10 free ebooks from Scholastic

Check out this link on Deal Seeking Mom Blog

My friend, Kendall, sent me this link a couple of days ago.  It is good thru the 20th, so you better get on it, because it takes awhile to look thru all the available ebooks.  It really works - I paid nothing and now have 10 ebooks waiting to be printed :-)


learning about horses

Our sweet friends, Mike and Nikki, invited us over last week to teach the kids some basics about horses.  We met Jewel and Blues, two of their horses.  


First item of business...to learn about horse hooves.

Second, Nikki taught them a couple of horse walking tricks.  They walk when you walk.  They stop when you pull the rope back.  Don't ever get behind a horse.  Basic stuff, but they loved it!
Then, Nikki showed them how she grooms Jewels.  I think there were five different brushes and a couple of sprays that the kids got to use to help clean her up.

Finally, the part Kade had been hoping for the whole time - they got to ride on Jewels!  Kade loved it, but the other three just stayed on long enough for me to snap their picture :-)

Thanks, Mike and Nikki, for the field trip fun!  The kids are still talking about it :-)



i treasure these days

I don't know how long God will lead us to homeschool, but I can tell you that I wouldn't want to be doing anything else right now besides teaching these boys (and Bryn - when she chooses to sit in on the lesson).

I'm not even going to lie - it is HARD for me to stay focused and to not talk on the phone or answer e-mails during our school day. I feel like I have to die to my wants a little too often and can wallow in pity for myself occasionally. But, wow, God is growing me and bonding our family in a way that I am so thankful for. I took this a couple of mornings ago to capture our patio time when I read to them while they swing. We are almost finished with Charlotte's Web and I am fighting a strong urge to pick up and take them to the State Fair of Texas sometime in October. The perk that does come with homeschooling is that I'm the only teacher, so I get to make all the field trip decisions - and this teacher thinks that the State Fair is an excellent teaching opportunity ;-) I wonder what Principal Ferguson will have to say...


labeling the cranium

So, this turned out to be a big win - thanks, Tomi!  We joined with the O's for some science fun last Friday.  One of the learning experiences involved labeling where certain bones of the body were located.
This is what I imagined to be going thru their head as they were listening to instructions:
"Permission to write all over ourselves?! Oh, baby, this is the coolest day ever!"

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It's been awhile

Summer was so fun...but I'm glad it's officially over! By the end, I am always tired and desperate for a routine. We are into our third week of school (homeschooling again this year), and I'm finding our rhythm again - and love it!

So, here's a couple of pics I've taken recently that I just enjoy looking at over and over. They always make me smile and capture our "life" at the moment.

This pic was taken yesterday and Brynlee was walking in for her first day of pre-school. Isn't she supposed to look and act a little bit more nervous than she obviously is? And, for those of you who have known us for awhile - take note of Kiki. That dog has been everywhere with our family for the past six years! I feel like it's another child :-) Brynlee stole Kiki from Kamden last year and won't go anywhere without that dog.

Does she look grown-up or what?! I chuckle at this one because of her fierce independence. She didn't want me carrying her backpack or holding her hand. But, she did at least hug me tight before I left her classroom.

Kamden and Brynlee don't even know I captured this sweet shot. I was trying to get first day of school pics of the boys and walked out the door to find them holding hands and he had his arm around her. Yes, it made me teary.

I love Kam's grandpa glasses in this pic and that all of their smiles are real and not the "say cheese" smile that I so often get.
Happy blogging again. At least for today :-)


july happenings

We are still swimming all the time - even the dog is hot enough to get in on the action nowadays...we are all so ready to not sweat the instant we walk out our door! I love that I got a pic of Roxy drying off on the towel after she got out of the pool. She's a crazy dog, but she is pretty smart.
We are still rocking the Rock the Rock songs at our house and in the car...I think I love them as much as the kids ;-) We enjoyed the 4th with some of our neighbors and we captured all the kids doing their RtR moves - love it!
Since we're enjoying the indoors more often to hide from the 100+ degree heat, we've been playing more games and putting puzzles together. Thanks, Cunningham family, for the Chutes and Ladders game for Bryn's birthday - it made for a great family night!

