Wisconsin Dells Vacation

7/21/2016 
 
We took a 3-day vacation last week to visit the Mt Olympus Resort at Wisconsin Dells.


We had great weather for all of our activities. We spent most of our time at the indoor water park, which seemed to be our favorite. The older kids liked the big snake-like water slides.


 I LOVED the lazy river. And there were wading pools and splash pads for the littlest kids to enjoy too.


We had a very cool room with two queen beds and a set of bunk beds. 


Of course, the kids loved the bunks.


There's a huge scene painted on the one wall of the room, giving the feeling of being right in Rome. Very life-like and real looking.

We had watched some Wisconsin Dells promo videos before our visit. Hence my oldest two kids went around saying "Hashtag - love the dells!" :-)   They had high expectations and were not disappointed. Maybe next time we'll be able to explore the addition half of Mt Olympus that we never made it too. That place is simply huge! 

Wisconsin Visit

7/20/2016


We recently spent a week visiting family in Wisconsin. 


We spent a few days with my mom, which was very nice. She's a great hostess when our big ole crew of 6 shows up! 


We had a family wedding to attend, which was a great opportunity to visit with extended family members we rarely see. Congratulations, Adam and Bethany!


The wedding also meant dressing up. Here's our crew dressed up, with an unhappy baby who was just woken up.


And me, my baby boy and niece Trinity. She looks like she could be one of mine with the dark hair! 


Here's my littlest guy having fun playing on the kitchen floor.



A few shots of my older kids playing at the local park. 




And playing in Grandma's backyard. We had some very nice weather with plenty of opportunities for playing outside in the sandbox or on the swingset.


My oldest daughter being her usual silly self.



My mom enjoyed time with the littlest ones.


She's a master at Dr. Seuss...


And doing fingernails too!



One of my all-time favorite things to do with my mom - to let her play with my hair. No better feeling than having her comb and style my hair! So she did a few fun braids for me during our visit.


And a small braid in my oldest daughter's short hair.

We had lunch with my dad, which was also nice. He had some veggies ready to pick out of his garden boxes so we helped with that. And he has a trampoline in the backyard which my older kids hopped on right away.


Oh... and our van turned 100,000 miles during this vacation! A picture-worthy occasion that makes the highlight reel! 


My little guy and me. Love him so!


He was so tuckered out during the long drive home! 

We are so thankful for getaways... and thankful to be back home again too! 

Let Freedom Ring!

7/4/2016 

Let Freedom Ring!


We had a wonderful 4th of July celebration! 


We enjoyed our neighbor parade - an annual event that is a highlight of our year! 


Here are the decorated bikes all lined up in the foreground while the MC was calling all veterans up front for a round of applause. There are doughnuts and popcorn for everyone - around 500 people, we guessed! 


My in-laws and one niece joined us for the parade. And our neighbor Sarah is a faithful friend who piggy-backed our kids when we needed a break. :-)


Happy Independence Day to one and all!
God, bless America and America, bless God!

Trip to the Zoo

7/1/2016 


 
 We recently took a trip to the zoo! 


It'd been a DECADE or so since our whole family went to the zoo, with my husband included. We had a great time. The weather was perfect. The zoo wasn't too busy, since we went early in the morning. 


My little lady is 2 and had been to the zoo last year but didn't remember it, so it was all new again to her.



This was also the first time my 9-month-old boy visited the zoo. They have a petting farm section, that is perfect for the little kids to interact with the animals up close. 


Fun times all around!

Five Years: Heartbreak and Healing

6/29/2016 


It's been five years since my heart was broken. 
Five years since my world was turned upside. 
Five years since dreams shattered. 
Five years since my life was rocked to the core.

I miscarried a baby. 
Grant David was his name.


I didn't know then that more miscarriages would follow. 
I didn't know then the depth of the pain. 
I didn't know then the tenderness of the wound, 
even years down the road.
I didn't know then how I'd come through the grief. 
I didn't know then just how long the cloud of despair 
would follow me. 

