Monday, January 30, 2012

Birthday week!

Rich and Rosalie celebrate their birthdays in the same week. So, we eat a lot of cake in the last week of January/first week of February. Rosalie got a card in the mail from Nanny and Pupup, and the picture above is of her opening it. Yes, it's already stared. There is great ... GREAT anticipation about her birthday that is coming up in only a few days.

She knows that her birthday comes after Daddy's, so every time we talked about his birthday, she shouts with glee ... that after Daddy's birthday it will be hers! On a side note, she was convinced that the princess on the front of her special birthday card was her!

I decided a few weeks ago that I would surprise Rich and get a babysitter, so that we could go out on a date for his birthday! We went out a couple of nights ago and enjoyed it so much! The children had a wonderful time at home with a special young lady, and we had a great time too. Today, the children each gave him a gift, we had a homemade birthday cake complete with candles, and Rich's favorite meal. It was a good day. We are blessed!
This weekend I will make another cake, there will be pink and purple candles, and presents for our little princess! It's so hard for me to believe that she is going to be 3.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jonathan and school

I've given updates on my other two school boys. Today is Jonathan's turn for an update. I started Jonathan last August in Kindergarten. He was doing beautifully. He was strong in math concepts, super strong at learning to read, and did beautifully with handwriting. His weaknesses became obvious very quickly. He struggled with listening to read alouds. This is not surprising to me at all. This will be an area we really need to work on as Jonathan gets older. We pressed on through a few weeks of school and I was encouraged at his progress except for one thing.
I noticed that Jonathan was melting down over the smallest details. It was incredibly disruptive to our flow each day. I told Jonathan that the "tantrums" were not acceptable school behavior. Now granted, 
we did have a fairly rough start to our school year considering my Mom's accident and spending so many weeks in Virginia. I thought that maybe Jonathan just needed a break, and that once we got home and back into our routine, the meltdowns would fade away. That's not exactly what happened, though. After giving it much thought, I sat him down and told him that we did no even have to be doing school this year, and that he could have the rest of this year to play with Rosalie each morning. He thought about it for a minute and then calmly agreed with me that we should wait a while.
I am very happy with this decision. Jonathan is a smart little boy. There are two things about him that have been working against him instead of for him. First, he is incredibly strong willed. Second, he is a perfectionist. If he didn't get something perfect the very first time he would try it ... he would melt into a puddle on the floor. He not only wants to do things well ... he is not satisfied with just so-so ... he wants it to be perfect, and anything less just would not do. I love this about him. I really do! However, he needs to mature a little bit, so that his frustrations do not end in a tantrum.
I was completely on the fence with starting him anyway. So, I am not sorry that we gave it up for this year. I am all for starting a child later. (especially boys!)
I also got to thinking that if I start him a year later (he will still be 5 when we start ... but almost 6), I will be able to combine Jonathan and Rosalie in the history spine,science, Bible, and all the extras! Combining has just not worked for me with any of my other children. Since Jonathan (with the fall birthday), is the older of the two, it should work out well to combine them once J is in 1st grade and R in K. It will require that I start Rosalie a little early - but she's showing signs of being a lot like Aaron was at his age. Heart of Dakota  is so easy to tailor to the specific child and gives extension possibilities for the older child. I am excited at the possibility of combining a couple of my children. Of course, they will still be in their own math and language arts levels, but the other concepts can be combined easily. Combining children has advantages and disadvantages, so the only thing I can do is try it and see if I can make it work.
Jonathan is my biggest helper during school hours. He completely occupies Rosalie for me. I am able to get through most of Martin and Aaron's lessons without very many interruptions by noon almost every day. (my part takes about 3 hours between the two of them)
So, in August, we will start K again with Jonathan and I look forward to it!
For now, I spend time with Jonathan several days a week doing the normal Cubbies handbook, and his extra Cubbies workbook. We memorize scriptures, color, and do special projects. He loves it and we enjoy that special time together. (Rosalie almost always does it with us too!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Playing Angry Birds the Jonathan and Rosalie way...

Recently, the children have been watching Rich play angry birds on our television. Even though this game has been around awhile ... it's new to us. When I walked into the living room the other night, I found Jonathan stacking pillows all around Rosalie ... and heard him telling her that she was the pig.

