"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014

I love this picture.  We snapped it at Bear Lake, Colorado on vacation a couple weeks ago.  It captures all the girls right now.  Anna finally lost her first tooth, then a day later lost her other front tooth.  She had been waiting for the day, and it fits her well.  Madeline has suddenly become a young woman.  Julia test our patience every hour, and charms us in the same.  Lydia has one month to go with her braces.  She truly enjoys taking care of Evelyn, and tells me she wants to have twelve children when she is a mom.  Cora continues to be sweet and innocent, although she appears to have shot up in height this summer.  Evelyn!  Every day we marvel at that angel baby.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Evelyn's Birth Story

I woke up April 29, the due date, with no baby yet.  I was fine with that, and really not surprised.  As I started the day, I noticed that the contractions seemed more intense than before but not alarming.  I had been having a lot of bloody goop since the day before after Dr. Wurtz checked me, but knew that was somewhat normal after being checked.  Again, nothing alarming.

I went about my morning, washing dishes, making the bed, diffusing arguments, changing diapers, and other normal mommy duties.  The contractions were continuing.  At one point mid morning I timed the contractions for a little while and they were about every 3-4 minutes apart, but if I sat down or laid down they would really slow down.  The contractions were more serious than previously but nothing I had to stop and breathe through.  About 11:00, I talked to Mark and told him about the morning.  A little later I called my mom and put her on standby, just in case I decided to go in later.  She and my dad immediately took off for Lincoln.  Then, I threw up everything I had eaten that morning.  That is honestly when I first thought, maybe I am in labor.  I had tested positive for Strep B and would need to be on antibiotics for 4 hours before the baby was born.  Because of this, I figured I should just go in and get started on those just in case.  I called Mark around noon and told him to come home so we could head to the hospital.  I called a couple friends to make arrangements for the girls, packed my bag, and we were off.  

Looking back, I was in denial the entire morning.  My thought process was something like this:  1.  It is the baby's due date.  Babies don't come on their actual due date!  There is no way I can actually be in labor.  2.  I can't just wake up in the morning and start labor.  I have never labored or delivered during the day.  Every other time it has been during the night in to early morning.  This can't be real labor.  3.  These contractions aren't strong enough.  My water hasn't broken.  Yesterday I was only at a 2.  My last couple pregnancies I have been to a 4 before actually going in to labor.  This is not real labor.  

Once Mark and I stepped out the door and got in to the car, my contractions started to intensify.  I think that mentally and emotionally I gave myself permission to have the baby that day, and my body kicked in.  By the time we were walking in to the hospital, there was little doubt that this was the real deal.  It is a different experience walking through the busy hospital during the day when you're in labor versus at night when there is noone around.  One person asked if I needed a wheel chair.  Others joked,  hope you make it there in time.  A doctor looking fellow asked if I needed any help.  

Yet, I had a plan in my mind.  The only reason I came in that early was because of the Strep B concern.  I figured we would go in and I would probably only be at a 3 or maybe 4.  If that was the case, I would just get an epidural because it would be a long day and I would need to be hooked up to the antibiotics.  I have never had an epidural, but really thought I would not be very far along and anticipated a long day with this different circumstance.  

When we got in to our room, we did some preliminary stuff and then the nurse checked me to see how I was progressing.  She told us I was dilated to a 6, almost a 7.  A to the men!  My attitude completely changed.  So, no epidural.  No messing around.  We are doing this.  At this point, it is 1:00.  

Because they knew the baby would come before the 4 hours of antibiotics would completely kick in, they put in a different kind of antibiotic that they pushed through the IV.  

While we usually walk the halls when I labor, this time we never left the room.  I walked around the room and remained upright, but I didn't feel like we should leave the room because the contractions were so close together.  I did have back labor.  To combat this, Mark rubbed the bottom part of my back as hard as he could for counter pressure.  I sat on the toilet and the birthing ball a little bit for fatigue relief.  It felt like the nurse, Mark, and I were all just holding our breath waiting for the baby to come at any moment.  I suggested that Dr. Wurtz just break my water and then the baby would be here.  So, Dr. Wurtz came in and we discussed it.  He agreed that if he broke my water the baby would be born in about 10 minutes. While this sounded nice to me, he thought we should really give the baby as much time as possible to get those antibiotics so wanted me to keep on laboring.  

When I labor, I really go into a zone.  As I'm having a contraction, I focus on relaxing my whole body. I close my eyes, breathe slow, and try to let go.  I tell myself:  Do not be afraid of the pain.  Relax.  The pain means that my body is doing what it should be doing.  Pretty soon I will meet our baby.  Relax.  This sacrifice is worth it.  This is a gift and a blessing.  Relax.  Lord, have mercy.  

I really stayed on top of the contractions until a little after 3:00.  Then I had a couple really hard contractions that I had trouble with.  When I get to that point, we know that I am very close.  Mark left to go get the nurse to check me again.  Right after he returned, my water broke.  

