Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas at My Church

Olivia was hiding from the camera, so I turned around and Bonnie took a picture.
One of our black light song presentations.
Mandi with her rope light on, so she can be a dancing stickman. 
Getting Olivia's food from the buffet line.  A rare photo of me with one of my kids.  Usually I am behind the camera.  Thanks Bonnie!
Playing with the Florida snow, torn up paper, after the show.   They had so much fun, we might just have to tear up some paper at our next party.  Olivia even got down on the floor and made a snow angel.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Almost Christmas

A greeting from Olivia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

We finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret and I do recommend it as a family read aloud.
It is about an orphan boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. He is trying to solve the mystery of a mechanical man that belonged to his dad.

The book was a new reading experience, combining elements of picture book, graphic novel and film.  The 284 pages of drawings help tell the story.  I felt like I was watching a silent film as I looked at the pictures, which I read that the author was trying to create that effect.

At the end of the book, there is a website to find out more about a mechanical man like the one in the book.  If you read the book, you do not want to miss this. It included a video of the mechanical man in action.

I googled the name of the book to find two great websites with lots of info and fun.



The scholastic website has about 20 short videos by the author expounding on how he wrote the book, came up with ideas.  We watched them and recommend them if you read the book.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Finally together!!

Olivia waited so long for this day to come.  She finally was playing with her best friend and cousin Emily.  She asked almost everyday for months,  "How long til Thanksgiving."  

Because that was when her cousin was coming to visit from Georgia.

November Pictures

My adorable nephew, Micah, who lives with us right now with his mom.
My sisters, Nickie and Becky, and Becky's 2 boys, Micah and Malachi.
My kids made the cake for Micah and Malachi.  We gave them a container of white frosting and they came up with a baseball design on their own.
The kids decided to be secret agents, dressed in black, so they could hide and spy on people.  I liked this game because they were so quiet.

My first Thanksgiving dinner at my house

I feel so grown up. 

 I cooked my first full Thanksgiving dinner, my first turkey, in fact.  We usually go to two or three houses and have a potluck style Thanksgiving.  But this year it turned out that we needed to have a dinner at my house.  My parents were here from Georgia and my two sisters wanted to spend some time with them and none of them would be able to cook anything, so I did it.  

I followed Flylady's plan for Thanksgiving dinner.  I followed it almost to a tee.  The only thing I did not do was make the roasted sweet potatoes. The plan started 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and included your grocery list.  Most of the work was done before the big day, so it really was a peaceful day.  I planned all the serving dishes 4 days before, started cooking three days before, and set the table the night before.  I loved having a timeline to follow.  She even told me when to put the butter on the table. 

When we sat down to eat, the food on the plate looked so pretty and traditional.  I couldn't believe that I was able to put that together we such little stress.  It was all very tasty, too.

And Dick bought a coffee maker at a thrift shop, so my parents could have coffee.  We don't drink coffee, (except Levi and Mandi try to.)  So now we have a coffee maker on our kitchen counter for the first time in our married life ( 18 yrs)  

I feel so grown up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mandi sings and plays

This is what I have been hearing first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I can't wait to teach her how to play more songs, for more reason than one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Olivia's faces

                                                    "Oh, no!!!!"
                                                   " This is what an elephant sounds like."
                                                    "This is how a camel eats."

More of Olivia's faces

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My kids

New Family Photo

My kids reading aloud to me

I have been having my older girls read aloud to me while I am working in the kitchen. It has been a beautiful thing. Here are some reasons why.

-I get so bored while I am working, so it is fun to become engrossed in what they are reading to me.

-It is so good for them to read aloud. I read that when a person has brain glitches, like my oldest, it is like rewiring their brain to read good quality literature aloud. So the more she can do it, the better.

-It is a time that I can share with each child. We enjoy the book together.

-It is a fun and stressless time of schooling.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Her choices changed my life!

Tonight Olivia and I went to the funeral of the doctor who delivered Olivia and saved her life.

Of course, I am heartbroken and feel like a part of me is gone. I didn't know her on a day to day basis, but our lives crossed in a way that neither of us would ever forget. I knew how I felt, but wasn't quite sure how she felt until I saw her obituary. She said she felt that God put her on earth to mother her children and to deliver Olivia Sue Huchingson and another baby in Kansas.

