Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear Becca...

...Thanks for driving so many miles and so many hours (all by yourself you brave thing, you,) to come visit my family and me! You have always been such a sweet, giving friend. You really cheered my soul!

Also thanks for letting us drag you around town and wear you out, and for making us delicious gluten free scones, and for so patiently listening to my kids chatter and for doing the best you could to answer all of Olive's 10 million and one questions. I'm so glad we got this time to catch up, go shopping, play with watercolors, and eat together.

Come back soooon! xox

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Family Date Night

A couple of weeks ago we took our kids to a family rec center/park for a little family date.

Our kids were too small to ride go karts, play mini golf and arcade games,
but they loved watching everything so it was a nice cheap date night. ;)

Matt and Olive did get to take a sweet, sunset boat ride together.
Olive was in heaven.

And then we fed the terrifying carp.
(Seriously, these guys are so aggressive, they practically jump into your hand for the food.)

And of course, a family date night isn't a success without a stop for ice cream.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Oh, And In Case You Haven't Already Heard...

And we are pretty much over-the-moon!

A Few More From Chicago

When we visited Chicago a while back, I wasn't really sure what we should try to see since our time was limited, we had never been there before, and our kids get tired out pretty easily.

I did know that I'd like to see "The Bean" if we could, and I'm glad we were able to stop and look at it really quick on our way to find lunch downtown!

I was impressed with how clean this part of downtown Chicago was, especially during the height of summer tourism season. I was also struck by how wide the streets and avenues were. Everything just seemed bigger in Chicago, compared to the big cities I've visited on the east coast. Of course the buildings and architecture were a sight to behold - my neck was sore the next day from looking up so much. ;)

If anyone knows their way around Chicago fairly well and can recommend family friendly things to do, I'd love to hear your suggestions and stories! I'm grateful we live close enough to make easy day trips into the city, and can't wait to go back and do some exploring!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Falling Down The Rabbit Hole

^ ^ How I feel about starting to homeschool? ^ ^

(Disclaimer: I'm about to talk at length, and at times rant, about homeschooling, which I'm sure isn't everyone's cup of tea so please feel free to just skip if you feel so inclined. ;) This post is more for my own journaling/remembering purposes than anything else, so be forewarned!)


Kind of excited.

Not sure where we're going to land, and whether or not we'll be right-side up or not when we finally hit bottom.

That's how I'm feeling about finally deciding to go ahead and begin homeschooling my oldest this year. It's a leap of faith for me.

We really prayed and thought long and hard about what to do about school for Olive. There  has always been this unspoken expectation that we would homeschool our kids, mostly since I was homeschooled all the way through highschool and it's what I know. I really enjoyed my homeschool experience, and believe it's a great way to learn, but I wanted to be really careful to check my motives and make sure a choice to homeschool my little ones came from a sincere desire to do so, and not from any strange, outside pressures telling me I had to, if you will. 

It's a long touchy subject that deserves it's own post, but growing up there seemed to be this attitude and atmosphere in my childhood homeschool experience (at home and in certain groups) that you should somehow be afraid of public and private schools if you were a more conservative, Christian family. I also always sensed this idea that the really good families, who really loved their kids and were really serious Christians should homeschool their children. 

I personally disagree with that philosophy now, and truly believe that no two families, no two children are created alike. There are so many different circumstances, personalities, and challenges to be looked at before making a decision on how to educate your children, and a family should never EVER be judged, (especially by Christians for goodness' sake,) for the choices they make in regards to homeschool or not. 

Where was I before I started this rant? Oh yes...

So, we were seriously considering sending Olive to kindergarten this year. We are blessed to live in a low-crime, family/neighborhood oriented community and the school systems are well rated, not to mention there are some very large, fairly affordable private schools in town with good pre-K/kindergarten programs. Olive is our social, outspoken, outgoing child. She loves people, she loves to compete. I know she would love being in a classroom, and would do really good work for a teacher.

And perhaps one day we will go that direction, but what really made the decision for us this year to keep her at home was the coming of the newest member of the family this January, (right in the middle of the school year!) The programs we were most interested in for Olive this year only met for half days three-to-four days a week. It would be a lot of driving for me, a lot of really early mornings, in the freezing, unpredictable Michigan winter, with a newborn. Not the best circumstances for Olive's first school year.

^ ^ Teaching this one is going to be quite an adventure! ^ ^ 

So this morning I clicked the "order" button online for a hodgepodge of curriculum. We're doing this. 

I'm not so much nervous that I'm incapable of teaching Olive the things a kindergartener should learn, as much as I'm nervous about Olive's and mine personalities clashing. We are both stubborn, and that often leads to frustration, which isn't a fun, learning-friendly situation. And I really want learning for her to be fun! So my main goal in piecing together curriculum this year was to keep the emphasis on the things that I know she enjoys most. 

The core of our plan this year is Sonlight's Kindergarten program (which isn't so much curriculum as it is literature. It teaches a wide variety of subjects simply through reading a lot of really good books aloud.) Since Olive loves to be read to, I knew this would be a good place for us to start. I'm looking forward to reading with her! Hopefully it feels more like "fun" than "work" for her.

