Embracing Fall with Joy & Thanksgiving!

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This past month has been full of wonderful surprises and blessings as we push through to the end of the fall semester.  Our oldest has been doing great on his tests, even completing two comprehensive science tests that spanned 4 pages long each!  His grades were fine when he was in public school, but he learns even more complex details for each subject now, and his grades are still averaging out to all A’s with the harder, more complex material!

There’s just no comparison to how much better homeschooling has been as far as actual learning goes.  We’re beyond elated!!!

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And we still love our weekly outings getting to take in the beauty of Texas.  It really is so incredibly beautiful if you know how to seek it out.  I could not believe the incredible fall colors in these pictures (and these are not edited, this is 100% as much as the camera lens could capture – and even more perfect in person)!

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When our kids come back from these outings, I can sense the change in them immediately ❤ they’re calmer, happier, and have this overall sense of well-being as they relax on the car ride home.  They also seem to have a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the colors of nature as we’re driving home!  The effects of being surrounded by so much beauty are long-lasting. 😀  I just love it!

I’m so grateful that with the freedom of homeschooling, things like this are doable.

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The ducks, turtles, and egrets around made it even more exciting for them.

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Love having my mom on these trips in the mornings!  She used to paint, so seeing all this beauty in nature really touches her heart, too ❤  And the kids just love being with her – she’s like a real life Mary Poppins in heart and attitude!!!

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Cuties ❤

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They have so many places to just sit and stare at the trees reflected on the water.

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One of my favorite pictures (above), a wooden dragonfly hovering over the still and peaceful water.

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Our boys love hopping over this garden wall.

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Our oldest tried to teach his brother how to play chess, while we just sat there and talked as a couple of hours passed by.  It was so peaceful and relaxing… definitely a luxurious November day.  I do wish we had snow, but then it wouldn’t be as easy to go out and enjoy days like this for as long as we’re able to.

Here’s a link to an article I read (and loved) recently:

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

From the article,
“Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain. ….

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The article goes on to talk about the mysterious power of prayer… give the article a look for some gratitude inspiration!

How to Survive in the Desert

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Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Happy Baby Girl

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All of us were sick a week ago, and we were just getting better this week.  I’ve actually never had all three children get THIS sick with a stomach bug all at the same time.  I had to set up the living room so they were all sleeping in easily accessible places so I could get to them in time.  Every 20 minutes one of them would start vomiting, and this went on for about 5 hours, so I just stayed out there with them, trying to sleep in between those 20 minutes.  Just seeing little ones throwing up and their whole little bodies being so sick and in so much pain was horrible.  Thank goodness it only lasted that one night, and then it was easy to care for them the next few days as they were so weak and exhausted.

It was crazy hard, and yet very sweet and bonding in unexpected ways. ❤

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We’ve been finding out that homeschooling is not a very glamorous production 😀 , teaching and school work and projects get done, learning gets done thankfully, but at least for us at this time, it’s priority number one.  This is a nice way of saying the rest of the house gets tentatively put on hold at times, until I can get to it, which is very frustrating for me.  Laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and put away.  Or dishes need to be done, those kind of things are looking to go a little by the wayside at times these days.

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Hopefully I can find more balance to teaching and getting housework done, soon.  But oh how the garden is calling 😀 and Spring is coming!!!!  We are definitely going to be doing mostly outdoor classes once the weather gets warmer.  The days already look just like Spring sometimes 🙂 and our kids love being outside.

 

So… while the kids were over their sickness (and we were getting it and getting over it) right about the time the lunar eclipse happened earlier this week, and with homeschooling, something like this is a MUST, nevermind me still being a little sick… it was totally worth it!

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We didn’t let our oldest stay up for all of it of course, but we let him stay up to see the beginning of the eclipse and to try to get some pictures.  I showed him how to take moon pictures, which can be tricky 🙂

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You can really see the eclipse starting… when we first went outside, we could see the entire full moon!  This was just so much fun to do with our son!

We’re all feeling better now, and so excited for sunnier weather 😀

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Thanks for reading ❤

Stephanie

Praise & Gratitude to the Lord Our God!

We’re celebrating our Easter party later today for all of the police families in our department.  As I sit and reflect on how joyous and grateful I am for God’s redemption and promises, I’m filled with utter gratitude at how He has so taken care of me, even though each of us are like an ant to Him.  I often think about the sweet sparrow family we have at the front of our house, how tiny they are, how insignificant they appear to be compared to the rest of the animals and goings-on in the world, and remember that the Bible says He notices even them!