My doctor chose to do the right thing, even though it was a hard thing. She chose to what she had to do, knowing that I would feel the pain, with only local anesthesia. When I asked her later, " How did you do it? " She answered," I knew it was what you wanted." She was right. I wouldn't have had it any other way. Because she had the bravery to do the right thing, I have a healthy bundle of joy.

My doctor humbled herself enough to admit when she saw God's hand at work. Her first words to me after I woke up were, " It's your faith." She cried as she spoke. Later I asked her what she was referring to. She said there is no way you could have stayed so calm without your faith. Now I already knew that I had felt God's presence the whole time like I never had before, but I did not realize the physical miracle that had taken place. I did not know that I reacted any differently than anyone else would. She assured me that my reaction was not ordinary. She also saw that there were many circumstances that fell into place to make it possible for Olivia to be alive and she didn't think that they were all coincidences. Her humility made it possible for me to understand to a fuller extent the work that God had done in my life.

Thank you, my doctor, for making choices that changed my life for the better, forever!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fun Pictures

Our dog Rosie,
Libby as as princess,
Mandi as a lion.

The Lads Band Pictures

Cable Knit Sweater

Cable Knit Sweater is Levi's favorite song that the Lads Band sang at the concert. The chorus says, " I was knitted together like a cable knit sweater. I'm an original. There is some one who I have to be."

Can you tell we had fun!

The Lads Concert

We used music from The Lads Band for Fun Faith this summer and had a blast with it. So when I saw they they were in concert locally, we made every effort to be there. I wanted to see how they engaged the audience, to learn from them, and to give the kids a vision for what can be done for the Lord. We were not disappointed. The kids were thrilled to be there and then we got to meet all three band members. Dick and I talked to them and told them thank you for doing what they do. We told them what we are doing and they were very encouraging. I think it was a boost of encouragement and excitement for everyone who went with us.

Fall Festival

We went to a fall festival on Friday. Mandi was upset that she couldn't ride the "big" slides because of her age. She perked up when she was able to play the games and win prizes. Libby only was happy when I bought her cheese nachos. It was a beautiful night at a well planned church festival, followed by an awesome concert!

Monday, October 27, 2008

She is so sure of herself, but not always right!

Yesterday, Olivia told me I looked like a grandma. She said,"It is because of those big, I mean little lines on your hands. Look at them mommy. Your hands look like a grandma's hands."

Then, today, she said, "I am never going to wash my hands after a go to the bathroom ever again!"

I told her, "You have to wash your hands or you might get sick.:'

Her answer was, " But I eat lots of vegetables. I eat bananas and they are vegetables. Lots of foods are vegetables."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smiles at a Baseball Game

This summer, we went to a professional baseball game. I pulled out the video recorder just as a storm was rolling in. The wind was picking up and the kids started laughing at their dad's hair. It was a fun moment, because everyone started laughing and then the winds and rain really picked up. We ran for cover and watched in amazement as God displayed his power. The storm had more of an impact on the crowds than the game did, and I thought, " Wow, God got everyone's attention!"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When facing temptation...

Libby learned this in children's church and I love hearing her say it.

Little is much...

Here are some "little" accomplishments at our house recently..

Libby learned to pump her feet on the swing.

Levi showed me that he has a soft heart towards God.

Levi learned 4 chords on the keyboard and is about ready to take over for me at church.

Mandi excelled at her golf lessons.

Grace has been much more independent in her school work.

I am almost finished with The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mandi thinks...

... that I work very hard.

For the last two weeks, she has been telling me at least once a day, "I love you and thank you for all you do for me."

And yesterday, she told me she only wanted to have one kid. I asked her why and she said," Because sometimes it is hard for you to take care of all of us, so I better only have one kid, then it won't be so hard."

Some current library favorites

I wanted to share some jewels I happened upon at the local library. We have been enjoying them and the kids seem to be learning, too.

A Book about Design- Complicated Doesn't Make It Good
Another Book about Design-Complicated Doesn't Make It Bad
both by Mark Gonyea

These books teach the elements of graphic design using simple shapes, lines, colors, and a sense of humor. I learned from them as well as the kids and they wanted to try some of it out. It was fun and so interesting.

