Friday, October 31, 2008


Nolyn and I made up a game. It's called "Base"ketball. This wonderful game is a combination of, you guessed it, baseball and basketball. You see, the goal of the game is for the pitcher to get the ball in the basket (which my husband is holding- it's actually a strainer with a handle). Then it is tossed back to the person with the glove (Nolyn).

And, just for cuteness- I thought I'd post this picture of Hubby feeding Kbaby

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Introducing Betta Version 1.0

Here's my comic called, "Betta Version 1.0" (Get the play on words?) I'm going to be posting a comic on a weekly basis (if I remember). But hey, you'll forgive me if I forget, right?

Site & Contents © 2008

You can see my Unschooling Betta Fish comic @ The Precious Mind

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Last night we were going over the bible with the kids, asking them questions about particular stories and verses. They were having a hard time remembering (and pronouncing) the three gifts given to Jesus by the wise men. After a moment of deep thought, Merikalyn replied, "Gold, frankenstein, and myrrh?"

Hubby and I had a good giggle! Later, Brandon was asking her if she understood what we expected of her as far as her participation in our bible time. He asked, "Do you know what expect means?"

Merikalyn nodded and said, "Expect your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

Ha! From the mouth of babes!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The parenting lies

The family is under attack.
I think we tend to forget how important our roles in the family are, but, if we look back, we can see that as family bonds and roles have begun to decay, so has society. Of course, this is to be expected, as the bible says this will happen.

Paul tells Timothy that, "In the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." [II Timothy]

The world has tried to convince us that children are sinless, innocent beings, but the bible tells that all are sinners. Many a book has been written advising parents to refrain from discipline. Discipline is a bad word. We shouldn't correct our children, we should let life correct them. They'll learn all they need to know from life. We should just toss them out there, keep a watchful eye, and allow them to learn the lessons from real life experiences. We don't need to protect our children! We shouldn't shelter our children! We don't want to create helpless little beings, do we? We've got to toughen our kids up!

This is even being served up to Christians who eat it all up and wonder why their children are disobedient, disrespectful, selfish monsters who have taken over the household! I'm ashamed to admit that I bought into this lie in the beginning of parenthood.

It is a lie, because the product they said would result from this sort of parenting is not what I saw being produced. What I ended up with was a big mess which I not only had to clean up, but had to REVERSE.

These people seek to twist the words of the bible or disregard them entirely. They aren't interested in the truth. It's lazy parenting, and we can see the end result in today's society- people with twisted values and a lack of morals.

Good parenting requires that you get up from the couch, turn off the TV and get active in your children's lives. It means you do what you say, and say what you mean. You don't allow your children to get away with bad, disruptive, and disrespectful behavior. You take care of it on the spot, without multiple warnings. Don't wait to act after you've raised your voice to a high volume and scolded them time and time again.

Sometimes we're busy, and we don't want to turn away from what we're doing to "nip it in the bud", so we warn our children time and time again, but they know we're not serious enough, so they keep on doing what they aren't suppose to.

Children pick up on inconsistencies. They also recognize when parents disagree, and will play parents (and other family members) against each other to get what they want.

So how do we teach children to be obedient, selfless, charitable, loving helpers who strive to live holy lives filled with passion for God?

First of all, we have to ignore the world's suggestions. We have to portray these qualities in ourselves first. We cannot ask our children to do anything that we have not been willing to do.

Children are very perceptive. They easily pick up on things. We never had to teach our children to be polite in saying please and thank you. It was among the first words in their vocabulary because we, as parents, used them often.

We have to be willing to do a lot of one-on-one character shaping, and we have to be willing to address those less-than-stellar qualities in our own lives and correct them so they are biblically sound.

It amazes me that people think that it's okay to allow the world to "toughen them up". I don't know why any parent would toss their child out into the realities of the world without first preparing their heart, mind, and soul. You don't toss a person into the operating room and expect them to learn how to become a doctor while working on a patient! No! First they learn in a safe environment. They practice. They become informed. They watch others. Then they get the chance to do it themselves.

