Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

"I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but swill have the light of life." John 8: 12


Our homes, our families, our world are touched by darkness in ways big and small, but celebrating Jesus' birth is a reminder that His light washes all darkness away.

It is hard to believe another year has come and gone. Seems as though we should have a laundry list of memories, experiences, funny stories, etc., and we do, except if we shared them all, this letter would be a book! So we'll just hit the highlights:
  • Grace (Therese) and Gianna (Anne) were confirmed on April 5 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception.
  • Tobias played his first season of "Coach Pitch" baseball over the summer
  • The 5 oldest kiddos took swim lessons

  • Grace, Gianna, Toby, and Josh all got to attend Totus Tuus - a fantastic Catholic, very meaty VBS program
  • Christopher passed his state of Illinois EMT certification exam
  • We made a mini vacation out of our trip here to the St. John's Catholic Newman Center Summer Homecoming

  • The 2014-15 school year is about halfway through with a school room chock full of learning from our 6th, 4th, 2nd, and 1st graders, plus our preschooler and 2 tag-a-longs!

  • Tobias had his First Reconciliation in early November
  • In October, Christopher accepted a new job with Alexis Fire Equipment as a Merchandise Sales Representative.
  • We celebrated the birth of our first Goddaughter, Mary Agnes, who is a precious, sweet angel.
  • Rounding out the year, WE MOVED!!!

The last highlight deserves a little more attention and is a pretty big deal for our family. Moving back to the Champaign-Urbana area is something we've been praying about and discerning for over 2 years. Even writing this letter from our new home seems surreal. We kept waiting for God's plan to play out and now looking back in hindsight it was all just as it should be! Many thanks to all of you for your prayers, support, and encouragement along the way.

Christopher started his new job on October 13, we closed on our house November 20, and we moved November 22. We celebrated Thanksgiving in our new home - just us - with a flaming green bean casserole and spewing sewer pipe. Nothing like fun stories for many Thanksgivings to come! 

So here at Domus Mariae Regina Sanctorum (House of Mary, Queen of All Saints), we will begin 2015 with a new job, new home, new experiences, and making new memories, but NEVER forgetting each of you who has touched us on our journey.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Our new address and phone number:
The Kreps
1701 Briarcliff Dr.
Urbana, IL
(217) 607-1274

Friday, December 5, 2014

New house, new normal, new memories!

We moved! Yes, it finally happened after all the prayer requests for a new job and then for a new home. Just 2 weeks ago we made the big haul with a moving truck, our van, hubby's car, and my in-law's vehicle.  We were graciously received at our new home by friends and family who helped us unload.
Our new home is in Urbana, IL nestled in a nice little neighborhood. We have lots of neighbors, some fun (and big) dogs, big buses that drive by, and many conveniences very close by.

Normal. What does that really mean?  Well, for us, we're trying to get back to it, whatever that might mean. We started back to school this week, which is part of what seems normal to us. The 3 oldest are doing the Children's Choir at Church. We're exploring the local gyms for a good fit for our budding gymnast. I was invited to a Bible study. There's a Catholic homeschool group that gets together to play and celebrate feast days. It's all a little overwhelming right at the moment, but we are finding our new "normal."
--- 4 ---
Change is a good thing - most of the time. Everyone adjusts to change differently, though, and for kids it can be really difficult when they don't understand how to deal with the stress. One of our kiddos, is showing off his stress in some not so fun tantrums and what not, but I think we're making progress. It's only been 2 weeks, so I just keep praying for him and for my own patience.

I thought I might share a funny store from our first Thanksgiving in our new home. We have an electric stove, which is new for us as we've been cooking with gas forever. So long story short, we managed to set the green bean casserole on fire - flames were showing and everything!!  Then, we were looking out one of the big living room windows and noticed our sewer tile was spewing water like a fountain.  Ah, the joys of a new home. Thankfully, Mr. Roto Rooter fixed us right up the next day and things are moving the right direction now.

Advent is upon us and as much as I hope and pray it doesn't escape us, I still find that it goes by way too fast. We are doing our best to keep the spirit of Advent - with a Jesse Tree and our wreath.  The house will gradually become more festive and we'll starting baking more goodies.  I just don't want this amazing time to go unnoticed, getting lost in the shuffle of our new "normal."

