Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yesterday afternoon was lovely. A dear friend called us for a last minute invite to her home, and we had a clear day! So, while kids played, we had a good time chatting and drinking tea and eating a chocolate croissant (which I'd never had before; they really are quite delicious). Time with my girl friend was just what I needed since it is both winter AND I am pregnant - both factors producing somewhat a hermit inside of me.

Upon arriving back home, I tucked the girls in for their naps. Thankfully, there was no gymnastics class to wake them up early for, so I was able to engage in the art of making dinner on a Monday night! This is a big deal. I have not felt much like cooking lately. Shepherd's pie called to me and I just made it up as I went. Must say, it turned out delicious. If you'd like to know, I simply browned a pound of ground beef, keeping the lid on the pan, so as to not let too much of the juices evaporate. You may want to add a little oil or butter as you go. Then, I chopped four or five medium potatoes into large chunks and put them into water to boil. As the beef browned and taters boiled, I chopped two celery and two carrots, along with about a half cup of onion. I then salted and garlicked (added garlic powder to) the nearly browned beef, adding in the veggies. When the veggies softened, I added half a small can of tomato paste and about a cup (or more) of water. I let simmer for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the potatoes were ready to mash, just added butter and milk. I then placed the beef mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, and spread the potatoes over that. I then placed the whole pan in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Lastly, I sprinkled grated cheddar over the whole thing. Wa-la! Shepherd's pie. If you are going for less dairy, you could just sprinkle the top of the taters with  sweet paprika versus cheese.

It was a hit with my husband especially. He loves his beef.

We also said good-bye to our Christmas tree last night. While I was cooking away, my man took it down and the girls helped put away the ornaments. There is now an incredible amount of space in our living room. I must confess, I like it. My job will be to complete the tear down, putting away all the wreaths, sweet Christmas candles, and cheery stockings. I love Christmas, but I also love clearing out for a brand new year! 

We are unsure what we are doing to ring in 2014. We may head to Bellevue for the last day of Celebration Lane, where fake snow pours down and for 20 minutes we enjoy a time of dancing to music and licking lollipops with a myriad of winter characters who beat drums and entertain us with their antics. 

Either that, or stay inside, make a fire, watch a family movie and sip hot chocolate. And hail in the New Year with NYC at 9pm. Not a bad option.

In other (sad) news, my husbands's Uncle Tom has passed away. Yes, the one I had mentioned in my previous Thanksgiving post. The cancer took him quickly. God called his name and he went peacefully. Tom loved his family dearly, and loved to serve in his position as a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship. I have not had a close relationship with Tom, but I have been close with his wife. She is a good friend of mine, and she and her sons (Mike's cousins) were able to be with us over the holidays. They seem to be doing well, but I know their hearts are aching. It is so hard to communicate grief when one is going through it. Grief is funny. It ebbs and flows without warning. It causes us to feel volatile one moment, bringing us to our knees in tears the next, and stranger still, allows us to laugh when we feel joy because sometimes those moments help us to forget the pain we feel inside.

The best thing to do for someone who is grieving is to pray for them. If you reach out, and don't feel a response, just give space and time. Or drop of an anonymous gift or meal to them. Some people enjoy being surrounded by others, while some enjoy solace and privacy. Each are normal. 

I remember when we lost Amelia, a dear sister at Bible study handmade a beautiful bracelet for me, with Brilla and Amelia's names stringed together in sterling silver blocks. When she handed it to me, she said she woke up to the gorgeous sunrise and felt prompted to pray for me, and could almost imagine Amelia sitting on our Lord's lap enjoying the light of God. This woman may never know how much her gift and words lifted me, but she was an incredible blessing. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

All I Want for Christmas (and Thanksgiving)

Hi there. I haven't written in a while, because basically, I have not had time! School and kids take it all up.

Right now, I sit at the computer, sipping my decaf Peppermint Mocha, thanks to a free reward from S-bucks. For anyone else who is a gold card holder, have you noticed how many rewards they are giving out now? There must be huge competition because before, I don't remember being able to get so many drinks and treats from them for so inexpensive.

On the flip side, I am not typically a foofy coffee drinker. My usual is a tall decaf latte with one raw sugar or just drip with cream and sugar. But because I'm pregnant with our fourth (or should I say, fifth!), coffee is very blah to me and I prefer it camoflauged, or even better, replaced with a vanilla rooibois.

Other things that are disdained during this pregnancy (while we're on the topic): Mexican food. Yeah, bummer. I end up smelling the garlic and onions on my breath until I scrub my teeth wholeheartedly. Baked goods. This is to my benefit since they all go to my hips and buns anyway. Lots of big, doughy bread. I can almost visualize the stuff stopping up my entire system. Or at least that's what it feels like. I prefer whole grain crackers, potatoes, brown rice. Ultimately, the worst thing about first trimester is my lack of vigor for cooking, or food, period. What sounded good at lunch, sounds horrible for dinner. And even though I cooked a whole pot of stew yesterday, I have no desire to eat it the rest of the week. I knew this would come, but God blesses us with blissful blocked out memories! Until we are there again.

Today was rough but my hubby saved the day. Usually I have to wake up early to get B to co-op on Monday morning. I didn't have a great sleep last night/this morning. Mike went into work later than usual, so he was able to take her in, while I stayed home with the littles! What a man.

When my immune system is low, I get a bad allergy...my nose runs the entire day until I take a nap or go to bed at night. We've not been getting to bed on time, I've been eating leftover Halloween sour  candy to ease my nausea, AND I've been failing to take my prenatal vites the last few days. Thus, instead of typing this, I probably should be catching my zzz's.

All I want for Christmas is a second trimester.

 Until then, however, I need to be looking on the thankful side, grateful for this little peanut, asking God to keep him/her healthy.

Also, Mike's uncle (who is a pilot for a missions ministry) just found out a few months ago that he has terminal cancer. And is not expected to live past another year. This news is devastating. He is the youngest of Mike's uncles and seemed to be in excellent health. He is now here in the area and we have been able to see him and keep tabs on his health. His wife is a dear friend of mine and she is having a rough time, as you can imagine. It's in times like these that all is put into perspective.

We are expecting new life, in about 8 months, and our extended family is dreading life to end, only God knowing when that will happen. We are praying for healing, but also God's timing. Only He knows His plans for Tom's life and we pray whatever happens is a beautiful testimony of God's power and grace.

