Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Meghan's Birthday

Meghan's birthday was last Thursday and I feel so bad that I never did get a chance to post pictures of her big day! I still can't believe she's already four; when did that happen?! She is so cute...when I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday she told me she wanted a "big huge cupcake with a cherry on top!" Happily, I had just seen the perfect cake pan set at Walgreens a few days before! It was so easy to use, too. We made a Boston cream cake and it was delicious! She even got her cherry on top! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Austin James
Born December 19, 2009 (On his Mommy and Daddy's anniversary!)
5 pounds 8 ounces, 16 inches

Despite his unexpectedly early arrival, Austin is doing well and we are just thrilled to finally welcome our precious new son! My labor with him was nothing at all like any of my others, being particularly long and traumatic, but I marvel at the way God perfectly orchestrated the events surrounding his birth. Praise be to Him! What a perfect Christmas blessing!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our New Son!!!!

Our new little son - Austin James - was born this evening at 6:08, and is our first little Texan, weighing in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces! Liss went into labor yesterday afternoon at 33 weeks and was shipped to a hospital in El Paso since she was pretty stable. Both her and the baby are doing great and she should be home (with pictures!) tomorrow night. We do not yet know how long Austin will have to stay in El Paso - about an hour away - but would appreciate all of your prayers.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Still here.

The baby ticker on my sidebar tells me I'm 32 weeks and 5 days today and boy, do I feel it! But as ready as I am to be not pregnant anymore, I feel so blessed to have made it this far with no complications of preterm labor! I'm farther along now than I was when Kristen was born, so I'm not feeling quite as scared as I was there for a while. Whatever happens now I can handle!

This month is passing by in such a whirlwind and even though I thought after my last post that I'd stay more caught up with this blog, it just isn't happening! Too many other fun things have been taking precedence, namely shopping and baking and sewing and caroling and celebrating and visiting with family members who are sadly now all home in distant cities. Hopefully now that the kids and I are on break from school I can post more specifically about what we've been doing. :)

For now, I'm off to bed! My Meggie will be four years old tomorrow and we have a fun day planned to celebrate sweet little wonderful her! I can't wait!

Friday, December 04, 2009


Thanks so much to my sweet friends who stopped by to comment on my silly post yesterday! I have missed you all so much! For what it's worth, I did spend a little more time yesterday playing with this layout and while it still might not be perfect, it's just going to have to be good enough. As Shannon correctly guessed, time is a precious commodity around here! I'd much rather spend it with my family than in front of the computer. :)

I feel terrible, though, that's it's been so long since I've posted anything of real substance! Obviously I've fallen way behind in posting our Alphabet Path progress, but it's still coming along nicely. We've worked our way through letters G, H, and I since I last posted learning notes, and they were quite enjoyable! I've discovered that I rely very heavily upon our Magic School Bus books for many of our science lessons. "H" week, for example, found us learning about Hurricanes, the Human body, Heat, and animal Habitats. I'm so glad we've developed such an extensive collection of wonderful kids books! In addition to reading these, we also completed suggested activities from the Magic School Bus website. Those were SO much fun! Our favorites were the "Polar Bear Blanket" and "Walrus Mitt" we made to further investigate heat and insulation. (Here is a printable instruction sheet for the experiments.)

I'm well pleased with how this school year is working out. I remember feeling so burned out by this time in the two previous years we've been homeschooling, but for some reason (like maybe the fact that I'm actually planning as I go?), this year is just going so smoothly. It amazes me, actually, that we are able to do so much without really having spent much money on anything. I never did order my "dream" curriculum in September, due mostly to procrastination but also because it was just so expensive, but what we have is so perfect for the kids right now! Dylan and Caitlyn are working their way each day through some math workbooks Darren picked up at Barnes and Noble last summer; Dylan is using Level 2 and some Level 3 while Caitlyn is using Level 1. I like them a lot, and the children often ask to do more pages than I've actually assigned, so I know they like them, too! For language arts, we are really enjoying two workbooks that I picked up at our used bookstore. They were in like new condition; no markings whatsoever! And I think they may be my children's favorite workbooks. Caitlyn's is 101 Things Every 1st Grader Should Know About Reading, and Dylan's is an old school copy of Sky Climbers! I googled it because I was curious about what grade level it was, and apparently it's used in fifth grade. He loves it, though, and it's perfect for him! We've always used CHC workbooks for language in the past but, while completely lovely, they just didn't stimulate his mind at all. It makes me so happy to see him so excited to work in this book! Every week, I also print out these alphabet word lists for our letter of the week. It's not terribly advanced vocabulary for Dylan, but it provides him the opportunity to practice his cursive, which is what I really want, anyway. And the print worksheets are just right for Caitlyn! (I want to thank Blair again for directing me to this website! It's awesome!) For history, we're reading our way through An American Story, which I like for it's nice introduction to American history in short, easily readable stories. (The bulk of our schoolwork, in fact, consists of read-alouds, which is especially perfect now as I draw nearer to my due date!) We're continuing our USA scrapbook for our geography, although I have to admit that poor Kentucky and Louisiana have been put off for two weeks now! We've just been so busy that for some reason, these are the first to go when I'm looking for a place to scale back. I know we'll get back to it soon, though, and it is so beautiful to page through our finished entries!

