A Fresh Start

Well today is officially the last day of my summer vacation and I couldn't be more excited about it.

I so love the fresh start to a new homeschooling year!

All the new school supplies perfectly organized in my canvas bins, new schoolbooks lined up according to size, not a single book with a corner bend or missing pages, the look of the clean whiteboards, and the stacks of "busy boxes" I have worked hard to prepare for the twins -- all items prepared to serve my attempt at educating my children this year.

Every time we start a new year of homeschool, I am always hopeful that this year is the year that I will finally have it all figured out.

Every day will be fun and exciting. I will look forward to the routine of teaching my children at home.

I will stay organized by keeping current with my lesson plans, carefully documenting the books we've read, the worksheets we completed, the games we played, the field trips we took, etc.

I will not wake up thirty minutes late and scramble to make a quick breakfast after my so-called schedule has already began and then panic about being behind all day because I stink at sticking to a schedule.

They will not have forgotten every single thing that they learned the year before.

They will not grumble or complain about math problems, language worksheets, or reading assignments.

They will not whine about singing the silly songs that their younger brother picked because they are "baby songs".

They will not make faces at one another during our opening prayer and Bible story.

They will not answer every question like they are bored they don't even care what the answer is.

They will not poke one another in the arm with their pencils.

They will not intentionally bump the person next to them so that they mess up their handwriting practice page making it no longer "perfect" and thereby causing an extremely loud screaming match between the siblings who are now fighting with one another and the mom who lost her temper because of said screaming match.

So how will this year be different?

Well honestly, while I am hopeful that it will, I am realistic and experienced enough to know that one or possibly all of these things will happen on any given day.

It is on these days, and every day in between that I am purposing to be covered in prayer and armed with the Word of God in my heart.

I will be a shining example of all of the fruits of the spirit, modeling my heart full of grace, mercy, compassion and love towards my children.

I will not rush them through their lessons so that I can do the dishes. Or the laundry. Or the floors.

The to-do list will have to wait. I am the momma and the teacher raising up this next generation.

They are more important than anything else to me.  This is the year that things will be different.

Maybe not all year, but at least for tomorrow. Well that's the plan anyway.

A Song for the Devil...

In our Bible Study this week, we were talking about being a winner. How as Christians we are winners because we are triumphant in the Lord. No matter what comes our way, we know everything is going to work out in the end and we will be victorious because of what Christ is coming back to do. We also talked about bullies and peer pressure and then when I went to the tanning bed I heard a song by Taylor Swift called "Mean" and it made me think of the devil. How he's always so mean to us, and tries to hurt us, discourage us and find ways to pull us down the path of temptation. However, we have the power, through Christ (specifically the NAME of Christ) to reject the devils temptations, and to flee from the destructive power that he wants to have over us. In the end, we are going to be living in the big city, (Heaven) and he will not be able to hit us anymore.

Here's a link to the song/video with lyrics, but if for some reason it doesn't work for you, just go over there yourself and listen to this song and lyrics based on my perspective. I think it would be encouraging to you if you are struggling with a bully of your own :)

May 5

My pic of the day today is HYSTERICAL! When Jonathan and I pick at each other for something silly, we say "NERD ALERT".  I completely think that my glasses are super nerdy and I have about wearing them thanks to my sister picking on me when I was a little girl. She used to call me a four-eyed monkey geek. What are sisters for, right? Ha! So, what does that have to do with my hysterical picture of the day? My sister came over for some yummy hashbrown casserole for lunch today, and I was wearing my glasses. She took them off my head and put them on Chloe and it was so cute that we had to do it to Claire, too.What do you think?

I know they have crusty, dirty faces, and despite the fact that it was lunchtime, they are still not dressed. You don't have to point it out :) haha! Why is it that some of my most favorite pictures are like this?!

May 4

Today I am going to share my desktop background that I created for the Scraphic Design class I told yall about yesterday.

