Saturday, December 7, 2013

Confessions of a Fifth Born

Photo: Sitting up is so exciting:)

Life for Luke at eight months sure looks a lot different than life for Jack did at this age. 

1. He cannot nurse and be in the same room as the other kids. He gets way too distracted trying to figure out what fun he's missing out on.

2. It's possible that I didn't start him on solids until a couple of weeks ago..

3. If I put him down for a minute, there will be one child trying to kiss him, one trying to tickle him, another giving him a hug, and another trying wrestle with him(betcha can't guess which one that is..)

4. He's lucky to get a bath once a week.*blush*

5. We have yet to put him on a real rigid schedule, because once the older four go to bed Erik and I like to spend a little time playing with and holding him.

Yes, being the fifth born as opposed to being the first born is definitely different. But you know, I think he's doing just fine. :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had such a nice Thanksgiving last week celebrating with my side of the family! We had a lot of fun eating too much food, decorating my mom and dad's Christmas tree, and taking Anna and Lily to see the movie Frozen(which is really cute.) My mom usually does the Turkey, and I do the pies and sides. Every year I try a different recipe, and this year I tried making my own stuffing using this recipe(although to be completely honest I didn't use whole wheat bread, just regular french bread from the store), but it was still pretty good(just maybe not as good for you.;)

 Unfortunately, early Saturday morning Anna woke up with the stomach flu and we've all spent the whole week passing it around(Luke's the only one who's not gotten it yet, hopefully it stays that way!)

In between passing around the stomach flu, however, we did manage to get our Christmas tree. I can't believe Christmas is three weeks away!

Sweet Luke watching us decorate the tree. He is seriously such a happy, sweet little boy.

Erik and Lily putting the star on top of the tree. 

Four of my ragamuffins in front of the tree(Luke was already in bed.)

How was everyone else's Thanksgiving? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Morning Rituals

I'm a creature of habit.

Almost every morning since I've been a Christian(about 10 years) I have woken up early, brewed a cup of strong coffee, and spent time reading the Word. For a long time this was my most treasured time in my day. It felt wonderful to soak up the Word, pray for the day and the people in my life, and then I was ready to face the day with my children.

Nowadays though, my children are often awake either before me, or they wake up as soon as I get out of bed and hear me walk past their doors. We do implement wake up times around here, which are great in theory, but just because they aren't allowed to get up until a certain time, doesn't necessarily mean they will sleep until that time(at least that's the case at my house,;) Since we have 4 children sharing a room right now the noise level can get a little out of control first thing in the morning, making it difficult to concentrate on anything much less your Bible study!

I also was noticing that when one child would get up to use the rest room, I'd start to get a little snappy with them. All while my Bible and journal lay open beside me. I definitely don't want my children to have it in their heads that Mama is mean when she reads the Bible. I was beginning to realize that my precious morning ritual had become an idol.

It's amazing how we can turn something so wonderful into something so ugly, isn't it?

So here is what I really feel that the Lord has laid on my heart for this season of my life. If the kids are all up at a reasonable hour(which they usually are, thankfully only Luke gets up earlier than 6:30, but he nurses himself back to sleep) then I will give them a cup of grapes, bananas, or cereal(not necessarily breakfast, but a little snack to tide them over), and we will all find a place in the living room to curl up with a blanket. They each can have a Bible, and a piece of paper and a crayon and they can draw a picture for Jesus, write a letter to God, or draw a picture of a Bible story they're looking at a picture of. The possibilities really are endless:).

The rule is  that they can't be silly and that they need to be quiet during this time. I really try to encourage them and say,"You are so smart. I love hearing your thoughts, I want you to really work hard and read your Bible, and then when our quiet time is over you can tell me everything that you learned."

I would still love to be able to get up earlier than the kids in order to have a quiet time, but honestly most nights I'm up at least once with one child or another, so it's not totally realistic to be thinking I can get get up much earlier. Showing my children how wonderful and important it is to spend time with the Lord, is much more important than any quiet time alone anyway.

Linked to A Wise Woman Builds her Home

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies Recipe

I really love salted caramel. I also really love chocolate. So it was kind of a given that I needed to try and combine the two. Last week I saw this recipe for brownies on Money Saving Mom, and knew I had to try it. As I was pulling out the ingredients I thought to myself,"I should add some salted caramel to this and see how it turns out!" I was definitely not disappointed! And, neither was anyone else in my family, as they were gone within 24 hours. :)

Brownies(slightly modified from this recipe)

3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter divided
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar(original recipe calls for two cups, but the caramel makes them a little too sweet with that amount)
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

In large bowl combine baking soda and cocoa. Stir the first 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water and blend.

