost-2 years old):

Lots of playing and books
Joining in on field trips, Bible lessons, etc.

---

Looking at the breakdown, I am pretty happy with the amount of work we accomplished in one week, even though a couple of the days felt like light days.  It just goes to show how things tend to even out over time.  

I will say that after typing this out here, I'm reminded that I need to spend a little more time with Clyde doing more one-on-one lessons.  He is mostly getting workbooks and the whole-family lessons right now, since I'm still trying to figure out what kind of work he is ready for and how to work it into my daily schedule.  So maybe I'll make that a goal for the next couple weeks.

It honestly feels a little vulnerable for me to share this with all of you.  I know some people will look at this sample week and think we are totally slacking, while other moms might look at it and focus in on the things that make them feel like they are slacking in their homeschool.  

But keep in mind that this is just one week of our homeschool.  This is how things are working for us right now.  Like every homeschool mom, I am always adjusting our methods and figuring out our schedule a little better with each passing month and year.  As I said, things tend to even out over time.  By the end of the school year, I'll look back and be amazed at how much we learned and how much my kids grew in their skills and knowledge  - and if you are a homeschool mom, I'm sure you will be able to say the same when May arrives!  

How is the school year going for all of you?

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 4


A Quote

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago,
And people who will see a world,
That I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door.
-Poem from The Fellowship Of The Ring
Maybe you are tired of Lord Of The Rings quotes, but this is the end of a really lovely poem in the Fellowship.  Part 2, Chapter 3, a few pages into the chapter titled "The Ring Goes South".  If you have a copy handy, you should go read the whole poem.  I'm not very good at poetry, but I really liked this one.


A Book

I was working on a new post for Rooted last week, and I raided my shelves for some inspiration.  Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall was the first book I grabbed.  I'm thinking it might be time for a re-read.  I remember how calming this book was for me the first time I read it, leading up to the holiday season.  If I remember right, it has lots of practical tips, but also great encouragement for reflecting on why we celebrate in the first place.


A Bit Of Nature



A photo from the nature hike with my sister last week!  The cousins loved crashing through the woods together.


A Recommendation

While I don't actually think I would do well as a business person, I have a little bit of a fascination regarding how businesses start, grow, or fail, and how that's so often tied in with cultural elements and trends.  Maybe my interest stems from the fact that I like to shop?  Anyway, I came across this channel on Youtube, and his videos are so interesting to me.  I especially like the "Bigger Than You Know" series, and the "Rise And Fall" series.  If you are interested in how and why brands appear on and disappear from the shelves, you might like this channel too.


A Moment Of Happiness

When I took Clarice on a day out with me the other week, I let her pick out a toy.  She picked out this play-cleaning set, with a broom, dustpan, pretend spray bottles, rags, etc.  Ever since she got this set, whenever I start to clean up the house or sweep the floor, she runs to grab her cleaning "supplies" and helps me.  It's so cute to see my little four year old diligently "sweeping" the floor or "wiping" the table.

The other day I was baking, and she ran for her broom, and then all I saw were two blue eyes peering up over the other side of the counter, and a tiny hand with a mini broom carefully sweeping away that flour I had spilled.  I walked into the pantry during nap time, and noticed that she had hung her little broom and dustpan on the spare hook right next to my broom and dustpan.  It melted my heart and brought a grin to my face.  I love this age.

The Memory Thief In My Pocket



I hate this picture.

Okay, hate is a strong word.  I don't hate it.  It's a picture of me and my son while we were fishing last week, so I can't hate that.

What I don't like about it though is that ugly square of a phone sticking out of my back pocket.

Just to clarify, I was NOT poking around on my phone during our fishing day.  The phone is in my pocket because I was using it as my camera.  Photos are a big part of remembering events for me, and  I never feel bad for keeping a camera on me to capture the moments before they slip away (within reason - it is possible to take TOO many pictures).  But looking at this picture yesterday, a thought came to me, and it was this: if there is one thing I won't remember and don't desire to keep memories of in my life, it's the times I am on my phone.  And maybe that should affect my priorities a little bit.



