keep it simple

January. Though nothing really magically changes in the air from 11:59pm on December 31st to 12:00am January 1st, there really is something new and fresh about a new year. The hype of it all is overplayed by gyms and such, but there is something to making goals, starting fresh.

I read an interesting book last year called "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker. It was thought provoking, to say the least. I know many who have really loved this book and to me it wasn't my favorite book of all time but i didn't -not- like it. (Forgive me for the double negative) The writing style wasn't my favorite and was a little too "save the earth" for my personal liking, but overall, I found it very informative to my soul. 

The premise of the book focuses on the excess and waste that we have gotten used to as "normal" in our lives. The author along with some friends went on a quest to simplify their lives in 7 different areas: Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, and Stress. Each chapter details her own journey of living with less and helping her family (with many kids) also adjust to the minimalism. It is more biographical than a theological treatise on materialism, but it would be worth a read if you find yourself wanting to simplify and live with less.

This along with many conversations with my husband with subsequent purges throughout our whole house has led me to feeling much better about the clutter (or lack of it!). Ian's parents graciously kept our kids overnight around Christmas and we spent almost 2 days working through each room of the house making the hard decisions (aka Ian just telling me that I don't need it). But, having the junk gone, the closets cleaned out, the books organized, the school room actually containing what we are using THIS year only, it has been refreshing. Clutter can be so suffocating. I felt very overwhelmed with it all, but I finally just told Ian my struggle with it, and he was more than willing to completely help out with the problem. Sometimes I still think he just knows what I am struggling with, but maybe I'm good at hiding it :/ but opening up and talking through my real life everyday struggles was so valuable and helpful to us. And, man does it feel good to toss!!!


lack of posting doesn't equal...

... lack of things going on. But you already knew that... Everyone is always busy and has a ton of stuff to do, but I have been determined to (especially in this busy christmas season) to just be quiet more. To think on the peace of Christ more. To model that peace in my home when kids are angry and fighting with one another. To preach to myself the need to just stop and think deeply on God.

I feel like my responsibilities as a wife, mom, teacher, etc... have me maxed out. I feel like our schedule is too busy. I've felt a pull to be home more. Not quite sure what that will look like, but I don't want to ignore the leanings of my heart but also don't want to go on every whim I have because I'm tired of routine :)

I have been enjoying cooking all of our meals and trying my hardest not to by boxed/prepared food. It was my own silly little challenge, and though I do buy the occasion pouch baby food or box of Trader Joe's cereal bars, I have been really invigorated to cook more and be creative and stretch our food. Breakfasts are usually eggs, or yogurt, fruit, or smoothies... (We eliminated all breakfast cereal last year... because all cereals are highly processed and denatured, even organic ones... but also because cereal was my crutch for a long time and I've been forced to work at including a good protein at breakfast to keep the kids satiated and nourished longer. And... I would just munch on cereal all day long and not take the time to feed myself a nourishing meal. Some people can't keep sweets in the house, I can't keep cereal.

Lunches are meatballs that I freeze ahead of time or breakfast for lunch, leftovers from dinner the night before (trying to use up everything we make). I've found myself looking less and less at cookbooks and just trying to cook what sounds good together. Last night I made a meat stew/sauté and I was surprised that all in the fam loved it, especially Drew! He gobbled it up last night and then tonight for leftovers as well.

I'm trying to cook completely grain and sugar free. Not because I want to eat like a caveman, but because processed sugar really is evil and so horrible for you. Though it is a challenge when convenience food is easy and quick for the kids, it has really been so beneficial to work hard to prepare snacks and meals ahead of time. More organic quality meats, more veggies and fresh fruit, more raw cheese, kefir and raw milk, soaked and dehydrated nuts and seeds, nut butters and lots of grassed butter. I've found nutrient dense food/snacks fill up the kids much better than a snack of grain and sugar (which is like every bar or granola thing out there).

