Wednesday, September 25

The Crazy Life of Ministry

Often-times I have wondered what my purpose is, or what God's purpose is for my life. Sometimes on the larger spectrum, and sometimes on the small insignificant day-to-day stuff. I have been doing a lot of contemplating over the past year about what ministry God might have me to fulfill, and what opportunities have I missed out on because I was blinded by what I thought my ministry might look like. I, like a lot of evangelical Christians (gasp!!) believe that we have been placed in this exact time period to bring hope and salvation to the masses (no matter how small that mass might be) and minister to those who are unsaved. 

Truth be told, I am not a good soul-winner, but I am a pretty good seed planter. Maybe it's all the years of toiling in the soil, pulling weeds, and watching miraculous creation appear (over time) in front of my eyes. This magical transformation (to which I am certain) can only come from God and a wee bit of sunlight, water, and the seed, of course. The conditions must be just right, however, for the seed to grow. As any Christian knows, salvation does not always occur the first time you talk to someone. Sometimes it takes a lot of toiling, a lot of weeding, and a lot of patience. Even after a person is saved, it takes them years and years, sometimes, to grow into even a tiny resemblance of Christ-likeness.

So as I have spent time over the past year with my Sister's in Christ (Michelle, Pam, and Heidi) in weekly study of God's word and some words from some pretty knowledgeable pastors through Bible Study, I have learned that for mothers, ministry starts at home. It is presented every person who knocks on your door, every child you babysit, every friend your child has, every neighbor on your street, and every parent of every child who enters your home. 

Now I would like to say that I have always been receptive to every neighbor, every child, and every Watchtower presenter that has made their way to my front door. Nor have I been the kindest neighbor, or most patient caregiver, or the most pleasant hostess. God has been working in me though. He chose this exact time in my life to minister to 3 young men, a young woman, 2 little kids, a mid-led neighbor, a patient and loving husband, and 3 from my very own womb. 

It's crazy here, with tons of people in and out, all the time. Running here and there, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and lots of laundry. It's a long day, that starts at 5 am and doesn't end until the house is fairly presentable enough for me to fall into bed at night, and hopefully not too late. 

I have to say that it is a calm time in my life however. Crazy how sometimes the busiest times can be the calmest times, if we let them. I am taking every day as it comes. My days are structured, so chaos does not creep in (for the most part), and I am leaning on God, and the bigger picture through this season of my life. 

The bigger picture is all about planting seeds in those who enter my home. A friend once gave me the best explanation of homeschooling. Think of homeschooling as a row of many different hooks. Each subject area is a hook. Each time we present something to our child regarding a certain subject, it is on it's respective hook. Some hooks fill up faster than others, and some take longer. Over all, each time something is presented, more and more knowledge on the subject is attained. 

I think of this in spiritual terms as well. With each season of my life, I hang more and more Biblical knowledge on my own set of hooks. Whether it was attained from Scripture, Bible Study, my Pastor, a radio program, etc... Each time a subject matter is presented, I hang it on that respective hook, or fertilize the seed that was planted in me so long ago. 

Now I have messed up, and grown weeds. Many weeds that at times have nearly killed my growth. Probably even the growth of some of the newly planted seeds that grow around me. I have had to repent, and let God tenderly cultivate the soil around me, pull those weeds, and take extra special care of me, until my growth was restored, and I could continue reproducing seeds. 

So my ministry is at home for now. Trying to plant some seeds, and cultivating the garden I have already planted. I am hoping more than anything that all will walk away from this and look back remembering the kindness and love of Christianity, and prompt them to seek and ask for more. 

At this time, I am homeschooling a 12 year old and a 9 year old, M is living back at home and working at Taco Bell/KFC; I am babysitting 4 days a week, a 7 year old and a 4 year old; M's -2 male friends are temporarily staying here (they work most of the time, and only sleep here for the most part); M's girlfriend lives at the dorms at LU and is here most afternoons and evenings, when M doesn't have to work. My sweet husband received the Officer of the Quarter award, at the hospital he works at for the second time, and we have too many pets to keep track off, and just enough to test my patience on a daily basis. I am just not a cat person. 

I have Bible Study in the morning, so I better get this place cleaned up so I can hit the hay. We are currently studying Better Together by Rick Warren. It's a study on Love. Showing love to the unlovable, the unreachable, the lost.  Perfect timing for this study!!

