Monday, December 28, 2009

A weekend of fellowship

This Christmas season has been absolutely wonderful. These days are especially cherished because my husband is off of work. Some friends of ours made the drive down from Georgia, and we have been so blessed to be able to spend some time with them.

The fellowship with other Christ followers has been bountiful, and I really wish every day could be as such. But, work cannot be avoided forever, and friends cannot be kidnapped and taken home with us (although, I am tempted....).

We were very blessed to be able to visit our favorite church EVER (ODBC). It's so refreshing to hear the Word of God boldly preached- without apology or sugar coating. Brother Jerry's sermons are always filled with correction and conviction that always touch me deep within. He lovingly guides the congregation- the people in his care. You can tell he is passionate about God. I am under no delusion- I know he's not perfect (as he would say, he's a yellow-bellied, good-for-nothing sinner even on his best day), but I do know he is very much an anointed man of God.

He encourages men to be leaders of their homes and women to be their husband's supporters and encouragers. He reminds us that we should not be living defeated lives for the battle has already been won (and Jesus is the Victor!). He's not the sort of preacher to skim the top, but he's very detailed- digging into the meat of the Word.

The man who leads the music portion of the Worship is equally as amazing. Tory is the lead vocalist of the Christian ministry band, Broken Vessels. (Sample their music @ brokenvessels.com). I have only seen a few people lead worship with such passion for Christ- and Tory is one of them.

And last, but certainly not least, are the people. Loving, compassionate, godly folk who aren't out to "act religious" and put on a show. It is always a joy to fellowship with them, and I miss them greatly when we are gone.

It was just a cherry on top to have our friends from Georgia, Trent and Chrissy, visit ODBC with us the last Sunday. We had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning discussing spiritual things after we had dinner at Outback, and it was hard to pull ourselves away and get that rest we needed.

I cannot explain how awesome it is to have such wonderful God-loving friends. We stayed up sharing stories of God's work in our lives and in the lives of others- stories of miracles, convictions, and experiences. It was truly an encouraging evening that I didn't want to end.

Sunday afternoon, we all went to our friends' home for lunch (Trent and Chrissy, and our family of five). John and Ashley are a sweet couple that we have been friends with for several years now. John and my husband, Brandon, worked together at Chili's Bar and Grill years ago (when I was pregnant with our first little one!). Several years ago, we moved back to Louisiana (from Indiana) and ran into a newly wed John at Cracker Barrel. His wife and I became fast friends. John is now a youth pastor.

So, our weekend was fully saturated with fellowship with wonderful friends (our family in Christ!) and left me very encouraged and uplifted (as well as convicted and corrected!).

I felt like this was God's Christmas gift to us! For the last few weeks, God has poured out His blessings on our family, and my arms and lap are overflowing with His goodness!

If you are interested in listening to some of Jerry's sermons, you can download them going to these links: (These are older sermons from 2005-2006 I found online, btw.)

http://wpbcword.org/sermons/20060310pm1.rm
http://wpbcword.org/sermons/20060309pm2.rm
http://wpbcword.org/sermons/revival2005/11mar05chaddick.rm

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Joy of Christmas!

How are you doing? We're doing pretty good around these parts. I absolutely love the Christmas season. It's a joy to focus on the birth of Christ, since, so often, we focus more on His death (which sent us free from sin!). It's so much fun to get into the spirit of giving. Our Lord is so generous, and this time of year, even non-Christians seem to get in the Spirit.

Even though our society as plastered Santa all over the place, the Spirit of Christ still spreads. The Reason for the Season begins to touch the lives of people who normally don't think about God.

I am so thankful that my loved ones are able to get time off around this special holiday so we can get together and lavish each other with love. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, but this season provides a time for us to gather in the kitchen, laugh, play, and build memories together.

I have so much fun picking out gifts for friends and family this year. When we make or purchase gifts for others, we consider their wants and needs. So often, in the day to day, we do not give such consideration to others.

My prayer is that this beautiful spirit of generosity, compassion, thoughtfulness, and love would not just be confined to Christmas, but would run all year long. We should celebrate Christ daily. These Christian qualities (the Fruit of the Spirit) should be pouring from our lives every day.

Here's a photo of the kids and I before our church's Christmas program (which Merikalyn sang in!). Excuse the messy floor!



I hope you all have a Christ-filled Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The snow, The 80's, oh yeah.

I definitely have some thing on my mind (and heart) to write about, but I simply don't have the time, so.. for now, photos from last week!

It snowed last week, and WOOOOO did the kids enjoy that! They played until their fingers were frozen!


Big sister let Keagie borrow her pink cap. :)



Our friend Miranda had an 80's themed birthday party. I would have done the big hair, but I didn't want to have to brush that out at the end of the night! (Notice my hubby's double polo popped collars!)



