Gratituesday: Sister Symposium

I grew up without any sisters.  Matt’s sister grew up without any sisters.  Matt’s brother’s wife grew up without any sisters.  Now that we are all married and a part of the same family?  We all have each other.  As much as we love our brothers, having sisters in our adult lives has been such a special blessing.

Perhaps the biggest blessing of all is that we all love being together.  Not all sisters-in-law are able to enjoy this, and the three of us don’t take it for granted.

This is a picture of us two years ago when we got together for our bi-yearly “Sister Symposium.”

Since they both live in California, I’m the only one who has to travel far.  Therefore, they are kind enough to share my airplane ticket expense to make this get-together possible.  We save more expense by staying in one of their homes so we don’t have to pay lodging.

What do we do during the 2-3 days we’re together?  We talk, and talk, and talk.  We shop (oh yeah!).  We eat out.  We go to the beach (this Nebraska girl’s favorite place to visit!).  And we pray together: for our husbands, for our children, for our parents, for each other.

With our lives all so full and busy with working and raising families, it keeps getting harder and harder to get away and find time to spend together like this.  But never once have we regretted the effort it has taken.  Our time together as sisters is always rich.  This week is no different.

I’m so grateful to be spending time with my sisters this week.  What are you thankful for?

Gratituesday: Dusting Off the School Books

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With all the craziness of our summer, I’ve had very little time to get our upcoming school year organized.  The good news?  This will be our 13th year of homeschooling.  (Whoa.)  I hardly had to order any books at all.  (Praise God for money we didn’t have to spend this year!)  Once I could finally block out several hours of time, I buried myself in our school room, unpacked all the books, and found everything I needed for the year.  (Along with way too much dust.)

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We have been digging deep in World History and the Eastern Hemisphere the past few years, as well as learning about missionaries who have served all over the world.  So this year?  We’ll be hitting American History pretty hard.  I’m super excited.  But let me just pause right here to say:

This year, we will have two boys in high school.  Two.  And Asa, our oldest?  He’s going to be a senior.  A senior.  I don’t know how we got here so quickly.  But I do know that it has been one very enjoyable ride.  Never let anyone tell you that it’s too difficult to homeschool all the way through high school.  (You should see all the resources available now.)  These years learning, growing, and memory making with our boys have been invaluable and precious.

So Asa, our high school senior (if I keep saying it, will reality set in?) has worked hard and all but completed all of his high school requirements for graduation.  He already began taking some college classes last year.  This year he will be taking one more class per semester at our local college and several online classes through a community college.  This will get many of his gen-eds out of the way, while saving lots of money, and racking up quite a few college credits.  He’ll also be taking Spanish 4 at home with Rosetta Stone software, doing some ACT prep, and continuing to develop his skills with videography and movie creation.

Justus will be a freshman.  He’ll be finishing the last few CDs in Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1, then start Algebra 2.  He’ll study Physical Science with Apologia and continue with his Spanish lessons (Rosetta Stone rocks).  He’ll work through several English/Grammar/Analogies books, do lots of reading, study American History, and do a smattering of electives like music, P.E., and creative arts.  He’s going to start taking guitar lessons in the fall, which he is very excited about!

Elias will be a 7th grader.  Along with American history studies, he’s doing Pre-Algebra with Teaching Textbooks, Spanish with Rosetta Stone, Wordly Wise, grammar, reading and writing assignments, and a variety of science books from our big stash.  He is interested in taking drum lessons – if we can find him a teacher.  And some drums.

Malachi will be a 4th grader.  He’s really taking off with chapter books now, so his shelf (along with his brothers’ shelves) are full of great reading material that enhances our study of American History.  We’ll be going through Grammar Ace with him, as well as having him work through MCP Phonics at his level.  He’ll be journal writing, learning cursive with Getty-Dubay, working through a stack of science books, and doing Teaching Textbooks 4 for math.  He’s also going to work through my Learn to Cook book so that he can learn more basic cooking skills.  We’ve got him all set up to start piano lessons this fall too.  He can’t wait!

Sonlight has been our main curriculum of choice through the years – and I continue to use many of the books they recommend.  Learning through literature is awesome!  Instead of pulling all the books they recommend at every single grade level, I’ve found that it is simple to use their book recommendations and combine grade levels while we study history, geography, and science.  This saves my sanity, and gives us wonderful times of learning all together.  All the subjects will be revisited through the years anyway, so what the younger kids don’t catch the first time around, they’ll catch it when we study it in later grades.  This works great for us.