This Thanksgiving, I will get a chance to bow my heart to Jesus, thanking Him for every single gift He has given me and each member of my family. Accepting all from His hand, both bad and good.

And what do I really want for Christmas? I want a huge celebration of God's grace to us in the form of Jesus Christ. I want to bask in the gift of my family of five. I want to share joy with others by giving them gifts from my heart to theirs. I really want to love and be unselfish.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Our Fourth

The Fourth was grand around here. As predicted, we had plenty of food for 25 people. I love to cook (I love to eat out too though), and had prepared a few dishes. My avocado salad/salsa was a huge hit. I did not expect everyone to clean out the bowl! My roast potatoes were gone, too, but my normal baked taters were left for me to make hash browns the next day. Some years people like gourmet, and some years they like simple. I had wanted to concoct a blueberry and raspberry crisp, but my husband convinced me I should only do blueberry. I did, and it was eaten right up, alongside someone else's fruit pizza, patriotic cookies and raspberry pie. I chuckle, because Mike ended up NOT liking my blueberry crisp.  I can't help but think adding raspberries to the crisp would have made it tarter and more yummy to his palate. 

I didn't get to play volleyball, I was too busy helping my sis in love in the kitchen. They had just arrived back from a river rafting trip in Oregon and came pack to host the Fourth. Needless to say, she had to be a roll the entire time. 

With tummies full, we pounded out a few patriotic tunes, prepared with sheet music and sound track by my husband's uncle. Grand fun.

We set off our fireworks along the road. Our church's youth group has a big fireworks stand every year, so we purchased from them. The ladybugs were adorable! And as tradition would have it, the sparklers were a favorite for my oldest daughter. They are always everyone's favorite. It would not be a Fourth of July in Washington without a little sprinkle, so right in the middle of things, it did just that. Just enough to cool everyone off, clear the air. Then it stopped and we continued with our light shows. There are a couple of gorgeous fireworks displays near the Lake Tapps area and from their home, we could see them clearly. Wonderful to wrap up in blanket and watch them from the comfort of their yard. 

We clambered back in the house to watch some Carol Burnett episodes. Very hilarious. What a funny, brilliant woman. Never is a complete night without erupting laughter.

Our kids did pretty well staying up so late. Of course, Reese would not lay down to save her life, but Katie was able to get all cozy on the couch. On the way home, all three girls fell fast asleep, which is saying something because Brilla almost NEVER falls asleep in the car.

Our family continues to enjoy this four-day weekend. Yes, my husband actually has FOUR days off from work! We are relaxing, watching movies, playing at the park and just being together. 

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Freedom and Other Things I Take for Granted

Well, we have hit summer hard and I think I'm wearing us out. Almost every single day of summer vacation, we have been going somewhere, doing something! It has been a blast, but also goes to show how used to our school schedule we are...lots of lying low, nose in books. Yes, my girls like to play, but we have been REALLY been playing hard! Makes for great naps, and even better bed times. As an aside, this heat and activity has completely cleared up Brilla's cough. (It had held on for a couple months.)

We are proud owners of a trampoline and small pool now :) The girls have been wearing both of those out, as well as the sprinkler and slip n slide. All this water usage has served double purpose since its watering my flowers too. No having to sneak outside and do special watering.

I hope this weather doesn't disappear. I've been loving it. W don't have air conditioning but I don't mind. We just go somewhere that does, then come home for naps. If I blow in cold air during the morning, keep the windows and doors shut when the sun comes out, and close the curtains, it stays fairly cool.

Tonight I made some yummy salmon cakes. That is what happens when your salmon comes out too dry the night before. Paired with cool sauce, it makes for a great low-key dinner.

We can't wait for the Fourth of July celebration around here. Very excited for berry cobbler, roasted potatoes, avocado salsa, and other food goodness. Also happy for volleyball, water games, and gorgeous sunsets. I think often we take family for granted. We are fortunate to have both sides of the family nearby and in good relationships. What fun we have, what awesome memories can be made.
I do miss my brothers and wish they could be joining us. Some day, maybe they'll stay in Washington, who knows,

Most times, I am totally okay with my brothers being across the country. But during holidays or here and there when I least expect it, my heart wanders and I miss them. Kind of go down memory lane and think about the days we were all together and thinking it would forever be that way. I miss the girls not seeing their uncles. Thank goodness for Skype, Facebook and phone calls, but nothing can really replace real life. Time happens though. And God has perfect plans for each of us and they don't all have to occur in the Pacific Northwest. He is continuously working all things for the good of those who love Him. I need to trust in that.

Happy Independence Day!!! This is right up there with Christmas and Thanksgiving for me. The birth of our country, the beginning of freedom for America. So many fought hard to make it so. Poured out their lives. I am humbled by the sacrifice of our forefathers and presidents. Hoping to read the kids some stories tomorrow about it.

Celebrate freedom!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Who Are You Listening To?

This post is born out of my need to check myself - who am I listening to?

I'm not talking about actually listening to music or sermons. Mostly, what voices pop into my head when making a decision, when living life. The voice of fear "what if I fail", "what will others think of me"? The voice of default "it's always done this way, don't change it up"?, the voice of discouragement "you will never amount to anything", "you are not worth much"?

I think the greatest hindrance to obeying the Holy Spirit is not our inability to hear Him, but letting the other opinions (untruths) skew our path. For those who have followed Christ for a long time, it may be the opinion of other Christians you hold in high regard. For the new, it could be our past that does not let to easily, the voices that tell us we cannot change, you will not be able to break the cycle of sin. Praise God we can do NOTHING on our own, Christ already paid the debt, and He continually quickens us in His ways. So He not only initially saves, but redeems and sustains. He does not leave us as orphans. We have the Holy Spirit, always with us, speaking Gods Truth in our hearts.

And even as I write that, I know I don't always live on that Truth.

Instead, I think, what will others think of me? Will they look down on our family's choices? Will I look foolish? Will I appear a failure? Will I appear not committed? Sometimes it's like being a teenager all over again. The insecurity, the need for acceptance, the awkwardness of being different, or discomfort of maybe sticking out.

For me, this concerns a certain decision having to do with homeschooling. It's not a huge one, but it could be. Others could view my decision as something else, but I know it's a wise one. The Lord put it on my heart a while ago. And I need to follow through because its what's best for my kids, so thankful my husband is on board and he's my biggest supporter. So grateful he listens to me with ears wide open, no judgment, no condemnation.

