Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

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In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

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That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

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Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

….

So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

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For the Love of Blue

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For a few years now, my husband’s former Lieutenant has invited us to his church every January for a special service where ALL the members honor and thank the law enforcement officers who go, and pray over them and their families and just surround them with support.  It. Is. Powerful.

This time, like every other time, the Pastor gave such a clear-minded sermon and hit a plethora of topics (not really police related, but speaking on cultural and religion decline) where churches are now failing in addressing; it blew our minds again to finally hear such sound, wonderfully True, preaching. He even several times, mentioned the word “defiled,” talking about men and women (yes, he made it a point to call out women) who are defiling people, and how much the churches have declined over the years.  ❤  This is a mostly all black church, the services last 3 hours long, and the love and presence of the Holy Spirit you feel when you’re there makes people cry.

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I remember the first time we came, it was shortly after we had lost one of the sweetest detectives that worked with my husband (pictured above).  He had just been sitting in his patrol car on a fill-in shift, when he was shot in the head for no reason by a black man.  The funeral was so devastating, and even though I was serving at it, for awhile I just couldn’t stop crying.  Hearing his family speak… it broke something inside me.  Feeling this kind of welcome and love and honesty about police deaths coming from black men and women was so needed for me at that time.  Back then our officers were 18% more likely to be murdered by a black male, now the percentage is higher I believe.  2016 was the deadliest year for police officers, but each year over 100 die on duty from a variety of job-related incidents.  I watch my husband put a black mourning band over his badge when these deaths happen, and sometimes in the past, the deaths kept coming to where he couldn’t take it off for days and days.  It was so difficult to keep hearing who the perpetrators were, the life-threatening messages they were sending to our officers and their spouses (and kids!).  Hearing how they were attacking them even in their homes, sometimes threatening their wives and children.  The Pastor spoke about all these things, and remarked on how amazing it is that no other churches talk about this (and yes, this has bothered me before in the past how even our own church would never touch the subject).

The Pastor spoke directly to us law enforcement families.  Reminded us of how they are God’s ministers, God’s Avengers who bring wrath on those who do wrong (Romans 13).  He reminded us spouses of what our calling in this marriage is as well.  He spoke of the burden we carry in being this support system, and I had a glimpse into how I’m not really letting God give me the strength I need for this particular burden as much as I thought I was.  I love being an officer’s wife, but many elements of it are hard, even when one deliberately separates themselves from the deaths and funerals.

But we are so blessed to know my husband’s former (now retired) Lieutenant ❤ and we SO blessed to know this congregation of strong, faith-filled believers.  My husband even suggested we start tentatively going to this new church (<3 !!).

Hope everyone is doing well, posting has been slow as child-raising has fully taken over 😀 ❤ !!  We are also making it a point to go to the gym most days, and I love this season of getting back in shape (we do on and off seasons to fluctuate with life and the holidays).

Stephanie

Merry Christmas Readers!

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Phew!!!!  I’m typing this as I’m making 2 tarts at the moment.  One traditional chocolate (very simplistic, with just a few ingredients that create the most decadent, yet simple taste), and a white chocolate swirled with butterscotch sauce for my husband.

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I guess it’s a let’s write between stirring the chocolate kind of night.  I am tired. 🙂  December flew by for us, and to be honest, it was a little too fast and crazy for our normal style.  Lots of things we went to, formal Christmas stuff, family outings, a few birthday parties, two that celebrated our Christmas baby.  And lots and lots of baking.

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When we needed to go to a Christmas formal, I thought it’d be fun to set up the kids and my mom (who was going to watch them that night) with a table ready for decorating Christmas cookies if they wanted to.

So the night before the formal, while doing some home-primping girly things, I was also cutting out and baking sugar cookies.  It was so much fun to do this and set up all the sprinkles (we have quite a collection!) and frostings for them to do the next day.

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I have such fond memories of doing these kinds of things with my mom, and how wonderful that she gets to repeat it with my children.  And with the exact same cookie cutters she always used with us!

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We also set the kids up like this another time when we went out to do some Christmas shopping together.  If any readers have any other ideas for what kids can do when you’re out at parties or dances and such, I’d love to hear them.  Hopefully next year’s December will calm down some, and we intend to make more so, for good measure.

