Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fall Family Pics 2011

I asked my sis-in-law to take some pics of us with her awesome camera, and she did an AMAZING job.  Here they are!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


So... I am super excited about two things right now, and they both involve chicken(s). :)

I went to the store today to buy some chicken, and I found organic and free range chicken breast/thighs on sell for 99 cents a pound!!!  I stocked up :). 

The most exciting thing about chickens is that we are buying 5 from a good friend of ours!  Robert and my dad will build a simple coop this weekend, and we should be welcoming the new hens into our family this coming week.  I'm SO excited!  The type that we are buying are called Black Sex-Linked Hens... they are supposedly one of the best for laying eggs. 

I'll update with pics once the coop is built and we have the chickens! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Heart is Full

One thing that I have realized this week is that it has been a long time since I truly loved my family... not just "I love you because I have to," but unconditional love.  I have been so stressed for several years... and I have gotten so irritable and angry at times with them when they do something that even remotely annoys me.  The biggest thing is that my kids are very young, and they do things that young children do... and because I've had so many stressful things going on, I haven't truly shown them love because I'm just stressed out by them.  I do things out of obligation and because I know they need it, but I just wanted to get through the day so that I could go to bed (life has been exhausting). 

As I put my babies to bed tonight, I realized that I haven't REALLY shown them love, and I haven't really known them, for a long time.  My baby Levi has blown me away the past few days.  I didn't realize how much he talked and how much he loves his family (he was in daycare way too much).  His daddy has a cough, and every time he coughed, Levi would say "k, daddy?"  On the way home today from my in-laws, he just kept saying "mommy, lu vu."  He always wants hugs and kisses.  He's such a sweet boy.  And my other two are growing up way too fast... I've missed so much.  I can't miss anymore.  I'm so thankful that God has led us to have me stay home with them... I was SO worried that I would look back and be full of regrets for not being with my family.  They matter more than money or security.

I'm nervous about how we're going to make it work financially, but for the first time ever, I really don't care.  I'm more concerned that I can finally be mommy to my babies... And I really don't care if that means that we have to pack up and move AGAIN... because a house isn't truly what makes a home... family is. 

At the end of this day, I can truly say that my heart is full.  I don't know what I would do without my amazing husband and beautiful babies.

"Eyes. Nose"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Thankful Post

My life has been a roller-coaster ride for the past several years.  The fall/winter of 2008 seems to be one of my best memories ever... Robert was the Assistant Outdoor Ed director and loved his job (mostly), I was teaching part time, I started the process of living more naturally and really over-hauled how our family ate.  Karis, Robert, and I did a lot of cooking and baking together.  We made most of our Christmas gifts together.  It was just a great time.  Starting the spring of 2009, however, was one of the worst times of my life.  I started struggling more with anxiety because I found that living a more "natural life" was consuming me.  I couldn't be as perfect as I wanted.  Joey (my brother) was having a major life crisis, including trying to commit suicide and failing (ending up in ICU), then he was in one "mental hospital" after another.  He ended up being committed (by the court) to a mental hospital in September where they did electric shock therapy on him (without much of a choice)... he lost SO much of his memories.  On November 30, 2009, he took his life in a very gruesome, "only in the movies" kind of way, and my life has never been the same.  I had Levi a few months later, went through postpartum depression, then Robert quit at the camp (because he hated doing maintenance and he worked ALL the time), and we moved to Dallas.  I started teaching full time, at a VERY intense charter school, a few months later.  I haven't had a moment to catch my breath.  I loved my job, but I knew that I was never with my family... my kids were struggling, my marriage was struggling... Even though everything looked great from the outside (we were able to buy a house, etc), things always felt like they were falling apart (they weren't really, but they felt that way much of the time).  There were some really great moments in the past few years, and I will never regret working because I learned so much, but I am SO thankful that God is bringing me home. 

I'm sitting here at my dining room table, enjoying the quiet morning, sipping my pumpkin pecan coffee, and warmed by the fireplace.  My kids have been at my parents' house for a few days because we needed to get my classroom cleaned out and the house organized, so it's super quiet.  I needed some time to sit and reflect on all that the Lord has done in my life and all that He has taught me in the past few years.  My "thankful post" looks a bit different this year.

I am so thankful for...

