Welcome to our place...just two steps away from the funny farm! To explain this name, whenever things get crazy at our house, I always say "Well, we are just two steps away from the funny farm!" As a very busy homeschooling family, things DO sometimes get a bit chaotic. But we love this life of living and learning together and there is never a dull moment!

The picture of the beautiful Amish farm on this page was taken while we were on the Strasburg Railroad.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting ready for Tapestry of Grace Year 2

Part of me grieves the fading of summer. We fill our days with all our favorite things, but then too quickly it is time to transition to the rhythm of normal life again! I always hear comments from other parents about how excited they are that school is fast approaching! How different it is for those of us who homeschool. Truly, my only consolation of summer ending is the fact that my children and I can learn new things together! I love having them home. So often summer takes us in different directions - camp, missions trips, neighborhood pools, times with friends. But when school begins, we are learning together at home!

That is one of the reasons I particularly love Tapestry of Grace. With TOG, we all are learning the same themes and time periods of history at the same time - about the same places, people and events. So many books we will read together and so many things we can discuss together. I love that!

This year, we'll be doing Year 2 which begins where we left off last year, after the fall of Rome. We'll be going through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Reformation and early Colonial America right up to the drafting of the Constitution. What an exciting year this will be! I already know that this will be my favorite TOG year!

I was so pleased to find that most of our books that we would need are in our public library system. Each week, I'll be ordering books through the inner-library loan system to be delivered at our local library. The books that are used for many weeks and the ones unavailable at the library are the books that I have purchased. What fun to have all those packages of books arriving at our house! I love new books! Very exciting!

One of the books listed in the Alternate list for unit 1 is Twelve Bright Trumpets by Margaret Leighton. We have decided to buy that book to use rather than (or possibly in addition to) the assigned literature books for those weeks. I ordered this book from Queen's Homeschool Supply along with a literature-based study guide for all ages to accompany the book. It is part of Queen's Learning History Through Living Books section on their website. I thought this would make a nice addition to our study and the study guide would be helpful as well, especially if we substitute this for the other literature selections for those weeks. I really love the products that the Queens offer and we use their Language Lessons books for grammar.

Yesterday, I printed off the weekly overview pages and student activity pages from Unit 1 and put them into notebooks for Joel and Ivy. Once I print out the maps and add those in their notebooks, they will be all ready to go when we start school! I also printed off the reading assignment pages and put them in a notebook that we will all share. (We are using the digital edition). I may decide to print out teachers notes for my notebook also - I'm still deciding about that. This was the first year that I printed out student overview pages for their notebooks. I think it will help them to have the list of vocabulary words and time chart dates easily accessible every week. Joel will be adding time chart cards in his card box each week. He loves to illustrate those cards!

Joel, still at dialectic level, will be writing out the answers to the thinking questions and accountability questions I assign him each week. He'll most likely write that on the computer, print it out and put that in his notebook for me to check. I'll also have a spot in his notebook for his writing assignments. This will be our first year using the Writing Aids.

Ivy will continue at upper grammar level this year and she will be doing the lapbook for unit 1. She will also do the writing assignments each week and add those to her notebook. We are not using the Evaluations this year.

Once we buy new planners for Joel and Ivy, they'll be all set for another year of Tapestry of Grace!

To help me get ready, I looked over the Loom and read through the teacher information pages again as a refresher. Last year was my first year with TOG, and now I feel much more familiar with what we are doing! But it is good to read over everything again anyway.

I also was able to listen in on some of the TOG webinars which were great at helping me to figure out the features of the digital edition. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but I must say that I LOVE it! It has made printing out things so much easier and it is great to know that I can have a fresh clean copy of anything so easily! No more page protectors! All of the webinars are available to listen to at the Tapestry of Grace website.

Also at the website, which you can click to get there from this page, you can download free three week samples of the curriculum for anyone interested! That is how I fell in love with Tapestry of Grace last summer! I printed out the sample and dove right in!

Next time, I'll write about the other subjects that we will be doing this year. Even though I do hate to see summer end, I can tell you that I am looking forward to beginning school soon!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy 500th Birthday John Calvin!

