Christmas Kids


Christmas pictures of my favorite gifts!

Great smiles all around!

Look at those adorable Christmas kids!

And of course we had the usual difficulty of photographing a toddler... hard to snap the picture while she's still. But we did get some great shots!

So fun to have new pictures taken with all 3 kids. 

Christmas Specials


 Here are a few photos from our church's Christmas specials this weekend. The last few years, my kids have not wanted to participate. This year, they did. They did not want a part (no angels or Mary or anything "showy") but they did participate. 

My oldest daughter photobombing "Mary and Jesus" as they lined up to head in to the sanctuary 

My girl on the bottom right as "Joseph" said a few words

My boy, on the right, in the vest.

And a shot of me and my baby girl as we watched from the back. 

All the children looks so great when they are dressed up for special occasions like this. So I always remind myself that it's not the outside that matters, but what's in the heart. Nonetheless... my simple eyes and these pictures can only show the outside. I pray that all will take time to ponder the true meaning of Christmas, of Emmanuel, of God making His dwelling with man. 
Incredible! What a gift! Definitely worth celebrating!

Christmas Cookies


It's that time of year again. 
Can you smell the sweet smell of sugar cookies baking in the oven, hear the giggles of the children as they decorate their cookies with favorite colors and sprinkles, hear the pride in their voice as they show off their creations, and then listen to the hearty "mmmmm" as they eat the favorite cookie of their choosing.

Daddy and our 7-year-old boy had some fun together cutting out the cookies.

We had some friends over one morning this week to help decorate all the cookies. Fun times together!

I admit that I sometimes dread the extra time and effort it takes to do special things like this with the kids. Yet, I find that it is getting easier as the kids get older. They are truly helpers now, in rolling out dough and making the cookies, in decorating the cookies *nice* enough that we can consider giving some away with being embarrassed :-) and  in cleaning up the mess left behind after the sprinkle-fest occurs. 

So this is my reminder to self: despite the extra work, keep doing these special things. They are worth it and are indeed making memories that will last a lifetime.

My Baby Girl Turns One


My baby girl turns one this week. 

This has been such a wonderful year, having a baby in the house again. Of course, we've had our share of sleepless nights and other challenges that come along with a newborn. But they are WAY overshadowed by the joy, the pure excitement and the delight this little lady has brought into our lives. 

Happy first birthday, Baby Girl! 

My Boy is 7

Hear ye, hear ye! This boy turns 7 this week! 

WHAT?! How can that be? I can't explain it, but it has indeed been 7 years since his birth. This big 11-pound baby was such a wonderful gift from the Lord to us. And of course he remains a bundle of energy and silliness and excitement today.

Having a son brings out a different side of me as a mom. I have to let him run, let him risk, let him live on the wild side... despite everything in me that wants to call him back to safety. But he is a boy. He must get out and explore, must end up with scraped knees and bloody knuckles in order to prove something to himself and to the world. I love him to death, but he certainly also scares me to death sometimes! 

Happy birthday to my not-so-little boy! 

November - a Month to Remember


November is coming to an end. Throughout this month, our family was doing a study on the character of God. Our focus was on REMEMBERING that our God is mighty. The Bible, especially in the early books, is constantly calling God's people back to remember what God had done for them, to not forget the Lord, to tell their children and pass on the stories of God's faithfulness to the next generations. 

I felt God impressing this study on my heart in October. I started jotting down notes and coming up with a plan for the 30 days of November. Admittedly, we didn't complete all 30 days, as we occasionally missed a day here and there. 

But I wanted to share these thoughts, to preserve so that I can use them again in the future, but also in case they would be helpful to anyone else. Some points contain multiple examples that could be discussed separately, one per day to go more in-depth, thus making the study last longer than 30 days.

