Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Family Letter

2010 has been a year marked by significant changes!
On March 10th we welcomed the newest member of our family, Taylor Ann. She was born almost 3 weeks early and has been a blessing since before her arrival. Now 9 months old, she is becoming more mobile and independent as she loves to explore her surroundings! She adores her siblings and is quite content to watch them play.
At the end of May we moved into a larger house. The house is almost double the square footage of our old house, and is closer to the university where TJ works as the manager of the User Support and telephone call-center. It sits on a half-acre of land and is a long-awaited answer to prayer. We all have room to “spread out” but yet we enjoy the benefits of being closer to town. It is an older home that needs some updating, but we are slowly painting rooms and making it our own. Probably the best part of moving is our neighbors- over the months we’ve been here we have become closer with them and they are a blessing to us, as well. We are so thankful the Lord provided not only a great house, but great neighbors to go along with it!
In August Ta (5 ½) started kindergarten at our new neighborhood school.  Along with the usual curriculum of learning letters and numbers, he also receives 20 minutes of Spanish instruction on a daily basis. In October he and some other students from the school were selected to partake in a Spanish lesson where the students taught the members of the School Board. Ta was paired up with the Superintendent and taught her a quick lesson to show what he has been learning since the beginning of the school year. When the lesson was over, the Superintendent and other School Board members were given a quiz; they did great and it was a fun experience for Ta. Since starting school, Ta has matured and taken on new responsibilities around the house. He is a hard worker and blessing to our family!
Also in August Th (8) began another school year, only this year he started 3rd grade instead of 2nd. He is also at home instead of in the public school. Homeschooling has been a wonderful experience for both Th and me. I enjoy teaching him and more importantly, spending time with him. Th loves to learn and, as a result of homeschooling, we have been able to study more in-depth the things that are interesting to him. For instance, when learning about the gold rush of 1849, we went to a gold mine and panned for gold. As part of our study on the history of South Carolina, he was able to attend school at a one-room schoolhouse and spend the day living as a boy growing up in the 1840s. Highlights from his trip included making homemade butter and completing his lessons using a quill pen. Th continues to prove his maturity level by his ability to take on new responsibilities, especially at home. He, too, is a blessing and I am so thankful the Lord afforded us the opportunity to homeschool.
In November T.G. celebrated her 4th birthday and is excited about having her own room! She no longer shares a room with Teagan and loves that she can have her own space to work her puzzles and color her pictures. She also started doing chores around the house once we moved, and she loves to do her “jobs” of putting away the clean silverware and organizing the shoe rack outside. T.G. is also a wonderful help with Taylor Ann. She loves to feed and babysit Taylor Ann while I am busy around the house. She continues to be a blessing to us all!
Teagan (2) is thrilled to be in our new house. She loves to play outside with her siblings and good friends Braxton and James who live across the street. Over the past few months Teagan has matured in that she loves to play babies with T.G. They pretend they are mommies and cook and feed their baby dolls. It is so cute to watch them push around their strollers and care for their babies. Teagan is such a blessing simply because of her sweet demeanor. She always has a smile on her face and is always willing to lend a helping hand! 
This Christmas season, as we reflect on the past year and look forward to 2011, we look forward to all that the Lord has planned for our family.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Break? What Break?

Th and I are taking a break from homeschooling while Ta and the girls are out of school for Christmas. I was thinking (not really sure why!) I would have a relaxed “Christmas break” since Th and I wouldn’t have school work to do. Boy, was I wrong!

 

I am still trying to get my Christmas cards written, addressed, and in the mail, gifts wrapped and ready to be shipped for our out-of-town family, cookie dough prepared and chilled so the kids and I can bake them together, plus my usual chores of laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Whew- it seems like it never ends! On top of all that, I am organizing a huge outreach through my church designed for moms in the local area. I have about 6 weeks until the actual event but there is much to do to get prepared. Thankfully so many from my church have volunteered to help me; they are definitely a blessing to me!

 

Time to get my girls down for naps so I can finish addressing this batch of cards…  in case I don’t get a chance to tell you, have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

9 months old today- wow!

Annie Oooh, as we affectionately call you, you are such a happy baby. You love all of your brothers and sisters so much. T.G. thinks she is your mom, and you humor her by allowing her to hold and feed you. Although you don’t allow her to hold you as long as you used to, you still enjoy the attention!
In the past 6 weeks or so you have mastered the “army” crawl. You use your little arms to pull and curl your toes to help you grip the floor and propel your body forward. You are the only one of my children to do the army crawl. You are now beginning to pull up to your knees on things so I’m sure it won’t be long until you are able to stand with assistance.
You still prefer fruits over vegetables, and absolutely will not open your mouth for anything green. Your all-time favorite food is cheese puffs, and you cry until we give you some at lunch time. You have started to say “Ma ma” and “Da da” and when you wake up at night you sit in your bed and call for us. Although it’s sweet to hear, Daddy and I would prefer you to sleep through the night!

Annie Oooh, we love you!

Stats:
17.3 pounds
27 inches long
10th percentile for both height and weight

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It only happens to Frank...

Th sang Christmas songs and passed out cards to residents of a local nursing home as part of a church outreach. My dad, watching in the audience, received a card from another boy in the group. Apparently the boy thought he was a resident. =)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wet Oatmeal Kisses & other thoughts

I found an article amidst a packet of papers I’ve had for several years. The packet was tucked inside my Sunday School book acting as a bookmark. I’m not sure why I’ve saved this particular packet of papers for so long, but I’m glad I did as it was a refreshing reminder to me when I opened it up and read the article again. I got the article from a more experienced mom and wife a few years ago when I was struggling with my role of motherhood.  I am sharing it with you, along with my thoughts as I have gained some insight into motherhood as a result of my children aging and me having more children now than I did a back then.

Wet Oatmeal Kisses
The baby is teething. The children are fighting. Your husband
just called and said, “Eat dinner without me.” One of these days
you’ll explode and shout to the kids, “Why don’t you grow up
and act your age?” And they will.
Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to
do. And don’t slam the door!” And they don’t. You’ll straighten
their bedrooms all neat and tidy, toys displayed on the shelf, hangers
in the closet, animals caged. You’ll yell. “Now I want it to stay
this way!” And it will.
You will prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t had
all the olives picked out and a cake with no finger traces in the
icing and you’ll say, “Now THIS is a meal for company.”
And you will eat it alone.
You’ll yell, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No screaming,
do you hear me?” And no one will answer: No more plastic tablecloths
stained with spaghetti. No more dandelion bouquets. No more
iron-on patches. No more wet, knotted shoelaces, muddy boots
or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point. No babysitter for New Year’s Eve,
washing clothes only once a week, no PTA meetings or silly school
plays where your child is a tree. No car-pools, blaring
stereos or forgotten lunch money.
No more Christmas presents made of library paste and toothpicks.
No more wet oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No more giggles
in the dark, scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to clean. Only
a voice asking: “Why don’t you grow up?”
And the silence echoes: “I did.”