Tonight we celebrated John Calvin's birthday at a small Presbyterian church in Lancaster with friends from several different churches. Of course there was birthday cake - complete with a picture of John Calvin himself in the icing! The children played "Pin the beard on the Theologian" and colored pictures from the "C is for Calvin" page in the soon to be published book called "Church History ABC's" written by Steve Nichols and illustrated by Ned Bustard. Look for the book in bookstores soon! We know these men and are very excited about their project! It will be a wonderful book for children to introduce them to people and events in church history.

The evening also included art work and music in honor of the life of John Calvin and in praise and glory to God. We all sang a hymn written by Calvin from the Geneva Psalter called "I Greet Thee, Who my Sure Redeemer Art." This hymn speaks of the sweet grace found in Christ. I love the first and fourth stanzas best:

"I greet thee,
Who my sure Redeemer art,
My only trust and Savior of my heart,
Who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;
I pray thee from our hearts all cares to take.

"Thou has the true and perfect gentleness,
No harshness has thou and no bitterness:
Make us to taste the sweet grace found in Thee
And ever stay in thy sweet unity."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Days

We love summer! It is a busy season, but it is by far the best time of the year! Our days are often full of spontaneous fun times, lazy moments spent with a book, sleeping in late, going on picnics... So much to do, but it's all good!

Here are some pictures of our summer so far. We already know the high-light of our summer! Seeing my cousin Brian.

We were so happy to see him after he was released from jail after his terrible ordeal. He and his younger brother, my cousin Jacob, came up here to visit us for a weekend. Here is Jacob, my mom, Brian and me. Don't we look happy?!! God answered our prayers in such an amazing way - so suddenly at an unexpected time. I felt like Rhoda in the book of Acts when I got the phone call that Brian was released!

Our vacation in the Adirondacks of New York was very relaxing and we really enjoyed our family time. We stayed with Mark's parents and had a great time visiting with Mark's sisters and their families. The cousins don't see each other more than once a year so those times are precious. Lots of time was spent out on the back porch - what a beautiful view they have!

This beautiful rainbow picture was taken from their back porch!

Joel and Ivy with cousin Jaime and Uncle Chad out on the porch
Jaden with his cousin Jonathan

We also visited some educational sites like all respectable homeschooling families would do! We've always wanted to go to Fort Ticonderoga and this year marked the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War so it was the perfect time to be there. We'll be studying colonial America in school this coming year so this field trip was a great introduction to the year!

Jaden thought the fife and drums corps were pirates!

Ivy would have been tall enough to join the Continental Army!

We also visited the beautiful King's Gardens

Jaden loved the school's playground near Nana and Grandpa's house. He even found a snake there in the grass!
Joel spent lots of time playing tennis with Mark and Uncle Chad and the cousins.

Here are some other pictures of our summer closer to home.

We love to go to Long's Park

We had a picnic lunch

The petting zoo was open that day so we were able to see the animals up close

Mark's big summer project has been re-doing our shed. He took off the old roof and put on a new one.

Now that the roof is replaced, he will replace the doors and paint the shed so it will look as good as new soon. My wonderful husband is always working hard for us! I am so thankful that he knows how to do everything - he's amazing!
Happy Summer everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sometimes I crack myself up!

Today I was reading forum posts at the Tapestry of Grace website and I read a post about planning for the year and setting up student notebooks. I really liked that post and thought how similar that was to how I set up our notebooks! What a kindred spirit! Then imagine my surprise when I read that she has children similar in ages to my children with the same unique spacing between the children!!! I was excited about that - there is someone else out there with the same family dynamics with a big age gap! Then I looked at the name of the poster, and it was ME!!!! I wrote that post a year ago!!! I am SOOOO glad that I didn't make a comment to it and really embarrass myself!!!!

Organizing our school

It's the time of year that I clean out all the files of the past year and re-organize in preparation for a new start. Yesterday, I spent the entire day working in the homeschool closet! But the results were worth it and I feel much better now that the job is done! I have two file cabinets in there - a drawer for each of teh following: homeschool subjects, family stuff, church things, and homeschool co-ops. On top of the file cabinets, I have racks of files for easy access for Joel and Ivy to put their papers in during the week. Some of these papers will later go into their portfolios. In this closet, we also have drawers of markers, pencils, color books for Jaden, art supplies, etc. The top part of the closet holds all our videos. We keep a ton of stuff in there!!!

