Saturday, October 27, 2018

Date Night: October Edition

Derek recently coordinated some date night babysitting exchange with my brother and SIL. They live just minutes from us now so it's super easy! And we only have to watch two kids when they go out ;)

My favorite place to go (because it's free!) is the Mishawaka Riverwalk. It's so beautiful and peaceful. I love not feeling rushed, but just moseying along, admiring all the things. Derek always talks about when he and his Xtreme crew knocked out a bunch of trees blocking the view of the river while he convinced the mayor to keep a select few. The rest of the time I usually go on musing about everything under the sun and Derek quietly and patently listens in the loving way he always does. We're so good for each other.

Just off the Riverwalk is Smokestack Brew, which is delish so we dined then walked some more. Nothing fancy, just time together. 

There have been a lot of broken marriages coming to the surface lately. People that have been together much longer than D and I have. People who's weddings we went to. People we never thought would fall apart. It's been a painful reminder of how fragile marriage really is. 

It's also a reminder that it is a slow fade. We don't fall apart overnight. We fall apart over time. It's one tiny decision after another until one day we realize we're miles apart and getting back to each other will take nothing short of a miracle. And usually at that point, we don't really want that miracle.

I can't help but PRAISE THE LORD that He has stationed angels to guard our marriage. Yes, it takes effort on our part. And yes, we fail and we drift and we have stupidity tendencies. But in the end, it's JESUS who holds us together. That in itself is an utter miracle and a blessing at which I pray we never turn up our noses. 

Warren Barfield

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
And then commit
To never leave
So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it's something worth fighting for
To some love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping their word is hard to do
Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it?s something worth fighting for
I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Date Night: April Edition

I love April.

It being my birthday month has everything to do with it.

I don't like growing older but I love my birthday.

Just do what Derek does and don't try to understand me. It can't be done.

I still remember how in high school my friends would deck out my locker every year. They always made me feel so special (thanks, Dava!). Derek does an excellent job of that, also. He's not the type to decorate, but that's not what I would want at this time in my life.

He always knows exactly what will fill my heart the most. Even though I spend basically every waking hour with my kids, time together with my family is my very favorite.

And if it's free (or mostly free) and nature is involved, he's nailed it.

The weekend of my birthday was packed full of goodness. It all began on Friday night with a girls night with my biggest.

We went to Secret Keeper Girl where we learned about how God has made us each a masterpiece. It was incredible and all sorts of fun. Lifelong memories were made.

Derek had to work on Saturday morning so we all just lounged around. (It was my birthday weekend. Dishes were not on the agenda!) He came home and we all piled into the van and drove 1.75 minutes to a small lake to go hiking.

Afterwards, we dropped the kids at my Bro and SILs and headed to the theater with the lounge seats. We ate popcorn, drank soda, and watched I Can Only Imagine. (Highly recommend, by the way!!)

A quick stop at my fave sandwich place - Penn Station - then some chat time with the sibs and home again.

On my birthday, we went to one of our favorite places: church. Family celebration followed at my parents house. Then Derek and the kids went to kids club/youth group, and I settled into a couple of chairs with a good book.

It was stress-free. It was full of family. It was perfect.

Thank you, husband! On to another year of this glorious life. Interesting how I haven't aged at all in years...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Date Night - March Edition

In March, we finally attended a banquet that we've been wanting to attend for years. Of course we almost completely forgot about it, and thankfully my wonderful SIL and unsuspecting brother were available as last minute babysitters.

Yay for living so much closer now! And for wonderful family. I really have the very best.

We went to the RETA banquet where we had the privilege of listening to Davey Blackburn share his story and a powerful message about the importance of fathers. We also enjoyed some super delicious dinner and a little bit of fellowship with strangers and old friends.

RETA - Reason Enough To Act - has always held a special place in our hearts. Derek used to work part time there as a mentor to fathers. While he worked there, I got to help share some in parenting classes. The founder, Roxana, is an excellent employer, but even more so a wonderful human being. We're privileged to know her.