~Erma Bombeck


I cried after reading the article again. Like I mentioned, it’s been a few years since I’ve read it. I remember at the time , I only had 2 children and they were so young it was difficult for me to imagine my home without them here. But, now that I have added more children and Th has aged a few years, I realize I only have a few short years remaining to try to be the best parent that I can to them, teaching and imparting godly wisdom along with the fear and admonition of the Lord. It’s a daunting task but if I’m successful, it will only be by the grace of God! The cost of mothering such a large family is high and means I can’t do all that I could do otherwise: tight budgets, little sleep, a messy home, limited time to pursue my own interests of scrapbooking, reading, and writing, and friendships that revolve around those who have children of similar ages to mine. My own dreams of becming a pilot have been put on hold as I have chosen raising my children as my first priority. Will these high costs be worth it? Well, only time will tell but my prayer is this: for my children to be saved at an early age and live their lives serving the Lord in all they do. Motherhood is my calling and although it’s tough at times, I am so thankful the Lord has blessed me through my children. I have never met a mom who wished she hadn’t had her last child; rather, I have known several who wished she’d had one more. Those are my thoughts exactly…

Friday, November 19, 2010

Socks

Teagan has sensory issues that mainly relate to food but also includes her feet. As a result, she HATES to wear shoes because to wear shoes, she also has to wear socks (except with sandals, I know). Whenever we put socks on Teagan, she immediately fusses and claims they “hurt”. I am past the point of getting upset with her as I realize she’s not being difficult or disobedient, she simply has issues and that’s what makes her Teagan. We have recently been trying to find socks that are more comfortable and not as “tight” on her (it’s the seams that bother her so the bigger the sock, the looser the toe seam is). A few weeks ago my sis-in-law held a contest on her blog to win some seamless socks. The winner never contacted her so she had the company mail the socks to me to try with Teagan.  I just received them and can’t wait to try them on her. They truly are seamless so that’s the good news; the “bad” news is that there is an elastic band at the top that I’m not sure if Teagan will tolerate. Nevertheless, I plan to wash these and put them on her beginning tomorrow. I’ll let you know how she does! =)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From the mouths of babes...

T.G. this morning, as she was opening her window blinds: “Mr. Sunshine is trying to come out.”  

Me: “Yes, it looks like it’s going to be sunny today.”

T.G. “I think he said, ‘God, can I go outside today? I want to shine on everything.’”

It was so sweet!  =)

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Battle of Cowpens: A Unit Study

One day during his reading lesson a few weeks ago, Th read a story about a drummer boy named Alex who lived during the Revolutionary War. In the story, Alex's father joins the militia in fighting for their independence from the British. They were preparing to fight at Cowpens, and the story was based on an actual event (Morgan's men retreated because the signal boy, or drummer boy, gave the wrong signal). Morgan's quick thinking and decisive actions are ultimately what led to him winning the battle and forever etching his name in history.


For whatever reason, Th really enjoyed this story and made a personal connection with the main character, Alex. So, to stay true to the beauty and character of homeschooling, I used Th's interest to my advantage and we did an entire study on the history of the battle, the men involved, and it's relevance to our lives today. Here are some pictures of his learning along the way:



Completing a Venn diagram on characteristics of the 2 opposing leaders, General Daniel Morgan and Colonel Banastre Tarleton...



We read some excerpts from a diary from a real soldier who fought in the battle. His name was Thomas Young. Young celebrated his 17th birthday the day of the battle. For this assignment, Th was to pretend he was Thomas Young and describe the battle, his thoughts/feelings, and any other information he thought was pertinent to the day...

It reads:"It was my birthday and I was 17. It was really cold. We formed in order of the battle. The men are slapping their hands together to keep warm. I heard guns and shouts from the British. The air was white and black from guns and cannons. Smoke was all around. General Morgan said don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes. What a way to spend a birthday!"


Th drew a picture of the battle to go along with his fake journal entry...



At the monument just outside the visitor's center (it was a family field trip!)...



Th pretending he was a sharpshooter, aiming at the British...




Reading an informational marker at the battlefield...


I must admit that this has been my favorite study we've done so far (although we are only 10 weeks into the school year!). I guess because Th was really interested in this unit, he couldn't get enough information about it and he absorbed it like a sponge. We went to the library and checked out books, we talked about it outside of school "hours", and we planned our visit in anticipation of seeing the actual battlefield of which we had been studying. It was all very exciting!
Making sense of the battle using color-coding. Can you follow it? =)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy 4th birthday T.G.!

I can’t believe T.G. is 4 years old! Time just seems to pass
more and more quickly, especially as my children age. I remember when I found
out I was having a girl- I was so excited! I never could have imagined how
blessed I would be when God placed you in our family!
T.G., you are such a little princess, dainty and frilly in
every way. You make me smile because you are the complete opposite of me: you
adore wearing dresses, you LOVE to wear hair bows, and you absolutely refuse to
leave the house without accessorizing with jewelry! Pink, of course, is your
favorite color and according to you, one can never wear too much of it! You are
a whiz at putting puzzles together and the more pieces there are, the more you
enjoy doing them. You are great with Taylor Ann (your relationship with Teagan
is another story!) and I am thankful you enjoy helping me out by “babysitting”
her. It is obvious she loves you just as much as you love her. You adore your
big brothers and have fun partaking in different activities with each of them.
You love to catch bugs and other critters with Th, and getting into mischief
with Ta is also a fun pastime for you. As Teagan is getting older you are
becoming more involved with her, too. I love it when the two of you play with
your baby dolls, dressed up for your roles as “Mommy” to Chilly, Sarah, Brown
Baby, Grace, and Elizabeth, in addition to all the other un-named dolls we have. 
 
In spite of all of the above reasons as to why I am thankful
for you, my number one reason is because you have a desire to please God above
anyone else. My prayer for you, my beloved daughter, is that you would always
have that desire and live your life in service to Him. You don’t have a
personal relationship with Jesus yet, but by God’s grace you will one day
(hopefully soon).
Stats:
Age: 4
Height: 37 inches
Weight: 30 pounds
*Lord, thank you for this precious gift, my daughter T.G. I love her so much!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Faces!