He got her all set up and then he positioned himself ... you might have guess it already ... yep,  Jonathan was the angry bird.
He went flying through air toward Rosalie to knock the pillows and her down. It was one of the funniest sights I'd ever seen.
I do love to watch those two play together. They come up with all sorts of creative and fun schemes!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory - Aaron

Aaron is almost half way through the 2nd grade. We are doing Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory .  (written for ages 6-8 years old, so Aaron falls into early to mid range of the guide) The History spine is American History. He does 2-3 days worth of Science each week, and Art and Geography once per week.  He does History,Math, English, Spelling, Copywork, Poetry, Reading and Bible daily.
Aaron is finishing up Singapore Math 2A and is about to start Singapore Math 2B. He has been learning multiplication and division and he has picked it up with such great ease that it amazes me. He will tell you that he does not like math, and I am certain that is true ... however, he's quite good at it.
(I am convinced that what he doesn't like about it is that he actually has to think a little bit to get the right answer and Aaron is so used to everything coming easily to him that any work that he has to put into it frustrates him ... yep, he's a little lazy)
  Another reason that I love Heart of Dakota is that the guides are written for an age range not for a grade level, which means that it can be tailored specifically to meet the child where he is - and for Aaron, I've had to beef it up. I added Grade 2 English Rod and Staff, and Drawn into the Heart of Reading(Level 2/3 for the independent reader). The Beyond Little Hearts guide does provide light grammar lessons 1 day per week. I did all of those plans with Aaron last year when I was taking him through the previous guide

Aaron has absolutely soared with his reading this year. His reading level is off the charts for an early 7 year old. I've had to choose level 4/5 books for him to read while doing the level 2/3 written work from the Reading curriculum. Level 2/3 books are far too easy for him. I am constantly buying books for him to read. . . I have a hard time keeping up with the demand. I even had to make a rule that he can only read 1 chapter a day for his Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) book. (because if he reads the whole book in one sitting ... like he did one day a couple months back ... he's not able to do a lot of the written work that goes a long with it that require him to make predictions, etc.You can't really predict if you have already read the entire book.) When he read an entire DITHOR book in one sitting, I made the 1 chapter a day rule and began selecting more difficult books. DITHOR is another excellent program that you can tailor exactly for the child. I teach the DITHOR lessons to both Martin and Aaron at the same time ... and give them assignments for their specific levels.
Aaron absolutely loves English. We do most of it orally, with a little bit of written work. He has a spelling list that he works on each day and he does a spelling test at the end of the week. He will begin studied dictation next year.
Copywork is handwriting. Aaron copies scripture for copywork. He will copy his school memory verse on Monday, and the other days of the week, he copies memory verses from Awana. (The Beyond guide book suggests copying excerpts from the Poem that he studies each week ... I decided that I would prefer that he copy scripture verses that he is memorizing instead.)
His handwriting has improved this year by leaps and bounds, and can even say that his copy work is excellent this year!
The read alouds that we have been reading this year do not correspond with History, however, they cover the many genre's of literature. The read aloud is the same genre he happens to be working on in DITHOR. 
I love how exciting learning is in our home. I am thankful that we have found such a rich and rewarding curriculum!
I am already in hunt and gather mode for our next school year! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Search for Affordable and Healthy Water

We have been trying to figure out what to do about water for a long time now. We used the Zero Water Filter System for a time. It worked very well and we were pleased with the results, however, it was expensive and time consuming. Zero Water type would work well for 1 or 2 people, but it just wasn't practical for a family of 6. We also bought bottled water for a while. We found that it cost about the same as it was costing us to use the Zero Water Filter System, but it was less time consuming for us.
However, $.79 per gallon adds up after a while ... especially when there are six people in a family who, for the most part, only drink water. 
I also prefer to use filtered water for all of my baking and cooking ... including the simple task of boiling water for pasta. It was very important to us to find and excellent filtering system that would also cost us much less than $.79 per gallon!
EDIT: The initial start-up costs for the model we bought was $325. We will get about 6000 gallons before we need to change filters, so that breaks down to $0.054 (5.4 cents) per gallon. A set of replacement filters costs about $110, and will last another 6000 gallons ... making it less than 2 cents a gallon.
Our friends, The Ingraldi Family, bought a Crown Berkey Water Filtering System. We were able to see it in person, drink the water it filters, and learn about how affordable it makes filtered water!
We decided many months ago that the Berkey, was definitely the system we wanted, but it took us a while to finally purchase it. We've now had it for about 3 weeks, and we love it. I love the convenience of it, and the peace of mind that it is filtering so many things out of our water that I don't want any of us to be drinking.
If you are looking for an affordable way to effectively filter/purify your water, I highly recommend the Berkey Water Filtering System. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Preparing Hearts for His Glory - Martin