Our home needs to be that safe environment in which children become informed- where they can watch us, where they can practice, where they are prepared for their ministry and for the world.

I'm not saying we need to hold their hand as they do everything, but children must learn how to behave and protect their minds and hearts before they deal with reality. Our homes should offer enough reality to shape them, without hurting them. Enough to prepare them, but protect them.

If we aren't THERE for our children, they will learn from someone else. As mothers fail to fulfill their duties at home and fathers fail to be leaders of their families, the family begins to crumble. We all have our excuses as to why we don't follow biblical direction, but one day, we will have to account for how we spent our time, and how well we did our duties. Have we doubled our talents? Have we been wise stewards of the blessings we have received?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: PE in the park

As you know, my "Wordless Wednesdays" are rarely wordless, so why should this week be an exception? There's so many things I love about homeschooling. One of the things I enjoy is the time we get to spend as a family doing things outdoors. This ain't yo' public school's PE. (It might be your public school's recess, but with no bossy bullies.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pictures of growing blessings!

I wanted to share these recent photos of my precious growing blessings!

She looks like she's wearing make-up, but I promise, she's not!

This is the one shot in which he wasn't making a goofy or roaring face.
(And that's his worn out stuffed dog.)

Squeals of delight from the baby!

And, a photo of me holding my babiest. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

And I feel like crying...

I look at the state of this world, and I feel like crying. I look at the state of churches today, and I feel like crying. I look inside myself, and I feel like crying.

Oh Lord, I say, You have so much work to do. I keep trying to change, but I can't. I need you to help me. As the lyrics of the song Come Thou Fount reveal, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."

Tune my heart, Lord. Tune my heart to sing Thy praise from every part of my being, from the deepest of my deepest.

I ache for daily revival within my heart, mind, and soul- and your kingdom. Breathe life into dead bones, Lord. Dead bones, dead churches, a dead world. Only You are the giver of life.

Show us Your desires and Your plan for our family. Leave us dissatisfied with the world, only satistified by You, hungry for time with You, desiring to be taught and guided daily. Guide us to our knees.

Convict us. Mold us. For who are we to tell the Sculptor how to sculpt these vessels? And how do we as parents disciple children if we are not discipled ourselves?

Offend us Lord, and allow us to be offended. Offended by what we have done in our sinful nature, offended by our flesh and our actions that bring pain to Our Father. For the Gospel is offensive, but gracious.

Lord, we want to be passionate for the things of Your kingdom- wholy wrapped in worship and praise, aching for Your touch.

Bring us back to the heart of worship, because "it's all about You". We need to be reminded over and over again that it's not about us.

Lead us where You will. Mold us how You will. Replace our fears with Your peace and comfort. Forgive our unbelief, and strengthen our trust and faith.

I feel like crying in pain of my own condition, but also in joy for Your mercy and grace. Where would I be without my God, my God?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: A load of flashbacks

I promised more "flashback" photos for (not-so) Wordless Wednesday.... and here they are, up to the birth of our first child.

This is one of my graduation pictures. I had braces, and didn't want to ruin my picture by smiling. (Ha!) Senior year was a blast for me. I switched to homeschool that year, combined my Jr. and Sr. years into one, and graduated at the age of sixteen!

Doing college homework. I went to a community college for one semester.

You can't see my feet, but I was skating. I still have my skates, but haven't put them to use in quite a while. It seems every time I think about it- I'm pregnant, and well, I'm not to graceful to begin with, so having a huge belly throws me even more off balance! Balance is definitely a necessity when skating! I think Brandon and I had just started dating around the time this photo was taken.

I will never be this thin again, nor do I want to be. TOOTHPICK! You can definitely tell I have yet to have children here! (That's my beautiful mom next to me, btw.)