Well, do you love it as much as I do? The only thing it's missing is a picture of my hubby :( Poor guy! I do love him with all my heart, even if he was left out of the inspiration board. So now my challenge is to make something with the colors from the background. Sounds like fun? Absolutely! I have been playing on Adobe Kuler all night....

May 3

I am so excited about this new class that I started at Tiffany Tillman is the teacher and the class is more about designing. Right up my alley :) I have already watched all of the videos for the first week, and I can't wait to have some time (hopefully tonight) to start on the assignments. We are supposed to create a desktop background for our computer, which is something that I have always wanted to do. Today is more of the same blah blah blah housekeeping. laundry and catching up on schoolwork, and there's nothing blogworthy to tell you about so I will quit the finger flying on the keyboard and post a picture already. K? Great. Here it comes :)
Click to see larger in a new window :) This was made from a "Template Tuesday" freebie on Brenda, one of my Art of Digital Design classmates designed this one. Yay! Go Brenda, Go Brenda, Go Brenda! (She is now on my  class linky list if you want to see what else she's been up to.)

May 2

So it's Monday. Again. I hate Mondays. Mondays mean that it's 5 days from the weekend and I have to clean up from the weekend. Yuck :( Boo to you, Monday! But I do have some cute pictures from the strawberry farm to share. And I promise to post a layout from the strawberry picking tomorrow :) Do you think you can stand to wait another day for those? haha! Hope yall were responsible enough to do housekeeping over the weekend and Monday doesn't stink for you!

May 1

Today was just as good as yesterday, even though it wasn't officially the "family vacation day".

We went to church this morning and then we went to Foley to look at travel trailers and tents. After we left the river yesterday, we decided to check out their campgrounds. They were so nice and there were kids everywhere. They had a playground right in the center of the campgrounds. My kids would love that! They were begging to get out of the car and play with all the other kids just in the few minutes we spent driving around and checking things out. Each campsite had power and water hookups, their own picnic table and a place to make a fire. Sounds exciting right? Like you wanna go camping, huh? For those of you that read my blog and know me in real life, know that it is not like me to even consider the idea of camping. What, with all the bugs, sweat and lack of modern conveniences? What's become of me and the girl I used to be? haha! Well, don't you worry, I may not be able to wear my high heels at the campground, but I did wear them while we shopped for the campground stuff :)

We ended up getting lucky at the Coleman outlet, and they were having a truckload sale. We stocked up on basic camping necessities, like a tent, a screen cover gazebo thingie, and a Cook-it-Five-different-ways-with-propane cooker thingamajig, and about 14 or so marshmallow/hot dog metal roaster sticks. Here's the real deal: I used to go camping when I was *very* little girl, and I remember that it was always so much fun. I want to try to go again, now that I am older, because I can see benefit in the family time aspect of it. Hopefully, it will be a time for me and my family to reconnect on a level that we might not be able to amidst all of the conveniences of our modern lives. End rant :) You know I'll let you know how it goes when we try it in real life and not my dream world of perfect kids and proper hygiene. haha!

So we are about to go put up our tent, build a fire and make smores in the backyard with the kids because we  are even more excited than they are!

I did this double page spread of all of us at the river yesterday! Hope you like it!
You should definitely click on this to see it larger in a new window. This piddly preview just doesn't do it justice!  I used Tiffany Tillman's Summer Templates to create this layout and the papers are from Katie Pertiet.

April 30

Remember a while back where we had a "family vacation day" and we did nothing - no cooking, cleaning, work of ANY kind, and just spent the entire day together playing? Well we did that again today and it was so refreshing and fun!

