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Lemonade out of Lemons

November 16, 2015

So it seems that life has taken a few twists here lately and this little blog has been on the back burner for sure.

Last week, I picked up one of the littles who then decided to go limp and created that perfect unprecedented moment you wish upon everything you could redo. It seems that I have a tailbone injury from it…well probably from a series of things over my lifetime, but definitely flaring up now. I’ve had to say no to many things, ask for help, and take things slower. The kids have had to become just a bit more independent and I’ve had more time to consider our life and how we spend our time. There are changes afoot I think. The immediate changes are obvious. The future changes are more contemplative and worthy of pondering further.

Today, it’s a new week and the weather is sunny. Fall is here for sure with leaves on the ground and cooler temperatures too. Today, we celebrate a new week and the chance to turn this crazy tide that has been an injured momma.

Still injured, but determined, we set out to join our homeschool friends at a tree climbing field trip. Thankfully Papa (my dad) was planning to join us. However, it seems again God had other ideas. My mom landed herself at urgent care for x-rays and inevitably with crutches for torn ligaments in her foot. So…the kids and I ventured without Papa. God bless us all.

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What a fantastic day, and despite it’s many curves, everyone had a great time and we all look back on the day with great memories and the anticipation of a future spring trip also! For now, this momma is thankful to be home and with great memories of my own (and the familial pressure to actually blog the day). Hear me roar! We survived the day, injuries and all, and all are smiling.

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I spent a great deal of time with Clare today at the Chick’Pea course; ages 4-6. What a great little combination of obstacles. She conquered her occasional fears and mastered each of them!

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She had a great time and was so very, very independent and responsible with her rope safety! Everyone was smitten by her and quite ready to help her along the way. The staff at the Treetop was superb!!! Seriously fantastic. Hats off to Sarah, Brandon, & Sean! I’m so very, very grateful.

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Sweet girl fell after having finished her course. She put a big hole inside her lip and attracted everyone’s attention with the blood spewing from her mouth and her screaming too. I’m thankful for our little homeschool village that always comes to be my extra hands. (This is Mr. Sean who was one of the fantastic guides. He even played the harmonica later for Clare & Elizabeth while supervising Clare in the trees.)

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Katie is the only one who has been on the course before. She loved it as much as she did the first time. I’m so very glad as I didn’t really get to experience the big kids course much.

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Ziplines are everyone’s favorite!

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Michael says the day was “awesome. The best part was Level 3 HIGH because the ziplines were fun and it contained the most. To be on the ziplines, it felt like you were as light as air.”

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What a great way to start the week! We’ll ignore the little hiccups along the way!

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We will spend our week simplifying and enjoying our little home in preparation for a great 9-year-old birthday celebration, thanksgiving, and holiday decorating too. Wow! Five Mondays until Christmas!

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The world vs. big families

September 10, 2015

I know I haven’t posted a lot lately, but today there’s a fire lit under me. Today, I’m simply frustrated with all the little ways our world is not the same as it was in years past, even just a few years ago.  

On Thursdays Katie’s bucket is filled for the entire week. We happily drive 40 minutes so she can take a 2 hour science lab class. Some families drive hours, literally. It means a lot to her and it fills a huge need in our curriculum. However, of course it comes with sacrifices as all five kids accompany us for those hours. Realistically, it means I have the four youngest during nap time while trying to entertain them without losing all our minds or breaking the bank. It’s not all bad, but it does get tricky as the three littles don’t have long attention spans for anything. 

Today, I walked Katie in to class because despite the fact she is an old soul and no stranger to these classes, she’s not allowed to walk from the front of the building to the sidewalk still within sight of the classroom. Here’s gripe #1; no exceptions to policy. It’s a liability issue. Students must be 13 to check themselves in and out. Ugh. State of the world number 1 million.

The kids are overjoyed that today we are spending the first hour at a nearby McDonald’s play place. That means a snack, new friends, and lots of running and climbing. With a baby in my arms and two toddlers in tow, no employee offers to carry our tray. It’s ok; I’m super woman. State of the world number one million one. In addition, when I asked TWICE if they could refill the wipes dispenser, the responsibility kept being passed to different employees ultimately remaining unfilled. State of the world number one million two. Oh well. Germs are good, right? Thank you, however, for having a dedicated bathroom in the play place room. VERY, VERY helpful!!

