Sunday, December 28, 2014

And the Holidays continue...

Whew! What a whirlwind this holiday season has been! We have been having a blast, that is for sure! Spending time with family, eating LOTS of amazing food, breaking in new toys, and just going, going, going.

We were with my parents, sisters and grandparents on the 21st. It's always fun to see the excitement spread from the kids to the adults - Papa had actually been aching for the big boys to open some of their toys so he could go out with them and play! :D I love that the joy of the season can bring out the kid in us all. My grandparents are getting older, as we all are...but I feel this year that we need to make the extra effort to see them. No sense of foreboding or anything, just the fact that reality is what it is. They won't always be with us, and we need to make the most of what we have with them. Kelly has already lost all his grandparents, and I only have two of mine left. I want the kids to have good memories of them, as well.

Kelly ended up working on Christmas Eve, but the kids and I still went to Evergreen for candlelight service. It was a sweet and beautiful time with family and friends...though I have no idea how my kids haven't given Pastor William a complex over the years! In the past, my oldest has corrected his accuracy in a sermon (thus leading William to write a lengthy letter to him and pay him for his editorial services!), my middle has insulted his chili (which led him to insisitng on knowing my recipe, being that it was what his was compared to), and tonight - boy howdy - TWO of my kids were in top form. During the opening prayer, Castle started saying Amen...louder...and louder...and LOUDER....I guess he didn't think Pastor William needed to pray so long! Mrs. Tiffany, Pastor's wife, was sitting right in front of us, and could hardly contain her laughter! Then at the end, when we were all lighting our candles, Caleb was too busy singing to bother containing his flame. He caught my father-in-law's sleeve on fire! Oh, my, it's never a dull moment with the Quinn kids around, that is for certain! LOL!

Connor and I waited up for Kelly. We knew he'd pull what he's pulled the last couple years and wake us all up to open gifts. So, for the third year in a row, our Christmas morning began at about 1:30am! UGH!!! It is frighteningly becoming a tradition around here, and I can't say I'm completely thrilled with it...but when has our family ever done anything resembling normal? It is kind of nice to be able to sleep in, take out time, and not feel rushed in the morning. We let them stay up for an hour or two, then sent them all back to bed so we could get some shut eye ourselves. I had already decided it had been far too long since I'd seen some of my extended family, so Chloe, Connor, Castle and I headed to Monett about noon for the Craker Christmas. I got to meet my cousin, Chris's husband and new baby, so that was awesome. It was nice to visit and catch up without using a computer! :)

On Saturday, we had time with the Hartzells. Oh, boy, what a bittersweet time. With the family farm selling this month, there have been moments of remembering good times, sighs of relief, and tears of what could have been. It is a good thing, but also a hard thing. Knowing this was the last family lunch "on Grandma and Grandpa", kind of made us feel like the end of an era. But with a family like this, we know it's actually just the beginning of a new era.

In the evening, the cousins got together and were going to have a game night...but it ended up being an evening of visiting and eating - which was just fine with (mostly) everyone! Connor was a tad disappointed, but he'll survive. I could feel the busyness of the last two weeks catching up with me, not to mention, still fighting for strength after the bug I'd had, and Kelly was watching me pretty closely. I kept smiling and saying I was fine, but by 10pm, he was loading me up and sending me to bed - plus turning my alarm off so I wouldn't try to get up for church. I went to bed sort of grumbly, but was so thankful to wake up rested and ready for a day of fun with our kids and nieces. My guy is definitely a keeper! :)

Casey and Tiff showed up for lunch about 1. The kids ate fast and stared holes in us until we finally agreed that it could be present time. It's always fun to take turns so everyone can ooh and ahh over all the fun gifts. Castle, however, doesn't believe in taking turns. He opened his, then started opening whoever wasn't watching theirs! Oh, that boy! We have a fun afternoon and the kids played outside with their new Nerf bows and guns, keeping the chaos inside to a minimum. Tiff and I are both due in about a month, so we were glad for the lower roar.

That evening, we headed to Crossway. With all the craziness of the family get togethers and holiday programs, I felt like it had been ages since we'd worshiped with our church family. I was pleased to find we were having the  Lord's Supper, but sad that Kelly was working security and couldn't partake with us. However, it was a beautiful service, and I felt the love of our Savior as I dwelt over my juice and wafer. He has truly blessed us this year...the hardest loss we've ever endured, and a gift of renewal and promise all in the same year. Life is hard, but He is good. I'm humbled by His overwhelming love.

And the fun isn't even over yet! April, Rob and the kids will be heading this way Tuesday, and we will have a few days with them. I just can't wait!