So there you have it.  The books are finally organized, and I can head out of town again knowing school will be ready for us to start when I get back.  Two weeks until we kick off our school year!  I praise God for this wonderful opportunity to study and learn with my kids.

What are you focusing on right now?  Where is your gratitude focus?  I’d love for you to leave a comment sharing what you’re thankful for this Gratituesday!

Gratituesday: My One Defense

Hello from camp, again.  :)  This week, Matt and I are teaching Bible classes each day to senior high campers.  We love these kids!

My internet time is limited, so for Gratituesday today I wanted to share one of my favorite songs.  I love worshiping along with this song:

I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for this week.  Leave a comment and share!

Gratituesday: My “New” Office

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Want to see my desk?  Think twice before you answer that.  It’s not nearly as exciting as you might think.  Plus is likely much messier than you imagined it to be.

See, for years now, my “desk” has been a card table, topped with a tablecloth since the top of the table was all torn up.  Am I professional or what?  It worked to hold my computer…and as you can see from the scary picture below, it also held piles of messy paperwork.

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The piles of papers and notebooks were kinda, sorta organized.  But woe to the person who put a non-heavenlyhomemaker piece of paper down on my desk.  It would quickly get buried and lost in my mess.

Finally, a few weeks ago, Matt suggested it was time to get me a real desk.  Not only would that be much more practical for my work, it would free up our card table to be used for gaming and to fold laundry in the upstairs hallway.  Sounded good to me!

Ladies and…well, are there any gentlemen reading this?  Introducing my new work space:

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It’s just a simple black desk, but it has a drawer and a cabinet to house my junk files and paperwork.  You’ll notice that my desk is placed right in front of a closet door.  Who does that?  Yeah, we do.  It’s the only placement option in our guest room/office right now.  Someday maybe we’ll rearrange, but we rarely use that closet, so for now it works.

How long until this desk is covered with papers?  Here’s hoping I’ll keep it under control for at least a few days.  :)

This Gratituesday, I’m thankful for my office upgrade.  What are you thankful for?

Gratituesday: Everything But Raspberries

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You know how I mentioned that we’d been traveling and that my body is craving fruits and vegetables?  And you know how I mentioned that I was really, really hungry for raspberries?  Try as I might, I can’t find one decent raspberry in all of York, Nebraska.

Correction:  I can find a decent raspberry.  But they are either in a package that also contains moldy raspberries, or they are in a teeny-tiny container that costs $3.48.  As much as I’m craving raspberries - for that price, I just can’t do it.

Elias (our 12 year old) and I drove to our two grocery stores today, after striking out at Wal-Mart last night, on a mission to find raspberries.  I guess it just isn’t meant to be.  Maybe in a few days, after stores re-stock and sale prices re-set???

In the meantime, as the boys and I were unloading our other groceries and talking about all the goodies I bought yesterday on our way back into town, it occurred to me that while I don’t have any raspberries, I do have pretty much everything else delicious under the sun.  I shall whine no more.  We’ve found great deals on tons of summer produce, loaded up our kitchen once again with wonderful fruits and vegetables – and we are enjoying all kinds of deliciousness.  Everything but raspberries?  Well, I am just all kinds of blessed.

You can see all the yummy food I picked up last night in this post.  Now take a look at what Elias and I found this morning at a local grocery store:

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Grapes were on sale, plums were on sale, there were organic tomatoes and mushrooms to be had – and look at all those bags of frozen veggies!  Those babies were on sale for just 80¢ each!  We filled the cart…as you can see.  :)  100% juice was on sale, so we stocked up so that we can make fun popsicles the rest of the summer.  We grabbed sweet peppers and splurged on a loaf of bread so we could have an easy meal of sandwiches for lunch.  Everything but raspberries?  Blessed, blessed, blessed.

We got home from the store and set out this wonderful spread of food.  After traveling and eating fast food, I can’t begin to tell you how delicious this all tasted.

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Oh beautiful, colorful, delicious plate.  God is so good.

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What’s more?  For breakfast we had big bowls of berries with Chocolate Whipped Cream.  It was a perfect way to begin our day.

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Well, I actually started my day with an awesome cup of coffee, too.  :)  Asa brought back a bag of coffee for me from Ecuador.  Oh my goodness: best coffee EVER.