My kids being silly...

and then being sweet...


I love these kids! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold!

The kids and I went to Reed Gold Mine in Midland, NC today. Th just finished up a unit on the westward expansion, including the discovery of gold in California in 1849. I thought this field trip would be a fun way to end the unit. We looked at the exhibits, toured the mine, and panned for gold. It was so much fun, and a great learning experience! He was excited to find gold but as he shared with TJ, we "can't sell our house to become gold miners." I'd say he learned first-hand how labor intensive mining truly is, especially for such little pay-off. =)
The mine entrance:
Just inside the entrance:
50 feet underground, looking up a shaft:
The mine shaft from the outside:
T.G. watching the mill in operation. It was loud, but the noise didn't seem to bother her!
Th panning for gold:
T.G. panning for gold:
This verse ties in nicely to today's field trip and is a good reminder for us all: "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." ~Matthew 6:20.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mt. FrankandDot

That is the name we gave to the mountain where TJ's grandfather, Frank, and his wife, Dot, live. It is in northern Pennsylvania, only about 10 or so miles south of the New York state line. It was beautiful during our visit; the autumn colors were almost to their full glory!


We had a busy week with them.

TJ walked the cemetary where his grandmother is buried and shared fond memories with us of time spent with her.

We went to the playground:



We went to Ross Park and zoo (Binghamton, NY):


We picked apples at Russell Farm and Orchard:


We celebrated Teagan's 2nd birthday:


We learned about the longest concrete train bridge, which was built in 1915:



We celebrated Th's 8th birthday:


But best of all, we enjoyed sweet fellowship with dear loved ones! The kids enjoyed putting on their "Patch the Pirate" performance each evening after supper, and the grandparents enjoyed watching it! These are precious memories that we will always have, and I am so thankful we took the time to go visit. As Th remarked on our last night with Great-grandpa Frank and Great-grandma Dot, this was "probably the last time we're gonna be here because you're kinda old." Thankfully they had a great sense of humor and were not at all offended, but it did sadden us all to think about the truth in his words. Kids sure do have a way of saying things! :)




Monday, October 18, 2010

I Need You!

I was thinking about (reflecting on, really) Th's eye injury when something occurred to me: the night that it happened, he just wanted me. He wanted me to hold his hand, draw his bath water for him, sit with him, basically be close to him and not leave his side. The next day, when he went to the eye doctor, he wanted me to take him and not TJ. But, now that he's feeling better and his life has mostly returned to normal, he doesn't "need" me as much. I miss being needed and knowing that only I was able to soothe him.

Unfortunately, the above scenario describes how I've been with God. During the difficult times in my life, as I struggle to make sense of the hurt and pain I'm experiencing, I seek the Lord and cling tightly to His promises. However, once the storm passes and the fog lifts, I catch myself moving away from the Lord and not seeking Him so diligently. I can only surmise that He, like myself, misses the fellowship that comes with drawing close to Him. This week in particular, my prayer is that I will seek and cling and hold fast to the promises given by my heavenly Father, and that I would remind my children to do so, as well.

*"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." ~James 4:8

Monday, October 11, 2010

Never a Dull Moment!

As a mom to 5 kids, it's never a dull moment in our house. It seems like someone is always sick or hurt. This weekend it was Th's turn to visit the doctor. Here's why:

It's a long story but thankfully he'll be okay. The Lord's protection is evident as literally 1cm to the left and Th could have been blinded or more seriously wounded. Although it's gross to look at, he can see fine and is in only minor pain.

Thanks for the prayers for his quick recovery!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses,
and all the King's men,
couldn't put Humpty together again.
~Mother Goose

Mother Goose came to visit Ta's class for a tea party today. In preparation for her arrival, the kids practiced reciting their favorite nursery rhymes and were encouraged to dress up as their favorite character. I think he looks adorable, if I do say so myself! =)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Th's birthday & our trip

I need to write Th's birthday post/picture, as well as share some pictures from our trip last week. However, a stomach bug has hit our family and in the past 24 hours, 5 of 7 family members have caught it. It's not fun living in this house right now!

:(

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday, Th!

Happy birthday, buddy!
Stats:
Height: 49 3/4 inches
Weight: 56.6 pounds
Favorite color: Red
Life's ambition: to be a missionary and drive an R/V :)



This past year has been marked by your baptism, along with changes to your education. You have excelled academically but more importantly, you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your love for the Lord spurs you to love others, and for that I am so grateful.

You are a fabulous big brother, the kind I always wished I had when I was little. You are kind, caring, and take time to help and teach your younger siblings. You care about their spiritual walk with the Lord and are always sharing the gospel with them- a mini-missionary! The Lord truly blessed us when He gave you to us! We love you so much and are so thankful for your servant's heart!



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

Teagan is 2 years old! Wow! She has come a long way over the course of her life. Although still receiving speech therapy and meeting weekly with her Early Interventionist Crystal, she has overcome some obstacles that most children her age never face. And, she has done it with a smile on her face EVERY day!

Teagan, you are the happiest kid I know. The only time you are unhappy is, as Th so eloquently phrased it, when you "...hear the word "NO!" You cry every time, and although it is usually for your protection or safety, you still don't like it. But, with a quick hug and a wipe of a few tears, you smile your beautiful smile and get on with life. I love that about you. Teagan, you have an infectious smile that draws people to you. Strangers in the store and friends at church are always commenting on your beautiful smile and sweet personality. Your teachers at preschool have nicknamed you "Sweet Tea" because of your warm smile and joyful personality. I have a lot to learn from you, my dear!

Teagan, I am so thankful for all the Lord has done for our family through you. Because of you, we have met some amazing people. Mrs. Kathy, Mrs. Susan, and your other therapists have become good friends through working with you. Mrs. Crystal is like a member of the family as she has worked weekly with you now for over 18 months! I know you love her just as much as she loves you! Again, we are so thankful for the many ways the Lord has blessed us through you, and pray you will continue to grow not only developmentally, but spiritually, as well. I love you Teagan Claire!

*Note: a picture will be added upon our return home. Internet connection is intermittent, at best, up in these mountains. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

6 MONTHS OLD!!!!



I cannot believe I am the mother of a 6-month old. When did Taylor Ann get so big? Wait, I remember. I remember every night because she still wakes up to feed. At least twice, lately three times. But, it's okay. She is so sweet and loving that I enjoy it. She coos and kisses and rubs my face as I hold her. This stage will not last long enough so I am making a conscious effort to enjoy it, even though it's difficult for me to get out of bed when the alarm rings at 6am.

