Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little O!

Today is Owen's third birthday! Unfortunately, he celebrated today by being sick. :( Poor kid! We're hoping he is feeling much better for tomorrow, because we are doing a little birthday celebration for him at dinnertime. Nothing much, but he loves Mickey Mouse right now, so we have a Mickey Mouse cake and balloons, and he will get his presents (play-doh, a cup with his name on it, and Mickey PJs) from us tomorrow, too.

His sweet Grandma Addie (Brad's mom) sent Owen a few gifts in the mail this week (thanks, Addie!), and among them was the book, "Where the Wild Things Are." This is a fabulous book, and we have never owned it! Owen has been dragging it all over the house asking us to read his "wild" book. :) He loves it!

As I snuggled him in tonight, I reminded him that tomorrow was his Mickey Mouse party. His response? "I want Scooby-Doo!" Uhh . . . too late for that, little man! Silly boy!

Owen has been an absolute blessing to our family. He has very high ups and very low downs - nothing in between for this kid! Right now, Owen, you know your alphabet song, how to count to about 20, your colors, a few shapes, a few numbers by sight, and you love to go, go, go!

You love books, but you like to read them on your own (in your own little way!). You don't like to cuddle as much as you used to, but when you do, you are super-snuggly! You like balls - throwing, catching, or kicking. And you're pretty good with them, too. You love trucks and cars, and climbing. You desperately want to do everything your big sister and brother do, and keeping up with them is a full-time job for you!

Happy birthday, O! We love you bunches!!

(Our family three years ago tonight!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Game Time!

This is my favorite time of year! Fall is almost here, school is in full swing, and football is starting!! The Steelers had a great season last year, and we are looking forward to another great year. I especially love that I can share this love with Brad - although he has much more football knowledge than I do! Riley is learning a lot already and asking lots of good questions!

If you missed my post about the Super Bowl win this past winter, you can catch it here!

Here we go, Steelers, here we go . . .!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Set Your Sites on Money!

I enjoy personal finance and finding small ways to cut back on spending. We live on less than we make, and I encourage you to do the same! I did a series called "Saving Smart!" in October that got some great feedback. If you missed it, you can catch all of my money-savings posts from that series here.

For now, I I thought I would share some of my favorite blogs and web sites with money savings tips and investing tips.

Get Rich Slowly (very sound advice, good for those who are past the initial stages of money management)

The Simple Dollar (great blog and Trent is a great guy)

Dave Ramsey (who hasn't heard of Dave Ramsey by now?!?)

Crown Financial (especially their calculators!)

I Will Teach You to Be Rich (bad name, great advice - especially good for the younger crowd)

Do you have a favorite not listed here? And what are your favorite money-themed podcasts? I would love to know what your favorites are - please feel free to share! There are LOTS of great sites out there - these are just a few of my faves!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Credit Report Dot Com . . .

ain't got nothin' on Tim Hawkins! (I apologize now if the jingle gets stuck in your head all day!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Government . . .

Just because I haven't posted anything political in awhile . . .

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian with lots of great videos! You can view them here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Which Book Next?

I have a stack of four books currently sitting in my bedroom waiting for me to devour. :) I have read small parts of each book, just enough to know I want to read them all! I've had some of them for quite some time, too!

I took a break from non-fiction (my fave!) this summer & focused on simple mysteries & thrillers. Deep, I know! But now it's time to get serious again and start reading some better material.

I'd love your vote for which one I should read first. I'll repay you with a review of the book when I've finished it. :) Each book is listed at the top right of my blog along with the author's name. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Here are the contenders:

Bringing Up Boys (you know, 'cause I have two of 'em!)

The Strong Willed Wife (uh, self explanatory if you know me in the least!)

Parenting by The Book (that's God's Book, ya know!)

And last but not least,
Cure for the Common Life ('cause I am working on being content)

Quack, Quack!

We had another good week of school with a fun field trip in the middle of our week! One of the things we most like about homeschooling is the flexibility it gives. We can take field trips almost any time, to nearly anywhere!