I'm also trying to not use my microwave at all. There are plenty of health reasons why you shouldn't use a microwave and at our old house, I didn't have one (we took it out on purpose), but our new house has one, and I have used it on occasion when I was lazy or forgot to plan ahead. But, I know it is not a good choice, so as much as I wish I could rip it out, since it is a range hood microwave, it is kinda essential to the kitchen. I do admit though, I use it daily for its timer :)

The kids have been doing very well in their learning. I just love Reese's little voice as she sings the States and Capitols song after she giggles through the President's song. What I love about Classical Conversations is that it really has opened the doors of learning and curiosity about history and the Word like nothing else we have experienced. Memorizing a history sentence a week, plus perfecting our timeline song, and working through memorizing John 1:1-7 in English and Latin as stretched ME the most!! I feel like I am learning things for the first time! At night, I find myself watching Civil War documentaries on Netflix because I am eager to learn. I am thankful for Village Christian and the Master's College for my education, but who would have thought it would take me homeschooling my own kids to light that fire of passion for learning? It makes me laugh that I have to ask my 7 year old questions about American History, knowing he knows it better than I.

DREW IS 1! Hello! I probably should give the kid his own birthday post, but here we go... He is speed crawling, pulling up on everything and cruising right along. He is so smiley sweet and just a fun baby. He is talking a ton and can say/recognize - mama, dada, cay (cade), ba (ball) , dog (dagdah), nigh nigh, ahhh (he gives you a hug), buh buh (baby), cah (car), I promise you he said "airplane" when he saw one take off, but I have no witnesses and he has only repeated it once, again, with no said witnesses.
He sleeps about 10 hours at night at the nurses around 5am and goes back to sleep until 7:30 or so. And, he is still nursing. Praise God! I am just blown away by this milestone. Cade and Reese only lasted for 9-10 months but we made it to 1 year +. He does get a bottle before bed and usually a bottle of pumped milk during the day, but I still nurse him 3-4 times a day. He is super distractible and has 7 teeth, ouch, but he is such a sweet baby that I just love the time with him.
He lights up when Ian, Cade or Reese come in the room. He does awesome sleeping at both grandparents houses and we are so thankful they love him and are willing to watch him too!
He is eating solid food so much better now. I can usually just smash up some food, feed it to him and he is golden. He is not so keen on grabbing the food himself off his plate, only will grab for a few things, but I know he will get it sooner or later.
He is such a sweetheart and he really is a loud and fun part of our life!

Anyway, just my random musings on what is running through my head.

and because every good post have to have a photo::

Real life- Friday night laptopping while the College Bible study meets downstairs. I should do a post on our Master Bedroom makeover, the bed and wall in this pic makes me think of that... but, I should probably finish the complete installation of the paneling first :/ 


The Briefing

Ian and I have been enjoying the daily podcast by Al Mohler called "The Briefing". We have heard him preach at the Resolved Conference years ago and he is seriously the smartest person on the planet right now. He also talks the fastest too.

He publishes a daily podcast of current events from a Biblical perspective and we've been so blessed by the insight we have gained from his wisdom. "The Briefing" is a 20 minute podcast that is daily worth your time. I typically don't listen to it while the kids are around since many of the topics discussed revolve around the moral decay in America specifically abortion and homosexuality. Though those topics come up frequently, he addresses most of the major headlines in America: the elections, major court cases, education, worldwide wars, health, and many others.

The news can be very overwhelming and at times I know its easy to feel unequipped to deal with the latest headlines. Mohler succinctly summarizes the news around the world in a very easy to understand mini sermon. I know I am better equipped to think Biblically because of the teachings I have received from this podcast.

Find it on your iPhone in the podcast app or on his website HERE. You can totally read the transcript too!


Against All Grain Cookbooks

Cookbooks are super fun to look through but I admit sometimes it easier to look through a cookbook and put it back on the shelf instead of actually cooking some recipes from the well photographed pages.

However, there are a few cookbooks that I now consider staples in my kitchen.
1) Nourishing Traditions is my number one go-to book

2) Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook is super handy as well (I make my own organic and whole food substitutions and the recipes turn out great… - no vegetable shortening, I use real butter… all purpose flour - I just use sprouted wheat flour, etc),

and now I have added another staple: 
3) Against Al Grains - Meals Made Simple. 

Danielle Walker, the author who has battled severe autoimmune disease and healed herself through her diet, very clearly illustrates and explains the basics behind cooking in a grain-free kitchen. All grain - oats, wheat (gluten), rye, barley are inflammatory in nature and by eliminating these foods from your diet you can see radical changes in your own health. Though it is technically a "paleo" cookbook, I do use raw dairy as a substitute for almond milk since I believe our ancestors were WAY more likely to drink raw cows milk instead of whizzing up a homemade glass of "milk" from almonds.