Developmentally, Taylor Ann is rolling back and forth between her belly and back, and she is working on sitting up independently. She is grasping toys and anything else she can get a hold of (today it was T.G.'s hair- ouch!). She is just starting out on baby food so no real "favorites" yet. Taylor Ann is chunky and has many rolls of baby fat that cause me to squeeze her several times a day, especially on her thunder thighs! She is getting some hair finally but still sports the Sinead O'Connor look. =) She has a happy disposition so when she gets upset, she really gets upset. So much so that she often goes hoarse from screaming. She has taken a special liking to her oldest brother Th because he often holds her for me while I am busy stirring a pot, wiping a nose, changing laundry, or washing a dish. He also just likes to hold her because she is so cuddly (that was his answer when I came down stairs last night to find him holding her on the couch). So sweet, both of them!

I am so thankful for Taylor Ann, my unplanned miracle in my planned-out life. ;)

*Psalm 127: 3-5: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1st Day of Preschool

T.G. and Teagan started back to preschool last week. I have been so busy that I am just now getting a chance to post their "first day" pictures. Here they are:

The bonds of sisterhood! :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Homeschooling- Week 1



Okay, I gotta tell you, I really like homeschooling. We just completed our first "full" week of school, and at times it was challenging, but we did it! It is obviously a learning process for both Th and myself as we figure out the best way to do school while my girls, particularly Teagan, are home with us, but we're getting there. Thankfully he enjoys school and overall Th has an easy-going personality so he doesn't mind when I switch things up a bit. But, Friday's routine seemed to work the best with having the girls home with us so that is what I will do on the days they don't attend preschool. Plus, on the mornings they do attend preschool, I think Th and I will be able to move through the material quicker since we won't have the distractions of an almost 4- and 2-year-old. Hopefully we can get ahead on those days and, if needed, relax a bit on the others.


Our first field trip is scheduled for October 1st. We are going to a local historical farm and homestead where a Revolutionary War veteran once lived. While there, Th will participate in a simulated 1840s school day. He has to dress and bring a lunch similar to the time period. Before he goes, we have some work to do to prepare him for his lessons while at the schoolhouse. He can't wait to get started! He is so excited, especially because in history right now we are studying the foundation of America and he loves it! This field trip is the "icing on the cake" for him! He is going with 10 other homeschoolers so for all of you "what-about-the-socialization" part of homeschooling- no worries! =)

Honestly though, the best part of homeschooling is the time we are spending together. He is learning, I know that, but we also talk and interact and just spend time together that we otherwise would not get. Anyone with more than 1 child knows how difficult it is to spend time alone with each child, and homeschooling is affording me that precious time. They are only little for a short time so I am thankful that, before I set him loose in the "real world," I have time to prepare him to be a godly man and husband to his future wife. Seems far off but I know that day will be here all too soon.

As you think of it, please pray for us. Pray that we would continue to enjoy each other's company and that this academic year is successful. Homeschooling has been my heart's desire for some time, so thank the Lord for allowing the difficult circumstances last year to prepare me for this year.

*Psalm 37:4- "Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dedicated to my fellow homeschool moms. . .

This was on my friend Renee's blog, and I totally had to steal it because it's so true! LOL!! Happy school year!!! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homeschooling has been going well. We started on Tuesday and completed a half day. We did the other half on Wednesday and then began full days on Thursday. It has been exciting, fun, and, at times, challenging. With my girls being so young, I have to find things for them to do with us at the table so they aren't getting into stuff. Plus, Ta was sick so he was home with us, too. I had to juggle my roles as teacher, mom, and nurse this past week. Not an ideal way to start the year but it went well and we pushed on!

Overall it's going to be a great year! School, on average, takes us between 2 1/2 and 3 hours to get done. I like the routine that we've started but more importantly, the flexibility is great! Plus, since I'm home for a dedicated amount of time, I can get stuff done around the house while Th is completing assignments. Most of the housework and laundry is done during the week, freeing up our weekends to spend time with TJ. It's been great! We've been following this schedule since the end of June and have only made minor tweaks since school began.

We have some awesome field trips planned for this year (I know because I'm helping to plan some of them!), one of which is to the airport and an aircraft museum. Y'all know how much I enjoy being around aircraft! It's sort of an obsession that began when I was a child. The great thing is that I get to bring all of my children with me on the field trips, not just Th. I am planning some stuff to do at home to prepare everyone before we go on each trip to enhance the learning experiences. It requires a bit more planning and investment of time, but it's time well-spent! We get to be together and truth be told, I am looking forward to the day all my kids will be homeschooled!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 months old!


Taylor Ann is five months old today. She is getting so big so quickly! She, like her sisters, sucks her left thumb. I don't know what it is about that left thumb, but it must taste extra-special for all 3 of them to do it! She is also rolling from side-to-side now that she has discovered her feet. I must say, I just love this age! She is, for the most part, a very content baby who greatly enjoys watching the others play around her. T.G. just simply adores her and affectionately calls her, "That baby."

Ironically enough, today is also the one-year mark that I found out I was pregnant with twins. I have very mixed emotions today. I am sooo thankful to have this beautiful, healthy, happy baby girl but I am saddened by the fact that her twin is not on this earth with us.

I still look at the ultrasound picture and remember the shock and disbelief of it all. My, how my life has changed in a year! God has been so good and gracious to me, but in getting to this high-point in my life, I had to go through some valleys. The road was hard and long, and some days I still stumble, but along the way I am changing into His image.

I know what it means to "die to self" in that I had to let my own dreams of how my life should be die so that Christ could fulfill His purpose in me. Some days are easier than others. I'm just being honest. I would be lying if I said I never thought about Twin A or my other babies who are in Jesus' arms. But, it is what it is and I can't change it. I'm thankful for that. I doubt I would be able to see the blessings God has given me with the same clarity if the "mountains" were not interspersed with the "valleys."

*Psalm 34:1- "I will bless the Lord at ALL times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Monday, July 26, 2010

So Special

I love Teagan very much! She has brought so much joy to our family and we are grateful the Lord gave her to us- what a blessing! As many of you know, she has a developmental delay and has been receiving various types of therapy for almost a year and a half. She has "graduated" from all except speech. She is making great progress, except I've started to notice something that concerns me a little. Growling. When she doesn't like or want to do something, Teagan growls. Loudly. I guess maybe growling is easier than trying to say, "No," which she can't say. I'm not really sure, but I am going to talk to Susan, her S/LP, about it tomorrow when she sees Teagan.

