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

Pastels by Twins and Getting Our Family Together Again

After they finished their schoolwork today, the twins wanted to use pastels. It has been a while since they’ve used them. We looked through the Pastel Tutorials on Hodge Podge Mom’s blog and chose the Beach Umbrella picture in honor of our trip to South Carolina last summer when we went to visit Daddy and Patrick.

Gary is still there. He has been there for a year now, and we are very ready for him to come back to us. What began as a 3-month contract has turned into a whole year, but it was only renewed for 3 months at a time every 4 months. We never knew when they might lay him off during the duration of that job. So we didn’t feel that it would be wise to move everyone down there when he might be losing that job at any time. And we didn’t hear the Lord telling us all to move there. Moving a family this size is difficult and expensive. And we’ve moved three times since Abby was born. And she’s only three years old!

The project he was working on appears to be over. It’s not finished, but it’s over. He is looking for another job, has had several interviews and will probably have another job in the next couple of weeks. We are praying about every opportunity and asking God if it’s the one He has for us. So far, the interviews have gone well, but the companies haven’t offered enough money for us to move there. But he had an interview today for a job that looks promising. We may be moving to Sealy, Texas near Houston, if this is the job that God has for Gary. It is only supposed to be for 6 months at a time, but if God wants us there, we will go.

Fiona made a picture of Three Beach Umbrellas based on this lesson on Hodge Podge Mom’s blog – Nana’s pastel lesson.

She was happy with her work. I thought it was beautiful!

We looked at Hodge Podge Mom’s blog again and noticed the dolphin fins that her daughter added. So Fiona decided to add a dolphin fin and a shark fin to her picture.

Garrett needed a little help from me. He had to cover up some things he did that were not what I asked him to do. He stuck with it and ended up with a nice looking picture.

I was proud of them and their persistence and very pleased with the results of their work.

This was a nice way to memorialize our trip to South Carolina, and I pray that Gary will be able to leave South Carolina now and take us all with him to a new place where we can all live together.

Dolphin Tale Unit Study

The twins and I have been doing the unit study that came free from Homeschool Movie Club on Facebook to go along with Dolphin Tale (you can find this free curriculum at We saw the movie during its opening in theaters back in September, but I didn’t want to do the study right then because the twins didn’t seem very excited about it. They liked the movie, but they didn’t want to do any school work based on it. I had it all printed out and put in a folder and just waited until the “right” time. Well, that time seems to be now.

I’m getting ideas for extension activities, such as a book from our bookcase called Friendly Dolphins that just happened to be laying on our coffee table the other day. I picked it up and started reading it to the twins a little later that day. Then I found an episode of Flipper on Netflix, so I had the twins watch it. Then I realized that Blockbuster Express has Dolphin Tale now, so I rented it two nights ago, and we watched it last night.

Here are some of the worksheets that are included in the unit study curriculum from Homeschool Movie Club.

We made a water column. We added maple syrup and cooking oil to the water and observed where they collected. That part itself was fascinating. Then we started dropping other objects such as a rock, a packing peanut, a piece of tomato and some solid shortening. We drew a picture of where those things floated in the water on the Buoyancy Worksheet above. I forgot to take pictures of our jar. It was lovely. Take my word for it.

The twins were pretty good at figuring out the correct vocabulary words that went with the definitions.

Nematocyst – New vocabulary word for all of us. We had a real-life example of what these nematocysts are used for, thanks to Patrick. When he was at the beach, he was stung by a jellyfish, and he had some red marks and swelling on his leg that lasted a couple of days. I showed the twins how the tentacles are full of nematocyst cells which hold venom inside of them, and when they feel something, they send out a little harpoon and pierce the skin and pour venom into it. And that’s why Patrick’s leg was hurting and turned red and swelled. They were fascinated by that. Later that evening, Fiona drew pictures based on what she learned during the day. She drew a shark (we started a study on sharks that day, too) and a jellyfish. Out of one of the tentacles of the jellyfish she drew a nematocyst sending a harpoon. I showed it to Patrick later, and he said she should have drawn his foot right next to it. 🙂

These are the worksheets from the shark study that we’ve done so far.

Fiona drew the shark teeth from pictures we had. Garrett is having to write the names of the sharks they came from.

I’m learning more about sea creatures than I knew before.

I looked for books at the library to go with our study and found tons of books about sharks, but very few about dolphins. Huh, I personally like dolphins a lot better than sharks. But I’m finding lots of good information, thanks to Dolphin Tale and Homeschool Movie Club. You can also find out more about Winter, the dolphin that Dolphin Tale was about at There’s a webcam set up so you can watch Winter. You can even watch her at night through night vision. How cool is that?

While watching this movie the second time, I was struck even more by the way this dolphin is touching the lives of disabled children and adults. God uses His creatures in amazing ways to save, heal, encourage and restore each other.

Fiona’s Art Gallery

Fiona has been drawing foxes for quite some time now. I think she drew this one in December of 2011, while she was still 7.

Jan. 2012 – Just turned 8 years of age

Fiona drew this without any fanfare. This is Tommy and Kimi from The Rugrats. I found it later and asked who did it. I was surprised that Fiona could draw this so well without something to look off of.

February 24, 2012 – Age 8

Age 8 - Fiona drew this on her own after we did a lesson about sharks. The day before we'd had a lesson on jellyfish and how they sting.

The thing extended from the one jellyfish tentacle is the little harpoon from one of the many cells on the tentacles called nematocysts that contain the venom and send out a little harpoon that penetrates the victim’s skin and then sends the venom into the victim. Fiona drew the harpoon extended to show how it works.