Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ella's 7th Birthday Interview

  1. What is your favorite color? Gold
  2. What is your favorite toy? My little penguin over there, "Ice Cube" that I just got for my birthday 
  3. What is your favorite fruit? Apple
  4. What is your favorite vegetable? Carrots
  5. What is your favorite TV show? Wild Kratts
  6. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Grilled cheese
  7. What is your favorite outfit? My Mickey Mouse shirt
  8. What is your favorite game? Candy Land
  9. What is your favorite snack? Peanut Butter Pretzels
  10. What is your favorite animal? Penguin: And I'll tell you why! Because this week and last week we've been talking about penguins and I got a penguin for my birthday!
  11. What is your favorite song? Love Is An Open Door (From Frozen)
  12. What is your favorite book? Meg Mackintosh
  13. Who is your best friend? Karsyn
  14. What is your favorite cereal? Chocolate Chex
  15. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Run around
  16. What is your favorite drink? Capri Sun
  17. What is your favorite holiday? Valentine’s! I'll tell you why! Because it is closest to my birthday!
  18. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? My little penguin, Ice Cube
  19. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes
  20. What is your favorite thing for dinner? This! Chicken, sausage, and rice
  21. What do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter
  22. What is your favorite movie? Inside Out
  23. Who is your favorite Disney princess? Princess? Aurora
  24. Where is your favorite place to go? Chuck E. Cheese
  25. What is your favorite Bible story? Whenever Moses spreaded apart the Red Sea
  26. What is your favorite memory verse? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth 
  27. What is your favorite letter? P
  28. What is your favorite thing to do in school? Read books

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 Goals

Even though it is now closer to February 1 than January 1 I wanted to make sure that I spent some time considering my goals for the year.  Though I often fall short of the goals I set for myself, I've found that it has been incredibly helpful for me to really examine where I've been and where I want to be. Many goals are the same as in the past years; some because I didn’t complete them and others because they ought to continually be on the list.

