Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Weekend!!

My mom and dad and Briana just left headed home.  She's going to barely get there in time to get ready for a 2 hour ballet/pointe class tonight.  She ought to sleep well tonight!
We had a great weekend celebrating.  They got here about 5:00 Sat. (Ashley's birthday).  We hung out for a short while, opened gifts, then went to Bellacino's/ZMex for supper. 
Okay~ for some reason sometimes this picture is right side up and sometimes it's flipped sideways, but either way you get the idea!

On Sunday morning, Daniella was baptized!  She has been so thrilled looking forward to it.  This is Brother Jeff, our pastor, whom she just loves.  Every Sunday she runs up to him, tells him she loves him, and gives him a big hug.  In the baptismal, he even told the congregation that she was very special to him.  He has always taken to the girls, because he did lots of mission work, and lived for a while, in Guatemala. 

Ashley and Briana had to be at church early to practice for a praise dance.  This is a dance that Briana has been in before, so she was able to just practice at "home", then practice with them Sunday morning before they shared it during church.  This was the first time my mom had ever seen their praise dance in person, plus she got to see Daniella baptized. 

After church we came home, ate lunch, then packed up.  Ashley wanted to go to the river for a cookout for her birthday celebration, so we drove about 35 min. to Metcalf Bottoms in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The weather was perfect and we had lots of fun. 
Read a good book sitting next to the river (A couple of people even took a snooze sitting there!)

Playing Apples to Apples
Acted silly
Did the Tango~or otherwise......acted silly
 Enjoyed Family

Marissa and Daniella had a great time riding bikes around the picnic area, especially since we have little room for them to ride here.  The pictures of Daniella came out too dark.  : (
There was also some kick ball, badminton without a net, games of Uno, exploring the wooded areas looking at spiders, berries, flowers, bugs, etc., and a walk.  We stayed until dark, then stopped for ice cream on the way home.  : )
This morning we played Apples to Apples again, and then after lunch all 8 of us~My mom and dad and our whole family~ played a comical, sometimes fiesty game of Country J.  It was interesting in our backyard (long and narrow) with 6 people in the "outfield".  There was some tackling, tickling, chasing, and lots of laughing. 
Then the sad part of saying goodbye.  The good thing is that we will be headed over to spend 3 nights with them at the end of this week for Briana's birthday. 
Now it's time for mom's nap! 

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Ashley is 22 !!!
We're throwing her a blog party! 


If I could give Ashley her earthly heart's desires, I would wrap up~
A trip to Israel
A trip to Kenya
A horse
A monkey
Her friend Sweet Ruth, who now lives in Guatemala
Ashley is a joy and a light.  A Godly young woman, seeking to serve and love others in Christ's name.  Join me in wishing Ashley a very happy 22nd birthday!!  She's anxiously looking forward to her sister coming home late this afternoon to celebrate with her.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

God Gave Me a Dolphin

Back when we were at the beach in August, we were sitting out on the balcony one morning eating breakfast.  The waves were non-existent.  We began to see dolphin surfacing everywhere.  There were at least 12-15 of them swimming around for hours.   I made the statement that when you go to marine shows, they always say that the jumps that the dolphins perform are natural behaviors, yet I've never seen them do anything like that in the wild.  I've been to the beach many, many times, and seen lots of dolphin. 
 Late in the morning, while James took Marissa to pick up her airbrush shirt, Daniella and I went to sit out on the beach.   As we sat near the water's edge, this is what we were treated to.

