Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mommy's Always With Me!

My wonderfully talented and creative husband painted this picture of me a few years ago. For the last couple of years it has hung in our hallway, but today in the chaos that is mornings around here, it fell.

And since my house tends to be ridiculously loud(what a shock, right?!) I didn't even hear or notice that it wasn't on the wall anymore. 

That is, until Anna came and got me. She started excitedly pulling on my hand, begging me to come with her to her room so I could see her new "decoration."

I followed her into the girls room, where she proudly showed me that she had hung my picture right next to her top bunk(there was a nail already there, I did not let my six year old hammer a nail into the wall...just throwing that out there.;)

I told her I thought it looked great, and then I asked her if she wanted me to move it back to the hallway later.

To which she said,"Oh no, mommy. I want your picture right next to me, that way I don't ever have to worry about having bad dreams because now you're always with me!"

Goodness, she's cute. :)

HeartFELT Truth Advent Calendar Review

Christmas came early to my house this weekend.. and we were all thrilled that it did!
Recently HeartFELT Truths sent my kiddos and I one of their beautiful advent calendars to review. Since I am always on the look out for kid friendly, Bible based items, I was thrilled to get the opportunity. All the materials are made of felt, and based on the Christmas story from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2. The idea is to read a small section of the Christmas story each day from December 1 through December 25 to your children. Then when the reading is over have one of you kids place  a new character that they just heard about on the felt board. By the time December 25 arrives, your children will more than likely be able to retell the entire Christmas story back to you!

Read the rest of this review over at Raising Homemakers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Anna Turns 6!

Ok, I think my mama heart has had just about all it can take with birthdays. Seriously, basically having at least one birthday a month from February-August is crazy. Who even does that? ;)

And not only that, but man is it hard to watch your babies grow up and realize that all those comments about kids growing up so fast are true! However, I will say that even though it's hard, it's also a lot of fun watching them grow into their own personalities and start developing their own interests.

All this to say is that my sweet Anna, my first daughter, and my second child, crossed over into bigger kid territory last Friday and turned six.

The night before her birthday we made some birthday cake cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, regular cake, and decorated. When she woke up this is what she was able to see when she came out of her room:

Yes, we continued the new tradition of writing on the balloons all the things we loved about the birthday person. It was pretty cute because Jack kept reminding me to do that, and even asked to help. :)

For Anna's birthday party we went to a local splash pad(it was HOT that day) and met up with a few friends. I was pleasantly surprised to see that these cupcakes looked quite a bit like Frozen themed cupcakes. :)

After a busy day at the splash park, we all came home for naps/rest, and then once Erik got home we took Anna out for her much anticipated birthday present...getting her ears pierced! All she has talked about for the last few months was wanting to get her ears pierced so Erik and I told her she could get it done on her birthday. We warned her that it would hurt a little bit, but she was too excited to really care about that. Poor Jack got really sad when it was time for her to get them done, though. He was afraid Anna would get hurt, so Erik took him on a walk around the mall so that he wouldn't have to see it happen.

After getting her ears pierced and eating some waffles for dinner, we had birthday cake. I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a cake decorator, but making a purple cake and sticking some My Little Pony's didn't prove to be too difficult for me. :) 

Happy sixth birthday, sweet Anna! I can't wait to see how God uses you and works in you life...but if you could stop growing up so fast that'd be great too! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on Homeschooling Last Year

I can hardly believe that we've already finished two whole years of homeschool, and that we are about to start our third year in this crazy adventure.

I really thought by this point I'd at least have a little bit of wisdom to offer, and that I wouldn't still be such a major curriculum junkie. Or at the very least, that I'd have a good routine for it down.

Unfortunately, though, I can't really say that I have accomplished any of those things. As much as I believe that our family has been called to homeschool, and as much as I love the idea of being with my kids and learning along side them day in day and day out, I'll admit that it doesn't always come very naturally to me.

However, I will say that this past year of homeschooling was much(MUCH) better than the previous. Apparently being new to an area and having a baby in the middle of the school year can be stressful(who knew?)