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas - a day early!  We have 2 in our family that share this feast day. Always a good time to reflect on what it means to really give.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Prayer, plans, pleasures

The power of prayer is real and tangible.  I  can say this with great certainty, coming from experience, and rooted in a faith that is imperfect, but constant.
So we're moving!  In just about 6 or so weeks, we should be closing doors, buckling car seats, and heading to Champaign-Urbana, IL.  We are super excited for the adventure that awaits us.  Seems like we've been waiting forever, but that's a human perspective for ya!
My hubby has a new job, which he starts Monday. I wish him the best of luck and we pray that he's found something different, fun, and fulfilling. We support him with our prayers and sacrifices.
As you can imagine, things are a little crazy around here. We should wrap up our 1st quarter of school next week and then probably will pack most of it away until we get moved.  We won't do nothing for 6 weeks, but we have a house to pack and rooms to clean and walls to freshen with paint. So we won't be bored, that's for sure!!
I really can't believe it myself, but my beautiful, (very) independent, smart, whimsy, creative, vocal, oldest child will be turning 11 next week.  How does that happen?  I feel like we just brought her home from the hospital and now she thinks she can outsmart me and stuff. Yikes!  I can't handle this growing up stuff. 
Our new house in Urbana, IL is more than a dream come true.  It really deserves it's own post, but I don't have any pictures I can post. So you'll just have to believe me that it's perfect for our family.  We will be dedicating it to our lady - future name to be announced. Oh if you have any suggestions for good Marian names for a home, please share in the comments. OR for that matter, any holy name!
Please offer prayers with me today, for those who are expecting, those who are trying to conceive, those who have lost babies, and those who will never hold a babe in their arms. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

TBT - next week's birthday girl!

Here is my oldest, at age 3.5.  Next week she turns 11.  Oh my how the time flies.  Love you Gracie Beth.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What I'll Miss....

So really, you deserve at least one post prior to this one explaining the exciting changes coming up for our family. BUT, I don't have nearly enough time to write that post today, so you're getting the quick version. We're moving! Yippee! Oh my goodness!  Yes, it's true! 

In light of that revelation, I thought it would be fun to share what I'm going to miss about living in Blandinsville, IL.
  • Friends (those in town, at Church, homeschooling, etc)
  • Our family (it's been great living so close to extended family, something sort of new to me)
  • The library (best librarians around, hands down!) - plus I'll have to actually drive to the library now!
  • Hours of endless entertainment for my boys (during harvest, snow plow season, etc) because they can sit and watch the highway right in front of our house
  • Beautiful drives everywhere we go, especially in the fall.
  • New experiences (riding in a combine, feeding calves, driving on gravel roads, waving to everyone you pass, being porch monkeys, small town festivals and celebrations)
  • Simplicity

Thank you, Blandinsville, for welcoming us to your community.  We'll be back to visit, assuming we're always welcome :) 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Almost 1

How is it possible that my little, sweet, Alexander is almost a year old?  Where did the time go?  I think I must have slept or something (well, that's unlikely) so maybe someone stole some time from me somewhere along the way.

Alexander John Paul Kreps will turn 1 this Saturday, September 6.  He's a precious little guy, with a super fun personality.  He loves (more like adores) his siblings, never wanting to be left out of anything.  He's walking...nearly running...most places now. 

I praise God every day for the blessing of my boy #5!

Happy (early) 1st Birthday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wit and Wisdom with the Saints

In celebration of the Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, here is a fantastic bit of wisdom on "riches."

"The only true riches are those that make us rich in virtue. Therefore, if you want to be rich, beloved, love true riches. If you aspire to the heights of real honor, strive to reach the kingdom of heaven. If you value rank and renown, hasten to be enrolled in the heavenly court of angels."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our go-to Catholic Resources

