Friday, January 12, 2018

Things That Make Me Smile 12/29/17

Jake (12), Alyssa (9 1/2), Zac (8), Tyler (5 1/2), Nicholas (3)

Happy Friday! This is the week we celebrated Christmas, Tyler lost his first tooth, and we spent quality time with family.

1. Alyssa was dressed up for church. Nicholas saw her and said, "You so pretty!" The next morning, she walked out of her room, unbrushed hair and still in pajamas. He looked at her and said, "You so pretty again!"

2. Zac, at Ikea: "I like the way this place is organized."

3. Reading Luke 2 before opening presents Christmas morning.

4. Nicholas: "Can I have sonts?"
Me: "Songs?"
Nicholas: "Yes."
Me: "You want me to turn on music?"
Nicholas: "No. Sonts."
Me: "Songs?"
Nicholas: Yes."
Me: "You want music?"
Nicholas, grabs my hand, pulls me into the kitchen, and points: "Sonts!"
Me: "Oh, croissants!"

5. Nicholas, talking about what he was going to do the next morning: ". . . after I wake up my eyes."

6. Tyler: "Mommy, I like how you're dressed. And I like your hair . . . And I like how you're smiling at me."


8. Zac, walking into my room where a fire was burning in the fireplace: "Mmm, that smells so good. I'd like to have a shirt that smells like that."

9. Nicholas, because his food was hot: "Mommy, will you blow dis up, pease?"

10. Tyler: "Brussels sprouts are so good they make my head hyper!"

11. Me: "What happened to this room?! I thought you guys cleaned it last night."
Jake: "It's called Nicholas and 10 minutes. Scratch that. Nicholas and 5 minutes."

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Word of the Year: 2018

When November rolls around and everyone starts preparing for Thanksgiving, I begin praying about my word for the next year. That one little word that will be my focus for the next 365 days. I've explained in previous years how this is different from resolutions in that this word is more of a redirecting of my life. It's a process with no specific end goal. This journey is meant to impact our lives and change them indefinitely.    

Prior years have been purge, praise, and teach. (I had no idea just how much that last one was going to perfectly fill needs in our life during my recovery, but God knew.) 

For the past 3 years, I've had multiple options for my word floating around in my head for weeks. I'd pray about the choices and wait for God to narrow it down for me, to make that word obvious to me and ingrain it on my heart.

This year . . . nothing.

Oh, I tested out a bunch. I'd hear a word and think, "Hmm, that might be a good one," or "I think I'd like to make that my focus next year." But that was it. It was just my own desires that were intrigued. The end of the year was nearing, and I was getting worried. "Lord, what do you want me to make a priority in our home? Which word should we improve in our lives?"

And every time, He'd answer in a whisper. Just a faint reply, but each time audible enough that I heard. 


This word had already been impacting our lives in an increasing amount the last many months. I think I was looking for a flamboyant display for a new direction, but instead, God had been weaving this passion quietly into my heart for some time. 

give, verb:
  1. freely transfer a possession 
  2. provide or supply with

Give. Time. Money.

Leighton and I are entering into our next stage of parenting. Our oldest is 12 years old and nearing those teenage years. His skills have advanced to the point where he can do just about anything around the house. Our youngest is 3. And though I desperately miss the coos of a baby and the unsteady steps of a toddler, I admit that his ever-growing independence is kinda nice. My kids still require a lot of me--especially adding in the home educating aspect--but my days are no longer filled with feeding and changing and getting-to-nap and soothing and all those things that a tiny one demands. I'm no longer in the someone-needs-me-every-second-of-every-day stage. The days are busy (obviously, because I am just now posting this 10 days into the new year, ha), but it's a different kind of busy. 

For years I had to step back from certain ministries because of my greater responsibilities. I was still involved, for sure, but there were some activities I could not volunteer to serve in because my little ones needed me, all of me. 

As my kids require less of me in their quest toward self-sufficiency, there's more of me available for others. I want to give of my time, my attention, my prayers, my concern. I want to be willing to minister more at church or help in the home of a friend. My family is my main responsibility, my number one ministry, but I want to make the time to give of myself to bless others.

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Hebrews 13:16

Money. I know, it's not something people like to talk about. Everyone has needs. And, let me just say, with 5 kids in the house, someone is always needing something. Shoes--what do you mean they're too tight? Pants--why can I see your ankles? Socks--holes already? And you can imagine how much food is consumed around here. 

