This past week was insane.  We had our year end celebration night at the tutorial on Thursday.  This is the night when they proudly display their science and history projects, as well as present the recitations they’ve been memorizing all year.  This meant that Tuesday and Wednesday were spent feverishly working on completing those projects.  Throw in 2 trips to the pharmacy for strep throat medicine, practices, May the 4th celebrations, and Scott working overtime… and you result in one messy house…. and one slightly insanely stressed out Mom.  I am not exaggerating when I say that by Thursday we were out of all groceries and our house was a very literal disaster.  I don’t think it has ever been messier than it was this week.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of WW II Victory Day in Europe there was a flyover of historic WW II planes.  We described it to the kids as a parade of planes.

I had it on my calendar for a few months, but then Scott’s work schedule picked up and I had given up on the possibility of us going. There was no way I was going to attempt it on my own after the week we had, but, he worked it out and was able to go in early for a few hours and then come home and spend the day with us.

It was a much, much needed family day out for us.

We started out with a flat tire in the driveway. 

I wondered if we would make it after all.  But, we got it patched and were on the road. 

We got to DC and found a spot to watch the planes. 






My oldest had read the YA version of Unbroken this quarter and was quite excited to see a B24 just like Louie Zamperini had flown in.


After the parade we grabbed lunch from a food truck.  (I am obsessed and slightly romanced by food trucks and love eat from them whenever possible).   We then discussed what we wanted to do/see with our remaining time in the city.  One child wanted to see the Washington Monument, one the Lincoln Memorial, one the WW II memorial and one wanted to walk into the building across the street from us. 





(so convenient that 3 of the 4 were in a straight row)…. we threw in a visit to the Vietnam Memorial, a walk by the back side of the White House, and ended with all of us walking into the lobby of the Department of Commerce to make our youngest happy.


It was a beautiful day and just exactly the balm this tired Momma needed… to get away from the house and enjoy some time together as a family.


I love Washington DC and am grateful we live close enough to go in for an afternoon with little planning and preparation needed.   It was the perfect kick off to Mother’s Day weekend.


The kids and I spend a good amount of time in the van.  And sometime last year I felt like maybe I was gonna pull my hair out as we fought over everything from whose turn it was to ride in the middle row, to whether or not we wanted the air blowing from the vents or not.  Someone would inevitably kick someones seat, someone else would break out into an annoying song and before long ALL of us were grumbling and complaining.

Then one day in the church library I stumbled across a cd series called Johnathan Park.  It was about a boy whose dad was an archeologist and it explained the science behind Creation.  I instantly thought of my niece who was obsessed with all things dinosaurs and thought we could listen to it to see if it was any good.

The kids were hooked.  The ended up listening to all 9 cd sets.  It got a little crazy in the adventures the family went on (a trip to outer space, really?).  But it did stem many wonderful conversations.   I decided it was a bit young for my niece at the time.

When it was finished I pulled out the readers theatre version of the Chronicles of Narnia that I had bought years before but the kids hadn’t shown interest in.  This time around they were enthralled.  We spent every van ride to and from practice last summer listening to the Chronicles of Narnia.

Instantly our van rides went from something to be endured to something to be cherished.  More than once I’d pull in the driveway and they would say, “Please mom don’t turn it off, let us listen a little longer.”

We finished Narnia and moved on to a few others readers theatre stories and then some poorly acted out biography accounts.  I thought for sure the kids would find them cheesy but we were all hooked and we learned so much about so many historical figures.  Our entire winter was spent listening to biographies. 

This spring we had used up most of the cd’s in the church collection, so I moved on to actual books on cd from the public library.  We studied WW I a few weeks ago so I checked out a book called Lord of the Nutcracker Men.  This is by far the heaviest subject matter we’ve covered and the writing is definitely above that of my youngest, but it does a great job of tackling the difficult concept of war for children.  So often my oldest son has this almost romanticized view of war, as I am sure most young boys do.  But, this paints a more realistic picture.  The book takes place in England and has a series of letters the father writes home to his 10 year old son about life on the front lines.  It was written in such a clever way, and the writing itself is well done. I have truly been impressed.