Then I moved to the rest of the school room/family room. I tidied up the book shelves,and got my TOG volumes back in order. I emptied the student notebooks and made sure that all extra copied pages were put back in the right places in the volumes so that it is all ready for us in 4 more years! Looking at the space that my printed editions of Year 1 take on the shelves, I'm thankful that I will be using the digital edition for Year 2!!!

After everything was organized and cleaned out, moved to the next task: preparing for the upcoming school year. I love the customized booklist at Lampstand Press for my TOG books. I printed out a list of all the upper grammar and dialectic books I will need for our Year 2. Then I checked off any books we already own - always happy to see I own a few of them! Next, I went to the library site where I searched for all the books. I was very excited to find that the majority of the books we will need are in our library system. A few other books can be found in our church's library. Some of the books that are not in the library can be subsituted with other books from the "alternate" list that TOG provides. Several of those alternate books are in the library and will work for us. That only leaves us with needing to spend about $180 on additional books to use with TOG for next year. Not bad!

I printed the reading assignment pages (pages 4&5) from each week in Unit 1 to put in my binder. I really like having a printed copy of those lists so I can take them with me to the library or whatever. I also printed out the Lampstand list that includes the prices. Many times they offer the books at the same price or cheaper than Amazon, but I always compare to get the lowest price. I pencil in Amazon price lists in there too to help me compare and price everything before I order.

After I recieve the books I order, I will put a color coded sticker on the spines to help me locate them quickly and easily on the shelves. Last year, was Red, for Year 1. Books for this year will be labeled with a yellow sticker. I also write on the sticker what units the book will be used for.

Amazingly, I am very excited about the digital edition of Tapestry. I really, really like it! I love the freedom to print out what I need and never have to worry about it. No more need for page protectors! There are many things about the digital edition that are very convenient and I am having fun exploring it all! There is always a sense of excitement about the year ahead and I can hardly wait to dive in again! And Year 2, I think, will be my favorite year - I love it already!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bowling for free!

Perhaps you have already heard of the Kids Bowl Free program, but if not, here it goes! If you would like to have your kids bowl for free all summer (up to 2 free games every day), go to http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/ and sign them up! There are participating bowling alleys all over the country. You can even get a family membership for all your kids and up to four adults for a small fee. We did that so that we could all join in the fun - even Grandma! We do have to pay for the shoe rental, but the games are free.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Music Camp

Every two years, our church conducts a Music Camp for children. This year, the theme was "Music for All Seasons" and the focus was on music through the liturgical year.... Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Asension, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time. For two very full days, the children had classes in which they learned about the significance of all of these special times and also some hands-on interaction with instruments, along with much singing! This was a pretty intense two days of music. Ivy really enjoyed it and she came home with the desire to join the handbell choir in the fall! She also loved learning more about the organ and watching a video that showed the inside of a huge pipe organ. All the children from Music Camp sang an arrangement of representative hymns from the liturgical year in church for the morning worship services yesterday. It was beautiful and also truly amazing how much music the children could learn in two days!

All the children had several sessions in the choir room singing together.

Sing Sing Sing!

Ivy really enjoyed playing the handbells.

Here are some of the children practicing in the sanctuary - this was practice for the 11:00 worship service choir. Ivy also did the 8:00 worship service too!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Portfolios and Evaluation Completed

The books are officially closed on another year of school! The portfolios are ready to be delivered to our school district today. They are huge volumes, weighing about 8 pounds each and containing a record of our school year. Inside are the daily entries of all our days of school, lists of books, pictures, field trips, special events, projects, drawings, subject summaries, samples of work, awards, service projects, and on and on! I love having this wonderful record of all we have done. I remember early on in my homeschooling career, begrudging the requirement of the portfolios! But now, as I have just completed our ninth portfolio, I am very thankful that I have these precious volumes. Our children do enjoy looking back through them over the years and remembering special times in their lives. They are like keepsake scrapbooks and they give us the opportunity to see in a very visible and tangible way the progress they have made in their learning.