I am NOT a fan of skinny jeans, but I found these pair deeeeply discounted, so I purchased them for my costume. Btw, what is with boys wearing skinny jeans? I think that's a ridiculous style! When I was in highschool, the guys wore baggier clothes so they'd look bigger and more macho. I don't like this string bean style guys are doing.


I have misplaced our ornaments, but... at least we made PLENTY of our own this year! Here's one of my favorite salt dough ornaments that I decorated.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What are you willing to sacrifice?

While browsing the library last week I came across a book titled The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School. The book's focus is preparing your children for college and career with a biblical perspective. I really enjoyed it as the writers seemed to be as conservative as I am. It's one of those books every Christian homeschool should have, even if your children are practically "babies" like mine.

It's the sort of book you'll go to through the years of your homeschool. The authors (David and Laurie Callihan) discuss all sorts of subjects like:

-Inspiring your children to love learning
-Developing a godly character and instilling good morals
-Guiding toward a Christian worldview
-Encouraging natural abilities and recognizing spiritual gifts
-Planning for long-range goals and preparing children for roles as husbands, wives, and parents (teaching them how to cook, clean, manage money, etc)
-Home educating special needs children
-Preparing for college, ministry, military, career or other callings.

I most definitely recommend this book, but I didn't come here to write a review for it. Rather, I wanted to share with you a wonderful, thought-provoking question from their book:

What are we willing to sacrifice to see that our children are raised in a loving, godly home where they know the value of hard work, caring relationships, and loving commitment?

I find parents today are struggling with two points- selfishness and busyness- that keep them from truly focusing on their children and providing the godly environment and faithful homeschool they so long for.

I spent a lot of time contemplating this question last night. Am I willing to sacrifice for the good of our children? Am I willing to set aside my own selfish motives and desires? Am I willing to cleanse my home of things that distract from our mission? Am I willing to practice self-control and be a good manager of our time?

If we step back and look at our lives we will realize that there will be sacrifice made somewhere, somehow. Will we sacrifice our morals, our calling, and our family to pursue things that are temporary or trivial?

I love to look at the lives of so many of my homeschooling friends who have made wonderful sacrifices for the sake of their families. I know many women who have given up successful careers to be keepers of their home. Many would call this a waste of their talent, but God sees the truth. He knows that time spent discipling, training, nourishing, and loving our children is never wasteful. Maybe our sacrifice doesn't seem as noble. Maybe our sacrifice should simply be to shut off the computer, turn off the television, and really focus on our children. Maybe our sacrifice is to let go of our busy nature. I think, at times, we confuse busyness and being active with being truly productive. Maybe our sacrifice is to let go of our lazy nature.

I know of several families who have made the commitment to not allow any "filth" into their home. Some of these people have chosen to have a tv-free home, while others restrict television time and filter what their children are allowed to watch.

There's a verse that really convicts me every time I read it.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (NASB- Philippians 4:8)

I feel that this should be the feel and spirit of our home, and in order for it to be the spirit of our home, it must be the spirit of the parents. If this is to be the spirit of our home, then we must follow the instruction of the bible and lay aside sinful things and anything that would weigh us down and hold us back from living a faithful and godly life (Hebrews 12:1-2). If we aren't living godly lives, then we cannot have a godly homeschool and we cannot successfully teach our children to live godly lives.

Are we willing to sacrifice? Are we willing to lay aside those weights and sins? Sometimes some of the things that hinder us aren't necessarily sinful, but they become sinful because they distract us from our mission and keep us from whole-heartedly doing God's will.

I know, for myself, it is a struggle to keep focused, and every day I have to ask for God's forgiveness and pray for help in training and raising our children. There are many days when I go to bed and feel that we were not productive, realizing that it was my fault and understanding, with much shame, that I fell short of my calling.

Whether you homeschool or not, as Christians, there are sacrifices to be made. Society encourages and applauds things God hates and we must understand that, if we choose to protect our children and live biblically directed lives, we will be seen as radically religious. We may be told that we are too strict or overbearing. You see, society seems to believe that sheltering children and living self-controlled, pure lives is a ridiculous and foreign concept. (Why do you think the Duggar family's show gets so much attention? People are stunned to see a family living a godly lifestyle and shunning worldly practices!)

Anyway, so I've rambled quite a bit (whenever I ponder something overnight, my brain usually goes in all sorts of directions), but hopefully I've made some sense.

I know I have to be reminded of the goals and ultimate reason for why we do what we do (or why we need to do what must be done). My children are worth it. We're not just talking about their education here- we're talking about their salvation.

So, take the time to ask yourself that question:

What are YOU willing to sacrifice to see that our children are raised in a loving, godly home where they know the value of hard work, caring relationships, and loving commitment?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Moments



Homeschooling starts at birth. Homeschooling doesn't just happen when we sit down and specifically, intentionally teach our children. In fact, I would dare to say that the majority of homeschooling happens in those little moments.....