Tuesday, February 5

It's 1 a.m.

It's late. Very late, and way past my bedtime. Had such a busy day. Filed our taxes, to which we won't be receiving our refund until early March, because we qualified for an Education Credit. Go figure, but with this credit, our refund is $1200 more. We can wait a few more weeks.

So much has happened since the last time I posted, that I hardly know where to begin. My last post was in October. Most of the changes have to do with M, so I guess I will start with him. In Oct. he was dating a very sweet girl, whom we all adored. In November, they broke up. Soon after M quits college, because she won't leave him alone. M looks for a job all through December. M volunteers at New Beginnings Thrift Store during December. M gets job for roofing company in January. Weather is cold, and work is not steady, so M finds another job. This one is full-time, and for a windows and siding company. Matt is currently doing very well for this company. We are beaming with pride. He is really growing up.

H was elected as Secretary for our 4-H club, and E was elected Vice-President. They have been very busy with club activities, and projects this year. They are both very excited to bring their pets to the next meeting for their demonstrations.

Scott is just about the same. Same job, although he is now working for the hospital directly, and not an outsourced agency. He loves his work, and even though he is making $5,000 less than he did last year, he wants to continue working there. I just realized the $5,000 less part this afternoon while I was doing our taxes. I sure don't know how we missed that one. I do know that it was incredibly tight this year to say the least. I had thought his paychecks were less than before, but I didn't realize that they were that much less. Yikes!!

I am still running the household, homeschooling the kiddos, and crafting as much as possible. I enjoy my weekly Bible study group, and my card club (greeting cards, not playing cards), and my scrapbooking group, and a couple of  local Charlotte Mason groups I belong to. We are also very involved with our church, and all the fun  homeschool field trips, ladies retreats, and a lovely Sunday School class, I simply could not live without (for wives and mothers only).

A couple of weeks back, we took a trip down to Missouri, to visit the folks, my grandma, and my sister and her family. We had the best time! Mom, Jennifer, and I went to a day-long scrapbooking retreat sponsored by the medical center where my mom works. It was such fun creating pages, and looking at old photographs together. Such a blast! We will be heading down again in early April so Scott can go spoonbill fishing with Dan and Dad, and Mom, Jennifer, and I are going to another scrapbooking retreat, but this time it's being sponsored by (Jennifer's) David's school. I can't wait!

So anyhow, 2013 is looking better than 2012 did, so far. Sorry I didn't get Christmas cards out this year. School is taking up so much more time, as the boys grow older. It's really my full-time job. I didn't get all the sewing I wanted to get done before Christmas this year either, and my mending pile is quite full as well.

One week from Thursday, will be Scott's and my 16th Wedding Anniversary. He told me tonight that he made reservations somewhere for next Thursday night, but wants to surprise me. I can't deny that I do like surprises. We have some other exciting things coming up in the next month or so, but I can't really mention it, until after that happens. I will keep you updated. We are also Wisconsin/Minnesota/North Dakota bound in June. We hope to do some visiting along the way. Hoping to see old friends, even for a little while.

I think my next post will be some random photos that I have taken throughout the past year of the family. The boys are really growing. H is only 11, and he's taller than I am. E is 8, and nearly as tall as I am. I guess that is par for the course when they have a father that is 6'4".

Well, this girl is heading to bed. It's 1:30 now, and I can't type another word.

Good Night!

Tuesday, October 23

Torn and Tired

Do you ever feel that way? I do. More often than not these days, I'm afraid. Do you ever feel like the worst version of yourself is coming through more often than not? There has been a lot of chaos in the Bailey household during the past month. Whoever said that life was going to be easy, should be taken to a 8'x8' room with 6 kids and forced to stay there all day.

I finally put out the Fall/Halloween decorations this morning. Ours are more Fall than Halloween, as I tend to struggle with the whole idea of Halloween. So we let the kids dress up (non-scary) and go to a few Fall Harvest parties. Occasionally we allow them to trick or treat with the mayor downtown, or do Trunk or Treat, but we don't go trick or treating or hand out candy anymore. We live outside of town in a little subdivision full of senior citizens (whom we adore), so we rarely get anyone to come to our house anyway.