Day 1 - Read these passages to emphasize the need to remember all that the Lord has done: Deut 6:12, 8:2, 8:11, 8:14, 8:18-19; 9:7; 11:2 and Psalm 136

Day 2 - God is mighty, as shown through his ability to create everything (Gen 1, Psalm 8, Rom 1:20, Psalm 136:4-9)

Day 3 - God is mighty, as seen through sending the 10 plagues (Deut 6:20-23, Deut 7:8, 8:18-19, Psalm 136:10-12)

Day 4 - God is mighty, as seen through his power in parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14, Deut 11:4, Psalm 136:13-15, Psalm 106:6-13)

Day 5 - God is mighty, as seen through His leading with the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day (Numbers 9:15-22, Ex 13:21, Psalm 136:16) 

Day 6 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over the sun (Joshua 10:13, Hab 3:11, Isa 38:5, Rev 8:12)

Day 7 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over lions (Daniel in lion's den)
Day 8 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over fish (Jonah, Matt 17:27)

Day 9 - God is mighty, as seen through water miracles (Noah's ark in Genesis, Jesus walking on water, water turned to wine by Jesus, water turned to blood by Moses) 

Day 10 - God is mighty, as seen through fire miracles (burning bush with Moses, fiery furnace in Daniel, lake of fire in Revelation)

Day 11 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over all animals (Balaam's talking donkey, Isa 11:6, Elijah's ravens doing God's bidding, God providing quail for food for the Israelites)

Day 12 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over weather (hail plague, cloud leading through desert, Elijah's prayer and ability to hold back rain for 3 years, the rains leading to Noah's flood)

Day 13 - God is mighty, as seen through his ability to provide food (manna, Elijah's ravens and ravine, Psalm 104:27, Matt 6:26)

Day 14 - God is mighty, as seen through his ability to multiply food (feeding of 5000, feeding the 4000, widow of Zarephath, 2 Kings 4:43 Elijah feeds 100, widow's oil in 2 Kings 4)

Day 15 - God is mighty, as seen through his ability to heal the human body (LOTS of examples in gospels of healing blind, lame, lepers, etc)

Day 16 - God is mighty, as seen through his ability to bring folks back from the dead (Lazarus, widow's son, Jairus' daughter; as the ultimate example of power discuss Jesus' resurrection from the dead as well) 

Day 17 - God is mighty, as seen through his power in unlikely victories (David and Goliath, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Joshua and Jericho, etc) 

Day 18 - God is mighty, as seen through his control over conception, children and life (Abraham and Sarah in Genesis, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Hannah with Samuel, Jer 1:5, others) 

Day 19 - God is mighty, as seen through miraculous virgin birth (Jesus - Matt 1, Isa 7:14)

Day 20 - God is mighty, as seen through his power to live a sinless life (Jesus - 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, Heb 4:15)

Day 21 - God is mighty, as seen through his forth-telling of the future through prophecies (Isa 41:21-23, Isa 46:9-10, Acts 3:24 and hundreds of examples of prophecies that were fulfilled in Bible times)

Day 22 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over the stars and heavenly bodies (Isa 40:26, Psalm 147:4, Amos 5:8, Job 38:31-33)

Day 23 - God is mighty, as seen through his power to re-create a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21, Isa 65:17)

Day 24 - God is mighty, as seen through the creation of His Bible (2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16, Joshua 1:8)

Day 25 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over demons (Luke 8:30, Mark 1:34, Matthew 12:29)

Day 26 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over Satan (Luke 10:19, Luke 22:31, Job 1, end of Revelation)

Day 27 - God is mighty, as seen through his ability to turn evil into good (Gen 50:20, Romans 8:28, Acts 3:17-18)

Day 28 - God is mighty, as seen through His ability to judge the world (Acts 17:31, Psalm 9:8, 1 Cor 3:12-15, 1 Peter 4:5, 2 Tim 4:1)

Day 29 - God is mighty, as seen through his power over kings and kingdoms (Prov 21:1, Pharoah's heart was hardened by God multiple times in Exodus 4 though 14, Deut 2:30, 1 Sam 16:14-16, 1 Chronicles 29:12, Daniel 4, Psalm 2:1-4, John 19:10-11)

Day 30 - God is mighty, as seen through his power to save and redeem (Zeph 3:17, Heb 7:25, Dan 3:17, Psalm 136, John 3:16-17)

WOW! What a mighty God we serve! 
Let's remember and never forget!