Social media has its place.  I don't think any modern tool like that is all good or bad, so this is not a post about deleting all your social media accounts so you can spend more time making memories.  I'm hoping this might just be a little reminder to you and me to keep some balance.  Because there are some things which are not worth giving up.

It's not worth it to miss real-life interaction in favor of virtual interaction.  Even if the virtual interaction sometimes feels more interesting.

It's not worth it to make your kid call you ten times while you need "just a minute" more to read about some obscure acquaintances' life on Facebook.  Because you probably won't remember or care about that acquaintance in ten years, and it's never "just a minute".

It's not worth it to spend so much time staging perfect photos to grow your Instagram following if it means you are missing real moments with your kids.  Instagram following numbers are sand castles, and your kids should have mostly memories of you without your phone in your face (or theirs).

It's not worth it to get a blog post up every day if you have to stress about cramming writing into a weekend that is going to be full of real-life friendships or put down your sick baby who just wants her mama.

In case it wasn't obvious, that last one was me this weekend.  I'm losing steam on this writing challenge this month, and I think maybe that's appropriate.  Because I'm writing about memory-keeping, which goes hand-in-hand with memory-making.

I had a wonderful Saturday watching my son play his last game of soccer for the year, and driving three hours while we listened to stories to see friends that have stayed some of my dearest friends for the last twenty-two years.  Waking up later than I wanted to the next morning because I was such a good kind of tired, but still making it to church on time, and snuggling my youngest down for her nap before putting together a dessert for a game night with friends who are newer, but still becoming dear too.

And then yesterday, snuggling a sick baby instead of writing up the post I had originally planned for this morning.  I am happy to have this space to record my memories, because I know they would be lost to me if I didn't write them down.  But I won't fondly remember the actual recording of them, and I certainly won't look back nostalgically on time spent poking around on my phone, even if it's for the purpose of recording my memories.

The thing that makes memory-keeping precious is not the keeping part, but the memory itself.  And I think that's just a good thing to keep in mind in our modern age.  Memories aren't worth sacrificing, and it's a noble effort to guard against lesser things that might steal or tarnish memories that could have been made.






A Delightful Eight Years



(Note: I was supposed to post this on Saturday, but oy, it's been a long time since I had such  jam-packed weekend!  My oldest actually turned eight back in February, but I am taking my month of memory-keeping to catch up on birthday letters to my kids.  So here is Wyatt's.)

Wyatt Boy,

I can't believe you are eight years old.  I remember when I first held you in my arms.  I couldn't stop the tears because it was surreal to me that you were here.  I didn't ever want you to grow up then, and I still kind of don't.  But now here we are, eight years later, and what a delightful eight years if has been!

Your eighth year was so fun for me as your mom.  Your reading skills exploded, and I find you with your nose in a book constantly.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am by this.  I love that you want to learn and read!  You are a wealth of information about your favorite topics - animals, and especially birds.  You have really opened up that interest for our whole family, and we've gone on various birding expeditions in the last year because of your inspiration.  It's a joy to me to watch you learn something new or see some animal or bird "in the wild".  Your face lights up, and you talk about it for days afterward. 



Speaking of talking, I love when we get some one on one time together and I can hear all about what fills that smart brain of yours.  Your theories and thought processes are so interesting to me, but you are always willing to learn when I tell you a new bit of information.  I am so honored for the opportunity to be your mom and teach you anything - I get the feeling that I'll learn alot from you my whole life!  I am there for it, my sweet boy.

As of right now, you want to be a scientist when you grow up and discover new species in the Amazon.  Of course, the specifics of what kind of scientist and where you want to go change frequently, but I have no doubt you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  I have never met a little boy before you who was so good at gathering information and remembering it, or who had such a determined interest in something, and I love that about you.