Monday, December 22, 2014

'Tis the Season

Ready or not,'s here! We got our Christmas festivities kicked off this weekend. First, we were with my parents and sisters at Mom and Dad's in Walnut Grove. Grandma and Grandpa came for a little while, but headed home well before dark. It's never enough time with them, though, it seems. We had a good, chaotic visit - Kelly was sick and not feeling too sociable, so Dad drove him home after presents and eating so I could stay and visit a while. April and Rob and the kids stopped by for a couple hours on their way through to Chicago - it was great to see them, and it made me look forward to the end of the month when we get a few days with them! The kids got some really neat gifts, we ate a ton of food, and just enjoyed the day.

Sunday, the kids and I went to Eudora Baptist for church. We absolutely love our Crossway family, and we hate to miss, but sometimes it is fun to visit our old friends. This day, Rian, Heather and Steph were putting on the kids' production of "The Secret of Snowflake County". Molly, Hannah, and the twins all had parts, so we definitely wanted to be there for them. They did just wonderful! I can't believe how much time gets away from me. Seeing the girls on that stage made me realize just how quickly they are growing up. Chloe and Molly start junior high in just a few did this even happen?

Last night, we all gathered at Jason and Steph's for our "Framily" Christmas - our friends who are like family - the Daniels, the Besses, the Brixeys and us. Let me tell you, we are so blessed with the greatest friends in the world. It's hard with our schedules being so different these last couple years, but carving out the time to still be together for the important things is what holds these bonds so tightly. I truly miss serving and worshipping with our best friends, but I love and trust where God has put us all. As I told Heather last night, maybe someday He'll see fit to put us into ministry together again some day...

Today, the three big kids have dr. appointments, but I promised them some holiday cheer this evening. Tonight, we will grab some cocoa and puppy chow, load up in the van and go see the crazy Christmas guy's light display. Then home for some gingerbread house building competition! :)

I'm glad for the week away from schoolbooks and activities. It's wonderful to not have a fully loaded schedule so we can focus on each other and the real Reason for the Season. I'm thankful for my Jesus every day of the year, but I'm especially grateful for this holiday season. The lights, the music, the goodwill towards men...I want it to last all year long. It starts with us. We'll do our part, as best we can.

Merry Christmas to you all!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review Time! Schoolhouse Review

I don't know about you, but sometimes our homeschool hits a rut...especially this time of year. Now when that happens, I rack my brain trying to come up with something new that will spur us through that rut - a new read aloud, a project of some kind, a lapbook activity. Having kids in many different developmental and grade levels, it can be very difficult, and having two or three extra projects going at once can be overwhelming. But this month, I had the opportunity to review for the TOS Review Crew. They gave me a Yearly Membership to the site - this is the answer, and then some!

Schoolhouse Teachers is an online website that is a virtual treasure trove of learning. I was simply blown away with the amount of educational material, the variety of subjects, and the quality of it all. Truly, nearly every subject you would want to pursue is here: art, history/geography, foreign language, math, music, language arts, science, a multitude of electives, and so much more! There are lessons for every grade level from pre-k to 12th, not to mention the resources for parents. There are lesson planners, courses/teaching strategies, even menu ideas! Let me tell you, I am loving this!

Point, Click, Teach!

I had Connor go through the electives pages and see what could be of interest to him. He immediately was drawn to the Computer Science course (could it be because Minecraft was mentioned??). He has only worked through the first module, and a lot of the information has been a review of what he has already learned elsewhere, but he is very impressed with the layout.

"So far, I've learned different programming names, reviewed the parts of the computer, external and internal parts. I'm learning the difference between code and source code and when you use each of them, and it's really cool."

Chloe has been very busy this year with theater, so we had to make the decision to pull her out of private violin lessons. She has really missed it, and I have been worried about her losing some of her skill. So when we found violin lessons on Schoolhouse Teachers, we were both very excited. Unfortunately, there was a little drawback. Chloe has had 2 years of orchestra training and a year and a half of private instruction, so she already has a very strong base. The lessons on Schoolhouse Teachers are teaching the Suzuki method. They are wonderful lessons, and the lady is very engaging, but it was a little confusing for Chloe at the beginning. However, she persevered and is now enjoying the lessons.

"I think these lessons would be great for beginning violinists - but it was confusing for me since I already had experience. I liked seeing a new technique on how to teach the violin, though. It isn't as confusing to me now! I'm on lesson 15, and she hasn't taught me anything about notes - just strings - , but she's already taught me a song. It's pretty cool."

I have four school aged children, and we are using three different curricula this year to suit all their needs. Suffice it to say, it's gotten a little pricey! I can tell you right now that my budget for next year will not need to be such a worry, thanks to Schoolhouse Teachers. For $12.95 a month, or a yearly membership of $139, I can't imagine how much I'll be saving. We will definitely be utilizing this site for much more than electives.

