Wow…it has been a while!

I had great intentions when I was creating this blog, that I would actually write regularly. Well, life seems to always be getting in the way. I actually took a break from writing this spring because I was fighting




Yep. Our house is getting a little wilder. I am now 28 weeks pregnant with our little one. And after 4 girls they tell us that we are expecting a


Our whole family was shocked, and our girls are SO excited. We don’t have a name picked out, but we are in negotiations.


Given the fact that we are expecting our new arrival in November, and we will take December and January off of school, we have been schooling throughout this summer. We just finished up week 11 of school and in 5 more days we are going to finally be able to enjoy a little of our summer break. We are headed to the beach. (The beach is truly my favorite place in the world.)


I will try to post a little about our home schooling/family adventures from this summer soon. (Okay, it might have to wait until after the beach…) Until next time…


“Mama, that is an easy one!” Our Adventure in Phonics

We are on week 30 of our school year. 6 weeks to go and we will be enjoying a well deserved break. As we were finishing school last Friday, and before I put away the books for the weekend, I took a few minutes to map out the rest of our school year. I also took a survey of the things that we have accomplished this year.

History- Check, 2 chapters left

Science- Check! Finished.

Math- Check! Finished

Bible- Check!

2nd Grade Language Arts/ Reading – Check!

Kindergarten Phonics- ummm…

Our “Jo,” second born daughter, our wild beauty, has struggled mightily this year with learning to read. I am not freaking out (yet) since I know that kids learn to read in different ways and at their own pace.

I did, however, decide that her eyes filling with tears at the mere mention of her reading book, was a clear sign that we should at least re-evaluate what we are doing.


So after much prayer and google-ing, and armed with our Amazon Prime membership, I ordered a new phonics book and waited (ever so impatiently for 2 days) for it to arrive.


What a difference a few days, and 4 phonics lessons can make!

It is like a light has turned on inside of her. Today she read the sentence:

Mom felt the soft, silk quilt on the bed.

After I remarked on how well she did she turned to me and said,

Mama, that was an EASY one.


Are you kidding me?

Last week we were crying over CVC words. (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant)

Last week she was declaring that princess ballerinas didn’t need to read.

Last week we were drowning our sorrows in chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookies. And this week,

Mama, that was an easy one.


Could I please have the last semester back? I had been holding out, hoping that we were going to round the corner, but now I see that wasn’t going to happen.

Now I see that Jo needed to have each phonics rule spelled out for her. (No pun intended.) That she needed less distractions, less pictures.

But more than that, it was a good reminder to me that not every “great” program is great for every kid.

And when it comes to choosing curriculum, pray, pray, pray.

Who knows, I might get to check phonics- phase 1, off of my list this year after all!


Just Do It: A New Year’s Resolution and a Hard Look in the Mirror

I spent the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February at two different Pastor’s Wives Retreats. They were lots of fun: pedicures, back massages, encouragement, time with friends, and new energy to really love the people that we minister to. 

It was really great, we just finished our third year at Mt Bethel and I feel refreshed and ready to make a difference.

But I was also convicted.

Really convicted. 

One of the things that I really loved growing up in a pastor’s home was that the church people were always over at the house. Almost every Sunday someone would be invited over for lunch, or we would be eating over at someone’s house. It was a time to build relationships in a low pressure situation.

3 years. We have been here 3 years, and no one has been over for dinner.

Yes, we have had play dates, and picnics in the yard. And a few close friends have been over when we babysat their kids. But if I am honest, we really haven’t had people over.


If I am brutally honest, it is because of our house, it is always a mess. Sometimes is is only cluttered, other times it is “a bomb exploded in here” mess. But it is always a mess.


Me. When it comes to the house, I am lazy. Or at least I lack self discipline. Oh, I don’t sit around with my feet up eating bonbons, I am always busy. In fact, the messier my house is, the busier I am. I can find a thousand things to do when I really need to wash some laundry and do the dishes. In my brain I can hear the list of excuses.

I would rather spend time with the kids than clean.

They will only be little once, and they don’t care if it is clean or not.

School is higher on my priority list.

We have 4 kids, and that laundry pile is enormous.

But the truth is, even when I have the time I avoid doing housework.

I am not a good housekeeper.

I am great at the clean out and organize stage but the daily grind doesn’t happen. I have tried every kind of organization system, hoping for a magic system. I seem to think that maybe if I rearrange the furniture one more time I will find the arrangement that will stay clean all on its own.