The last year with you was also when I really got to see what a great big brother you are.   You are older now and able to do more on your own, but you take time to slow down to help and explain to your little siblings.  I think you were made to be the oldest in a big family.  Your sense of humor has been developing a lot this year too, and you crack your siblings up frequently!

You have started reading the Bible by yourself, and you persevere even when it's a struggle for you.  You make connections between different information you encounter and how it lines up with what you know to be true from God's word, and I love to see you practicing that skill so young.  Your love for the Lord and for His truth is something that delights me most of all.  I pray for you every day, that you would continue to grow in your love and knowledge of Him.

It is a privilege to be your mom, to watch you grow in knowledge, and to watch your faith grow too.  So often I am afraid I am not up to the task, but one thing you are wonderful at is giving me grace and hug.  You are a blessing to me, my delightful eight-year-old boy!  I don't really want you to grow any more, but if the last eight years are any indication...I think the next eight years are gong to be even more of a delight.  I can't wait to watch you grow up, and I'm glad I get to be the one who is your mama.

I love you always, Wyatt!

-Mama

 (This picture was taken close to his birthday, and I just realized how much more grown up he looks just over the last eight months!)

Sometimes I Just Feel Chatty



Well, I guess this is the week for chatty posts.  I might be losing steam on my Write 31 Days project, but I'm more inclined to think this has just been a busy week and I'm feeling more like chatting on here than anything else.  Here are a few things that have been going on with me.

I've been running all over creation this week, because for the first time in my life, I am volunteering politically(!).  I have mentioned before about how I wash laundry for a nearby pregnancy resource center, and I was excited to be involved in that way.  The pro-life cause has been close to my heart for as long as I can remember (I have a post coming up about that), and I'm always looking for ways to help wherever I can.

Well, I also happen to live in a state where abortion is legal until birth, and this just horrifies me.  So when I heard there was an effort afoot to stop late-term abortion in my state, I was on board.  I signed up as a volunteer petition circulator, and I've been running all over the place trying to meet up with people in my circles and gather signatures to get a measure on our 2020 ballot!  I'm also gathering up my courage to try petitioning in front of the library, but for now I'm just trying to get everyone that I personally know who is interested in signing it.  This is historically a hard state in which to pass pro-life legislation, but I'm hopeful we can at least get this on the ballot and let the people decide.  But anyway, that has been taking up alot of my time this week.

We've also been running to catch up on schoolwork, between Columbus Day on Monday and different petition meetings (though I'm totally going to take the opportunity for a little civics discussion with my kids while we are getting signatures).  Aside from a tricky week though, this fall has been going pretty well as far as school goes.  We are getting way more accomplished per week than we did last year!  I am hoping to get around to either sharing out curriculum or a typical homeschool day-in-the-life next week, so stay tuned.

Hunting season is upon us, so Derek is going to be in and out during the day for a couple weeks here. I am taking the opportunity this weekend to see some friends I don't usually get to see, so the kids and I are going to visit one of my dearest friends from childhood!  You might remember me writing about visiting their ranch before.  It's really neat for the kids to see what kind of work a real ranch entails, and learn more about where food really comes from...and then it's lovely for me to catch up with my dear friends!  I am so blessed that so many of my childhood friendships have lasted, and these ladies are such a gift to me.

Also, on my personal Instagram (that I'm totally open to anyone who is reading this following, so if you want to follow me there, don't be shy) I did a little chatty video/story about how I'm trying to make a better effort at writing down memories of my kids.  Maybe I'll turn this into a longer post next week as well, but if you watched that story, this is the memory-keeper I mentioned.  I think it's going to work pretty well if I can just manage to be consistent with it.

I guess that's it guys!  The kids are watching a Christmas movie that we rented from the library (we are starting early this year), and I'm off to make some fudge to hopefully bring with me on our visit to my friends' ranch tomorrow (I'll probably use this recipe, minus the food coloring - its so easy!).