Sometimes I feel like there are 101 things to attend to on a single day. If I made a list of all the things I had to attend to on a given day, I think I would lose my mind. I know it sounds like I am complaining, but I'm really not. It's just a fact. It seems at this season in my life (and I love this season) that more often than not, you will find my washing machine is constantly running, with a pile of clothes that needing to be put away, at every hour. You will hear our dog Scooby barking at the cute plastic milk jug skeleton that is hung outside. The one that hits the door every time the wind blows. You will see Fall bins needing to be put away, and a fireplace mantle covered in Fall decorations that I haven't had the chance to do something with as of yet. If you look at the kitchen table you will see a bottle of ketchup and mustard, H's spelling binder, a wipes container full of colored pencils, a pencil case full of sharpened pencils, a Halloween bucket from a Happy Meal, the lid from a cottage cheese container, 5 placemats, and 3 glasses and a plate that are from the Pottery Barn Kids Halloween collection that I purchased several years ago. These are all random things I need to attend to. It's also 5 p.m. and I need to start dinner. That's also on my list. So much to do! I'm okay though, and all those things will get done, sooner than later.

Funny thing I found this morning while digging through the Fall bins for decorations was a pad of post-it notes with 52 days until Christmas written on the top page. I can't even remember putting that in there last year when I put everything away. I have so much to make and do before then, that I don't even want to think about that list that needs writing soon.

There are certainly a lot of things I need to attend to, but I know that each day will come and go like the last, and I need to make the most of each and everyday. I know that my kids won't always be this age, and I won't always have a pile of dishes, or Legos covering the livingroom floor, or a never ending laundry pile. I won't be crafting and sewing out of necessity, but for pure enjoyment and creativity. I sometimes find it funny how we buy all these books on how to have an organized home, or how to parent this way or that, or how to be a better husband or wife, and by the time you have time to read them, your kids are all grown, your house is easy to keep organized, and you've been married so long that you've already learned how to be a better husband/wife on your own. Seems it should happen the other way around.

Today was good. We played Halloween puzzle math, and Spelling drill Cootie along with all the other things the boys had to do. The boys love playing games for school every great once in awhile. They are great spellers. So proud of how far they've come. Teaching is the highlight of my day. I love to teach (my own kids)! Thought I'd add that little tidbit on the end.

Tomorrow we are bombing the house for fleas. Ugh! Such a terrible year for them. Our poor little terrier has been miserable. We have to go up to Pontiac tomorrow morning to pick up my husband's uncle. Should be an interesting ride with both the cat and dog. One will be in a kennel. It should be a 4 hour trip in total, so that should be plenty of time to kill those pesky fleas and have it be safe for all of us to return. Our plan is to carry the pets into the house and bathe them thoroughly with flea shampoo, and then apply the most expensive  flea treatment on the market. Why does that stuff have to be so expensive? You'd think it was a prescription. Too bad we can't put animals on our health insurance policy. Wouldn't that be nice?

Better get to my list! Caio'.

Friday, September 28

This Season of Life

Truth is, that I haven't done a blog post in over a year. Sept. 18, 2011 to be exact. I hadn't even realized that it had even been that long. A lot of changes have occurred in the past year. A lot of good things, some things we are currently trying to work out, and lots of busyness in this season of my life. 

Just now, I was reading Ali Edwards blog and layout challenge. You can read about it here: 
The challenge peaked my interest. What is current with me? My life. It's really a scrapbooking layout challenge, and so I will create a layout soon, and post mine here. 
Currently, I have a headache. Someone in the neighborhood has been burning leaves. This always gives me a migraine. I provided childcare for 3 kids tonight until 9:30 p.m. I'm exhausted. I'm still homeschooling, which without a doubt is a part of my life I currently find most relaxing. Scott works 2nd shift at the hospital 5 days a week, and so most of my nights are spent with 6 kids, 1 young adult college student and his girlfriend, who lives in the dorms, but is here a lot of the time. Matt's girlfriend is simply darling, and we just adore here. She is from a suburb near Chicago, and I think she is a music/drama/dance major. I haven't heard her sing yet, but I'm sure she has some pretty good vocals to have been accepted into college choir as an incoming freshman.They have been dating about a month and a half.

