Five Years: Heartbreak and Healing


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


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


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! 

Grandpa R


My husband's parents live nearby, which is good because they are getting older and needing more help. His dad has Parkinson's along with some other health concerns that make him unsteady on his feet. It's been difficult seeing his health deteriorate in the last two years or so. But we are glad to live close enough to get together often and help out when we can.  

Grandpa likes to hold the grandkids on his lap. I was delighted to get a few nice pictures of him with the youngest grandchild, my boy.

We tried to get a good picture of Grandma and Grandpa with all the grandchildren at our last gathering. More people makes it hard to get a good shot of everyone, but we tried. This is all 7 of their current grandchildren - from age 22 down to 8 months! 

Gracious Words


This proverb. 
We're memorizing it these days. 
We've set it to music to help us remember it.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, 
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. 
Proverbs 16:24 

It's incredible how much more you notice something when you start looking for it. Looking for gracious words, I find them more and I'm also more aware of when they are lacking. 

One of the most convicting and embarrassing things is to hear one of your small children echoing your angry words or harsh tone. I hate that feeling, when I know full well that they are simply repeating what they've heard. When it comes from my mouth, I think "I'm justified. They are wrong. I have a right to feel angry/hurt/etc." But when I hear it from their mouths, it sounds ugly and wrong, regardless of the circumstances. 

We were challenged when we considered that often when guests are in our home, we are much more gracious than we are otherwise, when it is just our family, ourselves. So what would it sound like if we treated one another with the grace that we would offer to a guest? What if we spoke with gentleness and grace, building-up words seasoned with mercy and encouragement? This is a lofty goal!

And so we are all working on becoming more gracious in our tone and with our words. Lord, help us!

Swim Lessons


My oldest girl has wrapped up another level of swim lessons. 

She absolutely loves the water. Ever since starting lessons last summer, she wants to swim as often as possible. In fact, she taught herself some new swimming skills and was able to skip a lesson level this time around because of it. 

Now she knows how to dive and do numerous strokes. 
We are proud of her. 

To celebrate, we got together with her friend Liz and swam! 



Sibling relationships are so fluid. One moment they are best friends, playing and laughing together. The next moment, one storms off in a huff, spewing angry words at the other. 

Since I try not to take pictures and permanently record their angry "I hate you" moments... here are a few pictures of my kids, in those tender and precious and fleeting moments when they are happy together. :-)

My 8-year-old boy and toddler girl playing together at the playground. Two matching slides... perfect, as this toddler is a copycat, wanting to do everything the older kids do.

My youngest two a few weeks ago. I so love the current ponytail/pigtail phase the toddler girl is in!

Family portraits included a few sibling groupings. 
Big smiles from the middles! 

And big smiles from the oldest and youngest together. 
12 years separate these two.

And the youngest two again, watching Grandma R busily work in her garden.   

I think a big benefit of having a larger family is the multiplicity of relationships. So many different ages and stages can be difficult to keep up with. Yet, there is always a helping hand nearby. There is always someone to play with, read to, talk to, etc. A live-in friend. I love it! 
And I thank God for His plans for families! 
He knew what He was doing and it is good! 

The Tree


We've lived here for over 7 years. During that time, our attention often is turned to "the tree." The tree is in our backyard. It actually is just over the border on our neighbor's property. But it leans entirely onto our property. It is massive. It is over 100 feet tall and over 150 years old. It is situated in a difficult to reach spot - behind one neighbor's shed, behind the other neighbor's playset. It was clearly here before our neighborhood was built here.

At least once a year we lose power due to downed electrical lines in our neighborhood. About half the time, these are in our own backyard due to our our own trees. Here are some pictures of storm damage last month, during which we lost power for 24-hours. A huge limb from "the tree" caused this damage.

So recently we went half-and-half with our neighbor to have the massive tree removed. 

What an exciting day that was... to watch from the safety and comfort of our home. :-)

So very tall. Another 40 feet higher than the bucket of the truck at its fully extended height.

A few shots of the progress. 

That last section to come down weighed about 10,000 pounds, the expert lumberjack guessed.

The tree was rotten from the inside out. We knew it had huge holes in it, as we'd seen entire raccoon families hide inside of it! Here you can see the rotten core.

So "the tree" is gone and we have more sun in our backyard. The area is currently a compost pile, but we hope to turn it into a full-sun garden in the future. 

PS: Here is a picture from 2011 with a coon peeking out of the hole in the tree. 



 We decided to do a garden this year, in a different way than ever before. We're trying square foot gardening.

So my husband built two boxes, both 8 x 4 feet. 
Grandma R used her truck to deliver a load of dirt. Everyone helped unload the dirt. 

What's more fun for kids than being asked to play in dirt?!

We have now planted cucumbers, green beans and sweet peas - all started from seeds. They are sprouting now. You'll see in the pictures that we have a soil mixture that includes vermiculite (the little white, snowball looking pieces) which helps with hydration. 

We also planted some starters of tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini and we filled the other spaces with flowers.

The advantages to square foot gardening include no-weeding! Though one disadvantage is the upfront cost for building the boxes and filling them with a good soil mixture (including compost, vermiculite, peat moss and black dirt).

So this is our big experiment for this year. 
We will keep you posted on the harvest!

16 Years Together


This week marked our 16th wedding anniversary. 

A lot has happened in 16 years. We have certainly grown through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the sickness and the health, the joy and the sorrows, the numerous stages of family life and parenting. Our love has greater depth now, as we've experienced so many things together.

God has been faithful to us and we thank Him!

My Boy at 8 Months


This boy. 8 Months. It's true! 

In the last month, his first two teeth have popped out!

He's learned to sit up very well with no support.

And, drum roll... he is FINALLY sleeping at night! It's been a long 8 months for mama, as this boy has wanted to be by my side day and night. This included waking 5-8 times per night on a regular basis. BUT NO MORE! Now he is in his own bed, in his own room. He goes to bed around 7 pm and wakes around 6 am, waking twice during the night for a quick feeding. 

In public, the most common things I hear are... 
1) Is he always this happy? 
To which I respond, "Yes, IF he's with mama."
2) He looks so much older with his hair cut. 
3) He doesn't look like your other kids, but has his own look OR 4) He looks so much like your other kids! 
5) I love seeing those chubby rolls!

We love you, Little Man. 
Way to grow, grow, grow this month! 

Airport Fun


 A few weeks ago Daddy had to take a trip to San Francisco for business. This was the first time my younger kids had been to the airport, so it was very exciting for them. 

We were able to watch Daddy's plane take off and then land again 5 days later. For quite a few days afterwards, my 2-year-old daughter would assume that Daddy was up in the sky in an airplane any time that he was away from home. 

The airport adventures were fun for our kids and gave us a good excuse for a "field trip." But we were all so glad to have Daddy back home after his trip!