Just another confirmation from the Lord how truly special Teagan is! =)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Homeschooling

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post so I thought I'd share some of what I've been up to. We went to the beach and had a fabulous trip. We actually stayed a little longer than planned because we just love the ocean and really didn't want to leave. :) Since getting back, I have been working on lesson plans for homeschooling next year. I finalized my curriculum and am now transferring the lessons for each subject into my lesson planner. It's time consuming and I am really only able to do it for a little bit in the afternoons while the kids nap. But, Lord willing, it's getting done and I am thankful.

There are still boxes in almost every room that need to be unpacked, but motivation is small and honestly it's just too difficult for me to unpack with 5 small children. We've done some little projects around the house, one of which was putting plywood sheets up in the rafters of the attic to expand our attic space. We still have a storage unit full of stuff that needs to be brought over, but until we either unpack the boxes or put them in the attic, there is no room for them. We also bought a new light for our dining room and TJ hung that, plus we replaced an old, glass sliding door with more modern (and energy-efficient!) French doors in our office area. They look great, we just need to finish the rest of the office (and each room of the house!). Slowly but surely we'll do it. We are determined to pay cash for everything so as not to become a slave to debt, but that means we can only do what we can afford.

On the plus side, I found some bedroom furniture for T.G. at a moving sale. I can't wait to get it so I can paint it and begin customizing her room for her. It's a double bed, so now guests (my parents and sister) will have a bigger bed to sleep in rather than one of the boys' beds when they come to visit.

Finally, I've been teaching at the preschool summer camp two mornings each week. Most of the kids in my class were in my class last year, so it's nice to spend some time with them again. I was surprised how much I missed them when I saw them on the first day of camp. Last week we learned about space, this week we'll discuss the ocean, and next week is devoted to art. My own kids have had a great time and I've enjoyed teaching again. It gives us something to do and I am making a little extra money at the same time- can't beat that!! Well, time to get working on my lesson plans!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary

TJ and I are celebrating 11 years of marriage today. Where has the time gone? We've been through so much in our 11 years, more than some ever experience in a lifetime. God has been so gracious to us, bringing trials into our lives that have helped us to grow closer to Him and to each other. In the past year alone, we've lost a baby, gained a baby, and moved into a larger house, among other things. This time last year I would have never expected any of those things to happen, and thankfully they have as we have learned a few things in the process.

Now, for those of you who knew us when we were dating, I have this to say to you, "See, we made it this far, and we will continue to make it only by God's grace." To those of you who have known us for only part of our marriage, I have this to say to you, "See, we made it this far, and we will continue to make it only by God's grace." Marriage is hard work but so worth the effort.

*Thank you, Lord, for TJ. He is a wonderful husband, a great daddy who is involved in the lives of his children, and a godly man and example for others. I often take him for granted and pray that You would help me to be his helpmate the way that You intended. Serving my husband is my greatest ministry and in doing so, I glorify You. I pray You remind me of that. Often. Like beat me over the head with it and don't let me forget it. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beach Bound

We are getting ready to go to the Outer Banks this Friday. The kids and I are so excited! This is our FAVORITE family vacation spot and we haven't been there in 3 years. The past 2 years we have gone to Topsail Island, and although it's nice, nothing compares to the Outer Banks. Plus, my mom is meeting us there so we'll get to visit with her!

The kids are already making a list of things to bring such as their "boogie boards," kites, crab nets, and sand toys. The last time we were there, we went searching for crabs on the beach at night. TJ and the boys caught quite a few of them (and released them, of course) and the kids are most excited about that. I am excited about getting some sand in my toes and some sun on my back! LOL! Nothing is better than seeing God's beautiful creation at the beach: the ocean's boundaries, the beautiful skies, and all the life in between the two.

*Psalm 19:1~ "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update on Teagan

It's been a while since I've updated on Teagan's progress with her therapy and such. At this point in her life (at age 21 months), she is now only receiving speech therapy along with her weekly visits with Crystal, her Early Interventionist. She was re-evaluated last week and on Tuesday Susan, her speech therapist, and I went over the results.

When Teagan was first assessed last December she scored in the 90s on both receptive and expressive skills. Average is anywhere between 85-115, and a true "delay" is below 85 and "advanced" is above 115. She qualified because of her eating difficulties and aversion to textured foods (she was 15 months old and still on pureed baby foods). Susan not only worked on her speech, but did lots of work with her in terms of getting Teagan to accept foods and getting over her texture aversion.

When Teagan was assessed last week, her receptive score was 115 but her expressive was 86; quite a significant difference. She should be saying at least 50 words but is only saying about 20 on a regular basis. She tries to imitate words by changing the inflection and pitch of her voice, which is great, but what she says is completely unintelligible. Receptively, Teagan understands so much and in fact, showed understanding of skills that are difficult for kids to grasp, especially at not quite 2 years old. For instance, the concept of quantities: one, some, all. Susan was even a little surprised that Teagan understood what she was asking so she repeated that part of the assessment later on just to be sure the results were accurate. Again, Teagan mastered the task!

Although Teagan's scores do not fall in the "delay" range yet (the test age range is for 18-24 months so once Teagan turns 2 and is reassessed, then she will qualify) we are going to continue with speech because there is such a big gap between her receptive understanding and expressive speech. Ideally both of her scores would be about the same and clearly they are not.

I am thankful for the work that Susan has done with Teagan because not only has she helped Teagan in terms of her eating capability, but she has given TJ and I an opportunity to communicate with Teagan through sign. Signing was something I did with the others but not to the extent that we have done with Teagan. Teagan signs more words than she says and when she wants something that she doesn't know the sign for, she gets frustrated at not having a means to express herself. Susan, through signing, has opened up Teagan's world for her and really helped Teagan to have a better quality of life.

Teagan's Vocabulary:
more
cu(p)
baby
bye
hi
ea(t)
ma-ma
da-da
knee
me
mine
coo-coo (cookie)
ha(t)
eye
mou(th)
bubble
ball
ca(r)
dirty

Teagan's signs:
baby
more
help
open
all done
milk
I love you
sit
up
in (put in)
dirty
mine
ball
bath
shoes
apple
juice
cup
eat
cookie
cracker
cat
girl

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So Blessed

Just thought I'd share. . . I am so blessed! I have seen God answer my prayers in so many ways over the past few months. God is good! Psalm 119:68

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We've Moved!

