Cold is a relative thing ya know....

*At 65 degrees, Arizonans turn on the heat. People in Minnesota plant gardens.
*At 60, Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in Minnesota sunbathe.
*At 50, Italian & English cars won't start. People in Minnesota drive with the windows down..
*At 40, Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in Minnesota throw on a flannel shirt.
*At 35, New York landlords finally turn up the heat. People in Minnesota have the last cookout before it gets cold.
*At 20, People in Miami all die. Minnesotans close their windows.
*At 0, Californians fly away to Mexico . People in Minnesota get out their winter coats.
*At 10 below zero, Hollywood disintegrates. The Girl Scouts in Minnesota are selling cookies door to door.
*At 20 below, Washington DC runs out of hot air. (Ya think? Nah.). People in Minnesota let their dogs sleep indoors.
*At 30 below, Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Minnesotans get upset because they can't start the snowmobile.
*At 40 below, ALL atomic motion stops. People in Minnesota start saying..."Cold enough for ya, eh?"


I know, I need a Christmas post...

...but this is what you get for now.


The first picture was taken sometime this summer, but is a pretty good representation of how my kids keep their shelves in the "toy closet".  The second picture was taken just a few days ago.  The four oldest each received fabric bins for Christmas with the intention that they would use them in this area.  We also did a HUGE purge and removed most of the toys from the house (at least for a season).  When it's proven that this area can be kept up the way it should be with a few items, we will add in a few more. For now, I'm pleased with the result. :)


Another Birthday

Today, Victory Joy Noel turns 8!  We celebrated her birthday on Tuesday with Grandpa and Grandma Osell with a meal at Perkins, and then a pink "donut" cake at home. ;)  The cake was a hit!

At 8, Victory:
* is 4ft. 3in. tall and weighs about 53lb
* is learning to read
* enjoys all things pink and girly
* loves to wear dresses
* looks A LOT like her mother!
* likes to help with the baby
* wants to be a princess when she grows up ;)
* likes ponies
* talks A LOT
* is sugar and spice... but does have a curl in the middle of her forehead!!




If Shi (4 1/2 yo) is around when I use scissors - and I mean EVERY time - she says in a very concerned voice, "Mommy!  Don't cut youself!" <-- that's not a typo... it's how she says it ;)

When I complete what I'm doing she says (in a voice that says she is just SO proud of me - or maybe it's surprise?? LOL), "You didn't cut youself!!"  Makes me giggle every time.



Sometimes in life it's just better to do things for yourself...

Earlier today I asked Chase to pour me a glass of Dr. Pepper. He did. I thanked him.

Fast-forward about 5 hours. I checked the fridge to see what leftovers we had for supper. What I found was a large, wet, sticky mess of spilled soda and a half-empty 2 liter bottle. Now, I'll admit that the fridge needed a good cleaning, but I generally like to do things like that on my own schedule. *sigh*

Ten minutes, many saturated paper towels, a damp rag, and a helpful husband has the fridge looking much better. Next time maybe I'll not be so lazy and get my own beverage. ;) And if a kid does it for me, there will be reminders to check lids!


366 Days

First hours
Today is the first day of Phoenix's second year.  I can't believe how quickly time has flown by!  I say that with every child, but it really never ceases to amaze just how fleeting it all is!!

At ONE Phoenix is becoming quite the ham.  He seems to enjoy teasing others (and the response he gets from that teasing!).  He pulls his sisters hair, and smacks his brothers. If you ask him to give you something, he will hold it out and pull it away just as you reach for it.  This is usually followed by his silly little giggle, or at least his classic grin...

He's still not sleeping through the night... most of the time.  Every few weeks he will bless us with one sold stretch from 11pm-7am.  I'll take more of those, please!  He takes one nap late in the morning that usually lasts about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs.

Phoenix eats like a horse!  For supper last night he consumed a jar of meat mixed with a jar of veggies and some baby cereal, a jar of fruit, most of a scrambled egg, and some shredded cheese.  After that little feast, he also nursed.  The boy also likes to share food off my plate, eats crackers, and is in general starting to eat more table food.  If he could just grow some teeth, his diet could expand even more! LOL

Strangely, his weight is not reflecting his food consumption... at WIC yesterday he was down 2 lb. from his 9mo weight of 20lb. 7oz.  At the clinic today for his well-child check he was only 18lb. 2oz. Now, in the last two months he's had a cold, the chicken pox, and a puke virus.  He's also much more active.  All these things probably contribute to the weight situation...  I'll bring him in next month when Victory and Jericho have their well-child appointments and just have him weighed to make sure he's gaining, but right now the doctor is not concerned.  She feels he's just settling in to a more "normal" curve for himself after starting out so big.  And, as long as the rest of his development is right on, and he gains weight over the next few months, all is right in his world. :)

I mentioned his love of smacking his brothers.  He also has found an interest in the household pets... we are trying to teach him to be gentle. ;)  Radar (the dog) is very tolerant.   If he gets bothered, he'll simply get up and move.  Susie (the cat) tends to sit and take it for a bit - tail twitching all the time - and then smack him on the head with a paw. ;)  Unfortunately, she needs her nails trimmed, and last week she got him across the cheek.  All better now, but he looked pretty rough for a day or two.

