A communion meditation

I was taking communion today, and I was thinking which is something I typically try to do because I think it is important to participate in the sacraments mindfully. It’s too easy to simply take the elements and not think after hundreds of times, so I will intentionally pray, mostly that Christ would make me worthy through himself to participate in communion.

Today, I was praying and looking at my little guy sleeping in my arms, and I thought of the great differences between Jesus and myself. The verse came to mind about how Jesus had poured out his life for many, and I thought about the pouring out of life that happens when one has a tiny infant. All of parenting is or should be a pouring out of your life for others, marriage too for that matter, but the newborn stage is particularly grueling for me because of both lack of sleep and the seemingly constant meeting of needs with nursing 8 or so hours a day.

So I was thinking about Christ pouring out his life versus me pouring out mine. We both give/gave up sleep except His complaint when he was woken was that they didn’t have faith, not that he needed more sleep. We both are feeding and providing from a seemingly inadequate source yet while Jesus simply looked to Heaven and trusted God to provide what was lacking, I worry and stress about what I am unable to do and be. He didn’t turn others away regardless of the time or whether He was heading to do something else. I have done both. When others sought to elevate Jesus, he humbled himself. When others don’t recognize my efforts and elevate me, I sometimes feel grumpy and unappreciated. It just made me think how great our Savior is. He did all of this perfectly when I do not.

So when I struggle, especially in this precious but demanding season, I can look to Jesus. He can sympathize and provide what I’m lacking, and I can know that He covered this sin too in His death and resurrection. He is enough when I am not.

If for no other reason than that they point me to Jesus, children are indeed a blessing. Of course, there are many, many other reasons.

Do your kids drive you to feeling singularly inadequate?

Posted in Family Updates | Leave a comment

A note to dads

Do you even know?


I mean look at that. I’m going to dip poorly into sports analogy here, but that is the star player on the team.

Most people would think it’s this one.


She’s got the whole crew gathered around. And it’s true, she shoulders a lot of the work.

But when this one does what he can do best,


then the other ones don’t go crazy.

Without Bryan getting up some with this little one and helping shoulder some of the housework load, I’d be stretched too thin, in the words of Tolkien, “like too little butter scraped across too much bread”. But because of what he does, our house has had a lot more moments of fun, silly enjoyment, and more love than snappy frustration that happens when chaos abounds and the mom who is needed by all the people can’t fix it.

Things like this


and this


and this


mean that there can be a lot more of this


with happy mamas and happy kiddos.

So dads, never feel like because you didn’t give birth or you don’t do the majority of the day to day stuff that you are inconsequential. You’re not. Your active participation in fatherhood and marriage makes the whole world run a lot more smoothly and more pleasantly. You are vital to the happiness of your homes.

Carry on, good sirs.

Posted in Family Updates | Leave a comment

Reinventing: The Doorbell

At my new job, we have part of an office building.  The door leading to our section is locked.  It leads to a large room that’s our general meeting room, and then our offices are located along the outside wall.  The problem we had is that when we had deliveries or visitors, it was very hard to hear them knock.  Especially if we were listening to something on our headphones.

Instead of doing that normal and boring route of buying a wireless doorbell, I decided to make a doorbell and take the opportunity to do some enhancements that a plain wireless doorbell wouldn’t do.  After all, we are an innovation center.

I had an Arduino handy, and it would also connect to an Android phone.  Connecting to the phone gave me some extra things that would be useful (connecting to the Internet, playing sounds, etc).

The hardware

The Android phone, Arduino, and breadboard.

To handle the doorbell itself, I bought an RF receiver and keyfob from Adafruit. The doorbell is simply mounted outside the door using 3M Velcro strips.

The doorbell

The doorbell

So how it works is that an app starts on the phone that runs a background service that listens is constantly monitoring the connection to the Arduino.  The Arduino runs a small program that has an interrupt handler that gets fired when the RF receiver gets a signal. I also have some LEDs on there for visual debugging purposes.

So the whole flow of it is that the doorbell is pressed, an RF signal is sent to the RF receiver.  The RF receiver fires an interrupt on the Arduino, the Arduino sends a message to the Android device.  The Android service picks up the message and fires a notification to Slack, which is a chat program we use at work.  So we actually see the knock on our computer screens.  The Android device also plays a sounds through some speakers connected to it.  After it plays, the Android device sends an acknowledgement back to the Arduino so it can “clear” and be ready for the next time.