I am starting to get on the "eat local foods as much as possible" kick. We have two farmers' markets within 10 minutes of our home that visit weekly, so it's really just a matter of re-prioritizing our budget to reflect more money for food and less for stuff that will just end up breaking soon and/or our eating out money. This past week, I bought 4 dozen eggs (which, I learned can sit out on your counter top for up to 4 weeks because they don't wash them before bringing them to the market - wild!) and 2 lbs of grass-fed beef + some veggies and random Indian food that I love. I took Kale and Brynlee and they seemed to enjoy the fact that everything they were seeing had come straight from the farm to the market.
All in all, it's been a great start to July. The only downer was Brynlee being sick last week. Her ENT scheduled to have her 2nd set of tubes put in on the 22nd along with removing her adenoids. As you mamas know, it's no fun thinking of your kids having to have any kind of surgery, even when it's minor. But, I'm happy for her that she won't have to endure more double ear infections like she had last week. We would covet your prayers for the surgery to go off without a hitch and that she'll be ear infection-free from here on out!


bryn's sweet shoppe party

I can't even count the times we've found Brynlee trying to sneak candy. This addiction has been evident from a very young age. So, I thought I would feed her addiction problem by throwing her a sweet shoppe party yesterday. It is so easy to prepare for because you just have to have lots of sugar available :-) Here's some of what was available during the party and for the candy buckets they got to fill up to take home....





The best part was throwing the party at Chuck E Cheese. My friend, Laura, sent me a great tip that helped keep the cost really affordable. I did a party thru them, but only for 4 (the minimum). Then, I used all my free tokens coupons and a couple of other coupons to gather lots of tokens and a couple of pizzas to have for guests. Since I paid for the 4 person party, Bryn got to have Chuck E. sing to her and got the token crown and big balloon - just like if we had paid for the 20+ kids that were at the party. Even our hostess was saying how smart that was because usually, for the $11.99 price per kid, they only provide 20 tokens per child. She said that runs out so fast and then they don't know what to do for the rest of the 2 hours. Our way, we had tokens to hand out the whole time and still came home with probably 50 tokens that didn't get used. I'm thinking we need to do every party at Chuck E Cheese because it felt too good to leave the crumbs and the dirty plates there and come home to a clean home!!
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where's granny?

She's underneath four baby dolls and three blankets, of course. Can you tell Brynlee likes to have fun with Granny when she comes to visit?
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his joy stealer

We have always referred to this little man as our "joy boy." He has such a cool way of making anything seem like fun. Well, things change for him when his brothers are away. Our joy boy definitely seemed to have misplaced his joy the whole time they were gone. But, oh, how quickly it returned the minute they were reunited.

Kale trying to not cry while talking to his brothers on the phone:
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The moment his joy returned :-)


summer reading program

We signed up for our library's summer reading program today. Local businesses donate prizes for kids as they hit certain reading markers throughout the summer. My kids always get excited because one of the first prizes is a coupon for a free Round Rock Donut :-) Here is the link if you live in the area and want to sign your kids up: Dig Up a Good Book. The book bags they are carrying took all of about 2 minutes each to make and they love having their own. Plus, the technology at our library now allows the kids to just scan their card and then set their book bag under the scanner and it will check out all the books inside the bag - is that not way cool?!

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importance of godly counsel

Life is hard in many ways, but one way in particular is discerning how God would have you to use your time (and all other resources). I really struggle with this one because as most of you know, I think that everything sounds fun and worthy of time spent on it. Plus, our culture is so full of good ways to use your time that it makes it really hard to pick the few best things out of all the good things. And then to know also that it might not be right for you even if it's right for your friend. Fact is that it's often harder to know the right path even though your intentions are pure and you want to honor the Lord.

I am finishing up my current ministry role after two years and have been floundering a little to know where God would have me devote my time after this role ends. I have enjoyed the peace of knowing my ministry role and always feel a little flustered if that's in question, which is the case now. I am praying, but like I said, everything sounds fun and sometimes I think it would take God speaking through a burning bush to get my attention to point me to the best out of all the options.