This week, we headed to Culver Duck Farm about 90 minutes away. Since this put us in the heart of Amish country, we made a day of it! We stopped at a cheese factory to see how cheese was made (and try many samples!), followed by lunch and shopping at Das Essenhaus (including their famous bakery!).

By far the best part of the day, however, was touring the duck farm. There are only seven duck farms in the U.S., and Culver is the second largest. We learned about how they receive their eggs, clean them, incubate them, hatch the ducks, and then raise them for their meat. Somehow our tour ended at the part just before they use them for their meat! :)

The eggs that are orange (under bright light) are eggs that for whatever reason, the embryo never developed.

The eggs stay in the incubator for 25 days . . .

After hatching . . . (everyone say "awwwww!")

We were able to hold ducks that had just hatched that day, too! The kids all got to hold one, and the ducks were so soft and warm. Enjoy the pictures from our tour!

And finally, they grow into these after just 5 weeks or so! Do you know how to tell the males and females apart? Females actually "quack," while the males do not! Who knew??

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Blog . . .

Create your own here!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Look Back . . .

(ADDRESS CORRECTED--SORRY!!) I started blogging several years ago at this site: Feel free to take a look around there if you haven't seen my old blog. There are also some cute (I'm totally biased) pictures of our kids there! :) I've completely moved over to this blog now, though, and I plan to be here for awhile!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prayer Warrior

We're blessed to have a sweet prayer warrior in our home! Quinn is always the first to want to pray at mealtime, or pray for others in times of need. At bedtime on Monday night (with a pretty decent thunderstorm rolling through), he told me he sure was glad that God gave us shelter and mentioned that he wanted to pray right then. He immediately thanked God for 'shelter,' and went on to ask God to protect him during the storm. I am so thankful for Quinn's big heart and for his big heart for others, as well! :) He's an awesome kid!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

School's Started!

We just started school and already I think we are all wiped out! We started all of our subjects at once (instead of easing into a few at a time like some homeschoolers do) and that, combined with all of us getting up earlier and back into a routine, has us wiped out! But in a good way!! :) I'm amazed at the kids' printing/cursive this school year - we didn't do any writing throughout the summer and yet somehow, they have both gotten markedly better!

The workboxes are working out great; they take about 20 minutes for me to prep at night (total for two kids) but have been soooo worth it during school time! The kids can easily tell what all is finished and what is left to do. They can also easily move onto another box if they see I am working with their sibling at the time.

We also started a new curriculum this year called "Sonlight." It is heavy on reading and read-alouds - which would be great if I hadn't lost (most of) my voice this week! Ugh! I've had a sore throat for about 5 days and now am losing my voice . . . which my kids seem to love! :) Thankfully, Brad has been helping with some of the reading for the first few days!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jesus Loves Me

Good Sunday mornin'! In case you can't make it to church this morning, here's Owen (2 years old) singing "Jesus Loves Me!" The last little giggle at the end is the best! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Workbox System for School . . .

I think we are all ready to start school! It's been a whirlwind week of last-minute preparations for me, and I am still waiting for a few books I purchased at the last minute, but I think we are all set! The kids are ready to get back to school, too. Well, Riley is and Owen wants to 'do school,' but I think Quinn could care less! I am looking forward to using Sonlight curriculum this year for the first time, as well.

One of the things we implemented at the last minute are workboxes. I have been thinking about using these for awhile, but with trying to sell our house, I didn't know if I wanted any more large things taking up room in our school room. Brad encouraged me and said he thought it was fine to go ahead and use them, so we are! (Thanks, babe!) You can read a lot more about using workboxes for homeschooling here, or simply by googling "homeschool workboxes." I learned a lot about them just by reading other homeschoolers' blogs and viewing their photos. I especially liked Heather's boxes, so I copied her great look for ours! :) (Thanks, Heather!)

We are using these this year for several reasons: to help encourage independence for Riley & Quinn's work, to help them 'see' what they have done & what's left to be done, and to help keep them motivated! Here are our boxes before I filled them for the first day.

(You can always click on any of my photos to make them larger.)