Though we still occasionally eat grains - rice and pasta only about once a month - this book has been so valuable to me. I even made the Ropa Veija when we had guests over without testing the recipe (!!) and thankfully, it was so delicious and fool proof that everyone, including my kids, gobbled it up so fast people were seriously divvying up the leftovers to consume on the spot.

Her first cookbook Against All Grain is a really great cookbook as well but her new cookbook really simplifies the cooking process and uses pretty basic ingredients that once you have a well stocked kitchen, you can whip up in no time flat.

The book is $20 and would be a great gift idea for the holidays for your own wish list, or for someone else. But, a big resounding thumbs up for Meal Made Simple!

Some other cookbooks that I have really enjoyed but aren't quite as well used as the three above

1) True Food Kitchen Cookbook

2) The Sprouted Kitchen

3) My own cookbook!!!! - My sisters, mom and I are working on a Stone Girls Family Cookbook!! Secret Secret!! :) Lord willing, we will self publish it and be ready for purchase next year!


My most essential oil

Well, that title is a little bit misleading because the oil I am talking about isn't an essential oil per se… It is just the most essential oil in my arsenal of seeking to be a good steward of my resources and my family's health.

What oil is it you ask?

Buy Why cod liver oil?
The Weston A. Price foundation has done extensive research on Cod Liver Oil and they have the most thorough and clear explanation as to why you should be taking cod liver oil:

Cod Liver Oil: The Number One Superfood

Several visitors to our website have noted inconsistencies in various statements about vitamin A, vitamin D and cod liver oil. These issues revolve around questions of dosage and safety. Please see Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Cod Liver Oil: Some Clarifications.
Doctor Price was right, as usual. Cod liver oil is very good for you, more than you ever knew. Research studies ranging from 1918-2001 give cod liver oil an A+ rating. This marvelous golden oil contains large amounts of elongated omega-3 fatty acids, preformed vitamin A and the sunlight vitamin D, essential nutrients that are hard to obtain in sufficient amounts in the modern diet. Samples may also naturally contain small amounts of the important bone- and blood-maintainer vitamin K.

There is hardly a disease in the books that does not respond well to treatment that includes cod liver oil, and not just infectious diseases but also chronic modern diseases like heart disease and cancer. Cod liver oil provides vitamin D that helps build strong bones in children and helps prevent osteoporosis in adults. The fatty acids in cod liver oil are also very important for the development of the brain and nervous system. “If you want to prevent learning disabilities in your children,” said David Horrobin, distinguished medical and biochemical researcher, “feed them cod liver oil.”
Cod liver oil contains more vitamin A and more vitamin D per unit weight than any other common food. One hundred grams of regular cod liver oil provides 100,000 IU of vitamin A, almost three times more than beef liver, the next richest source; and 10,000 IU vitamin D, almost four times more than lard, the next richest source. Of course, cod liver oil is only consumed in small amounts, but even a tablespoon (about 15 grams) provides well over the recommended daily allowance for both nutrients.
In addition, cod liveroil contains 7 percent each of the elongated omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA is the precursor of important prostaglandins, localized tissue hormones that help the body deal with inflammation; and DHA is extremely important for the development and function of the brain and nervous system. So it’s no surprise that in numerous studies cod liver oil has proven to be a powerhouse in fighting disease.
Cod Liver oil was once a staple in all households and if you ask some of your parents or grandparents, they have vivid memories of their mother or grandmother pulling out the bottle of cod liver oil from the cupboard and forcing them to take it. But most of the people complaining about having to take it as a kid are now still alive!! For children, it is especially important to sufficiently grow and set that foundation for the rest of their lives by supplying the best nutrients to their growing little bodies. Especially in winter months, cod liver oil provides a whole food source of Vitamin D that is especially lacking in our bodies when we aren't in the sun as much.

I know fermented fish oil sounds disgusting and you know what, it isn't candy (though my kids call it candy oil because we purchased the peppermint flavor first and they said it smelled like old candy canes ;). Sometimes, we have to learn to acquire a taste in order to reap the benefits from a daily dose. I hate fish. I cannot stand the smell or taste, and I can take cod liver oil with daily practice little by little. If I can do it, you totally can!

Is any fish oil ok?
No! Most, if not ALL, fish oil sold in health food stores and online have been heating in the processing thus destroying most of the nutrients, especially vitamin A and D. If you are taking a fish oil supplement, chances are you are wasting your money on a denatured product that isn't doing anything for yourself. That is why we trust the company Green Pasture. They are the only company that produces cod liver oil the old fashioned way, no shortcuts, no heat, and pure true cod liver oil, fermented and bottled in house.

