Saturday, October 8, 2011

Have You Seen the movie "180"?

Have you seen the movie "180"?
I watched the trailer this morning (see below) and it prompted me to want to watch the full 33 minute movie. What on earth can change all these people's minds about abortion?
If you watched the trailer and are as curious as I was you can see the full movie here:

"180" What Changed Their Minds? If the link doesn't work you can find it at

I believe I have always been pro-life but everyone seems to want to make the case about women's choice. This is an excellent video to watch people right off the streets with real strong opinions about pro-choice completely change their views.
 I have taken it one step further after reading Be Fruitful And Multiply. Nancy Campbell's book was like a 180 movie for me. She helps the reader to realize that not only are babies being aborted by the MILLIONS every year, but even more than that is the tragedy that many good couples calling themselves Christian would choose to use drugs and even permanent surgery techniques in order to thwart God's design for conceiving children.  I sadly, have done BOTH. I will never know if my use of the PILL unintentionally aborted a baby or babies. I have since asked God for forgiveness and He has healed my brokenness and not only restored my health but I am making preparations for our THIRD tubal reversal baby! God is so good. Raising children IS hard work. It takes time, sacrifice, commitment, money, etc. but none of these are good enough reasons to NOT allow God to form new life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the Life." God is all about LIFE because He IS LIFE! Our pastor and his wife have a wonderful way of retelling scripture, "When we are about God's business, He will be about our business." When we open our eyes to the harsh realities of the Holocaust and abortion, how can we not see that we too play into this picture of DEATH and destruction when we PREVENT life? How many Christians are missing today because good Christian families decided that the standard two children was "enough" I wonder?
I don't know if this is my last baby. I have given my fertility back over to the Lord where it belonged in the first place. He is the giver and sustainer of life alone. We all have a choice to make. What will your "180" be?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting It All Organized!

So what exactly should a house look like when you're homeschooling five children? Anyone? ANYONE?
I'm sure everyone's methods of organizing are different. We do what works for us and I am certainly not a very organized person! But I'm learning!

I like to have all the year's books at my fingertips, which can be difficult with a toddler who likes to keep her fingertips busy with all the books!
Here is my overly enthusiastic toddler! I call her the "reorganizer"!

One of the things I started this year was "book baskets". I got this idea from My Father's World. I picked up some inexpensive baskets at my local thrift store and use them for my boys to place many of their reading books for the year. When my son is done with a book, I can just say, go check your book basket and he can find another book. Here is our high school book basket.

A second book basket holds all our audio/visual student aids such as The Teaching Company Cd's/dvd's, Diana Waring's History cd's as well as our Apologia curriculum cd's.
A third book basket holds all our daily devotional books and my third graders reading books and work books. He knows right where to go to get his school workbooks and where to put his school workbooks back when he is done.
And because this is our life right now with high schoolers and toddlers and a new baby on the way, we've converted our changing table to a multipurpose space. A changing table with library underneath! This holds all of my 3rd and 8th graders' books for the year.

Ane here is what it all looks like put together!

A somewhat organized space. It works for us, and my husband even said it looks somewhat organized!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Curriculum This Year!

School starts tomorrow for us so I thought I would put on my blog what we are diving into this year! It should be lots of fun. I've spent HOURS pouring over curriculum and ended up going with a variety of sources to fit our needs. I was originally looking at purchasing the BJU Press DVD courses for all of my kids but read a lot of blogs that said while the material is top notch, most parents felt their kids didn't enjoy watching ALL the dvd's. I couldn't see RENTING DVD's that my kids may or may not watch. So we opted to go with several curriculum packages that offer DVD instructors that I will OWN and can RESELL at a later date when we are done with them! The DVD's do really enhance our homeschooling experience though. I am able to offer top notch "private school teachers" to my kids at affordable rates!

For preschool my little girls, (turning 2 and 4 this fall/winter) will be learning along with their older sibling for 3rd grade history and Sonlight science. They will also have their very own curriculum using a variety of soucres including Hooked On Phonics, Phonics Pathways, and Weaver Interlock Program. I also bought the Veritas Press Phonics Museum. This is just an absolutely beautiful program. We will probably take a few years to go through this program but I really like the way integrates great works of art into the alphabet and phonics program. Math will be learning through play and hands on activities. Lots of fun and make believe time too with blocks, playdough, puzzles, dress-up, sand/water table, etc.! Learning through play will be the focus but there will be workbooks too as they show interest.

