Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Greetings Family & Friends!

This past year has been a year of growth, of trials and blessings, of some things changing and other things remaining the same. But we have the assurance that our God is faithful and everything He does is good.

This last Spring, James was hired back on with the same company he had worked at up until last December, when he was laid off. We are so thankful to the Lord for His provision! He has been keeping busy managing the Outdoor Advertising division. We do ask you to continue to keep us in your prayers as the economy and housing market have been slow to turn around. Charlotte has been busy with homeschooling, homemaking and taking care of the children. She enjoys knitting, crocheting and trying out new dishes on the family.

This year we joined a small homeschooling co-op with 3 other families from our church. This has been such a blessing for our family! We also joined 4-H and have begun raising rabbits. The children have had some great opportunities for public speaking and community service. We hope to breed the rabbits to show at the county fair as meat pen rabbits. We are loving our church family, learning more about our Savior and growing in grace everyday.

Mr. Lego (12y., 13 in February) is taller then his Momma! He loves playing and inventing new Lego contraptions, reading and drawing. Bookworm is now 10 and really loves to knit and crochet. She loves making blankets and scarves. Dasher just turned 9 and loves playing with her little cars. She loves copywork and math in school. Nutsy is almost 4 1/2y. (!) and loves to follow her older siblings around trying to do all that they do. She has started preschool type schoolwork and loves to play with her dollhouse. Our parakeet Sunny, is always entertaining us and Flo and The Man Rabbit (who still doesn't have a name!) will be having baby rabbits (Lord willing!) in March.

We are so thankful for the promises that God gives us in the scriptures, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11) May we all continue to trust in the Lord this coming year and remember His perfect promises!

The Joyful Hearts Family

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am so grateful for our precious church family and the encouragement they are to me.
What I'm reading:
Cookie recipes.
What I'm listening to: Rich Mullins CD - Songs.
What we're learning:
Formal learning is taking a break this week, but we heard a great sermon yesterday on the comforts of the gospel and the tender mercies of God.
What I'm watching: My Sweetie and I watched our annual viewing of Planes, Trains and Automobiles over the weekend.
What's cooking:
Tomato-Basil Pasta Soup.
What I'm buying: I need to run out for some fun holiday paper plates for our cookies and I also ran out of frosting!
What I'm wearing:
Jeans, dark blue sweater, tan socks.
What I'm thankful for: That we don't have to worry where our next meal is coming from.
What I'm creating:
Cookies - Chocolate Crinkles, S more's Bars and Sugar Cookies.
What I'm praying: That I will make good use of my time.
What I'm planning:
On going to the canned food distribution place again tomorrow morning with the kids, then off to caroling at the assisted-living home we visit in the afternoon.
What I'm looking forward to:
Christmas morning with just our family, friends coming that afternoon, then visiting extended family next weekend.
A picture to share:

~Christmas 2008 at Grandpa & Grandma's house.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dasher Turns 9

Today my sweet Dasher-girl turns 9. I can't believe it was 9 years ago that she was born, all 2 pounds, 12 ounces of her. During her pregnancy and then in the months after her birth, I saw God's hand in her life, sustaining and keeping her, for the many plans He has for her future.

Here are some sweet memories:

~4 weeks old and getting bigger every day.

~13 months old, and in one of her favorite places

~2.5 years old with her cutie-pattutie pony tails.

~5.5 years old and on a merry-go-round, one of her favorite rides.

~2 months ago at the Aquarium.

For her birthday we are going to have a fun lunch, do a craft and then have one of her favorites, Chili and Cornbread for dinner. I am so thankful for my precious little girl and the blessings God has brought our family through her sweetness!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I need to start looking for another dentist.
What I'm reading:
Sadly, not much right now.
What I'm listening to:
Our local Christian station playing Christmas music.
What we're learning: Last week of school before vacation. Homer and Ancient India in history, the older children have their state presentations this week in co-op.

What I'm watching: The kids bouncing one of those little rubber balls around the house.

What's cooking:
I have cookies on my mind...chocolate crackles, s'mores bars and sugar cookies will be created in the kitchen sometime this week.
What I'm buying: Christmas gifts....if you know me well, you know that shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. Yes, I know I am weird.