Over the years, we've gained an appreciation for certain businesses, websites, books, etc. that help us grow in our faith.  As our children get older, we keep adding to the repertoire.  There are a lot of great resources out there, from great Catholic movies to Catholic blogs to solid Catholic books.  Here's a compilation of what the Kreps family finds useful:
  • CCC Saint Movies ( - at the time of posting this website was down but definitely go check out their movie collection.)
  • Friendly Defender Flashcards (great for helping kids learn to answer questions about their faith) made by Ascension Press
  • Holy Heroes (Glory Stories are fantastic for learning about saints - our family favorite is the Pope St John Paul II. You can download to your ipod! They also offer the Lenten Adventure, Advent Adventure, and Summer Adventure - great resources for bringing the liturgical season to life all year round.)
  • Cat Chat CDs (Great for car rides between activities or on road trips.  We have 3 volumes and love all of them. They use talking and music to teaching about Mary, the Saints, Mass, Advent, etc.)
  • The Dogma Dogs CD (Love these catchy tunes that teach the 10 Commandments, Order of the Mass, Vatican Councils, etc.)
  • Some of my very favorite Catholic blogs include Catholic All Year, Smart Martha, and Catholic Icing
  • The 2 Volume Collection entitled The Illustrated Lives of the Saints (found online and many Catholic retailers) These books are nteresting because they include many, many saints not found on the regular liturgical calendar.
  • Ethel Pochokie's Once Upon a Time Saints
  • Ignatius Press movies
  • Bethlehem Press books (especially The Cottage at Bantry Bay Series and The Mitchells - so say my daughters!)
  • Faith and Life Catechism Series for religious education (in the home, classroom, or Church setting)
  • We and Our Children: How to Make a Catholic Home by Mary Reed Newland (got my copy here and I love it!)
  • Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers by USCCB (can purchase here)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don't You Want to Know?

I think it's fun to learn what makes people tick.  You know, what makes them happy besides the obvious faith, family, career, etc. 

Some people really like NASCAR.  Others enjoy scotch on the rocks.  I even know folks who get a kick out of collecting tractors!

Well, I can't fairly ask what makes you tick if I don't divulge some of my own secrets or lesser known personal tidbits!

My Personal Indulgences (include but aren't limited to):

  • Watching The Deadliest Catch on Netflix
  • Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly book series
  • Eating ice cream
  • Jergen's Original scent lotion
  • Old Spice aftershave (on my hubby)
  • Chocolate Dipper Cookies (from Aldi)
  • Long-sleeve tshirts
  • Asics running shoes
  • Target shooting with a .22
  • Paper towels
  • Filling out paperwork (I actually enjoy doing this)

What makes you tick?  Are you a closet sci-fi novel reader?  Do you indulge in a glass of wine in the afternoon?  Must you use a specific brand of toilet paper?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ninja dancing, replacement parts, being pushed, and nectarines!

Rain. We've had a lot of rain this week or so it seems.  I really wouldn't have to know the actual weather conditions to know that it's raining because I can see the energy oozing from eyeballs, arms, legs, etc. all over my house!!!  The hard part - not necessarily rain that lasts all day, but the aftermath of rain - MUD.  I can't change it, so we're just plodding along with creative outlets for lots of boy energy.  Like, ninja dancing to Veggie Tale's Christmas music - such an obvious rainy day activity!  Or making a recliner into a jeep with an empty toy tote attached to the back of the recliner as the trailer! 
Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Sweet corn. Green beans. Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Green peppers. Broccoli.  Nature's bounty is blessing us over and over with an amazing harvest.  Between our own garden and several who have shared their abundance, we are putting up a ton of goodies to get through winter.  Who doesn't love a good ol' pot of Illinois sweet corn in the middle of January?  And, this year's sweet corn - AMAZING - it tastes like candy! We've put up strawberry freezer jam, homemade spaghetti sauce, bread'n'butter pickles, refridgerator pickles, freezer pickles, sweet relish, and tons of sweet corn.  Praise God for His provision!
Back to school week was a success! I never doubted we would survive, but I was unsure if we would thrive!  I am pleased to say that all my students are moving right along, adjusting to a newish schedule, and being fairly patient with their teacher :)
Can I send my 36-year-old body back for a replacement model?  Or maybe just some replacement parts? Yikes, I feel old this week. Between my hip, knee, and elbow you would think I am 3 times as old as I actually am.  I'm hoping for some relief as I hash out what is actually going on in my tired body!
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been an interesting phenomenon.  My husband was nominated by a colleague and before jumping into his own challenge, he did some research.  I think a lot of folks have done their research, and while I stand very solidly on the pro-life/anti-embryonic stem cell side of it all, I am pleased that so many folks are not just passively participating.  ALS is a real disease, effecting real people and it needs a cure.
God is pushing me hard right now.  He's pushing me to trust Him, to rely on Him, and to put Him first.  I need the push. I need out of my rut.  I'm so grateful for a merciful Father, who also loves me enough to pick me up by the seat of my pants and push me forward.
I love nectarines.  Yep, now you know my favorite fruit.  Nothing like random trivia to send you off on your weekend adventures!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TBT - A look back at my meager beginnings