It was just yesterday that Martin was a baby. Well, maybe not yesterday ... but sometimes it seems that way!
Now, Martin is almost half way through the 4th grade. I haven't taken many pictures this year of school projects, but I did want to take a few minutes to share about our school year. I am using Heart of Dakota's Preparing Hearts for His Glory guide with Martin. It is a guide written for 8-10 year old children with extensions written for 11-12 year old children. The history spine for this guide is World History. Martin and I are both thoroughly enjoying reading the fabulous books that are walking us through chronologically. Our studies began with Biblical History and has woven in the great Ancient civilizations chronologically with what is going on in Biblical History. We have been able to enjoy historical documentaries that coincide with our history studies. Right now we are watching a series of documentaries on Ancient Greece.
The read a-louds that we are using this year all correspond with the History readings and they have been fantastic. Martin loves to read and has for quite some time - however - I am convinced that if he didn't love to read ... that he would by the time he was done with this school year! The books are interesting and captivating!
Once per week he does Geography, Vocabulary, Research, and Timeline. Each of those activities correspond with his History readings for that week. He especially enjoys studying the modern day globe and comparing it to the maps of the Ancient World on his geography day.
Martin is studying several of the Psalms this year in the Bible Study portion of the plans. He is learning how to have his own quiet time, and learning how to study the Bible.
Science is mostly independent this year. He is working on a Science notebook, while reading through about 8 different Science books.
He has truly excelled in oral narration and while he still orally narrates several things to me each week, he has made an excellent transition to written narration. Bigger Hearts for His Glory really prepared Martin well to make that transition. As we travel up through the HOD guides, I am seeing how each guide prepares him for the next guide. The skills that he acquired from going through BHFHG has made him more than adequately prepared for Preparing Hearts for His Glory.
Martin is starting Singapore Mathematics 4B next week. He has been doing all sorts of fun things in math this year with protractors and set squares. He has LOVED it.
Martin enjoys Rod and Staff English grade 4. He is quite good at English, enjoys it, and can do some pretty mean sentence diagramming! He does studied dictation for his spelling curriculum.
We are using Drawn into the Heart of Reading for our reading curriculum. I teach a lesson to both Martin and Aaron at the same time and their assignment is tailored to their specific levels. We read lots of wonderful books using this curriculum. It takes us through the many genre's of literature, and we do several assignments that help the children become independent thinkers.
He is studying the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, and has started doing some creative writing along with the study of Stevenson's poetry. He doesn't like it. He will read just about any book you put in his hand, but has little interest in any sort of creative writing.
And if that isn't enough ... I went ahead and bought all of the self-study extension readers for older students. Martin loves to read so much and they all looked so interesting to me, that I went ahead and bought them. They also correspond with the units of History. He has thoroughly enjoyed reading those books as well.
Martin's school day usually takes about 4 hours to complete from start to finish as long as he doesn't get distracted. He tries to get all of his written work done before lunch and he does a lot of his independent reading after lunch. We still read all of the history books together. (I read them aloud to him and I also read most of his read aloud books as well)
This curriculum is amazing. It is rich, thorough, fascinating, and complete. I am already excited about what next year may hold. It keeps getting better each year!
I am so thankful that Martin and I are in this thing together. I wouldn't trade all of the precious bonding moments over reading books, math problems, science experiments, and narrations for anything in the world!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Look what I found at Rest Time!

I sent the children upstairs for rest time the other day, while I worked on a few things downstairs. The entire house was very quiet, so I assumed everyone went to their places to rest. Once I finally made it upstairs, the above picture is what I found. (Yep, I raced downstairs to grab my camera to capture this adorable memory) What is underneath those covers?