Stir in sugar, remaining butter, and eggs. Add vanilla, salt, and flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour in greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Salted Caramel( modified from this recipe)

4 T butter
3 T brown sugar
3 T white sugar
1 tsp salt
1- 2 T half & half
1 T Powdered Sugar

Heat butter, brown and white sugar, half & half, and salt until boiling. Remove from heat and stir for 30 more seconds. Add a tablespoon of Powdered sugar, and stir until it's thick. If you want the glaze a little thicker add another tablespoon  of powdered sugar.

Pour over brownies fresh out of the oven, and enjoy! :)

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Menu Plans, etc.

Practicing writing letters in shaving cream got a little out of control. :)

This week is looking pretty busy, with a trunk or treat on Wednesday and a parade on Thursday, so that always throws our menu plans off a little bit. I foresee many peanut butter & honey sandwiches in our future in order to make it to places on time. :) At any rate here is what I have planned for the next week food wise:

Breakfast- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Baked oatmeal x2, Granola cereal x2(hopefully...), cinnamon toast, and eggs with blueberry muffins.

Lunch- Leftover Soup, Peanut butter & honey sandwiches, and salads

Dinner- Biscuits&gravy(husband's request;), leftovers, Tomato &Parmesan Soup, Candy Soup, Beef Stew, and pizza. Yes we like our soup, in case you couldn't tell. :)

Clean one room/day

Love my family

Start reading Women Living Well


What's on everyone else's menu this week? Anyone else taking their kids to trunk or treats/trick or treating, or some sort of fall celebration this week?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brothers & Babies

Erik and I have brought home new babies almost every year since 2007. And ever since 2008, each new baby has been happily welcomed by an older brother or sister. I still remember how proud I felt when Jack told someone how much he loved Lily. Or that sweet moment when Lily and Anna both wanted to hold Max at the same time. Luke has basically been no exception to this rule. Jack, Anna, and Lily absolutely adore him. They are always playing with him and trying to make him laugh. They love to hold him, and feel so proud of themselves when they do something helpful for him.

But did you notice I only mentioned three of the older siblings were thrilled to have a baby in the house to play with?

Yes, Mr. Max, isn't exactly what you'd call an adoring older brother.

For a long time he basically ignored Luke.

And then when it became a little more difficult to deny Luke's presence in our family, Max started referring to him as the "baby."

And that was fine. Luke is a baby after all, and Max is only two, so perhaps he was having a hard time saying Luke's name(never mind the fact that he says everyone else's name just fine.)

But the other day Luke was laying on the floor, and Max comes up to me and says,"Move it, Mama."

Move it? Move what? So I asked him what he wanted me to move.

He walked over to where Luke was laying on the floor, looked at me with great seriousness and pointed to Luke, and says to me,"Move IT, Mama."

And that's probably where we need to draw the line. 

You know Max has the honor of being the baby the longest in this house(a whopping 20 months), maybe that was just a little bit too long of a time and it spoiled him. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013


So I have this little girl. She's sweet and cute and cuddly. She's a ball of energy, and full of spunk.

She can also be stubborn and mischievous. She does things at three that never crossed Jack or Anna's minds when they were her age.

I'm crazy about my girl, but there are times when I feel like she's going to drive me absolutely crazy.

She says some of the funniest things though, and she has an adorable little voice to boot. Here are some of the recent "Lilyisms."

About a month ago after Erik and I put the kids to bed, we went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and sit by the fire pit. After we got back inside I noticed some cookies were gone from the kitchen. I had a hunch I knew who had taken them, and sure enough Lily was hiding underneath her blankets eating chocolate chip cookies.

Putting my hands on hips(yes this child has caused me to do just about every cliche mom thing there is:) I say, "Lily, did you take the cookies out of the kitchen?"

Lily (who has chocolate all over her face) says,"No, mommy."

Me-"Well how did the cookies get in your bed then?"

Lily(in complete seriousness) "It was windy."

Yes, apparently the wind now carries cookies directly to little girls beds. Obviously we dealt with the seriousness of lying with her, but it was hard to keep a straight face about it!