In the spirit of "back to school" and throwback Thursday I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of our first year as St. Augustine Academy.

So, at the top is Gianna in pre-school, then Grace in Kindergarten, and Tobias as mascot :) Now, scrolling down, in the same order, I have a 4th grader, 6th grader and 2nd grader!  Time sure flies when you're having fun!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wit & Wisdom

Contrary to my knack with words and fondness of all things large family, there are some others out there who are much wiser than myself :)

Wednesdays, for whatever reason, have evolved (from my prior blog) into posts where I give you a good quote or bit of wit & wisdom from someone other than me.

So for today, I want to share an insight from St. Clare of Assisi (learn more about her here):

"Love that does not know of suffering is not worthy of the name."

How true is that statement? True, authentic, holy love can painfully, and wholly cause us suffering.  Those we love the most also tend to be the ones who hurt us the most.  What makes it true, authentic, and holy love, though, is getting past the suffering through prayer and the sacraments.

A father who gives up a dream job for a job that provides for his family - a suffering.  A mother laboring for hours to give birth to a child - a suffering. Turning the other cheek when lashed with another's anger - a suffering. 

We bear these sufferings, whole and entire, and as a result we learn to love more authentically.  We learn to love in the way in which God called us to love.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's keeping me awake at night?

In an effort to keep it real around here, I thought I would share what keeps me awake at night. That's not to say I don't ever sleep, but sometimes I just can't turn my brain off.  So here's a glimpse of what you might find tumbling around in my head these days (nights).

1. Homeschooling
2. Taking good care of my husband
3. Working hard on my career training program
4. Making our dollars s-t-r-e-t-c-h!
5. God's plan for our family (and His timing)
6. How to foster good relationships between my kiddos, especially the girls
7. When to fit exercise in my schedule
8. Staying in touch with my folks and my brother
9. Why does it have to be so hard to live out God's plan?
10. What is "so and so" going to do when he/she grows up?
11. Why can't people just get their act together so the world can be a better place?

I'm sure the list can be amended at least once a week. Life can throw curveballs when I'm expecting a fast ball, but you get the idea, my mind never really rests.  I honestly don't know if I can ever fully shut my brain off to everything.  So sometimes when I'm awake, usually nursing my little guy, I just turn it all to prayer.  At least it brings me peace instead of worry.

Do you find yourself pondering life in the wee hours?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Homeschool with Many

We've been off since July 2, which was a good 6 weeks, but to be honest the kids have been ready to start back for about 3 weeks.  We normally school on a year round calendar, but it looked a little different this past year.  Our breaks were farther apart and not full of the usual enrichment stuff.  It kinda felt like we schooled every day to be honest!  So needless to say, momma/teacher needed a BREAK! I am and I am still alive after our first morning back to school.  That feels good to say.  There were good and bad moments, fun and frustrating moments, wacky and weird moments.  Nothing out of the ordinary :)

So what does it take to get our large family "Back to School?"

Even though we homeschool there is a lot of prep work to get us off and running for the year.

This year, we are schooling 5 students with 2 tag-a-longs, from 6th grade down to an 11-month-old. We have strong readers, new readers and non-readers. We have good time managers and those that need to be kept on task.  We have toddlers who want to do school but eat the crayons and tear up papers!  There's never a dull moment over here at St. Augustine Academy.

Getting ready for school is a lot of fun but it does get more daunting for me as the older students move into the more intense years of schooling. I find myself diving in a little bit more each year as I try to make sure that each student's learning style is accommodated in some fashion and that I take individuality into account.

