Monday, December 31, 2012

~Happy New Year~

Wild times at the E house this New Year's Eve.  In an effort to try to stay awake until the ball drops, we had a little fun ;)

 Happy

 

  New

Year!!


Wishing you all a fantastic and blessed 2013!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2012

when comfort meets love

If I'm being honest here (and why wouldn't I be?), we are very happy and very COMFORTABLE in our family. We have the most amazing kids ever (totally not biased!) and enjoy being with them. We aren't rich, by any means, but thanks to skills we learned from Dave Ramsey, we don't live paycheck to paycheck. We save and give and are very, very blessed. Life is good.

So...why are we throwing a huge wrench into our normal, COMFORTABLE lives this new year? Because God says:


In Essentials class at CC, I'm teaching kids the 4 sentence purposes: Declarative, Exclamatory, Interrogative, and Imperative. An Imperative is basically a command and always has an implied you. Such as "Love one another." - it is an implied or understood YOU that is supposed to be doing the action of loving. There are tons of imperative sentences in the Bible, that we choose to read as suggestions instead of commands most of the time. Follow me. Repent. Go and tell. Fear not. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind...oh and love your neighbor as yourself.

God didn't command us to be comfortable. He commanded us to love Him and love others. 

So, in 2013, we will be stepping way out of our comfort zone, and going to love others that don't have their own families to love on them right now. The foster care process is long and kind of a pain, but we are on our way. We have already met some wonderful people who are helping us on this journey and were assigned our social worker yesterday, who seems sweet as can be. Friends are getting calls about us and I hope they are being nice - lol. The ball is definitely rolling here.

We don't have any delusions that this will be easy and fun all the time. We are very aware that at times it will be frustrating and heartbreaking and miserable and just plain hard. I can't imagine taking a kid away from their parents (even if they were actually rescuing them from their parents - not sure kids see the difference), putting them in a shelter for a few days or months, then sticking them in a new family and expecting them to just blend right in. Add in abuse, neglect, anger, changing schools, multiple foster homes already, etc, etc, etc, etc....and well, we will all be needing your prayers and God's grace to help us in this new journey. We can't wait to get starting showing God's love to these kiddos!

If you think of us, please pray for wisdom for us. Pray for the kids who are scared, alone, angry, and confused. Please pray for our own kids. They are all on board...as of right now...but we are rocking their comfortable little worlds too. They will be giving up a lot for us to do this, but we believe they will also grow closer to God and closer to each other through it all.

Thanks, guys. I am not sure how much of this journey will be on this blog, but just giving you a heads up of where we are heading and the exciting things going on in the E household in 2013 :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blog Through the Alphabet {O}

When we got our Christmas things out of the attic, Miss P found my old toys that are up there. She wanted to get out my old Barbies and has had a fun week playing with them, and my old dolls.

So...this week, O is going to stand for Old toys and Old memories.

I used to spend hours playing with Barbie and friends. P rarely plays with any of hers but hasn't stopped since we got these down. Barbie and Ken even got married last night on a stage she made out of a cardboard box and they just finished a beauty pageant, complete with talent competition :) I love it!






"You may kiss the bride." Don't look!



Visit Ben and Me to see other bloggers who are blogging through the alphabet too.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Book Review: The Reunion

 

We recently received a copy of The Reunion, a novel by Rachael McIntire. Mrs. McIntire is a new Christian author and I was excited for the opportunity to read her first published novel. It is a shorter book, only 127 pages, but a good story that is packed full of Christian values. 

We decided to use it as a read aloud with the kids since our work has slowed down a little for Christmas break. We sat down last week, in front of the fire, and read 1/2 the book in one sitting! At the end of each chapter, I would ask the kids if they wanted me to stop or keep going and they wanted to keep going. We only stopped because it was dinner time. 

The story begins with a family that is wanting to have another child and God answers that prayer with a baby that is left on their porch. In another town and another family, the same thing happens. The story follows these two girls as they grow up and lead very different lives, one in a strong Christian home and the other in a secular home.I won't go into details as I don't want to ruin the surprises, but it is neat to watch both girls grow up, in very different homes, and how they are the same and different.