That is when things got a little crazy.  It was a burst of greenish/brownish water.  I knew that was not good.  I immediately needed to push but there was no nurse or doctor in the room.  Mark was telling me not to push when the nurse walked in, saw the fluid on the floor and me ready to push.  She called for Dr. Wurtz to come, the nursery people to come, and the NICU people to come because of the meconium fluid.  Our room went from calm to chaotic.  In the meantime, I really really needed to push.  I could tell the baby was right there.  I was telling everyone this, but they didn't seem to understand.  It seemed like there was a flurry of commotion in slow motion.  One of the nurses suggested they break down the bed so I could get in bed to push.  I told them I couldn't do that.  I needed to push right now.  Another nurse slid a birthing stool over for me to sit and push on.  As soon as I sat down, I stopped trying not to push and out came Evelyn!  I don't think anyone was ready.  Dr. Wurtz was not ready for it, but was there and caught her.  He immediately handed her to me.  She was covered in yellow vernix, and she cried.  I was so glad she cried, but was concerned about the yellow vernix.  I asked a couple times if she was ok as he was rubbing her with a towel and he said yes.  The NICU nurses then took her to be suctioned because of all the meconium in the amniotic fluid.  They had to put a tube down into her stomach to get everything out, and her oxygen level was low for the first hour, but she is beautiful and fine.  

Overall, Evelyn's labor and delivery was my easiest.  The not having to push was great.  The whole day felt somewhat surreal, from being in denial about labor to the end going so fast.  Even though the end was a messy scramble, it was beautiful.  I am thankful that we went in to the hospital when we did.  If I had not tested positive for the Strep B, I would not have gone in when I did and who knows what would have happened.  I like birthing babies in hospitals.  

The best part of the day was holding our sweet Evelyn Joyce.  I love the first couple hours after a baby is born.  After the uncertainty of labor and delivery, the peace and joy of new life rushes in.  She looks exactly like her big sisters did when they were born, and it seems right that we have her here with us.  

Evelyn Joyce Scheve
Born 3:23 pm
April 29, 2014
8 pounds, 8 ounces
20 inches long

Monday, April 28, 2014

Baby update

A lot has been going on lately that I really do want to catch up on.  But the main event in my mind has been preparing for baby.  

Tomorrow is my due date.  If baby was following the set pattern, she should have been early.  As in, up to three days early.  It doesn't appear that will happen.  She has two and a half hours left.  

As of today I am 2 centimeters dilated.  While that is much better than the zero I was two weeks ago, I was really hoping for more.  With Julia I was dilated to a 4, weeks before she was born.  That was agonizing.  I feel like I have been contracting quite a bit like I did with Jules, so I have been surprised that I'm not more dilated.  

All that to say, I feel very content.  My other babies were either summer or early fall babies.  With those pregnancies I was so hot and swollen at the end.  I don't feel like that at all this time around.  Yes, I am tired and big.  But I don't feel miserable.  I feel at peace.  

A week ago I caught my reflection in the mirror and was a little shocked, so I took a quick picture.  What an amazing body God has given us women.  Ignore the dirty mirror, and check out that tummy.  There is a complete little person in there that we will be meeting soon.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

Today was a good day.  I slept hard during nap time.  We had grilled hot dogs on paper plates for supper.  I went to Target by myself after getting Julia to bed, and ran in to a friend I hadn't seen in a while.  The weather boasted upper 70's and sunny.  The girls played outside a lot.  Lydia finished her math book for the year.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baby Update

Today marks 37 weeks that this babe has been gestating in my womb.  It still blows my mind that there is a real live human being in there.  Even though I can feel her move and am reminded every second that I am growing a person within me, it boggles my mind.  I have always been a bit surprised when you deliver, and out pops a real, live baby.  It is a miracle, whether it is your first baby or sixth baby.

I am having a lot of contractions, just like I did with Julia for weeks before she was born.  I know they are not labor contractions, but if this was my first rodeo I might be freaking out.  They don't knock me out, but some definitely make me stop and take a deep breath.  I think this also may contribute to my tiredness, since my body is working extra hard with every contraction.  Although, I will say the my exhaustion has been better the last few days.  A good (relatively speaking) night's sleep really helps.  My doctor hasn't checked to see if I'm dilated yet, although I would be surprised if I wasn't.  

I had a doctor appointment yesterday and I'm measuring a couple weeks behind because she is down in my pelvis.  Dr. Wurtz asked me if it felt like there was a cantaloupe in my pelvis.  That sounded like a pretty accurate description.  I've not gained any weight the last three weeks.  I just don't have room to eat much at one setting.  I'm not as puffy or retaining as much water this time around, which is a welcome relief.  All my other pregnancies ended in July or very beginning of October, so I was very hot and swollen.  It is in my makeup to gain most of my weight the first half of my pregnancy.  I've found that the best way for me to combat the "morning" sickness is to eat.  And for some reason water doesn't stay down in those dire days while pop and fast food will.  I've learned to just embrace it, and know that my weight gain really slows down in the last half as I reach my set point.  This baby moves quite a bit, but not as much as Julia did.  Julia was my biggest party girl inside.  

I am mentally preparing to go through labor and delivery.  I tested positive for Strep B, which is a first for me.  I'm a little worried at how fast I will go this time, with having to get to the hospital to get the antibiotics going.  Julia was three hours from the time my water broke at home til she popped out at the hospital.  So if that is reduced by an hour, that is a pretty quick turnaround by the time we get out of the house, get checked in to the hospital, and so on.  But, I'm not going to get worked up about it or fool myself into thinking much of this is actually in my control.