....when we read to our children.
....when they help us mix, wisk, and scoop in the kitchen.
....when we take them grocery shopping with us.
....as they help us fold the clothes.
....as they help us "clean" the house.
....as we have little conversations here and there....

And these are the moments that are most precious! What's even more precious is when we see our little ones teaching the "even-littler" ones. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Everything Required

II Peter 1:3
For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.

God, in His love and goodness, has already given us ALL we need to live, to serve Him, and to fight the battles ahead. When we lean on our own or worldly "wisdom" and understanding, we will either feel falsely secure or completely unequipped. When we lean on Christ alone, we known our strength and provision comes from Him, and with God nothing is impossible!

Still, we tend to look around us and become unsatisfied with our lot in life- where we live, who we married, where we work, what we have, and what we don't have. We may find ourselves envying others instead of being appreciative of the blessings we already have.

Through God, we can be content with what we have and our place in the kingdom. We know we are doing our best and God is doing the rest. We can look at those things we have as "more than enough" and be content and thankful instead of having an attitude of selfishness, complaint, greed, and ungratefulness.

We can feel confident in God's plan and will for our lives because He has already given us "everything required for life and godliness". We already have the tools we need for the situations life presents. We know we can have victory over any circumstance because God is on our side. We are fully equipped through Christ.

I believe it is important to remember our strength, power, and provision come from the LORD, and when we are not living under His direction and authority, will we not be prepared or equipped.

When we look throughout the bible, especially the Old Testament, we can see how God used people who may not have seemed great or mighty and even used methods that seemed ridiculous. (Just look at the telling of Jericho, and the methods God used to bring the city down!)

Art.com/French School: Joshua Commanding the Walls of Jericho to Fall Down

God is great! He knows what He's doing, and He has prepared those who abide in Him. He has given us the bible, which is our guidebook to life. All the answers to the questions that matter are inside. I don't know about you, but I feel very fortunate and blessed to have such a life-manual!

I hope you have a wonderful week, and, remember, God has prepared His people! Be confident and content in Him!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's not about me.

We live in a selfish world. Society encourages us to do things that make us happy, and if we aren't happy, we need to "drop it like it's hot" and move on.

This has left us with several generations of people who will not keep steady jobs because they don't like the hours, their boss, their co-workers, or the hard work. It's the reason why divorce rates are so high. If things aren't going well in your marriage, you seek the thrill and love elsewhere, instead of working hard to fix your relationship. Millions of advertisements entice us to purchase appliances, gadgets, toys, vehicles, and homes that promise us happiness and joy, yet we are never satisfied and never content with what we have.

I find myself often crossing this line and having to remind myself that God has given me everything I need and more. He has indeed fulfilled my desires and blessed me, yet I have moments where, instead of being appreciative, I complain or find myself "lusting" after things I don't need.

We've even turned the church into something that serves ourselves- complaining about the style of music, the building where we gather, or a dozen other things, instead of passionately lifting our praise and worship up as we fellowship together.

It's been a week since I miscarried, and I admit, my heart is broken. I also confess that, while we go to church every week, today I went because I needed comfort and something else I cannot quite describe, but as I sat down beside my husband and children, I realized that I needed an attitude adjustment. Even though my heart ached and my day was overshadowed by the loss of our baby, this was not a time for my pity party. In my head, I went over the words of one of my favorite Christian songs.

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship, 'cause it's all about you, it's all about you Jesus. I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, for it's all about you. It's all about you Jesus."

Interestingly enough, when the singing began, this was one of the songs picked for the morning, as well as two other songs with a similar message. It's not about us. It's about God.

It's not that we shouldn't or cannot go to God for comfort and love when we are feeling broken hearted and down- we definitely should, but I know, speaking for myself, sometimes I allow my own issues and hurts to overshadow my time or worship and praise. I'm suppose to be offering up praise and worship to God, but instead I'm thinking about my problems, my hurt, and how God should remedy my situation.

Thing is, once I stopped focusing on myself and began to focus on God, I felt a release inside of me. I felt comforted. I felt loved.

Our lives are to be a sacrifice of worship and praise to God. The reason the bible calls it a "sacrifice" is because sometimes we don't feel like praising God. Sometimes we don't feel like "doing all things as unto the LORD". Maybe we feel like serving ourselves, taking a break, being lazy, or being selfish.

There is certainly a time for us to take our grief, pain, worry, and despair before God, but let's be honest- sometimes we just want to wallow in it. I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way!

