Friday, May 25, 2012

Beginning And End

Beginning of the School Year:

Today, End of the School Year:

What a difference nine months makes, huh?

We wrapped up our school year today. Year Four of homeschooling is officially complete. Whoa. Hard to believe.
I must say that I am very happy to be finished for the year. I We all are ready for the break of summertime.

See? Even Margaret is happy.

It's not that the academic portion was so tough, but it certainly did come with more challenges this year. It was more the learning to juggle school and home, while having a young one added in the mix, pregnancy, another baby and postpartum crammed in the midst of the school year. BUT, we survived and both students have come a long way.

We celebrated this evening with ice cream sundaes. It was the quickest last minute thing I could come up with since any other last day of school/end of the year plans didn't come together. Oh well, we'll have lots of summer to make up for that.

Bring on the Summer!

And I say that knowing full well that within a week I will be at odds with summer and wishing I had some amount of routine in my house.

And probably some sanity as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts From The Island

Nope, not a luxurious ISLAND. Although that would be sweet, wouldn't it? In the winter any way.

I'm talking about the kitchen island.

This is the place where a lot of life seems to happen in this house. It's become like my home office space. So many projects come from this one place and so much conversation has happened here.

Today while I am baking up a seemingly ginormous batch of peanut butter cookies (can you smell them? *yum*), I'm pondering how the kitchen is the hub and heart of my home.

It's raining outside again and for some reason it's starting to feel like monsoon season. I've got some things that are heavy on my heart, some unspoken prayers on my mind and many thoughts swirling around. It seemed the perfect day then for baking cookies.

 From here I can see and hear a lot around our house. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the front door and virtually the first thing my husband sees when he comes in from the garage after a hard day at work.

I can also see a lot outside from here too. I feel a certain serenity when I look out the kitchen window and see my back gardens. I've worked hard out there and love to see the fruits of my labor.

I can also see out the patio door and watch the trees beautifully leafing out, pine trees that are growing and obscuring the view of the traffic going by and my other perennial garden that is lush and beginning to bloom.

Many a smile has been shared here by the island. Meals eaten. Contagious laughs unexpectedly happened. Tears shed. Heart to heart chats. Some refereeing. Serious conversations. Family time. Alone time. School time.

While I'm feeling a little restless today, I find consolation in this sacred place the more I think about it.

Tomorrow we'll finish our last day of school for the year from this island. Many new memories will be made from here this summer. More life lessons will be learned.

As I contemplate all of this, I realize that to my family, I am like the kitchen island. I've been reminded numerous times over the years about how the mother is the heart of the home and the family. You know that saying 'If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy' or 'A happy mama makes a happy home.' How true.

As the mother I run a majority of the day to day operations, hold things together and perform many tasks. Just like the island, I provide a place to gather, a solid starting and ending point to the day and endless availability and versatility.

With love, kindness, care, occasionally a stern word and always a hug, I direct the family from the center of our home. Sometimes, with the help of the kitchen island and maybe a cookie or two.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can Anyone Help This Child?

For just 25 cents a day, you can sponsor this child and  help her get the care she needs.

Maybe a mother who pays more attention?

She does look like she just stepped off of the Orphan Train. Poor dear. It's a third child thing.

*Note: If you really are looking for a child to sponsor who could use your help, we've been pleased with the work of CFCA.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for healthy children who can run, play and enjoy life. And some soccer.

Thankful that she is my helper and usually doesn't mind helping with the little girls. Thankful that she was my first-born and taught me how to raise girls.

Thankful for a boy who isn't at all into sports, but still tries. Thankful that he doesn't stick out (too much) at baseball practice and that not every child there plays like a pro.

Thankful that I was given a son to help me learn a lot of life lessons and a lot about stubbornness.

Thankful that daddy can help him out a bit  on the field and offered to be one of the 'dad helpers'.

Thankful for a toddler who is bursting with personality, cracks me up and yet tests her limits.

Thankful that she reminds me to be grateful for God's wonderful plans in His perfect timing.

Thankful for baby cheeks, a full head of hair and wide-eyed wonder.

Thankful that she reminds me that some of God's most precious gifts are sweet surprises in small packages.

Thankful for content little girls in the stroller who love the outdoors. Thankful that it helps me stay active and walking.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Walk For Life

Last Saturday I took three of the four kiddos to a local Walk for Life benefiting a pregnancy center in the area. This center is a wonderful resource to help pregnant women in the decision to choose life, get them the help and education they need and assist them with baby supplies. It also provides further instruction to the dad-to-be.
It was only a two mile walk along the streets in the town where the center is located in order to raise awareness. I figured that was the least we could do.


