Sunday, July 5, 2015

Surviving a 12 hour road trip(with no DVDS)

Last fall, when Erik and I started telling people we were taking the kids down to Florida, we were met with a variety of reactions.

We were told everything from,"That's so awesome! You guys will have such a great time!" to the surprised, slightly bewildered questions of,"You're going to take five kids to Florida? Like...alone, and stuff?"

But, probably, the most common question we were asked was if we were going to take our van on a 12 hour road trip. Seeing as how it's a twelve year old van, this was a perfectly legitimate concern, er, question.

When we first started planning our trip, we actually were planning on taking our trusty old Odyssey down to Florida. Erik's plan was to do a bunch of work and updates on it before we left, and my plan was to pray it all the way there and back. ;) But, as luck would have it, my mom and dad decided to buy an almost brand new van this past year, and graciously insisted that we borrow it for our vacation.

Their van was perfect for our trip, not only is it a bigger van(that actually seats 8 people, instead of 7 like ours) it was also very dependable and got great gas mileage. So when people heard we were taking my parents van instead of ours they would say,"Oh well, that's great! Is there a DVD player in it?"

But when I would say that,"No, there isn't a DVD player in our van or their van," I'd be met with more blanks stares and questions of how we were planning on doing such a long trip.

Now, let me be honest, and say that I was nervous about how this trip was going to go too. I'm not anti television, by any means, and my kids definitely enjoy watching their shows. I will also admit that the trip, particularly the last two hours on our way down to Florida, was a little rough with children-and parents- just wanting to.get.there.already.

But, thankfully, we were able to come up with a plan, that made taking a 12 hour road trip with five kids under the age of seven go fairly smoothly.

1. Buy some new coloring books/sticker books, and hand them out over the course of the trip. The Friday before we left, I made a dollar store run, where I stocked up on several activity books for the kids. I also splurged a little and bought Jack, Anna, and Lily an Usborne sticker book.

2. Pack special snacks and pass them out throughout the trip. For us that meant that fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and teddy grahams were being passed out frequently. :)

3. Make your car as comfortable as possible. Our van was pretty much packed to the brim, but we gave each kid their blanket and their favorite stuffed animals to try and keep them as comfortable as we could.

4.Audio Books! We love audio books around here, and we are blessed to have a library that carries a great selection. Some of our favorites have been, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Sign of the Beaver, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

5. Tell stories to them about when they were babies, about when you were little, and make up some silly stories with them being the main character. This was something that just randomly happened on our drive, we started telling one of them a story about when they were babies and it quickly turned into more stories about when each of them were babies. My kids especially love it when we make up stories about them(i.e. Once upon a time there was a dinosaur named Maxosaurus and he loved to give Princess Lily rides to South Dakota. My kids really like South Dakota for some reason. Also, as you can see from the above story, I may lack a little bit of creativity when telling my stories.)

All in all our trip to Florida went really well, and now that we are home I can admit how surprised I am that it went as smooth as it did. ;)

What else would you add to this list?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ripples of Faith

I first heard of Elisabeth Elliot when I was sixteen.
My good friend had loaned me the book,”I kissed dating goodbye,” in an effort to show me there was way more to life than having a boyfriend(which at that point in my life, was a fairly inconceivable notion.)
While reading that book, I kept noticing references to this book called, “Passion and Purity.” The author referenced it so much, that I ended up borrowing it from another friend of mine.
I don’t remember how much of Passion and Purity I actually read, but I do know that God used those two books to help shape how I viewed relationships before marriage.
Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vacations, Family Pictures, and Princess Elsa

Two weeks ago, Erik, the kids, and I took a family vacation down to Florida.

It was our first family vacation we had ever taken "just" the seven of us, and we had such a good time(and now that it's over I think I can finally admit how surprised I am over how smooth it all went.)

We spent most of our time hanging out on the beach and enjoying some down time at the condo. Although we did take the kids to an aviation museum, and splurged a little on a dolphin cruise(the kids love dolphins, so we thought that'd be a fun treat for them...and in all honesty it was a treat for me too.;)

On the last night we were there we took the kids on one final walk on the beach. As we were walking along the shore I warned Erik that I was going to be one of "those" tourists and make the next stranger we saw take a family picture for us.

