Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Part Three

Part Two

Let's see if it works this time...please let me know if you can see Caiden reading. Thanks!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Caiden's Reading Debut

Today we began our two weeks celebrating Autumn's arrival, and learning about apples. I found this book at Brightlight Book's clearance sale for next to nothing. It's perfect for Caiden to read all on her own. I had intended to upload a video of her reading the book to you all, but several hours of failed attempts, I am giving up. I'll try and find a way to share it eventually...

In other news:

Today we...
* made a "What Do I Know" and "What I Want to Learn" chart about apples.
* discussed the differences in fruit and vegetables and why apples are fruit.
* learned new vocabulary words: bud, blossom, stem, petals
* discussed the life cycle of an apple tree, seed to fruit, and also by season.
* read I Am An Apple twice- once with help, once almost by herself as shown on the movie.
* wrote to her penpal Emma.
*worked on recognizing number words and matching them to the appropriate number of objects.

Tomorrow we will...
* make an apple pie, and introduce fractions as we cut the apples, and then as we cut the pie!
* read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
* put up our world map on the kitchen wall and label the countries the girl visits to gather the ingredients of the pie.
* discuss the countries, color flags, etc.
* learn new vocabulary from the book.
* do a real-life subtraction problem with the apples we have, and then how many we use for the pie, and how many are left over afterwards.

Wednesday we will:
* read The Giving Tree
* practice memory verse
* practice the apple poem

Thursday we will:
* paint a four part picture showing an apple tree in each season.
* label parts of an apple tree that were gifts to the boy
* discuss the feelings of the boy and the apple tree and make a "Happiness Is" book
* practice memory verse

Friday we will:
*Have Caiden read Apples Up On Top with Daddy
* Try and balance bean bag (apples) and walk
* Make an apple book matching number words one through ten with the numbers 1-10.
* Read other apple books picked up from the Library.

It took a long time to upload this movie clip. I'll post the other two parts later...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Love and like

I love my silly willy girlies.
I love that they were serious Daddy snugglers tonight.
I am thrilled with how our school plans went down this week. (THANKS MOM for coming through in a pinch!!!)
I really seriously LIKE my crock pot and my Yankee Candle tart warmer. (we're trying to be conscious of using "love" and "like" appropriately...can you tell? Because the exaggerator in me really does what to use the word LOVE!)
And happiness really can be found in having tomorrow's dinner cooking in the crockpot right now and clean up done.
I may just have found the cure for the "I'm too tired to think about what to cook because it's Friday" blues! Ahh, what a lovely Thursday night!
Oh, and my girls memorized Proverbs 29:11 this week. Even Addison. I love it!!

My final love of the night...
Based on Proverbs 29:11, (A foolish man gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man controls himself."We did a lot of discussing on what it means to be foolish and wise.

Yesterday in the car, Caiden asked me if someone's Mama was wise. I didn't know where she was headed so I answered with a question, "well, I want to know what you think." She answered in the negative based on this standard. "Her Mama doesn't give her children consequences, and so she's not obeying God, because children are supposed to obey their parents, so that means she is foolish." Ouch. She's observing so much. Understanding God's Word so well, and internalizing our explanation of discipline in our home in such a profound way. She's watching folks. She's watching.....

How was YOUR Thursday night treating you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week Three- Storm in the Night

This is a Five in a Row (FIAR) book- I wanted to make sure we got it in before our summer thunder storms were gone!

A lot of this week was from www.homeschoolshare.com which has free lap book components to use with B4FIAR and FIAR books.

Day One: We talked about Titles- how they tell us what the book is about, and how they are always capitalized.
Bible- we read Isaiah 41:10 and talked about fear.
Science- we talked about clouds- the four most common types. Made a layered book on black paper with white chalk.
Art- cotton ball painting.

Day Two: Dictionary introduction- make vocab cards from vocab in book.
Math/Science- Graph weather daily- introduction. Analyze results daily. (we have more days of sun than we have of clouds)
Art- facial expressions/labeling
Read- Walter Was Worried- Seeger

Day Three: Five Senses/ Listening Walk
Thunderstorm observations- smells, sights, sounds, touch, (a storm actually happened- so cool!)
Talk about quotation marks.
Read Like a Hundred Drums
Narration of the story- draw pictures.