It really helps to have someone like that in your life. Someone to lean on. Someone you know who is not easily swayed by what others think.

Next time you need to make a decision and you ask yourself "what will others think"...remember- what has God called you to? Can you not trust Him that He will see it through? He is big enough to handle it. And the purpose is to bring Him glory anyway, not maintain our 'good reputation'.

People are masters at making us feel weird for making a choice that goes against the flow, but they are wimps. Yes, it's dumb to make waves just to make a personal statement, but when we are doing it for the best cause ever, Jesus, there's not need to second guess.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5:30 was my wake up this morning. Amazingly, I felt very rested. So I got up and watered my lawn and flowers. What a beautiful morning. The birds chirping, the heat from yesterday still hanging in the air.

I am trying to decide what I'll do with my girls today. Of course, we must do school, but I am also thinking we will go get some more things for our yard. A pot, a bench, a bird bath. I also need some sunglasses, so we'll likely stop at Target. Hm. Maybe it will be just a casual outing after all. I may reward their patience during Mommy's shopping with a trip to the park.

Funny Brilla saying for the week: She told her friend as they entered our garage (aka "the pit", there is so much junk in there) "We have a lot of stuff in our garage, we're rich." Hahaha...love it.

Her friend wanted to know if we really were rich, hence how us moms both found out what Brilla said. Kids are fantastic.

I know where she's going with the whole "rich" thing. I know my daughters mind. Though she's only six, she is a deep thinker, and some times blows me away. After listening to Crazy Love (Francis Chan), we came to the conclusion that compared to a lot of people in poor countries, and even the USA, we are rich. We have a place to call home, we can afford the mortgage, heat, food and clothing. (Like, out of this world amounts of clothing.) We have always told Brilla we are very rich because God has given us everything we need, plus our wants from time to time. And that we should be so thankful for all He has given, we want to share all we have with others. Nothing is ours, it's all Gods, and He lends it to us for a time.

So, yes we ARE rich. We have beyond everything we could ask for or think up! As God as our ultimate Provider and gift-giver, we lack for nothing. Never have, never will.

 I need to remember this when I am in a funk. Often it's our worldly mindset that gets us thinking we don't have enough or need what we don't. God is gracious, he doesn't slap us upside the head for that kind of thinking (well not usually). Instead He graciously reveals Himself, gently prods. He knocks until we open.

I need to remember the simple faith of my six-year-old.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This afternoon is lazy. These days are rare and I am soaking it up. The sun out gives extra reason to be happy.

Brilla is out playing with her friends and the littles are napping. And silence from Mike means he's catching winks too.

I got some gardening/yard work done earlier this morning. A friend also came over and offered to mow our lawn while Mike did some business-related things. Very kind.

Did I mention I have completed my yard?? Yes! All done. It took the average of four weeks, and I still have a few things I want to do, but it is mostly finished. I still want to purchase a couple pots, bench, and other foofy things, but all the weeding, topsoil, and bark processes are done, as well as flowers planted. It looks so nice that today I have been laying out on the grass, reading a book, enjoying it. In fact, just came in because I was getting too hot.

I have photos, but alas, I don't know how to connect them from my tablet. Hm, will have to work on that.

I just got back from a trip down to sunny (and smoggy) Los Angeles. Give me sun, though, and I'm not a huge complainer. It was in the 70s with slight wind. Perfect. My cousin got married to the boy she's been dating since high school! Ten years of dating is a long time! They are a very cute couple and I wish them the best.

I didn't take a ton of photos. I was busy chatting with my cousins (I have 33) or catching up with my aunts and uncles.

The first day was wonderful. I got to fly without children! So nice to not have luggage too. I did make the mistake of sitting in front of a family with older kids. You don't expect the older ones to be loud (we are talking ages 10-14) but they were. They sounded like they were riding an amusement park ride. Several hoots and hollers throughout the trip!

I was grateful that my Uncle Gil invited me to his home for home-cooked fare because I was ravenous! He is an excellent chef. He made sea bass, Mongolian beef, cucumber and kale salad, and beef tenderloin steaks. All topped off with rice! The Filipino way :)

So thankful I have such hospitable family in Southern CA, not all families are like that. In fact, I'm finding it's rare.

I helped out with decorating the ballroom but did precious little in the grand scheme of things. The theme was Disney since both Nick & Steff love all things Disney. There was even Disney theme music throughout the reception. Loved it. Black and purple. Old Hollywood themed dresses and tuxes. Almost a rocker chick/stud look.

Dancing was fun, though I missed not having Mike to sway and be-bop with. Of course, we don't have great moves. But we still love dancing. If we could do it all over again, we would have had dancing at our wedding.

I tried champagne for the first time. I don't like it. It's bitter. Or maybe I'm just a novice and have to get used to the taste of alcohol. For what it's worth, I think I much prefer the taste of sparkling juice and will stick with that. I have a hard enough time watching my calories as it is. I did not grow up with my parents drinking wine or much alcohol on a regular basis. I did hear them having it while out on dates, but never in the home. Mike's parents did not have alcohol in the home ever, period. So before you think us prudes, we simply did not grow up around it and that is why we don't drink. We have made a personal decision to not casually drink, but not because we look down on others who do.   We really are not interested in the stuff.

The older I grow, the more I realize how important relationships are. They were (are) important to Jesus, and I think it's inborn in each of us to want close relationships with others. Especially since we're made in God's image. I care deeply for my family and found simple happiness in catching up with each one of them. If I could sum up the best part of this trip to Nick & Steffie's wedding, it would be that. Getting to know those most closely connected with me.

As always, it feels grand to be home again. I enjoy getting back on schedule. I'm weird like that, just my personality. Though in another month or two, I will need another break :) Maybe that will be the time for us to go on a day trip.

I hear those in the Midwest are all done with school. Wish that was the m.o. on the West Coast. Nope, we have another couple weeks left. Really, we are home schooled and can finish anytime we please. Still have quite a few ends to tie, however. Brilla has a Science project presentation to give this Monday, and Latin continues until the end of the month. But we should be done with everything else by June 12.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My heart is heavy to hear of the loss caused by the tornado in Oklahoma. It hurts to hear stories of children missing, or teachers who died, their bodies covering surviving children. And more.
Sometimes I wonder why we are so fortunate to go without major natural disasters here in the Pacific NW. Grateful yes, but empathetic for others' loss, also yes. I could send money, but in reality, I'd like to resurrect the dead. And erase the events that have occurred.

