Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Choose Joy Book

Long ago and far away, okay, so maybe just 7 years ago and a few states away, I happened upon a blog called Gitzen Girl. I honestly don’t remember how I wound up there, but I do remember enjoying it so much that I went through the archives, what can I say—I didn’t home school in those days and only had two children, so I had a little extra time on my hands! It was early 2009.

I loved the way Sara wrote. I remember wishing that there was a book that my girls could have some day filled with the wisdom I read from Sara. I read her blog as I moved around a bit and as she grew more ill. One of my first memories of being settled into this house was catching the last couple minutes of her funeral, as it was broadcast. Sitting in this spot. Wishing again that there was a little book with her words to share with the, then, three children.

Books can be slow to grow, as C. S. Lewis remarked in his dedication for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but now with a fourth little one in my lap, I can read Sara’s words in a book. I was so honored to be chosen to help with the launch of Choose Joy.

The first thing that struck me in reading the (electronic pdf of the) book was that it was missing the doodles! All of Sara’s fonts and graphics that I was used to seeing were missing from the page, but then there they were, when I got my physical copy of the book—canvases she’d painted, photos of Riley (her dog), and pictures of her with her family and friends.


Her dear friend Mary Carver placed many of Sara’s blog posts into the book, linking them with person insights from her own life and memories others have of Sara in chapters.

Sara’s words are full of grace and wisdom. She reminds you to always look to God for what you need and he will provide just what you require, even if it isn’t exactly what you might have thought you needed. And she reminds us that JOY is a choice we can make for ourselves.

While Sara wrote from a place of pain and seclusion, her words move far beyond that. Sara was Catholic, single, childless, and homebound, where I am protestant, married since before I graduated college, have a house full of giggle boxes, and often out of the house more days than not, but her words are true for anyone who loves Jesus and wants to look for JOY. She was better at it than I am, despite my clear physical advantages in some areas. She saw her seclusion as a chance to serve others and an opportunity to be close to God, though she would have welcomed a different life.

Sara knew our God is a great God. One who loves her, and until we meet in heaven some day, we have these words, carefully chosen, with which to remember Sara, and even more importantly to be reminded of He who made her, after all, as Sara would tell you, it’s not about her.

I hope that you will have a chance to read this book. It releases for sale on January 5th (2016), but you can pre-order it now.

***I was given a digital and hard copies to help with my review and also some cute note cards with some of Sara’s doodles as a thank you, but no compensation for my review, and all of the opinions are mine. I do not earn anything from any of the links either.***

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

I hope that you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas time with your families and friends.  Our weather has been so unseasonably warm, as it has been across much of the country.  I must admit I don't remember ever having to take shelter for a tornado warning on the 23rd of December before!

We opted to keep our Advent a little less Christmas this year, and wait to do most of our Christmas things this week, with Justin off work.  We got out our Advent box, nativity, and Advent wreath at the beginning of December, but we didn't put up our tree until last week (this cut down on saying no to the toddler and keeps it special still). This week we've been baking and preparing for our Christmas celebration.

I hope that you all have a peaceful and joyous Christmas!  And just because it reminds me of my Daddy, Happy Christmas Eve Day!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Funny

Nate: I have to wear a grown up hat because my head is soooo big.  My head grew so big because my brain grew so ginormous.  If my head didn't grow, then it would have exploded because my brain is so big!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Here

The third week of Advent is here, and the busy-ness of outside schedules is slowing down, with AHG wrapped up until the New Year, our tutorial and church's women's ministries are wrapping this week.  There are several family and church things to help us enjoy the season in the next ten days though!

We've finished up the first half of our school year, according to our required 180 days, but we're still chugging along through the end of this week, until Justin is able to be off with us.  We'll actually reach our 100th day of school tomorrow.

Gabby presented her robot (Crabby--a play on it's crab walking style and her name) at the AHG Christmas party, finishing off her robotics badge.

Nate has been learning graphing and subtraction in math.  Our book often uses manipulatives to introduce new concepts.  He (and his sisters who helped him dispose of the tools after the lesson), were very disappointed to come upon a lesson that required graphing the number of colored candies in a bag.

Ellie is our silly toddler.  She has been playing dress up, hosting tea parties for her dolls, and coloring using pointillism.

We've visited with a Santa and took a trip to the zoo yesterday, with some unseasonably warm temperatures.

I'm in the middle of making Christmas PJ's for the kids, wrapping presents, and reading a couple of books I was chosen to join the launch teams for.  They deserve their own posts at some point, but I'm reading: Choose Joy and Raising Grateful Kids*  I've also joined the board of our local AHG troop.  Next fall I'll take over the treasurer's position as well.

