Thursday, November 13, 2014

Seasons change...

Just like the Fall is blowing in beautifully right now, signaling a change in the seasons, so it seems my season for blogging has ended. I've been wrestling with this idea for some time, whether or not it was time to sign off, and just recently I have determined it is time to say thank you for all the years of reading the thoughts I have laid out on this page, and ask you to come for coffee any time you want to catch up with what we're up to. 


Friday, October 31, 2014

Something about the quiet...

Our house is a buzz of activity all day. There are meals and chores, independent studies, and books strewn about. We have people working on handstands while I read aloud, while others color or do origami. As soon as I am finished reading, there are people to tutor and kids working on their memory work or upcoming audition piece. Piano practice mixes in with guitar practice and there is a glimmer of hope that one day harmonious music will come out of that upstairs multi-use room. Dishes flow in and out of the dishwasher like we were a big time restaurant, and the laundry train chugs along as the day weaves in and out of lessons in math, grammar, spelling and history. 

In the last year or so, I have really been striving to figure out how to fit our real book loving, homeschool family with diverse interests and hobbies into a practical minimalist box. I have purged and purged until I think I actually have more empty plastic bins than full ones. And yet, we still find ourselves buried under the weight of our stuff. And that stuff is almost never in the right place. So, when the piles grow to be overwhelming, I stay up crazy late and attempt to restore order. There is always trash, but more of the time, the piles grow from halfway put away stuff. The better I can keep all horizontal surfaces cleaned off, the quicker I catch people laying things down where they don't belong. 

And so, tonight, I unearthed the kitchen counter. This particular one seems to be the biggest "dump and go" culprit. I also cleared the bar which ranks as number two for kitchen clutter. There is something about a clean counter that makes me smile. 

And then there is our school shelf where we keep our current books and kids' keep their school bins. Let's just say, I need to stay up a little longer. 

I am actually encouraged by the mess and the piles. Why? Because it is proof that I am learning to walk in the Spirit and not be controlled by my perfectionist tendencies. It means I am placing a priority on the people in my life (my family, neighbors, and friends), instead of on my things. I still have a long way to go, I still find myself overwhelmed when things get out of control, but that is when I am so thankful for the quiet of the wee hours...

How do you manage the balance between prioritizing kids and household responsibilities? 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Little glimpses...

Not real wordy lately... Just schooling, and taxiing kids to practices and competitions, transitioning to a Paleo-inspired/whole food diet... Loving on my family, keeping up with laundry and dishes...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Want to join me...

Ok, so I am not a runner. In days long past I was an athlete, but running was never a part of the sports I chose. Swimmers don't run. Volleyball players laugh at the Basketball players who are running, because Volleyball players don't run. I just never saw any point to running. Honestly, I have probably not run on purpose since elementary school field day. I am not joking. I have always thought of running as a cruel form of torture.

But, I am really wanting to get back into shape. The baby phase is past, the busy kids being taken here and there phase has arrived, and I am struggling to have the stamina to keep up. Not to mention, I really want to set an example and teach my kids some good physical fitness habits outside of their chosen sports. Oh, and I need to lose over 40 pounds, but who's counting?!?! I began with some core/isometric workouts, but quickly aggravated the abdominal scar tissue I have from 8 abdominal surgeries in the last 13 years. Not cool. Really discouraging.

Thankfully, a week of rest and doing nothing even close to athletic, and the pain from the scar tissue subsided. During that time of rest, I began to wonder if walking would be all I would be able to do. I don't particularly care for walking as an exercise regimen, it takes a long time and I can do it without getting tired. But a friend mentioned to me that she and her daughter were going to train for a 5k race. I asked if the kids and I could join her. She said yes. And I was surprised to find I was happy about it.

I have downloaded a  "Zero to 5k (and 10k)" training app, ordered my iPhone 6 Plus arm band, downloaded the GPS/pacing app, and asked a few friends if they want to join me. I am somewhat competitive by nature, and I don't like skipping out on commitments, so if I get enough friends to run with me, I won't have a choice but to do it! Or at least that is the plan. (Assuming success in November, we will train for the 10k in the spring... I am not even thinking of a half marathon she wants to do in fall 2015 yet... must survive this 5k first).

The kids and I did the first day of training this evening. We ended our run with stretching, some planks and wall push-ups. I feel great, though now I can't go to sleep because I am WIRED. We may have to run in the mornings if this is the effect running has on me. 

So, the question is... do you want to join me? We can cheer each other on. We can rejoice in our successes, and encourage each other in our set-backs. We can get together for a coffee in two months and celebrate reaching goals we never in our lives thought we would set!

Wasn't ever gonna...

... get married or have children... but God saved me, gave me a wonderful husband and opened the flood gates to give us six kids in 7 1/2 years...

... teach... and we homeschool, yes, all of them...

... put my kids in sports... but then we did, and they are flourishing both in skill and in character...

... run for any reason other than being chased by a bad guy... but the kids and I are starting the "Couch to 5k" training program today and are planning to compete in a 5k with friends in the November and a 10k in the spring...

... get back into social media, like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram... but my almost 13yo (in a month and a week) asked to get on Instagram and we decided a long time ago to "be where they are" in the virtual realm...

And then I am reminded how true God's Word is... 

The heart of man plans his way,
But the LORD establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Friday, October 10, 2014

Getting derailed and laughing...

Yesterday we had a delightful, relaxed day of learning. Everyone actually woke up around the same time and one of the twins made oatmeal for everyone. After it was devoured, kids ran off to make beds and do schoolwork.

I worked on some sewing projects for Hannah's theatre class, put a new patch on Noah's Tae Kwon Do uniform (the Grand Master is in town), brushed the pool, and other various chores. We did some group lessons, and then I made lunch. The fact that a friend's daughter has stayed with us all week while her parents are celebrating their 20th anniversary in Puerto Rico is not even mentionable because she blends in so well I forget she doesn't live here all the time. Except for her laughing at my sarcastic and terribly fake British accent from time to time. 

It is somewhat comical how often I have no idea what lunch is going to be until it is upon us. Thursday was no different. But I did want to try a new recipe and I wanted to bake something. I scrolled through my "Recipes: Paleo Inspiration" Pinterest board and stumbled upon a Paleo Lemon Blueberry Scone. I had all the ingredients. I decided that a Paleo Scone and Protein Smoothie sounded like a wonderful lunch. It was. All the kids agreed, evidenced by not a scrap of food or smoothie being left over. 