We are going to be studying U.S. History and biology using Sonlight Core D with my 3rd grader. My preschoolers may join in on many of the fun activities and read alouds too!

My middle schooler will be studying World History/U.S. History with My Father's World and this will be the core for our entire family essentially. I plan to integrate the two U.S. history cores together at different points so the whole family can learn together. There are a lot of fun activities with this course, including cooking and hands on activities using Story of the World Activity Pages. This also includes an art program using God and The History of Art that I will be doing with most of the kids. The music and Bible activities we will use with the whole family. This course suggests a one year study of "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan a look at 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories. I'm really excited about that so my kids can learn about the rich heritage of hymns and how they came to be. My high schooler will learn to play the songs so we can all learn to sing along! For science he will be studying Apologia Physical Science. Math we are finally switching from Switched on Schoolhouse to Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra. My son is very excited about his new math program. We were hoping that SOS was going to be similar to Teaching Textbooks but found it to be so much more frustrating and time consuming than FUN.

My high schooler will be finishing up his credits for World History and Geography using a variety of sources,
Mystery of History , BJU World History, Around the World in 180 Days (geography course), with a variety of living books as well as Teaching Company has a wonderful DVD World History course to go alongside his textbook studies. For math he will continue with our much loved Teaching Textbooks Geometry. For science we can't wait to start Apologia Chemistry! We purchase the instructor DVD to go along with this course and find that it greatly enhances the whole learning experience. Red Wagon tutorials carries a wonderful DVD companion to the Apologia course. There will also be outside reading and notebooking/lapbooking to further enhance the course. There are a couple of sources that carry lapbooks/notebooking for Apologia. We have only used Knowledge Box Central so far and really liked the product but I am also looking at another site, similarly priced here, Live and Learn Press.
Language Arts as well as some Bible will be a literature study of World History and the History of God's Kingdom (using Sonlight's Bile core program) literature studying The Cat Of Bubastes,The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey, Julius Ceasar, The Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and other great works including The Pilgrim's Progress, The Hiding Place, Animal Farm, Heart of Darkness, The Abolition of Man, Here I Stand, The Imitation of Christ, Mere Christianity,Eric Lidell Pure Gold, What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, John Calvin, and many others. On his own, my high schooler continues to study Modern U.S. History and botany and whatever else interests him.
There will also be an in depth study of The Iliad by Homer using the Teaching Company cd course as well as an in depth study on the differences between polytheism and monotheism based around the book, The Secret of The Scribe. More work in Wordly Wise vocabulary books and 10th grade compostion with Writing Strands and Writer's INC.
He also is working through Rosetta Stone for Spanish and Learn and Play the piano DVD's.
I also have a physical education curriculum to follow so my high schooler can get a 1/2 credit for.
Chemistry 2nd Ed. Exploring Creation with 2-Book SetPhew! I know there's more we will do, this is just what I have plotted so far. I hope we can get it all done!        The Mystery of History Volume II

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Excerpt From My Book

About a year ago I had a dream that there were birds flying over my head but as I looked closely the flock of birds were not birds, but my book. Many copies of them flying over my head. Their covers open and pages flapping like wings. It was the strangest sight and yet, in my dream, it seemed quite natural. I awoke the next morning and shared my dream with my husband. We both agreed that my book I knew I would always write was "ready to fly". My story, God's story, was ready to be told, and hopefully would "fly" off the shelves! He He!
I've been working on it on and off. Here is an excerpt from one of the chapters. Just a tease of the trauma and triumph that is what I call "my life"!

      Chapter 3

                    “Playing With Fire”

"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. If you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes."

                           Walter Schirra, Sr.

          It’s so ironic to think of where I am now as compared to the little eleven year-old girl I was back then. I feel very safe at night being married to a State Trooper and we also now have a fifteen year old son who just recently joined our local volunteer fire department. My husband and I are so proud of the man our son is becoming. When someone asked him about what he would be doing on fire calls my husband said he would be the hose dragger. I hadn’t really thought about my own son rushing into a burning building at only age fifteen. Thankfully, he is only a junior fire fighter so he won’t be rushing into any burning buildings any time soon, and long after he has had many hours of training.

