Monday, February 29, 2016

Remember to Wear Glasses

This week: Sophie needs to wear her glasses more. We had a lot going on last week and we kind of slipped up. She is supposed to wear them 50% of her waking hours . . . can we average that over the whole month? ;)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Annie: Five

My baby is five today! And she is very excited about it, so we are, too. I really can't believe five years have passed so quickly. Annie brings so much joy to our lives (though sometimes I wonder how I am going to keep up with all her questions)! She is spunky and sweet and a great big sister. She loves learning and reading and all kinds of imaginary play. She's done wonderfully in her ballet class this year and with homeschooling. She loves to sing songs to God and memorize God's Word. Happy, happy birthday, Annie Kate! Hope being five brings all you are wishing for!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Recent Favorite Books of the Kiddos

Nora loves books with flaps and touch-and-feel books. Two current favorites are Flaptastic's Colors and Baby Touch and Feel's Wild Animals.

Sophie still adores the poems in Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice. Some other favorites are If You Plant a Seed (I love this book, too!) and Just One More. If You Plant a Seed uses the power of story to talk about what grows from vegetable and flower seeds, but also from planting a seed of jealousy or a seed of kindness.

Jacob (and Annie) enjoyed Building Our House and Go and Hush the Baby (out of print but I found a copy on Amazon). Building our House is a mostly-true story of a child's observations of her parents building their house from the foundation up. Annie and Jacob found this fascinating. Also look for This is My House, This is My School.

Annie loves the newest Fancy Nancy book, the Saturday Night Sleepover, and another out of print book I found on Amazon: The Family Under the Moon. Sophie is beginning to get into Fancy Nancy, too, and even Jacob enjoys the antics of Nancy and her handful of a sibling. These stories are some of our very favorite "new" books.

And I loved Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. I had no clue Winnie was a real bear and this was a sweet story to share together.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Improver Monday

Trying something new here and hoping that if I write it down it will keep me accountable. For the past few weeks, I've picked one thing to try to improve/reduce stress around here. The quality of the goal varies greatly. :) Two weeks ago it was "make sure the kids brush their teeth every morning." Last week it was "stay on top of Jacob's temper tantrums." This week's goal:

Laugh more.

When Sophie leaves an open cereal container on the kitchen floor and the dog licks all around it.

When Nora drops her cup and the lid comes off and milk goes everywhere.

When Jacob dances around to the nursery rhymes cd that drives me crazy.

When Annie tells silly stories punctuated by lots and lots of giggles.

Not stressing.

Not worrying about cleaning that up again.


Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Thousand Gifts, 976-1000

976. Watercolors outside with the munchkins
977. Watching the kids play together
978. Seeing the games they make up and how they include each other (when they aren't fighting)
979. Fresh fruit
980. The availability of any food item we desire
981. Our lovely home
982. Family time
983. Doing little things that make those I love happy
984. Seeing my niece dedicated at church
985. Celebrating birthdays
986. That, with God, even suffering has a purpose
987. It is Well by Bethel Music
988. Reading poems with the kids
989. The solid foundation for life in Scripture
990. Planning visits with old friends
991. Playdates with new friends
992. Library story time with all my babies
993. One on one time with each child
994. Trying out the Gent's favorite coffee shop with him
995. Welcoming Daddy home every evening
996. Making dinner for my family
997. Our awesome parents and extended families
998. Snuggling with Nora
999. Opening up our home to children who need a safe place and loving family
1000. "Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside."

Monday, February 8, 2016

One Thousand Gifts, 951-975

951. Fresh lavender on my desk
952. Checks in the mail
953. Continued good health for our family
954. Fresh ideas for school
955. Worshiping with our church family
956. Updating Nora's baby book
957. Saying yes to the munchkins
958. Singing Lavender's Blue with Annie
959. Talking about the elephants at the circus with Sophie
960. One last dream feed for Nora
961. Playing Guess Who with Jacob
962. Snuggling in bed with Nora for her morning nursing
963. A long hot bath at the end of the day
964. A big hot cup of coffee at the beginning of the day
965. Loyal doggies that follow me around even on days I have little time for them
966. The beauty of God's Word
967. Finishing three books this week
968. Preparing for Valentine's Day
969. Thinking about true love
970. God's love
971. Remembering the fun the Gent and I had during our dating/college years
972. Reflecting on how our love has grown in the almost-decade since
973. Attending the women's conference at our church
974. Shopping consignment sales
975. Looking ahead to spring

Friday, February 5, 2016

Books that Changed Me

Those who've read this blog for a while know I love to read. There's something about reading a book. A real book with pages you can turn and highlight and pass on to your children or your friends. I was recently dusting our bookshelves (glamorous I know!) and I got to really looking at the books stacked there (arranged by my own system which probably makes little sense to anyone else). A few I barely remember reading (that treatise on natural law, I'm looking at you!), most I could summarize, some I recall in great detail, and some directly impacted the course of my life. I thought it might be interesting to make a list of the dozen books on my shelf that changed the course of my personal history, beginning with the most important and carrying on in no particular order.