During our afternoon readings about famous men from the 16th and 17th centuries, we came across the name of a disease no one knew about, scurvy. And, since I tell the children continually to look up words they do not understand, we looked up scurvy. On Wikipedia. Of course. We were marveling at the history of the first reports, attempted treatments, modern day occurances, etc. After derailing from our biographical sketch, we returned to find out about what happened after the settlers recovered from their Vitamin C deficiency.

For the last two weeks, we have been studying about Shakespeare during our history readings. Noah loves all things Shakespeare. We were reading about the Globe Theatre on Tuesday when Noah said he wanted to see photos of the New Globe Theatre (yes, so he could rebuild it in Legos). Derailed again, we went a-googling, and Wikipedia saved the day. In our searching, we found out that the plays that the new (1997) Shakespeare Globe Theatre puts on during the summer have been recorded. So we ordered a few on DVD and they arrived on Thursday. So, the plan for school today was to finish up all work for the week and then sit down for a viewing of Much Ado About Nothing performed in the rebuilt Globe Theatre by world-class actors. Oh, the laughing, and shrieks of joy, followed by gasps of shock (this is Shakespeare, and he had to make the groundlings happy). Applause and laughing ended the 3 hour field trip to London in my living room. Seriously, anyone who thinks Shakespeare is boring needs to see it performed.

These are the days that remind me why we are on this crazy homeschooling journey. I don't remember many days of school growing up, but I can already hear my children telling of the day they curled up on the couch and were researching scurvy and being thankful a local grocery store (so as to avoid the same fate as those French colonists), or how they rushed to finish their school assignments so they could indulge in an afternoon with the Bard of Avon guessing which characters were good and which were villains, and beckoning "that was for the groundlings!"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learning their rhythm...

I remember when my kids were babies and I couldn't fathom the idea of scheduling them. I didn't think I was the best person for telling them when they were hungry or tired. Instead, I looked for clues in their behavior, like rubbing their eyes and yawning or searching frantically about while smacking their lips. Eventually, I noticed they would fall into a rhythm, feeding at pretty well dependable times (excluding growth spurts) and napping at regular intervals. We learned we could push the "schedule" earlier or later without causing much distress, simply by keeping the routine around the eating or sleeping predictable.

And while that always worked with my babies, somehow as kids have grown, I have relied more on the arbitrary decisiveness of a written down schedule and the ticking of the clock to determine when we eat, sleep, play or school. The very thing I never would have imagined doing for my babies is the very root of our daily struggle... staying on and finishing the schedule. And it isn't for lack of trying to clearly think through the day, I have thought and pondered and scribbled and formatted our schedule a million different ways in the last 10 years. Yet, we still haven't been able to find the ever-illusive "well planned day".

The last few days I have watched my kids specifically looking for ways to streamline our schedule. I noticed a few things. Some wake up easy and early. Others wake up slowly and later. When the early ones have to wait on the later ones, we lose their most productive time. When the laters are needing to slowly wake up, the earlies are rushing them because of how long they have awaited their downstairs arrival. Compounded in this observation is that this year we started trying to wake everyone up at the same time, 7am. Those later sleeping kids tried really hard to comply but began  struggling to maintain a happy attitude in the afternoons and were found falling asleep during any car ride after 3pm. And 7am was never early enough for the early kids.

I also noticed that when everyone is fresh and cheerful at the beginning of the day, they play more sweetly together and they really seem to relish being with one another. Yet, by the time the afternoon rolls around (when I have scheduled them to enjoy happy playing with their siblings), they are full of "being with people" and need a break. I can't really complain, that is something I feel too. Then the evening comes, which we have designed to be family time, can be overwhelming to those kids who are full of "together" time and would rather look for a closet to hide in and get away for some time alone than play a game.

And then, I had an "ah-ha" moment. It was an alarming idea to my Type-A self, but I decided to try an experiment with our schedule. I shared my idea with the kids and we are experimenting with it a little this week and officially will adopt it for the month of October next week.

Bedtime isn't changing, everyone will be in bed with the lights out by 9pm. However, I am not waking anyone up anymore. If I felt we had a child who struggled with being motivated to get out of bed, I might not be able to do this, but none of my children have proven to be sluggards, some just need more sleep than others.

Breakfast will no longer be scheduled, and we won't wait on one another before anyone can eat. Instead, it will be self serve upon waking, and to my children's shock, they may come down and eat before room chores lest they wake a sleeping sibling. Following breakfast, they will have their personal devotion and time in God's Word. Then, each child will work on their independent studies (handwriting, copywork, vocabulary, math, etc).

After completing their independent work, they will have free time, the more efficient they are with their time, the more free time they will have. This has been the plan before, but somehow, the free time being all the way in the afternoon was not a motivation. My hope is that the children who need to learn how to be more inwardly motivated will flourish under this schedule. So far, the last couple of days have been promising.

They aren't free forever, though. I call them up to do their room chores at 10am, and we have family Bible study at 10:30am. Then we have a little workout and stretching (honestly, I am trying to tire them out so they can sit more easily during our family school time). Family school follows, which is where I read aloud from history or geography or literature selections and the kids narrate back, or draw, or write reports.

Daily chores start happening while I make lunch, and we all sit down to read the "Proverbs of the Date" as we call it. We bless the meal and while we eat, we listen to some Lamplighter Theatre, lunch is a delightful time now, and since I am not reading and children aren't all talking at the same time, it is relaxing and refreshing as well.

After school we finish up with Mommy-led lessons, pull out the computers for typing and math practice, and finish up everything that looks, smells or tastes of school. The afternoon is free for the children, I make a coffee and prepare for dinner.

Our new schedule may seem long and draw out, but the last few days have truly been delightful, and we are having less conflict with better rested children. We are doing a better job at finishing school at a reasonable hour, and because of my mornings being free from teaching, I have gotten a couple of days of much neglected weed pulling done.

One challenge for me, and my Type-A-ness, is trying to find a succinct way to make this new, more flowing schedule into a cute chart for the refrigerator. But I have not doubt I will figure it out. :)

How do you creatively address scheduling challenges?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Every day...