Why it was Jonathan and Rosalie playing the Vsmile! Jonathan and Rosalie  are the best of buddies. They stick closely together throughout the day - especially when I am schooling the other two. They play together and help each other. Separating them for rest time ... isn't always an easy thing to do. It's a pretty common occurrence for me to come upstairs to check on everyone and find Rosalie and Jonathan ... playing (Oh So Quietly) in the same room.
We have days when it seems as though it's just one argument after the other and I feel as though I am going to go out of my mind ... but for the most part, they are the best of friends.
I instituted rest time to give each one of us a break from each other. We are together 24/7. Sometimes we need alone time - and Rest Time provides that. I do treasure the days when the children can't seem to bear being apart even for just one hour!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The School Room/Multi-Purpose Room

Most of the work in the school room is done. The picture above is the view from the door. I haven't put anything up on the walls yet ... I am not good with walls - I must admit. However, the furniture is in place and the room is super functional! I need about 2 more tall bookshelves, because I do still have a couple of large tubs of books stored away of other grade levels. I'd love to have all of our books stored on shelves where I can access them easily.
This view is from the opposite side of the room from the door. This room will serve mostly as the school room and some as a guest room. 
This a view from the door of the new desk and shelves that Rich built in between the two closets. We moved our old television upstairs and hooked up the wii. We have netflix streaming through the wii as well. Just yesterday Martin and I were able to watch a documentary on Ancient Greek Civilization upstairs in our school room while the other children were having rest time! 

Here is a closeup of Rich's handiwork! We love the new set up!  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jonathan's Cubbies Projects

Jonathan had to make a crown and glue jewels on it. Of course, Rosalie needed to make one too!

Then he made placemats for each person in our family. He chose their favorite colors and tried to make them special according to what each of us like.
Rosalie and Jonathan tend to be inseparable ... so she was right by his side the entire time ... "helping."

Jonathan colors in his Cubbies book.

The table is set and ready with special placemats made by Jonathan!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grocery Budgets

The topic of grocery budgets is a hot one for just about everyone! Everyone wants to save money, and cut the budget in any way possible. It's just not easy to do these days. The price of just about everything has gone up ... a lot! Many of you who know our family, may know that both Rich and I are savers. We don't like to spend money. We look for ways to save in every area of life. We have found, however, that saving in the area of groceries is just not the easiest thing to do. We use many specialty items that are just not available at a typical grocery store.  
I get emails and messages often from people who ask me the question:
"How are you able to afford to buy healthy food?"
I am devoting this blog post to answering that question.
First, we use Amazon for items such as organic coffee beans, organic popcorn kernels, unsweetened coconut, baking ingredients (for our homemade bread), organic cereal, organic peanut butter, and a few other misc. items.
We use a local grain co-op or The Grain Mill, Wake Forest to purchase our grain for fresh home milling.  I prefer to support local businesses as much as possible and highly recommend The Grain Mill.  They have excellent customer service and many healthy specialty items.
We are members of the local buying club BJ's located in North Raleigh. From them, we purchase organic butter, eggs (sometimes, we also get eggs from a local farmer), organic ketchup, Rumsford Baking Powder, King Arthur white flour, Organic Sugar, and whole wheat pasta, cheeses, organic vegetables, honey, agave nectar, and a few other misc. items.
We use Vitacost for organic teas, vitamins, herbal supplements, immune boosting supplements, essential oils, probiotics, shampoos, and toothpaste, as well as a few other misc. items.
We also buy many food items from Trader Joes. Trader Joes is not close to us at all, so we have to plan our trips to Trader Joes around other trips that we need to make to Raleigh.  From Trader Joes, we buy produce, tortillas (for the occasions that I don't make them homemade), organic meats, organic sour cream, organic plain yogurt, cereals, granola bars, children's vitamin C, nuts, grape seed oil, olive oil, whole wheat pasta, lunch meats, cheeses, eggs, organic butter, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, and on occasion a special ice cream snack for the children. Trader Joes is reasonably priced, uses high quality ingredients, and does not use any food items that have been genetically modified. If Trader Joes was closer to home, we would do most of our shopping at that store.
We also use local grocery stores for several items.
We buy our organic milk from a local dairy.  
Our main meat source is deer.

As you can see, in order for us to eat the way we do, we can't just go to one grocery store. We gather our items from several different places. So, how do we afford to eat healthy?
First, we hold to the philosophy that we can't afford not to. Our health depends on excellent nutrition. 
Second, we never eat out at restaurants. Eating out even once a week with a family of 6, significantly increases the food budget. On the occasion that we do go out, it's almost always because we are using a gift card. There may be some healthy choices at some restaurants, but let's be honest:  when we go out, we eat overpriced junk food. Last, (with a few minor exceptions) we avoid highly processed convenience foods. (you would be surprised at how much these foods increase the grocery budget)

Many people have also asked me about coupons. I rarely use coupons. If I can find a coupon for a food item that is on my list of items to buy, I wouldn't hesitate to use it. I have found that it is rare to find a coupon for items that we buy.  On average, for our family of 6 (keeping in mind that we eat every meal at home), we spend between $115-$150 per week on our grocery budget.  We tend to stock up on certain food items, so there are weeks that we spend much less than budget and weeks that we may spend more.  We also use cloth napkins and regular kitchen towels instead of paper napkins and paper towels. It may seem small, but over time, the cost of those items add up. (especially with 4 young and messy children!)