I do have to constantly remind myself that my life is not really mine. My time is not my own. And, life is not all about me. It's not about me even in the least. It's not about my husband or my children- it's about God. My life is about (productively) filling the place that God has given me as wife and mother with joy, thankfulness, and contentment. It is my ministry. It is my offering of praise to my LORD. And, God extends my ministry beyond my home to my church and friends...... but it all points back to God, not to me or anyone else.

My prayer is that God would help me to focus not on myself, even in this time. There will always be some issue in my life to cause stress and hurt, but when I focus on God, I find myself being more appreciative and content, rather than complaining and wallowing in my pain.

And, I would like to thank my wonderful friend Amanda as well as our pastor, Johnnie and his wife Sandra, who surprised us with food Monday. They were such a blessing to us... and to have them SHOW UP at our door with arms full was a picture of God's love to me. Amanda said she knew if she called to ask if she could bring us a meal, I might turn her down so as to not create work for her, so I am thankful she didn't call.. and just showed up.

Thank you to all those who have been there for us and gone the extra mile to send a card, call, or whatever! We thank you!

[Art: Seek My Face by Danny Hahlbohm]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Miscarriage: It's hard to let go (video)

Early, early Sunday morning, we lost our little baby. This is our fourth loss this year. The second and third were very early on (appx 5 weeks, likely due to difficultly "sticking" or implanting), but I was about 10.5 weeks when I began losing this child. I wrote this song, and decided to record it on my camera and post it on youtube. I hope to, with the help of some dear friends, have it professional recorded. Since I first posted it (on FB and another site) late last night, it seems to have spread like wild fire- probably because it is something that so many women can relate to.

Our lost little one is named Nina. This is what we called her during my pregnancy. I don't know why, but we were sure it would have been a little girl, although it was too early to know. Our first miscarried baby we named Lillian. This song is dedicated to my babies, and all those who have lost blessings of their own.










(c) 2009 Mandymom.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Allow me to brag on my husband

I know I haven't exactly been faithful in posting regularly on my blog, but I hope you'll forgive me. And, I hope you'll forgive my pride, as I use this entry to brag about my husband, Brandon.

When my husband and I first started talking, beginning that journey of getting to know each other, something about him really intrigued me. I couldn't figure out what it was, but then I realized...

Brandon was one the only man I dated with a backbone. Of course, I'm speaking metaphorically- although the mental picture of a bunch of rubber-chickenesque fellas is humorous. While he did try to woo me, he presented himself as he was. At times, it was frustrating for me, but it was alluring as well. Before we even started officially dating, I knew this was the man I would marry (I don't think I've ever posted that story here, although many of you know it already), still there were times when I thought, "God, are you serious?"

I was not use to dating a man who wasn't afraid to lead, and this really threw me off. On one hand, I rather enjoyed it, because it was masculine and appealed very much to this feminine side of me (It was actually a bit thrilling!), but on the other side, I was frustrated that he didn't bow down and worship at my feet, because I was accustom to this sort of treatment..... but it also came with a price.

Those spineless guys who seemed to bend at my will usually left me with the tab. If we went out to eat, I had to pay. If we went to the movies, it was often "my treat". Most of them didn't have vehicles (or one they could borrow from a parent), so I had to drive them everywhere (which meant they weren't paying for gas either!). I was the leader in the relationship, and it showed. If a guy did show signs of leadership- paying for things, driving me around- I found that they usually expected something in return.... something I wasn't willing to give.

So, it's fair to say that Brandon was different from any other man I had ever dated. I began to realize he possessed the very qualities that I desired. He had a personality that balanced my off-beat nature quite well.

Still, a couple years down the road, I became very critical of those very qualities that had been so endearing in the beginning. Why? Because our marriage became all about me. It was MY marriage.

My brother and his beautiful bride tied the knot yesterday in the very same place that my husband and I wed. Over the last week, in anticipation of the wedding, I began to think about the span of my relationship (eight years together, nearly seven of those as a married couple), and I couldn't help but count my blessings in the husband God so graciously matched me with.

I cannot think of one person in this universe, except for God, who knows me better than my husband. My whole adulthood as of yet has been spent married to this wonderful man, and he witnessed first-hand my transition into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood. He saw the good, bad, and the ugly (and there was lots of ugly!) and stood by my side.

My husband understands me so well. He knows just how to encourage me. He knows the right words to say and the right things to do to help get me out of ruts and over the hills of life. He has been amazingly supportive, even though sometimes I'm all over the place, jumping from one hobby or passion to another.

My husband truly understands my needs. He knows I can get easily overwhelmed at times, and he knows how to remedy it.

He also knows that I am flawed, and he is incredibly forgiving.

If there is anyone who should win an award for patience, it is my husband. He married a gal who couldn't cook, didn't understand the concept of "home maintenance" and regular cleaning, and didn't keep up with laundry, and he loved me passionately anyway (although I know he was often irritated!).

