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Blessed Good Friday

April 19, 2014

I love that this year Daddy had the day off with PTO even. It was such a gift to share the normalcy of the day and yet the special little traditions that have become part of our Good Friday life with little ones. It’s hard to attend Stations of the Cross at the parish as it is overflowing with people and generally longer than the normal attention span of our youngest. Therefore, for the last several years, we have simply observed some afternoon silence. Each year it looks just a tad different but always includes some guided prayer and activity.

This year, the kids designed their own coloring pages with art from Katie Hadfield. Aren’t her drawings perfect? I love that she provides both a colored version and the stamps. I have used her stamp kits many times for different projects with the kids. I was so delighted to have found her kit just a few days ago and knew instantly just how I wanted to use it. It was the perfect addition to our school day on Thursday morning.

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I asked them to find a bible passage and to create a picture to go along with the passage they chose. They had free reign and I wasn’t hovering as I was actually tutoring downstairs. They took turns watching the babies, doing their chores, and creating their own coloring page. Michael has been using Gimp (a free photoshop knockoff) for several months with his Minecraft programming course. I was so delighted in his design, but equally delighted in how quickly Katie learned the basics and was able to put together her picture.

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After I was finished tutoring, Michael asked if I would help him with a few things. He knows how to make his momma happy, right?! “Sure son. I’ll share my Gimp love with you. What would you like to do?”

“Well, I want to put Jesus on the cross, but I can’t figure out how to size him correctly, and I don’t know how to nail his feet.” Done. However, we couldn’t figure out the nail dilemma. I think everyone knows the story so please just forgive us for using a risen Christ on the cross. You know his intention.

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Then from 2:00-3:00 p.m. today the kids (and I) were able to color our pictures while observing the sacred time leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross. Daddy chose to read instead.

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We were blessed to have spent the first half hour of silence with our dear friends who had spent the night and day playing at our house. What a gift to share the faith with childhood friends and end a fantastic 24 hours together celebrating Jesus!

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While coloring, we prayed and listened to this amazing scriptural rosary for children. I gave the kids the option of praying the rosary or the Stations of the Cross. Katie declared that the stations makes her too emotional and since she spoke up first, we said the rosary instead.


I love that this version is narrated/prayed by children. I love that it tells the Passion one prayer at a time. It’s the perfect addition to our time of silence, leaving just a little time for quiet, and then to start an Easter movie in the last few minutes. The Sorrowful Mysteries are particularly beautiful when presented in this manner. I love everything we have from these publishers. It’s truly a great addition to our media library. I only wish we had every one of their audio saint stories. They are truly our first love.

The babies found their own ways to celebrate the silence. HA.

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As our Good Friday wraps up, I want to leave you with this most incredible rendition of Hallelujah. It’s truly spectacular. Her voice is anointed for sure and the words so very perfect our Good Friday celebrations. Admittedly, I listened to it this morning for the first time before even getting out of bed. I love it and what a way to both start and end Good Friday.

Blessings to you and your family in this sacred Triduum.

Great Field Trip – despite the pollen

April 12, 2014

Gallivanting all over the local area with these fantastic homeschooling families has been a tremendous gift to us. Today, we tried something new to us…letterboxing and geocaching.

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It seems the letterboxing can be quite difficult based on the complexity of the clues and the changes to the terrain between being written and actually found. At any rate, thanks to a combined effort, we were able to find one of the two hidden boxes.

Katie declared this part 1 of the clue…two rocks embedded in the trail (with cousin Julius).

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Mrs. Kramer didn’t give up and was able to help the kids find the actual hidden pouch based on the remaining set of clues. Well done. It was the highlight the experience as it was the only one we successfully found. Yippee!

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Each container is specific to the one who hid it. This one was interesting as it was a ziploc bag sealed in duct tape and a bit “hidden” in how to open it. Creative idea to seal it from the elements as it hides for weeks and months, etc. underneath a rock.

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So when you find the letterbox, it contains a stamp (personal to that find) and a journal. You use the stamp you brought and stamp the journal that will then be put back into it’s original location for another adventurer to find, and you use the stamp included, to stamp your own journal signifying you found it. Of course, the grand idea is to collect stamps from all over the US.

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Today’s was significant to our location…the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain Preserve.