This Lilyism shows Lily's much sweeter side. We were at a doctor's appointment awhile back and we had been in the waiting room a long time. Another woman was sitting next to me, and was enjoying talking with the kids. 

Lily started talking to her, and asked the woman where her mommy was. The woman replied, "My mommy is in Heaven."

To which Lily says genuinely surprised,"That's where Jesus lives!" :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Learning to be Intentional

I write it every single week on my goals list.

Be more intentional in loving Erik and the children.

I don't think I'll  ever learn to do this perfectly, but even so, what does it even look like for me to love my family with intention? Is it giving them constant attention and never being able to get anything else done? Is it never having any time to myself?

Obviously I don't think that(and the introvert in me sighs a deep sigh of relief.) But I am aware of my tendency to get overwhelmed by all of the laundry, all of the dishes, all of the just meeting basic needs, that I'm not always very good at just being with my family. That's where my intentional goal comes in.

 My first priority in being intentional(and I already feel like I've used that word far too much for this one blog post. What other words could I try here..thoughtful? Considerate? Prioritize? Moving on..) is reflecting the gospel to my family. Pointing the children to Jesus and praying with them about the issues they are having. Praying for Erik and with him.

But what else?

Some things that I've found to be helpful is easing my work load around the house. I buy paper plates and plastic cups, that way I'm not cleaning up the kitchen and then immediately getting the kids ready for bed. I have a little more time in the evenings to spend with them. Getting rid of stuff is another thing I've found that's helpful. Limiting the kids clothing so that the laundry beast is kept somewhat under control. I've also found that limiting outside commitments, so we aren't constantly on the run, is very helpful. All of this is helping me live with more intention,er, focus(hey, another word!)

But even with that there's still only so much you can do. Dishes still need washed, and some outside commitments really are important enough to stick with. So, with that in mind, here are some practical ways I've been trying to be more intentional with my family.

1. Give them lots of encouragement.

2. Shower them with physical affection. I like what Ann Voskamp says about giving her children at least as many kisses as there are meals every day. And I don't think Erik would complain if I made that my goal for him either ;).

3. Laugh, play, get them involved in what I'm doing, and look them in the eyes. Even if it's just a 30 second game of This Little Piggy with Max, reading a story with Anna,  looking at a pretty flower Lily found in the back yard, or looking at something Jack has created out of legos  are all little ways that let your children know they are important to you.

4. Get off the i phone and the internet. Trust me I know how easy it is to get sucked into the internet. I'm certainly not immune to it's allure. For me personally, though , I really try not to be on my phone or the computer(unless I really have to like for bill paying or something) while the kids are up. And I try not to jump on it as soon as the kids go to bed at night so that I can spend some time actually talking with Erik. I'm definitely a work in progress in this area, and there's definitely grace, but this is just another simple way to live with intention.

Learning to be intentional with my family is probably one of the greatest gifts I can give them. It's not always an easy decision to make, but I know it will be worth it.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend, Menu, Goals, & She Reads

Whew. After a crazy busy last few weekends, we finally had one that was relatively calm. It was very much appreciated! Saturday morning I got up a little early and met a friend at Panera for breakfast. It was a lot of fun being able to catch up, and I was so thankful that Erik took care of breakfast for the kids and the usual morning routine so I could have a little time away.

After I got home, Erik took Anna and Lily on some errands, and the boys and I tried to catch up on some things.  The rest of the day was spent doing housework, running errands, and trying to rest.

Sunday morning Erik had to leave early for praise band. The kids weren't up for more than ten minutes when one of my children came up to me and says,"Mommy there's a bead in my nose." And yes sure enough there was. Thankfully I was able to get it out with some tweezers, but there really never is a dull moment around here! :)


In other events, a friend of mine was telling me about an app you can use on your phone called She Reads. If you have the You Version app on your phone it'll be on there. I just started using it this week, but I've really been enjoying it. You basically read a portion of scripture and then you get a little devotion that goes with it. A lot of times it's hard for me to concentrate on a big portion of scripture, so I like that it breaks it up a little!



Figure out a better budget& stick with it(that's where the goal comes in!:)

Work on a better schedule for home schooling & house keeping routine


Be intentional with my family.