Overall, I really can't believe there is only three weeks left.  This pregnancy has flown by.  My mom and sisters are coming in a couple days to help rearrange girl rooms, decorate, and prepare for baby.  The truth is, I need the help.  I still have to buy little diapers, pack a hospital bag, pull out and wash baby clothes, figure out a plan for the girls when the baby comes, clean the baby equipment, and so on.  Until then, sweet little baby girl can stay nice and snug in her Mommy.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014

One difficult thing about having a wide age range of kids is that it is difficult to find a movie that pleases everyone.  Friday night is family movie night.  After being at CC all day, we are all beat by supper time and need a night to just veg out.  We've gone for a while where we rotate who chooses the movie.  Whatever Cora chooses, even if it is Dora, everyone watches.  Everyone gets a turn to choose on their week.  We've been out of that habit for a while.  Tonight there was vast disagreement about what to watch.  I let everyone pick one movie they would like to watch, wrote the movie down on a piece of paper, put it in a cup, and Julia chose the piece of paper with the winner.  That seemed to be a decent remedy for the disagreement.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2, 2014

I have hit the wall in this pregnancy.  Many women talk about how hard the first few months after having a baby are.  Not me.  For me, the hard part is the first 4 months of pregnancy and the last 4 weeks of pregnancy.  The first four months bring puking, exhaustion, and all over yuckyness.  The last 4 weeks bring exhaustion and exhaustion.  I can handle a brand new baby nursing all the time and functioning in the haze of little sleep for the beautiful babe.  I cannot handle the monumental task that just getting through the day is at this point.

I've heard someone describe a person's ability to handle things as a washing machine tub.  There is a small, medium, large, or extra large tub capacity.  You know the people that you wonder if they ever sleep?  They are extra large capacity.  My capacity right now is extra small.  I've also heard of the ability to handle things as points.  Everyone gets so many points per day.  The points may be used on physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual tasks.  Once your points are used for the day, you are done.  I don't know if all my points are going to the physical task of growing a baby or what, but my points are gone by mid morning.  My tolerance level is low.  

The funny thing about me is that as soon as that baby pops out I feel like a different person.  The pregnancy taste in my mouth is gone and I am able to taste and enjoy food again.  My energy level increases.  I feel better.  I make a deliberate effort to take it easy so my body can heal after labor and delivery, even though I for the most part feel better than before.

So, how do I handle this time until Baby Sister comes?  
I think about all the women who have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby.  I pray for them, and ask God to bless them.  I know that the difficulty I am going through right now does not compare to the difficulty of not being able to have children.  
I look at our five girls.  I think that I went through this tiring part of carrying them also.  But now they are here, and that hard part is for a very short period of time in comparison to the length and fullness of their lives.  
I focus on how this suffering is not for nothing.  There is a new soul that will be entering the world in about a month, and I have the privilege of knowing her and carrying her.  
Practically speaking, I am pulling freezer meals out of the freezer.  I'm telling the girls "no" more often.  I'm setting low expectations for myself.  I'm asking the girls and Mark to do more.  
I know that this is all worth it as our family grows, welcoming a brand new person.  And for all of this, I am thankful.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014

March did not seem to go fast for me.  I'm happy April is finally here.

She fought a valiant fight this afternoon, but Julia finally gave in after rocking and singing.  She is the baby for only about a month longer, so I was happy to enjoy the snuggles.

After much brainstorming, measuring, pondering, and debating, we finally decided on a plan for the girls' rooms.  Last night I got on the computer to order the bunk beds.  Then I started second guessing myself and thought I should check out a couple other front runners just in case there was some great new deal I missed the first thousand times I looked around.  Pretty soon I was finding fault with every single bunk bed on the internet, and couldn't decide what to do.  I called Mark over to help me sort it out.  He asked, "Do you think you're overthinking it a little?"  Um, yes!  But I can't help myself.  I know I overanalyze.  I know I'm a perfectionist.  I can't stop it!  It drives me crazy.  So, no bunk bed was ordered last night.  I got up this morning determined to make a decision, and ordered the Catalina twin over twin bunk bed from Pottery Barn Kids.  Who knew it would be so hard to find a sturdy, beautiful, quality built bunk bed that could also be used as two twin beds?  

Well, we are in the Frozen world now, just like the rest of America.  We held out for a really long time.  Madeline accused me on more than one occassion of being the only family in all of Nebraska who had not seen the movie.  It wasn't that I was adamantly against it, but we just hadn't seen it.  Two Fridays ago the girls rented Frozen with Mark's mom.  Then my mom asked if she could buy the DVD for the girls for an early spring/Easter gift.  They were extremely excited to open up that package in the mail, especially after they had been discussing pooling their money together to buy the DVD.  This past Friday was the first time I saw it.  I'll admit that I liked it more than I thought I would.  But I'm ready for the soundtrack CD to get some scratches on it.  

Tonight is bath night.  Lydia got an early start so she could have plenty of time to read in the bath tub.  That is my girl!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30, 2014

Sometimes I marvel at our full house.  Each one of our beautiful girls is so different.  Here are examples of their unique personalities from this weekend:

Julia:  She had a major tantrum about changing her clothes after church.  She knows what she wants, and nobody can persuade her otherwise.  She can also make Cora cry.  Julia is 20 months old.  Cora is 4 years old.

Cora:  When I asked her to throw a piece of trash away in the living room tonight, she agreed to do it.  Then she said she would do it because we are the Mommies, and the Mommies have to clean up.  

Anna:  She was one of the first ones up this morning.  She bounds in to our room, with a smile on her face, and tells us about her plans for the day.

