Saturday, August 22, 2009

The way we live

I was on Facebook this morning and saw that my (second) cousin posted some pics of their home school room. It's a GORGEOUS room- a whole room devoted just to their homeschooling. Then I checked out a friend's blog (fellow homeschooler as well) and she posted about grocery shopping - complete with pictures! That got me thinking more about the way we live and what other people see when they observe us.

Saturday we had another house showing, it was #8. While I sometimes feel it's exhausting, other times I wonder about what people think while they're walking (and looking through) our house. I wonder what they're thinking when they see 'how' we live. I wonder what they are thinking when they count the beds in the children's rooms- 1,2,3,4,5--6!!!

I was at the drive through at the bank last week and the teller commented on how she found my blog and enjoyed reading it. I thanked her and as I drove away, that reminded me that people are always watching us- even when we don't realize it. In this town of over 9,000 people- many people know 'about' our family and recognize us. That's still new to me because sometimes I feel invisible- especially coming from such a small town growing up (population 200). But, as a Christian family, that's something I really want to be aware of in our every day lives- how do we live our every day for Christ? Is it the same inside our 4 walls as it is when we're out in public? Do we encourage other people even in the midst of our trials? Do people see Christ in us? **Please feel free to comment on what you think, either way!

So, the following pics are a walk through of our house. Can you discern anything about the way we live- through a picture? Mind you, we did pick up the floor- no baby toys strewn around. There's usually a sippy cup (or two) laying around, many shoes by the door and Princess usually has a pile (or three) of discarded, changed clothes in random places (she changes her clothes A LOT!). **This is also a good look for anyone in the area wanting to buy an AMAZING HOUSE with 10 acres of (wooded) land.

This is us...

My 'controlled' mess of an office.

The 'dining room.' Only we use it for all this furniture...the dining takes place in a different room.

The Whole Armor of God...this is placed next to our bathroom mirror. It reminds me every day to put on my 'armor.'

I'm in the process of making sourdough bread starter. This is the flour and purified water needed to add to the starter every day...

You know there are lots of girls around when you see-- APRONS!

Our laundry room- complete with the 5 gallon bucket of homemade laundry soap.

One of the MANY school book shelves- complete with sleeping cat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weekend Retreat

Many years ago, my sister-in-law introduced me to a ministry named 'Above Rubies.' Honestly it took me awhile to fully embrace all its principals. A woman named Nancy Campbell started Above Rubies over 30 years ago to encourage women in their calling as godly wives and mothers. I've read the magazine faithfully, every time it was printed and sent out, and I've even given away many extra copies. I've purchased some of Nancy's books as well as CDs and given them as shower gifts, wedding gifts and gifts for new mothers.

This was my 3rd retreat and I was so blessed to finally bring all our girls along. This retreat was a good price and it was not too far to drive (just under 7 hours). We were all so blessed by Nancy (and her daughters- 3 of them were there) and I met some wonderful women whom I hope to be friends with for a very long time. A few women there had children from Liberia- so that was another common bond. We talked together, prayed together and laughed (A LOT) together. It was a nice time of sharing and encouraging.

If you've never heard of this ministry, I encourage you to check it out. Two of Nancy's daughters have very talented singers and have many music CDs out. Another daughter is a powerful speaker/preacher! Nancy has many books, preaching CDs and DVDs available as well as her husband, Collin. Her magazines are free (or by donation)- she does not charge anything for her ministry. The magazine gets printed as the money comes in. The Campbell family are originally from New Zealand, by way of Austrailia, by way of Tennessee. I've gotten to know the women (and some of the children) over the years and they are so wonderfully sweet! If you can get to a women's retreat or family retreat- GO! You will surely be blessed! Check out Nancy here.

Here's Nancy!
Praying for someone...

Something you don't see all the time, moms with their kids... the children were welcome there and mothering was expected (not 'put up with'). It was a nice change of pace to see lots of moms with LOTS of kids...we didn't stand out because of our size! :)

I brought beads and glittery 'pipe cleaners' along for the girls to make bracelets. What an easy way to make friends! 'Anybody wanna make a bracelet?'

My 9 year old won these cool bendy things as a door prize. All the girls were having a blast making things out of them. This little girl's name is Engedi (she's from Liberia), she is one of Nancy's grandaughters. Precious, precious girl!

Lots of mamas with their girls...

This wasn't from our retreat weekend, but I couldn't resist it. I LOVE bathtub pics just about as much as I love sleeping-baby pics!

My bathing-baby-bathtub helper...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Before church...

It's Sunday morning and we need to leave for church in approx. 50 minutes. As of now, 5 family members are in the pool- in their pajamas...

So what happened, you ask?