Beyond my homemaking shortcomings, he has been patient as I learned how to properly love him as our roles changed from dating, to marrieds, to parents..... our roles have changed many times.

And, I am thankful that he has learned to be patient as I get ready to go anywhere and no longer tries to rush me. :)

I am thankful that my husband loves to be the provider for our family and has never asked me to work outside the home. This has been such a blessing to me, especially since I know so many who would love to stay home with their children but are unable for one reason or another.

I use to feel rather resentful when I would hear people bragging on my husband, because, as a stay at home mother and wife, I didn't have many people bragging about how wonderfully I did my job, but over the years I have learned that his success is my success, and I now love to hear others praise my husband. My heart swells with pride when I hear that others love his strong work ethic. My husband's work ethic may not make him the most popular person among his work peers, but those he works for know they can count on him and trust him to do what is right. His honesty, his focus, his confidence, and his loyalty prove to others that he is trustworthy.

I have seen men who hate to go to work and try to get by with the least amount of effort possible until it absolutely necessary that they give of their best. Recently, there have been some layoffs at my husband's company, and some of those people suddenly changed their tune and tried to present themselves as hard workers. My husband didn't have to change his actions- he was reliable and trustworthy before, working diligently and always giving his best.... whether anyone was watching, whether anyone would notice, whether anyone would praise him or not.

Yesterday, there was a company meeting that my husband was not able to make it to. A friend called and told him that he was praised throughout the meeting. One of his clients had written an email praising him, and the owner of the company my husband works for read it allowed to everyone.

My husband never aims for praise, he just aims to do his best. He knows it's not about him, but about the company- and what he does reflects on the company. I am so thankful for this quality in him, which was passed down from his father, and I pray that this sort of work ethic will be passed to our sons as well. Brandon knows his duty as husband and father is to provide, and he uses this as an act of worship to God and a show of love to his family.

I love that my husband doesn't separate out his "spiritual life" from his work life, and seeks to uphold godly standards no matter what the circumstance or place.

He loves to help others, and he does so often.

Brandon is an excellent leader, and while I haven't always been (and still am not always) the most submissive and perfect wife, he does not only "act the part" when I'm doing my part. He is consistent and dependable.

Another thing I absolutely adore about my husband is the fact that I can be SURE that he is the person he is in front of me even when I am not around. I know that he will not talk poorly about me to his friends or rag on my failures. I know that he does not act crudely when around guys who cuss and demean women. I know that he holds our marriage in high regard, so I can trust him around other women who may not respect our union.

My husband makes me feel safe, and I appreciate this more than he knows. I know he would sacrifice himself to save us. I know, even if he lost his job today, he would find a way to provide for us- that he would never shirk his responsibilities or make excuses. Even if the job was low down on the totem pole, he would take it and approach it with as much care and effort as if it were the vice presidency. Even if he had to gather cans for money as a last resort, he would do it.

I also know that if technology crashed down, we lost our home, and we had to live out in the wilderness, we would be just fine because my husband can provide without modern conveniences, if need be. His abilities to hunt, fish, and provide shelter and care with only those things found in nature give me a sense of safety, in case of "the worst case scenario". (But, if the worst case scenario leaves me without my husband, I'm up a creek without a paddle and heading for a waterfall!!)

He's also incredibly handy, and can fix just about anything! If he doesn't know how beforehand, he'll figure it out!

Above all, I love how my husband loves me. He is kind and gentle. He is silly and playful. He knows how to simply listen, and when to act. He understands my moods. He understands my heart. He understands me even when I make no sense at all!

He tells me he loves me many times a day, and lets me know that he thinks I'm gorgeous and beautiful about as much (even when I know I look like a possum who has been run over a couple times!). He calls me to tell me he's thinking about me, and he knows that doing the dishes is more romantic than bringing me flowers (and cheaper too). And, sometimes... he does both.

There's not enough room on this blog, or on the world wide web, for me to explain how awesome and wonderful my husband is, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it. I am so thankful for the man God transformed. I tried to change him into the man I wanted him to be when we first got married, but, let me tell you, you'll never get anywhere trying to change a person.

God transformed him into the man I love today, and I'm telling you, he's much better than the man I tried to change him into. :)

For years I focused on his flaws and let those wonderful, amazing qualities pass by without much notice.... but I'm thankful he didn't do the same to me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Artsy and a kiddo treat!

I've been in a creative mood lately, so I set out to do a few girly paintings for my daughter's room. I started out painting a large cupcake on a canvas, then a piece of chocolate cake, and then, this cute little "sweet" sign. I'd really like to "put her room together" and make a nice, organized girly space for her.



Yesterday evening, before my women's bible study, I ran into Goodwill to search for a shirt for Keagan. I had been all over town- Target, Kohl's, Wal-mart, TJ Maxx, and could not find a plain, white button up shirt for my wee one to wear to my brother's upcoming wedding (Friday! Friday!). I was finally able to find a Gap button up 12-18 months, which, thankfully, he fits into (but just barely- any bigger, and it'd look too small!).

