isabella turning 9 means 3 things

Our summer birthday celebration streak officially came to an end on Saturday with Isabella's 9th birthday. :) Her new age officially blows my mind. It means my third child is halfway grown, which means I'm getting older (ahem), and it also means I must have been blogging for a while now, since hers was the first child's pregnancy/birth I ever blogged about. One day I'm sitting on the sofa writing about how she is about to arrive, and now here she is, holding her cinnamon roll 9. Where did the time go?

Somehow opening presents has completely moved from after dinner to the first thing in the morning at our house. I guess we must all be impatient to see the birthday person open their gifts. :)

The kids made Bella an American Doll pedal boat and adventure backpack with food, a map, and a hat:

And Ava gave her one of her own special Lego men:

She requested spaghetti for dinner and strawberry shortcake for dessert (smart girl, choosing something entirely different than her siblings). I made a pound cake with heavy whipping cream and strawberries, and mmmmm:

This girl is a special, sweet gift to our family. She works hard, helps everyone else, and knows exactly what you need before you even ask for it:

We are blessed by her spunky spirit and love for others. If only she would agree to stop getting older so we could keep her this age forever. :)

Oh Bella Rose, we are so thankful you came into our lives, and we praise the Lord for the blessing of knowing and raising you for the last 9 years. You are so precious to our entire family. :)

green apple salsa: recipe

Once upon a time {11 years ago}, our sweet community group leaders had us over to their house for dinner, and there my friend Ann Terese served us grilled steak paired perfectly with a delicious pico-de-gallo kind of salsa I’d never seen the likes of before. It was salty, sweet, and perfect. Being a foolish youth of only 22, I was far too shy to ask for the recipe, and instead tried to recall the ingredients because it was a tart-salty-sweet match made in heaven.

This spring I attempted to recreate it once more and am head over heels all over again. :) I have no idea how close this is to its inspiration recipe (hers may have had jalapeƱo and red onion?), but luckily we’ve come up with a version of it that every kid in our house loves. It pairs extremely well with grilled chicken, tortilla chips, or even just an empty spoon.

This recipe serves a crowd (although I’m quite sure I could eat the entire bowl on my own!).

Here are the ingredients:

4 large green apples 
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1 sweet (mild) yellow onion (use red only if you prefer a hotter salsa)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 bunch cilantro 

Chop apples and onion into small pieces and mix together in a medium-sized serving bowl. Finely chop cilantro leaves, then add to apples and onion mixture. Stir in lime juice, honey, and salt, mixing well. Let salsa marinade in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. 

Enjoy! :)

slow paces, choosing favorites, and goals this week

Our first two (easy) days of homeschooling have gone well! I'll update you when we have a full day, but I think the kids really like it so far. :)

We had our first slower weekend on Saturday and Sunday- it was wonderful to have a couple of days with nothing scheduled! I've always been a big fan of those days, but I feel like I need them now more than ever.

We had a little time to go for a walk:

 And we visited our old favorite hangout, the hardware store:

We strolled the aisles for fun, and even met new friends at the home store... it was a nice change from all the scheduled-to-the-minute life we've had lately. (and I guess I must have been busy if I actually liked going to the hardware store! :P)

After window shopping, we swung by our favorite Mexican bakery. We usually let the kids pick out anything they like, and they always seem to choose these beautiful gigantic conchas (sweet breads):

Except for Zane, he wanted a chocolate donut, and would consider nothing else. :)

Back at home, Rob worked on house projects, I worked on the computer projects I needed to finish, we had family nights, and even slept in a little (since I've been teaching early, I can't even sleep as long as I want to anymore :P).