Our evaluation was Wednesday morning and today is the due date for the portfolios for our township. In a few weeks, I will get a phone call when it is time to pick them up at the school and add them to our shelf in our school room. When I retire from homeschooling, we will have 31 of these on our shelves! (Yes, I plan on keeping them all!)

Today, I already started taking pictures for next year's portfolios! Ivy is at Music Camp today! She already has started her schooling for next year : )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have prayed on behalf of my cousin Brian! And praise be to God who has answered our prayers!!!! Our heavenly Father has heard our prayers and our cries and He has done this, in His perfect time. All charges against my cousin Brian have been dropped and he is being released today!!!! Praise God!!!! Thank you Lord!!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tapestry of Grace

When our Year 2 Digital Edition Bonus Bundle arrived in the mail, I was so excited! It was quite a different package from last year's large bundles of printed material! I think I will really like the digital edition and the space saving aspect of it especially. I'm also happy that if something happens to the disk, it can easily and inexpensively be replaced without a problem.

Lampstand Press, the company that produces Tapestry of Grace is a wonderful company to do business with! Along with my Bonus Bundle, I ordered the Writing Aids. As I was looking through my book, I noticed that there was a printing error. I wrote to them yesterday telling about the problem with my book and my new copy will be on my doorstep today! The misprinted book is mine to keep as a back-up or to give away to someone who could use it. How nice is that!

I also want to let everyone know that I have become a Tapestry of Grace affiliate, which means that if you order Tapestry of Grace after clicking on the Tapestry of Grace from my blog, I will get some credit for the sale. Or you can order by phone or mail and give them my affilliate user's name which is "toggers3" or mentioning this blog site. Thank you!

Tapestry of Grace has been a blessing for our family. It is the kind of curriculum I would have loved to have written if I had had the time and ability to put it all together! I pray for God's blessings on the Somervilles and Lampstand Press that they will be able to produce Tapestry of Grace for homeschooling families for many years to come. I had never really known about TOG until last year when a friend shared with me about what she used with her family. After looking at the website and printing out the free samples available on the site, I knew very quickly that it was just what we needed. After using it for a year, I love it even more! So if you are considering it for your family, visit the website by clicking on my link and explore! I think you will really like what you see!

Tapestry of Grace/Digital Edition: Year 1
Tapestry of Grace/Digital Edition: Year 2
Tapestry of Grace/Digital Edition: Year 3

Monday, June 8, 2009


School is over, but my work continues on as a homeschool mom in PA! This is a busy month as I prepare Joel's and Ivy's portfolios of the year. Thankfully, I have finished Joel's and now I begin to work on Ivy's. These are huge notebooks packed with the daily log of everything we've done and samples of all the work they've done for each subject during the year in school. Also included are many pictures, momentos, and other projects. I like to write a summary for each subject and of course, there are long lists of all the books we have used this year. These portfolios are precious keepsakes of their year and so far, we have eight of these on our shelves! By the time I'm done homeschooling, we'll have 28 huge portfolios in our house!!!

After the portfolios are completed, we have an evaluation with our evaluator, a school teacher who has graduated her own homeschooled children. She will look over their portfolios and talk to Joel and Ivy about their year and answer any questions I may have. She is a great resource of information about homeschooling through high school! Even though I am a certified teacher, I comply with this part of the homeschooling law because it gives added accountability and support. Also I love the feeling of accomplishment after putting those portfolios together!!!

Then I must write out the objectives for each of our children for all subject areas for next year and send that along with a notarized affidavit of our plan to homeschool and turn in the portfolios to the school district. There are many homeschool families in our school district so the portfolios really pile up in the office! After a couple of days, we may go and pick up our portfolios. I always wonder if they even look at them all!

Along with all the paperwork and the preparation of the portfolios, June is a busy time for us choosing and ordering our curriculum for next year. That's the fun part! I am very happy with Tapestry of Grace - we really learned so much last year! So this year, we will be doing Year 2, digital edition! Using the digital edition will be different for us, but I think I will like it. I also ordered Writing Aids and look forward to using that this year for the first time. We did the Bonus Bundle so we'll have the Map Aids again and the first unit Lapbook for Ivy. Year 2 covers the time after the fall of Rome right up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence! We'll be studying the Rennaisance, Reformation and Colonial America - all very interesting! I am so excited! And best of all, most of the books we need are at the library so there are very few that I will have to purchase this year!