Religion, obviously, is an ongoing "lesson" in our home that really doesn't need formal texts. We live it every day. Our Advent celebrations are well underway, and I'm so pleased this year with how nicely it's all come together. We light our Advent wreath at dinner each night and then have our Jesse tree reading immediately following our meal, while still gathered around the table. Last year I bought the most outlandish purple foil, pre-lit tree thinking it would make a totally awesome Jesse tree for this year, but when I set it up it was just so ghetto that I couldn't even bear the thought of using it as such, LOL! It's boxed back up in our garage now and our sweet, traditional little tree has taken it's place. I like it much, much more. :) I printed these cute ornaments (scaled down first to four sheets per page), then cut them out, laminated them, and attached loops with a needle and thread for hanging on our tree. We're using the suggested readings from the table at the bottom of this page, referring to both our family bible and children's bible, which in many cases, I think, is more easily understandable for our little ones. Last year I bought a cute, colorful little wooden house with doors numbered from 1 to 25 on clearance at Target after Christmas, even though I wasn't sure at the time how I'd want to use it. I LOVE what I've come up with, though! We have SO many beautiful Advent and Christmas books that I really wanted to take the time to read them each day. I gathered up our favorites and typed their titles on cardstock tiles which I placed behind each door leading up to Christmas. I've made a master list for myself so I know which books are coming up on each day, so I can accordingly plan simple little activities to go along with some of our stories. This weekend, for example, we'll be reading Gingerbread Friends and Gingerbread Baby and making gingerbread houses and/or people for the very first time. :) Our manger is all set up and awaiting the placement of more key characters each Sunday as we draw closer to Christmas!

It snowed here AGAIN last night and the children are just begging to go out in it! I'm so glad Darren's home today to help me. Last week when it snowed, I felt like it took me all morning just to get the kids bundled up, out the door, play for awhile, then back in to strip down for warm baths, not to mention all that wet laundry and sweeping and mopping afterward! Whew! I do love the snow, though, so it's totally worth it! Here's a glimpse of our backyard this morning:

Absolutely beautiful! Oh, and I just have to share these pictures I took last night, too, while Darren was reading our nightly story and the snow was just starting to fall:

I love my little family! Also, for those of you wondering, my pregnancy continues to progress well! I'm 31 weeks now, and I'm seeing my midwife weekly now with ultrasounds each week to measure cervical length, fetal fibronectin checks every two weeks to determine the probability of preterm labor, continued 17P injections every Monday, and I just received my two doses of betamethasone this week to speed baby's lung development just in case he does decide to come early. I really don't think that will be the case, but I'm taking every precaution just in case! I've cut way back on my work hours (two 6 hour shifts per four week schedule) and I'm letting Darren do all of my major "nesting" for me! We've picked out a name, set up the bassinet and changing table in our bedroom, bought a new car seat, and last night while I was at Savers with my mom I just couldn't resist buying about a dozen darling little outfits! Time is just flying by and I can't believe that very soon we will finally be meeting this little one!