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Seeing reindeer was one of the highlights!  And camels, although we didn’t get a picture of the camels 😀

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Fascinated faces… lol

Lots of fun things…

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And mesmerizing sights…

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I think we all drank our weight in hot chocolate 😉

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Our mornings have often been spent cuddling together, and squished, as all our children just have to all sit on the same couch at the same time with me LOL 🙂 it’s just one of those things where you have to take a moment.  We may go to fancy things sometimes… but on the whole, this is our reality.  And we are very, very full.

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And don’t worry, if you feel overwhelmed or stressed out this season, always remember… you’re not alone 😉

Somewhere, there is a baby being forced to see Santa…

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Merry Christmas!!!!

Stephanie

Letting Children Have a Vision of Marriage

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“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage.

On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.”

– Rev. George A. Kelly 

~ ❤ ~

I stumbled upon this passage above a month ago when reading, and it felt like getting hit with a two-by-four upside the head!  LOL  While I do strive to be the best mom I can be to our kids, enjoying teaching them and doing life with them, the overall quote felt convicting!  The worst thing I think in my journey as a mother would be to rob my children of the hope and joy they should have at this age – by making them fear growing up and feeling like they won’t be able to handle whatever burdens or trials they’re supposed to carry later on.

But I never linked breaking a youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life, with complaining – it makes so much sense!

And of course it’s true, a complaining mother is a drain on everyone in the family, she  sucks the joy and happiness out of life.  Sure, life may be hard, but I can see how crucial it is to choose our attitudesomething my husband taught me I think in our 2nd year of marriage from a book he had read in college.

Ironically, it was a book about work-ethic mentality, meant for people in the corporate world!  But it was a great book for how to live one’s life in general, echoing sound biblical advice of doing one’s work with a cheerful attitude, putting other’s above yourself in “making their day” (making them elated!), and finding fulfillment in enjoying your work.  It was interesting… to think one can change their whole experience of even their dire circumstances, by simply changing their attitude.

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How Does a Mom Exhibit a Worthy Vision of Marriage?

Make it a point to have fun, and have fun with your children and husband often!!!

This is something that should be a given, however, I think our natural default as humans is to fall into complaining.  Therefore we have to choose our attitude, no matter what is going on.  And to tell you the truth, even if everything is going well, our sin nature masked in the temptation to complain can come out even then unfortunately.

With how busy life gets, or bogged down with various day-to-day tasks, hardships or even trials families go through, I am seeing how setting aside time for making joyous and happy memories together is a necessary engagement.

This means even if we’ve had a long week, and we had something fun scheduled at the end of it, we make sure to still do it, in lieu of staying at home and calling it an early night.  We’ve found it’s so much more fun to go out together and experience our “fun” things, rather than just giving in the passivity of tiredness or even the kids’ moods.

Love your husband well… and openly… and at every opportunity!!!

It is sad to me that this still needs to be said, but nothing makes children happier and more at peace than seeing and knowing how in love their parents are, and how much fun they have together and with them.  

I think it is the secret recipe for a blissful family life overall.  Not that hard things don’t come, or heartbreaking tragedies, but even in the midst of these in our life together, we’ve found that the love and joy between us, carries us through those times much easier than it would be if we didn’t have that in our marriage.

Complaining or bad attitudes in general just makes everything harder, less fun, and definitely less loving.  This is true whether at work, school, in friendships, but probably especially within a marriage and around one’s children, who see them as they are all the time.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians, because it is the book on how to have joy in one’s life.  This passage comes to mind whenever I find myself tempted to complain:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” 

Philippians 2:14-16

I want my children to have a good vision of what a worthy marriage looks like, however human we may be.

Stephanie

Leaf-ing a Legacy

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This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

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Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

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She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

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I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

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Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

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Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

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Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

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We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

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He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

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Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

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I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

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It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

Not Quite Ready to Be Back Yet!

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We’ve been back for a little while, getting ready for the new school year.  I’m a little sad to be back in a way!!  Being out at the lake was so relaxing and just a dramatic break away from city life and noise and stress-stuff around us.

The beauty was breathtaking, and it was nice being surrounded by it day and night.

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We were camping in an RV though, so take that as you may 😀  Camping with toddlers and babies is a lot of work, even with the ease of living in an RV!  But it was a great experience and everyone had a lot of fun.  Lots of campout foods and s’mores every single night around a glowing campfire!!  What’s not to love about stuff like that?!?

One of the things I appreciated the most was getting to see the sunsets with our kids!  This may sound nuts, but as a mom with little ones who go to bed at a decent bedtime, we rarely ever get to see a sunset!!  LOL  So we were mesmerized by them… each night!

