First Measurable Snow Fall = Outdoor Play!

We’ve finally had our first measurable snowfall of this season!  It isn’t a huge amount but enough to play in and even though the temperature outside was only 3 degrees it didn’t seem to phase the kids any.   Jonathan had to wear his sisters snow boots that she grew out of because his were too small for him.    Hopefully, the kids will have lots of outdoor play time in the snow this winter.  It’s a really good thing their daddy doesn’t mind the cold, otherwise, they might not be outside except to go from the house to the van!  Daddy and the 2 oldest shoveled the snow into piles for fort making but I didn’t get pictures of the forts.

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Our Version of Halloween and Random Pictures

As I mentioned in an earlier post I’m not a fan of Halloween.  Last year we went to a play (The Princess and the Pauper) that several homeschool groups put on and opening night was on Halloween – YAY!  This year we weren’t as lucky to have a play to attend so I decided to throw our own little family party for Halloween.  I put up several strings of orange and purple lights around the basement.  I set up our long folding table with a pumpkin tablecloth and set up a station for each kiddo to make a popsicle stick scarecrow.  We will use these scarecrows as fall decorations next year.

Jonathan working on his scarecrow.

Jonathan working on his scarecrow.

Popsicle Stick Scarecrows

Popsicle Stick Scarecrows

After dinner we played bingo with homemade bingo cards and M&M as the tokens.  Whichever kid won they got to eat a couple tokens.

Playing Bingo!

Playing Bingo!

Our pumpkin village watched the festivities 🙂

Pumpkin Village!

Pumpkin Village!

It was a fun evening and the kids are already looking forward to next year!

Below are just some random pictures I thought I’d share.

All Smiles!

All Smiles!                                                   

Our littlest Bronco fan!

Our littlest Bronco fan!

Our girls!

Our girls!

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Fall Festival and Pumpkins

Thanks to my friend Jodi (who is a fabulous real estate agent if you ever need one! She will work hard for you!) a few of us spent a fun morning at the Remax Fall Festival.  I took Jonathan, Alex, Belle and Natasha to Clement Park to enjoy a pumpkin patch, balloon rides (we didn’t take a ballon ride… I’m hoping next year), face painting, pancake and sausage breakfast and funny shaped balloons.  It was a bit chilly at 8am but by 9:30 it warmed up quite a bit.

Natasha, Belle, Alex and Jonathan at Fall Festival

Natasha, Belle, Alex and Jonathan at Fall Festival

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Many of you know that Halloween is my least favorite holiday.  If it was just 5 year olds dressing up as lady bugs and dinosaurs it would be no big deal.  But it’s such a dark holiday.  The decorations and the costumes are just…. terrible!  I don’t get the interest in death.  The heads chopped off and blood and cuts.  Why is that appealing to anyone?  Anyway, we don’t typically celebrate Halloween around here but we did decorate pumpkins.  I’m planning a special Halloween party for my family for that evening. Instead of trick or treating and coming home with a bunch of junk I have a couple special games planned and something fun to create!  Here are the kids pumpkins!  They are sitting on our front porch now enjoying the crisp fall weather.  Thanks to my mom for her desire to do the pumpkin thing with my kids.  If it wasn’t for her they wouldn’t know much about pumpkins other then eating them!

Alex's pumpkin is decorated as a fairy!

Alex’s pumpkin is decorated as a fairy!

Jonathan's pumpkin is a pirate!

Jonathan’s pumpkin is a pirate!

Belle made her pumpkin into a cat!

Belle made her pumpkin into a cat!

Natasha transformed her pumpkin into a mouse!

Natasha transformed her pumpkin into a mouse!

 

Happy Fall!

Change Is A Good Thing…. Right?

Anyone who knows me knows that I, generally speaking, don’t do well with change. But I also know that change can be good and, at times, necessary.

We’ve had a lot of change in our house over the last 6 weeks. The kind of change that requires physical energy, patience and a good nights sleep!