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Here’s the stamp Michael & Julius left in the journal that was returned to it’s hiding place. They signed their names and dated it with their location.

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Cool, right? I love that it is educational. I love that it has a hunt & find aspect. I love that someone has taken the time to write out clues that we then have to interpret and execute correctly. I love that it’s a bit of a surprise what you are going to find. I love that it takes us outside, doing something out of our day-to-day norm. I love that we did it together. I think we will be back. In fact, there are a few more to find in this location and we ran out of time for the geocache…more to come I guess as we try our hand at that too.

A picnic was in order after trekking all over the mountain in search of our find. Perfect timing.

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With just a few minutes left in our allotted time, the kid wanted to go explore the fairy houses made by a local Girl Scout troop. Little did we know that they’d be able to build their own with supplies left nearby. Well played. Well played. The kids loved it.

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Michael’s started like this…attaching the top and bottom and filling the inside with cozy moss.

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Then he found a nearby hole, cleaned it out, placed his house inside and gave it a proper roof.


Katie made a soft place on the inside and left a little token for the fairies. LOVE it. Hers is so neat and precise and rebuilt many times to get it just right.

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It’s been so long since we’ve been to this mountain, but I think we just might have to come back. It’s perfect for the big kids (and Clare would definitely love it). I’ll have to be strategic with Elizabeth though…not a great location for her just yet and then there’s the timing of the impending SUMMER heat. Oh well. It’s not going anywhere I guess.

Thanks mom for keeping the babies today! It was fun to be with the big kids.

Happy Siblings Day

April 11, 2014

A trip to Build-a-Bear was in order. Neither of the babies had been yet and a half price coupon was burning a hole in this momma’s pocket. Michael inherited Elizabeth’s bear as we couldn’t even convince her to be interested. Katie girl was all over the 1D bear. It’s been in her bed every night since. Clare calls her puppy her “Tebby bear” and brings it down with her every morning. Too sweet. She liked bathing it the best!
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Clare loves to read and Katie loves to read to her. Elizabeth loves to climb on EVERYTHING. These three girls are really great together.
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Katie can even get Clare to take a late afternoon nap with a long story. Bad news for timing, but great for Katie’s heart. She loves it when Clare sits with her.
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Love these girls.
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I’m so thankful for the neighborhood boys especially. Although Katie enjoys playing with them, Michael loves the boy camaraderie. There are always Nerf Wars or basketball games or football or any number of outdoor games. Rarely do they spend time indoors, but often I find them here to play games or with the babies. The 3C’s, as the kids so lovingly refer to them, are special kids and of course Reilly is a dear friend!
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He’s also been learning to jump rope. I love his energy and independence. He’s determined to learn new things. Most recently it’s been jump roping, but he also has been practicing dribbling and shooting baskets whenever he can find a goal. (I think we might have to invest this summer.)
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Who doesn’t love a little ice cream while finishing homework. Michael has been trying really hard to finish his schoolwork by 1:00 so that he can do his Minecraft ModDesign 1 class while I tutor. It’s been a great motivation. Now if only I could get him to not make careless math mistakes.
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Clare loves to bring me bouquets. Michael actually taught her to gather them and give them to mom. I love it! (Although I seriously hate the fact that dandelions are already growing in our yard.)
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She also seriously loves her princess dresses. In fact, every skirt becomes a princess outfit. She has resorted to finding some of Elizabeth’s skirts to squeeze into. I guess her princess costume and her one tutu just aren’t cutting it anymore.
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Although walking Murray, the neighbor’s dog, is really Katie’s job, Clare is convinced she’s part of the process also. In fact, we will pull into the neighborhood and she’ll ask, “Walk Muway?”
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Elizabeth is at a fantastic stage right now, mostly happy and full of life. She’s discovering everything and changing so very much. Today, she shared some Monster Trail Mix with me. It’s my favorite and naturally she thinks she has a right to everything I have in my hands. Nope. Just have your own today little girl.
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Katie is so bummed that she has now read all of Riordan’s books in all the series he has currently written. She finished the last pages after lunch today. I love that they have both found a writer they like. I love that the books are not a quick read. I love that I can hear them laughing as they read and sharing stories with each other. Michael is finishing up the first in the Kane Chronicles, but already begging Katie to tell him the details in #2 & #3. Katie recently found out he’s writing the Jupiter series next. I don’t know for sure, but she’s already asked permission to pre-order it. Thank you Nate for inspiring the kids to be readers!
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So…our week is always full of life, lots of noise, activity, and sure to be a few moments of insanity too.