I m not good at discussing theology during wreckage from national disasters, so I will leave it to those who are.

My husband is finally back home. He had a great trip, a time well-spent with his parents and other relatives, and also attendance at his cousin's beautiful wedding. I am very glad to have him back. He's such a huge help and I just plain missed him :) The girls especially. You should have seen him at dinner. All three climbing into his lap, vying for his attention! He could barely eat!

Today was co-op day. Brilla goes to the church to study Latin, Science and Art. Today was watercolor painting. Her teacher is excellent. They collectively painted a bird (the name fails me) with yellow and black. Brilla made a mistake and was down on herself, but cheered her with the fact that it doesn't have to be perfect and we are allowed mistakes, and her painting is till gorgeous to boot. She seemed happy about that.

After the big morning/afternoon, I put the littlest ones down to nap while Brilla and I "played" in the yard. I got most of our plants potted, or planted in the ground. The only things waiting now are the groundcovers. Just waiting for the weed killer to take effect so I can cover with dirt, and plant. It is looking so pretty around here! But I tell you what, gardening is exhausting and can take weeks. I need t remind myself it's not a sprint, but a marathon.

Later we had yummy leftover salmon, pilaf and peas such a simple,  but heathy, meal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In Love

I don't know about you, but I am in love with Spring. Especially Spring 2013. The sun has been pouring in, the flowers are in full bloom, and I am not pregnant. To which I attribute my ability to get  out and get my lawn looking nice again.

After all the sweaty hours, my yard is mostly free of weeds. First time in two years!

Bright yellow lilies wink at me from the right border of my lawn, as well as some pretty purplish blooms, whose names I am not familiar with. Hostas thrive in our shady areas, as well as some new groundcovers to hide the unsightly septic tank and aid me in my desire not to weed frequently. I also have a rose bush and lilac bush struggling to make it on the outskirts. Though I placed them in the sun and frequently use plant food, I can't help but feel worried they won't make it. Please, work a miracle.

I also have delightful tomatoes, primroses, carnation relatives, mint, azaleas and peonies yet to make their way into the ground. I am waiting for the rain the subside to order a load of bark to top it all off. Remember I actually weeded this year? I want to keep those beasties out.

Another amazing benefit of Spring here, is the natural curtain the trees provide to give us privacy from the neighbors. Though I love the brilliance of Fallish reds and oranges, by Winter the trees are sadly bare, making us a fishbowl for surrounding houses. Green and full, the trees currently stretch out their glory and hide us a bit. Just nice to throw open wide the curtains and not see another face staring back at us from across the back lawn.

My girls spend half their day playing out in the yard. In proportion to how small our home is, we have a huge back yard, about a quarter of an acre. That sounded minuscule to my sister-in-law, who has 10 plus acres, but for the city, that's pretty good. The sun has allowed the girls to jump on their new trampoline, sit or play on the deck, ride their bikes and scooters, or just do whatever they feel like doing. I also see it as getting our Vitamin D. And I am not kidding. Did you know our state has the highest rate of breast cancer? And it's attributed to lack of Vitamin D. Getting our vitamins never felt so good.

I am looking forward to more sun, more planting and more playing. Before that, however, we need to finish school. One more reason to enjoy Spring...a farewell to all things first grade!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I should be in bed.

I've been saying that to myself the last week and a half. And every night I don't listen because there is something wonderful about being alone in the quiet, time to think.

Tomorrow is Mothers Day and can I say I am so thankful to be one? My kids teach me daily about grace. They know me inside and out. They know my failings, my strengths, and they still love me for who I am. They are so quick to forgive. To lavish their love. In an instant, I will have arms wrapped around my neck so tight, I can barely breathe because of the love in that hug. In moments like that, time stands still and I don't want my kids to grow up.

Being a mom is a learning process. There is no fail-safe book on how to do it, and all are surprised by  its naturalness, its harshness, its wonder. I was not one of those girls that longed to be a mom. But when I held my eldest for the first time, I knew this is what I was made to be: a mom. Privileged to raise her to love and be loved. To worship her Creator, to love Him with all her being.

Mom-hood is hard, no bones about it. Some days I don't want to be Mom, because it so demanding! It's tough to meet the needs of little children, give them food all the time, wipe their noses, get them dressed, help the handle their emotions when you can't even handle yours! It's painful too. There is loss, heartache and tough love. There is nothing that sharpens a woman like mom-hood.

Some days I just want to turn on the music and dance with my girls. And we do. Throw all schedules to the wind. Play outside in the sun, paint and do art projects to our heart's content. Bake cookies and lick the bowl and spatula. Shop and eat out. It is these times that seem the most fulfilling, the most joy-filled, the most meaningful.

However, all our moments are. When times are hard, it brings out the real me. Do I show my kids that I actually am insufficient and have need of a huge God? These times are the path to walking my talk. Not to be superwoman. But to fall on my knees and rely on God's gracious love and His power.
In fact. I have heard my daughter reflect on things I didn't even know she was paying attention to! Or understand things I thought were beyond her reasoning at the time.

These are the chapters where my girls see I am human, they are human too, and don't have to be perfect. But they can come talk and I will give a listening ear (and hopefully I am wise, not angry, not  wrongly judging). I want them to know they have a safe place. I want to know their hearts, see what beats within them.

And I want to show them what thankfulness looks like! Who wants a mopey mom? Am I stressed out? I need to take a chill pill and remember Who's in charge, Who has a purpose. Doesn't mean I have to smile 24/7, but doesn't mean I have to be a complainer either. The words that come out of my mouth are so permanent and set the tone of the day; a smile is infectious and a merry heart does good like a medicine. I serve a good God who has good plans for me.

Have a beautiful Mother's Day, looking through the lens of God's goodness. Our lives might look totally different than those surrounding, but I can personally proclaim His amazing care and love toward me. If you feel loss this day, I hope and pray you are aware of His peace. He wants to talk; open your heart to Him.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Somehow, Reese got a stomach bug and has been sick the last couple days. . There had been a bug going around our church and I thought we had missed it since we were gone for a week due to Brilla's cold. Obviously, it lingered and my youngest has got it. Reese has been very docile, had a hard time this afternoon with a fever, and has not eaten much. Trying to tend to her, keep up with school work, and do yard work is wearing me out.