His other fun experience this week was learning about electricity.  He is forever playing with the phone charger when it's plugged in... yesterday, it bit back.  But, it must not have been too traumatic since he was back to playing with it again within an hour.  Stinker!

While he walks around furniture, he doesn't seem to have any interest in actually walking.  Even trying to get him to walk with hands held doesn't seem to be his cup of tea.  I'm okay with that!  That boy gets in enough trouble as it is! ;)

I am looking forward to what this coming year will bring.  He will change and grow so much!  What fun. :)  So much to look forward to!

Phoenix Justice
@ 9 1/2 months


365 Days

This precious munchkin turns 1 tomorrow morning!



Went to Calvary's staff Christmas party last night. Kids were still up when we got home around 8:30p.m. but brushed teeth and went to bed soon after. Levi came to me this morning and said, "Did you have a good time at your party last night?" I told him I had, and thank you for asking. :) Then he said, "Did you get to see some of your friends there?" Why, yes, yes I did. LOL All of this was said in his *sweet* voice... the one he often uses when speaking to the baby. :) I love that kid!


Christmas Quiz

Fact, or fiction.
Even I learned a few things reading this article. :) 
Let me apologize here for the formatting of this post... I've tried several times to fix it and am unsuccessful.  So, read and enjoy, and please extend some grace for goofy layouts. ;)

Christmas Myths Debunked

How well do you know the story of Christ's birth? Between today's interpretations and the traditional reenactment of Christ's birth during the annual church Christmas pageant, the story for most homeschooling families usually goes something like this:

1. Mary is with child and travels with Joseph to Bethlehem on a donkey for the census.

2. After they get to Bethlehem, the innkeeper turns them away because there are too many people in town.

3. The innkeeper feels sorry for them and puts them in a stable.

4. Jesus is born and laid in a manger, and he never even cries.

5. The angels are present and announce His birth to the shepherds in the fields.

6. Finally, three wise men arrive on camels to worship Christ with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Are these accepted "facts" really the truth about Christmas? According to the Bible, our final authority on the subject, they're probably not true for the following reasons:

    • Mary traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem, but there is no mention of a donkey. She could have ridden in a cart or traveled in the normal mode of her day, walking. If they did have a donkey, it probably would have been used for carrying packs on the 70-80 mile trip (Luke 2:4-5).
    • No innkeeper is mentioned in the Bible. It only says there was no room for them at the inn (Luke 2:7). Most likely, flashing signs that said "No Vacancy" were not visible, but the Bible doesn't confirm that Mary and Joseph talked to anyone to determine if the inn was full.
    • Jesus could have been born in a cave, a barn, or even outside under the stars. The Bible simply mentions that he was born, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger. Since mangers are used for feeding animals, chances are He was near some type of livestock when he was born, but not necessarily in a stable (Luke 2:7).
    • Mary was in the third trimester of her pregnancy when she traveled to Bethlehem, but the Bible doesn't say that Mary delivered the night she arrived. Jesus' birth occurred "while they were there," which could have been at any time after they arrived (Luke 2:6).
    • Two of the first Christmas carols young children usually learn are "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night." Although the words and titles to these songs allude to a baby Jesus who didn't cry, the Bible says that Christ was born a man and suffered in the flesh (1 Peter 4:1). Like most other babies when they are born, Jesus probably cried.
    • The Bible doesn't mention that the angels were at Jesus' birth, simply that they spoke the good news of His birth to the shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:9-14).
    • No mention is made to the number of magi who came to honor Jesus' birth. Three different gifts are referenced, which probably led to the assumption of three wise men. In addition, Jesus was probably two years old when they visited him, since the wise men did not arrive until the days of Herod (Matthew 2:1-16). After the magi visited Christ, verse 16 says they left by another way and Herod ordered all the two-year-old boys and younger to be killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions.
    • Jesus probably wasn't born on December 25, since the Bible doesn't give the exact date of His birth. Different methods have been used to determine the date of Jesus' birth; however, like the date of His return, no one knows for sure.
This Christmas, why not establish a new tradition and take a few minutes before you exchange gifts to read the real story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2:1-20. Reading this passage as a homeschooling family will not only make for a more meaningful Christmas, but it will also keep the truth of our beloved Savior's birth accurate for future generations.



Who I am must be defined by who He is. Yes, I am sinner.  But in Him, because of Him, I am BELOVED.

Pastor Matthew posted this video on his blog today, and I felt I needed to share it here as well.

I also want to add that I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Jason Gray when he performed at Calvary a couple years ago.  I found him to be REAL.  He's a guy who sings what he lives (or lives what he sings?).


Feeling "cooped" up.

The newest chicken. Yesterday I suspected this, but today there is no question. Most of her pox seem to be on her face and scalp (and diaper area). Why they are concentrated on her nose, I'm not sure. Poor thing. LOL  But, don't you just love those bright blue eyes??