We were engaged at this time. We wore our wedding rings on our right hands (as you can see in this picture), until our wedding day.

John L. officiated our wedding. I look back and think, "Gracious woman, why didn't you hop in a tanning booth so your skin wouldn't have matched your dress?" I'm not exactly pro-tanning, but, obviously, I needed a little sun!

The new little family- our little girl, about a month old.

Four generations! Granny holding Merikalyn, Me, and my Daddy!

Sweet baby Merikalyn. Some days I wish I could rewind and enjoy those days again. I feel like I didn't cherish her as much in her infant years because I didn't know what I was doing!!!! Now babies are a breeze!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Jr. High Mandy

This month's (and maybe next month's) Wordless Wednesdays will be "flashbacks" (and probably not very wordless).

Grumpy teenager who didn't like her smile.
8th grader trying to find her place in the world, or at least trying to fit in at school. Even if it was possible, you couldn't pay enough to relive those days.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Day in the Life

I'm often asked what a day in our life looks like. I kept trying to capture it on film (okay, digital "film"), but I'd always forget to keep track of the whole day... so here is what the average day looks like- which took me three days of trying to remember to take photos to finally get it down.

After I wake up, I read my bible, pray, then pop in some music. I like the WOW! That's Christian Music hits for the morning. I love starting my day singing praise to God! When the kids get up, they like to dance around to the music and sing at the top of their lungs... which, okay, I do too.

I shower (wash that mop!).... I'll be so thankful when my hair is several inches longer and can easily be tossed in a messy bun, instead of having to go through a line of styling aids.

Get prettied up (I love Bare Essentials make-up- its so light and natural looking.)

And, at about 8am, go to get the kids up... who, usually are already up, as you can see. They've already managed to tear N's room apart! (N likes to use the cola boxes as his "robot arms".)

I give Kbaby a bottle (you should have seen him try to hold it with two pacifiers in his hand). As you can see, he's very excited about getting breakfast in bed.

I bring him downstairs and put him in his play thingy while I fix breakfast. The kids make their bed and clean their bedrooms until I call them down.

Then I bathe the muncherooskis. (Yes, our bathroom is Texas themed.) After baths, I start a load of laundry.

One day a week, we go get doughnuts from Shipley's. I call this "research". We are "researching" the different shapes, flavors, and textures of these baked goods. (He he!)

Kbaby gets researches a cake doughnut, which he INHALES.

Chocolate cream filled (chocolate doughnut with white cream inside) are my favorite. I research them a lot. Takes a lot of lab work, you know.

After breakfast, M is eager to learn the next letter sound. She wanted me to take a picture of her beautiful F. This particular day, we talk about the letter F (except, instead of calling it F, we use the sound it makes when referring to the letter) and flip through magazines looking for pictures of things that have the fffff sound in them. (Handwriting Without Tears is an AWESOME program for teaching how to write letters, and Ruth Beechick really knows her stuff when it comes to teaching how to recognize letters/sounds and read.)

Here's a quick lunch. It's rice and gravy (which is made out of cream of chicken). It doesn't look incredibly appealing in this picture, but the flavor reminds me of rice pilaf. Mmmm.

While waiting for the food to cool (and then, once I had finished and the kids were being "Pokey Puppies" [as MawMaw calls them]) I read The Boxcar Children. I admit. I am wearing maternity jeans here... I really need to lose an inch or two around the belly... and tone it up. Hey, my maternity jeans are VERY comfortable, but very stylish.

When we were done reading the chapters for the day, we started making our own boxcar, and Merikalyn drew the four boxcar children. (As recorded in my other blog,

Merikalyn wanted a "real desk", so I made her this little "school area" in the corner of our livingroom, next to the piano. I bought the letter strips at Dollar Tree. The "desk" is actually a seat my Grandpa made me for a desk I use to have. It's the perfect height for her. I wrote her name and N's name on lined strips (also found at Dollar Tree), which she loves to copy, and covered the desk with contact paper. She loves having her own little "nook"... except she and Nolyn fight over it.. so I'll have to find another spot for him!