Breakfast-pancakes&eggs, Granola Cereal, Oatmeal, Blueberry muffins&eggs/bacon, and Apple Crumble with scrambled eggs

Lunch-Pb&Apple butter(we made this recipe last week) sandwiches, grilled cheese, leftovers

Dinner- Mexican Chicken & rice bowls, Beef Stew with Sweet Potato Biscuits(I'm curious how these turn out), Cauliflower pizza, Taco Soup, Meatballs with Acorn Squash & broccoli, chicken tacos in crock pot, and pumpkin pancakes& eggs.

Yes, in case you can't tell how much it shows up on our menu, we really like Mexican food. :)

How was everyone else's weekend? Any one have any new fall recipes they're trying this week?

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Neck of the Woods

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Kendra Thornton, wanting to know if I'd be willing to write a post about some of my favorite things to do where I live, and if I would share her post about her favorite things to do in her hometown of Chicago. I thought it sounded like a fun post to write, so here are some of my favorite things to do in my "neck of the woods." :)

Photo: Hanging out at the cardinal game:)

We live about 20 minutes outside of St. Louis, so going to see a Cardinals game would be a must. :)

In the area that I live, some of my absolute favorite things to do are walk the nature trails or the many bike trails around here. Our family also really loves visiting the SIUE gardens. It's absolutely beautiful, and they even have a pond full of turtles with a bridge overlooking that the kids get a huge kick out of.

This time of year there's also a ton of pumpkin patches and apple orchards that pop up that are great for taking kids to also.

Of course one of my favorite things to do is going out to eat(as much as I enjoy cooking, it's always nice to get a break, right?!) We have some really great local restaurants like the Oriental Spoon and Cleveland Heath.

One of the coolest things about St. Louis is that they have a lot of fun things you can do for free. The art museum, the zoo, and Grant's Farm are all basically free. And of course if you wanted to spend a little money there's always the magic house and the children's museum.

I really love living here, and it sounds like Kendra really loves Chicago, here are some of her favorite things to do up there!

Chicago is my city, and I say this with pride. Chicago is a smorgasbord of activity for tourists and residents alike. It’s big as well as diverse, and it attracts all types of people and businesses. Since Chicago is my home, I have some of my own special favorite places. Take it from me, you won’t want to miss these attractions.
1. Grant Park: Impressive for a Front Yard

Grant Park is sometimes referred to as “Chicago’s Front Yard,” and for good reason. Included within Grant Park are Millennium Park, the Buckingham Fountain, the

and the Museum Campus. The scenery here is absolutely beautiful. You can spend an entire day wandering around, and it is a fun way to introduce your kids to art. And even though it's called Chicago's Front Yard, don't worry; there's no old man demanding that kids stay off his lawn!

2. Lou Mitchell’s: Get Your Milk Duds Here!

A good, old-fashioned diner is the perfect place to grab a meal. Lou Mitchell’s is a historically rich diner with some seriously delicious food. Perhaps more importantly, it’s completely affordable. Eating out in the city can really cost you, but stopping by a diner is a good way to avoid that. To add to it's charm, Lou Mitchell's gives ladies and children Milk Duds to munch on. (Is it any surprise my kids love this place?) Why? Did you know Milk Duds were created in Chicago? The owner of Milk Duds was a friend of “Uncle Lou, and he chose Lou Mitchell’s as a place to eat on many occasions. The Milk Duds tradition honors Lou Mitchell’s unique history.

3. Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park: I Like My Art Outdoors

Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park will give you your fill of contemporary art
. Two miles of walkways are lined with inventive, original sculptures. You can simply stroll around, or you can stop and truly admire the culture. It’s on the east side of McCormick Boulevard, by the north channel of the Chicago River. Stop by on a beautiful day to exercise your body--and your mind!

4. Hotels: Unlike Some Cities, Chicago Does Sleep

Chicago’s skyline is breathtaking, and downtown Chicago has enough to offer something for everyone. The city is gorgeous and full of life, and the glowing city lights at night create a fairytale-like atmosphere. Even if you prefer country scenery, Chicago will delight you. When you’re in Chicago, staying at a hotel in the city really is the best way to go. Gogobot is a site that stays on top of deals offered by Chicago city hotels, in addition to giving you information about where the best hotels are in the city. Make sure you are able to enjoy Chicago and all it has to offer.