However, I am thoroughly enjoying this sun...the reason for getting yard work done. My mother-in-law and I concocted a plan for my yard. It was random - she had come over to watch the girls during an audit - and I started talking about how this year I wanted to freshen up the yard since I'd let it go these last couple Springs. With babies and all, one is not motivated to pick up a shovel and dig upon weeds. Anyway, we started walking around the yard and talking about this idea and that. So fun to dream! And my m-i-l loves to garden. It's been invigorating though lots of work. I have a plan, but it will basically take me all Spring to finish. Mike isn't available to help so I've got to come up with a manageable plan. I have these huge expectations and I've a feeling they might need to be lowered until I can get extra help.

I'd like to haul in a bunch of beauty bark. We have a new nursery by our house but hoping to compare their prices with another place not that much further away. When it comes to all things green, or plants, I'm rather dumb. Maybe I should get my book out that an old friend gave me about making your soil less clayish and what plants to have in shady areas. Either that, or just consult am expert at the local nursery. Finally I've gotten smart enough to realize that perennials are the perfect solution to not having to plant every year. Ground covers, white rocks, a bird bath, a bench and simple walking stones are other details I have in my plan :) My parents were extremely generous this last weekend. They joined us for a get together at our house, and bore gifts of a gorgeous hanging fuchsia, and tomato plants! I was thrilled and told them it could be my Mother's Day gift...which made them laugh because they had completely forgotten about that.

Speaking of Mother's Day, I haven't the slightest clue as to what to get mine. I don't have time to make anything, but thinking of something for her garden.

As for trying to finish off this school year, it's going pretty slow. Brilla is having a hard time concentrating with the sun out. Her cough is getting the best of her and we are hoping to get a prescription for her antibiotics by the end of the week, if it doesn't let up. I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get her to sit and focus. Good thing it's May and not September or we'd really be in trouble!

It is supposed to be in the 80s this Friday. Thinking of surprising the girls with a visit to the beach. Perhaps one that is cleaner than the one closest to us. Looking forward to seeing them use their buckets and shovels!

I am finishing up another Julie Klassen read. My tablet makes it so much easier for me to keep up with reading. I can take it anywhere and read hands free. Haven't been to the library lately. Ever since being able to access our videos and books online, and with this nice weather, our visits have been scarce.

Sometimes I go on these streaks of no cooking, especially when I have a big project in tow. I am in one now because of the gardening project. It's just so exhausting that I don't feel like spending time in the kitchen. That's where sandwiches, ground beef recipes, and quick cook frozen meals from Costco come in handy. Funny, but sometimes I think we east healthier this way. Fresher food, not baked.

It's bed time. The munchkins have been asleep for a while now (had to comfort one in the middle of writing this). Just so nice to have them sleeping, which is funny to me, seeing their batteries are only recharging to wear me out again tomorrow! Ha! I say that without malice because I love my girls to pieces but boy, are they a handful.

Good night and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

God has been whispering in my ear lately..."take time for people and show a little love." I'm a doer and I like to get things done. I get on a roll, sometimes running over my own children and I just don't slow down to take in the fresh breath of life. My definition of a successful day would be a checked off checklist. A clean house. School work done. I'm not an unfeeling person, just a driven one that needs to be reminded of relationships once in a while.

So, I felt a pull to go a different direction this last week. Because of audit preparation (thank goodness it's over!) and sickness, school was on hold. The girls and I have had such a fun time together. Having Easter egg hunts even though it's not Easter, playing out in the sun as much as possible, thinking of art projects, and going to the park. I have been able to spend extra one-on-one time getting to know my girls better.

I'm always telling and directing. Taking more time to listen to my children. Hard to do.

I called my grandma. We had a marvelous chat, long overdue. How I would love to visit her. But a trip to the Midwest is a long haul. Grandma is my sister in Christ and we always talk long and deep. I am always interested to hear what she has been learning lately. Trust in the sovereignty of God. How much I need that too.

I also took time to stop and talk to my neighbors this week. One instance was especially poignant. A girl that was in our summer Bible club at our home (she's now 15!) was out in her yard. Normally I would just drive by and just wave, but it must have been the Holy Spirit that told me to pull over and chat. We talked about boyfriends, temporary love and other deep girl stuff. Such a sweet girl with a soft heart, but comes from a rough home life and I pray that some day in her life she will surrender fully to Jesus.

The biggest relationship I'm trying to make time for is the Lord. Because I want to. Sometimes my heart isn't in the right place and I don't pray. Maybe I do, but it's mechanical and cold hearted and just sad words that fall as flat as the affect. Just talking with God and thanking Him for all he's done, is going to do. Amazement at his awesomeness. Confession because I'm sinful. He always forgives, always hears.

It's necessary to get things done, but necessary to listen to the Holy Spirit. That includes stopping my selfish tendencies and caring for someone who needs it. I pray I don't bypass a hurting heart, a needy soul.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I am pooped. Really pooped.

Funniest thing that made me laugh today? My chiropractor said,"I thought you'd be pregnant again by  now!" We had a good hearty chuckle at that one because, let's just say, life is uber busy right now. And my three kids are wearing me out - not ready to add another to the mix.

I am in the middle of audit preparation, my kids have been sick, and I've had the darnedest time motivating my eldest to finish her school work. Needless to say, we are putting off school for a while.

Today is the first in a while where I felt stressed out. Like I couldn't handle another whine, excuse or poopy diaper. I literally felt like a robot. Just going through the motions. At one point, my only mantra was "coffee, coffee, must have coffee". I don't look like a warrior but I guarantee you, I survived a battle today.

The battle of the every day.

We took out our sword of the Spirit this morning, The Lord knew we needed it., that I needed it. Psalm 107. A powerful testimony to the Lord's steadfast love. We spent a good portion of the morning simply thanking God for all He has done for us. Boy, that's a long list. Why am I ever discontent and discomfited? All I ever need is Christ, sad that sometimes all I ever want is Christ plus  this and that.


Writing on my blog soothes my mind. I've always enjoyed writing, always kept a journal (since I was 9). Unfortunately, I don't get a chance to write as much as I'd like, especially since kids. I was very lonely as a teen, so writing was an outlet for me. Helped me express my emotions, made me feel like I had an invisible audience, but many times He was very real because many of my entries were prayers to God.

In fact, I used to write poetry like a madwoman. It flew off my fingertips. It was a continuance of that deeply felt emotion. Now I look at the collection and I wonder if I will ever get that streak back. I still admire well written poetry. I think it's lacking today, especially with our technology. Twitter and facebook have taken over, (including me in the takeover), as well as this kind of modern creative writing that is choppy, shallow and unattractive. One writer, not a poet, I love to read is Ann Voskamp. Her writing literally lilts as you read it.