... the children wake up.
... the kids expect to be fed three times a day.
... snacks are asked for about twenty minutes after finishing one of those three meals.
... my energy runs out far before I think it should.
... coffee is made to fill in the gaps between my real energy level and my needed one.
... the pile of unfolded laundry mocks me as I rummage through it to find my favorite sweatpants.
... the dishwasher runs two or three times.
... I sneak off to be alone in the bathroom for 3 minutes.
... they find me.
... the kitchen counters beg to be cleaned.
... I ignore the clutter that has crept onto my recently cleaned off bar top.
... the dogs bark like they are going to eat whoever just rang the door bell.
... they jump on and try to lick them to death instead.
... the sun comes up in the morning.
... the sun goes down in the evening.
... I notice how many weeds I need to pull in my flower beds.
... I remind myself not to forget to look for the beauty of the flowers.
... we cheer and welcome Daddy home from work.
... I settle at least 17 disagreements/arguments/brawls by lunch time.
... I am realizing how each of my kids are unique, special, and different from one another.
... we are reading the Proverbs at breakfast and the Psalms at lunch.
... we are speaking to each other with God's wisdom more, and our foolish words less.
... we pray for the people in our Church, at the gym, our neighbors.
... I marvel at the good gifts that God has given us.
... I stay up late grading school work.
... the dogs pile up and sleep together on the couch.
... I seek to show my children the power of the Gospel as we walk through life together.
... the blessings are greater than the trials.
... I thank God for His lovingkindnesses to me. 

What do you do every day?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More yumminess...

Every week I am coming to love our CSA more and more. Each Monday I peek at the website to see what sorts of yummy goodies will be filling my box on Saturday morning. And each Saturday for lunch I find a way to cook up whatever was left over from the previous week. 

Besides eating our goodies raw in salads, or as snacks, my favorite way to prepare most of our veggies is with a simple drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of sea salt. This past Saturday was no different. 

Now, you all know this is by no means a blog about cooking, and I can't recall if a recipe has ever been shared on here before, but I couldn't resist telling you about this simple, easy meal. 

Below is the fruit of a little chopping, tossing and roasting in the oven. Pictured are zuchinni, tricolor carrots, sweet peppers, and onion. 

All the while, we had some chicken on the griddle, and once cooked, I slapped a piece of Applewood bacon and cheddar cheese on top and tossed it in the oven for some melting time. {I was inspired by Outback Steakhouse's Alice Springs Chicken, minus the mushrooms and honey mustard dressing.}

The kids asked for thirds, and what I had hoped would provide for a night off from cooking during week, turned into a leftover lunch for two. I heard one child say, "I am changing what I want for my birthday dinner!" :)

What sorts of simple, yumminess are you cooking up these days? {Thanks in advance for any inspiration you throw my way!}

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Never would have thought...

When I was a young girl, my mom and a neighbor taught me how to do counted cross-stitch. I loved it when I was a kid. I got into middle school and got "busy" with my many activities and lost interest in crafts in general.

When I got pregnant with Hannah, I remember walking through Hobby Lobby with my mom and seeing a counted cross stitch alphabet sampler designed with the Precious Moments figurines. I decided to give it a whirl again. Nine months later, I had a new baby and I dropped off my completed cross stitch back at Hobby Lobby for framing. I pretty much swore off cross stitch ever again. Ever.

After I turned 30 years old, a friend taught me how to do red-work embroidery. Something was kindled inside me, and I wanted to create beautiful things with my own hands, and teach my children to do the same. In the last six years, we have learned at least a little something about embroidery, hand sewing, sewing, watercolor painting, knitting, and crocheting, all in an effort to surround ourselves with beauty and dwell on thoughts of the wonders of creation that God has given us for inspiration.

One thing that I like to do is invite my kids' friends over for these crafting times, offering to teach the children (and the mommas) what little I know. I joke that I teach simply, as I have learned mostly from books designed for kids, nothing fancy, but hopefully fun and inspiring. 

Since the children are now each in their one activity and I am finding myself out of the house more than ever, I have been looking for ways to redeem the time. I have made friends at the gym and it is a highlight of my week to catch up with them and laugh and joke, but I can feel my hands twitching for something to do in the midst of the chatting and laughing. I was knitting at the gym before I met any of the moms, but I can't knit and talk very well. 

School having started back up, I have been encouraging the kids to pull out some handicrafts, especially during Read-Aloud times. The girls brought out their cross stitch projects that we started a year ago and never finished. So I grabbed mine, and started taking it to the gym with me. I made some mistakes, ripped out whole sections, but finally finished. 

Since I was able to cross stitch and visit, I grabbed a new project and kept going. Then one of my fellow moms asked if I ever taught, and I said, "YES!" I brought her a kid-sized project and started teaching her. Then a sister of one of Caleb's teammates grew interested. Then another sister seemed curious. We're making up a little crafting club right there on the bleachers in the balcony of the gym. 

I am praying that the LORD use this little group for His Glory and that opportunities to share about the Gospel come from this endeavor. 

How do you keep your hands busy when you have places to wait? 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to school...

Those last few weeks of summer are always bittersweet for me. Most of the time, I can reflect on the sweet memories made, or the silly projects we undertook. But there is also that wall that you hit when everyone has had WAY TOO MUCH free time!

School started around here four Mondays ago. We had a perfectly blissful first week. I kept our calendar clear, just five days at home, children cheerfully waking, doing chores and school work. I was incredibly inspired as we wrapped up week 1. 

Real life came crashing into our lives during week 2. Twice I had to leave the house for doctor appointments during the week, both for me, both once a year appointments with specialists, which I have learned the hard way not to try and reschedule (since that usually involves another four or five month wait for the next available appointment). Our schedule disrupted, attitudes were off, my expectations were misaligned because of our glorious previous week... no one was sad to see the days for that week crossed off the calendar. 

Week 3 found us playing a little catch up from week 2. Attitudes were a little better. Kids were moving slower than I planned for in every area, especially chores and eating! By mid-week, things were looking up, we were doing well completing lessons, and then Caleb nearly broke his finger. (I can say nearly now because I know he didn't, but before the X-rays I was pretty sure he had, as his pinky was crazy tender, swollen, turning black.) Of course, to be sure, a doctor appointment had to be made, X-rays were required on the other side of town, and I came home to find the rest of the kids had either not done their work or had been so chatty they hadn't paid attention to it. Friday's lesson plans were dropped and we spent the day redoing Thursday's work. 

The good news is that we have persevered despite the lack of "perfect" days. That might not sound like a big deal to you, but it is HUGE improvement for me. In years past, I would have already thrown my hands up in the air, and been wishing for a few days to catch my breath. But, instead, I am looking at my own heart and seeing God working on my attitude, correcting my unrealistic expectations, tearing down my fear of man (in how we look and what we should be doing, how much progress we've made), cultivating patience and love for my children. 

I am also looking at how I planned things. In a perfect world, we would do school five days a week and be finished each day by 1pm. But, things haven't been going perfectly (outside of week 1) and I am seeing some adjustments that need to be made. I am going back to planning a four day week to do five days worth of lessons. Day 5 will be for playing catch-up or trips to museums and parks. Homeschool bribery at its finest, "Finish school by Thursday and Friday will be zoo/museum/park day!" This will also benefit us when the days come sporadically for symphony concerts or plays, rarely on Fridays, which will force us into a four-day week for lessons anyhow. 

