Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year In Smiles

Wow, 2013, what a year.  I can hardly believe all the changes that God has brought into our lives this year!! He has given us so many blessings, and I want to praise Him for each of those, especially for my husband and my children, and how God has grown each of them and made them even more precious to me over this year! So, without further ado, here is the Hart Family 2013 Year in Review!

In January, we stayed home, enjoyed retreats at camp, and played in the snow! Joel and I celebrated our 10th anniversary!

February was, you guessed it, more snow and retreats!! We celebrated Valentine's Day at home!

March was mostly snow and retreats, but it ended with a bang- Grandma and Grandpa Hart visited, and I was able to attend the Quirky Hobbies retreat at Bethany Camp! :)  We had a great visit with them, and enjoyed celebrating Easter at home!

April was a fun month, getting into spring and getting outside! We took a family trip to the Buffalo Zoo, and towards the end of April, we traveled to Iowa to be in Auntie Beth's wedding on April 27th! 

May started out with a Hart family vacation in the Smoky Mountains!! After we came home, we enjoyed getting out in the beautiful weather!

In June, Grandma and Grandpa Harriss were able to visit! We enjoyed the warm weather, and got ready for summer camp to start!!

In July, we got to meet (Judy's) baby Noah!! We enjoyed going to camp to see our staff and camper friends, and we celebrated Davey's 2nd birthday on July 26th!

In August, we finished up summer camp, took a family trip to Darien Lake with the camp staff, and spent some time at home as a family before Joel began work with retreats again! Joel and I were able to ride the motorcycle to Erie for a couple of days and just be together as a couple! During the month of August, after many months and weeks of prayer, God led Joel to submit an application to Lifeway Christian Stores to become a store manager.  August was a month of waiting on God to see if this was the direction He was leading us.

In September, we started back to school at home! Zachary is in kindergarten this year, Natalie in preschool, and David in Tot school.  David upgraded from a crib to a toddler bed, which was an interesting adjustment!  Near the end of September, Joel was accepted into the Manager-in-Training Program with Lifeway Christian Stores, and we began to tell our friends and family about the change God was working in our family.

October was back into the swing of things with MOPS and story hour at the Sinclairville library!  As Joel began training with Lifeway, God has provided much strength and encouragement for each of the five of us along the way.  At the end of October, our friends at Bethany Camp blessed us with a going-away open house party which was a wonderful time of celebrating the years that we have enjoyed working and living here, complete with LOTS of cupcakes, balloons, and the popcorn machine!  

In November, we enjoyed time with Anna & Elias, and had a great time on our family trip to Columbus! Joel and I were able to spend a few days together as a couple, which was wonderfully refreshing.  Then God laid it on the heart of a man who had never even met us to gift us the money to take our family to the Columbus Zoo! We loved it!! We celebrated Thanksgiving at home, and began to deck the halls for Christmas!

December is always a month of celebrations for our family! On December 5, Zachary turned six! He enjoys magic, and received not one but two magic trick sets! He currently wants to be a magician when he grows up!  He has lost six baby teeth at this point as well! To celebrate his birthday (and Natalie's), our friends Kelly & Sandy blessed us with a day at Chuck E. Cheese! On December 22nd, Natalie turned four, and received her very own Bible as her gift from Joel and I, which she was very excited about! We celebrated Christmas at home as a family.  With some of our Christmas gifts, we spent a day at the Buffalo Museum of Science!

You can see what kind of a whirlwind year (or at least a whirlwind fall) 2013 has been for our family! We are still waiting for the final word on where exactly God is going to ask our family to relocate, but we are trusting that He has that perfect plan in mind, and He will let us know in His perfect timing!!  He has been more than faithful in every step of this process, and we are constantly growing in our faith, and every day depending more and more on Him to lead us.

In thinking about a New Year's Resolution for 2014, I want to make Psalm 141:3 my theme verse: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!"  I say so many, many words each day.  The prayer of my heart for 2014 is that every single word that exits my mouth would bring glory to God and Speak Life to those who hear it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #19

Lots of hilarious-ness going on around here these past few weeks!! I thought I would take a minute to share just a few of the funny things the kids have said lately!  It seems like there is always something - I wouldn't even have time to write them all down, I would have to carry a tape recorder around with me to catch every one! :)  One of my favorite things is when they (all 3 or different combinations of them) are playing together and interacting.  The things they come up with and pretend are just so funny. 

One day during school, I asked Zachary if he wanted to do phonics or math next, and he responded, "F is for Phonics!"  

I love when the kids share with each other, too, most of the time - one day I had told Davey he couldn't have any more juice, and when I came out, he was drinking of Zachary's cup!  Z said, "It's okay, Mom, I said he could have it."  

Natalie came into my room one afternoon after waking up from her nap, with a big frown on her face.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I just woke up a little sadly."

David is learning more words each day - and he says little sentences now, like, "Juice Ew." (when he doesn't like his juice), "Stool Ow." (when he gets hurt by a stool), and "My spill." (when he spills something).

David can climb into the tub now, but not out.  So sometimes I will hear him yelling from the bathroom, and go in and there he is, just standing in the tub, getting his socks wet, yelling for me to get him out.  

Zachary, while using a yo-yo, and discussing the reason why it had been taken away and hidden on a pantry shelf - "I am not going to hit people with the yo-yo.  I am using it properly this time."

Natalie, to Zachary, while playing: "Did you know I go to homeschool class, downstairs?  I go whenever my Mommy says."  