 Shi is apparently the biggest chicken in our house (at least for the moment).  After noticing one small spot on Sunday evening, this is what things have progressed to as of 4pm today.  Her belly looks about the same as her back.
She insisted I take this picture of her neck.  You can see some of the worst welts are here.
The other chickens in our house currently are Jericho and (I think) Phoenix.  Time will tell if anyone else becomes a chicken...  And, if you are interested in turning your kids into chickens (it's temporary) then let me know!


What's missing?

5, 6, 7, 9, 10

Notice what's missing?

It would seem we will be taking care of that missing number sometime near the beginning of June next year.


Rules... and Life Lessons

Rule:  ALWAYS shut the gate to the basement and entry.
Lesson Learned:  When the gate is left open, small ones are likely to fall.  Phoenix nearly took a tumble.  Jericho did.  Levi's description was that she flipped all the way down.  After a trip to the ER and a scan, as well as a visit to the chiropractor, she was finally declared "okay".  But, she had a concussion.  Thanking God that the scan was clear.  I don't get too freaked out when my kids get hurt, but she was acting so strange, and throwing up, and I was VERY concerned for her.

Rule:  Don't play in the woodshed.
Lesson Learned:  Levi chose to disobey that rule.  We had an old, empty cable spool stored in there (on it's side, so it rolled) and he decided to play on it.  In the process he fell backward and hit his head square on the edge of a granite block leaned against the "wall".  There was much blood, but after cleaning it up we determined the wound wasn't that deep.  He sat with an icepack for quite a while, and was pretty subdued the rest of the day.  The next morning he started throwing up.  After a day of that, with TWO visits to the chiro, I finally gave in and took him to the ER.  Another scan.  No damage, but was diagnosed with "post-concussion syndrome".  I can't even begin to count the number of times his head has been bumped since then... makes me so nervous!!  But, again, thanking God that all is well.

Rule:  Stay in our yard unless you've asked permission to go elsewhere.
Rule:  Please, don't bother the neighbors. (this is not a safety issue, more of a politeness issue...)
Rule:  Don't bother the neighbor's dog when he's tied up.
Lesson Learned:  Shiloh came home crying (but not hard) with blood on her arm.  I took her arm from her sleeve, and immediately covered it back up and gave her specific instructions not to look at it.  The next thing I did was call Tim at work and tell him to come home, NOW.  Next call was to the clinic, to determine if I needed to bring her there, or to the ER.  We were told ER because if she got hysterical or was in too much pain they would have stuff they could give her.  She was SO calm the entire time.  It was kind of unreal!  We waited over an hour and a half for a room.  Finally, we were brought back.  All they did was clean the wound, do an x-ray, and send us home.  She's been a real trooper about the whole thing, but the dog bite is sure to leave a lifetime scar.  The only time she almost cried was when they injected the wound with lidocaine to numb it.  Now we have to change the dressing every day and she's on abx to head off any possible infection.  They don't stitch bites because of the risk of closing in an infection.  (I do have a picture Tim took before they cleaned the wound... I'm sparing you, but if you'd like to see it, let me know and I'll email it to you...  I think that of the two people that actually read my blog, one of them has seen it, and the other doesn't want to.  You're welcome, mom!!)


We are always telling our kids that we make rules to help keep them safe, NOT to be mean.  The prior examples all happened recently in our home (the last two were both in the last 7 days).  I've officially declared that no one is allowed to get hurt and go to the ER until NEXT year... at least!!

I should add, our Heavenly Father does the same for us.  The "rules" he has for us are meant to keep us safe, to guard our hearts.  It's a great reminder.

As for our home, I hope the next several months are MUCH less, um, dramatic. 

Speaking of drama... Shiloh, who didn't cry at all about the bite, started crying and whining when I tried cutting her toenails this morning.  I told her she was not allowed to cry about that because I KNEW it didn't hurt... and if the dog bite didn't make her cry, there was no way she was that big of a wimp.  What a little turkey!  LOL


12 years

Chase turned 12 on Oct. 22. He's been 12 years of interesting. ;) One of his best traits is his heart for and willingness to care for his siblings. He is almost always willing to lend a hand. He's a bit of a dare-devil (I'm a little surprised he's never broken a bone) and is generally willing to try anything once. I look forward to watching him continue to grow into a young man.


10 months... and more

Phoenix reached 10 months on the 16th.  I took more than 40 pictures trying to get one good one.  None of them were super, but a few show his personality. :)

This is slightly unusual... he's so busy he doesn't often snuggle (this only lasted a few moments) and he also doesn't use a soothie.  But, for some reason, he felt the need for both at that moment. :)
He's a big ham... and LOVES it when he can get his hands on the remote!  He stood at the end of the ottoman and popped up and down off the floor for a while.  Every time he would pop up he'd give me a silly little grin.

