Friday, January 13, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 12/16/16

Jake (11), Alyssa (8½), Zac (7), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (2)

Happy Friday! This week we decorated the house for Christmas, the kids painting new ornaments, Leighton and I went on a date to the Zoo Lights, and the whole family made and decorated sugar cookies. And Nicholas turned 2! Lots of memories; lots of Smiles.  

1. Alyssa: "The best smells in the whole world come from our kitchen."

2. Jake: "Mom, do you think we could get shipwrecked on an island that has parrots? Then we could get one for free."


4. Alyssa: "This is the worst Boxcar Children book in the world! People destroyed the library! They tore pages out of books and threw the books on the floor. How could anyone do that to books?" 

5. Alyssa, sweetly: "Aw, Nicky has such kind, little eyes."

6. Zac: "Christmas is about one present: Jesus."

7. Tyler: "You're making eggs for Nicky? Aw, that's so nice of you."


9. Jake: "Do we have any bread."
Me: "No, it's all gone."
Jake: "Are we exceedingly poor?"
Me: "Exceedingly poor? No, we're just out of bread."

What made you Smile this week?

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Word of the Year: 2017

A new year is a good time for reflection and to reevaluate priorities. For the past couple years, I've chosen a single word to focus on the entire year. Instead of resolutions, this Word of the Year is a reminder to me of what is needed most--in my life, in my home, in my family. 

2015 was purge. I worked on purging our house of unnecessary things. I was tired of spending my days organizing and maintaining and just wanted less stuff. Clutter is stressful to me and I needed less of it around. It so happened that my sweet friend Michele from Family, Faith, and Fridays hosted a 34 Weeks of Clean challenge during that time. It was fun cleaning, organizing, and purging with friends, even if they were hundreds of miles away, ha. We shared each other's misery as bigger messes were made (it always gets worse before it gets better, right?) and shared in the joy of completed tasks, as well. (She's getting ready to revisit the series again, starting this week. Join us! It's been two years and I'm in need of purging again. And it's always more fun with a friend.)    

I didn't write a post for 2016, but my word was praise. I wanted my focus last year to be thanking God for our numerous blessings. Instead of getting frustrated with the constant laundry, praise God we have clothes. Instead of getting annoyed with the mess (because I couldn't bring myself to purge absolutely everything, ha), praise God the kids have toys. Instead of getting overwhelmed with responsibility, praise God we have the opportunity to homeschool. Instead of being bothered that my husband has to work so much, praise God he has a job that provides our needs (and so many wants). I've always believed that your attitude--not your circumstances--determines your happiness. Praise God.  

What is my word for 2017?


That may seem like an odd choice for a homeschooler. I mean, isn't that my main job already, especially with a house full of littles?

teach, verb:
  1. to cause to know something
  2. to cause to know how
  3. to accustom to some custom or attitude
  4. to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action

For more than 2 years now, my life has been more about surviving, than thriving. Sure, there have been periods of time where I felt accomplished, but over all, things have changed. It started with a difficult pregnancy and continued with a baby who never wants to sleep. Getting only a few hours of broken sleep every night for years will take its toll on your body. And living in a constant state of exhaustion will hinder what you can fulfill. The kids and I rarely did projects, crafts, science experiments, and games because once I'd finally get the baby to nap a little, I utilized that time to catch up on housework that couldn't be done while he was awake. I read the kids only a few lengthy chapter books like biographies and classics, because once I'd sit on the couch and stop moving, it was nearly impossible for me to stay awake. I rarely asked the kids to help me in the kitchen, because it is so much faster (and easier and less messy) to cook by myself--even with a baby on one hip or hanging on my legs--than it is to walk little ones through the process step-by-step.

I'm not saying that we stopped those things, but instead of weekly and even daily occurrences, they became every-now-and-then events.

And I've felt guilty. 
2017 will be spent getting back to those things that have been overlooked and set aside. I always said that homeschooling is a way of life for us. It's not just doing schoolwork during certain times of the day (though we do that, too), but incorporating learning activities into every area of life.


1. To cause to know something: As a homeschool mom, the complete education of my children is my responsibility. Lately, I've found myself relying more and more on workbooks and textbooks. It's much easier for me to hand each individual child his papers for the day, than to make time to sit with them all and learn together as a family. A boxed curriculum is a great choice for many families, but it has never been our main style of learning. It fit a need for a period, but now it's time to get back to our tailor-made education. This year we will teach using unit studies and living book read-alouds. Learning together and immersing ourselves in a topic will replace sitting at the table and filling out worksheets.