Natalie, to Davey: "Good night, sweetheart."  David is really good at stalling his bedtime, and his favorite thing to do is run around and tell everyone, "Bye!" at least once.  He also likes to read books, and he prays for all of his family members at bedtimes and mealtimes, which is so cute. :)  

Natalie: "My book is called Me Verses Grandpa."
Zachary: "Versus means against something.  You don't want to be against Grandpa, do you?"
Natalie: "It's called Verses because it has a lot of verses in it, like Bible verses."

I made a turkey and stuffing casserole one night (seriously, the cheapest and fastest meal ever, a box of stuffing takes 5 minutes, and if you have leftover (or frozen) shredded turkey on hand, just throw some of that in and mixed veggies and you have a really easy, quick meal!).  Anyhow, after we ate that for supper, Z said, "That was a great Thanksgiving meal, Mom!" :)

After the kids visited their aunt, uncle & cousin in Tennessee recently, they were all rather enamored with their dog, Ferdy.  We asked them if they wanted a dog someday, and of course they said yes.  When we asked them what we should name our dog, Natalie replied, "Ferdy!"  Joel asked her, "But what if we were together with Jason & Emily, and we called for Ferdy, and both dogs came? What would we do then?"  Natalie's response: "We would freak out!"  LOL!!

We ate at Culver's when we were in Columbus, and we gave the kids the meal options to choose from.  I asked Davey, "Do you want a hamburger, grilled cheese, or corn dog?"  He responded, "Woof woof!" :)  Corn dog it is!  That one had our cashier cracking up, too! :)

Nat, overheard playing: "Okay, baby, I have to make some fish sticks now.  What?  You want to be holded?  Okay."  She proceeded to hold the baby while pretending to make fish sticks. :)  What a good mama!

We were discussing the fact that when we do move, God may ask us to live in an apartment for a while, during the time of finding a place to live, etc.  I asked Zachary how he would feel about that and his response was, "Well, that would be frustrating, but I would do it."  I thought frustrating was an interesting word choice there.

Natalie: "Come on, David.  It's time for our wedding."
David: "No."
Natalie: "Well, then, I'm going to marry somebody else!"
David: "No."
Natalie: "Then come on!"

Zachary: "Natalie, we're going to play sumo.  First, you have to take your shirt off.  Now, pretend you're wearing a big white diaper thing.  You have to throw the other person off the rug!"

Natalie threw up one morning (she disliked her banana and somehow got sick on it) and did not tell me.  I discovered it later, which was lovely.  I told her she needed to let me know the next time she got sick like that, and she responded, "Okay.  Next time I throw up, I will tell you.  After I'm done throwing up.  Because you can't talk while you're throwing up." 

While reading through Proverbs last week, I was reading a verse about a nagging wife.  Z asked what nagging was, so I gave an example in which I was pretending to ask the kids over and over to do their chores.  When I finished, Z said (totally seriously and respectfully), "Um, you're kind of nagging sometimes, aren't you?"  LOL!!  I said, "Well, yes, but I'm your mom." :)

My grandparents sent the kids each an apron to go along with a Curious George Makes Pancakes book, and the kids LOVE them - I'm not sure they've taken them off yet, except to go to bed. :)  Natalie calls hers her "april". :)

Two of David's newest words are 'bite' and 'wet'.  He also says 'boo-boo' a LOT, whenever he gets hurt.  

Playing Wii with Daddy, Joel reminds Zachary to turn the sensor around to face them, and Zachary mumbles, as he's turning it around, "Oh, yeah.  I always forget that.  I guess I'm just too impatient."  

The kids were SO excited to watch a Hoops & Yo-Yo Christmas special this week, and while they were talking about it in the car, Natalie said, "Mom, when do we get to watch Larry and Ho-Ho?"

We did a "noun Thanksgiving" exercise at the Thanksgiving table yesterday, and I wanted to write down the things the kids were thankful for - David can't really articulate this stuff yet, so it's just Natalie and Zachary's responses:

A PERSON Zachary is thankful for is: Greg Frank.
A PLACE Zachary is thankful for is: the camp playground, and our house
A THING Zachary is thankful for is: a thing that happens - his birthday!

A PERSON Natalie is thankful for is: Her friends, Ari & Kaylie Main
A PLACE Natalie is thankful for is: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
A THING Natalie is thankful for is: To be a Mommy someday
(not sure about Natalie's stuff going in the right category, but so sweet anyway!!)

Speaking of Zachary's birthday, he is going to be SIX in less than a week!! It is crazy how time flies!!  And Natalie will be FOUR in less than a month!  At least Davey gets to stick with two for a while longer. :)  

Here's Zachary showing off his latest round of missing teeth - three in the last month!  The tooth fairy has been busy! :)  

David wanted to show off his perfectly healthy baby teeth:

Natalie didn't want to show any teeth, just her bathtime baby doll:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #18

It has been almost three months since I've written down all the funny things the kids have said!! I have kept track of a few, but I know I've forgotten a lot, too!  Here are some gems from the last couple of months! :)

Zachary got a new Monsters University shirt at the end of July, and he wore it to camp one day.  One of our friends asked him, "Are you going to go to that Monsters University school?"  He giggled and replied, "No! It's for monsters."

Zachary made up this great joke: "What did the whale say to the other crying whale?  ......   You are wailing!"

One day at lunch, Zachary came to the table, saw a sandwich on his plate, and asked, "What kind of sandwich do we have here?"

I took a toy with dead batteries, and was looking everywhere for the little screwdriver I use to open the battery compartment.  David heard me asking about the screwdriver, ran to his room, grabbed his toy drill, and brought it to me.