Another big change for me is that for lesson plans this year, I have left all the computer-based planning charts behind. (Gasp!) I am handwriting plans each week, spreading out what we have to do on our curriculum into bite sized pieces. I am writing in pencil, and I keep track of how we are doing by checking stuff off. (Why does checking off boxes always feel so good?!?!) I am also keeping a list of every book we finish this year... All of a Kind Family was the first to be marked down, many others to come, and each completed book is like a cheerleader in the crowd for a homeschool momma's heart. 

New routines are in place too, and the kids have really embraced them. Family devotions are done before breakfast, and the kids are the ones who get out everything we need so I have no excuse to skip it. We are listening to the Proverb of the date during breakfast, and I read a YWAM missionary story while they clean up breakfast. We listen to a few Pslams during lunch, then turn on a Lamplighter Theatre drama for 15 minutes. I read our literature book while lunch chores are completed. Those few things have been helpful anchors in our day, opportunities to regroup and restart if the previous block of time had been a particular struggle. 

We are also keeping two days each week completely free of commitments. This is new for me. I love being able to just jump up and run out to do this or that. But it has proven to be a disruptive freedom, so I am striving to exercise self-control to stay home, as well as, learn to say "no" to too many extras. There will be exceptions, like this week where we have planned a day trip to visit friends on one of our "no commitment days", but it was the only day that worked and it's been two years too long since we have seen them. 

So, here goes everything... 2014-2015 has begun! How has your school year started? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I always forget...

Whenever I finally grow overwhelmed with the clutter in the spaces in my home, and I clear the calendar so that I can dig in and purge, I always forget the "before" photos. I guess that is part of the reason that I don't have some amazing monetized DIY blog, instead I have a haphazard-when-I-get-around-to-it-Mommy blog. :) 

If you have come over in the last few weeks, you would have probably tripped over bags of randomness or stacks and piles of things to be taken for donation. One particular day, I was purging and watching my neighbor's two boys, and when she came to pick them up I had so much stuff in the hallway I couldn't open the door... that was a little embarrassing... Most of the time the in-process mess has been a little less fire hazard-like. 

The bar in my kitchen, a constant battle to keep people from "dumping" stuff on it has remained neat and tidy for a week! 

I am almost completely done, in the entire house of rooms and closets, every room in the entire house has been decluttered and purged but one, the master bedroom. So, tonight I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet contemplating how to make this small space work for E and I. I don't really require much, most of you know my "uniform" of a tshirt and sweatpants, but I do actually have a few "real" clothes that are shoved in the back of the closet. 

To make more space, as well as continue on the purging train, I got rid of all the clothes on my side that were heavily worn, no longer my "style" (which is a very loose term seeing as how I live in sweats), or things that haven't been a good fit for a long while. The whole event caused me to want to go out and buy a few black pairs of pajama pants and call it a day. Alas, two big bags out of the way, and there is already some breathing room in our small closet. 

If there is anything this whole house purge has shown me is that my home, while the largest I have ever lived in, has very little closet or natural storage space. So, I either need to love something enough to look at it regularly, or need it daily, or it needs to go be a part of someone else's home. And seeing as how I have saved my bedroom and closet until last, I am finding where most of the needed items which are not on display have ended up. 

School starts around here on Monday... I am hoping that it is not an unrealistic goal to have my bedroom cleaned out and purged by then. We shall see. And if I could only get those picture ledges installed in the living room... Well, that may be unrealistic. :) 

When the purge is done, I will post some photos. Clean, tidy spaces just make me so happy. :) 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Seemed like a good idea...

I thought that I would purchase ebooks for school this year, especially for things we would need more than one year, for more than one child. It seemed like a good idea until I hit print and left the room, and returned to see this...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Not fast enough...

We just recently joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I am having to figure out how to use up our goodies, which includes trying new things. Tonight's experiment was inspired by a few items in our basket... Cucumber, watermelon and mint. The watermelons were small, organically grown in Austin, and the cucumbers were huge! And I was clueless about fresh mint. 

But here is what I threw together... I cut up the watermelon in small chunks (taking great care to remove the seeds), then I cut up the cucumber in equally small chunks. I plucked a handful of mint leaves and minced them up. I cut up some romaine hearts and spinach, then tossed them all together with some feta cheese. All the while, some applewood smoked bacon was cooking in the oven. 

Plates made, bacon crumbled, everyone dove in. Comically, our two youngest thought the watermelon chunks were tomatoes and avoided getting many in their salads. When the identity of the red chunks were revealed, they dove back in for more salad. Some added salad dressing, I ate mine without and it was phenomenal! 

Lots of work, yes. Best salad I can remember eating in a crazy long time, yes. Devoured before a photo could be snapped, yes. You'll have to use your imagination. Sorry! 

Trying to use more of the mint, and add stars to my imaginary "Mom of the Year" plaque, I followed dinner by making a plain Greek Yogurt Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie. The only ingredients not listed in the name are honey, milk, and ice. Can I just say I love my Vitamix? Because I totally do. 

I am looking forward to more culinary delights as my CSA experiment continues. Tri-color carrots, okra and beets are next. :) 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A little housework...

I don't dust as often as I should. And I have some black furniture, which doesn't make for the best combination. However, I eventually move some item which reveals the desperate state of dustlessness. 

Today, I rearranged a couch and table in my living room, and as I did so, noticed how badly my indoor house plant needed to be dusted. Yes, my plant. It is supposed to have slick green leaves, and instead it had grayish hairy ones. Blech. Usually when things get that bad I take a damp towel and wipe each blade. But I was holding the vacuum hose after dusting the blinds and I wondered if I would kill the plant in my experiment to speed up the dusting process. 

So, I vacuum dusted my plant. Yep. Only one leaf was sucked off the plant while I figured out how to minimize foliage damage. It's isn't perfect, like hand wiping each blade would be, but it's better and done. And now I am free to get back to my neurotic decluttering. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Just another day at the park...

Earlier this week we woke up early and headed out to meet some friends at the park. We suggested meeting at Fredrich Wilderness Park, known for some great hiking trails as well as some unique birds. 

Our kids hadn't seen each other for around six weeks. I should have known better than to expect a quiet bird walk. The kids meandered off, but even when we couldn't see them, we could hear them! We finally made it to the windmill, but instead of rare birds, we found goofy kids...

Moving on, and losing sight of the kids again (but never out of ear shot), they found a spot with a small drop-off and decided to stage a dangerous scene...