What I'm wearing:
White sweater, blue jeans and dark green socks.
What I'm thankful for:
That through these hard times my husband still has his job.
What I'm creating: Gifts...and I'm not telling!
What I'm praying:
That I will be continually reminded of God's faithfulness.
What I'm planning:
To buy our buck rabbit this Saturday!
What I'm looking forward to:
Our church dance practice this Thursday and a fun Christmas party on Friday.
A picture to share:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not-Too-Late Thanksgiving Photos

December is already a third of the way through, (!) and I just realized that I never posted any Thanksgiving photos. So here goes...

Getting ready to feast. Notice my son. He is all prepared with his napkin tucked under his chin.

Yum yum.

My 92 year-old grandpa. What a blessing to have him with us!

A rousing game of Spoons.

Shuffling, and me having fun with the shutter speed on my camera.

The whole gang.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I forgot about my laundry and now I am behind for the day.
What I'm reading:
Literature for school: The Hittite Warrior and The Bronze Bow.
What I'm listening to:
Silly, giggling girls.
What we're learning:
This week we are learning about the prophets Elijah, Elisha, Joel and Obadiah in history; Dasher has a state presentation in our co-op and the older children are working on their 4-H oral presentations.
What I'm watching: The giggly girls tormenting their brother. Secretly, I think he likes it.
What's cooking: Potato-Onion Creamy Soup for this cold day.
What I'm buying:
Our Christmas cards from Shutterfly.
What I'm wearing: Denim skirt, purple flannel shirt and my trusty slippers!
What I'm thankful for: That my Sovereign God is unchangeably good to me, in ALL things.
What I'm creating:
Not really anything this week...we are catching up with everything from being sick last week.
What I'm praying:
That I would make wise use of my time.
What I'm planning:
A birthday celebration for a special little girl next week.
What I'm looking forward to:
Our co-op this Wednesday and getting together with friends this weekend.
A picture to share:

~Taken this last weekend during our family photo shoot

*I really enjoy doing these Monday Musings and I know lots of you like reading them too. The idea is not originally mine; I have seen different variations on other blogs and have modified it to fit my style. So if it so intrigues you, I would love for you to join in too! You don't need to refer to myself or my blog and you can call it anything you want. And even if you don't have a blog, you can post it on Facebook or as an email. But all I ask is that you let me know so that I can enjoy what you write too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Rabbit Adventure Begins

So if you haven't figured it out yet, I'll fill you in: we are raising rabbits. This is part of 4-H which we started this year with the three older children. I am excited about the opportunities with 4-H...community service, oral presentations, leadership, and all the stuff they learn with their projects. We are in the rabbit project, where we learn all about rabbits and then plan on going to the County Fair with them. All rabbits can go to fair, from the cute mini-lops that will just show, to the more plain-Jane ones like the New Zealand's that we are raising for show and then also the meat market.

But before you buy rabbits you need cages. This was a lot harder to get than I thought it was going to be. All the pet/feed stores we visited had the kind of cages where they need bedding and then walk around in their you-know-what. (Yuck) Not only is it better for the rabbits to have all wire cages but it also smells better too, which was a huge plus for me. So what do you do when you can't find any wire cages? (Not even on Craigslist!) Make your own! And don't you think that when you make your own you save money? Yup, that's what we thought too...

This started in our garage with rolls of wire mesh and wire cutters.

Then we used J clips to connect it all together. (Which we had to buy a special J clip clipper-tool for) This took a full day and my poor Sweetie had some sore hands.

Then, since the cages can't sit directly on the ground, some type of frame is needed. We didn't have space to spread 4 cages across our yard so we decided to stack them. Off to Home Depot for some 2x2's and screws...

I think we ran out of metal brackets so there were at least 2 trips there and back. Notice Bookworm in the next picture, my cowgirl...

After measuring, screwing together, then taking apart certain pieces because they were really not 2x2's, we stood the whole contraption up.

So far so good. We still needed to figure something out for their business, (you know...) so back to Home Depot for someway to protect the poor bunnies on the bottom. We also kindly gave the top rooms a roof. Now that looks better.

We put it in the spot we planned to put it in and realized that a window eave was preventing it from going back all the way and now the thing was sticking out on our lawn. So my faithful working bunch proceeded to actually move our lawn line out 6 inches and replace the bender board. We also needed to wrap it in tarp to protect our house from bad aiming male rabbits. This added up to two more trips to Home Depot.