I have finally come to grips with the part of every organizational system that has failed me…it is me.

I fail because I don’t want it bad enough. I fail because I am allowing my decisions to be controlled by my feelings not what is best for my family.

Just do it.

Just do it.

That is my new mantra, just do it.

I don’t want to do any more laundry today,

Just do it.

I really don’t mind if the dishes are still in the sink from supper.

Just do it.

I don’t want to pick of the living room before I crash for the night.

Just do it.

I don’t want to set an alarm so that I can be up before the kids are up.

Just do it.

The only way is it going to get better is to just do it.

Just do it.




A Homeschool Sick Day

Wow! It has been 3 weeks since I last wrote, and what a crazy three weeks it has been. I won’t go into the details, but we have had one round of the flu, and two rounds of the stomach bug. Not. Fun.

I think we have finally made it to the other side of all this sickness and decontamination of our house has commenced.

Since we have been passing all of this sickness around school has been less than normal. I thought I would share some of the things that we did during the last few weeks to keep school going even while we felt less than stellar.

I will add one note, when the kids are sick I don’t make them do school work. These are the things that I did while I was sick, or for the children that were well, while I cared for the sick ones.

1. Magic School Bus DVDs-

We lucked out around Christmas and got the entire series of The Magic School Bus on DVD for around $20 on Amazon. The kids love them so much and while I know that they might not be a complete science curriculum, they really have learned a lot.

2. Snap Circuits-

One of the girls Christmas gifts this year was a set of Snap Circuits. If you haven’t seen them, they come with a set of snap together electric circuits and a set of instructions to let you know what projects you can do with them. They say 8 years old and up, but my almost 6 year old really enjoys them too. (With adult supervision of course! : )

3. Audiobooks-

Our curriculum relies heavily on read-alouds but when you are sick, it is really tough to get through it all. We have invested in some audiobooks that we really enjoy, and we have also found several through our local library. A new service that our library offers is audiobooks that you can checkout electronically and download onto you iPod or Mp3 player. Even the kids will lay around a listen to those when they are sick. I have also requested a copy of “The Story of the World” on audiobook from the library so that we can do history while we are driving down the road.

4. Math- is my go to for the days when I am not feeling up to doing a math lesson. It is a free, math facts practice website. We are using is a few days a week to reinforce all of those math facts that we spent so much time learning. I am going to try to continue it over the summer so that we won’t have to spend a ton of time relearning what we should already know.

5. Leap Frog Phonics DVD’s-

My aunt recently told me about the Leap Frog Letter Factory toys and dvd’s and they have been a life saver these last few weeks. I really hate plopping my kids down in front of the t.v., but desperate times call for desperate measures. We don’t actually own the Letter Factory DVD,  but our library does have it, and we have been able to find several of the other Leap Frog movies on Netflix and through Amazon streaming.

So, what do you do when you are sick, but still need to get some school work done?

Quiet Hour

I often say that the hour before bedtime is my least favorite hour of the day, immediately followed by my most favorite hour of the day. That hour before bed is chaos.
The little girls have a very different bedtime routine than the older girls, and really need some quiet Mommy and Daddy time, but the only way to get that was for them to stay up later than the big girls. That meant they were up WAY to late, and everyone was cranky.

The big girls would complain because the babies got to stay up later than they did. Drama. What can I say, we have a lot of estrogen in the house.

But I think we have found the solution, and it even came with some positive side effects.

We’ve started making the older 2 girls, go to bed first, about 8 o’clock, but they don’t have to go to sleep. They get to have “quiet hour,” although it isn’t necessarily an hour. They have to be on their beds doing something quiet, reading books, playing dolls, coloring, talking quietly, etc. If we can hear them from the living room quiet time ends and it is bed time.

This freed us up to be able to get through the younger girls bedtime routine, and have some quiet time with them to settle down before bed.

But the unintended consequence of this change has been the best part.

It created a regular time for the girls to have their daily devotions.

We have always wanted them to take personal responsibility for their walk with God, but it is hard to transition from it being a family thing, to it being a personal thing. We do our family devotions in the morning at breakfast before we start school. Now they are creating the habit to have their quiet time.

We have asked that when their quiet hour starts, before they do anything else, that they have their devotions. For our “Meg,” who reads like a champ, she reads from her Bible and her devotional book. For our “Jo,” she looks through her Picture bible and reviews the Bible story that we have been reading together in morning devotions.