Hope you all are enjoying a blessed Advent! It's been so nice to "chat" with you again. :)

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Ugh! I just spent so much time on this blasted new background, called Darren at work to ask him if it looked okay, and as he described it to me, it sounded all wrong! He e-mailed me a screen shot and it's totally different from what I see on my screen! I am way to irritated right now to deal with it further, and also, I've far exceeded my computer time for now, but if you see huge white spaces on the tops and bottoms of the side margins, please just ignore them, okay? Thanks. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I can't believe she did it again! Last Thursday, while I was trying to get Kristen to sleep for her nap, Meghan decided to give herself another haircut! (Although I have to say in her defense that I am largely to blame and feel like I must be the world's worst mother.) She had apparently, unbeknownst to me, spilled orange juice in her hair earlier that morning, and when it dried, it became rather stiff and crunchy, which is why, she explained, she was trying to cut it out! How could I have not known that my child was walking around with sticky dried juice hair?! Had I washed it promptly, she never would have taken the scissors to it! Luckily, one of my oldest friends—who just happens to be a beautician!—called that very afternoon to see if she and her darling infant son and one of our other dear mutual friends could stop by for a visit! I know this couldn't have been a mere coincidence; I've heard the term "God-incidence" and this was surely one of those cases! Jamie was truly a Godsend that day! I'm sure you can see from the "before" photos that this job was clearly beyond my limited scope of ability. Meghan sure looks cute now with her super short 'do, though, and she has promised that she will not cut her hair again!

Our American Heritage Girl

Caitlyn was so excited to be able to participate in our local Veteran's Day parade last week with her American Heritage Girls troop! We arrived early to help decorate the float and then waited for nearly an hour to actually start moving, but it was definitely worth it! Darren didn't have to work that day so he and the other children parked themselves along the parade route (a loop in the old down town district) to watch us pass by.

Here she is before we began. Such a darling! I love this photo!

Caitlyn is front and center here with the rest of her troop, including some of the leaders, on their float.

Proudly displaying a flag and the banner she made that morning.

"HI, DAD!"

The best part of the parade was when Caitlyn had her turn to carry the flag!

And, it doesn't really fit here, but I realized tonight that I never posted this super cute photo of Cait at her AHG joining ceremony back in October! She is absolutely loving American Heritage Girls and, in her very small Pathfinders group of Kindergarten age girls, has made two very dear little friends. We're really looking forward to the rest of the year's fun activities!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall Family Fun

I finally had some free time this afternoon to sort through some of our recent photos, and I know my mom will be happy to see that I'm finally posting a few here! I thought about trying to give them all their own tidy little post, but that just takes too much work. ;)

So, here we have our annual trip to the pumpkin patch on the beautiful weekend before Halloween. We had so much fun! I love watching my kids in the pumpkin patch. Even Kristen was toddling all over the place picking up tiny pumpkins, and even cuter, the big kids were doing the same thing--to give to her! Of course, no visit is complete without cotton candy and ice cold lemonade, both of which we had in abundance. :)

On Halloween day, we carved our pumpkins and celebrated the first birthday of our own little black kitty! She was just a tiny little stray fluff of a kitten when our neighbors rescued her last year, and, figuring she was about six weeks old at that time, we counted back on the calendar and estimated that she must have been born right around Halloween! So that has become her birthday; appropriate, I think! :)

Trick-or-treating was so much fun this year. So many of our neighbors were set up in their driveways handing out candy and visiting with everybody who came by, and it just felt so friendly! Some people really went to great lengths to provide fun for the kids; one family down our street was even passing out bags of warm, fresh popcorn from a big theater style popper they had set up in their garage! Kristen and I came home after a while to pass out our own candy, but the big kids enjoyed staying out with Daddy to visit more of the neighborhood!

This past weekend we were happy to attend the annual Renaissance Faire at the park. Some things had changed; my brother wasn't performing this year, and Clan Tynker was noticeably absent. (Although there was the new addition of a wine garden! Except we didn't have a chance to visit. Next year, for sure!) Still, we had a great time browsing the vendor's booths, playing in the children's realm, eating yummy food, feeding the ducks, and, of course, ending with a canoe ride! This year was Darren's turn; I've ridden with the children the past two years and figured he was finally due for a little fun of his own. :) After about four hours, though, we (meaning "me" more than the others) were finally ready to head home!

I feel like time is swiftly marching forward, now. School is going well with the kids, extracurricular activities are keeping us plenty busy, Darren and I have some home organization projects under way, and my mom will be visiting the first two weeks of December! I can't wait to see her again! In the meantime, mom, I hope you enjoy the photos. ;)