Anyway, while I was there, I saw these little skates (which are adjustable), and knew my kids would dig 'em. Sure, they are "Barbie" skates, but Nolyn doesn't seem to care. They've enjoyed testing them out throughout the day. I'll have to keep my eyes out for another pair (they were only 2.99 and in near perfect condition).



While I've been in and out of blog land, I've received a few awards from different bloggers (thank you!). I'll get around to posting them.. I hope!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Keagie-baby is TWO!




I cannot believe my youngest child is TWO. And before he is three, we'll have another little baby! (Hopefully- I am 7 weeks and 4 days pregnant today, and this seems to be a pregnancy that has stuck, unlike my previous three.)

We're having family over to celebrate. Yesterday, our friend Amanda and her two children came over, since they would not be able to make it to the birthday party. We had a blast, and I know our youngest kiddos were REALLY worn out afterwards!

Last weekend we went to the beach, then to Louisiana to visit in-laws and buddies! Keagan didn't really care for the water, but he loved playing in the sand.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthy deliciousness!

I just wanted to share a few of some of my favorite dishes that I've prepared on our new high-raw diet. In less than a week, I lost 5 lbs, some days it appears to be 8 lbs, but at least a steady 5 are gone and my stomach is noticeably thinner, so I'm pleased with that. In addition, I more energetic, my allergies aren't as bad, my headaches are gone, and well, I'm feeling fantastic!

My husband, who decided to do more of a vegetarian thing, decided he would go in for a high-raw diet as well and has really enjoyed the dishes I've whipped up.



This is a pesto pasta salad. The pasta is actually thinly sliced zucchini (I used a vegetable peeler with a blade on the top, instead of the side) which is marinated in a bit of olive oil, lime juice (just a touch!) and seasonings. It was yummy!


This is a raw taco wrap.


My vegan pizza. The only thing not raw is the Wasa Light Rye cracker. I made these for a bridal shower and EVERYONE loved them. There wasn't one left! I was asked for the recipe at least half a dozen times!


These were a big hit. I call them enchiladas. The sauce is guacamole (with cilantro) blended with almond milk. The corn isn't cooked- it's sliced right off the cob and is surprisingly tender! Of course, the tortilla isn't raw. I hope to be able to purchase a dehydrator around Christmas to make some raw tortillas. For now, I'm using the "warm" setting on my oven to dehydrate stuff.


Just Like Cheesecake- and yes, it really tasted like cheesecake... with no dairy in sight!


Another diary-less treat! "Icecream!" made with frozen fruit and macadamia nuts! Yum!

Anywho, all is well in our household. We tried to start officially homeschool a couple weeks ago, but decided to put it off until the rest of the kiddos in the neighborhood start. We're doing reading lessons and math lessons here and there, but we'll be back full force next week. I know the kids are always eager to play when the neighbors are home, and soon, they'll be back in school, so homeschool won't have to compete with playdates.

Keagan's birthday is coming up, and I've decided to to a cowboy theme... I think. I can't believe my little munchkin is going to be TWO.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Homeschool Activity Center Prepping

Keagan is officially beginning "preschool" this year. Of course, we've been doing little Montessori-style activities with him since he began crawling around, but I've been slowly working up a "collection" of activities for him. I really don't believe in buying expensive products when inexpensive things will do. You may not see the value in some of these items, but, with children, it's not the ginormous, flashy toys that really help them learn and grow, it's those inexpensive things we all have around the house- boxes, blocks, paper, kitchen tools, twigs, and millions of other items!

Here are some photos of a few of the things I've put together for Kbaby.


I bought these mini-blocks for under two bucks at Hobby Hobby. I had this metal tray hanging around the house. Sometimes K turns it over and sticks magnets to it. I painted some of the wooden cubes (red and yellow), but it's quite a tedious task (painting a few sides of each cube, letting them dry before painting the other sides), so I'll finish painting them later. I want to leave some plain. The natural wood color is appealing, but I love pops of color. All of the kids tested them out today, and I'm really interested to see what they work them into as time passes. So far, they've been dice, ice, and little castle bricks!


This is the beading tray with various beads- some are plastic, some are wooden. One of the activities I'd really like to do with the kids is make beads from a flour dough. I think they'd really like it, and the beads could be used for various activities. This activity (putting beads on a pipe cleaner) helps build the skills needed to write.


This is a super inexpensive activity but kids love it. I need to find some small tongs for K to transfer these colorful marbles to the ice tray. Still... picking them up with his fingers is good for him too. A spoon would be great, he definitely needs to work on using utensils. He pretty much has the fork down.