I woke up with Angel Baby at 5:45, rocked her and put her back to bed. I decided to stay up and get some quiet time before the craziness began. I read my bible for about 45 minutes then made a few changes on the blog (picture and added text on sidebar). At 7am, the kiddos started to come down the stairs. We tried to wake up Hubby but he was slow to come around... Sunday is supposed to be his day to cook (with Dear Daughter #1) but that didn't look like it was happening today. So, I got the coffee made, biscuits in the oven, chocolate gravy made and the sausage warming. He could atleast make the eggs, right?

We all had breakfast and then everyone headed outside to do animal chores. The chickens needed to be moved because they were in full sun. We moved them and decided to do something a little different with their water (no more bucket of water- we needed the self watering bucket) and they needed to have their feed in the 'chute' instead of in a bucket. So, we got them fixed up. Then they were off to the bunnies. They also needed to be moved to shade, etc. The goats have been breaking out of the fence during chore time- I think they hope to catch any feed dropped by the kids. 3 broke out and JUMPED UP on the table where we keep all the feed. So, Hubby had to fix it so they can't do that. Did anyone tell me goats would be THIS MUCH trouble? Wow...

On the way back, we were all walking to the hose so Hubby and DD#1 could clean out the watering bucket. Hubby stopped, picked up our oldest boy and threw him in the pool. Then while they were cleaning the watering bucket, Hubby got a little crazy with the watering hose and started spraying people. They all walked over to the chickens and got that all taken care of...then on the way back to the house Hubby grabbed DD#1 from behind and threw her in the pool. I was inside by that point, with Angel Baby, and by the time I looked out the window (you can imagine the squealing going on!) I saw Hubby jump in the pool. Then the game was on, 4 of the kids went running to the ladder and jumped in.

So, even though we're now rushed to get to church- it has been a fun morning so far. This is the stuff memories are made of. Maybe someday in 20 or 30 years, we'll all be sitting around the table and one of the kids will say, "Remember when we jumped in the pool with all our clothes on?"

Life is good!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

You know an African when...

You can spot an African anywhere...especially when she is carrying something heavy on her head! This is the day our shipment of National Geographic magazines arrived in the mail (I found 3 years worth on Ebay for around $6 plus shipping!). None of the kids could get it from the mailbox to the house so Big Sissy when down to the mailbox to remedy the situation. I watched her out the window try to carry it in her arms. She didn't make it very far- she was struggling to hold on to the heavy box. Before I knew it, she knelt down and lifted that heavy box right up over her head! She then quickly walked up the driveway with little trouble... **Let me just add that I've tried to carry various things on my head with little success. I have no idea how they can keep their neck from bending under the weight! This is NOT as easy as it looks! I cannot imagine carrying a bucket full of water on my head- like they used to do many times every day!

I was so pleased to find these magazines for such a cheap price. They're in great condition... our school curriculum is an eclectic collection of things I've gathered for each child's specific needs. One of our kiddos is stuggling very much in reading & phonics, another can read ok but struggles in comprehension (as well as with severe ADHD symptoms), another can read anything at lightning speed but hates to work on math, etc. Add a first grader in with that, a preschooler and a one-year-old-get-in-to-everything-baby and I'm gonna be a busy mama!

The main theme in our curriculum this year is exploring countries and cultures. There couldn't be a more perfect subject base for our family! This is one of the reasons I got the National Geographic magazines, as a supplement. The kids were busy for over 2 hours just looking at them the day they arrived and they asked unending questions. I'm so excited they like learning and that they are so open to learn about how other people live and why. It's neat to hear some of the stories that come out about life in Africa (when Big Sissy sees a picture that reminds her of something).

We're so blessed to have everyone at home this year for schooling! This is what I envisioned in the very beginning but we were unable to do. Now that the African kiddos have adjusted and have a relationship with me as 'mom', I can now approach them as 'teacher.' We've had a successful summer doing school and learning so I'm optimistic for the school year! God continues to get all the glory for the success in our blended family- we've become united as if we'd never been apart!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Angel Baby!

Our sweet, precious Angel Baby turned one on the 30th of July. I was so happy- and a little sad too. It seems that after the first birthday, their independence grows by the day. That's a good thing but for a mama who's trying to hold on to her 'baby', it's tough! She's so cute though and we're enjoying every minute with her. She actually started taking a step or two on her birthday. As of today, she can walk about 6 or 8 steps before tipping or falling. Before long she'll be running!

This was my attempt at a carousel-horse cake. My aunt sent me some cake pans a few years ago and we've used some of them for birthdays. This was the first time using this pan- and I was armed with only white frosting, food coloring and some baggies. Not too bad...

Trying to get some dinner in first before the sugar rush!

First bite
Ohhhh, squishy!

This is where the games (and laughing!) began. She decided to try and feed the kids and everyone was hysterical! Of course, the kids began making noises, dancing around and saying, "Feed me, feed me!"

Angel Baby was 'belly-laughing' here-she thought it was great!

The aftermath....all done!