From there, proud of myself for getting some grocery shopping done outside of our own neck of the woods, the last hour is spent at Sam’s stocking up for the week…well partially, as it didn’t really allow for many cold-item purchases. We walk in, there’s a bottle neck at the carts, everyone pushing ahead, and when I finally get to a cart of our own, there’s no room to put my three kids into it for the people trying to enter the store around me. Again, no wipes in the dispenser at the door to give a quick wipe down of the carts. What’s my number count now? …at least two more.

I’m barely in the doors, and a sales person with DirectTV seems to think I’m his target audience. I smiled, interrupted him before he had said anything other than “Hello ma’am, can I….” with my own response of “Sir. Seriously. Three young whiney children in the cart is probably not the person you want to stop. Thank you though.” He was shocked to say the least. I shook it off as an adult male who didn’t understand the dynamic of young children. However, really, it’s probably more an indication of the “it’s all about me” mentality and his quotas to sell that day. State of the world one million five.

Thankfully, we finished our shopping with only the 8-year-old saying he had to go potty (when we were in the back of the store none-the-less). Sorry, buddy. You have to wait! No lines at check out. Sweet! My three of four children graciously helped unload the cart onto the checkout belt only to get to the register and be told that the checker would have to load my groceries into a separate cart, and I needed to move the children’s cart out of the way. What? “I’m sorry ma’am. What?”

After trying to explain herself several times, I was still clearly in shock at this new-to-me policy and trying to interrupt what she surely must have meant but wasn’t actually conveying. Oh no. She really did mean what she was saying. She was required to put all my things into a new cart, and then if I didn’t want to take two carts out to the parking lot (because three children were occupying the one we had been using) I was welcome to transfer my children to the new cart that was now filled with groceries (and clearly unable to be filled with children). What on earth? Seriously? She was adamant that I could step aside and solve this myself after having paid for our things. Um no. Sorry. Sometimes this momma just doesn’t want to conform to idiocracy…real or perceived.

“Michael, please take the groceries from her cart, and transfer them back to our cart so that we can leave the store.” Of course, she thought that was ridiculous.

“But ma’am I will have already put them into the new cart.”

“Yes. Why you are doing that, I don’t quite understand as I don’t see the need to transfer the children, which clearly are the harder of the entities.”

“Ma’am what would you like me to do with your things?”

Hhhhm. I think that’s pretty obvious, right?! “I’d like you to allow my 8-year-old to place them into our cart. Thank you.”

Clearly we are mutually annoyed with one another. She is frustrated by the reality that his loading our cart is slower than her scanning the items themselves and no doubt that I trumped her ability to follow policy. I’m annoyed at the lunacy of this whole thing and it’s impact on me and my young children who thankfully at the moment are happy.

So…contemplating this scene, I’m wondering why on earth this is policy. Although she didn’t say, I can only assume that it has something to do with liability or preventing stealing of items underneath the children. I don’t know. Seems to me that there is surely a better way to deal with either scenario. Regardless, point number 1 million and six on my every-growing list.

Why did this all bother me so much today? I don’t know. Maybe it was because I wasn’t in my “predictable” home territory or that I am a bit more tired after being up last night with a baby cutting teeth. Maybe it is because in my subconscious I’m still mulling over this notion that Europe will soon be Islam because they aren’t meeting their own replacement rates. We aren’t too far behind in that regard though. It makes me so sad that our family of seven is LARGE when several decades ago, we would have been considered small.

Normally, I’m happy to live in my own little crazy world of young homeschooling children and like-minded families, but today, I was so struck by the “state of the world” and it’s impact upon us.

What do I want? Ultimately, I want my family to be admired in a way that inspires others to grow their own family. I want us to support one another on this journey of raising the next generation of our country. I want, even if it is just a little, more selflessness in how we interact with one another. I would love for kindness to be the norm and that be enough…not concerns with liability at every turn. What an idea that we would be so invested in helping one another and building a society of love that liability wouldn’t be an issue. I want the babies conceived to find homes and not meet the instruments of abortionists. I want scared mothers to believe that there is a family at every turn willing to help her and her baby too. I want to walk this country’s land knowing that I’m not trekking along alone; forging my own path. Instead, to know the certainty that there are those before me already welcoming us at the bend ahead.

So…today I choose to rejoice in my own little domestic unit that is trying to work together, trying to sacrifice for one another, trying to live in charity and generosity. I will remain committed to raising independent children capable of intelligent thought, problem solving abilities, and the desire to do good with great fortitude and strong character. I will say my prayers, holding even tighter to the rosary beads at night, praying grace upon all of us that we will embrace the changes that come with more grace in our hearts.

