Sunday, January 31, 2010

On my side

Today, God had a message He wanted me to hear. No, it didn't come personally addressed to me, but He knew I needed to be reminded of it and He knew I would hear it. It came through Romans 8:28, in a sermon given by our wonderful pastor. In case you need a refresher (like I did!), it reads, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I knew that verse-in fact, it had helped me through some difficult times in the past, but somehow, over time, I lost sight of it. You see, there have been a few things I have been struggling with lately. Struggling with understanding why circumstances are they way they are. Struggling with why God seems to not hear my earnest prayer, my crying out to Him-and why He chooses not to answer prayers in the way I feel they should be-a way that seems so right! I know I should be trusting in Him more-I mean, I know Proverbs 3:5- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," So why is it so hard to do? It's these feelings that keep getting in the way! Sadness, anger, righteousness, hurt, desparation....whatever they may be. I've certainly felt them at one point or another. Funny, though, I don't see anywhere in the Bible that tells me to trust in my feelings, or worse, to follow my "heart". (Trust me, I've looked!) Have you ever heard anyone say that? That they feel in their heart that something is right or that they need to follow their heart? Yikes! If you hear that, don't listen to it! Run! Our heart is the worst thing to follow! After all, Matthew 15:19 says "For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander." Oh boy. Well, not much good coming out of this heart! So I'm back to trusting in God. Yes, I know I should, but why should I trust Him? Will He lead me wrong, especially when things "feel" so bad? That brings me back to Romans 8:28. God causes all things to work together for good.....not some things, not a few things, but ALL things. Somehow, some way, He can take any circumstances and use them for good. I needed that refresher course. It has lifted and encouraged me for today. God's on my side-He is FOR ME! I will doubt sometimes, I will react wrong, and often I wil just choose my own way, but it does not change the truth. If you are going through a tough time, be encouraged-He's there and He loves you! Now go read Romans 8:28 again!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Little school

We homeschool seven of our kids from Kindergarten up to 10th grade. We also have 3 preschool aged little ones (I call them my itty bitties) that aren't officially doing school, but like to do something to feel like one of the "big" kids! I like to take more of a relaxed, fun approach when my kids are little, so learning doesn't seem like a drudgery, but full of opportunity. So for us, we keep it simple. Lots of puzzles-one of my 2yo's favorite!

Some counting and color workbooks from Rod and Staff (love 'em!)

Here's my 5 yo who is kindergarten age (not officially preschool anymore, but still young!) doing some of his handwriting. He has a short attention span, so we try to make it quick!

And the littlest guy, doing some puzzles. He actually likes them, even if he can't quite fit the pieces where they go.

We like to keep lots of learning toys around-I especially love the ones from Lauri. They help teach counting, colors, shapes, and motor skills. Here's little guy trying to stack up the pegs. I was quite impressed-he did this all by himself! I love the facial expression-total concentration.

So there you have it-a glimpse of preschool at our house. Most importantly, we try to keep it fun and also change up the activities frequently so they don't get too bored. I've noticed that preschoolers+boredom= mischief! My little ones can get into plenty of that, so I try to help include them as much as possible. Happy schooling!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


It is done! The annual Yonda kids portrait was taken today and turned out realtively well. No one cried, not even baby (without his pacifier, might I add!) She took about 15 shots and we picked out what we thought was the best one. I think it turned out pretty cute! Please don't ask why we (Mom and Dad) are not in the picture with them. Honestly, we're not that cute and really, it's enough just getting all 10 of them ready to take a portrait, let alone ourselves. You don't know how many times we heard, "But I don't have any black shoes!" (Oh yes, you do!) and "Why do I have to get my hair done like that?" (Because I said so!) and my favorite, "Why can't we just wear our football jerseys? (Because this is a portrait, not a football game!) But we survived and have a pretty good picture out of the whole experience. Here it is!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend happenings

Today I took 3 of my kiddos to Lowe's for one of their build and grow workshops. Today, they were building a wooden tic-tac-toe set. Very cute! Pretty simple design, but it took us a few minutes to figure out which pieces went where when they were almost all identical, just varying a bit on the length. Here's my 8 yo getting started on hers-

And my 5yo with the hammer-he loves that hammer! He even asked if he could take it home with him. Sorry buddy, not ours!