Slack Integration

This is what appears in our Slack client

If I could do it over again, I would’ve used a Raspberry Pi or bought a shield for the Arduino to allow it to connect directly to the Internet.  The connection between the Android device and Arduino is just to flaky.  Once it’s up, it’s great. But if the Arduino loses power, you have to make sure it restarts and verify the connection is established.

Also, if I could’ve gotten an RF sending button that looked more like a traditional doorbell, that would’ve been helpful.  We had to add a label to the button so people knew it was a doorbell.

The other enhancement would be to write a small app that we would listen for notifications only when we were in a certain area (using geofences) so we could be notified directly on our phones.

Any questions?

Posted in Innovation, Technology | 2 Comments

When my bigger

Micah has been making plans. Whenever he gets turned down for something, it goes on his list for “when my bigger”.

“I want to ride in that big truck.”
“No, that’s not ours.”
“Oh, when my bigger, I’m going to drive that big truck.”

So far the list mostly consists of a long list of vehicles he’s going to own and/or drive. An excavator, a dump truck, a garbage truck, a fire truck, a big pickup truck, a Suburban (which he calls a “burban” with a delightful little kid accent), a bike, the list goes on and on really.

He will also watch and play football.

Become a spy with Uncle Rory and have a driver’s license.

Do construction work.

Use the oven.

Go to camp.

Carry his baby brother (sorry, Isaiah, hope he forgets about this one).

That’s what I can remember right now. What will you do when you’re bigger?

Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

Brotherly Love

People often ask how Micah feels about Isaiah. While I know Micah would like to keep his mama mostly to himself, he doesn’t seem to harbor any animosity towards his baby brother. If anything, we have to encourage him to love Isaiah a little less. But, if you don’t believe me, I have pictorial evidence.









And that’s just what I have. There’s probably more on other people’s phones. Somehow, I think these two are going to be ok.

But now, I need some guidance. What are some good methods to keep toddler away from baby’s head and face region? We’d kind of like Isaiah to retain his eyesight.

Posted in Family Updates | Leave a comment

Prepregnancy jeans and parenthood

The holy grail of postpartum fitness is the prepregnancy jeans. When I was 7 or 8 months pregnant, Pinterest recommended a page to me about someone who fit into her prepregnancy jeans at 3 weeks or 3 days postpartum. I probably should have deleted my account. That’s the kind of “inspiration” I really don’t need. I’ll be lucky to be there at 3 months postpartum. It will likely be 4 or 5 months, possibly up to 9. Right now, I’m wearing maternity clothes and stretchy pants, and it’s a good thing. Those jeans are completely overrated.

After 4 kids, though, I’m used to this business. I understand the way that my body processes this, and I’ve had a revelation about prepregnancy jeans. Every time I go through this process, I’m quite delighted to squeeze into those jeans. However, every time I go through this process, I’ll set aside those now uncomfortable jeans in short order and buy a new pair of jeans because even if I weigh the same or close to the same as before, I change shape.

And that’s how adding another person to your family is. Your family will change shape, too. What worked for school or for keeping house or for recreational activities or family devotions or various family systems will have to be evalulated and changed as the family adjusts to this new member.

So, just as I will probably be buying new jeans in 4 or 5 months, we will be figuring out a new way to do things for the next few months. It’s not always an easy adjustment, to set aside old systems, but it’s always a good thing to meet and learn and adjust to this new life.

The blessing outweighs the difficulty of change.


Posted in Family Updates, Random | Leave a comment

We had a baby!

Almost 24 hours ago, the little guy who is currently keeping mommy up because sleeping on mommy > sleeping on daddy, woke us up to let us know he was coming. Isaiah James was born at 5:16 pm, weighing 7lbs 10 oz, beating his siblings’ weights by over a pound, and stretching out to 19.5 inches. His siblings are delighted.





Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

Nesting like crazy. Really, really crazy.

Regardless of not being ready to meet a whole new person, I’ve been doing my best to get the house ready. Something just makes me more than slightly insane when I’m expecting. You see, I know that I will be not able to complete projects or probably even think coherently for 3-6 months after baby is born. So, I have redone and organized like it will be years before I do it again. Because it just might be.