Riley's are green and Quinn's are blue. Owen has a small separate set on the right that are red so he can play along. :) The basic premise is that all of their work for the day is in the boxes. So, box #1 might contain Bible, followed my math flashcards in #2, reading assignment in #3, and so on. Everything needed for each activity should be right in the box (pencils, paper, books, etc.). As they complete the activity in the box, they move the number to their check-in sheet which looks like this:

Each number is backed with velcro and can stick on the boxes to start with, and then adhere to the check-in sheet as they go along. When all of the boxes are complete, they are done for the day! I included things in my kids' boxes (along with their regular lessons) like: work with Owen on his colors for 10 minutes, practice your piano lesson, have a snack, read a book to mommy, etc. My hope is that these workboxes will really help us get to the fun extras we never seem to have time for, as well (like logic puzzles, art projects, playing a game, etc.).

And honestly, I think the system is originally set up to be a lot more rigid than what I have. I am just using the basics. I haven't read the workboxes book from Sue Patrick, so I'm just using what I've gathered from other homeschoolers for now. We are using it primarily to make sure we don't miss anything and to keep the kids motivated about "what comes next." Last but not least, here is a photo of the boxes filled (mostly, not done yet!) and ready for the first day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to Bloggin'!

I'm trying to get back to blogging, especially as the school year is quickly approaching! We have had a very full and fabulous summer! This picture was taken on just one of our many bike rides this summer; it's been so nice to all ride together! We've biked some of the River Greenway, and throughout lots of nearby neighborhoods with the kids!

We are starting school on August 17th this year, and I still have a lot to do to get ready. We are looking forward to trying a new curriculum this year, as well as some new activities. But it also means a lot of prep work ahead of time! We also just listed our home for sale a few weeks ago (anyone want to buy it??), so life is hectic!

Hectic, but good. We are so blessed with where we are in life right now, and especially with our good health and jobs in a time when so many people are struggling. We are in the middle of a great series at church right now called "Stories of the Kingdom." We have had a lot of good teachings lately, but one of the best was by Suze Fair, our communications director at church. She is a very enthusiastic teacher and her lesson was very encouraging and motivating! You can hear the full lesson here if you are interested!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Riley! Today is our precious daughter, Riley's 9th birthday! We had a great day celebrating with donuts for breakfast (complete with nine candles in one donut!) and opening presents, followed by church, lunch with family, more presents and time with family, dinner at Pizza King (Riley's choice!), and lots of games with mom and dad!

Nine things Riley loves at age nine: playing with her brothers, spending time with her friends, playing the piano, reading chapter books, cooking/helping mommy cook, playing cards, making art projects (jewelry, paper crafts, etc.), shopping with her mom, and hanging out with her extended family!

The past nine years have flown by, and I can't believe she has already been in our lives for so long. In some ways, it seems like she was just born, and in others, it seems like I've known her MY whole life! Riley, your daddy and I are truly blessed to have you as our daughter! You are a joy to have in our lives and such a blessing to our family. We love you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day!

I am so blessed to have two great fathers in my life . . . my own dad--and Brad, the father of my children. Both are excellent examples of Godly men and men who love their children well. I love you both bunches & bunches! Thanks for all you do for me and for our kids. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider . . .

So I have a completely irrational (or so I'm told) fear of ANTS and going to the dentist. (Which, by the way, I have to do tomorrow . . . ugh!!!) But let it be known that spiders do NOT bother me!

Case in point:

(This is the point where you should look away if you suffer from arachnophobia!! You've been warned!)

Look! They really are as big as your palm! :)

Yes, that is really MY arm and a real, live tarantula. It started in my palm and then started crawling up my arm!! I had the privilege of holding one last week when we went to a presentation by Mark's Ark. Mark takes his small-ish animals around to libraries, birthday parties, schools, etc. so that kids (and parents) can learn about animals. Quinn also held an alligator! Mark also brought doves, frogs, rats, snakes, and more to the library program.