2. To cause to know how: I've always been a firm believer in teaching kids how to do things at a young age. Life skills is an important part of our schooling, and working in the kitchen is near the top of the list. The older children can follow a recipe and cook and bake without my help. In fact, Jake was only 6-years-old when he invented his own cake recipe completely by himself. As I said though, the kids are helping in the kitchen less and less. 2017 will change that. Every Monday, a child will be responsible for dinner--choosing the menu, gathering the ingredients, prepping the food, and preparing the meal. I will be there to teach new kitchen skills and help them improve their abilities.

3. To accustom to some custom or attitude: Children are messy by nature. (Shocking, I know.) And they don't naturally want to clean up and do chores. I do have one that is really great about cleaning up after himself most of the time, but the others are perfectly fine waiting until Mom makes them do it. Cleaning up after yourself and completing chores without being told should be habit. This year, my goal is to teach them responsibility through consistency

4. To cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action: Everything has a consequence, whether good or bad. We have punishments in place for various offenses in our family. Not every wrongdoing requires the same response. In fact, not even the same misbehavior will necessarily warrant the same punishment for two children. Our kids respond to different things. One child couldn't care less about losing electronic time, but is devastated if he can't read in bed at night. Another child doesn't mind if you make him do extra chores, but cringes at the thought of writing an apology letter. Finding consequences that match the violation of rules for each child is important. I admit, I have been lax with this lately. Some of our punishments no longer have any effect. Instead of finding something to work, I've resorted to simply reprimanding wrong behavior. Sometimes, reprimanding--teaching right from wrong, and why--is the best response. Other times though, a harsher punishment is necessary. Not only is my goal to find the appropriate consequences for my little ones, but to teach that it's better to obey than to suffer those disagreeable repercussions.    

I'm going to be intentional about my time in 2017. Instead of just surviving the days, I'm going to use my energy to teach my little ones. These five kids are my greatest responsibility and teaching them is my first priority.

Did you choose a Word of the Year for 2017? Share it with us so we can be an encouragement.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 12/2/16

Jake (11), Alyssa (8½), Zac (7), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (1½)

Happy Friday! This week, we celebrated Jake's 11th birthday, had a party for 3 of the boys, and started our various advent activities. This is such a busy, but fun time of year.

1. Alyssa: "Sometimes I see a book and I just have to read it!"

2. Jake: "Nicky's so cute I'm going to go crazy!" 

3. We do a book-a-day advent calendar every Christmas. Leighton read this book with a British accent. The kids and I were laughing so hard. He then read it again, changing his voice to various accents/characters as we suggested them. So much laughter. So much fun. Such a great daddy.  

4. Zac: "I hope God wants me to work for LEGO when I grow up. What if He has that for all of us? Maybe we could all work at Legoland and tell people about the Bible."

5. Nicholas, looking out the window at home: "Papa, c'mere! Papa, c'mere! Papa, are you?"  

6. Zac, changing his clothes for an activity at church: "I'm going to change in the bathroom in one of the cells." (stalls) 

7. Tyler: "Mom, I don't like being lazy."


9. Jake, joking: "Mom, that's not fair."
Me: "I'm a mom; I'm not supposed to be fair."
Zac: "You're not fair."
Me: "Thank you! That's quite the compliment."
Jake: "What? How is that a compliment?"

Me: "Because mom's aren't supposed to be fair. It means I'm doing my job."
Zac, whispering: "I only said it because I love you. I really do think you're fair."

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 11/25/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8½), Zac (7), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (1½)

1. Jake: "Do you know why you're so beautiful?"
Me, humored: "No."
Jake: "Me neither. Probably because you're a mom."

2. Tyler: "I can't find the Duplo guy Red Hat. He's the one with the red hat."

3. Zac: "Nicky is a super hero. He can hypnotize people with his cuteness."


5. Jake: "Nicky's going ni-night? Jee-Jee (what Nicholas calls Jake) doesn't want Nicky to go ni-night."
Me: "But Mama wants Nicky to go ni-night."
Jake, joking: "Is Mama in charge?"
Me: "Yes."
Jake: "Well, that backfired."

6. Tyler: "Mama, I didn't dream anything last night. I wasn't closing my eyes."

7. Zac, spinning in circles: "This feels so weird, but it's so worth it!"

8. Thanksgiving LEGO decorations that the kids made.

9. Tyler: "Ugh! Jacob! Don't bump me!"
Jake: {excuses, excuses, blah blah blah}
Me: "Please just apologize."
Jake, to Tyler, smirking: "Sorry that you were in the way."

10. Alyssa: "I lost my appetite, but I'm still hungry."

11. Jake, about Nicholas: "He's so cute that I just want to hug him until his backbone breaks!"

What made you Smile this week?
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 11/17/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8½), Zac (7), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (1½)

Happy Friday! Has anything made you Smile this week?