Songs of Praise I’m singing this morning:

Happy is the man who fears the LORD, taking great delight in His commandments!

His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed!

Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever!

Light shines in the darkness for the upright!!!

He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous.

Good will come to a man who lends generously and conducts his business fairly.

He will never be shaken!

The righteous will be remembered forever.  He will not fear bad news because his heart is confident, always trusting in the LORD!

His heart is assured; he will not fear!

In the end, he will look in triumph on his enemies.

He distributes freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.

His horn will be exalted in honor.

But the wicked man will see it, and be angry; he will gnash his teeth in despair.

The desire of the wicked will come to nothing.   (Psalm 112)

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I have sought Your favor will ALL my heart ❤ Lord, be gracious to me according to Your promise!  

I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees.  I hurried, not hesitating to keep Your commands.

Though the ropes of the wicked people who stalk me, were wrapped around me, I did not forget Your law.

I rise continuously at midnight to thank You for Your righteous judgments!!  

I am a friend to all who fear You, to those who keep Your precepts.

Teach me good judgment and discernment, for I rely on Your commands.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.

The arrogant have smeared me with lies, but I obey Your precepts will ALL my heart ❤ !

Their hearts are hard and insensitive, but I take delight in Your instruction ❤ !

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.  Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver coins!

May Your faithful love comfort me always, as You promised Your servant.

May Your compassion come to me, so that I may live, for Your instruction is the delight of my life!

Let the arrogant be put to shame for slandering me with lies; as for me… I will meditate on Your precepts ❤ .

May my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes so that I will never be put to shame. (Psalm 119:58-80)

Stephanie

8 Months – There’s No One Like Dad!

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Someone just turned 8 months recently!  We are so ready for SPRING… it’s been raining for a couple of weeks – gray days, no sunshine, but now the sun is just beginning to peak through the trees.

It’s beautiful!

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Her little pink onesie says,”There’s No One Like Dad!”  And it is SO TRUE!  And so cute!  My husband is seriously the best father I could ever have asked for to our children.  She adores him, as they all do.

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She is just the happiest little baby I’ve ever seen, and so easy!  Her joy affects everyone who knows her – even the girls who take care of her while we’re working out at our gym, just adore her and tell us they love when we come in because she’s such a sweet, happy baby!

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And she laughs so much!  She thinks everything her crazy, wild brothers do is hilarious!  LOL 😀

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I can’t wait for more sunny days, gardening to my heart’s content ❤ and playing in the yard with our kids!  The Spring and Summer are just such a welcome change… yes, even for Texans ;) LOL

Stephanie

Christmas Season Joy!

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A half-done tree 😉  We waited until my husband got home to do the star at the top, which is always down by the youngest in house who is able to walk ❤  Watching my husband pick up our 2nd son and let him put the star on is like winning the lottery.  So. Much. Love.

We got our decorations up last week, it’s been so much fun decorating with the kids and seeing all the ornaments come out again.  I get so much pleasure from just seeing everything again – like seeing old friends… LOL.

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My mom got us this sweet decoration a few years back.  I know Santa is a controversial figure, but I do love the story behind him, the legend if you will.  And I love this decoration because it kind of epitomizes the importance of Jesus’ birth amidst all the craziness of Christmas shopping, Santa visits, or whatnot.  It’s really about this, when it comes down to it.  None of the other stuff matters, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.  We can have all the other joyful stuff, as long as Christ is still the at the center.

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Love lights ❤

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And at night….

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Our famous skyline.

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The top of the building in the center of the above pic, is where my parents bought their chunks of land in the country back in the 80’s.  All the way at the top in the penthouse.

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So cute… 😀

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Our river ❤  There were less lights for some reason this year.  It was still gorgeous and we can’t really complain – but apparently we have new boats that light up the water below them.  LOL

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Our cutie…

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Christmas Candle… I always try to get one every year and light it every night, at least through dinner.  It’s just a simple tradition, and the light is beautiful for the kids (and me) to look at.

LOL our mischievous one!  Wait… they’re both mischievous… oh well!

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Enjoy this season readers!  Please go out and have fun!  Do joyful things… go listen to some carolers, or watch a ballet of the Nutcracker.

Do something to remind yourself of beauty this season!  To recapture how you felt when you were a child.

