Saturday, September 29, 2007

The best thing ever!

I've never done well with the grocery shopping method of walking the aisles planning my week's meals by seeing what looks good at the time. I hate the pressure of getting enough food or remembering everything I need without running back and forth across the store. Ughhh, even thinking about that makes me anxious!

Since we have a family of six, I can rarely just throw something together, I just don't keep enough of any one item on hand to feed us all a real meal. So, I make a weekly menu of lunches & dinners, then make my grocery list from my menu plan. I usually put the ingredients in a rough order with the flow of the store. I hate this weekly chore! Thinking of meals to make, thinking about all the ingredients gets soooo old week after week.

So, I was listening to Dave Ramsey the other day and there was an ad for e-mealz, which does everything I just described for you-except they do it better! They vary the meals so an not to repeat them, and they are seasonally appropriate! Also, on the shopping list is the price, so you know about how much you'll be spending. They try to keep it around $80. They have several options to choose from, like family or couple plans, points plans (for weight watchers), low fat, etc. Oh, and they're dirt cheap-$15 for 3 a months subsription!

I used it today for the first time and although in the future I'll take more time before shopping and probably adjust a few meals for out tastes, I love the idea of serving easy, good dishes without all the planning. If you're interested, you can check them out through the button on my sidebar.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Why am I blogging?

A friend's dh asked why all these bloggers would even want to write this stuff anyway...and I think I've talked about my theory on why blogging is so hot right now. We've lost the community in our fast paced, electronic world of text messages and emails, automated services and online shopping. Blogging has taken the place of the front porch of yesterday.

But today I blog for another reason. After my blue year after Jay was born, I guess I've been prone to getting down and/or overwhelmed. Today is one of those days. I just have so much in my brain, some of it are questions best left inside, but they still eat at me. I need to go to my husband and pour it out on him, but I can't do that, he's sleeping. So, I'm needing a place to get it out-that spot is the blog today.

I'm reading Island of the Blue Dolphins to the girls and just as it did when I read it as a kid, it makes me feel down and strange. I think it's the lonliness she faced, coupled with the shear primitive survival issues-like making weapons and killing animals for food. Anyway, back to the lonliness-I hate lonliness. I have a great group of friends, but sometimes I still feel alone-probably because in all the day to day things, it's just me.

I want someone to say the following things to: "Please stir the pasta on the stove." Or, "Could you answer the phone?" Or, "Hey, want to run and get a movie for tonight?" I'm sure Shane would like that, too-to be available for me, to be around to watch a movie. When he is home and awake, he gladly does all those things for me, without me even asking, but there are only a few hours during the week that he's awake and at home while we're home. Even doing things I really like, like going to Life Group, become a strain when I have to do it alone. I'm really hating the night shift right now, even though on good days I sing its praises.

I know its just the stage, but having a mobile 1 yr old who likes to explore, but is too young to put all the pans away she pulls out, along with 4 year old who is learning all the great techniques to avoid her responsibilities makes a house that is forever cluttered--usually with all those little toys that don't really belong to anyone but no one will let me toss out. I know you have those, too, I just have no idea where they come from, amen?

I'm posting this so if any of you are struggling, you know you are not alone. All of us have hard things to do-mine is homeschooling while working part time and feeling single (waaaaay single now that football season has started-I'm not both a law enforcement widow and a football widow!). Shane's is working in a hard-core rough environment where he's cussed at, threatened, occasionally assualted, and undervalued-oh, and then he goes home to a wife that doesn't like it when he relaxes infront of the football game :). Anyway, we all have our issues-don't buy into the lie that everyone else has it all together. They don't.

Perservere. Hang in there. A great scripture: "It came to pass..."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A typical day in our homeschool-long post ahead!

There's this myth in the hs world that many of us buy into: that all other hs moms have it all together, everyday. They have a clean house, wake up early to do their devotions, excericse, cook a great breakfast, then start school with liquid movements and no chaotic moments or start-and-stop, jerky transitions. Well, let me dispel that myth with a look at our day.