In an effort to give our four girls more room we decided to give them the master bedroom. Now, our house was built in 1952 and the bedrooms are not very big, not even the master bedroom. But, it gives them a bit more room. We sold our giant, solid wood furniture and bought a used platform bed to fit our CA King mattress (I love craigslist!). Then I painted the room a bright green and stenciled Joshua 1:9 on their closet door. I painted a few small trees, butterflies, lady bugs and flowers throughout the room. My mom made them new curtains. Then we got their bunk beds set up along with the crib for Katherine. One set of bunk beds does not have the bottom bunk set up (don’t need it yet!) so I made it a little play area for the girls.

Then in our new room, I painted it and my mom made us some new curtains. We got our new bed set up and then I set off to re-arrange the basement.

Both Phil and I were convicted that we have too much stuff… I mean WAY too much stuff and stuff that we didn’t need nor use. So I made my old office the girls dressing room. All of their dressers and hanging clothes are now down in this dressing room. The other half of the room is set up with all of our crafts and believe me when I say we know how to craft!

Then, Phil’s office was cleaned out and made into a game room. All of the toys and games that were in our big play room downstairs were cleaned out. Some thrown away and some donated. Then we re-organized all that was left and set it up in what is now the game room. As a side note, Jonathan had grown out of his toddler bed and was ready for a twin. Because of our very, VERY tight budget we really had no funds to buy him a new bed. So, my mom volunteered to take the double bed that used to be in Phil’s office and give her twin to Jonathan. It was a win win for all of us! Thanks Mom!

What’s left in the big play room? The 2 lego tables won’t fit in the game room so they stayed in the big room. Our piano and treadmill are also still in this room. We took our dark blue couch to the dump which left us with the small brown love seat. It just so happened that my aunt was having a garage sale the same weekend and was selling her couch. The couch was rarely sat on as it was kept in a bedroom and she sold it to us for very little. AND, it is a sleeper couch! I realize that it won’t be as comfortable as our previous guest bed but hey, it’s free to use!

So, the big room is now much less cluttered and a more relaxing place to watch TV. Well, we don’t have cable so we watch movies.

Now for a few cute pictures!

Katherine taking a nap outside in the shade.

Katherine taking a nap outside in the shade.

They love when they get to go with daddy in the bike trailer!

They love when they get to go with daddy in the bike trailer!

Cousin Jacob here for a visit!

Cousin Jacob here for a visit!

Jonathan loves to roll in the grass!

Jonathan loves to roll in the grass!

The Titus 2 Woman

Titus 2:3-5 (NASB) Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  

I was reading a blog post by Courtney over at Women Living Well about 5 radical qualities young women should pursue.   Courtney discusses what Paul is writing about in Titus 2.  She does a wonderful job breaking down each verse and the qualities that a young woman should try to acquire.  You should take a few moments and read her take on Titus 2

I am blessed to have 2 Titus 2 women in my life.  I have known my friend June for 14 years.  Through the years she has prayed for me and with me (and my family), encouraged me, challenged me and laughed with me.  She is usually the first person my husband calls when he sees that I need to get out of the house and be encouraged.   She is a wonderful example of a Godly wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

I’ve only known my friend Joan for a few years but she too has prayed for me, challenged me and we certainly laugh together… frequently!  She loves the Lord, her husband and her children.  She takes her role as a Titus 2 woman seriously and will lovingly mentor anyone.  Her passion is to help other women become a Titus 2 woman and to help them strengthen their relationships with the Lord, their husbands and their children.

I pray that one day I can serve others as my 2 friends have served me and my family.

Blessings,
Gaylene

ps – you really should check out Courtney’s blog.  She is a gifted writer and does not shy away from speaking the truth of the Bible.