Some days when we come in to say prayers and tuck them in they are still reading the Word. It is a wonderful way to end the day.

Busy Little Hands

When people hear that we homeschool our older kids, the question always comes up, “What do you do with the little girls during school?” The answer is busy bags. (And if I am honest, tv, too. During math lessons we have to have quiet. Sesame Street is educational, right?)

Back to the busy bags, I have actually been using them off and on since our oldest was a preschooler but when we started homeschooling they became a necessity. If you haven’t heard of them, the idea is to have all of the elements of an independent activity in a gallon sized Ziploc, or any other container, so that the child can play on their own for a few minutes without needing assistance.

The first bags that I made were from the book Preschool Activities in a Bag but now there are lots of free ideas online and of course you can always make up your own ideas.

I try to make a new bag ever week or two, and there are tons of free ideas online. The latest two activities that I made were a big hit at my house so I thought I would share them. They were not original ideas with me, I actually saw these particular ones on a friend’s Facebook page recently.

Felt clothes and Clothesline
The first busy bag that I made this week is a bag with a clothes line and little felt clothes for the kids to hang up. My girls like to pretend that they are washing the clothes in a bowl and then hang them on the line. (Of course as I am typing this, my kids are playing Limbo under the line. So it is a multitasker.)

I used a pattern that Crystal over at has on her site. It is a great free printable, check it out here. If you haven’t checked out her site, is it really good. Just make sure you have a cup of coffee and some time, because there is tons of stuff on her site.


Here is our clothesline in action. I bought these mini clothespins from Wal-mart, but they are actually too small for the girls to get a good grip on. I think I will try to get some medium sized ones from Hobby Lobby next time I go, but for now they are using my full sized ones.


Because both the clothespins and the clothesline are possible choking hazards I only let the kids use this while I am in the kitchen with them. And that also keeps them from dumping all of the bags out and mixing them together.

Felt Cupcakes

The other activity bag that I made for this week is felt cupcakes. There are some amazing ones on Etsy but since I can’t bring myself to buy something that I could make, and I had leftover felt from the clothes line I free-handed these.


You can see the blue cupcake, white cupcake liner, pink icing, and an assembled cupcake in the picture. They aren’t anything fancy but the kids played with them for hours. That’s right, the 5 -year-old and 3-year-old played with them for 2 hours. And I got to cook supper in peace. Priceless!



So, what do you do with your pre-school age kids during school hours?

Yes, we know how to party!

Now that the Christmas decorations are packed up, winter break is over, and we’ve gotten a week of school work under our belt, I am getting excited about our next celebration, Valentine’s Day. (I totally forgot about Inauguration Day today, probably should have done something for that. I guess there is always 2017.) 🙂

Ok, back to Valentine’s day, and time for a confession. Holidays bring out my crazy side. You know the side that thinks, “We will research the history of the holiday, make a lapbook of the ways that said holiday is celebrated around the world, make wall decorations and make beautiful holiday food to snack on.”

But lets be honest. It just isn’t going to happen.

At my house lapbooks get started, but never finished. Researching the holiday is really me Google-ing “history of Valentine’s day” and hoping the YouTube videos that come up are child appropriate. The decorations will make a big mess that will stress me out. And all of those people that post pictures of beautiful holiday snacks on Pinterest lied to you. There is no way my snacks are ever going to turn out the way they say.

But, when it comes to Valentine’s Day we do know how to have a good time! A couple of years ago we have started a fun Valentine’s Day celebration tradition that lets my kids get that school party experience without me losing my mind.

Here is what we do

Each kid gets to choose 2 pieces of my 12 x 12 inch scrapbooking paper. We staple it down the side and across the bottom to create a large envelope. These become their mail boxes. Last year they decorated their “mailboxes” with their names.

Then, we unload the craft drawers and get busy making cards. This is the part that gets messy. But it is a good way to use up all of those random scraps of fabric, feathers, gift wrap, and ribbons that my girls just can’t part with. Even their Daddy gets in on the fun. (Last year they all got Star Wars Princess valentines from him. Super sweet!)

After they finish their cards, and the enormous amount of glue has dried, we deliver them to different mail boxes. (Along with a few pieces of their favorite candy!)

It may sound simple and may not be super educational, but it is a fun and easy way for our kids to celebrate Valentine’s day without me losing my mind. And since we are only in 2nd grade and kindergarten we have lots of time to cover all of the educational stuff. And best of all, no lapbooking required.

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