For more information, this post from Wellness Mama is a super informative, well researched piece on the WHY of Cod Liver Oil for you and your family.


We take the Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil in the Oslo Orange Flavor. (However, I give Drew the unflavored version).

Tips to help your kids take it:
This was hard one to swallow, literally for my kids because they both started taking it around age 1.5 and 4.5… and with picky eaters at the time, it was a challenge. Thankfully, they both eagerly take it now almost 3 years later. My 7 year old is constantly begging for me and trying to steal my teaspoon full. seriously?

1) Just try to give it to them. Just because you think its gross smelling, they might not even bat an eye! You never know and sometimes I don't give my kids enough credit and just assume they will hate it.
I just started giving it to Drew around 6 months straight in his mouth with the syringe and now he will take it on the spoon. 

2) Add it to liquid. Fresh Fruit juice masks it "well." I would not put it in smoothies. It really ruins the whole thing.

3) Chase it with whole raw milk. The whole milk nutrients help assimilate the cod liver oil so its a bonus.

So, do you take cod liver oil? Or do you remember your older relatives talking about it??



The minivan. Oh minivan. How I love thee!! Let me count the ways!

(similar our "tin can van" that we had when I was a kid)

No really, I like my minivan a lot. This is a big deal for me because I was determined to be a cool "SUV mom" and definitely not the "minivan mom."

This topic of the minivan has gotten me to think lately. Why is the "minivan stigma" so prevalent in our culture, especially the younger culture of the 20s and 30s moms now raising young children. What is so bad about having a minivan?

For one, they are seriously the most practical vehicles to transport 8 people. (Especially is some of those people are little kids who need easy access to their seat). They also are easy to drive, get decent gas mileage, fit 8 people and gigantic strollers comfortably, and have all the amenities you would need to drive a car - safety features, air conditioning, speedometer, check engine lights, a radio/CD player/DVD player, hey ours even has a "cool box". On paper, a minivan looks like a normal car that would fulfill the functions required to transport people and things.

So why in the world do some people avoid minivans like the plague?!

I've had people tell me "heck no, we would never, ever, ever, ever get a minivan" … "wow, you really declared yourself to be a mom" … "is Ian secure enough to drive that thing?" … and many more comments. Or, just people laughing at me in the face. Not kidding.

I get it. Having a minivan is a pretty public display of where you are at in your life. Very few single guys drive mini vans (although our awesome single friend bought a brand new minivan a few years ago because he wanted more seats to drive college students to church. No joke. It's awesome.)… back to the point, very few people other than families purchase minivans.

A minivan is considered by some to be a trophy of your season of life. I know friends who desperately wanted a minivan and were excited to receive such a badge of honor. But, that seems to be the abnormal response from people in our culture today. Most people do not look favorably upon a minivan purchase. WHY? It's a good vehicle, has lots of cool gizmos and gadgets (ours came with wireless headphones?!), and has extremely high safety standards. WHY? Why do people look down upon them?

I've had to dig deep in my own brain to try to sort out this dilemma.

Why is "SUV mom" considered "cool," "Hip," or "modern"? And why is "minivan mom" the vehicular equivalent of "giving up on your dreams in life?"

 Well, think this through with me…

A minivan is attached with the idea of being a mom. You drive it out of necessity for carting around more people than a standard size coupe might require.

You don't want to be like "that mom." But WHY? Because minivans are associated with sweatpants and a lack of personal hygiene?

I found myself stuck at this point. WHY? I even asked Ian, why can't I think harder and get to the root of this issue in my mind. Why was I so determined to avoid the minivan and why, when we did get one, did I feel the need to justify the purchase by claiming my humility in purchasing one?

For me, it came down to pride. I wanted to put up the image of myself that was modern, hip, cool. I wanted to be seen as different - trend setting - and overall just better. I wanted to be able to do this mom thing differently than others and a way to "stand out" was to not give in to the minivan. The SUV mom in my mind was superior because she could have a car that looked like she wasn't a soccer mom.

But what is so ironic… I AM A MOM!!!!! It is who I am. These little people are my life, my job, my joy. Why was I so caught up in the pride and selfishness of my own desires that I let it get in the way of serving my family in humility?