Two of them playing
I was so excited to say the least.  I was like a little child, "Did you see that?!!!!"  I was squealing.  I wanted to run to the condo to tell Ashley and Briana, but didn't want to miss another jump.  After just a minute, they had spotted them, too, though, and came out to the deck to watch.   I just can't even describe to you how excited I was.  LOL. 
The next day, I was having kind of a hard morning.  One of my sweet little precious gifts had a very not sweet, bad attitude for 2 days.  I was feeling frustrated, and went out to sit on the beach alone for a short time.   As I sat there, I watched a tremendous school of fish right at the shore, jumping everywhere.  We had been watching them all morning, and it was an incredible sight.  As they jumped, the seagulls were having a feast.  As I sat there watching, I wondered why those fish didn't have an instinct to quit jumping.  Why didn't they swim deeper?  God gave animals instincts to protect themselves.  What happened to these fish?  Very clearly and gently, God spoke to me.  "This is the way I feed the birds."  Such peace washed over me.  And, then, just as gently, just as clearly, He said, "And, I gave you the dolphins playing to show you how much I love you."
Again, I can't describe it to you.  But, this time it was such love and peace.  It was a hug from the Lord like I had never experienced before.  It was a precious time.  I sat in the sand and tears rolled down my face, as I felt a tremendous love.  He knows our needs, He cares about our struggles, and He wants us to know how very much He loves us. 

Monday, September 15, 2008


A few weeks ago, Wonderworks allowed homeschoolers to come in free up to 4 people in a group.  While they were generous to extend it to us, they don't know the size of many homeschool families (or don't care).  The girls had a good afternoon.
find one little purple bead in the midst of 6 jillion red ones~right.

Inside a spacecraft

Virtual air hockey

Senses your motion and makes the motion show up in color on the screen; you can see Marissa's outline in several different colors in the center of the screen.

Stomp on the floor to change the patterns


And, rock climbing


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun Stuff and Snakes

I've neglected to post some things from friends for a while.  I'm really bad about remembering to come back and do these. 
Jennifer at ZephaniahWay  honored me with the Arte y Pico award. Its creator says this award is “dedicated to many who nourish and enrich the spirit and creativity.”  How wonderful to be seen that way by someone.  Thank you.

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you copnsider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contrubuites to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog thathas given her or him the ward itself.
4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "
Arte y pico"blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) To show these rules.

My daughter, Ashley, also gave me this award~

I am so thankful for my daughter's friendship and the Godly young woman and nurturer she is. 
Lori tagged me forever ago to list 3 of my favorite things. 
1.  Snuggling with my girls, and having really good talks and giggles with them.
2.  Going on get-aways with my husband.
3.  Quiet time with the Lord, and time alone in the house to recharge.
Marissa and Daniella started their horseback riding lessons Friday and had a blast.  Marissa got in the car, and in a voice that sounded almost like she might blow up : ) , said, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" 
Saturday we drove to my parents' house to pick up Ashley, and we got to visit with them and Briana for several hours. 
Does anyone have any idea what kind of snake this is?
This is closer of the pattern
It gives me a sick feeling just seeing the photo of it!!  Ugh.  He was in our backyard a few weeks ago.  When we first moved here, all we ever saw were black snakes.  Then for many years, since we've had cats, it's been a rare occasion to see one.  Now we've seen two weird ones in the last month.  One was today, but it got away when the girls came running in shrieking. 
Please pray for the toddler son of my friend Denise.  He was admitted into the hospital with his asthma, but had not been responding well to treatments. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The 3rd Worst Thing About Your Child Leaving Home! : )