He sighed begrudgingly, but lo and behold when we finally came across another family walking along the shore, he snatched my camera out of my hands and walked up to them and asked them to take a picture of us(I love that man.)

I had no presumptions that this picture would turn out well, but I wanted to have something to prove that we'd all been at the beach. Getting all the kids to look at the camera at the same time is challenging to say the least!

But just as I was about to tell everyone to say "Cheese!" I happened to notice that the lady taking our picture was wearing an Elsa shirt, so I immediately yelled,"Everyone look at Elsa!"

And wouldn't you know, we actually got a picture where everyone is mostly looking where they are suppose to. One of my friends pointed out that Max looks like he's about ready to attack something. What can I say? He's three and he thinks he's a dinosaur. We still have years to teach him the proper way to look at ladies. :)

So now I know. If I want the kids to look at me when I take a picture, I need to wear a Frozen shirt.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Luke Turns 2!

I can hardly believe our little Luke turned two years old last month! These last two years have flown by so fast! 

Luke is such a ham. He's very verbal, has a lot of energy, and is always trying to make everyone laugh(that is, when he's not trying to steal cookies out of the pantry...;)

On his birthday we just had a laid back family day. His birthday was on a Sunday so we went to church, took naps, had pancakes for dinner, and ate hulk cake for desert. 

Seriously, what did we ever do without pinterest?!

Luke loves the Hulk. He loves to stomp around, and growl, "Hulk Smash!" So I knew I had to try and make him a Hulk cake. It might not be as beautiful as the picture I saw on pinterest, but it worked. :) Also, it cracks me up that when Jack turned two, I made him an Elmo cake, and I'm pretty sure he didn't even know who the Hulk was. And now Luke doesn't know who Elmo is, but loves the Hulk.

I'm kidding, Luke definitely knows who Elmo is. :)

Yes, even though it was "just" the seven of us I(with help from some excited brothers and sisters) still made an entire cake and 24 cupcakes. I go overboard sometimes, have I mentioned that?

All of our Avengers. :) At every meal the kids would sing "Happy Birthday" to Luke, so by the time it was actually time to sing to him he sang right along with them.

These last two years have been gone by so fast, but what an incredibly blessed two years it has been. Luke has brought so much joy and laughter to our home. 

Happy Birthday, Luke! We can't wait to see what the Lord does in your life!

Monday, April 20, 2015

My "Complicated" Life

Some days I giggle over how complicated I've made my life.

Motherhood is hard work, so we have five little ones in five years.

And then, once some of those children begin to reach school age, we make the decision to homeschool.

And, as if that didn't already make things "busy", we decide to seriously limit how much television and video game playing the kids do, because we can tell such a difference in their behavior when we limit those things.

Then there are the days, I find myself complaining about how hard this all is.

I whine about how needy they all are, and how I don't feel like there's enough of me to go around. I get frustrated by the messes, the child who isn't understanding a certain math concept, the other child who refuses to potty train,  and the fact that I want some more time to sleep

It's a good thing God pats me on the head and tells me that I'm totally justified in my feelings.

Oh. Wait.

Actually God says he will supply all the grace I need to get through the day. He gently reminds me that when I am weak(which is always) he is strong. I hear him whisper to my heart that I can do all things through him who gives me strength, and to work like I'm working for him.

These children that he's given my husband and I to raise and train, are gifts from him.

This is the life we have made for ourselves. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. No one is making me do this. This is the path that God has led us down.

That doesn't mean it's not hard, or that I'm not an exhausted, weary mess most of the time.

But God, in his mercy, provides all the grace I need to get through these days.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter 2015

With each passing year, my desire to create lasting memories with my family grows stronger.

Or maybe the fact that my mom was pretty big on holidays, and it's now been passed onto me. 