JUST ANNOUNCED - Schoolhouse Teachers is having a HUGE sale now through Christmas Day: 40% off the monthly membership or 50% off the Yearly Membership. Those who join at this rate will be locked in FOREVER as long as they maintain a continuous membership - WOW!!! Review

I can't begin to tell you how much is on this website. I can guarantee there is something for every family. If you would like to see more reviews on what Schoolhouse Teachers can offer you and your students, click on the link below and hear from some other homeschool families! Review

It is sure to be worth your time. Enjoy! :D

Crew Disclaimer

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

Whew! The last five days have been nothing but hustle and bustle, and this mama is about to drop! Wednesday, Connor and I headed to his appointment in Mt. Vernon. An hour and a half later, my boy came out with braces - wow, what a difference they make! I'm so excited to see the outcome, but it's at least 14 months away.

We got home in time for me to make lunch and rush back out the door for my appointment. Cadie is growing well. I am 33 weeks, and we are both doing great. I am a little sore, and a LOT tired, but with the schedule I've been keeping, it's expected.

Then Wednesday night, I left the boys at home while Chloe and I went to church for the final practice of "Who Stole Christmas". Our music minister, Mark Mathes, is so great. His talent and gifts are unsurpassed, and he uses them all for God's glory. This play was seen by a few thousand people over the weekend, and I am so pleased with how the Gospel was presented to them.

And Thursday finally brought the day, the day Chloe had been waiting for all semester. It was time for Willy Wonka, Jr. to take the stage. We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the theater. One final dress rehearsal and 5 performances - wow, it was a big weekend! But so much fun. Chloe comes alive on the stage. She truly is a natural, and I'm so thankful she can be a part of Class Act because they do all they do in a God-honoring way.

Chloe rode with friends to the after party. I rushed home with pizza for Kelly and the boys, picked up Connor and Canon, dropped Connor off at the after party, and drove Canon to Incredible Pizza for his big night. The cub scouts that sold over $700 in popcorn sales was rewarded with a lock-in at Incredible Pizza. He was so excited, and he had a great time. I had to pick him up Sunday morning at 6am.

So Sunday was a different day than most. I didn't get into bed till 1:30, got up at 5 to go pick up Canon, and went back to bed until 11. So no church for the Quinns. :/ We had a nice, quiet day at home, and we all needed the rest. We even took naps, even after sleeping so long! That evening, Chloe, Caleb and I went to Crossway for Who Stole Christmas. I was supposed to be in the choir, but wasn't feeling quite right. We really enjoyed the show, everyone did a great job.

By the time I was headed to bed Sunday night, I knew I was coming down with something. Between all the hustle and bustle, it was no surprise to wake up with the absolute worst head and chest cold I've had in years. So Monday was a very unproductive day for me...hoping it passes quickly, but today isn't looking too great either. I guess I shouldn't complain, I really needed the reason to rest. And I was blessed that Kelly had the day off. He helped with the kids, and he even cooked dinner. I'm tired and still worn out, but so very thankful for the family I have and the memories we made this past week. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Whole New Look



24 hours later! 

Wow, this is amazing how fast the braces are working - it's been a rough few days, but he is acclimating well now. I know he wasn't thrilled with us about getting them, but I know it's going to be worth it!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sneak Preview

                                                                Dress rehearsal Friday, December 5. Chloe is in the red sweater. :)

The Golden Ticket Opening Night is less than four days away!!! I am so excited for Chloe, she has been practicing so very hard. I know the rest of the cast has, as well. Willy Wonka, Jr., performed by Class Act HPA, will run from Thursday, December 11 to Saturday, December 13. Three days, five performances - it's going to be (forgive the pun) SWEET!! :)

Chloe has really grown this past year as an actress. She is still a strong singer, and watching her blossom on the stage has given Kelly and I some very proud parent moments! She is working on more accents all the time, and she is so passionate about perfecting her acting skills. I can not wait to see how the Lord will use this girl's gifts for His glory.

But for now, we will enjoy watching her grow and learn under the eyes of two very godly women who are nurturing her, encouraging her, and pushing her to be the very best she can be for God. I am so thankful for Krista and Tina. God has blessed us immensely with the time they have invested in my kids. I pray that they continue to use their gifts to teach other young actors and actresses to strive for excellence on the stage.

So, if you don't have plans and are in the Springfield area this weekend, plan on bringing the family out for a fun and exciting performance of Willy Wonka, Jr. It's going to be a great night at the theater!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cha cha cha Changes

Connor will be getting braces a week from today. We went and met the orthodontist today. He had his impressions and xrays taken and two rubber spacers put in. It was fairly traumatic! Oh, my, he is truly a drama queen (or whatever the male equivalent would be)! I have no idea what to expect now this time next week. He may be 13, but he's still Mama's baby...I'll be sure to have plenty of ice cream and popsicles on hand for the first few days. I was surprised to find out that Dr. Beard doesn't expect it to take more than 14 months...I really expected two years plus, so that was great news! Anybody else have a first timer in braces right now? Just wondering how the process had been for other families.