25 days to go...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a masterpiece it's not

When I see pictures of food art on Pinterest I long to be that mother who creates works of art with her children meals. But, I know my limits, and I realize that as much as I desire to make every meal a memorable experience, for now it is a means of survival. 
Little do they know of pandas made with rice, and sharks carved out of watermelons. They have yet to discover such things as the Eiffel Tower constructed from cheese, and frogs sliced from apples and carrots
Yet I can (thanks to my sweet friend Lisa Burbank) make peanut-butterflies for lunch! 
The end result - one very pleased 3 year old. It's the simple things. Good thing I am a simple girl. 

Someday, I might get really crazy and try my butterfly skills using an apple as my medium instead!

14 years

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Darren and I were married 14 years ago today. 

November 26, 1997 he took a little 19 year old girl and gave her everything she had ever dreamed of. 

He has loved me and cared for me throughout the years. 

Even at times when it has been hard too, he loves, always. 

I trust him with my heart, my feelings, my hopes, and my dreams. 

He holds my hand and those of our children.

He makes me feel like I am the best wife and mother in the world, even though I am not.

He encourages me on, and believes in me when I don't believe in myself.

He does not expect me to be perfect - he loves me regardless.

She sees what I can be, and he wants great things for me.

He is so strong, and gentle, and he leads our family along in the footsteps of our Heavenly Father.

There is still no one in the world I would rather share this life with than him.

Happy anniversary Darren.

I love you.

How I get my house clean again after the kids come in looking like this :

Friday, November 25, 2011


I am a believer.

I truly do love these products, so I just thought I would share. 

Here are some of my favorites.

 The window cloth. I use this one to dry windows, mirrors, my stove top, and anything else glass. 
No streaks left behind. 

The dusting mitt. I use this to dust with of course, but this makes the job so easy. 
I especially appreciate it when I clean the blinds.

These are great for using as you would your magic eraser, but without any chemicals!

This! This is one of the products that I love the very most. I clean everything with this. I use it for tubs and showers. I use it on appliances, walls, and floors. I use it to get scuff marks off my cupboards and sticky labels off glass. It takes off grease and scum (I have scum sometimes) amazingly well. (It does have some precautionary directions as it is an abrasive, but so far I haven't found that it scratches anything, or leaves a dull mark, but that would be something I would suggest that you figure out for yourself.

 The toilet brush. Everything you need is right here, all together and ready to use. 
You push down on the handle of the brush and cleanser is released into bristles. 
It works great and smells even better.

The laundry detergent! I do laundry every single day, at least once a day, usually more. 
This little bag, which costs about $30, lasts me at least 6 months, 
even though I have been informed that I am using way to much. 
Apparently you are only suppose to use a teaspoon per load when you have a front loader.

I don't even know what this one is called, but I LOVE this cleaning mitt. 
I use it to do the bathtubs and the tile floors in the bathrooms. 
It has an abrasive side and a softer microfiber side. 
If I could only pick 2 products it would be this mitt and the cleaning paste.

I do care about having chemicals in the home, especially with young kids. We all know that it is just better to try and have as little of that as possible around them, and us. But this is not the reason I use them. I use them because they work. The bonus is that they work without chemicals.

I do not sell Norwex. I am not getting paid to say these things. The items I have shared with you are only a really small selection of the products they have available. If you would like to know more though, I do know someone you could talk to. She resides in Blogland here.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I just came across this picture of Nya of when she was 5 months old. 

The girl who now has so much hair I don't always know what to do with it, was as bald as one could possibly be when she was small.

(Doesn't it look like I took a Bic to her head? I promise I did no such thing. But it just makes me laugh.)

side note: this same girl just so happens to be walking around the house right now singing, "Cook a baby in the ubin (oven) turn it very hot". Where she got this from I do not know. 

mud pie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I came home from a meeting today to find the back door open and cold air pouring in. The girls had been with me, Nya was still napping, Tate was in the house playing, and Darren was in the front yard. But I knew, even before I discovered everybody's whereabouts that Bergen was the reason for the open door. I went outside to see what he was up to and found one muddy little man. He had been collecting worms. There were at least 100 in that bottle! I don't know where he found them all, or what he is going to do with them, but as far as worms go it was pretty impressive!
You should have seen the bathroom when he was finished washing up. He came out clean, but the sink didn't fare quite so well.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

I have freckles. I have never really liked them. For years and years I have imagined them away. Then one day a friend sent me some pictures she had taken of our family. My freckles seemed to jump off the screen. Along with my slightly crooked teeth, despite 2 years of braces, and all the other things I do not like about myself.