Unlikely Pairs Fun with Famous Works of Art by Bob Raczka

This is a fun introduction to famous works of art. Two pieces of art are paired together and you have to guess what the connection is. There is a brief description about each artist at the end of the book. It left us wanting more, so I have requested an interlibrary loan for 2 more by the same author.

Nim's Island
Nim at Sea

by Wendy Orr

If you have seen the movie, you get the idea. It is sort of a modern day Robinson Curusoe only it is just a little girl who is stranded on the island. Of course, the book is much better than the movie, with more details and so cleverly written.

Grace read the first book in one day and I read the second one in two. Mandi and I are reading the first one together. They are short, but packed with adventure. I think they would be great for a family read aloud or independent reading.

A Dog Called Grk
Grk and the Pelotti Gang
Grk and the Hot Dog Trail

all by Joshua Doder

Levi has read 2 of the three and can't wait to finish the third. I am almost done with one of them. These are adventure mysteries with kids as the detectives. These are perfect for kids who like action and danger on a kids level.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

......Because it is important to me!

When Mandi was 3 and taking swimming lessons, she cried every morning when she woke up and said," I don't want to go to swimming lessons." Then she cried the whole way to the pool.

I wanted to say, "O. K., you don't have to do it. I don't like making you do it either. It is hard for you, so you can quit." So I asked her instructor how to handle it.

She said just to keep telling her, "It is important for you to do this." So I did and I'm not sure it helped her any, but it did help me.

Then, this past summer, when I was visiting my brother Roger, he was telling me about how he motivated his middle school basket ball players. He started the beginning of the year with an illustration using toilet paper. He said, "Just think about what you do with this. Why do you do it? Because it is important to you! It probably wasn't important to you when you were little, so you might not have used it, but now it is important to you." Any time his players would make excuses, he would just say, "You do what is important to you."

Just last week, I found myself feeling bitter about some of the tasks that I felt forced to do, like housework, getting the 10th glass of juice for Libby, and making kids do schoolwork when they would rather watch a movie. So I asked myself, " Why do you do the things you do? " I answered, "Well, because they are important to me." I felt empowered instead of enslaved. " Yes, it is important to me to have a clean bathroom. It is important to me to have healthy kids. It is important to me that my kids get the best education possible."

So, I do what I do because it is important to me!!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Levi

Levi got a Rip Stick for his birthday. As I watch him, I am reminded of him as an 10 month old. I called him my wind up toy, because as soon as his feet hit the ground, he was walking. It didn't matter where, just walking. He was so steady on his feet. Now I see him on his new toy, and he is still steady on his feet. And he still moving, it doesn't matter where, just moving.

Happy 10th birthday to "my little wind up toy!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mandi sings God with Us

Mandi sang at her Pappa's church with her Uncle James playing the guitar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Olivia said....

Very tenderly, Olivia said, "Mommy, I really wish you woudn't be bad to me sometimes."

I asked, "How am I bad to you?"

"When you say, Mandi, you're not cleaning."

I asked, " because you want to play with Mandi and I make her clean instead ?"

"Yes, and I really want more toys."

Olivia has no problem with expressing herself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yesterday, I cleaned out our homeschool shelf. One of my favorite things that I found was some writing that Levi had done when he had just turned 6. His handwriting was so cute. I could just see him concentrating, sticking his tongue out as he wrote. It gave me a window into his world at that time and mirrors his life now. You can tell that what was important to him: his computer, moving fast, playing with his dog, spending time with his dad, caring for his sisters, reading books, categorizing, and nature.

Here's what he wrote.

My favorite computer game is Freddie Fish 5.

I like to ride my bike on the street.

Rosie is big. Rosie is fun. Rosie jumps on people.

Mandi screams at nap time.

Dad comes home at 8 or after.

I read 4 books today.

A brown cow is a clown.

Mandi got poked in the eye.

The bird is eating his food.

I like to play soccer.

We have a tire swing.

Lizards eat bugs.

The water hole was getting smaller.

The zoo keeper said good night.

I have a dog.

Grace wants a cat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our first day of school

I had not planned much of anything for my kids' school yet, but was determined that they would be productive. While I was getting dressed and ready for the day, I told them they had to either clean or do school work. It is amazing what they can come up with when you put it that way. Grace and Mandi worked on handwriting without tears and Levi satrted planing a story he wanted to write. Mandi even found one of her old handwritng books and worked with Olivia on making "F".
So after looking at book lists on line, we headed to the library, for each kids to pick out at least 2 books to read. I told them that they had to be a book that I agreed on and one that they were interested in. Then I told them to read while we went to the bank. It was so peaceful in the car. Then I told them to continue to read while I made lunch.