But, oh, the blessings and ways in which God has supplied. From my husband's well-providing job to the money-saving deals I find to the generosity and hand-me-downs of others, we find that every need is met and so many desires are fulfilled. We don't always have the best of the best, but how could we not be thankful when God cares for us so? 

Giving has been manifested throughout my whole life. My parents are the most giving people and have monetarily helped others in countless ways, and my husband has had benevolence imprinted on his heart ever since he depended solely on the gifts of others. But there is still a limit to our giving. 

I want to push that limit this year. 

That's a bit of a scary thought! And the reason I was hesitant to acknowledge that whisper of His reply. Trust me, I have a whole list of ways in which I could spend that money. (Home renovations, anyone?) But I truly feel that now is the time to focus on helping others. 

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 
Proverbs 3:27

Our focus for 2018 will be giving of our time and money. Just like Jacob built an altar to solidify his commitment and Joshua set up a stone memorial as a testimonial of God's provision, this Word of the Year is my accountability to follow through with His leading. May God use us to bless others and teach us valuable lessons in return.

You can read more Word of the Year posts from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Things That Make Me Smile 12/22/17

Jake (12), Alyssa (9 1/2), Zac (8), Tyler (5 1/2), Nicholas (3)

Happy Friday! Last week I explained that since December was jam-packed with activities and I didn't take the time to record many quotes from the kids that I would be doubling up some Smiles posts. Hmm, about that . . . as I was working on this post, I came across a bunch of Smiles in my email.(When the kids say something I want to record, I grab my phone and quickly email the quote to myself because it's fast and convenient.) So it wasn't that I didn't take the time to write them down; it's that somehow I didn't see that they were there. Maybe the days have been busier than I thought. Or maybe I'm not as organized as I'd like to believe. Ha. Either way, here is a full list of Smiles for the week. Here's to a slower pace in the month of January.     

1. Jake: "I like that word--perpendicular. I mean, who doesn't?"

2. Jake: "Is a zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes?"
Zac: "Black with white stripes."
Jake: "No. They're pink with black and white hair."

3. We went caroling and to the teen ugly sweater Christmas party.

4. Jake: "Mom, I'm bored. Can I do the laundry for you?"

5. Tyler: "I know how to get your hands the color of peanut butter . . . Cover them in peanut butter!"

6. Nicholas: "I have someping in pantry? Oh! You get candy down for me?"
Me: "No, you're not having candy for breakfast."
Nicholas: "Pease? I give you kiss. {puckers lips and kisses me} And hug. {hugs me} Now I have candy?"
Me, laughing: "No, you're not having candy for breakfast."
Nicholas: "But I give you hug and kiss!"

7. Our annual Christmas baking day with my mom. 

8. Nicholas, watching a movie: "Aw, wook at the baby! He so cute!"

9. Tyler, sitting next to me at dinner: "I get to sit next to my favorite mommy."

10. Me: "Toddlers are trouble."
Jake: "You don't have to tell me; I've lived with 4 of them."

11. Me: ". . . my little oceanographer."
Zac: "Technically, I bet there are at least 100 people who know more about the ocean than me."

What made you Smile this week?

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Kids Say the Funniest Things: Part 15

Happy New Year! At the beginning of each new year, I love taking the time to reflect on the past. Life is busy raising and schooling 5 little ones. The days are over so fast, and the years are flying by. I try to keep a list of some precious quotes and experiences through my Things That Make Me Smile lists every week. If I don't intentionally record these things, I am prone to forget them. At each new year, I like to review these weekly lists to find some of our very favorite memories. The kids love when I read through these recaps with them. We all sit and laugh together, reminiscing about these special times. It is very precious to me.

As I began to work on the next installment of Kids Say the Funniest Things, I realized that I had never finalized the last one for 2014. The majority of the post was done, but was just needing some formatting and whatnot. Remember what I said about life being busy? Ha. Before I move on to the next year, here are the final months of 2014.  

These were the kids ages at the time recorded: Jake 8, Alyssa 5½, Zac 4, Tyler 1½.

Zac, while watching a cricket and accidentally stepping on it: "I guess my shoes are faster than it!" 

Zac: "That's the stinkiest horse I ever met."

Zac: "Mom, I love you! I just spotted lightning!"
Me: "I love you, too. Lightning reminds you that you love me?"
Zac: "Yep."

Alyssa: "What's a throw pillow?"
Jake: "It's a pillow someone throws so if someone else is falling or something they have some place safe to land."