I've decided to take it little easy on the to-do list this week since we're starting school! Here are my goals (and many will be with the help of the kids/Rob):

::  do  ::
download CC app on iPad
order math score key #2

write new workouts
exercise as possible

repair broken dresser drawer
work on 1 unfinished project
order 3 things
make bread 3-4x
go grocery shopping for Isabella's birthday
meal plan for the week
sweep and mop downstairs and upstairs
clean all bathtubs
clean out microwave
vacuum and wash car

library trip Friday
Saturday special activity for Isabella/dinner out
prep for CC day on Wednesday (pack lunches, lay out clothes)

work on 1 project
write email

::  read  ::
1 John, 2 John, + 3 John several times, a Psalm a day
EEL guide prep for Wednesday

:: learn ::
1 Peter 1, Ephesians 6 with kids
work on certification flashcards/study chapters
print and fill out Bible study

::  be  ::
After some more challenging weeks, I'm going to try to sit down more this week and just relax with nothing to do.

What's on your to-do list this week?

Ever tried a concha? (I think I'm saying that right but please tell me if I'm not!!! hahah!)
I chose a cookie but I'm pretty sure everything I've tried from the Mexican bakery needs more sugar... :P Or maybe I need to eat less sugar because I'm sure it had plenty. :D

first day of homeschool (2016-2017)

Today marks our first official homeschool day of 7th, 6th, 4th, and 2nd grade:

Oh, look how much they've grown in just one year:

Elijah actually started Challenge A last Wednesday. I can't even take the fact that he's now in junior high!

After school let out, we celebrated the first day of 7th grade with a man-sized Mountain Dew. :D

Everyone said they'd grow up fast and here we are, more than half way done for three of them! Wow. 

Life may flying by, but it's sweeter than ever.  :)

large family schoolroom: before and after 2016

You may think I'm being light-hearted when I say it, but I mean it: the Lord takes care of His people! By some miracle, everything on my school list is finished!! And it's only Friday! Thank you for praying for me! Seriously. :)

Here was the state of our schoolroom before I started... of course it's hard to see all the tiny scraps of paper and toys and pencil dust in every nook and cranny and crayon box, but trust me, they were there: 

A huge trash bag, thousands of pieces of paper, and four dustpans full later, and the entire room felt new again (cue a great big sigh of relief):

You know you're in for a big change when this was (some of) your curriculum last year:

And your new year looks a whole lot more like this:

Of course I felt like it was a ton of books when I had to checkout ;) but we really just have a single crate of items for three kids. It almost seems too easy- I don't have 7 score keys and boxes of paper for every subject and every student! :) 

I made a new master schedule as well as a tentative daily lesson plan, and we inserted each schedule into the cover of our notebooks to (hopefully) still keep us on task. :) Now that I have a plan in place I feel like I am far more ready to start next week:

Then again, it could just be a feeling... ;) I'll let you know how it goes! :)

p.s. here was last year's schoolroom before and after- I had to go look it up to compare! :)

going for happy machine + cranking out the to-do's

School starts tomorrow for Elijah, and I only have 7.5 more hours of orientations to go! (I need emojis on my keyboard because I have so many good feelings about that. ;)) I calculated that by Thursday night I will have tallied 35+ hours of pre-school orientations, practicums, and trainings since the last week of June! :)

I honestly had NO idea that kind of commitment was coming (even just this Sunday I didn't realize I had another whole training day this week!). I'm pretty sure no one could ever say CC didn't equip me before school started! :D

I think since I'm completely new and have so many ages involved, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information we're getting before we actually do school. I find once I start doing the thing I understand what you're talking about so much more than I do before I try. :) But maybe I'm picking up more than I realize. Hopefully. :) I may cry before we even get to week one though. :P 

With four kiddos starting a new curriculum in every single subject this year, my to-do list this week is ever-growing, and I have to keep moving. :D I already have a few things done today, thankfully! We're almost there!! (Pray for me! ha! :P)