The kids loved the book. The story switches between the two girls in every other chapter. At first, that confused the kids, but we just started recapping before we started each chapter. After the first few times, they didn't need to review, but they still discussed it with each other before we started the next chapter.

I loved that it was about foster (briefly) and then adoption, as that is heavy on our hearts right now. It seems like God is putting it into everything we read or watch lately, encouraging us to press on.

It is refreshing to read a book that is full of good family morals and respect. The girls, even in the unsaved home, respected authority, which is rare in this day and age and nice for the kids to hear. I actually felt the kids calm down when we read this. It was such a sweet, simple book...well, simple maybe isn't the right word, but you know what I mean. The Christian family was so genuine in their faith and loving of others and we could learn a lot from them.

I love finding books and movies with strong Christian characters and love supporting new authors. Read an excerpt from the book here: http://thereunionstory.com/reunion-excerpt/ and then use the code REVIEW-LES to get $2.00 off each copy of The Reunion you order through Feb 2013, and $1 off anytime you order after that. :)



Disclaimer:  I received this book, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The road to Mr. T!

When Big T and I decided to have kids, we had a plan. They were going to be born every two years and we were going to have 4 of them. Right on track, we had C with the easiest pregnancy and delivery I could imagine. Once I got used to the fact that he was a boy (having 2 sisters, I just expected to have girls), everything was great. He was a wonderful baby and all was on track for baby #2, 2 years later, of course.

We got pregnant right on target. We were so excited and started making calls to share the news. I still remember that my parents were on a trip in the Bahamas and we even called them to tell them. So excited. Then, 3 days later, we miscarried. I was only 6 weeks along. My cycle was really weird back then and if I hadn't tested, I wouldn't have even known we had been pregnant honestly. This got me wondering if it had happened before...Hmmm...

The doctor said to wait 3 cycles before trying again, but....after one cycle, we got pregnant. Oops. All was well. I was sick as a dog, so must be "really" pregnant. All was going along great, then we went for our checkup at 11 weeks and they couldn't find a heartbeat. They said it was still early so to come back in a week and do an u/s. So here we were, getting the same news as before. This time, the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks.This loss was a lot harder on us. For starters, everyone seemed to be pregnant right then, including my sister. We had 10 friends and family that were expecting and a constant reminder of our losses. And then...what the heck? Once is a fluke, twice is a pattern...that doesn't end with holding a baby :(

But God had much better things in store for us and his plan was WAY better than my "every two years" plan. The first three times we had gotten pregnant, it had been so easy, but this 4th time it took months. Since I had had a D&C this time, the doctor said we just had to wait one cycle, but it took us about 6 to get pregnant. I had to take progesterone each month, just in case we got pg. If you have ever had to do this, you know why I hated it. But at last, we were pregnant and this baby God allowed us to carry to term.

He was due around Christmas and was our little gift from God! I know that God has big things in store for little T and am enjoying being his Mom.

Today, he is celebrating his TENTH birthday. Crazy! Now, like any kid, he has his moments, but he is an amazing kid and we are so thankful we get to raise him. I can't wait to see him grow up and watch him change the world. He currently wants to be a missionary, in Grand Cayman ;) His dreams change daily but always include the Lord. He bounces between wanting to be a preacher to wanting to be in the Army and THEN be a preacher to wanting to be a Gideon and hand out Bibles to wanting to own a pig farm while being a preacher. The one constant is that he loves Jesus and wants to tell others about Him too. 

So, while the road was bumpy, it definitely was worth it! I don't know why I decided to share all that today. I had just intended to sit down and put a quick "Happy Birthday" post up here, but then all this came out. Oh well, maybe it will help someone else to trust that God's plan is always better. Hang in there and trust him.


Happy Birthday, T! We love you!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Favorite reviews of 2012

I was thinking back through all of the products I was blessed to be able to review last year for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and thought I would update you on the ones we still use/love. You can check out all my TOS reviews by clicking here.