Jake: "We come from a very important family. Our ancestors were Vikings."
Alyssa: "One of our ancestors was a grandma."

Zac: "Remember when Ty gave me a bloody nose?'
Alyssa: "I remember it like it was yesterday."
Me: "It was yesterday."

Zac: "Mmm, dinner smells good."
Me: "Thank you, but I've barely started cooking yet."
Zac: "It smells cold."

Zac, playing the Wii: "Jake, you're the best boxer in the whole wide world!"
Alyssa: "Other than God."
Zac: "Mmhmm."

Zac: "We have everything except some things."

Jake, about Tyler: "Look at him! He looks like a perfect little boy who never gets into trouble. And then you turn your back . . . and wham! He throws a baseball at a lamp!"
Me: "What?"
Jake: "It's just a figure of speech."

Alyssa: "I like all of them, but my favorites are all of them!"

Jake: "Why do kids shove their toys under the bed?"
Me: "So they don't have to put them away."
Jake: "Nope. To keep the monsters away since there's no room!"

Jake: "As soon as I tasted the cookies (recipe here) I thought, An angel must have brought those down from Heaven."

Jake: "Mom, I actually sharpened this pencil with my teeth!"

Zac: "May I have a piece of cake now, please? I done all my book."
Me: "You done it? How about you did it?"
Zac: "Yeah, I did done all my book."  

Jake, tasting the cake batter he made: "Mmm, coffee."
Me: "Who are you?"
Jake: "Jacob."
Me: "And since when do you like coffee."
Jake: "Mom, I'm almost 9. I'm going to need to start drinking coffee soon."

Jake: "Is it hazelnut or nasalnut."
Me: "Hazelnut. Do you know what nasal means?"
Jake: "No."
Me: "It's referring to the nose."
Jake: "So, Zac called it a nosenut?"

Me: "I'm going to do it by myself. It's ok if I spend a few minutes by myself every now and then."
Zac: "But you can't be by yourself! We don't want you to get too scared and lonely."

Alyssa: "Your wish is my command."
Me: "Except, it wasn't a wish; it was a command."
Alyssa: "So, your command is my command."
Me: "Exactly."

Zac: "Mom, I think I have fighting muscles! And they're invisible."

Jake: "Mom, can we get a lock for that drawer, please? Tyler's always getting in there. Or, can we just get a lock for him?"

Zac, holding his head after eating ice cream: "I have a giant breeze frain."

Tyler, pulling at his pants trying to fix a wedgie: "My butt stuck!"

Me: "Why are you chewing on your pencil?"
Jake: "Because I'm like a beaver!"

My Mom, about the praying mantis: "That's right, they're carnivores, not herbivores." 
Zac: "Actually, they're insects."

Jake, after we let the praying mantis go: "Aww, I wanted to keep it . . . or at least run it over with my bike."

Me: "Why are those clothes shoved in the corner of your room?"
Alyssa: "I put them there for safe keeping."

Zac: "I'm as wise as a bird."

Alyssa: "Mom! Jake's not playing fair! I'm cheating for Zac and Jake is helping him, too!"

Alyssa: "Pink in my favorite color, but purple is my emergency favorite color." 

Alyssa, listening to the southerners singing with a twang at our church: "Mommy, are they like cowboys or something?"   

Me, reading from a book: "What birds live by your house?"
Jake: "Woodpeckers."
Alyssa: "Robins."
Jake: "Blue jays."
Me: "Sparrows, grackles, mourning doves."
Zac: "Regular birds."

Me: "Did you hear me?"
Zac: "Yes, ma'am."
Me: "What did I say?"
Zac: "Uhhh . . . apparently I didn't."

Tyler: "Ty-Ty want someping eat."
Me: "What do you want?"
Tyler: "Um, candy!"
Me: "No." 
Tyler: "On crackers?"

Tyler: "Mommy, I want snack."
Me: "What kind of snack?"
Tyler: "Yellow!"

Alyssa: "I'm burning cold."

Jake, concerned, while playing Lego Batman 2 on the Wii: "Mom, they're doing a lot of dangerous stuff."

Zac: "What do turkeys say?"
Me: "Gobble, gobble."
Zac, incredulously: "Gobble, gobble? I don't think that's true."

Alyssa: "My teeth itch."
Me: "How do your teeth itch?"
Alyssa, matter-of-factly: "It happens a lot."

