Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School and Home School Curriculum Choices

Back to School! 

Minnie started Kindergarten this week and is really enjoying it!  Mickey will be educated at home for third grade and is also dual-enrolled at our local elementary for Music and Art. 
Kindergarten Teacher

 Polka dot painted toenails for her first day! 

I often get asked about my curriculum choices so I decided to post it this year.  I use an eclectic variety of curriculum.  This year I am using heavy parent involvement curriculum since it is just Mickey and I  at home this year.  Twas impossible last year with our little baby, so he used online learning ( 

Science:  Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright (Young Explorers Series)  One hour, twice a week.  30 lessons.

Social Studies: Easy Peasy Third Grade Geography  20 min per day (online curriculum)
        Heritage Studies 3 BJU press. (one chapter a week)
        Adventures in Other Lands-Abeka (once a week)

Math: Math Lessons for a Living Education Book 3.  Queen Homeschooling Supplies (see affiliate link on sidebar)  Charlotte Mason style education materials.  Daily.  30 min per day
    Guinness World Records Math. Daily 10 min.  
    Ipad Math 10 min

Language Arts: Main Curriculum--Building Christian English Series by Rod and Staff (English 3) (30 min per day)
        Guinness World Records Reading Daily 10 min (supplement)
        How to Write a Story Evan Moor (supplement)
        Daily 6 Trait Writing grade 3 (supplement)
Vocabulary--Words of the Week Volume 1 Daily by Sandi Queen (supplement)
Reading: Abeka Book level 4 and Little House on the Prairie Series
Kindle Math games 10 min

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone- daily 15 min

Bible: Draw to Learn Proverbs  Ray and Charlene Notgrass  25 min per day.  
Typing:  Ipad (icolor type) and Typing Instructor (cd rom)


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Weeks Later....

I have been following this blog the past few months.  A five year old twin boy that started having headaches in January was diagnosed with incurable brain tumor.  Ben Sauer is his name and his mother has been blogging about their journey.

 My mom asked a few months ago why in the world I would immerse myself in such a sad story.  I told her that the mother knew her son was leaving for heaven and I knew our baby Tallie was leaving to her bio dads--both impending, permanent losses yet different circumstances.  The mother's heart-wrenching words brought both comfort and validation to my pain.  Her blog post this morning brought the sad news that her son had died.  She writes that though you know the loss is coming, nothing can prepare you for the moment you realize they are gone.

  Many people have asked me if knowing that Tallie was most likely going to leave made it easier... I don't think it did.  In fact, I think it drew out the pain as we fixated on the impending doom.  I felt guilty when I was frustrated with her ( as one gets with fussy babies at times) as I wanted to just drink in every moment with her.  I felt guilty folding clothes and not playing with her, I felt guilty feeling irritated when she needed holding EVERY moment when she would come home from a visit with her bio dad. It was EXHAUSTING, yet I wanted no regrets. I was terrified of having regrets after she was gone.  And yet,  a mama has to tend to her children, her husband, the laundry, homeschooling, church, etc.... 

 And now the guilt comes in other forms.  Is there more I could have shared with Tallie's lawyer, is there more I could have done to change the outcome of the case?  GUILT!

 Instead of basking of my other two lovebugs' snuggles early in the morning, I feel the stark absence of a pudgy, curly-haired baby that coos in my ear.  I remember my friend blogging about her grief and how numb she had become to everyone.  I feel that same way. GUILT!

 I am in my own little world processing and want to shut everyone else out.  GUILT!

I worry about her.  I KNOW she is missing us and I hope she is being comforted.  I am so worried that she feels abandoned by us.  GUILT!  I speak Truth back to myself, knowing that our family provided her with 10 months of joy and love, but the Enemy attacks. 

 I force myself to participate in life, but I am not truly "living" it right now.. just going through the motions.  I rarely take phone calls as it is hard for me to "small talk", as I know I just can't vomit my heart-ache and anger (towards DHS, bio-dad, etc)  to everyone.

  People have seen me out and about smiling and doing "life" and note that I seem to be doing fine.  That is called compartmentalizing, my friends.  I am fine because I cling to the Truth of Christ, but that simply does not erase the sadness.  I am grateful for the snippets of joy and fun that have come and gone in the last few weeks, but her little grin-face is always, always right in my line of vision. 

 It has been three weeks since I have seen her and I know she has learned new words, new tricks, more curls sprouting and it is killing me to not be there with her.  I wonder if she dreams of us and smiles in her sleep and our silliness.

  I wonder if her bio dad lets her play with the little baby album I made for her.  I wonder if he lets her play with her dolly and wubbanub that I mailed.

  My thoughts are constantly with her, and I know that it is robbing me of my life in the present, but I am so afraid that those thoughts will start to fade away.  I am fearful of getting back to normal as I feel guilty for "letting her go".

  On Mother's Day, our family sat around our Ipad and watched videos of Tallie.  My favorite one was where I was trying to do patty-cake with her ( we always end with a declaration of "MOMMY HUG!").  This particular time, she did not want to do patty-cake, she just wanted to do the "mommy hug" over and over.  I am so thankful that because we are aware of her possible leaving, we tried to record many special moments.  Here is a short video of her that makes me smile....Tallie "uh, oh"

 I feel God's healing presence.  He has not abandoned me or my family and I trust that he has not abandoned our sweet Tallie.  I see His blessings everywhere.  We have been so blessed by the outpouring of love and support.  Meals made for us, thoughtful gifts, cards, phone calls.... we have felt the love of our spiritual family.   I see my children healing, the anger subsiding and I see them seek God for their comfort and not turn from Him as Mickey was very upset with God for not intervening.  Mickey is now learning to trust that God has it all under control and we can trust His ways.  I thank God that he has captured my son's heart and not letting Mickey give into anger and grudges. 