They're literally walking distance away from Planned Parenthood. The only reason to ever darken the door of Planned Parenthood instead of RETA is to get an abortion (I just censored myself there...) At RETA, you can get a free ultrasound (including a mobile unit), free pregnancy test, and access to Fairhaven OBGYNs. Not only that, there's biblical counseling for those who are recovering from an abortion, coaching and classes for parents, and a store loaded with necessities for new parents that can be earned through the classes. Oh, and if you're looking for someone to teach the real sex ed, RETA's got that too!

All that to say, our March date was at this banquet. And we think you all should get to know RETA and support this incredible ministry in whatever way God calls you!

Of course we didn't take any pictures so here's an adorable picture of my girls from March. They're so stinkin beautiful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Favorite Benefits of Homeschooling

I was recently shown this article covering a public forum held with public office candidates. The question of homeschooling came up and I was utterly shocked by the responses.

I still feel downright appalled.

I guess it's just a testament to how we erroneously put so much faith in humans in office. They're fallible and sinful, just like the rest of us. And they don't know everything about all the things. In fact, these particular candidates clearly don't know a blessed thing about homeschooling.

It breaks my heart to think that these people could destroy our freedom to homeschool based on their complete ignorance. I'm seriously considering writing letters to give them an education.

But here, on my teeny tiny blog, I'm gonna go in a little different direction. I simply want to share some of my favorite homeschooling benefits.

While I am a HUGE fan of homeschooling, I'm not for one second going to claim I know what God has for your family. I'm confident that He hasn't called everyone to homeschool. I'm also confident He has called us to it.

Here's just a handful of reasons why I am so grateful that He has:

1. Homeschooling has given us freedom.

You know those super nice days last week? My kids and I got sun on our cheeks. My littlest two boys spent outside. We scrapped the usual and soaked up the unusual.

At one point we were headed to a park and we drove by a school that was just letting out. A long line of kids came strolling out, each child wearing winter coats, gloves, and even some with hats. It was 72 degrees. Marie asked why they were all bundled up. She couldn't believe that it was actually that cold out when all of these kids came in to school that morning. She slept through the morning chill and spent her whole day in shorts and a t-shirt. Outside.

I'm not trying to knock traditional school. But I've done excessive research on the benefits of spending lots of time outside, and it beats out classroom work tenfold.

There's not only freedom to close the books and head outside at any given moment, but there's also freedom to pursue subjects and passions that excite my kids. There's freedom to read extra chapters, or skip a lesson altogether. There's freedom to learn life skills like laundry, dishes, splitting wood, and painting trim.

2. Homeschooling has brought us closer.

My kids get along fairly well. Not always, of course. But they are each others' best friends. They do have other friends, trust me! It's not about their siblings being their only friends, by any means. It's about their siblings truly being life-long friends.

We're all about family, and homeschooling has allowed us to do life as a family. We cook, we clean, we read, we play, we travel, we laugh, we fight, we grow. While we could still do all of this on a much smaller scale if our kids spent their days at school, I'm grateful our family is a top priority, not just an extra at the end of the day.

3. Homeschooling is teaching our kids how to interact with all ages.

My kids are the only preschooler, prek-er, 2nd grader, and 4th grader in their school. Their whole lives have been spent with various ages even just within our immediate family.

It plays out outside of our immediate family, too. Marie has been known to take care of any toddling toddler she meets. Kempton can find a friend in anyone who has a friendly face, be it his Uncle David, his cousin Pax, his great grandma, or the random kid at the playground. My kids don't even comprehend the idea of spending an entire day with only peers.

I think that's a beautiful thing.

4. Homeschooling has given us lots of Jesus moments.

We believe that, as parents, we've been called to teach our babes about Jesus every chance we get. I know plenty of amazing parents who do just that even with their kids going to school all day. We just love that we have so much more time for it.

Of course sometimes homeschooling teaches our kids all about how parents are also imperfect and in need of forgiveness... a lot.

My point is, I'm there for the teachable moments. I get to be the main person to share Jesus with them. I love that other people at church and co-op reinforce these things, and that our kids are able to learn about our Savior from a variety of godly teachers. But I'm grateful that Derek and I get to be their main source.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh the benefits are endless! Maybe I'll just write up a whole long list for the blog someday. But these few have really stood out to me over the years we've been homeschooling. After realizing through that article how little some people know about homeschooling, I couldn't help but share my favorite reasons to stick with it in spite of the foolish and ignorant comments.

