Bringing in the New Year Douglas Style



Owning my life means “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love,” according to Sally Clarkson.


She wrote this book Own Your Life to help moms develop a vision for living a life of purpose by finding out what God’s purpose is for their life, accepting whatever that purpose or calling is and carrying it out in a joyful, intentional, life-giving way.



This large family of mine is a big part of God’s purpose for my life. Being a wife and mother is a big role to fulfill. I can only do it well as I rely on God’s guidance and strength. Doing it well includes being joyful and loving and gentle as I carry out my responsibilities. That is where I need the most supernatural help.


Speaking of responsibilities – this son, Morgan Keith, will now be taking modeling and acting classes. We took him to an audition and he was called back because they saw potential in him. I will do my best to help him fulfill his dreams and purpose for which God made and equipped him.




This son, Patrick, just made his first sale. I have been doing the best I can to help him further his new career and develop the gifts that God has given him.


This son, Shawn, was just offered his first full-time job, which he accepted, and he loves!!! I am committed to supporting him in whatever way I can so that he can continue to do a great job in this place of employment and any other endeavors that he undertakes.




Another part of owning my life is creating a beautiful home for my family. The atmosphere is important. The sights and sounds and aromas of home will stay with my children forever. I will be intentional about creating a lovely place, with a peaceful, happy atmosphere so that my children will have fond memories and feel secure and content and have warm thoughts and feelings about home and family.






IMG_20141215_074128Part of creating memories is keeping traditions for the holidays. We like to have a beautiful Christmas tree, a beautiful mantel including our favorite  manger scene and stockings that can be stuffed to overflowing!




IMG_20150110_115954The biggest part of our role as parents is to make sure that our children know about God and know Him for themselves. Gary is reading the Christmas story from the Bible (on his phone!) before we open stockings or presents or anything on Christmas morning.


We are teaching our children patience as they wait for their siblings to get up and wait to open presents. This is Emma waiting patiently. She was the first one up, and she had to wait for several hours before she got to open presents.




Good things come to those who wait!IMG_20150110_115840


We postponed our Christmas until Jan. 10. There were many reasons for this. One of them was that Shawn wanted time to get gifts for everybody this year. He really enjoyed buying gifts for all of us, and he said giving was his favorite part of Christmas this year. Here he is holding up his favorite gift, the One New Man Bible.IMG_20150110_121936


Abby liked the pink camo backpack that her big brother gave her.IMG_20150110_122130


And Morgan was happy with the grooming kit that he received from Shawn.


Kelsey is holding and wearing her gifts.IMG_20150110_164039

Kelsey USED her gifts to make the German Chocolate cake, the Confetti cake and the Strawberry cake.



Each of the FIVE birthday celebrants chose a different kind of cake, so we had FIVE different cakes!

Another part of making life fun and celebrating the gifts, talents, and uniqueness of each child is celebrating and encouraging their creativity. And Fiona is FULL of creativity. She made up a story about this little doggy, Boo. The story involves a Good Plan and an Evil Plan that Boo has to choose between. Fiona drew them on two pieces of paper. I found the papers and asked what they were about and then took pictures of it to encourage and validate Fiona’s creativity.IMG_20150109_171455


Without any prompting from me, the kids made birthday cards for each other. Here Garrett is making a card for Morgan.IMG_20150109_163623

IMG_20150109_171420Fiona made a card for each person whose birthday we were celebrating. This called for lots of drawing! She finds out each person’s favorite animal and draws it for them. She just turned 11 years old. On this day, Jan. 10th!










IMG_20150116_161418 (1)



This was something I found in the play room one day right before Christmas, so I took a picture of it. When the kids see me take a picture of something they did, they know I think it’s very clever and special, and they feel encouraged to keep using their creativity.


Having five birthdays within the first two weeks of January is – – A LOT to celebrate. So I decided we should add Christmas to the mix and really have a BIG, BIG PARTY. So we did. We had Christmas in the morning and the BIG Birthday party that same evening.

Anna didn’t seem to want her picture taken.IMG_20150110_164929


Ha! Got her!IMG_20150110_164047

Emma had chosen a Confetti cake.


We sang Happy Birthday to her first and she blew out her candles.


Then we sang Happy Birthday to GarrettIMG_20150110_164318

And he blew out his candles. He had the German Chocolate cake.



Then we sang Happy Birthday to Fiona, and she blew out her candles. Fiona had our famous Hot Fudge Pudding cake.


Then we sang Happy Birthday to Morgan, and he blew out his candles. He had a lemon cake.


And last, but certainly not least, Shawn blew out the candles on his Strawberry cake.





And I did not bake nary a cake!


Kelsey baked three of them, Katie made one and Anna made one. I just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere, the fellowship, the love and the fruits of their labor.