This pours out into how you want yourself to look - or how you want your kids to look. Do you care so much about what others think about you that you go to great lengths to make sure you all look put together and stylish? Do you blast your budget in the name of fashion and justify it because "well, they do need new clothes for this season" (when you clearly know your motive behind your shopping spree)? Do you covet the clothes or style of others and find yourself struggling with discontentment every time you go to your drawers for another outfit.

Pride in our appearance is a wicked sin that grieves the heart of Christ. It is the besetting sin of all because our sinful flesh wants to parade itself and make itself known. It was the sin of Eve in the garden in Genesis 3 and in 1 John 2:15 the "boastful pride of life" is a grievous sin against our lowly Father who alone gets credit for all that we are and all that we have.

I am not saying that if you have an SUV and you are a mom that automatically equals pride in your life. Of course not, I am just saying for me this was a manifestation of pride in my heart for the reasons for not wanting a minivan. It carries over to every aspect.

Pride is the wicked manifestation in our heart when we are seeking to find our identity in what has been created rather than our Creator. When my identity is so superficially based on my vehicle choice, I show that I care way more about what people think about my worldliness that what they think about me as a Child of the King.

So, maybe a minivan isn't an issue of pride for you personally (in having one… or in avoiding one…) but pride in our appearance and the image we portray to the world is an issue we all struggle with and battle daily.  The world tells us that our clothes, our purse, our oils, our car, our hairstyle, our school choice defines us. This is a lie we, as women, are constantly bombarded with. If we find that our identity is wrapped up in anything else but Christ, we have a problem.

Run to Christ. He is our identity. He lived the perfect life we could not live and He tells us that the things of this world pale in comparison with the glory that is to come. My time here should not be wasted on worrying about my appearance but should be maximized for His Kingdom. My days should be filled with gospel speech, not only in my home with my kids, but to my neighbors, my family and all those I come into contact with. I want people to know that I love Christ, not that I drive a minivan… although, I do admit, they are a pretty fun thing to drive around town ;)


Missionary Biographies

I know that I am always on the lookout for good books that others recommend, so I would love to recommend some for you all.

We have really enjoyed the YWAM published Missionary biographies in their children's book series. There are a few different "sets" of books. There is a "younger reader" set called the Heroes for Young Readers that are very easy to read (in rhyme) but are pretty substantial books in length and substance. I would say 2nd grade + reading level to read alone… but they are very well illustrated and very easy to listen to and are perfect "read-alouds" for little ones. Sometimes, children's Christian books can be really short and shallow, but this series really does a great job in painting these amazing people in easy to understand but very deep ways.

They also publish and "older readers" set called Christian Heroes: Then & Now and would be more appropriate for 3rd grade + reading level to read alone… but they are great "read-alouds" for any age. Reese (4) will sit and listen to these as well.

In addition to missionary biographies, they also publish History biographies as well! We've loved using these in our history studies as well!

We have been so burdened to broaden our children's (and our own!) view of the gospel and its impact on the world. We are deepening relationships with our own neighbors and are excited for gospel progress here, but also praying globally for the Lord's workers to faithfully carry out His commands to preach the gospel to the lost. With all the craziness of the worlds news (which I cannot watch/read at all), it is helpful to look back to history and study people who went through similar world trials and see their unwavering faith and commitment to Christ. 

Hope you enjoy these. They would be great Christmas gifts for your own kids, grand kids, nieces, nephews, or just to add to your own library for when you have kids over!


Home exterior- before and after - for reals

Yay for home progress! We finally have the full progression of the exterior transformation of our home! Whew. I'm very thankful to be on this side of the renovation. It's super fun to pin inspiration and ideas and a whole lotta trouble actually picking a color and planning a yard!!!

This is the condition we bought the house in:

After removing the nasty dying olive tree and 5 palm trees ��

The painting had begun and I picked a gray/green color and this is what it turned out to be:
Dear goodness. The photo makes it look 1000x better than in person. It was nasty green. Gross. Poopy. Ugly to the max. It was the most expensive apology I've had to make to Ian.... But of course he was gracious and we migrated to "stucco beige". Very appropriate:

After the exterior paint and new windows:

And yay! Ian and I designed our front yard with help from a landscape designer from church, our garderer and another friend with a side concrete biz poured the new concrete walkway and voila!
I really had so much fun picking out plants and ground cover for the yard. I purchased all the flowers, bushes, and rose trees at Sheridan gardens in Burbank. Local small business commited to organic gardening and happy foliage! 
We thank the Lord constantly for a home and it's been fun to make it our own along the way.  I will post some of the interior before and after a next week. 