I hope that this post will help dispel the myth that healthy food is just too expensive. It most definitely can be difficult to reach for the $4 per pound organic butter ... when you can get the regular for only $2.50 per pound ... however, when you make cuts in other areas, the healthier options can become attainable.

If you haven't watched the documentary film, Food, Inc., I highly recommend it. If you have netflix for streaming you can watch it right here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No more training wheels for Jonathan!

Just like I did with Aaron, we encouraged Jonathan to learn how to ride a 2-wheeled scooter before we took the training wheels off.  Once he mastered balance on the scooter, I took off the training wheels and off he went.  Aaron learned the 2-wheeled bike at not quite 4 1/2 - but he's not nearly as cautious as Jonathan.  I had already decided that I wouldn't push the issue of removing the training wheels.  I would just wait until he asked.  Once he asked, I was more than happy to remove them!

Off came the wheels ... and off he went without looking back!

It was easy for him!  He had no difficulties and quite obviously had the balance part down!

The only thing he struggled with was getting started, but he has since mastered that as well!  A little more practice on this bike ... and it will be time for the next size up!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Star

Last week, I went out by myself. On the surface, this may not seem like such a big deal.  But let me assure was.  It was a gift.  I left home mid-afternoon and didn't return until after 9 PM. I went to stores that I wouldn't ordinarily visit. I took my time walking around the stores.  I even sat in Panera Bread, sipped some coffee, ate a salad, and blogged on my computer. I spent precious time at a used bookstore pouring over books that I knew my children would love to read. It was renewal time for me. I am so thankful that  I was able to do it!
The children were okay about me leaving the house without them, but they weren't super excited about it.  Jonathan assured me that he would love to go visit home stores with me, and that it wouldn't be boring at all. He went on to tell me that all he had to do was put his shoes on and he'd be ready to go.  (oh, how I adore him!) Rich had other plans for the children, though. He took them out for dinner (a pretty rare occasion for our children) and bought them a snack that I would have never bought them and they had a fantastic time with him. When I got home, he told me that the children were so well behaved and that they had a really great time.  He went on to say, that the reason he enjoyed it so much was that he got to be the star. What an interesting concept! Usually, when we all go somewhere, it's all about me. The children fight over who gets to sit next to me, and they are all over me the whole time. Since, I wasn't there it was all about him. He liked that a lot! It was a win-win situation all the way around. I was so relieved that everyone had a good night. I was especially glad for Rich that he was able to bond with the children and enjoy himself in a way that (although unintended), is usually reserved for me.
I am a thankful woman...on so many levels.
...thankful that my husband works so hard
...thankful that my children love him so
...thankful that our family is together 90% of the time
...thankful that even when I don't get to steal away for a few hours that I can still say that I am richly blessed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Confessions of a Mom ...

It's possible that you may not know that Jonathan rarely stops talking.    At first glance, he is not the most obvious choice of the non-stop talker.  He's not the most outgoing, nor the most intellectual, nor is he the most cuddly of my 4 children ... however ... he is the most energetic of the 4.  Perhaps that is why he talks so much.  He stays in his room each morning until he hears me rattling around in the kitchen, and his talking starts before he is even half-way down the stairs.  I am convinced that he starts thinking about what he is going to say long before he sees me, and he starts talking to me as soon as he sees me.  It's probably worthwhile to mention that he was almost 2 years old before he said his first word.  We used to wonder if he was ever going to talk.  Now, it's quite the opposite.

So, here is my confession.
I often think to myself:  "Jonathan, please stop talking. You have said 2000 more words than you needed to say" - and then I think more emphatically - "JUST STOP TALKING - I CAN'T TAKE IT ONE MORE SECOND!"
Then, when I hear Rich chuckling in the background, I realize that ... I actually said it out loud.