The happy notes of today were the peekaboo sunshine, watching my children play outside together, Psalms, my coffee, my tea, playing with my ipad, girls made totally happy by ravioli with a movie, my husband putting the kids to bed. Ah, simple things!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


We just returned from vacation a week ago. Our family had an amazing, full time together.

Disneyland and California Adventure were beyond wonderful. Truthfully, we ended up liking California Adventure the best. What a stellar job Disney does on their parks. The food is delicious and every ride is a winner. If you ever get the chance to take your kids, you should. Worth every dollar you spend. (And boy does it take a lot).

We were able to spend time with my mother's side of the family. As always, they were super hospitable and hosted a few events while we were there. We were lucky to spend an afternoon celebrating my Grandpa and his wife's 25th anniversary, see most of my cousins, and eat amazing Filipino food.

What a whirlwind week!

We came home happy to be in our own beds and in our own space. Fitting three kids in a hotel room gets crowded. I even missed cooking and cleaning. Wow,that is so weird, huh? You go to get away from it all and find your are happiest at home. Perhaps it was the being away that made me thankful and freshened my perspective. Whatever the case, I'm glad to be back.

I just recently joined the electronic tablet world. Since I've finally met my weight-loss goal, I earned it. I had a few credit card reward points to help out with the purchase. Thank goodness for those! Now I am addicted to the thing and my poor daughter had to keep drawing my attention back to schoolwork. Who is the responsible adult around here?

Looking forward to completing school and just hanging out in the sun. We've had some gorgeous weather the past couple days! Summer can't come quick enough.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rainy Spring

Every year it happens...the glints of sun burst forth in that small window between Winter and Spring. I get very excited because...Spring is coming! In my mind, Spring equals sun. But then the rains pour, the winds blow, and I am quickly reminded that Spring, with all of it's colorful bounty, also brings the endless rain.

This last weekend brought us sunny spurts and crisp, fresh air. Brilla got to play outside with her friends in the cul-de-sac. Three girls just moved in across the way, and she's been having fun with them ever since. Because of them, she has learned to ride her bike! I was thankful, one less thing to have to teach my kids. Now if only teaching her to tie her shoes tight could come that easy...

Katie still goes potty like a pro. She even tells me when she needs to go and hasn't wet herself, except at night here and there, which is totally expected. We had an accident the other day because she thought she was done at the toilet-and nope! - something plopped on the floor. But it was quickly cleaned and really, I am in awe. I did not know potty training this girl would be so smooth. Kids have such different personalities. Now, if only I can train Reese at 14 months *Grin* You know, I have heard of parents training their kids super young, but in my mind, it seems like double-work, since you basically have to do it for them. Then later, retrain since they weren't doing it consciously on their own. I have a friend who did just this and she recommends just waiting until they are old enough to know what they are doing. I hope for Reese this is earlier than my other since she was an early walker.

Reese is such a sweetie with her chubby cheeks and legs. I love watching her toddle around. Her new things are putting her hands behind her back as she walks and pointing with her middle finger. I could probably coerce her other finger to point, but why? She'll just keep at it with the middle. She adores books now. Of course, you have to keep it short and lively. She loves to turn the pages. Her favorite are books with song. She also likes finger puppet ones.

For some crazy reason, ever since the time change, I have been exhausted. You would think I'd be the opposite, seeing the day goes faster and bed time arriving earlier. But it has wiped us all out. I find it hard to drag myself out of bed. Sleepy in the afternoon, and completely shot at bed time. Wow, even writing this makes me want a caffeine shot!

Homeschooling is going great. We have 70 some lessons left, which sat me up to realize we need to double our lessons each week in order to be done before July. Mind you, we started in late September (because our Summer sun was still out), so I knew we'd go later. But that doesn't include the extra week of Christmas vacation and our Spring break. Seeing that we have co-op on Mondays instead of regular school, amazes me that we've gotten as far as we have. I give huge kudos to Brilla for that. She is a trooper. Hard worker and quick learner. For that I am grateful. Plus, we are still having fun and I love teaching.

Brilla is reading so well. We still do phonics, because it's good to review special sounds and complete Spelling lists. But as for reading, she delves right into the books and just enjoys the whole process. I know it won't be like that with every child, so I'm enjoying this season. All my girls love books but actually learning to read is a whole different ballpark. We used Hooked on Phonics in preschool then merged with A Beka as we started grade school. Hooked on Phonics did wonders for us. It's fun, interactive and gets them going quickly. Looking forward to teaching my other two!

I better get going on this Wednesday. There is a family reading time at our local library and if we don't get enough school done on time, we can't go! It's such a fun gathering too. They sing songs, recite poems, and get three different books read to them. The theme is a new letter of the alphabet every week. All the books read will begin with a "U" today. Maybe I can get out my books and read a little, too!

Happy Wednesday, hope you get your book out!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just got home from the library. The local builders association hosted a free workshop, via the library, by Laura Leist, CPO of Eliminate Chaos, who specializes in professional organization. I took Brilla with me and she did so well! She sat through the whole thing, doodling with her usual notebook and pen :)

I think I mentioned before that a while back, I wanted to really dig in and organize my home. I'm not a naturally organized person. I'm an artsy procrastinator. I told my husband, "I need to take some college classes on organization or something". He said,"Why don't you use the library and study some professional books instead?" Wouldn't you know, the first (and only) book I have ever used was Eliminate Chaos, by Laura Leist. After reading this, you really don't need another book or course. It's straightforward and doable. So it was amazing to hear/see her in person at this workshop!

Basically, there are 10 Steps to Eliminate Chaos at home:

1) Dedicate Time. Basically, organizing your space is something one is always "going to get to" or something "I don't have time for". She emphasized that we make time for the priorities in our life. If we don't have time for it, it isn't important to us. So, you need to make your organization time an unbreakable appointment on the calender. This is what I did! You just have to tell people you'll have to pass up that play date or lunch, because you have another appointment.

2) Gather supplies. These are basic supplies. Like three sacks that say 'Keep', 'Give Away', 'Throw Away'. That kind of thing. Shopping for cute storage, etc, comes later!

3) Establish a staging area. In my home, space is at a minimum, so I make sure I have enough room to lay out everything. I also make my projects small, so that it can be finished quickly, not leaving time for my small ones to pick up things and run off with them!