Sunday Best


My three little ones in their Sunday best. 

And one of my oldest daughter, looking so grown-up and beautiful! She's been requesting that I braid her damp hair before bed, after she's showered. This way her hair has some body and wave to it in the morning. She's starting to care a little bit more about her appearance, hair and clothes. Inching her way closer to adulthood...

Love, love, love being a mom to these children!

Homeschool Co-op


Once again, we are at the end of our homeschool co-op fall semester. I think this was our 5th semester participating in Home Grown Hearts. In the above picture, most of the 125 children who participate in our co-op are on the stage reciting this semester's memory verses (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

What a blessing this group has been in our lives! My kids enjoy the friendships with other homeschooled kids, as well as learning through the great classes they offer. 

This semester, my 11-year-old daughter took Sewing, 3-Dimensional Crafts, Gym and Sign Language. In the above picture, she is showing off the 4 projects she sewed this semester: a pin cushion, a pillow, a bag, and a hat. 

And here she is showing off some of her 3-D crafts - paper mache, juggling balls, and more. What creative and fun ideas (right up her alley and WAY more than I can come up with and execute)! This is one of the many benefits of a co-op: my children can learn from others who excel in areas where I don't (like sewing or crafting). 

My 6-year-old son took Gym, A Trip Around the World (topic was cultures), Dr. Seuss and Music. 

While they were busy in their classes, I was helping in the nursery, along with my baby girl. For one hour, I also led a prayer group this semester, which is basically a small group with 3 other moms. We spent time praying for one another, for our children, for our nation. We saw one mom share about a battle with depression and anxiety. She was encouraged and admonished by the others in the group. She humbly received the council as from the Lord and then took numerous steps of obedience for His will. Within weeks, her health concerns were gone and her relationship with her husband was beautifully restored. Praise God!

There is something so amazing about living life with others who share your core believes and values, and then to see the Body of Christ truly functioning as a body... how blessed we are to be a part of it all! 

Baby Girl is 11 Months Old


Baby girl has reached another milestone - turning 11 months old!

At 11 months she: crawls very efficiently, belly off the ground now; loves to walk with her walker (slowly and tentatively still); eats mostly table food and doesn't like baby food from jars any more; speaks Mama, Dada, and Book as well as lots of other jabber and jibberish. 

What a delight this girl is! Looking forward to celebrating her first birthday next month.

A Dog Party


This week marked a first for us - we attended our first dog party. Our neighbor Liz threw a party for her dog Lola. 

This party was quite the event, complete with party hats (for all people and dogs in attendance), a party dress for Lola, cookies to decorate with dog bone sprinkles, dogs showing off their tricks, games (such as rolling a ball into the doghouse), and the opening of gifts given to Lola. Liz also provided food and snacks, for both human attendees and canines.

My kids have a special relationship with Liz and her dog Lola. Because we homeschool and are home during the daytime, Liz will often invite my kids to go on a walk with her and Lola during the day. As long as they have been diligent with their daily tasks, they are permitted to go with her and enjoy the time outside. 

Liz has also provided my oldest daughter with her first "real" money-making job. You see, Liz is a recent college grad who works in the nursing field at a local hospital. When she works during the day, she will ask my daughter to take care of Lola's meals. My girl has taken this responsibility very seriously and loves Lola. 

My baby girl loves Lola too. She gets very excited when she sees dogs, but especially Lola. She stands at our front window, bobbing up and down whenever neighbors walk by with their dogs.

So, thank you, Liz, for a fun party and for giving my kids a chance to be dog-caretakers vicariously :-)

Blanket Forts


My kids LOVE to build blanket houses, blanket forts, blanket RVs. This one has been up for a few days at our house, which provides a perfect place for the kids to play and sneak off to and even read (they have a battery-powered lantern in there). They make use of nearly every blanket or bed-sheet they can find, as well as the couch, piano bench, large card table and kid-sized card table. 