Spiritual Goals:
  • Daily Bible Reading
  • Focused/Planned Bible Study
  • Focused Bible lessons for the kids. I have an idea to do some form of journaling with them, but we'll see how that works out.
  • Start using the Scripture Memory System with the kids (and me!) again. This system has been a great tool to learning Scripture, but I've really fallen short with it recently. 
  • Develop a deeper and more specific prayer life.
  • Make an effort to be aware of others’ needs, as well as how to help those in need. Overcome my fears of reaching out to speak to people (the introvert in me really struggles with this . . .).
  • Make an effort to encourage brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Always be ready and eager to share the gospel.
  • Maintain and exhibit an attitude of joy that should be evident in my life because I am hidden with Christ (Col. 3:1-4).
House Goals:
  • Clean out the garage . . . completely . . . in anticipation of possibly converting our garage to a master bedroom. We've already gotten a good start on this, but there is still a lot to do, including many more trips to Goodwill!
  • Get the house organized, and purged of excess junk. This past year I read the book The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, and it really opened my eyes. I started working through some of the methods in the book before we left for Paraguay, but didn't finish before we left. And once we returned from Paraguay things just seemed so crazy I never finished. I look forward to completing the process.
  • If/When we complete renovations on the house, clean out and organize thoroughly when we rearrange rooms.
  • Teach (and enforce) good habits to the kids for keeping their areas picked up. The kids have really been doing well with this lately, and Luke has even been helping out a lot more as well.
  • Keep up with Flylady’s daily assignments to help keep the house in a manageable state. 
  • Handle papers (mail, or otherwise) when they come into the home, rather than just piling them up to handle later.
  • Get one “house” project done each month (paint the front door, repair the floor, etc.)
  • This isn’t technically a “house” goal, but it fits here best: Keep our cars clear of junk and trash.
Health Goals:
  • Get back into a healthy eating routine. Prior to getting pregnant last year, I felt like I had finally figured out this healthy living thing (I'd lost weight, and even though I still needed to lose more, was really feeling great!). But between pregnancy and living in a foreign country for three months last year, my eating habits have somewhat fallen away. Time to get back on the wagon!
  • Exercise at least three times a week. Make it a point to walk more (for instance, like to pick up Ella from school).
  • Gain strength and endurance.
Family goals:
  • Eat at home more often, and actually plan meals for the week (it is easier to eat at home when you've planned!).
  • Cook dinner with the kids 1-2 times a month. I really want to involve them more in cooking, but I get stuck in this bad habit of not involving them because it is quicker/easier for me to do things myself (and dinner time always seems to be hectic around our house).
  • Try out a new meal at least once a month.
  • Cook a hot breakfast for the family at least once a week.
  • Stick to our budget, and look for ways to save more.
  • Evaluate/consider schooling for Ella and Troy next year. Ella was homeschooled for kindergarten, but has gone to public school this year for first grade. We've liked things about both situations and opportunities, but this isn't the post for that!
  • Get outside more with the kids.
  • Get down on the floor and play with the kids more.
Parenting goals:
  • Emphasize the concepts of respect and authority with Ella, Troy, and Luke.
  • Encourage Ella, Troy, and Luke to have the heart of a servant.
  • Encourage Ella, Troy, and Luke to be thankful.
  • Teach Ella and Troy to be aware of others around them, emphasizing humble hearts and teaching them that it isn't all about them.
  • Encourage Ella and Troy to follow Matthew 7:12.
  • Foster a good relationship between the kids (teaching them about sharing, patience, kindness, etc.).
  • Give Ella and Troy more responsibilities around the house (chores, etc.)
Photography goals:
  • Take more pictures! Pregnancy (particularly dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, severe morning sickness, for my entire pregnancy) really does a number in my life, and photography is no exception. I often don't feel like doing much of anything, and picking up my camera was certainly not a priority when I didn't feel well.
  • Learn Adobe Camera Raw (I've always used Adobe Lightroom, but have been recently reading that Adobe Camera Raw might actually be the way to go).
  • Learn more about off-camera flash.
  • Learn more about Adobe Photoshop.
  • Learn more about graphic design.
Other goals:
  • Become fluent in Spanish. I really, really thought that after spending the summer in Paraguay, a Spanish-speaking country, that I'd be much further along in this journey. But I'm not (since our time down there, we've heard many people tell us that it takes most people a year in an immersion environment to become fluent). I did learn quite a bit when I was in Paraguay (and through Rosetta Stone leading up to our trip), but I have a long way to go.
  • Focus on having a optimistic response. I don't consider myself a pessimistic person (I don't have a negative outlook on life), but I do have a tendency for my first reaction to things to be very skeptical.
  • Exhibit patience towards all, but especially with the kids at the end of the day :) .
  • Work on time management, including getting up at a more consistent time in the morning, and going to bed earlier in the evening. This goal probably isn't going to really be feasible until Annie is sleeping at a little more predictable/regular schedule though.
  • Blog more! I've missed writing, and although no one may read it, I really enjoy it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy 1 Month Annie!


You are such a sweet baby girl! In some ways it doesn't seem like you could already be a month old, but in some ways you seem much older than one month. You really have been an easy baby, and remind me of Ella as a baby in that way.


For instance, you sleep really well most nights considering you are only a month old. You got off to a rocky start in the hospital (barely sleeping at all the two nights we were there), and I was preparing myself for some really long nights ahead. But you have proven me wrong! Most nights you sleep at least a 4-5 hour stretch, and one night you even slept for a 7 hour stretch. You are spoiling me! We've had a few nights here and there where you've kept me up, but overall you are a really good sleeper.


You are also bigger than your siblings were at this age. I don't know how much you weigh, but you have definitely been growing! Your clothes are getting snugger (in fact, you've outgrown a couple of things already!), and I can tell you've grown when I put you in your bed, your carseat, or your swing.


You enjoyed your first Christmas this month as well . . . or should I say, you slept through your first Christmas. I think you slept through every Christmas celebration we had during the holidays!


You smile sweetly at times in your sleep, and it melts my heart. You also started making some sweet talking/cooing noises when I talk to you. You love white noise and being swaddled. You also like to be carried in my sling. You do not like pacifiers no matter how hard I try to get you to like them. You do like to suck on our fingers, and you've sucked on your hands a few times. I wouldn't be surprised if you ended up being a thumb sucker, but you haven't quite figured that out yet.


Your siblings absolutely love you already (although Luke was really unsure in the hospital!), and have been quite patient with you. They all love to help out by getting diapers or my diaper bag for me. They also all love to sing to you when you are crying. There are times we've asked them to sing when you've been sad, but they've also started singing to you when you are sad without us asking them. They love to give you hugs and kisses throughout the day, and always insist on a goodnight hug. Luke loves to tell us "Annieee cwying" when you are crying. Luke also likes to direct us to put you down in your bed or swing, and looks around for you if you aren't where he thinks you should be.

