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.

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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

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

Makeup for 50+

Wow this is so cool!  What you can find on the internet… 😀

This woman, in my opinion, is so beautiful and has aged really well.  Apparently she’s used to being on TV (we don’t watch TV so I’ve never seen or even heard of her show before) but she’s either had some minor “work” down like fillers and smoothing injections OR she truly just has really taken care of her skin.  I don’t know… but her skincare routine is on-point, so it’s possible her face is naturally this beautiful due to how she’s been taking care of it.

Either way… I think she looks incredible!

Just thought her makeup tricks were something to be bookmarked here at my blog for future reference.

A Canopy of Green

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We had the most beautiful Easter weekend!  The garden area around my grandparents’ house (and where my GREAT-grandparents lived as well!), was lush with green and incredibly vibrant!  It’s hard to describe such a scene without using pictures… so I’ll use pictures 😉

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We at a BBQ sandwich-style lunch with all the trimmings of coleslaw, potato salad, creamed corn ❤ , Bush’s baked beans… then hunted for eggs, and then played until nighttime.

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It was simple and perfect.

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The little stone statue (above) was given to my grandma by my mom probably over 20 years ago.  It was supposed to represent my brother and I.

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The boys played with my mom with marshmallow shooters (like pea-shooters) 😀  It was fun!

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It’s hard to get the full effect though, even from pictures, because in the front, the air was filled with the scent of Jasmine!  It was literally like breathing in heavenly scented, perfumed air!!!

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Jasmine… jasmine everywhere!  In-between the roses, even!

I hope all you readers had an equally beautiful Easter Sunday!

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Blessings from Texas 😉

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Stephanie

 

Babies Babies Babies!!!!!

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Our littlest one is getting bigger (over 11 pounds now!!!) and more beautiful with each passing day!  Oh the joy of getting to cuddle her, hear her coo as she looks up at me, and watch the boys with her… just fills my heart with so much love.

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I could seriously have 100 babies with my husband and still want more with him.

It’s ridiculous 😀

I don’t know what it is, but having his children makes me love him even more deeply and fiercely.

When I was still in the hospital after the birth, one of our friends who came to visit us joked that if we had met in high school, we would have had 10 kids by now.  😛

My husband’s comrades got together and gave us the sweetest, most thoughtful gift for our new baby.  Their card, all signed with their different hilarious messages like, “Congrats on your 12th kid!” and “Get some cable!” among some really sweet messages ❤ will forever be in my heart.

In spite of their funny card, they picked out the most elegant baby gift I could imagine: a Vera Wang silver baby cup with our daughter’s name engraved on it on the front.  Just so special and beautiful.

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Here’s to baby cuddles and chubby giggles!

Stephanie

Our Newborn Baby Girl!

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Still in the hospital at 1 day old

Our newborn, heavenly, baby girl has arrived!!!!!!  She is 1 week old today and we are over the moon with how perfect and beautiful she is!  Having babies and growing a family with my husband is just beyond describable how wonderful it is.

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This past week has been hilariously hard though, she breastfeeds every hour during the evening and all through the night – literally!  And our other two have decided we should now have a 3 ring circus of screams and running through the house and general excitement over her arrival.

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So this post will be short and sweet 😀 otherwise it’d probably be unreadable due to typos!

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I did want to say though, since I wrote about it before how we were worried how my uterus was handling pregnancy and if we’d be able to have more children after this baby.  The Dr. said it was still strong – no windows or tearing – praise God!!!!  We were leaving it in God’s hands and preparing to accept (really grieve) that maybe it was His decision to “close the womb,” but we were so happy when the doctor told us this in the operating room!

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My amazing husband giving me “that look” LOL ❤ 

And of course… I cried tears of joy when seeing her – I always seem to cry with my husband (he’s the one holding her since it’s a c-section) right when one of babies come out.  It’s just such a miracle!

She came just before Father’s Day, too, which I thought was so sweet and perfect. ❤

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All throughout the surgery, too, I kept remembering the verses,

“You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it is trusting in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

and

“Will I bring a baby to the point of birth and not deliver it?” says the LORD;

“or will I who deliver, close the womb?” says your God.”  Isaiah 66:9

 

And again, just like with our last baby, growing our family just creates so much more love in our marriage, which didn’t seem possible – but I love my husband even more!  Even through the fog of exhaustion and sleeplessness, the love and affection is so strong and increasing.

And just a random video on my husband’s last days of work before the baby came – him singing to our son before he left.  He is such an exceptional father…

Our Winter Wonderland Experience!

