Monthly Archives: June 2014

Good stuff happens when I stay home from church.


My friend Jana finally put a label on something for me.

Us mamas, we all know we should just be more with our kids.  Listen to them, speak their love language, take the time to figure out what their love language is.  Stop being so busy.

Jana and my mother-in-law were talking about how it’s easy to be a Martha mom, when what the kids want is a Mary mom.

You know, like Martha and Mary in the Bible?  Martha was busy.  Always busy.  Doing things that were important, yes, that were valid, yes.

But Mary did the needful thing.  She sat at the feet of Jesus.  She chose it.  It was a conscious decision.  The calming down, the stepping away from the frantic pace of cleaning and cooking for guests.  She knew it was more important to just be with her Jesus.  The Bible never says Mary wasn’t aware of the needs — just that she chose the sitting.

Mamas have to cook and clean.  We know that.  The kids know that.  I mean really, skip one hour of food, and kids start begging for mama to whip up a meal quick!  Starvation is at hand!

But too much happens easy.

Caring for our home is good, but being consumed and worried about it is not good.

“You are worried and upset about many things…”

Dirt doesn’t always have to be swept away.  Besides the fact that science has proved that some dirt is healthy for our immune systems, may I suggest that it might also be crucial to our children’s hearts?

I could literally spend all. Day. Cleaning.

I’ve done it before.  The kids are starving for attention by the end of the day.  For some slow down mama time.  They love it when I sit on the floor and help stuff Barbie in a dress.  They want me to walk down the dirt road and watch them fly down the hill on their bike, and see the bunk bed addition they’ve put in the fort.  They want me to pick peas and blueberries with them, and talk about the birds and the bugs.

Will the piles of dishes kill us?  In some bizarre, freak accident, it’s possible.  Probable?  No.

This past Sunday I stayed home from church because my husband wanted me to rest.  He left my oldest son with me, to help take care of the baby.  I never really got the “me time” I was anticipating!  Cory took Mercy out to the sandbox.  She got sand in her eyes, so I carried her into the tub.  Sand trailed behind us.  I got out the broom, and realized the entire house needed to be swept.  The dirty laundry needed to be off the floor in order for me to sweep, so I started a load.

I got the baby to sleep.

Meanwhile, Cory was waiting for the baby to sleep so he could have some special mama time.  He wanted me to come sit on the dirt pile to watch him make a fire and cook hot dogs.

I kept telling him, “Give me 5 more minutes!”

He kept coming back, and I kept telling him,”Wait.”

A four-letter word for kids.

He’s a patient, sweet child, and I’ve taken advantage of it.  When Cory was little-little, he always wanted me to come outside and push him on the swing.  I always told him “wait.”  Now he’s eight, and he doesn’t need me to push him on the swing.  I missed it.  It still tears me up inside; but at least that lesson burned into my heart, and I try to drop what I’m doing if a kid asks me to push them on the swing.

So on Sunday, I knew better.  I knew that day was important, a future memory.  I wanted Cory to remember “The day Mommy stayed home from church and sat on the dirt pile with me.”  It’s the moments that make memories.  How we live our moments is how we live our days, and how we live our days is how we live our lives.

No, that quote isn’t mine — but I love it!  Time with my children will be gone before I know it.  I want my kids to remember a present, intentional, involved-in-their-lives mama.  Not a mama who was always too busy.

The house wasn’t perfect when Derek and the kids got home from church. but I did get the one, needful thing done.  I sat in the dirt and swapped stories with my son.  We made fire.

Thank you, Jana, for putting the chant in my head.  I don’t even try.  It’s just there — “Be a Mary mom!”






Railroad ties. Add sand, kids will come!


Apparently, we now live in a beach house.  Not really, but apparently sand boxes can create a very realistic simulation.

(Apparently, my kids have been using that word too much.  Mom’s started copying.)

I’ve always wanted a sand box for the kids.  Whenever we visit somebody that has a sandbox, Megan especially will sit for hours and just dig in the sand.

Derek finally agreed to build one!  And when he builds something, he BUILDS something.  If you get my drift.  But here — pictures are worth a thousand words:

First, he made a box from a bundle of railroad ties.

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Next he added 4 tons of sands:

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He finished it by tractor light, and Mercy was the first child to set foot in the sand.  She promptly scooped up and ate fistfuls of sand.  I’m not exactly sure what deficiency that suggests.