“Only heroes rush into burning buildings” I thought to myself.

 I’m content to let my son be a hose dragger for now. I don’t need my son turning into a hero anytime soon. Heroes are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. When put in the right place and the right time, many heroes are born. Yet, I would never consider myself to be a hero, even though I rushed into a burning building to find my little brother. But surely I am no hero. Heroes save lives. I tried to save my brother, but in the end I didn’t. I just couldn’t get to him. I am not a hero.
It was the winter of 1985. Coming up on our third winter in our new house. We couldn’t predict the future, we could only prepare. So we tried to prepare for a big snow storm, we never planned to lose my baby brother. But on this December morning, less than two weeks before Christmas, we were so unprepared. Some days I remember it like it was yesterday. Other days it seems more like a dream…maybe more like a nightmare…that really happened to me.
A classic Nor’easter had blown up the New England coast and saddled the southern end of Maine with twelve or more inches of heavy, wet snow. I was in the 6th grade. My older sister Melissa had moved out but I still had two younger brothers, Aaron and Justin, living at home with my parents and I. Aaron was in 3rd grade, and the baby of the family, Justin, was just three weeks away from turning five years old. Our elementary school had let us out early on Friday the 13th due to the approaching snowstorm. We were so excited to be getting out of school early. Justin was happy we were home early. We went to bed that evening with great ideas for Saturday morning. We were preparing to spend the day at home and play in all the fresh snow. There was talk of building the biggest snowman ever!
I was awoken early that next morning of December 14th to the sound of my mom’s car tires spinning in the driveway. My mom was working the early shift at Denny’s and was trying to get out of the driveway. All the heavy wet snow was making it nearly impossible for my mom to get to work. Looking back we should have seen it. A sign? Unprepared.
           “Don’t go to work, Mom.” I whispered as I crawled sleepily out of bed dragging my comforter with me and made my way to my bedroom window. I watched, holding my breath, trying not to fog the window, as my dad shoveled snow out from around my mom’s car tires. He was able to free her car from the cocoon formed by the mountain of fresh snow. Soon my mother would be on her way like any other Saturday. This time was different though. My father decided to drive my mother the 30 minute drive to work. The main roads were most likely still slippery. I went back to bed excited to be able to sleep a while longer on this Saturday morning but thinking about the fun we would have in all the new snow.
 The snow continued to fall a few more hours and began to taper off as my brothers and I began to get up and get dressed. We fixed ourselves some bowls of cereal. We were used to being left alone for several hours. I was 11 and my brothers were 8 and 4.
We went through our usual routine of finding all our mittens and boots and warm weather gear. Being as it was just two weeks before Christmas and one of first big snowstorms of the winter season our new winter weather gear was still two weeks away waiting for Christmas morning. We managed to find rain boots for my littlest brother though and we headed out into the winter wonderland.
We began trying to roll snowballs in the front yard. The snow was perfectly wet and sticky for forming snowballs. My brother Aaron and I began criss-crossing the yard with our snowballs as they collected snow and grew larger and larger. The snowballs were so heavy, picking up so much snow as we went, we could see grass underneath the paths we made with our snowballs. At last we had one large snowball fit for the bottom of our giant snowman. My brother helped me roll it to a good spot to build our snowman.
My baby brother did not find all the snowball making much fun however. His feet kept getting cold inside his little rubber boots. I asked him if he had put on the two layers of socks I told him to put on before he came outside. Of course he hadn’t. His feet were soaked. So I took him back inside. I took off his boots and his feet were bright red and so cold. I felt bad I had ignored his little cold feet while my other brother and I were so busy rolling snowballs. I rubbed his feet to warm them up and wrapped him up in a blanket on the couch and prepared him a little snack and turned on his favorite cartoons. I had snowballs to roll and I was getting hot inside with all my outdoor clothing on while attending to my little brother.
 I headed back outside with my other brother, Aaron to finish our snowman. We plodded along with great effort to build this giant snowman. There was so much snow, we were having so much fun.
“I better check on Justin”, I thought as I was pushing a snowball back toward the house.
I headed inside to check on Justin and saw him quickly run back to the couch as though he had been up to something. He was a very smart, and strong little boy. He had just recently recovered from being near death’s door with pneumonia and had also ratted my brother and I out for peeking on the Christmas presents my mom had left in the back of her car covered only by a green sheet.
“That’s not the way the sheet was” was all he would say. He didn’t know that my mom had figured out that we had spied on our Christmas presents when Justin started asking questions about who was going to be getting a certain remote control car. My mom knew we had peeked on our gifts when Justin started asking questions about specific toys in the back of the car. Sadly, he would never get to play with any of his Christmas gifts that lay waiting in the back of the car.
I looked over at our wood stove and the door was open as though Justin had been poking around and stirring the fire. He always watched everything my Dad did. He was your typical four year old too, very curious and beginning to get sneaky as he learned about his world.
We never really gave much thought to the danger of playing with fire. We went to public school and every fall we had the fire fighters come in and talk to us about fire safety. “Stop, drop, and roll” was cemented in my mind from a very early age. But the real dangers of fire never set in even though we had lost our very own home to a fire just two years prior.
We were expected to help lug wood to fill the fire box and it was typical of both my brother and I to tend the fire. We felt proud we could help maintain the fire for the house to stay warm. Regrettably, my brothers and I used to play with the fire too. We would take the wooden poker stick, used to stir the wood around, and let it catch on fire, then pull it out and hold it high and pretend we were the Statue of Liberty.
 I quickly shut the stove up and accused Justin of playing with the fire. Which is what we used to do so, looking back, it shouldn’t have surprised me at all that Justin would play with the stove. I warned him angrily not to touch the stove. He just kept saying, “I didn’t. It wasn’t me.”
“You’re the only one in here. It had to be you.”
Four year olds are great at trying to hide their mistakes and trading blame with someone else. I warned him not to touch the stove again. I asked Justin if he wanted to go back outside with my brother and me but he didn’t want to get cold again. Reluctantly, I changed the channel on the t.v. to something he would want to watch and gave him some more snacks. I covered him up on the couch and once again I was beginning to overheat with all my outdoor gear on. I cautioned him one last time about the stove and headed back outside to finally finish off our giant snowman.
As my brother Aaron and I were coming close to finishing rolling our snowballs Justin appeared at the sliding glass front door at the kitchen.
“Jen, come quick!” Justin called kind of sheepishly to me.
“What!” I hollered back. I was so frustrated that he couldn’t leave my brother and I alone to finish the snowman.
“Jen, I need you. NOW! Come quickly!” Justin screamed in a much more urgent manner this time.
I decided Justin actually needed my attention so I began the long trudge through the deep snow back to the house trying to think what could possibly be so important that he needed me so desperately. No one could have prepared me for what I was about to see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Off On Another Adventure!