I was trying to talk to Zachary one day while he was reading, and he announced that "When you talk, that makes me dis-concentrate on reading."  It cracks me up when I call for him, and he comes down the hallway with his nose in a book, tripping over stuff all the way.  I have NO idea where he gets that behavior from...or his intense love of reading ...

While getting ready to pray, I started my prayer, as usual with "Dear Lord", but Natalie interrupted me and said, "No, you have to say, 'Dear Heavenly Fadder'!"

Before my birthday, the kids were discussing with Daddy what my gift should be.  Zachary said he would get me a robot.  I said, "Oooh, to clean the house?? I would love a robot to clean the house!"  He said, "No, just to play with.  I don't think I could get you one to clean the house, but when I grow up, I can invent one for you."  Natalie chimed in, "Yeah, because if it was a person, it could just say NO!"

At the beginning of the football season, we were watching the Broncos vs. the Ravens.  Zachary is, of course, a rabid Broncos fan.  Natalie, being contrary, announced that she was cheering for the 'Raisins'. :)

One day at lunch, Zachary came up with this gem, out of nowhere: "Let me preach for a minute.  See this little piece of a chip?  This is a regular person's brain.  See this whole, big chip?  This whole chip is God's brain, because He knows everything, but regular people don't know as much as God."  Great sermon!

We played with water balloons one afternoon, and at supper time, the kids were telling Daddy about their balloons.  David chimed in with, "My pop!" to tell Daddy that his water balloon had popped!  It was his first two-word sentence! :)  His very favorite word is still NO, but MY is a close second.  It can mean 'me', 'that's mine', 'I want to do it myself', or 'I did that'.

I was late for Bible study and running around like a crazy person looking for my Bible bag and letting the world know I couldn't find it even though I knew I had set it by the stairs that morning so it would be ready ... Davey came running down the hall, dragging behind him the exact (heavy!) bag I was looking for!! He definitely understands more than you would think!

Natalie is such a cute little pretend mama. :)  Of course she loves to play with her baby dolls, and she mothers Davey on a very regular basis, but she also has 'pretend kids' who she will talk to in this sweet voice, saying things like, "Oh, you hurt your mouf? It will be okay. Mommy will give you a kiss, and then I will go do my work."  She also asks me to 'babysit' for her babies while she goes 'to the store'.

Our first school verse of the year was "Those who know Your name put their trust in You."  Zachary's version was, "Those who have a brain put their trust in You."

When Natalie doesn't like something you've said to her, she often responds, "Oh, that made me so mad."

Zachary's favorite line when getting ready to go somewhere, and I ask him to find a sweatshirt, is: "Ninjas are tough.  Ninjas don't wear sweatshirts."  Alrighty then.  Ninjas better not whine when they're cold.

Natalie was making a wall with her cottage cheese at lunch.  She showed it to Zachary, and he responded, "Natalie, that is very creative, but why don't you eat your cottage cheese instead of creating things with it?"   He loves to be the little parent. :)

Zachary: "Natalie, don't get physical with me when you are mad.  Physical means hitting or kicking with your body."

Zachary: "I have a Biblical question."

Zachary looooooves the Magic Tree House series of books.  One thing (of MANY) he picked up from them was collecting 'moonstones' - he spends time looking for and collecting these sparkly white rocks - he especially finds them up at camp.  One day, he and Natalie were looking for moonstones together, and she found some to give to him, and then he found a few, and gave some to her! It was so sweet! :)

Davey has upgraded to a 'big boy' toddler bed this month - whew, what a ride! For the first few days, he was climbing up on his toy box to turn on the light - I would get up at 4 am and see his light on, and he would be back in his bed, sleeping with his light on!  I eventually had to move the toy box, and the last couple days have been better, but he still prefers to get up and play rather than nap, so that is interesting some days. :)

When we told the kids we were moving, we told them there would be sad parts, but there would be sweet parts.  Zachary took this to heart, and while Joel was trying to talk him into doing the zipline, Joel mentioned that he wouldn't have a lot more chances to do the zipline, since we'll be moving.  Zachary replied, "Yeah.  That's one of the sweet parts of moving." !! :)

For some reason, I was discussing how many calories were in the Quarter Pounders Zachary and I had had for lunch one day (we took advantage of a BOGO coupon).  Zachary said, "Wow, I'll have to be talking a walk to burn those calories!"

Natalie told me this story about her Toddler Church time:  "We had to share the scissors, but Bella took a really long turn, until her mommy came.  Then she gave them to me, but they went on the floor.  And that was what they did!"

David was getting frustrated with his Mickey Mouse fork at mealtime one day, so he yelled at it, "No, no, Me-mow!" (No, no, Mickey Mouse!)  A couple of days later, he was playing with a car (which he still calls vooov) in the living room floor.  It wasn't doing what he wanted, so he yelled at it, "No, no, Voov!" and bit it!

Zachary: "I'm going to think for a minute.  I'm going to use my noodle.  That's just an abbreviation for thinking, Mom."

Natalie, while reading a Disney book to Davey: "Donald Duck is mad, Davey.  Just like you get mad sometimes."  Davey: "Oh."

Natalie taught Davey to say No Way this week - it is hilarious!! He says, "No Ay!" :)  I try to get him to say, "Love You", and he responds, "No ay".

A sheriff's car with flashing lights passed us today, and Natalie said, "Oh, that policeman is going to get the people who don't honor God, and the people who don't share.  Right, Mom?"