Currently, I am listening to Hunter and Ethan play STL Cardinals checkers at the table. Just minutes ago Ethan was running and jumping all around the living room chasing bubbles that Hunter was blowing. Scooby was involved as well, chasing the bubbles and Ethan, and barking his fool head off. This being a character trait of most terriers. This one especially. Scott and I joke that the vet needs to put him on anxiety medication because he seems to freak out at everything from the sight of the vacuum to the boys dragging the Lego bin out. He will be attending a 4-H dog obedience workshop sometime in the spring, which he desperately needs. Our cat Gilbert has a love/hate relationship with Scooby. They fight a lot, but on rare occasion you may find them curled up next to each other on the couch, or Scooby mistaking our male cat for a female dog.  Double yuck! Both animals have been fixed, so I don't even want to guess what the story is there. 

There are so many things I have missed talking about on here. Matt's senior year, prom, graduation. The younger boy's milestones. Hunter's 4-H fair exhibits, birthday parties, lost teeth, and the many people who visited us this past summer. There's no way I can go back and post everything, so I'm just going to start from here. Where I am today. What we are doing currently. I'm okay with that. 

I'm glad to be back. Even if no one ever reads this blog, I'm okay with that. It's a journal of our life. Kind of a scrapbook of where we've been, and where we are now. I like that. Someday I hope to print this thing out in book form, for future generations to enjoy. 

God Bless!

Sunday, September 18

Do you ever feel like you are walking in circles and getting nowhere? I often do. Being a stay at home/homeschooling mom makes me feel that way a lot. Day after day, week after week, the same ordinary things happen. The kids change and get older, as do I, but I often feel a sense of wonder about whether what I am doing is making a difference in the world. This is not a post about homeschooling, because I believe wholeheartedly that God has called me to do this. Not that I am against public school, because I am not, but more so against how children are being raised or not raised by their parents in today's world.

So many times I have heard in sermons and read in the Bible that we are not saved by our good works. I know this, and believe it. However, the Bible also states that by our good works we shall be recognized. What I have come to realize by this verse is that we are sometimes the only Bible that people read. It is by how we act or react that people either see Christ in us, or don't. I struggle in this area, because I let my anger and control issues sometimes take over, and I am sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not showing anyone Christ in me. Probably the opposite actually.

My younger children are still in the molding stages. They accept Christ at face value and don't ever question the Bible's teachings. They wander around the house singing their little Bible songs from church, and are pretty accepting of everything that is held within it's pages.

My oldest child however is at the age of questioning everything he has been taught through the years, seen every mistake I've made (most with him as he is the oldest) and actually seen how ugly the world can be somewhat. He has no belief system right now, and as scary as that is for me, I know that God has a reason this is so. I remember when I was 18. I had been brought up in church, was sick of attending church, and wanted my Sundays free to do what I wanted. I completely stopped attending church for about 5 years. I think I still believed in God, but honestly I don't really think I thought too much about Him. I think I was a lot like Matt in that respect.

I don't remember my parents hounding me to go to church, or to find a campus ministry program at college, or suggesting I find a church, but even if they had said those things I probably wasn't listening anyway.

Now as a parent it saddens me to see Matt starting out in life without Christ as his guide. It scares me. It cuts like a knife. I feel like a failure for not leading him straight toward Christ. I feel like I haven't done my job. I guess I always thought there would be time for that, but the world continued rotating it's way around the sun year after year, and all those plans I had locked in my head, never made it's way to Matt. Day after day, week after week, I had many chances. As I was walking the circles of my daily life, I missed the path I was supposed to take to lead Matt where he needed to go.

I hope and pray he will find Him again someday, but I know now that I have lost my chance at leading my child to Christ. The control freak in me thought I had lead him there several years ago, but I was wrong. I made the terrible mistake of pushing it all on him and not letting him make his own choices. He is not angry at me about it. It just doesn't matter to him right now.

Please pray for Matt, if you have a little time to do so. Pray for his future, and for his safety. He was accepted at OTI (Ohio Tech) over the weekend. If all the pieces fall into place financially for him to go, he will be moving out next Fall, and be on his own for the first time in his life. I'm both excited and sad. Time passed so quickly. I wish sometimes that I could magically turn the hands of time backwards a wee bit, so I could have all my kids be little again. Hunter and Ethan are growing so fast. I can't believe they are the ages that they are either. Life is certainly melancholy.

We've had such a fun summer visiting so many of our friends and family this year. I am filled to overflowing.
I am so lucky to have friends and family that I am so very close to, and love so dearly. They bless our lives each and every moment we are near them. I hope that we are a blessing as well.