These shapes aren't new (you've probably seen them in some of my other photos), and neither is the little bucket, but I finally paired the two together. It's so cute to see K tote this around. Sometimes he leaves a trail of shapes.... like Hansel and Gretel. (Hehe!)

I just love finding stuff around the house that works for our homeschool, and I love open-ended toys! Really fosters their imaginations!

A few photos of Merika and Nolyn's stuff. I really don't have it all put together just yet, so "stay tuned" and you'll see more as we progress into school.


This is the case of chalkboards, obviously. I have about 5-6 chalkboards for the kids to use. The small ones are great for teaching them to write capital letters (Handwriting Without Tears uses this as a tool). The one on the right is from Dollar Tree.

I prefer to use chalkboards because they save paper. I mean, come on. I am not going to save every single handwriting paper. A paper a day for five days a week for who knows how many years... it adds up. My mom just bought them dry erase boards, one side is blank and the other side has the lines (like that chalkboard up there does).


And this is just half of our watercolor stash. The rest doesn't fit in this... so it's at the top of the pantry. (Actually, my aunt gave me a bunch, and we accumulated a dozen or so more from those too-good-to-pass-up back2school sales over the years.)


My aunt gave me these. They are really great for teaching fractions. The clear sheets have lines on them, and you place them over the colored squares. The strips are "fractions" of different sizes.


This is the kid's Math tray. The card (as pictured) goes in the first section. The top number goes into the second section, and they either take beans out (subtract) and put them in the third, or in the case of addition, count out the second number (in beans) in the third section and then transfer them to the middle. In both cases, the answer to the math problem ends up in the middle section. Get all that?

I'll post more photos as we get more organized.

How are you preparing for the new school year? Are you refreshing things?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A new art station & a poster sized art activity

I've always wanted a spot for my kids to go crazy wild with art. Because we're renters, this just isn't possible. I'm pretty sure our landlord would not like paint splattered all over the walls and carpets, but I'd really love to have a room to unleash the creative beast. My husband and I are both artsy folks, although lately, his art has been more focused on wood working... which needs a shop of it's own since that sort of hobby tends to cover things with a layer of saw dust.

Since we don't really have a designated space, we sometimes do the messier art outdoors, but I've always wanted a spot for the kids to sit down and color, draw, or doodle.... some place besides the kitchen table.

I've been eyeing IKEAS's LACK tables. They recently dropped in price so we headed to IKEA to snag a couple, and purchased four little kiddie stools as well. The kids really love their art station, and so do I.

There's a project I've been wanting to test out for some time, so we tackled that today. It's much more fun if you have more people involved, especially since there is so much coloring involved (and I didn't want to get out the paints).


I'm telling you, putting the stools and tables together definitely worked out my arms! Woo! Keagan loves having a seat and table that is his size.


I used a tin bucket to hold crayons and a black iron dish holder thingy (from Taste of Home- what are those called?) to hold scraps of paper.


It definitely is a big hit. They've also used the tables to eat on. I wanted two tables so the kids would have plenty of room. I think I made a good choice.



Here's our project. I took 8 sheets of paper and drew a cow on it. Then the kids each got a few papers (as did I), and colored them. Then I mounted them on red construction paper and taped them to the wall.


I know, I know... it's not the perfect cow. I promise, I'm a better artist than that! I'd love to do something similar to this and use frames instead of construction paper.

Let me know if you try it out! I'd love to see photos!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Short-lived

Well folks....

The excitement was short lived. I'm having some body issues. For some reason, I am unable to "hold on to" a baby. It is likely that I have miscarried more than the two times that I know of, and just thought my cycles were running really late.

I'm going to get all checked out and see if there is something that needs to be fixed. It's disappointing, but it's part of life. Hopefully an ultrasound and an exam can tell us something.

I made the decision to tell people about the pregnancy early, even though I knew it could possibly end this way because I believe every baby is a gift, whether it makes it to my arms or not.

The kids want another sibling as bad as we want to give them one, and on a daily basis I am asked, "When are we going to have another baby?" I honestly thought the first miscarriage was just some fluke of sorts, but now I'm getting the idea that there is something wrong.

If you know me, then you know I'm not a doctor person, but... well, there are times when I've got to suck that up and go! :)

We have been incredibly blessed with three beautiful children, and while I ache for another (and another, and another... ;) ) I know that I am very fortunate to have children already.

I told my friend that I'm thinking about calling out a hit on my uterus for betraying me. That'll teach her, eh? ;) Ha!

Now, I'm off to eat chocolate pie. Have a blessed day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big news in our household

The headliners for this week are: We're PREGNANT again!

As most of my regular readers know, we had a miscarriage on Easter. This month, we would have found out the gender and other fun stuff, which has been on my mind lately. Saturday, I was really thinking on this. Little did I know, I was "with child" once again!