Day Four: Bubble Chart - things related to a storm (that we noticed yesterday)
Brainstorm on sources of light
Discuss the term "Onomatopoeia".
Read- Yum, Yum, What Fun! (a book on onomatopoeia)

Day Five: Quilt Math- identify and color each shape accordingly and then analyze the results. (How many triangles, squares,
rectangles, etc.)
Lapbook assembly

Week Two- The Carrot Seed

The second week coincided with the optimal Fall garden planting time. How perfect! We read the Carrot Seed a Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR) book selection. Phyllis asked if these activities were from FIAR (or B4FIAR) or things I just came up with. The short answer is "yes". Many of these activities are from the books suggestions for these literature selections, however, I am enjoying the creative liberty I am able to have while doing unit studies with this curriculum. I just have so many ideas! Most of these units have taken us two weeks because I have found so many activities that can go along with them, or we've found additional books from the Library that also support our units. We're having way too much fun. =)

Day 1- we talked about the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8 and the different kinds of soil.
What does a plant need to grow? (air, water, sun) - made a cute cut out for the lap book.
Rose's Garden- read together.
Chose an activity from our Math bucket. (More on Literacy and Math buckets later!)
Discussed hard and soft "c" sounds and thought of a bunch of words with these sounds in the initial position and had her sort them.

Day 2- Seed day
Matthew 17- the mustard seed- found a mustard seed and played with it for a while.
Ordered seeds from smallest to largest without assistance and glued them in a line for the lap book.
Prayed for my friend Kaylyn's upcoming adoption from Africa and discussed her blog name- A Mustard Seed Journey. They have two girls close to my girl's ages so it was a great connection for them!
Read and looked at pictures from Ken Robbin's book, Seeds.

Day 3 Plant Garden!!
Looked at the pictures from the Carrot Seed- made pictures with three colors in the same style as that book.
Had cooked carrots for lunch.
Worked on calendar words and talked about how long we had to wait for our seeds to germinate and sprout.
Read The Tiny Seed- by Eric Carle
Painted a picture based on Ps. 1.

Day 4 - Started our "Chart the Growth of a Seed" book
Read The Bean by Anne Rockwell- great because we planted beans the day before!
Reading Lesson from Teach Your Child to Read....
Measured different sizes of seeds.- Introduced inch and cm.

Day 5- Worked on the poem for the lap book.
How a Seed Grows- Helene Jordan
Art rubbings from a Carrot
Assembled lap book.

The difference in the first three weeks of school is that I wasn't back to work yet. The fourth week we took off to visit with Aunt Kris and Uncle Aaron down from TN. So we were able to get in five days of instruction from me alone. Now, I teach her 3 days and my Mom and Jeff to Thursday and Friday respectively. We often scrap Wednesday and do school on Saturday instead. That requires a lot of planning and prep- let me tell you! But it's working well, and well worth it! As far as the school day goes, most of the time it goes something like this:

Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday's schedule: (except Jeff follows the plan on Friday while I work and on Saturday after school and snack, we go grocery shopping for the week ahead.)

Jeff and I wake up around 6:30ish and work out together. Usually the girls get up around then, but are not allowed out of their rooms until 7:00am. They play or read quietly until we are finished with our work out.

A little after 7 I get their breakfast started/on and I shower.
When breakfast is over, they put their dishes in the sink. Then they return to their rooms to get dressed (I lay out Addison's clothes, as she's not matching yet, but C has full reign of anything she can reach from her dresser (not her closet). They also pick up their rooms, make beds, turn off night lights, open blinds, etc.

7:30 to 8am is pick up the house and do dishes time. I normally throw in a load or two of laundry at this time.

We start school by 8. We are usually done by 10.

10:00-10:30 outside play- getting hot, we'll come inside around then for snack. As the weather gets cooler, we will stay out longer again.

10:30 is snack time. (Change laundry over)
The girls will play together until lunch time.

11:50 I start preparing lunch.

12:00 lunch time!!
After lunch I will read them a book from the Library. Sometimes I will put Addie down for naps early and do a reading lesson with C in her bedroom.

By 1:00 they are in bed for naps/quiet time. This usually lasts for 2.5 hours. (I fold laundry and stick in another load.)
When they wake up, it's snack time and we read more books, or sometimes they watch a movie. (Signing Time, Little House, Shirley Temple, etc.)

Around 4:30ish we go outside for a while.

If I start dinner at 5, we'll eat close to 6 and 7:00pm is bedtime! On Tuesday we eat at 5:00 and take baths so we can be at Kindermusik class. I've had them go in their p.j's so we just eat a quick snack, brush teeth and jump into bed after class.

And just to clarify, I don't LIVE by my watch. This rhythm is what our family usually does, and I just wrote it down so we don't get too far off track and so that we are wise managers of our time. If we decide to change the schedule, it's no big deal.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This is called a catch-up post. The girls won't be home for a few more hours, so I'm going to catch you all up on what we've been doing over at the McLaughlin Academy for the last few weeks. For some reason pictures take FOREVER to load on here, and this post will be picture heavy, so we may have to do this in installments.