Have any of you ever visited St. Louis or Chicago? What were some of your favorite things to do?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Weekend, Goals, Menu, & Leggings

This weekend has been a whirlwind! On Friday Erik and I went to a Lumineers concert over in St Louis. It has been a long time since we've gone to a concert together(probably the last time was when we were dating), and it was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, Erik went with some guys from church on a camping trip. Originally Jack was going to come with him, but a few days before the trip we decided he might still be a little too young for it. This turned out to be a good decision on our part, because it rained most of the trip. The kids and I headed to my parents house for the weekend. I'm not really a fan of staying the night alone in my house. I'll do it if I have to, but I was definitely happy to be able to spend some time with my family this weekend. And the kids always have a blast visiting Papa and Nana. :)

Monday evening we got back home. We were so glad to be back all together, but oh my goodness, we had a mountain of laundry waiting for us. Being gone for basically four days when you have a family of seven definitely equates to a ton of laundry.


So this past weekend I also attempted clothes shopping. And I have to say I'm a fan of the current style of wearing leggings with baggy shirts. At first I wasn't sure if it'd look right, but once I tried some stuff on I realized that this trend could certainly work in a woman who has had five kids in five years favor. I'm definitely a fan of not showing off my mommy tummy. :)



Last week got really busy, and I hardly accomplished anything I had planned. This week is looking pretty busy too, so I'm hoping to make more realistic goals.

1. Exercise 3 x this week
2. Continue to be more intentional loving my husband and children.
3. Take kids to library.


Chicken in the Crockpot with carrots & homemade bread, Chicken Enchilada casserole(using leftover chicken from night before), Roast lamb(I've never had lamb before, so this might be interesting) with sweet potatoes & broccoli, Tortellini Soup, Chicken Tacos in the crock pot(with salsa & cream cheese), pancakes & eggs, chicken in a biscuit with green beans & carrots.

What's on everyone else's menu this week? Anyone have an awesome recipe for lamb?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boys and Their...Argyle Sweaters?

We're pretty laid back around here when it comes to the clothes the kids wear. As long as it's clean, and we're not going somewhere like Church, then anything basically goes.

I will admit though that sometimes I absolutely cringe when I see Anna walking around in polka dot pants and striped dresses, and roll my eyes over Lily wearing yet another Easter or Christmas dress around the house. 


Oh boy, however, it's really not anything compared to my dear sweet six year old and his strange love of "diamond shirts."-That's what Jack call them, anyways. :)

Yes, even in the summer he will insist on wearing the sweater vest without a shirt on under it, because he just really likes wearing it.

Recently a friend gave us a bunch of boys clothes, and despite there being a lot of Super hero shirts, and handsome button up shirts, he was over joyed to discover that there was yet another diamond shirt in the pile. :)

Oh well at least he enjoys dressing up! :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Weekend, Menu Plans, & Goals

I think the fall weather is finally here, and I have been loving it! Late last week the kids and I met up with some friends to go on a hike and picnic, and the weather was almost perfect( although by the time we left it was definitely back to feeling like summer.) I loved watching the kids explore, and watching them use their imaginations(even if the boys all wanted to pretend to be the Hulk.:)

Friday was mostly spent getting ready for a yard sale I was planning on having Saturday morning. We had a ridiculous amount of baby girls clothes that I was trying to get rid of. Even after giving away several bags full to friends and family I still had more than enough clothes to try and sell. And despite selling quite a bit, I still gave away two trash bags full of girls clothes to Goodwill!

Saturday night, we went to Target and to our favorite Korean restaurant for take out. Sunday was spent at church, a cook out, and then my family came in town to spend a few day with the kids. And since we have grandparents here, we are taking a few days off official school to just enjoy spending time together.

We always love having some extra hands that are willing to help with our five crazies. :)

This weeks goals are pretty simple:

Exercise 3x(I'm alternating between a Yoga DVD and the 30 day shred)
Figure out a better schedule for home school.
Make up some boxes of activities for Max and Lily to do only during school times.
Make two freezer meals for the especially busy evenings.
Being more intentional loving Erik and my kids(I think this is my goal every single week :)

My menu plan for the week is:

Oatmeal, Granola, eggs& toast, possibly blueberry muffins

peanut butter & honey sandwiches, leftovers, salads(for me), and snack-ish type lunch(carrot sticks, cheese, peppers, apple slices with peanut butter, popcorn), hot dogs

chicken enchilada casserole, broccoli cheese soup(also known as candy soup)& bread, whole chicken in the crockpot with carrots sauteed in butter & cheesy cauliflower, pizza, pancakes &eggs(standard Sunday night dinner.)

Pumpkin cheesecake cookies(these look SO good!!)

