I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My nemesis: Socks

It's the same thing every year. Once the weather cools and the rains comes, it's time for the socks to come out. Most of us would prefer to go in flip flops all year and not mess with socks. In our neck of the woods that's not very practical. Not that it stops a few naysayers from expressing their annoyance at having to find a match before we venture out. We're working on that.

A few winters ago, we came up with a way to make the job easier to swallow. We take the large basket of single socks and dump them on the floor.

Then the race begins. For each pair of socks they earn a small piece of candy. This makes the job go really fast and last time the kids asked if I could sit out so they had more chances at candy.

(Yes, my oldest girl is wearing gloves in the house. She is always cold.)

The reward candy is something like jelly bellies, sweetarts or gummies. Not the healthiest options but they usually end up with somewhere between 10-25, not too many really. It's over quickly and everyone has pairs of socks in their drawers again. Me - 1, Socks - 0.

Monday, December 28, 2009


It's time. Every Christmas we attempt to clear out the extra unused things that take up so much of our time just maintaining them. It takes up mental and physical energy to take care of all that we are blessed to have.

I am determined to achieve a new level of decluttering. It started two weeks ago but the two bags are still in the back of my van as well as a large box still in the garage. Out they will go tomorrow. Whatever is not nailed down better watch out.

I am feeling ruthless with extra items but cooking is coming first today. I am working on some batch cooking getting ready for a beach trip as well as setting myself up for success when we start school next week. There is spagetti sauce, pizza sauce and taco meat on the to-do list. Then come the chicken dishes as well as meatballs once more. I used a birthday gift card to Amazon to purchase Fix, Freeze and Feast. It arrived the day after Christmas and I am loving the recipes in there and hope to try some this week.

The new year is quickly approaching. I hope those of you who are reading this post were as richly blessed as I was with time with family this holiday season. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Get ready for a list

It's shaping up to be a busy and fun week. Let's hope I keep my sanity. Who am I kidding? That train left a long time ago.

*Yesterday we had a very nice Christmas dinner at church complete with a fully catered meal and a fun performance by Elvis, aka our pastor in quite the get-up. The kids sang Christmas carols during church and they were so cute. I wish I had remembered to take my camera.

*Today we are heading out to sing carols for a local senior center with our homeschool group.

*Steve's brother just got in from California. Visiting will be on the schedule.

*Tomorrow night is practice for Steve and I for the readings we are doing for our Christmas Eve service at our church.

*Wednesday is Nana's birthday so I imagine we will be visiting with her sometime during that day.

*Thursday night is the Christmas Eve Service.

*Annual tradition of pj's, hot chocolate and Christmas lights.

*Somewhere in there we need to finish wrapping and get the last few stocking stuffers.

*At some point I am hoping this headache that I have had for a few days will leave my head.

*We are almost done with Jotham's Journey and I have to say that it's the best $10 we have spent.

*I can't wait for Christmas Day!

*Saturday is the family gathering for my side and I can't wait to see everyone.

Merry Christmas week!

Friday, December 18, 2009

If you need me...

I'll probably be somewhere reading one of these books, my two new best friends. If books could be friends, that is. I am pretty sure that Ree and I could be friends, you know, if she even knew I existed. But for now, I will settle for reading her blog and cookbook. (If I can get it out of the kids' hands.) Steve got these books for me for my birthday and boy does he have my number. These two were at the top of my wish list. He also made a sugar free pumpkin pie to top it off. Thanks for a fabulous birthday, Steve!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bliss is...

going to check on your two youngest because it's too quiet. When you get there you find this. The seven year old reading a stack of books to the five year old.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our boys

Every once in awhile, the amazing happens and the boys actually stop moving and find something stationary to do.

It's a beautiful thing.

A very beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tools for learning

I love manipulatives. They are great for busy fingers and put into practice what we are learning.

Sometimes the olders still like to get their hands in there. (Don't mind the pile of empty Christmas decoration boxes in the back there. I'm busy, ok? ;-))

But sometimes, learning tools come in unconventional packages. Take the large ball pictured below, for instance.

Sitting on balls like this takes balance. What that can mean for learning is that it will engage the mind on a kinetic level. The benefit of that is that it can help a kinetic learner stay focused while they work as well as help a child who's brain has been developing faster than her emotions have been. I'm not naming names, just sayin'.
There is a company called Heads Up Now that carries some great learning aids for kids who have ADD, learning difficulties, sensory or fidgeting issues and the list goes on and on. They are not paying me to talk about them, I just really like what they have to offer. They offer balls similar to the one in the picture above, also.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Random acts of living

We started the weekend on Friday by getting some food in the freezer. Lil helped me by chopping onions. The goggles are her chopping tip for all of those who have issues with tearing up. It works!

We made 150 meatballs in all. Enough for Friday evening's meal and 3 more meals in the freezer.

We freeze them on cookie sheets first and then I package them with our foodsaver.

Now they are ready to go back into the freezer.

Friday evening, Bub and Steve made cinnamon rolls for our Saturday adventure that we had planned. I wish I had taken pictures of the finished product. They were beautiful.

We got up Saturday morning, popped the cinnamon rolls into the oven and got bundled up to head to Nana's first. Steve also made up a thermos of coffee and various travel mugs of hot cocoa.

Here is an example of how cold it was. Leaves were preserved in sheets of ice.

Our purpose for the trip was to take the 30 or so bags of leaves that we had collected at our house and put them in the garden at Nana's house.

Even Elijah got in on the work. He says he is a working man now.

We pulled up our tomato plants that were there and then spread the leaves over the ground.