  • My very first review was for SchoolHouseTeachers.com. This is one I still use a lot. Jennifer Courtney, from Classical Conversations, writes a weekly Classical History lesson that we use every week. It goes right along with what we are studying. There is so much on this site that I still haven't gotten to it all, but like to fill in "spare time" with random daily lessons they post about history, math, grammar, etc. It is fun to have some variety in our day. It is still just $1 for the first month and $5.95 for additional months. Well worth it, IMO. Oh and if you join and use my link, I get "credit" for it...they have a great affiliate program you should check out after you join: http://schoolhouseteachers.com/dap/a/?a=12777
  • A Cry from Egypt - I have loaned this book out to several people and still highly recommend it. We are waiting on pins and needles for her next book to come out :)
  • BeeYouTiFul Products - This was a nice change from the curriculum reviews I had been doing. I still use their Miracle Salve daily (with the Lip Balm on my lips as a commenter recommended and on everything else we can think of). We use the Owie Stick often and would take Berry Well every day if we could afford it. Love it all!
  • Deep Blue Kids Bible - My new favorite kids Bible!
  • Samson's Classroom - Great, fun reinforcement of Language Arts. 
  • Sugar Creek Gang - We surprised the kids with the second volume to listen to on our trip a few weeks ago and we all listened to the entire volume and ALL enjoyed it! Highly recommend these for all kids to listen to! We have volume 3 to give to them for Christmas and a little birdie told me that Grandma picked up volume 4 for them. They will be pumped!
  • Growing Up Wild - This was another of my faves. So cool see video of a family serving God in the mission field. I would love to have more of these DVDs and need to get ordering!
So...there ya go. My year-end-reviews-review ;) I have had a glimpse of all the new vendors for 2013 and can not wait to get started! Some I am familiar with but like this year, there are a lot that I have never heard of. I'm so thankful for this opportunity! I have two other reviews that I am working on right now, but not through TOS. I will have the first posted next week, and the other will have to wait until it is posted on their site, then I will post it here.

Click the button below to see others that have looked back at 2012.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

blog through the alphabet {l, m, n}

I might be behind, but I'm not quitting! This will be quick, but will get me caught up. I clearly haven't taken many pics since we got home so all these are from our trip. Hey, it works.

L is for lobster. We at like kings and queens on our cruise. T loves lobster but we never have it. He was pumped to get it one night :)


M is for Magic, Carnival Magic :) One day I will make time to do a whole post on this magical week. It was such a blast!


N is for NASA. While we were killing time, waiting to board the cruise ship, we ran by the Space Center in Houston.



Remember me?

I didn't fall off the face of the earth. We've just been busy...

Wowing everyone with our mad baking skillz:


Oh yeah, and sailing the 7 seas...We had a fabulous family cruise to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel after Thanksgiving. Best vacation ever:


I'm just about finished getting everyone's Christmas pictures returned to them (although never did our own family Christmas pics this year - oops). YAY. Then I'll be back to catch up around here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

blog through the alphabet {k}

K is for karate...wax on, wax off :)

C has done ABKA karate for several years. I love that it is a Christian organization and he is surrounded by Godly men while he is there. He took a break last year but rejoined this semester. He isn't sure he wants to continue on to his black belt (he has to be 17 or 18 to test), but I'm still glad he has gone as far as he has. Here he is after karate on Thursday...I should have taken a picture before, when he wasn't all sweaty ;)


Friday, November 16, 2012

Melissa and Doug *Winner*

Thank you so much to the 36 people that entered the Melissa and Doug contest, and to Melissa and Doug for allowing me to have this contest. I put the numbers into random.org and the winner is.....#31 - Jen. I went to her blog to congratulate her and saw her most recent post is about foster care. I love how God brings people into your life, just when you need them. We are in the beginning stages of getting approved for foster care so I am excited to see others on this journey with us!
Congrats, Jen! Enjoy your game :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

* Pig Mania *

Terrific T has decided to become an author. He has written his first book and already sold 10 copies! We had a CC Marketplace this week, where kids could sell things they have made. He made copies of his 12 page book, Pig Mania, and set up shop.

