Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Busy Year of 2017

As I usually do, I have the kids help me out a little with putting stickers and stamps on the envelopes of our Christmas cards. We're lazy, and don't lick the envelopes shut, but instead just put a Christmas sticker on it to hold it shut. Apparently, our stickers weren't very sticky this year and at least one card fell out of it's envelope before being delivered. So I'm hoping that if that happened to anyone else, at least they can see our Christmas card here, and I do apologize! I think next year we'll take the extra time (and endure the gross taste!) and just lick the envelopes shut. Without further ado, here's our Christmas card and photos (taken my me, again, of course!)

Tiny Print Referral*
Life with 4 children is always busy, even if we’re just at home! This year has been no different. In February, we decided to take a break from it all (and from the cold weather!), and take a road trip to Texas. The kids’ favorite memory is daddy trying to carry the 3 older kids across the Paluxy River on rocks, only to fall in and lose his sandal forever. Nora is in her second year with Little Flowers and with Treble Choir at church. She and Nate also did a soccer camp over the summer along with Vacation Bible School and Totus Tuus. They both have also started piano lessons with a friend of ours, but aren’t that great at sitting down and practicing. Nate has taken an interest in climbing things I wish he wouldn’t, so I’ve taken him rock climbing, and he really enjoys it! Sam started Faith Formation with his older siblings this year and loves being included with more and more “big kid” things as he grows. He and Lily have also been attending a music class, which we found out is taught by the wife of my third cousin! Lily’s highlight was probably celebrating her first birthday in May when we celebrated Danni’s 7th birthday. Adam got a little more free time when he graduated with his masters in Engineering Management from Kansas State University in May, but then marathon training ramped up shortly thereafter, and he actually had less free time. He ran in his second marathon this year to raise money for World Vision. Despite a knee injury, he still decided to run, but only made it half way (13.1 miles!!!) this year. After a couple weeks of rest to recover from his injury, he’s back running again with his team from church. This year he also shot his third deer! In August, he took me to D.C. for his annual EMC Symposium. We loved the child-free time together while my mom watched the kids back home. When I’m not homeschooling the kids, I escape the house for Parish Council meetings and Et Cetera (our young adult group at church) meetings and activities. My photography hobby is also developing into a small-time job, as I’ve had a couple families ask me to take their photos! (Shameless plug: You can like my Facebook page, Sarah Gibson Photography, or follow my blog at I have also been very busy growing our sixth child who we expect to arrive at the beginning of May 2018. We hope your year has been filled with many joyful memories, and the year to come only brings more!

Nora (6 years), Nate (5 years), Sam (3 years), and Lily (18 months)

Shutterfly Referral*
*I used Shutterfly to make my cards this year. I had a couple different codes with different specifications, where I only had to pay shipping, so I ended up sending out two types and only paid 52 cents per card! If you click my referral link you and I will both get a free 8x8 Shutterfly book after your first purchase.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Number Sense: Why My Bible is Better

With the celebrations of Reformation going on, I was thinking about how Protestants and Catholics have different Bibles. The Catholic Bible was set up sometime around 367 AD in it's current form (though, obviously it has been translated into many, many other languages since then), by St. Athanasius to contain the 73 books he believed were divinely inspired. In 382, Pope Damasus approved the list, and shortly thereafter, two councils, the Councils at Hippo and Carthage, ratified the list. The list was reaffirmed again by Pope Innocent I in 405 AD and by Pope Boniface in 419 AD. Many Protestants have heard that the Catholic church decided to add 7 books (to a list of 66 books, not to the original list of 73 books) in 1546 at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent, in reality, only reaffirmed the list of 73 books that was set in 367 AD by St. Athanasius. Nothing changed.

Enter the Reformers...

The Reformers removed 7 books of the Bible in the Old Testament called the Deuterocanonical, leaving 66 books and a chronological gap in salvation history. The Catholic Bible has 73 books, which contains these 7 books that were in the Septuagint (the Bible used by Jesus).

Because I’m a math nerd, I want to look at the symbolism of these numbers: 7, 6, and 3.