We will never stop praying that bio dad will have compassion and will allow us to see Tallie again.  We welcome anyone to join us in that!

Friday, April 25, 2014

She's Gone

And just like that.  The precious little girl, Tallie  (our nickname for her) is gone. 

That ten month old, curly haired bundle of joy left our home for a visit with her bio dad and never came back.  Court happened in between and the judge made a ruling right before Tallie was to return.  So she didn't.  Though we have all been preparing ourselves as much as possible for this event.  Apparently it wasn't enough.  Maybe you cannot prepare yourself for such a loss.  I know this for sure. You cannot withhold your heart from a sweet baby.  We have had her in our home since she was eleven days old.  Though it was thought at different points that she would be our forever baby, we knew there were risks, but we loved with reckless abandon.  How could we do anything less?

The bio dad brought Tallie to the courtroom and she was delighted to see us as we were sitting behind her.  Then her delight turned to confusion as she wondered why we did not swoop her up.  She let us know that was not acceptable.  She lunged toward us with her arms outstretched, and making a racket.  Hubby and I were frozen, we did not know what to do.  We knew the bio dad would be furious at us if we took her, but we could not reject her.  I quickly asked the dad for permission and shockingly he granted it.  Tallie dove into Hubby's arms and nuzzled her nose deep into his neck, then she came up for air and lunged towards me with her chubby little arms.  She hugged me tightly, then turned to the front of the courtroom towards all watching, smiled her million dollar smile showing her two bottom teeth, and clapped her hands to show how pleased she was. 

I don't even remember the beginning of court as I was just gazing at Tallie and drinking her in.  I did not know this was the last time I was to see her, so I am so glad I had my smile fixed on her.  We knew that DHS was recommending to the court that Tallie go live with her bio dad, so we knew that our time was short, we just did not know how short.  We had asked  Tallie's lawyer if we could address the court.  The judge granted that. 

My sweet husband, stood up, his voice shaky--still holding Tallie.  He explained to the judge that Tallie still sees our family as her first attachment and even though she is learning to like her bio daddy, we feel that a longer transition time would be more beneficial as up to this point Tallie was spending more nights at our home in the week than at her bio-dads.  Nick suggested that we increase the nights at bio-dads, and decrease the nights at our home to lessen the blow of the loss for this precious baby to not put her at risk for reactive attachment disorder. 

I was so proud of my husband.  He loves that little girl and to let her go to another daddy is so painful for him.  He was so articulate in his words though I could hear the pain dripping behind each one. 

Two days before court the bio dad had come to our home to pick up Tallie.  She turned away from her bio dad and clung to Hubby's neck as if to say, "Please protect me daddy!".  Hubby keeps replaying that in his mind and it churns his emotions. 

So this brings us up to yesterday. I am recording all of this here as I print this blog off as a journal for our family and though painful, we never want to forget. 

Hubby and I were both so hopeful after court.  Surely the judge was certain from Tallie's actions that she was primarily attached to us. And shouldn't every judge dealing with these situations understand the importance of attachment?  I guess not.. Apparently they should take the foster care classes. 

I had nightmares all night that she would not be back.  Then at 10am, those nightmares came true.  I truly was in shock.  I could not get a hold of my husband at work, but thankfully my mom had stopped in and I had someone to hold me up. 

I had to tell the kids.  How horrible that they did not get a proper goodbye.  We thought she would be coming back for the weekend.  I weep for them. 

Mickey is really struggling as he is at the tender age of understanding so much yet not much experience.  His heart is broken and I watch him try to cope and it is too much for this mama.  I have always wondered how parents help their children through grief when they themselves are overwhelmed in grief.  I am sad to say that I was not there for my children yesterday.  I barely had enough presence of mind to breathe in and out.  I got a text from a friend early on in the day saying she was bringing me a meal.  I thought that was super nice but quite unnecessary.  I was still in shock when I had gotten that text.  By the time she brought me dinner, I peeled myself from the comfort of my bed, looking like the Lochness Monster and asked, "how did you know?  I thought I was going to be fine.  Apparently my friends know me better than I know me. 

I hate being out of my room as every square inch of my house is covered in reminders of Tallie.  It hurts so bad to see them as my heart longs for her.  But I can't bear to remove them as I can't bear to have pieces of her gone.

 I can't wipe off the little food splatters on her high chair. 

I can't return her jumperoo to my friend who lent it to me as the memory of Tallie bouncing like a crazy Tigger is so vivid.

I can't wash the sheet on her crib because I can still smell her and know that she laid there. 

Suddenly I don't want fresh and clean.  I want her.

I am so upset that her little wubbanub paci (has the stuffed caterpillar on the end of it) is still at our house as I know she needs it, but I can't bear to let go of it.  And her dolly she named Zsa Zsa that she would snatch up to her face and nuzzle her face.  I was going to send that all along with her.  I just did not know she was not coming back.  I am making a box to mail, but it is so painful to put it in there, especially as I think there is a good chance her bio dad will throw it in the trash the moment he gets the package.  He does not want any memories of us in her life.  He does not want us at all in her life.  This is so hard for me to process.  My emotions, not just me--all of our emotions are on super high.  Sadness, Anger, Disappointment, Frustration.  I never know which one is going to pop up and render me useless. 