His first dollar!
I was very proud of him, and thankful for kind friends that supported his venture. Pig Mania is about a boy who loves pigs (sounds familiar). He loves them so much that he turns into one, and then it is PIG MANIA :)

page 9
As a supportive mother (LOL), I offered to sell them on here for him too :) If you would like a PDF version of this amazing children's book (I'm certainly not biased), click on the button below and it will take you to paypal. After you pay your $1, it will give you a link to "return to LE Portraits" (don't know how to change that wording...it's my first time doing something like this!), click on that to download the book. If it doesn't work, leave a message here with your email address and I will send it to you.

Thank you so much!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review - Growing Up Wild DVDs

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The Wild family, originally from Florida, are missionaries in Papua, Indonesia. The video series, Growing Up Wild, is about their lives there and is absolutely wonderful. It is not a profession production, where a team came in and followed this family, it is actual footage the Wilds shot of the people, area, and themselves while in the mission field. You would never know it wasn't professionally shot though as the colors, camera work, and coverage are amazing.



There are currently 5 volumes in the series and we received Volume 1 and Volume 4 for this review. Each volume is $18.99 (plus tax and shipping) and contains 3 episodes (about 15 minutes each) and a PDF activity guide to go along with them.

Volume 1's episodes are Home Sweet Hut, Supply Trip, and Sun and Water. This really helped us to see exactly how they live in Papua. We met the 4 Wild brothers and they showed the ins and outs of their home, and the homes of the Wano people. We followed them on a supply trip that made us appreciate that we get to wait in lines at WalMart! And lastly, we learned how they use the sun and rushing water near their house to provide electricity and water for their home.

The kids didn't move once they sat down to watch this DVD. Captain C took notes on the activities it suggested at the end of each episode so we could decide which ones to do. Then we opened up the PDF and realized that we didn't need to take notes after all. This CD is awesome! It is full of ideas, verses, and words from their hearts on how to make these DVDs even more meaningful for your family. There are enough activities in there that you could spread it out over a week or more (some you would do off an on all year actually). We chose a few that the kids wanted to do and began. I will not show you our poor model of a Wano home, made from Q-tips and string. It wasn't worthy of a picture and couldn't even stand on its own anyway. However, making it made us even more impressed with the Wild's home and how they built it without a modern day construction crew! They made a vendiagram of our home and the Wild brothers home; that was fun. We noticed some of the same school books we use in the video, which was cool to think that they are learning the same things we are. Then we learned about making a solar oven and googled how to make one our own. Honestly, I think we can do it...next summer. Poor timing as the temps are so cool that we would just be able to heat in it and not cook. Definitely something to come back to later.

Next we watched Volume 4 and learned even more about their lives in the jungle. These episodes are titled Amazing World Around Us, Adventures in Culture, and Tribal Calling. The jungle they live in is full of God's beautiful creatures. Absolutely gorgeous. One of the suggestions in the guide is to classify animals and insects, which goes right along with what we are learning in CC this year - yay!
We learned a lot about the culture of the Wano people in the second episode, including them piercing their noses, which two of the Wild boys did! The kids asked me if I would let them do that and I said if we had lived there for several years and they still wanted to...sure, but I wouldn't watch! I had to cover my eyes in that part of the show ;) We enjoyed doing the "Culture Worksheet" they included - comparing our culture to the culture of the Wano people.

The last episode on here though, was outstanding. Mr. Wild shared about their calling to the mission field and some of what they have done for the Wano people. Some things include spending 3 years with them, learning to speak their language and then helping them invent (yes, they didn't have one at all!) a written alphabet so they could read God's Word, which they are translating into their language. WOW! This one touched our hearts and made us think more about how we can serve in the mission field. They showed that serving is more than just being a missionary; people need to pray and support them from home too. They shared Romans 12:4-5, which we used a copy work for the week. They encouraged us to write out our testimonies to share, like a Wano gentleman gave his on film. We are working on that and hope to have them finished soon.


There is so much in these DVDs that I want to do with the kids, and with others. I would love to have a group of kids meet, watch them, and do the activities together. I hope to get that going soon. I can't wait to share these with other people and to get the other DVDs in the set to learn even more. It is so exciting to read about others that are serving the Lord. These are worth every penny and minute you spend on them!

Check out what other Crew Members thought about these DVDs by clicking here or on the banner below. 

