Sonlight Box Day - 3rd Grade


Box Day is here again... sort of! 

Box Day is the day when our new curriculum arrives. However, as my son is second in line to use this curriculum, we already own it. I did pack it away after my daughter used it 5 years ago, though, and brought it back out now for my son to open and uncover for himself.

Digging for true treasure in the box!

This boy is ready to start 3rd grade. 

We are using this homeschool curriculum from Sonlight. Sonlight is a literature based program, that includes dozens and dozens of great books. This boy of mine has been a reluctant reader (when reading by himself) but he LOVES to be read to. So, at least at the start, I will probably be doing double-duty with him - reading both the read-aloud books and those that are intended for the student to read by himself. 

This year he will be studying American History, Part 1 (of 2). We've already begun reading the first few books about Native Americans. Pocahontas, Squanto, Mayans and Incans and Aztecs. Why wait?! 

Happy Box Day, my son! And may God bless our school year!

Baby Boy Turns 11 Months Old


  Here we are again, marking another month of growth! 

This little boy is closing in on his first birthday!

He got a haircut a few days ago - a buzz cut to match his brother's hair. 

At the start of this month, this guy stayed in one place most of the time. Not any more! He is on the go, as a scooter! He doesn't crawl but he scoots on his butt and gets everywhere just fine that way! He now opens cabinets, pulls out all the contents and pinches fingers. 

My two boys sharing a bear hug.

Having a big sister who loves jewelry and bling means that this little man gets dolled up with necklaces often. 
Sorry, buddy! At least he doesn't mind at this point!

I love this picture of him and his big sister on their new little couch. Perfect for the two of them!

We love you so much, Mr. Man! 
Every day is a new adventure, embracing growth and change... as it should be!

Sonlight Box Day - 8th Grade


Box Day is here again! 

This is the day when our new school year curriculum arrives. And it rivals Christmas Day in excitement at our house! 

My daughter. She's 13 now and ready to start 8th grade.

We've homeschooled all the way. I am so very thankful that we've spent all of those hours of school together rather than apart! I wouldn't trade the relationship we've built for anything!

We use a curriculum called Sonlight. We have used it for the last 5 years and really enjoy it. Sonlight is based on great literature and our family LOVES to read together. I'm a little sad that this year, she reads all of these great books independently with no help from me. I'll miss out, but she won't! (Truth be told, I wouldn't have time to read a lot to her since I'm also teaching her 3rd grade brother).

She's a ham, as you can tell from these pictures. She has become such a fun kid to be around. I'm really enjoying her at this stage! 

She wrapped up like a mummy in the packing paper.

And was just all-around goofy!

Happy Box Day and here's to a wonderful school year! 

Teenage Birthday


Happy Birthday to my now teenage daughter!!

She sure is growing up! This past year she decided to get her hair cut shorter, which changed her look quite a bit.

We celebrate this young lady and thank God for giving her to our family!  
What a blessing she is to us all! 
She is very smart. 
She is a self-motivated learner. 
When she has a question, she knows how to use whatever resources are available to find the answer. 
She's a natural born leader.
She has a tender side, especially towards animals. 
She has a servant's heart, 
regularly seeing needs and simply taking care of them. 

Grandma K sent a birthday gift package. We opened it via Skype so she could watch. She received a joke book, tracing paper, graph paper, and a magazine of floor plans.

A few pictures from our birthday bash.

A few of the gifts she received... clothes and a bungee chair. She noted that she's moved beyond childhood now... receiving mostly clothes and non-toy items. She feels so-so about this. 

Happy 13th birthday to you!

Trim Healthy Mama and Me


My journey. My health.

Here's a little bit of my story. 

I've never been obese, but I have been "overweight" for years. I am short - only 5 feet 2 inches. Being this short means that I should not weigh over 120 pounds or I am considered overweight. Therefore, I've been overweight for all of my adult life! A few extra pounds in college. A few more after each baby came along. Not obese but not healthy either. 

Here are a few pictures of me a few years ago that I will use as my "BEFORE" pictures. 

A bit on the chubby side. I was in size L or XL clothes, wearing a 14/16 at my biggest. 

And here I am now. I bought this dress in April, before it really fit. I loved it, though, and made it my goal to fit into it by July. 
And I did it! 
I fit into a size 8! 
And my double-chin is gone! 
And I have more energy for life!
And I'm making right choices now to be smart about my pre-diabetes and high cholesterol. 
I'm getting back to true health. 

And I'm still losing weight! How? Trim Healthy Mama (also known as THM)! If you haven't heard of THM before, please consider it. There's a book and a cookbook out there. Look at your library or on Amazon.

You could call it a diet. 
I call it a lifestyle. 
I eat what I want. 
I "cheat" when I want. 
It's food freedom. 
It's educating myself on making healthy choices 
that can taste good too. 

I love the results. And I love that some of the harder-to-find food ingredients are becoming easier to find now, as more people jump on the "a healthier me" bandwagon. ALDI now carries sprouted bread, coconut oil, and a number of other healthy food choices. 

There will be more to come on this issue as I'm 4-5 months into this way of eating, way of looking at food. I'm committed to better overall health and we'll see what I look like when that is achieved! :-)

Happy Anniversary!


It's not my anniversary... but it is my in-laws' 46th wedding anniversary today! Happy Anniversary!

For the last 20 years, these two have welcomed me as part of the family. My mother-in-law has always been one of the most giving and generous people that I know. She speaks the love language of giving. She knows how to size up anyone and then find things to fit them just right. She picks up on a little mention of this or that, tucks the thought away in her mind and then will surprise you with something she bought for you to meet that need. 

Now my father-in-law... well, he's never been a very affectionate man. He's a military man. He's a factory man. He's not the emotional type. But in the last few years, he's battled Parkinson's disease and he has come to grips with his own mortality and frailness. And in doing so, he has become a gentler man. Now it is not uncommon to hear him tell others that he loves them. He has pulled me aside a few times to tell me that he's glad I'm part of the family and that his son (my hubby) made a good choice in choosing me. 

I know their marriage has had its ups and downs. 
I know it's been rocky and has not met all of their expectations. 

Happy 46th Anniversary!

Baby Boy Turns 10 Months Old


 This little boy is growing. He's 10 months old now and it seems like he's grown a lot this month. He's started eating more baby foods (up to 4 4-oz cartons daily) and nursing less. 

What do you think? Does he look like his daddy?

He's sleeping better than ever. He now sleeps 12 hours at night, waking just once for a feeding around 2 am. He now naps in the morning for about 1 hour and in the afternoon for about 2 hours. He definitely naps best at home in his crib. His naps are always cut short if we're driving and he sleeps in his car seat. 

Happy baby with mom. He still loves me the most, but is learning to be ok with other people too. In these pictures his hair looks dark, but it has lightened up quite a bit. 

He likes to walk in his walker. He gets around very quickly. Here he is walking around the living room and reaching the computer keyboard. Let the fun begin! 

This month he learned to enjoy sitting on the floor. Such a simple thing but he did not like to be set down at all until now. He spins around on his butt so he can reach more things. And he has started to scoot on his butt to get around. He does not crawl yet. He's close to it, so maybe within the next month. Up until now, he stays put generally where I set him down... that will all change soon enough!

This month he took his first trip to the zoo, as well as his first real vacation (to Wisconsin Dells). 

Happy 10 months, little buddy! 
We are so glad you're a part of our family!

Wisconsin Dells Vacation

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


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!