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(Yes, I realize there is a tree buried in sand in this picture.  My husband boxed it in, after his mom told him it wouldn’t hurt the tree.  Somebody else told us that the tree would die because the roots couldn’t get oxygen.  An actual tree expert told us that the problem would be rot around the trunk that the sand would create.  Rot would bring bugs, and bugs would kill the tree.

So.  Derek cut out the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and put it around the tree.  Sand not-so-mysteriously keeps finding its way to the bottom of the bucket, so we’ll have to keep scooping it out, but maybe the tree will survive.  If not, it was a filler tree anyway!  I have a Sugar Maple growing 5 feet away from it, and the Redbud is getting very close to interference.)

The kids LOVE the sandbox!  The morning after it was finished, Cameron was up and outside before I was even awake, and had dug all the way to the bottom of the sandbox.  I love that all 6 of my kids can sit and play together!  We’ve even had cousins in there too.  The kids have played in the sandbox every day since Daddy built it.  Tons of fun.  Quite literally. =)

Yes, I do have the kids rinse off and brush down before they come inside my house, but you’ve been to the beach, right?  Sand wins.  Every time.

So I’ll just keep sweeping sand into piles and wishing I had some saltwater and dolphins to go with it!

School’s out!



(That was me, not the kids, practicing my Mel Gibson voice.)  Today was our last day of school.  This mom/teacher is just as excited as the kids!

Time to be ridiculously lazy.

Just now I handed the kids a whole carton of ice cream, a spoon per kid, and told them to go eat it in their pricker fort.  They think I’m a cool mom, which I am, but I also knew it would buy me 45 minutes of alone time.

I gave them the cheap, artificially flavored raspberry stuff, and pulled out the creamy chocolate ice cream bars after the kids disappeared over the hill.  I ate two.  I also ate two last night, after everyone was in bed.  I need to stop going grocery shopping!  My husband does a better job of sticking to “milk, bread, and apples.”

Is it crazy that I already have most of my curriculum purchased for next year?  As hard as home schooling is, I enjoy it.  I love spending time with my kids, and I love it when nice teacher shows up and makes my kids fall in love with her.  I love watching my kids discover life,  and I love learning with them!

(I also love brainwashing them.  I won’t deny it!  Hey, if I’m going to make hundreds of PB&J sandwiches in my lifetime, I deserve a small power trip, right?)

Here are some of the books we studied this year:

The Story of the World: The Middle Ages

Sitting down to read our history is probably my favorite time of day!  This is our second year using SOTW, and I’m a happy customer!  We also ordered the activity book and tests to go along with the textbook.  The activity book has a lot of maps (which look awesome in Kirstyn’s portfolio), coloring pages, crafts, recipes, and extra reading to go along with each chapter.  It’s awesome.  I love that it’s a history book for multiple ages.  For my younger kids, I have them sit and color while they listen to the story.  My older kids can do extra reading, writing, and projects related to the chapter.  I’ve already ordered our Story of the World books for next year!

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy

I. Love. Apologia science!  This is our second year using Apologia.  I splurged and bought the note booking journal for Kirstyn, instead of trying to come up with assignments on my own.  Worth every penny, in my opinion!  Next year Cory and Cameron will be journaling too, in junior notebooks.

Wordly Wise

I love words.  I love language.  I love writing.  This is an example of where I am going to brainwash my kids and teach them to love it too!

Spelling Skills

My daughter has atrocious spelling.  She comes by this honestly.  (You don’t need to be a good speller to write!)  I bought this cheap book hoping to improve her skills, and was pleasantly surprised!  Not by improved spelling necessarily, because that is still questionable, but this book was fun!  It was the first book Kirstyn worked in every morning, and she quickly finished the entire book.  I don’t know what other moms do, but if my kids get their math done, I let them double up on stuff that interests them.  We’re promoting the LOVE of learning here, not learning itself.  It works for us!

Explode the Code

I use these books — there are several in the series — for two of my kids, and they never get boring.  Well, let’s be reasonable.  My kids would prefer not to do any school, but if they must… they enjoy working through these books!  I love that there’s reading, writing, and spelling all in one workbook.  Killing three birds with one stone is very convenient while home schooling.

We also used Easy Grammar, Saxon Math, A Reason for Handwriting, Sylvan and Brainquest workbooks for the younger kids, and various odds and ends.  And we read LOTS of books!  I hope my kids grow up and surround themselves with books, reminiscent of their childhood.  Books and trees and animals!

Coffee’s a given.  They already beg for it every morning.


*contains afilliate links

The best donuts happen at night!