He sucks those same "best" fingers that I did as a child.  Usually he does this when he's getting tired and ready to take a nap or go to bed (these were all taken at bedtime).  Love it when he grins at me around those fingers. :)

He also has this sweet little cowlick that is almost always sticking off his head.  It's absolutely adorable. ;)
Recently we had friends over on a Sunday afternoon.  There were 12 kids in our house... 10 of them were 9 yrs old and under.  Three of them were 2.5 yrs old - twins from their family, and one from ours, all born on the same day. :)
Finally, these were just too beautiful not to share.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of year!  These colors are just one of the reasons...


Sick Jokes

There's always someone crackin' a joke around here.  Tonight it was Tim.

Phoenix hasn't been feeling all that well for a few days (cough, runny nose) and tonight after supper he'd had enough.  He started puking.  Just as we'd start thinking he must surely be done, he'd start again.  For supper I fed him prunes (among other things).  He's been a little "irregular" lately and had some tummy problems.  I figured the prunes would help.  Here's the comedy...

Tim: (after PJ puked all over Tim and himself) I thought those prunes were supposed to work the other way.

Laugh a minute.

Hoping and praying that now that PJ is sleeping he will not be sick anymore.  Also on that list is the wish to NOT have to change any clothing or bedding during the night.

poor sick baby :(


Truer words...

I looked out the kitchen window this evening to spot Alex just as he rolled out from under the side of the van.  My response?  I called out the window, "Um.  Alex?  Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD!"

Tim pointed out that those words are applicable in so VERY many situations.  LOL

Maybe I should make that the new family motto?  ;)


$20 well spent

All the kids seem to have grown by leaps and bounds this summer... must be all that fresh air. ;)  Today, I was able to score some good deals on pants at Goodwill.  For Phoenix and Levi I was able to take advantage of the Blue Tag Sale (50% off).  PJ now has a cute pair of Wranglers, a pair of OshKosh bibs, and a pair of Gymborie black corduroy bibs.  Levi has a pair of slightly worn (but no holes) windpants, and a pair of jeans.  $1.50 each, except for the Gymborie bibs which were $2.

I was also able to find 3 pair of boys jeans without holes in the knees (a rare commodity in this house!) that I hoped would fit either Alex or Chase.  Two pair fit Chase, and the third was perfect for Alex.  They weren't on sale, but still only cost $3.99 a pair.  Chase is notoriously hard on pants, so it's good that TWO fit him. :)

Not bad for $20!

Now, the big task for the coming week is to go through ALL the kids clothes and make a list of everything else we need for the winter.  I'll admit, I'm not really looking forward to tackling this job, but it will be nice to have it done (until April or May...).


In Christ Alone

For some background, check out this post.

To hear the song (performed by friends in our church family), go here.  (Half way down the page is a "listen" link.)

Such encouraging words for each day.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine - 
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.



Found an old card today.  My Mother's Day card from my parents.  The timing couldn't have been better.

To Daughter on Mother's Day

You Are a Blessing

Daughter, your life
is a thing to be proud of -
you're God's special gift
in a wonderful way...
Thank you for being
so loving and caring...
Thank you for being a blessing each day!

Praise her for the many fine things she does.
Proverbs 31:31 (TLB)

While I needed the encouragement this brought, it is also a reminder that I have so much to live up to.  I want my life to truly be a thing to be proud of.  To be loving and caring.  To be a blessing - every day.


Phoenix is 9 months!! (pic heavy)

Phoenix is such a joy!  
He's *usually* very smiley.  
He's finally beginning to sleep better *most* nights.  
He enjoys his food!  
Just recently he started eating much more regularly, and at supper will polish off two jars of food, plus what ever little Gerber finger foods (the kind that "melt" so reduce the risk of choking - I found out he's not quite ready for Cheerios yet...) we dole out.  
He still naps like a champ.  
He is just on the brink of starting to cruise the furniture, but at this point only takes one step either direction.  
One of his favorite pasttimes is pulling his sisters' hair. ;)

Hanging out with his buddy, Issy. :)
Love that smile and those BLUE eyes!

Just for fun, I've thrown in one pic of Levi at 9mo. Did anyone notice on their way through the photos? ;)



We have a wedding to attend this afternoon.  Since I need to wear a dress (or skirt) I decided it would be a good idea to shave my legs.  This doesn't happen often... the hair is blond, no one around here cares much if they are clean-shaven or not, and I don't like to take the time to do it.  ;)

When I do take the time, I often use Tim's old electric razor to accomplish the task.  I was sitting on the couch and Levi came in to ask why I was shaving my legs.  I said it was just something girls do when they get older.  With his nose about 2 inches from my leg, Levi says, "My, you look young!"  LOL

Hmm.  Maybe that's why we shave our legs! :)



My phone rings.  I know before answering that it's my parents.  I figure they're calling to say that they are on their way to pick up the three oldest to spend the weekend with them at the cabin.  Usually my mom makes the calls, so that's who I'm expecting.

(answering phone) "Hello?"

"Hey there.  How are you?"

It's dad.  I pause, thinking how to answer.  It's been a rough morning.  How do I answer?