WEEK ONE: Blueberries For Sal week of Aug 1-5.

Day 1- Read blueberries for Sal, discuss getting lost rules/safety, math with blueberry manipulatives and metal buckets and also discussed differences in the bucket sound if empty or full, and made homemade blueberry muffins.

Day 2- Animal mothers, Animal classification Birds or Mammals, discussion/reading about partridges, bears and crows.
We cut out pictures of birds and mammals from magazines in preparation for assembling the lap book. But we had the most fun thinking of all kinds of animals and appropriately classifying them. =) My favorite moments came in the car and she saw an animal and correctly identified it's classification based on all of the qualifications. Or when she was reading a book in her room and yelled out to me, "Mom, mice are mammals too! And rats, and cats!"

Day 3- We began our Writers Have Choices list: they can make two stories in one. We made a craft with a mountain and two bears on either side of the hill. She colored a bear picture and then I cut it up making it into a puzzle for her to reassemble. We also worked on reviewing/memorizing our address.

Day 4- We watched some movies on uTube about Bears and read a bunch of books from the Library about black bears, brown bears and polar bears. Then we finished assembling the bird and mammal books for the lap book. Here's the finished product!
This is a poor picture, but it's a lower case/capital letter match up sheet covered in a sheet protector so she can do it over and over again.

The next three weeks will have to come later- this has taken 5 hours!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


(Addison at Aunt Kris' baby shower)

341. Watching my wonderful husband officiate the wedding ceremony of his former youth group intern Eric and his lovely bride, Courtney tonight.
342. That my children have a wonderful G-Ma who could watch them so I could just be "the pastor's wife" tonight.
343. So glad that my children were not at the wedding- it was SO hot some people almost passed out. But it was still lovely.
344. The book for the week is Caps for Sale and I found a video recording of it in ASL at the school Library. That's called killing two birds with one stone- ASL practice AND Literature! =)
345. For headway in the arena of child discipline. I have much to learn, but I feel like we're on the right track!
346. For so many great ideas as Jeff begins his new role pastoring young adults and young marrieds.
347. Being in awe of this man that I married: this month already he has spoken at a college group at UCF (BCM), the Drive (the singles ministry), done a wedding, started 4 seminary classes, and next month he'll be the speaker at a college retreat, and speak a few more times at the Drive. Such exciting times! Pray for us in this busy season!
348. For a few hours without the girls to work on school planning and catch up on a few hair bow orders.

In the busyness of the last few weeks, I have gotten out of the habit of recording daily "thanks" for the blessings that have come from the hand of my heavenly Father. This habit of joyfully receiving gifts from the One who loves me and created me for His glory and turning back to thank Him has become something that feeds my soul. It connects me with Him in a deeply profound way- beyond my quickly numbered needs for the day and beyond the rote request of protection for those I love. It helps me pause and remember that my relationship with Him is just that- a relationship. He is constantly working everything for my good and His glory, and I, in some small tangible way acknowledge that and gratefully accept all that comes from His hand. Not just the obviously good gifts, but the hard gifts as well. Here are some recent hard gifts:

349. Having to leave my grocery cart full of food sitting inside the door at Walmart twice to go out to the car and discipline my two year old. Blessing? Having a two year old that finds safety in the fact that her Mama loves her enough to be consistent even at the expense of my convenience and pride, and hugs me long and hard to tell me so.
350. Having to turn around on the way to church today and arriving 30 minutes later than I anticipated. I don't know what rough edges in me needed smoothing out, or what He could have possibly been protecting us from, but I do know that the ride was far more pleasant when I surrendered to Him instead of holding on to my frustration.
351. Being convicted over the areas that we have slipped into bad habits in training our children and watching other people suffer because of my laziness. The gift? A renewed commitment and new plan that seems to be having a big impact on our children in a positive way!

Thank you Jesus for all that you give us. We open our hands to receive from You all that you have for us. Make us more like You.

(Caiden on her first canoe trip 8/11)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


326. Feeling organized.
327. For rain every day for our garden
328. For a schedule that totally helps with my stress level!
329. For opportunities
330. For a lovely new teacher in my new classroom assignment for this year.
331. Kindermusik again!!! More on that later...
332. For the third comment in a week re: Caiden's copious vocabulary.
333. For new shoes
334. For some awesome school supplies from my Mom.
335. That my sister Kristin, husband Aaron, and daughter Eliana (still in utero) are in town for a few days!!
336. For some family time this week!
337. My baby brother is graduating from the Police Academy at the head of his class!
338. For sweet quotes from my children that make me smile.
339. For an outlet to record those quotes.
340. For some new info from my Neurology appt yesterday- trusting Jesus for the rest.