We hope you are having a joyous (and maybe a little silly) Christmas season.

*(I don't get anything from those links, nor will I be paid for reviews, though I did get complimentary copies to read, and some small gifts for being a part of the groups)

Thursday, November 26, 2015


the God of the universe
my husband who loves me
Katie's humor
Gabby's giggle
Nate's patience
Ellie's growing vocabulary
getting to review two books before they launch
the girl's AHG troop
a beautiful house
food in our bellies and the pantry
clean water at the turn of a knob
a computer and Internet to stay in touch with friends, old and new
a washer and dryer in my home
our church
friends to drop by and visit
extended family that love us

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Operation Christmas Child

It is Operation Christmas Child collection week!  The girls' AHG troop filled boxes (and my trunk) to overfull again this year.  We were able to drop them off earlier this week.  That is always so fun to do.

If you don't know about OCC and Samaritan's Purse, you can learn more here.  OCC is a really wonderful ministry specifically aimed at the the children of the world.  It is also fun for kids because they can, with a little guidance about what is best to send, choose items to send to a child like themselves.

Samaritan's Purse heads up many, many relief efforts during the year too, far beyond shoe boxes.  They are on the front lines of the refuge crisis--distributing backpacks full of supplies to those in need.  They work in medical missions, disaster relief (here and abroad), and share the love of Jesus in real, tangible ways.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Picture Books

According to Kate these are the best picture books:

Amelia Bedilia
Busy Town
Tales of Peter Rabbit
Fairy Tales
The Little Engine that Could
My Little Golden Book About God
You are Special
Pumpkin Soup
The Velveteen Rabbit

Friday, November 13, 2015


Six years ago, on a beautiful Friday the 13th, this little man joined our household.

 He is thoughtful,


 and funny.

He's learning to read, write, and do math;
tuck in his pockets and take care of some household chores.

I can't believe he is already six!  He is a great brother.  He adores Ellie and is patient with all the activities he has to tag along with the older girls.

We're looking forward to seeing the young man you become.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Books for children

According to Kate:

Harry Potter books
The Chronicles of Narnia
Anne of Green Gables
The Hunch Back of Notre Dame
Ella Enchanted
The Railway Children
Little Women
Little Men
Little Pilgrims Progress
The Little Princess
Bridge to Teribithia
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
The Witches
Treasure Hunters
The Shakespeare Stealer
Shakespeare's Scribe
The Little House books
The Rose Wilder Lane books

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Funnies

Ellie to Nate: Mommmy!!!
Nate: I'm not Mommy.
Ellie: Mommmmmy!!!
Nate: You are dishonoring me!  I am a man!

By the way, I believe that mommy means more food these days.

*     *     *     *     *

Ellie: Keys! (pointing to Justin's pocket knife)
Justin: No, my pocket knife.
Ellie: And keys!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Room Re-Do (The Little Girls)

A few months back, a couple of friends were planning a move.  They gave us a set of bunk beds.  This encouraged us to spend some time rearranging!

 The first room we worked on was for the younger two girls, so here it is!

When we moved in, several years ago, this room was this medium to light blue.  I hung a transportation themed border and valance along with a Noah's ark puzzle.  Nate was still using the crib at the time, and it has never been taken from this room, even after he grew out of it, before we had Ellie.  It has looked the same the past couple of years as he and Ellie shared.

We painted it a soft baby blue.

Each girl has her own white dresser.  They also have shelves to keep their pretty little things, like the Precious Moments figurines, that their Aunt Holly gives them every year.

On the left, we have Gabby's laundry hamper.  On the far right there are baskets were I keep diapers, wipes, and crib bedding.

The crib is still there for now, but there will be a nice open space for them eventually.

Gabby's bunk has a quilt I made her.  It also has a small shelf (an Ikea spice rack) for keeping her Bible, a flashlight, and small books up out of Ellie's reach.  The toy hammock was a gift for her birthday.

The bottom bunk is currently made up with a quilt that my Grannie made for me when I was a little girl.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Funny

Gabby: Who invented Legos?

Me: I don't know, but he was from Denmark.

G: Whoever he was, he was the smartest person ever from Denmark.

Me: Neils Bohr's family might disapprove.

G: Who?

Me: A guy who developed a model of the atom.

G: Well, he didn't invent the atom.  The Lego man is way smarter.  He's even smarter than Claudius and Hamlet.

Oh dear, there is something rotten in the state of Denmark if 'the Lego guy' is smarter than Neils Bohr.

By the way, the Lego guy is Ole Kirk Christiansen

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Week

It sometimes feels that our falls are full of nothing, but birthday, but there aren't any this week.  I thought I would chronicle how are days are being spent lately.