This past year we used My Father's World for both first grade and kindergarten, and then we supplemented in the spring semester with classical conversations. I can't say enough about how much I love both of these programs. And more importantly, Jack and Anna both really loved them.

Classical Conversations is great because you get to be around other homeschooling families, and your kids get to be around other kids their own age. It also takes care of the science experiments and crafty stuff that I might not always make enough time for at home.

My Father's World turned out to be exactly what I had been looking for at the beginning of last year. I really felt like I needed something that would tell me what to do every day, and that's exactly what MFW does. It also gives a lot of cute ideas for crafts(which is not my area of expertise) and provides some wonderful book choices.

Most importantly, though, it's very Bible centered. And not only is it Bible centered, but they make  it so that the kids really enjoy learning about the Bible. Every day this past year, Jack had a Bible and a Bible notebook that he wrote in, and he never complained about it, in fact he really enjoyed doing it. He tells everyone that the Bible is his favorite book. :)

My main struggles with homeschooling this past year was keeping the younger kids entertained while we did school(there were many days I'd give up trying to keep Lily and Max entertained, and tell them to go play in the kitchen sink until we were done), and sticking to a routine. Some weeks we'd do great sticking to one, and other weeks...we... wouldn't do so great.

I'm really looking forward to starting school again, though. We've had a nice break this summer, but now I'm ready to get back into it. And, of course, the break has been long enough that I keep envisioning perfectly beautiful school days with Max and Luke sitting quietly on their blankets playing with their special toys while I patiently teach a math lesson to the older kids(ha!)

Maybe it would be more realistic to do school during the little boys nap time? However, if that vision ever becomes a reality, I'll be sure to let you know and share all my secrets. :)

Linked to the Modest Mom.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Birthdays Week

Last week is known as "birthdays" week around here. My birthday was on the 24th(I turned 29, in case you were wondering) and Jack's, gulp, seventh birthday was on the 25th.

Seven seems way too big in my opinion. Wasn't he just turning 4, like, yesterday?

For my birthday, I took the kids to the park and picked up my free Starbucks drink that they give you on your birthday. The kids were so sweet, trying to make sure I had a good day. They kept telling me they were going to throw me a Duggar and shopping birthday party since I like those things so much(ha!) Jack kept telling me,"Mama, you should really go shopping today! Don't worry we will go with you!"

And as much fun as it sounded taking my five crazies to a shopping center, we opted to just go to the park instead. :)

They kept bringing me flowers, and exclaiming,"Happy birthday, Mama!" Then when Erik got home, we dropped Jack, Anna, and Lily off at Vacation Bible School, and took Luke and Max with us out to dinner.

By the time we got everyone home from VBS and settled into bed, it was after 10, and I still had to decorate the house and bake cupcakes for Jack's birthday the next day. 

Jack loves all things baseball, especially anything to do with the Cardinals, so I attempted to make these cupcakes look like baseballs. I am so NOT a cake decorator, but with Erik's help, I think they (finally) started to look right. 

My original plan for these balloons was to make them look like baseballs, but that idea sort of flopped. Instead, we just blew up the package of balloons and then wrote on each one something we loved about Jack. Even though I definitely didn't think of it until the last minute, I have to say that this is my new favorite birthday tradition.

We met up with some of our good friends at the Science center, and then took a picnic out to a nearby park to celebrate the birthday boy. Anna really loved this skeleton at the Science center. :)

Such a sweet group of kids. :)

Happy 7th birthday, Jack! Your love for the Lord has really shown through this last year, and your kind and sweet heart makes being your Mom an absolute delight. I pray that your love for Jesus will only grow with each year, and that you'll always keep your joyful personality.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Glimpses of Summer

Picture, if you will, me jumping high up into the air, pumping my fists, and exclaiming, "It's summer!!!!"

I remember back in April talking to other homeschool moms, and telling them that I planned on doing "some school" this summer. You know, a little math, a little phonics, that kind of thing. I mean, afterall, what would we do all day?

