Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Meaning of Owen's "Merit"

The summer after we had Annabeth, I fell in love with the name Merit.
I knew that if we had another girl, I wanted her first name to be Merit.
Once we knew we were expecting this time, we were also pretty sure #2 was a boy.
I was panicked that if #2 was a boy, I would miss my chance to use Merit.
At the last minute, before the ultrasound, Mark suggested that we use Merit as Owen's middle name.

My sister, who loves baby names, looked up Merit online and found that it is an Arabic name meaning "Beloved."

Amy means beloved.
My dad's name, David, also means beloved.

So, Mr Owen, who doesn't seem to have a family name, does in fact.
His name meaning is shared by me and his Grandpa Kuhn.
He is loved, beloved by us and by God the Father.

I share this today, to help Dad celebrate his birthday.
Happy Birthday Dad! :)
Photo Credit: Michelle Forche

Friday, April 24, 2015

Frugal Friday 88

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Annabeth and I rolled change from her piggy bank and added it, along with her Easter money, to her savings account. Saved: $34

- Mark spoke at a class at Ivy Tech Friday evening. He was paid overtime.

- While in Greenwood for an appointment, Annabeth and I ran to Target to get a box of newborn diapers off our registry. I used a $2 off Target coupon + $3 off Pampers coupon + 15% off remaining registry item coupon and got them for $.17 each! Saved: $9.45

- Annabeth and I enjoyed dinner out while in Greenwood thanks to a gift card from Easter. Saved: $15

- We took Annabeth to see her first movie in the theater. We saved by seeing the matinee showing of "Home" and saved an extra $1 off/ticket with a rewards card. The ticket counter lady also, surprisingly, did not charge us for Annabeth. 3 Movie Tickets for just $15.

- A part in our dryer has been loose for a few weeks and finally bit the dust Saturday evening. Mark took it apart, read the book, and realized he could fix it himself. He ordered the part off Amazon and used Amazon money I have earned taking surveys to pay for it. Hopefully once the part comes in it will be an easy fix and we will be able to fix it for free instead of paying the cost of labor. Until it is fixed I will air dry our laundry which will save us money on our electric bill.

- Sunday afternoon, Mark's parents treated Annabeth and me to a play and dinner. We saw Beauty and the Beast at Lutheran High School (which is where Mark and his brothers graduated from). We also had a yummy dinner out at Panera. Thank you!

- Monday I finalized the organization of Owen's closet and dresser. We still have the room to get ready but at least we are on our way to having a space for him!

- My friend Alysha shared a box of hand-me-downs with us for Annabeth and Owen. Thank you!

- We received our first Nielsen TV Viewing Diary. We will write down what stations/shows we watch and when for one week. We were paid upfront for our participation this week. Made: $30

- On Thursday, Annabeth and I enjoyed some time at the Johnson County Museum of History. We had a great time and paid just the suggested donation amount of $2.

Setting the table for her pioneer friends

She was really interested in the old shaving kits and first aid kits

- We baked Butter Kuchen for our friends the Gomez Family. Last week they made us an authentic Mexican meal and Butter Kuchen is really the only German food that I know how to make.

We had a busy week working around the house and are looking forward to a weekend of birthday fun with friends.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Family Trip to the Movies

Yesterday we took Annabeth to the movie theater for the first time.

We have been wanting to take her for a while and knew that it needed to happen before Owen comes or it will be years before we all get to go together. We had seen the previews for "Home" and she seemed to be really into them. She also LOVES Jim Parsons, who played the Boov name O in the movie, so we thought that would be an added bonus for her.

We went to the 2:20 showing so we paid the matinee price + $1 off/ticket with a rewards card + they (shockingly!!) let Annabeth in for free! Since the tickets were just $15 for all three of us, Mark decided to treat us to movie snacks. We shared candy, coke, and popcorn.

Annabeth LOVED:
- that it was dark in the theater (she always asks to watch her movies at home in the dark too)
- the snacks
- sips of coke
- lounging on my lap for the last 20 minutes of the movie (this was my best part too)

"Home" was very cute. It was funny enough that Mark and I enjoyed it but also was appropriate for kids. Annabeth loved hearing "Sheldon's voice" and enjoyed dancing to the music. We left the theater feeling like we had really taken her to a do a fun thing. I was excited to see what she would remember later in the evening and what story she would tell from going.