4) Sort. Get the stuff out that you want to organize. This isn't a time to actually organize. If you right away spot an item that needs to be tossed, that's fine.

5) Purge. Trash bag time! This is my favorite part. To some, it is a tear-filled time. It depends on what stage of life you are in, or if you are sentimental. I happen to be very sentimental, but I have grown to be more objective. Now I look forward to throwing out stuff!

6) Group "like" items together

7) Examine your space. Take measurements! Know ahead of time what you need to store your items, so you can approach the next step with purpose. Armed and ready for battle.

8) Shop. This is the fun part! Remember to bring sketches, pictures, colors, measurements, and measuring tape. Whatever you need to buy the right items you need. A few stores she recommended were The Container Store, Storables, IKEA, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

9) Install it. This is the part that MUST happen, or all the other steps are moot. Even if the installation involves a screwdriver and some elbow grease...make it happen!

10) Maintain. She also mentioned that maintenance looks different for everyone. Sometimes after having made the hard decision to get rid of stuff, people don't actually take their items to the donation center. She suggested placing them in your car, so while you're out and about, you can take care of it. Don't let it sit around your house or garage or it may very well grow feet and walk back into your space.

A few highlighted things:

"Clutter is post-poned decisions".

It looks nice to have all similar hangers. She prefers wooden because she has a roomy closet. I, on the other hand do not, so I like the nice, simple plastic hangers.

Some survey found that people have up to 40% more space if they simply organize. (Yes, it would still help to purge, but organization is a good start!)

Last thing, she also emphasized shopping, in general, with a purpose in mind. Do I need this or that? Do I have room for those cute shoes? Do I have a place for that baking tool? Sometimes we just have too much stuff. It's not about the stuff. It's about memories and living life simply.

I highly recommend going out and getting your hands on this book or just ordering it on Amazon! It will change your life.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

As I write this, it is a Sunday after noon in the Pacific Northwest. It is truly a beauteous day. The sun is shining and the air is crisp. The sad side of the tale is that I am home from church because my baby has a terrible cold/fever/cough. She is miserable, which is quite the opposite of her usual personality. Baby does not want to play, eat or dance. Times like these make me thankful for the days she is healthy and smiling with all eight teeth showing!

Our Bible study (with some of the women from church) has ended. We were studying Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. It is one of the few books that is Biblically sound, while at the same time down to earth, exciting me to apply my knowledge. Concurrently, we studied John MacArthur's Pillars of Christian Character sermons. I feel like all the lessons I've learned "live on" in my heart and mind. Scripture floods my spirit every day. The topics we studied were so closely related to what I go through as a wife and mom of young children. It has been quite the adventure to do Bible study on my own every morning, as I have spent the last 12 years in Bible Study Fellowship.

But it has been AMAZING. God has been teaching me flexibility. It doesn't work for me to attend BSF this year because my eldest is too old for the preschool program and my husband doesn't have an evening available to watch the kids while I go. So...I don't have the daily discipline of questions to fill out. But I'm okay with that. I challenge myself with my own questions and use study aids to get a deeper, fuller meaning of what His Words plus context are saying.  I also hope to complete a 1 Corinthians Navigator study I started last year. On Wednesdays, my husband is a leader at AWANA, which my two oldest attend! Our church gives deep teaching in between all the verse learning, so it's wonderful for the children. I also enjoy working with my daughter on her verses. In fact, combined with her God-focused home school, I have so many verses to meditate on right now! But more than that, I am having fun living out Titus 2:1-5! Making my home, my kids, my marriage a priority.

I was really reading a lot (other than the Bible) because I had so much down time with Reese nursing. Now, I am constantly chasing after her since she learned how to walk. I will pick up a Beverly Lewis or Julie Klassen or crochet pattern any day though. Any book for that matter. I also read lots of Facebook and links on Pinterest. Does that count?

I know a couple posts ago I mentioned all the organization projects I had planned. I did finish organizing the kitchen. But that's all! Utter fail! These plans came before Reese grew toddling legs! Now my only goal is to finish something before she gets into the toilet or downs a whole crayon. So I do my organization in spurts. And I prioritize.

I am so much like a puppy in that I have a short attention span. I get interested in one thing, before quickly getting distracted by another. This is the curse of the creative person (and I wonder where my daughter got her streak!) And probably the story of every mom-of-young-children's life.

I'm currently crocheting two projects. I have a very pretty scarf in the works, as well as a baby blanket for a beautiful expectant mama at church. I love crocheting simple, elegant patterns. Not too fufu. Like I said, my attention span is limited! While I crochet (or fold laundry), I absolutely LOVE to watch shows. My favorite right now are Downton Abbey Season 2 or Market Warriors. I also recently watched Call the Midwife, which was excellent. Don't get me wrong. I really don't have oodles of hours to spare for television and crochet. However...I have recently realized I am a much happier mama as I've followed our new schedule which includes some rest time before I start on my second shift (dinner prep, clean-up, bed time). It has worked wonders!

This last Thursday, the girls and I had a Target outing, a big deal to us. We love this store. They are probably tired of our noise and faces. Anyway, our primary purpose was to purchase big girl undies for Katie (who is still very little at nearly 3) and a huge selection of treats. All in preparation for potty training! She was SO pumped, Brilla was excited to help her choose, and Reese, well, she just kept grunting because she wanted to stuff her face with all the food she kept seeing. We also bought some steals for our craft stash. Finally, our time ended at the book department. My girls drink books like their mom!

On Friday, the potty adventure began. It resulted in only one accident the whole day (we wore diapers second half of the day). And no pee or poo in the potty whatsoever. But I was okay with that. I just wanted to introduce her to staying dry and sitting on the toilet. I am super lucky in that she doesn't want to sit on her toddler potty, but likes to climb on the big toilet (with the insert on)! No extra cleanup! Saturday was a huge success. A whole day dedicated to the goal. Daddy was here to help. We had a couple accidents (one involving poo, yuck!!) but she was able to get rewards for both staying dry AND going in the potty!! Excitement all around. Even my oldest would cheer :) Grandparents got called to celebrate too. Not that we think our children learning to poop and pee is the greatest news on the whole planet. But I read somewhere that's it's an extreme boost for your child's confidence to do so. Well, the advice is correct!