I woke up at 7:00 with the alarm and had my breakfast and coffee while reading James, chapter 4 (again, in prep for Life Group tonight). Out of nowhere pops Hope, who should still be asleep-and if by chain reaction, Jay wakes up too and we hear her over the monitor. Jamie is supposed to be here any minute with Adri (her 1 yr old who comes over several days a week). Jaybird really wanted to be back in bed, she only woke up to nurse. Adri gets here and her mom said she was tired, so I put her back to bed, then crawled back into my comfy bed with Jaybird--planning to stay awake...which didn't work so well-I woke back up a bit before 10am!

So, up I go, gathering kids with me, prompting them to the table for school. Hope had fallen back to sleep and was not planning to get up! Ash worked on her math while we waited a bit on Hope.

Meanwhile, I get a phone call from some man who sounded only slightly like Shane. I could barely hear him but we basically went around in circles until he asked me what I was doing and I said, "teaching school" (trying to give the hint that I needed to go), he muttered something and I asked him who he was (finally figuring out I didn't have a clue who this was) and he asked if I had a cigarette. I hung up. I hate calls like that-I'm some kind of magnent for them, too.

Shane came home, and this brings a time of disruption as everyone has to hug him and see if there're any leftover goodies in his lunchpail. We set back down to school; I'm trying to get through Matthew 6 with Jay on my lap (while she's trying to crawl up on the table!). My phone rings again-this times it's my cell and could be a client calling, so I check it. Its not a client, but another 4-H mom who I needed to talk to about an upcoming 4-H contest, so I took a minute, reluctantly, to talk to her.

When I'm ready to come back, Shane is pulling Hope's tooth and everyone has pretty much forgotten about what we just read in Matthew! Jay goes down for a nap with Daddy and I let Hope quickly call each grandma to tell them the lost tooth news.

It's about lunch time, when we need to be winding up school, but we're just now able to really get started! We sit back down and finish Matthew-but only 3 verses into it, Hope announces that Adri needs a diaper change. I finish reading our 15 verses assigned today, change Adri, and decide it's Adri's nap time. Ash takes Adri and her reader to the bedroom while I work on language arts with Hope. Hope isn't happy initially about one of the assignments, so I have to redirect her, then she's excited about making words with her flash card letters. We finish up as Ash gets back in. Ash and I discuss denotation/connation and then analyze synonyms to see how words with the same definition can have a different "feel" to them.

Lunch break-it's about 1, so I make macaroni & cheese. While the water is boiling and the noodles cooking, I read our science book. We review the layers of a tree, then move on to the new lesson of identifying trees. We take a break to eat, then I read Window to the World (a prayer guide for tribes and peoples throughout the world) to them while they finish their food.

Somewhere during this time, I give Hope a spanking for yelling at her sister to "get away and leave me alone" several times. I changed 2 poopey diapers, and my brother in law calls.

Since he's one of my favorite people and doesn't call often/talk long, I answered--also he was calling on Shane's cell, and Shane was asleep, so I felt I needed to answer in Shane's place. Anyway, he just needed to ask an internet related question, I helped him, we visited briefly and that was it--and he said he didn't prank call me this morning, lol.

Jay woke up, too and Ash fed her some macaroni while I read Island of the Blue Dolphins out loud to them. Hope stopped me midsentence and asked if I'd teach her to knit (I don't even know how), as she was playing with some yarn and 2 pencils, lol. I'm sure her mind was totally in the game! At 2:45, we read the last paragraph of chapter 7 of Torches of Joy-leaving chapter 8 for another day. My patience is tried, my voice is going, and I'm grieving the full afternoon I thought I'd have to tackle some other projects (laundry, dishes, and organizing our financing).

We'll finish the afternoon with dishes, independent school work (for Ash), straightening up, taking care of the babies, and getting ready for Awana and Life Group. We'll go to our evening activities, come home and get ready for bed, then start is all over tomorrow, hopefully getting started on time, since I'll have to work in the afternoon.

I guess I should shower now, since it is 3:00! Oh, but now both babies are up from their naps, so maybe it's not the best time...ahhhh wouldn't homeschooling be so much easier if we didn't have any kids? lol.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Botanical Gardens & The Zoo!