Zac: "Knock, knock."
Tyler: "Who's there?"
Zac: "Robot."
Tyler: "I love robots!"
Zac: "No, Ty, you say, 'Robot who?'"
Tyler: "Robot who?"
Zac: "Robot I love you!"
Tyler: "Oh, thank you!"

Alyssa: "I have a mute button."
Jake: "You have a mute button?!? Do you know how many times I could have used that?"

Alyssa: "I'll eat anything! . . . as long as it's yummy."

Zac, holding a popsicle: "That's so cold, my hand would burn to freeze."

Jake: "Tyler is the cutest ever! His cuteness matches his troubleness."

Me, after reading Isaiah 7:14, while discussing names of Jesus: "Do you know what Emmanuel means?" 
Jake: "A guide, you know, like 'a manual.'"

Alyssa, about newborn Nicholas: "He's sleeping and eating! Babies are so talented."

Jake, about Nicholas: "Look how tiny his ears are! They look like mini cookies, you know like the little Oreos in the snack cups."

Jake, about Nicholas: "He's so soft and fuzzy, like a peach."

Me: "What are you doing? You're supposed to be in bed." 
Tyler: "Yeah, I supposed to be kiss this baby."

Jake, about Nicholas: "He's squeaking! Like a trumpet." 

My mom was holding Nicholas and patting his butt, trying to get him to stop fussing. Zac moved her hand, starting patting his butt, and said, "I think I have the right move" as Nicholas stopped crying. 

Zac, about his Christmas ornaments: "Mine are very fragile . . . 'Cause they're hot-glued."

Me: "Nicholas is going to be a week old tomorrow." 
Jake: "Already? It seems like just a few days ago he was a few days old."

Zac, watching me nurse the baby: "So he's eating? Chocolate milk or white milk?"

Jake and Alyssa read portions of the Christmas story before we opened presents on Christmas day. After Alyssa read her verses, Jake leaned over and whispered, "Good job reading. Don't worry, you'll get better at the harder words."

The kids were playing with Nicholas when I came to take him to change his diaper. As I picked him up, Tyler said, "Hey, you no steal that baby!"

Jake: "I had to pick a different Nancy Drew book to read to Nicholas. The other one had ghosts in it, and I didn't want to scare him."

That's all for 2014! I hope to have the next installment of Kids Say the Funniest Things soon. I hope you've Smiled a little as we've reminisced. 

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Things That Make Smile 12/15/17

Jake (12), Alyssa (9 1/2), Zac (8), Tyler (5 1/2), Nicholas (3)

Happy New Year! What a busy, fun, activity-filled month December has been. And while the time was bursting with memory-making experiences, I didn't record all that many quotes. I guess I was too busy enjoying the days! Both this list and the next will be double week posts. I hope you've taken the time to Smile, too.  

1. Listening to Nicholas sing "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas."

2. Jake, looking out the window: "Too bad it doesn't snow chocolate."

3. Decorating the house for Christmas.

4. Tyler, about dinner: "Even when you look at it you know it's good."

5. Celebrating Nicholas' 3rd birthday.

6. Birthday pancakes.

7. Alyssa, about the cake I made for Nicholas' birthday: "It tastes better than it looks--and that's saying something! Mom, you can really work some magic with cake."

8. Watching the kids play in the snow.

9.  Vising my niece and her new baby in the hospital.

10. Making ornaments with the kids.

11. Alyssa read the first book of a trilogy in one day. By early afternoon of the next day, she was beginning the book three. When I was so surprised that she had finished the second book already, she admitted that she woke up in the middle of the night and read half of the book with a flashlight.

12. Nicholas, because I get the hot water from our Keurig: "I want oatmeal with coffee in it."


14. Alyssa's favorite December reading spot.

15. Me: "Do you want to go to Gramma's today?"
Nicholas: "Yes! And go hunting!"
Me: "Go hunting? And how are you going to do that?"
Nichoas: "Because."
Me: "Because why?"
Nicholas: "Because. I want to."
Me: "You want to go hunting at Gramma's."
Nicholas: "Yes! I want Daddy take me!"

16. Nicholas, concerned about the first snow of the season: "It's on the van! What! What we do? . . . Why is it on the road? . . . Oh, no! We need a new car!"

and then 5 minutes later . . .

17. "We need more! How we get more?!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 12/1/17

Jake (12), Alyssa (9 1/2), Zac (8), Tyler (5 1/2), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week we celebrated Jake's 12th birthday, enjoyed our second game schooling day, and started our Christmas festivities.