I am so thrilled to finally be moved into our new "old" house. I call it that because the house is new to us, but it's actually 45 years old. It's so spacious compared to our other house; the kids and I LOVE it! The layout is perfect for us and I am so thankful the Lord, in His wisdom and timing, provided it for us.

We are slowly unpacking because the more immediate priority is with cleaning. The house was previously owned by an elderly man whose wife died from cancer last year. He himself suffered from a stroke so it's been a VERY long time since the house has been cleaned. Each room requires a scrubbing from floor to ceiling and everything in between. Thankfully a friend of mine from church has been willing and able to come over to help clean. Together we were able to get the kitchen, kids' bedrooms, playroom, and 2 bathrooms completed; we're about halfway there! I have started unpacking the playroom so the kids have been acting like it's Christmas. They are so happy to see their toys again! :) TJ got our bed frame put together so we were finally able to sleep in our bedroom last night. Hopefully he will get the boys' beds put together next so we can get their room unpacked and organized.

My church is holding Vacation Bible School next week and this is the first year I am not teaching. I would love to be able to, and am a little sad that I'm not, but I just have too many other things going on right now that I simply do not have the time to plan each day's lesson. I am looking forward to serving in another area and am grateful for the opportunity to get the kids out of the house for a few hours each day.

Life is slowly returning to normal. . . and I LOVE it! I am blessed beyond all measure.

*"But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place; in the congregations I will bless the Lord." ~ Psalm 26:11-12

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Movin' On Up. . .

Packing and visiting with my mom and sis and neices. Loving life right now! Thankful for the many blessings of great family and friends! :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.” ~Washington Irving

As a mother, I have experienced both overwhelming grief and unspeakable love. But, through it all, God is faithful and His word is a comfort to me. I am sure there will be many more tears to come, and I anticipate them with joy that comes with knowing I am in His care. I am so blessed to be a mother!

To all the mothers out there, I wish you a happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Joyous Life

In my last post, I wrote about how I was searching for joy in raising my children...

Well, I can happily report that I have finally figured it out. I realized that I can have joy no matter the circumstance or situation, but this joy is only found through Christ. Thankfully the Lord really opened my "spiritual eyes" enough for me to understand what having joy really means. It means that, no matter how much crying Taylor Ann does or how much arguing the others do, I am doing exactly what the Lord has called me to do: mother my children.

As Mother's Day approaches, I am so thankful for the opportunity the Lord has charged me with in raising children. I am training them to fear the Lord and to be responsible for their actions. I am also taking time to enjoy my children, making time to play and talk and cuddle and rock and sing and dance and run and all the other things they like to do on a daily basis. And you know what, it's FUN!! :)

*"Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her..." ~Proverbs 31:28

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Finding Joy

I am the mother of 5 children. Most days I still cannot believe it, although reality hits when I am being pulled in different directions by 5 needy children.

I have been thinking lately about how to "enjoy my children" as I have been told numerous times by well-intentioned, and much wiser, friends. But, honestly, I have no idea how to do that. It is something I have struggled with for years, and as my kids get older, the more I miss out on, or so it seems. I just can't seem to grasp how to balance all of my responsibilities: wife, mother, chef, laundress, chauffeur, maid, and many others that I can't seem to think of off-hand. Don't get me wrong, I love Taylor Ann and am so thankful for all that God has taught me through her short time with our family. I am just struggling even more to find time to do even the simplest of everyday tasks (like showering!!) even more so now that she is here.

But today during Sunday School, a thought occurred to me that was very encouraging and helped changed my perspective (or is helping to change it). In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the Lord entrusts each servant with a certain amount of talents. Rather than thinking negatively as I have been ("How am I ever going to get a shower when this baby won't stop crying?" or "Why does Teagan always take her shoes off just as we are about ready to walk out the door?" or "Why can't the boys keep their hands to themselves in the car so no one gets hurt?") I need to think positively: the Lord is pleased with my mothering as He has entrusted me with more children. Despite the difficulties, I am trying to be faithful in raising my children to honor and glorify Him in all things. Now, I realize that is not the true meaning behind that particular parable, but in thinking in terms of my faithfulness, it helps me to have a positive perspective on mothering, an often difficult job!

I know I need to relax a little and let my list of "to do" items wait as my children are growing quickly. Time is passing and there is no turning back; so often I have been told, "They are only little once" and it is so true! This week, while we are on Spring Break and TJ is away, I am resolving to find joy in the difficulties of mothering small children and to prove myself faithful in the little, and big, things of life.

*His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' ~Matthew 25:23

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Baby Story


Wednesday, March 10, 2010. The day God chose for Taylor Ann to make her debut into the world.

I started to have contractions just as preschool dismissal began, around noon. They weren’t very close, happening only about once every 10-15 minutes or so. Once I got home, I told TJ I wasn’t feeling well. He offered to take the afternoon off but since the contractions weren’t unbearable or close together, I assured him it was okay to go back to work and I would call him around 4pm to give him an update. Plus, Teagan has therapy on Wednesday so her EI, Crystal, would be here with me for an hour if something drastically changed and I needed to go to the hospital. He agreed and off he went!

During Teagan’s therapy, I mainly sat on the couch and relaxed because I just did not feel well. Every movement caused me to have a contraction and as anyone who has had children knows, they are painful! =) Crystal left about 2:30 and I loaded the kids up in the van and we picked up Th from school, returning home shortly before 3pm. I got the younger 3 settled in their beds for naps and helped Th with his homework. About 3:30 I went to lay down for a bit but couldn’t get comfortable. A few minutes before 4pm I called the doctor’s office to speak with the advice nurse. She said I could come in to be checked but I had to be there before 4:20 (which was impossible!). If after 4:20pm I still didn’t feel well, I would have to go to the hospital. As promised, I called TJ upon hanging up and told him I still didn’t feel well but that there had really been no change; the contractions weren’t any harder or closer together so it was probably false labor again. He asked again if I wanted him to come home and I again declined (since he’d be home in an hour anyway!) and with the fire that had recently happened, I knew he was extremely busy!!

After I hung up the phone, I decided to take a bath to see if that would help me relax. It did, and I felt a little better. However, once I got dressed and went downstairs to start cooking supper, the contractions started coming a little harder. I called my mom out of frustration of not knowing what to do and just started crying. She told me to call my friend from church and have her come over to stay with the kids while TJ and I went to the hospital. Her reasoning made sense to me (it was better to have her come over now since she could take the kids to church; if I got sent home again, I would probably be home in time to put the kids to bed; if it was true labor, it was still early enough in the day that we could make arrangements for her to spend the night). I agreed to call and hung up with my mom. At 5pm on the dot I called my friend, Mrs. J., and asked her to come over between 6 and 6:15pm. I had supper almost ready and by then the kids would be fed and ready for church. I then called TJ, who was on his way home by then, to tell him of the evening’s plans. I also paged the doctor.