And then something happened.

In that quiet moment I saw myself through different eyes. How would God feel about my thoughts? He made me. He lovingly gave me this body as a blessing. He did not set out to create an 'Ugly Duckling'. He does not see how I see.

How would I feel if my daughters did that, thought those thoughts?

As they grow I wonder. I wonder what they think of themselves. Do they compare? Do they wish they could make exchanges? Not yet maybe, but someday all too soon? Can they escape this pit that most females fall head first into? When I look at them I see just how perfect and beautiful they are. I view them through a mother's eyes, and it would break my heart if they ever thought they were ugly, or not as good as the girl down the block. What day will it be when I am no longer the voice that matters? Who will it be that will take my place? Has it already happened? How will I ever get them to understand?

Some of us might have an easier time accepting ourselves, totally and completely, others find it harder. I tend to pick myself apart piece by piece and compare all those pieces with someone else, not even usually just one person, but bits here and there from many different people, creating in my mind one impossibly perfect person. And then I wonder why I don't measure up? DUH!
So to my daughters, in the hopes that they will believe or at least come to believe, I would say this:

God wants us to love ourselves. He wants an entire acceptance of self. Because He does. He loves us and accepts us regardless of everything - your ears, your nose, your hair, your teeth. It will seem hard, at some stages more than others, as you go through this life. You probably will not like every little piece of yourself, and you will probably have days when you feel like the Ugly Duckling. You will no longer believe that you are beautiful just because Mom told you so. You will become very aware of how you look and how others perceive you. You must not let that define you. You must somehow learn acceptance. There is power in acceptance and that is the first step. You or I will never be the most beautiful, the nicest, the sweetest, the smartest, or the most talented. Accepting this and deciding instead to simply be the best person you can be is what you must do. We were made by GOD. We are each His creation. He does not want us to feel badly about ourselves. He does not want us to compare. I believe that He doesn't even see what we see when we view ourselves or others. And someday I believe that we will see like He does, through to the heart. We will all be able to see the perfect majesty of His creation we are. You may be thinking, 'That's great and all, but those are just words and this is life, real life right now, and I don't like what I see'. I hear you. I understand. But this is not reality, not really.

 This video - a gift to me from one beloved. I share this very personal thing with you. 
(I am sure some copyright law has been broken.) 
My intention in sharing - For my daughters, in all the years to come, please listen to the words for you are 'She'. 
And to my cherished friends and family, all women everywhere, these words are for you.
When I read your blogs and see your faces, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to call you all my friends. I have been blessed with the best. 
And for the outpour of emotion, I will never apologize. I love you all.

'She' by Cherie Call

(Sorry about the words across the screen. This was made with a free program for my viewing only. It was ever intended it to be published.)

I have a responsibility to accept myself, not only for me but also for my daughters. How are they to develop a deep understanding of the true source of beauty if their mother can't, or won't? I believe that we express a certain gratitude in our acceptance. And then, acceptance turns to love. When we can look past our own imperfections, especially those things we cannot change, we allow space for Him. We begin to see what He sees. We begin to love as he loves, heart to heart, not face to face. So color your hair, workout every day, put braces on your teeth, do what you will to be the best person you can be....... then stop there, and let go. I am not saying it is easy, but I do think it is possible, and He will help.  He made your nose, your ears, your hair, your legs. He made you and He loves you and He wants you to love yourself. Once we truly believe that this is so we can begin to find acceptance for every freckle He lovingly places upon our cheeks. And this, this acceptance turned to love for ourselves and others, will make us most beautiful of all, to Him who truly matters. To Him we are all "She".

the most wonderful time of the year

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

38 days until Christmas! Did you know? If not my children will be sure to tell you! The asking starts well before Halloween and doesn't stop until we have made a paper chain to count down to the 25th of December. Even then they will ask, just to make sure that they are on the right link.

We are having a homemade Christmas again this year. First of all I must say, before you read any further, I DO NOT think that there is anything wrong with buying presents, nothing at all. I do not believe that making gifts is the best or only way of celebrating this holiday, we just happen to love doing it. So, we do! I love finding the perfect project that will be just right for each individual child and the satisfaction of the end product. I love that my kids will peruse though craft books instead of catalogs to decide what they are going to give each other. I am grateful for the feeling it brings into our home. I do believe that Christmas can still be magical without turning commercial, and for our family this works. Therefore we have been busy with all manner of sewing and crafting, knitting and woodworking, in order to be ready in time.