Then Hubby came home last night.  Poor man, he had to bear the news at work--did not tell a single soul as he was in meetings all day, then came home to face the reality.  The same is happening to him.  He sadly took her half-eaten baby food jars out of the refrigerator and threw them away, his heart heavy.   He found the Ping-Pong ball lodge under the chair in the living room.  Just two days ago, Tallie had been giggling and chasing that thing all over the kitchen. 

Our home feels like a morgue. No longer a refuge.  It is a place of pain.  We know this is part of the process.  We have heard others talk about it.  We just have never felt it ourselves.  Sorrow is such an oppressive and heavy feeling.  I am so thankful that so many that have had deep loss in their life have come alongside us and we can see that God has restored joy in their life.  We can see that Christ will keep his promise to bind up the broken-hearted as it says in Isaiah.  God is using his people to bring us comfort, to share in our loss.  Our friends have really recognized our loss, though it is not a death-- where we have customs in place to move along the grief process, they grieve with us and are seeing us through.  Facebook-- though Social media has its downsides, has been a true blessing for us as hundreds of messages of prayers and love have been sent our way.  Hubby and I read them outloud and thank God for the support.  We don't feel alone. 

But then there is my son.   I am learning so quickly about children and grief.  My son and my daughter are processing it so differently.  My five year old daughter repeatedly tells me she is sad and that she wants Tallie to come back. But she has joy.  My eight-year old boy has pain in his eyes.  He feels alone in his sadness as most talk to us about our loss but forget that our children are experiencing great pain.  I am so grateful when adults (like my amazing Aunt  Cindy) let him know how very sorry she was that his little sister left our home.  He is grateful too.  He told me he wants to be around people who can share in his loss.  He tells me the people that he knows that are sad that Tallie left.  He counts his friends who were "in" to Tallie and swooned over her like he did. 

Mickey revolted today when I went to take Tallie's car seat out of the car.  "NO!", he cried.  Don't take it out.  I explained that we had to take it out, though it hurt my heart to do so.  It feels like a rejection of her.  Even though the car seat is gone, Mickey refuses to move from the back of the van to the middle row with his sister.  "That's Tallie's place."  Oh Lord, we need wisdom.  Please grant us the wisdom to know how much to push and how much to let slide.

We have received cards in the mail and  Solomon is quick to note that the person addresses each family member or "family".  He reads them and re-reads them.  He finds solace in words.  Like his mama. 

One of  Mickey's good friends just came by and dropped off a letter to him. Mickey is out fishing with his Papa right now but I know that when he comes home and reads this letter that it will be huge for him.  My heart is so grateful for the helps that Jesus sends our way. 

On the day that Tallie left, our family went to a family counseling appointment to learn about leading our family through grief as we were concerned with the depth of Mickey's anger and sadness.

We learned so much!  Wow!  First, she told us that Mickey's was handling it in a very healthy way and because he was so open about his feelings with us that she felt all was well.  She then told us not to teach during this time of grief.  When he talks about being angry, don't give him scripture about anger.  Which Hubby and I had totally been doing.  She told us to affirm his feelings and let him vent.  She said that when the heart is so full of emotion that teaching is ineffective and frustrating and to wait a few months when the dust has settled to go back and teach.  She also told us that the children are so used to pouring their love out to Tallie and to not have a way to do that will be hard for them.  She encouraged us to have them write letters often or buy little things and send them Tallie's way so that they feel like they can act on their feeling of love.  Once again.. Brilliant. 

Another piece of advice was to have the children talk about their favorite memories of being with Tallie and to write them in a journal or scrapbook. 

So that is my hope with this blog.  Not for readers, not even for me--though it is cathartic to have my own place to write--but for my children so that they don't have to worry about their special times slipping away to the forgotten places of their brain.

My great sadness is that I don't get to help Tallie through her pain.  I know she is wondering where we are.  I can't even think about that without losing it.  I hate it that she doesn't know that we would do anything to be with her.  We learned so much in Foster Care class about the trauma of babies when they are removed from their "attachment".  It is terrible.  I wish that I did not know all of that now as I long to hold her and comfort and give her the security that every baby deserves. 

We are broken.  And there is nothing to do but walk through this valley clinging to our Lord.  There is no way to avoid the pain.  There is no way to bypass the stages of grief. It is what it is because we are not in heaven yet where the Bible promises there will be no more tears and no more goodbyes.  We are not home yet, but when we get there, what a sweet reprieve it will be to shed the sadness that life on earth can bring, and live in pure joy with our God

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Annual Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family!

 2013 was a year of mind-boggling adjustments as we became licensed foster parents in January.  We have experienced such an emotional roller-coaster as a family in this position.  We are not permitted to write on the world wide web about these children specifically or post any pictures; hence blog-writing has come to a halt. Summing up our thoughts on our family involved in foster care is this:  Though heart-breaking it is, we would not trade the moments of opportunity we had/have to pour out our and the Father's love on these little ones. Being able to teach an eight year old to ride a bike and swim and learning how to style a three year old's afro have been priceless. (picture me standing in Target in the ethnic hair aisle feeling very overwhelmed)

 Our children (code names Mickey and Minnie) have grown in so many areas as they have served in the foster care role.  We had only a few days notice for a newborn to arrive in our home and Mickey and Minnie have loved learning all about taking care of a teensy baby!  We have been so thankful for the love of family and friends who generously help out with our new family additions.