So...guess what? The Director of Kindermusik contacted me and asked if we would be participating this semester. I sent back a nice email thanking her for last semester and sharing with her how much the girls learned and enjoyed it and told her it wasn't in the budget for us this semester, but maybe after Christmas. And then....dun dun DUN...she said that she would be willing to scholarship us (baring the supplies fee) if we could fill in some spots in a class that wasn't very well attended and teach them some sign language in class. WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! Thank you JESUS! I'm doing a little dance over here right now! So exciting!

Some funny quotes this week: Addison was singing to herself a song she learned at Sunday School. It sounded like this:"The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me. I step up on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E." =)

While I was sick and on the couch, Addison walked over with her baby and said, "Just close your eyes and 'hurlax' Mama. We will take care of you. But first, can you change my baby's poopy diaper?" Just for the record- when she gives birth to REAL grandbabies, SHE will be doing the majority of those diaper changes!! ;)

As for the Neuro appt, I feel like I'm still processing it. My appt lasted an hour and 45 minutes. I did get new information about my migraines and I did feel like I was heard. My last Neurologist told me he couldn't help me and to go to the ER when I had a severe migraine. After that I lost hope in what the medical field had to offer me. Yesterday my hope was renewed a little bit. Pray for Jeff and I as we pursue some suggestions he had and also as I undergo an MRI, and a two day EEG. If there's anything to be seen, it would be helpful for it to be found.

That's all for now folks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


'I cannot go to school today,'
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
'I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more-that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut-my eyes are blue-
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke-
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is-what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is...Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play! '

Unfortunately, it's not Saturday. And unfortunately I feel like I have as many maladies as Miss Peggy Ann McKay. The Doctor who saw me today diagnosed me with a sinus infection, tonsillitis, pink eye and bordering on an ear infection. She said I was an overachiever.

I'm a Mama to two little girls. I'm a homeschooling Mama to two little girls. I'm a homeschooling Mama to two little girls who committed to attending an interpreting class on Wednesday and to go back to work on Friday. I have a lot going on. I've looked at my manual several times and I've yet to find the code that gets me out of this. Parlay? Uncle? Mercy?

Okay. I'm finished whining. =) Now back to your regular scheduled programming.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. II Corinthians 12:9. =)

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I stayed home from church today because I have a killer sore throat and cold symptoms. I didn't want to "share the love" so I sent the girls with Jeff and I nursed a smoothie- the only thing nutritionally valuable that sounded good to me. Thankfully, our church has this really cool thing where you can tune in to a live feed and watch the service live as it's happening. We've been going through the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 for the last few weeks, and today we were on number 4- "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy"...

I'm sitting on the back porch watching the rain come down and saturate our garden and listening to the squirrels duke it out over who is more thankful that the rain came to cool things off a little. Well, it sounds like they are anyway. Wow! An orange Tabby just came bounding across my back yard totally oblivious to my presence in hot pursuit of something tasty. I think we about scared the snot out of each other!

There are lines of green all over our raised garden bed today. It's amazing how fast that happened. It's been four days since planting.

Jeff and I both are eating up what Pastor David said today on God's design for the Sabbath. No, he's not home yet, but since Jeff was in on the planning meeting for this week's sermon (one of his favorite parts of his job) we've had the chance to mull over the topic this week. The main gist of the sermon today was that God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. He built it in to the rhythm of our bodies, our lives, our spirituality. The scripture itself addresses three aspects: work (abstain or cease from it for a time), rest (disconnect in order to RE-connect with those in relationship with you: family and friends), and finally, worship (this day was given as a gift of time for us to enter in to a meaningful, purposeful time of worship both individually and corporately) . So, come, sit down and dream with me for a second.

What if we took this command seriously and got creative with how we observe the Sabbath as a family and as a community of believers? What if we got into the rhythm of preparing on Saturday for Sunday and Monday? What if we met in homes, or parks for times of worship all across the city? What if family time was re-established and re-claimed? What if we began sharing meals together as the Body and spending time getting to know each other and encourage each other in our walks? What if we disconnected from texting, and Facebook, and email, and other social media and instead re-connected with our Creator and His creation? What if instead of observing the LAW of the Sabbath, it became a new way of life, reclaiming our innate rhythm and inviting our friends to join us as we live more healthy, happy lives , more in tune with Jesus, enjoying our families, connecting with and strengthening our brothers and sisters in Christ. If Sunday isn't your Sabbath, make it Saturday. If not Saturday, make it Wednesday. The point is, remember. Because you know, following Jesus' plan for our lives is the best possible way to live!