School Supplies

Us homeschoolers love a good "back to school" sale just like the rest of the world.  So with cash in hand and a list a mile long, off we went to Walmart.  My folks gave the kiddos a little bit of spending money to buy their own "special" supplies (like designer folders, pencil pouches, etc.) and the rest of the necessary supplies were left to me.

This is the time of year that I stock up on Crayola crayons and markers, loose leaf paper, notebooks, pencils, index cards, glue sticks, etc.  The name brand stuff is cheaper than usual and in the case of crayons (which are a necessity here) are much better quality. We also had to get shoes, socks and undies for several kiddos.

That trip to Walmart was nothing less than chaos, but I lived to write about so it wasn't too bad!

Lesson Plans

We are enrolled in Kolbe Homeschool Academy, so the basic lesson plans are all done for me.  This is a life saver.  The time consuming part is getting all the information into a format that helps the kids succeed at getting everything done.  The actual lesson plans have a student part and a teacher part, but from a visual standpoint can seem overwhelming to some of my kiddos.  So last year, I made charts, just a simple 8 or 9 by 5 grid that I fill in with the necessary info, done by subject.  This way, the kids are only seeing what they need to see and it gives them something tangible to cross off.  (That part is most gratifying to me because I love crossing off to-do lists!)

This new method of displaying assignments also helps my kiddos adjust easily to the days when we don't get everything done.  They just don't move on in a subject until the first box is checked off, then the second, etc. 


This has been an area of laxity on our part recently, but we're trying to hit the ground running with it this year.  We feel that having a uniform helps set school apart from the rest of our day.  The kids recognize that school is unique, that it's important.

Since our mascot is the "Martyrs" (as in those who've lost their lives for loving our Lord) red is our school color.  We have the kiddos wear red shirts and nice pants/skirts.  This year, we were gifted some nice school polo shirts in navy and white, so we expanded our color scheme!  After all their school work is done, the kids can change clothes - saving the uniform for the next day if need be.

Needless to say, we have a lot of red, navy, and white tops along with khaki bottoms floating around our house. I will say that it does help the kids (girls and boys) take their work more seriously.

Schooling Space

Our dining room table has traditionally been the hub of our school.  I sit at one end of the table with those in most need of me very close by and the others the opposite end.  I will say that after schooling for only one day so far, we will have to do some rearranging.  Between the 7 kiddos, myself and all the books and supplies the one table just isn't big enough.  We've already pinned Grandma down to borrow an extra small table, which will help with overcrowding.

I'll post an update about that another time.

Schooling a large family isn't necessarily more difficult than schooling a smaller family, it just takes a little more planning and time to meet everyone's needs.

And on that note, my current need is a brain rest, so I'm going to sign off for today.  I hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Vacation, Grace, Vocations and Frozen

Summer vacation is rapidly ending here at the Kreps' house.  Ours was a long 6 weeks this year.  Might seem short to some and too long to others...I'm not sure how I feel.  On one hand I am so excited and ready to get back to our school schedule.  On the other hand, there's a lot more on my platter this time around so I'm a bit anxious as to how I'll manage it all.
"All by Grace" - seems to be the perfect motto for my school year, don't you think?  It's the answer to pretty much any question I get about homeschooling or raising a large family.  In my humble opinion, it's the only correct answer.
I never understood why my dear mother would get so frustrated with me when I would talk back to her or use sarcasm.  NOW I DO!  What goes around comes around, some might say.  However, now that I understand first hand how it feels, I want to get to the deeper "heart" issues with my kiddos, so they won't speak to me or anyone that way.  Always a work in progress!
I love my husband very much and what the Lord has accomplished in 11.5 years of marriage is simply amazing.  I really don't know where I would be without him, despite my inability to express that clearly sometimes.  Life changes people.  Every bump in the road, whether it be a positive bump or not, redirects us.  But I said "I do" and absolutely meant every last word of my vows - no matter the bumps!  Marriage is my primary vocation and knowing it's what I'm called to reassures me that all the grace I will ever need to live it out well, is right there for me.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but we've been on a Frozen break this week. GASP! Only an occasional impromptu serenade of "Let it Go" every once in a while.  Praise God!  While I admit that I sing the songs constantly right along with my kiddos, I'm glad that we're singing some Garth Brooks this week - nice change of pace!
There's a "next" for us - for our family.  We are in the midst of praying and planning a change for our family.  It's been in our thoughts and on our hearts for a while now, but through lots of prayer we finally have a path before us.  I feel more at peace on this path and awaiting God's timing, knowing and feeling His hands in the process.
In the spirit of all the prayer requests I've seen, been texted, etc., let me offer this simple prayer:
"Heavenly Father, let it be done according to your will.  May the peace and love of Christ Jesus, your Son, reign in our hearts. Amen."
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I've Learned this Summer...

