Friday, September 28

She wrote.

Today I wrote. Finally.

For the past two years, I've been sloooowly working on a writing project with a friend. Who knows if it will ever get finished or looked at by anyone who wants to publish it, but it doesn't matter.
I like writing, it is a great outlet for me.  

With all of the flurry of activity in our days, time to write just isn't fitting in. I know now, that I need to make time. I'm working at making a weekly writing time a part of my week. But today it came as a surprise. The three little ones were napping, while the four big ones were helping my Dad pick crab apples for a couple hours this afternoon.

 I didn't know what to do with myself.   Do I sit on the couch and snoop around the internet? Nah. Been there, done that.

Do I watch a movie? Nap? Read?  Hmmm... Then the word, "write" popped into my head, and I was remembering that I had a writing project that had been put on the back burner for far too long. This friend and I feel that God has given us a message to share with other women. Would you pray that this message would continue to come to us, and we would faithfully write it down?  Thank you so much. 

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Thursday, September 27

apples, apples, apples!

We had our best apple harvest to date this year...  it was so fun to head out and pick from our four apple trees in the yard.  They were pretty good sized this year, and Jeremy set to work canning apple juice concentrate and applesauce.  These apples are definitely on the tart side, but we're so thankful to have food grown in our yard stored up for later use.  Amazing! 

Monday, September 24

the blah solution

This weekend, I decided it was time for me to begin (again) for the third time, my list of One Thousand Gifts, displaying my gratitude to God for my life, experiences, family, everything. 

You know those days when you just feel blah?  When everything seems to be going wrong?

I'm learning (slowly) that gratitude is the only solution. 

I can be thankful.  I am thankful.

The act of thankfulness can get you out of any funk. 

If you haven't read One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, I highly recommend it.  It's about time for trip through Ann's words again for me. 

So here goes the start of another gratitude list for me:

1.  days home with my seven gifts

2.  Jeremy coming home in the evening, so happy to see us

3.  baby smiles, and emerging giggles

4.  bright yellow fall leaves hanging on by a thread

5.  girls coloring and creating together

6.  boys enjoying each other's presence playing Settlers

7.  a fridge and pantry stocked to nourish

8.  bright, toothy, joyful smiles from the two year olds


cheer in a jar


Last weekend, as I was out and about with a couple of the younger kids, Jeremy was home with the rest, and surprised me by picking the sunflower he had been growing in his greenhouse all summer.  Yes, he grew one sunflower.  He picked some dianthus that were still looking alive, and put then in a jar on the table for me to see when I arrived back home. 

He knows I love sunflowers. 

It goes back to our dating days in college, when he'd surprise me with a cheery bouquet every now and then.  Next to plain white and yellow daisies, they definitely win my vote for the friendliest of flowers. 

What sorts of flowers cheer you right up?


Sunday, September 16

fall, glorious fall!


I have to say, that even though I love the fall season, it came rather abruptly this year. 
Actually, the last three summers it has felt like it came too soon.  Usually I am ready for the change.  But the last three summers have brought us a new baby each June, and it makes the rest of the summer zoom by at record speed as we are all getting used to the change in family dynamics and are hunkering down more at home. 
I finally feel like I've come out of the newborn baby fog.  Though full of sweet and precious moments I never want to forget, it was also full of it's fair share of challenges.  Emmalie is three months old now, and I finally feel like I have my bearings.  I feel like sewing again (thought I haven't attempted anything yet) and our school year is off to an encouraging start.  But summer is truly over for us, and I'm determined to be content in whatever season I'm in, both in weather and in life. 
Fall is here, and there are so many reasons to love it.  The apples pictured above are literally falling off our apple trees.  They are larger this year, and not as tart as in years past. 
The leaves are falling, but the flowers up our front walk are still looking as summery as ever. 
It is time to pull out warmer jackets, hoodies, and sweaters.  Oh, I love this coat!  It's so me. 
I love books about fall,  pumpkin spice candles, the changing colors,  a warm mug of tea (or coffee, but I can't have that at the moment), harvesting carrots, apples, and the rest of the fall produce. 

I love the routine that fall brings back to our lives.  I love seeing this take place on a school morning.  A bright and glorious fall morning. 


Friday, September 14

3 months

Our joyful baby, Emmalie is 3 months!  She's just such a precious little doll. 
Here's what she's up to these days:
nurses every 2-4 hours during the day
sleeps 11 hours straight at night
coos and blows bubbles
smiles and is getting close to giggling
weighs 10 1/2 pounds (teeny!)
And here's proof that we have our first blue-eyed child. 
We've dreamed through all of the births and adoptions that we'd have just one blue-eyed baby like Jeremy, and here she is:  Emmalie Claire!  

Thursday, September 13

Oh, Annie

I can feel my heart starting to beat.

Your heart beats all of the time, it's what keeps you alive.

Yeah, and if it stops beating, you die.  And then you have to go to the doctor. Or the dentist.

Wednesday, September 12

link lovin'

Ever so often, I'd love to share some of my greatest (free) finds on the internet! 

Today is your day! 

Here's what I've been finding lately or what I've been meaning to share with you for ages:

Print and Frame:
She Laughs Without Fear
Pray About It
I love ALL of her printables!