For more on what Pastor David had to say about the Sabbath, check back here for the podcast. You may have to wait for a few days so they can get it up and running.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life with Littles

Life with little ones is an adventure. I'm cherishing these days. Here's a peek.

I can't decide on quote of that day:

Caiden: "I like to eat my tears. If I'm hungry at nap time or bed time, I just stick my tongue up there and lick them. Problem solved."

You never know what is going to come out of her mouth. That statement was followed by questions about why her tears are salty, and what salt tastes like, and helps me to understand why she has perfected the art of waterworks at any given moment, and her fascination with watching herself cry. She also uses words like "thrilling" and "dazzling" and classifies animals into mammal or birds correctly 98% of the time.

Or Addison's response to my silly question,
"Why did you hit your sister? "
"For no good reason."

She usually doesn't hit unless provoked, which I have caught her big sister doing a few times lately just to watch Addison get in trouble. But, sometimes she does it just to get attention. Or for this... She loves puzzles still, reading books, and singing everything and anything. She joins us for school time and often reminds us that it's time for "reading lesson" which she is fascinated by and totally digs it when her sister decodes those letters on a page. She continues to be quite the comedian and often causes her sister and I to laugh out loud.

And no, our days are not all rainbows and roses. We are struggling hard core with disrespect and disobedience. It's not called child-training for nothing. We are all learning and growing together by God's grace smothered in a lot of prayer.

(We took these pics for Jeff for Father's Day. My Mom did a good job!)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Happy Birthday G-Ma

Happy birthday to an amazing G-ma, wonderful beyond compare Mother in Love, creative educator and most generous woman! I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass her. We are incredibly blessed to be in your family! We love you!!!

In other news, we will be starting our first day with a real, regimented schedule! Trying to find a way to get more done in a day. It began with this girl going to bed at 10 (gasp!) last night and awaking at 6 with Jeff to work out. Heeerrreee, weeee goooo!!!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Loving like Christ

"When I don’t live love, others live homeless. When I don’t love like Christ, I evict souls."

I've been ruminating on this quote from Ann Voskamp. It rings true as I stand in line at the grocery store, as I correct and discipline my children, as I endure continued migraine pain and carry on with all the responsibilities of motherhood. Where does it meet you today?

Ann Voskamp is the same Mama of 6, farmer's wife, and lover of Jesus who challenged the readers of her blog and more recently the readers of her book, One Thousand Gifts, to daily keep a journal documenting all of the good gifts that God gives us (and that we rarely even notice and rarely still thank God for). The premise is that our good God gives good gifts to His children. If we are not in the practice of thanking God for the good things, how are we to be thankful in the midst of circumstances that we don't fully understand?

I have been really consistent at keeping up with my list of gifts, but it's been a while since I posted some on here. May my own (very personal) list bring to mind all of the gifts in your own life and motivate you to thank your loving Father. I left off at number 300 on here...

301. For sweet moments singing This Little Light of Mine with C tonight before bed. What a wonderful feeling knowing that she drifted off to sleep with a full cup!
302. That Jeff is back home after 4 days away at FBO's children's camp.
303. That I didn't have one migraine while he was away!
304. For a time to laugh at a parenting mistake with my siblings. Sometimes you have to have grace with yourself and move on.
305. For a John Wayne movie with my hubby tonight.
306. That A. was not hurt when she pulled her dresser over on top of herself today and effectively scared the snot out of me.
307. We have grass on the side of our house for the first time since we moved in!
308. That Jeff was able to lead a little girl to Jesus at camp!!!
309. C. read Hop on Pop to as many people at my parent's house the other night as she could manage. Thankful for such patience and love from her aunts and uncles (and Jphnny too!)- that book is LONG.
310. Looking forward to a date with my hubby tomorrow!
311. For an unexpected check for a training at school when I was only expecting comp time.
312. For our first week of Kindergarden work coming to a close. We studied Blueberries with Sal with Before Five in A Row.
313. For our first lapbook completed today!
314. For a few bow orders that will cover our field trip to the Safety Village with our old homeschool co-op. (We are not participating in it this year.)
315. For duck and raccoon families, a turtle and various butterflies that have found their way into our yard in the last week.
316. Watching A snuggle with her Daddy before bed. Sweetness!
317. The joy that comes from contentment with following an old Pioneer proverb- "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."
318. For so many answers to prayer.
319. For an answer to C's prayer that she really understands.
320. Listening to A. recite a poem that we learned at Kindermusik (thanks again Big Grandma and Big Grandpa!)
321. For the chance to share my love and knowledge of childbirth with a friend- I hope I didn't scare her away with my excitement and passion!
322. For colorful cloth diapers hanging up to dry. (we are using cloth during the day and "sposies" at night and on Sundays when we are typically away from home all day.
323. That those diapers still fit her even though this child is now in size 4 disposable diapers!
324. That I got to meet the teacher I am working with this year (still working part time as an Interpreter of the Deaf at an elementary school )- knowing this early where I am working is a first for me!
325. Learning to trust Jesus with all of the things that are on the "lists" in my head and that try and keep me up at night.