But then one day it clicked with me. It's summer. We have been doing school since last September almost daily. This past winter I was so discouraged from being cooped up in the house, and doing the same things every. single. day. I realized I needed to take a little break, spend a little more time just being with my kiddos, and refocus. So that's exactly what we are doing.

We have been swimming, splash parking, going on hikes, and just spending lazy days at home playing outside and watching movies.

Here is Lily making some fireworks in a jar last week.

I've been able to spend a little more time reading these last few weeks, and I just finished this book. It is so, so, so good. If you're looking for an encouraging and truthful book, I highly recommend it(although, don't buy it yet because I'll be giving it away hopefully this week on the blog!)

And of course I've been reading a little about homeschooling too. I am almost finished with the Charlotte Mason Companion. I have heard a lot about Charlotte Mason over the years, and I've read bits and pieces of this book before, and I've always sort of aligned our school after Charlotte's teaching, but this is the first time I've ever read this book in its entirety. I can't believe it's taken me this long either, because it is fantastic! 

I also ordered the Spell to Write and Read program, after hearing so many great things about it. But to be honest I've only read a few pages so far. Here's hoping I'll get motivated soon! :)

I've so been enjoying watching the little man learn to walk and talk. He's such a happy little guy, and he's growing up way too fast!

How's everyone else's summer going? Do any of you other homeschoolers take summer off, or do you do school year round?

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Linked to the Modest Mom.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Max turned 3!!

Photo: He's very serious about turning 3 today . :)

Last Tuesday, our wild and sweet Max turned three! In some ways I can hardly believe he's already three, and in other ways I feel like I can't remember life without Max, and it's almost weird to me that he's "only" three years old.

We started the day with some birthday cake cinnamon rolls(which were in fact as ridiculously amazing as they sound) and then headed to the St. Louis Science Center to meet my mom and dad and explore the dinosaur exhibit(Max loves all things monster trucks, race cars, and dinosaurs.)

Almost as soon as we had parked the van we saw some huge displays of dinosaurs that the kids were allowed to play with.

They were so cute and excited. :) 

Some sweet friends had let us borrow their family pass, so we were able to check out the planetarium while we were there too. I wasn't sure how the kids would do there, but amazingly they loved it. Luke even fell asleep in my dad's arms(he has the magic touch when it comes to getting babies to fall asleep!) 

We headed home late in the afternoon so that Max and Luke could get a decent nap in before his birthday party started. We had about 15 kids under the age of six crammed into our 1000 square foot house that night. Thankfully they all did great, and no one seemed to mind the close quarters too much. :)

At least no one minded until I fed their kids this sugar laden, vanilla, oreo, and chocolate doughnut cake right before bed time.:)

Max turning three was a gentle reminder to slow down a little more and enjoy this season of life I'm in. Summers are sort of hard on my mama heart because three of my kids have birthdays, so summer especially reminds me to slow down and enjoy my kids. 

And I realize that this probably goes without saying, but I'm so thankful to God for blessing us with Max. When he was born he was our fourth baby in three years. To say that I was nervous when I had him would be a huge understatement. 

But when we brought him home from the hospital he was so...easy. I still remember the first night we brought him home how he just slept in the bassinet next to our bed, and Erik and I looked at each other like,"Well, I guess if he's sleeping we may as well sleep too."

While I'm not sure if laid back would be the word I'd use to describe Max anymore, he's definitely a delightful little boy. He's a ball of energy, and loves all things loud. He loves his sisters and brothers(even if he still only refers to Luke as "baby") and looks up to Jack a lot.

We pray everyday for Max to grow up into a man who loves Jesus with his whole heart. We are so thankful that God has entrusted this little guy to us.

Photo: Not the best picture but maxs face cracks me up like he can't believe we are crazy enough to be standing next to a dinosaur. Lily was standing behind us gazing up at the T. Rex and Anna didn't want to get anywhere near the dinosaurs.:(

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