Seven is the number of completeness. Think about how God created the world in 7 days. Or when Jesus asks us to forgive our neighbors 7 times 70, He’s not asking us to forgive them 490 times, but to forgive them completely.

So, the Reformers removed completeness (i.e. 7 books) from the Bible and were left with 66. Now, what about the number 6? What does it represent? It represents incompleteness (it is one short of complete), human weakness, and the evils of Satan (Revelations 4:4). What does that say about a Bible that has 66 books in it?

The Catholic Bible has 73 books. I already stated what the number 7 represents - completeness. What about the number 3? It also represents completeness, though not as often as the number 7 does. Most commonly it represents the Holy Trinity.

So, with these number being "defined," what does each bible stand for?

The Protestant Bible with 66 books = "incomplete incomplete" 
or                          = "the evils of Satan (and) human weakness" 

The Catholic Bible with 73 books = "complete complete" 
or                                  = "complete (in the) Holy Trinity"

Thanks, Luther, I'll take the Bible that's "Complete in the Holy Trinity" over your Bible. ;)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2017-2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

I started sharing our homeschool curriculum choices last year, and I think I like the "record" of where we are and where we're going. So here I am again posting our curriculum for my many (ok, very few) readers.

Nora | First Grade (age 6)
Nora just finished three subjects: spelling, phonics, and handwriting. She was doing all of these at a first grade level, because I thought she was capable, and she proved me right. She did very well. We're still working through her first grade math curriculum, as planned. But, it's not her favorite, and since she's already working ahead of her brick-and-mortar-schooled peers, I'm not pushing her. I don't want her to come out hating math. Though, she did get really into some of the units, like the one on time, so we moved a little quicker with that unit. Once she finishes the first grade level, we'll move onto second grade right away.

This year we're continuing on with the same spelling and phonics programs, but we're dropping a formal handwriting program. She does fairly well with handwriting, so I don't feel like she needs much more instruction. However, we're going to take another area, which I'll discuss more in a minute, and focus on handwriting.

We're adding history this year, and after much research, I chose Connecting with History (RC History). We started a couple weeks ago, and since it involves a fair amount independent reading (though at her level it's suggested that the parents read to the child, but since she's completely capable of doing it on her own, I'm letting her), she's loving it. Another part of it is either copy work or memorization of a poem or verse that fits the time era we're studying. At her age, I'm having her do copy work, and we're using that as her handwriting. There's also projects to do, which I'm excited about starting with all the kids. It incorporates many different books for reading, fictional and non-fictional, which I think will make history a much more interesting subject. (It's my least favorite, so I had to find something that, at the very least, made me excited to teach it.) On our way up north to go camping, we listened to C. S. Lewis's "The Magician's Nephew," a story about the creation of Narnia.

She also went to a free soccer camp this summer with her cousins and some friends. She seemed to enjoy the games they played.

Phonics: MCP Plaid Phonics Level B
Spelling: MCP Spelling Workout Level B
Math: Math Mammoth (finish Grade 1 as planned, then move onto Grade 2)
History: Connecting with History (RC History) Volume 1 Beginner Level
Science: Elemental Science Biology for the Grammer Stage

Nate | Preschool (age 4-5)
Nate is really starting to like reading. He's teaching himself a little, but phonics are tricky in English. We started working through the McGuffey Primer from All in One Homeschool and we're not quite halfway though it. Considering a little over a year ago when I posted, he wasn't even grasping letter sounds, but is now on Lesson 24, and reading many easy readers on his own, I'd say he's come a long way! Once he had an interest in it, he wanted to learn it! 

I think math will be a strong point with him. If he's sitting at the table when Nora is working on her math, he is often answering the questions with her. I don't plan on starting anything formal with him at this point, mostly because I haven't found anything I like for his level. If I run across something I think would fit him, I might start him on it.

I think I would also like to start working on handwriting with him. I'm sure at some point I'll order him the one of the Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. I think it worked really well with Nora, and I'm sure Nate will do well with it also. 

