A Mother’s Love Photography

picture courtesy of A Mothers Love Photography

I recently had the privilege of working with Shana Couch from A Mothers Love Photography on some newborn pics of baby Eli. These opportunities don’t come along often and I was very pleased with the results. Check out Baby Eli’s pics here and consider her for your next photo op…especially with the holidays coming up!

picture courtesy of A Mothers Love Photography

Unexpected Grace

I am tired….oh so tired. I can barely think straight. Functioning is difficult. My recovery is slow and long and I have not had over an hour and a half’s sleep (combined) in any night since I’ve been home. My body is older, slower, weaker. I am literally up all night nursing this precious new child of mine. I am still up the next day tending to the others. There is no sleep when the baby sleeps time. There are needs all across the board. I let things go…dishes, laundry, clutter, fingerprints. They bother me but I release them in the name of my sanity. I pray all night long…just one uninterrupted hour, Lord. Surely He understands that I half to have sleep to function. But no relief comes. I offer up Psalms of “Lord, hear my prayer.” All is quiet.

I struggle with the question that has been bombarding me from all sides ~ friends, family, those I thought understood ~ how are you going to handle this? Isn’t it too much? Isn’t enough enough with this whole giving God control of your womb thing? Is it too much? Should I stop? I, too, feel overwhelmed…especially now. But I also feel the call of obedience. That call feels right, at peace in my soul. To die to oneself ~ to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed ~ that was never promised as easy. And looking at the faces of my children…which would I give up? How could I possibly choose who should stay and who should go? Who am I in my earthly wisdom to make such a call?

In this morning’s light as kids pile in and I protectively cover the baby snuggled next to me, tempers start to flare. A grumpy husband who graciously helped as much as he could the night before. Kids who want breakfast and attention. I say a kind word to them, softly remind him to be nicer to them this morning. He says he is awed by my patience. I ponder that as I lay in bed at 7ish after finally rolling into bed at 6ish. Normally my temper would be flaring too. Normally it is my voice fighting for self-control with the kids and discipline issues. And it hits me that another prayer is being answered. An unexpected grace of patience with my children has washed over me. My voice is softer, gentler, more willing to listen first.

And I realize that despite the weariness, despite the headaches and the muscle pain and the unexpected swelling of postpartum edema, there are other unexpected graces. I don’t have the baby blues. I don’t have that wash of depression that threatens to suck you in. I should have. In the physical state I am in I should have the blues. But I am really happy. I like talking with the kids and preparing for Advent. I love running my lips over the soft tender head of a newborn. I like showering Ivy with extra attention and assuring her that she is still my baby. I love the taste of that first cup of hot coffee in the morning. I love seeing the kids dive into the Christmas toys and books that are finally allowed out after Thanksgiving. I love listening to Pandora’s Christmas Jazz. It mellows my soul.

So I may still have to walk this road of weariness. I may still feel utterly overwhelmed for weeks to come. But I am not alone. He is gracing me in other ways, not to distract me from this call or lift the burden but to allow me to carry the burden. To remind me that He wants me to walk it. He unexpectedly graced me with others words at exactly the time I needed them to remind me that this is the path He chose for me to walk with Him. Reading an article from the Mater et Magistra by Jenn at Wildflowers and Marbles on Mary and the nesting instinct reminded me that this baby is a call from Him. There is purpose and molding and shaping that will come from what seems like such a heavy load to bear right now.

There would be no interior struggle trying to decide what to clean, order, list, craft, read, or do first in order to prepare. There was quiet adoration.  Stillness. Trust…Full of grace, she [Mary] nested according to her calling…Her preparation, her nesting, was in her heart, and from this quiet stillness and knowing there came joyful hope and life…and as we ready our hearts and our homes to receive Him, let us ponder with the heart of Mary. Let our nesting be as hers was: in our hearts. There may be chaos all around us, a grueling physical or emotionally uncomfortable journey may be before us, but we wait with Our Lady this Advent in awe of the great mystery she shelters within her womb.  (Available for download here.)

And reading a back-Advent post by Elizabeth Foss about expecting her sixth child made me think of where she is now at child number nine and how she continued in obedience to the only One who truly knows her ~ weakenesses and all. I relate as she says:

I spend my moonless nights with a toddler who cannot sleep and wants to nurse and I sing the song to him, tears rolling down my face, wondering how I will meet the needs of two babies when my Christmas miracle is born. I am cold in the darkness, despite the comfortable home that envelopes us. I  hardly notice the weariness; it has been so long since I was without it.  The load I bear: is it my burden or God’s? (Read the rest here.)

Reflecting on words of encouragement and the struggles of others during the Advent season will sustain me and remind me that He does hear my cry. And I will spend this season with Mary and her load heavy on my heart. I will strive to take it all and ponder it in my heart as treasure for this season of life.