So, today, after the family gets home, we will continue the potty saga. I will spare you further details of this journey, however :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013


My cup overflows. God is so good and so amazing. I have nothing to complain or argue about.
But I do it anyway.
I tend to view my cup as half full, but on some things I have a downright pity party. I simply forget to trust God's unfailing character or I get my eyes off of Him and onto the things of his world. Whatever the case, I choose to become discontent or disconnected because I forget God's gifts.

I like what one pastor said. "A thankless person can always find the manure pile in a beautiful meadow."
I've heard some people excuse a thankless heart as "being realistic" or "just concerned" or something that sounds justifiable. But when I trust my sovereign God, knowing Him to be at work, there is no room for anxiety, depression, impatience, anger or discontent. My attitude should be nothing less than gratitude for what God has given- ultimately salvation. Forgiveness forever!
I mean, what can thwart God's purpose for my life? Whatever He desires will come to pass. Maybe I
should read up more on what His Word says so I can trust His promises. He never promised an easy life, but He promised peace, love, joy, patience and all that amazing fruit that can pour out of me, as a result of the Holy Spirit controlling my heart and will and emotions.
So, as I contemplate, I start my thankful list. I begin a new one every day because each day challenges me to be upset or grateful in new ways.
It starts in the morning with a prayer. Thanking God for my children. I know my weakness is to get harried with their demands, so I put that spiritual armor on ahead of time. And I choose joy and gratitude. And throughout the day, I continue to set my mind on things above. And when I don't, His forgiveness is free and ready. And believe me, it's a good thing God doesn't keep track! I fail so much, but God has begun a good work in me that He will finish!

Here in the Northwest, the winter months can be rather dismal with all the cold, rain, fog and ice. I am reminded, however that we don't have continual snow like Michigan or Alaska during these months. And it is so nice to have an excuse to be inside the warm house. Working on school, organization projects, or just lazing around with a book. I'm also thankful we have a car and don't have to take the bus or walk to our destination. And that our car actually runs.

When you go down the rabbit trail of praising for all He's given, it's hard to be an Eyeore.

I want this to be a life long habit - the more I am filled with gratitude, the more I can be used by God and the more inspiring example I can be to the girls, and others. Not just a positive mental attitude, a conjuring up of the senses, but a choice to believe that God says Who He says He is. And that he chooses to involve me in a relationship with Him, while all the while letting His will be done here on the earth. Whether it be in the government, my home, church, extended family, etc.

I am overflowing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's been a really long while since I've written you, dear reader.

Happy 2013!!!

Don't know about you, but I love to organize. And with the New Year here, I have so many projects in mind, it's all I can do to pick one at a time.

Today I organized all of our files. Not just the company files, but every last one of the personal drawers, too. Whew. And I did it in 1 1/2 hours! Of course, the littlest ones were napping...and I did have a big cinnamon roll to reward myself. (It's all about motivation) But I also get to waltz to our filing cabinets and pull out a single folder without stressing out!

What to tidy up next? Hmm....

There is an awesome organization website I'm addicted too. Organizing Made Fun. Once I started reading, I kept clicking and linking to other things. Before I knew it, I was conjuring up all kinds of ideas on how to structure my home. I am thinking my bed room and the kitchen could use sprucing up! I'm not up for entering a contest (because I don't have time to get it done by the deadline) but I still want to complete the challenges. I'll be working on my kitchen this week.

Since we live in such a small space, I continually purge and organize our home. Bring it on - I've always loved a good challenge! Some family members think we purge a little too much "because what if you need it later in a bigger home?". Honestly, if we live bigger someday, we will never need any of the things we have given away! Believe me, we have many storage containers in our huge garage, many of them containing things we will use in the future. But who wants to sit around and hoard stuff you don't need? The girls actually enjoy giving away their unnecessaries because they know they are giving it to people who need it. Like the local refugees who could use our extra mittens and scarves more than we could.

On another positive note, I have lost weight! I am down 18 pounds from my original weight. I still have 5 (or even better, 10!) pounds to go, but only 5 until I get my huge reward for losing my baby weight plus some. I don't want to mention my reward here (or maybe I have in past posts) until I actually hit the mark.

It is very nice to fit into my old clothes versus looking longingly at them. Mind you, I could fit a little better in them. And there are still some I can't fit into, but it's all a matter of time. I have not gone on a magic diet or started P90X or anything. Just the usual running (my exercise of choice) and Precor, soccer once a week, and controlled eating (including counting calories on my phone). Actually seeing the calories you rack up is a huge motivation because I realize how much I have to work out to lose them. In my case, there's leeway since I'm nursing 4 times a day. But it still works. A side note, I also use our Kinect to work out on those days I just can't get away. Just Dance does amazing things!

The downside is, I have plateaued since Christmas because of all those rich desserts from the holidays: angel thumbprints, caramel sticky buns, date bars. Me, oh my. It is a hard addiction to nip in the bud. To help myself out, I've bought a huge bag of fruit to down instead of sweets. Here is to gaining back ground!

I'm so glad we decided to home school this year again! It has really worked well for our family. We've discovered a new schedule that works great for us:

I get up before the kids (usually around 6:30). This gives me time to drink my tea, read my Bible, do some office works, or clean up leftover dishes. The kids wake up around 7:30 and get dressed. Then we have breakfast at 8. School starts at 9, so before then, they clean up their room and make beds. That's the same time I make my own bed and get dressed myself :) This way, their teacher/ mother doesn't look like a four-eyed something that's crawled out from underneath a rock.

All book work is done by noon. Then, we review Latin, have piano practice or a lesson, and do some kind of art or exercise. Then, my oldest gets to do whatever she would like for about 3 hours! This is the time when the youngest nap and when I organize, complete projects, or use Facebook/have computer time. At 4:30/5:00, we have family clean up time, when we clean the entire house at once! At first, my two-year-old whined about it, but now she loves being part of the effort! It's really cute. Then, I get dinner started while the girls set the table or put dishes away. Then they can play quietly while dinner finishes. Daddy usually comes home late, so it's pleasant when he walks in to a clean home. I also feel much more relaxed in the evening with the house picked up.

Of course, I might have to nurse or tend to my baby somewhere in there, but for the most part, it works! It doesn't always go perfectly, but each of my girls have always done well with a flexible schedule. Also, when my kids know ahead of time what's expected, they get into a rhythm, despite their different personalities.

Okay, bed time looms, but I wanted to say that I'm looking forward to taking before/after photos of my organization projects! Let's hope I can follow through with this. Because truth be told, sometimes Internet (specifically blogging) goes on the back burner when I have to get stuff done.

Nighty night!