Your siblings holding you for the first time: 20151214-VW4A0675.jpg20151214-VW4A0648.jpg20151214-VW4A0663.jpg

Luke @ 1 Month
Troy @ 1 Month
I didn’t start writing these monthly posts for Ella until she was 17 months old  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Troy's 5th Birthday Interview


  1. What is your favorite color? Red, orange, and yellow
  2. What is your favorite toy? Superhero stuff
  3. What is your favorite fruit? Oranges
  4. What is your favorite TV show? PJ Masks
  5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Chick-fil-a
  6. What is your favorite outfit? What I'm wearing right now, wait, all my superhero shirts actually (he's currently wearing a spiderman shirt)
  7. What is your favorite game? Superheros
  8. What is your favorite snack? Cereal
  9. What is your favorite animal? Tiger
  10. What is your favorite song? The Angels Beckon Me (This World Is Not My Home)
  11. What is your favorite book?  I don't know
  12. Who is your best friend? Ashlyn
  13. What is your favorite cereal? See those sugar ones right there? Those square ones? That's my favorite one (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
  14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Work
  15. What is your favorite drink? Its tea, but berry tea
  16. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween 
  17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Batman and spiderman
  18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal
  19. What is your favorite thing for dinner? Whataburger
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Knight
  21. What is your favorite movie? That Halloween Mickey Mouse, wait, everything halloween is my favorite movie!
  22. Where is your favorite place to go? The store with the toys. Toy store.
  23. What is your favorite Bible story? When Jesus died on the cross for us
  24. What is your favorite memory verse? I don't know
  25. What is your favorite letter? T

Troy's 4th Birthday Interview
All the kids birthday interviews

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Luke!

As I'm sitting here writing this post, you are showing off just how big you are these days. You've got some sort of superhero toy that has a disc you can load and then shoot. You are loading the disc, then aiming and shooting it at me, with a huge grin on your face each time you succeed.

Your language and communication have really exploded over the past month. It is hard to describe how many more words and phrases you are saying compared to the previous month. You are putting many more words together into phrases such as "Gone. More please." One of my favorite things you say is "I'm coming mama" whenever I call you. Your voice is sooo sweet when you say it.

With your communication explosion this month has come your ability to really say Ella and Troy's names well, and to say them often. You've been able to say them for a while, but you've really started to use them to call them or direct them to do something for you. I often hear you say "Ell-A! Elp me! (help me!)" One day we went to drop Ella's water bottle off at school, and when we pulled up you started saying "Ell-A! Ell-A!"

20150824-IMG_4138.jpg You love to give directions to us these days, sometimes with words and sometimes by pointing. For instance, if someone gets up and leaves you start pointing for them to come back to where they were. Though you are still a stubborn two year old in many ways, you've really been obeying better each and every day. You do a great job coming (most of the time) when we call you to come. You also love to complete tasks that we give you to do such as taking something to the trash, putting shoes by the front door, or even going to find your cup. However, with that said, if you get something in your mind about how you are going to do it and we ask you to do it differently, you usually end up throwing a fit.

I think you really missed our dog Reeses while we were in Paraguay, though I'm not sure how much she missed you ;) ! You love to chase her around, even though she isn't very keen on that these days. You also LOVE to let her in and out the back door, and  you don't like if someone else lets her in or out. Not only can you open the back door, you can also unlock and lock it too. A couple of times you've decided you'll go outside and play on the slide or in the sandbox by yourself.

This past month you also moved officially into a twin bed. When we left for Paraguay, I took your crib down, and didn't intend to put it back up when we got back. I was pretty skeptical at how you would handle being in a twin bed (especially since at the moment you are sharing a room with Troy), but you've done pretty great. I think the first week you were in the twin bed you didn't think you were allowed (or could) get out of the bed without us getting you. You've since figured out that not only can you get out of bed by yourself but you can also open the door and leave your room.

