Wordless Wednesday: Winners

Sarah is sharing the third part of her marriage story here today.  You can go here to read part one and part two.


Hugs, Handshakes, High Fives, and Tootsie Rolls

Every week as we pull into the parking lot, they start looking for his car.  

Mauryn yells " I see it."  to any car that is the same color. But then gently Landon reminds her "No silly that is not his car."  He keeps looking until I hear " I found it Mama. He's here."

I can't get them unbuckled or across the parking lot fast enough.

Mauryn bursts through the church doors "CHARWEE!" and straight into his waiting arms.  She grabs his neck and gives him a squeeze and a smile.  When she releases from his neck, he sneaks her a tootsie roll.  She loves Charlie. Not just because he gives her tootsie rolls but because she knows he loves her.

Landon patiently waits for his turn.  Charlie always tries to grab his offering which Landon purposely leaves in his hand so they can play this game.  Then Landon gives him a handshake or high five and waits for his tootsie roll.  He giggles, smiles, and enjoys this moment of feeling special and loved.

Charlie's eyes shine with love.  He is showing my kids about God's love in his quiet way.  He is an example of how God is waiting for us with open arms, a smile, a hug, eyes filled with love, and He is waiting with some sweet, wonderful things if we are take the time to love Him and have a relationship with Him.

Thanks Charlie for being such a great example for my kids.  We love you!

* My brave, courageous friend Sarah is sharing the story of her marriage journey on her blog this week. You can read part I here and part II here.  


Her New Name

I didn't know her nine years ago when she got into "the biggest trouble of her life."

I didn't know her five and a half years ago when her marriage was about to crumble.

But I know her now.  I know her as a kind, compassionate, real, honest, loving, strong, and brave woman.   

She is someone I am blessed to call a friend.
This week she is going to share her marriage story on her blog. It is a story of hurts and heartache but more importantly it is a story of love, of redemption and of reconciliation. It is a story of how God can heal and how God can change people.  It is a story that is going to touch lives.

Sarah, I am so proud of you for sharing your story.  I love you friend! 


Recipe and a Giveaway

I might eat a chocolate chip cookie (or four) every day.

They are one of my favorite foods. Seriously.

If only they were a vegetable....

In honor of my two year bloggy anniversary I am going to share the recipe I use for chocolate chip cookies. They are soft, sweet, and a little salty. I LOVE them.  

Because I love them SO much and I am thankful for all my blogging friends,  I am going to share a little chocolate chip cookie love and send two readers their very own bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Leave me a comment about your favorite cookie or your favorite way to enjoy a cookie.  I will draw the two winners on Wednesday August 26th.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe tweaked a little bit from Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook  
1 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together shortening, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add in flour, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add chocolate chips.  Drop by spoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) onto a cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes about 3 dozen (depending on how much dough Lance sneaks from the bowl) Enjoy!

(this recipe is very similar to this one


The Challenge

The Participant:  Morgan, age 9

The Challenge: To read the entire New Testament

Why the challenge:  The last two years Morgan has participated in the bible quizzing program at our church. Last year it became a little bit too competitive and intense for Morgan, so as a family we chose for her not to participate this year.  I wanted something for her to do to keep growing in God's word. I thought this would be perfect.   I have been very impressed with her comprehension and retention of what she has read so far.  I love to see her highlighting and finding her favorite verses.  

The Reward:  Since this challenge is BIG, we decided that we would give Morgan a reward.  It is a task that neither Lance nor I have ever done -read every chapter, every verse of the New Testament.  Her reward is a ticket to see the musical Wicked when we go to Seattle.  Realistically she may not finish reading before we go to Seattle.   So Morgan has agreed to pay for her ticket and then get her money back when she completes her challenge.  The way she has been reading... she might surprise us and finish in time.  In two days she has already finished Matthew and Mark. A.maz.ing!

Thanks to Kristen at We are THAT family for the great idea!


Homeschool Part II

Go here for Part I.

