Friday, March 14, 2014

Saying good bye to our Lucy Lou

Our last cuddle. She always sat at my feet and kept them warm.
She looked back at me once more like she was saying thanks mom.
The kids decorating her box.
Loaded in the jeep and heading out to her favorite spot in the woods.
Saying good bye was really hard. The
There's so much I want to write but it hurts too much right now.

Ummm, seriously?

I am in love with this outfit from babyGap for Lorelai. Paired with her booties knitted from NiNi in a scrumptious alpaca yarn and she was a little cuddle bug. It's her expression in this photo though that just cracked me up.

"Ummm, like seriously?" she said. "Can't you see that I am trying to get my photo shoot done?"

Lorelai Piper- 8 Months

Crawling, Standing, & Saying: dada, mama, ya

Eating great! Following a baby led weaning plan and she is mostly on finger foods.
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How I Gave Up Winter for Lent

Ok, so as a joke to all the complaining I (and most of the country) have done on social media these last few weeks I decided to give up WINTER for Lent. If you don't know what LENT is here is a very quick explanation: The 40 days leading up to Easter. A time of reflection before the resurrection of Christ. many people give something up and when they crave or desire that "thing" then they replace it with something that turns their focus back to God.

So how does one give up winter? Well, one does not. Ha, it's more an attitude. For me I felt winter in the depth of my bones this year. My kids were sick constantly (new baby in the house means building up that immune system). The weather was bitterly cold for Virginia and the rain/snow was ridiculous. If I had my way we would still be living in Florida. I would prefer to deal with hurricanes and storm surges than winter, yeah I'm crazy like that.

But alas, my honey loves his job and his job is here in the beautiful, gentle, rolling hills of Virginia. So back to Lent...

My attitude this winter has been pretty bad. I am exhausted for continuous sleepless nights. We have had croup, stomach bug, flu, and various colds come to visit us. Laundry has been piled up. The house isn't as clean and organized as it usually is and the weather has been bitterly cold for us here in the south.

So I am desperately trying to keep my attitude in check. And remember that a few years from now I will be alone in the house during WINTER. It will be clean and tidy, but it will be lonely. So I am trying to relish the fighting from boredom, that lack of desire to get schoolwork done, and day after day inside.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Welcome to Moe's

While Avery was at a ballet rehearsal the rest of us headed out to Moe's for lunch. Yum Yum. Now it may not be the best mexican place, but it's kid friendly so that works for us.

 Here is Lorelai working her mad standing skills.
 Just chillin watching the cars go by while we wait for sissy to finish.
 Ok this was actually the first time she sat at the table and not in her carrier. And it was at Cracker Barrel. On Saturday afternoon we were so hungry after spin class we headed there for breakfast. I know right. ha!
 Here we are back at Moe's. Sitting up like a champ.
 Ellie was most excited about the cookie.

 Hi Reece man.
 Shane actually let me take his picture. Try not to look so excited honey.
 I ordered this. I can't remember what it is. But I only ate half it was so big and finished it for dinner.
 She can apparently do two things at once. Typical female, multitasking.
 Whoa girl. Might need to put that hair bow back in from church.

 She totally ate off of all of our plates and didn't eat the baby food I had. Score! I hate making separate meals.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Olympics/ World Georgraphy Unit Week 2

Here is week 2 for the curriculum. Hope you all are enjoying it. We are LOVING it! The kids are making flags faster than I can hang them. And tomorrow we are starting a book on figure skating and one on skiing.
                                          Day 1,         Day 2,               Day 3,                  Day 4

Children Just Like Me-      Canada,       Finland,            Hungary,              Poland

Operation World- pages:         193                337                  400                        689

A Life Like Mine- pages:       28-29          30-31                32-35                    36-39

Complete Flags of the World- 8-10        112-113              151                     116-117

Around the World Coloring-      5                24

****I only have four days this week because my kiddos start swim lessons and we needed a grace day. I did skip a couple of chapters in Children Just Like Me, so if you are needing a little more this week feel free to spend a little more time in the good old USA!

PLEASE COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS! And I would LOVE to hear how the unit is working with your homeschool. And definitely leave ideas if you have added any fun activities!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

EARLY morning and I went to the gym...

