Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Tiny Ones

Some days I can't wait for the diaper deluge and teething and tantrums and interruptions and crying and enormous food messes to be over.  But other times, as I'm snuggling little bodies, rocking my chubby toddler or kissing my little blonde boy and reading them nursery rhymes or listening to them say a new word or dance delightedly over a thrilling discovery, I am sooo thankful to still have tiny ones in the house.  They enrich our lives so much!

Katri tried and tried to put on her shorts by herself, falling down several times.  She finally just gave up and hugged her shorts.

Dancing together

Katri and Justus fight all of the time but for some strange reason she loves him more than the other kids, even though he treats her the worst and doesn't give her everything like the older two!

It's all fun and games until the baby poops in the pool!

So much energy!

Little ones have the CUTEST clothes!!!  Even Ali complains about this and wonders why Kate's clothes are prettier than hers!

Snuggle bug wrapped in a towel after swimming

Teeny tiny pigtails

Stuck through the rails....again.  This time, though, she figured out how to get herself out.

Covered in dirt and remnants of sticky sweets and ready to head to bed on the 4th of July

Enjoying a popsicle with her buddy Abigail

Showing off her very first manicure!  Using this polish, I did her toes and fingernails before church one day after she saw Ali get painted and (of course) wanted to copy big sis!

She loves to get wet as much as the rest of our brood!

The older kids were told she could only go outside if they watched her carefully and didn't put water in the sandbox.....sigh....

Taking a picture of Mommy, with the camera upside down and backwards

Justus was so proud of himself for climbing a huge rock on our family hike.
I was proud of him for hiking 3 miles with us, in the afternoon, with no snacks!

She loves to hug her babies.

This little man always has a smile for us.  He's definitely the most cheerful member of our family.

So happy to be swimming on a hot day!

She's a wild woman in her little boat!

KK has claimed this bike for her own and screams loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear if her brothers even try to touch it.

In addition to splashing in the toilet (eeeeewwwww!) one of Katri's latest things is to find sister's markers around and color her face.  She's been brown, green, and purple in the last week!

Life is never dull when you have tiny ones around!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eggs, Toast, and Music

We usually have scrambled eggs for a dinner meal in our home.  I'm not a morning person, my husband doesn't like hot breakfasts, I've never been a big egg-eater, and so we've done mostly cereal, oatmeal, dinner leftovers, and pancakes for breakfast.

But one day I fixed the kids scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I turned on a baby Mozart CD and buttered up some toast.  The kids were thrilled!  About a week later, on an oatmeal day, they begged me for "eggs, toast, and music" enthusiastically.  They didn't just want the food, they wanted the experience!  Exposing them to yummy, farm-fresh eggs and excellent music had left an impression on them.  They wanted to re-inact everything, even pulling the curtains closed because they had been closed during the first "eggs, toast, and music" episode.

Apparently my kids are really into atmosphere!  It was a good reminder that it's the littlest things that mean so much to them.  During our delightful second "eggs, toast, and music" experience we talked about very deep things.  The kids had a lot of questions after doing their Question and Answer book.  Jer wanted to know why God made Satan and why God doesn't just kill Satan right now.  He also exclaimed, when sitting down to the table, "Daddy says I have to use my best manners!"  Justus said the chief end of man is to "joy-ify" God.  And he looked and Katri, whom all the siblings spoil unmercifully and said, "Kate is adorable.  You know what that means?  That means cuter than cute!"

Cheers for Eggs, Toast, and Music!  I'm sure Charlotte Mason would approve!

The other day I saw the girls playing together and said, "Awww, are you guys going to be best friends someday?"

Alathia replied, "We are right now Mom!"

(Here they are wearing dress-up skirts that were my mom's when she was little.  My cousins and I used them and now they've been given to our girls.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The other day I was thinking about friends and what a blessing they are.

It's so hard to see friends going through trials, especially all at the same time.

Sometimes I don't even realize how much I allow myself to "take on" the burdens of those near and dear to me until I begin to feel crushed by the load and then take stock (aka "sit down and write a blog post") and discover why I'm so pooped.

In the last few weeks I have seen my friends go through so much!  One of my friends delivered twins, beautiful little girls, naturally, both sunny-side-up, no drugs!  She has little help and lives on a ranch an hour from town and the twins doubled the number of her kids! Another two friends had twin baby girls this spring (what's in the water here in WY?) and are both juggling their new babies as well as 3 older kids too.  A friend from church has had to have ANOTHER back surgery this summer.  She has endured 3 or 4 back surgeries and a decade of excruciating pain and has 3 young kids to care for.  Another friend with 4 kids just had gallbladder surgery and had some serious complications.  I have a friend dealing with the difficulties of being married to a non-believer.  I have several friends whose husbands are away from home most of the time doing jobs in other towns or states.  I have a friend who moved away and is struggling with loneliness and being over-worked with little support.  I have a friend planning a wedding (which I get to be in, yay!)  I have friends dealing with depression/discouragement and relationship issues, whether with their husbands or with their roommates, and others who are just too busy and have too much going on but don't know how to stop the crazy cycle. 