What's on everyone else's menu this week? I'm always in need of inspiration for food to fix!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Links

Some posts I've been enjoying around the blog-o sphere.

The Human Shield @ Femina Girls. Good thoughts as usual from the Wilson ladies about standing up for Truth.

How to Stop Fussing@ For the Family I especially love this quote, "I have always told my children that it is natural to be selfish, defensive, argumentative, full of pride, but it is supernatural to be mature, loving and patient, humble."

Losing the Mommy Tummy@Nourishing Gourmet I really need to look into this, five kids has not been kind to my stomach muscles. :)

Have any of you read anything good this week, or posted something you'd like me to read on your blog? Leave a link to it in the comments, and I'll check it out!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Method to My Madness

Life with 5 children under the age of 6, could definitely be considered "madness" I won't lie. Practically every five minutes at least one child is crying, and everyone always needs something that only mommy can get them. But here in the last month or so we're finally finding our rhythm. And since one of the most common questions I get asked or emailed about is how I "do this" with 5 young children I thought I'd write a post about it. Remember, though, and I should hope this goes without saying, I still have a lot to learn. My kids and I have our fair share of bad days. I am far from having any of this all figured out.

1. Time with the Lord. I know, probably a given, but seriously that is my anchor for the day. Even if it's only five minutes first thing in the morning, reading my bible on my phone when Luke wakes up for his 4 am feeding, or if I'm praying while toddlers are climbing all over me, it gives me a much better perspective on the day.

2. Wake up times. I know this isn't for everyone, but this has been a tremendous blessing to me. Basically a wake up time is the time that the kids are allowed to come out of their room in the morning or after nap/ rest time. Yes there are some exceptions(as with anything else), but as a general rule we start the day around 7:30 and everyone gets up from naps/ rest around 4. However that's not to say if a child wakes up before then he has to go back to sleep, or even back to bed. There are times when they come to our bed and sleep(although I really am trying to get up before them, it just doesn't always happen!), or they play with a puzzle or look at a book until it's time to start the day.

3. Getting everyone on the same sleep schedule. Again there are exceptions, but for the most part everyone is in bed by 7:30 at night, and everyone takes a nap around 2 every afternoon(yes even Jack needs a little down time still. I'm thinking it's because he shares a room with early risers.) One of my goals when I bring a baby home is to adjust their morning nap so that they take their longest nap in the afternoon, and so far I've had pretty good success with this.

4. Train them in right behavior. Teach them to help. When they don't obey, or don't do something the way you were intending have them practice doing it the right way. I have been amazed how helpful my 5 and 6 year old are, and a lot of that has just been a result of constant training.

5. Pick your battles. I'm sure I sound pretty strict, and in a lot of ways I am...but in many others I'm not. Honestly the more kids I have the more I'm learning to relax. Is it really a big deal to have occasional picnics in the living room, put the too big shoes on the 2 year olds feet(because he insists on wearing them), or letting  them build forts out of the couch cushions? I don't want to have to constantly be saying no. I want my kids to look back on our home and their childhood with a lot of happy memories, and picking my battles has been a step in that direction.

There is a lot more I could say that has been helpful, but I think this post is long enough. :) What else would you add to this list?

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Favorite Crock Pot Recipes

I have always loved using my crock pot, but now that we are in full on school mode I am appreciating it even more! School takes up most of the morning, and then between laundry, keeping the house decent looking, and that little detail of raising five beautiful children I really don't have a whole lot of extra time to be spending in the kitchen making dinner. But since everyone in this house likes to eat, making meals has to be some sort of priority. I'm thankful my crock pot allows us to have good meals that don't require a whole lot of extra work on my part. And since I know the rest of you are busy, I thought you might like to see my five favorite crock pot recipes.

1. Pork Carnitas. I made these on a whim a few months ago, and they were a huge hit!

2. Whole Chicken in Slow Cooker The chicken falls off the bone, and because it's been sitting all day it's super flavorful.

3. Crock pot cheese tortellini is probably one of our favorite meals of all time.

4. Chicken, broccoli, cheese and rice casserole another favorite that requires very little effort on my part, and as an added bonus I don't have to make sides. :)

5. And then there's my method of dumping chicken breast, salsa, and cream cheese in the crock pot. I set it on high for about 4-5 hours, check on it occasionally to stir, and then use it for chicken tacos that night.