Well baby girl was awake at 5:30 today. That's A.M.!!! UGH. I am so not a morning person. But since I have been up for almost three hours and have already showered, dressed, put on make-up, ate breakfast, filled out my planner for the day, and finished my devotions I ended up with time to blog!

In other crazy news.... I joined a gym. And I actually went to it this time. SHOCKING I KNOW! I am not a gym person. When you are "blessed" like I am the gym is a dangerous place to be. I spend most of my time trying not to give myself black eyes and then don't get very much exercise in because I am so self-concious. But a trip to Di*ck*s Sporting Goods has hopefully eliminated or at least lessened that issue.

Oh wait did you catch that? Yeah, I went to the sporting goods store. And not to buy soccer cleats for my kids, FOR ME. Wow it was a whole new world there. Did you know you can buy a pair of black capri workout pants for SEVENTY dollars? Yeah, crazy. Thankfully everything was on sale.

 So I found the "support" section and they were buy one get one half off. SCORE! I also grabbed another zip up fleece from Columbia in purple because I got tired of looking at my black one EVERY SINGLE LIVE LONG DAY. (I hate winter) I found a Nike pullover that was pretty darn cute and even has little holes in the sleeves to put my thumb through. I have no idea why I need this, but I can't wait to use it. And the previous mentioned $70 Under Armor work out capris also made it into the cart but they ended up on sale for $45.

The big question is did I go to the gym...


Saturday morning at 7:30 my honey and I attended a spin class. And I didn't die. Or throw out my back. I couldn't sit right for a couple of days but it was actually a really good experience. Despite the pain of being on a really tiny bicycle seat after four kids, it was actually a great time.

Even though I had to get myself excited about this by buying new clothes and going with Shane for the first time. I think now that I can do this and actually enjoy it.

Thanks to the free childcare during the day I can even go in the mornings! The kiddos enjoyed the childcare room and all the new toys and Shane and I basically got a date in that week. SCORE for all.

SO here is to losing those last 15 pounds and fitting back into my Seven for all Mankind jeans.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Olympics Homeschooling Curriculum WEEK ONE

So I have decided to take a break from our Sonlight American History curriculum and do a unit on the Olympics. I wanted to turn it into a unit that covers geography, basic Olympic history, and world missions. So I hit my favorite website -Amazon- and this is what I came up with:

This unit is about sitting around the table or on the floor with your kids and reading.  I do have an activity a day but nothing over the top. If you don't have any of these books and don't want to buy everything, I would order Operation World, Children Just Like Me, and The Complete Flags of the World. The rest of the books are extras for fun. There are no tests, no copywork, no question sheets. Just lots of pictures, activities, and reading together. If you do follow this unit I would love to hear from you. And feel free to add more crafts if you and your family enjoy that! Pinterest was where I found the bunting and Russian doll activities. Also Confessions of a Homeschooler has an awesome world geography unit if you are looking for something more in depth.

Children Just Like Me- using this book as the jumping off point for the whole unit

Operation World- this books ties in missions around the world

A Life Like Mine- my kids love reading about other kids so this was a no brainer

Complete Flags of the World- great book that explains a little bit about each flag and why they look the way they do

Flags Sticker Book- each country has two sets of stickers, large and small, we will use one set to place on the world maps provided and the other for their passports

The Winter Olympics for Children- a book for kindle

Around the World coloring book- just a few countries are listed, but my kids love to color

Passport- My kids will place a flag sticker on each page and record what they learn about that country

Garland Flag- a craft that will make a really cute bunting for the school room when done, you will need lots of scrap paper for this one, some string, and masking tape or clothes pins

Russian Doll Activity- will need felt, thread, and a needle for this craft

I also have an ice skating book and a skiing book and each child will study that sport and give an oral book report at the end of the Olympics.

If you bought the $1 flashcards from Target this year there was a pack of world flags, I am using these also just to hang on the chalkboard each day.