We took the kids to a new strawberry farm and got over 11 pounds of berries in way less than an hour's time. I do have 5 kids, ya know :)   I am so excited about eating these all up. There are like nine million recipes I want to try! They had a little frozen shop in the place we went and they had the BEST strawberry frozen yogurt I have ever tasted. Seriously! We ate said frozen yogurt before lunch, which we ate at some hole-in-the-wall place called "The Gator Cafe". No - there was no gator at The Gator Cafe just in case you were wondering :)

Our original plan was to go to the beach when we finished up with the strawberry thing, but my wonderful husband made a suggestion to change those well laid out plans. This is something that I don't typically go along with, but since it was *family vacation day* I was trying to be flexible. For at least a little while, anyways. So he suggested that we go to the river where people go canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. I had been there before and I was already worried...but, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and much to my surprise, it was beautiful. There was a great sandbar, and the water probably didn't go above my ankles for a long ways out. Did I mention that I have 5 kids? What more could a momma with 5 kiddos in tow ask for than a sandbar with ankle-deep water for 50+ feet on all sides? That's right, a sister and a husband tagging along to do the hard work :) Like putting up the sunscreen tent, oh yeah, and APPLYING the sunscreen to 5 kiddos, and helping me keep an eye on all those kids. Do you see why I haven't attempted to go near any large body of water in the last two years? (Well, besides the oil spill!)  It was such a great day and we are so excited to go back soon!

I will leave you with a few pictures for today:

I am so proud of this "accidental picture".  Can you see Claire's reflection? LOVE it!

Chloe was serious about playing with the sand :) Do NOT come between her and her bucket, mister!

Caleb is so stinkin' cute! That's all boy,  right there!

I wish some of these pictures would have shown you the beautiful clear sky we had today! Stay tuned though because I will be scrapping these very soon! They are high up the to-be-scrapped priority list.:)

April 29

I have been spending way too much time on the computer lately, working on classes and stuff. But today, I promised myself not to get even turn it on until I had cleaned the bathroom, did all the laundry, held and snuggled my babies and took way too many pictures :) Ahhh! Sigh of relief. All that and then some.

Caleb and I made the famous Potato Soup for lunch together and I even cleaned the kitchen immediately afterwards. Woo hoo! We completed our schoolwork before noon, which has been nearly impossible for the last two weeks and we read together for a while.

When the babies laid down for their nap, I let Caleb and Kagen play in the waterhose and in the baby's pool. I got the Dawn dish detergent and squeezed nearly half the bottle out for them to have a cold bubble bath. They loved it!

I love how you can see the water spraying here!

You'd think I used the whole bottle of Dawn with all these bubbles.

Could it be any better to be a boy?

My cheeks hurt from laughing at these boys playing together today!

April 28

This morning I had to go fill out paperwork for my kids to get in to see a new dentist. My mother in law kept all of the kids for me so I was able to be in the car and listen to music for about 20 minutes without someone fighting in the backseat :) Yay! I had an awesome time praising and worshipping this morning, in the confines of my van, with my radio blasting! I love times like this, when no one's watching and you are free to just be and feel and know who you are in God, and what He means to you without interruptions. We all need that kind of refreshing and renewal at some point in our day. It keeps me grounded and gives me that little push during the times I feel like I can't take any more! Surely you can relate!
Well I just have to share this amazing song and the part of the testimony that I heard this morning that put me in this mood to just praise and worship, and just be plain thankful. Thankful for a cancer-free husband. Thankful for healthy children. Thankful for a nice home and a hard working husband. Thankful for redemption and the freedom to share my faith. Thankful that God didn't see fit to send those horrible tornadoes here to my town. To my home. To my family.

Okay, well the lead singer of Sanctus Real, Matt Hammitt, and his wife have a blog about their newest little boy who was born with a heart defect of some sort. I don't know all of the details, but you can check out the whole story here on his blog, and you can also listen to the most AMAZING song. (The picture below shows where to click to listen to the song. I had a hard time finding it, so I circled it in red, and wrote "click here" on the picture so you'll be able to find it easily.)  It's called All of Me. He wrote it about his little boy, and how he has to give all of himself to his son, regardless of the outcome. There are so many personal situations that this song can be applied to, and I am claiming it today as my song. I hope it speaks to your heart, too.