Friday, August 12

Summer Days...Drifting Away...

Wow! Were we busy this summer. Starting in May we have been going, going, going! I finished up school Mid-June, which wasn't initially my plan, but just how it worked out. We traveled a lot, and spent a lot of time in hotels. Were almost caught in that terrible Joplin tornado, and spent way too much money. Scott and I decided that in future years we just need to budget summers like this better. It's been crazy, to say the least.

The end of May we traveled near Oklahoma City for my nephew Alex's graduation. We knew our old van would probably not make the trip. So first on our list of duties was to trade in our old van for a new one. We had really needed a new van for a long time, but the joy of not having a car payment kept us calmly in our old van for probably too long.

There are photos below of the cool hotel we stayed in on the way, in Springfield, Mo. Once we got to OKC we stayed in another hotel, and were able to visit with my sister and her family all weekend. We had such a fun time visiting and playing Apples to Apples with them. On our way back to Springfield, to stay in that cool hotel again on the way back, we were rerouted due to the tornado that had just hit Joplin about 30 minutes before. We were scheduled to go right through Joplin to get to Springfield, but never made it there. We ended up driving another 10 tortuous hours into Kansas, and then over and across Missouri to make it to mom and dad's house. I say tortuous because it was a long drive, but in retrospect we could have been on the highway when the tornado hit, or in Joplin itself. We experienced nothing like those precious people suffered that horrible night in Joplin, for which I was very thankful.

Soon after returning, I went with one of my dearest friends to the Anita Renfrow concert. We laughed so hard we cried. We also met up with some of Michelle's friends from church, went to dinner at Avanti's and just had the most fun time together.

Things went back to normal as we continued finishing up the year with our studies. Scott's cousin Mary came for a visit, and we a had a few family reunions on Scott's side of the family. Soon after my Grandma came by train to visit us. It was a nice visit, although I ran her around so much, I think she was pretty warn out by the time she returned home. I even took her to Bunco night with me and my mama friends.

The next weekend my niece Madison flew in from Washington State. Mom and dad picked her up in St. Louis and we all traveled up to Wisconsin for my niece Courtney's graduation. We all had such a fun time visiting. It was so nice to get to spend time with my sisters, and see friends and family we hadn't seen in such a very long time. Hunter and Matt ended up going back with mom and dad for the week.

After returning home from that the last week of June, Ethan and I headed straight back down to Missouri for the 4th of July. My sister Jennie's family came up from OKC and my brother Ken and his family came down from Milwaukee. We had such a great time out on the lake, watching fireworks, jetskiing, and just having a great time together as a family.

After returning home my niece Madison came to us for a visit. The kids had such fun seeing their cousin again, and she was able to visit with her pen pal Molly she had met last year while visiting here. My brother came up from Milwaukee and visited for a day as well.

The past few weeks have been filled with working on 4-H projects for the Fair, Matt going to Alabama, registering Matt for his senior year in high school, attending the Fair, and this past week was Hunter's 10th birthday. So a birthday party to boot.

It was a lot of fun, and it went by so fast. Today I am back in school mode, ordering Matt's school clothes and shoes, and downloading things for me to start homeschooling again in a week and a half.

I am excited for the Fall and for things to slow way down. I love our playgroup, and my mama group, and my gardening, and all those fun outdoor experiences summer brings, but Fall is a slow time of year, and the one time of year I think I cherish the most.

I apologize for this being a somewhat boring post, I promise my next one will be much more interesting. I added a few new websites and blogs to my blog roll, if you are interested in taking a look, and also want to remind you that Big Picture Classes is holding their Big Idea Festival, Aug. 15-23. You can click on the link to get registered. It's completely free, and a lot of fun! I've been on-line scrapbooking for a few years now, and I love that I get to meet and chat with other scrapbookers around the world, even the famous ones! Famous in the scrapbooking industry anyway. It's full of fun prizes and challenges. I've won a few myself. If you scrapbook, I recommend you should really check it out. Ciao!

My sister Ann, and her daughter Courtney (the graduate), Megan, and her husband Scott.
Ann, Scott, and Courtney at the graduation party.
Mom and dad with some good friend. Pete and Bev, and Pete and Rosie.
My dear Uncle Pete and his wife Rosie.
Our group at the Anita Renfrow Concert. Super fun time!
Play date at the splash park with friends.
Dinner with my handsome husband.
A great time with good friends!
Hunter and Ethan with some really good friends!
Hanging on the zip-line at Sugar Grove :)
Splashing at the hotel pool.
Sitting by the fountain "at the cool hotel" which is what the kids called it. It was cool!
The boys favorite place to eat in the whole wide world.....Ryan's Steakhouse.
Playing Risk with all the cousins, and cousins of cousins :)
Cool hotel! Awesome food too :)
Swimming at the "cool hotel".
Our new van. New to us anyway. 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan with stow and go seats.
Beach volleyball with all the cousins :)
Fun with homeschool friends at our favorite park in town.
My little Ethan boy just a swingin'.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and please post a link to your blog. I'd love to see what you all have been up to this summer too.

Monday, March 21

Spring and New Life.

This afternoon after homeschooling the boys I decided to go take a look at my strawberry plants and black raspberry bushes out back. Every year I hope and pray that my strawberries make it through the Winter. My black raspberries usually fare very well over the winter months.

So outside I went with small shovel in one hand and a set of pruning sheers in the the other. My raspberry bushes go crazy with vines going this way and that way, all over the place. They are not nice either. Full of thorns and over 6 feet long. I always prune them down in the Spring or Fall so they don't get out of control and into our neighbor's yard.

I pruned the first bush and started digging under the matted down grass and leaves left from the Fall before. Low and behold there it was a beautiful green strawberry plant, and then another, and another. It looks like we will have more strawberry plants this year, than last year.

The raspberry bushes are already budding, and doing well. They look nice an neat now that I pruned them. I am thinking of putting up a tall chicken wire fence along the outer rim of the bushes, so they can climb taller and not poke at anyone.

So as I was giving new life to my strawberry plants, I got to thinking about God. Somehow my mind always turns to God when I am outdoor working with my hands. I thought about the strawberry plants that were buried by the grass and leaves, and how if I just left them under there without light, they would eventually die. Then I thought about how I was giving them new life by uncovering them so the light could reach them. Lastly my thoughts turned to human sinfulness, and how when we are deep in sin we are like those strawberries buried under the grass and leaves. There may be a bit of life or Christ in us to help us survive for a little while, but unless we dig ourselves out or are dug out and have the light shown to us we will surely stay in that sin forever. We can not have light in us, if we do not allow it to come in. We need to invite Christ into our lives if we want him to reside there and give us light. Just like those strawberry plants need light to grow, we also need God's light to grow as Christians.
The kids are memorizing this Bible verse this week:
Thy word is truth. John 17:17. Praise God for His immeasurable truth!

Friday, February 4

Random January Photos

When Scott and I started dating. He worked as a cook at the Dixie. He would always make my eggs look like this. Nearly 14 years of marriage, and he's still doing it. He always puts a heart made of cheese on top. What a guy I married!
H and E chilling in their room in their pjs. Hey look...their room is clean :)
Scott cooking my sweetheart eggs. He makes the kids with a heart too.
E with his new glasses and missing teeth. He lost 4 in about a month.
Building Lego's at the library with the boys. It was a fun afternoon, and they won a prize from the drawing.
H and E with their Lego creations. We have the game Lego Creationary at home. It one of our favorite games.
Matt's friends stopped by to show me their new baby. So precious!
The kids built a silly snowman this afternoon in the front yard. Ethan stole one of his eyeballs off and ate it! He just giggled himself silly after that.
Building the snowman.
He's a silly snowman, no doubt about it!

Friday, January 28

January Happens...

Hi Everyone,

It's been awhile since I updated my blog, so I thought I'd do a little updating now. December was such a busy month, with Winter piano recitals, Christmas parties, field trips, etc... and then there was sewing, and crocheting, and more sewing and crocheting. It was fun, a lot of work, and it certainly went by very quickly.

January has been a little slower. We have been busy with our studies, and getting back to our normal everyday routine. Hunter is learning to play Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and is doing great! Heidi is only teaching piano every two weeks now, since she moved back to her hometown 2 hours from here. We feel very blessed that she has decided to continue to teach her students, because we really feel that she is the very best piano teacher we could ever hope to have.

I started a weight loss program on Jan. 1 and have lost 11.8 lbs. I am really excited because this is the most I have ever lost in quite a while. Best part of the program is that it is completely free, and I get to enjoy a very nice Bible study while doing it.