Ok here is for the first week:

Day one-  Children Just Like Me page 30
                Operation World page 705
                Make Russian Doll Activity
                Read 1 through Chapter 8 of The Winter Olympics for Kids (they are really short!)
                Bunting: Create Russian flag with scrapbook paper
                Find Russia in Sticker book and place
                Complete flags of the World pages 168-171

Day 2- Children Just Like Me Bolivia
            Operation World page 153
            Life Like Mine page 6-9
            Complete Flags of the World Pages 52-53
            Passport/sticker book
            Bunting Flag

Day 3- Children Just Like Me- Argentina
            Read page 109 in Operation World
            A Life Like Mine pages 10-13
           Complete Flags pages 54-55
            Around the World page 1
           Passport/sticker book
           Bunting Flag

Day 4- Children- Brazil
            Operation page 162
           Life pages 14-17
           Complete Flags pages 47-50
           Around the World page 4
           Passport/sticker book
           Bunting Flag

Day 5- Children- Mexico
           Operation- page 579
           A Life- 18-21
           Passport/Sticker book
           Complete Flags pages 20-21
           Around the World page 18
           Passport/ sticker book

Day 6 Children- USA
           Operation page 861
           A Life pages 22-27
           complete Flags 11-19
           Passport/ sticker book



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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

40 Days of Being Still

I was so encouraged by friends last week on my "40 Days" post. So thank you. You know who you all are.

I'm noticing some really good changes in my every day life from starting the "Being Still" challenge. Every morning I've been letting the kids climb into bed with me and we cuddle for a good half hour- even the baby. Warm, under the covers, and just being together. These moments are so sweet. Lots of kisses and giggles. Inevitably though someone's tummy starts growling and we are headed downstairs for breakfast. But I am less grumpy (I am NOT a morning person) and that's made a world of difference in how I start my day.

Before I let myself get frustrated for the day with spilled cheerios on the floor, fighting over the t.v. channel, or being late for preschool---I've started some really good habits. Instead of pouring the apple juice, the first thing I do is grab my box of matches and light the candle on the stove. And as the match is burning the wick, I am praying that the Lord would help me stay focused on Him throughout the day. I usually pray for patience too because we all know that is not one of my spiritual gifts, ha. I am seeing how much more focused I am in prayer as I am doing something. Reminds me of when I read Brother Lawrence's writings about communing with God in the mundane every day things.

Another change is in my voice. It's amazing how when you shut down technology for most of the day how much quieter it is! We aren't yelling over each other and I'm not getting frustrated and short tempered with kids while trying to get that "really important email" written.

Confession: Sometimes I told my kids I was "working" when I was really checking out posts on Facebook. I know seriously. I really should have been honest and said, "Mommy needs some mindless reading time when you are all getting along and being really quiet."

I have simplified my Bible time and therefore have MORE Bible time. Instead of having a couple of different notebooks, a variety of writing utensils, etc. out to have my quiet time- I literally have two things. My Bible and a pencil.

Ya'll ...or ...You Guys (depending on which side of the family you are on)!!!

How could something so simple have so much more depth? Why do we complicate things that aren't meant to be complicated. Instead of a notebook I have taken to just writing like crazy on the passage that I am reading. This means I am never "missing" that certain notebook and not searching for just the right colored pen. I bought four packs of Ticonderoga pencils and an electric sharpener. This means there are sharpened pencils every where.

Sidenote:  I love a bouquet of sharpened pencils.

So the conclusion of this week is:

simplify+ quiet= depth, calm, and content

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Monday, November 18, 2013

40 Days of Being Still- Week 1 & 2

You know when you commit to something, especially if that something is in the realm of being closer to God -all crazy breaks loose? Yeah, that.


Being still has been a huge struggle these last two weeks. I started out going strong. I lit my candle, prayed my prayers, read my Bible. I felt less stressed, enjoyed the calmness in my home, and even read THREE books. 

And then week two...

And I realized...

That for the first three weeks of this challenge, Hubs would be traveling. 


And as I let the phone creep back into my hand, the computer migrated back down to the living room, and the t.v. came back on...

I felt it all slip away.

And today I was just frustrated. I wanted to be stronger. To not be the one that caved and gave in. But the loneliness and stress of single parenting won. The t.v. was on a lot today. My phone had to be recharged mid-day. And we all know that there was no such thing as a calm and patient mama. 