A friend of ours was making popcorn while watching the kids so Joel and I could go on a date, and she was trying to teach them about what makes the popcorn pop (the moisture inside, heat, etc).  She said to the kids, "What makes the popcorn pop?"  Natalie raised her hand, so excited she knew the answer, and yelled, "The MICROWAVE!!"  It's true, at our house. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Believing God

God is moving our family.  And He is moving in our family, and in each of our lives.  My husband has been accepted into the Manager-in-Training program with Lifeway Christian Stores, and he will begin his training on October 16th.  This is a very exciting development, and the answer to so many prayers for God to show us what He would have us do, as we have sought His will over the last months.  

It is also very difficult.  We have lived here in western NY state for almost nine years now.  All of our children were born here, and when you work and live as closely with the people as we do at our camp, you become more than neighbors and coworkers.  We are truly a camp family.  A church family.  And I have my MOPS family, and so many amazingly sweet, strong Christian friends we have made over the years.  

On the way home from sharing our news with our closest friends, our camp staff family, I felt like I would never stop crying again. (It's been two weeks now, and I nearly haven't.) And I thought, "Wow.  This is starting to get really hard."  

It felt like we were beginning to cross a river.  The water surrounding us was starting to get colder and deeper, and it would be so much easier to say, "Nope, this is hard. I'm turning around", and just back up and get out.  

But God is so clearly calling us to the other side of the river.  I know there will be deep parts, fast currents, and maybe even rushing rapids, but God is here, in the river, and there will be another side.  Another 'normal', whatever that is. :)  

God's sense of timing and how He works every little thing together for our good is impeccable.  

The afternoon that we were preparing to tell our kids about this new chapter of our lives, we ended up playing as a family on the camp playground.  Zachary has wanted for some time to try to go down the fireman's pole on the playground, but I'm too short to really help him very well.  However, this afternoon, Daddy was there, and was standing ready to help him go down the pole.  

I watched my five-year-old son, who is scared of heights (a quality he definitely gets from me!), perched on the ledge, whimpering in fear. His daddy, who was as tall as the ledge, stood right next to him, perfectly capable, strong, ready and willing to catch him in a split second.  From my perspective, feet planted safely on solid ground, his fear was laughable, ridiculous.  

Isn't that just how we look to God, whimpering in our fear when in truth He surrounds, ready, willing and completely able to catch us if we will just take that first leap?

Zachary ended up choosing to trust, and enjoyed several jumps down the pole with Daddy's help, and even one nearly on his own.  
That night, we began our conversation by talking about the pole. "Do you remember", Daddy said, "when you had to trust Daddy and jump to the pole?  Sometimes, Mommy and Daddy have to trust God for things, too."  I nearly lost it when Zachary's lip quivered, and he said, "But I don't want to move away from camp!"  

"Neither do we, sweetheart.  That's why we call it 'bittersweet'.  Some parts are hard, but there will be good parts, too.  We have to jump.  We have to trust that God has something great for us.  Something fun like going down the pole ended up to be for you."  
I love analogies, but of course with a five-year-old, it's hard to know exactly what they are grasping.  At the end of our conversation, though, Zachary wrapped it up nicely.  "So, Dad, you mean the ledge is like living at camp.  And jumping down the pole is like moving to your new job, and it's kind of scary, but God wants us to jump, and it might even be fun, just like the pole was."  


I'm so thankful for how God works so many things together for His purposes.  It is no accident that I am currently going through the Beth Moore study Believing God, about not just believing IN God, but actually believing Him.  Not just taking a STAND of faith, but actually walking BY faith.  

Concerning Abraham, Romans 4:20-22 says, "No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, FULLY CONVINCED that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness."  

Lord, let my constant prayer be as the father in Mark 9:24 - "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" 

I don't have to be perfect.  God will help me to trust Him, and He is there surrounding us, ready to catch us as soon as we jump.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Curriculum Plans 2013-2014

We're starting back to school here at Harts for God Homeschool tomorrow morning, with guns a-blazing! :)  I am so excited to get back to the routine, and for the new stuff the kids (and I!) will be learning this year!! :) And since it's also my birthday tomorrow, Hubby picked me up a nice birthday surprise to start the school day with - a Frappuccino! :)  In case anyone's interested, I thought I would share a quick rundown of the curriculum we're planning to use this year!  Enjoy!

Zachary: Kindergarten

-Language: A Beka Language & Phonics/Five in a Row Language
-Handwriting: Informal/Journaling
-Math: A Beka Math/Five in a Row Applied Math
-Science/Social Studies/Art: Five in a Row Volume 2
-Bible: God’s Names by Sally Michael, and one hymn/song per week.
-Music: Weekly music classes with fun songs, possibly learning to play piano/read music
-Gym: Outside Time, indoor gym class in winter

Natalie: Preschool - focus on phonics, letter & number recognition, 1:1 counting, beginning reading.
- Five in a Row alongside Z
- Confessions of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week curriculum - handwriting, letter hunts, size sorts, etc.
- Letter Games
- Sight Words

David: Tot School
- Tot Trays
- Five in a Row alongside N & Z

So, there you go!! I am excited about Zachary's new phonics and math - he has spent quite a bit of time sharpening pencils to use in his new workbooks tomorrow! :) I hope Davey can participate in more of the Five in a Row activities this year, and I am hoping to really focus on Natalie with her letters and numbers! :)

This will be our second year of using Five in a Row, and we have just loved it! Our first unit will be Harold and the Purple Crayon, which we have prepared for by watching almost an entire season of the TV show, which we checked out from the library! :) I'm so excited to get going! :)  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #17

Lots of hilarity this summer, but no time to write them out - I've been keeping track of them on my 'sticky note' app on my phone, though, and I have a few minutes to share them now! :)

While a friend was visiting us at camp, she saw one of the camp dogs getting into something he shouldn't, and said, "No, ishy."  Natalie turned to the dog a minute later, and said, "No, fishy."  :)

One night Zachary was still finishing his dessert (cherry crisp with ice cream) when his friends ran out to play on the playground.  He asked me what he should do, and I told him he could choose to either finish his dessert or go play outside.  He kept looking at them, darting towards them, looking back at his dessert, and starting back to the table, and he was so conflicted with this choice that he was starting to cry!!  He kept saying things like, "I can play with my friends lots of other times, so maybe I should finish my dessert", or, "They will probably make this dessert again, but my friends aren't always here, so maybe I should go play" ...  He finally decided to go outside and play, and then I thought the whole thing was just so sweet that I brought his dessert out to him at the picnic table. :)

One day, Natalie was talking about the hiccups and announced that "Tomorrow, I'm going to be hicking up."

I asked Z if he was ready to go down for quiet time.  His response: "Ready as I'll ever be!" :)

Davey has lots of new words including bump, maybe, Blob, rock, walk, bib, bug, bike, tree, and juice.

When I put the milk in the cart at the store, Davey started singing a song about milk (mim-mim) and juice (joo).  It went "Mim-mim, joo, mim-mim, joo" etc. :)

Natalie pronounces harmonica "America".  As an example, she said, "Davey brought his 'merica in the car today."

While they were playing, Z said to Natalie when she was about to take something from him or hit him or something, "Don't even think about doing that to me.  It is inappropriate."

During a picnic meal, Z hurried to finish chewing his food just so he could yell at Natalie, "Don't talk with your mouth full of food!"

One of the words I don't prefer for the kids to say is stupid.  One day, Natalie kept tripping over her Crocs somehow, and she was getting so frustrated with them.  She started to say, "My stuuuuu ..."  and instead ended it "My stuuuuk."  Which doesn't mean anything, I guess, but I was proud of her self-control. :)

Natalie painted her own nails one morning (my first questions were "Where" and "With what" - thankfully in the bathroom with her little nail polish).  When Z saw them, he asked her, "Natalie, did you paint your own nails?"  She responded, "Yes, Zach, I didn't even spill!" very excitedly. :)

I was cracking up listening to Zachary very seriously tell me about his Sunday school lesson one week - in which he learned about King Joseph-phat. Say it out loud, it's funny. :)

My friend Steph is married to our camp director, and his mother volunteers in the office at camp.  One afternoon, Steph told Zachary she was going into the office to see her 'mom'.  Zachary said, very seriously, "She's not your mom! She's your mother-in-law!"  He doesn't miss a beat, that's for sure.

Natalie was talking about being excited to go to breakfast one day, and I said that Daddy was excited to go to breakfast with us, too.  She said, "Daddy was excited to go to breakfast?  Did he bump his head?  From jumping on the bed when he was excited?"  :)

Davey was looking at one of the kids placemats one day, and he pointed to the purple bird and said, "Ee-ee", which means Natalie, and purple & pink are Natalie's favorite colors.  Then he said the orange bird was his favorite color. :)

One of my favorite things about youth camp this year was taking the kids to chapel, and watching them sing and dance to the chapel songs!  Zachary learned all the motions, and was very good at all of the songs. :)  He wants to be on chapel team as soon as he's old enough!! :)

One night I said, "Ooh, that's a good idea.  I'll put a bug in my friend's ear about that."  David was listening, I guess, and gave me a confused look.  Then he pointed to my ear, and said, "Bug?"

Natalie burped one day, and then said "Excuse me" right away.  Then she followed it with this gem: "I said excuse me right away, because I'm a girl.  Boys don't say excuse me right away."

Zachary has been praying such funny things lately.  One night he prayed, "Dear God, please take me to the Octa-ball court in one minute."  I said, "Um, do you think God is going to do that?"  His reply: "Well, if God can do anything...." :)  He also prayed one night that I would forget to give him a haircut for three years! :)

Zachary: "People get cracky when they get old."  Me: "Those are called wrinkles."  Z: "I know."

Zachary: "Great-Grandma said that she and Great-Grandpa go to bed at 10:00.  When she told me that, I said, 'That's only two hours before midnight!' but she told me she's old enough to stay up that late."

Natalie saw a bug on the bedroom floor that she didn't like the looks of, so she beat it to death with her princess toy, and announced, "I bammed him to death, and now he's all squished."  She is such a delicate flower.

Zachary loves camp food (as do I!).  One day after a failed attempt at baking, to which Zachary had entered the kitchen, and surveyed the cookie sheet with the finished product on it, and proclaimed, "They are flat and square" (true), Zachary said that Kristi (who baked at camp this summer) makes the best cookies in the world.  I said, "Yeah, way better than mine."  His wise response: "Yeah ... But yours are good, too."

Zachary's joke: What do bulls eat for breakfast?  A bowl of cereal!

Natalie was getting dressed up in her new princess dress and shoes, and announced that she was going on a date!  I was rather taken aback by this coming out of my three-year-old's mouth, so I asked, "With who??"  She replied, "Daddy." :) :)

Later that day, Natalie was getting dressed up again, this time she said, "I"m getting dressed up for my wedding.  I don't want to be late."

One Tuesday evening, we were eating ice cream sundaes, and I said, "Mmmm, these are good sundaes."  Natalie said, "Mommy, what day is it?"  "Tuesday", I said.  "Why do you keep saying Sunday then?" she had to know. :)

I will keep track of more hilarity and update you throughout the rest of the summer! :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Ministry

I haven't taken the time to write for a long time, but today God has laid something on my heart that I pray will be an encouragement to other moms who go through the same struggles that I do.  

