Wednesday, June 21, 2017

my first podcast interview with the Declare Conference

I shared about it over on Facebook the other day, but I've been meaning to share it here too: I recently did my first podcast interview with the Declare Conference. It was a great chance to get to sit down with Anne Watson and pretend we were having coffee! :)

Here are some of the things we chatted about:
  • Having energy when you have a lot of kids
  • Head & heart knowledge
  • Serving in the daily grind
  • Working for the end goal
  • Staying debt free & God’s provision
  • Under promise & over deliver
  • When nothing turns out the way you think
  • Being a non-technical, late adapter
  • Measuring success

Here's the link if you're interested in listening in! :)

p.s. Lord-willing, I will be speaking at The Declare Conference in Dallas in early October! Let me know if you're coming- I would love to meet you there!! :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

father's day 2017, one of the best secrets, & goals this week

If the sheer number of homemade cards was any indication, I'd say Father's Day was a success! We started celebrating early on Saturday night, so little Zaner made Robert three different cards with cut and pasted-on secret doors: :D


These six people bring so much joy into our life:


I think they may have an idea already, but I hope they realize just how wonderful their dad is too. He loves the Lord with all his heart and teaches them, feeds them, and loves them so well. :) I came downstairs to find the perfect example of how well he loves them on Father's Day afternoon:


Oh, my heart. :D These are sweet, sweet days. The older we get, the more precious it all seems.


During all our Monday lunch mess, I took the opportunity to make two pans of tater tot casserole- one for the freezer and one for an easy dinner last night so we'd have less to clean:


Speaking of making life easier, did I ever tell you one of my very favorite to-do list secrets is to order items from Walmart online?

On my to-do list last time was to buy shower curtains, a lead-free water hose, and trash cans, so in one big online order I also stocked up on postpartum snacks, hair gel, tea, and more, with free shipping on everything! You can't beat having groceries shipped to your house! What kind of awesome world do we live in? :D (not sponsored in any way, I'm still just delighted!)


I actually took all goal setting off last week after going through that big to-do list! :) Amazingly, the Lord gave me energy that week to do everything but a couple of little things I'm still working on. :) I'm officially done with teaching my classes and I'm trying to let my body relax by walking and stretching! :P

I don't have much left to "do" now to prepare for the baby other than home-improvement things that aren't truly pressing, so whenever she's ready, I am! :) 

Here's what I have on the list this week:

:: do ::
pray alone
vacuum under den sofa
clean/wipe out freezer
exercise 5-6 days/ goal 5k-8k steps or more
get lots of Vitamin D/ take other supplements daily
r: hang shelf in laundry room, repair broken closet drawers, hang light + mirror, work on thresholds
inflate birthing pool
make Ava's birthday cake and freeze
buy groceries for Ava's birthday dinner
pin and sew Ivy's blanket
patch wall paint
write baby/pregnancy update
research places to visit for our anniversary trip
hang pictures in nursery

:: read ::
continue finishing Jeremiah (I hopped around way more than expected these last two weeks and am still working through one book at a time)

:: learn ::
listen to 2-3 sermons
Psalm 138:3-5

:: be ::
so thankful.
I feel so overwhelmed with thanksgiving right now that we get to have a little baby girl!!! Through His grace giving me a new perspective, I am so thankful that God designed the perfect way for her to grow and come out safely, and for His providence of when and how and where that happens. :) I just want to hold onto those thankful thoughts and not allow fear or ungratefulness or worry replace them in the next couple of weeks!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Texas-style summer fun: Fort Worth + Waco

Since we finished school in April, we took a short summer break in May and had fun with little activities here and there throughout the month! :) 

For Mother's Day we spent the night at a super affordable Jellystone Park outside of Fort Worth:


The whole family slept in one room (well, some of us better than others, ha!). It was such a cute cabin!

DFW frugal vacations

We all enjoy traveling away for the night, but I think the best part of every overnight trip is taking the kids to the store and letting them pick out their own snacks. :D 

so many choices!
The next morning we headed to the Fort Worth Stockyards for the first time:


We accidentally arrived just in time for the cattle run:


After we walked all of the old viewing decks, we headed back home:


A couple of weeks later, we took a small trip to the Waco Mammoth National Monument:




It's always a bit difficult to take the world's view of millions of years of evolution at every turn, but it made for lots of interesting family conversations on the ride back. :)


The site was originally found in the 70's when two teenagers stumbled upon a gigantic femur in a riverbed in Waco, which eventually led to the discovery of the world's only mammoth nursery herd buried in a disastrous flood:

day trips to waco

And while we were there, only one of my children dropped their booklet down into the excavation site, so I'm calling it a good day. ;)