Lydia:  When watching Frozen and the choir came on for the coronation, she said, "Nice choir."  This afternoon she made up a game for the neighbor kids to play together.  They would jump across the creek (read, waterway) in the common area in the back and try to tag the other kids.  She titled this game "Tag with an element of surprise."

Madeline:  When she and I got home this afternoon from memory master proofing, she saw Lydia with their tablet outside.  It is not suppose to be outside.  She rolled down the window and was yelling at Lydia to bring the tablet inside.  Lydia had run the power low, had it outside, and Madeline was almost in tears.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014

I made our monthly trip to Sam's Club this afternoon.  I'm sticking with the once a month big grocery shopping, and so far it is working pretty well.  By the end of the month we are running low, but it is keeping me out of the store which helps our budget and my time.

However, I really don't like going to Sam's.  For me, it still has too much of the Wal Mart feel.  My cart is overflowing after walking through the huge warehouse store, I pay $400 as I check out, and begrudgingly load every single little item into the van and then out of the van.  It zaps my energy.  I get a really grumpy attitude about it.  

Then tonight I was convicted of this grumpiness.  It hit me that there are women around the world who have to walk miles every day just to get fresh water for their family.  There are women who have to grind their own flour or corn to make bread for their families every single day.  There are women who would love to feed their families fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables all year round.  So maybe the problem isn't Sam's Club (although I would really love a Costco in Lincoln), but me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014

Mark is taking the day off tomorrow.  I love the possibility of a weekend.  There are so many things to check off the to do list.  But then there is always the idea of relaxing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014

Madeline passed her second round of Memory Master for Classical Conversations today.  They recite every piece of information that has been presented this year in every subject.  This includes reciting the times tables from 1 to 15, an entire timeline of world history, 24 science facts, detailed history sentences, Latin conjugations, finding countries on a world map, plus much more.  The whole recitation takes from one to two hours, depending on how quick the child spews the information.  The student first has to complete a proof with his or her own parent where they can miss or get help on 3 facts per subject, then they have to proof with another parent outside the family where they can miss or get help on one fact per subject, then proof with their tutor with no mistakes, and finally be spot checked with the director.

It is amazing!  When I first heard about this I thought, "No way.  Why would you want to put your child through that?  What if they try but fail?  Could anyone seriously recite all that information?"  I have proofed three additional children, in addition to Madeline, over the past couple years.  They can do it, and it blows my mind.  My policy for our family is for memory master to be a requirement for their 4th, 5th, and 6th grade years.  If they want to do it before then that is fine, but I won't push it.  I think there is a maturity level that is necessary to make it their own.  I do not have the time or capacity to drill the information with them constantly.  I will help out if asked and we review every week as a family.  But, it is their responsibility to be memory master ready. Now, I still get nervous when it comes to proofing time but I know this is an invaluable experience for them.  The purpose of the experience is to become a master, which doesn't mean it has to be absolutely perfect.  At first this seems contradictory or a little ambiguous.  But when a child starts rolling out the information, it is obvious whether they know (have mastered) the material.  It is not possible to cram for this.  It needs to be in long term memory, no short term processing.  There are high standards, but it is not a terrifying experience because it is with people who love you and are cheering for you.  I think this is also where the maturity level needs to be assessed again.  It may be that they try but do miss too many and fail.  Will they be able to handle that?  Will I be able to handle that?  

The lessons learned, hard work put in,  tears cried, and studying instead of playing are all worth it.  It seems that in our modern culture and education system, self esteem is a big issue.  Yes, I want my children to feel good about themselves.  I want them to be self confident.  I want them to know that God created them perfectly and has great plans for their life.  I believe that the most effective way to instill self esteem in a child is to give them a hard task, watch them have to really struggle or work at it, and conquer it.  They can see through the telling them that they did a good job all the time, especially if it is a false congratulations.  But they know when they have worked hard and really accomplished something.  And let me tell you, memory master is difficult.  

Madeline still has her big proof left, with her tutor.  I think she'll make it, but will be so grateful when this is done.  I can't wait to see how the foundation of all this fascinating information she is memorizing blossoms in her future studies.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A random day indeed

The day started out getting the house ready for our cleaning lady to come.  She comes once a month, and it helps me remain sane.  While it is a monumental task getting everything put where it is suppose to be, that is part of the beauty of the arrangement.  I know that once a month the house will be completely put together.  It is also one of the difficulties of cleaning house.  By the time everything gets put to its rightful place, I'm too tired to clean.  Juanita waltzes in and helps me out.  

After everything was in order, all the girls accompanied me to my doctor appointment.  I'm 35 weeks today!  The reality that this baby is really coming within the next 6 weeks has hit home.  One thing we have checked off the "baby is coming" checklist is a vehicle to fit all 8 of us!  Here is our new (to us!) Honda Odyssey.  After researching and considering 8 seated options, I decided I could not part from my push the button and the door opens feature of a mini van.  We are figuring out how to configure everyone in there, but there is enough room for our growing family.  I love it!

After the doctor, we completed the very important tasks of dropping off items we don't really need at Goodwill, depositing money in the bank, getting gas, and filling an asthma prescription at Walgreens.  Everyone was doing so great, I decided to push it.  (I think it was the novelty of the new van and excitement that we weren't at home doing school.)  We headed up to north Lincoln to check out bunk beds.  