After about four hours of sleep, Shane and I met up with his family for a big day with the kids. Fueled up on coffee, we somehow mangaged to get through the day still friends at the end :)

Our first stop was the Botanical Gardens where we strolled through most of the gardens, met a snake, and took some fun pictures. The girls loved exploring and each new flower bloom had them in awe. God's creation is wonderful! It was really neat to see the gardens after studying in Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation through Botany book. We had just studied about the anatomy of trees and then could explain to Uncle Scott how a hollowed out old pecan tree could still be alive.

We had a nice picnic in the gardens...nice except that I was so exhausted and was irritable because the water bottles had not been put in the ice chest...lesson learned-no girls' nights before big trips!

Our little family took off for the zoo, leaving Shane's mom, grandmother, brother & his girlfriend to explore more gardens. Shane and I would have rather come on home, but we persevered and after spending $50 to get in, decided we'd get our money's worth, lol!

The best moment for me was during the minitrain ride back to the gate. There had been no views of animals from the train until the very end when we came upon a group of flamingos. Bethany saw them and excitedly said, "I didn't know dem were dunna be dare!" Look at her face!

Here is one of my favorites: It's Shane's Grandma:

Jaybird's baby legs:

Ash exploring

Hopey...Save me Tarzan!

Sisters at the natural spa

One more of Jay's feet...with prints!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Peer Pressure

This is my new blog. I have a new blog because all of my friends have a blog on Blogger.

Truthfully, I've been thinking of starting a new personal blog over here b/c now that I've started one for the homeschool group I'm in, I've seen how much easier customizing is over here than at At hsblogger, you have to know about weblog tags and html. Here, you just fill in the blank! I love it! Also, the HS blogger site is harder to navigate b/c it's unorganized.

I didn't do it sooner b/c I have issues with blogger. I like the safe world of hsblogger. I don't like at all the horrific pages blogger allows. I don't know if I'm a stumbling block to someone by having a page here-if they come see my blog, then hit the button to see the next blog and it's a perverse blog (I've stumbled on to 2 in just a few times of hitting that botton).

I asked Shane what he thought and he assured me that if I'm posting in purity that I'm not being a stumbling block...I guess there's plenty of smut out there and it's easy enough to find without even hitting that button.

I've moved a few of my defining blog entries over from my old site, but if you're bored and want to read that blog, it's

Let me know you found me over here!

Our Family Planning Stand

Because we have this girl gang, I am constantly asked by strangers if we are "done". The short answer is this: I don't know.

The very long answer is this (the last paragraph is a very short summary, lol) :)

I don't know, and I'm really wanting you to not walk away and snicker if I admit I'm considering what life would be like if we had one more. Some days I think I want one more and some days I think I'd like to give one or two away, lol!

You may be surprised to know that we aren't "quiver full" which means we'll have as many children as our bodies produce, thus saith the Lord. Now, I know some QF families and I have much respect for them and their convictions. I cheer for them out in this materialistic world they're butting heads with. But, we've not come to those same conclusions. We believe that God speaks to us about family size in more ways than by just allowing us to become pregnant (or not). We feel he can speak to us through scripture, through prayer, through circumstances and any way he pleases, just like he does all the time when He tells a family they're to go to the mission field or to move or to start a ministry or whatever. A person called to the mission field does not just buy a random plane ticket and fly to an undisclosed location saying the Lord will fly him wherever he's supposed to go, so why would God only expect us to determine our family size by the operation of our bodies? I know God opens and closes the womb, but he also speaks to us. I think God is big enough to do both and we don't have to understand it.

That being said, we do not believe in contraceptives that could be abortifacients (all hormone based contraceptives can possibly allow conception but then not let the uterus sustain that tiny baby's life, causing the baby to be lost usually without the mother ever knowing she was pregnant). I know there's debate over this, but for our family, we aren't taking any risks.
We've used Natural Family Planning or Fertility Awareness Method (NFP/FAM) for our entire 12 year marriage. I'm not super diligent all the time, but I know how to be if I want to be. Right now, I want to be, FYI ;) DH is fully on board with all this.