Okay, it's bed time. Tomorrow, may you live a life of love that welcomes the world in from the cold and may the reality of His love compel them to stay a while! Good night!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Catch up!

Say you pulled up to my house after a long separation, I welcome you into my home, serve you some ice water and invite you to curl up on my couch with me to catch up on all the happenings of the McLaughlin family over the last few months. We have been busy, and our conversation bounces from one topic to the next fluidly, effortlessly, as old friendships do.

What have we been up to? Wow, where to start? Yes, before I get started, I DO love my real wood flooring. I love what it does for our home, I love how much healthier I feel, knowing I can SEE any dirt or dust that we gather as we live our lives in and out of this house. It is easy to care for, but it does demand attention on a daily basis. I love how I can hear Addison's flat feet running around on it. I love how Caiden dons socks for the sole purpose of spinning and twirling "just like a ballerina". Yes, I do highly recommend it and learning to lay it yourself is well worth the time in the money it will save you!

Hey, check out this tent some friends gave us! Yes, it's only for inside. The girls like reading in it. Isn't it fun? They gave us a Gymboree parachute too. We haven't played with that yet, but there are so many options for learning with that thing. It's amazing how God provides. You know, our income is the lowest it's been in our married life, but there is absolutely no shortage of surprises, and gifts of things that we don't NEED. God is so good, providing for us even beyond our needs, and according to His riches and Glory! Remind me to tell you about Caiden's answer to prayer later...

So, I guess the biggest change has been our new church. As you know, Jeff began a new job at First Baptist Orlando in May. We are super thrilled to be a part of this church and are so excited about where they are headed as a community of believers. You've probably heard about the 5.6 million the members pledged for Love Orlando- the ministry to Orlando's "new homeless". Jeff is getting to be a part of assisting a team of people creating protocol and procedures and establishing teams to work with different aspects of this ministry. He is also working some with singles, and young marrieds. Needless to say he is BUSY during the work week, but we are enjoying seeing him more than in recent years. In fact, I told him the other day that I SO needed this reprieve. His presence the last few months has been healing to my soul. The past four years I have often played a single parent as he pastored an amazing group of youth in Winter Park, but it has been exhausting. So, amazingly enough, our time so far at this very large church has been refreshing and reviving to our souls.

All of that to say, this transition has not been without bumps and bruises along the way. We really struggled the first month or more of our time there. Jeff was struggling to find a place and discern what his role would be- there was so much that he could do! But we had also come straight from our last church where we had served and "done life" over the last 7 years. In retrospect, we should have taken a little time off in between job. I think we experienced a bit of a mourning period. All of our lives were wrapped up in that church, our friends, and "family" over the last 7 years. They were (and in some ways, still are) an amazing support base. Our family!! We had only been married about a year and half when we started at All Saints, and we brought two children into the world there, and to suddenly find yourself in a different, larger pond where you are both unknown and don't know anyone yourselves, it was a bit of a transition to say the least. =) Things are in a much better place these days, and we are learning SO MUCH. If I even attempted to share all of those details they could fill multiple posts! Glory to God!

We started school with Caiden on Monday! We are loving it! We have decided to use Five in A Row which is a literature based unit study curriculum along with continuing our Teach a Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and supplemental Math work. Remind me and I will share with you our first unit based on Blueberries for Sal by McCloskey.

Wow, look! There's a Mama raccoon and her three babies crossing our backyard! Two days ago there was a Mama duck and her passel of duckling playing around back there. They were so cute and fluffy and all so close together I couldn't count how many there were. Well, we can add that to our list of wildlife that we've seen actually IN our backyard: bears (often), owls, snakes, ducks, wild turkeys, raccoons, hawks, armadillo....hmm, I guess that's all. At least that's all I can think of at the moment.