Yep.  It's been that kind of a morning.  That one word sums it up nicely. 

My blog title says "Gotta' Love My Life".  And I do.  Most days.  Today, I think someone else's life might be better.

But whose?  The friend, reeling yet again upon learning, despite exhausting all possible medical avenues, that she is not pregnant?  The friend who has discovered, quite unexpectedly and in the course of dealing with some other life-altering physical issues, that she is pregnant? The homeless couple who sits daily next to a well traveled route hoping motorists will take pity and help them out?  Maybe the niece who is sick, miserable, struggling through the last few weeks of pregnancy and hoping baby is big enough to be healthy, all while living with the reality that there is no income in her home?  How about the neighbor whose life has been turned upside-down by a nasty divorce?  Or maybe one of the many disadvantaged children born with DS or other serious medical conditions and facing a life chained to a crib in an institution?


Maybe - no, not maybe - my life isn't so bad.  I won't bore you with the details of my pity-party, but suffice to say, not one thing that happened this morning was too horrible.  God has a plan for me.  His word proclaims it.  I have - we ALL have - a future and a hope!

Leaning on that promise today.  Praying for contentment in my circumstances.  Trusting that, through Him, I will have ALL I need.

Perhaps you, too, are struggling today.  Maybe all you need is a little perspective.

update:  I wrote this post this morning.  After a wonderful phone call with a friend, I was feeling encouraged!  I almost felt I didn't need to post.  And then, I was blindsided with some news that left me reeling.  While I can't share details, I will ask for prayer... and when I can, I'll share more.  Struggling with why, but still trusting...


I know you missed me! ;)

Random updates:

Everyone seems to be keeping up an acceptable pace.  I am, however, still trying to work out some "kinks" in our schedule. (I've always been great at MAKING schedules... it's KEEPING them that's difficult!  LOL) I've discovered that Victory is EXCELLENT at learning memory verses.  For those of you that see her on a regular basis, perhaps next time you see her you could ask her to recite one for you? :)  Each of them have moments when they excel, and moments when I wonder just where their brain has gone! ;)
This week, the two older boys began an Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) class with two other families from our church.  We're doing the "Student Writing Intensive Level B".  The class is facilitated by my friend, Devona Emerson (a teacher, now homeschooling her own 2 kids) and is also attended by the three eldest Theis' kids.  I am anticipating that the addition of this class will benefit the rest of our schooling in great ways as the boys learn how to (correctly & efficiently!) write a good paragraph and beyond.
 *baby boy
Phoenix is close to 20 lbs, and beginning to grow hair just like Levi did around this age. He has the cutest little cowlick that sticks straight off his head on one side... sometimes, it's on both sides.  :)  He is crawling everywhere, and pulling up on everything.  He loves to eat -- but doesn't like turkey (I'm guessing it has more to do with the texture of that nasty G*rb*r baby food than anything... LOL)  Last night, after a very rough start, he rewarded me with 7-1/2 hours of consecutive sleep.  The best part?  I was asleep for ALL of them!! :)

*extended family
This last weekend we were able to go stay at Tim's mom's for a few days.  Tim cut down somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 trees for his mom, and got them cleaned up and out to the fire pit.  The kids spent most of their days outdoors wearing out the tires their cousin's bikes. :)  The weather was cool, and PERFECT (in my opinion) for being "up north".  Late nights with the brother-in-law and some of the older nephews sitting out at the fire pit... reminiscing about the past, dreaming about the future, singing, joking... reminded me, once again, that I'm no longer a kid.  LOL  Must.Have.Sleep! ;)
My parents have been down a few times.  Yesterday we enjoyed the buffet at Pizza Ranch (kids 10 & under eat free on Tuesday!) courtesy of Grandpa and Grandma.  On Friday, they will come down to pick up the three oldest kids for a weekend up at their cabin west of Two Harbors.

*looking forward
Mid-week church activities begin again soon.  Alex will be involved in his second year of youth group with Junction 180.  This Sunday marks the beginning of Sunday School for the year, and Monday will be our first UPLIFT of the year.  (UPLIFT is the Christian homeschool co-op we are involved in with about 40 other local homeschooling families.)  I'm looking forward (albeit with some trepidation) to teaching a class at UPLIFT this year with my friend Karri.  Everyone is looking forward to again seeing friends we've made in previous years as well. :)


By Faith

So much more to say about what this song did for/in me during the service on Sunday, but for now simply listen.

"By Faith"
Keith & Kristyn Getty

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight


One (Extra)Ordinary Family

While most people have heard of the Duggar family, or seen their show on TLC (currently called "19 Kids and Counting"), many have not heard of the Bates.  I was "introduced" to the Bates family during an episode of the Duggar's t.v. show a few years ago. Both families believe as we do that children are a blessing and God is in control of the *when*, and the *how many*.  Recently, Primetime Nightline on ABC did a special featuring the Bates.  In my opinion, it is worth your time to watch.


Get off that wheel.