As we left the theater, I took Annabeth to the restroom. We went in the stall and when I went to lock it, I realized that it was already locked - from the outside. Yes, from the outside. The lock had been installed wrong and so we had the back of the lock on the inside of the stall. I tried and tried to turn it but it wouldn't budge. Annabeth immediately realized that we were locked in and began yelling, "Daddy! We are locked in! Save us!" The restroom was full, as the movie had just let out, and so I yelled over the hand dryers "Hey! Our stall locked from the outside, can someone turn the handle?!" I said it again and again. I waved my foot under the door and my hand over the top. I could see all the ladies, through the crack in the stall door, washing their hands and everyone ignored us. Finally, when I could see that everyone was gone. I looked at the space between the floor and the bottom of the door and decided that I could probably squeeze under. I debated sending Annabeth but I worried that she wouldn't know how to turn the lock or would get scared and run out of the restroom to find Mark in the busy lobby. So, 33 weeks pregnant, Owen and I shimmed under the door, across the dirty public restroom floor, and rescued Annabeth. What did she say? "Oh Mama! You should have called Daddy to save us!"

And so, that is how her first trip of the movies has just become a story about being locked in the bathroom and that Mama didn't even ask Daddy to save us.

I thought I did a pretty good job saving the day though. Oh, the things I will do as a Mama...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Frugal Friday 87

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- This is Annabeth's current favorite outfit: red sweatpants hand-me-downs from Kati and Elli and llama shirt hand-me-down from her friend Madi. She asks to wear this every time it is clean.

Llama and Bubble Loving Girl. 

 - I headed to Greenwood Saturday morning for the annual Hearts for Haiti kids sale at Our Lady of Greenwood church/school. This year I found 5 items for Annabeth: a leotard in the next size, new with tags long shorts (why do stores only seem to sell tiny, short shorts?!), a longer style skirt (HandM brand!!), black snow pants (hooray, Owen can wear them later too), and a nice lightweight jacket for spring/fall. She LOVED the jacket and raced around the house wearing it later in the morning! :) I love a child who is happy with a $1 jacket! As for Mr. Owen, I found him 7 items from the $.50 stacks (onesies, pants, and shirts) and then I found Carhartt overalls (that match Mark's) and a pair of Cabela's camo overalls (both just $1/each). The Carhartt overalls alone would be $45 at the store but I got all 14 items for just $9!

- Annabeth always gets fresh flowers to decorate for her birthday parties so she wanted to get Owen some for his shower as well. She chose a yellow and orange theme with "a little pink for me." We have enjoyed three little arrangements around the house all week.

- I saved all of the gift bags and tissue paper from our baby shower. By saving all of the wrapping we receive we never have to buy wrapping of any kind. I have three totes of it all!

- The Stair Family has loaned us their baby swing for Owen. With Annabeth, we borrowed our nieces' swing and AB couldn't stand it! I was so glad that we had borrowed and not purchased. We are very thankful to be able to do this again. Thank you Stairs!

- We ate leftover food from our baby shower both Sunday and Monday for meals and snacks.

- We enjoyed beautiful Sunday fun at the park at the apple orchard for free with my parents and sister.

- My family brought up a nightstand, dresser, and rocker for Owen's room. When he does move to a crib, we will use the one that Annabeth used. We will not have to purchase any furniture for his room now! Thank you!

- I took another big bag of things to Goodwill. My sister chose a couple of items from my closet clean out and the rest went in this bag for donation.

- My friend Alysha gave us a coupon book for places like Dairy Queen. Many of the items are free with no purchase necessary!

- Our friends the Gomez Girls treated us Riley Girls (+Owen) to a homemade Mexican lunch. Cynthia's parents are both from Mexico and she used some of their recipes to make SUCH a good lunch. We had our first ever real tacos, rice, and salsa! I have never liked salsa but hers was SO SO SO good!! Cynthia packed up salsa and rice leftovers which we enjoyed at home! Thank you so much!

- Mark spent Sunday and Wednesday working in friends' yards to earn some extra money.

- Mark worked two shifts at his part time job.

We had a wonderful week with friends. We enjoyed, finally, some sunshine and warm weather and far less rain than the past few weeks! We hope you all had some outdoor fun as well!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference!"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pregnancy and Body Image

Pregnancy and Body Image.