Even baby sister likes to play this way... for about one minute before she gets too scared to be inside there!

Fun times and memories in the making!

Adopted Grandparents


Last weekend we had Greg and Ruth over. 
They are very distant relatives, but we treat them like adopted grandparents. They have no children of their own, so they gladly love on ours! 

We had a "chili cookoff" of sorts. They brought their favorite chili and we prepared ours, so everyone could taste both. We also had cornbread and hot dogs (for those non-chili fans) and a delicious pumpkin roll for dessert. 

Dad and Greg talked family genealogy, which is how we discovered our relationship to Greg and Ruth a few years back. Then Greg was overtaken by the two older children who played with his hair. Oh my... pigtails and all! I won't embarrass him by posting pictures here! :-)

Then, Greg was subjected to reading Dr. Seuss books which left his tongue feeling like rubber, I'm sure. Some of those books are just full of hilarious tongue-twisters!

Ruth played a few games with the older kids and then rocked our baby girl.

Family... what a cool idea! 

Homeschooling: Why I Love our Library


We are not a family who gets sick very often. However, we've been sick lately. I've been battling a cough and cold for about 3 weeks. My kids have caught it in the last few days too, causing us to take a few "sick days" off of school. 

My husband, who is a librarian at our local public library, reminded me that our library now has "hoopla." Hoopla is a digital library where you can check out music, videos and audiobooks. It's just like checking out a DVD or CD from the library except that you can do it from home. All you need is a library card and the internet.

So my kids recently have enjoyed watching some kid videos like Curious George and Veggietales while they've been sick on the couch. 

Easy. Free. And we didn't have to leave the house. Perfect!

Thank you, hoopla and our local library, for making my life a little bit easier as I nurse my kids back to health!

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month


Today marks 2 years since my third miscarriage. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. So for those reasons, today I'm remembering my three "other" children - those in heaven already. 

Grant David. Hope. Isaac. 

I can say that I am healing. 
Two years ago I was a mess and at a difficult place with God. I could not understand His purposes in the miscarriages and suffering I was going through. One year ago I was nearing my due date with a healthy pregnancy. And this year I am keeping up with my busy 10-month old daughter, who doesn't afford me a lot of time to sit, think or reflect. 

But I am at a better place emotionally. Although October is always a dark, dreary month to me, I have been able to see more bright spots this year. I have been able to enjoy some of the beauty.  My focus is shifting. 

And I am at a better place with my Lord. I have stopped asking why. I will never know why. Yet time and perspective allow me to see at least a glimpse of good that has come from my suffering and pain. And having a baby in our home has helped bring healing too. 

So I am remembering my other three. 
I am still sad. I still miss them. 
I still long to see them and hold them. 
But I am also smiling at my baby girl's antics, 
and my 6-year-old son as he almost swallowed a tooth that fell out, and at my beautiful 11-year-old daughter as she roller-skates in the driveway to soak in the last sunshiny warmth of these fall days.

God is good, all the time, because that is His nature. 
He can be nothing else. 
So when He appears to be something else, it is my perspective that is flawed, not His nature. 

1 Corinthians 13 - Now we know in part, but when perfection comes, then we will know fully. 

Until that day, when I can hug and kiss and smile at them as we walk together on those streets of gold, I remember and look forward to the day of truly meeting my other three children.

Baby Girl - 10 Months


In just a few more days this little darling will be 10 months old! 

She is quite mobile now, crawling everywhere. Her crawl is mostly an army crawl, though, with a few occasional belly-off-the-floor moves. She pulls up on furniture but is still unsteady on her feet. No first steps have happened yet, but we're watching for them.

She's been in her own crib in her own room now for a few weeks. That is going great! She is often sleeping through the night without waking at all. Every few nights she gets up once just to keep me on my toes! I find that my body has adjusted to not needing as much sleep as I used to (say, a year or more ago) so I've been spending an hour reading before bed each night. What a luxury! 