Aunt K came along and built a fire inside the garden so we could warm up. It was really cold! Then after the younger three changed clothes we left for the rest of the adventure. Off to get our Christmas tree!

There is a nice lot, every year, in a neighboring town that has all of their trees for $7. It supports a mens program. The trees are seconds but we always manage to find a nice one.

We all look forward to going every year. Turns are taken pulling out trees to look at and sometimes laughing is had at what we find. One tree was so skinny on top and wide at the bottom that it looked like it needed a belt.

Lij loved helping Steve get the tree into the stand and helped carry it in.

Pardon this last picture. It's not easy getting a great picture of a lit tree. We spent part of the evening decorating and ended it with another reading from Jotham's Journey. That book is getting good!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I have been planning to do something for Advent each year but haven't found anything that I felt like would fit. This year we found it. (Thanks, Hilary!)

The book is Jotham's Journey and we are completely hooked. We should have started with it a few days ago but didn't get it purchased until Monday. It's a fantastic story that you read each night starting the first night of Advent. The story follows a young boy and at the end of each reading it shares about the people of Israel and their relationship to God. Not so different from Jotham's story and told in a way that kids and adults alike can relate.

This is our make-shift advent candle arrangement. I am using deep red in place of the violet candles as that is what we have on hand. Advent calls for violet candles on the 1st, 2nd and 4th weeks, with pink on the third and white on Christmas. I think the arrangement works for this year.

We lit the first candle.

I then printed out December calendars for the kids to color and decorate while I read the first three days to catch up. I have found that my kids have a longer attention span if they are doing something quiet while I read. It works even better for physical boys.

We were all disappointed that the reading was over so soon. Last night the cliffhanger was so intense! Steve and I had a hard time putting the book away to wait for tonight!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Birds of a feather

Can you tell what my kids are looking at?

How about now?

It's a bird's nest. We have lots of birds around here which has been kind of cool since we are working through our Apologia Science Zoology book about winged creatures.

We watched a little bird this summer make this nest, lay eggs in it and then watched the eggs hatch. We took it down this week after the bird moved on to greener pastures.

The kids drew the nest on their papers and made a list items that the nest was made out of. After that they wrote a paragraph about the reading we had done about how birds waterproof themselves.

I tried to get one picture from above the nest. Can you see the cherry pits in the middle? That was our favorite part. Our neighbor has a cherry tree so we are assuming that the pits came from there. All in all we found sticks and twigs, moss, plant material from our garden, cherry pits, string and last but not least...

...this little ladybug. We watched him for awhile too. I love being able to bring life into the class/dining room.

Monday, November 30, 2009


With a flash, Thanksgiving is over. The tradition carried on, however. Each year all five kids have a hand in making the desserts with daddy for the big day. The night before Thanksgiving is looked forward to almost as much as Christmas Eve, if not more so.

There is the mixing of the pumpkin pie filling as well as the crusts.

Can you see that little brain taking in all of the info? Someday the responsibility of this task will be passed on to him.

This girl really loves helping with the pies. Can you tell?

It really is a family affair. The kitchen is a mess when they are all done and it's totally worth it.

It was then time to make the cheesecake while the pies baked.

As well as time to make the raspberry glaze to go on top. Do you see the cornbread cooling back there in the cast iron skillet? That was for the stuffing the next day and let me tell you, it was so good.

Here, our oldest girl is shaking fresh cream for butter to go on the rolls.

Steve really spoils me. One of those pies was a sugar free pumpkin and there is nothing like it. He topped it with sugar free whipped cream. Oh my, absolute heaven. Thanks, hon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Of chairs and turkeys.

This last weekend kicked off one of our favorite weeks of the whole year. Thanksgiving around here is pretty exciting. There are house projects that we tend to tackle this time of year as well as Thanksgiving Day itself that causes us all of to be all a-twitter making plans and bringing out yearly traditions. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season for us making it our favorite. Christmas is fun but it's the end and I much prefer the beginning. Below is a sad chair. A really sad chair. See, our two youngest tend to be messy eaters. Add to that a puggle who loves to clean up leftovers and you have four chairs that over the last two years have been cleaned by the puppy who isn't as much a puppy anymore as she is a mutant mutt. Fortunately for her, we love her anyway.

On Saturday, Steve looked over at me and said, "Hey! Let's recover the chairs today!" I was thrilled and to clarify, by let's, we both knew that what he really meant was that he would do it while I sat close by on my laptop giving him college football scores while cheering him on from our sideline. What a wonderful world.

So here is the new prototype for a dining chair and I couldn't be happier. Our chairs no longer look like something the dog chewed up. Literally.

I now will not have to suffer the embarrasment once more at our lovely Thanksgiving feast. Also, notice the extra dining chair fabric that I just threw onto the middle of the table pretending it's a runner and that I'm coordinated. Yep, I'm fancy like that. Sunday we moved on to bedazzling the walls in our dining room with a family activity that Steve found using thoughts of what we are thankful for.

It was assembly line style as we cut out the pieces for our gobblers.

Everyone filled out their own feathers, even our five year old little monkey wrote his own. I fought some emotion over the fact that he could write it all by himself.

It was a really fun activity that I hope to repeat. We had the kids write their names on them so that we can store them in their memory bins. I think it's fun to go back and see what things they have been thankful for throughout the years.

Cute, yes?

For those of you who appreciate symmetry (dad), my sister-in-law is staying with us and made one later to balance the right side. I was just too lazy this morning to take another picture.

Happy Monday of the best week of the year!