Here is my son leaving for his survivor camping trip this weekend. He's been pretty excited about this trip for a few months now.
Here he is with the crew. Ready to begin their journey! Here are the rough plans...they are starting out with an all day hike in Western Maine ending up at a lake. Then from the lake they will meet up with the boat and head to a camping site. Later, my husband will meet up with the them with my other sons.
I'm very happy that my husband has been able to get the time off to go on this father/son camping adventure. With me finding out we were expecting baby number 6 a month before this trip was supposed to happen, I mutually agreed to give up my part time daycare job so the extra money never was there to afford for the boys to take this trip. When my husband let the group's leader know that we weren't going to be able to do the trip because of the lack of funds, they graciously offered us a full scholarship for the boys to still go.

What a blessing because Brandon has been studying a ton of botany as well as survival information all on his own this year. I'm usually asking him if he's finished with his Algebra and he usually will respond that he's almost done with the lesson but he was in the middle of researching some cool project like how to make a pillow out of cat tails!

Bringing Brandon home to homeschool this year was quite a process. I have prayed hard that he would have a heart for home and family at a time when most teenagers want nothing to do with their families and only want to hang out with their friends. It has been an exciting year watching him develop his own thoughts and interests free from a "school's agenda". While we have the required subjects he has been free to explore God's amazing creation as he wishes. He has also taken a huge interest in playing the piano which makes my spirit soar everytime he plays. We bought a DVD piano instructor and he has learned so much from that course. Learn and Master Piano has been well worth the money we paid. They offered an incredible "buy one get one course free" last year so my other son is taking their guitar course and loving that!