Go see some glittering, brilliant lights around in your city.  Really look at a well-decorated Christmas tree at a hotel.  Enjoy some wine!  Go out dancing!

Do something this season to bring more joy into your life, please.

Stephanie

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Just wanted to post some pretty pictures and wish my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!  We’ve been pretty busy… lots of baking, decorating, and going to the park nearby to see lights each night!  And just dwelling on the gratitude of all our blessings.

I love this time of year.  I actually enjoy the wildness of it all.

Today we had some of my older son’s friends come over – the house was full of boys running around like crazy 😀 playing loud music in our “music station” of our game room, being silly and dancing around the house ❤

I baked cookies and set the boys all up to decorate some to take home when they got picked up.

It was SO. MUCH. FUN. ❤

I don’t think I’m ever happier than when our house is full of people – or kids – especially crazy boys 🙂  Makes my heart warm seeing them have so much fun.

 

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It’s been so beautiful here lately, and with perfect weather – and just cold enough at night to warrant hot chocolate drinks!  😀

Same scene as above, but this is what we’ve been seeing every night we’ve been able to go:

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The Christmas trees are suspended above a lake to look like they’re floating on top of the water.  Just amazing to see in person!  I tried to get a good pic.

So romantic, and so magical ❤

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Like a winter wonderland. 😀

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I love this time of year… focusing on what we’re thankful for, seeing family and friends and lots and lots of cooking and baking!  It’s hard to imagine a happier time ❤

Hope all you readers have a happy Thanksgiving!

Barbie Knows How to Be Fruitful & Multiply!

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This is so cute!  A fellow police wife and friend has a daughter who takes toys to the store sometimes.  Apparently the whole Barbie family had to go on this grocery outing LOL!

This is what she said —

“My children fully believe in the word of God

and know that we are to be fruitful and multiply,

this includes Barbie world.

I must say that I will miss these days

when I’m caught off guard

either by carrying around a huge stuffed animal that is a duck

or pregnant Barbies…..

it’s Saturday y’all.

That’s all I got.”

This is partly why I love Texas.  It’s the South, the Christian women are REAL.  And little girls still play with Barbie and want to have BIG families.

I know… I’m sorry you’re not Texan 😉  Feel free to move here, though.

Stephanie

So. Much. Love.

So… our schedule has become topsy-turvy the last 2-3 weeks or so.  I just wrote not that long ago, about our Fall routine simplicity and how beautiful it was to serve my husband and son so early in the morning, even sacrificing sleep with an infant, and the reward of getting to know (and sometimes hear even though I try really hard not to listen lol) that they’re talking about things my husband thinks are important for our son.  It’s the only time of day (when he’s not off for the whole day that is) when our son gets to see his dad.  So their time is critically important and so beautiful to orchestrate and watch from a distance.

Go figure that once we’re nicely settled into a good routine, flowing beautifully, a yucky wrench gets thrown in that makes life a lot more difficult.  It’s starting to be funny to me how life is just like that; at least unforeseen things keep us on our toes and understand our place as mere humans ❤

So I’m sitting here in the morning, and in such awe of how much love I have when hearing them talk – hearing my husband gently but authoritatively guide our son in direction, answer his questions, listen to his problems or stories.  This time together is so precious!  I’m so grateful that even though our schedule (my husband’s schedule) has changed again, it still allows for this to happen every morning.

It’s just So. Much. Love.

Drinking in God’s Beauty – Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage!

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We’ll be gone for awhile on an island enjoying and drinking in deeply God’s beauty ❤  We’ll also be gone during our 10 year anniversary!  10 years have flown by so fast, and it has been beautiful and such an incredibly journey through life’s ups and downs, yet clinging to each other and God always trusting He’ll get us through.

Even though things feel dark – my husband’s coworker who was shot in his chin is doing better, and we’re still praying for the family of his other fellow police man who was shot and killed a few weeks ago.  We’re so grateful that the one he regularly worked beside is still alive after being shot like that in the face – he has a very young daughter who looks up to him like he’s the world.  These men that protect us daily from evil and fulfilling God’s Romans 13 calling… it is such an honor to be a wife to a man God’s called to fight against that kind of chilling evil.

This may be a bad season for us, but this morning I felt God’s strength when I put on the armor of God – it felt so literal and powerful to get me through another day for our kids, to be their support.  Even though the fog of exhaustion is at times overwhelming, God’s given us so much joy and beauty… even in difficulty.   🙂

Looking forward to going back to one of our favorite places.

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