I didn't realize until then just how strong the arms of God were, to encompass me and hold me during the sorrow. 
I didn't realize until then just how big God and that He can handle my "why, oh why" questions 
and my shaking my fist at him. 
I didn't realize until then how my misery would turn into a ministry to other women suffering miscarriages.
I didn't realize how going through such a valley can make the mountaintops even more wonderful. 

Five years have passed. 
I have miscarried two more babies - Hope and Isaac. 
I also have birthed two more full-term children that bring much delight and joy to my soul. 

And I have a full hope of seeing my Grant, Hope and Isaac again soon. I don't know what they will be like in heaven - little babies being rocked by Jesus Himself or little tykes romping and playing or full grown adults with a faith much fuller than mine. But regardless, I thank God for their lives and know that I will see them again. 

Thank you, God, for carrying me through the heartbreak and the healing. You are good! 

Homeschool Year Over

6/24/2016 


Our school year is *finally* done! 

This year was more challenging than ever, but we made it! 


We had a 7th grade girl, who worked independently on many subjects. We had a 2nd grade boy who is a reluctant reader. We had a toddler who is constantly seeking attention. And we had a baby born in the middle of our school year. 

BUT... God is faithful. He provided strength and patience and perseverance. And now we can stand at the end of the school year and give Him the thanks and praise He deserves! 

Our 7th grade girl used Sonlight Core H this year (year 2 of 2 studying world history). We enjoyed lots of great books together. Next year there will be no more "read alouds" as Sonlight expects 8th graders to do all of their own reading of the excellent literature that makes up the curriculum. But we might slip in a few to read outloud together anyway! 

Our 2nd grade boy used Sonlight Core B+C (a condensed 1-year focus on world history). We used it loosely with him, as much of the material was simply over his head. But we did read almost every book together and he made MAJOR strides in his reading ability this year. 

We are covering some basics with our 2-year-old girl. She can sing the ABCs and count to 12 and spell her name. And she LOVES books. The most common phrase we hear from her is "Read this" as she hands us a book from the shelf. 


And our baby is learning lots too, but not from books yet. He has recently learned how to eat solid foods and how to scoot on the floor and how to babble words that we don't understand quite yet. 

I have to include myself in the list as I recount what we've learned this year. I've learned to trust God more and to lean on Him for strength, as I am so very weak. We have worked together as a family to memorize Scripture. Together we sing a hymn before bed each night and often pray together as well. We are all still growing and learning. 

But to my two official homeschooled kids, 
I want to say this as we wrap up another year: 

Way to go, dear daughter! 
I truly enjoy the homeschooling journey we're on together! 
I am proud of you and the young lady you are becoming! 

And way to go, dear son! 
You add spunk and spark to our days and 
I am so proud of the growth I've seen in you this year!

My Boy at 9 Months

6/23/2016

Time keeps chugging away and this not-so-little guy is turning 9 months old! 


Look at those chubby cheeks! 

He continues with his newly developed sleep pattern. Bed at 7 pm, up at 6 am, waking 2 times in the night to eat. He takes one morning nap of 45 minutes and then a longer afternoon nap of 2 hours. It took many months to get here, but the sleep routine is now established and I am THANKFUL!


Playing with his older brother. This month he has become more interesting in whatever the older kids are doing. He laughs at them and sometimes mimics their actions.


His hair looks so much lighter these days... especially compared to any photos over 2 months ago. And it almost has a hint of red in it. 


He's super active, but not yet crawling. He scoots and turns himself around on his butt. Here he was enjoying the johnny jumper.


So big, sitting in a chair for his portraits.


This month he has started consistently eating solids. He likes everything so far - carrots, green beans, fruit blends, etc. I let him get good and messy while eating, exploring the textures of the foods. Then he gets a bath afterwards. Works out great! 

Two more teeth popped out this month, bringing the total to four... with two more bulging, hoping to appear soon.

Happy 9 months, Mr. Man! 
We love you and are so glad God gave us the gift of you!