Can't wait to see what future adventures will bring. :) 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

There's a first time for everything...

Including taking photographs of lightning. There was a fantastical, keep your kids up to watch, Texas thunderstorm with an incredible light show tonight. The girls are away at Grandma's house and I let the boys stay up to watch their current favorite movie, The Lego Movie.

Elliott and I were visiting and hashing out the day, and I kept thinking that I was hearing thunder. Elliott insisted it was the movie and the speakers being up too loud. I bought that idea for awhile until there was a quiet part of the movie and a loud patch of thunder.

I went out front, neighbors were out of their houses watching the scene. I have never, ever, in my whole life seen such a light show. I had Elliott call the boys outside (pausing the movie, of course). They were awed. Caleb said it was better than fireworks. I said they were God's fireworks. Micah said it was brighter than daylight. Noah marveled at how the thundering never stopped, and new lightning kept flashing across the sky.

Eventually, the boys went back to their movie, Elliott went to bed, and I sat on the driveway with my camera. Here's what I captured...

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty and magnificence of God's creation.

Monday, July 14, 2014

While they were sleeping...

And by that, I mean kids, dogs and hubby. I love organizing and cleaning in the silence of the night. :) 

So, the master bathroom made it to my "must do" list because it was disordered, dysfunctional and disgusting. I worked on it on and off with children awake (progress was slow). I worked on it while I visited with Elliott after kids were in bed (trash bag filling). 

Once E was asleep, I quietly organized lower cabinet, and then the upper cabinet. I cleaned the sink, mirror and counters. I still need to clean the shower, tub, toilet and floor. But this is an encouraging start. :) 


A few of my disasters...

As a reforming perfectionist mom, I wanted to share with you what happens to my house when I prioritize playing with my kids...

Now you know what I have on my to-do list for when the kids are sleeping. I may have to call a Movie Day or two to get these areas under control. But I am realizing that the memories I want my children to have of growing up in our home have nothing to do with cleaning products, and everything to do with laughter and joy and loving one another. Of course, if any of you know how to combine the two... Please share! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reclaiming order from chaos...

We have three rooms in the house that we generally try to keep the kids out of, except with permission. So much of our home is child-friendly, even designed with creativity and play in mind, that I have equally created a few select places to be more mature and less play. The problem is, since we live in the kid-friendly spaces most of our days, the other three rooms occasionally (more than I would like to admit) become messy dumping grounds, spaces that end up unusable and require a good deal of effort to restore. Please tell me you have rooms like this and I am not alone! (Please?!?!?)

The one comforting thought is that I know that everything has a place... It's just not there at the moment... And I wrestle with making good decisions on how to use my time. Since I could naturally tidy and organize all day, neglecting the kids, I have been really trying to play more and clean less. But eventually, I hit a breaking point and I can't stop thinking about cleaning whatever space has become overwhelming. Recently the upstairs craft and music room became that space and its plight has been on my mental to-do list looking for an opening on the calendar to plunge in and restore order. 

Last night the twins asked E to take them to their gymnastics practice. This morning, Micah woke up with the gymnasts and asked to go with E to watch them. Leaving Hannah and Noah and I at home, I knew exactly what to do. Tackle this...

In the process of cleaning out this disaster area, I discovered some paintings the kids had done when we had friends visit in June. I added some simple hardware to the backs of each piece and hung them up in our gallery between the kids' bedrooms. 

After about two hours, I could see the floor again...

We had a wedding to attend in the afternoon and I was wondering if I would finish in time to get ready. Elliott came home with the kids from gym and started making lunch. I was too close to finishing to eat, so I kept plodding and resisting the urge to make piles to be dealt with who knows when. 

And then, I vacuumed. And then I stepped back and smiled. And the sun was shining through the window, smiling too.  :) 

And yes, I realize the only reason it is still clean now is that we left the house before anyone could enter it. But it made me smile anyway. And it makes me want to go create something. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pride goes before...

Micah and I had a full week of mornings together a couple of weeks ago. The older five kids had day-long camps and Micah's camp was only a half-day. It was really fun to spend some one-on-one time with our littlest guy.

Monday morning I had a long list of errands, and he was a trooper being dragged in and out of the different stores on my list. His only request was that he be able to climb in and out of the car window instead of opening the door. I decided to say "yes", much to the delighted giggles of my little guy. At one point, as I was enjoying the childhood joy on his face while he plunged headlong into his seat through the window, I sent Elliott a text that said, "I would be such a good mom to one kid!" He laughed. Well, technically he responded, "LOL!"

Our week of mornings was going delightfully well. Thursday morning, I had a friend stop by for a visit and lunch. Micah played happily, enjoying the quiet (or maybe that was me). I asked him to get his bag ready for camp and he cheerfully agreed. I probably should have noticed his devious grins...

I dropped off Micah at his camp, all smiles and ready for fun, then a couple of errands and on to picking up the older kids. Since no busy week is complete without a medical emergency, I dropped most of the kids at home and rushed to a doctor appointment for a kid with a minor wound. While waiting for the doctor, I got a panicked call from the kids at home informing me that Micah had lopped the sleeves off his rash guard for swimming. Really?!?!? Micah continues to prove that he really is the "nobody else ever did that kid".

Doctor visit finished, Elliott and I had a date, so we didn't see the kids Thursday evening and E's mom picked up Micah from camp and the kids enjoyed an evening with Gammy. Because I was not the one to pick Micah up that afternoon, I didn't find out what else Micah had done during my blissful, I am such a good mom of one kid, Thursday morning.

Friday we had to go to the store to replace the cut up rash guard, Micah had some money saved up which paid for the replacement shirt. Then, I took him to camp and went to apologize to his coach for the bedraggled looking shirt he had worn the day before. The coach looked at me quizzically and then said something you never really want to hear, "So, I guess you didn't hear about what happened yesterday..."

To say my mind was spinning with possibilities would be an understatement. I sheepishly admitted I had no clue, wasn't the rash guard incident bad enough? No, apparently it was not, because Micah's coach went on to tell me how when they had sent the kids to the restroom to change for water time, Micah came strutting out of the bathroom and straight across the gym not wearing the cut up rash guard, but instead, one of his twin sisters' swimsuits! Proud as a peacock about it too. And when offered the opportunity to change, he declined saying he was fine. I almost died. Finally, enough of the little girls at camp were giggling over the incident that he was embarrassed enough to go change into his swimsuit and his deconstructed rash guard. 

Immediately, I texted Elliott. I also shared the incident with a close friend. I told her how I had jokingly sent Elliott the text on Monday about "being a good mom of just one kid". She replied, "pride goes before the fall." Yep. Totally. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A cozy read...