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This picture below has no filter!  The sky actually looked like this as the sun was setting!

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There’s just something about water and being next to it that gets to me.  I loved watching our kids play out there and soaked up every moment of it.

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It always strengthens my faith, too, when seeing beauty like this.  It was like living inside a painting… just surreal at times.

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Love!

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I usually would wake up super early before everyone else so I could get coffee going and try to spend some alone time reading the Bible.  The early mornings felt so fresh and glorious, it’s hard to describe just how “alive” everything all felt out there in the wilderness.

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We also explored the surrounding little country towns, we adventured through their libraries and playgrounds and parks.

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I could almost picture hobbits sitting here!

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The higher up views of the lake from on top of a hill were just incredible!  Our oldest son helped me take these pictures.

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One thing I absolutely loved was getting to indulge in “vacation foods” like lots of bacon and fluffy pancakes for breakfasts. I liked cooking things like that every morning in the RV and eating together before we headed out for the day at the lake.

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We had a couple of adventures that were pre-planned like going to a ranch for rescued or retired horses, and then seeing a history museum in a near-by country town.  Things like that are either really cheap, or even free (like the horse ranch).

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Our kids unfortunately haven’t ever been around horses, this fact actually surprised me since I grew up around cows and horses that our neighbors had.  So it was great getting to see them take in how magnificent and strong these beautiful animals are.  And since many of them were older and retired (some military horses and even one race horse!) they were calmer and seemed easy-going.

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We brought cut up carrots to feed them as treats.

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It was sweet ❤

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I think this picture was cute the way they were all poking their heads out to greet us 😀

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And then we saw dinosaurs!!!

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I wore a light cotton sundress, and thank goodness because it was SUPER hot out there!

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But with the life-sized dinosaurs on the loose in the park, these two decided to stay inside the wagon LOL

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They also got to dig for dinosaur bones.  Just really awesome stuff!

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It was hot, but well worth it!  I mean to be a kid and play like you’re really digging out dinosaur bones 😀 they really enjoyed this place!

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And little sister (kind of) tried to help 😉 LOL

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And the museum was really cool, too!

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I think my favorite part was the campfires at night and making the s’mores!

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And…. we celebrated our 11 YEAR ANNIVERSARY out there!!!!!!  We put lights up around the picnic table and eating area, it was all so very romantic, although probably not in the conventional way of thinking lol, but we had fun!

In the day, this was part of our view…

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But at night, the lights sparkled different colors!

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The fire itself was just so beautiful.  And nothing beats tasty campfire s’mores!

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I am very excited for fall, and to start up the school year, but it IS sad how fast the summer flew by.  I’m ready for the change of the seasons, but I wish time would just slow. down. at least a little!

Thank you for reading & I hope everyone else had a good end to their summer.

Stephanie

Adventure into Beauty

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We went on an adventure yesterday… and found a beautiful place to fall in love with.  The beauty and serenity of this place was breathtaking.

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We’re big nature lovers.  Even when we were just dating 12 years ago, my husband and I loved going for hikes and seeking out new outdoorsey adventures to embark on together.

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And now these little ones get to do that!  I have to add… this wagon is a GREAT investment for little ones who can’t walk yet or just get tired and need to sit awhile.  We’ve been having so much fun taking it everywhere.

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It’s like a little baby bus or something… just too cute!

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More baby bus… 😀

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She knows she’s emptying out that bottle upside down!!! LOL

We got to see lots of wildlife yesterday.

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We even got our ducks in a row.

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1… 2… 3…   ❤

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But again, it was just so breathtakingly beautiful.

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I think I’m going to have some of these photographs blown up and printed out for our oldest’s room.  He really loved taking it all in.

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A family of ducks learning to fish.

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So serene.

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We packed our lunches and snacks so we were actually able to picnic there.

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Well… this one picnic’d right inside her baby bus!  LOL

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Pretty little lady. ❤

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Overall it was a great adventure.

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I’m sure we’ll be back again.

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Stephanie

Look Who Just Turned 1 Year Old!!!

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This past weekend was definitely a crazy one.  With Father’s Day and celebrating our little one’s first birthday, there was just A LOT to be happy and joyful about!!!  ❤

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I went to our local grocery bakery and found her the perfect little cake.  It was white cake with fresh strawberry creamed icing (soooo delicious since it was naturally flavored!).

My mom did the honor of creating this little spread for photographing it.