First, we moved the girls downstairs and redecorated their room. They chose a grey, blue, and yellow theme. It’s done except shelves and artwork on the walls. I really need to finish getting things spray painted this week, though before it gets too cold.

We then dismantled their old room and redecorated it for baby. It also needs wall stuff, but I’m happy to say that I actually have artwork purchased for this baby’s walls. I also washed up the old and new clothes for 0-3 months, put diapers on Amazon Subscribe and Save, purchased thousands of wipes, found old baby gear and ordered new for what needed replacing. The most pressing thing in that room is that I need to find a lamp before I’m nursing in there in the middle of the night.

Sometime in all of that, we moved Micah to a toddler bed and replaced his dresser and moved toys into bins for easier clean up. He’s pretty jazzed about the big boy bed. It was a much easier transition than I expected, and we’ve only caught him trying to escape downstairs once.

We also changed up the school room by replacing a couch with rocker recliners and moving a desk in. I cleaned out the shelves. I still need to get through all my random planning papers and get those organized as well as relabel the books on the shelves to reflect our current required reading lists.

We continued our quest for a remodeled kitchen by painting. Well, Bryan painted. I ordered the new blinds. All that’s left is to hire someone to install the backsplash because we want it to be done well (we’re pretty much amateurs) and we just don’t have time for it right now.

Also in the kitchen, I bought 40 lbs of chicken breasts and 40 lbs of ground beef from Zaycon Fresh and freezer cooked it all up into meals for after baby. There are other meals I would have liked to have made, but our freezer is full now and the grocery store has a lot of premade food, so we’ll probably survive. Especially, if I show the girls how to make bread in the breadmaker before this little guy comes.

Early, early in the summer, we had the basement torn up to replace the drain tile so it would stop leaking and replaced the drywall down there that had gotten moldy. Then later, we went through most of the things in that downstairs storage room and got rid of bins and bins and boxes of things we don’t need or that aren’t a good idea to keep. Bryan is still going to organize the tool area, but it’s all walkable down there and the girls can play Legos or American Girl dolls again.

Along with the girls’ room, I reorganized the craft area to move a dresser into the girls’ room and an organ out. I am still working on pattern organization, and I’d really like to get a few nursing tops sewn up.

We also put the guest bed and dresser in Bryan’s office. Once we clean out the excess from there, a friend will help us build a desk to go in his closet to give him and guests a little more room in there.

When we weren’t gone or busy, we’ve continued to homeschool. We did math, Bible Bee, and a few other subjects this summer.

I’m still working on potty training Micah, and he’s getting better and better. I do feel like he’s mastered drinking out of a regular cup instead of a zippy cup, however.

It’s just been a lot.

At times I just hoped I wouldn’t cause anyone to faint away or die with my relentless drive to get things done. I have no idea where the energy for these projects came from, and sometimes I didn’t really have the energy to do them, but I did them anyway because I needed to.

Clearly, I get pregnancy-related insanity disorder. But, at least the house is a bit more settled because between homeschooling, a toddler, and a baby, we’re going to have to be happy with just the basics getting done for a while. Clean clothes, clean dishes, and nobody tripping and falling to their deaths on books and toys are my goals once baby comes.

So this is why the blog has been a little quiet lately. I hope to be able to share more fun stuff the kids do and more about our school year and, of course, about the new little guy now that we’ve mostly done all the things.

So, please tell me about other people you know that get this crazy while pregnant. What’s the biggest new baby project you or someone else has taken on?

Posted in Pregnancy | Leave a comment

Thoughts at 37 weeks

We’re full term, and if this one was born as early as Micah was, we only have until Tuesday. A few years back, I was at Home Depot talking with a guy about countertop. He was mentioning that his wife was expecting, and he asks me, “How did you know you were ready?” I told him, “You’re not ready. You can never be ready. You don’t know them. You don’t know how it is going to be.” I fully believe that now more than ever. I will never be ready for this new little one, but I am getting very excited to see him and hold him. It’s a boy if I haven’t mentioned that here before. I probably have a post about the gender reveal in the drafts somewhere waiting for Bryan’s video of the kids finding out to never, ever be added because busy.

On a related note, his name is Isaiah. We ended up sticking with our “ends in an uh” theme completely by accident as this was the only name in both of our top 3 lists.

Why are things always falling on the ground? Can gravity really just be suspended while I’m pregnant? Especially with little things like socks, scraps of paper, garbage, matchbox cars?

