Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Turning Seven!

Hard to believe my firstborn is seven years old already!!  We had to celebrate with a horse theme this year!  It's too bad we couldn't be in Montana with my sister, then we really could have had a horse party!  This year, Evelyn's birthday fell right on a big training weekend for me at work, so we did things a little differently.  Below are some of the pictures of our celebrations!
 This was the three on Evie's actual birthday!  We got her a camera for her birthday.  She was ALWAYS using ours, so we found a super deal on one!  It's been great, too, because she's always taking videos and pictures of the kids!  I know she will capture many memories for us!

 This was the first year we did a "girls birthday party" for Evelyn.  We invited a couple friends from church and our homeschool co-op.  They played pin tail on the horse, made horse charm bracelets, and ate horse cupcakes.  I think they all had fun!

 Above they are making the bracelets. 
 And here is our birthday girl, daddy had to get her a cowgirl hat!

 And this was Ev at her family birthday party.  We had some close friends and Grandma and Grandpa Kruithoff party with us!  It was a lot of fun, and we played horse bingo!
So there you have some glimpses from our celebrations.  I told Evelyn she will never again get that many parties, but I was struggling with the fact I was so busy on her birthday this year.  It was a lot of fun to celebrate together.  It's been wonderful seeing Evelyn as she continues to grow.  The girls loves to talk, play with her sister and brother, and is really learning to love to read!  She is extremely helpful around the house, always asking how she can help, wanting to learn to clean and fold laundry (I hope that continues)!  I love her compassionate heart and her sensitive spirit.  We pray all the time that she will continue to grow in her love for God, desiring to serve and honor Him all the days of her life!  Looking forward to see what this year holds for her!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happenings in Homeschooling

We are continuing to plug away at homeschooling, and truly continuing to love it!  Here are some of the most recent things we've done!

  We took a field trip to the Planetarium at USF.  We learned all about the solar system, constellations, and took a journey into space!

This picture shows my favorite part of homeschooling- the endless time that we have just to snuggle on the couch and read to the kids and let them read to us!  Love not feeling the pressure of rush, rush, rush!

We celebrated 100 days of school!  We did lots of 100 things that day... breakfast with the number 100, necklaces with 100 fruit loops on them, trail mix with 100 items in it, 100 piece puzzle, we graphed out 100 skittles by color, and a few other things too!


This one has probably been my favorite, by far.  We got together with another homeschooling family and made valentines cookies.  We cut them out, decorated them and made cards with a Bible Verse on them.  We then brought them to a neighborhood nursing home and hand delivered them to the patients rooms.  It was so fun to see them walk right into the rooms and give them the cookies.  We pray we were a blessing to someone that day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Super Baby Food

It's been a journey with Jack, introducing him to solids.  I feel like the girls adapted a lot quicker to it, of course that was 4 1/2 years ago, so who really remembers!  He showed no interest until about 6 1/2 months, and even after that, it was a struggle to get him to take them at all!  I use this book "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron as kind of my standard.  It was introduced to me after Elaina was a baby, so I didn't really get to use it a whole lot with her, but I am loving the information in it!  It's a huge book, so I probably haven't even gotten through half of it yet, but it's a great resource to go to!  I would highly recommend it.  It gives guidelines of what you should be feeding them at each age, and also how to prepare each food, store it, and what the nutritional benefits are.  It also has great recipes for bread, making your own cereal, yogurt, etc.   

Anyways, I've been working on Jack and his green vegetables.  In my mind, if I can get my kiddos to eat peas and green beans at this age, they will eat anything!  I tell myself that is why the girls will eat broccoli, peas, and almost anything I give them (who really knows if that's the reason, but I'd like to think so).  So, for weeks I've been feeding Jack peas, and each time he would just gag... literally.  But, I kept doing it, and finally!  See the evidence below of the happy boy eating his peas and carrots!

I heard somewhere that sometimes a baby needs to try a food 15 times and then he/she will finally like it, I'm fairly confident we were well past 15 with Jack, but it was worth trying it!  I feel like we've finally taken a turn with him, where he actually is enjoying what he is eating.  Right now, at almost 8 months, he is eating avacado, sweet potatoes, plain yogurt (his absolute favorite), bananas, applesauce, peas, carrots, and today was the first day for green beans.... we were back to gagging again.  Hopefully it won't take 15 times for the green beans, but I guess we will see! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on the New Year

I can't say I'm a new years resolution kind of girl, but I also feel like often times there are natural rhythms of life where there are times to gain a new perspective, new focus.  There are two main ideas I've felt God has pressed on my heart for this new year.  The first is in regards to our family, the second is more of a personal one. 