After our tour we visited the famous Magnolia Market. They added a beautiful bakery since our last trip:


We didn't buy anything other than baked goods to share, but I think it may have been the best purchase there anyway! :)






Though we didn't venture too far from home last month, I felt like we definitely squeezed in a couple of little summer adventures before the baby is scheduled to come! :)

Monday, June 05, 2017

crossing it off, pre-baby to-do lists, + gentle leading (goals this week)

I can't believe we're actually in the month the baby is due!! :D For some strange reason everything house-related suddenly feels so pressing- like I NEED to wash that couch cover now, and that mirror that's been sitting there for two years absolutely NEEDS to be hung before the baby comes... :P Ah, nesting. It's a wonderful blessing because I'm pretty sure I would have zero motivation otherwise! :D

After an hour at the fabric store on Saturday, I finally found a coordinating fabric to match the new baby's blanket top! I finished it that evening, thankfully crossing off that re-do from my list last week:


Now I need to prepare our birthing supplies and baby clothes. I bought tiny diapers last week and started considering if our upstairs will hold an inflatable birthing tub... ;) I have so much on my list to keep me busy for the next few weeks! (What I'll do other than twiddle my thumbs for the 41st and 42nd weeks I am refusing to consider... :P).

Here's what is on my list for this week:

:: do ::
the baby loves Rainer cherries! ;)
  1. Pray alone (daily)
  2. Wash sofa covers
  3. Wash baby sheets, new baby blanket, and wrap 
  4. Wash car seat cover and clean seat 
  5. Wash pillow cases in living room 
  6. Steam wrinkled curtains 
  7. Make 4 freezer meals 
  8. Buy shower curtains for birth and replace old ones
  9. Wash 2 fabric shower curtains (and put back up), delivery towels, and washcloths 
  10. Order birthing pool 
  11. Teach and sub classes/exercise 5x 
  12. Book last-minute babymoon night away (YAY!!!)
  13. Buy and plant flowers and bushes in front yard
  14. Fill out and submit needed paperwork 
  15. Order extra herbal baths 
  16. Finish guest bathroom: paint, re-install sink, mirror, light fixture (all honey-do, ha!)
  17. Paint old mirror for guest bathroom
  18. Buy trash can for guest bath 
  19. Cut and pin Ivy's birthday blanket
  20. Start a birthing/postpartum items basket (night gowns, several baby outfits and diapers/wipes, swaddling blankets, towels, sheets, shower curtains, washcloths, snacks, Powerades, water, Valor oil, birthing kit, nursing pads)
  21. Find baby clothes and wash them!
  22. Fill out goal plans for the rest of June
:: read ::
the book of Jeremiah (last 1/2)

:: learn ::
Psalm 138:1-2 with the children 
1 language lesson 
listen to 2 sermons

:: be ::

a diligent worker.
With about 3+ weeks to go before the baby is due, I suddenly realized we have much to do! Just a week ago, I was feeling very drained and was worried what I would do without a burst of nesting energy! Thanks to the Lord, it kicked in last week and we are checking several items off the list! :D

I have several early mornings left to teach my last few classes, and with school starting back for us today I'm praying my energy level stays higher so I can at least get the items we need for the baby ready. We can officially have her at home this week! :) I want to have a good attitude in the midst of these final (somewhat hormonal and uncomfortable) weeks and realize that Lord-willing, recovery while snuggling my little girl is just around the corner! :)

I'm thankful the Lord's mercy is new every morning (especially like today, when everything went poorly on our first morning of school and I cried!), and that He is so patient with me and gently leads those that are with young... even with our silly, slightly far-fetched ideas about what we "need" to get done before the baby comes. :)

pretty much how I feel when I remember the baby can be born here this week... ;)

:: meal plans ::
spaghetti w/meat sauce + salad (make and freeze 2 extra pans)
chicken strips, broccoli + rice
chicken enchiladas, beans, and rice (make and freeze 2 extra meals)
pizza
sandwiches or dinner out

Monday, May 29, 2017

menus & goals for this week + two helps

This weekend we have been working to try to get ahead on a few things before the baby comes (in a month or less now, theoretically! :P). We've been hanging curtains, staining thresholds, sewing a baby blanket, working on house and planning projects, and we even went on a date! :) One of my goals this week was to actually write out my weekly do, read, learn, and be list and post it, and so... here goes!! :)

(p.s. you know you might be in trouble when your goals need goals...!!!) ;)

I've been trying to stay on track during May
 with long-term goals and meditating on God's Word!
Both of these from here seem to help!
plans for the week of May 29-June 4:
:: meal plans ::
baked potatoes + veggies + bread
hamburgers + fries
beans + rice
pepperoni pizza
parmesan buttered noodles + salad + bread
dinner out