Of course we would pick National Donut Day to go to Krumpe’s.  Derek was practicing his fun-dad-creating-memories routine.  He told the kids to get their jammies on, and then loaded them up in the car.

Oh, summer nights! We rode into town at dusk, with windows down and warm wind making the back seat kids shriek that they were cold.  As if!  They just don’t like wind in their face, silly kids.

Krumpe’s was PACKED!  I wish I’d thought to get a picture.  Krumpe’s is this hole-in-the-wall local joint, in a back alley, and it opens for business at 7:00pm.  They close up shop in the wee hours of morning, so they can deliver donuts to all the local stores that carry Krumpe’s.

We got there around 8:30pm, and cars and people were lined up all over the place.  Derek dropped me off instead of trying to fit the Suburban down a packed alley.  I found the back of the line, and mentioned to someone that I’d never seen Krumpe’s this crowded, and was it just a Friday night thing?  I assumed the lady I was addressing was a local gal.  (You can just spot them somehow, you know?)

She shook her head.  “It’s National Donut Day!”

Ohhhh!  I forgot about Facebook.  All day, people had been posting about free donuts at Krispy Kreme, and I was lamenting that fact that we don’t have one close to us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love packed out places — like sold-out out movie theaters!  It heightens the experience for me.  Community, and all that.  I love Christmas shopping at the mall!  My husband is the opposite.  He hates lines, and restaurants full of people.  (I love waiting for 30 minutes at Olive Garden, so I can people watch, and chat with my date for that much longer!)  He’d rather sit in the middle of an empty movie theater.

I chatted with the people around me in line, and soaked in the warm summer darkness.  I probably stood in line for 30 minutes.  People took turns holding the shop door open, passing it on to the next person when it was their turn to order donuts.  Maybe some people like holding doors, but I couldn’t take it any longer!  I walked over to a planter full of dirt and flowers, picked it up, and walked over to the elderly gentleman currently holding the door.

“Here.  Let me put this down right there.”

Startled smile.  “Oh!  Thank you!  You should work here!”

I wanted to raise my hand and be like, “HOME SCHOOLER!”

I ordered 3 dozen donuts, and by the time I found Derek parked out on the street, he’d killed his phone playing Free Fall, and some of the kids were asleep.

We pigged out on donuts on the drive home, and tucked our sticky, sleeping children in bed with un-brushed teeth.

Mmm… sweet memories!

The things you learn sitting outside at a picnic table


“She’s mine,” Megan said, about her big sister.

Her words warmed my heart, and I don’t know why it surprised me.

We were at church, and Megan was sitting next to me on a bench, outside in the sunshine.  Another girl came and sat down next to Megan, and asked how old she was.

“I’m five.” Megan said.

“I’m nine!” said the girl.  (Guys.  I’m horrible with names as it is, and our church has 100 kids.  NOT exaggerating!)

“Oh!  Kirstyn’s nine too!”

“I think I’ve seen Kirstyn…”

“I know.  She’s mine.” 

Megan spoke with a smile, and what seemed to me like pride.

My heart flipped.

I heard love, and bff inklings, and one of the reasons I have so many kids!  I loved it — loved growing up with five siblings, and I wanted the same childhood pals for my kids.  I always knew I’d have at least 6 kids, just like my mom.  (I joke now that I’m having a midlife crisis, having met my goals to be a SAHM to 6 kids so early on in life!)

Of course my childhood also had battles.  I won’t say which firstborn daughter (*cough* *cough*) was bossy and possessive and started stupid territorial wars.  I also butted heads with my parents — who would’ve thunk?  But I always, always knew I belonged.  I knew deep down that if for some reason I got pregnant out of wedlock, my dad wouldn’t kick me out, and my family would help me raise the baby.  (Yes.  As a teenager, I did think through this hypothetical scenario.)

“Family is where your story begins,” you know?  Mine was a good story.  IS a good story!  My sisters and I are still best friends.

When I hear about my sisters’ (or my brothers) newest parenting notch-in-the-belt, job, sports achievement, awesome dish, or really just anything they did, I’m like, “I know.  They’re mine.”

I love that this imperfect, fierce love is just a darkly colored image of what our Father says of us:

“She’s Mine.  I know her, that girl.  I made her and I see her and I will never, ever leave her or forsake her.”

I belong.  I have what every heart craves!  Acceptance. Love.  Loyalty.

Megan’s words reminded me.  They encouraged this often-weary mama heart that worries if the kids will be OK; and they reminded me that not only will my children belong to each other for life, they will belong to God for eternity.