I think FAR too often these things go together with a negative connotation, I however, love (at least 90% of the time) how I look pregnant. I have looked different each time but each time I have felt pretty powerful and confident. I also love that I don't have to suck in my belly in pictures! :)

With Annabeth...

The summer before we found out we were expecting I gained 60 lbs in a few shorts months. Quite a few doctor visits and tests later revealed imbalanced and elevated insulin levels in my body. I switched a few diet/exercise things and started a medicine regimen and quite a bit of the weight came off that fall as the medicine worked. Then we found out we were expecting in late January 2011! I was so excited and never gave a second thought about how I would look. We had waited and wished for so long that my appearance was not what mattered. In the end, it didn't matter. I was so severely sick with Annabeth that I lost over 50 lbs during my pregnancy (originally over 60 but I did manage to gain some back in the last 10 weeks thanks to McDonald's cheeseburgers) Other than my giant belly (she was 9 lbs 1 oz), I was teeny tiny! I had little bird arms and legs, no cankles, and an itty bitty face! I loved it! Once I had Annabeth, I looked really good and much better than I had the year before. Since I had lost all of my weight while pregnant, I had none to lose after. I did do some toning and since I nursed her I lost even more. It was, for most people, such a strange way to be pregnant and post-partum but for me it was my only experience.

39 Weeks, 4 Days with Annabeth.
All belly 19 hours before Annabeth arrived.

 2 weeks, 1 day after Annabeth's arrival. 
Look how tiny! I just needed some ab work!

1 Month, 2 Days after Annabeth's arrival.
At my "perfect weight" as determined in college :) 

With Owen...

Thanks to a family weight loss challenge, I lost 15 lbs last winter/spring in preparation for Luke and Cassidy's wedding in June. Then, we found out we were expecting in late October. Again, I was extremely sick in the beginning, but it leveled off around 28 weeks and I have actually gone days in a row without vomiting this pregnancy. I am yet to gain back any weight, I am down 20 from October, but I don't have that tiny look that I had with Annabeth. Obviously, I am happy to be healthier for Owen but it makes the body image part of my brain feel a little crazy. What am I going to look like after he comes? How long will it take to go back to normal? What is the stretch mark damage going to be this time? (My stomach was a complete stretch mark mess after Annabeth and they never faded so Owen's have just added on top) This wondering is the unknown for me since I didn't have to do it the first time. I have not gained weight but my body has certainly changed. Praying I can handle, gracefully, whatever the outcome is. Just 7 more weeks until Owen!  

32 Weeks, 1 Day with Owen 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Owen Merit's Woodland Baby Shower

Yesterday, my sweet friends Rose and Sarah hosted a Woodland Baby Shower for Owen.

They are both so creative and the party had so many unique touches. I am thinking that they should go into business together with Rose's mom, who helped so much as well, and do parties!

They created the most adorable woodland animal themed cake, cookies, and food:

We shared the day with some of the most special women, and little men SJ and Asher, in our lives. I am so thankful for friends and family who are so generous as Owen was gifted some very wonderful items. I am also so thankful for people who share our lives so closely. We really could not ask for more!

The party favors for the adults were tomato seeds with a cute little note:

We feel so incredibly blessed to be a family of four and we are so thankful that the Lord has seen fit to give us two beautiful children! We look forward to welcoming Owen in about 8 weeks. To God be all the glory!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Frugal Friday 86

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- We handed out homemade Easter cards to our parents and grandparents. Annabeth and I made "Some bunny loves you" and "For Peep's Sake...Have a Happy Easter" cards modeled after this Pinterest find. We also mailed bunny stickers that we had on hand to our nieces and nephew in South Dakota.

- We dressed up for Easter Sunday but did not purchase anything new for the holiday.

Amy: Cardigan, tank, and shoes I have had for 2+ years.
Maternity leggings on loan from my friend Rose and maternity dress on loan from my friend Alysha. 
Annabeth: Cowgirl boots, leggings, shirt, and bow that she has worn all winter.
Bunny dress was a gift from Grandmama-Mimi.
Mark: This is a typical work/church outfit for Mark.

- We are still enjoying fresh flowers from the bridal shower I hosted on March 28. I have been changing out the water and throwing away wilted flowers. We still have four very nice arrangements around the house.

