Jack is 4!

I can't believe our Jack is 4 today!! He brings much joy and laughter into our home. He seems to always be smiling which is so sweet - I love his little dimple. He is a great brother and still adores baby Miles. He loves to dress up like Spiderman and I'm pretty sure he has worn his costume half of the days in the last 3 months. The only birthday present request he had was his own box of cereal - Coco Puffs- and don't worry, he got it! :) He told me today that he was a big boy now like Henry but that Sims and Miles were still little boys. He said he could help me now when I need a strong man. :)

 His name means "God is gracious" and we pray he will always love and be thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy in his life. We pray he will always know how much we love him and are thankful for him. We pray he will know and remember that God is faithful and good; that He keeps His promises and that His promises are everlasting. We pray that He will have a family that He can point to Christ and that we will have the privilege to see that. We pray the Lord will equip Him, comfort Him, encourage Him, and instruct Him throughout His life. We pray his heart will be transformed and His mind renewed by God's word. Even at a young age, Jack profess faith in Christ and we pray we will see the fruit of his confession. We pray for his purity and that he will have godly desires. We pray he will have a long life and that we will have an eternity together in Heaven.


Henry is 6!!!

Today is Henry's 6th birthday!! He is our 3rd child and our first son. He is a joy and a treasure and I am grateful for the six years that we have had with him. He has a kind heart and regularly prays that everyone who doesn't know the Lord will know Him and worship Him. He prays for his younger brothers and always thanks the Lord for everyone in our family by name. He is quick to give up being the first to do or get something so that a brother or sister can go before Him. He has been a joy to teach this year because he is always ready to learn-he remembers anything once he hears it. He and Claire are still the best of friends and he is a good big brother to his little following. Our prayer for Henry is that He will continue to exercise the faith the Lord has given him. That the Lord will strengthen and grip him and prepare him for the work he has/will be called to. We pray the Lord will bless him with a family that he can lead and point to Christ. That he will not just be a "good" boy but that He will abide in the Lord and that his heart will always be turned towards Christ. We pray the Lord will strengthen him in purity in this world in which we live. We pray he will love God's law, meditate on it, and he transformed by it. We are thankful, grateful, and abundantly blessed to be his parents.


Potty Training 101 :)

I have a friend expecting her first child next year (yay!) and she asked about how we potty train our children. We potty trained  Kate/Sims at 23 months, Claire at 22 months, Henry at 21 months, and Jack at 20 months. I did not find that there was any difference between boys and girls "getting" it.

Here's what we do:

1. I plan a time where I can be home for 3 days and I do not leave the house until they "get it". I always start on a Monday.

2. On Monday morning, the child goes straight to underwear. No pull-ups. The kids do wear diapers at nap and at night for awhile.

3. I give the child plenty to drink. They need practice learning what the sensation feels like.

4. I take the child to the bathroom every 10-15 mins. It's exhausting, really. The hardest part is when I take them to the bathroom and they sit there for 10 mins, get up, and tee-tee all over the floor. AHHHHHH!!!!! I just have to remember that they are learning! :) I DO tell them firmly that tee-tee goes in the potty, not of the floor. Hey-it's weird saying that to y'all but that's what I say.

5. I've used a baby potty for most of the kids but I did not use it with Sims. I just sat him on the toilet and he was fine.

6. I've told Rick EVERY TIME after the first day that the child is not getting it and I wonder if I should just try again when they are 7. Thankfully, he knows I do this and encourages me to keep going. Each child has had between 10-20 accidents the first day. Well, everyone except for Sims. He only had about 5-this makes him my favorite child. :) Kidding!

7. Everyone has gotten it either the 2nd or 3rd day. At this point, I do leave the house for extra practice. I  take them to the bathroom before we leave and when we arrive where we are going.

I don't really do "rewards." Kate did request chapstick a couple of times and Jack wanted MMs but I wasn't consistent with them. That's probably a fun thing to do, I'm just not crafty enough to make a chart and get everything organized.

That's about it. The rest of the week I continue to stretch out the time between bathroom trips. I continue to suggest to the child that they go to the bathroom for a couple of weeks and by then, they can tell me when they need to go. It is a very hard few days but then the work is done! I know many people who wait until their child is 3 or so and then may have an easier time of it; I've just always liked to get it done.

Any other questions about this I forgot to answer? If you have other/different tips for my friend, just leave a comment!


The Talent Show

Kate and Claire put on a talent show for us this morning. :)

All of the acts took place on the coffee table in our living room. 
Yes, I am aware that none of our furniture is going to survive. 

