We timed our trip last weekend to coincide perfectly with the return of my mom and newest little brother from Ghana. Welcome to the family little John David! 

Ezra was quite taken by him.
We also were able to share at the student ministry at Crosswalk Church in Pennsylvania. They were a great group of students who are being led by an amazing team of leaders that are cultivating a lifestyle of being "on mission" within their ministry DNA. It's always humbling to share our story, to take a look at what God has allowed us to be a part of, and what he is continuing to allow us to be a part of.

Since being home, we've been cramming in those last few pages of textbook work and fit in a morning of strawberry picking...

There's always one with eyes closed. 

Happy Thursday!

We celebrated 12 years of marriage over the weekend. We got to spend an entire 24 hours sans offspring (thank you family!) and went to DC and took in all the memorials and a few museums then spent the evening at the very place that we said our vows and started out on this crazy journey.

We also observed this newfangled selfie stick craze that takes narcissism to a whole new level. We watched a girl almost fall into the reflecting pool at the National Mall while fixing her hair and walking with her selfie stick. Seriously, when did this become a thing?!

I digress.

Yeah, it was a great 24 hours.
(Minus the selfie stick thing...)

But it's been an even greater 12 years.

I could gush and mush and detail all the things that I love about my man, but I'll spare you. (You're welcome.)

Instead, I'll keep it simple and just say that to have someone by my side that will "count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philip, 3:8) is my greatest earthly gift.

Happy 12 years Jeremiah. The best is yet to come.

On the road again...

We head up north this afternoon. We are sharing at a church this weekend, but decided to leave a few days early to spend a day with my family and leave the kids with them for an overnight 12 year anniversary getaway.

We met when I was 16, dated for 6 years and have now been married for 12 years. If you do the math on that, we've been together for over half my life!

We are staying the night at the Hartwood Mansion, the venue we were married at. Other than 1 quick drive by, we haven't been back in all these years, so I'm sure it'll be fun to take a walk down memory lane. Unless, of course, its deteriorated over time and is a total dive...then it'll be a fun story to tell in future years.

Speaking of love...while in Florida a few weeks ago I was able to break out the camera (man, am I out of practice!) and grab a few maternity shots of my sister-in-law...

I am in major baby fever mode! Danger! Danger! I need to hold someones baby...if you'd like to volunteer yours?! I even signed up to work in the baby nursery at church! Who is this person and what have you done with Jennifer?

Our soccer season is over and we had the end of season pot luck this week. Now, I realize that those of you reading this probably have kids who have gotten dozens of trophies, but, it was the 1st for my kiddo's and you would have thought they had won a Grammy! Well, Ezra at least. If we were all perishing in a fire, Ezra would go down holding that trophy.

Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration?

Well, I guess these suitcases aren't going to pack themselves...

Happy Thursday!

The end of the school year is fast approaching. We are finishing up books and subjects one at a time, dwindling down to the very end. Ella took her end of year test last week, and I'll test the boys in few more weeks.

It has been a great year and we all have learned so much! I can now say that for the first time in my life I actually understand the moon cycle and what a solar/lunar eclipse is, ha! Oh wait, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit stuff like that?! I am so proud of how each of the kids progressed and met goals...and we had fun doing it.

Because our Summer will be spent in Haiti this year I'm having to be way ahead of the game and plan out for our 2015-16 school year before we leave. I already have most of our books for next year and hope to be finished with all the planning by the end of this week.

It's always this time of year that I reflect back on the school year...what worked, what didn't, what was the favorite, what was the flop...and reevaluate and reprioritize for the next year. I'm thrilled with how our year went...but I'm never ever 100% satisfied with everything. And that's the beauty of this educational choice: I'm not locked into anything forever. I can tweak or I can overhaul based on our needs.

What I'm changing up: I'm switching out Eli's math curriculum, both boys Grammar/Phonics, and I will be having my kiddo's do more writing next year, outside of what their English curriculum requires.

What I'm keeping: Our science and history curriculum and everyone else's math curriculum. And, of course, our artist of the month study, because it's my favorite thing to teach!