Finally, (and in case you were interested) rabbit p**p is supposed to be a really good fertilizer. So good, that when one lady at my church found out that we were raising rabbits, she called dibbs on my first two bags of the stuff! Since no one wants to crawl under our hutch and clean it out periodically, we thought it would be smart to actually collect the stuff in something, so back out to Home Depot we went. (Actually, I think we went to OSH for this one...the people at HD were getting to know us too well...) The collection system has only been working for a few days now...I'll let you know how it works.

It's amazing but we completed this whole project in 1 week. This last Saturday we went to a rabbit show and bought a doe, and she had to wait in a transport cage for a few hours while we finished up her 5 star accommodations. Here is Flo, soon (we pray!) to be Momma Flo, hanging out in her new abode.

And our adventure continues! We still need a buck (nothing is going to happen without him) and we would really like one more doe too. Then we have breeding, picking out babies for meat pen, showing at fair and selling the rest of the litter. Fun times ahead! Stayed tuned to find out what happens...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: All about rabbits...researching who to buy from, when to breed, rabbit characteristics...
What I'm reading:
Rabbit books! I am woefully behind on my 12 books in 12 months...a post coming soon on that...
What I'm listening to:
Fernando Ortega.
What we're learning: We bought our first rabbit over the weekend and are adding new rabbit vocabulary words to our brains...dewlaps, pedigree, kindle, fly back...
What I'm watching:
We just borrowed the second season of The Dick Van Dyke show from our friends. Funny stuff.
What's cooking:
Broccoli Chicken Pasta for dinner tonight...right now a nice hot bowl of miso soup and rice for lunch.
What I'm buying: Cough drops for my hacking children.
What I'm wearing:
I'm cold so I am wearing jogging pants and a blue sweater.
What I'm thankful for:
A wonderful husband who made us a 4 hole rabbit hutch during his vacation.
What I'm creating:
I'm experimenting with my knitting by trying to make headbands for the girls...
What I'm praying: That the ones who are sick in our family would recover fast, and the rest of us would not get it. :)
What I'm planning:
What our family will wear for our annual Christmas picture this Saturday.
What I'm looking forward to:
A Gingerbread Latte, Christmas caroling, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, Christmas crafts, making Christmas cookies...
A picture to share:

Meet Flo, the doe we bought Saturday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nail Studio

Last week we had a slow afternoon and I was doing some organizing upstairs. When I came down an hour or so later, I found that our entry way had been transformed into a nail-painting, hair-combing studio by Miss Bookworm.

She had everything set up; the polish laid out, a chair and pillow for her clients, hair ties galore and the prices clearly listed. The first victim client of course had to dress up for the occasion.

This is very delicate work. And she took it quite seriously.

Another princess was waiting for her turn...

...I love my girls!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That the nice lazy day we had today hit the spot.
What I'm reading:
I am still plowing through The History of Redemption but I also picked up a fun cooking book at the library last week titled "Under the Table", that I am enjoying.
What I'm listening to:
The girls in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies.
What we're learning:
We're taking a break from formal schooling this week, but we are always learning...
What I'm watching: Red and yellow leaves falling outside my window.
What's cooking:
Taco Lasagna for dinner tonight.
What I'm buying:
Stuff for our feast on Thursday...I am in charge of the appetizers.
What I'm wearing: Jeans, blue striped shirt, green socks.

What I'm thankful for:
That we have a holiday set aside for thankfulness.
What I'm creating:
We just made 4 wire cages for the new rabbits we are hoping to buy this Saturday.
What I'm praying:
For wisdom as I continue to try to be a faithful mom.
What I'm planning:
I have appetizers on my mind...Hot Artichoke Dip, Olive Tampenade and Festive Focaccia Melt....anymore ideas?
What I'm looking forward to:
Thanksgiving in the Bay Area with the grandparents and one great-grandpa.
A picture to share:

Thanksgiving 2004

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it seems that well made plans sometimes change.
What I'm reading:
Not much, unfortunately. I am hoping to sit down to read this afternoon for a few minutes though.
What I'm listening to:
John Michael Talbot's soothing songs.
What we're learning:
This week we're learning about Saul, David and Solomon; tomorrow is 4-H and our rabbit project meeting.
What I'm watching:
Laundry piling up on my bed for folding.
What's cooking:
I just finished putting Taco Soup in the crock pot for tonight.
What I'm buying:
I am ordering some craft stuff from The Oriental Trading Company for my kids and also for some co-op fun.
What I'm wearing: dark green skirt, lavender shirt and brown sweater...no one is seeing me today so I am not caring if I match, just that I'm warm!
What I'm thankful for:
That God is in control and not me, or else I would really mess things up.
What I'm creating:
I have a couple reviews that I am overdue to write...
What I'm praying: That my dear friends would remain steadfast through their trials.

