25 weeks bump update

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's hard to believe that I am over halfway through this pregnancy! Unlike most of my pregnancies it seems to be flying by. Maybe the fact that life is very full has something to do with it! Not only is it going by fast but I am growing fast also. I feel so big already and I still have a long way to go!

I have really been feeling blah and unmotivated lately. I just want to stay on the couch and never get up. Thankfully my kids keep me from being a couch potato( too much) with their constant need for me to get up and get them something. I am still trying to work out but it definitely has been harder to get moving. And forget running. My thighs are just too big and it's so uncomfortable when they rub together.(Just being honest;) I tried last week and the pressure was just too much. I know after I have the baby my motivation will come back and I will be so excited to start losing my baby weight. So for now I am just going to enjoy this season and this precious baby growing inside of me!

Though I might not be as mobile, this little girl sure is! Anytime I sit down she starts doing somersaults and kicks. It's so fun feeling her move inside of me! It's still so crazy to me that God is growing a new little life inside of me. Even though I am no stranger to pregnancy it really amazes me every time. Because I am so busy with teaching my little ones and the demands of life it still feels surreel that we are going to be adding another little person to our family. The kids are so excited and not a day goes by that they don't talk about it. Luke always asks to "see baby"  and pulls up my shirt to "see" the baby. I think I am excited the most to see his reaction to the baby. Especially since any
time he sees a baby he says, "awwww". It's so sweet!

I am so thankful that I have been sleeping really well. I really have nothing to complain about as I feel really good besides tiring out easily. The only thing I can think of that has been abnormal is that my legs have been really itchy. I know that sounds weird, but I am wondering if it has something to do with pregnancy. I googled it and found that it does happen during pregnancy, but I think you can google anything and find some info on it. I am curious though if any of you have ever experienced it??

I really don't have any crazy cravings or other significant side effects right now besides my growing abdomen. Ice cream has been sounding really good, which is not normal for me during pregnancy as I usually crave savory foods, but who am I to question my cravings??;)

I have really been trying to document this pregnancy and take a picture every week but it sure is hard. Even though I love my pregnant body I can still be very critical when I see pictures and I would much rather be behind the camera. But I know that I will love being able to look back and see how I/ the baby have grown. I have never taken pictures throughout my whole pregnancy so I knew I better get on it this time around but actually doing it is another thing. I admit having this blog has helped motivate me;)

Linking up here!

Recap of our first week back to school and why it went so well 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Every summer as I think about getting back to our regular school routine I cringe in fear. All the emotions and thoughts start swirling in my head that it's just too hard and that I can't do it.

This summer was no different.

I would lay in bed knowing that I needed to start preparing for school but trying to think of someway out of it. Couldn't we find some other way to educate our children that matched our budget, our morals and our vision for our children's education?? Though we want God to lead us every year/month/day, we have never said we are determined to homeschool forever. Again the choice was clear for us...we would indeed be homeschooling again.

Once I surrendered to knowing that once again this was the best choice for our family; peace overwhelmed me. No, I still didn't know how I was going to do it. No, I still don't always feel qualified but I do know that God will give me everything I needed to do this if he was the one calling me to do this for our family. 

Amazingly enough I have to say that this was one of the best weeks of homeschooling ever! I realized all over again why we are doing it.

 Here are some reasons why:

 I think one of the main reasons that it went so well is that I am finally learning to take the pressure off myself and the kids to perform and get everything right. Not that I didn't have high expectations, they were just more realistic. 

I also took a good week to prepare our school room, curriculum and lesson plans. I know this went a long way in helping me feel prepared and confident in what we needed to be doing. Our school room always seems to be the messiest in the house so it needed a lot of cleaning...I mean a lot!! But I finally got it looking good, though I know it won't take long before it's a mess again:( I hope to give you a tour soon of the whole room!  I also got little boxes(from Target) for each of the kids to put their school supplies and independent work and this was a tremendous help! I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!!??

I also focused on us; our family and how my children and I work best together and how they learn best. I forgot about the rest of the world and really tried to hone in on what we needed to do.

Did I get frustrated with my kids at all? Sure.

Did my kids always listen perfectly? No. 

But I didn't let it ruin our day/week and my attitude. I can only attest to this as an act of God! And really, I was amazed at how well my kids responded when I told them what they needed to do. There was hardly as much whining or complaining as there was last year. 

The Charlotte Mason style has really been great for us and encouraged me in what I believe is best for our children's education. I don't do everything exactly to her method but take a lot from her ideas and teaching methods.(You can learn more about theCharlotte Mason style  on my pinterest board:) You can also follow along on our journey behind the scenes on my Instagram account!

I really want to incorporate a lot more nature studies this year and and reading, narration and dictation. We are doing a bee nature study this week and reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins which the boys have actually really enjoyed.( It has a lot of great outdoor skills in it;)

Don't forget to enter my nature journaling giveaway which has everything you need to start nature journaling with your kids!