We started our day with spelling, math, and reading lessons.  The girls' history and science are mixed into that this fall with the unit studies we're using.

The older three had a 2 1/2 hour play practice.  Ellie and I dropped them off and then we went shopping.  We wandered through a craft store and bought the binding I'll need to make Nate's birthday present.  We did our grocery shopping just before pick up, so no food would spoil.


We ran home, unloaded, made lunch, and finished up the day's school work before heading off to join a family that invited us to go to a pumpkin patch with them.

We were home.  We got our new internet service installed (our old company is going out of business).  We had a pretty typical day.  The older girls were working on researching a view point that opposes a position they are taking in a persuasive essay.  The installation fellow even gave Gabby a point for hers.  She disagreed with him (hence the opposing view), but wrote it down.

We started our school day, then ran out to meet a lady to buy some math books (Life of Fred's Liver, Kidney, and Mineshaft--yes those are the names of the books!).  We came home worked a bit more, and I made lunch.  We had a short quiet time (the older kids work independently on school, read, or rest).  Ellie had a nap in the car, so she hung out with me.  Then it was a trip to the orthodontist for a check up.  The older girls are being watched so that we can take any steps we need to in order to help make all their teeth fit later.  While we were out, we met up with a gal who is purchasing something for a fundraiser for AHG to get a check.  We finished school LATE that day!

We have music class for Gabby and Nate and art for Kate.  We stopped by the library, and did a mid-week produce pick up at the grocery.  We always cut our home assignements a bit on Mondays and Thursdays because they get class time elsewhere, so we were able to skip quiet time and finish up on time on Thursday.  To me on time is before three--sometimes it is quite a bit earlier, depending on how hard we work in the morning.  We can sometimes get three good hours in before lunch, which really shortens our afternoon load.


Gabby was doing a presentation about Sacajawea for her AHG troop in the evening.  We practiced the talk that she had researched and wrote up.   Then the four of us drove over for that.  Nate, Ellie, and I sometimes just drop off at these meetings, but we stayed to see our Gabby be poised and confident, sharing what she had learned.  Nate was a great brother too--he sat through the whole meeting so well behaved.  Ellie was a two year old and wandered among the girls, but did so quietly.

And today we are home!  We're having a fairly normal morning, but watching Kiss Me Kate this afternoon.  One of the advantages of being on the go as much as we are is that we get to listen to audio books fairly often.  I've not had luck with them in the house, the kids are too busy, but put them in the car with no where to go, and books are great.  They keep our rides much quieter too.  All that to say, we listened to an abridgement of The Taming of the Shrew, so I got this video for them to see.  Netflix doesn't have it, as it is an old title, but the library did!

Our school days generally consist of two different schedules, one for the girls and a different one for Nate.  The girls get a list of assignments on the board.  They are fairly free to complete things in any order they choose, so long as they join me together for spelling and any discussions based on our book.  We normally start with spelling, since they do that together.  Then there are assignments in math, Latin, and sometimes in cursive or math drill practice).  The bulk of their work comes from a reading from a novel or biography with assignments to accompany it.  These vary greatly and have included tasks like drawing and listing facts about a primate, baking a period specific recipe, filling in a timeline, creating works of art, and listening to music.  Many of the assignments are writing based as well: writing letters as though they were a character, creating a future for book characters, and many short essays.  There are generally 3-5 of those assignments each day.

I believe that kindergarten should largely be a time of play and discovery.  Almost every day, Nate reads aloud to me, and we do some math together.  His day is much more varied from that point on.  We spend a good deal of time listening to audio books, he helps around the house, he counts by 5's and 10's when they come up, reads real clocks (to the hour at this point), reads familiar words, and we read, read, read around here.  He has some other workbooks that we work in some, but not always.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gabby is Eight

 Miss Gabby is eight today.

She is out growing much of her shyness.  She went to a camp without a single familiar face and made a brand new friend.

 She loves dolls and has started sewing for them.  We made that skirt together.

She is fun and stubborn.

She is lovely inside and out.

I can't see what eight has to bring!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Double Digits.

She is bright and inquisitive.

She loves people.

She loves to chat.

 She has her Daddy’s sense of humor.

She is independent,


 And loves good books.

We love you Katie!  Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brotherly Advice

Advice from Nate to Ellie on being two:

Do not get into computers.
Do not eat off the floors.
Don't put things in your mouth.
Do not swallow stuff you're not allowed to.
Do not eat earrings.
Do not eat other people's cereal.
Do not break plates.
Do not whine to go outside.
Stay to be a two year old!