Can it just not get cold enough for me to need socks until I have the baby? Socks are really, really hard to put on right now. I have to kind of grab my pant leg and boost my foot close enough to put on the sock. It’s ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as the girls on the pregnancy forum when I was pregnant with Micah who were trying to induce labor by bringing their foot up to their ear. I’m not even sure how that was possible right now. Maybe they did a lot of prenatal yoga?

I’m running out of clothes. I don’t know if I’ve shifted shape or what but I the last few weeks, my clothes have begun to not fit. Bryan commented on my pajamas asking if I was mixing things up, I replied that I just searched my drawer for something large and tentlike. Another day, I asked if the denim jacket and jeans were too much together, but he said that the large expanse of plaid that is our baby (under my plaid shirt) really detracted from the denim effect. Not sure I should be relieved about that. I really should know better than to ask him about clothes, though.

How can people believe in evolution when toenails continue to grow during the third trimester? That fits much better with the creation/fall/curse theory than evolution.

Why do people think it will make you feel better to say they thought you were due much sooner than you are? Stop that! I don’t want your sympathy, I want lies about how great I look and how easy this labor will be. I want you to tell me what great siblings my kids will be, not tell me I look miserable. I thought I was doing good. Until now.

I’m exhausted. This morning I went for a walk, ate breakfast, took a shower, and felt bad that I couldn’t take a nap before church. Super tired. I both hope I get some energy back to clean up the house and simultaneously hope that I just have the baby.

Walking has been super helpful this pregnancy. I’ve been able to get out most days and it really does help my energy. So much so that I voluntarily get up to go walking at 6:30 am which is not like me at all.

My chiropractor is just super sweet and sympathetic. I say something hurts and she makes sympathetic noises and does something to fix it. I always hate that “It’s Not About the Nail” skit because for me it IS about the nail. If I tell you I have a nail, and you fix it, I am exceedingly pleased. I just asked Bryan to make some phone calls for me because making phone calls is a nail, and it was making me anxious and stressed, and now I feel relieved because I can just do all the other stuff, like start packing a hospital bag.

The more “real” contractions have started. That means baby is getting closer. I have one person lined up to come in the middle of the night if needed, but now I’m wondering if I should talk to my friend about being back up for during the day. My mom is anxiously waiting to come out after baby’s arrival, but there’s no way at 12 hours driving distance that she’ll make it before we would have to go to the hospital, and as she’s still working, she can’t just come out and hang out with me for a few weeks as much as that would be awesome. Still, I’m just delighted and relieved that she’ll be here after to “be me” and make sure the laundry and the food and the school and the cleaning still get done while I just rest and recover.

I hate having a cold while pregnant. If anything makes me want to hold off on having the baby for a few days, it’s that I want myself and everyone else to be fully recovered before he comes. Also, I want to not wake myself up with the noises my nose is making. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I’m a baby hog. When I have a new baby, I don’t want you to come over and hold the baby while I nap. I, firstly, want that baby to learn to nap in his bed if at all possible and not become dependent on being held while napping. Secondly, I want to hold the baby, and not just while I’m feeding him. I want to look at his little face, and touch his hands and cheeks, and kiss his little face. I want you, visitor, to wait on me and baby like we are royalty. Really, with all the other people in this house, I have to share baby enough. I am a baby hog, but it’s my baby, so I’m not really repentant about it.

Now, do you have any predictions for the baby pool? My dad is pushing for September 20th as it’s his birthday. Girls, as always, are for tomorrow. I don’t have a strong feeling, but I’m thinking a week or two (hopefully baby doesn’t wait 4 or more just to spite me). Due date is October 2. What’s your guess?

Posted in Pregnancy | 2 Comments

Our Current Curriculum

I get asked from time to time what we use for our homeschool curriculum, so here’s the details for those who are interested.