Today, I pray for other big families that God would place us in each other’s paths to help one another and be the instrument of change, if nothing else, by sheer numbers.

For those reading this, not in my own state-of-life and maybe not able to relate in the same way, please look around and see how you can promote a spirit of life. Big families aren’t a curse, really!! God bless our world!

Sope Creek ROCKS!!

August 7, 2015

Yep. Sometimes the pun is just too good!

Who is up for a casual little in-the-middle-of-the-suburbs hike? (Mommy too!) Grana kept Max at our house and Aunt Anna met us to bring Papa & Julius and pick up Elizabeth for a little playtime one-on-one. Anna definitely does better with limited kid responsibilities. One is good! Love you sis.

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What a great little venue for a day with nothing on our calendar. Those days are quickly fading with the impending school schedules quickly sneaking up on us. I don’t plan to begin our schooling until after Labor Day, but none-the-less our extracurricular classes are beginning much sooner. For today, we enjoyed hiking in the city while everyone else in our county enjoyed their second day of school.

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Totally cool history and an easy walk for our four & five year olds in tow.

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We parked in the lot and were able to take one path in and a different one back to the car. Shorter is always better as you fight to finish a hike, especially with little ones. Thankfully, we lucked out without any requests to go potty. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do as there were no facilities of any kind on-site. Interesting!

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This is the coolest piece of history I’ve seen in a long while. The kids loved climbing of course, but it’s really a neat structure, even in its current state. To think Confederate money was printed right there before being burned down by the Union army. That is really cool to me. We didn’t have history like this growing up in Kansas.

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Michael was climbing down the way a bit and came running back to me in tears. Something had flown between his eye and the lens of his glasses and stung him. Sweet thing. He had trouble with sunscreen in his eyes at Six Flags a week ago. I was proud of him though for pulling through and when Papa offered to go back to the car, he said “I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day. I’ll be fine.” Tears and all, he did pull through and the day ended great. The “bite” created a welt for about 5 minutes and then totally disappeared. Sure wish I knew what it was. The only thing I had with me was witch hazel, TerraShield, and Arborvitae. At least the witch hazel would have helped draw something out. Maybe? I don’t know. That’s what we told him and then we promptly poured water over it when he said it didn’t help. HA. No doubt, it made the sting worse. Oh well. Character building, right?!

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There’s something about rocks and water that everyone in my house loves. It’s really, really not my thing.

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This little leaf Katie found. Isn’t it cute?

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However, these leaves seriously ROCK. I have no idea what they are but they were sure fun. Umbrella anyone? How about a mask? A hiding place?

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Poor little girl was so annoyed by the sand inside her shoes that Papa took pity and helped her wash her feet before hiking back to the car. You know, if their feet would stop growing, I could more easily justify real water/hiking shoes for everyone.

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The wildlife was cool too.

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Katie rated this day a #8 for fun. I love that both kids thanked us profusely for taking them. Good attitudes and lots of fun were rewarded with a free Wendy’s Jr. Frosty on the way home. Adventures make all of us happy. Hhhmmmm, I wonder what’s next on the list? Thank you to Michael’s new Cub Scout troop for introducing us to this little gem. (Michael and Nate hiked it for the first time last weekend. Michael was itching to go back and of course show us too. Awesome buddy. Awesome.)

Our ordinary days

July 28, 2015

Sometimes I wish I thought to photograph our everyday a bit more. It seems my camera is a little less in my hands during the everyday things. I find I have pics on my phone the ipad and my husband’s phone and the kids’ tablet and on my DSLR. One of these days it will be a grand surprise to get them all downloaded and pass through my photo editing process. For now though, here are a few glimpses of how we spend our time both at home and outside the house. Our days are always full with lots of demands, adventures, play, and of course and abundance of love. God bless us and all we do as a family.

Katie and her friends made some seriously sweet cupcakes during one of their girl days here at our house. Aren’t they really cute? (The girls too, right?!)

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With Anna’s input she was brave enough to try her hand at making some little polish flowers. I’m seriously impressed, really! Having never worked with rubber cement, I assured her I thought it would work better than tacky glue. Sure enough, it works fantastic! She’s making these for a friend. I got the first bouquet which is stuck into one of my windowsill flower pots. Thank God for preteen pinterest accounts for a crafty, independent girl.