She got her first two teeth recently. She enjoys baby food but especially likes to gum up cheerios and soft cooked veggies like broccoli and green beans. 

She says "mama" and seems to know what she's saying. Same with "dada."  She says words that may be names for brother and sister, but we're not sure. She waves good-bye. She loves to clap and patty-cake. 

This girl LOVES dogs. She goes crazy when she sees dogs in our neighborhood and after they've passed by, she cries. We're sticking to our guns, though, and NOT getting a dog any time soon. She'll have to be content with seeing all of the dozens of dogs that live in our neighborhood as they are out and about.

We love you, Little Miss, and are loving these precious days with you!

Baby Girl Gets Teeth


This baby girl got some teeth this week! 
The first one popped out on Monday 
and its twin showed up today.

You probably can't see the teeth in the pictures, 
but you can see her happy smile clearly! 

Love this little lady! 

The Classics


Classic Literature. Sounds like a college English class. But I've been reading through some classics lately and have been challenged by the process. 

My husband found a great 14-volume set of condensed classic books for free. Who can pass up free!?! Not us! So we incorporated these onto our bookshelves and I began to work my way through them. Although they are "condensed" each story is still 100-300 pages in length, which still gives the feel of reading the classics.

So far I've read...
Treasure Island 
David Copperfield 
The Call of the Wild
Madame Curie 
The Scarlet Pimpernel 
The Good Earth 
Robin Hood 
The Story of Helen Keller
My Friend Flicka
Horatio Hornblower
Jane Eyre
Abe Lincoln Grows Up 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Great Cases of Sherlock Holmes

I still have another 40 or so titles to get through. I find it takes me about 1-2 weeks per title, so it'll be a while before I finish the entire set. But what a treasure these are! So many of these are well-known classic titles, but have you actually read them? I recognize titles but have only read a handful of them, and even those were in high school English class. 

My favorites thus far were the Sherlock Holmes cases (which were fascinating, what incredible observation skills Holmes has) and the Scarlet Pimpernel (which reminded me of the 1990s movie True Lies - where a wife is unsuspecting that her husband is leading a double-life performing dangerous government-related missions). Both of those were stories that I'd gladly read again and again.

Least favorites would include The Hunchback of Notre Dame  and The Good Earth (both of which seemed to lack a point or moral or lesson in any way).

Robin Hood surprised me since it was similar at the core to the Disney version I remember from my childhood but many details were different from that version or the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Kevin-Costner movie I remember. Treasure Island was a good read, though somewhat bloody in battle scenes, which makes it a good "boy" book (note to self for my son's future reading material).

Alone (which tells the story of Richard Byrd who spent 5 months all alone manning a weather station in the Antarctic) and Madame Curie (the story of Pierre and Marie Curie's discovery of Radium) were both inspirational stories of real life heroics in the scientific field.

So here's to the classics... and actually reading them! 

Inside and Outside


My baby girl.

9 months inside the womb 
and now 9 months outside the womb 

For her 9 months inside the womb, she was restless and moved and kicked a lot. During her 9 months outside the womb, she continued to be restless and generally hasn't slept well and kicked a lot. 

For her 9 months inside the womb, she was fed by my body. During her 9 months outside the womb, she continued to be fed almost entirely by my body. I thank God for the opportunity to nurse her, as I was unable to do so with my other children. 

For her 9 months inside the womb, Mama was her favorite person. During her 9 months outside the womb, Mama remains her favorite person. However, Daddy and brother and sister are all in the running now! 

How we love this little girl! 
How easily she has come to be a natural 
irreplaceable part of our family! 
How uniquely and beautifully 
each family member has embraced her. 

We continue to thank the Lord for this happy and healthy baby girl. What a blessing!

Baby Girl


A few recent pictures of our baby girl, nearing 9 months old.

Time with big sister

Sniffing a flower from our garden

Sitting with mama

With Grandma K in Wisconsin

Baby girl enjoying some outdoor swing time

Growing, growing, growing up. 
Loving, loving, loving it!