I do worry whether they will actually like the gifts we make or whether they will think they are lame and secretly hold out hope that they will find some shiny new package of the mass produced variety with their name on it under the tree. If that is the case, being the nice kids they are, they will tell me they love it anyways, discard my gifts on the sidelines and hunt for something packaged, held in place with a million twist ties and tiny rubber bands. Good thing for them, even though we are going homemade, Santa always delivers!

I wish I could show you some of the things we have been working on, but that will have to wait until after December 25th, as my children read my blog regularly. A funny thing that is - they live here, everyday, with me. They know everything that is going on. They are usually the topic of said posts, and yet they read.

I can however show you this. She knits and knits and knits, and I LOVE watching her do it!

Happy Christmas preparations!

children of God

Monday, November 14, 2011

The older girls teaching Nya to sing!

lest we forget

Friday, November 11, 2011

Poppies; the color of red,
A silent prayer was humbly said.
As they fought on through the war,
Blessings came more and more.
So let us remember those who fought,
To help us be free, in all our thoughts.
by Noelle McCullough

Soldiers are brave,
Soldiers of war,
They fought for our freedom,
And peace ever more.
by Bergen McCullough

We wear poppies on Remembrance Day,
We think about them in this way,
All those who fought for you and me,
To give us peace and harmony.
by Emma McCullough
Today was Remembrance Day. We had a quiet, dark afternoon. We made paper tissue poppies in honor of those who fought for us all those years ago and for the ones who fight today. We are grateful for their bravery and sacrifice. 
The power went out shortly after lunch and as the sun went down we huddled up and stuck together. We lit some candles, practiced the piano, and played some games. I think the highlight of the night though was snuffing out the flames once the power came back on! We even re-lit a few just because apparently it is that much fun.

a very merry unbirthday to you

Bergen is a night owl. He always has been. He is not big on communication during the day, but when we get time together alone at night, after everyone else is down, he begins to open up. I have discovered that this is not something I can force, as much I want to know what he is thinking, and how he is doing. I must wait for him to speak, and it is usually under the cover of nightfall as he is buried in our bed. Last night as we were reading together we started to talk about his birthday. He wanted to know just how much longer he had to go until then. I realized that it was exactly six months until his birthday! Making it, of course, his half birthday! When I excitedly told him this he looked at me a little funny and asked just what a half birthday is. We don't make it a habit of celebrating such a thing on a regular basis, but I thought under the circumstances that we should. And celebrate we did!
 with these cookies,
  and this book.
We even had some honorary guests.

 Bergen ate and designed lightsabers while I read and soaked up every minute with my 10 and one perfectly half year old son.

If I only had a brain

Thursday, November 10, 2011

While getting ready for church on Sunday Nya asked me if she could have some brains. I quickly realized that she was asking for braids in her hair! She has been requesting this style everyday since. And when, not 10 minutes later, I see that she has undone my work I will ask her where her brains are, and she will say, "I took them out!"

daily schedule

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

 {looking mighty pleased with his work!}

People ask all the time if we have a schedule and what it looks like. This is the easiest question to answer about homeschooling. It is pinned up in the kitchen. You can go and see it for yourself. It looks good on paper!
But, as I am sure you have guessed, things don't always (almost never) go according to 'THE SCHEDULE'.
As much as I wish I were one of those naturally flexible fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people I am not. I have had to learn to be malleable along the way. I am a task master, a check-it-off-the-lister. After 3 years I think I am just beginning to find my way through this thing we call homeschooling.
For those who ask what my advice would be, to any homeschooling mom this is my #1:
Talk to as many people as you can, research and learn yourself, take the pieces you like and that you think will work for you and your family, leave what you don't, try new things, be patient - this is a process, and don't ever try to be someone else. Only you will know what is right for you. And even then sometimes you won't. It can be scary. But it will be okay.

So as far as the schedule is concerned - I do have one. It looks something like this:
Monday - math, music, piano lessons
Tuesday - language arts, library, fine arts
Wednesday -  more of a free day (swimming lessons, life skills) Cubs and Achievement Day Girls
Thursday - science, health and career (my 8 year old upon hearing that we were doing a health and career class told me that she was far too young for a career! I couldn't agree more. But since we get money from the government we have somewhat of an outline to follow. So 'Health and Career' can be anything like, stranger danger, computer safety, fire safety, simple accounting, ect.)
Friday - social studies, second language, ballet, date night
Saturday - tap class, field trips, family swim and movie night

See, It looks good on paper. Now take this list and schedule in every temper-tantrum, every dirty diaper (or worse, underwear from the 3 year old who knows better where to go!). Schedule the laundry and the dishes, and the phone calls, and the errands, and the kids who just don't want to! ("I'm not interested in that", has become a common phrase these days.) I might have missed a few things, but it doesn't matter because they wouldn't fit anyways. Now take the schedule and throw it out the window, for today at least. Or better yet, clog up the toilet by flushing it down there! Tomorrow is another day and I can always try again. But for the most part the schedule is for my piece of mind. If I have a basic outline it helps me at least organize my thoughts and general direction, even if no one else is interested.