We wanted to share this news with you all instead of waiting a certain amount of time. One thing I have learned from the experiences of several friends this year is that you can lose a baby at any stage during the pregnancy, or even birth, and every moment should be celebrated.

We hope that you'll keep us in your prayers!

Here's a few photos to share with you all (not related to the pregnancy!).









Coloring with my Keagie!



Independence Day pool time (enjoying our FREEDOM!) :)


Oh, and one more big God blessing- RAIN! We had RAIIIIN this weekend!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Initial Paintings

Here's a great, cheap and easy activity to do with kids this summer. They're initial paintings!

Even the art-challenged parent can organize this with ease.
You'll need the following supplies:

- Canvas or thick paper
- Masking tape or painters tape
- Paint (Thicker paint if you are using a canvas. Runny paint on a canvas will run under the tape. You can use watercolors on thick paper.)
- Paint brushes (or, you could use finger paints and fingers!)











Tip: Make sure the kids paint all the white spaces on the canvas, especially around the tape, so there are clear, clean lines when you peel off the tape.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hot and busy summer



It's been unbelievably hot here in the Houston area lately. So hot, we probably could have set the pizza out on the back porch to bake (or broil!). With temps in the 100's, no one really feels like spending time outdoors unless its at the pool or the beach (or spent running through the sprinkler), so we've had to find things to do indoors, where our a/c struggles to battle with the infringing heat.

Even the dog would prefer to bask in the sun streaming through the window than lay outside in the humidity and blinding sun. With no rain for weeks, our grass is crunchy with golden patches here and there. Our sprinklers just cannot compete. We water in the evening, once the sun has gone down. Watering during the day is a waste of time and money, as the droplets seem to evaporate before they ever touch the grass.

Still, this summer has its joys. Juicy watermelon and cantaloupe. Baby showers. Wedding planning (for my brother and his lovely gal- the bride found her wedding dress within an hour, and the second bridesmaid's dress I tried on was perfect). Family reunion (end of this month!), and my birthday (July 31st, the same day the family reunion starts!) as well as my husband's (August 6), and my Sister-in-law-to-be's as well (and several of my close friends!).

It has been such a joy to be a part of Chip and Tara's wedding planning. Let me tell you, Tara is such a wonderful woman, and I am so glad the two of them are tying the knot. I could not have asked for a better "sister"! She certainly is a blessing to our family!

In other news, we have a "border" with us. Brandon's best friend from "way back" has moved in for about a month and a half while he finishes up school. His wife is doing her internship (she's a doctor) out in North Carolina where they have purchased their first home. David is staying with us as he ties up these loose ends. We will miss them, but I am sure we will see them again! (We may just have to vacation in NC! I have no complaints about that!)

The kids just love their "Uncle David". Here's a photo of Lisa and Dave, after we all came back from a "double date". My parents watched the kids (before Keagan was even a twinkle in our eyes).


Sunday, June 14, 2009

All on a Sunday afternoon!

Again, I apologize for the lack of entries with substance, but... I do have a fresh batch of photos! It's been a gorgeous week here, and we've just been enjoying God's creation and artwork these last few days. Earlier in the week I was very, very sick and at one point was convinced I was going blind (or would be, after I plucked my eyes out since they hurt so very bad). My mom's good friend, Dawn Stafford, picked the kids and I up and took me to the doctor! Later, my MIL drove from Louisiana to gather the kids and take them back home with her so I could have some R&R&R! (rest, relaxation, and repair!). I really needed someone to care for them those first two days, but I was thankful that she came, even if it was on the tail end of it all! The next day, I felt good enough to go out and do some things, like get my hair trimmed and roam the mall. It was so strange to go to the mall without my little munchkins! I felt like my hands were too empty! Then, hubby and I got to spend some quality time together. I missed my children something fierce, but I also enjoyed the peace and quiet that is so rare around here! My Dad and I drove up to Beaumont and met MawMaw there and she exchanged the kids for the peace and quiet. :)

When we came back into town, my dad and the kids watched Hotel for Dogs while I helped my mom pick out a couple outfits. While the week started out crummy, it ended well! :)

We started off this beautiful Sunday learning about the tower the people tried to build to the heavens, and how, because of their pride and vanity, God confused their language. Made me contemplate the many "tower of Babel" that I may have constructed in my own life over time, and how, as a result, confusing issues arose that really threw me off my course and caused trouble for me.

I hope you're having a lovely Sunday! God bless!


Cooling off an on Sunday afternoon.


Another refreshing way to cool off- iced tea in a wide mouth jar.


And, who can forget homemade juice pops?


(I just love his expression here)


One of my new favorite photos of the two of us.



This is a good photo of us as well. I have so few photos (decent ones) of the two of us, that I have a hard time filling the scrapbook of "us"! This one is going in for sure!