Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Free Digital Scrapbook Software!

Despite the title of this post, I promise, this isn't SPAM!  I know I've been MIA from the blogging world this year, but when this offer arrived in my inbox, it was too good not to post about.

I've mentioned before how much I love MyMemories Digital Scrapbook Software.  Being creative is NOT my strong suit, but MyMemories makes it so, so easy for me to make fun scrapbook pages, decorations, and gifts for people.  I never had the patience nor money for paper scrapbooking, but with MyMemories, all you need is the software, which comes with many free embellishments and kits included, and then you can purchase other inexpensive kits to add to your collection.  MyMemories also has a whole section of kits that are free!  The best part is, the kits can be used over and over again, and mixed and matched, so that you really get an awesome value for your money!

Anyway, all that to say, for one week only, you can use this code to get MyMemories software for FREE!  Seriously, FREE!  That's a $37.97 value!  Just go to the software purchase page, choose the download software option, and then when checking out, enter this coupon code:


It's probably best to copy and paste that code, because it has to be exact to work.  The price should come to $0.00 and then all you do is download, and begin creating!  I warn you, though, it can get addicting!

(If you would prefer the CD version, you can still choose that option and have the purchase price taken off, but you will have to pay shipping).

Even if you've been only mildly interested in digital scrapbooking, I highly suggest you go ahead and give it a try - you might discover a new creative outlet you never knew you were missing!  What have you got to lose?

Don't delay, the code expires October 16!

Here are a few of my favorite pages that I've made using MyMemories:

All of the children have their own unique room signs

A gift for my youngest nephew

Monday, June 17, 2013

What's in the Jar?

We have a fun surprise on our front porch.  The boys have had a large jar on the railing for a good while now, and they use it to collect odds and ends that they find outdoors (it recently held some rocks, formerly pretty autumn leaves, and a cicada skin or two).  However, a few weeks ago, we discovered something far more exciting than just odds and ends in it!

We noticed a lot of activity going on around the jar about 6 weeks ago, and at first we just thought birds were getting leaves and stuff out of the jar to build a nest somewhere.  But when I peeked in, I was surprised to see that they were actually building a nest IN the jar!  We discreetly checked every few days until there were five little speckled eggs in the nest.  We went out of town for two weeks, and came home just days before the hatching.  It's been so fun to peek in and see them growing!

My only wonder is... how will the babies get out of the jar?!  I guess we'll find out soon!

(Oh, and from the eggs and watching mom and dad bird, we were able to identify them as House Wrens!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reorganizing Sonlight

Almost three years ago, I shared my method to organizing our Sonlight Core Instructor's Guides.  However, since then, Sonlight has completely remodeled their Instructor's Guides, which means I had to do some remodeling of how I organize things.

I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the remodel on Sonlight's part.  However, I am still a huge fan of Sonlight, so I'm working with it.  For those who don't know, the changes were basically taking the notes for each week and placing them behind the schedule pages, whereas previously the notes were sorted by each book.  Also, in Core D and beyond, LA is included with the notes.  What this means for me is, 1. a lot of flipping, as we don't always stay on schedule for each book, so now I have to flip back and forth between weeks, and 2. a very cluttered (to me) notes section, due to the LA I don't use mashed in there with everything else.  I am very visual, and it was becoming very difficult for me to smoothly use my notes.

So, I got brave.  I colored all over my IG.  First, I scribbled out all of the notes for LA.  I really hesitated with this, because it just seems... wrong... to scribble in an IG!  But, it's mine, so I might as well make it work for me, right?  And since we don't use the LA at all (tried it, quickly realized it didn't fit us), I'm not losing anything by scribbling.

Scribbling done, I then went on to color-code (yes, there's a similar theme with my previous method!) the different note sections.  History notes are highlighted in green.  Read-Aloud notes in Purple, and Reader notes in pink.  I don't highlight the Bible notes simply because I rarely use them.

Here's an example of what I mean:

This way, even though I still have to flip around the pages, my eye easily falls right to the section I'm needing to see, rather than trying to scan through everything with little differentiation.  For some reason, the headers they provided just weren't enough for me.

I still don't love it as much as I loved the older IG's, but I'm happy to have found something that works to make the new IGs less cluttered and frustrating to use!

And speaking of Sonlight, we're now doing 3 Cores - Core F for Isaac and Ezra, Core A with Joel and Nathan, and we're finishing up Core P 3/4 with Judah and Rachel and about to move into Core P 4/5, sometime in June.  Despite my less than thrilled feelings about their IG changes, we still LOVE Sonlight.  I was talking about a different curriculum a few weeks ago, and one of the children said, "Mom!  Don't switch from Sonlight!  We'll miss all the awesome books!"   That about says it all, for me!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

While it was Snowing....

While it was snowing in other parts of the US, I mean.  In *every* other part of the US, it seems, except Georgia.