...hard times... without them, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I wouldn't be so dependent on Jesus, and I wouldn't love my family with the intensity that I now love them...
...simple things... a fireplace, hot coffee in the mornings, classical Christmas music that makes me feel at peace, fresh cut flowers from my husband in the middle of the table, music to worship my Savior...
...the need to rely on Jesus to provide for our needs... having plenty of money isn't what it's cracked up to be.  I found myself spending more and trusting less, and the stress of making the money just wasn't worth it...
...more time with my family... I have missed them...
...knowing that eating perfectly just isn't as important as spending time with my family... I'm not needed in the kitchen as much as I'm needed to love my family... amazing husband that loves his wife and family more than himself...
...beautiful children who love to learn and play (and who love their family very much)...
...a church family that I have always wanted to have... they love Jesus and others so much...
...friends and neighbors with young children for our kids to play with...
...a park in walking distance... a library just a minute down the road... a grocery store a few blocks away...
...all of our needs met TODAY, and the faith of knowing that they will be met tomorrow...
...laundry that needs to be folded because that means we have plenty of clothes...
...a house that will need to be cleaned again later today because that means it is filled with kids that are playing and enjoying life...
...a family that supports us even though what we are doing doesn't make the most sense financially...
...the ability to live simply again...

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point :).  Life is short, and I want to enjoy every part... even when times are hard.  I know now that the hard times make a person who they are.  I know that when I get "Home," I will understand everything a little bit more.  In the meantime, I'll just live knowing that God knows and understands why everything happens.  I trust Him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I've been sleeping SO well the past several nights.  When I go to bed, I'm asleep right away, and I don't wake up until morning (such a new thing!).  I hadn't been sleeping well... waking up in the middle of the night worried about something at work... so this is new :).  Because I've been sleeping so well, I've been waking up early feeling refreshed!  I've enjoyed the quiet early mornings to reflect and spend time with my Savior (while listening to Christmas music... YES, ALREADY!).

I am so excited to be starting this journey again... it's really what's best for our family.  I have been torn since I started teaching about whether or not I could keep going, and God made it clear that it's time to stop.

Cleaning and Organizing
Robert and I decided that a great way to start this new "journey" of being a stay at home mom (again), would be to organize and clean! 

The kids are staying at my parents this weekend (something we planned a LONG time ago, but it worked out well!), so we went to my classroom yesterday and emptied it.  Yesterday evening we started the tedious process of organizing the junk that I brought home.  I'm SO thankful that Robert put a new closet in this summer because we have plenty of storage now!  All of my school things fit nicely in this new storage closet. 

In the process of organizing the junk from school, I went through and pulled out anything that I can use to teach Karis (or the boys).  I have a crate full of teaching books that are great for preschool through 1st grade.  I have TONS (3 crates full) of already made games that she can use.  I have a basket full of books that teach science concepts and vocabulary.  I have many, many books that are at the beginner reading level.  I feel pretty fully equipped to homeschool, at least for now :).  Next year will completely depend on if we can get her into a specific school, which we have to put her on the waiting list for (in February).  We'll see how that goes!  I'm excited about being able to homeschool her, even if it's just for a semester :). 

Ways to Make this Work
When discussing the possibility of me staying home, we discussed many things that we can and want to do to make this work for our family.  The biggest things are trying to "live off the land" as much as possible so that we don't have to worry about food so much.  In the spring, we plan to get some chicks to raise into chickens to have eggs.  We also plan to plant a large garden and plant the things that we eat on a regular basis.
In December, we'll make a trip to Costco to stock up on basics (cheese, butter, meats, etc), and I plan to start making our own bread products again (I have at least a year's worth of wheat berries to grind into flour!). 

I will be signing up in a few weeks to start the process to become a childbirth educator.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I have even purchased the books and have paid a part of the course fee (when I thought about trying to stay home before)... so the process had already been started a while back.  I can't wait to start studying! 

Robert is thinking through anything that he can do to prepare to do side jobs... we're getting there :).

We had plans to buy the kids bikes this year, but we have changed our plans (because that would probably cost a few hundred dollars).  My parents are buying the kids a swing-set for the backyard (yay!), so we decided to add to it.  Robert is going to build a small playhouse, and he's going to build a sand box (both out of wood that we already have!).  We'll probably get them a few other small gifts such as books, crafty things, etc.   We're going to make other gifts for family as well, but I can't share those yet :).  We LOVE making gifts!  We haven't been able to do that for a while.  I'm looking forward to it!