Which I guess you might say is the fruits of my labor.


The fruits of “living with deep intention, bold faith and generous love”.

I linked this post at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up

And at A Wise Woman Builds Her House Link-Up

Apparently I Took A Blogging Break

I didn’t really mean to take a break from blogging. It just sort of happened.

First this happened.



We got our family pictures taken at Honey Farm in Katy, Texas by Rovak Technologies, Michael Rovak, photographer.















Then Christmas season was upon us.

Christmas mantel

Kelsey and I began to decorate.



Then Abby lost a tooth, and I had to help the Tooth Fairy. I got a reward!




Our tree had some problems which took two days to solve. A twisted trunk causes a tree to lean or fall, depending on which way the wind blows. We had to take it back and get it cut more.


OK, now the tree’s straight.



This has been going on for 6 months. Teaching Anna how to drive. She’s good, but it was still nerve-wracking at first. She is taking an online driving course called Aceable, which she dearly loves. And they think she’s pretty awesome, too.





But anyway, back to Christmas doings.

We made Christmas cookies.



We weren’t ready for Christmas on Dec. 25th, so we are postponing Christmas until Jan. 10th. But to help the littles endure the wait, we let each of them open one present the day after Christmas.

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The little girls were surprisingly good little mommies.



Two days after Christmas, we finally got to go to see the Christmas lights that I saw when I was out with Patrick helping him sell ADT security systems, his new job.






The lights were fabulous! The kids loved them.



Of course, Charlie Brown is standing there all by himself.



Katie made more Christmas cookies. No more girly angels for her. She made one with a sword!



She made a really big cookie, and I asked her what that was going to be. She said she saw it as a blank canvas.  Look what she painted on her blank canvas with icing and her imagination and a toothpick!


So, as you can see, I have not been lying around watching TV, eating bonbons. On the contrary, I have been extremely busy trying to keep up with everyone’s needs and wants and the demands of the holiday season. It has been fun. It has been busy. And I feel so very blessed.


I hope your season has been blessed and full of the joy of Christmas.


Here is our family’s greeting to all of you:



Second Christmas

We had a little delay again this year when it came time to get ready for Christmas. We had to wait for money to come in. When it did, we were able to go to Walmart and get stuff for the little ones right away. The big kids, on the other hand, ordered stuff online, and it took a while to get here.

So we had Christmas on December 25th for the littles. And then we had Second Christmas for the older kids on January 11th. Yes, this was the day after our Big Birthday Party. As one of my friends said, we are party animals!

And yes, Second Christmas was fun and highly anticipated. Maybe as much as First Christmas was.

Kelsey fixed breakfast for us. Chef Mickey’s Pizza and Breakfast Quiche.




Katie used the money that was designated for her Christmas and bought gifts for all of her siblings. I took her to Toys R Us and she went shopping for everybody else. So she came down with a bag full of gifts like Santa. She got gifts for young and old.


This is Gary’s tree.


He likes outlandish things, instead of all natural like me.


Emma was wearing Shawn’s hat and looked cute, so I took a picture of her in it.

Did I mention that Patrick worked on Christmas Day, and some of us went with him, and they had a Nerf war at the store, even with customers coming in? I just watched. But the kids had a lot of fun, so I enjoyed it, too. I love to see my kids having fun.

And I’ve seen a lot of it lately.

Phew, I think party time is over for a while.

But the little girls are already talking about Easter!

If You’re Not Sick of Snow Yet

I know a lot of the country has had lots of snow recently. But you still might want to do a unit study about snow.

We haven’t had any here in Houston, Texas. But we had snow in our living room throughout the Christmas season!




I made most of those snowflakes! Fiona made a few of them. She had made some last year, so we used some of them, too, in our snowflake display.

I wrote a post two years ago about making snowflakes. It was the first time I had ever made intricate, lacy snowflakes, and I was so proud of myself. That post is right here. It includes lots of helpful tips for making beautiful snowflakes, including video tutorials. It also provides titles of many books for further study about snowflakes.

Now I hope you’re not sick of snowflakes or snow, because I have some other neat ideas to share with you that involve snow.

On a blog called Blog Me Mom, I have gotten some great ideas for sensory bins and fantasy worlds.

She has a Fantasy Winter World that I think looks like a lot of fun. It involves fake snow, which I haven’t been able to get yet. I might order it soon and make this fantasy world for my little girls. They already have several of the My Little Ponies, so we should be able to make it pretty easily. The children of the blogger made pine trees out of party hats. It looks like the children will have fun with this fantasy world.

This post is about making a cute magnetic snowman.

Here’s another cute snowman activity that we actually did. It was Emma’s first effort with pastels. She had to wait until she turned 7 years old to use pastels, so on her birthday she got to use pastels. And this is the project she did. A snowman painting a snowman!