Over the last couple of weeks, my husband and many friends have been busily preparing for the summer camp season, which started with staff training this week, and the first campers will arrive tomorrow morning.  I have found a few opportunities to help out here and there, running to town to pick up supplies, browsing Youtube videos and skit scripts to pass along to the Chapel Team, and wiping tables while my kids play on the playground for a few minutes, but for the most part, my life has been very similar to always.  I've been 'mom-ing'.  

Towards the end of the week, watching everybody else give a hundred percent of their effort towards the work at the camp, while I played on the playground or at the beach with my kids, or read books to them on the couch, even one day needing to stay home from camp for a few hours because my kids were over-tired and needed to rest, I began to get discouraged.  Even when the hectic summer season isn't going on around me, there are so many times when this voice of guilt speaks in my heart, saying, "Really, you're JUST a mom?  You could be doing so much more for the ministry.  Playing with your kids on the beach is a waste of time.  You should be more.  You should do more."  I feel lazy, leaving the dirty dishes in the dish pit at camp for someone else to wash because my 22-month-old wants me to hold his hand on the slide.

But, throughout this weekend, God has been working in my heart, reminding me in so many different ways that, for me, right now, THIS is my calling.  This IS ministry.  The homemade playdough recipes, the diapers, the freezie pops, kisses for boo-boos, questions and conversations about everything on the planet (or in space)...  I am busy with the ministry of raising the next generation of world-changers.  My boo-boo kisses and diaper changes teach them about gently caring for others (whether they know it yet or not).  I have opportunities every single day, in moments of discipline and in our daily conversations, to lead my children's hearts into a closer knowledge of the God we serve, and a deeper relationship with Him.  

This morning, God brought to my mind my mother-in-law, and the way God has multiplied her mothering ministry.  She raised three boys, my husband and his two brothers.  Each of those boys now serve in a different ministry in three different states across the country, and she and her husband serve in their church as well.  Each of these men are known in their churches and communities for their godly wisdom and selfless service in their ministries.  FOUR states are now being impacted rather than just one, because of the years of faithful ministry by one mother.  I know she had to balance ministry and motherhood.  My husband talks about going along with her and helping her with various tasks at the church where his father was a pastor.  I also know she dedicated her life to raising up godly men, and by God's grace, He has answered her prayers, and I know she is so grateful for His blessings.  God has also blessed her with five grandchildren (so far), and as her boys pass on the godly character traits they have been surrounded with over the years, that, in turn, multiplies her influence even more widely.   

So, if you, like me, are a mom who has struggled with your purpose in mothering, or if you're being told by someone else, (or even by your own occasional feelings of guilt) that being 'just' a mom is not enough, if the business of your mothering has brought you to a place where you've had to step back from other ministries, remember: Mothering is a ministry.  It is the most important ministry we will ever, ever have, and no one else can take the place of a mother who is daily invested in drawing her children's hearts closer to God.

Can I pray for you?  If this post touched your heart, and you need prayer and encouragement, leave me a comment - I would love to keep you in prayer!!  Any suggestions or ideas on balancing motherhood and ministry would be welcomed as well! :)  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #16

I'm back! The kids have been so funny these last couple of months, I've just been so busy!! Sometimes I just don't even have a moment to write these things down before they go out of my head!  So here's what got recorded! :)  

Nat is convinced that she is going to turn into a boy, or used to be a boy.

Natalie: Ladies and gentlemens...here are some papers. That's the rule.

Z: Mom, what do they call a place where people's bodies lay after they die? Is it a secretary?

Nat: My watermelon has a lot of juice in it. That's why its called watermelon!

Z: If i grow up to be a person in a band, I would only sing songs that honor God. Is that what God wants? 

Z: Once I got some seeds, and they were volcano seeds, but they were non-house-lava-ing volcano seeds.  So I threw them back into the field behind our house, and a volcano grew and lava-d in our yard.  But the lava didn't burn out house, since they were non-house-lava-ing volcano seeds.

Nat, when done eating Froot Loops for breakfast: I'll save my loops for later.

When we were on vacation, Davey would NOT fall asleep in the car.  It was late, he was exhausted, and he was just crying and crying.  Finally, my husband put his hand back and held Davey's little hand.  David literally instantly laid his head down and fell asleep.  It was so sweet!!

A friend came and  fancied up my hair for my sister's wedding, and when Z saw me with my hair so done up, his response was, "What is up with your hair??" Always honest, I guess! :) 

In the middle of the best man's speech at my sister's reception, during a pause in quiet room, Z also blurted out, "Mom, what is he talking about?"  

When we were leaving our resort in Tennessee one day, where we stayed in a four-level log cabin with Joel's extended family, Z asked what the 'Welcome Center' was for.  We told him it was a place to go if you had questions about your cabin.  Z responded, "I have a question. Why does our cabin have so many stairs?"

When we were getting ready to pack up, I still needed to rearrange some things in our suitcases before Joel lugged them up the aforementioned stairs, so I asked Z to go wake up his Daddy, and tell him not to bring the suitcases up, because I was going to do something with them.  Z said, "Okay, I will tell him, 'Your wife is going to do something with the suitcases.'" Lol!

Natalie and Z both said several times during and since vacation, "Silas is the cutest baby in all the world." :)

Davey had such a fun time with his cousin Reed, who is only a month older than him! They loved to shout NO! together, and get into all kinds of little mischief. :)  

Z:  I just saw a Japanese restaurant.  Or at least I think so, because it was called Little Tokyo, and Tokyo is the capital of Japan.  Apparently he learned this on Disney Junior! :) 

Z, after reading a library book on the body: Your skin has five layers! They're all different colors. One is purple.