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Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received these DVDs, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I'm Thankful {Nov 11}

I am so thankful for the men and women that have served our country in the past and are serving it currently. I'm thankful for the families that allow their loved ones to serve. I'm thankful for the countless people who have paid for our freedom with their lives.


I took this picture two years ago on Veteran's Day but can't beat it so I'm not going to even try.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Thankful {Nov 10}


Today, I'm thankful for my job. I have been so blessed with the perfect job for our family. It has supported us in times when Big T was out of work, and simply let me be creative and "not just mommy" when I need that. It is flexible and I can change it to fit the needs of our family in any given month. It allows us to do "extras" that might not be in the normal budget otherwise. I get to meet the coolest, sweetest, most beautiful people, and reconnect with people I have lost touch with. And honestly, I just really enjoy it.

Tonight I met up with some old friends and did the coolest Christmas pictures. I can't wait to edit them. P went with me (another perk of my job is it is "Bring your kid to work day" anytime I want it to be) and we stopped by the "World's Largest Totem Pole" on the way home. It was everything you would imagine...and more ;o)





Apparently the Indians stole the Egyptians' signature dance move.


Friday, November 9, 2012

I'm Thankful {Nov 9}

Today, I'm thankful for our health. 4/5 of us are sick right now, but you know what, this time next week, we will all be well. When I see others that have chronic illnesses, I can't help but be thankful for this minor bump in the road. We are so blessed with health and I don't want to take it for granted.

That's all. I'm off to bed.....just didn't want to miss my post ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm Thankful {Nov 8}

We all have sore throats today and just overall not feeling great. I swung by Sonic on the way home from T's dentist appointment and picked up slushes for everyone.



Today, I'm thankful for HAPPY HOUR at Sonic :)

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway



http://melissaanddoug.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/terrifictwentyimage.jpg

We love Melissa and Doug products in the E household. They are always so well made and allow kids to use their creativity. So I was excited to see that they released this list of 20 of the "best of the best" gifts to gift this Christmas. In this list, there are gifts for ages 1+ -  8+ , ranging in price from $10-$70...something for about every little one on your list!

On the Melissa and Doug Facebook page, they are giving away a FREE gift from this list every day (starting Nov 6th) to one lucky fan. Be sure to like their page so you can have a chance to win!

They are also giving away an awesome family game called Suspend to one of my readers! How cool is that!
Suspend Family Game
From their site: A family game of tricky hangs and steady hands! Try this hanging balance game and you'll be hooked! Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands.

Our family started a few years ago giving a gift to the kids each Saturday in December. We were trying to cut down on the  number of gifts we give on Christmas morning, and intentionally chose gifts that made us spend time together. This is perfect for that and I am so excited to be able to share this with one of you too.

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me which of the other toys from the Melissa and Doug Twenty List your kids would like. That's it. Don't forget to hop on over to the Facebook page and enter to win there too. I'll close comments on Friday, Nov 16th, and then please allow 10 days for Melissa and Doug to send your prize! Good luck!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blogging through the alphabet {j}

J is for JUMPING! We had some fun jumping today :)

 

I even got in on the fun...Mental note: chin out if you don't want to have a double chin in pics!


Then they wanted to try to all jump together. Hmmm...didn't quite work, but their faces were funny ;)




Blogging Through the Alphabet




I'm Thankful {Nov 7}

I'm thankful for a God of second chances.


I'm thankful that He is patient with me when it takes me longer than it should to listen and/or move. I'm thankful that He loves me no matter what. I'm thankful that He is always there to comfort me and guide me. I'm thankful for His forgiveness, over and over again. I'm thankful that He sent His Son to die for my sins so I can live forever with Him. I'm thankful that His mercies are new every morning. 

~Hallelujah is the highest praise~

(watch the video and I dare you to not sing this all day)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm Thankful {Nov 6}

I took the kids with me to vote today and was once again thankful for our great country: America, land of the free and home of the brave.


I'm thankful that people gave, and continue to give, their lives to protect us and our freedoms. I'm thankful that we have the right to vote and let our opinions be heard. I'm thankful for my "First World Problems." No matter how the election goes tonight, I'm thankful to live in the greatest country on earth. God bless America....even though we don't deserve it.