It's bound to be 3rd, or at least at the top~  You have to do their chores!!  Man.  There are a couple that I have been able to divide up between Marissa and Daniella, but they already had their own list and some they can't quite manage yet.  And, don't fool yourself into thinking that there will be less mess, so it's not as much work.  Nope.  One almost 19 year old girl does not create that much mess~just a few slightly smaller loads of laundry and dishes.  However, before, SHE unloaded the dishwasher twice a day, and she helped with laundry.  There is still just as much dust and just as much trash and dog hair on the floor to be swept/vaccuumed, almost as many socks to sort..... 
I divided up most of the dishwasher unloading between the 2 "little ones".  Some of the casserole dishes and heavy bowls, etc they can't get put up yet, so that's my job.   Daniella took over sweeping the foyer, Marissa will sweep their bathroom (once they have one again), and they are taking turns bringing the dirty laundry down to the laundry room.  Ashley will be left with cleaning the rest of their bathroom for now. 
Speaking of which, she went "home" with Briana Monday morning to stay for a week, so now I"m doing HER chores this week, too.  I think it's a conspiracy. 
Tuesday night I got to go out to eat with 2 homeschooling moms from my church.  One has been homeschooling a long time, and one is new this year.  I'm just getting to know both of them.  The one new this year is actually a public school teacher.  Still.  She had planned to quit this year, but some health issues made them still need the insurance.   He's self employed and doesn't have insurance.  So, she leaves the boys (ages 15 and 13) with their work to do.  I think Dad checks on them during the day.  Whatever they need help with, she works on with them in the evenings and on Saturdays.  Anyway, we had a great evening, and it was nice to get out.  Due to some conflicts, I do not go to our monthly Mom's Night Out that our homeschool group has.  It's been a while since I've had much consistant fellowship, so I'm looking forward to meeting with these ladies once a month.  We're discussing doing a Bible study, too, and asking 2 other young moms in our church with preschoolers who are considering homeschooling.  I'm pretty lonely for friendships right now, so I'm praying the Lord will work in this.  The ladies that were my closest friends are no longer homeschooling, and I rarely get to see them anymore. 
After not having my younger girls particpate in outside the home activities much, this year is quite busy.  Marissa has taken ballet and tumbling in past years, but nothing for the last few.  The only thing they have been involved in on a weekly basis is Awanas.  In the spring and fall they play baseball every other week with our homeschool group.  This year, however, in addition to those, Daniella is thrilled to be taking ballet on Tuesday nights (a 35 min. drive each way).  We are going to find out if the tumbling classes on Tues. nights are Marissa's level, and if so, she will take that.  And, on Friday evenings through Nov., they are each taking horseback riding lessons.  They are so excited.  Actually, Ashley is taking them, too.  I am so thrilled to have found someone close by~ as in this is 3 min. from my house.  In the past, the only ones we could find were at least an hour away, so we've never done it.  Ashley is pretty excited to take, too, I think.  She longed for a horse as a little girl.....would cry herself to sleep at night.  She still wants one.   Daniella has begged me for years to take ballet, but I wouldn't give in.  The studio here is not an atmosphere that I want to endure through another child, and I was resistant to drive to the next town for these.  But, I think it's time.  And, this studio uses all Christian music and conservative outfits.  She had a ball this past week. 
The bathroom remodel is coming along in spite of being out of town a LOT, or day trips.  Not to mention the typical surprises you get when you remodel.  What started out being a 2-3 week project is now on about week 6 or 7.  But, as I said, he hasn't had a lot of at home time to work on it.  I can't wait to show you the finished product.  All the new sheetrock is up, the ceiling redone, the tub is in, the shower is tiled, and the floor is tiled.  The hold up right now is them deciding on a paint color.
Okay, I guess I should go get busy on my new chores! 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Homeschooling This Year

Hey!  Imagine that.  I'm actually going to blog about homeschooling.   I do that on occasion.  Our homeschool is very simple and relaxed.  We do much of our learning through life, but we do hit the books sometimes, too!  : ) This has been very successful for our family, and it's a lifestyle we love.   We picked our bookwork back up a little bit 2 weeks ago; then more this past week.  Of course, we try to live a lifestyle of learning all the time!
Both girls are working in Developmental Math.  Last year was the first time we'd used this program, and it seems to be working great for them.  Marissa had a very hard time with traditional math books that jumped from one concept to the next.  She needed more time to master one thing at a time, and this program does that for her.   We are also using it for Daniella, and it seems to work well for her right now.   I'm just adding in telling time for her.  I bought a $3ish little teaching clock from WalMart that also has a dry erase spot to write the time in.  We also use large beads from WalMart and craft sticks for manipulatives.  We work at their pace.
Daniella is working on word lists in Alpha Phonics, along with their readers.  It has finally seemed to click a little this week.  She could read some of the individual words, but couldn't put them together.  She is having much more success with that this past week, which totally thrills her.  She also works in a little phonics workbook that came from WalMart or somewhere.  Each week I write a sight word on a tiny sticky note and put it at her place at the table.  She works on it during meals and anytime she's at the table.  She's learned to spell several that way.  Marissa does not have a formal language program right this minute, but I am going to do some looking at some grammar books this week.  Because of her not being able to hear phonetically, traditional phonics and spelling programs have never worked for her.  She has learned to spell by reading and writing. 
Last spring we started a butterfly lapbook that I had intended to finish over the summer.  Summer was just too full of other great and busy things this year, so we picked it back up this week.  They are loving working on them.  It's okay that it isn't spring.  We've seen some cool, big butterflies this week.  Their lapbooks also incorporate their copywork, which also hits on grammar and spelling. 
In about a week or 2, we will pick our history lapbook/notebooking back up.  It's from the Time Travelers, and is on the American Revolution.    Again, this will incorporate our copywork and much in the way of writing~sentence structure, paragraphs, self-expression, etc., not to mention spelling and handwriting (and cutting, pasting, folding, crafting, reading)