Highlights of this year:

~Taking our kiddos skiing for the first time!  They LOVED it!

~ Visiting the Ringger family in Detroit, going to the Science Museum. My favorite was being able to hold a real human brain!

~ Travelling to Omaha, Nebraska for a home school conference, staying with the Hunts (friend from high school days) and getting to go to the Art museum and zoo

~  a relaxing family vacation at Lake Michigan where we did nothing but play on the beach and eat ice cream.

~  celebrated Great Grandma Zaugg's birthday in West Bend with lots of family

~ welcomed a new niece Wren!

~  Lake Michigan weekend with our Fort Wayne couple friends

~ Bed and Breakfast weekend with the Hubby's side of the family celebrating Christmas

~ Hubby had the opportunity to travel to S. Korea and China for business.

Hubby is still at Federal Mogul, I am still home-educating.  Minnie is in Pre-K and Mickey is in 2nd grade.  We are so grateful for our health and have joy in our salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord!

May you and your family have a blessed year and draw closer to our Creator!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's TIME!!!!!

Recently I did a book review for this book below on this blog.  Let's just say, I am a believer and cannot wait for mom's around the globe to be able to get their hands on this! I truly think Jill's words will transform many lives with the power of God's Truths! 

 I am promoting this book so wildly because I signed up to be on the launch team for this book because I  BELIEVE in the principles of this book and see the quest for perfection destroying the joy that God has intended for us! 

 Go to and read the reviews~  

Then add about 30 to your cart and give them for gift to every mom you see!  (heehee)

click on the picture below to see how to get AMAZING resources after purchasing this book!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Lord's Prayer

Minnie set out to memorize the Lord's Prayer:

"Our fathers who aren't in heaven".....

So precious is her little voice and I just had to giggle at her sweet way.  I mean who can really expect a four year old to think that "art" would go in that sentence!?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

No More Perfect Moms

Click here to sign up!!!

I was very intimidated to become a mother.  

This comes as a surprise to most people as I had been a nanny for four years prior to marrying Hubby.  Hubby tried to convince me that I would be a wonderful mom. 

 I tried to convince him that I would not.  

It is not that I did not want children.  It is just that I did not want to fail and I was certain failure was impending.  

I tried to convince my husband "Being a nanny was a breeze! My only responsibility was to keep the little boy  safe and have fun with him plus I got nights and weekends off (not to mention a paycheck!) !  Being a mom means running a household, PTA bakesales, and making  real meals!  I will never excel at any of that, you know me! I can never be like Jenny, Deb, Jane!"  (three moms in our church that I really admire)

Hubby spoke words to me that have stuck with me for a decade now.  "oh Honey"  You are not them!  But you are taking the very best of their gifts and comparing yourself to Jenny's creativity, Deb's cooking and Jane's organization!  You can never be the best at everything.  God gave them each gifts and he gave YOU incredible gifts as well!  Embrace who God made you!"

Now just stop right there.  

Lest you think that I married a man who walks around speaking words of affirmation to me left and right.. you are quite wrong.  But his wise words did pierce my heart and begin to change how I viewed myself.  I knew that I needed to see myself through God's eyes and not in the shadow of the people around me.  After all He created me, He clearly had a plan and purpose for me!

So you can IMAGINE how thrilled I was to become part of Jill Savage's launch team for her new book entitled No More Perfect Moms!   I have been devouring the  book and cannot wait for its release in a few weeks because I want to be able to share it with the world!!!  I LOVE the notion that we all stop putting on a facade and accept each other as imperfect mothers!

“We need courage to be honest with ourselves that perfection is impossible. We need to cut ourselves some slack. See ourselves through eyes of grace. Love ourselves… Imperfections included.” –Jill Savage, NO MORE PERFECT MOMS 

One of the best bible study nights took place last Spring.  There was a snowstorm so it was only a few moms that could come--a much smaller group than normal.  

And it got real.  

One mom just dropped her mask and laid out her heart, " It is so hard getting all the kids ready in the morning.  I get to work and I realize that I have been rushing, and yelling at my children and that is all they see of me anymore... an angry stressed- out mom .. I am so ashamed.  "

And then it was beautiful.

The masks all dropped off and all the moms were sharing about their failures, and comforting each other.  

Several times I heard the other moms say, "I had no idea other moms felt the same way I did.  I thought I was the only one. I had so much guilt"  

That evening could have turned out VERY differently.

Suppose someone with a critical spirit would have condemned her.  

We have all been that person at one point or another... whether in our hearts or verbally and have haughtily made someone feel lower.

Jill addresses how to combat our natural judgement inclination  and throughout her book, she has loads of applicable and practical insight that help in areas that we are struggling.  

In closing, I would like to share two things with you in the spirit of being real!

Many months ago, I was frantically getting my house company ready.  I needed to spend my time with the big things.. like food prep and general housecleaning. I could not be bothered with the little bits of things that had morphed into piles.  So took a shoebox around the house and scooted those little things into the box and put it in my closet.  

The next week I cleaned out my car and filled another little box full of things that needed dealt with but did not have the time.  This clearly became an addictive way of speed cleaning for me and I acquired several little storage boxes of "things that need to be dealt with".  