Nolyn plays with the "sticks" (provided by Sonlight) to make letters. Honestly, I was surprised that he wanted to be right there with everything we read and did! I didn't realize he was actually paying attention, but this proves that he was. He loves these things so much, he plays with them often!

Then they got all the wood sticks (and curves) and made "me" with a "cloud head". Then Merika said, "OH NO.. YOU DONT HAVE HANDS" and added arms out of my cloud head. Nice, right? Bet you didn't know my arms came out of my noggin. I hide it well.

Ever since we received our package of Sonlight goodies, the kids and I have been looking forward to cracking open "The Llama Who Had No Pajama", a book of silly poems. Even though it wasn't listed on the lesson plan, we read the poem that has the same name as the title of the book.. and had a good giggle! Then we make up our own silly rhymes.

The house usually calms down around three, and the kids quitely do "their own thing", which could include a nap, or a doodle session. Usually, Merikalyn folds and puts away the laundry around this time, and I do household chores. I found Nolyn drawing out a spaceship at the kitchen table next to a jug of Diet Coke that he balanced on top of a juice bottle! Ha!

Now, I kept forgetting to take pictures after my husband got home (which makes sense, because, around that time, I'm busy with supper and just hanging out with my babe that everything else slips my mind). What usually happens during this time:

Hubby calls, I start dinner. He gets home and is attacked by miniature versions of ourselves. We eat, talk about our day, laugh at goofy and random things the children say. Then we clean up, and relax on the couch. Sometimes we go for a walk after our food has settled in our bellies and the hot Texas heat has lowered with the sun.

Before the kids go to bed, Daddy reads to them (this week it's been out of Hero Tales- which is a book about different missionaries who have done great things in the Lord's name). This is usually a big event, which involved pulling out the map and showing the places where these people lived, ministered, and helped, as well as a lesson in vocabulary as we talk about some of the words the book uses, such as "confidence" and "resourcefulness". Keagan is often the last to go to bed, because he has to get up for a final diaper change before we go to bed so I don't walk into his bedroom in the morning to find an overflowing diaper and soaked bed.

He's my little helper.... helping me empty the dishwasher..

And making sure I put the spoons in the right spot when I fill it again. (And, my husband, who is manning the camera, watches us from his cozy spot on the couch.)

After this, we all head to bed! Of course, that's a "basic run down" of our day... which, obviously, includes much more than that... but, hey, you get the idea. Bedtime for us ranges from 9:30pm to 11:30pm, depending on what's going on and how exhausted we are.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Joy in serving others

There are a lot of things in life I don't understand. I don't understand why God heals some and not others. I don't know why bad things happen to good people or why bad people seem to have all the good luck. I don't know why some are spared and others are not. I don't know why God chooses who He does, but I am so thankful He chose me to be His daughter.

I was thinking about how we have a tendency to get wrapped up in things that simply don't matter. Wait, I take that back. These things do matter. They do affect our lives, so they do matter, but they don't affect our lives in a positive way. So, more to the point, I was thinking about how we have a tendency to get wrapped up in things that don't strengthen the kingdom of God.

We (as humans) have a tendency to get involved in arguments that pull people down, instead of having conversations that lift and encourage. We have a tendency to veg out in front of the television when there are better things to be doing, like tending to the home God has blesses us with, discipling our children, or spending time with our spouse. We have a tendency to focus on our wants, rather than our needs... and feed our wants, and allow our spiritual needs to starve.

We have backwards thinking, but we don't know it's backwards because the world has told us that God's way is backwards. We have fallen into the trap of thinking happiness is just one step away. We think our happiness will be more permanent if we have a nicer house, another child, a better spouse, a cuter wardrobe, a different car, a change of hair color and style..... or that happiness will be within our reach when we finish college, when we get married, when we have children, when our children are older, when we have more free time, when we're out of debt, when we get a promotion, when we have more this, less that...