- I took ALL of the clothes out of my closet, Owen's closet, and my dresser. It resulted in a HUGE purge of items:
      - 20 items went directly to Goodwill. Old t-shirts, tank tops, and items I knew would not be wanted by others in my life
      - 19 items went into a large bag for my sister to go through. She can take what she wants and then pass on.
      - 7 items, barely worn, went in a ThredUp clean out bag and were shipped out on Thursday
      - 3 pairs of very nice dress pants went to a friend who is a teacher. I have not worn any of them in in the 3.5 years I have been working in the home
In all that makes 49 articles of clothing leaving my wardrobe! That is insane! Clearly I have been holding on too much!!
- I combined a Babies R Us coupon as well as a manufacturer's coupon to save $11 on the largest box of Pampers Size 1 diapers sold. I paid just $.17/diaper.

- I sold a bag of books and DVDs at Half Price Books. Made: $7

- I switched Annabeth's closet from winter to spring/summer. 15 items made their way to the sale tote for next fall. 

- Mark worked a shift Thursday night at his part time security job.

We had a busy week at home and got a lot of little projects done. I am working diligently to get the house ready for Owen to come, Lord Willing, in the next 8 weeks!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference" 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Plans Change...

Earlier this month, I wrote about our Homeschool Order/Plans for 2015-2016 school year.

Today our big box of curriculum came!! Hooray! Annabeth and I were so excited!!

We opened our Little Keepers Handbook and I love it! I can see very quickly that she will need to be at least 4 (the book is intended to be completed from ages 4-7) before we get started but I love the ideas and concepts we will cover.

We opened our Horizons Pre-K set and she was SO excited! She asked to start on her new books right away. I take this to be a great sign that she loves homeschooling and this particular method of learning.

Then, we looked at the Weaver 1-2-3 Read lessons. No interest from her. Little interest from me. I had only seen the materials online (an overview and few example pages) and in the AOP catalog. I liked the idea of it and I really liked the structure it was going to provide me as a teacher. In real life, not so much. The teacher book and workbook were basically photocopied pages, spiral bound together. The teacher book was very wordy and, in my opinion, difficult to follow. The student workbook did not appeal to Annabeth at all and the flashcard book did not either. Annabeth is very much a hands-on, visual learner and I thought this program seemed like something she would respond well to. I said nothing about my reservations and left all of the supplies out on the table. I walked away and let her explore. She did not look at the Weaver books at all. 10 minutes, then 20 went by and she still was not curious enough to look through them. While she went on to afternoon art, I prayed. Immediately I knew that this was not the program for us.

I called AOP and received a RMA number so I could return the merchandise.

I am not sure what we will be using next year. Praying on that now. For today, I am thankful that Annabeth and I quickly came to an agreement. I am thankful that AOP has such a flexible return policy (as we will be refunded $80+) and AOP has an incredibly kind and supportive phone staff. I know that we will find what works for her and I know that we will love it. Pray for us? Pray with us? We would appreciate it ever so much.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

<$20 Shop Local Tuesday

Tuesday is gymnastics and library day. We usually go home from afternoon storytime, put our new craft on the fridge, and enjoy reading our new books. This week I was feeling like I needed a Tuesday adventure. I decided to take $20 out of my "fun money" envelope and to go to a favorite place and at least one new place in Franklin.

After storytime, Annabeth and I headed to Benjamin's for coffee and snacks. I love Benjamin's! I would much prefer to spend money locally on coffee and treats as opposed to Starbucks.

Then, I headed to Bird on a Wire/Anna's Boutique. It is a little store that I have passed many times and always admired the window displays so we stopped. It had a lot of beautiful clothing and jewelry for women and children. Many of the brands and styles are ones that I love but are just too expensive to buy new. I usually buy those types of brands (Mud Pie, Mustard Pie, etc) second hand to save at least 75% off ticket price. It was fun to look but no purchase made!

We headed across the street to Toodley Doo Toys. I had been in their store once, at the old location, but had not yet been in the new store. Annabeth immediately fell in love with the Melissa and Doug metal shopping cart (an item she desperately wants but we cannot justify buying as her aunt and uncle already gave her a very nice plastic one) and enjoyed playing with the lemonade stand as well. I found an adorable owl bib for Owen and a tiny little paint set for Annabeth. I am in love with their wide selection of Made in the USA toys, books, and locally made clothing and baby items. I had not gone in on purpose because I knew I would want to buy everything and I was right!