Yet another item on the "baby is coming" checklist:  beds for everyone.  I got the good news this morning that my mom and sisters may be coming for a weekend in April to help prepare for baby so I really started to think about what needs to get done.  One priority is rearranging rooms.  I originally was going to just get an additional bunk bed, throw some girls together, and call it good.  But as the girls and I sat at the furniture store talking, we came up with many different options that all have their merits for who goes where.  One thing leads to another and now I'm thinking I'll take this opportunity to completely rearrange everyone and rehab the rooms.  See this little Petunia screaming her head off in the bath tub because she threw everything out of the bath tub?  Yes, she is the wild card.  Who do I put her with? 

After eating some nummy Carlos O'Kelly's (Tuesday is discounted kids meal days), stopping in Dress Barn to look for a dress for a very pregnant lady (I resisted going in to that store for years simply because of its atrocious name, but may be appropriate at this point), and getting everyone to bed for naps, I started looking at beds and bedroom inspiration online.  That is when the toddler beds caught my eye.  We've never used a toddler bed.  But they are so cute!  And space and money saving compared to other options, I think I'll tuck the Jules in a toddler bed in someone's room.  After nap time, we were measuring and brainstorming.  We have three decent but not big bedrooms to work with.  I'm still not sure what we'll end up with.  

At 4:30, Lydia showed me that her wire on her braces was out.  The last time this happened it was a Saturday morning and I would temporarily put it back in every couple hours.  I didn't want to do that again, so we buzzed in to the orthodontist for a quick fix before they closed.  Mark is in South Dakota tonight for a quick work trip, so supper was "whatever you can find or create and clean up."  I finished my leftover Carlos'.  I'm to the point where I can't eat too much at one sitting because my stomach is so squished.  

Now it is bath time and bed.  You may be wondering, what about school?  Well, they're watching Magic School Bus right now.  Isn't that the homeschool mom's favorite fall back?  Actually, we have been very dilligent with school lately and haven't had a day off in a while so this was our small spring break.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23, 2014

Julia will occasionally pretend to throw up in the toilet.

A couple days ago I was standing outside watching the kids play, with Julia standing beside me.  She started checking me out, looking me up and down.  She proceeded to put her arms on her hips and stick her tummy out.  

Just like Mommy.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22, 2014

After having visitors for a week straight, today we are regrouping.  We are enjoying long rest times, putting everything away where it goes, cleaning out the refrigerator, and reestablishing our parental authority.  Living away from family, we are so grateful when our parents, sisters, and kiddos make the effort to visit us.  I know that it is not easy.  But we love them and love to see them!

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2014

Last night Mark and I went out to eat to Misty's, a Lincoln steak place.  I know that Misty's isn't the hippest spot in town, but I didn't know that Thursday night is senior citizen night.  There was hardly any music playing to drown out conversation.  We had a case of the giggles listening to all the white hair conversation around us.  I think it was one of those "had to be there" situations, so I won't document the hilarity here.  Just trust me, it was good.  We have had a lot going on in life lately, and it was a relief to laugh.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

Cora loves to call herself Gretel.  
As in, 
"Can Gretel have some more salad?"  
"Gretel helped Julia get her coat on."  
"Gretel likes her activity during school."  


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

Tonight I finished Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the next book in our book club.  While not my favorite thus far, it was interesting and tells of the political happenings of the time.

Book club has been one of my proudest accomplishments over the past couple years.  We have read:
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

Diana and I have been busy making freezer meals today.  We made:
Chicken parmesan
Scalloped potatoes and ham
Broccoli cheddar soup
Orange chicken
Italian vegetable soup
Barbeque meatballs
Pizza bread

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15, 2014

Diana, Sydney, and Dalton arrived today for a short visit.  I am always awed by how different our kids look, our blonde haired skinny girls to their dark haired stout kids.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fairy Land

We have had a gorgeous weather week here.  Temperatures in the 60's, sun, fresh air, and plenty of outside play time.

Lydia has been very busy making fairy houses, and even directing others to make a fairy town.  While the other kids are busy running and shouting she has been laser focused on her fairy land.  Oh my, how I love that girl.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13, 2014

I have two goals for Lent:  
1.  Give up Facebook.  
     This has been pretty easy.  I don't feel like I'm missing any critical information, and really most of my time on Facebook was just zoning out time when I could be focusing my attention on something more important.  
2.  Read through the entire New Testament.
     Ok, instead of reading through it I am listening to it.  The Truth and Life app has a dramatized audio version of the New Testament I'm using.  It is engaging, and easy to listen to.  They even have a 40 days through the New Testament playlist that will keep your place for you, and break it down by days. I am loving going quickly through the New Testament, getting the big picture and hearing stories I've heard over and over in a new way.

I remember the first time I participated in all the prepatory liturgical days leading up to Easter.  I grew up in a church that did not observe Maundy Thurday or Good Friday.  It was just "He arose!" without the acknowledgement that He died.  When we lived in Ankeny and went to Westkirk, we attended the Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday services.  The sadness and darkness of those services made Easter Sunday a true celebration of depth and emotion.  The lead up and walking with Christ through those days made it all more real.  The memory of the joy and tears on that Easter is a treasured memory.  

Now I am encountering Lent.  Lent is about spiritual discipline, preparation, and training our affections to love what we ought.  It is acknowledging our sin, and the new life we receive only through Christ.  Just as Jesus prepared for his earthly ministry by 40 days of preparation and retreat, we use Lent in the same way.    