And surprisingly, my 4yo did very well. No smushed fingers or anything!

Here they are with the finished product. Didn't they do a great job?

After we got home, my 11 yo started prepping for his upcoming boyscout camping trip. He practiced putting up and taking down his tent and making sure he could pack and unpack everything in his big backpack. Here he is peeking out of the tent for the camera!

Tomorrow will be very busy, too. After church, we are having portraits taken. It is our once a year picture, so hopefully all will go smooth and everyone will be somewhat smiling! I may have the picture to post soon. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fire station tour

Today some of my younger kids had the opportunity to go visit the local fire station and take a tour. Mainly, it was for my 5 yo son, who loves, loves, loves firetrucks! So when I saw the chance to sign up for this field trip, I jumped on it. Of course, other siblings wanted to tag along, which was fine, too. Unfortunately, just as I was about to get some cute pictures of my kiddos on the firetruck, my camera battery went dead. I wasn't able to get my backup battery in the camera while trying to wrestle with my wiggly 1 year old. So, no pictures! They were able to check out the ambulance and climb in it and, of course, sit in the driver's seat of a real fire truck. That was my 5 yo's favorite part! In fact, when the fireman asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, he proudly said, "A fire truck!" you think he meant fireMAN? I hope so. I was able to get one cute picture after arriving home, with their new fire fighter hats on-too cute!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little football fan

I was going thru some kids clothes the other day and found this cute little Cardinals football suit that had been passed down from our other boys when they were little. It was little guy's size, so I just had to put it on him. Unfortunately, the only time I can get a picture of him being still is when he's asleep, so this shot was perfect! I have several football lovers in my house, including Dad, so he fits right in. Unfortunately, they're not really Cardinals fans, but love the Giants. My Dad-little guy's Grandpa-loved the Cardinals, though, and went to many games over the years. Even when they were no good, he still cheered them on-a diehard fan! Though they never got a chance to meet, I know he and little guy would have been great football buddies, enjoying some snacks while watching the game. Though little guy doesn't really cheer-it's more of a yell. And even if he doesn't know who the Cardinals are right now, you never know, he just may end up being one of their next big fans! At least for now, he sure looks cute in the outfit! :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pie baking

I love to bake-it is my passion, for sure. But one thing I really don't bake is pies. Not any particular reason-I guess they just always felt like more of a holiday thing to me. But my 7 yo daughter asked me out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago if we could make an apple pie together. I told her yes, but I didn't have time set aside at that point. I bought the supplies at the store and a couple of days ago, we finished schoolwork early and decided to get going on that pie baking! She absolutely loved making it! She was very insistent on having a lattice top, which I think looks much prettier anyway. Now we did cheat a bit and did not cut up our own apples-we used canned, but it saved a whole lot of time so I was all for it. Here's the finished product-yummy caramel apple pie. After sampling, the whole family gave a thumbs up!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spelling, spelling, spelling

My 7yo and 10 yo daughters participated in a spelling bee today with other fellow homeschoolers. It was their first time participating and they were a bit nervous, but they did great! It takes a lot of courage to get in front of people like that. I'm so proud of them both!
There were many great spellers there and the words got more difficult with each round. My 7yo got second place in the younger division and won a trophy, and both received a certificate for participating. A couple of my other kids came to watch and provide support and, though they didn't want to enter this year, after watching it, they both said they definitely wanted to sign up next year. What a great experience!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cheap fun

I am frugal by nature and love finding good bargains and fun things to do for cheap! This week's good deal was found at CVS drugstore. while I was shopping last weekend to pick up some household things. I wasn't even looking at the toys, but happened to walk past the christmas clearance section and saw this cool kids' laptop there. There wasn't a price on it, so I had my son take it to the cashier to scan it and it was $4.99. Pretty good deal! My kids had been eyeing the more expensive V-tech ones, but I couldn't bring myself to pay $40 for a kiddie laptop that probably wouldn't last that long anyway. So I grabbed this one and also a couple of mini-tea sets for 50 cents for my girls. Here's my 5 yo boy and 10yo daughter playing on the computer.