Consider this sentence:  I need water.  It's short, concise, and it's all you need to know, right?  Jonathan may mean that he needs water, but 3 words is not enough for him.  He will say that very same thing using about 100 words.  Once he gets to the end of whatever it is he is saying ... I most often don't have any idea what he means anymore.  The danger that I fall into is that I can easily become disengaged and not hear him at all anymore.  Jonathan loves to talk.  He loves to be heard.  I have to make special time for him to be heard.  I need to teach him to talk and be heard appropriately.  It may seem to me and others that I am always in the "training room".  Well, indeed I am always in that "training room" in this season of my life!

I imagine that I am not alone in this.  In fact, I think it's more common than one would think.  I bet that you have a talker like this in your family.  If you don't, I am sure you have a confession of another sort that I would love to hear.  So, this is your chance to leave me with your confession in the comment section of this post and I will pray for you.   Being a Mom is hard work.  Being a Mom who desires more than anything else to capture my child's heart for Jesus and point them to a fully devoted relationship with the Lord and Savior can at times seem insurmountable ... especially in light of my own lack of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control that creeps up at times. My desire is to be a woman who encourages other moms with the following scripture:

Galations 6:9
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

How can I pray for you? 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some pictures that Aaron took ...

You'll have to ignore the date on the pictures ... we haven't gotten that quite right yet.  Aaron got a new camera for his birthday.  He is having so much fun taking pictures with it!
I LOVE that I have another picture taking member in our family!  
I love this shot of Martin and Jonathan!

Now that someone else has a camera (besides me), it's possible that a picture of me might get taken every once in a while.  I've always wondered if the children would look back at our pictures and wonder why I am not in very many of them!   

Love this picture of my Mom, Rosalie, and me!

Finally, Aaron gets in a picture!

Mom and Martin

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Working on the school room

This is a picture of our school room ... before ...
There is a space between the two closets where I kept the bookshelf with all of our school books.  The school room also serves as a guest room, so I had a bed set up in there as well.  Against the back wall is a table for the children to do their school work.  (can't see it in this picture)
Now between the two closets is a desk, and a shelf that Rich is building.  We will use the desk for our school computer, and the shelf above it will be used for a television.  (to be used for anything educational that we may need ... and for the wii system)  This is truly becoming a multipurpose room!
I am so thankful for Rich ... this man can do anything!

It's not quite done yet ... but it will be done by the end of the week.  I will post pictures of the room in it's completed form next week.  I also bought a futon for this room and moved the twin bed out.  Getting our house the way we want it is a very slow process ... but it's coming along.  I am so thankful that my husband is so handy and can fix, build, or repair just about anything!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years Eve

Every New Years Eve I make a spread of appetizers for us to eat.  This year we had 7 layer mexican dip,  veggies, pretzels, and potato chip with dip, pepperoni rolls, and a stromboli type thing that Rich prepared using the dough that I made, thinly sliced pepperoni, and provolone cheese.  

We filled up our plates and ate our yummy appetizers while watching a movie called Dolphin Tale.   

That's right ... had to get a close up of this little girl ... too cute that she had a plate of food in front of her and she was laying on her side.
We love this tradition so much and look forward to it each year.  As the children get older, it's so much fun to listen to them talk about the traditions that we are setting and get excited about them!  Rosalie and Jonathan were sleeping soundly by 8 PM.  The rest of us played wii sports resort and settled down for another movie to watch.  Martin and Aaron really seemed to have it in them to make it until midnight ... but Rich and I couldn't manage it.  So, we all headed to bed at about 11:15PM.  That's okay, we'll try again next year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

A recap of 2011
*Rich celebrated his 40th birthday*
*Rosalie entered her terrific 2s*
*Martin turned 9 entering his last year of the single digits*
*Martin and Aaron completed 1st and 3rd grade*
*Jonathan started school and turned a WHOLE HAND*
*We got to spend lots of time with family in VA this year*
*We got to spend some time with family in PA - and got to spend lots of time with Rich's sister Lisa and our niece and nephew this year*
*We went on a wonderful trip to Disney World and made lots of happy memories*
*Rich had plenty of work to keep him busy and provide for us*
*Aaron turned 7*
*Rich finished his book that will be published and available summer of '12*
*Rich took a 2 week hunting trip to PA*
*Larissa and the children took a 1 week trip to Nashville*
We have had a really great year.  We have had ups and downs just like every other family does.  We are thankful for the blessings of children, family, friends, work, and home.  

Fall 2010

Fall 2011 - Look at how much they've grown!

We are grateful for a year full of growth in loving God, loving each other, and loving others.  We look forward to another year of growing in Christ, and growing in our love toward others.  Happy 2012!