Do the rest of you have any favorite recipes you'd be willing to share?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Life according to Instagram

Back in May, my phone accidentally got dropped in a glass of water. I put it in a jar of rice for a few days, but sadly the camera was forever broken. My contract came up last month and I have been enjoying taking pictures and playing on Instagram again. Here's some of my favorites I've taken recently(and hopefully I'll be able to share more, in the weeks to come, as long as I can keep my phone away from water glasses!)

Photo: Sweet baby

Sweet baby getting ready to go back to bed for the night.

Photo: Staying up past bed time & helping make big sisters cake :)

Anna's birthday was last week(which I'm getting ready to post about), and I decided to let Lily stay up after everyone else had gone to bed and help me make her cake. We had so much fun spending some one on one time together!

For Anna's birthday Erik and I took her to Build a bear. She was SO excited to get Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony.

These three boys bring so much joy to this Mama's heart.

Late night cuddles.

Picnic fun!

Sister love. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Home School Year

Today we officially started our second year of home schooling! It actually went really well, although I didn't even attempt to try and make a schedule for this week. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have a better idea about what will work for us, and then maybe I can make a more specific schedule for school time.

Last year was really busy, and I spent most of it stressed out and just plain overwhelmed. There is a ton of information out there when it comes to homeschooling, and since it was all foreign territory to me I didn't really enjoy my first year of home schooling like I had hoped. I was pretty lost about what I was suppose to be doing.

So after many conversations between Erik and I, and much prayer, we decided that for this year we wouldn't be doing classical conversations. I really love the program, but just felt like we needed a break. Also having two kids in the program as opposed to one, plus paying for childcare really wasn't in our budget, so we are going to just focus on being home.

This year we are using My Fathers World kindergarten for Miss Anna(but we plan on taking it really slow with her, since she just turned 5 a few days ago) And My Father's World first grade for Jack.  I really wanted a curriculum that would tell me what to do every day, and I'm so thankful that's what My Father's World does. I will also be using Story of the World for history a couple times a week mainly for Jack, but I'm hoping to have Anna sit in on it too. In the mornings after breakfast and chores, we will have a circle time where we go over the calendar, ABC's, and  the memory verse we are working on. I will also use this time to read aloud to everyone from the same book. I'm hoping to read some about different missionaries(from this series), some of James Mayhew's books about different artists, and hopefully some chapter books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Charlotte's Web. Everyone seemed to really enjoy circle time last year, so I hope to be able to keep that up this year.

I also plan on having the kids listen to the classical conversations cycle 2 cd at different times during the week(along with Steve Green and songs for saplings!) And I plan on doing different projects that correlate with classical conversations(I LOVE using this blog for ideas!)

I still feel very strongly that kids learn best through playing and reading, so I plan on giving them plenty of time during the day to do both of those things. One of the beauties of home schooling is that formal school can be done in just a few hours.

This year school and our daily schedule will look a little different than it has before, but I'm really looking forward to this new season of life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Smoothie Olympics

Oh yes, we have a smoothie Olympics. What, you've never heard of one before? It's pretty exciting let me tell you!

See after the olympics last year, the kids were all into playing the "Olympo-mics"(as Lily would call them), and I'd randomly see kids in their bathing suits jumping off the couch(the diving board) and into the "water"(the carpet.)

Obviously since they loved the Olympics so much, I had to think of fun ways to incorporate them in our daily lives. So one Sunday when I was frantically hurrying, er,  graciously encouraging my kids to finish their smoothies before Church this idea popped into my head. And without really thinking about it I declared that we were going to have a "smoothie olympics", and that whoever won would later receive a gold medal. I'm really not sure why I do these things to myself, since I'm really not what many would call "creative", and I wouldn't even know where to begin in making a gold medal(but thankfully I'm married to a pretty creative person..)

Anyways, that was just the push they needed, and suddenly everyone was drinking their smoothies as fast as they could. It was such a big success that every time I make smoothies, a smoothie Olympics takes place.

Erik thinks we're giving them permanent brain freeze at the rate they down their drinks. Regardless, I'm happy to have  yet another fun way to get something healthy into their systems!

Monday, August 5, 2013


Yesterday morning I posted this as my facebook status:

And I just caught my 3 year old trying to take a pregnancy test..

Then later that day I posted this picture:

Photo: In honor of national breastfeeding week.. Ahem

In case you can't quite tell what this is a picture of this is Lily "pumping." Ahem.