I'm in awe of how everything is working out so well!  I'm so excited and at peace!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Taking a Leap of Faith

For about a year now, I have struggled to make my job work for my family.  I literally work about 70 hours a week (including weekends/evenings).  Often, we would talk about me doing something else, staying home, etc, but it always came down to the fact that we couldn't afford it.  Not sure how we would make it.  I do really love teaching, so maybe I'll just try this, this, and this.  Then when that didn't work, we would have the conversation again, come to the conclusion that we couldn't afford it, then I decided I would try this, this, and this. 

It has been a cycle since not long after I started last year. 

This is the thing... I LOVE my job (as I have said SO many times)... But, I need to love my family more.  And I know that as long as I have this job, it has to be number one priority (because of the high expectations that they have). 

Robert and I decided on Monday to take a LEAP of faith.  We don't know how it will work out, but we MUST do this for our marriage and family.  We made the decision on Monday to put in my notice.  Initially it was going to be through the end of the physical year (effective the first day of next semester), but I was told yesterday that they have already found someone to replace me, and she will be starting November 28th.  So that will be my last day. 

I am in complete awe of how things have worked out.  He has already proven His faithfulness in providing for us in ways that don't make sense.  On top of that, Robert already has some possible side jobs and I will be working on becoming a Childbirth Educator.  It won't bring in a whole lot of money, but it will be FUN and the money will be supplemental.  Again, I don't know how this will work long term, but I KNOW that it will because God is faithful to provide for His children's needs.  I also know that this is totally a God thing because Robert is the one who said we needed to do this for our family.  Anyone that knows Robert knows that he has always been supportive of me working.  This year he has seen how it has taken a toll on our marriage and family, and we decided together that it just. isn't. worth. it. 

One of the biggest concerns of ours is that we just bought this house.  What if we can't afford it?  We bought it knowing that I had my salary.  We came to the conclusion that... it's just a house.  We have lived in many houses since we got married... If we had to sell it, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  But for the most part, we just trust that for now, this is where we're supposed to live. 

I have so many friends and neighbors that stay home, so it'll be SO nice to have that support and ability to get to know other moms better.  Just behind us (across the alley) lives a family with three kiddos our kids ages (and same genders).  Across the street from us lives a family with a little boy that is just a little older than Levi.  Many of my friends at church have kids around our kids' ages, and the mamas stay home.  So, I have a wonderful support system and community that I can now be a part of. 

Starting December 16th, Karis will be homeschooled.  We are probably just going to do that this year because Robert isn't a fan of homeschooling, but we feel that the school that she's been going to isn't the best fit for her.  It's not because of her teacher (because I really like her and she has been a great fit), but it's the demographic of the students.  Karis is the ONLY white child in the school.  She has ONE friend there... and she has been struggling.  I am all about diversity, but that isn't a diverse school.  And that knew that coming in, but I wanted to try.  We've tried, and it didn't work, so now we go to plan B. 

I'm looking forward to homeschooling, even if it's just for this year.  I already have an outline written up for what I'm going to cover :).  I still get to teach, but I get to teach the ones that matter most: MY kids. 

So... here we go... on a new adventure (again).  Life is full of changes.  I'm thankful that God is constant.  He knew this would happen.  And I am at complete peace. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gifts that Change Lives

Last year I discussed some awesome websites where you can buy gifts and the money goes directly to the people that make them (or to a great organization!). I found out about some more awesome websites with some super cute things!  I thought I'd share!!

MomentuM- Home, bath and body, toys, clothes, jewelry accessories, etc.  This one is my favorite so far!
Light Gives Heat- Mostly jewelry, handbags, and art, but they sell a few other things too.  Buying something from this site creates jobs in Uganda.
Noonday Collection- This site is a little more expensive, but proceeds go to helping orphans.
Nightlight International- Helps support women who are trying to get out of sex trafficking.
Divine Chocolate- Money goes to the farmers in Africa!
International Princess Project- Pajama pants to support women getting out of sex trafficking.
Krochet Kids- Hats, clothing, and other accessories.  Support people in Uganda and Peru.