I may snag this one for Gabi and Levi's room!  Check it out HERE.

For Bloggers:
Printable Blog Planner
Tips to Keep Your Writing Fresh

For Homeschoolers:
Multi-Subject Homeschool Printables
Little House on the Prairie Lapbook
A Stellar Post!

Teaching the Bible to your Kids:
10 Easy Bible Memory Verses  (Currently using this!)
Kids of Integrity  (We're using these lessons!)
Advntures in the Holy Bible  (Collect the Life of Jesus - Your Story Hour 13 CD set, by sending in your kid's Bible Studies - FREE!)

Online Audio Stories for Kids!:
Your Story Hour
Adventures in Odyssey
Paws and Tales

For Moms of Little Ones:
Keeping Little Ones Busy
On the Go Book Tutorial

DIY projects:
7 Inspirational DIY projects
Burlap Fall Wreath
Fall Wreath Roundup

Have any favorite links you'd like to share??  Please do!
Tuesday, September 11

homemade hot cocoa

As requested by a reader, here is my recipe for the most divine homemade hot cocoa!
Heat these four ingredients to a boil:
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
dash salt
1/3 c. hot water
Boil for 2 minutes.  Add the following, and heat to drinking temperature:
4 c. milk
3/4 t. vanilla
Serves four.  Enjoy!  It is especially good with a dash of flavored coffee syrup, coconut being my favorite of course!

the real pinterest link!

Follow Me on Pinterest There's the real link to follow me on pinterest! I had no idea that I had the wrong link (on the sidebar ---->) until today, when on a whim, I clicked on it... Oops! Sorry about that, if you were truly interested in following my boards. I don't go on there super often, but it sure is fun to look around and find ideas for specific events, etc... Happy pinning! :)
Monday, September 10

4 year old buddies

Annika and Savannah = Forever Friends

...and way adorable to boot.


Levi turns 2!

We are now the proud parents of two 2 year olds! Little Levi turned 2 last week.

Over the weekend, we held a monkey themed (again) birthday party in his honor. He is such a monkey, we just couldn't help it!

We decided on a quiet party at a local park, with just family, since he wouldn't remember it anyways - nor did he realize what all the fuss was about.  We played, we swung, we froze (brrr, it was cold that night!), we ate, and opened presents... a perfectly fun night for our adorable little guy. 

Levi has grown leaps and bounds in the last several months in several areas.  He is using new words each week and seems to understand most everything we are saying to him now.  He has extremely chatty older siblings, and that has helped urge him along in his speech.  He runs, jumps, and climbs with the best of them too.  We love our little monkey boy so much. 

Happy 2nd Birthday, Levi!  God loves you more than you can imagine, and we do too. 


Friday, September 7

our tiny dancer

Annika has been asking to take ballet since she was two.

I told her back then, that she could take a ballet class when she was four.  I truly didn't think she would stay interested in ballet those long two years. And I felt horrible giving her an age that seemed so far off to her little brain.

But she patiently waited.

And when she turned four last winter, she was ready. But then she had to wait some more... it had to be after the new baby was born.

Today was the day she was waiting for! This girl has the natural gift of performing, which we knew, but it was so fun to watch her dance and smile her way through class. She was adorable.



One last look at herself in the mirror before leaving class.  

"Mom?  Where's that stage thingey where you do the big performances?"
She's already dreaming of being on the stage.  Sigh. 


the story of the too small dining space

When we chose a plan for our very first home nine years ago, and presented it to our builder, we had two children. Two little boys that were one and two years old. We didn't need much space. We chose a plan that had an unfinished walk-out basement that we (Jeremy) could finish up after we moved into the upstairs. We love our home, but what we didn't anticipate was the five more children that would follow in the coming years. We imagined that we'd have another one, who ended up being Morgan, but we didn't even fathom the rest at the time.

We were happy with the small dining space just off the kitchen.  We had a small table, that expanded to a larger table, but it was really tight in that space if we put the leaf in.  So we continued...  every child and highchair added to our space began to feel stifling to us.  I was and am extremely thankful for our home and love our property, and know that some families across the globe are either homeless, live in a hut, one room apartment, or a house made out of scraps and has a dirt floor. 

I wasn't going to dare to complain.  We have MUCH to be thankful for. 

But last winter, after Levi came into our family just months before and I was pregnant with Emmalie, we began to brainstorm ways to better use our space.  I presented the idea of a long narrow table with benches instead of chairs, so we could squeeze more people in at the table...  we spent some time looking online, drawing sketches, and talking about what we would do.

This last summer, we finally had the final plan in mind and Jeremy set to work. 

I can't believe how naturally all of this building and creating with wood comes to him.  He's amazing!  It took him several weeks to complete, starting in late July, and ending a few days ago.  Our dining area was torn up for a while, and the kids ate on the living room floor on a plastic tablecloth, while we sat on the couches.  It is good to be back, and just in time for school to start. 

Here is the new and improved gorgeous piece of furniture that now graces our dining space.   We used Minwax stain in Red Mahogany (three coats), and satin finish clear polyurethane (two coats on the legs, and three coats on the top surfaces). 

On each bench, you can fit five adults or seven children comfortably.  And we love the storage underneath the window bench...  Such a difference for us! 

Here is what it looked like before it was stained and protected: