Family PIc April 2015

Family PIc April 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Praise God for Angiosperms!

"Praise God for angiosperms!  Not only do they provide our lives with essential things we need to survive on this earth, they are also beautiful to behold."  (Exploring Creation with Botany by Jeannie K. Fulbright)

What are angiosperms, you ask?  Flowering plants, of course!  :)

Have you ever thought about how many flowering plants you come in contact with every single day?

Or better yet...all the products that come from flowering plants?

Roses, sunflowers, mums, and lots of other beautiful flowers we enjoy indoors and outdoors are all obvious angiosperms.

But what about fruits, veggies, wheat, oats, corn, rice, honey, sugar? ...Most of what we eat wouldn't be here!

But, we could eat meat, right? 

WRONG!  Most of the meat we eat (chicken, pork, beef, wild game) rely on angiosperms to live and our meat wouldn't exist without flowering plants. 

We could probably eat fish...but all the time?  That would get pretty boring!

How about cotton in our t-shirts, undies, and bed sheets?  Nope...not without flowering plants.  (*side note:  If you've never seen blossoms on a cotton plant, you are missing out!  They come in the prettiest shades of pinks and yellows!)

You get the picture? 

My kids were pretty good at recognizing the benefits of flowering plants in our discussion today - probably because they get to help garden a little in the summers. 

...And, they know their momma absolutely LOVES flowers - that totally makes them important, right? :)

So...for our Botany lesson today, we performed a flower dissection on a rose from the back yard.

Truth be told, sometimes our little Science labs wind up being a crazy headache, especially with the little ones...but, today, I still have enough sanity to want to write about it, which means everyone was interested enough to be attentive - SUCCESS!  ;)

(I DID have to steer our conversation back to flowers after Silas, my 5 year old, asked if he could go "kill a frog so we could dissect that" instead! ..."Ummmm, no, Big, we don't get to do that in Botany - that has to wait until Biology." )

Today, during our flower dissection, we started learning about how flowers make seeds...and that's important in learning about a whole lot of other things to come (pollination, seed dispersal, fruits)!

After our work, I sent them outside to soak up some much-needed SUNSHINE (it's been raining for a week here, but the sun finally peeked through today!)...and I encouraged them to look around them while they played, and to try not to take things around us for granted...

..and to "Praise God for angiosperms!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Officially announcing the newest little member of our family...

Currently 20 weeks and counting...EDD 2.19.15.  Maybe a Valentine's Baby??

We are always getting questions, and honestly, I really do love when people genuinely are curious and want to know about our family and what makes us tick.   I realize that our family is unique - isn't every family??  My family is my favorite thing to talk about!   Unfortunately, it's the condescending questions that leave me feeling misunderstood and hurt. make this post more fun, here are a few questions we have heard...and the answers we might have given (in no particular order).

1.  "Are you excited?" ...Yes, of course we're excited!  The kids can't wait to add another sibling to our sometimes crazy chaos.  It's the stuff that makes life fun and full of love and laughter!  Besides, how many kids get to grow up having "real, live baby dolls"?  (Forget those Toys R Us versions that only give a weak cry and pretend to wet their diaper - this is much more fun! ;) )

2.  "How many are you going to HAVE?" or "Are you going to have any MORE?"  ...Hey, when you already have 9 kiddos running around, that's a valid question - I totally get it.  For the record, we plan to have as many as God wants us to have.  No, we don't use birth control, ovulation kits, or natural family planning.  We realize that we are blessed we don't have to use those things.  We trust that God, the Creator of everything - from the Universe to the mitochondria in each tiny living cell -   knows best. 

3.  "How do you AFFORD all those kids?" ...Well, Gregg has a wonderful job that he loves with a very good company, making a good salary.  But, we have basic cell phones without internet, we don't have cable television, we don't have car payments, we don't eat at restaurants as often as many families b/c we can eat much cheaper (and healthier) at home, we never turn away hand-me-downs, we buy quality items from yard sales and consignment shops, we rarely buy items that aren't on sale or get the idea?  We make what some people might call "sacrifices", but when I look around our home, and watch my children growing, I don't feel like we're sacrificing at all. 

4.  "You must really like being pregnant, don't you?" ...I'm going to be completely frank here.  There are parts of carrying a child that I REALLY love - like feeling Baby kicking around inside of my womb.  That has never gotten old to me!  I love feeling my older children rub their hands along my tummy and give it a hug in their anticipation for a new brother or sister.  I love the wonder and miracle of birth.  It awes me every time.  ...But, honestly, I don't enjoy the morning sickness, the migraines, the 50-60 lbs. of weight gain I typically experience, the aching back, the relentless fatigue, the swollen hands and feet, or the struggle with my prenatal and postpartum body image.  Pregnancy isn't easy for me...but it IS absolutely worth it!    

5. "Do you know what causes that?" ...We get this question ALL. THE. TIME.  I get a kick out of total strangers thinking they are being original and funny.  Gregg usually comments, "Are you asking because you honestly think we don't know...or because you need us to explain it to YOU?"  I've recently started to simply comment, "Yes...and we really enjoy it!"  I don't think we've heard a really good comeback yet.  ;)

6. "Aren't you afraid something will go terribly WRONG, especially now that you're older?" (Yes, people have actually said this to me.) ...Pregnancy and childbirth have their risks.  But, it is a very natural part of life.  I was a Biology major in college, and I know how to do my own research.  I have yet to see any convincing data that shows that a healthy woman shouldn't bear children during her child-bearing years.  The risks of "something going wrong" are there for women of all ages.  Gregg and I choose not to base life decisions on fear of what "might happen."

7. "How do you DO it?  You must have a lot of patience!" ...I never quite know how to answer this one.  It's like asking a mechanic how he rebuilds an engine, when I have hardly any idea what's even IN an engine.  He'd probably tell me he rebuilds it "one step at a time."  ...Or like asking a surgeon how he performs a quadruple bypass.  He'd probably tell me "taking one moment, one step at a time."  I guess that's how I "do" it, too.  Each day is different.  I take "one step at a time." I don't always say the right things or do the right things.  I've learned from trial and error...and just when I think I have it all figured out and I'm so proud of myself, my next child throws me a curve ball.   I was not born with enough patience...but, thankfully, I've developed more over the years.  God gives me grace...and so do my children.  It's part of being a FAMILY.  Over the years, I've been learning that there are some things more important than others.  It's been a delicate journey learning what to let go and learning what battles I must fight. 

8.  "How much do you spend on groceries?" ...This year, we have budgeted $850/month for groceries.  This does not count approximately $2000 in beef/year as we purchase our beef "by the cow." (we have a "cow" line item in our budget - how funny is that?)  Groceries include food items (of course), paper products such as toilet paper (see #9!)/paper towels/paper plates/napkins, cleaning products, and hygiene products.  (It does not include eating out, as we currently budget that separately at $150/month for our family of 11.)

9.  "How much toilet paper does your family use?" (Don't laugh - I've heard this question!)  ...I have no earthly idea! :)  It's a necessity...if it gets low, trust me, I buy more!  I absolutely do not have time to accurately document that one, but I can tell you, we have a lot of rear-ends to wipe. ;)

10. "What kind of car do you drive?" ...Our current family vehicle is a 2008 Ford F350, 15 passenger van.  Gregg drives the "little van" to work - a 2002 Chevy Venture mini-van.

11. "How many bedrooms do you have and how do you place that many kids in those rooms?" ...
       We have 4 bedrooms.  One bedroom belongs to the 5 youngest sons (ages 2-10).  Gregg designed and built a set of quintuple bunk beds for them this summer.  They LOVE them!  Our only issue has been keeping them from frolicking late into the night - it's like having a constant sleep-over with your best friends!
        Another room belongs to the 2 girls, where they share a full size bed.  The room is painted pink.  Thank heavens for some pink!  ;)  We also keep the baby's crib in this room.
        The 3rd children's room has a set of full-size bunk beds that Gregg built years ago.  Currently, our 16 yr. old claims the top bunk, and our 17 yr. old claims the bottom bunk.  The room contains things like antique records and radios...and baseball trophies. 
        And, finally, the 4th bedroom is the master bedroom - that would be ours.  :) 

***SPECIAL NOTE (in case some of you are wondering):  We have 2 bathrooms, which is usually enough.  But, let's just say that ONE advantage to having lots of boys is that they don't mind peeing OUTSIDE ;)...and the girls almost always use the master bathroom.    

12.  "Do you think you are better than other people who don't have as many children as you?" ...Ok, I'll admit, this recent question stunned me.  I'd never really considered that thought.  If we have conveyed that in some of our responses over the years, I openly apologize.  If we did, it was probably b/c we felt like you looked down on us b/c we had "so many."  We've been around the block long enough to realize that everyone is different.  We also realize that we do not know or understand everyone's circumstances or decisions.  Some people wish they had more children, but they couldn't or felt they shouldn't...some wish they didn't have as many...and some consider themselves to have planned their families just perfectly.  We don't look at a couple with 2 children (or any number of children) and think we are "better" than them.  Not everyone was created to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a musician.  By the same token, not everyone was created to have a "large family."  We're just being obedient to what God has called us to do with our lives.  It's ok to be different.  We respect you.  We expect you to respect us, too.

13. "What are you going to do about college?" ...It's called planning.  We know it's coming, at least 18 years before it actually does.  When each of the kids is around 6 weeks old, we open them an account.  We save.  If they get scholarships, guess what?  They get to use the money we've saved for them for something else. It's a good educational motivator. ;)

So, yeah, we get lots of questions...and some funny looks...and some rude comments.

But, we often get some of the sweetest compliments and sincerest questions, too.

We can appreciate and handle both.  ;)

Life is what you make of it...and HERE WE GO AGAIN! :)


Saturday, August 15, 2015


It's been increasingly difficult to share vehicles with 2 teenage drivers in the house. 

Our spare vehicle is a 1973 Chevy pickup that is most reliable taking the trash to the dump and hauling wood.

We weren't especially comfortable with the boys driving it longer distances to classes or ball practices/tournaments.  So, I was usually left home without a vehicle while one of them took the van.  Poor me! ;)

Nathan will be a senior this year and has been talking about getting a car for probably 2 years now.  But he began looking, realistically, about 6 months ago.

Last Friday, he purchased his first car - on Kedesh's 4th bday.  He laughed and told her he bought her a car for her birthday.  She might actually think it's hers - lol!

Pretty proud of this guy for working hard, saving his money, and being patient.  I admit, it was pretty surreal watching Nathan hand over his money to the seller.

He wanted something different.  Anyone who knows Nathan wouldn't expect him to get any type of car that a "normal" 17 yr. old might purchase.

But, when Nathan saw the Jaguar on Craigslist, I scoffed.  His daddy, on the other hand, encouraged him to check into it.  Go figure! 

And, the rest is history.

His brothers and sisters had to check it out the first chance they got...

Then, we had a little photo session with just Nathan.  He was pretty excited, can you tell?

Nathan, of course, had to clean the car inside and outside - every nook and cranny. 
To do this, he enlisted the help of a couple of his siblings, who were gracious enough to help...

And, he ended up waxing it "until the cows came home!"

It's been quite a week getting all the paperwork completed at the local DMV (Boy, could I write a post about THAT experience...but I'm trying to keep this upbeat!)

Registration and property taxes are paid, tags are on, extra keys have been cut, and the new title with his name on it came in the mail today...and, just like that, my firstborn owns his FIRST CAR - TITLE IN HAND!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday To Our Little Songbird!!

Four years ago, today...I had just given birth.

Our little girl was born at home, in a tub of warm water, face up...looking right into our eyes.


It was one of those surreal moments I will NEVER. EVER. FORGET.

For days, we ooooo-ed and ahhhhhh-ed over her.  We found ways to attach bows to her tiny head and dressed her in lots of pink!


photo credit:  Storing Up Treasures Photography

Kedesh Elizabeth has continued to bring us joy and laughter.  Her smile is one of those smiles that radiates and lights up an entire room.



She talks to herself in the mirror while she washes her hands or brushes her hair...

She sings while she plays with her toys...

She talks to herself (or anyone who will listen) as she walks outside...

She sings as she plays on the swing...

And as she floats in the pool...

And if she is sitting at the dinner table, there is a constant little buzz of noise from her end of the table.

If she falls asleep, we suddenly realize how quiet it gets!  I'm not kidding!  (It's like the sound a house makes when the electricity goes out.  Everything shuts down and you realize the quiet is a little eerie!) 


Kedesh adores her big sister probably the most, because they are a lot alike and share a special sister-bond.

But her big brother, Caleb, is no doubt the one she runs to when she is seeking a special favor or protection from someone "being mean."  Her "Blub", as she calls him, (She couldn't say "Caleb" for years.) will always give her that sweet snack she wants, or pick her up and love on her if someone has hurt her feelings.  She has him wrapped around her little finger and she knows it!

And, Caleb...he just smiles.  He loves her to pieces. 

When Kedesh was a baby, Caleb was always the sibling who could get her to fall asleep on his chest.  He was the one who would hold her for hours while he read in the evenings.  So, they really do have a special bond.

So, today, we celebrate 4 years with our little gift - our beautiful little girl!

Happy 4th Birthday, Kedesh!  We are so glad God gave you to us!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You Have Been My God

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”  

-C.S. Lewis


It's not easy holding onto a faith that the world around you tramples upon, devalues, mocks, and misunderstands.
It's not easy going against the grain, being different, and always feeling the need to explain your thoughts and convictions...only to have those look back at you with blank stares or condescending gawks.
Sometimes...just want to give up.  You know deep in your gut you shouldn't think that way, but you can't seem to help it.
You no longer have the energy to explain your thoughts to others.  You no longer have the energy to try to defend yourself and your precious Savior. 
Sometimes, you want to listen to Satan's whispers of defeat and false reasonings.  There's a part of you that wants to take the path more traveled. 
Sometimes, you just want to be "normal."  (You don't quite know what "normal" is...but you're pretty sure you're NOT IT...)
Sometimes, it hits you that a homeschooling, no tv, 9-kiddo-family in a 4 BR home, that would rather go hiking than go to Disney World ANY DAY, no skirt-wearing, contemporary-worship-loving family JUST DOESN'T FIT IN ANYWHERE.
And then...God asks more of you.
...And, you're not sure you can handle it.  You're so far from perfect it makes your heart hurt.  And Satan likes to remind you often of how weird and weak you are.
True friends that can "hang" with your large, crazy family, for an extended time, are few and far between.
And, then...
God speaks to you. 
"I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14 NAS)... He is everything.  Beginning.  End.  Everything in between.  He IS.  He's always the same...forever faithful, infinitely wise, perfectly just and unconditionally loving, all-knowing, everywhere all the time.  He knows the past, present, and future...AND HE ISN'T SURPRISED BY ANY OF IT.
"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:25 NAS)...We think we are so wise.  We think we can search and research and figure it all out.  God knew we'd be this way.  He KNEW we'd try to explain Him away.  Even the most educated scientists can't even explain and classify the platypus - a unique creature I'm convinced God had much fun creating, knowing we'd scratch our heads at how it doesn't seem to fit. (sorry...a little tangent there!)  This scripture reminds me that God is so much wiser than us...and so much stronger.  I'd do well to rely on HIS wisdom, and HIS strength...instead of my own.  (I am WAY TOO OFTEN prone to rely on my own.)
And this past week, I was in the car alone and heard a song I hadn't heard before.  (Usually, the kids keep me from hearing all the words to a song...but I was able to soak in the words and music of this one.) 
And, it spoke to my heart and was exactly what I've been feeling.
No matter how much I doubt His plans for me...
No matter how defeated I might feel...
No matter what mistakes I may make...
No matter how inadequate I might feel for the task at hand...
He's "been my God through all of it."
Lord, "I look back and I see You. Right now I still do. And I'm always going to."
Thank you for speaking to me...for giving me encouragement and strength and reassurance that YOU ARE enough.

Through All Of It

By Colton Dixon
There are days I've taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn't make again
I've had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This is has been the story of my life
I have won
And I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy, I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
You were there when it all came down on me
When I was blinded by my fear
And I struggled to believe
But in those unclear moments
You were the one keeping me strong
This is how my story's always gone
I have won
and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy, I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Through all of it
And this is who You are
More constant than the stars up in the sky
All these years of our lives, I
I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I'm always going to
I have won
and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy
I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Songwriters: REED, MOLLY E. / GLOVER, BEN
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind

Monday, May 18, 2015


Eighteen years ago YESTERDAY we said, "I do." 

Seems like not that long ago we were counting down the months...then the days...then, quite literally, the hours...

photo credit: Larkin Corley

Until we would be together in front of family and friends.  

We could hardly wait to make a lifetime commitment to one another!!

photo credit:  Larkin Corley

photo credit:  Larkin Corley

Eighteen years have passed...

11 children (9 Earthly and 2 Heavenly) have been added to our oneness...

Lots of laughter...

Our share of tears...




Learning from mistakes...

An unshakable commitment...


God has helped us make our house a home, and I wouldn't trade my life for the whole world.

I love this man more today than I have ever loved him.  

I know this kind of love and commitment is rare in our world today.  So, I don't take it for granted.

Our prayer, for our children, is that they would experience the same kind of love one day. 

To my precious husband - you are mine, and I am yours.