He still has some speech issues, but I think he's pretty close to other kids his age. The /th/ and /r/ sounds still seems to be tough for him, but given that he couldn't touch the tip of his tongue to the roof of his mouth when he was 2 years old in speech therapy, he's doing okay. We still remind him often of how to properly make the /th/ sound, but he can't seem to make the /r/ sound yet. Reading has helped with it a little as we're properly sounding out words.

One of the highlights of Nate's summer was being on a soccer team: Green Monsters. They had a 3-game season, and Grandpa Jack took him to most of his practices and games. 

Sam | Preschool (age 3)
I intended on working through Year 2 of ABC Jesus Loves Me with him this past year, but I other than making the creation story book with him, we didn't do much. Even without using a formal curriculum though, he now knows all his colors (his favorite is orange) and can recognize most of the letters of the alphabet, and most numbers. He doesn't know most of his shapes though (star and heart are pretty easy!). He knows the names of the different Magna Tile shapes just by playing with Nora and Nate, but hasn't translated that to other objects yet. He does know circle and line though, because he can write the "a" in his name (a circle with a line next to it).

Lily | Toddler (age 1)
She's already been learning a lot through playing with her siblings. I have found that with both her and Sam, I haven't read to them as often as I did with the other two. I feel bad about this and hope it doesn't affect their passion for reading as they grow. Lily seems to be really interested in books, and will often bring a book to someone expecting him/her to read it. I am very thankful that Nora reads to her sometimes. She is also a talker like Nora was (okay, still is!). She has so many words: ba-be (baby), mama-me (mama milk), pa (up), da (down), wawa (water), mak (milk), Ra-ra (Nora), Nee (Nate), and Me-me (Sammy). I think she tries to say sentences too, but most of the words we don't understand. However, with her inflections, we can sometimes figure it out. (There it is and Where is s/he? are two that we know she's trying to say.)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Danielle's Memory: A Post Dedicated to My Family and Friends

I was on a getaway with some girlfriends this past weekend... if you weren't already aware from the abundant photos that were posted by my friends on social media throughout the course of the weekend! It was a time of relaxing away from our mom duties and our jobs, but it was also a time of sharing, reflection, and healing for some of us. I can't tell the other ladies' stories, but I can tell mine.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Stombaugh
Through the loss of Danielle, I have found that there are those that remember her and hold her very closely in their hearts, and there are those that forget about her or leave her "out" of our family, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I have never blamed or been angry with the latter group, but it has stung my heart. I have forgiven them, but just like the pain of losing a child never fully goes away, that sting in my heart doesn't fully go away either. This post isn't about those people though. This post is about the first group. The people who remember her at times I wouldn't expect them to remember her. Those are the people that I know also hold me closely in their hearts.

Sometimes I am amazed at the lives my daughter touched in only two short days. From the people who showed up at funeral, because they were following the updates on her throughout my pregnancy, yet we hadn't talked in several years, to those who I barely even knew during her short life who have remembered her in various ways, and to those who have donated in her memory to Faith's Lodge when I didn't expect them to donate, I am continually touched by their actions.

One of my friends brings her up in conversation with me from time to time. And this weekend was one of those times. Sometimes it only brings smiles to my face, but sometimes it also brings tears to my eyes. But the great thing is, these friends aren't afraid to cry with me. On a couple occasions, we talked about our grief journeys, with one of our friends still being very raw with some of her emotions on a tragedy in her life. I shared this story of my grief with my friends...

... there was one day where I couldn't bear the thought of not holding my child. My arms ached they were so empty. It really becomes a physical pain. I wanted so badly for them to be holding my child, my baby girl. I went upstairs, with the soreness from my c-section still lingering. I went in her bedroom, still set up and waiting for her, and shut the door. I sat down in the rocking chair, wrapped the nursing pillow around my tummy, and grabbed, what we now refer to as, the Danni Bear (It is a bear that plays a recording of her heartbeat that was taken at one of her ultrasounds). I rocked with the Danni Bear, clinging closely to her, to it, and sobbed quietly, so Adam wouldn't hear me. But, he eventually did find me. He didn't like seeing me so hurt. He was hurting too, but much stronger than I am. He tried to get me out of the room, thinking that if I were out of that physical space, that I would be better. Of course, that's not how grief works, and he knew that...