 

Summer and Bible Bee

Summer is my favorite season for many reasons.  One of our favorite activities in the summer is participating in the annual Bible Bee.  Each year The Shelby Kennedy Foundation puts together a nationwide Bible Bee.  They decide on a book of the bible to study all summer, choose many (not sure how many but a lot!) verses for memorization and create wonderful study workbooks based on various ages.  Our local bible bee club meets once a week throughout the summer where we play games and help each other with memory verses and bible questions.

This year the foundation choose to study the book of Jonah.  All summer long we will do an in-depth study of Jonah and memorize as many verses (assigned by the Foundation) as we can.  In late August, we will gather for our local Bible Bee Contest where the girls will take a written test based on Jonah and then will recite the verses they know in front of a judge.  The winners of the local bees get to go to Atlanta in late October to compete in the National Bible Bee.

Our kids absolutely love the Bible Bee and the Bible Bee club where we get to play and fellowship with several other families all while putting the words of our Lord on our hearts.

What a blessing!

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Enjoy your summer!

Gaylene

Now we are 7!

I woke up just after midnight on Thursday, March 6th feeling a little odd.  At 9+ months pregnant, getting in and out of bed can be quite a chore but I managed to roll out of bed and started wobbling toward the bathroom when my water broke.  I went back to the bedroom, turned on the light and instantly Phil woke up.  You see, every Thursday we have a paper route job that starts at about 4:30 in the morning when Phil leaves to go pick up the papers from the warehouse.  As soon as I turned the light on Phil jumped up and asked if he was late getting up to get the papers.  I promptly told him that my water broke and Mr. Efficient had his clothes and coat on and was ready to whisk me off to the hospital.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I really, REALLY dislike hospitals and since I was not having any consistent contractions I was really in no hurry to rush to the hospital for who knows how long until baby arrived.  I was able to put him off for almost an hour but he got me to the hospital about 1am.

We tried calling and texting my doctor but our new cell phone provider was not playing along that night and he didn’t know I went into labor until a couple hours after baby was born.  Fortunately, my doctor’s back up was at the hospital in no time and was quite good at helping me stay focused through the pain.

Anyway, Phil would say “and 4 pushes later” our 5th child was born.  Now, that kind of implies that not much happened before those 4 pushes and I honestly think it was more like 6 pushes but who’s counting!  At 5 hours this was the quickest labor.. thankfully!

Without any further rambling please meet Peanut, Buttercup or something else… haven’t settled on a nickname for her yet.  She was born at 5:09 am Thursday, March 6th weighing 8 pounds and was 20 1/4 inches long.  And yes I said HER!  We did not know ahead of time what God was going to bless us with and it was fun to hear ‘it’s a girl’ after all the hard work.

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With big sister Pooh Bear!

With big sister Pooh Bear!

With big sister Belle!

With big sister Belle!

She’s beautiful and healthy and perfect for our family!

The nurses were shocked when by 7am that same morning I asked when I could go home.  Remember… I don’t like hospitals and unless there is a medical reason to keep me or baby I see absolutely no reason to stay.  Right about that time my OB walked in, looked me over and gave me the thumbs up to go home and all we needed was for the hospital pediatrician to give the OK for baby.   Originally, the hospital wanted me to take a parenting class before allowing me to be discharged but my nurse came in and told me I didn’t need to go to the class.  Around 1pm the pediatrician said baby was ok for us to take home (of course, that was after I got a lecture about how we should stay and be monitored for at least 24 hours, yada yada yada) and we were out the door by 2pm.  YAY!  Less then a 12 hour hospital stay!

Fast forward 2 weeks and baby gained 22 ounces (she lost 8 ounces the first day or two) and is a very calm and beautiful baby.  All the kids absolutely adore her and are big helps around the house.

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We thank God for this amazing blessing!

 

Why I Love Valentine’s Day… Now!

I’ve never really been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  For me it was just a marketing tool used to rake in thousands of dollars and convince millions of people to buy and eat large amounts of sugar…. commercialism at it’s best!