We have had so many wonderful discussions in our van rides this past year.  Talks about our faith, talks about the allegories in the Chronicles of Narnia, talks about slavery, and prejudice, and honesty and even a few talks about dating.  But, today my son said something that just made me smile from ear to ear.  We were listening to the book and my 10 year old said, “Mom, this writer is so smart.  He totally brought in the Iliad and the Greek gods earlier, and fit it in with the toy soldiers in his garden. He knew what he was doing when he wrote about those gods earlier.” Now unless you have been listening to the story I can’t really explain what it all means.  But I just loved the fact that he was commenting on the writing, on not just the events in the story, but in the way the author crafted the story.  This, I thought THIS is why we read aloud to kids of all ages.  And I just haven’t been doing that.  In fact, even though I know from all my elementary education classes how valuable it is, even still, I haven’t been doing it.  BUT, now thanks to the cd player in the van, now, we are!  And I love it!  And I love the conversations we’ve had.  I love when they giggle at the British humor, when they speculate over what they think will happen next.  I love how they will say, “wait hit pause,” and ask a question about the plot because then I know they are actually listening. 

And I Love, I LOVE the fact that our rides in the van have turned from something to be endured to something we cherish.  I love that it is no longer wasted time, but we are sharing in experiences together and learning together.  I love it! 

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The kids and I escaped down to VA for just shy of 24 hours to spend some time with my SIL and her family.  I adore Scott’s sister so a visit to her house was a bright spot in our week.  

We arrived in the early afternoon with time for me to take the 4 boys to the park while Aunt Karen took the girls to run a few errands.





Then after dinner we built and decorated gingerbread houses. 


Now, I must say we did not have luck with building a sturdy construction of said houses… the nifty little trick on Pinterest turned out to be a bust, to say the least, however not a single kid seemed to mind as they still were able to consume gobs and gobs of sugar throughout the endeavor.  IMG_7407

I love this picture of my nephew… arm out on the bench, mouth full of graham cracker and icing… he was one very happy little boy.  Pretty sure his face says, “man this is the best after dinner activity ever”IMG_7402

Then there’s my youngest… roof falls off mid decorating, no problem, just eat the roof.



While Karen and I struggled to find a way to make the houses stand, we called in for back up with Jim… and as is often the case, he once again proved that dad/uncles rock… “What having problem with your gingerbread houses ladies, here let me take a stab at it”


And he builds a TRAIN…

making this little guy the happiest 5 year old ever.


My oldest son wanted to take a stab at constructing his on his own, he tried using reeses cups to serve as part of the construction…and when it didn’t exactly hold up, he laughed it off. 


My 8 year old’s house reminded me of Dr Seuss, couldn’t you totally see this house in Whoville?


And when my youngest daughter’s house collapsed, she embraced it and instead made what looked like a plate of cookies.


Because after all, what are gingerbread houses for anyway?  Just an excuse to have fun and eat sugar.

As usual, we had a blast with them and made many wonderful memories!


I absolutely love apple picking with my kiddos. 


This year I found a great price on delicious locally grown honey crisp apples at the local grocery store and we enjoyed them all fall and I was so tempted to skip out on apple picking b/c we had already enjoyed such delicious apples this fall.  But apple picking is about so much more than the apples for me.

It’s the memories.



I love walking through the rows of apple trees.  I love watching the kids pick apples.  I love the big blue skies, the fall colors, the cool air and warm sunshine.  I love fall.  I love pretending we live in the country even though we live in suburbia.


And so I was so grateful that we were able to slip away for a few hours this weekend and pick apples together as a family.