I think perseverance is the key. I can't believe this but this will now be our 7th year of homeschooling!?!

There were so many times I wanted to give up but knew that this was what God was calling us to. I started out with one kindergartener and I now have a 6th grader, 4th grader, 1st grader and Preschooler, a toddler and one on the way!

If you would have told me all those years ago that I would be homeschooling all these children and most days loving it; I might not have believed you! Here is last years recap! I actually think it was pretty similar.

I obviously didn't get around to taking the boys pics:(
Another thing that I believe helped us get a great start this year was doing some school during the summer. I always plan to school through the summer but with family in town and really just needing a break we didn't do as much as I would have liked, but I did make sure that almost every day the kids did some reading and math. Even that little bit of school really helped with the transition into full days. 

Though we had a great summer I think we were all ready to get back to a good routine. Breaks are always great but we all thrive better with a structured day. I honestly feel like we/I get more done when we are in our school schedule and I really love that it makes me be more intentional about one on one time with each of my kids. I have to focus on them, listen and join in some of their activities. 

Though we had a great week of school it actually didn't start out on a great note. The kids all contracted lice...so that was fun.;( This is real life people!  (Commence head scratching) In the midst of lots of cleaning, laundry, mayonnaise, tea tree oil, anything we could get our hands on and shaved heads we somehow nipped it in the bud! Phew! So maybe school didn't seem so bad after going through that epidemic! Please tell me we weren't the only ones! Oh yeah and I tried to start potty training Luke...what was I thinking???

I was worried a lot about how I would divide my attention between the three older ones but somehow it all worked out. We did as many subjects as we could together and I tried to really plan for giving them independent work when I was working one on with them. And the little boys, though distracting at times played pretty happily by themselves. Or rather made messes happily;)

One thing that I really tried to curb back on was rushing everyone. I always think that we need to start early and end early but it tends to turn me into a monster; telling everyone to hurry up! I did want to start and finish early but I really tried to focus on us getting quality work done and me not losing my cool. So some days we didn't start till 10 or finish till after 3 but it was okay because we got done what we needed to do and didn't have any massive breakdowns;) I figure it will take us some time to get a good groove going. I also let the kids get out and play in the backyard before we started school and this seemed to really help everyone focus better. Usually I wait till lunch break.

I chose a verse for the year to focus on which has really helped me in the past and reminded me of why we do this and that I can't do it but God can through me! The verse that God impressed on my heart for this year is:

"Be at rest once more oh my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." Psalm 116:7

God is so good to us, to you, to me, so why do we worry so much!? This is what he spoke to me-- He has been so good to me, I just need to rest in it and stop freaking out!!! I am so blessed that I can stay home with my kids and homeschool them. I don't want to miss out on the joy that he wants to fill me with and waste my days in frustration and fear. No matter what our circumstances; he is so good. We really just need to start resting in it and what he has called our individual families to!

Did you start school yet? We actually started last week;)

How did it go? 

What has been working for you in staying calm and confident?

What are some things you are working on in your homeschool?

Do you have a verse for the year to hold on to?

Nature Journaling Giveaway!

Monday, August 15, 2016

As we settle back into a new school year one of our favorite things to do is nature journal. If you don't know what nature journaling is, simply put it is writing down and drawing your observations of the natural world around you.

Not only is nature journaling a great excuse to get the kids out of the house but it has so many facets of learning involved.

1. Getting outdoors
2. Learning about the natural environment where we live
3. Being observant more than we usually would
4. Using art to document and draw what we see
5. Incorporating, art,science, physical ed., writing, biology, spelling and creativity.

Nature journaling is by far our favorite subject as homeschoolers! Not only do my kids enjoy it but I do as well! I love being able to do join in with them in my own nature journal. I am learning right alongside them!

 As you can see we love getting outside and what better way to include learning as my kids are having fun and getting all their wiggles out!

Sometimes we will take our nature journals with us and record what we are seeing and other times we will bring a plant or picture back home to study in more detail, or we will look up what we saw online or in a book if we didn't know what it was and study it more in depth. Some of our favorite places to go are to our local parks, nature trails, beaches, county parks, and right in our back yard! We live in the city but even so there is so much nature all around us!

My kids love anything to do with animals and nature so they are always interested in learning about a new creature or plant. So far we have done nature studies and journaling about sharks(we found shark teeth), butterflies, turtles, snakes, bees, native florida plants and whatever else we discover on our walks or studies. I have to admit that my children are naturally gifted artists.( No, really they are;) So I can't take any credit for their beautiful journals. I learn so much from them!

I am so excited to be joining the IHN back to school GIVEAWAY  to give you everything you need to do your own nature journaling with your children!!! YAY!!!

I know I can always use some extra motivation to get me excited about getting back to school with my children and nature journaling is one of those things that really excites me. I hope you will get excited by it as well!!