I’m thankful for the warmer weather and the spring loveliness, but I’m especially thankful for the rain mid-week that washed away all our pollen at least for a few days. Sadly, this year, we have all been slammed with the dreaded allergies. I guess it was bound to happen living in the south, but I was not prepared! At any rate, our blueberries are growing and although we dug up all the strawberries last year, we are looking forward to visiting the strawberry farm for our own u-pick goodies.
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Happy spring all!!!


April 5, 2014

So…I might not have been able to publish before her birthday, but sweet Elizabeth’s infancy is now published and soon to be in our hands. This means that all four of the kids have a baby book at least. YIPPEE!!!

Elizabeth’s baby book is HERE.

Elizabeth's Baby Book













Her baptism book is HERE.

Elizabeth Baptism













Read her first birthday book HERE.

Elizabeth's 1st Birthday


Happy 4th Birthday Cousin Julius

March 24, 2014

God is so good to have held off the rain for Julius’ 4th birthday; all things firetrucks.

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I spy a party about to begin!

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The birthday boy is indeed ready for a party!

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There were friends here to celebrate,

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and family of course too.

Aunt Anna

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and Grana & baby Elizabeth.

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Everyone got a chance to climb onto the truck, but I think the birthday boy loved it most of all.

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Have you ever gotten to put out a pretend fire? We have!!

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There might also have been some serious temptation to run through the stream of water, 59F or not.

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Climbing on the truck is cool, but taking a ride on the fire truck is fantastic!

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Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Julius. Happy birthday to you!

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Make a wish!

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We love you sweet boy. Happy 4th birthday. Really though. When did you get so big?!

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Grandpa & Grandma & Great

February 28, 2014

So the Kansas Grandparents were finally able to visit Atlanta and celebrate with us so many great occasions this week.

We started out celebrating Elizabeth’s first birthday. (More birthday pictures to come soon.) She might be #4, but she is no less photographed.

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We also celebrated this special man and the occasion of his first communion. (Yes. More pictures to come of that also.)

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When the grandparents visit, there are sure to be lots of games played. In fact, we give some consideration to making sure there are a few new ones to try in their visits. There was some serious game playing this week…more games than I even photographed! The kids are thrilled!!!

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Great Grandma Edna hasn’t been to Atlanta for four years. Our sweet Elizabeth Edna is named after her and this birthday was the perfect opportunity to celebrate together, for the first time.

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She also happens to love Peeps. Thanks to a family friend for having purchased matching shirts for the kids. I love this photo of Grandma Edna with her peeps.

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Nate’s parents, Sandy & Kent, are so fantastic at truly creating some memories and playing with the kids while they visit. I love this about their visits. (This trip, they were also an incredible gift to me in helping prepare for two celebrations.)

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What a great week and so many fantastic memories. Please come back again soon…this time for some late summertime swimming maybe?

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Snowmagedon #2 or Winter Storm PAX

February 14, 2014

Oh. My. Goodness. We have certainly experienced an unusual southern winter! An abundance of snow TWICE! This time, we actually got more snow, 5″ by Thursday morning, and ice too. That’s the tricky part…the ice. However, we were blessed to not lose power and the temps really were warmer this time around than the last. That helps.

I’m just going to let the photos speak for themselves. Unless you have lived in the tropics your whole life, I’ll spare you the usual snow commentary.

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So the sweet girl had no shoes other than her cowboy boots and her tennis shoes. So…what does any good redneck southern do…find the camo duct tape an outdoor trash bag. Slip on your cowboy boots and commence to make them waterproof! Yes. Folks. We have officially arrived.

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Snow fort with the neighborhood kids.

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She was indeed resourceful with her winter attire.

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I wonder if the kids will ever spend so much consecutive hours outside the rest of the year? They have loved the snow play. It’s such a rite of childhood, right?! Nate and I both love to reminisce of growing up in KS during the winter. It makes me happy that the kids have some of their own memories, even though we live in the south. I’m forever grateful for our seasons!

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