Miles enjoyed it.

Jack and Henry wanted in on the action.

If you are a 2 year old boy in our house, you're going to end up in girl clothes. It's just a given.

They made a gift shop for us to visit. Everything was a penny but unfortunately, Rick's ipad wasn't for sale. 


My Favorite Picture

I just realized that I have not posted my absolute favorite picture of my kids to-date. So without further ado:

And coming in a close second:

Quite frankly, I might like that one a little bit more. :)


School Update

We are a little over 3 months into our school year so I thought it was time for an update. This month was hard at times. I wasn't second guessing homeschool in general, but I was questioning some of our curriculum choices. It's hard to know what subjects are best for independent learning and what subjects should be combined across children. There is always an adjustment period each year and with each new family member but things have settled down in my mind some this week. It's important to keep our goal in mind and then make decisions based off of that goal and not off of what everyone says you should be using for curriculum, etc. However, I'm still happy with our overall decision and the lifestyle it affords us.

Here's the breakdown:

Henry - Kindergarten
Phonics - Veritas Press Phonics Museum - dropped this. We are using Reading Made Easy and Abeka handwriting and things are going much smoother. I really love the Phonics Museum but it was set up to use with a classroom and many things were not practical for us to do. In the same regard, it moved a little too slowly for us as well. 
Math - finish Singapore Essential Math and start Math-U-See Alpha - Henry finished Singapore and it a few weeks into MUS Alpha. This has been a great time for us. 

Claire - 2nd Grade
Math - Math-U-See finish Beta and start Gamma - still a good fit. Claire is in Beta and will probably move to Gamma in Feb/March
Grammar/Writing - Essentials in Writing and BraveWriter Projects - Never did BraveWriter because there is a lot of writing and writing projects in the History and Bible programs we use. Essentials in Writing has just been OK. I'm thinking of dropping it for Rod and Staff grammar. 
Spelling - Rod and Staff 2 - Going well
Literature - Books from Heart of Dakota and Veritas - Going well
Greek - Hey Andrew! Teach me some Greek 2 - Going well
Cursive - Abeka - Going well

Kate - 3rd Grade
Math - Math-U-See finish Gamma and start Delta - Going well. Kate will probably switch over to Delta in Feb/March.
Grammar/Writing - Essentials in Writing and BraveWriter Projects, - same as above
Spelling - Rod and Staff 3 - Going well
Literature - Veritas and Memoria Press - Going well
Greek - Hey Andrew! Teach me some Greek 3 - Going well. This has been a harder year in Greek but we both still like this program and are up for the challenge. 
Cursive - Abeka and across subjects - We dropped Abeka because it seemed like busy work. Kate writes nicely in cursive now so she just uses it in History, Bible, or Spelling

Bible - Veritas Press Judges - Kings - Still love this!
History - Veritas Press New Testament, Greece, and Rome - This has been the hardest thing for me to implement. I really do love it but it is a LOT to wade through and decide what to use/teach/write/read. Veritas offers the same course online and the girls did a free 2 week trial. I was very impressed with it and they begged to keep doing it but I have invested in the parent lead course so I'm going to finish it out this year. 
Science - Apologia Swimming Creatures - I still really like Apologia but it's just hard to get Science done on a day-to-day basis so we do this is spurts and the kids read additional science books in-between spurts. 
Latin - Song School Latin - Dropped this!!! What was I thinking! Greek and Latin is too much for me to teach right now. Henry absolutely LOVE this program though and he still listens to the CD. :) It is very well done and I enjoyed it too but it was just too much with everything else I need to teach!

So there is the boring homeschool update! I'll be interested to see what I say at the end of the year! :)


An Encouragement or a warning...

I'm not sure if this post is going to encourage you to have more children,
 or give away some that you already have.

This is how it started off:

-and this is how it ended up.

Yes, this is a picture of how much our candy weighs (well-weighed). 

I think it should be our goal to surpass the 20 lb mark next year. We'll have Miles helping us then. :)


The Botanical Gardens

I'm trying to keep my blog alive so I'm going to blog once a week until the year is over. We went to the Botanical Gardens this morning and the kids had a great time! They are already asking to go back next week. It was about 48 degrees but we had the place to ourselves.

At first, Miles wasn't very happy to be out in public in his PJs. I tried to explain that that's one of the best things about being the 6th child - He didn't buy it. 

Sims had fun...

...until everyone ran off and left him. 

Jack jumped on rocks.

Henry rolled down a hill...

...and stopped a minute for a picture.

Claire climbed a few trees.