I invited my mom to join me in the walk and thought that it was a perfect way to celebrate life on Mother's Day weekend. The weather was absolutely.gorgeous. that morning. I had intended to take Gianna along and then the two big kids decided that morning that they wanted to join in as well. It's a walk for life, so might as well bring as many of my blessings as possible!


My BFF, Michelle, was there too so we chatted as we walked. Of course. She was able to slip out of the house minus kiddos that morning, so that was a rare treat for her.

It was so much fun to participate in the walk and celebrate life with many others who support and choose life. For some reason I managed to forget to take a photo of us all walking. It was a good crowd for a smaller town and there were lots of kids there as well.


Since the walk started and finished at a park, we couldn't leave without a little bit of time spent on the playground.


To keep the celebration going, next we were off to the coffee shop for coffee and muffins with my mom. Since we weren't going to be together Sunday, I thought this was a nice way to honor my mom and get the chance to spend some time together.


The kids were especially excited to share a Turtle Mocha and Raspberry Cream Cheese muffin. I enjoyed my Peanut Butter Chocolate coffee cooler and Banana Nut muffin. Yum. I figured the two mile walk prior to the treats made up for the splurge. Right?

It ended up being a very special pre-Mother's Day with my mom and most of my kiddos.

What did Reed to while we were gone, you might ask? He was busy with Greta of course, but while she napped he managed to get a second coat of paint on the new basement bedroom. It saved me from having to do it, which was a bonus Mother's Day gift. What a hubby!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Mother's Day

I think we successfully filled Mother's Day to the brim. I don't think I really rested, but that's ok. The weather was beautiful, the kids were busy (and sometimes ornery) and the day just whizzed on by. It was a good day though since I've learned not to have high expectations and try to do a million things I want to do.

Reed does a great job trying to do all the little things so that I don't have to, but let's face it, maintaining order on a weekend is a two person job. He's sweet though and makes a wonderful brunch, tries to keep the kids' shenanigans to a minimum and makes sure that at some point we do what I want to do.

I was able to spend time with my mom yesterday morning (more to come in another post), so we didn't have to travel far today. We spent time as a family in the morning with brunch and some time outside before heading over to Reed's parents.

The kids set up croquet to play

Roasted hot dogs

Gianna was busy wandering around the yard, climbing the stairs a zillion times and checking out Grandma's flowers

In the late afternoon we headed to town to hit up the new Cherry Berry that opened last week. Jonah had decided that it would be a nice Mother's Day treat to take me to one of my favorite places. Never mind the fact that I was ready to put my feet up at home, wasn't really that hungry and I think the ulterior motive was that HE really wanted to go to Cherry Berry. Oh well, Mother's Day only comes once a year!


Poor Greta, stuck in the carseat without any frozen yogurt.

Finally, a photo of my kids. This is the best we got before girls were crying or walking away. Maybe one year I'll actually get a Mother's Day photo of me with all my children? Or with me actually in a photo?

Some of us got a little fed up with the photos in the bright sun.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Mother's Day. I'm sure your husbands and children made you feel special and loved, even if it maybe wasn't in the most ideal and perfect way. Thanks to them, we get to bear the great title of 'Mom' and are given one of the most important jobs on earth.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Days Like This

You know those days when you think you maybe should have just stayed in bed and ignored the demands of another day? Today is one of those days. Well, not completely. I haven't gone crazy. Yet.

The end of the school year is near, but yet far enough that each assignment is filled with dramatics and complaint. The piano doesn't play itself and therefore leads the musician most obstinate in getting practicing done for the day. The toys cluttering my bedroom that I've asked to be picked up several days ago, are still there and now officially banished from ever darkening my doorway again. Or else.

Toys are strewn across the floor in another wave of toddler tornado. The fits and starts of rain outside means we are stuck inside. Again. The cap we put on daily electronic time (Wii, computer, tv, iPod) has left the troops angered. And yet, when reminded that the time diminishes every time they do not get off an electronic immediately when the time is up, it is our fault for being such mean parents. Ah yes, today I am the mean mom, the crabby one, the parent they will never be like because their children will have it differently. I guess somehow they got the idea that I'm up for the Mom of the Year award and wanted to be sure that my nomination was nixed from the ballot.