1. Nicholas, looking at a picture of a cake: "It's a happy-to-you cake." (Happy Birthday to You song)

2. Alyssa: "I would never want to trade Nicky for anyone."

3. Nicholas, to Zac: "You want to play hiding spot?" (hide 'n seek)

4. Jake and I spent a date day together to celebrate his birthday.

5. Zac: "I'm almost done with the book! This is the chapter before the chapter that's before the chapter that's the last one."

6. Tyler: "I love you, Nicky!"
Nicholas: "Yes, you do."

7. Nicholas, covering his own eyes: "Daddy! You can't see me!"

8. Tyler: "I'm getting too big for these socks. They're too small now because I ate dinner."

9. Jake and his Boston Cream Pie birthday cake.

10. Nicholas: "Can I have another nemnem?" (vitamin)
Me: "No, you get only one."
Nicholas: "Look at my face." {grabs my cheeks, puts his nose to mine, and stares into my eyes} "Look at my face. Pease. I have another nemnem."

11. Me: ". . . Because I'm the mom and you're the boy."
Nicholas: "No, I Nicky!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Saturday, November 25, 2017


I went grocery shopping! 

I know . . . Boring, right?

But when you haven't done much except sit on the couch for nearly 3 months, even the mundane tasks of life seem exciting.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately actually--how your perspective can affect so much. We don't realize all the things we take for granted. You've heard the saying "You don't know what you have until it's gone"? Often we think of that statement applying to relationships and reminding us to appreciate the people in our life, but it can pertain anything. 

Like those mundane tasks.

Now that my ankle is in the process of healing and I'm able to get back to a somewhat "normal" routine again, I realize how the simple things can make me happy. I remember the excitement I felt when I walked from the couch to the kitchen. I didn't have to use my crutches! And the thrill of walking down the stairs to do laundry. Sure, it was a long process of putting both feet on each stair instead of going step-over-step, but I didn't have to scoot down on my bottom and crawl back up on my knees like a baby. I remember the day I was able to stand with the strength and ability to sweep and vacuum the house. And don't even get me started on the joy I feel every time now I get to organize an area of our home that was neglected for 3 months while we were in "survival mode."

Who knew that doing chores and simply walking whenever you want to could bring such happiness?

Too often, I think, we let insignificant things annoy us, cloud our judgment. It's easy to let little things  creep up and affect our attitude if we're not careful. I'm guilty of it, too. But, really, what good can come out of that?

A critical and unappreciative attitude robs you of your joy.

I carried a 3-ringed binder to classes with all my assignments in high school. It had a clear plastic cover that I could slide in a page on the front. Though I changed my decorative accents on the page from time to time, I always kept this quote from an 18th century French writer, Nicolas Chamfort: "The most thoroughly wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed." (See, I was looking for Smiles all those years ago, too, ha.) It doesn't mean that you have to tell jokes or watch comedies every day, but it's a reminder to be intentional in keeping a good attitude. Negative circumstances happen all the time, but how you respond to them is what matters. The more negativity you dwell on, the less joy you find in the simple things.

I've always loved my role as a stay-at-home mom. The cooking, the cleaning, the raising of the kids--it has always been a rich, fulfilling life for me. And then we added homeschooling. And more kids. My responsibilities have multiplied. And somewhere along the way I think I lost a little of my love of caring for our home. I've gotten annoyed by the crumbs and bothered by the mess. Oh, it's not an everyday feeling, but now much more often than before it feels like housework. Chores. Responsibility. Work.

I let the busyness distract me from my joy in serving my family.

"You don't know what you have until it's gone." Yes, thankfully, my family is still here, but my ability to serve them was gone for months. It was a discouraging, helpless feeling watching everyone else take care of our home. And suddenly, I couldn't wait to sweep up those crumbs and scrub the toilets.


I'm still struggling with some chores around the house. What the mind says, the body doesn't always do. But as I'm listening to my body and trying to push it to strengthen the ankle (and knee, leg, and hip that also weren't used for months), I'm also trying not to push it to the point of greater injury. It's a difficult balance to find.

Every night I go to bed sore and exhausted. My body and my ankle ache. I have good days and then days when my ankle swells back up and walking is nearly impossible again. But even on those physically challenging days, I have chosen to be happy.

Life is good, for so very many reasons. And now again, I get to serve the people who bring me the greatest joy and blessings and who are part of my "many reasons."

I won't claim that the messes make me happy, but I will be thankful for what they represent. Food. Clothing. Learning. Fun. Life. Blessings.


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