Thursday, October 27, 2011


Things I've learned so far about mothering teenage girls:

1. It is always better to listen and gather information before speaking or acting.
2. Teen girls want to know that a) you care about them, and b) that what they care about matters c) they are respected d) they have a voice.
3. They can eat as much as teen boys when you make their favorites :).
4. When I keep calm, they keep calm.
5. They make life SO. MUCH. FUN.
6. They're boy crazy. I pray and try to direct the boy craziness toward boys who are worthy of it, and who would make good husbands someday.
7. They still like to have milk and cookies when they get home from school :).
8. The roller coaster ride of emotions you've heard comes with raising teen girls? Oh, yes. Every word is true. But the high ups make the low downs completely worth it.
9. They not only need boundaries. They want them (even if they act like the opposite is true).
10. They need their daddies. Big time.
11. They like to talk. A lot.
12. The hormones, growth changes, life changes, etc. of toddlers and teenagers are not that different.
13. If they see you doing something, they are ten times more likely to do it themselves (i.e. exercise, reading your bible, going to church regularly, cleaning up, etc. This also includes negative habits/behaviors).
14. Life is hard for them. It's a rough stage of life.
15. They give excellent fashion and make-up advice.
16. They're oh-so-much fun to giggle and be silly with :).
17. Self-esteem building - also huge.
18. They will play games during conflict if you do, and sometimes they will play games during conflict even if you don't. Either way, I choose not to be a game player, because it gets us nowhere.
19. They respect honesty and kindness and can sense when you do or don't live by those codes.
20. They're not too old to do little kid stuff, like roasting marshmallows, going trick-or-treating, dressing up like adult-sized hot dogs and penguins, getting lots of hugs, watching Disney movies, getting surprise treats or notes, taking goofy pictures, doing art projects, etc.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I feel like we're living in the midst of our own three ring circus these days, so it was fitting for us to go see an actual one a couple of weeks ago :). I hadn't been in years, and Michael had never been. This was also Bennett and Jasper's first time, as well as one of our girls.

We saw a lot of neato stuff, like tigers jumping through hoops, dudes on the flying trapeze, clowns, an elephant parade, etc. It was also fun that my mom got to come with us and hang out with the girls for a while that night. Here are some pictures of our fun evening!


Amidst the madness, I have also been homeschooling Bennett this year. We just finished up a unit on Creation and also on dinosaurs, and next week we're going to continue learning about Abraham, and start on a Fall theme (my favorite!).

I posted on the curriculum I chose a couple of months back, and so far everything works well. I'll be completely honest and say we haven't touched the spanish curriculum yet, and the arts and crafts leave a little to be desired, but we're all on a gigantic learning curve, and we're having fun, which is important.

Here are some pictures of our year so far:

Sunday, October 16, 2011


All of you here know by now that I like to keep it real and be honest. So here it is.

Today was hard. I mean hard with a Capital H. I wasn't expecting it, I wasn't looking for it, it didn't start out that way, but that's the way it was, all the same.

It was emotionally grueling and difficult, and it was painful today. This was my first day here to feel things so strongly, to cry for a long time, to experience the difficulty of what we are doing.

But it was also a good, humble reminder of how much I need God to do this job. I need the Lord - His wisdom, His strength, His peace, His love - continuously, daily. I am dependent on Him to give me the words to say to all of my kids, to mold them to be more like Jesus, to discern when to speak and when to listen.

For the most part, this job of being a mom to so many is wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling. But today it was just tough and tiring. I know I'll have many more days like this to come, but I also know there is nowhere else I'd rather be, and nothing else I'd rather be doing, and no one else I'd rather be doing it with. There is comfort and peace in that knowledge.

So I'll go to bed, get some good rest, and get up tomorrow ready with a smile and a prayer for the day and for all of my kids on my lips, because this is where God wants us, and this is where I want to be. Even on the hard days.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Our first month here was amazing. We are blessed. Here are some pictures that cover some of the things we've been up to.

After one week of living here, they had a work day where hundreds of volunteers came to help clean up our campus and make it beautiful and sparkling. I was especially thankful since there was a lot of cleaning and organizing to do on the inside of our home!

There was a crew working in the front and back yards as well, adding mulch, planting new plants, pulling weeds, etc. The yard initially needed a LOT of work, so this was really helpful as well.

This is about half of our front yard. Now that the weather is cooler, we are out here almost everyday. The boys LOVE having a huge yard. They love their new rooms, their new home, their new sisters. We play hard pretty much every day. I love seeing them love it here.

Our second week of having the girls, the teen boys cottage pranked us by ringing our doorbell and running. We retaliated by sending fliers with ridiculous/scary photos like the ones below, shining flashlights in the windows when it got dark, and depositing a large plastic Santa Clause in their front yard. We also ordered pizza, then emptied the boxes and stuck a note inside. The delivery guy was kind and fun enough to deliver it to them :). To top it all off, the last night of the prank war, we all hauled our lawn chairs across campus to their back yard and serenaded them with our fabulous rendition of "Kumbaya." When they heard us, they came out back and found us camped out, singing and looking at the stars. So fun!

Don't have pictures of it, but some of our activities this week included clothes shopping for the girls, playing Hide and Seek in the dark, finishing up decorating the house, going horseback riding, playing Just Dance on the Wii, playing board games, playing sand volleyball, opening our house to the public for our annual Open House, having family meetings every week, going on family library trips, homeschooling Bennett (for three weeks now - have some things to tweak, but so far so good), painting, having movie marathons, going to Saturday night church and then eating out as a family each week, going to the girls' high school Open House and meeting two of their teachers each (I got some strange looks, that's for sure :) ). Our kids definitely keep us busy and active!

And an update on me: I am learning to fill out paperwork quickly and efficiently. I am learning to cook very large meals that include several sides. I am learning how to listen to teenage girls, because that's what they want more than anything - to know you care and that they have a listening ear. I am learning to pick my battles wisely and let the rest go. I am learning how to balance. I am learning how to hold on to what is truly important and necessary, and let go of the rest when I run out of time. I am learning to be a mother to girls who have been searching for one their whole lives. I am learning how to make a new house a home. I am learning how to homeschool and do everything else I have on my plate all at the same time (slowly). I am learning to give my boys extra hugs and kisses, to hold onto them a little longer, to look them in the eye when I am speaking to them, or when they are telling me something. I am learning that consistency and dependability are just as important to teenagers as they are to toddlers :). I am learning that reading my bible every morning takes me so much farther and grants me more wisdom for the day than anything else ever could. I am learning how to drive a 15-passenger van quite well, if I do say so myself :). I am learning how to ask for help and how to accept it. I am learning how to stay connected to my husband and keep our relationship healthy and whole in the midst of all of the craziness that comes with having six kids. I am learning how very much I love having a big family and doing what we are doing.

We are blessed.