Martin happenings

Already October! I know we always say time goes by so fast but it really is true and sometimes you feel like you are just getting used to writing September and boom the month is over!

What have we been up to?

Drew is 10.5 months old and crawling and pulling up and bonking his face on everything. He has discovered the stairs and would prefer to be on my hip 24/7. I end up sitting in the infant room in the church nursery on Sundays because he just is quite the little fuss bucket without me. So, I'm enjoying the time with the baby and guarding my heart against bitterness or anger. He is such a sweet baby and lights up a room (as long as I'm near :)
He was way too small and gained only 6 oz in a few months so our dr told us to increase feedings and work hard to spoon feed him often. Drew just wasn't getting the hang of spoon feeding and would spit out his food and with taking care of all the other kids and home and school stuff, I was just slacking on teaching him to eat. So, with the admonition from the doctor, I have spent the last two months shoving a spoon in drews face and thankfully, he's mastered the skill of eating from a spoon. We praise God for that. We also have had to supplement with formula. Which I just hated the idea.... I wanted my milk to be enough, but it just wasn't. So, we found the best organic formula we could find and would give him one bottle of that a day. Thankfully I can still pump at night and have extra to top him off during the day. But... I feel crazy but I just made my own infant formula last night for Drew and he took it like a champ and even though I was super nervous, it was good and I felt better giving him the whole food ingredients (raw milk, homemade whey, cod liver oil, butter oil, sunflower oil, evoo, coconut oil,acerola powder, lactose, and gelatin!) kinda a long list of ingredients, but I use the Weston price recipe from "nourishing traditions" and he really took it well! Praise God! 

Reese started the 4 year old preschool program calvary kids at our church and she is loving it. I really treasure this time with her. She is so fun and spunky and she has done so well. She is still very sensitive and slightly dramatic but hey, she is a little girl right?! We talk a lot about self control over our emotions and taking about what is wrong instead of crying uncontrollably. A lesson I suppose will take many many years :) she is just such a treasure, our jewel. :) she is super into transformer rescue bots and my little ponies... Legos and strawberry shortcake. She is so unique and special and really a super crazy little gal. She is very sensitive to sin as well and is quite the confessor! (And tattle tale, which we do need to work on but my goodness can she give an exact run down of a situation! It really is quite helpful to me actually when I don't see exactly what goes on all the time :)

As for Cade, wow he is such a sponge and will remember everything you tell him... Whether it's the number of soldiers fighting in the civil war, or if you promised to play Legos with him ;) ... He remembers it all. With classical conversations and homeschooling at his pace, we have been blown away by his inquisitive mind and the boy he is becoming. We can only praise God for sparing his life in his fragile beginning states and sustaining him (and all our kids!!). We constantly remind ourselves that the mind Cade has is a gift from God alone. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for him!!
He is excelling in math. He is in 2nd grade (7 years old) but is well into 3rd grade math curriculum and is loving it. We switched to "teaching textbooks 3" math cirriculum and it has been a huge blessing to us. It is all on the computer: lectures, practice questions, problems and tests. He logs in by himself and completes his work. Usually he will do 2-4 lessons per day (only 1 is required!)and we literally have to tell him to stop and go to bed :) He's working through all his multiplication tables, beginning geometry, and is quite the sleuth with word problems. I have discovered that homeschooling is a lot like seeing your child walk for the first time, or talk for the first time. I get to witness all the "lightbulb moments" in my kids life on regards to their education and I am thankful for that. The Lord has given me a love for my children and wanting to have them with me more than I ever thought possible. It is a gift from heaven.

So, that's the kids. Ian and i ran the disneyland half marathon last month and whew! I am so glad that is over. The pressure of training and the warm weather made it difficult to enjoy the process. Even though it technically was my 3rd half training program... I felt it was the hardest. In the other two races I was already at my goal weight and was trainig for fun. With this race, I was 40+ pounds from my goal weight at the time of the race: and boy, did my body feel the pain of the extra weight! Ouch!! 
But thankfully, the Lord sustained us and we finished! Ian beat me by like 45 minutes (we don't run together) but he was there cheering me on at the finish line!

