Friday, March 30, 2007

A Funny Conversation

Conversations With Sophia

One of my favorite times with Sophia is at night while tucking her into bed. This is when she turns into a chatter box. Not because she's trying to get out of going to bed, but because she's got my undivided, with-no-interruptions, attention. We talk about anything from "how much she likes Ethan" to "what can she wear the next day" to "ice cream cones" to "God questions".

The other night we talked about the beach and how excited she was about our upcoming vacation. She had lots of questions about the beach and just our trip in general, but here was her most burning question:

"Mommy, will there be socks at the ocean?"

Puzzled, I said, "No, we won't wear socks to the beach, we'll wear sandals."

She said, "No, are there soooocks at the ocean?"

Thinking this was a funny thing to ask I again replied, "Well, we can wear our socks and shoes, but it's better to just wear our sandals."

A bit frustrated, she tried one more time, "Noooo, will there be shaaaaaaawwwwks?"

"OH!! SHARKS!" I said (as I'm trying not to laugh over the miscommunication). "No, honey, there won't be any sharks where we'll be. Don't you worry."

Poor, sweet thing.......she tried so hard to get that tricky "R" sound to work for her. But at least her worrisome question was answered and she could finally sleep in peace!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We're Goin' Back to Cali, Cali.....

California Sign

A Much Needed Vacation Coming Soon

We are eagerly counting down the days until we return to our homeland. Although we have grown to love Texas, my heart is still in CA. What can I say, I'm a CA girl and always will be. If you can get past the liberal domination, the traffic, and the silly wanna-be-laws like "no spanking your children", it's really a beautiful place.

The mountains, the beaches and the desert (if you like the desert) are at your beck and call. There is such a spiritual awe when you're standing at the edge of the ocean, watching the waves come rolling in over your feet. Or smelling the fresh aroma of the tall pine trees as you're hiking through the mountains of Yosemite National Park. My heart is welling up with joy as I think of the beauty of where I was born and raised. And, to top it all off, I will be reunited with family, whom I miss so very much!

Here's what our itinerary will look like:

Saturday, May 26th we begin our long journey through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into CA. We will probably drive straight through, mostly because that's what we've always done out of pure eagerness to just get there. Our first stop will be Uncle Gary's in Redondo Beach. We will spend three or four days with him, but will be driving back to San Bernardino and the surrounding area during one of those days to visit my Grandmother and many aunts, uncles and cousins. My mom will be flying into LA to meet us, and to visit all of her family as well. Another one of those days at Uncle Gary's will be reserved for the beach! Ohhhhh yeeeaaah! The kids are already talking about the beach.....they're very excited!

From Redondo Beach, we will travel to Sacramento to spend time with Greg's sweet grandparents. After we drive them crazy, we'll head to Modesto to see Greg's mom, the Denbraves and the Hess Family. It will be so good to spend time with precious family and friends. From Modesto, we will head up the mountain to the quaint town of Sonora, where my brother Jason, my dear SIL Tara and their three beautiful children live. I am SO excited about seeing my brother and his family.

After having a wonderful time with my brother, we'll end our trip in Mariposa to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. We'll also be seeing Uncle Andy and Aunt Julie who also live in Mariposa. My grandparents live on a beautiful ranch bursting with trees and mountain views.

With my grandparents, we will spend a day in Yosemite National Park, where they lived and worked for sixteen years. I practically grew up there.  I also had the privilege of working in the park when I was fourteen and fifteen years old. I've probably explored, hiked, or swam in every inch of this beautiful creation. I even hiked up Half Dome (about a 12 hour hike) at the age of fifteen. Whenever visiting Grandma and Grandpa in the summer, I would sleep outside on a lawn chair so that I could stare at the stars all night long! The stars were so thick and was like getting a small glimpse of heaven. Actually, just BEING in the park was like getting a tiny glimpse of heaven. I can't even fathom how much MORE beautiful heaven will be!

I'm so thankful that my children will get to see so much family after such a long time, and see all the wonderful places we will be revisiting. I'm positive we will create memories for our family that will last a lifetime!

Photo Credit

Monday, March 19, 2007

Family Update

To Our Family...

I haven't posted in some time about family happenings, so here goes.......

Greg is as wonderful as ever. He's still with the Lackland Fire Dept and recently finished an EMT class. He'll be taking the BIG exam very soon to finally be certified as an EMT. It's a long story as to why he's not already certified, so I'll spare you the details. At his last pacemaker check up, they discovered a rapidly malfunctioning lead wire going into the upper chamber of his heart. Fortunately, it's the "least necessary" lead so he can afford to just let it be until his battery change surgery. We expect that to happen in a year or so. Other than that, he's just being the great husband and father we know and LOVE!

Not much new with me. We're slowly winding down our school year and looking forward to our vacation in May. I'm still counseling at the Agape Pregnancy Help Center and also serve on the board. Right now, we are working diligently on our annual fundraising banquet.

Cheyenne is growing up so fast! She's fourteen and finishing her 8th grade year. She has finished all of her subjects except for Algebra 1 and Grammar and Composition II. Since she's done well this year and has been diligent in her work, we allowed her to take on a part time position at our friend's resale shop for children. She is SO excited to have this job and being able to earn some extra money. She also enjoys working with her friends. She's still playing the piano. Her former piano teacher moved away (we miss you Kim), but the Lord provided another teacher for her very quickly. Her good friend, Shelley, is teaching her. They happen to be the same age. Cheyenne was glad that Shelley was willing to teach her and it's working out well.

Celeste (11) is as sweet as ever. She's my little helper bee and is always willing to serve the family. She's also had a good schooling year, but still has most of her subjects to finish up. Her strong subject is Math. She's advancing fairly quickly through it and next year will be taking Algebra 1 as a 7th grader. The girl loves numbers and absolutes like her dad! She pitches in with schooling Seth in his math at times. She's also discovered a passion for cooking and baking this year and wants to attend culinary school when she's older. Isn't she already attending culinary school? ;-)

Sethman (5): He's great! His interests include anything Star Wars and sword fights with the Russell boys. He's done a wonderful job with Kindergarten this year. He's reading well and jammin' right through math. Another math junkie so far. He flew through his Kinder math book and is about half way through the first grade math book. We'll just keep him going in it through the summer. He's also a VERY helpful little boy. One day, while he was supposed to be in bed for rest time, he went to Sophia's room, where she also was supposed to be having rest time, and decided to help her out of a bind. She got a round brush all tangled up in her hair, so, he thought he'd help her out by CUTTING the brush out of her hair!!!! about busted! In the meantime, we're having fun trying to come up with creative hair styles to cover the missing chunks in Sophia's hair. We love him so.......

Sophia (4), is a pretty neat kid. She LOVES to play dress up and is convinced that she is a real princess. She is doing pre-K stuff this year. We just started her in Phonics Pathways and is enjoying it. Our goal is to speed her up some so that in the next year or so, she and Seth can do much of the same work. Subjects like History, Science and Logic. She also recently learned how to ride her bike without training wheels. She is SO excited about that.....can't keep her off the bike when we're outside.

Chloe is 2 1/2 now. We're thinking about potty training her and thinking about taking her binky away from her. Yes....just thinking about these things! Some day we'll decide, but for now, I'm comfortable with the thinking phase. Other than that, she enjoys hanging out with her siblings, pretending to "do school" with the big kids and talks about her friend Abby all the time.

Little Man Ethan is 9 1/2 months. He's taking several steps and will be walking fully any day now. He doesn't like food much and will probably nurse until he's five, but he's a big, healthy boy! He's a joy to our family and we look forward to seeing him grow into a young man!

So, I think that covers everyone. Just remind me if I've missed a kid. ;-)

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Girls, My Heros

choose ye this day whom you will serve!

I'd just like to share with you about how much I appreciate my older girls. Of course, I appreciate and love ALL of my children, but this post is reserved for Cheyenne (14) and Celeste (11). I've always said that God knew I needed the two older girls to help me manage all of the younger ones. We say it with a joking connotation, but most days, there is so much truth in the statement. Today was no exception.

Over the past couple of weeks we've had a string of illnesses pass through most of the kids. The one it affected the most, of course, was baby Ethan. It's impossible for a 9 month old baby to sleep with a congested head and a nagging, he didn't......which meant WE didn't.

After several nights of almost no sleep, the dynamics of our household had become a bit short-tempered and irritable. Okay, MOM had become short-tempered and irritable, mostly just the days Daddy was at work.

Cheyenne and Celeste have always been huge helpers in my life and they always seem to find unexpected ways in which to minister to Momma. Chey is really good about offering to watch the little ones so I can lie down for a bit. Celeste is always good about secretly setting up my foot bath massager while I'm putting the little ones to bed. Then, while my feet are soaking, she'll rub my shoulders or brush my hair.

Once again, they both managed to show me the love and service of Jesus while I was having a difficult/tired morning. Ethan actually slept all through the night, which was GREAT, however, the storm kept me up for several hours. Nonetheless, I felt pretty good and was geared up for a great day of schooling (even during spring break).

Well, as soon as Ethan woke up, he fussed and fussed and fussed. This usually doesn't bother me, especially since I know he just doesn't feel well.  But today, I just didn't have it in me to cope with all of the fussing and whimpering.......for hours.

He wasn't happy playing and he wasn't happy being held. He didn't quite know what he wanted, he just knew he didn't feel well. I decided to put him to bed hoping that he just needed a nap. That didn't work. At this point, I'm on the verge of tears out of sheer exhaustion, so I put him back into his crib and flopped onto my bed. 

He just cried and cried. So I prayed and prayed! I prayed that the God would give me what I needed to get through the day.

Just then, Cheyenne came into my room and said, "Mommy, would you like me to give Ethan a bath? That usually makes him feel better." I told her that that was a good idea and thanked her for taking him. Then, Celeste came in and immediately began to assist Cheyenne, and then went to get fresh clothes for Ethan. I heard Celeste tell the little ones to "play quietly so Mom can rest".

I can't tell you how blessed I felt at that moment. Just the mere fact that my sweet girls were ministering to me with a caring spirit, I suddenly gained a second wind and a renewed desire make this a joyful day. I thanked the Lord for blessing me with them and hopped out of bed, ready to be mom again.

They are so special and I am truly thankful for them. Not only are they sweet girls, but they were also setting a tremendous example to the younger ones by their sweet service. I hope and pray that our little ones will follow in their footsteps, not only by serving our family, but serving others as well.

Thank you, Cheyenne and Celeste for ministering to me in such a special way and helping me get through our "daddyless days" with joy! I love you!

Photo Credit

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Family In Germany

Homeschooling In Germany.........

Stories like this one remind me to be thankful for the freedoms we have here in America to homeschool our children. Let's always remember to pray for the families in other countries suffering much persecution for simply being obediant to God's call.

Do you think the US (government) is heading in this direction?
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