Dr. Kevin Leman has written a new book entitled, "It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil".  Here's a snippet from the website:
"Do you sometimes feel like a gerbil running on a wheel inside a cage as you scurry from place to place, chauffeuring your children from one endless activity to another? What if, for one moment, you could just step off of the wheel . . . and relax? How would you feel then? And what if that single moment could stretch into an hour, or even a whole day? In his new book, It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil, Kevin Leman will provide practical solutions and helpful insight to get off the activity wheel so that you can put your time and energies where they really count: in establishing strong character and a love for home and family that will serve your kids well for a lifetime."
 Check out the website, and enter the contest to win an iPod touch, a copy of this book, or a prize pack of Dr. Leman's books.

Calm Down!

I often have people comment on how calm I am.  It makes me laugh (usually inside) because I am not a calm person by nature.  My tendency is to react rather than respond, to over-react, to yell.  Being a mother - especially one with many children - has caused me to calm down some, but I still have a long way to go!  With each new baby, I "unwind" a bit more.  I believe this is out of necessity.  If I were as uptight now as I was when Alex was born 13 years ago I'd be in a padded room by now.

Last week was a breaking point for me.  I got hot under the collar.  I yelled - a LOT.  I over-react to everything.  All-in-all, a rough week.  After a particularly difficult Friday (I COMPLETELY lost my cool with almost every child) I knew I needed help.  Divine help, to be specific, was what was needed.  And I "checked out" for a bit.  I thought, I prayed... I calmed down.

Peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7) was mine for the asking!  And I am relieved and excited that I was able to make it through not one, but TWO days without raising my voice to my children.  I've been tempted, and my patience sorely tried, but I persevered.  God is with me.  He will calm me when needed.  He will help me teach my children a better way.

I want to clarify here that I believe my tendency to yell and get bent out of shape is  a genetic one (but one that I can overcome with God's ever-present help).  It certainly was not environmental... my parents rarely (if ever?) yelled.  In fact, when I was a teenager, it completely drove me batty that my dad could be so stinkin' calm all the time.  One of my greatest "accomplishments" as a teen was pushing him until he actually showed some real strong emotion and raised his voice (we were doing a project together and it wasn't going all that well).

I continue to pray for an unearthly calm to surround me.  Even in the midst of the chaos that is inevitable in a tiny house with many bodies.


Mid-Night Mania

With our crew, it's inevitable that at some point after they've been sent to bed, at least ONE will be upstairs again.  There are the usual excuses: I forgot to go potty; I need a drink; my lips are dry, I need lip stuff.  But last night was not quite so 'usual'.

The first kid to come upstairs was Alex.  To his credit, it was about 2 hours past the time they'd gone to bed (usually we're in the 10-30 min range).  I'm not sure what his original 'reason' was, but before he headed back to bed he said, "I was thinking about the numbers from 1-9.  And I wondered how many combinations you could make.  So I figured it out.  It's 361,880**."  He went on to explain the process he used.  Then he headed off to bed as if this was all perfectly normal behavior.  LOL  (He clearly got his skill with numbers from his dad...)  I wonder when he sleeps?

Phoenix often makes a trip upstairs in the middle of the night as well... but that's usually because I'm still up when he wakes to eat, or he needs a diaper change.  Last night was the latter.  While we were up, I decided I'd just nurse him while sitting on the couch so I wouldn't fall asleep with him in my bed.  We both seem to sleep better when he spends most of the night in his own bed...  As I got up to head back down to bed, I heard Jericho crying.  By the time I got to the top of the stairs, she was nearly all the way up (we moved her from the crib to a cot a few days ago, so getting out of bed is something new for her).  I told her I had to put PJ back in bed and she should go back to bed too (this happened around 3am!).  Instead, she continued up the stairs.  I asked if she needed something.  Clear as a bell, she said, "Potty".  Wha!?  She's not potty trained AT ALL, but I thought I'd better go with it!  LOL  So, I got PJ settled, and headed back upstairs to get the diaper off the *other* baby and put her on the potty.  Her diaper was still dry at that point!  She sat on the potty chair, but because someone else used it at bathtime and it hadn't been emptied yet I really don't know if she actually went or not.  When she was "done", I put her diaper back on and she happily went back to bed.


I hope tonight is a bit less eventful. ;)

**He corrected himself this morning: it's actually 362,880.  So clearly he thought about it more after he went back to bed, and caught his error.


That's what you get...

I had a "mom moment" just a bit ago.  The little kids were told HOURS ago to get the toy room cleaned up.  It's quite possible it's gotten worse, not better.  I was already frustrated about the lack of progress, but then they started fighting.  I chose to finish my lunch and was then going to deal with it.  Before I got in there, Levi started screaming/crying and I could hear him coming through the kitchen.  As I got up out of my seat I yelled (in my best mom voice), "You better be blee.... oh." 

It was one of those times when he actually wasn't really over-reacting!  As near as I've been able to figure out, he was holding Victory's leg/foot as they were fighting, and when he let go he got kicked in the face.  I spent quite a while cleaning floors, carpet, a couch, and a few random toys while the boy sat on a chair with a rag on his face.