So, no I did not get "fixed". I hate that phrase. It ought to be in the "You Might be a Redneck Book". Dogs get fixed. As of right now, we've not made a permanent decision. I listened to a great tape series called A Biblical Approach to Family Planning with Dennis Rainey from Family Life. It had a great description of abortifacients and a good discussion on vasectomies and tubals. In my heart, I don't feel it's what God intended, especially for young families. I guess I'm almost QF in that I feel it's sad when families say they only want one child and she had her tubes tied. They just don't know what they're missing. However, I also believe there is a time when it is necessary to consider this route, but I'm not sure exactly when that is other than obvious health risks related to getting pregnant. I'm not sure we won't ever choose this route, but not right now.

Okay, so after that dissertation, do I still want more dc? Maybe. Sometimes just after the baby was born, my husband and I would both feel someone was missing from our family. I don't feel this as often now. I think the further I get from the current baby's baby days, the more the desire will grow. I'm not a baby person, exactly, so I can't explain it...I just don't know if I feel "done" or not.

Some days I do feel very done. When my life is chaotic or the girls are at each other's throats. But that's a flesh reaction.

Some days I want more. But usually its because I've discovered so many cool slings I want a chance to wear them all! That's a flesh reaction, too. Sometimes I think of my labor with #4 and how short it was and I want to experience that again. That's an insane flesh reaction. Just one of those mothery things that happens after you deliver a baby-your brain cells leak out with the placenta.

So, whatever we choose, it'll be okay. I have a superb dh who takes good care of me. If I have another baby and go all psycho again with some mild depression, we'll get through it. If we call it quits, we'll be okay, too. I'm not sure I'll be okay much longer with all the silly comments people are some:

"Boy you have your hands full". Actually, this one doesn't bug me, but it bugs a lot of big families. It's just a convesation starter, cut people some slack.

"Are you done yet?" Really it's none of your business, especially if you're a stranger. If you're my friend, you already know you can ask me anything, so this doesn't apply to you.

"You did get fixed didn't you?" This one really bothers me. I just smile really big and say, "No." It kind of leaves people wondering. What really gets me is when Christians have this attitude. Think about it-is it really pro-life to suggest to someone they shouldn't have any more dc? Why can't Christians be fully pro-life and encourage big families? Don't you think we catch enough flack from the rest of the world? Ick.

Okay, so that's my longest post ever and all it really said is: We use NFP and we don't know if we're done. Oh, and I might add that if we aren't done, please don't give me a hard time, that's what I fear more than not being able to feed/clothe/send my child to college.

More on our Philosophy

I have spent some time talking to a frustrated homeschooling mom of two young boys. She's new to homeschooling and has made it known that she needs help. You see, she, like many new homeschool moms, is tied up in traditionalism. She and her dh think they need to do it "by the (text)book". As in the public school text book. They have set up "school at home". I don't fault families for doing this, it's only natural to do what you know. But what if we what we know simply doesn't work? Sometimes we have compliant children and we don't even know school at home (not to be confused with homeschooling) is second best.

Let me illustrate: With school at home, the school day looks like this:
The children enter the school room and sit at their desks. Mom has her own desk. The pledge is said every day (after all, it's said in public school every day). A Bible story might be read, after all, it is homeschool. But then, quickly back to the public school style: A history lesson is read from a dry (and possibly biased at best, liberal at worst) history book. A fill in the blank workbook page or two follows. Now it's time for reading. Students read their passage, only an portion of the real story mind you, from a workbook. More fill in the blank questions. And so it goes with the rest of the day's studies-science, health...each subject. Mom would like to join in the kids' games in the evening but she's so bogged down in grading all those worksheets and preparing for the next day that she can't. And she resents it.

Okay, here's my totally objective, not-biased-a-bit-view of a better way to do things:

We join around the dining room table. Our school books shelf is behind me. It's filled with great chapter books, hands on math supplies, and a few workbooks. I have the day's books stacked in front of me, with a colorful pencil can beside them (do you know how many times we lose our pencils in one school day?!). Ash and Hope sit to my right and left, respectively. Beth is playing around us or coloring at the other end of the table. Jaybird is napping or playing nearby.