He’s here!!!!!!

Announcing the birth of…


Born November 19, 2010 at 12:28 P.M.

7lb, 12oz ~ 20 inches

He is beautiful and perfect. He is nursing wonderfully and the siblings adore him. Hard to keep little fingers off his soft, fuzzy head! Ivy is having a bit of adjustment, but then she is only 18 months old so we expected that! I’m a bit more sore this time and will actively take some time to heal and not try to be the hero mom this time who swings right back into things. Luckily, I can do lesson plans right on the couch! And I am enjoying the new issue of This Old Schoolhouse. But I digress…more pics please!

In the Woods

We will soon be studying the deciduous forest and woodlands as part of our winter homeschool science program this year. This is mainly due to the fact that we just moved out to the country and have our own little forest right in the back yard. I want the kids to learn forest safety and some plant identification (mainly poison ivy/oak/sumac) just for my own peace of mind. But we will also be exploring woodland animals and tracking and the life cycle of trees as part of science. I think this will fit in nicely with our Little House history study as we are reading Little House in the Big Woods first and the kids will be able to make a correlation of living out in the country away from towns. Plus, we also have natural prairie grasslands in our backyard as well. I think it will be a full and rich year of learning out here! I’ll be posting our living books on this topic soon as well as adding them to our side bar.

I took the kids out in the woods last week to get some pics of plants that I wasn’t sure of. I tried finding them in my field guides (and I have quite a lot of them) and couldn’t come up with anything. I’m sure what is growing are considered weeds even though they’re in the forest. If anyone recognizes them please let me know. I didn’t have any luck on the internet either. I think I will just have to ask one of the camp guides if they know.

Of course, the kids (who normally ignore me and my camera as I’m always taking pics) were, “Look at me…look at me…take a picture of me climbing this log!” the whole time. I did capture some cute photos of them but it was hard to get anything natural looking when they were constantly trying to pose for the camera shots.

And, last but not least, the classic picking the pickers off our clothes after leaving the woods shot.

Little House on the Prairie Lapbook Unit Study

Updated 10/11/15 – check below for more links including this incredible documentary! Like what you see in this post? Come join me for More Little House on the Prairie for more activities and book suggestions!

Now that we are done with the Civil War era (will back post on books and links this winter when I have a bit more downtime at home – but notice how I finally updated the book bar on the side!) we will be moving on to the Pioneer era. And what better way to do this then through the Little House on the Prairie book series? In fact, I know of very little who don’t love this series.  I remember watching the TV series as a small girl and falling in love with this time period. I can’t wait to share this with my children and let it become a memory of their’s as well. We will be studying the period lazily over the winter. By lazily I mean taking our time, delving deep, letting the books speak and guide our direction and interests. I have no idea how long it will take us.

We will be continuing our use of lapbooks with this study. We have found, through a bit of dabbling in it this year, that the kids respond to my choice of books better and remember the information better if they have this to look forward to after the readings. Lily loves lapbooks because it is much like scrapbooking our history information. Gabe loves it because it frees him of the burden of narrations. I have narrowed narrations down to one main narration per time period that they will stick in their lapbook/scrapbook and it will be based on a book of their choice to read from that time period. I know this isn’t quite the Charlotte Mason way but it still fits and I have to do what is right for my family as God whispered to a dear church friend who wrote it to me in an encouraging note. This worked so well while studying the Civil War and Gabe ended up doing a lovely narration effortlessly when allowed to choose what he thought was an exciting book, not what I thought.

Luckily, Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for each of the original Little House series beautifully made by Heather L. This is the main site I used to download pdf files for our use. I have fallen in love with this site! I encourage every homeschooling mother to go there and poke around.

First of all, here are the living books we will be using:

The Little House on the Prairie Book Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

starting with

Little House in the Big Woods (perfect now that we have a forest in our backyard!)

We will also read all of the My First Little House Picture Books concentrating on the winter ones first since we are in that season.

And read a living biography on Laura Ingalls Wilder

As spines alongside our literature study we will use If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie

as well as A Pioneer Sample: Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840

and Look Inside a Log Cabin by Mari Schuh

These three books will be great sources of information for making the lapbooks and answering questions about the time period. And to delve into the science of the period we will be, obviously, studying prairie grassland habitats through these books:

One Day in the Prairie by Jean Craighead George

A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet by Claudia McGehee

Prairie Food Chains by Kelley MacAulay

and America’s Prairies and Grasslands Guide to Plant and Animals by Marianne D. Wallace

And for activities to supplement or add to the study:

Updated – 10/11/15

I’d have never guessed when I first wrote this post almost 5 years ago how popular it would become! Besides my Rock and Mineral Unit Study post, this page keeps my tiny blog afloat amid the absence of current posts that my seven kids lovingly prevent me from writing! 