I have two friends struggling to get pregnant and three friends whom are pregnant and very uncomfortable!  One of my dearest friends moved a couple of weeks ago, and a different friend moved into her old house!  Another is contemplating a move and a possible time of living apart from her husband due to the move.  I have a friend who is caring for her second preemie baby and pumping milk around the clock as well as caring for her 4 other children.  I have friends who are going through financial hardship or have had major disappointments (house sale that fell through),  and other friends who do not know the Lord and desperately need His hope.  I have a friend, who along with her husband and the 3 little foster kids they are adopting, had to be evacuated out of her CO home for 2 weeks due to forest fires.   I have one friend whose town flooded.  I have friends who have gone through divorce, and some who are remarrying.  Friends who are worried about their adult children and the choices they are making.  Friends who have to work a job or run their own business on top of caring for their children and home. 

I have friends, who tragically, have been the victims of abuse in their past or who have seen their children abused and are walking through the healing process with them.  I have friends who have more children than I do and mother with grace and truth.  I have old friends and new friends; friends who know the ugliest things about me and still hang out with me, and friends that only see the surface and think my life looks pretty great.  I can't even get on fb anymore and read my news feed because I see so many needs, or people discouraged and hurting, struggling with life's hardships.

But in all the difficulties, I see so much beauty in my friends.  I see the stamina and strength of these beautiful women.  There is not a one of them that doesn't have some amazing quality that is shining through in the midst of all their trials and difficulties.  They all work so hard and are carrying such an enormous load.  I'm amazed by these women and encouraged that God gave me exactly what I needed when I first moved back to my hometown and found that all of my high school friends had moved away.  He brought me out of my loneliness and providentially brought all of these women into my life at just the right time that we would be a comfort to one another.  I'm amazed at the variety of friends God has given me; from super-organized to super-messy, from ultra-conservative to totally secular, from friends who hardly speak my language (Lupe, my friend from Mexico) to friends who have a life almost identical to mine (2 girls, 2 boys, loving hubby, into health food and women's ministry, etc.), friends who I see almost everyday and friends I only know through blogs and facebook.

Sometimes it frustrates me that I can't do more for my friends.  I wish I could spend regular time with each of these precious persons.  I wish we could have more conversations that are not interrupted 50,000,000 times by little ones.  I wish I could make each of them a delicious home-cooked meal and take their kids off their hands for a few hours.  I wish I could send each one of them a gift card for dinner at a restaurant.

But I can't.  I can't save the world.  I can't rescue everyone.  The Lord knows that I often try to do so and burn out quickly!  And since having Katri, I can rarely find the motivation to get a card in the mail anymore.  But, what I can do is pray.  I pray for them, feeble and broken and unworthy of having my prayers answered.  I pray that God touches each one of them, because He's the only one who can get through to them in the perfect way, at just the right time.  He's the one that can give them peace, bring strength in their trials, and provide for their needs.  He's the one that can change their hearts and lift their discouragements.  I pray today that He uplifts each one of these dear women, provides for them, lavishes His love on them, and gives them the strength to go on!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer School Schedule

At the beginning of the summer I had such grand plans for how our summer learning was going to go...as usual.  I had a chart written on the chalkboard that I'm sure looked impressive to everyone who stopped by and saw it.  In spite of my best efforts to keep life simple, the "learning schedule" for the summer that I had envisioned us doing is not happening like I expected.  But, my kids are still learning and growing and doing a lot of fun things.  I admire my homeschooling friends who take the summer off because I understand that if you don't, if feels like you never, ever, ever get a break.  And I admire my friends who don't take the summers off because if you stay on a routine the kids behave better and don't forget the things you've worked so hard to teach them. 
 My goal is to find the middle ground somewhere.

General Stuff:

Devotions and My First Book of Questions and Answers at breakfast

Read-Aloud book every day after lunch:
The Tanglewood Secret
The Children's Book of America
Trumpet of the Swan

Read 3-10 stories a day from the library

Bible Stories/Devotions with Daddy at bedtime

Attend weekly ladies' Bible Study group where kids play with a babysitter and their friends

Attend Pray & Play at the park each week where the kids ride bikes, play, and picnic together

Memorize a large passage of Scripture together (Sermon on the Mount)


Cleaning Rooms
Making Beds
Helping Mommy Clean and Set the Table
Helping with Katrielle
(Ali can now change her diaper, pick out her clothes, get her dressed, fix her hair, and put her shoes on!  And she loves doing it!)
Assisting Daddy with dump runs, lawn mowing, fence-building, errands, etc.
Helping put away laundry
Teach Ali to start a load of laundry
Teach the older 2 how to clean their bathroom
Keeping the yard cleaned up
Jer--Pet sitting for Grammy's class salamander


Get Ready for the Code, 1-2 pages at a time
Practicing writing their name
Reviewing ABC flashcards and MFW themes for each letter
Jer--sounding out simple words
Playing the Memory Game together or with Daddy


Manuscript workbook to improve handwriting
Reading for 1-2 hours each day
Listening to books on tape/Adventures in Odyssey
Writing thank-you cards
Reader's Theater class at the library for 1 hour, twice a week, with a performance at the end of July
Math flashcards practice

Just for Fun! 
Delight-Directed Stuff!