But back to the packing which is my reason for writing this post today! My husband has been doing a ton of packing and really that's all it seems we've been discussing for several months now is "do you have everything you need?" With Brandon's big trip out west and now this survivor, father/son "Future Men" camping trip, there are a lot of lists and a lot of supplies we needed to either find or buy.
It had me thinking a lot back to one of my first Mom to Mom meetings I went to back when Brandon was just a toddler. The leader did a Bible study on filling our children's hearts with God's love. She told us to think about each day in our mind as though we were packing our children's bag to leave our home. What were we filling our child's "suitcase" with? It has made me pause each day to reflect on what we did that day and what my children may have come away with. What had I done wrong? How could I make tomorrow a better day? What had we done right? What did we do to enjoy our life together? How did we see God show up in our life that day? Did I use a "teachable moment" appropriately or did I waste yet another opportunity to teach my kids about God?
Because the truth is...the children grow up way too fast. Before we know it they're packing their REAL bags and the leaving is real. We are just in "trial mode" right now. Releasing our son little by little turning him off on his own on his journey to manhood.
What have we packed in his bags? Hopefully good things that will carry him forward for a lifetime. A love for adventure, hard work, honesty, integrity; love for God, family, country. Just a few things hopefully one might find packed in our son's bags!
Have a great trip Brandon! May you come away with many wonderful memories to carry with you for a lieftime!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Party of EIGHT?!!!

17 1/2 years ago my husband and I began the most amazing journey. We promised before God, family and friends our blessed marriage vows and we set out toward California with everything we owned that could fit in our "new to us" Chevy Lumina.  The entire country awaited us. Our honeymoon was driving from Maine to California where my husband's newest duty station was in El Toro, California.

We've done some amazing things together, we've seen the Grand Canyon, hiked to the TOP of Yosemite Falls, been to Niagara Falls (twice now), and as we have been blessed with children we have toured the gator filled Everglades of Florida by airboat, hiked through the Diamond Caverns in Kentucky and many other amazing trips.

We didn't set out to have this many children. My husband wanted three, I kind of wanted four, because my mom had four.

God blessed us with two amazing little boys just as we were embarking on a huge adventure into home ownership! With the help of family and friends we built our own home where we currently reside.

We started out with just a two bedroom cape with an unfinished upstairs.

In the early fall of 1999 I was running a little daycare out of my home and I came down severally ill. It turned out I had a severally infected appendix and I had to have emergency surgery, which saved my life. I had a few complications with the recovery due to infection but I survived the ordeal and my hubby chalked that one up to our "in sickness and in health" vow. He stuck by me, changing my bandages and cleaning out a severally infected wound in the middle of the night that had burst open, while I hung my head out the bathroom window!

About a year after my surgery we began talking about wanting to "try" for a girl. We knew it would have to be okay either way if we had a boy too but we decided to try again to conceive. This time was much different. I didn't get pregnant right away like I did with my other pregnancies. We waited over a year before finally consulting with a fertility specialist who ran all kinds of tests and determined I just might need a little "boost" in my hormone levels so my doctor put me on clomid. After three failed cycles of clomid, we opted for one more cycle with a stronger medication that was injectable. This also failed. I left the fertility clinic devastated. Weren't they supposed to just "order me up a baby" because I had a problem needing fixing, like with my appendix?! But modern medicine could not "fix" me so right then and there I decided to lay it all out before the Lord and let Him lead our family. The next month I found I was pregnant...all on my OWN! Without the help of fertility drugs, I had conceived another blessing from God and I didn't care if it was a boy or girl, this was my gift from God!
One meaning of my son's name means, "much wanted" for he truly was. We found out we were having another boy, a third son, and my husband felt we were complete. No little girls would ever run around in little princess dresses or have tea parties in our house. We were raising boys and that's how it was going to be. After having two c-sections and an appendectomy the thought of a third c-section scared me so much that I reluctantly agreed to have my tubes tied during the delivery of my third son. It was final. It was complete. Three boys! Who could ask for more?! My husband was so proud and I remember he even high-fived the doctor, "tied, cut and burned!"

