My Daughter Sews!


My daughter... she can sew! 

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me this is huge! 

I can't sew a stitch! (OK, I can hand-stitch buttons, but that hardly counts) I'm fascinated with sewing, but have never really tried it myself. It wasn't required in my high school home-ec class (can you believe that?) and I simply never learned. Even though I would love to be one of those moms that sews her kids' clothes, it's just not happening at this stage. I greatly admire those moms who know their way around a sewing machine.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is like a professional seamstress. She made her own wedding dress. She made MY wedding dress. Yes, she is THAT good.

So I am as excited as my daughter is that Grandma is now spending some time teaching her how to sew, using the sewing machine and all. Bobbin, presser foot, 20-some different kinds of stitches - yes, she knows all that now!

Now when she goes to Grandma's house, the first thing she wants to do is sew. Her most recent project - sewing this heart-shaped door knob hanger. She made two - one for me/dad and one for little brother. 
What's not to love about that?!

So proud of my "little girl" for learning grown-up things like sewing! She's reminding me of my Grandma Nellie, who could quilt and sew and used her abilities to create amazing gifts for her family and to give away to those in need. 
A sewing legacy - heading my daughter's way!

New Homeschool Co-Op Semester Starts


It's that time again - time for our homeschool co-op (Home Grown Hearts) to start up for the spring semester. 

I really like the fact that our group takes a nice, long break from Thanksgiving through the end of January. This gives everybody a break during flu season, the holidays, and much of the bad winter weather Indiana doles out. A fall semester of 12 weeks, then a nice break, followed by a spring semester of 12 weeks, then summer. It works great!

So today we were back at it. Here's what our schedule looks like for this 12-week semester. 

My son has turned 5 since the end of the fall semester, but we chose to keep him in his PreSchool class. He's the oldest in the class now, but we're plugging that as a great opportunity to be a teacher's assistant and to help the newer, younger children to learn the ropes. 

My daughter is taking 4 classes: Drawing, Ballet, Character-Building Martial Arts, and Sign Language. Ballet is somewhat of a repeat from last semester because she really likes it. Martial Arts was not necessarily her choice, but I strongly encouraged her to try it for one semester and see what she thinks. So far, so good!

I am teaching a class this semester called Historical Characters, for Jr. High students. I will write a separate post specifically about this class later.

I am assisting in a Jr. High book study on To Kill a Mockingbird. The other mom/teacher is doing a great job and I fully expect I will learn as much out of this class as most of the students. I love reading, but I'm not very analytical. Leading a study such as this would be difficult for me, but getting to sit in on the class is a great opportunity. 

Another wonderful component of our Home Grown Hearts co-op is the prayer time for the moms. All of the moms get one class hour for small group prayer time. This time to be "off the clock" in terms of parenting and teaching gives all of us a breather. We have a light snack (provided by the co-op) and make prayer a priority.

My last hour is spent as a "floater" which means that I can be a helper or assistant in any class that needs help on any given day. This is a lot of fun because I may help in nursery one week, PreSchool the next, Martial Arts the next, Missionary Study the next, Show & Tell the next, etc. I get to see lots of classes (and teachers) in action, so I really enjoy being a floater! 

I am thankful to be a part of our this neat homeschooling community. So many moms have become friends through this co-op. I've grown and learned so much, even though I'm one of the "teachers." Life-long learning and growing - another reason I love homeschooling!  And that doesn't even touch on all that my kids have learned through co-op!  

Wordless Wednesday




Connections: Books and Fun


My kids and I have enjoyed a number of great books lately.
I've mentioned before that we use a curriculum called Sonlight which is rich in literature (for some reason I can't get the link to work, but you can visit Sonlight at to learn more). All of these books were part of school for us in the last 6 weeks or so.

 Old Yeller was a book my daughter read on her own. She really liked it and was sad to reach the end, as she is with many of our Sonlight books. 

Looking back, I think this book was also good preparation for my daughter. Old Yeller dies at the end of the book. For Christmas my daughter received a fish for a new pet. She'd been asking for a fish for a few months. She was so excited and surprised with this gift! Unfortunately, her new fish only survived a few days. She handled it  very well, though, and perhaps a part of that was the fact that she'd read through (and very much enjoyed) Old Yeller just prior to her own experience with a pet's death.