I was also excited to learn that the toy store allows people to make gift registries. I think I will take Annabeth before her next birthday to make a list. Hopefully we can direct family and friends towards gifts that Annabeth would really enjoy and also have our loved ones support our local economy!

Between snacks and items for both kids I spent just $16 and we had a wonderful afternoon supporting local businesses!

Annabeth painting with her tiny paint set. 
Bow by Emma's Bows for a Cure - available online and at Toodley Doo Toys

We support and love small businesses and encourage you to do the same. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." Matthew 28:6
Happy Easter!

Annual Girls' Picture after church in the courtyard
LucyAnne, Mama, and me
Yes, most years, we are looking into the sun and squinting :)  

Egg hunt at Mama and Dad's.
Annabeth had the most fun and Mark won the hunt!  

Annabeth sorting her candy with "help" from Uli Dog

We enjoyed a beautiful Easter weekend in Owensboro and Evansville for our last trip south before Owen comes. We are in the middle of Week 31 and this was our last approved week for travel. We are so thankful to have spent Saturday with Momaw and the Kuhn/Pitt families and Sunday with Mama, Dad, and Lu. 

Happy Easter to All! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Frugal Friday 85

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Annabeth and I cleaned out her toys and for the first time I asked her to pick ones to give away. She willingly chose to give away five items. We still have entirely too many toys but I was very proud of her for beginning to really think about what she plays with and what she likes instead of me always making those calls.

Dressed as Sofia the First sorting through her toys

- I sold Annabeth's Easter dress from last year on a Garage Sale Facebook page. Made: $10

- Mark's mom and I hosted a Bridal Shower on Saturday. We used fresh flowers as decorations and then we enjoyed them all week as they decorated our house. We also saved the extra paper supplies and decorations for future parties. As party favors we sent everyone home with sunflower seeds (the bride-to-be's favorite flowers) to plant in their gardens this spring.

 Hand painted sign for favors

- Sunday, after church, we went to Mark's parents to celebrate Easter early. We ate quite a bit of the shower leftovers as part of lunch. It made much more sense to enjoy party food two days in a row instead of making all new food again.

- We enjoyed Sunday dinner from Chili's thanks to a gift card from Mark's parents. We just had to pay the tax. Thank you!

- All of Monday and Tuesday breakfast and lunch, Annabeth and I ate only leftovers from the weekend. We enjoyed rolls, fancy bread, ham, fresh fruit and veggies, and our leftovers from Chili's.

- Annabeth and I rolled change from her piggy bank. We were able to add $43 to her savings account.

- We enjoyed a FREE Easter party complete with stories, crafts, and an egg hunt at our local library.

Hunting eggs in the books

- I made a small grocery trip this week and came out of the store over budget. Once in the car I reviewed my receipt and found that they had charged me for our toothpaste twice. I went back in and they refunded me the $3.19.

- We are Wyndham Rewards members (we stayed 2 nights at a hotel 18 months ago) and occasionally we receive random free offers in our e-mail. This week we received a free Shutterfly photo book. The coupon will expire before I will finish my next two books so I put it out on Facebook that the first to comment would win. We gave it away to my friend Alysha who loves to scrapbook as much as we do!

- I shopped Abe's Market online this week because they had free shipping on $29+ orders (usually orders must be $49 to qualify for free shipping) I was able to get more than 50 individual Annabeth-Safe Snacks for $29.46 by buying favorites that were on sale 60% off and free shipping (additional $4.99 savings)

- I ordered our homeschool supplies for next school year. Alpha Omega Publications does a 20% sale in April. I was also given a coupon code for an additional 10% off! I received free shipping as our order was over $50. I was able to come in an $20 under budget with the 10% coupon!! We spent just $180 on everything for the 2015-2016 school year. Saved: $65

- We got a new a sleeper sofa as a combined birthday/welcome Owen gift as Owen will be taking over the guest room soon. Luke and Cassidy took our old couch. We were so thankful that they were able to use it and that they were able to move it as well!

We are looking forward to a warm, sunny Easter Weekend celebrating the fact that He is Risen!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Etsy Find: Local Hairbows

If you know us, you know that Annabeth has worn a hairbow nearly every day of life. Literally every single day. I cannot even imagine picking out her clothes for the day without picking out a bow or flower for her hair. In fact, as we pack to travel, she knows to get down the bow box and begin matching bows to outfits I have laid out.