Our read aloud right now is Mik-Shrok.  It is the story of missionaries in Alaska before Alaska became a state.  Marissa and I are loving it.  We have the 2 others in the series to read after this one. 

Their dad also reads Nancy Drew to them at bedtime.  Marissa is so very into Nancy Drew right now.  : )  I was at her age, too.  We have quite a few of my old books, and am about to order some more of the "originals".  We actually have one ND that belonged to my dad.  It's an original original!  It has a tweed-like cover.  After we finish the Mik-Shrok series, we will probably read a couple of Box Car Children to satisfy Daniella. 
Science is very eclectic.  Of course, we're doing butterflies right now.  We bought them a great microscope this summer, and their dad helps them out on that.  He does most of their science with them, and it will mostly consist of experiments, projects, and animal studies.  They watch a show on Animal Planet a couple of times each week, and, Daniella especially, is very into learning about animals.  We also do a lot of spontaneous conversations and researching~you know, those teachable moments. 
For Bible we read from The Child's Story Bible, plus verse memorization through Awanas. 

Daniella wants to learn Spanish, so I am posting a new vocabulary word each week for us to work on.  
Marissa also works a good bit, unassigned, in Thinking Skills books and logic puzzle books.  We incorporate lots of puzzles (word and jigsaw) and games.  When a child knows how to think and reason, he has the key to much knowledge and discernment.  They may or may not remember all of the facts we've thrown at  them, even in fun lapbooks and projects, but learning to think and be wise will equip them for life.   
Along those lines, I bought a game that we LOVE.  (Except Briana.  Briana hates it. LOL!)  It is most fun with 3 or 4 people.  Two is not very challenging.

That covers most of the bookwork of our homeschooling.  Of course, there are other things that get thrown in from time to time, but that is the bulk of it. 
Briana has been able to be home this past week for a fall break.  We've loved having her here, of course.  Since her week was pretty much completely free, she has spent some very sweet, fun time with Marissa and Daniella.  Ashley has been able to take a break from her studies here and there, and they have all 4 had some silly sister escapades.  She leaves to go back after lunch today, and Ashley is going with her for 5 nights. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Waiting on God