I read Caddie Woodlawn aloud to the kids a few weeks ago. I'm sure I read this as a child, but I didn't remember it. What a great classic! It reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie series, but is more tomboyish and adventure-filled.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs was a fun read-aloud book. A little silly, but a good reminder that there are wondrous, even miraculous, things that surround us no matter where we are, if we only have eyes to see them.

I like that Sonlight strikes a balance between "girl" and "boy" books. The main character in Caddie Woodlawn is a girl, but she is quite tomboyish and spends more time with her brothers than her more refined mother and sisters. The main character in Seven Wonders is a boy and the book we're currently reading - Little Britches - is another great book written from a boy's perspective of farm life

The last book I want to highlight is The Great Wheel. This book is all about the first Ferris Wheel, told from the perspective of one of the workers who helped build it. I expected it to be a bit dry, but it had a good storyline that moved it along. There was some technical engineering language, but it generally helped us envision the work as it was going on. 

The timing of this book was neat. We started reading it just after Christmas. For Christmas, my kids got a box of K-Nex toys and the first thing we built with them was a ferris wheel. So between the language and pictures of the book and our own visual, we could more easily imagine the process of putting together that first-ever ferris wheel.

I enjoy these special moments as they come along. It's wonderful to be a part of that eye-opening "aha" moment for my kids, seeing them make connections between what we read and real life. It's what education is all about!

Inauguration Day Fun


My kids love Legos. Today was Inauguration Day and we watched a little bit of the national festivities. 

It wasn't long before I was asked to come see what the kids were playing with - an Inauguration Lego scene, complete with a white capitol building in back, the President before the microphone with his wife behind him, and an audience of commoners on the sidelines.

Since shooting this picture, more has been added, including a camera-man, two secret service agents and two singer/performers. 

Why We Don't Buy Bread Anymore


 Everyone at my house likes bread.  

Toast with butter or jelly. 
Or just a plain old slice for a snack.
It's been months since we've bought bread, though. 
A while back we decided to start experimenting with homemade bread recipes and see if we could land on something we all liked. We have and we love it! 

One recipe that we now make about twice a week is for English Muffin Bread - find the original recipe at Money Saving Mom.  We love this bread! It's so easy to make (no kneading) that even my daughter has learned to do it on her own. We've made it the way the recipe outlines, making two loaves, though the way we like it best is to bake it in the pan from our bread machine, in the oven. This makes one huge loaf, which we like better than two small ones. Baking time remains 45 minutes. We use this bread for breakfast toast and also for french toast.

A second recipe that we also like is for the bread machine.
 Mix together in bread machine pan: 1 cup warm water, 2 T white sugar and 1 package of bread machine yeast (one package =  2 and 1/4 t). Let sit 10 minutes. Then add in 1/4 cup oil, 3 cups bread flour and 1 t salt. Start bread machine on regular white bread setting. 3 hours later - yummy! This is great sandwich bread. 

I haven't been tracking our savings, but I have no doubt that cutting the bread from our grocery store trips adds up. We used to buy bread at a bread outlet store for around 79 cents per loaf. But homemade bread costs even less than that to make! Yes, we have to purchase the ingredients for bread - the flour, the yeast, etc. But we are enjoying financial and health benefits as a result of making our own breads at home.  And with the aid of a bread machine, making delicious homemade bread has truly never been easier.
Little by little, we're eating healthier.
Little by little, we are healthier!  

Family Photo Friday

Family Photo Friday - it's what we do around here on most Fridays - posting pictures from our week

 I've shared many times before about our Christmas card prayer tradition. Here are my kids with this year's cards, which we just today started praying through. 
Love this tradition!

My husband has been more intentional about playing/learning to play the guitar. 
The kids always want to help.

My son hadn't been able to play in the snow yet because he didn't have any winter boots... until last weekend. I finally got to the store to get him some. He immediately wanted to play in the snow! Here both my kids were playing with snow tubes borrowed from our neighbors. We have the perfect small hill for sledding in our side yard. It's a good thing they got out to play each day earlier this week, because now all of our snow is gone. We are hoping for more!

Happy Friday to you!
There will never be another 1/11/2013... make it a good one! 

Repeat Miscarriage: Medical Evaluation


When I last miscarried for the 3rd time in October, a subtle shift took place. "High risk" will now be used to describe any future pregnancies. 