Scott and I will have been married 14 years on Feb. 14th. So this anniversary could be considered our "golden" anniversary even though it's not, really. I am thinking in the same terms as golden birthdays, in-case you are wondering where this came from. Scott has planned a very nice trip for us to Starved Rock Lodge for the 13th and 14th of February. It's an all inclusive weekend of dining, dancing, and wine tasting. Now, what could be more romantic than that? I am so looking forward to spending some alone time with my love. He has really been working so very much lately. He was made the supervisor of 2nd shift security at the hospital and is now doing the schedules. This in a sense is not a bad thing, although he generally gives himself the leftover days and leftover hours that no one will fill. He's been working 6 days a week for the past few weeks. I'm trying very hard to be the patient wife, and not complain. If you know me well, you know that this is a task in itself. The extra money has been great though, so I shouldn't be complaining at all really.

I filed our taxes yesterday and realized that this is really the last year we can claim Matthew. I can't believe that he is now legally an adult. In a lot of ways he is much more mature, but I still have some moments with him that I'm sure a lot of parents of teenagers today deal with. Matt is really enjoying the high school this year, and we both can't believe that he has only one more year left before graduation. Wow!!! So much to do before that happens.

Hunter is doing great in 3rd grade, and Ethan also in kindergarten. I am having so much fun teaching the both of them this year. January has been filled with lots of learning. In geography the kids are learning about Egypt (history), Germany (Beethoven--composer study), Wyoming (Stone Fox) ...a book Hunter is currently reading, Georgia and Alabama (MLK study), and Minnesota (we are currently reading On The Banks of Plum Creek). We are done with MLK, and just started Beethoven, since Hunter is interested in him because of the music he is learning in piano. Hunter is nearly done with Stone Fox, and has a few more things to learn about the Shoshone Indian tribe of Wyoming. I use a lot of living books to teach from for two main reasons. The first reason is because I really believe in Charlotte Mason's way of teaching. Secondly, because financially it makes sense for us to use this method. Any book we need is right at our fingertips in the library exchange system. Hunter and Ethan both use a curriculum set, along with all the reading they do. We use K12 for History and Science, A beka for Reading, Phonics, Spelling, English, and Art. Lastly we use Addison Wesley for math. It's a long day of learning each day, and we usually don't get done until 3:30 when the bus drops Matt off from the high school.

Why Charlotte Mason? Well, over the past 4 years that I have homeschooled, I have been reading more and more about Charlotte Mason and her methods of teaching. It's been a growing experience each year we use it. Initially I enjoyed the fact that my kids retained so much more through the use of really good living books, and through their own narrations of these books. Over the years the kids have had the opportunity to read novels or have had novels read to them that I never got the chance to experience until high school and college. Matt was my guinea pig, when we first started, and he read so many books that I only wished I had had the chance to read at his age. When he started high school in the Fall, he was so surprised that a number of books they were required to read, he had already read one to two years ago. In October his English teacher told us that Matt should become an English teacher someday because of his ability to pick up and comprehend classical literature the way he does. Let me tell you, coming from a mom who has little to no teaching experience, and latched onto Charlotte Mason on a whim, I realized that what she has written in her books rings true. The more a person surrounds themselves with great classical literature, the more they become comfortable with it. It's like learning a foreign language. Once you start using it a lot, over time and practice it becomes a second nature. As you can tell I do have an emotional attachment to Charlotte Mason. You could even call it love, if you wanted to. I am very passionate about her work.

I guess I got away from telling you all about January. I get on a tangent about something I am passionate about, and holy mackerel, watch out!

Oh, I guess I was talking about what we are doing in school. In science the kids are learning about the weather and snow... We have done some fun experiments with snow. One experiment we took 2 identical glasses the same size. Filled one up to the top with snow, and the other to the top with ice from the freezer. We recorded which took longer to melt. Then our 2nd experiment was to measure how much water was left from the melted snow, and how much water was left from the melted ice. Then we did a whole long study on that. We even tasted the water to see if there was a taste difference. We have been using thermometers a lot also in science. Recording temps day to day, weather changes, and cloud formations. In math, Hunter is working on adding and subtracting in the hundreds with regrouping, and simple multiplication and division. Ethan is still adding small numbers, and is just starting to learn to read.