:: do ::
-pray alone daily
-start baby blanket again (I finished the new baby's blanket on Saturday and am now completely starting over because of the lovely RAYON fabric I chose. I didn't know you couldn't make a blanket with such a stretchy, thin/fraying fabric...! :/ I had to order a different fabric (100% cotton this time) and hope to re-do it this week)
-finish final project edits
-research traveling strollers
-exercise 5-6x/ teach bootcamps
-order Larabars from Amazon (I can get only the flavor I want!)
-work on house project (thresholds and starting/finishing the guest bathroom)
-Scripture journal 3x
-hang curtains
- create a new chore chart and schedule for 2017-2018
- get ready to start school again (more on this later, Lord-willing! We aren't doing CC again next year, so we're getting an early start after a month-long summer break)
-pick up new school supplies
-rearrange office for the "new" school year :)
-return 2 items to home improvement store
-get birthing preparation list from midwife
-make appointments and run needed errands for paperwork

:: read ::
the book of Jeremiah

:: learn ::
listen to 2-3 new sermons

:: be ::
a student. 
I want to be a serious student of God's Word- one way He is giving me a desire to do this by is inspiring me through my husband. :) I am amazed by how God has given him such a hunger for knowing Him!! He is always telling me something he learned or saw anew! God truly has made him a different person than he used to be, and I'm in awe of His goodness to our family.

If the Lord will help me, I want to be like my husband and hunger to learn more too. Specifically this week, I hope to work on a list of Scriptures in the Bible of what Jesus told us to pray for. I came across a verse that stood out to me last week, and then I found another verse later where Jesus told us to pray for a specific thing... I wonder what else He told me to pray for that I never put much thought into? :) I'm so glad that His Word is alive and studying it feels like peeling back layers of onion- there is so much more than I ever thought possible in each verse!!



Thursday, May 18, 2017

life lately: a natural flair, a free aquarium, + marvelous sleep

This could easily be a picture of me after April: :)


Sleep- just let me sleep anywhere! :) I had several weeks from April- May of being so busy and having to be up at 4:30-5:30 while not sleeping well, and so for the last week or two I've been making up for lost sleep to recover. :D Naps work wonders for my mind and body at this stage in the game!

This baby girl is growing like a weed! Or maybe more like our lilies we planted a couple of months ago:



We were excited to finish up CC for the year. Our last project was for the children to dress up as our Facts of History person. Noah chose Ivan the Great of Russia and Isabella chose Queen Isabella of Castille:


They had to give their presentations in front of all the children and most of their parents. :) These two have a natural flair for acting- they LOVED it and really got into playing their parts:



One of the things the children do for fun in their free time is to create their own "movies" with complete scenes, editing, and credits. It's adorable and we are always surprised by their creativity!! :)

I think these two will be joining the family cast soon:


They're crazy. :)

Since our school break began, we had the chance to visit Bass Pro Shops (a.k.a. the free aquarium):



And we've been spending so much time outside on the porch. (Daddy does all the nail clipping around here, for the last 13.5 years :D)


We also picked up some fabric for the baby's quilt:


And explored our local greenhouse:



We've had a much-needed couple of weeks of sweet rest and recovery. :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

everything.

Oh my goodness.

April 2017 may have posed the biggest life challenge we've had since we were racing to move out of our house almost three years ago. :) 

In the last 27 days, we decluttered the entire house, held a huge garage sale, went to two midwife appointments, hosted a birthday dinner, had lots of friends over every week, finished Classical Conversations and a few huge assignments with the kids, made food for school events, went to the CC end-of-year celebration, attended an Easter family get-together, sold our truck (we're down to one car now!), and then as usual, I taught my bootcamp and kickboxing classes and subbed a few more. I was thankful to see a happy goal accomplished I'd been working on, and then there were bigger life things happening in the midst of that.

I'm finally taking a deep breath now that it's all almost over! :) I don't want to be that busy again any time soon. :D hahaha!

For the garage sale, I had the kids bring every.single.toy and item they owned downstairs. We went through EVERYTHING and cleaned out and organized what we kept. They made a train from the back door to the den:



The Lord helped me so and gave me strength to do what I needed to do, because I have no idea how we went through the entire house/cabinets/drawers/storage bins and cleaned out everything in about two days while regular life was still happening.