“He has granted us His precious and magnificent promises…” 2 Peter 1:4a Most of us, at any given point in life, are waiting for something. What are you waiting for today? Some are anticipating things like graduation, retirement, marriage, family, or a new job. Others pray and wait for healing from physical problems or reconciliation in relationships. Some just want something exciting to happen. Whatever we may be hoping for, we are in a season of waiting… often waiting for God to fulfill His promises.
Many of us are praying for God to send revival. That is a promise He has made, and we keep praying and expecting it to happen, but the wait is long. Perhaps the wait is long for you, in whatever promise you are waiting for God to keep. I recently read a quote that went something like this: When God seems to be taking a long time to answer your prayers and do what He promised, don’t be discouraged. Instead, rejoice! Because with each passing day, you are getting closer to the day when He will fulfill His promise.
The apostle Peter writes a similar encouragement in his second letter: “The Lord is not slow about His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). 
Notice that Peter says God is patient with us. Wait a second -- we are the ones who are waiting on Him!  Why does He need to be patient with us? Because in every season of waiting, God has a perfect reason for delaying His answer. He knows we’re waiting. He hears our prayers. He knows that it seems to us like He’s taking way too long. But, as Peter writes, “Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8).   The Father’s eyes are not like ours -- He has a special point of view and can see your whole life in one glance. For every moment, day, month, or year that He delays in fulfilling His promises to us, there is a reason. There is something He needs to accomplish before the good thing comes. That’s why God is patient with us as we wait for Him… because we must cooperate with the preparatory work He’s doing in our hearts and lives while we wait.
During the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments, the Israelites were waiting for their Messiah to come. They had finally turned away from idols to worship the true God. But during that long, dark time of silence and waiting, instead of seeking God, they developed their expectations of what the Messiah would be and do. They began to look for the man who would meet their human expectations of the Promised One…and many of them missed Jesus altogether. It’s a warning to us -- what God has promised to do may not and probably won’t look just like we expect it to. As we think and pray and look forward to the end of our waiting season, we must not allow our human expectations to cause us to miss the greater things God does.
We’re all waiting, but let’s not be discouraged. If God has made a promise, He will keep it. Let’s notice and cooperate with what He’s doing now while we wait, and look ahead to the fulfillment of His promise and rejoice.  If we stop and look, this waiting season can be just as beautiful as the next season. 
“Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the Lord restores Zion” (Isaiah 52:8).

This is the Sept issue of a monthly devotional written by my daughter, Ashley. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fun In the Sun

Thank you to those who have been praying for me.  I can tell someone is.  After Tues - Thurs last week of feeling overwhelmingly sad and crying all day, I began to feel peace and get mostly back to normal.  Sunday was very hard going to church without Briana.  It's some of those little routine things that you find yourself missing.  Of course, I still miss her so much, but it is much better.  I know prayers and God's grace are the reason. 
Now on to the vacation!
You know by now that I am a pictureholic.  Believe it or not, I took some out.  I just want to post them and share them all! 

 The view from our balcony
The first 2 days were double red flags, which meant no one could go in the water. 
They were fun to sit in at the shore, though.
Now that's relaxing~
James and the older girls played their traditional game of beach frisbee.  You have to stand wherever you catch it or wherever it lands.
The unofficial object of the game over the last couple of years seems to have become to put Ashley in the water.

Building castles and memories
Oldest and youngest
Playing games on the balcony
The third day the water was amazingly, deceivingly calm~and gorgeous!
I say deceiving because we found out later that there was actually a red flag still out, even though there were few waves.  The undertow was horrific.  When we were out, we did not let go of our children.  It would sweep you out fast.  In fact, there were 2 little girls out there without parents, and I ended up saving one of them as she was being pulled out.  She was already up to her chest and couldn't stop. 

One day we surprised Ashley and Briana by letting them do this for the first time~
Yep~that's the two of them.  They had a blast, and I want to go next time!

Pizza on the beach at night.  Ahhhh......I love it.

Oh, my goodness!  I don't even know how many trips that I made back to the buffet.   The only other thing that ever made it to my plate was clam strips!

Fun girls~best friends
Flying a kite~

This is the view we saw of these 2 most of the week~especially Daniella.  If I believed in them, I would say she was part mermaid. 

A sea slug~  according to a local, they are not normally seen up at the shore, but this year they are everywhere.

We did decide to rent a pontoon boat again....only because there was 0% chance of rain this time!  We had a really great day!
We rode around, and made a couple of different stop at Shell Island, which is part of the State Park, so it's undeveloped and beautiful.

We stopped at a place where it is narrower, and you can walk from the bay side over to the gulf side.

See that little shallow area this side of the sandbar?
HAHA~ that's what we did for a half hour or more.  We didn't want to leave.  It sounds silly, I guess, but that was tons of fun.  Adventurous, too.  We encountered one jellyfish (no stings) and a big crab while we were there.
And then, there were the gorgeous sunsets most every night.

Ashley took this one of Briana

Two nights it was perfectly clear, and we watched the huge orange, gorgeous ball drop into the water.

And before we knew it, it was time to turn around and come home. 
I love my family and sweet times together.