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This afternoon, Matt went to the garden and brought in a plate full of awesome lettuce.  Remember how I shared that a big hail storm took out our garden a few weeks ago?  Many of you suggested that it might perk back up.  You were right!  Much of our garden has bounced back.  We are so thankful!

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This afternoon, I enjoyed a generous serving of Chocolate Whipped Cream in a cup of coffee.  Happiness in a mug, I tell ya.

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Before dinner, we were “too hungry to wait.”  Therefore, we sliced up a couple of peaches before I cooked dinner.  These were the first peaches of the season we’ve had.  Ahhhhmazing.  Obviously, two was not enough so I had to slice up more. :)

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We thoroughly enjoyed the lettuce from our garden with our dinner of Pasta Alfredo with steamed veggies tonight.

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So what’s all this about wanting raspberries?  We are so blessed with an abundance of delicious foods that I have absolutely nothing to complain about and absolutely everything to be thankful for.  I’m sure I’ll find a nice package of raspberries for a decent price eventually.  Maybe I’ll even find some fresh berries at the farmer’s market this week.  But no matter.  Today, my table is overflowing with goodness.  I have everything I need and then some.

What are you thankful for?  Leave a comment to let us know something God has done for you recently!

Gratituesday: World Cup 2014

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With the exception of the fact that watching soccer games was a perfect Father’s Day gift for Matt, clearly, this week is not a good time for our family to enjoy the World Cup.  After all, we’re leaving on a long trip tomorrow.  As it turns out, we’ll miss several games while we’re on the road, plus we have a million things to do before we leave.  We have to finish packaging up container after container of vanilla to ship out…

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The older boys were at Soul Quest last week, which means there are several loads of laundry to finish up so we can pack.  Indeed, we have a huge, long to-do list.  World Cup soccer games???

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Yeah.  We’re making time.  It’s ridiculous really, how much our family loves soccer.  :)  We don’t have cable, so we’re having to go elsewhere to catch games.  (The college apartment lobby has been working quite well for us.)  It’s been a fun break in between all the work.  When possible, I’ve been throwing together quick meals like fruit and tuna salad to take with us and eat while we watch.

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Ah, family and futbol.  It’s too much fun.  Laundry, packing, cleaning, vanilla packaging, mowing, gardening, and all the rest?  Eh, we’ll get it done.  ;)

What would you like to share about this Gratituesday?  What are you thankful for?

Gratituesday: Soul Quest Worship

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This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.

It’s Soul Quest week at York College, and since we live here in the town of York, we are blessed to enjoy the evening worship times.  What is Soul Quest, you ask?  It is a church camp held on the York College campus that brings in 500+ campers, including our two oldest boys.  It is a week of intense spiritual encouragement, classes, and worship for the campers and staff.

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I took this picture tonight during worship while standing on a chair in the back of the auditorium.
(Way to break the rules and stand on a chair during worship, Laura. Yeah, I know.) 

Our family has taken part in Soul Quest for as many years as we’ve lived here in York.  Sometimes we attend the morning chapel session too, but typically we stay home all day getting our work done, then head to the big assembly each night for amazing singing and prayer time with a room packed with teens and adults.  It’s loud and crowded, but you talk about a room full of people on fire for the Lord.  This is where it’s at.

We are so thankful our older boys are able to get the full Soul Quest experience (which, of course, includes staying up way too late at night in the dorms).  The friendships they build and the mentoring they receive is priceless.  It’s a fun perk that they are away at camp, but we can still catch a glimpse of them each evening.  ;)

What would you like to share about this Gratituesday?  What are you thankful for?

Gratituesday: Our 2014 Garden

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It’s that exciting time of year when we start to see little plants popping up in our garden.  Want to see how my garden grows?  Here, I’ll show you my garden plot(s), then I hope you’ll tell me about your garden if you’re growing one this year too!

We’ve already enjoyed lots of spinach and green leaf lettuce.  See the jungle of spinach behind the lettuce?  It looks terrible – but we’ve actually let it go on purpose.  It will re-seed all by itself this way, then give us another crop in the fall.  Then, it will come up again on its own next spring.  It’s a pretty nice system.  (We do the same with the green leaf lettuce.)

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It doesn’t seem like much to look at yet, but we have several rows of green beans.  We see some gaps in there that tell us we’ll need to replant a few.