We also like to buy a goat, chickens, etc for people in other countries who need food through World Vision.  You can buy one of these in someone's name and give them the gift of giving to someone else :).  It's pretty awesome.

I wish I thought about giving more often.  I need to make giving a priority.  There are so many in need around the world. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finally Becoming More Organized

We have moved so many times in the past few years, and we have been so busy, that we hadn't taken the time to organize our life.  And honestly, I think that has been the source of a lot of our stress!  I have been really good at losing things, getting behind on things, we haven't been organized in our finances, we've procrastinated on things that were important, etc... and that makes life more difficult when life is busy.  So, last weekend, we took advantage of my parents being here, and we organized our office/bedroom.  Today I spent hours at school getting my classroom rearranged/organized, and now it'll be so much easier to be productive while I'm there on my late nights.  And honestly, this may be silly, but I think it'll make me a better teacher because I'll be less stressed while I'm there. 
We also went to Costco last week and stocked up for the month!  I love the feeling of a house full of groceries!  We have our meals planned for the week, and everything we need for them.  All bills are paid for the month (except for our weekly childcare payment).  All papers are filed and important things have been taken care of.  We have Quicken now for our finances and it makes a HUGE difference!  We have systems for everything that work; we've been keeping up with everything much better. 

We lit the fireplace for the first time tonight and just sat in front of it for a while.  It felt so good to be in a place where I don't have the weight of stress on my shoulders, and I could just sit and watch the fireplace and be at peace.  I don't know how to explain it, but I haven't felt this much peace in years.  I pray that it continues. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

It's amazing how strong spiritual warfare is.  The more I battle daily, the more I realize just how powerful Satan can be (and how MORE powerful Jesus is!).  All of the issues that I've battled for years have been so strong at times.  And the ONLY way to overcome is to spend time with my Savior and ask Him to battle for me.  My anxiety, at times, is paralyzing.  I always assume that it's my circumstances (hence... we have changed those many times), but everytime I change my circumstances, my anxiety follows me.  Two things about this anxiety: 1) it's my "thorn" and there's no way to run from it... I just have to rely on the power of Jesus to get me through each day, 2) Satan knows just how and when to make me feel like life is falling apart.  One day I can feel completely at peace and feel like life is perfect, then I start hearing the screams of Satan and I feel like life is falling apart.  It's crazy.  Then, when I'm "past" it, I can look back and totally see that it was Satan screaming in my ear.  Another thing that I've started to notice is that Satan SCREAMS loudly, and Jesus whispers.  So when I feel like I'm getting screamed at, I know it's not Jesus (though sometimes I can't see that while I'm in the moment). 
Despite how hard it is, it's so good that I'm starting to see and understand where my anxiety is coming from... I think over time, I'll be able to deal with it better and better. 

Another thing that I've thought about is that God must be using me or the battle wouldn't be so hard.  So, that's comforting and reassuring.  Satan only fights when he is being threatened.

Being a teacher in a Title 1 school is NOT easy.  But I know that God is using me to reach kids and I'm thankful that He would choose me to do that.  I'm just having to learn where to draw the line, and that's a hard thing to do.  I have three VERY important jobs: 1) Wife, 2) Mom, and 3) Teacher.  I love all of my roles... so I'm having to learn to balance them.  Being a follower of Jesus encompasses all of these roles... and thankfully since He allowed me to "wear all of these hats," He'll give me what I need to do the best I can at each one.  It may take some more time.  And that's okay.  Ultimately, God is sovereign and knew that I would need help in these areas, and that I would need time.

I've been "told" to not share stuff like this because it should be between my family and me, but I know that others who struggle like to know that they are not alone... so I'm sharing :).  I've been told by many that sharing has really helped them.  God can use us in so many different ways, and I pray this is one of the ways that He will use me.  I would like to know that my anxiety is at least good for something! 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
"7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,t a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

What is your "thorn?"  What is a spiritual battle that you fight regularly?  How do you overcome? 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Living and Loving Life