I have NOW put them all in one box and in SIGHT in my bedroom so I will be forced to deal with these annoying things.  It turns out that it was quite an amount once I put all those little stashes together.  

So here it is. 


Yes, I am organizationally challenged.  

But I have come to learn that even organizational wizards have their shortcomings as well! One of my closest friends is a neat freak and anytime I feel intimidated by her.. I remind myself that she forgot to brush her children's teeth for an entire summer!!! 

Anyone out there want to join me in tearing down the walls of shame in Motherhood?   Click Here for the link to find out info about this amazing book entitled No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

I love this time of year when cards and family pictures flood my mailbox.  Sweet memories of each family flood my heart and I am so thankful for the presence of all of you in my life!  Our children are at the age where they are so curious about the families that send pictures and they are aghast when they do not know most of them!  "Who are these people and HOW do you know them!"

That always makes Hubby and I giggle as our kiddos cannot comprehend that we had a life before they entered our world.

Here are some of the 2012 Highlights:

~ Our family entered a new phase with my niece Lauren getting married to Elliott Laughlin this fall!  Mickey and Minnie were part of the wedding as ring-bearer and flower-girl.

~We spent a few nights at Lake Michigan enjoying God's beautiful creation prior to the wedding...

~We celebrated Hubby's parents' 40th anniversary all together for a fun time at Mark Twain Landing.

~ We welcomed TWO baby nieces on Hubby's side of the family!  This was very exciting for Minnie as she was formerly the lone little-girl cousin.

~ Mickey is dual-enrolled for first grade.  Home-educated for most subjects, but attends school for music, art, PE and recess.  Minnie enjoys preschool, especially her beloved teachers.  

~ Hubby accepted a job at Federal Mogul in Burlington and is quite happy to have a much shorter commute. (although he admits he misses the extended quiet times that he used to have in the car!)

~I (Mouseymom) love being Mickey's teacher! In the summer, we spent most days at the pool surrounded by our  wonderful community full of friends!  I have made the decision to close my little cottage business "Frills and Flowers".  After three years of having a fabulous creative outlet (and a massive mess of tulle, flowers and bling in our guestroom), I need to have more time allotted to my other responsibilities.

~ Hubby and I have completed Foster Care classes and will become licensed in the next few weeks.  We are looking forward to see what God has in store for our family!

We are grateful for God's Blessings!  He has solved our biggest dilemma~ providing a payment for our sin so we can have eternal life!  We are joyful and desire to honor God with our gifts He has given us.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Online Homeschool Curriculum Review

I had received an email asking if I would like to preview an online homeschool curriculum for free for one month in exchange for an honest review on my blog.  Well, I like free, and I like honest, so I took the bait and delved in.

I loved it!  The kids loved it!  It was a blast!  Mickey tried out the first grade curriculum and Minnie tried out the preschool curriculum.  Let's just say that I was wishing I had two computers as they both would beg to do their "schooling"!  So guess what?  I figured out that it was even EASIER on the Kindle Fire with a touch screen! Now both kids can learn at the same time!!!

I had thought that online schooling would erase "mom" from the equation. Turns out,  Mouseymom LOVED cuddling up to her kids with a steamy cup of coffee as we learned together! Every lesson is like a game, with a goal.  The Mousekins were very entertained with the graphics.  The great thing is that learning took place within all the fun.. making learning a blast. That is a goal of mine--to instill the love of learning within my children.  I feel that doing this curriculum freed me up to have more time to read out loud to my mousekins, play games, and spiritual teaching.  So would I recommend  A resounding yes!

Pricing?  There is a low monthly fee (prices vary) but very reasonable.  For those wanting to try it out, you Time4Learning does give an initial two week money back guarantee..

This review is written by me, Mouseymom.  I was given compensation in the form of one free month trial of  The views expressed in this review are my honest opinion!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

For a Free Trial... SURE!

I've been invited to try Time4Learning's online education program in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experience! For more information, try their lesson demos or find out how to write your own curriculum review.

Monday, November 5, 2012


This morning the both kiddos woke up super early to see their daddy off to work.  Minnie was so dazed and not quite awake.  She was sitting on my lap in a chair wrapped in her favorite blanket. When Hubby left for work, I said to her, "Want to go snuggle back in my bed?"

She eyed me suspiciously and said in a slow uncertain voice, "Who is Buck?"

It took me a second to realize that she thought I had asked, "Want to go snuggle Buck in my bed?"

I assured her there was no one named Buck in my bedroom, but she was still a little nervous to go back there with me!

I have been so amused all morning by this!

Friday, August 24, 2012


This is Minnie and her friend Zack!  They are friends by default. Their older brothers are really good friends, so Minnie and Zack end up spending lots of time together.  They love to play house and generally have a good marriage.

I think everytime they are together.. they end up in dinosaur costumes.  It has become a ritual.

This time when they came up to show off their costumes to their mamas, we got a good laugh!  Minnie had placed a royal PINK crown atop her fierce dinosaur head (albeit a bit lopsided by the time I grabbed my camera). And this is SOOO Minnie--she likes to be rough and tumble with a bit of glam! 

Also--this dinosaur costume that Minnie is wearing is for a 12 month old.  That never stops her or Zack from squeeeeeazing into it!

I was hoping  you wouldn't notice, but I would be amiss to not mention the unfortunate baby doll tethered and hanging  upside-down precariously.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


If you want to be Mickey's best buddy....

Lose yourself in a bin of Legos.