Included in this giveaway is:

1. Nature Anatomy
A beautifully illustrated book of everything you need to know about that you would encounter in nature!!
2. Artist Loft Art Journal with plenty of pages to waiting to be filled!
3. Winsor and Newton Cotman Water Color Sketchers Pocket Box. This is a top of the line watercolor kit that includes 12 colours, mixing palette and brush.
4. 12 Colored Pencils
5.  Vintage Golden Nature Guides to Mammals and Trees
6. An original watercolor picture of our native Florida Mockingbird by my talented son Israel to give you some extra inspiration:)!
7.  Plus a $25 gift card to Joann Fabrics for any more journaling supplies that you might need!!

This basket is worth over a total of $75!!!

Get your school year started right by entering this amazing giveaway to give you everything you need to start you and your children's own nature journals!!

Not only am I giving away this great basket but there are a ton other back to school basket giveaways for you to enter in the link below!! So be sure to check them out also and get excited to get back to school!!

Congratulations to Katie L.!!! Thanks to all who entered!
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Sorry only open to US residents due to shipping costs.

Make sure to check out 52 other awesome gift baskets from ihomeschool network! You can click on picture to take you to all the other giveaways!

For I am with thee + Giveaway

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

In the times that we live in there are so many things to be fearful of. All you have to do is turn on the t.v., radio or peruse online to be thoroughly freaked out.

I honestly avoid watching the news because I just can not handle it. I have enough that fills me with fear and worry right here at home. Of course I don't want to be oblivious to what's going on in the world but I also want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. 

As a follower of Christ I don't have to live in fear, I don't have to be a slave to it. As believers we have a hope beyond this world. We have the hope that Jesus is coming again to make all things new. We have hope that he is with us no matter what circumstances. We have hope that he cares about the little and the big trials that we deal with daily.

I am so excited to be giving away this beautiful  8x10 print from Tori at light and truth to give you a daily reminder to fear not from Isaiah 41:10!!!

I have been following Tori on instagram for quite a while and have been so encouraged by her posts where she uses her God given talents to glorify him and encourage others. Tori has been so generous to give me one of her prints to giveaway to my readers!!

If you have followed me long enough you know that I love to put beautiful prints and reminders of God's word around my home. I hope that this print will be a blessing to you as you encounter difficult circumstances in your life to remember that there is a God that is able to strengthen you and uphold you through it all.

This verse is very comforting to me as it was the verse that I remember my Dad sharing with me before he died. Now when I am going through an extremely hard time I recite it to myself and know that God is with me and will help me! 

 I can think of a lot of things now that I could easily discouraged and dismayed by... homeschooling and taking care of my 5 children, bringing this new life in my womb safely into the world, caring for sick mother, provision for the needs of our growing family, etc...etc...

But I don't have to fear because he is with me!!!

What are some of the circumstances that fill you with fear and worry? 

How do you find strength and help to get through them??

Not only am I giving away this beautiful print to one of my readers but I am also giving away a beautiful necklace, note cards, Stabilo pens, and a pretty flower clip just because I love giveaways!!!

Be sure to check out Tori's shop for more beautiful and inspiring prints!!

Must be 18 or older to enter and sorry only open to those in the continental US. Giveaway starts 8/9/16 and ends 8/16/16. Winner will be announced and recieve an email to confirm.

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The benefits of having a large family

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The definition of a large family is different for everyone. For some that might be 3 children and for others 12. With number 6 on the way, I feel like we are going into the big leauge of  family sizes. Though raising a large family is not without it's challenges the benefits and blessings are innumerable!

I love shocking people when I am out alone and they ask me if my growing abodemen  is going to be my first child. The look on their faces is priceless when I tell them it's my 6th! They always ask me how I do it. I sure don't do it perfectly. Just because you have a large family doesn't mean you are super mom it just means you have different priorities and have learned to adjust with each new baby.

It's so funny to me how when you have a big family people think they need to know what your family's intimate plans are.

"So are you done now?"
"Are you just trusting the Lord?" As if we are not if we only had 2 kids!?
"How many more are you going to have?"
"How do you feed them all?"
"How do you afford it?"
"You only have 2 bedrooms?"
"And you homeschool too?"

The truth is that though my husband and I hoped for a big family we had no idea what the Lord had in store for us. We have taken it one child at a time and have been so blessed with each one even if it might have not been our exact plans. God is ultimately in control and have been so glad each time he has changed our plans and blessed us beyond what we deserve or could have hoped for.

Though there are many challenges to raising a large family, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Unfortunately in our day and age when people see a large family, they just see $ signs. It's so sad that our culture often views them only as a burden instead of a blessing. But if you believe God's word you will see that children truly are such a blessing and you get far more than you give when you choose to embrace them as Jesus did.

"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14 ESV

Read the rest of the post over at My Joy Filled Life
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