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Anna spent a few days with us last week. The little girls were especially excited to have her here. My ipad has a really fantastic book app for the kids. It’s called EPIC and it has a zillion (seems limitless really) picture books. Some of them have audio so the girls can listen/read on their own, but many more we get to read to them. They even got Anna to read a few too. She’s a sucker. Gotta love aunts with English degrees.

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The boys are soaking up every minute possible with Reilly’s move getting closer and closer. Thankfully, he’ll only be 20 minutes away, but it’s going to feel like it’s across the world I know. We’ve become quite accustomed to him being in our house. Everyone has their own little love for this amazing kid. I pray the days to come are special and meaningful in new ways.

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Clare has gotten a few playdates these past three weeks with different friends…just her friends. It’s a rare occasion and certainly the first opportunities for her. I have to admit that it has been fun to watch her interact with her friends.

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Our public library system in this county is awesome. This summer they have put on some of the most fantastic programs. We were able to see a birds of prey show, and although it was seriously hot on the pavement, the information was really impressive. Having seen many of these shows at various venues, I was pleasantly impressed to have learned new things from him. He has a lot of experience for sure. In fact, he was telling us that during a show at Callaway Gardens 12 years ago, he let an eagle free fly up over the lake and he got away from him never to have been lured back. Fast forward 12 years to just last week and our presenter is in Alabama and spots this same Eagle. In fact, he got his attention, gave him a command, the bird followed the command, and recognized his old trainer. Impressive, right?! I love this story! He couldn’t get him close enough to perch, but it was amazing to think that the bond was still there and indeed the bird had survived in the wild all these years despite it’s injuries. So cool! At any rate, here are a few of the birds he showcased.

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She loves her tablet. It’s the first real tangible purchase she has used consistently with great joy. Delighted with the camera, she takes tons of pictures now. You can imagine how happy it makes me. HA!

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This little man turned 10 months old this past week. He’s starting to move beyond the “I’m content to just stand” phase and has started to let go and balance in mid-air for seconds at a time. It won’t be long and he’ll be pressing his luck and taking those first steps. Such a sweet, sweet baby and still our little man. He’s such a peanut!

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We are off to Six Flags tomorrow…as a family this year. Max gets to hang with Grandma & Papa and Aunt Anna tomorrow. I think three to one is great odds! He’s bound to have a great day. Wish us luck and offer a prayer too if you think about it.

It’s a high flyin’ kind of day

July 18, 2015

Ahhh Michael. It is so fun to see him start to come into his own. Lately, he’s been showing interest in more things. He’s becoming more athletic and keen on all things physical and athletically challenging. I love it. It’s so good to see him venturing forward and with such a great attitude too. For me, it’s one of those proud momma moments. Today, he checked something impressive off his list.

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Yep. He really did!! Today, he took an intro class with Akrosphere, formerly the CirqueFreaks. They advertised a free intro class through our homeschool group. It’s one of the local places that offers a homeschool class during the week. It took Michael half a second to say “yes” to my invitation to take today’s class.

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Our boy has come to really love climbing and working on his upper-body strength. He still regularly practices his chin ups on the indoor bar hung in the closet doorway. This class was the perfect opportunity for him. “Try it for an hour. If you don’t like it, don’t do it again.” (Thanks Papa for the continual words of wisdom.)

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Of course, he loved it.

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Although, he would have preferred to have been suspended much higher off the ground, it was so cool to see him “flyin”. His smile speaks volumes, right?!

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He likened the experience to climbing trees (another favorite past-time of his). The pressure of the ropes was a new sensation, and admittedly would take time before it was no longer noticeable. Although, this could have been a tough instance for him with his sensory processing “issues”, he did great. The director was (playfully) jealous of his ability to bend/arch his back. It was impressive. However, I think yoga would do him well. Neither of our oldest children are very flexible in their floor stretches. They come by it naturally for sure. Today, however, he could claim a previously unknown to us talent – back flexibility.

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Clare had enough courage to ask if she could try it. We insisted that she ask the man herself. Although she’s not generally shy, we try hard as parents to instill in our kids a sense of independence and ability to speak to adults clearly and with good manners. Today, she got to practice. He was gracious to retie the knot closer to the ground and assist her in hanging upside also. Awesome! She was pretty excited. Cute, right?!

Unfortunately, the a/c unit was not cooling the facility so it literally felt like a sauna. Admittedly, we were all quite ready to get in the car. We are pathetic southerners for sure.