Library Story Program for the 2 older kids at the library--if you read/are read to for 1,200 minutes you get a prize and there are occasional programs/craft days

Swimming--in our backyard inflatable pool, in lakes, in Grammy's creek, in the local swimming pool, or at friends' homes with large pools

Crafts with Auntie!  My aunt is a major crafter and she enjoys doing "Craft Days" with Ali where they work on projects and she spoils Ali rotten with candy, new outfits, lunch at a restaurant, etc.

Helping Grammy with the Community Garden--my mom's summer job is teaching 2 gardening classes for little children twice a week.  Our kids often help her water, check the plants and the worm garden and visit the garden!

Boy's Club for Jeremiah--a homeschooled friend who is two years older than Jer got the idea to start boy's club with snacks and activities

Have the 3 oldest kids attend the Lutheran VBS program which they look forward to all year!

Playing with Cousins!  We spent a lot of time with little Jed before they moved to MO for their next missionary assignment, and they are excited to see David and Daniel when we visit MN.

Field Trips

Go camping once or twice this summer

Go to Yellowstone

Do a Beach Day at the lake

Attend our annual church family camp at the end of the summer

Go to Animal Land in my husband's hometown when we visit his family

See the Sea Life Aquarium in the Mall of America in the Twin Cities

Visit the Legoland store in the MOA while there

Go on a boat ride with Grandpa Joel

Gold Rush Days at South Pass City

Other Goals for Our Family

Go on a Mother/Daughter Date with Ali (we went to a Fingernails & Fondue party the other night and had a blast!  Ali and I both met some new friends in the homeschool community and are eager to get together with them again!)

Go on a Mother/Son date with Jeremiah

Go on a Mother/Son date with Justus

Spend time reading to Katrielle by herself

Go yard saling together

Take the kids to a carnival and ride a couple of rides

Have a "Recap of First Grade and Preschool Night" where we showcase the work we've completed in our homeschool for Grammy and Boppa and Daddy

Continue to teach the kids cooking skills

Do several of Money Saving Mom's activities in her 4 Weeks of Frugal Fun series

Do a few art projects with Ali

Take the older kids to the Children's Museum

Host a 5 Day Club and provide the missionaries with meals and/or lodging

Do a wild photo shoot as a family
(We did a hotdog dinner and ketchup and mustard fight in white t-shirts which my photographer friend Whitney graciously photographed for us for free!)

Have Grammy, who is a schoolteacher, work with Ali on handwriting

Go hiking to the falls in a nearby canyon

Go on a nature hike

Attend the Bike/Safety Rodeo at the library

Attend at least a couple of Daddy's softball games as a family

Lots of family bike rides

Host a young ladies Tea Party and craft day for Ali and her friends

Throw a big double-birthday water party bash for Justus and Jeremiah (their b-days are 3 months apart but Jer's is at a bad time of year and he wants a water party and they want to do their birthdays together this year in mid-August)

Walk to a friend's to visit her new baby ducks and new foal

Complete the Identity Kits for each child that they were given at the safety rodeo

Monday, July 9, 2012

An Education in Fun

Summer is a time for Bible clubs in the park and having young missionaries over for meals...

...a time for lifelong friendships to form...

 ...a time for learning to share with cousins.

Summer is a time for coloring pictures for your Mommy, just because...

and for putting together cool puzzles.

It's a time for chasing Daddy when hiking in the mountains.

Summer is sisters, little and big, doing everything together...

...and a young son assisting Mommy on a photo shoot...

...and catching his first fish with Daddy.

Summertime means fun and food with friends on the 4th...

...it's a season for getting to know your uncles...

...and remembering our history...

...and celebrating what's beautiful.

Summer is larger-than-life...

...a chance to come together with your neighbors...

...and enjoy your family.

It's a long, cool swim and a water fight with Grammy in her creek...

...and jumping on your friend's trampoline until your shorts fall off!

It's discovering what Mrs. Amy's homemade ice-cream tastes like...and going back for seconds...and thirds!

It's hanging out for hours in your friends' back yards, having BBQs, water balloon fights, and swapping tales of yard sales, or coupon deals, or mommy meltdowns.  It's pool parties and picnics at the park.

It's the perfect time to kidnap your nephew and spoil him rotten.

Summer is definitely the season for getting an education...in fun!
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