After lunch, we read Bible verses about "work". I think they got the point that God intended for us to work and that it is a good thing. Then I had a long conversation with them about hotels, disney world and our house. Levi made me giggle when he said, "I see where this conversation is going." But, I am thankful that they received what I said well. It doesn't always work like that.

We also prayed like they learned in Children's church last Sunday.

Jesus said to pray this WAY.

Worship--God you are________________

Ask--for forgiveness and provision
God please forgive me for__________
God please provide_____________

Yield--God I will____________________

After Bible time, I went to each child's clean room, ( made them clean them in the morning) and talked with them privately about what they had read and then picked out a portion of it to copy for copy work. While I was doing that, the other kids had to do any schoolwork they wanted. Mandi wanted to do math, so I had Levi print some work for her from mathisfun.com. Mandi said, " You always make it too easy for me." I said, "Talk to Levi about it."
At one point, Levi was correcting Mandi's work and circling all the letters she wrote backwards.

My time with Grace was typical. She chose to read The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I was thrilled about. She loved it when I read it aloud to them, so she wanted to read it. It is not an easy book to read and Grace struggles with reading, but she was determined. When I walked into the room, she said, with an attitude, " I'll read it but I won't talk about it." I think she was responding to the fear she felt. She reacts like I am expecting her to repeat every single word she read. I don't think she understands the request, so she feels like there is no way she can do it so she will just give up before she starts. I gently asked her questions about the book, which she always knew the answers. She loosened up and by the end of our time, she was feeling much better. I also went over her cursive handwriting with her and she felt good about that. She had completed about 10 pages in HWT.

Mandi chose to read The Chalk Box Kid. She was excited about talking about it and eagerly did her copywork.

Levi chose to read an A to Z Mystery, not exactly my favorite choice, but I know he will read many more books this year. He read half of the book yesterday and had no problem telling me what happened. He quickly did his copy work and was on his way.

I am feeling hopeful. I now have three readers, so anytime I can't work with them, I can tell them to read and they will be quiet and busy. The girls also like handwriting, so they can do that, too. Mandi is begging to start cursive. I feel like I am giving them more ownership of their learning, if that makes sense, and I like that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Lads live

A song we sang at Fun Faith!

Olivia records Mandi

Olivia records Mandi singing her ABC's. Mandi tries to stay in the camera's view as she sings.

My favorite room

We moved into a fixer-upper and most rooms do not have a finished look. I like this room because it feels finished, even though we still plan to redo the floors and cabinets.
I really like the contrast in colors and I like the fact that I found a picture to match the shower curtain. Most nights, I get to give my two little girls a bath in this room and that time is precious.

So what is your favorite room and why? I'd love to hear.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fun Faith!

For Dick and me, experiencing Fun Faith is like living our dream, a dream that God planted in our hearts many years ago. The fulfillment of the dream is still in the making.

Fun Faith is an outreach that our church does for the kids of the community. We are targeting the kids ages 9-12 that do not go to church, because right now that is what we feel equipped for and called to minister to. We know that if we invite them to church, most of them won't come.

When you are called to a minister to a certain people group, you must first learn to speak their language. If you don't speak their language, they won't understand you. Kids speak the language of " fun", so that is how we speak to them. When we speak the language of fun, we are saying to them, "Fun matters to you and you matter to us." Once the kids realize that we mean that, then they will listen to what we have to say. We speak a language that they understand.

Fun Faith is an event where kids ages 5-12 have FUN and learn about God. This year we had a 3 day event. Two days were at our town's civic center and had an Olympics theme. Our motto was "Go For God." The kids were divided into teams with different country names and competed in 4 different games to see which team would get the gold, silver, or bronze medal. The games involved big buckets of slime, crickets, a tricycle (Thanks Jake! The kids loved it!) whipped cream and a Wii. Also, each group also took a break from the games to hear an awesome Bible lesson.

We had an opening ceremony where we sang a crazy, fun song about Jesus and a closing ceremony where we song a slow, prayerful song about Jesus with a brief message about going for God.

And of course we had pizza and snacks at the beginning and end.