Or better yet,  offer to be the finder as he voraciously builds and creates! 

Papa is Mickey's buddy! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just a Glimpse into a Day...

I never write letters anymore.  It is sad.  I miss receiving letters in the mail. I jot quick emails and post bitty messages on Facebook walls, but I don't write to people.  It is truly a loss in this modern age.  However, I have a friend that lives very far away in the jungle, dedicating her life to translating the Scripture into the Akolet  language so that the new believers can have His Word!  Did I mention they have a new baby?  Anyway,  I received an update from them.. whilst they are dealing with Malaria and translating hunks of scripture every day (feeling like my major accomplishment of folding a few baskets of laundry is a bit pithy now)  and I know it is important as supporters to not only pray for them, but to include them in our lives. I have learned from missionary friends that feeling isolated is a tool that Satan uses to discourage them.

I had no breaking news to share, so I just started writing about the random events of life here. And since I had it written, I decided to include an excerpt in my blog as these stories get printed off into a book each year and capture a small slice of our life....

Keep in mind that this letter is written to a close friend.. I knew she would be amused by the mishaps.  Nothing makes the stress of Malaria lessen like laughing at your own friends misfortunes!  That is the goal!

I had a bottle of Elephantastic Pink that I had been
unable to use due to the lid being stuck on tightly. So I tapped it on my
bathroom counter to loosen the paint in the lid. Although I have done this
hundreds of times, this particular time I shatted the bottle and
Elephantastic Pink sprayed all over our bathroom.
This did not deter me. I really wanted this color on my toes. So after I
cleaned up the mess, I dipped the brush in the bottom shard of the bottle
and proceeded to paint. and yes, my toes look stunning. thank you for
to continue on with mess-making stories.. let me tell you about a recent one
as well!
scenario: tricia frantically packing for a trip to see sister and fam. the
goal was to be all packed before Nick got home from work so we could all
jump in the van and go. I was doing good on time.. I had the kiddos folding
clothes when, BAM--chaos ensues.. Screaming, Running, Blood.
My eyes dart from one kid to the other. Solomon looked suspicous as he had
donned a brown satin shirt of mine over his clothes, and Maylen had blood
gushing from her nose. The explanation? Solomon was folding my shirt when
he decided that it looked like something a Ninja would wear. So he put it
on and modeled it for Maylen. She was so impressed and told him that he
looked like a Karate master. That inspired Solomon and he apparently
whisked his foot high in the air to try out the roundhouse kick. Apparently
Maylen's nose got in the way.
Once I ascertained that Maylen was not permanently maimed, I began dealing
with the real issue... bright red blood on ivory carpet. Then I followed
the trail of blood down the hall, through the kitchen where I saw that blood
was splattered all over our new (sob sob) carpet in the living room and all
over the massive heap of clean laundry. It looked like a crime scene.

All is well now, and no, I was not ready when Nick got home.. but he was
quite understanding when i relayed the story to him. His comment was this,
"NO! NOT THE NEW CARPET!" that's the problem with new things.. it's so
devastating when they get wrecked.

Yes, these are the little daily events that make up life!  

And so I challenge you!  

Go to your refrigerator (or wherever you keep the pictures of the missionaries you support), and pick out a missionary that would love a little insight into the daily fun in your life!  Or maybe your grandma, or an aunt!  Wouldn't it be fun to send an old fashioned letter for NO Reason!! 

How delightful! 

I know there is a lot of people in my life who have no idea how much I value their presence in my life as I don't think about expressing it.  

I hope to change that!  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Mousekins

Love this from our recent photography session with Studio K in Mount Pleasant.  It captures the essence of our kiddos.  The big brother that lords over his little sister, and the little sis that has plenty of sass to stand up to him. 

The Best of Friends
The Worst of Enemies

Oh how I adore our never-a-dull-moment Mousekins!
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Wish I Had A Picture!

After bathtime tonight, Minnie (just turned 4) had her towel 

wrapped around her like a toga and was running around the 

house declaring:

"I am a Roman Numeral!" 

Crack me up!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Worth The Sunburn!

Having a Lemonade stand has been the Mousekins' dream for many months!  Today that dream came to fruition.  We have been waiting for my two nieces from Illinois and Michigan to be a part of this, and today was the day!

Making the sign with Mickey was delightful! He loves art so this was right up his alley!  He loves being creative.  If you look close you can see that he turned the "e" into a lemon!  clever, eh?

We made delicious lemonade- no powdered stuff from our stand--uh-uh!
Lemon Juice
Garnished with Lemon slices and Fresh Picked Mint.

Our WONDERFUL friends, neighbors, relatives and passerbys were so supportive and made it so fun!  The lemonade was free but we were taking donations for Lifesong for Orphans.  Our money jar filled up quickly.

Mickey was so excited that his buddy came over!  They sat beside eachother in Kindergarten and became fast friends!  They were ecstatic to learn that they lived within walking distance!  Note Mickeys lemon shirt that he decorated for the occasion! 

It was a great learning experience.  I have a lot more teaching to do about enthusiasm in selling!  We had many wasted cups of lemonade as Minnie liked sipping out of the cups as she walked them to the patron.    Counting the money was super fun and Mickey realized that he had $15 more in his bike basket as one customer came after we had taken in the money jar.  We ended up with $149.  We went to Lifesong for Orphans website and we found that we were able to sponsor an Ethiopian boy named Abraham to provide schooling, two meals/day, and the opportunity to learn about Hope in Christ! With the money from a few hours at a Lemonade Stand--we are able to sponsor Abraham for EIGHT months! 