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Taking a break from writing the Proverbs 31 series, I wanted to take some time to finally upload our pics from our mini “Winter Vacation” a couple of weeks ago.  San Antonio never gets real snow.  Well, one time back in 1985, but even that was called a “100-year snow,” for us.  Soooooo  we decided that since we missed going to the beach/island this Summer due to so many car issues, that we’d instead drive up to the mountains in New Mexico for a little less than a week to see if we could catch some snow for the boys to see!

It was the best decision ever to do this – our oldest had so much fun!  I’ve never even seen snow like we saw on the last 2 days there (we planned it somehow just right)!  It was so exciting (and FREEZING COLD)!  It made me SO GRATEFUL that we live in South Texas.  I love the heat… yes, even the really extreme heat we get in the Summer.  We live very close to a great waterpark and have access to swimming all day if we want.  It’s bliss ❤  🙂

But as for New Mexico’s mountain chill – wow!  We had all the correct clothing and even snow boots for everyone, but mentally, I was so not prepared for that level of cold!

We stayed a little cozy cabin in the area of a ski resort (that wasn’t open for a few more days – we got the best price because of this, and yet we still got to see their ski slopes with “created” snow).

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This day wasn’t actually that cold, hence the hoodies (they had layers of clothes underneath though!).  These were some photos of the bottom of the slopes at the ski resort.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to play around there so I didn’t wear my snow boots, the boys did though.

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New Mexico with it’s deserts and mesas and mountains was incredibly beautiful!  I’m not posting a lot of our pics of exploring the town and the mountains because I tend to take too many anyway, but I wanted to show the most exciting parts for us: the snow!

I loved seeing all the thousands of fir trees, and we were lucky to get to see it before and then after the first snowfall of the season.  I thought it’s scenery was equally as beautiful – it was that stunning.

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Our big window in the cabin the morning after the big snowfall.

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Our patio showing just about how many inches we got overnight in the mountains!  Wow!!!

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Our adorable little cabin!  It was a great stay and experience we’ll never forget.

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So. Beautiful.

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Thanks for reading 😉

Why Is Shaming Men OK, but Shaming Women isn’t?

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I’m not sure when men decided that 30 was the new 15. When men thought it was better to remain independent than making a commitment to another. When men we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid to be fathers. I’m not sure when video games and “guy night” became more important than tee-ball and date night. When 4 year relationships weren’t long enough for a proposal. When staying out became cooler than showing up. I’m not sure when men became boys.

Our culture has a boy problem. In Italy, they call it Peter Pan Syndrome. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Men so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires they find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more boys. We need men who will grow up, know up, and show up. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well. To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more men.

We need more men of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love women, treat them as they would their own daughters and lead them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would lead. We need more men.

Today, I turn 31. I’m a man. And I’m proud of that. Please share as a birthday gift smile emoticon#EveryPostALesson #DaleyWisdom

So I saw this on my facebook a day or two ago, and saw some female friends reposting in agreement.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting marriage and family, most women want this (including myself, obviously), but it’s interesting that we don’t see how ugly this is in light of the legal ramifications for men who do actually want marriage.

It also is ugly in the way this man is writing it to other men attempting to shame them.  He is “the only man in the room.”  He feels like he’s better than these other “boys” because he’s taken the risk of marriage.  It’s just kind of ugly, honestly, and I doubt it’s well-received by most men in the generation Y age-range he’s trying to shame.

 

So… I took the liberty of rewriting it and posting it on my facebook to try to show how it looks when it’s written with the same tone and same self-righteous, but towards women.  It looks pretty bad.  It’s ugly.

So if it’s ugly and yucky for women to read… what makes us think that it’s ok and that we should praise this guy for doing the same thing to men?

Rewritten for women:

“I’m not sure when women decided that 30 was the new 15. When women thought it was better to remain independent and strong than making a commitment to another. When women we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid or ashamed to be mothers (and aborting their unwanted children).

I’m not sure when shopping and “girls night out” for moms became more important than getting married and raising healthy families. When putting off stable relationships till they were done with the bad boys and wanted to get married at 29 became acceptable. When staying out and getting drunk and sleeping with random men all throughout their college “careers” became cooler than raising a family. I’m not sure when women became irresponsible girls.

Our culture has a selfish girl problem. In history, they called it a recipe for society disaster. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Women so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires that they are starting to find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more irresponsible and selfish girls. We need women who will grow up, know up, and show up and support a functioning society with morals and values. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well (seriously). To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more women.

We need more women of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love their husbands, treat them as they would their own sons and follow them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would follow. We need more real women.”