However, five years ago I started a new Valentine’s Day tradition with our family.  A special evening where we focus on God’s love for us and the love we have for each other.  I decorate our house with lots of hearts and bible verses that express God’s love for us.  I usually make chicken cordon bleu because the entire family really likes it and then I make a special dessert.  This year, dessert was VERY simple as being 37 weeks pregnant I’m low on energy!  I bought gluten free pretzels and put a Hershey’s kiss on each one and popped them into the oven at 170 for about 5 minutes.  Then I topped each one with a pink m&m.  They were a huge hit.

I also try to make something special for each family member.  This year I made each person a presentation of 10 things I love about each one.  Each night starting on Valentine’s Day everyone scratches a heart off to reveal one thing I love about them.  We have all really enjoyed this nightly activity.

Rather than give in to the commercial take on Valentine’s Day try making it a family devotional time and an opportunity to be a blessing to your family!

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Socialization

As a homeschooling mom I often hear from those that don’t homeschool about the lack of socialization in homeschooling kids and it just makes me wonder how much time they actually spend with homeschooled kids.  More then likely, it’s an issue they have heard about and assumed must be correct or they see some odd and rare example on the news or internet about a secluded homeschool family.  Therefore, this must represent all homeschool families.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) recently posted an article about a bill proposed in France to limit homeschooling rights to only those with physical or mental disabilities.  All other students would be required to attend the government run public school.  The main reason as stated by the Union for a Popular Movement is they believe homeschooling drastically limits socialization.

I believe this reason is just an excuse because the government just wants control of what the kids in their country are taught.  If they truly spent time with kids that have been homeschooled they would see that a vast majority of them actually have better social skills then those taught in the public school system.

My children spend times with other children of all ages, not just their peer group.  I get many, many compliments when I’m out and about with my kids.  Here are a few:

  • Eating lunch at a fast food place recently, an elderly woman had been sitting close by and as she was leaving she stopped to talk to the girls and said what a lovely family we have.  There are all so pleasant.
  • While recently looking at used vehicles I had Pooh and Belle with me.  The owner’s father in law stopped to talk to us about all kinds of things. He engaged the girls in talking about school, crafts and family life.  After the conversation the girls went to look at a different car and this gentlemen said to me “Whatever you are doing with them keep it up.  I’m retired and I drive a school bus part time and I always take my sunglasses off and make eye contact with the kids as they get off and on the bus (middle school age) and very, very few of them make eye contact with me let alone hold a conversation.”
  • My mom has had many dentist appointments over the last 3 months at 3 different offices.  I usually leave the 3 girls in the lobby while JT and I go back with my mom to talk to the dentist.  Staff from all 3 offices have told me how pleasant my children are to be around and how they can be left alone in a lobby and they still behave without me close by.  I’ve even been told by staff that when they see several children come they cringe inside because it’s usually not a pleasant experience for the staff or the other patients.
  • As a family we got to a nursing home once and sometimes twice a month to sing songs and give hope and encouragement to the residents.  My girls LOVE the day we go to the nursing home.  Without any prompting from us they approach the residents and talk with them and show them love.
  • Because my kids are together everyday they’ve learned to play with each other, learn together and encourage one another.

If this is what non-public school socialization looks like then I’d say it’s more successful then the government controlled, lacking in morals, God denying public education system.

Unfortunately, so many parents in our society say the typical attitude of children is just the way they are rather than maybe the way they are being raised.  Children (especially teenagers) are given a pass because of hormones or puberty or whatever excuse the parents can come up with.  It’s ok to not acknowledge an adult speaking to them, it’s ok not to show respect or be annoyed with those they just don’t want to take the time to talk to.  Well… this is probably another post all by itself… maybe titled Teenage Years and It Doesn’t Have to Be as Bad as Society Says…. hmmm… I like it!

I will take our homeschool socialization over public school socialization any day!