But as I looked over at my precious little son in the cradle in the hospital something inside me began to question. "Had I done the right thing?" I didn't have any Christian people in my life telling me it was WRONG to have a tubal ligation. I was pratically a martyr for having had THREE c-sections so I was kind of entitled, right?
Two weeks later at my infant son's check-up I had already regretted my decision to go ahead with a tubal ligation. I asked the doctor how to get it reversed. He informed me that what I had done was PERMANENT and that I needed to give it some time. I would heal and move on. Yes, the procedure IS reversable BUT with only about a 60% chance of success. I was heart broken.
Over the next two years I researched alternative methods of conception including IVF. Every thought about IVF lead me away from God's design for children and marriage. Making babies in petri dishes and then discarding or freezing the "left overs"? What kind of world was I walking into? That just didn't seem right!Ultimately, through much prayer and discussion my husband leaned over one night and said to me, "I think we should take our savings and get your tubes fixed." You could have knocked me over with a feather!
I wasn't looking forward to having the tubal reversal as it was not going to be just a laproscopic procedure. It entailed a full c-section scar, "hip-to-hip", hospital stay and then I got to come home with no baby.
The recovery was painful but I continued to pray that God would heal my brokeness and bless us with another child. But I soon realized that this journey we were on was less and less about us having another baby and more and more about learning about who GOD is and what HE had planned for our lives.

Nine months after my surgery my husband was involved in a head on collision while on patrol. A lady turned right in front of  him and my husband had to be life-flighted to the nearest hospital. As my husband clung to life I was on the phone calling all my prayer warriors and the Christian school where my children were attending asking for prayer. Anne Angell (that's her REAL name) prayed right there on the phone with me that my husband would be okay. The accident was horrible and so many things COULD have happened, but God truly spared my husband's life that day.
While my husband was out of work for the next 6 months we had quite a bit of time to reevaluate our lives and the direction we were headed. Three months after the accident I found out I was PREGNANT! The tubal reversal had worked and we were being blessed after such a horrible accident! We were so excited...we told EVERYBODY! Then about a week after finding out I was pregnant I miscarried. We were devastated! How could God take this precious life from us after having suffered so much? My husband was barely out of his wheel chair and now a miscarriage?! I wanted to just crawl into a hole and die!
Thr truth is God IS good all the time and He had the perfect timing in His hands. After my miscarriage I searched the web for anything on overcoming miscarriage, and I came to the web site "Above Rubies", They were advertising a book titled, "Be Fruitful and Multiply: What the Bible Says About Having Children".
This book transformed my thinking and really brought me back to God's Word and His truths about children. How did GOD feel about us having kids? Maybe the more important question was, "how did God feel about us trying to PREVENT children?" I learned all about birth control methods and what we have done to our bodies to prevent children. I had no idea that when I was using the birth control pill I was using an abortificient drug. In other words, if I DID become pregnant my body would not be able to support the fetus so I would abort it as though nothing had happened. I would never know how many children I may have lost due to using these drugs! When I explained all of these new truths God was showing me to my husband he slowly began to come around and agreed with me. We had never been walking in step with God and His design for our lives. We were just doing what every other family was doing around us.
But we are called to be so much more! God loves us so much and He wants so much for our lives! To be blessed by God may look different than what man sees as a blessing. We decided to take a leap of faith and stand on God's word and believe that God really would like to see us have more children, IF He was ready to move and heal and forgive us for our selfish ways. We would embrace the three beautiful boys God had already given us and mourn the loss of life we would never get to hold and know this side of heaven, but we would move on and heal and trust God in our lives.

A few months later, we had some close friends from our church who had already begun homeschooling invite us to go on their field trip to Plymouth Plantation. We thought that homeschooling was nice for them but hadn't really considered homeschooling for our family. 

It was an incredible day! We had so much fun seeing our homeschooling friends learning hands on and had the chance to really get to know one special friend, Tammy Gisel. She is my rock. :)

She is the one who cemented the idea of homeschooling into our hearts! I went home and bought about $100 worth of homeschooling books on I needed to educate myself as to what I was really getting not just myself but our entire family into! My two older boys begged me to homeschool them, but I was still reluctant. I was basically going to have to GIVE UP MY life for these kids. Was I really willing to do that? (It all sounds so silly to me now, but I really thought these things!) Because what I could never have realized that in my "giving up" my life for my kids to homeschool them and train them in the ways of the Lord, I was actually GAINING so much more. The scripture found in Matthew 10:39 spoke volumes to me, "whoever finds their life will lose it, whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
So we began homeschooling after Christmas in 2006.  And just like the Pilgrims had set out and landed at Plymouth Rock to start a new life in unchartered territory we began the amazing journey of homeschooling!We were allowed to still keep the kids in their extra curricular activities at the Christian school. In doing so we also helped the school develop a homeschooling partnership with the school so other homeschooled children could come in and enjoy what our kids were already a part of. The program is going into it's 5th year now and the homeschoolers continue to be a blessing to the Christian school.
It was while we were on this new homeschooling journey, getting to know our kids more fully that I conceived once again.

 God blessed us with a precious little girl. All the desires of my heart were fullfilled! Here she is with her Daddy viewing the very helicopter that helped save my husband's life. We named her Madeline Elizabeth after Mary Magdeline and my mother-in-law whose name means "God is my oath". Only 18 months later we conceived AGAIN, another girl!

We were now doubly blessed! We named our second daughter Isabella (an Italian form of Elizabeth) and Gloria (after my grandmother which means glory-to give God the glory!) She was born around Christmas time which is extra special since "Gloria-in-excelsis Deo" is a favorite tune this time of year.

Which leads me to last week...
Our family is about to get bigger! We found out I am now pregnant with our 6th child. We are very excited and our praying for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby! I am due January 27th!
So as you can see, this pregnancy isn't really about me, it's about God and what God has done and is doing and continues to do in and through our lives. We continue to look to our Heavenly Father to sustain us through the hurts and the blessings. We praise Him even when it hurts to pray, we praise Him in the good and the "bad", because we know He is working it all out for His higher purposes.
I wouldn't trade any of these precious faces for anything in the world. They are each so unique and wonderful.

God only knew these two hearts so young and in love nearly 20 years ago had so much adventure waiting for them!

We look forward to meeting our newest addition to the family to see what God has been "knitting together in my womb"! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Westward Bound!

Our oldest son was given an amazing opportunity to travel across America with his Grandmother and Great-grandparents this Spring.

We thought it would be a great way for our son to see America and learn some history hands-on all while getting to know his family better.
They are hoping to spot some buffalo.

As well as view the Grand Teton Mountains!

We also thought it would be a great chance for him to spread his wings a bit before graduating from our humble homeschool!

I have been so excited for my son to take this trip! We've been helping him make plans for more than a month and I had not shed ONE tear over his leaving us UNTIL I found this picture yesterday! This picture was taken of him when he was only 15 months old at an air show. Here he was so little, but up in this big airplane looking out on the big wide world, seeing things from a perspective that I could not see (since I was on the ground taking the picture!) And it hit me, my son is leaving me and he's headed off to see the big wide world-without me!
As a homeschooling mom, I have taken back my children from the hands of a school allowing ME the pleasure of those little daily "aha" moments. It's the daily living and learning that we have so come to cherish. In church yesterday, the lady behind me leaned in and whispered something like, "your children are all so amazing! I love to watch how they all help each other. Even the youngest boy helps with the baby. There aren't a lot of families that really love each other like that, and it's so clear they all love each other very much. I'm sure it's not like that every day, but it's probably most days, huh?"
I was blown away by her words. All I could say was, "thank you, yes, we have some days like that, but most days are great! Yes, there's a lot of love to go around!"

Here he is having some last minute silly time with his sisters!

With that said, one might begin to understand the empty feeling we are all having now that Brandon has begun his trip! But we are not saying "goodbye", just "have a safe trip!", because "goodbye" hurts way too much and I've had my share of goodbyes this side of Heaven.

Here they are all together one last time before Brandon left.
We just bought two laptop cameras, so we're hoping to skype while he's away. That should make it easier all around. He told me yesterday that he's glad he has a camera to skype with, "at least I'll be a able to SEE you now", he said. I think that means he's going to miss me too. :o)

I realize every day how blessed I am to have been given this precious boy from God. I am so blessed to be his mom these last 15 years. He is truly a gift and a blessing and we pray God blesses his trip as he makes some amazing memories!

Have a safe trip Brandon! We can't wait to hear all about your adventures out west!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Homeschooling days...Salamander Races!

What a wonderful Monday we had homeschooling. We went outside to take advantage of the warming weather and my son asked if he could look for salamanders. I said, "sure". He ended up finding about 7 salamanders! When it was time to come inside for more school work and lunch what were we to do with all the salamanders? Why not have a salamander race?!
My son grabbed some chalk and wrote START on the pavement. Those wiggly little creatures didn't really want to comply with the rules however,  and they began to wriggle in the wrong direction!
What a fun way to wrap up our homeschooling morning! Later, we did a science experiment outdoors on evaporation. We poured water on the pavement and drew a line around the wet puddle. In an hour we were to come back and check on our evaporating puddle-and it was gone! I love seeing my kids get excited about learning. We're nearly done with Language Arts seatwork for 2nd grade so we are having fun diving into more science experiments that had been put on the back burner through the winter months.
It's nice to have this extra time with my kids and I realize I am giving them not just the gift of time with mom and dad but the gift of time with their siblings.

I told my husband that it's days like this when I feel like I was robbed. Robbed of many special moments with my kids we could have spent, when we were all in different places during the day. He agreed and thought we were doing the best thing for our family. We have difficult days when we lose sight of God's plan and stop focusing on heart issues and the whys of why we homeschool our kids, but we have many, many great days. Lots of "aha!" moments that I cherish.
I'm looking forward to the next salamander race! What are you looking forward to?!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And The Winner Is...

And the winner of my drawing for a free book, "Ethan Finds A Frog" is...drum roll please....Sabrina! Congratulations Sabrina! May you have many wonderful moments with your boys reading this cute little book!
Thank you to all for checking out my blog and participating in my fun drawing! I look forward to doing more give aways in the future as we walk this journey of homeschooling and LIFE! Have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back Yard Adventuring Give Away!

A warm Spring breeze blew across our frozen back yard a day or so ago and it got me itching for all the fun things we enjoy doing outside when the snow is gone. Like the hours upon hours my boys have enjoyed swimming at "Dobsee" or my youngest son and his cousin going frog catchin'!

So that is why I am giving away a copy of  Ethan Finds A Frog, by Guy Melcher Coffin. He is a creative artist from Portland, Maine and I was given two copies of this book by his mother a few months ago. We have so enjoyed this beautiful hardcover book! It has nicely rhyming text that tells a cute story about a boy who finds a frog and wants to keep him. I was very impressed by the writing. So many children's books these days have no rhyme to their writing and seem as though they were scribbled out in order to get to the printer. This book has heart and a great message and is also by a local Maine artist! Just leave a post below and your name will be entered into a drawing to receive this book for free! I know you and your child will enjoy this book as much as we have! Good luck!

Only One Way

My son was finishing up his maze from Diana Waring's Ancient Civilizations Elementary Pack and explained, "I did it, Mom. See, there's only one way to finish the maze. Just like to God, there's only one way to Heaven-thru Jesus." I love this kid! I love how he weaves real life examples into his spiritual life.

 "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's With Hieroglyphics!

We have really enjoyed our study of Egypt particularly since so much of the news lately has been about Egypt's current revolution. I love studying history along side current events. It makes learning so much more relevant. So today I decided we would take our art class and finish up our study of hieroglyphics and make Valentine cards, hieroglyphic style!
We started with a basic recipe from Diana Waring's, Ancient Civilizations, book.
One cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 TB oil, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 cup of dark tea water or use food coloring with water to color. Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thick. Form this mixture into a ball, caution, the dough will be very hot. Kneed for several minutes to make a uniform consistency, then roll into rectangles of 1/4 inch thickness. We used toothpicks to make the hieroglyphic symbols!
How could you not love a Valentine like this one?! This is my third son with his hieroglyphic letter. It says, "Hug me". How sweet!

Here are the rest of the Valentine's cards. Two say "I love you", one says, "Hug me", and another wasn't really a Valentine but more of a fun word-"Basketball", my son's current sport!
 We also studied God's great love for His people as He brought them up out of Egypt and finally into the Promised Land. Being that this was a holiday for "Love" it was a great way to emphasize that we only love because God first loved us. God's love is so merciful and patient, and we talked about how we can show these same qualities with our family and friends.
"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Exodus 19:4-6

We had a great time making these. I hope the kids won't forget this Valentine, bringing history and holiday together!