Compassion- I've really felt in my heart a need to pray for increased compassion in my own heart, as well as the rest of our family.  I desire to be a family who is more outward focused, not focused on ourselves.  I desire to not just teach my children about showing love and reaching out to others around us, but model it for them.  This is one thing that I am excited about with homeschooling.  We have the freedom to do some different things, the ability to not be bound by time or schedule.  I already feel God has given me some ideas of things I hope to implement this year. 

Then there is the personal one.  I attend Bible Study Fellowship on Wednesday mornings at a church around the corner.  It has been a tremendous blessing in my walk with the Lord, and also for the kids.  They offer a children's program, that really is like Bible School, where the girls learn similar things to what us adults are studying.  Even in the nursery where Jack is, they sing hymns and read scripture to them.  I just love it!  Anyways, our BSF leader who does the teaching regularly will joke about how "we all just need to get over ourselves".  This has really stuck with me.  I feel often times God reminds me of this in a lot of situations.  It's so easy for me when things get hard, or I get tired, or simply don't want to do something, to fall into a "me me me" mentality.  To only think about myself or my needs.  So, I'm praying through several scriptures on a daily basis to help me focus on Christ alone, and be more sensitive to the things He is desiring me to do daily. 

Philippians 2:3-5
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I've really been desiring to focus my prayer life on God's word.  His word is power, His word is alive!  What better words to use when communicating with my Father than words that are God-breathed!  Something simple I created to initiate that was to write some verses I desired to focus on and pray on a regular basis on several 3x5 cards.  I did this for each of the kids, for Andy, and for our family in general.  Then I simply put them together on a ring, and there ya go!  It's a great guide for me during my morning prayer time.  It's been a real blessing already.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas Memories

We were again blessed this year to be able to travel to see family during the Christmas season.  We first went to my parents for a couple of days, and then we traveled to see Andy's side of the family.  We had celebrated Christmas with my parents and my brother and his family over Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to see my mom and dad at Christmas.  It was wonderful to spend time with everyone and reconnect with some we hadn't seen in awhile.  Here are just a few snapshots of the week we were gone!
This was taken before we left!  It's become a tradition that my best friend Lindsey stops at our house on their way down to French Lick each year.  This year was an adventure.  As they were driving down, our power went out!  I was in the middle of making deep dish pizza and breadsticks!  I couldn't believe it!  But, they wanted to do the adventure with us, so we ordered pizza, stayed warm by the fireplace, and the power came back on around 8:30PM!  We enjoyed conversation by candlelight, and even all the girls thought it was pretty cool!  They stayed one night, and we just enjoyed time with them!

This was our tree this year.  Funny story- we always cut down our tree on Thanksgiving weekend, but since we were gone, we wanted to do it our first day back.  So, we went on an evening, not realizing that the tree farm would have NO lights.  Out we went with a flashlight to find a tree... and we come home with one about a foot too tall, and sort of crooked.  But, we loved it!  The girls had to put every single ornament we owned on the tree this year.  They had so much fun decorating it!

Below are our three kiddos on Christmas morning!  We had gotten the girls hats like the one Elaina has on, and she wouldn't take it off!  She even slept in it the night before.
This is the advent tree that we did with the kids over Christmas.  We used Ann Voskamp's advent book found here. 
It was a real blessing for our family and helped us to stay focused on what is important during this season.  The girls enjoyed it and loved putting up the ornament each day.  

We do the whole Santa thing with the girls, so this was the letter they left for Santa (including the delicious cookies and milk).  The bottom picture was Christmas morning at my mom and dad's!  The girls were pretty happy that Santa had found them there!

We were so thankful to be able to see grandmas and great grandparents during our trip.  I'm thankful for each moment we have with each of them!

Our journey continued as we headed to Higgins Lake to spend some time with Andy's family!  Here's Andy with Evie on the grizzly!  We always know we can plan on snow up there!

Jack is getting so close!

Above- Jack loving time with Meme!
Below- An attempt to get a picture of all the grandkids!  And yes, Jack is the only boy on that side!

I'll be honest, traveling with three this year was tough.  Jack was teething, Elaina came down with a cough, it's very busy and I'm a person that is really wired to be at home.  But each year, we come home so thankful for the quality time we've had with family, the great conversations that you only have when you stay up late playing cards, or get up early with a baby.  Each year we make more and more memories and the kids are able to continue to get to know their cousins.  It truly is a blessing to be able to have that quality time with family and I'm thankful to our parents and family who work really hard to make it happen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Elaina Jane