Anyway, while it was snowing everywhere but here, the children were sad that our winter was so mild (I was not.)  So, they got creative.  Instead of snowmen, I went outside one day and was welcomed by an army of... mudmen.  Mud monsters, to be specific.

I think they're kinda cute, to be honest! Except that one in the back, he's scary. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It's Been How Long?

I miss blogging.  It's hard to believe it's been 7 months since my last post!  7 months!  The arrival of Gideon (Little Man, Mr. G, G Money, or Ge-un, as Rachel would call him) has thrown every aspect of what used to be "normal" out the window.  Needless to say, pretty much anything extra had to be put aside for a time, and blogging is definitely an extra.

But, he's getting older and more settled, and things are starting to take on something that looks a little more like normal day-to-day life!

Let's see... how do I even begin to update 7 months worth of goings ons?  We had a round of birthdays, so now everyone is in the even digits (12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2) and as time tends to cause, everyone is growing lots. 

Little Man, the dude who has shaken up our world so much, is almost 8 months old.  He has 4 teeth and army crawls everywhere. He's a chunky monkey - already over 20 pounds, the biggest of all the kids at this age. He was so, so colicky for the first 4 months of life, and pretty high maintenance until about 6 months old.  To try to help him, I've been on a dairy-free and very limited chocolate diet.  Yes, I am still alive, but sometimes barely!  But the repercussions of trying to eat "normally" are just not worth the indulgences. On the bright side, I think being limited has definitely helped drop the pregnancy weight.  I guess that's a fair trade.  Maybe.  Anyway, despite his difficult beginnings, he has won the heart of us all, and he's our sweet little man.

Here's how we spent most hours of the day during those rough few months:

(I am SO thankful for babywearing, it kept me sane.  Well, that and lots of prayer!)

Rachel is 2 now, and a chatterbug!  I love to hear all her thoughts and ideas, since none of the boys were as expressive at this age.  Let me tell you, two year olds are wildly creative!  And, kind of crazy.  But lots and lots of fun.

Isaac is taller than me now, and sometimes when he's talking I can't tell if it's him or Michael.  He and Michael went on a men's getaway weekend to do Passport 2 Purity, and they both loved it.  I'm glad it went so well for them, but I'm secretly thankful I don't have to cross that bridge for another 8-10 years with Rachel! 

Isaac and I on his 12th birthday - we were the exact same height. He's a good inch taller, now!
The others in between are all awesome as usual (hey, just because I have a moment of free time doesn't mean I have all the time in the world.  I don't love them any less, I promise!).  Growing, learning, playing, fighting, loving... it's all happening, all the time.  And I love it.

Maybe sometime soon I can do some more posts... there are always things circulating in my brain to share!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Just About Three Weeks Ago...

We welcomed baby number 7, and boy number 6 to our family!  We're overjoyed to welcome Gideon Thomas!

My labor and delivery with him went well, but was rather long.  My sister had come into town to help out and be with me (as I was incredibly blessed to be with her two months earlier as my niece arrived into the world!), and on Monday (August 13, a week and a day before Gideon's due date) we decided to travel to Tennessee to visit the aquarium, as a fun outing for the kids.  It's a 2+ hour drive, but always fun, so well worth the drive.  That night, around midnight, Rachel woke up with a stomach bug, so I spent the night rocking her, cleaning up, doing several loads of laundry, and, go figure, after being on my feet all day, contractions started - real contractions, not Braxton-Hicks, accompanied by some spotting.  I was NOT excited at that point, to say the least!  I woke Michael up to let him know things were looking like they were starting... he took my place on "sick toddler" duty and let me go back to bed.  I took a quick shower, during which the contractions slowed some, and then went back to bed.  Contractions continued, but much more spaced out than before, so I was able to get some much needed rest.  (Oh, and thankfully, her stomach bug lasted less than 12 hours!)

All day Tuesday, the contractions remained continual, but never very consistent.  Sometimes they'd be 10 minutes apart, sometimes 30 minutes would go by without any.  Finally I gave up trying to track them and went about my day.  The problem with these contractions is that they were really strong!  Usually, I don't experience terribly painful, strong contractions until closer to transition, so I was really confused about what was going on.  I happened to have an appointment with my Midwife that afternoon, so I was eager to see if any progress was being made.  And, my hopes were quickly dashed when she said "no progress, we'll see you next week!"  Over 12 hours of painful contractions, and NOTHING?!  :(  I was so disappointed!  But, having been through false labor with Judah, I knew that even though progress wasn't being made, *something* was happening, anyway.  I just hoped it wouldn't go on for another week with the terrible contractions!