The last day was a water slide party at our house!!!

Here are some amazing facts about this year's Fun Faith.

-About 90% of our church adults were involved. This is part of our dream, to have the whole church catch the vision we have. It was so amazing to be able to walk around a place buzzing with excitement. We were able to focus on making sure people had what they needed and I even got to take video clips and pictures.

-We had about 30 kids participating. We have around 10 kids in our children's church so this was a lot more for us. But more than the numbers, was the fact that there were kids there that I have been inviting to church for a long time. Some of them came and 2 of them came to church on Sunday morning and loved it.

-Almost all of the people that were there, over 50 I think, joined in singing and dancing to the song " I Came to Party, With My Friend Jesus!" Just picture a sporting event for Jesus. I live for moments like that! Its part of my dream!

-All the kids raised thier hands saying they wanted to live for God and prayed with us.

-We were more organized than we were last year and Gidget helped us tremendously. She helped us with a lot of the leg work and planning and she did the Bible lesson. This was huge for us. The week before, I found myself not knowing what to do with myself sometimes, because things were already done. Thank you, Gidget!

There are many more details that I am excited about. I get excited by the details, because I know that they are part of the process of fulfilling the dream.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I am having fun?

Olivia was playing in the sand with our neigbor's little girl. I asked, "Can I play?"

She gave me a funny look and I said, "Do you think Mommies can't play?"

She said, " No, mommies don't play. They just clean up what we do."

So I asked, "You mean, mommies can't have fun?"

"No," she answered. "They have fun when they are cleaning. They turn on the ipod and they have fun."

If I could just convince all my kids that I am having fun, maybe they would rush to join me. That is my plan anyway.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When I am weak, then I am strong.

I am a first born child, and I became a Christian when I was 4 years old. I have always tried to do the right thing and make wise choices. I believe that because of that, I have a wonderful life. But sometimes it can get in the way of trusting God the way that He wants me to.

Sometimes, I find myself worrying that I won't be good enough for the task at hand, or that I won't make the right decision, when really, I should be trusting God to be in control and provide what I need. When I do this worrying, I am not experiencing the kingdom of God to its fullest. I don't have the peace or joy that is available to me as a child of God.

The one time in my life when I was able to do absolutely nothing but trust God, was when I experienced the kingdom of God the most. When I was lying on the operating table, about to be cut open with only local anesthesia, and I didn't know whether I had a dead, alive, or brain damaged baby, was when I felt the closest to heaven or the kingdom of God. I have never felt peace like I felt then. The situation was totally out of my control so I was somehow able to totally put it in God's hands.

After the operation, I felt like God was a celebrity at the hospital. I had so many people telling me that they heard about how God helped me through. I was telling God that I was so glad to be a part of bringing so much glory to Him, when it dawned on me. The time in my life when I did the very least and trusted God the most, He got the most glory. Wow!

Maybe that is what God was telling Paul when He said, " My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

And maybe Paul understood when he answered, " For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Would you believe that I like....

...Cutting my kids' fingernails, because I know that they are growing up and I get to be a part of it.

...gathering up kid's dirty clothes to be washed, because I imagine all the fun my kids had getting them that way.

...finding that my kids have outgrown clothes or shoes, because it reassures me that they are growing, so I must be doing something right.

...taking Olivia to the bathroom, because I would rather her go in the potty than on the floor.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vacation Pictures

1. My baby brother Anthony, with his baby, T. J.

2. It looks like a mirror image, but it is really T. J. and Ezra in the playhouse.

3. I think my dad and T. J. have the same expression.

4. Levi playing Frisbee with Anthony.

5. Happy 4th of July from Libby!

Playhouse and garden pictures

4th of July Parade

We enjoyed a hot, Georgia 4th of July parade. My two nephews Ezra and T. J were in the wagon and my brother J. R. and his wife Kayla were walking in the parade. My brother Anthony is pulling the wagon. His wife Jennifer was also walking with them, but is not pictured.

I am standing by my mom, pointing out the parade walkers, Grace is standing by my sister, Nadia and Mandi and Libby are watching, too. Levi is not in the picture.

4th of July Picture

The day before the 4th, Mandi wanted to pick flowers to make a 4th of July bouquet. My parents just so happened to have planted red, white and blue wildflowers. My mom made the bouquet.