// do //

:: home ::
grocery shopping for the week
empty office and clean, reorganize Thursday/Friday
work on unfinished projects if time allows
make bread on weekdays (the bread machine is coming back out of necessity!)
prep salads and lunches
make lists of what we need to do

bread this morning. oh carbs, you do make me feel happy. :D 

:: school ::
order last few missing books + chart we still need
pick up school supplies we need
Start Challenge A and do IEW training 9-3
call bookstore
fill out parent paperwork for ChA (4-5 pages)
find math books
+ make sure that’s what we want before we open it!
sign up for CC Connected
get books spiral bound + charts laminated at office store (math, Latin)
go to CC orientation #4 and bring food
find and print out a school planner
finalize school schedule (home)
pack up and send back BJU rentals
plan out the first week of foundations + essentials 
start younger kids on math, Bible, reading, and spelling Monday morning

:: family ::
one last summer fun outing
dinner out
relax on Saturday afternoon

:: fitness ::
write 1 new workout
teach classes
exercise when possible

:: online projects ::
answer email
write for 1-2 hours

// read //
pages 7-14 in writing/grammar book to prepare for next week
1 John - 3 John (over and over)

// learn //
print + do community group Bible study + listen to podcast Abide week 3
work on fitness certification flashcards in free time
watch Visual Latin lesson with Elijah

// be //
a positive machine.
That's a character quality right? I tell my fitness participants "remember, you can do this- be a machine!" when they're fatiguing, because so many times you can muscle up and work so much longer than your mind wants to go if you believe your body can do it! I need to be a happy, thankful, machine that gets stuff done this week, Lord-willing. :)

I know the Lord will help me do what I need to do the most, and the rest will have to wait, right? :) In reality, none of this is a huge deal or problem. Even if I mess up, it's not going to be terrible. I get to train my children in the Lord and this is not easy, but it's not the hardest thing either!! One day I'll have to do something much harder, I'm sure of it. So this is just good practice. :)

But hey, reminders to persevere on your third coffee mug of the day never hurt. :DDD 

Life will slow down soon. It's just a busy season for now. :)

Cool, crisp, happy, slower Fall, I'm coming for you

our fifth 3-year-old (how can it be?)

I am in awe of the fact that our fifth kid turned three this weekend. I feel like just yesterday I pushed out this 10 lb. linebacker baby, and somehow he's suddenly potty trained and playing legos with his siblings... :)

Three is a fun age- lots of boundaries being pushed but lots of fun personality coming out too. :D 

We made our traditional cinnamon roll breakfast:

And then we opened presents right away, because why not? :) Long story, but I tried to find a Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear at Toys R' Us and completely struck out, but I remembered we needed a potty seat while we were there. I wasn't intending for it to be a present, but we saw the wrapping paper on the way out and decided one more gift would be fun to open (right?)... :D

So Zane excitedly opened the potty seat first:

He thought it was for fishies, but then the older kids started explaining what it was really for:

And he hates the big potty at home so he didn't like it one bit (I'm DYING laughing here):

Poor kid, he wasn't expecting opening birthday presents to be like that.  Luckily the next gift was much better:

And if you ask me, one of the best parts of having a large family is that we all get to have fun on everyone's birthday. :) You can see they all get into the gifts:


And the gift giving too- with limited funds, they make gifts like paper bouncing balls on string:

He only had one request for food- pizza, so we went the most filling route and headed for the buffet:

After that, we played a little flag football with Papa:

And Ivy-loo, mama, and Granna held down the sidelines:

We had an injury :( so we waited to have Zane's Pooh cake until the next morning:

I was so thankful the Lord provided a used Craigslist cake pan the night I needed to bake it! I met the lady, gave her $6 for it and went right home and made the cake! :D I was so thankful since we couldn't find a stuffed bear!! Zane watched me ice it, and I think he really loved it. :D

Precious boy, we are so glad the Lord brought you into our family. Your energetic, loving, polite spirit is such a wonderful gift. You are loved so very much, and we pray your lively spirit grows strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and that He would use you to preach the Gospel to the nations. You were created for His glory, and we worship the One who brought you into this world, and thank Him for allowing us to be your parents! 

Oh little Zaner, you are such a blessing to us all.