Minnie picked out Abraham as his picture looked so sad.  "I want to give him a reason to smile!" 

The mousekins had not been that generous all along.  As the money jar started filling up they asked, "Do we have to give all the money to orphans?  Can't we keep some for ourselves?"  But after we looked through many pictures of orphans and learned a little about their lives.... the Mousekins were eager to pour all of our money into the orphans and wished we had more to give!  Now that is the best learning experience of all! 

Silly me forgot to wear sunscreen and now I have a very awkward Farmer's Tan, and my skin is uncomfortable.  It is so worth it!  My prayer is that all these little moments of instilling missional living in our children will result in lives lived out compassionately for the Glory of God!
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

On every side of me, I have been hearing of ladies being encouraged and even pressured to read the bestselling book "Fifty Shades of Grey".  Enticing, Thrilling, Scintilating.  For fear of being labled a prude, for fear of being "out of the loop", for fear of not being part of the latest craze, fear of missing out on "something" has prompted many a woman to pick up this bestseller and devour its content.  

I have been following the debates online and on blogs and in conversation.  What interests me is that people who have read the book say that those of us who do not want to read this book in light of honoring God are judgemental and close-minded.  The judgment applied to us by our peers makes us shy away from taking a stand as we seek to honor God.  But the fact is...  righteousness will never be applauded.  Not in this world.

Whose acceptance are we seeking? 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  Phil. 4:8}

As followers of Christ we are called to protect our minds and bodies to glorify God.  

Satan seeks to devour, trick and deceive.

He uses our lust for entertainment to lure us away from God's showers of blessings.  He uses our natural curiosity to blind us from wholly surrendering.  He uses our desire for acceptance  to capture us in a web of deceit.  

 I have to remind myself that it is not the world's standard that I am seeking, though I constantly fight that.  I am thankful for beacons of light that put themselves on the chopping block for the sake of being a Sister in Christ to us flimsy sort and strengthening our desire to glorify God out of our gratitude for His love and great sacrifice for us.  Sorry for the run-on sentence.  As it turns out.. I speak in run-on and fragmented sentences.  :)

Dannah Gresh--author and speaker has written a blog post regarding this topic:

I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
I wasn’t planning to announce this, but I can’t help myself. I told my husband, Bob, that I didn’t really want to get involved. But then, I found out my girlfriend’s 70-year-old mom has her name on a long wait list at the library to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey. And then my mom told me that a relative I love and respect for her strong faith had already devoured the book. She regretfully “can’t get the images out of her head.” So, here I am. In an  attempt to keep the images out of yours, I’d like to explain to you why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
Reason #1: Let’s start with the facts. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. According to one online dictionary, this genre of literature is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for fifteen years. According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: it is sin.) Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reason #1? I believe reading erotica is sinful.
I guess I could stop there, but it won’t be enough for some of you. So let’s go to reason number two.
Reason #2: The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful. Guess what? Biopsychologists and others are studying the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the brain and the body. They are finding that the Bible was, in fact, right. Over time your body becomes conditioned to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. The lust cuts a literal pathway in your brain tissue that’s kinda like a rut. A rut you better be prepared to get stuck in. While at first a little bit of erotica might give you a taste for your spouse, overtime that rut reminds you how great you are at self-stimulation and how powerful your imagination can be. You’ll become less interested in real sex with your husband. (Both SELF magazine and The New  Yorker ran articles on this phenomenon in recent years. They both suggested that if you want to have a great sex life, you better push pause on porn!) The fact is, erotica robs you of real sex. It’s not good for your marriage or future marriage.
Reason #3: OK, we’re girls. And, sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d that work for ya? How’d it make you feel? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop? Well, he can’t compare to a plasticized, vanilla interpretation of manhood either.
Reason #4: Do you know what BDSM is? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If you don’t know what those words mean, be glad. If you do know, you should understand that the most damaging part of Fifty Shades of Grey is that God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation. It’s not just that this book misuses sex, it redefines it into something evil and transgressive as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. How woman can enjoy that, I can’t understand! But I do have a theory. It seems to me that in our emasculating culture there is a hunger so great for strong men that women will stoop to Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism for just a taste. Do yourself a favor, don’t!
You might be wondering if I’ve read the book. I haven’t. I don’t need to. There are many things in this world I need not partake in to discern that they are going to be harmful to me. God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass! To be clear: I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. I love my marriage, my God, and myself too much.
If your heart resonates with mine, please take a moment today to post these words on Facebook or twitter: “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” If you have friends who need help understanding why, send them to this blog. I’d be happy to explain!

link to her

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eleven Years Ago..

Hubby and I had been married just over a year.  We had moved out of the trailer park and into our first home.  We were actively involved volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Fort Wayne and loving our church family.  Hubby and I were getting ready to go to Wed. night church when the phone rang and my sister on the other end told me that my Grandma had been killed in a car accident.  It is like all other traumatic events.  You remember right where you are.  And you are not sure what to do next.

My dad was devastated as he had always been so close to his mom and none of us were around to comfort him as even my mom was in Michigan staying with my sister's family.    My heart was so, so sad for him!