After I hung up, I sat down to write down instructions for the kids in case we were at the hospital late. TJ came home, finished feeding the kids while I went to get dressed (after my bath I put on my pj’s) and finished packing my hospital bag. By 5:30pm the contractions were coming about every 4 minutes and the pain was intensifying. I told TJ to call Mrs. J. and tell her to come over ASAP! By 5:45, I could hardly stand up and panic began to set in. I knew I was in labor and was fearful my water was going to break (once my water breaks, delivery is only about 10 minutes away)! TJ called my neighbor to come over and stay with the kids until Mrs. J. arrived because we needed to get to the hospital!!! Thankfully, my neighbor was home and as TJ and I pulled out of the driveway, Mrs. J. pulled up to the house. The Lord’s perfect timing! TJ again paged the doctor on our way to the hospital because he still had not called back.

We arrived at the hospital and I immediately was put in a labor/delivery room. When the nurse checked me, I was almost 7 cm dilated! She paged the doctor for a third time and began to input my information into the computer. I was trying my best to manage the pain but I was fearful the baby was going to be face up like Teagan, so I asked for an epidural. I was told “no” because the nurse needed to get my information into the computer, an IV line hooked up, and blood drawn for lab work. She said the anesthesiologist was known for being very “by the book” when it came to giving epidurals, and without the results of the blood work, he more than likely would not agree. I was discouraged but prayed that the Lord would either allow me to deliver quickly or that the anesthesiologist would change his mind. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist “happened” to be on the unit in another room and came into my room to talk to the nurse. When I realized who he was, I begged him to reconsider. He did (praise the Lord!!).

Within 15 minutes I was a whole new person- calm, relaxed, and relatively pain-free. I’ve only had an epidural once before and by the time I delivered, it had worn off. I will admit this was a whole new experience for me, and I am amazed at how effective it was in pain management. Shortly after getting the epidural, I knew delivery was imminent and informed the nurse that it was time. She took one look at me and agreed, going into a frenzy to page the OB doctor again and prepare the bed for the baby’s birth. Once the OB entered the room, Taylor Ann arrived within 10 minutes. Face up. So glad I had the epidural!

As in every delivery, the OB examines the placenta for any abnormalities. Upon examination of mine, he held it up for me to see and pointed out where Taylor Ann’s cord had been attached. It was off to the side, not in the center as is typical for a single birth. But, we know she wasn’t a single birth, and he pointed out where the other cord had been attached. It was a bittersweet moment but again confirmation from the Lord that there had in fact been two babies and I had the privilege of caring for one while He cares for the other. I am so thankful the OB did that as he didn’t have to, and I would have never known otherwise, but it meant so much to me. That is probably what stands out the most to me about Taylor Ann’s birth story: the time in explaining the cords and allowing me to see for myself where this little life once was. Yes, Taylor Ann’s birth is a celebration of life on Earth, but it was also a celebration of life with the Lord for her twin.

As I rock and nurse her at night, I find myself contemplating what my life would be like with two newborn babies. Difficult, to say the least, but how else would it be different? I don’t know, but God knows, and I trust His plan for life. I am thankful I knew about the twins and that I saw where the cord was attached. I have an answer as to what probably happened (the babies shared a placenta meaning one baby, Taylor Ann, received primary nourishment and the other baby received secondary nourishment. Taylor Ann grew and thrived while the other baby simply didn’t get enough to sustain life and stopped developing) and although it’s not what I would have chosen, it’s what God chose for me. I am thankful for Taylor Ann, and this entire pregnancy experience. Simply put, I am thankful. . .
Taylor Ann
6 pounds, 14 ounces 19 3/4 inches long Born 7:47pm

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Surprise, Surprise!

I have to share how good the Lord has been to TJ and I over the past couple of weeks. . .

About a month ago, I found out some friends from church were planning a baby shower for me. I was utterly surprised, to say the least. The shower was a couple of weeks ago and was wonderful! It was a scrapbook theme in which each guest decorated a scrapbook page, and at the end of the shower, I had a complete album for Taylor's first year. The scrapbook is gorgeous! Some of the pages are very elaborate and others are very simple; it is a nice balance and something I could have never completed on my own. The best part of the album is that each lady signed her name on the back so I know who created each page. I love it and will cherish it always! I will admit I got emotional during the shower simply at the thoughtfulness and planning of each person in attendance. Each guest not only created a scrapbook page, but they prepared dishes to share and just the fact that they came meant so much to me! The Lord has given us great friends who support us in so many ways that it is oftentimes overwhelming!

Then, last Thursday, I started to generally not feel well and have contractions that progressively grew stronger and more frequent. After calling the doctor for his opinion, he felt it was best for me to come in to be checked and monitored. After all, in the past I had delivered 2 children by that point in my pregnancy and the others only a couple of days after that. I called a dear friend from church, Mrs. J, to come over and stay with the children. Mrs. J. is who we called when I went into labor with Teagan and she has been in my kids' lives since I had Ta. They adore her and in fact, the boys were so excited she was coming over, they couldn't wait for us to leave! T.G. and Teagan were already asleep by the time we left for the hospital and T.G. woke the next morning, she was so upset that it wasn't Mrs. J. waking her up! The Lord has placed us in a wonderful, caring church that meets the needs of its members- we are so thankful! Although the contractions stopped and labor ceased, it won't be much longer before Mrs. J. gets another phone call from us!

Friday I attended a "mandatory" staff get-together. Or so I thought. It was a surprise shower from all my friends at the preschool. Again, the love and support that has been shown over the course of this pregnancy amazes me. Without having family help on a regular basis, friends fill the gap and assist whenever necessary. It is nice to know that help is only a phone call away, and even better, only minutes away.