Even after a great afternoon, I think Michael’s decided to stick to his weekly P.E. class instead of taking an aerial class. It’s more than twice as expensive and further to drive…I’m not so overly disappointed. As one of five children, both are important considerations for me. The class was fun and definitely new to all of us. We’ll for sure keep in tune to their events and class schedules. You never know when the opportunity will present itself in the correct time or circumstance. I’m thankful to have seen our little man shine doing something totally impressive. Well done Mikey! Thanks for a fun afternoon buddy.

As an unsolicited aside, we’d highly recommend classes with them. I was impressed with the joy of the instructors, their positive manner, and their level of comfort with the silks themselves. Ms. Jen was encouraged independent exploration, but also gave solid instruction readily available to correct or guide his form. She’s a natural teacher that clearly loves her profession.


It’s Cow Day!!

July 14, 2015

As my husband says, “This is my favorite day of the summer!” It is true. We all look forward to our little mid-summer southern tradition. Atlanta being the home of the famous cows, it’s only right that we participate. I saw a hashtag today that sums it up perfectly; #eatallthreemeals. Love it.


So my husband, getting ready this morning, was almost giddy with excitement. It makes me happy that he loves to do these fun things every year. Actually, he so loves his CFA chicken breakfast burrito that the thought of having them for free, make it almost as great as Christmas morning. I love the thought of him in costume in the drive-thru. Hilarious. One of these years I’m going to stalk him just for a picture of it.

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So…how do I pull off these costumes with our busy life? One costume at a time. Last year, I did a more major overhaul and painted several new shirts. My mom taught me (when I was a kid and she was painting shirts) that you can purchase cheap acrylic paint and mix the fabric additive to the paint, and it becomes a washable fabric paint. It is cheaper than buying fabric paint and you can get it in much bigger quantities also. Making these shirts was easy. Print the image onto regular computer paper using your computer, lay the paper under the shirt, and paint what you see. It’s the no fuss way to “trace” an image.

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I also keep a box in the attic with all our Chick-fil-a paraphenalia and add to it every year. In fact, we add to it throughout the year as we find cow things that might come in handy in July. The only stipulation….any addition has to be free or pennies so as to still make our food “free”. This year we added Nate & I’s cow hats…a purchase off Amazon.

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My shirt was a new addition last year. I had a large pregnant belly and no “maternity” shirt. I resorted to buying an over-sized shirt. Wanting to be different and highlight the baby fever, I added my little calves to the back of the shirt. It makes me happy; my little calf crew.

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Admittedly, I was going to “phone in” Max’s costume this year and just dress him in his white onesie and give him the cow toy to hold. However, Grana came to the rescue this morning while I was tutoring (an hour before we were leaving for breakfast) and sewed spots onto his onesie. It was complete with a little cow tail even. She got him bathed and dressed, and even accessorized with mismatching black & white socks. What a great surprise for me and a precious little baby too. Gotta love our little man. Thanks momma!

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Yep. All seven of us will be in costume today. Tonight, we’ll enjoy dinner together, but this morning, it’s breakfast with Grana and Papa. I guess they haven’t been southerners long enough to dress in full costume. In fact, dad had his hat folded and trying to hide it in his large papa hands so as to be inconspicuous I guess. However, their accessory gained them a free entree and a few memories with the grandkids.

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Breakfast was never so much fun.


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Our little blonde-haired girl enjoying her Chicken Minis.

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We got Reilly to agree to join us, but only if he didn’t have to dress up. He was quite happy to tell me he’d gladly buy his own breakfast.

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Lunch was at Chick-fil-a with friends. I love to see the girls together. The big kids had enough of the noise and crazy in the playplace so they opted to read and play on their tablet at a table just outside the door. I can’t believe they are old enough to do such things. I love it though that their worlds still cross and yet they clearly have their “big kid” moments too.

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EAT MOR CHICKIN!!!! (You know it’s what’s for dinner too. Hmm. How do I say that sentence correctly?)

Gotta love water

July 4, 2015

Water balloons have certainly taken over our outdoor playtime this past week. We are almost in need of purchasing some more after having had several of these packages for many years unopened. I’m not going to comment on these pictures. I think they speak for themselves!

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The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

The Breadbox Letters

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

Small Things

Just another site

My Child, I Love You

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

Revolution of Love

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

Blog of the Courtier

by William Newton

fountains of home

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!


The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

Comments for Amongst Lovely Things

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

A Holy Experience

The life of a stay-at-home-mom should not be taken for granted. Enjoy my remembrances of today!

Young House Love

One Young Family + One Old House = Love


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