Not only did I get to hold a tarantula, but I also had my hair brushed by a hedgehog. :) Ahhh . . . the things we do for our kids! None of our kids volunteered to hold the animals or have their hair brushed by a hedgehog, so I volunteered! The tarantula was actually kind of cool, except that his (her?) hairs were very bristle-y. Not at all what I expected (but really, who has many expectations when holding a tarantula??).

Lest you think my ANT phobia is overrated (and it's not a fear of them in public, just in my house-ick!), tarantulas FEAR ants. Tarantulas don't even like to eat ants. If a tarantula's burrow is invaded by ants, the tarantula will leave! So see, my ant phobia isn't so overrated after all! :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

School's Out!

Friday was our last day of the school year--yay!! We finished our schoolwork in the morning, and told the kids we would take them out in the evening to celebrate!

We started with a round of miniature golf at Putt-Putt . . . lots of fun! Quinn has been taking golf lessons for the past month or so, and you can really tell. He even got two holes-in-one! :) Next, we headed to Build-A-Bear to let the kids make new stuffed animals. Riley has a new dog (Lulu), Quinn chose a different dog (Coco), and Owen made a frog (Zippy). They could have stayed in
the store for hours(!), but we finally pried them away to enjoy pizza at Pizza King!

We're proud of how hard they have worked this year and how much they have learned. They both finished another year of school work and are moving up to the next grade (their sweet teacher didn't hold them back!). :)

Saturday morning the kids enjoyed dressing their Build-A-Bear animals and putting them all on display! So here they are--from left to right: Lulu, Smiley, Lovey, Zippy, Aaliyah, Coco, Brownie, Rufus, Molly, Spikey, Thomas, and Adam. And if you've ever been to Build-A-Bear, you know that there is a little "name" book the kids can look through to choose names. That, and Riley being impatient, is how she ended up naming her bunny "Aaliyah!" It was right smack-dab at the beginning of the book! :) And you can't tell in this picture, but Lulu is wearing a great Steelers cheerleading outfit! Spikey came from the Build-A-Dino store at Disney World . . . lots of fun!

But I have to say that this one (Molly!) is my personal fave because it is the first one Riley made . . . isn't she cute???

Saturday, June 6, 2009

African Journey!

The zoo in our city is fantastic! If you are ever in Fort Wayne, you definitely don't want to miss it! Most of it is arranged by country/continent--there is the Indonesian Rain Forest, the Australian Adventure, and now the African Journey! The African Journey opened today to the general public, but we were fortunate enjoy to enjoy a "sneak peek" on Wednesday evening!

This exhibit has been a few years in the making, and cost over $9 million dollars to create. It was well worth the wait! The zoo used to have an African area prior to this exhibit, but nothing like what there is now!! The exhibit boasts lions, zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, servals, and more. (I just wish there were African elephants, too!)

We went to the sneak peek reception as guests of my parents, who donated to the exhibit. I'm not sure, but I think they have contributed to all of the new exhibits that have been built over the past 20+ years! They are very generous, and the giving to the zoo is certainly an excellent way to give back to the community!

We enjoyed this special time at the zoo as it was not open to the public, so we had lots of space and time to roam through "Africa." We also enjoyed the free drinks and hors d'oeuvres! The kids were also able to ride the "Sky Safari" for free and make cool African bead necklaces. It was fun to spend the time with my parents and all enjoy it together.

One of the neat things about the new exhibit is that you can hand-feed the giraffes! They seemed to be very hungry for lettuce when we were there! I need to add the video of our kids feeding the giraffe--it has a LONG tongue!

All in all, it was a great evening at the zoo and we are looking forward to many return trips to the new African Journey!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Today . . .

Owen was being difficult today. Eh--what's new?? He's absolutely adorable, and absolutely challenging! As I picked him up this morning (after he finishing throwing a fit), I exasperatingly said "Owen, you are a really difficult child!" He looked at me and very slowly and clearly said:

"Mommy, you are really a spider."

I kid you not! I burst out laughing and from that moment on, we had a much better day! And I'm not sure why he thinks I'm a spider? I don't have eight legs and I don't think I'm that hairy! :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Room!