Also, the sweater you can see the corner of in the picture at the top of this post is from Walmart.  PSA, because they have some great sweaters this year!  Also, this is my nail polish, and it's a really pretty shade for fall.

How has your week been, Friend?


This Or That For Fall

(Photo credit to my 8 year old, Wyatt.  I took them all out for yearly fall pictures, and asked him to take one for me.  Then all my kids wanted to take one of me, which was interesting, ha!)

It's dark outside.  The kids are still sleeping, and Derek brewed coffee before he left.  Harvey is sleeping on the floor at my feet.  I've already done my Bible time with the Lord, so don't think my priorities are too out of whack, but I made myself get out of bed early this morning because we have a busy day today and I wanted to have time to write a post! 

Those who have been blogging since the good old days, for which I am eternally pining, will remember that when you didn't have anything to say, you shared a survey.  Then everyone got all "professional" and "serious" about their blogs and dropped the casual get-to-know-you type posts.  But I still enjoy surveys, and I enjoy reading the answers to surveys, and I enjoy getting to know the people who are writing my favorite blogs, so by golly, we are doing the survey!  

(Don't ask me what I'm doing here, probably trying to explain to the five year old how to not get his hand in front of the lens - but honestly, he did a pretty good job otherwise!)

This is a fall "this or that", and if this sort of thing isn't nostalgic enough I'll try to incorporate some memories into it so it fits with my 31 Day Of Memory Keeping.  Feel free to snag and share it yourself if you want!  I grabbed it from here.

This or that?
1. Pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha?
Oh, I have to say peppermint mocha.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes are good and all, but peppermint mochas just taste like Christmas way more than PSLs taste like fall.  In my opinion.
2. Pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie?
Oh my gosh, why am I being made to choose between these?  We love pumpkin bread around here, but I guess since we have pumpkin bread or muffins so often, pumpkin pie feels more special.  
3. Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving leftovers?
If we are just evaluating the enjoyment of the food, I would say that leftovers make the ordinary days right after Thanksgiving still feel special.  But if we are talking about overall experience, how can Thanksgiving dinner not win?  You get to spend a whole day with people you love best, playing games, visiting, watching football, and just enjoying each other's company.
4. Candy corn or Tootsie Rolls?
Oh, candy corn, hands down.  I think you already know why.
5. Haunted house or pumpkin patch?
I'm not into scary stuff, so pumpkin patch it is.  But can "corn maze" be an option?  Because I really like corn mazes.  We haven't been able to do one since Wyatt was a baby, just because they are so expensive.  I'm waiting until the kids are old enough for the cost to be worth it, but they are so fun!
6. Corn maze or hayride?
Oh, there's the corn maze.  *headsmack*  I guess I already answered this one!  Corn maze in general, but honestly right now with five little kids, we'd probably take the hay ride.
7. Caramel apple or candy apple?
Would you believe that I don't think I've ever had a candy apple?  So I'm not sure I could really say, but knowing me, caramel would win.

8. Boots or scarves?
Okay, this allows me to bring up something that has been irking me.  Guys, are scarves still...in?  I just have not noticed as many scarves when I am out shopping lately.  And you know how they are constantly changing which scarf styles are fashionable, mainly so they can keep selling you more scarves?  I can't for the life of me figure out what style of scarf is popular right now.  I'm not even sure I've seen people wearing scarves much anymore.  WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE SCARVES??
Generally speaking, I do like scarves.  But because of my current confusion, I'm going with boots.  I've never had trouble keeping up on shoe styles.
9. Holiday movies or holiday music?
Why must I choose?  If we are talking about holidays other than Christmas, I'd pick Hallmark movie specials, all the way.  I love that they make movies for every holiday you could think of, ha!  When it comes to Christmas, I would choose music.  I love my Christmas movies, but because the Christmas season gets so busy, music keeps things festive on the go.
10. Tire swings or jumping in leaves?
I've never truly experienced jumping in leaves, because no one actually rakes leaves in the mountains.  We just let them lie on the ground and enjoy the spicy aroma as they disintegrate.  I have experienced a tire swing though - my grandpa used to have one in this massive tree in his yard.  My siblings and I spent hours out there, taking turns on the swing.  Just remembering that now makes me want to hang one up by our house somewhere.
What do you guys think?  Tell me if you disagree with any of my choices, or feel free to grab this survey and fill it out yourself if you want!  