Summer means different things to different people.

Some think hot sun, swimming pools, iced tea, popsicles.  Others think vacation getaways, visits to grandparents, time off work, kids home from school.

I don't really have mindset for summer except that this summer I definitely needed a break.  Mentally, I was just spent - from everything.

Now that our conversations are about school supplies, new books, and lesson plans, I thought I would share some of what I've learned this summer before we're back to the grindstone.

(In no particular order!)

1.  Everyone needs a break and it's okay.

2.  Kids love spontaneity.

3.  Swimming lessons are important no matter the age.

4.  Illinois summers don't always have to be sticky hot!

5.  Lemon ice cream is fantastically refreshing (especially when you just have to walk one block to get some).

6.  Old friends make life so much fun!

7.  Each of my children is a fascinating gift from God.

8.  I'm ready for whatever is next in our lives, but God's still revealing His plan piece by piece.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hay rack ride, guns, and roller coasters

I think it's a lot of fun to learn new things about people.  "Answer Me This" is a super fun link-up idea.  I hope you'll answer the questions in the comments or on your own blog.

Here's this week's questions and answers:

1.  How often do you take public transportation?
I honestly can't remember the last time I took a bus, hopped an airplane or rode a train.  Hmm.  So I guess the closest thing to public transportation that I've ridden in a time span that seems relevant, was the hay rack ride at the fall weinie roast up at our local park.

Sad? Yes, very sad. 

But our large, white, 15- passenger van almost serves as public transportation!

2.  How many cousins do you have?
On my mother's side I have 6 cousins and on my father's side I have 4 cousins.

3.  Have you ever fired a gun?
Yes, yes I have.  My father and I have a special relationship that started with me being curious about guns and hunting.  I don't do it a lot now, but my dad and I have been slowly training my kiddos to enjoy the art of target shooting.  They enjoy that special time with their granddad and my daughter Gianna just got her very first .22 rifle for her birthday, which she is patiently waiting to take out and try sometime soon.

4.  Do you ride roller coasters?
Well, I used to love roller coasters but I haven't ridden one for more than 10 years so I don't know if I would still find them enjoyable.  Seems like just bending over to tie my shoes can make my head spin, so not sure if this well used body can handle the adventure anymore.  I'm super happy that my son, Toby, got my sense of adventure because now he's the roller coaster, carnival ride maniac and I love his wild abandon about trying things.

5.  What is your favorite flower?
Roses. A simple, long-stemmed red rose with the perfect scent.  Love it!

6.  Are you allergic to anything?
Kids.  Just kidding!!!  No, I don't think I am allergic to anything.  I might be sensitive to certain things, but nothing that stands out.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I miss my help!

Big kids can be super helpful.  I have 4 of them (me considering big 5 and up) and I appreciate all their help very much.

I especially appreciate when I DON'T have it anymore!

This week is the Totus Tuus program for our parish and I'm so excited they get to be immersed in learning more about our faith all week.

However, in just a few short hours, I've realized that do WAY more around the house then they get credit for.

Large families work best when all hands are on board, so I really miss my help.

When I pick my kiddos up this afternoon, I plan to thank them profusely for all that do each and every day.  Then I'm going to bribe at least on of them to stay home and help me the rest of the week - just kidding!

It's not like I haven't done the 3 kids under 4 yrs. old before, it's just that it's been a while!

From holding the baby so I can use the restroom w/o crawling visitors, to making lunch so I can keep schooling, to helping fold laundry or change it over at least - they do so much to make my life as "mom" easier.

If you have big kids and they are your right and left hands - stop and say thank you today.  Make them feel appreciated and help them understand their valuable contribution to the family.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Questions of the Week

I follow this fantastic blog, Catholic All Year.  Kendra is tons of fun to read and very insightful.  She's in the trenches of raising her own quiver of kiddos, homeschooling, living, learning, and growing in faith.