But tonight I realized something. It's not about me. It's not about how strong I am. It's not about how good a mom I am. And it's not about how in-depth of a quiet time I have. It'

All I'm supposed to be doing is listening. Waiting for that voice, that nudge, that calm presence to guide me through each moment. 

So tomorrow I am starting over. The phone goes back to the docking station. The computer goes back upstairs. And I am going....

 to just listen. 

Don't forget to check out Kendra's updates as well at: Preschoolers and Peace

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Friday, November 1, 2013

40 Days of Being Still

One of the most profound moments of the Allume conference for me was during Sarah Mae's breakout session. At the end of her talk she told us how she was on a "40 Days of Seeking God's Face" challenge. She had basically eliminated technology from her daily routine. She wanted more quiet throughout the day so that she could hear God's voice. Then she challenged us to do the same!

Wow, that's what my heart needed. Since the beginning of my pregnancy  I have had my phone next to me 24-7. And guess what? That's stressful! People expect immediate responses to emails, calls, and texts. My inbox is flooded with useless emails each and every day (I woke up today with 638, really???- I'm a SAHM not an office manager. Why do I need that many emails? Ridiculous!).

Forty days brings us right into the season of Advent. I want to enter Advent with a calm peaceful heart that is focused on Christ and not on the rush of the season. I am going to keep it very simple.

Here's some practical ideas of how to accomplish this. I am going to give you a list of how I am doing this through out the day. Keep in mind that everyone's list would be different. My list is even different from Sarah Mae's!

1. I am leaving my computer in my office and not bringing it down during the day.
2. My cell phone will stay in the kitchen and I will not carry it around with me.
3. I will unsubscribe to the ridiculous amount of emails I am receiving.
4. No online shopping unless I am ordering Christmas gifts.
5. I will not watch GMA in the morning.
6. Eliminate t.v. shows that do not give a wholesome message. Bye Bye RHO...

So what am I doing? This list is even more important! This is where the "being still" suddenly becomes possible. Through out the day I want to actually notice all the gifts that God has given me. Anyone read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts? My new journal is ready to start recording the beautiful things that I am not noticing because I am so distracted.

1. Find my eucharisteao again. 

2. Specific time in the word each day with journal entry.

3. Light a candle in each room. This is my physical reminder that I am in God's presence! I read this many years ago in a book called Beautiful in God's Eyes. 

4. Fill up the time spent with t.v., cell phone, emails, etc with more fun activities with my children. How about we actually play Creationary, Trouble, or Candy Land.

5. During our homeschool time-making Bible time our FIRST priorty. Even when I am stressed out about getting enough done!

***A little story, wonder why this mama craved the words Sarah Mae was saying? Because I was there with my four month old. Who wouldn't nap at all! Who started fussing during the session. And this mama was tired. And when I walked out of the room 20 minutes into the talk, a tall dark haired women came up to me, took Lorelai out of my arms, and said to go back into the session. And I did. Umm, seriously that was a God moment, because what mother in her right mind would hand her new baby over to stranger and walk away for 30 minutes. So when Sarah Mae issued the challenge my tired grumpy heart was more than eager!***

Each Friday I will post about my progress and if you are interested feel free to comment about how you are living out 40 Days of Being Still. Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace and Stef at Educating Laytons are doing this challenge with me. Feel free to read through our posts each week.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Post Allume

I drove the four hours to Greenville (with a sleeping baby! woot woot!) nervous, excited, and craving. I wasn't even completely sure what I needed out of the conference. I just knew that blogging wasn't fun anymore. I had lost me a long time ago and I needed a new purpose.

Now that I am home from the Allume Conference I have A LOT to process. It was an amazing weekend and just what this tired, restless soul needed. So here is a very brief summary of what I received from the weekend.

My soul had a big hole in it. It had been emptied in the Spring. A rough pregnancy, an exhausting three year old, and then a newborn. I quit all activities. Even gave up teaching bible study and running women's ministry at church (although I really wasn't able to give my best to that anyway). Serious thoughts of "what's my purpose?" or "this isn't enough for me", "am I pleasing God at all?" Yep, just some light pondering.