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Best tantrum to date for the Jules

Julia gave a magnificent performance earlier this week in her quest to prove that she has an iron will.

As I was downstairs getting lunch ready, she was upstairs practicing how to put lipstick on.  (Side note:  how do they know what goes where?  If I catch her with my eye liner, she is trying to get it on her eye lid.  If she has lipstick it is somewhat close to her mouth.)  By the time word got down to Mommy that there was trouble brewing, there was lipstick all over her face, hair, clothes, and my bathroom.  It was a fine exhibition.  This picture is proof of the terror, after it was cleaned up.  

I took her to her bedroom to change her clothes.  Heaven forbid!  Oh no, this was not acceptable to her one year old mind.  She started screaming, kicking, flailing about.  She did not want clean clothes on, her face cleaned, or her hair without the lipstick.  I took this as a personal challenge of my wrestling abilities.  I got her all cleaned up, but she was still freaking out.  So, I did what any rational mother would do and left her on the floor of her bedroom screaming.  

When I came back a few minutes later, she was still screaming.  But instead of on the floor, she was climbing her changing table in hopes of retrieving those dirty clothes!  Put them back on!  I worked hard to make that big mess!  Get me up there to reverse this tragedy!  Mommy cannot win!

Oh yes, dear child.  Never give up.  I scooped her up and dropped her in her crib to cry, scream, and kick some more.  After about 15 minutes she was done.  But she still wimpered for a while after she had a good Mommy snuggle and calmed down. This was not our first or last battle, but it was a good one.  

March 11, 2014

I'm dusting myself off and climbing back on the horse.

So, amid life happenings, the main two consistent activities over the last month....
  • We're trying really hard to get school done by late April, before baby comes or Mommy hits a brick wall.  This means doubling on math and writing lessons, and not letting a day slip by with any excuse to omit these lessons.  We obviously fell behind last semester with me on the couch or over the toilet most of the days, but are making up lost time now.  
  • Speaking of, I've been growing a baby.  The movements have definitely changed from fluttery kicks to baby parts stretching out.  I'm visiting my doctor every two weeks.  My bedtime snack is a couple of Tums.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

The weather today brought sunshine and a glorious 55 degrees!  It feels good to air the children, van, and house out.  My heart and hands were itching to dig in the dirt.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Read Alouds

I love reading books out loud to the girls.  It is easily my favorite part of the day.  We eat lunch, clean up, put Julia to bed, turn on the fireplace, gather the quiet time activities, snuggle up on the couch, and then read.  The only problem?  Occasionally we have to cut read aloud time short because Mommy is having a difficult time staying awake.

This year I have started two sets of read alouds, one for the little girls (Cora and Anna) and one for the big girls (Lydia and Madeline).  The deal was that the big girls could stay up and listen to the little girls' or go read quietly by themselves.  Then the little girls were suppose to go up to nap time after their read aloud, but they have been staying up to listen to the big girl read aloud as well.

So far this school year, we have read...

Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
and we're working on The Long Winter
The Little House books are the best read aloud books!  This is my second time going through them and I still love every moment.  
We'll keep reading until we finish up Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (We never completed all the Chronicles of Narnia books a couple years and Madeline insists that I read the last two aloud.)
The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit (I never actually finished this one with the girls.  It just wasn't clicking with us.  I stopped, and Lydia finished it on her own.  She really enjoyed it.)
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
We're currently reading The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.
I hope yet to read Little Britches by Ralph Moody.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Waffles with strawberries and whip cream.  Scooter's gift cards with love notes from Daddy and Mommy.  Valentine exchange with CC friends.  Treats galore.  Heart shaped pizza with fizzy juice and candles.  Love abounds!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014

The Valentines are packed for tomorrow, table is set for our special breakfast, and cards for the girls are waiting to be assembled.

This man is my favorite Valentine.  

He makes breakfast for us just about every morning.  And I don't mean putting a box of cereal on the counter.  Then on Saturday he bakes us some orange rolls, chocolate rolls, or french breakfast muffins.  Not only that, but he lets the girls help him.  He serves us, leads us, and brings laughter and fun to our home.  We are walking down the same road, together.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

I am astounded by the possibility of gifted people working hard for a goal.  We've been watching a little of the Olympics.  Think of all the energy, time, money, and emotion those athletes put in for such a short time to display the cumulation of their work.

Yesterday we went on a field trip to the College of Engineering at UNL.  Amazing!  Dr. Farritor did a great job of showing the kids what is possible with engineering.  Honestly, I always thought engineering was boring.  But they are doing some really awesome work.  He is designing and building a robot that operates on people.  Only a small incision is needed for the robot to work inside you, cutting down on hospital stays and money.  NASA and the army fund most of their work.  Think of the possibilities!  The Farritors are good friends of ours, a wonderful family, and "normal people."  They use the gifts God has given them.  The messages he wanted the kids to learn yesterday were that engineers are creative, they use this creativity to help other people, and that their ideas never work the first time.  It takes years of trial and error to accomplish the final product.  

Monday, February 10, 2014


I'm going to write a series of posts on what we're doing for school now.  It seems that I'm constantly tweaking what works.  But each year I get more focused on what is effective, necessary and beneficial for our family.  I feel like we're in a groove now, so I want to document it.