Most of our bows come from Emma's Bows for a Cure. Emma is an incredible young lady that dances at our dance school. She hand-makes her own bows and accessories and sells them to raise money for Relay for Life. We love her servant's heart and all of her original designs. I pray that in these early years Annabeth will enjoy wearing Emma's bows and that in years to come she will be inspired by Emma's generous heart.

Joy to the World Bottle Cap Bow by Emma
Christmas Eve 2014

Shamrock Bow by Emma
St. Patrick's Day 2015

This past weekend Annabeth attended a friend's birthday party. In her party favor bag from Adalaide was her first Big Sister bow! This was an item that had been on my spring "to buy" list so I was very excited to see it! The bow was made by Lizzy Bugs Bowtique. I was really impressed with their Etsy shop variety and their low prices! They have so many creative bows, including adorable Disney bows, and their prices are much lower than many other bow places. 

Big Sister Bow by Lizzy Bugs Bowtique

I look forward to now having two Franklin bow places to shop with!

*Unless otherwise noted I have purchased "Etsy Finds" items with my own money and do not have a personal relationship with the shop or seller. I also have not been compensated for my review or recommendation*

Homeschool Order for 2015-2016 School Year

After much prayer and consideration, our family has decided to continue homeschooling for the 2015-2016 school year.

We are slated to finish formal school for this year on May 22 and we will break for Owen's arrival/the summer and return to formal school in early August.

This year we have been using Alpha Omega Publications Horizons Preschool for Threes as our base. I love the easy to follow teacher's guide and Annabeth has responded very well to the mix of colorful workbook pages as well as the real life applications. I love that each lesson provides me with phonics, reading, math, science, social skills, and social studies as well as a mix of ideas for art, music, and P.E.

I  have ordered AOP's Horizons Pre-K for next year. I have really enjoyed using their curriculum and I felt like it would be best to continue with a program that both Annabeth and I have responded to well. I also feel like our summer will bring big changes, Owen's arrival in early June, and it will be a huge change to do school with a newborn in tow. I am looking forward to having a familiar set of books to follow.

I have also added AOP's Weaver 123 Read program to our year. After looking at other phonics/reading resources, I found that I really like this one best. We will begin with it a few weeks into school and see how Annabeth does with it. As she will still be three for the first two months of school, this may be too advanced or too formal, in which case we will put it off until later in the school year.

My third order was to Keepers of the Faith. I ordered the Little Keepers of the Home handbook. It is a handbook for young ladies ages 4-6 to begin learning basic lifestyle and homemaking skills. We will use this handbook over the next few years and then when she is seven we will move on to the second book. There is also a Little Contenders program for young men and we plan to do that with Owen when he turns four.

Those who know how school schedules work in Indiana may be wondering why we are starting Pre-K next fall when Annabeth is not eligible age/birthday wise for Kindergarten until the 2017-2018 school year. We have decided to do Pre-K next year and then a year from now we will evaluate where she is academically. It may be that she will need the additional year of Pre-K or it may be that she will indeed be ready for Kindergarten "early." With her early fall birthday, she narrowly misses the cutoff date and as she is already putting letter sounds together to read words and working some basic addition and subtraction problems it is difficult to imagine putting off Kindergarten for another two years. We will just have to see how she progresses.

I feel incredibly blessed that the Lord has placed homeschooling on our hearts. I feel so incredibly honored to have our Miracle Girl and the great joy of educating her at home. I pray that the Lord will allow me to follow this calling as long as He sees fit. May He give me the patience and strength to teach Annabeth, and later Owen, all she/they will need to know about life and love. I thank and praise the Lord for Mark's financial support of our homeschool and for his willingness to look at Annabeth's work and to teach her in the evenings and on the weekends. I am also so thankful for his love and support in me as the teacher.

We love homeschool because we love the Lord. We feel that this is how the Lord is calling our family to serve Him and each other. We know that we are blessed, undeservedly so, to be His children and to serve the One who created it all. It is incredibly humbling to know that the One who placed the stars in the sky, who made our universe, who gave Himself up for us, HE knitted us together in our mothers' wombs, HE called us by name, and HE died that we might have the Life Eternal. We pray that our lives would be a testimony to the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord.

May His Will Be Done.