All is well now...  it was just one of those times when, as a mom, you say something (because of an assumption you've made) and it comes back to bite you!  LOL


Cause and Effect

While correcting Alex's school work today I came across this wonderful explaination of (hu)man behavior:
"One is not a sinner because he sins.  One sins because he is by nature sinful."
 We are ALL sinners!  God's saving grace, in the gift of His son, gives us hope and redemption.  It does not mean we are no longer sinners.  It does mean that we have forgiveness of sin.  Isn't that good news?


Something to consider

Here are three great posts I read recently:
Surrendering Control - Pt 1
Surrendering Control - Pt 2
What the Bible Says

Just thought I'd pass these on.  Read them - with an open heart and mind!


At a loss

there are days... today has been one of them... when i completely lose the desire to do ANYTHING.  i don't want to clean, i don't want to discipline, i don't want to interact.  i just want to hide, to run away, to escape.  these are tough days for me.  it's almost like a battle of the heart and mind.  mostly, i believe, it's a spiritual battle.  satan doesn't want me to care.  if i care, then i'm working on raising little warriors for CHRIST.  if i care, i'm nurturing not only 7 little lives, but my own, AGAINST him!  if i care, he loses power.  if i care...  well, the truth is, i do care.  if i didn't, then days like these wouldn't be so hard, would they!  this morning was particularly difficult, and then i read a post that quoted the following verse:

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24

i am not doing this job for my children, or my husband, or my friends, or my parents, or even for me.  i am doing this job for the LORD.  it's what he has called me to.  it's what he's created me for.  i will be strengthened BY HIM for each and every day, each and every task.

so, i'm off, to attempt to salvage my day, knowing that every day HE is here WITH me.  HE gives me the strength I need. as for satan... he can take a flying leap! he is NOT welcome here, and he WILL NOT win!


I missed it!

Phoenix is 8 months old!!  At 18lb, he is heavier than Victory, Levi, Shiloh and Jericho each were at one year. :)  He is a happy, smiley guy!  He doesn't always sleep the greatest at night, but is a champion napper - about 2 to 3 hours in the morning, and another 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hrs in the afternoon.  Nighttime has improved recently.  He's only up about 3 times per night instead of every hr - hr and a half like he was previously.  Nothing is safe around here anymore since he started crawling... and pulling himself up on anything and everything.  What a joy he has been! :)


How do you feel about drywall?

What's important to you?  Do you value things?  Or do you value life?

Back in 2008, I wrote a post entitled "Quiverfull".  It was an attempt to explain our views on children.  Those views are the ones we still hold today.  Go ahead and read that post if you missed it, or just need a refresher. ;)  At the end of that post I encouraged readers to ask questions... the offer to answer questions still stands.
This post was written by someone who was able to say, much more clearly, what I've tried to express.  (I've included a quote, but reading the entire post will more clearly explain the title of this post...)
"Comment after comment reveals our abhorrence of multiplying children, despite what the Bible teaches to the contrary.  We love one or two; After that, they decrease in value. And not just for our own families.  We abhor it in other families. I know.  I’ve seen their faces too many times.  I’ve heard people take the Lord’s name in vain upon hearing how many children I had. I’ve seen them look at my other children with sympathy–my children who ask almost daily, “When are we going to have another baby?” I’ve heard them question how we’ll feed them, as if they’ve never read Matthew 6.  These are Christians!  They all want to know if I know how to stop *it*….that “horrid multiplying of those things we don’t want more of”."
Take the time to read the recommended post, and also my old post.  Ask questions. Be blessed!


A New Year

Today marks the last day of our first week of schooling for this year.  There have been some snags (as there always are), but I am SO thankful for the fact that I have the option to school my children at home.

Today I read a great post that gave me some things to think about, but also put into words the "why" of what we've chosen for our family.  You can read the whole post here.  Below I've included two quotes that really stood out for me.

"The reason we are teaching at home (aside from the fact that we believe God has asked us to) is so we can nurture their personalities and bents, focus on the areas God has gifted them, disciple them in life, and continue to cultivate the garden of their souls…which is quite a bit of work (especially because mine needs a lot of cultivating itself!)."
"The biggest goals I have for my children are that they know God, love Him, and love others. I want to teach them about the world around us so that they can reach out to the world…and love well. I suppose if I didn’t accomplish anything else, I’d be most satisfied if my children knew and loved God, gave Him their hearts, and loved people well. "

I love the picture of "cultivating the garden of their souls".  And, yes, my own soul needs plenty of cultivating. I pray that this would be a year of learning and growth for ALL of us,  that we would know God more deeply, and love him more fully.  I'm excited to see what he has in store for us!