The thing is... the whole "I'm just a mom thing" freaks me out. Because although that is my number ONE priority and focus right now-- it's not all of me. And the Bible is clear that being a mom isn't all that I am. I am first to LOVE HIM and LOVE OTHERS. It doesn't say focus all your time on your kids and forget that there is a whole world out there. Because let's face it... those kids grow up. And someday they won't need me every minute of the day. Although I will always be there mom and always be involved in their lives whether they want me or not. I figure if I carry battle scars from them being inside me, that gives me permanent involvement status (in a non overbearing obnoxious way of course).

Ok, back to the point and to Allume...

Remember I said I wasn't sure what exactly I needed? Well, I found it. I love being a mom and I love homeschooling. But those two things left me very disconnected to the world. The world that's hurting. And being that homeschool mom- I didn't have a lot of options. With nursing a baby, I can't go on lots of trips to Africa, with homeschooling- I can't volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. So how can I teach my kids to serve God by serving others if we are home all day? That has been the question that I have wrestled with for a couple of years. (And yes homeschooling is a ministry and I love being a stay at home mom.)

And finally.. (back to Allume yet again)...

I found PRACTICAL ways that I can serve God. That I can take care of orphans and widows. And even more amazingly, I can do it WITH my children. Alongside each other, serving our Lord and not just each other.

***side note*** I say that last sentence with care. I'm seeing the effects of staying home a lot. My kids have become demanding, materialistic, and completely out of touch with the rest of the world. And all moms need to be sensitive of this. ***

Ok, off my soap box... how does this look exactly. Because like some of you reading, I have felt this tug for awhile but was at a loss as to how it could change.

Allume did an amazing job of bringing organizations to light that need help. Help that involves stuff people can do in their homes. Yes, you heard me. I can stay in my pj's, nurse my baby, and serve Jesus with my kids.

So here's the plan for us over the next couple of months....

Please see this list as a guide and not as a post bragging about how spiritual we are. I just know that I needed some practical ideas and I hope this list can just help point you in the right direction for some ministry opportunities for your family.

1. I am doubling up with Kendra from Preschoolers and Peace to write a series called 40 Days of Being Still.  More on that coming this FRIDAY.

2. Our family will serve at Micah's backpack in December. This is an organization that packs bags of food for needy kids to take home over the weekends so they don't go hungry. We did this last year and it was amazing. Even Ellie who was two at the time could fill up bags in the assembly line.

3. We will be cutting out "shoes" for Sole Hope. A ministry that makes shoes for children plagued by jiggers in Africa.

4. As a family we will fill FOUR boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This will be a big commitment financially this year. But I am committed to doing a box for the ages of each of our own kids. They will "shop" for the box they fill. Last year Shane and I split up the kids in teams at Walmart and shopped. It was awesome to teach our kids that for a lot of kids this is their only Christmas present.

5. Make enough baked goods to deliver to FIVE neighbors we have never met. We also want to deliver a meal to a family that recently had a baby.

6. When 40 Days of Being Still concludes we will be into Advent. Ann Voskamp spoke at Allume and gave everyone a copy of her new Advent book. We will be doing this as a family starting December 1. By the way, I will be writing an entire post on meeting Ann Voskamp. All I can say is WOW!

So this long and breathy post is almost at its end. Anyone still reading? I know that words and attitudes can often be misconstrued in social media. So please know that this is what fits my family. This is what finally gave my restless heart peace. The "thing" that I had been searching and struggling with for so long. It may look completely different for you and your family.

If you have any more ideas please comment! I am always looking for practical ways my kids can serve.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Month Four

Month four is definitely the month that babies go from newborn to infant. Lorelai is reaching for things. Pulling herself up in her swing. And interacting so much more with us. This may be my all time favorite age! They don't move anywhere, but are engaged too.
Loving her Jeep walker! Her feet barely touch, but this girl loves to sit up and see what's going on. She also loves (unfortunately for my heart) to put pushed around at fast speeds by her siblings.
Here she is pulling herself up for the first time in the swing. Couldn't believe it when I looked over and saw her!
Obviously very proud of herself!
Here we are hanging out at Avery's ballet class.
First time in the walker at Auntie's house.
After a week of crying and finding out she had an ear infection, she collapsed on me after some meds. Poor baby. I felt horrible!
Color coordinated with her carseat!