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This year, we’re trying okra again.  It takes a lot of heat and sun for okra to grow well, so it doesn’t always work here in Nebraska.  Here’s hoping!

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Here’s a close-up of one okra plant:

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Notice how we have plastic buckets and such around many of our plants?  (And by we I mean Matt and the boys.  I can take no credit for all this work!)  The protection around our plants is an effort to keep the bunnies from getting to them.  Those “cute wittle wabbits” are sooooo stinkin’ not cute when they nibble and kill our plants.  ;)

Matt uses our raised garden bed area for a variety of sweet peppers.  These are his babies.  :)

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Here’s a sweet pepper close-up.  Surely the rabbits won’t be able to climb up the slippery tin surrounding the plants!

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Our back yard “L” shaped garden plot has all of our tomato plants this year.  If we get a good crop, I’ll be able to make a year’s supply of tomato sauce, tomato soup, and some salsa.

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Somewhere in one of those plots, we also have a couple hills of spaghetti squash planted.  We never plant cucumbers, summer squash, or zucchini because everyone around here always has plenty to share!

So how about you?  Do you have a garden this year?  If so, what are you growing?  And what else would you like to share about this Gratituesday?  What are you thankful for?

Gratituesday: Fun Picture Memories!

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With Facebook, email, and other quick forms of communication, none of us spend much time anymore writing cards and sending them through the mail.  It’s kind of sad, and yet I’m super thankful for the ability to quickly text someone when they are on my heart.  I can check up on loved ones through Facebook, seeing pictures of their kids, praying for their needs.  I can sit down and send a thoughtful email to someone, and they can receive it within seconds.  I am always encouraged when I received these types of online or phone correspondence.

Still, handwritten cards from a dear one are always wonderful.  My aunt and uncle (my mom’s sister) came all the way from Arkansas to visit us this weekend.  Look what my aunt brought me:

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Know who that is?  My kids couldn’t figure it out at first. 

Those are two Christmas cards my mom had sent out when my brother and I were little.  Yep, that’s my brother and me, back in the 70′s.

Fun as those were to see again, the real treasure is found on the back of those cards.  From top to bottom, she filled the space giving an update on our family at the time – all hand written in my mom’s lovely handwriting.

I love these.  I’m supposed to share them with my brother.  Hopefully I will “remember” to take them down to Kansas sometime when we visit.  ;)

What are you thankful for?  It’s Gratituesday….please share what God is doing in your life!

 

Gratituesday: Another Soccer Season Ends

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March, April, and May are the spring months we eat, drink, breathe, and sleep soccer.  Matt coaches (2 teams this season); Justus, Elias, and Malachi play on teams – both city league and traveling teams; Asa, Justus, and Elias referee loads of games.  Most of our games are right here in town, but a few are an hour or two away.

We love this time of year, but it is full and busy!  Game schedules and referee commitment lists cover one entire side of our refrigerator.  I don’t even try to keep up – I just look at the fridge each morning to see what the plan is for the day.  Then I check the weather.  Which will I need: tank top or winter coat?  Ah….spring.

I’m grateful to share that we have once again survived another soccer season.  It’s been great (except for the freezing cold and windy games, the games Matt had to coach while on crutches, and the amount of phone calls we’ve had to make because of re-schedules due to bad weather).  Indeed, there’s always a lot of crazy going on for us this time of year.  But we love our boys and we all love soccer.  So bring it on!  (Sunshiny game days are preferred though…what can I say?)

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Here’s Elias’ traveling team after their final game this weekend.  Great kids!

This year, I’m particularly grateful for the relationships I’ve formed with other parents on the side-lines.  We’ve traveled, sweated, frozen, screamed, cheered, and encouraged our sons together for weeks.  We’ve shared stories, popcorn, recipes, and life experiences.  Through bloody noses, twisted knees, disappointing losses, and exciting victories – it’s been a great season to build relationships with parents of these players.

I look forward to doing this all over again in the fall.  I look forward to the break in the meantime.  I’m pretty sure our family will celebrate the end of this season with a pick-up game of soccer.  Or basketball.  We just can’t help it.  :)

By the way, I’m happy to share that Matt’s foot is much, much better.  His injury is healing very nicely and I’m pretty sure it won’t be long until he can join back in our family soccer games. :)

So what are you thankful for?  It’s Gratituesday….please share what God is doing in your life!