Throughout the night Tuesday and into the morning on Wednesday, the contractions continued.  Strong enough to wake me up every 10-20 minutes (with the occasional break for some longer rest here and there), but never really establishing a pattern.  Wednesday morning my sister and I decided to go for a nice, long walk.  We went to a local park with a 1.75 mile trail, and, slowly at times, made our way around the path.  During our walk, the contractions definitely picked up - 5-8 minutes apart.  But, once I got into the car to come back home, they again slowed down.  I had no idea what to think!  We went about the rest of our day, and made dinner together, and during dinner making, things definitely picked up again... now ranging from 3-5 minutes.  I was still really cautious about calling anyone, as I didn't want to give a false alarm.  Finally, though, Michael insisted, and I notified my homebirth "team" around 6:30 pm.

Everyone arrived by 8 pm - my midwife, her two assistants, and two of my dear friends.  Michael said he would have set up bleachers somewhere had he realized there were going to be 7 people attending the birth!  But having people close to me who I love and bring me joy is so helpful to me during labor.  We can laugh and chatter and enjoy the time together, which helps me to focus less on the pain!  And that's what we did!  I wanted to get into the pool, but still be unsure about how far along I actually was, I didn't want to get in too early.  During Rachel's homebirth, I was never checked for progress, but this time around, I needed some reassurance.  So my midwife checked me, and I was at a 7!  We got that pool filled ASAP and I got in - during those few minutes of waiting, the contractions really picked up in intensity, so things were moving pretty fast.

Once in the pool, it was immediate relief.  So relieving, in fact, that the contractions stopped briefly, which was such a nice break.  However, once they started again...!  They came on strong and LONG... the first one felt like it would never end, and at that point the baby gave a good kick, and my water broke.  The second one, I felt the baby come down, and all of the sudden, his head was out!  I had been kneeling at that point, but then I sat back a little and asked the midwives to help catch him... but my midwife calmly said, "Oh, you've got this!" and so I reached down and brought my little boy out into the world, up out of the water, and into my arms!  It was *incredible* to experience the delivery that way!  Really, I can't even describe how amazing it was.

I had felt strongly all through this pregnancy that it would be a boy, so I wasn't surprised in the least when I took a peek and saw my suspicions confirmed!  We were overjoyed!  Gideon Thomas was born at 9:06 pm, almost 48 hours from the first start of contractions.  The "pushing" phase lasted all of 4 minutes, during which I actually did no pushing at all - he just made his way into the world.  It was beautiful!  But, I'll admit, I was very glad for it to be done, lol!  This is my favorite picture from the birth - it was taken with a phone camera, so it's not the highest quality, but it's still my favorite:

And now we're settling in to "life with a newborn and 6 other kids".  It's a wild ride!  Michael has been able to be at home with me for the past two weeks, which has been a huge blessing.  All the kids have adjusted well to having Gideon around, even Rachel, who I was a little nervous about!  Gideon himself is having a bit of a struggle adapting to life in the outside world - he's a little on the "high needs" side of things, and spends most of his time awake being rather unhappy about it.  But, I am thankful that I've gone through this before and have learned a few things - First, that babywearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping are lifesavers during this time, and second, that it will get better!  Otherwise, he's doing just fine - nursing well, gaining weight, and being super cute!

Here are a few more pictures:

All wrapped up next to me - his favorite spot!


One of the first I was able to catch him with his eyes open!

Waking up from a nap (1 week old)

What I wake up to every morning!
We thank God for the blessing of another wonderful little boy!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

A Song for Saturday

I've made it no secret that I'm a huge fan of Tenth Avenue North... this is one of their new songs, and it's just another one I can't resist!

Over the past few years, the Lord has taught me some hard, hard lessons about forgiveness - what it looks like from Him, and especially what it looks like from me toward others.  It has not been easy, and this has so often been my heart's cry!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Treasures of April

I didn't do much blogging this month, but thankfully, many others did!  These are some excellent posts from around the web this month.  I didn't get a chance to list all that I had found!  It was a good month for encouragement and food for thought!

Counting the Hours at Five in Tow

A Cheer for Small Things at Mom Heart

How to Live a Life that Matters at Women Living Well

For When You Think You're Failing Motherhood at gypsymama

Stay at Home Moms "Don't Work a Day in Their Lives".  Really? at Love, Honor, and Vacuum

We've Shown Them the Proof at

Protecting Boys from Pornography at The MOB Society

Your Children Want YOU! at The Power of Moms

The Clean Air of Gospel Mothering at Grace Full Mama

Be Holy Because God is Holy at A Christian Worldview of Fiction

Spirit-Led Parenting: How Motherhood Calls Us to Lay Down Our Lives at Keeper of the Home

The Everyday Question of Motherhood at Desiring God Blog

Home Apprenticeship at Small Town Simplicity

A Tangled Web - {When You Feel Like You Have to Do it All} at The Better Mom

Ready to Fight the Real "War Against Women"? at

The Bad News about Homeschooling at Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood

Ten Days of Intentional Parenting at finding joy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - A Peek Inside

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. 
Ecclesiastes 11:5