Now if I have completely scared you off homeschooling, don't be fooled. This homeschooling thing (whether it is right for you or not only you will know. Do what is right for YOU) is so rewarding. I love seeing my kids grow and learn and suddenly get a concept. I do love having them home. I don't love the noise and the chaos, but that is part of this imperfect and wonderful package. I do worry if I can give them enough, if I am smart enough, if they will be okay. The answer is yes and no. But we will figure this out together.

Days where I would love to be lost in my own little world doing something I want to do, are lost in books and equations, scissors, markers, and mess. But when your child comes to you and asks, "Can you teach me how to.....?" what could be more important than that?

If this is the path you have chosen, don't try and make your journey look just like Mrs. so-and-so's down the street or half way across the world in Blogland. This is about so much more than schooling. At the root of it all is simply relationships. These are the things that will be tested. These are the lessons that will help your children understand whatever else they need to know. You can't make them learn, but you can try to create an environment where they want to learn.

Now for the practical advice. (I still want someone to just give me something - anything I can put into practice today, without having to discover by it myself)
Schedule free time and stick to it. You will catch up later, or you won't, but you will be a better teacher and mom and you will have more attentive kids if everyone gets a break.
I get breaks in 2 ways.
First of all: Wednesday is our free day. This is the day that I can catch up on housework, or sewing, or blogging, or nothing. This is a day reserved for stories and games and knitting and curling up for hours with a book. We use to have this day scheduled on Friday, but I heard through a friend that she knew someone who took their breaks on Wednesdays, and it has been working out so much better for us. It provides a break in the middle before we need it instead of pushing through until we NEED it.
Secondly: I have a very supportive husband who allows me to have guilt free time doing things for myself. This year in particular I have had the opportunity to learn fencing and rowing. But even walking around Walmart or going to the library or a movie can do the trick.

Good luck!

If you are a homeschooling mom I would like to share one of the best articles I have read on the subject. No I take that back, moms everywhere can gain something from this. Enjoy!

the naughtiest kids in the world

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shocked? I know. But it is true. They live here sometimes.
As much as I would like to tell you that my children's feet never touch the ground, that they are always perfect little angels - they are not.
But neither a I!

My vision for my family when I began this adventure was one of perfection. I had high, impossible ideals.
I just knew that this was going to be my calling.
This is where I would truly shine.
This is what I was sent here to do!

And in the beginning things seemed promising. Then with each passing year and every additional child my vision was blurred. Clouded with crayon and play dough, and the discovery of "NO!".
All this has all caused me to feel like I have failed in the dream life I had perfectly planned out. I find discouragement creeping in. What happened? This is not what I ordered!

It is my sweet husband who gently brings me back down to earth by words filled with hope.
It is not the children who require adjustment, it is the plan. Just because this life looks different than I had pictured, just because my children don't behave the way I thought they would, just because I don't feel perfectly at peace with mothering every minute of every day, does not mean that I have failed or that there is something wrong with me or my children.

Sometimes I feel like I could be anywhere, doing anything right now. I could be really, really good at something.

But I am here, in the life I have chosen. And even though it looks different than my original vision, that does not make me a failure. I must learn to adapt. We no longer stroll down a manicured path. We have long since left that comfort behind as we carry on through thick jungle. This is not a one man job. Reinforcements are usually necessary.

But I see now that if it is I who change my picture of what should be, stop comparing this real life with that fantasy, I find acceptance - for children who jump on furniture, for children who question, for days that are long and anything but peaceful. In acceptance there is joy. The picture I carried was heavy, and I may from time to time open that box and long for that dream. But I will need to put it away again and live this life, this real life with noise and mess and stress, and little people calling, "MOM!" everywhere I turn.

I will learn to adapt. I will learn to manage crisis. I will be thrown in the deep end and learn how to swim. And much to the children's chagrin I can at least find peace in the fact that bedtime always comes, and when all is said and done and my children are put to the test, they are good, deep down to the core. In the moments that really matter they rise to the call, and so can I. This is what I was sent here to do.