Loving Life Right Where I Am
I've mentioned this before, but one of the things that I have struggled with for the past few years is just living life.  I always look for ways to make life easier, ways to change things, ways to improve myself, etc.  I've also moved so many times in the past 8 years and had so many changes, that it's hard to just "live."  So when things get difficult, my default coping mechanism is to find a way to make things better or easier.  I always think that I need to make some kind of change.  People who know me well know this about me!  And most of the time the advice that I get is to just rest and take some time to myself and NOT make a change while I'm emotional/stressed.  And I'm so thankful for those people because if I didn't have them encouraging me, I would NEVER finish anything (because life is just hard sometimes!).
So far this school year has been 10X easier than last year (mainly because I'm with a great team, in a grade that fits me), but it has still had it's very difficult moments... including moments when I've wondered if I could continue, but deep down I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be.  So, instead of just wanting to quit, I've decided to make decisions that would be more constructive, and seek out some help with making things work better for my family and for me.  I want to be an effective teacher without feeling like I'm putting my family on the back burner (cause they always come first!), and I feel like is exactly what has been happening, and will continue getting better.  I met with my teacher trainer the other day (I LOVE having a teacher trainer!) and she gave me some good advice for ways to improve things, ways to be more organized, learning how to delegate, learning how to prioritize, and just reminding me that it's okay and actually better to do things the way that comes naturally to ME, even if that means I'm not SUPER creative all the time.  I am who I am, and some things just don't come natural to me.  I'm creative at times, but it would take me working/planning ALL THE TIME to be real creative all the time... and I don't have time for that!  And it's OKAY.  I work in the best team of teachers EVER, and many of them just think creatively... so I try to also.  But it's okay when I don't.  I need to get my students to where they are learning the objective, but how I get there doesn't really matter... as long as they get there!   Since I talked to her, I have felt a HUGE weight lift and I've decided to do things the way they come natural to me.  It has made my teaching better already.  I learned a lot about who I am as a teacher and about good ways to teach last year and I haven't really been applying that this year!  I am a good teacher, and I am starting to see that now.  That is the gift that God has given me, so that I will glorify Him, and if I'm not applying it, then He isn't really getting the glory that He deserves... so I'm going to start applying it more! 

My Family
I am so beyond thankful for my family.  I don't know what I would do without my husband.  He is more than supportive of me and picks up the slack when I can't.  We work together so well as a team!   We have come up with a schedule that works well for us.  Mondays and Thursdays I stay late... he picks the kids up, cooks dinner, puts them to bed.  I work as late as I need to.  Mondays I plan and Thursdays I prep.  I do these days because I already stay late on Mondays to tutor and Thursdays for meetings/trainings, so Karis goes to afterschool.  It has worked well so far!  I end up grading papers on Saturday mornings most of the time, and this works out well too.  I sit at the dining room table and the kids play outside or in the house, but I am still "spending time with them" so I don't feel like I'm neglecting them.  Often times Karis will sit next to me working on things (she LOVES to write and draw).  I have been striving to have a schedule like this for a while, and I feel like I'm finally getting there.  Sometimes I have to do some work on the weekends, but I try real hard to not go to school to do that work.  If I can get it done at home, I try to... because at least I'm here with my family.  Most evenings I don't work at home at all unless I have some kind of a deadline.  And most of the weekend I don't work.  I will be working this weekend (for various reasons), but next weekend, except for grading, I won't work at all because I'm going out of town. 

Karis has been reading books to me every night before bed.  And she wants to be doing something to learn all day/night.  It amazes me!  She comes home and tells me what she has been learning "Mommy, a noun is a person, place, or thing!"  "A text-self connection means it's something I have done."  (Pointing to a question mark) "this means it's a mystery!"  When I called ! an exclamation point, she said, "Mommy, it's an exclamation mark."  "Sentences start with capital letters."  Pointing to the outside circles of a venn diagram, she tells me that the outside circles are things that are different and the inside are things that are the same.  With a little bit of help, she can count to 100 (she basically needs help going from 29-30, 39-40, etc).  And she's learning all of this while not paying attention. Haha.  She's still a talker...
Ethan likes to sit next to me in the mornings when I'm reading my Bible, and he "reads" his Bible.  I love that!  He also likes to "read" books to us after Karis reads to us.  He does a really good job of making inferences from the pictures and telling what's going on (even if he's never read the book before).  So, that's a good sign of what's to come :).  Ethan is finally completely potty trained; just one more to go!!!!!!  Woohoo!
Levi is talking more and more.  When he wakes up in the morning, instead of whining/crying, he says "moooommy" or "daaaaaddy."  He often says a few words at a time now.  Sometimes it's hard to understand him, but he's getting there.  He follows in his older siblings' footsteps often and wants to play with them so bad (though sometimes can't keep up).  They also get annoyed with him at times because he gets into everything and makes a mess of their "set up."  I feel bad for him but can understand why they'd want to play without him.  So, I try to have balance of him playing with them and spending time with me.
Here are some updated pics of the kids:

My Classroom
I LOVE my classroom.  I never felt that way last year, but this year I tried to make it so that I feel comfortable there... I mean, I'm there all the time ;).  The pics that I have here are pictures from right before school started.  I have made a few changes since, but it's mostly the same.  The big bags on top of the students' desks are their supplies before we went through them on the first day... so ignore that :).  Since these pics were taken, I have moved my desk against the wall where my Texas State bulletin board is, and I've moved the horseshoe table (teacher table) right in front of the word wall.  There's also more on my walls now :).   I'll get some updated pics on here eventually... until then, this is what I have :).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Teaching Resources

Here are some resources; check back in the future for more info on how I use each resource!!

Check out some great websites:
Pinterest (just search for classroom management, reading, etc and see many great ideas and resources!)
Classroom Freebies (great free things for the classroom!)
Teacher Pay Teachers (teacher made items for free or really cheap!)
Teacher's Notebook (another website with teacher made items for free or really cheap!)
Whole Brain Teaching (classroom management ideas that all teachers use at our school)
Clip Chart (this is what I use in my classroom for behavior management)
Teacher Tipster (hillarious and practical tools to use in your classroom)
The Cornerstone for Teachers (classroom management/organization ideas)
Teaching Resources  (organization ideas)
Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots (an amazing teacher website)

Here are some great teaching supply websites:
Teaching Supply Store (really CUTE stuff for cheaper than anywhere else that I've seen!)
Really Good Stuff (mainly great because you can pay over 3 months!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Fall!!!

It's officially fall!  My favorite time of year!   

I'm at my parents' this weekend, and my dad was wondering why I haven't updated my blog... so I decided to go ahead and take advantage of my parents watching the kids and blog! 

Honestly, I'm rarely on the computer anymore unless I'm working... and we're not allowed to get on blogger or facebook with our work computers anymore (even at home), so I just don't get on much :).  Also, I feel as though everything I have to say is just repeat of what I've said before :).

But, since it's been so long... I'll just update about the kids an life in general!  I will be showing a bunch of pics, and just know now that they are all from my phone so the picture quality isn't great!

It seems as though the kids have grown up so much just in the past month or two.  It's crazy how fast life moves.  

She has been learning so much in school and is very passionate about it!  BUT, she was getting in trouble quite a bit for a while (constant talking!)... we had to figure out how to nip that in the bud immediately.  One night (when she had a rough day at school), I made it clear that she would be getting a consequence if she made bad choices at school and she would get a reward with good choices... she has been coming home with a good report ever since!!  I hope it continues!  I think the biggest struggle is that when she was at daycare, it was very laid back and they were allowed to talk whenever... and now that she's in SCHOOL, they have a lot to get accomplished and she's just not used to that!  But, I'm excited about the amount that she has learned just in 5 weeks.  I guess it's good that she has been able to take in what has been taught even though she has been talking a lot :).  I have tried to have "girl nights" with her often and we play games and things.  I love having a game playing buddy!  We play skip-bo, checkers, UNO, etc.  It's so fun that I can play "actual" games with my daughter! 
Here is a picture of Karis on our "girl night" at Cafe Brazil! 