To endure 1 miscarriage is unfortunate, but doctors do not usually do any medical follow-up. "Just a fluke. Is not likely to happen again. Move on."

To suffer 2 miscarriages is difficult, but doctors again do not usually do any medical follow-up. "Hmmm. Odd. Two times. Well, just a string of bad luck. Try again."

But to miscarry 3 or more times is heart-wrenching and usually gets the doctor's attention. 3 or more miscarriages are now termed "repeat miscarriages" or "repeat pregnancy loss." At this point, an OB/GYN will refer you to a specialist who can try to figure out the reason behind the miscarriages. At this point, they figure that it's not just bad luck but rather there is a physical reason that the body is struggling to stay pregnant once conception has occurred. 

In December I met with a specialist. They ordered a lot of blood tests but didn't give any false hope. The chance of discovering what is wrong is slim. My case is unique in that I do already have 2 healthy children who had normal, healthy pregnancies. We know that there is not a genetic reason for my miscarrages - my two children are proof that my husband and I can produce genetically healthy children. But there are some diseases and disorders that they wanted to test for, just in case. 

All of my bloodwork came back normal. 

No need for a follow-up consultation with the specialist. There is nothing more they can do. 

I'm not surprised. I believed them when they said it was a very slim chance of discovering something at this stage. 

It's just like our infertility struggles. No cause. Strange. Can't be explained.

And so we trust God is in control. We know that sin is at work in our bodies, as well as in all of creation. Our bodies don't work perfectly, as they were originally intended to.

Yet God knows all this and can use all of this to sanctify us, making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ, as we suffer through this life. And He can use even these circumstances for His ultimate glory. 

I don't know what the future holds. 
I don't know if we will conceive again. 
I don't know if I will be able to carry a baby to term again. 

Yet I can be glad for what I have. 
I can thank God for the children I have here on earth.
I can thank God for thd children I have waiting for me in heaven. 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.    

Recent Reads


I've been in a reading mood lately, devouring a few books per week. Here are a few that have been on my bookshelf recently.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - I enjoyed this book immensely. I had never read it before but obtained a free audio version, so I didn't actually read it but listened to it. Well done. Very informative. Inspirational. Helps lead us down the path that led to the Holocaust - from Nazi occupation all the way to concentration camps. An incredible story of hope despite absolutely horrific circumstances.

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell - written by a Navy Seal (no surprise that he swears like a sailor), it was eye-opening to read about all of the training one goes through to become a Navy Seal. Then Luttrell goes on to share his incredible personal story, with a tribute to his teammates who gave their last full measure of devotion for our freedoms. 

Service by Marcus Luttrell - I read as a follow-up to the previous book. It gives a little more detail to Luttrell's survival tale, but also is a tribute to many other service men and women (and wives left behind). Another great reminder of what our military endure on a regular basis, for our sakes. 

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly - I read O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln a few months ago. I liked the Kennedy book more. Insightful. Gives a glimpse into the life of a President and a Vice President, as well as the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

To Kill a Mockingbird - I'm in the middle of this one currently. I am reading it now because I am helping teach a Jr/Sr High class on this book at our homeschool co-op this spring. I need a refresher! I know I've read the book before, probably in high school, though I recall that I didn't fully understand it. Now I've got to help teach it! :-) Time to study up!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - This is one of those classic books that I'd never read before. So I picked it up and read it through simply to be able to say I'd read it. I didn't really like it. Very odd book. And taking place over 3 generations, I had to keep a running note as a bookmarker to remember who is who, who marries who, who dies, etc.

There were two quotes from Wuthering Heights, though, that I liked. Both are related to death and heaven. 

"The thing that irks me most is this shattered prison. I'm tired, tired of being enclosed here. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart, but really with it and in it. You, Nelly, think you are better and more fortunate than I, in full health and strength; you are sorry for me - very soon that will be altered. I shall be sorry for you. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all."

And one other:

" I see, in death, a repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter - the eternity they have entered - where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness. I noticed on that occasion how much selfishness there is even in a love like Mr. Linton's (the husband left behind), when he so regretted her blessed release." 

Interesting perspective - that even in love, we are selfish when we regret the death of our loved ones. They are better off, where life and love and joy are complete and endless. 

Have you read any good books lately?