What I'm planning: Our last week of school and plans for next week with family and friends.
What I'm looking forward to:
A fun break from the ordinary next week!
A picture to share:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

School Report

So we have made it through our first quarter of the 2009 school year and things are going well. Here is an update of what we have been learning:

Bible: We are continuing to read through the Bible with Balancing the Sword by reading a chapter a day. So far we are not even through Genesis. At this rate, we would be doing this for a few years so I decided to pick up the pace and do 2 chapters a day. The children also keep a Bible journal and write down a couple sentences about each chapter they read.

Math: Is just plugging along. They are all doing well and loving Math U See.

History: Mystery of History is great! We studied Sumeria, Ancient Egypt, Abraham, Joseph and Moses. The children are keeping a timeline in their notebooks that we update each week.

Total Language Plus: (vocabulary, spelling, copywork, reading) We are going to be finishing The Bronze Bow after Christmas so I am researching which book to do next. I really liked choosing one that takes place during the same time period that we are studying in history. Any suggestions?

Grammar: Simply grammar is good, but it is kind of dry for my kids. I am debating about going back to Shirley Grammar after we finish this book, which will be in the early spring.

Science: This quarter we used a science workbook that I was reviewing for this wonderful homeschooling magazine. We will finish it up in the next few weeks so that means I need to do some more curriculum exploring.

Co-op: This has been a great addition to our learning; we have studied Raphael, Ralph Vaughan Williams, an overview of geography and arts and crafts. We went on one field trip in the fall to learn about street and fire safety, and the children gave oral presentations on a country of their choosing in the western hemisphere.

4-H This has been educational too; we have learned about showing small animals, keeping record books, types of rabbits and putting together a presentation. We hope to get our rabbits next month.

Dasher is keeping a good pace with her phonics and language; she is reading so much better now. Nutsy has finished her 3rd workbook in the Rod and Staff ABC books and can identify numbers 1-10 and write her name.

We will be taking two breaks in the next couple months; our family does need some time to just hang out together and play. Whether you homeschool or not, I would love to hear how school has been so far for you this year!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I need to get out and water my broccoli and snap peas.
What I'm reading:
History of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards...I can only read a page or two at a time so I am also reading One World Under God to catch up on our ancient history.
What I'm listening to:
Cherry Jones reading a Little House book on CD with the kids.
What we're learning: The kids have a presentation due for co-op in a couple weeks and a big presentation for 4-H that they are working on.
What I'm watching:
The thermometer going up as we finally turned on the heat!
What's cooking:
Chicken Fettuccine for dinner tonight.
What I'm buying:
I just found out that 2 of my shirts have shrunk in length so I need to go buy a couple more.
What I'm wearing: brown corduroy skirt, white shirt with a green V neck shirt.
What I'm thankful for:
That God is in control.
What I'm creating:
New journal entries...I am a couple weeks behind.
What I'm praying:
For patience as I continue to train the children.
What I'm planning: Trying to decide what to have Bookworm wear for her annual photos this afternoon.

What I'm looking forward to:
Co-op this week and our church's folk dancing practice this Friday.
A picture to share:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Up and Down

This past week has been an up and down week. People I love are struggling...a couple families have their husbands out of work, some are dealing with the burden of juggling so much, one friend is losing her unborn baby, another has a sick little one in the hospital and others are dealing with so many unexpected things. The economy is directly affecting my husband's job which is once again in jeopardy.

Life can have so many burdens; even in daily life...caring and disciplining our children, keeping the home running smoothly, and encouraging our husbands. Sometimes it is so easy to be totally overwhelmed by our responsibilities and difficulties. And for a couple days this week, I chose to do this. Not a good choice. Really. All it did was increase my sadness and give me reasons to feel bad for myself. But then I was encouraged by scripture.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trails,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

James 1:2-4

We are called to have joy! It is really hard to rejoice, when it seems like things are falling down around you. But we have so many promises in scripture; God is faithful to the helpless, gives strength to the weary and sanctifies us through our trials. A sweet friend shared these beautiful lyrics with me recently:

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord,
still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name,
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name.