I had this thought afterwards that it probably doesn't seem like I get too much privacy around here. Which is true, of course, because that's just what comes with the mommy territory.

But there are times where, say, I'm using the bathroom and I have a plethora of children pounding on the door, that I'll say,"You really need to give mommy her privacy right now."

The other day I said this and a little while later Anna brought me one of Luke's pacifiers, and proudly declares,"Here's your privacy, Mama!"(Apparently she thought privacy was the same thing as "paci.")

Hmm, no wonder I can't get any privacy around here. :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some Thoughts..

Photo: Celebrating 2 years of this cutie today:)

I've recently been enjoying some good conversations on parenting  that I don't want to forget. And since I don't want to forget, I'm going to post them on this blog so maybe the rest of you can enjoy some of the points of these discussions. :)

1. Point them to Jesus. All. The. Time. When they are obeying tell them how thankful you are that God is working in them. When they aren't obeying remind them that without Jesus it's absolutely impossible to obey. We all need a Savior. 

2. We shouldn't take it personally when our children don't obey, and if we do then we need to stop, pray, and get our hearts right before we deal with that child.

3. Pray. Pray with your children and pray for your children. Teach them to pray. Teach them that when they are having trouble loving their brother(or sister) that Jesus is always there to help them.

4. Praise them. Encourage them. Even when you're in the middle of correcting a child encourage them. Remind them whose image they were created in and how very loved they are.

Now you can see why I wanted to write these thoughts down and share them with you all. :) I am definitely not perfect in any of these and I mess up all the time. I'm so thankful for the wisdom of others who are willing to encourage me as I try to raise and disciple my children well. 

Be sure to enter my giveaway for a Starbucks Card!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013


My sweet Jack turned six last Thursday.


How on earth is that possible? He really is growing up way too fast.

But despite all that, and despite the fact that it makes me all nostalgic and sentimental that my first baby is growing up too fast, I have to say that I really am so proud of the sweet little man that he is becoming. He has such a big heart and big desire to work hard.

Jack is very sweet. He humbles me sometimes with how gracious he can be towards others that have wronged him(and how quickly he forgives me when I mess up.) He is crazy about all his siblings, but him and Anna are really each others best friends. I suppose that might be one of the fun things about being 12 months apart:). He also really loves Luke, and regularly makes him cards telling him how much he loves him.

He's definitely a bit of a perfectionist which can be challenging sometimes. He wants to do everything right the first time and doesn't always take making mistakes or losing very well. But we try to use those as opportunities to point him to Christ. 

So at six Jack has lost his first tooth, can read beginner books, and can write fairly well. He loves super heroes, knights, and math(can't say I relate to that one!)

Happy Birthday, Jack! We love you and pray everyday you'll grow into a godly man!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birthday Giveaway!

Today is my 28th birthday. Tomorrow Jack(my oldest) turns six.

So because I love birthdays, and because this seems to be a birthday week of sorts around here, I thought I'd share the love and giveaway a ten dollar Starbucks card.

To be entered, just leave a comment, follow or subscribe by email if you don't already, and if you'd like extra entries you can "like" my facebook page.

I'll draw a winner next Wednesday! Good "luck!":)

Congrats to Gina!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


It's been awhile since I last wrote down some of the funny things my kids are saying, so I thought I might need to do that before I forget!

Max is starting to talk up a storm, and with that he is also exerting some of his will now. Fights over toys break out frequently as he learns to communicate with his siblings. But the other day he had done something to Lily and I was telling him he needed to say he was sorry and give her a hug, and he goes,"Sowee, Pop!"(we call her Lily-pop.) And then he says to me,"I DID IT, Mommy!!"


Jack came up to me the other day and says,"Mommy, I think you're a genius!"

And I'm all flattered of course, and say,"Really? Wow, thanks, buddy!"

And you can just see the wheels turning in his little mind, and finally he asks,"Wait, what's a genius?"

"It's someone who's really smart!"

"Oh. Well, actually I don't think you're a genius. But I think you're a really good mommy....and very pretty too." Umm thanks, I think?! :)


While driving to a cookout earlier this month...

"Are you guys excited to go have some yummy food and kool-aid?"

"What's kool- aid, mommy?" Jack asks.

And before I can answer Anna chimes in,"It's like Kombucha, Jack!"


What funny things have your kids been saying lately?

Be sure to enter a giveaway for a Starbucks Card!

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