In the last three days, the harried summer schedule we have been following has slowed down. Instead of rush, rush, rushing from one commitment to the next or preparing for a big trip, we have spent our afternoons cuddled on the couch, drawing at the table, or playing with blocks and cars while I read aloud to the children.

Monday we read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. Yes, I cried. It was a delightful read, and completely written in poetry. But totally easy to follow and funny, as it is written like a poetry journal between the main character, Jack, and his teacher, Miss Stretchberry. Jack is probably in the 4th or 5th grade. I have already lent it out and am looking forward to reading it again.

Tuesday we read Hate That Cat also by Sharon Creech. Yes, it is a sequel. Even more endearing and precious than the first. Jack is a year older, and he is happy to have Miss Stretchberry again. Yes, I teared up. Again. A sweet, touching book.

Today we began The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. I didn't want to put it down, but I promised the kids they could go swimming at 3:30pm. Even with swimming promised, there were gasps of distress when I laid aside the book. Something tells me I know what we will spend the afternoon doing tomorrow. 

How are you spending your lovely summer afternoons?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's in a name...

Lately, Micah has taken to calling Elliott "Dada" instead of "Daddy". At first it was cute and I thought he was playing some game like "I am a baby..." but the name has persisted for the last few weeks. And honestly, it is funny to me that our family "baby" is the first and only one to call Elliott by such an endearing title.

As cute as it is when Micah rattles off, "Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada...," sometimes it gets to be a little much... but then something like this happens...

Micah: "Dada, Dada, look at me, Dada, Dada..."
Elliott: "Simon Says 'Don't call me Dada...'"
Micah: (without skipping a beat) "Elliott, watch this."

... and in a Bill Cosby kind of way I say, "just let him call you Dada." They grow up so fast.

A mommy comedian...

You never know who you are going to meet sitting on the bleachers at the gym. And yet, a few weeks ago, I struck up a friendship with a mom whose son is on Caleb's Boys' Team. We have been talking and laughing, and it was obvious pretty quickly that this mom was a Christian.

And then, as we were visiting tonight she said, "You know I am comedian, right?" I laughed and agreed she was pretty funny. But finally, it turns out, she started a Christian Women's comedy group a few years ago. Their main goal is to help women see that "Imperfect is Perfect" and God is more than able to meet us in our messes. So, in case you need a laugh, meet my friend Jessica over at

Friday, June 13, 2014

When the world stops spinning...

My schedule is pretty predictable. I like that. It is so predictable, in fact, that the local coffee shop on my way to take the kids to gymnastics and TaeKwonDo knows when my kids have class. Maybe that is too predictable. :)

We have settled into our extra-curricular activities, and even though we are slightly busier than I originally anticipated when we signed up for some recreational classes in the fall, everyone is excelling and we have managed to keep a fabulous balance with family time. We divide and conquer the dinner hour on Mondays, but every other night we are all together. (You may remember this being one of my biggest hesitations about getting started on the journey of athletics...) We have noticed a work ethic in some of our kids that has been distressingly missing previously, they are enjoying the more active schedule and it shows in their work in other areas. So far it has been a win-win.

Summer is up and running, and with it, our Christmas presents to the children are keeping us going. Instead of "stuff", we gifted the kids "experience" (a.k.a. day-camp of your choice). Next week the kids will go in three different directions based on interests and age. Excitement is bubbling over. I am wondering how much coffee (for me) and gas (for the suburban) will be needed to keep the whole program running. This is a first for us. It will either be the start of a new tradition (stuff-less Christmas gifts) or it will be chalked up to "been there, done that, here's a Lego set". I will keep you posted. I am nervously optimistic.

An update on me... I am always behind on laundry, usually don't know what dinner will be until something has already started cooking on the stove, my inbox overflows daily because I ignore it until I take potty breaks, and my computer probably thinks I am mad at it because I now use it more as a clipboard to write on than a computer. I am still writing the Preschool church lesson, albeit finished later each week than it ought to be... we are wrapping up a series on the Armor of God this week and I am hoping that the class doesn't end up getting out of hand when I pass out swords to all the boys. I am getting ready to prepare the school year for our crew, we are starting the first week of August and new schedules and assignment sheets need to be designed. In a nutshell, normal chaos.

I think I have finally stopped looking for the ever-illusive "normal" to return. God gives seasons of peaceful rest, and He gives seasons of bubbling activity, and both are a blessing. Sometimes I laugh at myself and wonder why it took me so long to figure that out. I joke sometimes that I look forward to the day the world stops spinning, but really, I am learning to put on my seat belt and enjoy the spin. I don't really know if this will be a season for blogging, but I will update when I can.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The trouble with being social...

I signed off Facebook a long time ago. And I don't miss it, really. I now truly know my handful of friends in rich, deep, transparent ways, instead of knowing a little of what is publicly shared from 100 or more "friends". Elliott keeps me posted on family since he is still socially connected. I am convinced that the decision for me to be off Facebook is the right one, every time he asked me to look for some particular post on there and I find myself sucked in for twenty or thirty minutes scanning through the praise reports of everyone's day. Moments of distraction I can never get back...

Then I found Instagram. I really enjoyed the square shaped photos and the cool filters. For a long time, I didn't know I could have "friends" on there too. My list of friends slowly grew and imperceptibly, my app that made my photos look cool turned into a "I wonder what my Instafriends have posted in the last day... few hours... twenty-three minutes..." I have taken the app off my phone, only to reinstall it. I have said I wouldn't post to keep myself from the temptation of perusing. Alas, my flesh is weak, I do ok for a day or two, followed by checking way too often for another day or two.

And then it happened. It was the same thing that happened with Facebook. The conviction that I was spending too much time in my virtual world was already starting to gnaw at me. I tried to justify it by making the excuse that the kids would be thankful for all my cute photos. But then the kids started saying, "Are you gonna put that on Instagram? I wonder who will like it." Or, "When Mom is done on Instagram, maybe she could read to us..." Ugh.

I admire the moms who can manage a socially-networked life and not lose touch with their real-life one. As much as I seem to be able to multitask in other areas of my life, it seems I cannot be "social" and "real" at the same time. I'll be honest, it's a hard pill to swallow. I have to admit to myself how weak my flesh is, how much of an approval junkie I still am. I have to repent of the sin of comparing myself to others, of being ungrateful for my blessings because someone else's look like so much more or because they have the photography skills I could only dream of, their homeschool day flows more sweetly than mine, they live on a farm with chickens and sheep, they have adopted kids from all over the world, they sell my favorite shoes and travel the world sharing shoes with all... the list goes on.