Our boys have a completely new room! Gone are the crib, changing table, and dresser . . . and now it looks like their "big boy" room! One of the best things about moving old things out and rearranging is that you can now see their gorgeous wall mural much better. We put this up in 2006 but you coudn't see it as well because there was a bed in the way. Now you can see all of the animals, which is good because I think my boys belong in a zoo! :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to two great loves in my life--my mom (today!) and my husband (tomorrow!). I won't disclose their ages, but suffice it to say, they are both older than me. :)

I love you both bunches! I hope you both enjoy your special day this weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Bunks!

Our boys received new bunk beds today and they are too fun (the beds and the boys!). Other than making the beds--which isn't the easiest thing--we love the new beds! It's just one more thing that reminds us that our babies are growing up. We took apart our crib and got rid of our changing table. It is finally looking like a boys room and not a baby room . . . it's a fun change! Once we have everything else moved back in the room, I will post pictures of the complete room.

We ordered the beds from my uncle who owns a furniture store in Ohio and gave us a good discount (thanks, Lynn!), and my parents also gave us some really nice furniture (desk, chair, two dressers) that complete the room (thanks, mom & dad!). It's coming together, and the boys were so excited to go to bed tonight--let's hope that keeps up! :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

God of This City

Have you seen this yet?? Do you watch American Idol? How AWESOME it would have been to have heard this beautiful song on the AI stage, sung by a Christian! I have absolutely loved this song since I first heard it at our church awhile ago. I have it on my iPod and listen to it often . . . very powerful! If you haven't yet seen this video, or aren't familiar with Kris Allen--the recent winner of American Idol--I hope you will watch it. I think you will enjoy it!

Hands-On Science!

We recently started a new science curriculum called "God's Design for . . ." by Answers in Genesis (yes, at nearly the end of the school year!). We are studying the human body and so far, the kids are really enjoying it & learning a lot! Some recent highlights include: writing the names of the bones on Riley, walking on our hands, checking the speed of our reflexes, and trying to write our names on paper with our toes!

School is winding down (today was scheduled to be our last day but we took too many days off during the year) and everyone has been ornery--the teacher included! It makes our days a bit sillier, but the kids are still learning--and that's all I ask!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


You've made it! Welcome to my new blog and new look! I would love to know what you think of it! I moved to Blogger for many reasons, and decided a new look was in order, too. :) Here you will find my thoughts: everything from politics to parenting, homeschooling to football. I plan to blog more regularly and am working on a more regular blog schedule. Please be sure to visit often! For now, feel free to browse around, check out my links, or visit some of my favorite blogs!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Help Protect Kids!

Pardon the interruption while I delve into a not-so-happy topic! I was headed to Target this week (a frequent occurrence!) when I nearly burst into tears in my minivan. I was listening to the radio when a commercial came on that I will likely not forget. It was from an organization called "American Humane Association" and was a very realistic and emotional commercial about child abuse. The basic premise (complete with hearing a parent yell and hit and then hearing a child cry) was "What would you do if you saw or heard a child being abused?"

This is unfortunately the reality that many kids face. I love kids so, so much and cannot imagine abusing a child or even seeing a child endure this! It breaks my heart to even know it occurs in some families. I hope that I would immediately step in and say something, and yet, what do you say? How do you handle this situation? I have never been in this situation--and hope never to be--but the website from American Humane Association addresses this very thing. They have tips on what to say and how to handle this very situation. My hope and prayer is that we never encounter this--but if we do, here are some ideas on how to intervene.

Step in and be an advocate for kids! Love 'em and protect them!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Told Ya...

Told ya she was beautiful! I'm completely biased, I know. :) My computer is *still* not fixed (my slaptop screen is broken and it was too expensive to fix it, so I am once again hooked up to an external monitor --ugh!), but since I have it back, here are some photos of our pretty girl! Love ya, sweetie!!

IMG_6180 Getting her face painted at EPCOT, and helping make homemade strawberry jam last summer. She's sweeter than the strawberries were. :)