One of my favorite posts to read on her blog, is the "Answer Me This" post on Sundays where random questions are asked and answered.  It's a lot of fun to get to know folks this way.

In the spirit of blog sharing, she invites other bloggers to post the questions/answers and then link back to her website.  That way you can get to know me a little better and meet Kendra, too.  She's a joy to read so I highly recommend stopping at her blog and staying awhile.

So without further ado, here are this week's questions:

1.When's the last time you bought a new bathing suit?
The last time I bought a swimming suit was the summer of 2012, so not that long ago, but it's also the last time I wore one!  We're not big swimmers around here yet, well, the kids aren't.  I used to swim for pleasure all of the time, but I find that trying to keep 7 kiddos under 11 alive and well at the pool, to be a very stressful task for one momma!

2. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?
My husband called to say hello.

3. If you receive communion, do you receive it in the hands or on the tongue?
I receive communion on the tongue.

4. Do you have a tattoo?
Yes.  It's a small rose on my right ankle.  I call it my "Mystical Rose".  It's a reminder to me of who I once was and who I am now.

5. How many dinner plates are in your house?
Actually, in my house right now, I have 12 dinner plates - 3 plastic and 9 chinaware.

6. Do you have an accent?
I don't think that I do, but I suppose if I went to another part of the country or world, that someone might think so.

Ok.  So now it's your turn to answer the questions in the comments below.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Birthday Boy

My #5, Samuel Henry Fulton, turns 4 today.  I can't believe he's been running circles around us for 4 years already.  He's truly one of kind with those big blue eyes and big floppy ears.  He makes me laugh and cry.  I love his zeal and I guarantee God will put it to good use some day.

Happy Birthday my sweet Sam, I love you!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ask, Seek, Knock

One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the Gospel of Matthew:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." 
This piggy backs on my post from last week on prayer and how God answers each and every one of our prayers.  All we have to do is ask.

Really and truthfully...we just need to ask.  We can't expect miracles if we don't take the time to ask God for help.  He's always available.  You can throw Him a prayer request in the middle of making dinner or giving a bath to a toddler - the timing isn't important, it's the asking!

Seek Him in everything you do.  A line from one of my favorite old choir songs says this, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and good will come to you.  For where your treasure lies there your heart will be. Seek first the kingdom, come and follow me."

A deep, loving relationship with Christ requires effort just like any other relationship.  However, we are guaranteed a phenomenal return on our investment with Christ.

Our marriages are important.  The bonds we have with our kids are vital.  Nothing, though, compares to the time and energy we put into seeking Christ.  He has to be our reason for doing what we do AT ALL TIMES. 

When we seek Christ first, everything else just falls into place.  Our search for Christ will lead us directly to his bride, the Church, and there the doors are open wide to endless opportunities and a wealth of grace.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

God ALWAYS answers our prayers

"The Lord hears us more readily than we suspect; it is our listening to God that needs to be improved. When people complain that their prayers are not heard by God, what often has happened is that they did not wait to hear God's answer."   -Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

How true is that insight?

I mean, I can pray all day - for special intentions, decades of the rosary, prayers for grace, but do I actually EVER stop to listen for the answers.

Of course just because I'm not listening doesn't mean God won't answer, however, I might miss the answer or not recognize His providence.

Since prayer is communication with God and communication in any relationship is key, then prayer HAS to be important.  (I'm saying this with emphasis added for my own good!)   Communication is a two-way street, so when I'm done babbling, blubbering and lamenting (I do praise and adore, just not as much) I need be patient and listen for His answer.

God does answer every prayer (contrary to the theology of Garth Brooks!).  The thing I have to remind myself of constantly, is that His answer isn't always what I want, but it will ALWAYS be what is best.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The End is in Sight (I think)

So I've been homeschooling a long time.  Not to say I'm an expert, but more that I started homeschooling with another family well before Grace was school age.  It's been coursing through my blood for the more than 10 years since.

Every year is new and different.  We encounter challenges.  We make changes.  We try new things.  Some years fly by and I feel like I barely had time to blink.  Others, well, let's just say that paint seems to dry faster!

This school year is a paint dries faster kinda year!  It's been going on. for. EVER. 