Science is not my personal strong point, and was one of my most intimidating subjects coming in to homeschooling.  It was only after reminding myself that I don't need to teach high school level chemistry tomorrow that I was able to take a deep breath and figure what needs to be done now.  I believe that the main goal of elementary/middle school science is to instill a love for the natural world, lay a foundation of basic facts, and learn how to observe and question.  We do this through:

Classical Conversations.  Every week we memorize basic science facts, covering all science topics over three years.  So at the end of elementary they will have covered each topic at least twice.  For example, this semester CC is covering physics.  This week we are memorizing Newton's Second Law of Motion.  They are all memorizing the same fact, and thus we cover science all together.  

Apologia's Exploring Creation.  Let's Read and Find Out Science series.  We read from these books to supplement our science facts we're learning in CC.  I do not systematically work through the series, but pick and choose what we are learning about and read aloud that section.  I try to read aloud about the topic on Monday so we understand it and can let it marinate for the week.  So for Newton's Second Law of Motion,  I read the two pages in Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics that covers Newton's Second Law of Motion.  It breaks the fact down for us in to manageable chunks, while giving an overarching view of the topic in general.  The Let's Read and Find Out Science series is a picture book series for younger students, which I have available to the girls and read aloud if possible.  

Experiments.  Every week at CC they conduct an experiment or science project relating to the science facts we're memorizing.

Field Trips.  This is where the science comes alive.  I try to set up field trips each semester that correspond with what we're learning.  Tomorrow we visit the University's College of Engineering.  Next month we visit the Strategic Air and Space Museum.  

Getting outside.  I think that the elementary student's framework for sciences comes from nature.  They experiment and observe so much from exploring outside.  We play outside, walk through the woods, visit nature centers, watch birds, grow a garden, and enjoy creation.

Talking about it.  Once you learn about a topic, it pops up everywhere.  We integrate what we are learning from science in to our everyday life through discussion and aha moments.  I do not have all the answers, but steer them in the direction they need to research for themselves any questions that they do have.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 8, 2014

This has been a big week for Lydia.  She has impressed her mother many times over.  

Wednesday she got her expander and braces installed.  We need to fix her significant underbite before she gets much older.  The expander rests in the roof of her mouth and will widen her palette, literally expanding her mouth.  She has brackets on only her top middle four teeth, to pull out those teeth as her mouth widens.  We need to turn a "key" in the expander every night to push the expander out.  It sounds gruesome.  But, Lydia has been such a trooper!  She has barely complained of her mouth hurting, fully cooperates with the key turns, has been great about the additional brushing, and acted so tough during the installation at the orthodontist's office.  Not only do the braces make her look older, it seems she has decided to act older as well.

Friday she participated in the homeschool spelling bee.  She came in second place in her age group.  Up on the stage, she was confident and beautiful.  I'm so excited for her to realize that she can accomplish great things.  It has to be hard for her to come behind Madeline, who excels at school and music fairly easily.  But, Lydia can do it too!  I'm so proud of her.  (However, I will say that I'm a little concerned that Lydia's spelling bee success may hamper and not help her work ethic.  My philosophy with the spelling bee is that their training is self directed.  I do not drill the words with them.  They need to study on their own.  After suggesting numerous times that maybe Lydia should prepare for the spelling bee, she rarely looked over the words.  Pair that with her "just get it done even if it is sloppy or not really complete" school philosophy, and I'm a little concerned that this only confirms her belief in not having to work at things to succeed.  I don't think she is lazy.  She would just rather be doing other things.)  

Well done, Lydia!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014

Maybe she has a future in marketing?  
Pregnant?  Check.
Tired?  Check.
Need to focus on other things?  Check.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014

Lydia got her braces and expander on today.  I'm so proud of how brave she was.  The assistant told us that she wished all of her eight year old patients were that good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How fitting.

We are currently reading through "The Long Winter" in the Little House series.

Taken from the kitchen window.  The thought of stepping outside chilled me to the bone.

The poem we're memorizing right now is "Snowball" by Shel Silverstein.
I made myself a snowball.  
As perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first -- it wet the bed.

As her big sisters were getting ready to go outside, Julia brought my shoes to me with her hat and mitten on.  Its tough being the baby, especially when your mom won't even put clothes on you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.  Secretly, I'm kind of looking forward to it.  We've had cold and I'm tired of winter.  But, we haven't had much snow.  A snow day sounds OK.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2, 2014

Well, the couch was calling my name.  I didn't get absolutely everything put in the freezer that I wanted.  I didn't get my bread based items made.  That could also be due to the fact that I had a few "helpers" who were eager to assist me in my cooking endeavors.  Looking at their proud, beautiful faces was worth the extra time and effort.  With the forecast looking cold and snowy this week I'm pretty sure it will get done.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1, 2014

To start the new month off on the right foot, I completed some major food planning, shopping, and prepping today.  I went to Sam's Club and Target to buy groceries for the month.  Yee haw!  I'm allowing money in the budget for weekly milk, produce, and eggs.  But other than that we should be set.  In addition, I put together a few freezer meals and hope to get more in the freezer tomorrow.