At any rate, we love holidays around here( husband might not love holidays like I love holidays, but he's a good sport and goes along with my rituals and ideas.;)

On Good Friday we dyed eggs.

They were very excited. :)

Max was completely mesmerized by his purple egg(he was also a fan of throwing the eggs on the floor, just to be sure that they really wouldn't break, ha!)

We also talked about how our sin is dark and ugly. To demonstrate this we rubbed some mud on our arms. Then we talked about how sometimes we try to fix ourselves and make ourselves better, and rubbed a mud soaked rag on our arms to show that even when we try to fix ourselves we can sometimes make things even messier. Finally we washed our arms with clean water, to remind us that only Jesus can wash our sin(thanks for the idea, Mrs. Gore!) I was pleasantly surprised by how much the kids seemed to understand and enjoy this analogy.

On Easter morning we made resurrection rolls .like we did last year, and read the Easter story.

After we rushed around trying to get everyone ready we were able to get some pictures before church.

Sweet sisters. :)

Silly brothers.

The combination of beautiful weather and melted marshmallows for breakfast made for lots of dancing, singing, and giggling. :)

Maybe one day, we'll be able to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time. :) I hope everyone had a great Easter!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How we do Homeschool

Every once in awhile, I'll receive an email from one of you asking how our family does this "whole homeschooling thing." While I'm happy to answer these questions, I'll be the first to admit that this has all been a huge learning process for me, and that I'm always open to trying new ways of homeschooling. And obviously I've only been doing this for two years so I still have plenty to learn in this area. :) I have tried several different schedules and routines, but for now this seems to be what I default to.

6:30/7:30- Kids usually wake up, typically the girls are the first ones up, and everyone eats breakfast as they wake up. Jack, Anna, and Lily do their morning jobs(pick up rooms, make beds, brush teeth), and I help Luke and Max get dressed and ready for the day.

As soon as Jack finishes his morning list, he comes and sits down to do his math and copywork. I'll try and get Luke, Max, and Lily set up with some water color paints or play dough, then sit down with Anna to do her math and copywork. Whenever Jack finishes, he reads to Lily and Max(we try to let Luke be in that mix too, but it doesn't work out too well yet.) Luke usually ends up on my lap playing with the math-u-see blocks while I do Anna's reading lesson.

Once Anna and I finish up, we all gather in the living room for "circle time." We start off with our Bible reading-which I usually have Jack read to us, although sometimes Jack and I take turns, then we move on to talking about the calendar and what day of the week it is. We might also try and do our Classical Conversations memory work if everyone's not getting too restless by the end of calendar time.

Circle time moves into reading time. We usually read some picture books that the kids have picked out, and then we'll read some books that have to do with the history and science we're talking about at the time.

By this point everyone's tired and restless(including me, if I'm being honest) so we take a break and have a snack, and the kids play for awhile.

At some point I'll have Jack read to me from his chapter book we're working on, and then Anna will usually request me to read some American girl to her, which Lily is always more than happy to sit in on. The little boys are usually alternating between clinging to me and playing trains and dinosaurs by now. :)

Twice a week, I aim to do spelling with Jack and Anna, and do some copywork with Lily. While I do spelling with Anna, Jack does letter flashcards with Lily(having an older child is so helpful!) Luke and Max make huge messes do blanket time during this.

By the time we make it through all this, it's lunch time and everyone needs a break. After lunch, I try to clean up a bit, and then spend a little time playing with the little boys before I put them down for their nap. Before nap I try(although I'm not always great about it) to sing and read them one more book of their choosing.

Once Luke and Max are settled into their naps, I pull out the legos for the older three kids and I read to them from our chapter book. Once a week, they'll do written/drawing narrations from what we've read, and depending on the day we might do classical music study, a science experiment, or an art project.

I aim to be done around 2, and then the older three kids go have quiet time. They usually draw, play legos, or play with their dolls. When it's nice out they play outside, but since it's winter right now, they have to make do with more legos and drawing. :)

And...I usually squeal and giggle as I walk to the living room, and collapse on the couch for the remainder of nap time, thankful to have made it through another day of homeschool. :)

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