We are going to use Saxon Math 1 to start introducing arithmetic skills, and this spelling workbook since Olive already has her letters, their sounds, and some basic phonics skills already learned.

Olive loooves art. I did a lot of research looking for a good art project guide, and I hope I landed on a winner with Art Lab for Little Kids. There's 52 projects and it has really positive reviews. I'm excited for this one.

For music, (and this is probably a little silly) I bought this CD that has famous opera arias translated into English. I studied piano and classical music for 8 years and have a great love for it that I hope to eventually share with my kids. (I'm still working on Matt, haha.) We listen to a lot of music around here, especially in the car, so I figured I'd try to sneak a little classical music appreciation into their lives in a not-too-pushy way. ;) Hoping it doesn't turn out to be super corny.

We also ordered Sing the Word From A-Z (which was recommended by Sonlight for kindergarten.) My mom taught us these same 26 alphabetical Bible verses when my siblings and I were little and I've never forgotten them. More than anything I want my kids to learn to love and revere God's word, and I hope through the form of learning the verses as songs that this will be a fun way for my kids to begin what is hopefully a lifetime of enjoying memorizing scripture. 

I'm also hoping to get the kids out (while the weather is still good, anyway) for a lot of fun little field trips and nature walks. It's so good for all of us to get out of the house and into fresh air. There will also be weekly library trips and I plan to get Olive involved in the library's fall story time program. She really enjoyed that last year. I would love to get her involved in dance or gymnastics but we're still looking into whether or not that will be feasible this year.

Anyway, that's about it. I'm excited and praying that this will be a very fun, learning filled first-time experience with homeschooling (for both Olive and me!) 

Any homeschooling moms out there with stories, tips and/or ideas on homeschooling a kindergartener for the very first time? I'd love to partake of your wisdom! 

Friday, August 16, 2013


There used to be a time not so long ago, when these little ones took regular naps and we could always depend on that hour or two of quiet in the afternoon. But somewhere in the last 6 months that free time ended for good, as Olive has outgrown her need for a daily nap and Silas is hit and miss depending on how much I am able to wear him out in the morning. Funny how it just slipped silently away...

Now there is much running around, getting-into-things that they shouldn't, giggling, climbing on top of the table (Silas) chattering (Olive - she never runs out of questions, opinions or ideas these days) coloring, legos, spilled cups of milk and dancing to "The Wiggles." I have never been so tired. 

But it's a good sort of tired. It's the kind of tired that by the end of the day you feel 100% spent, like God only gave you just enough energy to get to 8pm and not a single drop more. And the quiet that comes in knowing daughter and son are safely, peacefully asleep is the best kind of quiet. A lot of nights I dread going to bed because I enjoy the last two quiet hours of the day so, so much.

It's life fully, wildly, exhaustedly lived. I'm so glad and thankful I get to live it with these guys.

So catchy, for being a rather sad song.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finally Happened // Didn't Happen

Most of my girl friends with kids have told me their stories of being accosted by strangers in the supermarket or mall, who want to rub their pregnant bellies.

This had never happened to me, in any of my pregnancies. I didn't know if I should be concerned or offended? (It's probably due to this unfortunate condition that I've suffered from since puberty.)

Anyway, all that changed yesterday, when a tiny elderly Asian lady literally grabbed me from behind at Meijer last night, completely taking me off guard as I had both kids with me, and was feeling a little frazzled. 

In broken English she asked what I was having, when I was due, and that she hoped it was a boy. All while patting my stomach.

I waited to feel annoyed but it never came. She was a pretty cute lady (despite her obvious preference of boys which was kind of weird,) and seemed very motherly in her interest and excitement, and the whole experience just cheered me up. Not to mention, hey! A stranger finally rubbed my belly at the grocery store! I feel like I just joined a club I've been excluded from for 4 years.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I was supposed to have the BIG 20 week ultrasound early this morning. I was looking forward to today for over a month, counting down the days. I am ready to know the identity of the little person who is making me such a hungry, grumpy, tired, emotional lady. Matt had taken off from work, my sister was going to babysit, and we made plans to celebrate tonight with Thai food.

So when the office called at 7AM today to let me know they had canceled my appointment because their one-and-only ultrasound tech had called in sick...there were some tears. It doesn't take a lot to set me off these days, much to my annoyance. 

But then I got up and showered and the sun was out and the sky was blue and Silas was walking around with his Spiderman sandals in his hands (which is how he tries to communicate to me that he wants to GO.) So we made a trip to the library and Auntie Grace came along for the ride (trips are always more fun when Auntie comes.) It was such a nice, warm morning that we walked all the way to the coffee shop (Olive complaining the whole time that she was tired and starving,) and got coffee, muffins and a chocolate milk for Olive (which cheered her up considerably) which we then ate in the shade of the park. And then we came home and things weren't half as bad as they had seemed this morning.

A walk, some sunshine and a little caffeine work wonders, I tell you.

Dear Holly...

...I miss you bunches.