The week after we had the garage sale, we did the same thing with almost every clothing item we owned. Every single drawer was emptied and brought downstairs. We sold our three stand-alone dressers so we downsized and donated a large portion of our clothing as we don't intend to replace them:


I have three bins left to go through of baby items, but we finally let go of the up to 13-year-old baby clothes we had in storage. :) (And yes, we still hope to have more children ;)

Each child still has two drawers in our closet system, and we have our master hang-up closet and three drawers for each adult. Even with the major purge, I'm amazed by how many clothes we still have left!

One weekend we celebrated my dad's birthday:


The kids made their own presents (without my help or knowledge, ha!), and Isabella cross-stitched this paperweight while Noah hand-copied the papers he wrote in Essentials and the poems he wrote into a book for him. :)


Then we had the most lovely Easter morning with sweet friends. My mom sent all the kids a special outfit for the day. They were so thrilled to get a package in the mail. :)


Looking back, we have had a refining month and really, a refining year. God is moving our hearts in a way that is completely changing our lives. 

For the last few years, I feel like the Lord has been pulling on me, drawing me away. Over and over, I feel more and more of a need to keep my head down and focus... to be quiet, get away from the noise, to cover my ears to the world's opinions. I've lost the desire to do many things I used to love doing, and lost interest in the things that used to make me happy. I don't have many words to say anymore.

I'm not really the same person I used to be. And it's a good thing, I'm sure.

It's crazy how when you walk away from the fleshly things you love, how the truth becomes so much more clear. Sin blinds us so. Our hearts deceive us in every way. The natural things that feel so right and good to you are actually killing you. And you can't even tell because you are addicted to them, and you're living under their spell. Leaving them behind will give you withdrawal pains for a while, but once you're free from them you see how they were only full of death and destruction.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that true joy is only found in giving up our entire will, our entire lives to the Father. 

The problem we have is that we think we are, when we're really not at all. 

Abraham could have "believed" Isaac belonged to God, but doing God's will looked like putting him on the altar and raising his knife. 

Moving obedience. 



Everything. 

God wants everything. Every single thing.

Though my hands are shaking, and my knees feel weak... I want to give it all to Him. 

And I trust that He will supply the strength I need to relinquish all of it.



So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33

Monday, April 10, 2017

baby #7: pregnancy update 27+ weeks


I feel so behind on sharing this update, but a week isn't so late, right? ;) With two ultrasounds and a super early positive test, I'm pretty sure my due date is ahead of my actual "date" but I'm happy to keep that padding when it comes time to be two weeks late. :)

Feeling: I'm feeling really wonderful! I had a midwife appointment today and this little lady is growing right on schedule. 

Craving: I'm in LOVE with cucumbers and tomatoes, veggies, and fruits, and when hunger strikes I eat a Oikos yogurt. Coming home from Sam's and filling the refrigerator drawers is always a treat:


Maternity clothes: I pulled a couple of shirts out of my stash and I've been enjoying the length of those.

Looking forward to: Summer and the end of a few weekly commitments! Kind of, anyway. I know the weeks will slow down in May and June, and even more so when we have less happening. But I'm excited to have some time to get a few things done before the baby comes.


Something wonderful that happened: I bought a perfect watermelon! I think the first ones of the season are the best of the entire year. I ate two huge servings in one day and I couldn't exercise that night because I was so hugely bloated. I couldn't bring myself to eat any more after that, but I really enjoyed those first two bowls. ;)


Aches or pains: My hips have started separating, and I feel it the most in the hours after I do lunges or lunge jumps. Other than the occasional rib soreness from sitting, I have been feeling great. I can tell my round ligament is stretching too!

Belly: Varies dramatically during the day and week! Sometimes it's smaller and feels high and tight, and sometimes it's super low and round! Maybe it was because of her position, or what I had eaten, but one day last week I came in after break (that day after eating my first huge bowl of watermelon for breakfast!) and my belly was a hilarious-looking huge ball! I asked Rob if it looked funny and suddenly very round to him too, and apparently it was because he drew back in surprise and pulled out his camera to document it! ha!


Exercise: Still working out and teaching like usual- rebounding after weeks of sickness made me feel like I have lots of energy again! :) Pushups, situps, and planks are leaving my range of ability now with a uterus protruding. ;) It's disturbing more than painful and I'm trying to lessen any diastasis recti by not pushing it, especially if it feels weird. 

Morning sickness: It showed up again in the last couple weeks, and I was gagging on my toothbrush all over again. :( Must have been a growth spurt? It disappeared thankfully! :)

All in all, I'm so thankful and delighted to have made it to the 3rd trimester! :) It's fun to think that it is already April and she's due in June! 


I love looking back at my old posts to see how similar this pregnancy is- here's my 27th week update for Ivy (#6):


And 26 and 28 weeks with Zane (#5):


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