1. The Bible. Hands down, obvious answer. My favorite translation is the English Standard Version, though I also use the New American Standard, New International Version, King James, and the Message paraphrase on occasion. How could I not be transformed by reading the very Word of God? It is living and active, and is tangible hold-in-your-hand proof that God is there and that He cares. He gave us His true Word! I read it every day. I study it every day. I pray it every day. I read it to my kids every day. If you've never read it, start today. In the Psalms. Or the Gospel of John. And pray the words of Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word!

2. A Promise Kept, by Robert McQuilkin. This little book is 85 short pages, but it tells the beautiful story of Robert and his wife Muriel, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her 55th year. A poignant reminder of the marriage vows we enter into before God, and how He truly is working even in the most desperate of circumstances.

3. The Well-Trained Mind, by Jessie Bauer and Susan Wise Bauer. The how-to handbook for a classical education from preschool through 12th grade. An excellent explanation of the classical education method, lots of curriculum choices, and lists and lists of great books! This book gives me the courage that I can teach my kids well at home.

4. Persuasion, by Jane Austen. If I had to choose a favorite Austen novel, it would be this, her last completed work. Written in a race against failing health, this story reminds me that it is never too late to realize your mistakes and change direction. What story would you write as you were facing your own death?

5. Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. This book explores Biblical teachings about heaven and the myths we believe about it. Who really wants to sit on a cloud and strum a harp all day? But the true heaven, the new heavens and new earth, that will come at the end of time when Jesus returns and sets all things to right, wipes away all our tears, takes away all our suffering, and we live in God's presence for all eternity? Amazing. If you've every been scared of death and what comes next (and who hasn't?), read this book.

6. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler. I first read this book when I was trying to get pregnant after our first miscarriage. Awesome information on how a woman's body is designed to work, and how to work with your body instead of against it. Fertility is not a disease, people! Love that this book opened my eyes to understanding my cycle, how to optimize pregnancy chances, and how to avoid pregnancy without the use of chemicals. I continue to practice Toni's fertility awareness method and love it! Take your body back from the pharmaceutical companies, women of the world! ;)

7. A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers. This novel opened my eyes to the beautiful truth that Christian fiction does not have to be awful. Love Francine's powerful novels (and a beautiful love story doesn't hurt)! Read them all!

8. Small Town, Big Miracle, by Bishop W.C. Martin. A true story of how a poor little town in Texas adopted 72 of the hardest to place foster children (teenagers, sibling groups, special needs). This book encouraged me to begin the foster parent process. You don't have to be perfect or rich or have it all together to foster or adopt. Every child needs a family. Maybe yours. It probably won't be easy and it probably won't be pretty. Do it anyway.

9. Understanding the Times, by David Noebel. I first studied this book in high school. It opened my eyes to different worldviews people hold to, and how it influences your life and way of thinking. Understand other points of view so you can have rational discussions, but build for yourself a firm foundation in truth!

10. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. So many people find the length of this novel daunting. But it is actually very easy to read and the story will draw you in quickly. I read it while backpacking across Europe with my cousin our last summer of college. You can read this book and enjoy it and then you will feel so accomplished!

11. Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. The classic for a reason. I love many of Lewis's works, but this one is a great one to begin with. The beauty of this "mere" Christianity--God made man and come to live with us!

12. Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs. My favorite practical book for marriage. Husbands love your wives, wives respect your husbands. That's the summary but this book will fill in the details.

Kids are waking up so I am finished here. Currently reading My Antonia by Willa Cather. Go read something!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ob/Gyn Interview

World Magazine recently published an extended interview with a pro-life ob/gyn. She was so thoughtful and caring as she answered questions. Wish we had more doctors who really took the time to educate their patients, especially about birth control options. The short segment on birth control and how different types work was particularly enlightening; you can read it here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy First Birthday, Nora!

We celebrated Nora's first birthday with an adorable lollipop party. She loved her cake, dug right into it like a pro! She had lots of fun with the tissue paper in her gifts and her siblings liked teaching her all about birthdays! Happy first birthday, sweet Nora Mae!

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