If we had a dog or cat, I'm sure they'd be mad at me today too.

Do you have these days? The ones like this that make the mantle of motherhood so hard to wear and seemingly unattainable?

Today I'm dreaming of a peaceful place. And maybe of the day that the house is empty. Feeling just a wee-bit defeated by mothering growing, older children who can walk away from me and talk back to me. It's easy to let the feeling of failure take over and the realization that my children are far from perfect. The road ahead in the area of discipline and life lessons seems long and daunting on a day like today.

It's feeling like we're at a place of a little less hand holding and gentle direction to a place of strict discipline, consequences and firm expectations. Sure we've been doing all of this for years, but we get a bit lenient and let things slide every once in a while. 

There are lessons to be learned. Requirements to be made. Rules to follow.

It's not that bad, really. There have been worse days, I remind myself. It's just that days like this catch me off guard when we've been in a smooth and blissful pattern.

And as all of this is swimming through my head, the heavens open up wide and send me some sunshine.

The baby giggles and laughs.

The toddler looks up at me and shouts "Mommy!" clearly and loudly for the first time.

They save the day and draw my attention back to reality. It's gonna be OK. We'll make it through somehow. Maybe the day isn't a total bust.

There's also that peanut butter cake,  fresh out of the oven that may help make the rest of today more manageable.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sing Me A Song, Piano Man

We approached with great anticipation our concert outing Saturday evening. We had been planning for months to see Mark Schultz in concert with the big kids, my BIL and SIL (aka 'the neighbors'). Reed and I've seen him numerous times, but he hasn't been in concert near us for quite a while. With the inexpensive ticket prices, we knew it was time for us to take the kids to the show.

They were giddy with excitement and talked and talked AND TALKED the entire drive, which was a little over an hour and a half. Being their first concert experience together, they were eager to see what Mark was like in person.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I get giddy as a schoolgirl every time we've gone to see him. He is a hoot to listen to during his set because he fills the time between songs with stories and his comedic personality.

He's married and has a new little son who was born just after Greta, so he's got a lot of new material to share. He's working on a new album and played for us a song he wrote for his son that will be on that album. *Love* it and I see it as Father-Daughter dance material for wedding receptions, for sure.

I was reminded again why I love him  his music so much. Through song he shares about his relationship with Christ, the ups and downs of life and uplifts you as you listen. It becomes even more amazing sharing in the beautiful music in person.

I'm finding that I'm left with a melodious hangover of sorts today. I'll have to keep cranking up the music to relive the concert experience over and over again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Almost daily I'm finding that my four children are filled with more similarities and differences. I'm also finding that I use terms like "the big kids", "the girls", "the little girls" habitually.

I've discovered that there are already personality clashes between the kids and some of them know one another's hot buttons more than they should. Sometimes it's pretty funny, like when Gianna goes and takes something that is one of Jonah's beloved items that she KNOWS is going to make him upset. (Yes, she really does that, even at her age) Other times, it's just an act of frustration that gets under my skin. So, I've already devised a buddy system.

I think the big kids get a kick out of when I say things like "spend some time with your buddy" or "entertain your buddy for a minute". I see potential for the buddy system working well in another year when both little girls are mobile and we are out and about, away from home.

While this may change over time as personalities change, right now Jonah is drawn more to Greta and spending time with her. Since Gianna's birth, Lily has been little mother to Gianna and is really good with tending to her little chick. It's not that they don't get along with the other little girl, it's just that right now they have their buddy.

I try and make sure that there isn't any segregation or indifference that keeps them from going beyond just spending time with the one they get along with best. With Jonah being the only boy, he needs the extra encouragement to care for his sisters and try to understand them rather than be frustrated. For instance, I encourage Jonah in learning how to handle Gianna even if they are too similar in personality that they can't be left alone for too long.

It's so endearing to watch them together and getting along. It's very interesting (when it's not frustrating) to see the dynamics between them all and how that works. For the most part, they do all get along really well and coexist together. I'm intrigued to see how this all continues to unfold as time goes by.

I just never know when I'll be caught off-guard when I get to witness a very unlikely sight. There is always the sweetness amidst the conflict of brother-sister antagonizing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From Our Littlest Resident

"What did you say? I'm how old?"

"Ha! I don't believe it! Three months?"

"I've grown quite a bit, haven't I?"

"What's my favorite activity?  Sleeping, of course."

"And playing...."

"And watching out for that little girl that gets too close...."

"But she's not all that bad....most of the time."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...