We love homeschooling!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Date Night - February Edition

February was pretty intense as far as life goes. We sold our very first home. It was a little bit devastating. But now we've been in our new home for two weeks and are loving it. I'm leaving off an exclamation point from that last sentence because it's been an experience. And I've been flushing stink bugs all day so I'm kinda irked and grossed out.

More on the house another time. I promise! Because it's a bit of a fixer upper so it's gonna be all sorts of crazy stressful fun!

On to our February date.

Derek turned older than Jesus on the 16th. His love language is gifts so it's amazing that he feels loved at all because I'm horrible at giving gifts and coming up with fun surprises. I secured babysitters (read: my parents) for almost a whole day. I had the date set for nearly a month. But I couldn't for the life of me come up with anything to do! I mean, funds were tight so it needed to be basically free. And Derek's the one who's super talented at making plans and being creative. I finally told him I had a surprise day for him planned but nothing actually planned. Poor guy.

So he came up with the plans. And I'll be honest (I really don't have any trouble with that), it wasn't what I would call super fun. But he had a blast and that makes me happy.

We started the day with a lesson on driving his truck. I stalled out at least 3 times but managed to only cry once. It was a short lesson.

Then we headed to a nearby breakfast spot that was so busy we decided to leave.

We then went to a place that sells wood burning stoves. We asked lots of questions and got lots of answers and a little bit of sticker shock. Then we left with Derek all pumped up about buying one and me secretly praying we'll never get one. I tried to keep it a secret but he asked me what I thought... He lets me have just about whatever I want so while I really really don't want one for my sake, I'm all about getting one for my main man because he's my favorite.

Then we had lunch at Sonic. No breakfast happened so I got a milkshake, too. Easily made up all the missing calories.

We finished out the day at this cool little board game shop. We played 7Wonders with the owner of the place, then Derek spent another hour teaching himself how to play a super complicated Russian game while I browsed and talked with other patrons. It was relaxing. A little boring for me, sure, but Derek had a great time. And by extension, so did I.

Honestly, it was a great day because it made my superhero happy. Now if only I could learn how to drive a stick...

Friday, January 19, 2018

Date Night - January Edition

Every year we resolve to go on monthly dates. And every year we go on about 4 total. One for Derek's birthday, one for my birthday, one for our anniversary, and a random one at some point in the year because we have amazing people who offer to watch our kids.

This year we've decided to be more disciplined and intentional. Derek is on a scheduling mission, making sure every last thing gets put in the calendar so that it is sure to happen. We've already gone on a date this year!

On our first date of the year I had the fantastic idea of blogging about each of our dates as sort of an accountability thing. And because it's fun.

This month's date had a title I cleverly came up with because it just randomly came to me. I called it, "Kohl's and Goals Date Night."

The evening started with dropping the kids at the parents and heading to Wings. Maybe since we're going to go on 12 dates, we'll venture to some place other than Wings or Penn Station. But probably not often because those are our FAVES. Suggestions are welcome, though!

While enjoying boneless wings and friend green beans, we discussed our goals for the year. Derek's list is a couple of miles long while mine... well it doesn't exactly exist. We had a good long talk about why I don't have goals. It's hard for my wonderful husband to understand what it's like to be a homeschooling mom of 5, and how typically "survive" is the only goal I'm capable of achieving. I didn't even realize that myself until I found that I simply couldn't come up with a list. Instead, my word this year is discipline. I want to work toward moving out of survival mode and into abundance. Only by the grace of God!

After dinner, we headed to Kohl's. We were generously gifted with a gift card to Kohl's for Christmas, and Derek was in desperate need of some shoes and work pants. It was a little weird being the one who had to sit around while Derek did the bulk of the shopping but it was certainly high time for it. I did buy a much needed belt though! And I picked out his shoes :)

Next month is Derek's birthday month so I'm thinking something a little more elaborate. Got any ideas for us??
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