We are also adjusting to the new normal of my sister and brother in law living across the world. They moved last month and we've been so handful to FaceTime and iMessage them frequently. We have a family shared photo stream as well that is like our private Instagram feed where we can comment on pictures we all post. So, of course the distance and separation is hard but technology bridges that gap like never before so we rejoice! I obviously can't talk much about the details of their goings but it is exciting!

We also conquered lego land and the lego land hotel last week with my paretns. Boy, that place is super fun. The kids were the perfect age (and height) to enjoy pretty much everything and they totally did. Drew wasn't a fan of sleeping great so we had early mornings chilling in the lego pit in the hotel lobby both mornings but it all was fine. We had a blast with my parents too and it was so helpful to have many hands to help with the many children!

So, that's an update. More than you probably cared to know but hey, this is my journal I suppose ;)

Classical Conversations

This year, our school week begins with our Monday morning "school time" with Classical Conversations. We are over a month into the program and we are really, really loving it. I researched long and hard about what to do with the kids and I suppose that is the eternal struggle of the homeschooling mom: what do you actually TEACH your kids?!? (Since you are responsible for that when you do school at home!). Of course, all Christians are to TEACH their kids the Scriptures and integrate that into ever aspect of their life, but as for what Math curriculum to choose, there is not a verse speaking to that issue. God gives wisdom to those who seek Him and fear Him, so it is a given that we need to beg Him for wisdom and trust Him for the results.

I was looking for "classroom experience" for the kids and if we were going to be gone and give up a day at home, ideally, I would like Reese (4) to participate in some capacity so I am not babysitting two kids while we cart Cade around to another function. 

Classical conversations (CC) is a 4 year old - High School program that is based on the principles of classical education throughout the centuries. Susan Wise Bauer, a leader and pioneer for the modern revival of classical education says "Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium." The whole article on the WHY behind Classical education is HERE and I would highly recommend it to you if you are looking for some info in this subject.

The CC program is ideally followed through High School (I don't know how long we will stick with it, but it works for now!). It is a 3 hour study time that consists of memory work, an art project, a science experiment, weekly presentations by each student, and review.

The memory work is what drew me to the program. The Timeline alone is incredible. We purchased the timeline cards and have been such a treasured addition to our history curriculum!
By the way, both kids (and me!) have this whole song memorized (and we've only been listening to it in the car for 1.5 months)! For each subject area, there is a song to go with it. They are short and catchy. The program runs in a three year cycle repeating the material to solidify it in their minds. (The timeline and math portions are the same every year so they get that engrained in their memory). We are in cycle 3 this year.

Training the kids to memorize and retain information and laying a foundation for their life long education. I feel like I am learning along with them.

Every week, there are 8 subject areas that they memorize:

  • History Sentence: This is just one sentence about something in history… this week was:
    • Tell me about the Declaration of Independence:
      • kids say/sing: In 1776, the Continental Congress, published the declaration of Independence, in Philadelphia announcing the colonist intent to form a new nation.
  • Math Facts:
    • Counting by 7s, or memorizing a formula, etc…
  • Timeline
    • We memorize 8 of the timeline events each week with motions.
  • Geography
    • States and Capitols, locating them and knowing all the capitols as well as major landmarks and geographic terms (major rivers, deserts, plateaus, etc)
  • Science
    • Just like the history sentence, we learn science facts like: Tell me the 4 types of tissue:
      • Kids say: "The four types of tissue are: connective, epithelial, muscle and nerve"
  • English Grammar:
    • We learn the definition of all the english terms, present participle, past participle, verbs, etc.
  • Latin
    • The kids learn latin too! Conjunctions, verbs, pronouns, etc. 
  • Bible
    • This year the kids are memorizing John 1:1-7 with full sign language motions and will also be able to say it in Latin!
Of course, CC isn't perfect and it is run by moms so there are lots of little kiddos around and kids are kids… but we are really enjoying it and it has sparked in Cade a desire to learn about the things we are memorizing. It has been so great for our homeschool!

On a funny note, My mom was drinking iced tea the other day and Reese said "colonist dressed as Mowhawks dumped that tea into the Boston Harbor at the Boston Tea Party" (our history sentence a few weeks ago about the Boston Tea Party!) She is my little fly on the wall who appears to not pay attention at times, but is super aware and smart and can retain information incredibly!

So, if you are looking for a little classroom experience and a program that will definitely challenge your kids (and YOU!), CC is a great option!!