And today I’m excited to add a few nuggets to the Little House extravaganza. Thanks to the generosity of the blog Little House on the Prairie, I’ve been able to add a number of free activities above such as how to host a Little House on the Prairie party, how to make rock candy, and even free printable Little House paper dolls – which are way super cute! They are also sending me a copy of their new documentary “The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder” to review which I’m super excited about. Will be reviewing and linking back to here very soon. You must go over and watch the trailer. Maybe I’m a bit of a nerd, but watching this has me like a child running to check the mailbox everyday looking for that package! 

And now you can also enjoy a little slice of this Americana too. The people behind  Little House on the Prairie are offering a coupon code which allows you 20% off the already low price of $19.95. This is an excellent addition to any homeschool living history library. Just click on their  Amazon link and add to your cart. Enter LHSCHOOL into the promotion code box when checking out. Voila! Instant savings!

Just Breathe…

It is Sunday evening as I am writing this (to be posted on Monday morning) and I am finally breathing again. My life has been a whorl wind of activity between Adam getting a new job, refiguring finances, deciding to move, moving, unpacking, running to a million doctor/dentist appointments, doing up Halloween with the children, planning birthdays, and cleaning the house (an almost impossible task around here with so many little ones and me two weeks from giving birth) for guests.

It is Lily’s birthday today and we had lots of family over to celebrate with and see our new place. I loved that everyone had a chance to get out here during the daylight hours and find our house in the middle of the country. I loved that Lily had a wonderful day full of rich presents that are just right for her. But it wasn’t until everyone walked back out the door and quiet descended that I sat and just breathed and realized that I seemed to be holding it in. I didn’t know that I was trying to hold it all together, to get past this one date.  Now, aside from 2 more doctor appointments, I have nothing on the agenda for the next two weeks until the baby comes. We are still not “officially” doing school until he is born and I only have two more boxes to unpack and a few closets to organize, none of which have to be done right now.

I sat on my couch and looked around at my fully decorated, pretty-much put together house and thought I don’t have to work tomorrow. I can actually take the day off. I can stay in P.J.s all day long. I can read!!! (You don’t even know how rare that is!) I can let the kids just play and not worry about vacuuming. I can throw in a freezer meal (given to me today by my dear grandmother) and not worry about dinner. I can blog if I feel like it, surf if I feel like it, catch up on other blog reading that I haven’t had time for. I can sit and read to my littles over and over without that dreaded feeling of leaving something undone. I can read Lily chapters from her new book. I can have a baby. I felt this release…this sigh of my soul. Even as I write I am watching my two littles play hide and seek through a fireplace and relishing in their simple joy.

I look at this picture taken today…

…and thought how beautiful it is…how beautiful this place is that God blessed us with. I’ve know that intellectually in my head (how can you not when pulling up the blinds to this gorgeous view every morning?) but I have yet to actually experience it. Today I got that chance. I walked out to get the kids and realized the sun was just perfectly lighting up all this flora and fauna around me. The breeze caressed my skin and I felt alive…really alive, like I haven’t felt in a long time. A kiss from God. The weather was perfect. The colors were perfect. This place is perfect. Perfect for our family in this place and season of life. Perfect for our needs. Perfect for our souls.

So today I will breathe. Today I will rest.

263. Breathing again.

264. Reading Life Art…just for me, just because!

265. Pumpkin bread that someone else baked just ready to eat for breakfast.

266. Microwaves and other things that simplify my life right now.

267. Pasture-fed cows and horses that I can see out my window.

268. Our very own Hundred Acre Woods.

269. Cinnamon coffee and eggnog for creamer.

270. The happiness of a toddler and a balloon.

271. Watching my kids sketch on the front porch.

272. Seeing a real bluebird for the first time.

273. Childhood school memories of “moroccas” from the locust bean trees and seeing my children discover them for the first time.

274. Photo collages of baby photos.

275. Good fiction.

276. Excitement over seeing a crow and hearing him caw.

277. Contractions.

278. A packed baby hospital bag.

279. Mini husband coffee breaks mid morning.

280. Seeing my 18 month old mimic reading.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him    ~ Psalm 62:5

holy experience



Happy 7th Birthday, baby girl!

You are getting so big and we couldn’t be more proud of you.

Reading the card all by yourself.

The coveted homemade wooly bear caterpillar, Daisy.

The long-awaited American Girl doll, Molly.

...and clothes to go with!

The special birthday breakfast.

And don't forget the slumber party cake!

May this day be special and blessed for you!

Love you,

Mom and Dad