Of course, I started getting tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I told this story. And my most of my friends did too. They don't remember her as I, her mother who carried her for 9 months remember her growing within, and nursing her in my arms, but just as she touched my heart so deeply, she touched their hearts as well. For these friends, and for our family that has remembered her by visiting her grave, and leaving flowers or praying for her, I am eternally grateful that God placed you in my life. Just as I am thankful that He gave us Danielle, even if it was only for two days.

As we approach her birth and death days, we are participating in Hope Walks & Rolls again this year in memory of her. If you would like to participate, but haven't signed up yet, please do so here and select her team. If you can't join us, but would like to donate, please do so here. And thank you all for remembering her. It really does touch both my heart and Adam's.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Laundry Room & Mud Room Remodel: Problems and Solutions - Part 1

As pretty much all of our Facebook friends know, we started a laundry room & mudroom remodel last July. I had been dreaming, designing, pinning on Pinterest, talking, and trying to convince the parties I would need to get involved about it since shortly after we moved in back in 2013. Finally, Adam decided that he had heard enough, and decided to rip down a wall for my birthday present.

There were several problems with the way in which these two rooms were designed back in 1996 when our house was built.

Problem: When you walked in from the garage you walked into the laundry room, then walked through the laundry room to get to the mud room to hang up you jacket and kick off your shoes or boots (we do live in Minnesota, so there's a lot of boot-wearing!). Now, add four kids into that mix. The kids stopped right at the door, sat down on the floor, and took off their shoes, which were then left in the middle of the walkway for us to trip over when we tried to make it to the correct room to put our things away.

Solution: The rooms needed to be switched. This was the biggest challenge and I needed my dad on board with the idea. He would be able to move all the plumbing and the gas line around in order for the washing machine, gas dryer, and laundry tub to be relocated. Once Adam decided to start ripping down walls, he didn't have much of a choice.

Problem: The only place to hang up jackets was on a closet rod (those wire shelf ones with the rod underneath). This problem is two-fold. The rod was too high for the kids and the kids (and Adam most days!) don't know how to use hangers.
Solution: We needed hooks for jackets, and enough of them for six people's worth of jackets. I loved the Pinterest pictures of the lockers for each person in the family, but I didn't think the locker style was quite right for us.

Problem: With six people living in a house, comes six people's worth of shoes, and other than the floor or a box, we didn't have any place to put them. The usually ended up all over the floor.
Solution: We needed a shoe shelf with several shelves.

Problem: The kids love playing outside in the winter, which means hats, mittens, and scarves were always laying around on the floor. There was no good place for them to put them where they could reach them when they wanted to go outside.
Solution: We needed cubbies that the kids could reach to put their stuff in. In all honesty, when we started this, I wasn't sure how that would look. I had several different ideas, and it took me a while to settle on one.

Problem: I almost always use the awesome drying rack that my Godmother gave us when we got married, and seldom use the gas dryer. With the way the laundry room and mud room were built, there wasn't enough space for it to be in there. When it was nice out in the summer, I put it out on the deck to catch that fresh breeze. But, as I said earlier, we're in Minnesota, there's a long stretch of cold, snowy winter that doesn't mix well with drying clothes outside, so it ended up in my living room for a good part of each year. With small children playing nearby, wet clothes were often pulled down and thrown on the floor.

Solution: We needed to configure the new laundry room in such a way that there was floor space for the drying rack to be set up. Since there isn't any breeze like there is outside to help dry clothes, I also wanted a ceiling fan to help move the air to dry the clothes quicker. I also wanted an exhaust fan to suck all the moist air out of the room on those rainy days in the summer that I can't set it up outside.

More Posts About Our Remodel
Find out how we paid $235 for a brand new washer and dryer set!