Nat was trying to say Hersheys one day, and said, "Yoshis" instead. :)

Z has started being embarrassed for the first time this month!  First, he said he was embarrassed to wear his jammies to the library (but it was a jammie picnic, so everyone was wearing jammies), and then when I gave him a pink cup because his was dirty, he said he was embarrassed to drink out of a girl cup!  

Zachary made up a song called Jesus, You're the Best.  The lyrics go, "God, you're in my heart.  God, you're in my soul.  I don't love anything more than I love you."  I got a video of him singing it, and I will have to try to upload it soon! :)  

Nat made up a song called Only if You Obey, about when you get a treat. :)

When my parents were visiting, Z heard my dad say he was going to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  At the time, Z was swinging on the bull swing, so he asked, "You're eating a bull of cereal?"  My dad responded, "No, that would be silly.  You have to think about the context."  To which Z said, "Context?  Context is what you put in your eyes when you can't see!"  :)

David has LOTS of new words!! He says "butt" for button, which totally cracks me up, and wah for rock.  He says MOO for cow (LOUDLY, in the milk aisle and anywhere else he might happen to see a cow!).  He also counts 'two, two, two, two, two'.  Two is the only number that matters, right? :)  He has said, 'blah' for please a couple of times, but mostly he just flaps his  hands around insistently when he wants something.  Sometimes he even does a little 'wanting 'dance, which is so, so funny. :)  

While we were driving somewhere, Z announced that he had come up with a logo for a new company.  The company is a restaurant called Wing World, and the logo is a world, but the continents are chicken wings! :)  He is just so creative! :)

Another latest 'invention' of his is the Grass Chopper mower - it looks like a grasshopper, and has a mouth that opens and closes, chomping/mowing the grass.  Look for it in a store near you! :)

One day during Bible time, we were talking about how we can ask God for help, and Nat gave this example: "Yeah, like when I don't know how spell my letters, I can say, 'God, help! Help! I don't know how spell my letters!" :)

My grandma sent a handwritten note in the mail, and when Z took a look at it, he said to me, "Mom, will you read this to me?  I don't know how to read this font."

I hope to post Z's stories and book reports from the 2nd half of the school year soon, as well as our curriculum plans for the fall, and a wrap-up post of what we did for school this year, if anyone's interested! :)  Hope everyone is having a great summer! :)  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #15

I have really gotten behind on keeping track of the hilarious things the kids say on a daily basis - I hope I can remember some of them from the last month!!

Natalie says 'plastic' all the time instead of pretend - like, "I'm not really sleeping.  I'm sleeping plastic."  and  "A plastic robber came to our house."  I think she got the idea from me always telling her it was silly to eat the plastic food?

Natalie: "I want to go to God's house, and see if he has any toys."

During our first round of the stomach flu, Zachary threw up on his bed.  He was so upset by it, and the first thing he said to me was, in a pleading voice, "Can I pleeeeeease have a new sheet?"  Then he had to wait in the bathroom while I changed the sheets on the top bunk (which is NOT quick process), and as I was explaining the importance of the 'bowl' to him afterwards, he said, "Oh. I will use the bowl next time.  That way I don't have to wait so long in the bathroom."

Zachary: This book's copyright is 1988.
Me: Oh, that's not too long ago.  I was a little girl then.
Zachary: Whoa, this book is Really Old!!!

During a snowball fight one day, Daddy threw some snow at Zachary.  When Zachary asked why, Daddy said, "Because you threw snow at me first."  Zachary's response: "Daddy, we don't do revenge."  :)

Natalie was having problems putting on her jammies one day, and she started to talk to them: "I need my jammies to understand! Jammies, you just need to obey!!"

Zachary came up with a new business that he is going to start someday, called Edible Crafto.  They will carry all kinds of supplies for, you guessed it, edible crafts! :)  And the best part is the company slogan - Eat Fun! :)

As Zachary was trying to come up with the word for slogan, he said, "What's the name of that, like, 'Don't get mad, get Glad'"?

The kids were playing a rhyming game in the car.  Zachary said, "I love you because you're so tiny."  Natalie responded, "I love you because you're so porcupiney!!" :)

The kids have a rude thing that they do to each other, where they make mad faces at each other when they're angry, and they put their mad face really close to the other person.  I don't even know what to call it, maybe grimacing?  Anyhow, Natalie came up with a word for it - 'neek'.  "Don't neek at me! Mommy, Zachary's neeking at me!"  Look for that one in a dictionary near you! :)

David has been so funny lately - he has started saying NO!, and making this little mad face, sometimes just whenever, and sometimes when he's actually mad.  It is hilarious.  When Z was this age, and he did that, we were convinced he was going to be a juvenile delinquent.  We just laugh at Davey's little attitude. :)

Davey has started saying lots of new words!  He has a word for Natalie now (NatNat), and he says Mo for Elmo! :)  He also said 'bapple' for apple once, and milk is mim-mim.  He often comes and tattles on his Bubba or Sissy - if they do something that bothers or upsets him, he runs to me, crying, "Bubba! Bubba!" and pointing at the offender. :)

We were playing I Spy at dinner, and Z said we could have teams.  "My team is Mommy, me, and Davey.  Nat's team is Daddy, Nat, and a pretend person." :)  It's a close call between Davey and a pretend person on your team... :)

One day after Natalie had been reprimanded for something, she stood in her room, head hung down, and said sadly, "It's hard to obey." So true!