What I'm ditching: We are going way lower-tech in our house. Way lower. (Hello world of dumb phones!) I know that will impact some areas of our schooling, but I am confident it will be for the better for our family.

What I'm adding: We are joining a co-op for the first time ever and I'm excited for what (I hope!) it will add to our homeschool.

And now, bring on the Summer!

**This one comes all the way from December of 2011...and I can barely even remember that stage of my life with a 5 year old, 2 four year olds, and a wee bitty baby and how long it took to get anything done! And I noticed that I have 2 step 9's listed...ha! Oh, memories. Sweet memories.**

Step 1: Move into a new house and become dissatisfied with your old chairs.

Step 2: Try to talk yourself out of it because they are in perfectly good shape and you really should focus on the 10,459 other things that are more important to get done.

Step 3: Fail at step 2.

Step 4: Go to fabric store and pick out new fabric.

Step 5: In reality this is just a continuation of step 4 because it takes so long to complete step 4 because why does there have to be 713 choices?

Step 6: Finally chose 4 different fabrics because 1 is just so 2010.

Step 7: Wait for a quiet afternoon to begin project.

Step 8: Again, just a continuation of step 7.

Step 9: Gather up all old chairs, tools, and new fabrics into the garage.

Step 9: Remove old layers of upholstery.

Step 10: Curse myself for using so many staples on old layers of upholstery.

Step 11: Reminisce about how each stage of your married life was reflected in the past fabric choices. Original layer was a slightly hideous yet oddly not so hideous as it first seemed 8 years ago when we were gifted the dining room set 1960's floral pattern.

2nd layer was a light tan color with no pattern. I definitely chose this before kids came into the picture. 3rd layer was a nice indoor/outdoor fabric in a dark color with pattern. Um, definitely kid friendly.

Step 12: Run inside to feed crying baby who decided not to take a nap.

Step 13: Lay out new fabric and cut out appropriate size.

Step 14: Pull out basket of train tracks for son #1 and son #2 who also decide that naps are overrated.

Step 15: Get new fabric stapled onto 1st chair.

Step 16: Run inside to fix a snack for son #2 to prevent him from dying of hunger.

Step 17: Get new fabric stapled onto 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chairs.

Step 18: Rescue son #2 from certain death.

Step 19: Step on staple while running to carry out step 18.

Step 20: Remove staple from flip flop.

Step 21: Stop to explain to daughter #1 the reasons why we can't move all the decorative rock gravel and place it in the middle of the driveway.

Step 22: Get new fabric stapled onto 5th chair.

Step 23: Get new fabric stapled onto 6th and final chair. Oh wait. Realize for the 3,419th time that you don't have a 6th and final chair because...ahem...someone once thought we would never ever have a need for a 6th chair and threw it away. True story.

Ta da.

I've had a few rather...well, shall we say "trying" days with one of my children. (Craigslist, anyone?!)

I was completely exasperated by the behavior displayed and was lying in bed one night pouring out my complaints frustrations to my patient hubby. (Because you know there is nothing else a hubby would rather be doing in that sacred small sliver of time when all the kids are asleep and the wife is not asleep...ahem.)

He listened intently then promptly gave me a nice swift kick to my proverbial parenting booty...and he was exactly right. As soon as he said the words I knew it...

I had been viewing this child and this behavior as a huge inconvenience to me. This child had the audacity to reflect badly on me and I was parenting out of hurt pride and selfishness. Ugly truth, yes. Truth still the same.

To clarify, Jeremiah didn't actually say all that ugly truth stuff...he just prodded my heart in to see it for myself.

I needed an attitude readjustment.
I needed a fresh dose of grace.
And forgiveness.
Always forgiveness.

Thankfully, I have a husband who knows and loves me (and our high maintenance child) well.
Thankfully, I have a whole box of crayons kid who keeps me humble and pushes me closer to Jesus.

To parent is to be humbled - I'm pretty sure some smart dead person said that once. And it's true.

My kids are individuals who are in the same sanctification process as me. (Funny how my sin looks so much uglier on others...) And the most important part of the sanctification process is...the process. It doesn't happen overnight and it is never ever convenient.

But then, the best things in life never are.