1. Zac, holding his LEGO phone creation: "Mom, I can take pictures and rate them. I just took one of you and wrote 'the beautifulest girl in the world.'"

2. Me: "Are you Mama's boy?"
Nicky: "No."
Me: "Are you Daddy's boy?"
Nicky: "No."
Me: "Are you Gramma's boy?"
Nicky: "No."
Me: "Are you Papa's boy?"
Nicky: "No."
Me: "Well, whose boy are you then? Aren't you Mama's boy?"
Nicky: "No. Papa."

3. I was going to wash Nicholas after breakfast, but he "hid" from me.
Me, teasing: "Nicky, where are you?"
Nicholas: "I un know!" (I don't know) 

4. I clean my wedding ring every Sunday morning before church and leave it on the bathroom counter until I'm completely ready, so it stays shiny even when I wash my hands throughout the morning. I forgot to put it on this week until we were about to pull out of the driveway. I mentioned it to Leighton. He teased me about it before running in to grab it for me. Jake was very concerned and told me, "You have to wear it! Otherwise someone's going to come and try to marry you." 

5. Alyssa, about Nicholas: "He's like a super hero with his cuteness."

6. Zac: "Mom, did you know your eyelashes are as long as a Lego?"

7. Tyler: "Mama, how many more years until Christmas?" 

8. Zac, at dinner: "I get to sit next to you? Ooh, I get to sit next to the pretty girl!"

9. Our pile of Leafs.

10. Tyler, to Nicholas: "Baby, I like you."
11. Tyler: "What's the name of this Lego piece?"
Me: "Turntable."
Tyler: "That's right! How did you know?"
Me: "Because I'm so Lego savvy."
Jake: "What does that mean?"
Me: "It means I know about Legos."
Tyler: "You're so 'I know about Legos'? That's weird."  

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 11/11/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8½), Zac (7), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (1½)

Happy Friday! This week we celebrated Zac's and Leighton's birthdays, the older boys went with him to U of M for their first football game, and we all took time to Smile.

1. Jake: "What time is it?"
Me: "4:21."
Jake, to Zac: "Hey, you're 7-years-old already!" (born at 4:02)
Zac: {does a victory dance} "Wait. I don't feel any older."

2. Zac, after opening a birthday card: "I love it! Not just the money, but the card, too."

3. Jake: "You can never have too much sugar."
Alyssa: "In Mom's world you can."


5. I was telling a story about when Jake was born.
Zac: "What? I don't remember that!"
Alyssa and I started laughing.
Alyssa: "Jake, Zac doesn't remember when you were born!"
Zac, confused: "What? I don't."

6. Zac: "I think we need to be like cats who chase away the mice. We need to chase away sin."

7. Watching the kids have a "funniest pose contest."

8. Nicholas helping me sweep.

9. Nicky crawled into the kitchen, peeked around the corner of the cabinets, and said, "La yo!" (love you)

10. Tyler: "I like walking backwards because then I can turn around and see a surprise."

11. Jake: "He's blinder than a humdinger in a snow storm."

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Things That Make Me Smile 11/4/16

Jake (10½), Alyssa (8½), Zac (6½), Tyler (4½), Nicholas (1½)

Happy Friday! Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, we spent extra time being appreciative of our blessings. We sat around the breakfast table, eating cinnamon rolls and taking turns sharing what we're thankful for. God has blessed us abundantly.

1. Jake: "Mom, you know what's fun?"
Me: "What's that?"
Jake: "Multitasking."
Me: "Honey, that's the story of my life. No wonder I have so much fun."

2. Zac, using our code word for candy: "Mom, I'm going to wait until Nicky's sleeping to sort my 'dirty socks!'"

3. The kids watching my parents leave at almost 4:00 in the morning after we called my dad to come adjust one of the kids in the night.

4. Jake, making up his own Bible trivia questions:
"What did Esau do when he came home hungry from hunting?
A. Foolishly traded his birthright for a pot of soup from Jacob.
B. Opened the fridge and got a hotdog.
C. Made himself some pancakes.
D. Grabbed some potato chips from the pantry." 

5. Alyssa, choosing earrings: "These Christmas trees are so last Christmas."

6. Jake: "It seems like Nicky has unlimited energy." 

7. Me: "That's purple."
Alyssa: "It looks more like an indigo."

8. Jake made cinnamon bread completely by himself, from making the dough to pulling it out of the oven.
9. Bible Program: ". . . Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel."
Me: "I'm your dad's favorite wife."
Jake: "You're his only wife."
Me: "I'm still his favorite."

10. Nicky, knocking on the bathroom door: "Mama! Mama! Wherareyou?"

11. Zac, leaving to go to spend the night at my parents' house: "My kiss dried up, so I need a new one." 

What made you Smile this week?

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