life is flying by and Isabella is growing up

I can't believe this girl turned 7 on Wednesday:

She's funny and sweet, and her little personality is coming out more and more each day. :)

Our birthday tradition is to pick whatever you want to eat on your birthday, and she chose beans and rice for lunch and salad for dinner:

And I made her a tasty cake wreck... {p.s. this is why you don't ice the cake while it's still warm.}

"It's okay, mama, it doesn't have to be pretty." Good thing, right?! Sweet girl! :D The boys just laughed at it. ;)

It seems like yesterday she had only one candle on her cake. Wasn't she just born anyway? My blog is older than she is!

I guess it has been a few years after all. :)

Oh, it's so much fun having this little girl in the house. She loves her mama and daddy, and brothers and sister so much. God gave her a kind and loving servant's heart.

She's a keeper, I'd say. :)

Happy birthday Isabella Rose! :)

6 encouragements for homeschool moms this year

I'm not feeling ready for this to be happening again, but it's here:

This is my first year to homeschool four children. Ava did preschool bits last year, but I didn't worry much about it. This year, kindergarten is in full swing:

It feels like we were just doing this, and we took a couple of weeks off...well, except for this part:

I now have a curious, active toddler roaming about. ;)

The kids are doing awesome with it. I'm so thankful for their willingness to work, and their desire to learn! They were up early today and couldn't wait to get started. :D I just love them.

But for me... alternating between feeding, diaper changes, snacks, reading, printing out sheets, answering questions, teaching phonics, correcting errors... this homeschooling business is no joke. It reminds me of waiting tables in college, only these customers tend to act like small children, and I'm already in the weeds. ;)

I may or may not have cried last night.

Homeschooling pushes me to places I don't want to go. I'm not naturally a teacher, but I already love my kiddos, so I have that going for me. ;) Thankfully when I was overwhelmed last night, I feel like the Holy Spirit was encouraging me with few things that really helped me get a better perspective.

I needed to realize that:

1. This season is actually VERY short!
I already have kids in 5th, 4th, 2nd, and kindergarten. This is happening fast. After this year, I'll have already taken 4 children through learning how to read. I'll be 80% done! ;) It's going to fly by. Really.

2. This is my choice.
I don't have to do this, I want to do this. But sometimes I forget that. :) No one is holding me hostage to homeschooling. I want these kiddos to be here learning! :)

3. Homeschooling will be hard at times.
Childbirth may be hard, but teaching kids how to read is tougher if you ask me! But then, I realize if I take a step back and remember, potty training was hard, teaching them to sit still is hard, teaching them not to hurt each other is hard... pretty much all parenting is hard at different times.

But it's worth the effort, isn't it? Realizing childbirth will hurt helps me prepare for the pain. And teaching children will be a difficult task sometimes too, just like running a race, or passing a test.  It helps to be prepared for things to be less than easy. :)

4. Their attitudes about homeschooling will reflect mine.
I know this is true in other areas for sure, so I know it will be true of homeschooling too. I want to enjoy this season, and I want them to feel the same way. :) I want us to have a GREAT attitude about it this year! :)

5. In order for me to focus on it, do a good job, and enjoy it, I have to eliminate distractions.
Everything else needs to take a backseat in the mornings and afternoons. Dirty dishes, blogging, laundry, Facebook, text messages, phone calls, Instagram, learning choreography for teaching classes in the afternoon - these things beg for my attention all day long.

I have to re-prioritize what I want to do in order to do homeschooling well. If I'm busy, I do not enjoy interruptions. If I'm not busy, homeschooling isn't nearly as painful. :) And, when I don't have outside responsibilities looming over my head, I feel capable of doing more with my family and enjoying it.

6. My first priority is to teach them about Jesus.
Reading, writing, math, science, history, spelling- these are all well and good, and things they need to know, but my highest priority over all other education is to teach them about the Lord- to teach them His ways through His Word. I want them more than anything to love Him and obey Him, and to love others. This is the stuff that will matter on that final day when they stand before Him. This is my first and most important job.

If I filter this homeschooling thing through the lens of eternity, I start to see why I'm doing this, as well as what I need to do first, you know?

Some days I will feel like a crazy person because this is hard, but I know that I can do this through the power of the Holy Spirit. I need Him desperately, and I am so thankful for sweet friends who pray for you when you're feeling defeated before you've even started {like this morning!}.

This homeschooling deal won't be happening in my strength- that's for sure.  Psalm 73:26 is more than true of me: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." I know His power is made perfect in my weakness. Just like last year, I'm going to be clinging to Him with all my might. :D

This article about investing in your kids was the perfect encouragement from the Lord for me just now- you have to read it!! :D Oh man, I love the Holy Spirit! He is the Comforter. What an encouraging charge Jennifer gives us. It's such a good reminder of our purpose:
Yes, there are many educational feats to accomplish this year in the classroom and many athletic obstacles to overcome in the game but the most important thing they can learn this year is that Jesus loves them, he died for them and that he has made salvation available to them. They need to hear this from the adults in charge of them. That’s you! 
Go into all the classrooms and gyms and halls and preach the gospel. 

What encourages you as a mom this school year {homeschooling or not! :) all kinds of school are hard!}? 