I love this song so much that I stuck it on my sidebar for your listening pleasure...it sure did help me through my week and I hope it helps you through yours too. One more encouraging song that also helped me is from Steven Curtis Chapman's newest album, Beauty Will Rise. It's on the sidebar too - check it out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Day at Grandpa & Grandma's House

Last week we went to my dad's for a visit and to go to the aquarium with the grandparents. We also had one day just to relax and hang at his house. The kids had a blast.

Mr. Lego and Bookworm challenged Grandpa to a game of Monopoly. As you can see, they take it very seriously.

Contemplating his next move...


The little girls were outside picking apples.

Sweet little apple pickers.

How many do you think can fit in her sweater?

Pretty quickly she graduated to using her dress; it's a good thing she had something on underneath.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Aquarium Adventures

Last week we took advantage of a free homeschooling day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We stayed with the grandparents and took them along to visit the fishies.

Here are some of the facts that Mr. Lego and Bookworm learned during our visit:

Mr. Lego -

  • We learned how they capture a shark to display for the aquarium. They only keep them here for 6 months.
  • A male seahorse is the one who gives birth to the babies.
  • A fangtooth fish (the one that has fang-like teeth) is actually pretty small and only gets to six inches in length.
  • We learned all about camouflage and how animals disguise themselves.
Bookworm -
  • I learned that the seahorse does dance steps when they mate.
  • The great white sharks are captured in a big net and then are transported to the aquarium. Also when they put them in the tank in the aquarium they have to put bubbles on the windows so the shark does not run into them.
  • The kelp grows over 10 feet a day.
  • Penguins flap in the water and sometimes do little hops when people aren't looking.
Nutsy, checking out the starfish...she doesn't look to sure about holding it.

And Dasher liked learning about dolphins and seeing the penguins. This aquarium has great hands on stuff for the kids.

And everyone loved the wave machine. I think they sat in there for at least 10 minutes. Too bad they don't have recliners for the adults.

Fun adventures! There was so much to see and a couple new exhibits that I think makes it worth it for us to go every year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am teaching co-op starting this week and I am not ready yet!
What I'm reading:
I just started the History of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards. I am not sure I can get this one done in a month...
What I'm listening to:
Nutsy and Dasher playing with toy cars.
What we're learning:
This week we are studying the Trojan War. Mr. Lego found a misprint in his math book, Bookworm is working on her vocabulary and Dasher started a new section in her phonics.
What I'm watching: Some good friends gave us the first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show. We are all having a fun time watching them.
What's cooking:
Tonight I am making Tomato Pasta Soup.
What I'm buying:
The kids are begging me to go to the store and buy some discounted candy...
What I'm wearing: Tan skirt and white sweater...the heat is still not on yet. (We'll see how long that lasts!)
What I'm thankful for:
My sweet children and their silliness.
What I'm creating: We went to an apple farm last week and I have lots of apples to create something yummy with...
What I'm praying:
That we would stay healthy through the flu season.
What I'm planning:
Co-op lessons! For the next two months I am teaching the different regions of the U.S. in Geography and then all about colors in Art to our eager learners.
What I'm looking forward to:
Going on a date with my Sweetie this Friday.
A picture to share:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Country Presentations

This last month in our co-op we have been studying the Western Hemisphere. All of the children prepared oral presentations on a country they had chosen; the younger ones listing some facts while the older ones had to do some research on an area of that country (i.e. cuisine, geographical features, government...) Here are Mr. Lego and Bookworm's presentations:

Mr. Lego - US Government

There are three branches in our government. The first is the Legislative. In that branch is Congress which has both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They make our laws. The Executive branch holds the office of the president and vice president and they enforce the laws. Finally the judicial branch holds the Supreme Court. They listen to court cases and make decisions based on the laws. Our government is well organized.

Bookworm - Canada's Climate

I am doing a report on the climate in Canada. There are 7 different climate zones but I am only going to talk about three today. The first one is the arctic. The arctic is very cold and is unfrequented because most people live in the southern part of Canada where it is warmer. The next one is the mountains. This area has snow in the winter time and rain in the summer time. It does not get very hot there. The last area is the plains. The plains have snow during the winter months and humid rains and thunderstorms during the summer months. If I had to pick where to live in these three different zones, I would live in the mountains because it is pretty up there and you get snow.

Also yesterday, Dasher recited the first half of a poem we are all memorizing - 'The Sparrow' by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

They all did very well! Last week Nutsy did stand up and say her name, age and chosen country (what we are requiring of the preschoolers) but I didn't have my camera!