Another thing I am passionate about is making school fun. I think it comes from the fun I had working in the ECE classroom. I wanted their day to to be fun! About 2 years ago, I came across a publication called the Mailbox, and one called Teacher's Helper. I have had a subscription to both for the past 2 years, and they are a big part of our library. All the supplementary material is amazing! I can honestly say that I am in-love with The Mailbox!

I am just so excited to have the opportunity to homeschool my kids. This is a great country we live in, with the freedom to be able to make decisions for our own family that we feel are best. I never have to worry about what I read my to my children, and my passion for giving my children a Christian education is never an issue. Almost every morning I do a Bible study with my kids. Right now we are actually using a Beth Moore study called 90 Days with Jesus. It takes us from his Birth through his crucifixion and resurrection. It's actually a an adult study, but I am thankful to Beth Moore for her thought provoking yet easy to understand way of writing. The kids are getting to know Jesus better, and that's the most I can ever hope for in my children, no matter what they become someday.

Our weeks are filled with piano lessons, homeschool PE at LCU, homeschool coop, 4-H (Hunter is vice president this year), and playgroup. Busy, but fun!

Thanks for stopping by!

Amy :)

Tuesday, December 21

A Big Ho Ho and a Merry Christmas to All!

Greetings from the Bailey house. I love this time of year. It personifies everything that I am about, all rolled up in one month. I am busily making my home ready for the holidays, each and every day during the month of December. Advent is such an important part of our lives, in so many ways. From Christ's humble beginnings on this earth to leaving this earth to again reign over the heavens and the earth at Easter tide. The story is so important, and one that so few hold dear in their hearts these days. Oh Christmas is always there for everyone and commercialized to the hilt, but the true meaning of Christmas is held dear by so few. This is what Christmas means to me:
A homemade Santa.
A boy one day, a man the next.
Non-electronic play. Constructive play.
Snow!!!!Visiting with old friends.Having old friends visit us. And new little ones.
Handmade nutcrackers out of toilet paper rolls.
Handmade venison steak that my Dad shot, and pomagranites. Grandma always sent us some every Christmas. Figs too. I guess that's why I always buy both each and every December.
Hand sewn tree skirts.
Or a super hero cape.

Craft days.
Nifty Lego Santa creations during breakfast.
Friends to exchange gently used toys with.
Two children counting down every minute until Christmas.Eating broccoli (even though you hate it) because you want to be good so Santa will come.
Warm hearty oatmeal on cold mornings, and coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Yes, I let my kids have coffee.
Snow Angels!
Creating so others in foreign countries can have food and shelter.
A fun, old fashioned game of spoons. What could be better than that?

Merry Christmas Everyone! We love you!

Thursday, October 7

What We've Been Up To Lately

Hunter had his fall piano recital and did a great job!
Matt and his date Emily before the Homecoming dance at LCHS. He doubled with his friend Josh and his date.
Hunter at his piano recital with others who take lessons with Heidi.

Hunter playing his recital pieces (this is a posed photo, as no photos were aloud during the recital).

Hunter and his piano teacher Heidi. She is a very accomplished classical pianist.

STL Cardinals vs. Brewers game.

Enjoying our first MLB game.

A quick shot of Nonnie and Papa.

All the boys were very much into the game. I have to admit it was fun to watch, and I had my crochet hook and a ball of cotton yarn. I completed an entire dishcloth (start to finish) during the game.
Me and one of my boys. The one that is most like me in so many ways.

4 little pumpkins laying hanging on a vine.
The first one said, "Oh my, I'm looking fine."

The 2nd said, " I smell winter in the air."

The 3rd one said, "but we don't care."

The 4th one said, "We'll roll, and roll, and roll."
Ooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! and OUT went the light,
and the 4 little pumkins rolled out of sight.
Crockpot Applesauce! YUM! It must be Fall.

Oatsies! Double Yum! A chocoholics dream!

Our 20lbs of organic beef. Stocking our freezers for a long cold winter.

12 organic chickens and 1 20lb. organic Tom for Thanksgiving Day.

2 cuddly little kittens to brighten the long winter ahead. They are basically twin tabbys. Hunter named his Stripes, and Ethan named his Fluffy.

Last but surely not least. Close friends to spend the night, and play board games with. It truly is a wonderful Life.