Elaina Jane is our little one with truly a fire for life.  Every since she was younger, I knew she was going to be different than her big sister.  Evelyn is our rule follower.  Elaina definitely sings to her own tune.  At first, it was frustrating, but I feel God has given me a new way to see Elaina.  He has helped me to realize that He has great things planned for her, and I shouldn't try to force her to fit my mold.  So, every day I try to allow her to just be Elaina.  I also feel God is giving us wisdom daily to know how to discipline, love her and disciple her.  Elaina truly is a feeler.  You rarely see her without a smile, and her sweet face and her love for life are an ever constant encouragement to me.  I am so incredibly thankful for this little one that God has given us!  She breathes life into this house and truly, there is never a dull moment when she is around!  I love her so much!  We just celebrated her 5th birthday.  I can't believe it!  I remember 5 years ago on December 15, she was born in a snowstorm.  The hospital was dead, but there we were, delivering a baby girl!  Thank goodness my parents made it down from MI to take care of Evie! And here we are, 5 years later!  She has become a snuggler, a little one who loves to use ALL of her five senses, all the time!  We celebrated her birthday the week before Christmas with a ballerina birthday party.  It was wonderful to have family and friends here with us to celebrate.  We played some games and enjoyed some cake and ice cream!  What a blessing she is, and my continued prayer for her is that she grows in who God has created her to be, and that He would use her passion for life to make a difference in this world!  Love you Elaina Jane!

Update on our family

So, I’m attempting to do a better job at updating this blog.  I’m wresting with some things in my heart related to facebook, but my struggle with leaving it completely is the fact that we have family all over the nation, and I know everyone loves to see the pictures of the kiddos and hear a bit of what’s happening in our life from time to time.  So, I figure if I do a better job of updating this ol’ blog, maybe I can break away a bit more from facebook.  So, I thought I’d update ya’ll on our life!

  1. HOMESCHOOLING!  That’s right- we chose to homeschool this year, and I am loving it!  I never dreamed we’d be homeschooling, never in a million years.  I struggled immensely last year with sending Evelyn to school, and after really praying about it, talking with a lot of people, looking through all our options, we thought we’d give it a whirl.  We chose to use My Father’s World curriculum (highly recommened from my sister), and we just love it.  It’s so grounded in God’s word, the girls are learning so much about the Bible.  Way more than I ever did at that age.  It’s so fun- memorizing scripture, doing lots of activities.  Most of all, I just love the time I actually get to spend with my kids.  I have no feelings of “I wish I had more time with them”… because I get to be with them!  I really feel like homeschooling works well with our lifestyle.  I can’t handle a lot of “busy busy busy”, running around like crazy, so for us, this just works!  For now.  We will continue to pray about it and every year ask God what is best for our family, and for our children, but right now, this is the way we feel led to go!

  1. Ballet- With the option of homeschooling, we decided we definitely needed to make sure the girls were in outside activities (but not too much).  So, they started ballet at a local church, and they just love it!  They are completely enthralled with it, they will dance and dance around the house. 

  1. Homeschool Gym class- we are involved in a wonderful homeschool gym class co-op.  We’ve been blessed to be getting to know some wonderful homeschool families, and the girls really enjoy the class part of it.  Elaina actually doesn’t do gym, but she attends a preschool class while there.  Evelyn does gym class for some of the time and then is also involved in an enrichment class where several different topics are covered- including some that mom gets to teach.

  1. My job- I am continuing to work at A Hope Center, one evening a week in the office as a nurse, and then doing some part time hours as the Volunteer Coordinator.  It’s a blessing because I get to do a lot of my hours from home, and the times that I need to interview potential volunteers or give tours of the facility are in the evenings or some Saturday mornings.  It works very well with our family right now.

  1. Andy continues to work at USF and was blessed to be able to teach his first college class this year.  It’s a class that all freshmen have to take, and he really enjoyed it.  I’m very proud of him, and we are thankful that they asked him to continue to teach it through the school year!

  1. Evelyn- Evelyn is just blossoming before our eyes.  She is learning to read, and doing a great job!  She struggles a bit in the writing area, but we are working on it.  It’s been fun to see her sweet personality coming out.  She is much more extroverted than we ever thought she would be.

  1. Elaina- Elaina loves being home.  She is a home-body like her mommy, begging me to homeschool her just like her big sister.  So, we decided to start Kindegarten with her even though she would technically be in preschool this year.  She is doing really well with the curriculum and beginning to read already.  She is definitely our fun spiritied child with a zest for life!   
  2.  Jack- Jack is growing like a weed.  A blessing to be able to continue to nurse him.  He appears to have a fairly laid back personality, and just loves to watch his big sisters.  As I write this, he is getting up on all fours and rocking away… mom isn’t ready for him to go to that next step. We are working on solid foods with him, but he appears to have more of a sensitive stomach, so we are having to go a little slower with him on these.  I am just enjoying life with him- learning to treasure these moments because I’ve truly realized how quickly time flies.  I'm treasuring each feeding, each time he grabs my fingers, each smile he has, and rather than wanting him to rush to the next stage, I'm trying to keep him right where he is :)