We start with a Bible story, after all this is homeschool. We then discuss the lesson and pray for our school day. We used to say the pledge, but they all know it now, so we don't. We move into our math text books (see I can use a text book!). I help them get started and make sure they are progressing well. When they've done a few pages (Hope has done about 10-she loves her math books!), we read science together. We're doing Apologia's Elementary science and love its Charlotte Mason style. So we read and discuss the very fun botany lesson while the girls dictate "notes" from the reading. Hope draws a picture about what I'm reading while Ash writes out definitions and examples she wants to remember. She likes this part and started it without my prompting. Sometimes we have easy activities to do-like see how far two different wind-dispersed seeds can go.

Two days a week we focus on our history reading. For Ash this is a lively textbook (gasp!) from the famous Landmark books. Sonlight supplements this text with many historical fiction books. Ash reads hers on her own during her down time and I read the read alouds in the evenings. For Hope, its an Usborne book on past culutures (what they ate, how they worked, where they lived...).

The other two days of the week, we focus on Language Arts. Both girls have a passage (or words for Hope) to dictate and answer questions about, which we sometimes do orally. We also do creative writing assignments and Ash just started a research project. Somewhere in there I do a quick spelling lesson with Ash. Girlie now reads me a little story and she reviews her letter sounds and simple grammar lessons.

This is all finished in about 2 hours-give or take. Whatever we do, you can bet there's a lot of discussion so I can make sure the information is in there.

I don't believe in school that makes kids sit at a desk (or table) all day filling in worksheets. I think children should be children and enjoy their play. I think they should be challenged to do big things-build big forts, enter 4-H contests, write encouraging notes to people who need a friend, drill their math facts, read chapter books (not twaddle, either--good, rich, well written, stimulating literature), and memorize scriptures.

I'm not an unschooler--we have structure. But I am relaxed (compared to the mom in the first scenario). SL is challenging and our entire family loves it. I don't think education should be boring. I think it should be enjoyable. That will teach our children to be life-long learners! That's what I want-a child who grows up not knowing everything, but who enjoys the challenge of learning something new. God may call my child to do something I could never teach her--but she'll have confidence in herself that she can learn anything she wants, and even enjoy doing it.
These are precious years I'm investing in my daughters' childhoods. I want them to be filled with memories of cozy evenings curled up on the couch reading great literature, not frustrating days of fill in the blank worksheets.

What has shaped my view?

Sonlight Curriculum
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
and Charlotte Mason Campanion by Karen Andreola

Why and How we Homeschool

As I see friends around me struggle with the decision to homeschool, I'm thankful that the decision came easily for Shane and me. I have taken that for granted until now. The earliest I can say that we were thinking of homeschooling was when Ash was a toddler. I am forever a planner, so I had written down a five year plan (okay my choatic friends, laugh away!). In this plan, I wrote out that I'd be finished with college, dh would be in college (this didn't happen way back then!) and that Ash would be in private school or homeschool. I found this five year plan a few years ago, and it was fun to see what I was thinking back then. We were dirt poor and there was no private school except for a tiny one ten minutes away (its nolonger there btw).

As I worked as the Director of a pregnancy resource center (not the same one I'm at now), I came in contact with quite a few homeschool families. I had probably made up my mind that we'd homeschool before we opened that center in 2001 (Ash turned 4 that year), since I bought used A Beka PreK curriculum from one of my volunteers. I don't even remember talking to Shane about it, although I know we must have talked about it a lot (you see, I analyze and talk to him about a whole lot of things, many of which he wishes I'd call up a girlfriend about, lol). He's so laid back and a tad overprotective, so that's probably why we were on the same page very early in our homeschooling journey.