Here is what's on the menu for the month:
Italian roast beef sandwiches
smoked chicken
barbeque beef cups
chicken quesadillas
hamburger gravy over toast
grilled hamburgers
rice and beans
ravioli lasagna
Italian veggie soup
hamburger potato pea mix
sassy ham sandwiches
Trader Joe's chinese
beef stew
chicken noodle soup
poppy seed chicken
super bowl food:  chili cheese dip with chips, vegetable crescent pizza, apples with cream cheese/brown sugar dip

And in the freezer (banking on the hope that the Sunday post church couch doesn't call my name, and that Madeline will want to help):
loaded cauliflower and chicken casserole
slow cooker orange chicken
chicken mexican casserole
blueberry breakfast grilled cheese
beef enchiladas
elegant chicken
french toast casserole
cheddar broccoli soup
white chicken chili
chicken tetrazzini
pizza crusts
whole wheat apple muffins
chocolate oat bars
pasta bake

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

I called my Grandma today.  It is a joy to speak with her.  Every time I talk with her she tells me how much she loves me, and that she prays for our family everyday.  I know that she does.  I'm certain that my simple 10 minute call to her made her day, as it did mine.  I'm always glad I called her.  It is never a waste of time.  I need to call her more.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014

Anna is reading proficiently.  Yea!  We went to the library today and got her stocked with some Amelia Bedelia, and Henry and Mudge.  Watching your child take off with reading is one of the highlights of life.

Lydia visited the orthodontist today for step 2 towards getting her expander and braces.  Next Wednesday is the big day.  She has been very brave, and actually excited about the prospect.  I took her out to Red Robin for lunch today because I feel bad.  She doesn't know what's coming.  It seems like we are entering big kid world with braces on the horizon.  

I informed Cora that she will be doing kindergarten next year.  She looked a little shocked.  

Today was a good food day.  For breakfast we had pancake sausage muffins.  Madeline and I worked on a double batch last night, to put in the freezer and eat for today.  They are a big hit!  The recipe is from the Heavenly Homemakers blog.  Lunch was Red Robin.  For supper we had stromboli.  This is the second time I've made this, and it is officially in the supper rotation now.  I use frozen bread dough from HyVee.  Let it thaw and rise through the day.  Then roll it out.  On half put pepperoni, sliced ham, whatever other leftover meat you have such as ground pork or beef, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese.  Fold the other half over so it makes an enclosed sandwich.  Bake.  Everyone loves it, and that is cause for celebration.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

Service is a topic that rattles around in my head quite frequently.  I often wonder what we can do as a family to serve others, bringing the love of Christ to the world.  I have come to the realization that my primary service is to my family, which is no small calling even if it seems to be limited inside the walls of our home.  In a world that screams to "do more" I believe that where we are at right now cries out for a "no."  This is difficult for me, a doer.  While we have grand dreams for serving more at some point in life, I am assured that our family is using our gifts in beneficial ways right now.  We are raising little souls for His glory, opening up our home and oven in hospitality, and providing opportunities for further education with other homeschoolers.

Today we did have a unique opportunity to serve as a family.  A friend and her family toured a homeless shelter here in town a while back.  As they were driving home and talking about what they witnessed, one of her children asked if the kids at the shelter get a birthday cake on their birthday.  (Hmm... innocent question but telling in what is important to a child.)  She said she didn't know, but would find out.  That started the ball rolling for their birthday cake ministry.  She gets a list of all the kids at the shelter for the coming month, with their gender and birthdate listed.  Then her family bakes and decorates a cake to deliver to the mission on said birthday.  This has turned in to quite an undertaking and kept them very busy.  She asked a couple more families if they'd be interested in helping out when they need backup.  Yes, we would!  We contributed our second cake today.  Madeline loves to bake, so she baked up the cake, whipped up some frosting, and we all decorated.  Include a birthday card with an encouraging message, and we have hopefully helped make someone who is going through a hard time day's a little brighter.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

The girls' personalities really come out when practicing piano.

Madeline practices what she is suppose to, without needing much reminding.  When I show her how to practice something or instruct her to play it five times perfectly, you can pretty much guarantee she will do it.  She is a responsible, perfectionist first born.

Lydia usually has either tears or a big smile when practicing.  She usually needs reminding to practice the hard stuff.  These are common Lydia practicing comments:  "I"ll never be able to play this."  "This song was not made for me."  Then she may hide under the piano bench, crying.  The thing about Lydia is that academic or musical tasks really are not that difficult for her.  If she just applies herself a little bit, she gets it.  Then when she does get it, everything is great.  She is an emotional, dramatic, really high or really low girl.  

Anna mostly gets mad if she can't play something.  She doesn't cry, just yells.  She loves the recitals, and relishes her turn to march up in front of everyone and show her stuff.  She is our social, give me some attention, middle child with a temper.  

I love each of those girls for their individuality.  It makes life fun.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness:  come before his presence with singing.  Know ye that the Lord he is God:  it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:  be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
***Psalm 100

Serve the Lord with gladness!
How do I serve the Lord in these days?  By serving my husband and children, the precious souls the Lord has entrusted to my care.  How do I serve them?  Making delicious food, laundering their clothes, reading to them, teaching them, giving hugs and kisses, providing a listening ear, setting an atmosphere of calm through a clean house.  With gladness!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 2014

I spent much of today planning for the week ahead.  The happiness and effectiveness of our days depends in large part on the preparation put in to it.  I simply cannot fly by the seat of my pants for meals, laundry, school, and keeping the house and family running.  It all begins with me.  The mental energy and heart attitude I put in to setting the tone is worth it.