You are quite the sorter of objects. You sorted (without instruction from us) your animals in the photo by color and kind, and also sorted all the jenga blocks by color. You also love to stack and build things


You've loved to color for a while now, but this past month you've started doing what I call "squiggling." You get really intense, and then draw these little squiggles over and over again. It is quite funny to me! Even your Bible class paper was covered in squiggles when you brought it to us. And, speaking of Bible class, you've moved into the 2 and 3 year old class, and seem to be doing great in there. I was a little concerned about how you'd transition from class in Paraguay to the older class back at home, but you've done well. We've been told by a few different people that you love to do the puzzles in there, and that you do a really good job with them. 20150824-IMG_4150.jpg

Our one day excursion to Disney World was really fun with you! You were SOOO excited at all the characters, and loved waving at them during the parades. I wished we could have taken you to meet Mickey Mouse, but in our short time there we didn't get to do that. I know you would have loved it though! 20150810-IMG_3874.jpg

Signs you do: more, finished, thank you, hungry, thirsty, please, sleepy, bath

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, tongue, teeth, hair, face, hands, feet, belly, neck, arms, legs (You can also identify soem body parts by their Spanish name)

Animal noises you make: cow, duck, dog, anything that roars (especially dinosaurs!) (I think you can do more, but I didn't take good note. . . .)

Favorite foods: Yogurt, chicken (especially chicken nuggets/strips), nutrigrain bars, donuts, mac and cheese, ice cream (if we offer you ice cream you start jumping up and down and yelling "yay! yay! yay! ice cream!"), and foods you get to eat with a fork

Favorite activities/toys: Books, balls, little figurines (like Mickey Mouse), cars, buckle stuffed lion. You love to "put things in things" as well as throwing. You also love to play chase with the other kids. You also enjoy shutting doors and drawers. You also love to play peek-a-boo! You really love singing as well! One of your favorite things to do is to "wrestle" with your dad and siblings.

Words you say: I cannot keep up with the words you say anymore! You say so many things (in English and Spanish)!

Luke @ 23 months
Troy @ 24 months
Ella @ 24 months

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week Twelve in Paraguay

We've been home from Paraguay for a couple of weeks now, but I'm just now getting around to writing this because things have been crazy since we've been home! We've traveled many, many miles catching up with family we didn't see over the summer, had doctor appointments, got ready for the start of school (both for the kids and with Trent's job with the college students), and attempted to catch up on what we missed at home during our time out of the country. We still have many things to do in order to get back into the routine of being home, but we have started settling down some.

Our last week in Paraguay was busy and emotional. We packed, wrapped up many activities, and said many goodbyes. Thankfully, with today's technology our friends from Paraguay are only a text or Facebook message away!

Trent finished teaching in the Bible Academy at the beginning of our last week completing his class on the book of Deuteronomy as well as finishing grading all the students' work for the classes. Trent also had a couple of final private Spanish lessons in the few remaining days we had left in Paraguay.

During our last week we were able to meet with all four of our English students. I was able to teach the first lesson of Searching For Truth with two of my students, and I thought the lesson went well. I also completed lesson nine (of ten) with my other English student, and had the opportunity to talk with her about possibly doing Searching For Truth. Andrea made contact with all of our English students during the last week we were there to confirm appointment times with them as she took over all of these studies after we left. I'm anxious to hear how these studies progress!

The Paraguayans hospitality toward us continued to abound in our last week in Paraguay. We were invited to lunch at one family's home, and dinner at another family's. And, after services on Sunday morning, several members provided lunch for us before we had to head to the airport. It was nice to have a final meal with so many members of the congregation.

The Saturday before we left, Ella and I attended our last Ladies' Tea. At the tea I was able to give the devotional talk, and got to experience having my lesson translated for the first time. I was thankful to hear others' lessons translated before I did mine so that I had an idea of how to handle the situation. One of Trent's Spanish teachers translated for me! At the tea, I was also greatly surprised with a baby shower! I was completely shocked! At the shower we played a game where you go through several tests (Old Wives' Tales) to predict the baby's gender: nene (boy) or nena (girl). In the end, the game predicted nothing - equal chance that the baby was a boy or a girl. However, the ladies were asked to predict whether they thought I was having a boy or a girl, and they predicted correctly (a girl)!

I'm so thankful for the opportunity that our family had to spend in Paraguay for the summer working with the Christians there. If you would have told me even a couple of years ago that we would be spending our summer in South America, I probably would have laughed at you. However, among many things, I'm thankful that my husband had the vision for this opportunity for our family, and I'm thankful for the experience of working as a missionary in a foreign field for an extended period of time.

Read more about our time in Paraguay