We have always felt that in order to train our children with purity, with sound doctrine, and with high educational standards and a love for learning, we'd need to homeschool. I'm not against the public schools, per se, I'm really just very for homeschooling! We enjoy having our children home, learning naturally as we talk throughout the day. Learning doesn't only occur when our school books are open! But learning academics isn't all there is to it, either. We want our children to enjoy being children-to play "pretend" as long as they desire. We want them to be able to indulge in learning a new skill-even if it takes up an entire afternoon (we don't want them to be limited by school bells). Shane works nights and since we homeschool, he can see the girls in the mornings before he goes to sleep and in the early afternoons when he wakes up. It just flows with our lifestyle and it helps our kids love to learn.

We enjoyed A Beka's PreK, but I took some time to research other curricula while using it. I learned about unit studies and whole book styles of home education and I knew that would be great for us. I had a young lady volunteering at the Center who's mom used Sonlight with her and I checked it out--and fell in love. We have bought Sonlight every year since-starting with their K. I recently bought their preK for Hope to use. I see us using it all the way through.

I don't use all of Sonlight's materials though. When I first started out, I used their core (history, Bible, and readers), their Language Arts, and their Science. I was too afraid to veer off the SL path (who was I to make a decision on what to use?, I thought), but after I gained some confidence, I dropped their science. It uses Usborn books, which are great, colorful books, but they aren't from a Christian perspective. I don't want to edit out "millions of years ago..." and other evolutionary phrases, so we now use a very inexpensive but way better, imo, Charlotte Mason style program. Its actually Apologia Elementary Science-we're doing Experiencing Creation with Botany by Jeannie Fulbright. She talks a lot about God's hand in creation and his power. We really enjoy it.

We do use SL's LA and are quite happy. It's intense and takes some patience to adapt to--but we're very excited about the changes SL just made. They hired Dr. Ruth Beechick to advise them on revamping their program. It is now be more relaxed with more help for teachers. It is an even better program, with more natural learning and less intensity.

We have used Singapore and Miquon math in the past, but Ash had trouble with these approaches. She needs a program that demands mastery before moving on, so Math-U-See has been good for us this last year.

We use a hodge-podge of other little treasures, but the bulk of our stuff comes from Sonlight's catalog. We homeschool year round, in theory, but somehow end up doing lighter school (or no school) during the summer--we're so busy doing summer things, we just don't get in those extras! We do six weeks on, one week off. This kept us from burning out in the past and it's great for spring cleaning and other projects. We do school four days a week-we take Mondays or Fridays off depending on the plans of the week. We do school in the morning, sometimes going into the afternoon.

Someone recently asked me what my husband thinks about homeschooling and, specifically how he handles it when I introduce a change to our school. He's very laid back, as I've said, so he's not demanding about what I do. When I ask him, he says he trusts me to do what I need to do. I'm very thankful for that since I invest lots of time studying different methods and styles. He doesn't study-but he trusts me to make good decisions from what I learn.

So in a rather large nutshell, that's the basics of our school. There's more to my philosophy that I'll blog about later. Betcha can't wait. Kinda like Shane can't wait to hear me say, "There's something I want to talk to you about..."

Meet our family

Shane-My husband who has no estrogen of his own but constantly finds himself "slimed" with the hormone that floods our home. He loves being a dad to all girls-he eats it up, much to the surprise of everyone who hears we have no boys. He'd love to pass on the family name (I so don't get that), but he may just have to leave that up to his little brother. Shane worked at Boeing for about six years before he was laid off. Thanks to NAFTA, he was retrained (at no cost to us) for another career. Since he didn't especially want to be a barber or dental assistant, he chose a law enforcement degree from the small list of career paths the government offers. He's been working in this field at the county level since Christmas of 2005. He also works as a security guard for a major gas plant 2 days a week. He's a laid back nice guy who loves to dote on his girls. He's often taking them out on dates or letting them win laughter-filled wrestling matches.