Anyway, so. How are YOU?? Seriously, I'm inviting you to share your heart with me. How are you doing? What is God teaching you? What is a fun thing your family has done this summer? How can I pray for you? We have all the time in the world....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Poet

(Taken another morning)

Before the sun awoke, the birds and I began our day- I more bleary eyed than they sounded. I began my morning alone, fully aware of my promise, but postponing our routine for a few moments so I could be more present and alert. I pushed against the exhaustion after a long night with Addison and then I heard her. Wild, desperate, afraid, "MAMA!" Caiden, trying to separate dream from reality, she called, fearful I had forgotten my word and left without waking her. Rushing into her room, I barely hit my knees before she had jumped into my arms. Tears fell and soaked warm into my sweater. It was all a bad dream. She clung to me- Mother and Daughter finding comfort in each other's arms. And then without an explanation, she disentangled herself and disappeared. She returned with Ballerina Rabbit in hand (the muse for her first and only book), her notebook and a pencil. I brushed my hair and she untangled her emotions. Cross legged on the bathroom floor, she worked hard bending over her paper, eyes squinty, lips pursed. "Mama, how do you spell worried?" As I ordered the letters, she scratched them out on the page. "How do you spell Pirates?" My curiosity piqued, I leaned over, but she guarded her words. They were not yet ready to be shared. When the finishing touches where put onto some illustrations, she shared her heart. So vulnerable.

"Sad Caiden
Not Saf(e)
Wok(e) up

(Parentheses show letters she omitted. Can you tell we've been reading a lot of poetry lately? =))

A Gift. Every moment.

On the days I work, Caiden and I have a routine. I go in, climb into her bottom bunk with her to snuggle for a few minutes. Then she follows me into the bathroom where I turn off the light and turn on the lamp to soften the harshness of the morning. While I straighten, brush, and make myself presentable, we talk. Every night before comes the same entreaty, "Wake me up before you leave Mama. Let me watch you get ready. I want to spend time with you before you leave Mama. Promise?" And every night before, I promise and I shake her hand making a deal. I am not a morning person. But I am a person my daughter loves. May she wake up every morning just as she awoke today- Loved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

This is the Life!

It is a beautifully quiet day. Days like today are ones I hold close to my heart, tucked away to be enjoyed and savored for always. The girls climbed into bed with me to greet the morning, all snuggles and giggles. They tumbled out into the living room to play as I made eggs and blueberry muffins from scratch. They didn't mind waiting. It was a beautiful daybreak. Sheer curtains billowed and swayed and our neighboring birds welcomed us to the enjoying of it. They danced in the dew while I baked. The girls and I discussed the schedule for the day and when Caiden learned that we were staying home to enjoy each other all day today you would have thought I had announced a trip to Disney. =)

When breakfast had been thoroughly enjoyed, we painted the morning away. While Caiden worked on a paint by number masterpiece, Addison and I made handprint pictures. I kept coming up with other shapes to try because there was something intoxicating about painting those chubby little fingers and pressing them onto the paper to record their precious shape forever. It was surprising how long she stayed focused on that activity. While we were working, we talked about what God created our hands for. "Our hands are not for hitting or grabbing, but for loving and helping." Caiden wanted to know how her hands were loving or helping while she was painting, so we decided that she could love by painting pictures to share with her family. Both sets of Grandparents will be receiving one of these loving creations in the mail. =)

Then back outside to dance in the middle of a leaf storm. So magical. They played and danced and explored while I concocted a fun treat for their lunch picnic. See?

Almond butter and honey sandwiches, banana, peas and apple slices for those who are curious. =)

And then down for a well earned nap while I do lots of laundry! Hi ho, hi ho, it' s off to work I go!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Heart work

I picked up the girls from my Mom's today after work. We were busy sharing all that God has been doing in our lives. Naps were running late. Addison fell asleep in the car and transferred to her bed seamlessly. Caiden hemmed, hawed, stalled and moved s...l...o...w...l...y. Everything I asked of her, she did the opposite. She proclaimed that a nap was not going to happen. I finally placed her in bed myself. She glared at me and when she finally laid down, she kicked off her blanket every time I tucked her in.

"Caiden, I will place this blanket on you one last time and I am leaving so you can sleep. If you choose to kick it off, I will not cover you again, and I will not stay and argue with you. What is your choice?"

Her angry eyes and silence spoke volumes. Such a war going on in her little heart. I smiled at her sadly.

"Your behavior is making Mama sad. All day at work I was excited to come home to you, but you are treating me so unkindly. I hope your naps helps you make better choices and that we can share a happy afternoon."

Kick. Off flies the blanket and her foot makes contact with my cheek. That was unintended, but she kept up the fascade. No repentance. I walked to the door, looked back and said deliberately- because she needed to hear it- "Mama loves you, Caiden."