For those that don't know:  This year we have Alex (8th grade), Chase (6th grade), Victory Joy (1st grade), and Levi (Kindergarten).  The other three are just "learning life". :)


It's Deja Vu... All Over Again

This little guy...
(Levi - 7mo)
...turns 6 today.
Oh, how he's changed!!
(Levi - 5yrs 11mo)
Well, mostly he just got taller! ;)
And, I get to see his little self everyday when I look at this...
(Levi's "mini-me"  ~ Phoenix, about 7 months)




A friend shared this post, titled "The disease called "Perfection"", on Facebook.  A quote from the author says:
There is a serious pandemic of "Perfection" spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It's a sickness that I've been trying to put into words for years without much success. It's a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It's a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.

Some of the comments in regard to this post are absolutely heartbreaking.

Perfection is a disease that affects many (most?) of us.  I am affected.  I know several friends who are infected.  I often see signs of the disease in my own children.

perfection |pərˈfek sh ən|
the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects 
• a person or thing perceived as the embodiment of such a condition, state, or quality 
• the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible

perfectionism |pərˈfek sh əˌnizəm|
refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
• Philosophy a doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, esp. the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.
Now, perfection is different than perfectionism... and yet, often driven by perfectionism.

We attempt, in so many ways, to appear perfect to those around us.  And when we appear less than perfect, we struggle -- with depression, with anger, with self-loathing, and other demeaning feelings and emotions.

For me, those feelings and emotions rear their ugly head when someone makes a comment like, "You are such a saint!"  or "I don't know how you do it!"  (These are usually said in reference to the fact that I have 7 children, and have somehow managed to stay out of the loony bin.)

How has "perfection" affected me?
*I yell at my kids - frequently.  Often, I yell at them for yelling at each other.  Really?  What kind of example am I setting?  I lose my temper.  I say mean things.  And then my heart aches for what I've just done to my 'baby'.
*I struggle with managing my time in an appropriate way.  I spend WAY too much time sitting in front of the computer at the expense of time with my kids.
*My house is rarely clean (although, I've been working on that particular issue).
*I have bad habits that I've been trying to break for YEARS.  I FREQUENTLY beat myself up over these issues, and hide them from most people.  If you know about them, it's because a) I really trust you, or b) you found out quite by accident. 
*I don't brush my teeth twice a day and rarely floss... even though I know that the hormone changes of pregnancy reek havoc in my mouth.  I feel regular guilt over the fact that I have cavities because as a kid, I never had ANY.  Wouldn't you think an adult would be BETTER at caring for their teeth than a kid?
*I (mostly) hate my body, and yet I don't do much to change it.  This is a struggle I've had since I was quite young.  As a young teen, I dismantled a disposable razor and used the blade to cut the word "FAT" into my stomach... in letters about 3" tall.  The scars, if they are still there, are now completely covered by stretchmarks (which I also hate; but I wouldn't give up even ONE of the 'reasons' for them!)
*I never feel I'm good enough.  Are you my friend?  I probably doubt the strength of our friendship (how much you REALLY like me) on a regular basis.  I wait for people to give up on our friendship, and when it happens (not really that often, but it has happened) I hurt - for a very long time - and project reasons, and have a lot of self-blame.
*I expect others to behave in ways that I, myself, do not.  I expect people to treat me in ways that I don't treat others.  I expect others to be 'perfect'.
*I know that getting into God's word, trusting in HIS power, and having communion with Him through prayer, is the ONLY way to heal, to change.  And yet I don't do it. (Rather, I'm spending time on FB, or playing online games, or checking my email for the 4ooth time today.)

The above is just a 'starter list'.

Not being 'real' cost me my marriage once.  I thank God nearly every day for giving it back.  And now, we're real.  We saw what the alternative was.  We lived it.  Our relationship is better than ever.  Do we still have our moments?  Sure.  But, we work through them (usually in moments, sometimes in a few hours, and rarely it takes a day or two) and grow because we are willing to be real.

There are certain people in my life with whom I feel less able to be 'real'.  Some, I'm sure, wouldn't care if they really knew all my  imperfections, but I have a lot of fear of failure and rejection.  Others, it's not a fear, but simply a reality proven by time and by brief moments of 'realness' that made it clear anything but perfection was not to be tolerated.

I see perfection threaten to derail marriages, friendships, parents, on a regular basis.  Please, let's be real.  Support each other in the quest for 'perfection' as it pertains to Biblical perfection, but be real in your expectations!  Remember that we can NOT be perfect this side of heaven... yet we can be (we HAVE been!!) perfected.


Half a Year

Time sure flies... 
It feels like just yesterday we were welcoming Phoenix to the world.
  Today he is 6 months old!

At 6 months, he is REALLY close to crawling...
He loves to suck the same fingers his momma sucked when she was little...
He is forever putting things in his mouth...
Fingers, feet, toys, clothing...
anything he can grab and shove in there! :)
Those are some yummy looking toes!!
He smiles... a lot!
(almost makes up for the lack of sleep he causes *grin*)
He tasted his first food (applesauce) and seemed to like it!
(He kept diving for the spoon when I would get it close.)
He is well loved by his brothers and sisters (and his mommy and daddy!!).
They all do a fabulous job helping to care for him.
We are so thankful God chose to bless us with Phoenix.
<3 <3 <3