Fall fun at its finest…



1o years ago Scott and I went before our church and made a commitment before God to raise our son as a disciple of our Lord Jesus Chris.  Father’s day weekend, 2004, we rejoiced with our congregation as he was baptized.  This was not a sign of our sons salvation.  It was the sign of God’s promise to save and cleans sinners who call upon Him.  Our son was not saved, but we rejoiced in the seal representing God’s power to save.  In June 2004 our son was accepted into our church family to be raised as a disciple in the community of believers.


This weekend, we watched our saved son go up before that same congregation and make a public profession of his faith.  Our son has accepted the promise and this weekend he was recognized as a full member of our church.


What a blessed experience!


I remember vividly when he was four years old and he first told us that he had asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins.  We had prayed with him before bed and I prayed something to the effect of, “please draw him closer to you, help him to know you as a his Savior and to seek to glorify you with his life.”  After saying Amen, he said, “Why do you pray that every day?”  We answered, because that is our hearts BIGGEST desire.  We want nothing more than for him to know Jesus as his Savior.   He replied, “I do.  I prayed to Jesus one night in bed.  I told him I was sorry for my sins and asked him to be my Savior.  You don’t need to keep praying for that.”

Since then I have truly seen God at work in his heart and life.    He is far from perfect.  But, I see a genuine desire to glorify God with his life.  And nothing, nothing gives me more joy than to see my child walking with the Lord.

3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

My heart was so full this weekend and adding to that precious experience was the fact that our extended family came to witness the event.  As we filled two pews with grandparents, uncles, aunt and TONS of cousins, my heart was overflowing with gratitude.  What a blessing to be able to raise my children in an extended family of believers.  What a blessing to know that not only Scott and I are praying for and seeking to model Christ to our kids, but their entire extended family is as well.

Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.



This year in History we are studying American History from the explorers to the war on 1812.  I love history.  It is my favorite part of home schooling.  And I am so grateful that we live within driving distance of so many great historical sites. 

I really wanted to take the kids to Philadelphia  for a day trip over spring break.    Scott graciously rearranged his work schedule so that he could join us.  (because he is the best ever)…. I love day trips with the family.  It was such a relaxing, low key day.  We left the house a little before 9 am and were home just before 9:30.  We saw all that I wanted us to see and had an enjoyable dinner in historic Philadelphia. IMG_1827

I know I mentioned it this summer, but I gotta say it again.  The Junior Ranger programs that the US National Parks do is just fabulous.  Especially for elementary age kids.  It gives them something to do while waiting in line.  It teaches them a thing or two and keeps them engaged.  I love it.  This year the Historical Parks also added trading cards.   Anytime a kid sees a park ranger they can ask for a trading card.  The rangers will give them a card after answering a trivia question.   They made the questions age appropriate… for my 3 year old they would pretty much accept the answer “Philadelphia” to almost any question.  Smile  The older ones had to work a little harder for it… but what they didn’t know is they were learning more information in the process.  (sneaky rangers)  My kids LOVED this!



We visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.  It was really interesting to learn the history of our currency and to watch money being made right before our eyes.  (sadly we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the US Mint).  We saw several historical paintings, saw the actual chair George Washington sat in at the Continental Congress and stood in the room where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  We even ate dinner in the building where our forefathers ate and met years ago.  We learned about Ben Franklin’s printing shop, and watched how the printing press worked.  Then we visited the original Post Office and mailed ourselves an envelope so we could have it hand stamped with Ben Franklin’s post office stamp. IMG_1787


I was more than a little awestruck by the history.  History makes me so reflective and contemplative.  Would I be able to do what they did?  Would I be able to risk my life, my family’s life and our well being for the good of our country?  After watching a movie at the visitor center we asked the kids which side they think they would have sided with.  My 9 year old very wisely answered, “I really don’t know because I haven’t been through what they had been through.”  If I am honest, I don’t know either, but I do know that I am grateful for the wisdom, bravery, and sacrifices made by our founding fathers.