You can find the post with the tutorial right here at Hodge Podge Mom.

And don’t forget to study snowflakes with Snowflake Bentley! I have checked out the book about Snowflake Bentley from the library and will read it in the next few days.

If you want to buy it, you can get it at Amazon.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to talk about how there are no two snowflakes that are just alike, and God has made each of us unique in the same way. It really is a wonderful thing to think about how special each of us is, and how much care and thought God puts into us as He creates us.

There are lots of winter lapbooks and resources here at Homeschool Share.

Carisa at 1+1+1=1 has lots of great winter activities here and here.

Enchanted Learning has some great study tools and crafts for learning more about snow here.

I hope you enjoy this winter unit study. Do what you want from it, or do everything! Especially if you live here in the South and haven’t had any real snow, your children can experience a little bit of the winter fun that the rest of the children in the country have had plenty of this year. At least in their imaginary play. Without getting all the hats, gloves and boots out and having all of the snow tracked in the house.

Can I tell you a little secret? I don’t miss the snow at all! I’m very happy to live here where it doesn’t get so frigid. But I still like the snowflakes and snowmen. They’re some of my favorite decorations for Christmas!

I do miss ice skating on our frozen pond in Ohio. Now that was fun!

Another Christmas in Jeopardy

Did I hear him right? Did this really just happen? Again?

We were just getting caught up from the 9 months of unemployment before he landed this job. We finally got to the place where I felt free to buy a few things besides absolute essentials. And maybe a few Christmas gifts for the kids.

Now he calls and tells me that the company let him go. Two weeks before Christmas.

I can’t believe this is happening.

But it’s not a joke. He wouldn’t joke about something like this.

Now instead of proceeding with plans of buying gifts for Christmas and health supplements that I’ve been putting off buying until our bills were paid off, I have a finite amount of money that I will have to be very careful with until we know where our next money will come from. And I was going to buy new clothes for the daughter who wears the same tattered skirt every day. I wanted her to look nice in the family picture I wanted to have taken. Oh well, who am I to make plans.

discouraged woman

But I’m not depressed. I’m not discouraged. I’m a little thrown off, but I’m not worried. I’m actually happy and at peace. Why? Because I know that God has something better planned for us. And my husband is taking this well. He is not depressed or discouraged, either. He is not angry. He knows that God will take care of us. He knows that God has something really good in store for us – something better than the job he just lost.

This time is different. When he lost his first Texas job last November, he took to the computer and stayed on it for 9 months trying to make something happen. He got his second Texas job at the end of that 9 month period because of a contact that our son’s boss made for him. It didn’t come from any of the work he did on the computer.

So now he’s convinced that it’s all in God’s hands, and he can’t force anything to happen.

Twelve years ago, we gave our lives completely to God and made the commitment that we wouldn’t do anything unless He told us to.

And I prayed a dangerous prayer. I prayed for a Baptism of Fire. Neither of us wanted to live a mediocre life. Gary didn’t want to just go to a job every day and come home, eat, sleep and do the same thing the next day. We read in the Bible that signs and wonders are to follow those who believe.

We wanted to be able to move in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. I just knew that the only way we could be made fit for such a life was to experience a Baptism of Fire. So I asked for that.

Twelve years later, I can tell you that I believe in the supernatural power of God in a way now that I only thought I believed back then. I have seen God do miracles for us that I would never have believed He would do for little ole me. He has revealed His great love for me personally in a way that has changed the way I see myself, Him and others.

He sustained us in our own house in Ohio for 4 years with no income. Then He allowed us to lose our house so that we had to move to an even higher level of faith and trust Him in a faraway place – Arizona – where we were strangers with little money and no income. Then He led us to a place of great spiritual warfare, IHOP-KC, and allowed us to camp there for a while (3 years) with a minimum of stability and supply.

Through all of this He gave us encouraging words, gifts of money and necessities through His people who heard His voice. At one point, as we were transitioning from abject poverty to a fairly comfortable lifestyle, He blessed us with $20,000 from a totally unexpected source – a couple at IHOP who seemed to be worse off financially than we were!

They were sowing for us to have our own home. But they said that they knew that things come up so they told us to feel at liberty to use it for whatever we needed it for. My kids needed dental work, so a good portion of that money went to that. Then we ended up moving from one house to another and then one state to another, and now that nest egg is all gone.

But we know that God has bigger things than that in store for us. He has given us big dreams.

So we are not downcast.

When Gary first called and told me he lost his job, I wrote the first entry in my new planner – “Gary lost his job today. It’s a new day”. So far that is all that’s written in my planner.

We’ve been through worse before. And God has been more than faithful. He has refined and purified our faith.

Why should we be downcast?

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.

I have HOPE this Christmas. And JOY!

He is answering our prayers.

And I’ve prayed some doozies!