I keep thinking of things I wish we had been able to do while you were here - places we didn't have time to get to. I guess that means you'll just have to come back. :)

My favorite part of your visit was our little trip to Laketown Beach, just you and me. It was stormy, and the wind was chilly, but the water was freakishly warm. Still not sure what was going on there, but it was a nice, funny surprise. Thanks for climbing all those stairs with me! And for indulging me by getting up on that wet log so I could take your picture. You're so, so very beautiful - inside and out. I'm so proud and happy that I get to call you my sister.

I love that we can just take a walk together and be quiet together, and it doesn't feel uncomfortable or awkward. It feels nice just to be together. We're a lot alike I think. We need the quiet times, those alone times just as vitally as we need water, food and sleep. I love that we like the same weird music and trends. I love your sense of humor and listening to the hilarious stories about your cray-zay Starbucks customers. 

And speaking of hilarious, you always find the BEST stuff on Youtube. Thanks for introducing us to LAHWF. I am hooked.

Come back soon!

Love, Jacqueline xoxo

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Catching Up

August, August - what is up with you?

It has been in the upper 40's - low 50s when we wake up in the mornings and it's too cold to take our walks by the lake without warm jackets or sweaters. We've had lots of rain and lots of beautiful sunsets, and here and there trees are turning yellow. 

I don't know what it is - I usually look forward to this change of season more than any other, but summer felt way too short this year. Maybe it's because I felt sick and tired for a portion of it, or the busyness of company and having fun outdoors made the time pass to quickly. Maybe I'm apprehensive of all the major changes that are coming early this winter. Not really sure what's up, but I feel very sad about summer saying goodbye so soon.

I need to just start pumping myself up with excitement for pumpkin-spice-everything and cardigans and all that jazz.

Another thing I'm a little sad about this week, (and this is pretty ridiculous and self indulgent, but bear with me...) was having to say goodbye to our little Honda CR-V and exchange it for this big old, soccer-mom approved minivan. We knew when we were surprised with the news of baby number 3 that we were going to have to get a bigger vehicle sooner than anticipated - our CRV barely sat 5 people and getting 2 car seats and booster seat squeezed into that backseat was going to be a problem. We also take quite a few long distance trips since our family is spread out all over the country, and the amount of stuff we have to take along increases exponentially with each new small Frey. The CR-V just didn't have enough storage space.

God is good and provides more than we expect or even need. Matt found a gently used Honda Odyssey for an extremely good price, and we were blessed to get a great trade in price for our CR-V. It was the right move at just the right time. And even though I have dreaded having to drive a big ol' minivan for years, if I have to drive a van this is the most tricked out, modern, comfortable van I could have wished for. It's going to make errands and travels with three little ones much, much easier.

It kind of broke my heart having to drive my sister Holly back to the airport last week. It was so nice to visit with her and I loved watching my kids enjoy getting to know her more (sorry Holly that they wore you out! They really love you!)

I'm savoring every last minute we have my other sister, Grace, with us. She's been working through a lot and is making some hard decisions about where to go next. Post graduation is one seriously tough phase of life that not many people talk openly about. So many adjustments to work through and just feel through. We love you Gracie.

I am on day 3 of my sugar fast and feeling much better. The last two days were, as expected, full of headaches and grumpiness but I woke up today feeling alert and ready to take on the day. I'm hoping eating cleaner for a few weeks will give me a burst of energy, because I am in desperate need of an extra dose of energy. No where looks quite as appealing as my bed these days. (Note the bedside Tums? Heartburn is back in my life. Thanks little baby.) ;)

Yesterday I took Silas to get a much needed hair cut. (Little Critter hair back and driving me crazy.) He looked so tiny sitting on the stool all by himself, wrapped in that giant black cape. He would wince and make faces when the hairdresser sprayed his hair with water, but then would look blissed-out and sleepy when she was combing his hair which made me laugh so hard. (This boy loves getting his hair brushed.) He looks so handsome and much too grown up with a fresh hair cut. It's pretty impossible not to chase him around with kisses and tickles when he looks so stinkin' cute.

Life is good. 
God is so very, very good.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Shouldn't Have Climbed Mt. Baldhead, But...

...I did anyway.

310 steps, and they were steep. Worse than these or these.

The worst part though, was the lack of pay off at the top. No view of Lake Michigan.
(There was a path to the beach, but there was no way we were attempting that after those stairs!)

I am now paying for this in the way of braxton hicks and leg cramps, but there's just nothing
quite like the fun of exploring new places and taking on challenges with Matt and the kids. 

Going back down...

Olive did most of the climb alone! She is getting so strong!

Random thoughts:

//Today we visited a new church and I sat next to a man who was the spitting image of Walter from "Fringe." I took this to be a very good sign.

//I start another month long sugar fast tomorrow. I'm getting a head ache just thinking about it.

//The leaves are starting to change here already.

//Inspector Morse improves exponentially during season 4. The first three seasons are the equivalent of extra strength Ambien.

//Baby names baby names baby names...

//We spent all Saturday afternoon making a new budget and we loved it.