Hubby and I left for NW Iowa--11 hours from our house to bury my Grandma.  It was a weird shift for me.  For the first time in my life, I comforted my own dad.  I felt suddenly older.  It felt strange that the rest of the world seemed to go on unchanged as my world felt distinctly different.  Grandma lived alone as grandpa was in the nursing home.  As I walked into her house, knowing it would be the last time I was in that house--I tried to drink in and memorize all of the nooks and crannies.  There were bills on her desk with the checkbook and pen sitting open, beautiful squares of fabric waiting to be transformed into a quilt, hanger after hanger of dresses  that smelled so fresh and grandma-like.  I opened her bedside drawer and looked at all her "special to her things".  The only thing I recall is a napkin that had my parents name and wedding date on it.  She had kept that napkin in that drawer for 30 some years!

My grandma had mothered eleven children.  I cannot even tell you how many first cousins I have on that side of the family, but family get-togethers were always a blast!  It is so hard to believe that I have gone at least a decade without seeing many of them as we are scattered all over the U.S.

Now that I am a mom, I often wish I could call Grandma and ask her all sorts of things about how she did things with eleven children and lacking the modern conveniences I have!  She seemed to "do it all"  but somehow kept relationships as her priority.  None of us can EVER remember a time when she spoke ill of anyone.  Or complained.  She loved to serve and she did it with joy.

I write this post not with sadness, but with fondness.  A sweet sweet spot in my heart that feels so blessed to have possessed such a heritage of love.

Just this winter I tossed Minnie's pajamas in the dryer for 10 minutes before she dressed for bed as I remember Grandma doing that for me when I would spend the night.  I have quilts made by her donning my beds that she gave to me.  But my favorite thing she gave me was a little sewing kit when I graduated High School.  She made them and gave them to all of her granddaughters when they graduated.  I toted it to college with me and this special sewing box has had a priority place in each home in the six times I have moved since college.  I always know where to get just what I need from it.  She filled it with thread, scissors, measuring tape, needles, pins, buttons and so on.  If I need to fix something, I just need to get my little box from Grandma.

At the graveside, all of us grandchildren sang a hymn together and I remember seeing all the brilliant yellow  daffodils bringing such beauty to the scene.... the first glimpse of Spring.  Now, when the first daffodil heralds the arrival of Spring~ warm, sweet thoughts of my grandma flood my heart.

Just yesterday, another of her great-grandbabies was born.

Eleven years ago, and time goes marching on.  My two Mousekins came five and seven years after Grandma died in that car accident.  We still travel to NW Iowa as my husband's parents live there.  We drive past the house that holds beautiful vibrant memories of cousin-filled times and I point it out to my Mousekins--wistful that they cannot grasp her specialness.

Thank you God, that I can look back and thank you for your Greatness.  I am so thankful that Grandma did not have to grow "old" and suffer.  Thank you that she was a model of Your sacrificial love. I miss Grandma Alice and am so grateful that time takes away the sting of death.   I am so blessed to have a heritage of Faith in Jesus Christ--the Redeemer of our Sins. I am looking forward to heaven where there will be no more tears and no more good-byes, HALLELUJAH!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To Laugh or Cry...

I seriously don't know whether to laugh or cry. Today Minnie (age 3.5) brought home a paper entitled, "'All About My Mom".  Her preschool teacher had asked the kids questions about their moms and wrote down their responses.

It is not good.  

Really hoping that DCS does not come remove our children from our home.

1.  What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?   To drop me off with Grandma and Grandpa

2.  What is something your mom always says to you?  "Clean up your room"

3.  What makes your mom happy?  When I unload the dishwasher

4.  What does your mom do for her job?  Loads the dishwasher for me

5.  What is your mom's favorite food? Salad  (ha!)

6.  What is your mom really good at doing?  Dropping me off!

7.  How do you know that your mom really loves you?  Because Daddy spanks me all the time and she says, "No!, No!, No!, Daddy!"  

After you stop laughing, can I get a HUGE "Harrumph!"?   Really?  Her favorite thing to do with me is getting dropped off at Grandma and Grandpas!!! It makes it sound like she only tolerates me long enough to get to where she really wants to go!  She loves me for my license! Sadness!!!!!!!

 I was feeling very unloved until I got to the last question and she makes her beloved Daddy sound like a child abuser!  Then I laughed.. and at least felt a bit better :) 

Here is how I envisioned her answering the questions:

1.  What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?   reading books together!

2.  What is something your mom always says to you?  "Minnie, I love you so much, I am so glad you are my daughter"

3.  What makes your mom happy?  When I am loving to my brother

4.  What does your mom do for her job? Tirelessly serves our family with a joyful heart! :)

5.  What is your mom's favorite food? All  

6.  What is your mom really good at doing?  Loving us!

7.  How do you know that your mom really loves you?  Because she helps me and is patient and kind and teaches me about the love of Jesus. AND she and my daddy LOVINGLY discipline me when I deserve consequences.

Well, apparently the mom in my mind and the mom in real life are not always matching up!  

Talk about feeling deflated!  How will I ever face the preschool teacher next week!!!?!  How embarrassing!  "Really, we have a very loving family and we get along very well!  My husband totally does not continually spank our children, and I DO fun things with my children and do not just 'drop them off'!"

 Mickey (age 6) was horrified with her answers and said, "Oh, boy, I hope they don't print that in the newspaper!"   (our small town news often interviews the younger grades)  At least if we get dragged to court, Mickey can be our lead witness to the fact that we are indeed decent parents!  Thank Goodness for that!