Ten minutes pass, 15 minutes. All of the odds and ends of a morning away from home are put back into their place. 20 minutes pass. A load of pint-sized laundry goes in the washer and I pray for my little girl. As I sit down to check my email and enjoy a few minutes of rest I hear a wail coming from the end of the hallway. My heart sinks. I had so hoped this wrestling match was over. I run to her to make sure she is unhurt. Her face is red and contorted in pain. She is laying in bed, doubled over a broken heart. I may never forget the look on her face. She was vulnerable, surprised, relieved, sorry. Her arms reached out to her Mama and she squeaks out,

" I feel sorry for how I hurt you Mama. I'm so sorry I was unkind to you. "

I lifted her into my arms and her tiny little arms and legs wrap around me desperately trying to make me see her heart. She kisses me and I taste salt. I kiss it away her tears and thank the Holy Spirit for His work. "Caiden, you know I always love you- to Mars and back. (because we just studied Mars and she knows it would take me a year for that journey) She lets out a long breath and laughs with freedom and love. "I know Mama," she smiles. Quietly we talk about the Holy Spirit pulling on her heart, making it softer and helping her to be sweet. Joyfully I tuck her in and kiss her face. "Jesus is making your heart beautiful Caiden." Her smile is radiant. So is mine.

Monday, February 07, 2011


"MAMA!" Her voice rings out from the silence. Loud. Strong. Clear. My hear lurches inside of me and pounds fast in my ears. Suddenly I become that person again and not just the wife putting her nest back together. "MAMA!"- more urgently this time. Patience does not come naturally to this one. Does it ever come naturally? I wonder. I run down the tile hallway in my stocking feet, slowing as I turn the corner so I do not slip. Slowly I open the door eager to see what I will find. There she is, standing expectantly in her crib, watching for me. Her hair is wild with damp ringlets, her cheeks flushed. "I'm awake!" She announces. I never take this for granted. I am thankful for every "I'm awake". I rush to her and pull her close to me. Sometimes if I arrive in time, I can steal a few minutes of snuggling from her busy day. I am not late. She melts into me and I relax into the glider in her room. How many hours have I spent in this chair! For a few minutes, neither of us speak. Her hand slides up my arm and intertwines itself into my hair. This familiar ritual of comfort. I bury my face in her goose down curls. How is it possible that her hair is still this soft? For a moment I remember how it felt to still be one-she and I. When she was her own person, but such a part of me- hidden from the world, but not to me. Now, in our own way, it is still true. Her chest expands and pushes into mine. So much of my heart now resides on the outside of me. I marvel at this truth. She stirs, and I am not yet ready to let go. I drag my fingers up and down her back, luring her back into my embrace for a few minutes longer. She succumbs for a few more minutes. Finally she pulls away, "I want to play with Mr. Potato Head out there." All of her sentences are stated with such certainty. It will be two years on Friday and already she is so independent. So I purpose to hold these moments close to my heart, all wrapped up in joy and thankfulness.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I am overwhelmed. Truly. God has been up to some crazy, insane, out of this world stuff around here. I can't tell you about it yet, but I will when the time is right. Oh, I will!

I am overwhelmed with how amazing it's been to be back to reading God's word on a daily basis and memorizing Scripture again. Good stuff.

I am overwhelmed that our wooden (new, gorgeous, lots of work, yes I am proud we are laying them ourselves, real wood) floors are not done yet, furniture has yet to be put back in place, and we will have a party here in a little over one day.

I am amazed that our girls will be celebrating their 4th and 2nd birthdays on Saturday.

I am continually floored by the amazing support system we have here in our families. Tomorrow my parents will come over to help finish the floors, clean and prepare for the party. Dez will take the girls to the park in the morning. My Mom on a whim handed me dinner for tonight so I didn't have to make it after a long day at work and much to do here. We have been to lunch after church two weeks in a row with the McLaughlins- such a precious time that we treasure. The girls are practically fully clothed and shoed (what, you didn't know you could shoe a child? Well, what else would you call it? I'm up for suggestions! =) thanks to G-Ma. Our every need is met thanks to the grace of God. Thank you Jesus!!! (And our families too!)

Amazingly I found money in the diaper bag and no one knows why it was there or how it got there.

Surprisingly work has been much improved the last two weeks or so. Thank you Jesus!!

With much relief I can report that the girls are finally almost completely symptom free after a bout of illness that began at Thanksgiving- Addison still coughs occasionally.

Amazingly, I am still sick. When someone can make a Mom-substitute that can take over seamlessly and without invoking guilt so a sick Mama can sleep for a few days straight, please let me know. I could use one. But I would settle for prayers for healing! =)

Off to bed with a full, thankful and overwhelmed heart~
What are you thankful for this week? (Here are a few more I didn't mention...)