Where do you have school?
I would love to have a school room.  I have tried to convince Lance to turn our office into a school room but I haven't had any luck yet.  Most days we do our school work at the kitchen table.  It works. I can be prepping things for dinner, making lunch, or baking while we are getting school work done.  I found if I am not in the room to supervise the kids tend to get distracted.  This way I can get a few things done while they are completing their school work.

this cabinet is in our piano room - i store the kids' book and my manuals in this cabinet
butler's pantry - otherwise known as the "school room" although it basically just houses materials
view from the other side of the butlers pantry
kitchen table ie our classroom

When do you run errands, clean the house, etc...?
This has changed every year mostly because of Mauryn's age and working around her napping/eating schedule.  Last year I set one morning a week to run errands - groceries, library, and Target.  It worked really well.  I prefer getting my errands done on weekday mornings because it is not as busy.  We still do our school work on those days... just in the afternoon. Once Mauryn is no longer napping we can do our errands in the afternoons and stick to getting school done in the mornings.

A key to keeping things running smoothly in our home is having a organized and clean house.  It is hard for me to focus on teaching the kids when I see dishes in the sink or floors that need to vacuumed.  I try to make sure the house is in order before I go to bed at night. I started a cleaning schedule where I do certain chores on certain days so that everything gets cleaned just not all on one day. It is too hard to try to tackle the entire house on one day, get school completed, and be able to just spend time playing with the kids.  

Are your kids self motivated to do their work? Do you think this is important for a homeschool student?
Hmm.. that is hard.  I would say that Morgan is self motivated in certain subject areas or if she really likes a topic we are studying.  There are subjects where I need to offer more encouragement.  For the most part she is pretty self motivated.  I have always said Morgan is a "school kid"  She would do well in any type of school environment.  She has been surrounded by school her whole life. When I taught she would spend hours in the summer and on weekends with me in my classroom. She loved it. 

Now Landon on the other hand is motivated to some extent but I really have to pull out more bells and whistles for him and make things FUN!  He is very busy and his main focus is fun and friends.  His motivation now is get his school work done so he can go play :o)  I think that is probably fairly typical for a five year old boy. 

Again I think if they are interested in a topic they will be motivated.  I know there will be times when we study things that they are not interested in so it might take some extra help to keep them focused - like sticker charts or reward charts. I haven't used anything like that... yet. There may come a time when I need to incorporate some type of extrinsic motivation. 

Any tips?
- Get up before your kids and get ready for the day
- Start thinking about dinner right away. I always say if I don't have a plan for dinner by 9 am we won't be having dinner :o)  The day can get away from you so it is good to have a plan in the morning.
- I don't answer my phone during school hours.  I learned early on that answering the phone for what might be someone with a quick question might turn into a 15, 20, or 30 minute phone call and then the kids have lost focused.  It is much harder to pull them back in once they have lost that focus. 
- Each day is a new day. You get a fresh start. 
- Homeschooling is like having a full time job.   I think of homeschooling as being similar to someone who has a home office.  There are advantages to being at home but your focus is teaching your kids during the school day just like the person who home offices has to focus on their job.

I know that homeschooling is not right for every person or every family.  Each family needs to do what is best for their family.  For now, this is what works the best for our family.  

I consider it a privilege to homeschool my children.  There are days when it isn't all sunshine and rainbows BUT the majority of the time it is wonderful.  My kids are learning to work together, encourage each other, learn from each other, be patient with one another, and truly love each other.  


Homeschooling Part I

They don't have to walk to a bus stop or even to the end of our block to school. The farthest they have to travel is from their bedrooms to the kitchen table... aka the classroom.

There are no morning battles about what to wear to school because most days, as long as we are just staying home, pajamas and sweatpants are the clothing items of choice.

Last week we started our fourth year of homeschooling.  I was so ready to have some type of schedule and routine again.  I think the kids were ready too.  This year we are running on a modified year round schedule.  We will take a longer fall break, a break at Thanksgiving, a long Christmas break, and then a longer spring break.  I am excited to see how this schedule flows for our family. 