The Wednesday Five | Vol. 3


A Quote
"'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli. 
'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli. 
'Or break it,' said Elrond."                                                                         
-Fellowship Of The Ring

You can probably guess which book I'm reading right now!  This exchange stood out to me this time, and I found it interesting.  I tend to side with Gimli, I think, but curious if you all have any thoughts.  I'm mulling it over.


A Book

Alot of the books from Anne Bogel's summer reading guide were duds for me this time around, but I am listening to one of them, Searching For Sylvia Lee by Jean Kwok, on audio now.  I'm halfway through and really enjoying it, especially in audio format!  This is a mystery/thriller book, and a good portion of the story involves Chinese immigrants in the Netherlands.  The way those two cultures come together here is really unexpected and interesting.  I'm not completely vouching for it yet since I haven't finished, but so far it's also been fairly clean.


A Bit Of Nature


Pretty fall view.  My little white church where I grew up is down in that valley.


An Recommendation

This recommendation is a little different - I'm going to recommend you check out the makeup section at TJ Maxx.  I have two lip glosses and a lipstick that I bought from there that are name brand (Anastasia Beverly Hills and Flesh), but they cost less than half the normal price.  Just thought of that because I particularly like the Flesh lipglosses, and I never would have bought them otherwise!  So if you have a TJ Maxx near you, check it out!

A Moment Of Happiness

The kids had been outside for a while, and I didn't hear much except for occasional squeals of delight.  I was getting a little suspicious, and I went over the window to see what was making them so happy, expecting to see some mischief.

What I saw was my four big children gathered around our red wagon, positioned at the top of the hill of our driveway.  Two of the kids started pulling the wagon down the hill while one sat inside, gripping the sides.  The looks of joy on their faces, and the sun backlighting their hair...it was one of those golden moments I don't ever want to forget.

Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting



One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.



I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.




On Celebrating Small Things



This past Saturday I spent most of the day away from the house.  I had some writing to do, and took some photos for a friend who asked, but between those two things I had an hour to kill.  I went to browse a bit at Target - a dangerous endeavor, but I hardly go there anymore unless I'm by myself.

I skimmed the dollar spot, and put a few fall things into my basket.  Decorative signs, and a couple garlands, and fall stamps.  With our late vacation this year, I have had a harder time feeling fall-ish, and I think my kids have felt it too.

This morning Derek has the day off for a holiday that most people don't celebrate, and some people consider politically incorrect.  Columbus was a fallen human being for sure.  No human "hero" is going to be untarnished, because we are all sinners.  But still it remains that if he didn't bump into new lands all those centuries ago, most of us wouldn't be sitting here, would we?

All this got me thinking about the value in celebrating, and in celebrating things that might not always be deemed worthy of celebrating by everyone.  When I think of celebrating, I usually think of Christmas, or birthdays. But what about just celebrating the changing of the season with a little more fanfare and gratitude?  What about taking a rather obscure holiday to honor a controversial figure, and pull the good out of it, and make a memory over it?



So today, I'm putting out the fall decorations I bought, thankful to the Lord getting us through to another season.  Not just for getting us through but showering us with blessings along the way.   We might go fishing later, because my husband has the day off, and maybe on the way I'll break out an Adventures In Odyssey or another audio drama about Columbus.  As a reminder to my kids of the value of an adventurous spirit, and of part of the story of how we came to be living in this beautiful country.

There is value in celebrating small things, if only in making a memory together and pointing to the Lord for His blessings to us that aren't always glaringly obvious.  Small celebrations are a practice in gratitude, and I would like to get a little better at that.



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