Here's a pic of Karis in her school uniform:

And another of Karis playing Skip-Bo :)

He has LOVED being at the preschool that Karis was at last year.  He has lots of friends and his teachers adore him.  In fact, one of the teachers in another classroom does anything she can to be in his room to play with him.  He's a charmer for sure.  His behavior has improved greatly!!  The routine has been so good for him.  And the fact that the boys are so close to home is so nice.  Either Robert or I can pick them up.  He goes to bed so much better at night because we started letting him take books to bed... just that little thing has made all the difference.  We read, sing, and pray together as a family and he takes books to bed.  He lays in bed and looks through them for a little bit (enough to calm his body), and then he's asleep in no time! 
He's a sweet boy who still wants his mommy to love on and hold him, and he tells me he loves me and misses me when he hasn't seen me as much.  He's a loving kid! 
One night last month he had an "asthma" attack.  It was so bad that we took him to the ER and they admitted him for almost 24 hours.  It was super scary!  They did probably 20 albuterol treatments on him.  They sent him home with an inhaler and I took him to his pediatrician the next week.  She said if he has to use the inhaler more than a few times that we need to put him on a regular asthma medication.  So far he has used it once since he's been out of the hospital... So it looks like he's probably developing actual asthma.  We'll see what happens.  It is definitely allergy induced, so we may end up having to get him allergy tested too.  One day at a time! 
Here's a picture of him in the hospital :(

Here's a picture of a messy Ethan:

He has grown up SO much in the past few months!  It is obvious that being in a structured environment ("school") has also been good for him.  Also, being away from siblings that always talk for him has been good too.  He is really starting to talk and have his own personality.  He and another toddler have been biting each other, so that's been interesting, but I guess that's part of being a toddler.  He has a little temper that we're going to have to nip in the bud!  I think it's mostly because he can't communicate very well and he gets frustrated.  The more we understand what he needs the less frustrated he is, so I'm sure that's what it is.  We recently cut his hair (it was SUPER long!), and he looks like his brother!  He looks so much older!  It is definitely easier to take care of!  It was getting so long that I had to wet and brush his hair every morning because it was a huge mess... and by the time I picked him up it was a mess again. 
He is SO tall for his age!  He is in the 50th percentile for his weight but the 95th percentile for his height!  I think he'll pass his brother up!  It's crazy! 

Here's are a few pics of Levi with his new hair cut!

A New Me
Since I haven't been online (reading up on what everyone else says to do and feeling as though every move I make is shared with everyone), I have really figured out what it is that I think is important AND I've just become more realistic about life in general.  It has definitely helped my stress level/anxiety!  I feel like a whole new person.  The things that RAN my life in the past just don't anymore.  My complete focus in life used to be "natural living," and now my focus is Jesus, following His plan, my family, and school.  It's amazing how much the internet affected me!  It almost brainwashed me into thinking that I had to do things a certain way to be a good mom... and I've realized that every family looks different and needs different things.  I've become much more laid back!  We went to Costco the other day and I actually bought a huge bag of frozen chicken nuggets (what?!).  They were at least made from natural ingredients :).  And I bought a huge bag of frozen, organic broccoli too... It's all about balance!  At this point we do anything that we need to do to make life less stressful and maximize our time together. 

Very Organized/Working As a Team
Something else that we have had to do is become more organized and Robert & I work very well together as a team.  If one person cooks, the other person cleans up.  If we work together to cook, we work together to clean up.  We make sure to plan all of our meals for the week, we get lunches and clothes ready the night before, etc.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get my work done at school in a way in which I'm not at work so much... I think I'll get there.  I LOVE fourth grade... it's a perfect fit for me.  My team is amazing and works so well together.  We are in the process of trying to figure out a way to work together to work smarter not harder :).  Right now, the plan for me is to work late on Mondays and Thursdays and try to get everything done those two nights so that I don't have to work on the weekends (well, I'll still have to grade papers, but hopefully that'll be it!).  Karis goes to afterschool on those days because I have tutoring and training/faculty meetings, so Robert can pick all the kids up those days.  We have also decided to make Friday nights our family night... playing games, watching movies, going to the park, etc.  I will NOT work Friday nights!  Sundays we have church, and every other week we have Bible study at church with our small group of families (we're studying Crazy Love!).  Things are going well... and once I figure out how to not work so much, things will be GREAT! 

New (to us) Car
Our Expedition finally bit the dust last month, so we decided it was time to get another vehicle.  We desperately did everything we could to avoid another car payment, but we couldn't... so we officially have two car payments :(.  But, they are both pretty low, and they aren't long notes, so hopefully we won't have them for long.  We bought a 2004 Ford Explorer with third row and we LOVE it!  It is so much easier to get around than driving our HUGE Expedition. Here is a pic:

Hopefully I'll be able to update more often; we'll see :).  It's not a huge priority lately, so who knows!