I'm just being honest here.  Even homeschoolers feel the drag sometimes.

We homeschool year round, so really school is just ongoing for us.  We do have breaks from anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks, but going all year helps keeps us fresh and the kiddos don't forget what they learn from one year to the next. 

So you're probably thinking to yourself, why homeschool year round if you're complaining about wanting to be done?  Good point. 

The difference this year is that we started almost an entire year ago and then took a longer break before/after Alexander was born in September.  When we started, we only took about 2 weeks off from school year to school year.  That was a bit crazy I think!  Instead of finishing our core academic work in the usually 9 months or so, we've been going almost 12 months.

Here we are just trying to plug through to the end.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The kiddos are actually holding up okay.  So really, it's just me.  I need to fight the urge to throw it all to the wind!

I'm already super excited for next year, but first things first - finish this year!  I need to say an extra prayer for the grace to complete was planned for this day without a worry for tomorrow.


How are you holding up? 
Is your school year done? 
What do you do when you feel antsy like me?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Calendars, Communication and Cows

It's so great to be back in the blogging world.  For me, blogging is an outlet for sharing my joys and sufferings in this world.  I love to tell you funny stories of our crazy family, lift you up with inspiring quotes and Scripture passages, and leave you pondering what's next in your life.

June is really almost here?  How did that happen?  How did half of 2014 already escape me?  Ok, well it's not like I didn't notice the weather changing (sort of) or that I had to write different dates on my checks.  It's just that I can't believe we're having baseball games, bbqs, and bare feet outside already.

If your a parent, then you'll understand that frustrating phenomenon of the language barrier between you and your infant.  The times when something is hurting, frustrating, or simply bothering your child and all you can understand is "WAH!"  I mean clearly that means the child is suffering from a sore throat, drainage, and lack of sleep.  Well, that might be true in the end, but while trying to determine the cause of their frustration, there's a lot of screaming and yelling that just can't be consoled.  I dislike those moments.  We've been having those moments for a couple days :(
Mooooo!  That's the sound one makes when they realize they are finally going to get a 1/4 of a cow.   Yes, we are nearly the proud owners of 162 lbs of beef in the form of ground beef, steaks, roasts and stew meat.  My freezers are all ready. Yippee!
So to keep myself busy this summer (as if I am EVER bored) I thought being a private tutor would be fun.  I'm looking forward to helping this little guy out and letting him have fun with my kiddos.  (Plus I gotta pay for that massive amount of cow somehow!) right this moment as I am attempting to have coherent thoughts, my mother-in-law just arrived in her school bus to give my (obviously underprivileged) children a quick ride/tour.  My kids literally jumped down half the stairs and ran out screaming "BUS!!"  She does this every year when she does the final clean out.  My kids think it's great and well, I get a quiet house for like 10 minutes!
Have a great weekend!  Spend time with your family.  Spend time worshiping.  Soak in some sunshine.  See ya next week.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Life, Choices and New Beginnings

Life has a way of forcing us to make choices.  Sometimes in big things like what job to take or what house to buy, other times it might be in the small things like what day to leave on vacation or what time to schedule a play date.

For the past several months I've been tumbling over thoughts about changing my blog and resetting my goals.  A year ago this time, I gifted myself a domain and hosting package in the hopes that I could really reach out and maybe even earn some money for our family.  Life had other ideas!

So here I am, on my new and improved, down to earth, from the heart blog that makes me so excited!

My writing style won't be any different and I pray that what you read is always real.  I'm okay with being genuine because you need to know that what might look easy from the outside isn't always easy on the inside.

At first I had a hard time saying goodbye to my old blog because I lost all of my writing (long story.)  I was sad that I had no record of the over 400 posts I wrote.  I was hoping to compile them all and make a book someday!  Oh well, starting over isn't all bad.

Some of my brainstorms (although limited in my overtaxed brain) are now coming to fruition.  What you see and what you read, are how I feel and who I am and what is most important to me.

You'll read about God and being Catholic, homeschooling, large family living, raising girls AND boys, married life, naturally crunchy mom stuff, and all the in betweens.

Come back again and again to visit.  Read my posts.  Share my posts.  Comment on my posts.  Leave prayers requests in the comments.