We are still involved in Classical Conversations (which I’m going to refer to as CC from here on out). CC is a home-based education community. They have a particular curriculum and scope and sequence that they follow. They hire tutors who drill memory work and do science and fine art projects once a week for little ones and who lead the seminars for the older ones. You can read more about the program here if you are interested. I have a love/hate relationship with CC. I truly think it is a great program. I appreciate the community aspect. It’s great for the kids to be able to meet up with other kids once a week and for us to have some accountability to a group especially as the kids get older and doing things for mom isn’t quite as delightful. I appreciate the rigor and the direction of the program. I love the mission statement “To Know Christ and To Make Him Known”. I mostly hate the logistics aspect. I hate being out of the house an entire day. I hate bringing half our house along for little ones who are still napping during that time. I hate packing lunches. I’m sure it will get easier as everyone gets older, but since we’re adding a new little one, it will be a while before that happens. Until then, it’s just a test of my organizational ability and flexibility and patience with a purpose of giving my kids what I feel like is a great education that teaches them to think.

Hannah is in 4th-ish grade. We’re not big on grade labels, but we use them to avoid confusion, and to let us know when we’re done.

Her daily schedule involves:

Bible-reading a chapter from the Bible or from The Story for Kids (our church is preaching through The Story this year) and doing some sort of picture journaling. She also participates in Bible Quizzing.

Math-She’s using Saxon 5/4. She’s over 1/3 of the way through, though, since we started it in May.

English Grammar-Hannah just started Essentials this year, so she spends this time memorizing chants, charts, and diagramming sentences.

Recess-This is supposed to be some sort of exercise, whatever they choose.

Latin-Hannah is memorizing chants through CC and supplementing with Song School Latin to get some vocab in.

History-Again, we are completing CCs memory work (they memorize a timeline of the world as well as 24 history sentences). I am supplementing this with some reading from Story of the World and Mystery of History. Hannah also does her handwriting work by copying her history sentences using a CC Prescripts workbook.

Science-We do weekly experiments and science fact memorization through CC. Hannah and I are also finishing reading through Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Swimming Creatures of the 5th day, and we’ll be moving into Land Animals of the 6th Day in a few weeks. So, Zoology.

Piano-This is Hannah’s fifth year of lessons, so she takes some time to practice. We also do some music through a homeschool choir group once a week.

Writing-This, like the grammar, is done through the CC Essentials program  which I am also tutoring this year. We are working through the Teaching Writing Structure and Style Syllabus from the Institute for Excellence in Writing using the History Based Writing-Ancient World History book.

Geography-We are studying some ancient world geography and parts of Africa through CC.

Public Speaking-This is also incorporated in the CC program. Each week, Hannah does a 3 minute presentation on various topics.

Spelling- We use the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Phonetic Zoo.

Emma is in 7th grade this year. Her curriculum is based in the CC Challenge A program.


Here’s what her daily schedule looks like:

Logic/Math- She is using Saxon 8/7. She also presents math problems to her class on occasion as well as practices math fluency through games during her weekly seminar.

Grammar/Latin-She is working on Henle’s First Year Latin. They only make it through part of the book this year and repeat it next year. We are supplementing this with the Visual Latin DVDs which are quite humorous and very helpful.

Exposition/Writing-Emma is studying the persuasive essay with the Lost Tools of Writing curriculum. She is writing papers based on literature. Currently, she’s completing a paper using Carry on Mr. Bowditch which is an excellent book if you have not read it.

Research/Science- For the first semester, Emma is doing independent research of different natural science topics. During the second semester, they will use the Biology 101 study sheets to explore various body systems, learn how to draw and label them.

Debate/Geography-I’m not sure why Geography falls under Debate, but that’s how they label it. Emma, on the other hand, is working on labeling and mapping the globe from memory this year.

Rhetoric/Apologetics-Emma is using both It Couldn’t Just Happen and The Fallacy Detective to learn how to highlight and summarize texts as well as how to think critically about issues, particularly faith-based issues.

Emma also does music with piano and choir, exercises during recess time, and reads from her Bible during quiet time. She also does Bible Quizzing. Her confirmation class will have her doing various writings on her readings. I also have her read various literature selections throughout the year.

On off weeks or in free time, the girls do some art projects.


Micah is two. We just read him books and let him color on stuff. I spend a lot of time identifying things for him, “Look, there’s Micah’s M” I also spend a lot of time asking him questions, “What color is this?” He spends a lot of time playing and figuring out his world. Play is the most important work of preschoolers.

So, that’s what we do. Some days school flows well and we have read aloud and we do chores and we have great discussions and everything gets done. Some days are hard, and I need to pray and eat chocolate and text my husband and order pizza. Most days are in between.

Here’s your time to ask questions about homeschool or tell me about your own.

Posted in Homeschool | Leave a comment