Over the past year it seems that I have had more questions about homeschooling, why we homeschool, how we manage our day, etc... Since we started back to school I thought this might be a good time to address some of those questions. (as I was writing this it started to get long so i am going to do this post in two parts)

Why do we homeschool?
If you would have asked me four years ago when we moved to Idaho if I would homeschool I would have laughed.  The idea of homeschooling had never entered my mind. ever. I was a public school teacher by trade for ten years.  

When we moved to Idaho, we met family after family that homeschooled their children. This was our first experience really knowing anyone who homeschooled their children. In my lifetime I had only known one family to homeschool that was part of our 4-H group and they were just very ... different.  My idea of what a homeschool family looked like had begun to change.

By the spring of Morgan's Kindergarten year, I was feeling very led by God to homeschool her for first grade.  At first I kept ignoring the nudging God was giving me but he kept pursuing me on this issue.  I decided to take a closer look at homeschooling and attend a local homeschool convention. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said she was going and so were four other women from our church.   After attending that conference, I felt convicted to homeschool Morgan.

How long will you homeschool?
This is probably the question I am asked most often. I don't know how long we will homeschool. We take it year by year but for now it works great for our family.

Do you have a schedule?
Yes, but not a strict schedule.  The kids get up between 7:00 and 7:30 am.  They eat breakfast and do their morning chores.  We generally start school by 8:30 am.  We do "core" curriculum first thing in the morning: grammar, spelling, reading, math, and writing. If we have time in the morning we will also do our science, history, etc... If we run short on time we do those activities in the afternoon.  

What do you use for curriculum?
I have used the same program for math all four years and love it. It is called Making Math Meaningful. It is a hands on manipulative based program.  Last year for grammar I started using a program called Learning Language Arts Through Literature. It has been great.  This year for Landon with phonics we are starting to use Phonics Pathways. I haven't used it before but I am looking forward to trying it out with him.  In the past Morgan's spelling has been included with her other language arts work but it wasn't very challenging for her so this year I am trying a spelling program called Spelling Power. So far I like it and Morgan really enjoys it. I have also used the same curriculum that encompasses history, science, social studies, and bible.  It is called KONOS.  The last two years we have done the curriculum through on online coop but this year we are doing a semester long study on Africa (studying the character trait of stewardship) with four other families.  The kids are soaking up all they can about Africa. It is so fun to see them get so excited.

I will have more answers to questions on Thursday.  If you have anything you would like to know leave me a comment and I will try to answer your question in Thursdays post.


They are Published!

Shortly after we had to put Teagen to sleep, Morgan wrote this poem about him:

Teagen is my friend
When I had a broken heart
only he could mend.
It is him I miss
If only his head I could kiss


She shared her poem with two friends who told Morgan about a local magazine that will publish work by local children.  Morgan (along with her friends) sent their poems off to the local magazine.  This month all three girls had their poems published.  They are so excited to see their work in print!  Way to go girlies!


She Turned Into a Little Fish

She went from being a little unsure to being a little fish in the water.  

putting her face in
swimming on her stomach

getting ready to jump off the edge
miss june i want your hand
guess not, i will do it myself
way to go big girl
now from the edge to the diving board
brave girly!
a few shots of morgan and landon at swimming lessons too :o)


A Night at the Races

I have never been to a car race. The closest I have been to drag racing is watching in in the movie Grease.

On Friday night our neighbors invited us to attend the Nightfire National Drag Race championships.  We toted in our water, snacks, sweatshirts, and the ever necessary earplugs.

It turned out to be a beautiful evening.  A slight breeze and cooler than normal temperatures which made it enjoyable to be sitting outside.

I wasn't sure what to expect or what the kids would think about the racing or the noise.  The kids loved it!  The highlights for them were the jelly belly race car (the exhaust smelled like cinnamon and the driver threw out jelly beans) and going into the pits after the races and getting to sit in a race car.

Thanks Gibbs Family for inviting us along!

getting ready to race
cheering on a car

sitting in the race car

the jelly belly car