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She really upped the elegance with her table settings ❤

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Le sigh… will they let me eat it? ❤

And in other news… Baby Girl is pulling up and starting to walk a little when assisted!

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That concentrating face though 😀 ❤  Aww sweet little one!!!

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We also had the incredible opportunity to dedicate our daughter to God on Father’s Day (how cool is that?!?!)!

Ugh just so much love here!

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My husband took these pics before church started Sunday… it was a sweet, tender moment

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There were more than a few tears shed this past Sunday when I heard our pastor praying over my husband and blessing him as the good, godly father he is.

I know I’ve posted before how we’ve dedicated each of our children to the Lord, but this one happening to fall on Father’s Day was just extra sweet and special.  Again… I had tears!

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Can’t resist ONE more picture of this delicious cake!!

Hope your weekend was just as beautiful and splendid!

We’re over the moon with love ❤

Stephanie

Make a Weapons Wall for Your Boys!

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For at least a year (maybe two… it honestly runs together with the babies and pregnancies), I’ve wanted to create a Weapons Wall for our boys and all their weapons.  We just have so many, and storing them in a “Weapons Box” is great and all, but we’d rather actually see them and get to admire them everyday 😀 .

Can you tell we live in Texas? LOL ❤

Anyway… this was a very easy project.  Just gather all your weapon toys, lay them out so you can see them, categorize them, plan where they should go on a wall (or several walls if you have enough), and the put them up!

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It’s a little dark because I had to do this at night when they were sleeping.

First, I planned out where the suit of armor would go…

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This is actually the pieces from the Armor of God.  The Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, the Gospel of Peace leg armor, the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.

Also… there’s Thor’s hammer, for our Little Viking 😉

And we have a bigger size (and more realistic) ancient looking helmet for our oldest.

Everything is hanging, that way it’s easy to pull off and put back on.  If anyone has any ideas to use something other than tacks, I’d love to know!

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Something I really love is all the knives they have… especially the Bowie knife, from James Bowie, one of the wild and crazy heroes of the Alamo battle and Texas Revolution.  What an amazing man he was!  He’s remembered as one of the fiercest fighting men of Texas history.

Doing this also helped us realize they need more guns.  And I haven’t figured out how to hang the nerf guns the oldest has 🙂 so they’re still in his room.  He also has really awesome laser guns that help him better his aim (to near perfection)!  But those would need more heavy duty stuff to figure out how to hang.

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What’s missing also is their swords and light sabers… we may move the alphabet and start more on that side going down.

The bow, arrows, and quiver toys are so much fun!  They really work!  And my oldest told me he and my mom made that quiver together ❤ .  How cool is that?!

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Apparently recently in the UK, time has stopped over the young Prince George playing like a normal boy would… with a weapon.  LOL

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“Completely tone deaf of Kate… to give Prince George a toy gun. Doesn’t she read the papers in her own country with all the gun deaths? If the Duchess of Sussex had done this, she would be excoriated in the media! Lucky George isn’t black or police would have shot him,” one user wrote.

Another chimed in, “#PrinceGeorge playing with a toy gun! Unelievable! #KensingtonPalace shame!

“This isn’t okay anymore…  My American side here, biased maybe b/c of everyday #gunviolence in USA, but my British side agrees.  No child in this day and age should look at any gun as a fun toy. This looks far too real,” someone else wrote.

And that… is why they’re losing their country to Muslims.

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Anyway, I’m sure there are much better weapons walls out there, but this is just our version and it was definitely a fun project!

If anyone has ideas for how to hang nerf guns… that may just be our next thing!

Stephanie

Related Reading –

Lake Break!

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Yesterday we spent some time out at the lake.  The water and the drive through the hill country was just breathtakingly beautiful!  Such a nice change of scenery!

And very peaceful ❤

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What is it about toddlers and throwing rocks into water? It’s so cute and adorable how they love to see them plunk and splash!  He had a blast!

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It was hot… not over 100’F, but close though (97’F)!  Which is a big deal for us here that it didn’t go over, LOL!  It was nice and windy, especially with that lake breeze near the water.

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The little viking child!! ❤

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Just the colors of the water and the greenery were amazing to me.  When we were driving up on a hill, you could see the entire lake and how blue it was from that far away.

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Hope you readers are enjoying your summer to the fullest extent possible.  It is gorgeous out there, even if it is hot.  Enjoy the season and take it for what it is!  I know we are!

Stephanie