Have you ever struggled with feeling defeated and overwhelmed before you started?
I really think attacks like that are from the enemy. Sometimes I feel and take his accusations as truth, forgetting that he is the great deceiver who wants to devour me, and any joy I have in Christ.

finding a pot of gold

When we went on our anniversary trip, I found this little gem of a planter hiding in the bottom of a big hutch full of dishes at Anthropologie:

At $14, it was far less per lb. than every other Anthro item ;), and the gold one I found is the perfect shade {it seems a little more muted than the pictures, actually} so I thought it would be a fun souvenir of our 12th anniversary. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it in our house:

I think it would make a beautiful plant holder too, if I get tired of using it as a utensil holder. :D

You can barely see it here, but hey- my last utensil holder was a pot too. :)

I didn't end up finding anything else at Anthro, but I was quite happy with my big ole gold pot-turned-utensil-holder souvenir. :D 

Do you ever use any unexpected items in everyday life? 
I also use the silverware drawer for holding every random piece of junk in my house until it overflows and I can't see the forks if that counts...heheheh! 

our week in pics: getaways, tornado meal-prepping, and it's happening again

Oh, the crazy fun of summer! Can I admit that I've been sleeping in this summer, and it's been wonderful? I feel like a new person when I sleep 8-9 hours a night. The baby still wakes up a couple of times at night, but with the extra hours in the morning I've been making up for the last year of lost time. :)

We have some exciting things happening at our house, so our days have been full to the brim. {I can't wait to tell you soon!} I haven't even had a chance to tell you yet, but we celebrated our 12th anniversary with a weekend away in Dallas:

My awesome dad kept the kids and I enjoyed waffles not made by me. ;)

We did take the munchkin along with us, and if you were wondering what hotel breakfast with a little is like, I snagged a pic for you:

I have a good man, because he took one for the team and fed him while I enjoyed this:

Good times. :) And you know any weekend at a metroplex is sure to include a trip to Anthro:

I didn't find much I needed there, but I did end up with one cool, very inexpensive-for-anthropologie thing I'll show you soon! :)

For the first time in I can't remember, we got dressed up for a date! :)

I really need to branch out more, but the heart wants what it wants. ;)

We might be a little predictable, but hey- we did try two new things. Did you know gas station fudge can be amazing?

I would have never thought. And we already know Restoration Hardware is pretty amazing itself:

All kinds of eye candy there. That place is something else. :) I have never liked so much extremely expensive furniture at one time! ;) {Which reminds me of something else I want to tell you soon!}.

My feet were back on the ground last week with a birthday, grocery shopping, and getting back in the saddle with cooking:

Last night was a late night flurry of trying to cook this week's meals in advance:

I made dinner last night, and got this ready for the week:

And speaking of getting back in the saddle...last week, these came in the mail:

Once we the rest of the girls' books arrive, I suppose we'll dig in. :) I can't say that I'm ready, but the kids are! They've already arranged their desks, plugged in their computers, and can't wait to start. :)

As for me, I'm still going to enjoy every minute of sleeping in that I can. :)

How was your week/weekend??

Are you back to school yet?

Ever tried something from a gas station that you never thought you would love? :D

happy 1st birthday Zane! {a year in pics}

My baby is one year old today! I can't believe it.

It's been a long and a short year all at the same time. But I feel like the one year mark came out of nowhere! :) I am so thankful for our little Zane Danial. He is indeed God's gracious gift to our little family. I can't imagine our life without him! :) 

This might be the most pictures I've ever had in a post, but that's okay. :D I am reliving his first year today. {*big mama sniffle*}

One year ago last night, I looked like this- so ready for a baby to come, but not betting on labor coming EVER at 10 days overdue:

And then much to our surprise, he was born only five hours after that picture! {birth story part 1, and 2!}

At 10 lbs. and 22.5 inches, he was the biggest and longest baby I've ever had:

Even at 10 lbs and 3 days old, he looked so tiny then:

He loved, loved, loved bath time {and still does!}. Fitting since he was born in the water! :P

Yeah that's right:

That paci strap is the first one we've ever had and I have three words: best invention ever.

Oh, and his mama loves him so.

The littlest two:

Oh the faces we've seen:

And his sisters are like his little mamas too:

But he always loves his daddy to hold him:

We think they look alike as babies:

First time in the walker:

First sandbox:

This is the first Sophie we've ever bought:

The first time he wore tennis shoes:

His first vacation- he loved it! ;)

But he's not so sure about his sisters feeding him:

Crawling somewhere around 8 months:

Baby peek-a-boo is the BEST:

First time he met a celebrity and pulled her hair:

First bookshelf mess:

We think he may have a sense of humor. :)

He's gone on every date with us since he was born:

He's all over the place now, and loves to make messes faster than his combat mama can catch him. He's like a ninja:

Stop it. This baby looks too old already:

Toddlerhood, this mama isn't ready for you yet:

Best mohawk ever:

And oh those teeth are so cute, but they were a bear coming in for weeks. He does not like teething.

But he loves to eat. :D

At this rate, it won't be long before he's driving. :)

That baby is so very loved. :)

Happy birthday Zaner- we love you so much and are so blessed to have been given a year with you!! :)