But, I was reminded today that God created me and knows my issues - thus why he put a godly husband and some precious women who adore the Lord around me to keep me from saying yes to something that doesn't make sense for me. A friend counseled me a couple of weeks ago that I shouldn't even consider a specific ministry because she didn't think I had the bandwidth to tackle the relational responsibilities. I listened, but kind of just played it off thinking that I had way more relational connectors than she was aware of and could handle it just fine. I did pause though and realize that I hadn't prayed about it at all nor had I given Keith time to pray about it and share his wisdom. So...long story short (ok, I know it's already long..sorry!), Keith came to me on Thursday evening and said he really didn't think it was wise for me to take on this particular ministry - basically citing the same reasons my friend did. And then, today I went to a baby shower and the lady who is head over the particular ministry stopped me to say that they had all their spots full anyways! Wow...so God didn't speak through a burning bush to me, but He did speak through the wise counsel of both Keith and Mary.

Here's the point of this posting - if you don't have godly counsel around you - get some! Proverbs 13:20 says, "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." My husband and my friends do such a phenomenal job in pushing me to trust God and to honor Him in all that I do. I might be a pastor's wife, but I'm still a sinner who can quickly make a mess of things if I try to go the course alone and trust in my own opinions. Jada, Mary, Kendall, Laura, Tomi..these ladies get to see my messiness more than others and do such a sweet job of challenging me in different ways. Thanks, ladies!

And if you are a friend - be a wise friend. It's not healthy for us to always say what our friends want to hear or to just affirm them. The most important characteristic of a wise friend though is that they're pursuing God themselves through reading the Bible and praying. It's way too easy to fall back to our own fallible opinions if we're not constantly seeking the Lord.

These verses remind me that sometimes we need to encourage and sometimes we need to be more of a spur for our friend - and spurs don't feel good at first, but they help to keep us moving in the right direction!

Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


me + kade + gourdough's = sweet date

Kade and I were near downtown for a dr's appt. yesterday and decided that it would be wise use of our time to snatch a quick one-on-one date while it was just the two of us. So, with my trusty iPhone in hand, we followed the map to the closest dessert airstream trailer - a gourmet donut place. I can't even tell you how sweet these things were - Kade took one bite and said he thought he needed to save the rest for later because he had had too much sugar - in one bite!! I don't think I'll have any desire to go back unless I'm just begging for diabetes to kick in, but it was very tasty and a fun date to try something new with my oldest. I love the uniqueness of all of the airstream food trailers and would love to try them all...there is one called Sushi A-Go-Go :-) and the one next to Gourdough's was called The Odd Duck - it had unique menu items that you usually don't see unless you're at a fancy restaurant. If you're reading this and you have any recommendations for a particular airstream food trailer - please comment so we can try it too!


i'm sorry, daddy

This picture makes me laugh out loud because of the scene in which it was captured. Kamden had just asked Keith to fix his (Keith's) tape measure that Kamden had "accidentally" taken apart with Keith's screwdriver. I just think it's hilarious that Kamden used one of Keith's tools to break one of his other tools.

Keith did not get as much of a kick out of it as I did - as you can tell by the non-smile on his face as he attempts to fix his tape measure. Kamden quickly realized this too - thus why I caught him hugging his daddy's leg with a somber "Please forgive me for my childishness" look. I could be wrong, but I think it might be another year or two before Keith puts his tools in Kam's hands.

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he better try now while it's cute

Lincoln has been sneaking in little kisses on Brynlee for awhile now. I think he knows that due to the fact that she has three older brothers and a pastor for a dad, he better get those kisses in now while we all think it's cute. Because...that will definitely change. One day - instead of us grabbing our cameras to capture the cuteness, we'll be grabbing a bat to knock some sense into the boy. But, Lincoln's a smart one - and extremely adorable. Therefore, he gets a pass right now ;-)
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summer days are here

We can be found in the backyard swimming...

or in the front riding bikes...

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or in the house hiding from the excessive heat!

I just love summertime, even with the 100+ temps, because it means lots of carefree moments and ice cream ;-)