I told Natalie to wash her hands.  She said, "I'm going to stay in the bathroom forever.  And you will call me at bedtime."  :)

My favorite thing that Davey does is he gives me hugs with his arms around my neck, and then he kisses me on the cheek - it is just so sweet!! :)

Today Z talked Natalie into wearing one of his shirts "so they could match".  She was running around in her brother's 5T shirt, with a dirty face, and messy hair when it was time to go to church for small groups.  I said, "Can I put a pretty bow in your hair?"  She responded, "NO. I don't want Anything Pretty."  Apparently I have two boys and a tomboy now...

Natalie told me a 'silly story' in the car tonight - "I had a little teeny dragon in my house.  I swat him with my ladybug swatter, and he went away."  Natalie has definitely become quite the talkative little thing lately!! She is always telling me some kind of story, I just love it. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kidlet Hilarity #14

I think it is just so fun to overhear the kids playing, and all the things they come up with.  Zachary somehow came up with one name that they like to tease each other with, and that name was Tooty McNittle.  It just struck me as funny, and we giggle every time they bring it up. :)

One night as Z and Natalie were sword-fighting with (plastic!) golf clubs, they were shouting, "Fight for kindness!" :)

Z: "I know where your soul is.  It's by your heart.  It's shaped like a stick.  Not like a stick with a branch sticking out.  Kind of like an oval stick, this big."

Nat, after finishing a cookie: "I want some more.  I'm still hungry."  I said, "I can get you some more chicken."  She responded, "No, never mind.  I'm full."  

David has definitely joined the hilarity in the last couple of months, too - his personality is really starting to come out. :)  One Saturday morning as we were eating breakfast at camp, I gave David a piece of bacon.  He picked it up, looked quizzically at it, bit it, took it out of his mouth, and stared at it again like he wasn’t sure what to do with it.  He has such an expressive face, and it was just so hilarious to watch!!

Nat: “My back hurts.  I hurt it at McDonald’s.  I bumped into a window and the glass was all brokeden.”  She definitely comes up with some great stories lately!!

Nat loves to ask, “What do you did today?”  and she won’t just accept your first answer, she keeps asking, “What else?  What else?”  This is her favorite dinner time conversation. J

Daddy says he likes the Gators because ‘it makes our (Florida State fans) friends mad’.  Zachary is totally confused. “Do you want to make them mad???” 

Natalie puts on a hat.  “Will you laugh at this hat?”, she asks Zachary.  “Oh, no, that might make you sad.  I won’t laugh at you,” he responds.  Natalie: “Will you please laugh at me?”  Zachary laughs at her.  “Laugh louder!”, Natalie commands. J

Z: “Natalie, you don’t cry in basketball.”

Nat: “You want one of dese gummy bears?  They’re pretty tasty!”  We love when Natalie says ‘tasty’, it is just so cute. J

I asked Zachary if he enjoyed his first trip to the dentist.  He said he didn’t like getting his teeth cleaned, because “It tasted yucky.  It tasted like guacamole.”

Natalie was too full to finish her yogurt at snack time one day.  Getting down from her chair, she said, “I will save this for later.  I will go get a plastic paper.” J

When we were reading through Katy and the Big Snow, we were talking about how the snowdrifts were three feet like (like Zachary, we said!), and five feet deep (like Mommy!).  Natalie said, “I have two feet.” J

Z asked me for a calculator.  “Why?”, I asked.  His response: “To show you how much I love you.”  Awwwww… J

David has lots of new words – two of them are hat (pronounced ah), and shoe/sock (both pronounced eesh).

Natalie: “If God ate an ice cream sandwich, would He say ‘mmmmm’? We can give him one tomorrow.”  Um, okay…

Zachary’s leg was hurting one day.  As he climbed into Daddy’s lap, he lamented, “Ohhhh, I need a walking stick.”  Of course, we all laughed.  “This is no time for jokes!” he protested. J

As the kids were watching Looney Tunes, Zachary felt the need to ask, “Mom, what are smithereens?”

Davey has this super cute pouty look that he does when he doesn’t get what he wants – he walks away with his tummy poking out and pouty lips – I love it. J

Davey says “ye-yo” for cereal (or crackers). J  As soon as we walk into the Park (children’s area) at church, Davey runs to the nursery and begs for “Ye-yo!” till he gets some! J 

Natalie and Zachary got to spend some time baking with Sandy & Kelly at camp last week, and after we all ate lunch together, there was more baking to do.  Natalie seemed tired, so I asked her if she’d rather stay or come home and take a nap.  Her response?  “You leave.  I bake.”  Okay!

One day Zachary ran to find me in the bathroom, “Mom! Natalie is tempting me to ride on the kitchen gate!” J

Natalie got all the spoons out of the drawer to make shapes on the table with them, coating them all with whatever we were eating at the time.  I said, “Natalie, now all the spoons will be dirty at lunch.”  Her response – “Oh, we can use forks.”  Okay then.

Joel was talking with Zachary about something, and Z asked what they would do.  After Joel told him, he responded, "Oh. That's a good solution."  

Davey has a word/noise for car (“vvvvvv”).  He jumped down from my lap and I said, “where are you going?”  He responded, “vvvvv”, and went to get a little car.  He also makes the same noise while he plays with his cars, tractors, or trains. J  He also has a word for snow – “brrr”! J  He loves to nod his head to everything, whether it’s true or not, and he says, “Uh-uh” while he nods. J  He is definitely daily living up to his name, “Beloved laughter”!! J  This stage (18-24 months) is just my favorite stage – new words every day, you can almost see the wheels turn as they learn and process SO much!!  He is starting to really enjoy things like coloring and playdough along with the other two!  Such a joy!!