Me-me-me-I'm an average homeschool mom. Not the denim jumper type...the minivan type, jean wearing, wannabe granola kind! I think too much, have issues I think no one else has, but I'm blessed. I have worked part time as a director of a pregnancy resource center and I have a BS in Family Studies. I love to read-especially Christian parenting books, homeschool books, and some fiction (Alton Gansky is a favorite). I'm a new sewer (that would be sew-er), A wanna-be gardener... I'm terribly afraid of snakes and I never follow through with my gardens so they end up full of weeds or dying of thirst. I wear my babies in a sling, co sleep, nurse until they're old enough to ask for it verbally, and I love the idea of eating whole foods and organics (but struggle follow that lifestyle 100%). We aren't full quiver, but have used there anything else to say? I am surrounded by friends who do a darn good job of making me believe they like me :) I'm blessed!

Ash-is 11! I've been a parent for oven ten years! Wow. Oh yeah, this is supposed to be about her. She is a bit of a tomboy but that is wearing off. She likes what she likes and it doesn't matter what is in style. She loves homeschooling, loves her sisters, and loves to read. She's a huge fan of Little House on the Prairie, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and anything about horses. She's been saving for a horse since she knew what one was and often has more money in her horse fund than I have in my savings account. She has a special bond with Bethany, who sleeps with her. I "buddy up" my children and Beth is Ash's buddy. Ash is very much a firstborn-she's a second mother to her little sisters and a huge help around the house.

Hope-This is my typical girl. She likes all things pink and sparkly. She's spunky in all she does. She has a tall lean body that never stops. She is gifted with hospitality and is the first to offer any guest a drink or some food. She can really serve beautifully when she wants to. She has a fierce determination that both scares me and gives me hope that she'll persevere in whatever job the Lord calls her to. She asked Jesus into her heart the summer of 2006 and I believe is trying to learn to serve him. She's bright and happy with fresh ideas and a good attitude. She loves math and likes us to read The Boxcar Children to her. She is a new reader and promises to love books as much as her big sister!

Bethany-Our tiny BB (her initials). She's five but wears a size 4. She is simply tiny for her age--but she's perfectly healthy. She's a cute brunette with bouncy little curls and blue eyes. She doesn't really like it when the big girls do school because it means they can't play with her! She does love to be read to and is enjoying her Sonlight K). BB keeps us laughing with her childish innocence and affectionate disposition. I tell her all the time that she's my favorite....five year old!

Jaika, pronounced jay' ka-I sigh big when I think of what to write. She has been a whirlwind from the start. She arrived 10 days late (in the heat of the Texas Summer!). She is miracle baby in that she was born with her cord in a knot. God saved her from it tightening. The doctor probably pulled it tight when he delivered the placenta, or God chose to keep nutrients flowing through a knotted cord. The nurses were surprised at her healthy delivery. Our L&D nurse said she's only seen one other baby born alive with a knotted cord in her ten years of L&D. We praise the Lord for her even though the transition from three to four children has been the hardest for me. Jaybird is active--she's constantly into something, but she's oh so affectionate. Oh, and she looks just like her sisters. They're clones, we've been told. I promise, I birthed every one of them!

As if one baby born with a knotted cord isn't strange enough, Audrey was born in November of 2008 via emergency C-section and, you guessed it, had a knotted cord as well. She is healthy, though and has won our hearts! We can't wait to see what kind of personality she'll develop.

Audrey was a true surprise baby. We were discussing the possibility of being totally "done" when I realized I was pregnant with her. We are so happy she's a part of our family! However, after a second C-section and complications that followed, we feel the Lord closing the door on more children. We have a peace about it, although it was a hard day when we made it permanent.

We live in the same area Shane and I grew up in. We actually live in the same house I got to play in as a child. We moved into my grandparent's home after they moved into an assisted living facility. It's a somewhat neat, but drafty house built in the 1890s; one of the oldest houses in town. Our parents and brothers live near by (there are no sisters for me or Shane, but God's given me lots of girl-friend-sisters). I work just down the street and Shane works half an hour away. We've homeschooled from the start and plan to finish out that way. We love Sonlight and will probably stay with it unless an equally incredible company comes along that would allow me to combine my children into more of a one room school house affair. We are heavily involved in pro-life ministry in two counties. We are attending in a non-denominational church we really like but have previously only been in Southern Baptist churches.

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