The trouble with being social for me is that my heart is drawn away from the things that truly matter; Jesus Christ and His Word, my husband and children, going out in front to keep in touch with neighbors. When I am "connected" I get distracted from what is real and true and lasting.

Bye-bye Instagram and social networking. Again. For good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The room at the front of our home has been E's office for years. He simply doesn't work from home much anymore and we decided to move out all the office furniture and make a cozy sitting room. When the desks left, we were met with a mess that kept on growing...

Elliott took some time off work and I invested about three days into cleaning out the sitting room, organizing books and purging. I am so excited with the result, and with the fact that it has stayed clean for a full week! 

Here is what is leaving. I am looking forward to the homeschool book sales this summer. If you want to browse early, call me and come for coffee! 

More to come...

Friday, February 14, 2014

What I am used to...

Inevitably, when I take out all six of our children in public mid-day, someone comes up to me and has a question or comment about our flock. Usually it's something like "are they all yours?!?!?" The pretty normal response when I claim them all as mine is some where between "oh my!" and "bless your heart!" Occasionally there is the person who mutters as they walk away, probably commenting on their imagined view of my mental status. Thankfully, that is more rare, and I generally enjoy interacting with strangers about my children. 

Today the kids and I went to lunch with my mom. Our favorite new place is a gourmet burger joint called "Order Up!" near the Quarry Market in the Lincoln Heights shopping center. We don't go often, it's a huge treat as they are super GF friendly, all the way to the end of the meal with fresh baked GF Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

As I was refilling our Prickly Pear Pink Lemonade, a woman approached me and said, "They aren't all related are they?" No one has ever asked it like that before, but I assured her they were all siblings. Her response made me blush, "I told my friends that there was no way they were all from the same family, they get along too nicely!" It was a sweet moment, and super encouraging. I hope and pray that friendship and kindness characterizes our children more and more as they continue to grow in Christlikeness. 

*Not to spoil the mood of this cheerful post, the children were fighting about 6 1/2 minutes later when it was time to take a seat in the car to leave. I just laughed to myself. They are definitely related. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


This last year has found me itching to get rid of all the excess in our lives. What is entangling us and keeping our family from having more time together, having more of an impact on our neighbors, friends?

I saw something at the end of January that I have been mulling over in my mind ever since... I think it will be my mental banner as spring arrives and I take a few days to clean up and clean out some long neglected corners of our home.

"What if all you woke up with tomorrow were the things you thanked God for today?"

Would that change what you kept around?
Would you find yourself in prayer more?
Do you think you would see the riches in having less?
What would you change about what you kept? What you bring in?

I am seeing how much of my "keeping" has been out of guilt and embarrassment over my poor stewardship in the past. And I am thankful that God does not dangle shame over my head, but extends me unmerited grace and mercy, and that gives me the courage to make changes that will free me up to be available for the good works He has prepared for me.

As the weather warms up, I see a school holiday being called - Decluttering Day! And for anything we keep, I pray our hearts will be bursting with thanksgiving for the abundance of blessings He has given us.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heaven is for Real - Movie Review

One of the perks of being a media volunteer at church is being invited to advance screenings of Christian or "religious" movies.  It's also a great excuse for us to hire a baby sitter and go on a date!  So, last night we were invited to a screening of the movie Heaven is for Real which is based on a true story.  There is already a book that was written and this movie is taken from that book.  The pastor and family are real and in fact still preach at the church mentioned in the movie.  I didn't do any research on the movie other than watch the preview.  It seemed like it might be a good film.  It comes out right around Easter and I couldn't advise you strong enough to NOT go see it.  Do not support this movie.  If you want a great movie to see during this time, go see the God's Not Dead movie!

So, why was this Heaven is for Real so bad?  There was not a single scripture reference or presentation of the Gospel.  When people would ask the child if their son or spouse was in heaven, the pastor would respond did you love them enough to go to heaven?  To go to heaven, we must know Christ which means knowing and following His Word.  Someone doesn't go to heaven because we love them.  Jesus Christ is a loving God and because He loves us, He commands us to repent of our sin and follow Him.  This means we are to die to our own selfish desires, humble ourselves and follow Him.  We must read His Word daily so that we can be discerning and make disciples.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth".  2 Timothy 3:13 also tells us that "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived".  Don't be deceived by thinking this is a Christian movie.  It is a feel good movie, without any foul language or violence but certainly not an outreach or evangelism movie.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A change of schedule...

After years of me not wanting to have the kids involved in team sports, for a myriad of reasons, the time came for us to tip-toe into the world of athletics. We began in the fall with allowing the children to take one recreational class a week. Four of the six children chose gymnastics, two decided on martial arts. I found one gym in a neighboring town that held both sports at the same time. Score for me! Yay for scheduling simplicity!

A few months into our new endeavors, three of the children were invited to try out for different levels of team gymnastics. A little voice inside my head was screaming "NO WAY! Our family time will be torn apart!" But then, I looked at the schedule. While, the team practices would lengthen the amount of time we spent at the gym, the team practices fell on days we were already there. We did add a Saturday morning practice for two of the children, but besides a birding commitment from time to time, our Saturday mornings have generally always been pretty clear.

Elliott and I prayed. We crunched the numbers to make sure we could afford it. I figured out a plan to minimize gym waiting time for the kids who weren't on team. When we told the children that we were going to give it a shot, they were giddy. We have survived the first month of our new schedule. It has actually been quite fun to spend 1-on-2 and 1-on-3 time with kids, when we are so used to 1-on-6 for every endeavor. The kids are taking their commitments very seriously, it is neat to see them take ownership of staying fit and growing in their skills.

This week, though, we needed to make a new adjustment to our daily school schedule. The twins' coach sent home a conditioning sheet with a workout for them to do at home every day between their Monday practice and Saturday practice. I have been wanting to work out, but not been able to motivate myself to squeeze it in. For the last two days, we have broken up school with the following workout:

Chicken Walks (15) - This is where you do a handstand with your feet against the wall and you lift one hand at a time off the floor. You have completed one of these after you pick up each hand once. I tried one. I have decided to only supervise this exercise in the best interest of protecting myself from a massive head injury.
Regular Push Ups (10) - These are a childhood favorite of mine. I don't remember them being so difficult, but considering the last time I regularly did push-ups I weighted about 25% less than I do now, I am trying to give myself some grace. I do have a good push-up posture thanks to the 1000's of push-ups I did as a child. My children, however, obviously need to do more push-ups as their form is a work in progress.
Push Up Hold (15 seconds) - Here you go down like you are going to do a push-up but you don't come up for 15 seconds. 15 seconds doesn't sound very long. And it isn't in the grand scheme of things, but when you are holding your push-up, you never think the 15 seconds will end. I do think I probably started counting faster near the end, tomorrow I will need to employ the stopwatch for all fairness. 
Diamond Push Ups (10) - These we do on the wall, with our hands in front of our chest and with our index fingers and thumbs in a diamond shape. They are surprisingly effective at making my arms ache.
Dips (15) - I am thankful for our dining room table benches, as two of us can do these at the same time on each bench. You place your hands with fingers facing your bottom and you dip yourself down until you form a right angle with your elbow and then you push yourself back up. Besides my arms feeling numb at this point, this exercise also starts to send a burning sensation across the top of my thigh. I am reminded of my age and out-of-shapeness by the near constant popping noise coming from my right knee. It is ridiculously humbling and I stay strangely quite as the children ask one another, "do you hear a strange cracking noise?"
Crunches (20) - Laying flat with toes pointed, and looking straight up at the ceiling, slowly crunch up until all abdominal muscles are engaged and then go back down. These seem easy until about number 13, then I think I might die or start cheating and count by 2's, but the kids are watching. Today, Micah began commenting on how red my face was at this point, he said it was scaring him.
Ab Rollers (20) - Laying down, keeping legs perfectly straight and toes pointed, you pull your legs up from the floor to a pike position, rolling up into a crunch to as if you plan to meet your nose to your knees while your feet point to the ceiling. Then, you let your legs down as you release from your crunch, but you do not allow your feet to touch the ground. I love how many different core muscles are engaged during this one exercise. Somewhere around the 10th one I thought I was going to throw up and I transitioned into a supervisory role and critiqued and corrected the children's form. Thankfully the muscle spasm that had taken hold of my abdomen lessened so I could be ready for the next exercise.
Sit Ups (10) - Here we pair off to sit on each others feet so that a full sit-up can be accomplished with no "cheating" of lifting of feet from the ground. Sit-ups were another childhood favorite (yes, I had an unusual childhood), and my doctors are all surprised that after nine major abdominal surgeries that I can still do a sit-up. Tonight I cheerfully, albeit slowly, did all 10. I was eternally grateful there was no need for an 11th.
Plank (2 x 30 seconds) - Thanks to the stop watch on my phone, no one has to count aloud during this exercise where you get in your best push-up form and hold it through all the quaking and shaking of your biceps, back and abdominal muscles that begins around 19 seconds. I have begun wondering if I will be able to lift the covers to go to sleep tonight.
Over Splits (2 minutes) - The twins make doing the splits look as easy as putting on Toms. I have chosen, mostly due to the full body ache and need to be able to walk and care for my family after the work out is complete, to simply time the children as they do their splits. Besides, none of the children are currently strong enough to lift me up and off the ground if something were to go wrong during my doing a split, so for their safety, I just cheer them on.
If I work out with the kids the rest of this week, I think I will have done more exercises this week than in most single months in the last 10 years. Following the inaugural workout yesterday, I was surprised with a few aches but happily was not hindered from being able to do my normal daily activities today.

The Lord has humbled me numerous times as we have traveled down this new road, the simplicity of fitting the commitment into our lives, the daily work outs I have avoided for so long, as well as answering prayers long forgotten. So many times I have lamented that I don't have a lot of contacts from outside my church or homeschool mom friends. Now I do. I am forming relationships with the moms of other kids, even a few grandmothers. God is so good. He gives us so many gifts, even ones we didn't know we needed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And a month is gone...

How is it February already?!?!?! Is anyone else shaking their head at how the first month of 2014 is already gone?

As soon as January rolled around, school started back up, Elliott got the flu and was crazy sick for two weekends (he felt better the week in between), and then Noah broke both wrists in a swing set incident never to be forgotten (and I hope not repeated!). We have a new schedule thanks to the kids being in various activities, we are the busiest we have ever been with outside activities, but the Lord has been gracious to allow the days and times line up neatly into two evenings and one Saturday morning each week.

I have found myself wondering how moms of big broods of kids have time to blog, much less monetize their blogs. Most days I can't figure out what to make for lunch, much less figure out something witty or encouraging to publish on the blog.

And yet, as I sit down, preparing to go to bed (way too late... sigh), I have a glimpse of what God is doing in my life right now. I have been setting aside the computer lately, pulling off-line during nearly all waking hours so that my time is spent making face-to-face, real, connections with my children, my husband, my neighbors. It has been harder than I thought, days go by without my even cracking open the laptop. Emails pile up, I fight the anxious feelings of being "behind" and try to delete anything I can from my phone during short trips to the restroom.

God is teaching me about His priorities. I am studying and learning how to better love my husband, how to teach and love my children, how to reach out and share His love with my neighbors and friends. Very Titus 2 and Great Commission-y,  you might be thinking, and you would be right, for God is igniting my heart to grow in His Word and seek after His purposes. Email, Instagram and Pinterest are being relegated to quick glances during obscure moments scattered sparingly throughout the day.

So, a whole month is gone, and while I hope to capture the memories of it more regularly on here, if I disappear from the blogosphere for too long, just stop by and I will make you a coffee (or a tea) and we can catch up, for real and in person. :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

All done...

When a project comes together...

was crazy reluctant at first. But now I am hooked. What am I referring to, you ask? Pinterest, of course. I am the first to admit that I must force myself to exercise a great deal of self control to not spend too much time pinning my day away. On the flip side, I also find great inspiration for projects and kid activities that otherwise would have never been discovered. 

Awhile back I was planning projects for Christmas and came across a few photography projects on Pinterest. I pinned them up on my Photography board and didn't think too much about them. I love photography. I take tons of pictures. Oddly enough, I rarely print them. In reality, I have limited the number of breakables in my home for the last 12 years due to the presence of short people, and lots of them. However terrified of broken glass I may be, I really love the warm and loving feel of homes with pictures of their families on the walls. We just got our family portraits done and they were so wonderful I wanted to show them off in our home. And then I remembered the project I had seen on Pinterest... DIY Photo Canvas. 

I bought the canvases and black paint. I had the portraits printed. A friend had just given me some Mod Podge, so I was ready to start. Of course, reality set in and the materials got buried under the day to day business of our lives. I would walk past the dining room table and look at my stacks of "to be done" projects and sigh. 

This afternoon while all the children found themselves something to do, I remembered the canvases and got to work... 

And now I wait for all the pictures to dry so I can finish attaching hangers to the back. These photos are finding a home going up the stairs. The children have requested I not use birth order or gender groupings in hanging the pictures. Randomness has been requested. Can't wait to see how everything looks up on the wall!