It's always one step away, isn't it?

The truth is, we'll be happier when we focus on God, not ourselves. We'll be happier when we stop trying to get what we want and allow God to fill our needs. It sounds crazy, doesn't it? The less is more attitude is not one shared by the world. It's not popular. The thought that serving others instead of ourselves would make us have more joy seems a bit nutty.

That's why so many marriages fail. It can be said that all husbands and wives focus on each other. The kicker is that most of them focus on the wrong things. If each party spent more time focusing on the positives, rather than picking apart and nagging about the negatives, we'd see less unhappy marriages.

Sometimes I find myself inwardly grumbling about what my husband "should" be doing. Sigh. Why can't he do this? Why can't he do that? He should do this. Harumph.

Then I realize there are most definitely things he would love for me to do that I don't do- not because I don't love him, but because it doesn't cross my mind or I don't have time. So often, we take what our spouses don't do as personal insults. As if they didn't do them because they are striking out at us, when most of the time that's not the case.

There are days when I have to calm myself down and realign my thinking. I have to remind myself that my husband works VERY VERY VERY hard outside of the home to provide for us. I have to remind myself that, when he gets home, he is probably going to be cranky because he's hungry, and he will need some time to relax and shrug off his troubles.

I use to (and still do, every now and then....) unload everything on him when he got home from work. I'd lay all the troubles of the day on his shoulders as soon as he got home from work. Then I'd have a list of things he needed to do. This needs to be done, I need you to help me with that, so-n-so called said we have to do this..... It certainly wasn't the welcome home he desires.

I have to stop and consider, from time to time, if I was out working all day and came home weary and worn, what would I like my first moments home to be like? Well, I can tell you, I wouldn't want to be met with a list of demands. I'd most certainly love to smell a delicious warm aroma coming from the kitchen promising something filling for my empty, growling stomach. And, I'd love to have cheerful children greet me with excitement as I opened the door. Oh, and it would be so nice to have my spouse give me an affectionate kiss and hug, inviting me to settle down and relax while dinner was being finished and served up. Then it would be nice to have just a few minutes of quiteness so I could lay the day aside and breathe in the air of home. Home. Hoooooome.

Then I have to think about what it must be like for my husband to come home to a chaotic household- baby crying, children whining and arguing, dog barking, toys scattered all over the floor, and a frazzled wife still considering what dinner is going to consist of as she rants and raves about her day.

Ugh. Yeah, that doesn't sound appealing, does it?
When I first thought about it in that direction, I instantly made changes. I delayed the baby's nap so he would either be asleep, or at least perky, when my husband arrived home. And, I condensed the children's toys so they didn't have thousands scattered all over the place. Plus, I have them clean up at around 4 or 5pm, before Dad (usually) gets home. I asked my husband to call me when he was on his way home, so I would know when to start dinner, and so things could be in the process of "calming down" for his arrival. I even light a candle before he gets home (and it smells like pie) so the place smells good (because sometimes it smells like dirty diapers and spit up, which often becomes my personal perfume).

Then, over dinner, he tells us about his day, the kids tell him about their day, and I throw in a few tidbits. The dinner table is a great place to talk about days, I find. People are more relaxed around food, especially tasty food.

These are little things I can do, along with other things like making his breakfast and ironing his work shirts, that not only make him happy.... but also ME happy because he's more relaxed and at ease! Hmm, funny that focusing on someone else, and not myself, would actually bring me more joy than if I had been selfishly tuned.

So, happiness isn't one step away. It's God's way. When we focus on living for God and bringing praise to Him by serving others (do all things as unto the Lord... and if you can't do it as unto the Lord, then maybe you shouldn't do it, period), we'll find ourselves overcome with unmeasured joy and peace.

Speaking of, my husband just called and said he's on his way. That's my cue!

If you have a bit of joy/peace or marital advice that's helped you, please share it!