Kate found secret passageways. 

It turned out to be a perfect day!


Soccer 2013

We have 4 children in activities this fall. Kate and Claire started ballet two weeks ago but I haven't taken their picture yet! :)

Here are Henry (5) and Jack (3) on their way to soccer practice!

First games and uniforms are next Saturday! I'm sure I'll be reporting back then. :)


Scenes from the Schoolroom


Literature and Math


Bible and History Resources


"I fell off my bike"




"What's he doing"


More Math - this time with hearts

Even more math - this time on the sofa


Curriculum 2013-2014

I can't believe that I am officially teaching 3 children this year!! I also can't believe I'll have a 3 year old, 2 year old, and 7 month old to tag along! :) Because of the ages of our children, I've really found that it works best to school all year and take lots of breaks. We started mid-July last year because I knew that Miles would be arriving in January and needed flexibility toward the end of my pregnancy and his first weeks with us. It worked so well that I thought we would just continue to do the same thing this year! I don't know if I'll always do this, but it works for now. Both girls finished up their math books in April so instead of waiting until August to start the next level, we started it in May. We've been working some throughout the summer at a more relaxed pace and it's been great. I seem to be more excited about doing all of those projects, that I don't really like to do, in the summer.  It seems to be much easier for me to get in our required number of school days when we school all year as well. If we all need a break in the middle of October we can take one without having to worry about squeezing everything in between September and May.

Here is what we will be using this year:

Henry - Kindergarten
Phonics - Veritas Press Phonics Museum
Math - finish Singapore Essential Math and start Math-U-See Alpha

Claire - 2nd Grade
Math - Math-U-See finish Beta and start Gamma
Grammar/Writing - Essentials in Writing and BraveWriter Projects
Spelling - Rod and Staff 2
Literature - Books from Heart of Dakota and Veritas
Greek - Hey Andrew! Teach me some Greek 2
Cursive - Abeka

Kate - 3rd Grade
Math - Math-U-See finish Gamma and start Delta
Grammar/Writing - Essentials in Writing and BraveWriter Projects, writing more across subjects (History/Science/Lit)
Spelling - Rod and Staff 3
Literature - Veritas and Memoria Press
Greek - Hey Andrew! Teach me some Greek 3
Cursive - Abeka and across subjects

Bible - Veritas Press Judges - Kings
History - Veritas Press New Testament, Greece, and Rome
Science - Apologia Swimming Creatures
Latin - Song School Latin

Wow! That looks like a lot!

The girls will also continue to take piano from my mom. I'm pretty sure it's their favorite subject thanks to Boo. :) I wish we lived closer to Melanie and Scott because I'm also pretty sure I'd find something she could teach them. Lessons are always more exciting with grandparents.

Both Kate and Claire will also take ballet again. Kate has lessons twice a week this year so I'm interested to see how that will all work out.

And finally, the girls will take drawing lessons. This was so wonderful last year and I'm looking forward to another great year.

WOW! That looks like a lot! I'm really excited about the everything we are doing this year. I'm going to try and update this part of the blog once a month with updates.


Summer 2013 Picture

We recently won a mini session from Lizzy Nicole Photography!We had the best time with Ashley and are so thankful for these pictures that capture our family at this time of life. I especially love some of Sims' little smiles. They are the perfect 2 year old smiles/faces and I'm glad to have a record of them. :) 


Going to the Pool

...or as I like to call it...

Why do people always tell me I have my hands full???

Miles' car seat and diaper bag were both in the car. I had to carry those into the pool too. :)

We had fun though!

Camp Update: The girls had the best time and have talked about it non-stop. They are already talking about going for a full week next year.

Claire lost her first tooth 2 weeks ago at Rick's parents' house!

Sims' "smile" strikes again!


Camp Westminster

Our friends told us about this great camp just outside of Atlanta called Camp Westminster. It's run by a PCA church and our friends have been involved with it for years. In fact, their oldest daughter is a counselor this summer. 

Thanks to Boo and Papaw, Kate and Claire are over there for the First Timers session. It's a 4 day/3 night introduction to camp and the girls were so excited to be able to go! Here are the only pictures I took when we dropped them off. I'm hoping they'll be just as happy when I pick them up! :) 

Getting so old!!!

Henry and Jack also wanted their picture taken. 

And so did Sims. I really love this picture!! All of our kids at age 2 have had this great "smile."
 It's always been so funny to me! This really is his "I'm happy and trying to have a good smile," smile. :)

Here's a picture of the First Timers from their Facebook page. Kate and Claire are on the front row.