Another plus-it's all educational, so they're practicing their math and spelling, so I'm happy! :-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Learning to bake bread

Today was the girls' homemaking club meeting at our house and the topic was yeast breads. Our assignment was to make bread from scratch, knead by hand, let it rise, and bake. It was perfect timing for the lesson, since my big Bosch mixer just stopped working 2 days ago, so looks like I will be doing plenty of hand kneading. Well, it didn't exactly stop working, just stopped turning the dough hook in the bowl-the motor still works, though. In our big family, this could be considered a slight crisis! Anyway, the girls mixed everything up, kneaded until they were tired and then shaped it into loaves. Here's a few in the pans.
While they waited for it to rise, they made some homemade butter from whipping cream. Pour into a glass jar and shake, shake, shake! It takes a while, but it works! Acutally, toward the end, I did a lot of the shaking. They were tired!
After the rising came the baking. Here is the final product. It tasted quite yummy spread with the homemade butter! Dad got to sample some at dinner and gave it two thumbs up! Good job girls!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Less than perfect

As I opened Christmas cards received from others this year, I was so thankful for the precious families that had taken the time to think of us during the season. I enjoyed all the notes and updates from those we hadn't seen in quite some time, as well as those who live nearby. I was amazed at many of the photos, showing children who had grown by leaps and bounds from years before. I was also very impressed by how beautiful many of the photos were-some from the portrait studio, others with all in matching outfits. How sweet everyone looked! I cringed, too, as I thought of our Christmas card we sent out the week earlier. No, there wasn't anything terribly wrong with it, it just looked sort of haphazardly thrown together, compared to years before. Well....that's probably because it was. Really, Christmas cards were almost an afterthought this year, I hate to say. As December 25th grew closer, we knew it was now or never. So with everyone in one place, before our oldest went to work, and before little ones napped, we gathered everyone in front of the fireplace and tried to force out some smiles! If you've ever tried to do this with 10 people, it's not easy. We must have taken 25 pictures, most of them with a child looking the wrong way, smiling goofy, or putting their hands in front of their face. In all, I think we got 2 that were semi-presentable. We picked the best one and off they went to the printer! No, no one was in matching outfits-I was just happy they had on clean clothes. No, they weren't even in nice clothes either! Not everyone had a perfect smile-truly, many of them just wanted to get it over with. Geez...the picture was just so....what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yes-it was just so US! That's it! Even though I loved the thought of a perfect looking picture with a beautiful backdrop-really, that's not who we are. We're a kind of chaotic bunch, with dirty shirts, runny noses, and goofy expressions! So really the card we sent out was a little snapshot of who we really are as a family! After we looked at the picture, hubby and I even joked that we really should have taken a picture with the baby crying, one of our kids chewing with his mouth open, another poking his brother, while another was in the corner causing mischief. Now that really would have been reality! Truly, we are a less than perfect family. That's a very humbling thing. But I am thankful that we serve a Lord who loves us anyway in spite of those shortcomings. By the way, that Christmas picture? Well, here it is. To tell you the truth, I kind of like it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Girls and dolls

There's certain things almost all girls love-flowers, pretty clothes, babies, and dolls. There's more, I'm sure, but those are just a few, in my experience. Well, today we found a printable paper doll set in the back of one of our magazines-and my 10 yo daughter was just delighted to cut it out and dress the dolls up. I thought there outfits were beautiful-much more beautiful than most paper dolls. It's a nice change to see such modestly dressed girls, too, which is not the norm nowadays. Here are the dolls after she got them all prettied up!

I decided to do a search for free printable dolls on the internet and came across quite a few, though there were a lot I wouldn't even bother with. Did you know there's even a Hillary Clinton paper doll? I fully expected to find some printable pantsuits to go with her, but it was actually her inaugural outfit instead. Kind of funny, though. There's also a Miley Cyrus paper doll. Goodness, don't we see enough of her at Walmart? Well, I did find some promising ones here, here, here, and here. That should keep us busy for a while!