With Taylor's impending arrival, my emotions have been very mixed. I am anxious to meet this little miracle who has been growing and thriving inside of me for the past 9 months, but I am saddened to know that with her birth comes the end of my pregnancy. Don't get me wrong- I do not enjoy being pregnant. But, since Taylor is a twin, I still feel connected to Twin A. When she is born, all the memories of this pregnancy will be just that- a memory. Thankfully when the scrapbook was created, a page was dedicated to the fact that Taylor was/is a twin. It is important to me to not let that fact slip away. Having twins in this way has greatly affected me and grown me spiritually; I cannot ignore that. I refuse to ignore that. God has shown me so much over the course of these 9 months, perhaps that is why Taylor has yet to make her debut. God still has something for me to learn about His character and I am ever-attentive to His teachings.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." ~Psalm 34:1

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

I found this article on my friend Renee's blog and I thought it was very true, so I wanted to share it here, too. I copied the article and included my thoughts in italics. ;)

From the National Catholic Register

By: Matthew Archbold

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

A woman said to me recently that my five children were very well behaved. It’s one of the best things I can hear so I thanked her. Then she asked me “how do you do it with so many?”

I told her that I don’t think I’d be a very good parent of one child or two. She didn’t believe my answer but honest to goodness, I sometimes think that having many children is easier than just one.

Why big families are easier:

Patience. I never have to teach patience. My children know that I can’t drop everything for them if I have a baby in my arms. Depending on the time of day, I may or may not have a baby in my arms. However, no matter what time it is, I often find myself saying, "You're going to have to wait." And thankfully, they do. Sometimes they just don't wait very well. LOL

Work Ethic. My children have learned to work because there are always chores to do in a small house packed with little messy lunatics. And they all learn quickly that sometimes they have to clean up a mess even though they didn’t make it. This happens A LOT in our house! Sometimes there is grumbling but I sweetly remind them that I clean up messes I didn't make, like at meal time, and clean up time, and bath time, and on and on. They get quiet very quickly. ;) In all seriousness, I also remind them that we, as a family, are a team, and we have to work together as one. Working together pleases the Lord and makes our family run more smoothly.

Humility. My children have learned it’s not always their turn. They’ve accepted they can’t always get their way because other people have to get their way sometimes. They’ve learned that some children are better at certain things than they are. This is something I deal with constantly. We promote esteeming others better than ourselves and try to live that example. I also like to think that TJ and I set an example of humility when we admit our faults and ask our children, and each other, for forgiveness. We also expect our children to do the same.

Foreign language skills. You can learn a lot of Spanish by watching ten years of Dora the Explorer that you just can’t pick up in two. Although my children do enjoy watching Dora the Explorer, it's not a show we watch regularly enough to consider ourselves fluent in Spanish. =)

Laughter. The children have learned to laugh at the insane non sequiturs of younger siblings. They’ve learned that laughing just feels better when seven people are doing it along with you. We laugh a lot around here. TJ is a silly person and the children really enjoy his antics. We also enjoy laughing at the silly things Teagan does as she is definitely the "clown" in the family. She's been that way since she was born.


Competition. Do I really need to go into this? Everything is a competition in big families. The children compete over who reads faster, who drinks their milk faster, who gets to the bathroom first…etc. Everything is a competition and they’re all keeping score. This one is sooo true! My kids, with the exception of Teagan, make everything a competition. I try to use this to my advantage, particularly when I'm trying to get everyone out the door. I make things a "race" and it almost always works.

Balance. The floor of the front room of my home is a minefield of toys and childhood paraphernalia. Just walking through the room requires great skill and balance. I’m absolutely convinced my two year old will be a favorite for Gold on the balance beam in the 2016 Olympics. (She might have to lay off the cookies a little but I’ll deal with that later.) Anyone who has been to my house knows this is true. We have too much stuff and not enough room. That's one reason why we purge toys and clothes 2-3 times per year. I think it teaches the kids many lessons, the greatest of which is that the Lord has abundantly blessed us and we need to share what we have with others. As they have gotten older, they enjoy picking out the items to give away and it's become less of a "chore" and more of a "heartfelt idea."

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you just give it to the baby because you want a little quiet. Not all the time. But sometimes. I am definitely guilty of this. As a mom of 4 kids (any day to be 5) under the age of 7, "Life isn't fair" has become our motto. However, TJ and I do promote equity in our house by making sure the children all have opportunities. For instance, I may take the younger ones to the park while Th is at school. "That's not fair!" is what I'll hear when he gets home. But, I sweetly remind him that he purchased ice cream at lunch that day. It all seems to work out in the end. . .

Just say “No.” Being able to say “no” may be the most undervalued skill in this world. The need to be liked is pervasive. The need to be cool even more so. Having brothers and sisters teaches children to say “no” about 143 times a day. It’s a good skill. Enough said. . . ;)

Praying. They learn that nothing beats praying together as a family. I love that my kids have learned to turn to the Lord for their every want/need/desire in the form of a prayer. Just the other night Th slammed his finger in the van door. After he calmed down and stopped crying, he said to TJ and I, "Don't worry Mommy and Daddy, I already prayed to God to heal it." I immediately thanked the Lord for that moment.

Nature/Nurture. Having many children has taught me that nature has a lot more to do with who my kids are than nurture. This is helpful, especially when your children misbehave you don’t have to feel bad about it. Just say “Stupid nature!!!” and blame your spouse’s genes. I just want to clarify that by "nature", I take it to mean our "sin nature." And yes, we all have one. By acknowledging it, I don't have to ask "Why did you do that?" because I already know the answer: he or she is a sinner living in a house full of sinners.

Name calling. You can occasionally call your child by the wrong name and still not be considered a terrible parent. They know who you mean just from your tone. Sometimes if you need something done you can call the wrong name and someone will still show up. That helps. I constantly call my kids by the wrong name... but in my defense, I always get the first letter right! Unless of course I get the dogs' names in the mix, too! LOL!

Spying. My children have learned that they can’t get away with anything. I have spies who look a lot like them who are willing to drop the dime on them for anything. Even at school I’ve got a child in just about every grade. If they do something I’ll hear. That keeps them nervous. And I like keeping my kids a little nervous. I don't have children in every grade. . . yet. But, the older 3 kids NEVER miss a chance to tell on another.

Friendship. The children have many friends. They’ve got girly friends, crying friends, fun loving friends, consoling friends, and crazy friends. And they all have the same last name. And they’ll be there forever for each other. No matter what. This is the best thing about having my children close in age. As they get older, the bond they share grows and deepens. I pray they will continue to be best friends for life!

Love. I think my children have learned to love because there are others around them to love and who love them. I honestly can think of no better way to teach children to love than siblings. I agree that having siblings teaches one to love because love is an action, a way of doing. 1 Cor. 13:4-8 says that love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not self-seeking, is not prideful, etc. In order to truly love another person, one must DO those things. Having a large family means there are many opportunities to practice loving one another. I am so thankful for each of my (almost!) 5 beautiful kids! Each is a blessing and have taught me so much about my God and my life!