For Math, we will be continuing where we left off in their Math-U-See books. And we will order new Language Lessons books from Queen Homeschool Supply. We love those! For science, Joel is going to complete his General Science book from Apologia He did half the book this year because Future City Engineering fulfilled half of his science requirement for the year. Ivy will be doing the Zoology book and she's excited about that.

We've decided to drop our Monday morning Homeschool group for next year. We loved that group and the classes were fantastic! However, it was too much for us to be involved with two groups. We'll continue the Thursday afternoon Hempfield Homeschool Group that we have been a part of for almost 8 years. I will be teaching classes there in the fall and spring semesters next year.

There is much to look forward to for next year and great memories to look back on from the year just completed. I love homeschooling! Soon, I will enjoy a nice break from it all and savor the summer. Oh I love that too!

A special day

It was such a joy for us to witness our son Joel being baptized yesterday morning and welcomed into membership at our church! We are so thankful beyond words for God's grace evident in his young life and to see his love for the Lord. He took the communicant members' class for the past 12 weeks, along with other young teens to study and understand the doctrines of the faith. There were several members of the youth group who stood together yesterday confirming their faith in Jesus. Joel was one of two who were baptized in that service, kneeling down and having the water poured onto their heads from the hand of our youth pastor. What a beautiful and meaningful service it was to us as his parents. Praise God for His wonderful saving grace!

Last night was also a special time for us. We went back to our former church to attend the commissioning service for our dear friends who are leaving for Bolivia next month with New Tribes Mission. It was a special time to share with them as they prepare to leave for this new chapter of ministry in their lives. We also were so happy to see many old friends there who we haven't seen in a couple of years. Even though God has led us to a different church, our friendships there are very sweet and precious to us.

So this morning, I am rejoicing and treasuring the blessings of God! How wonderful it is to be part of His family!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

J.A.M. (junior-high adventures in ministry)

Our son Joel along with other junior highers and youth leaders from our church spent the weekend at Philadelphia Biblical University to participate in ministry to inner city kids. Approximately 200 kids came for Kids Day on Saturday. The "jammers" were each paired with a child for the day and had one-on-one time to present the gospel with him or her. 37 children accepted Jesus as their Savior! Please pray for the children that were there and that they would continue to grow in their faith. Joel's buddy accepted Christ three weeks prior so he was able to encourage him in his walk with the Lord and to share with others about Jesus. Here are some pictures of Joel and others from his team on the trip.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A picture of forgiveness

I just have to share what I learned in Sunday School yesterday! In a previous post, I wrote about forgiveness after reading the book Amish Grace. God is still teaching me more on this subject! Yesterday, in Sunday School, I learned for the very first time the significance of the items in the ark of the covenant and how that was a picture of God's forgiveness through the covering of Christ's blood.

Hebrews 9:4 mentions the items in the ark of the covenant: the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Have you ever wondered why those items were chosen?

This past year, in our Tapestry of Grace Year 1, my children and I learned about the ark of the covenant. Yet I never thought deeply about the contents! First,the jar of manna... God's provision for a complaining and grumbling people. It was the perfect food for them, yet they were discontent. Aaron's staff that budded....Numbers 17 tells the story about Aaron's budding staff. God had told Moses to get twelve staffs, on from each tribe. The staff belonging to the man He chose would sprout to "rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites" said the Lord. The next day, they saw that Aaron's staff had sprouted, budded, blossomed and produced almonds! Numbers 17:10 says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebelious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.'" This was a picture of God's loving heart acting in mercy to His people to keep them from sinning with their grumbling. And lastly, the stone tablets.... Dueteronomy 10 tells us about these tablets. They were not the original ones - those were broken when Moses threw them down after seeing the people with their golden calf. God replaced the tablets and they were to be put in the ark.

Each of these items illustrate sin against God by His people. Yet, they each also show God's mercy and grace. The provision of manna, the guarding from sin, the replacement of the tablets help us to see His love despite the failures. These items, reminding the people of their sin were hidden inside the ark of the covenant.

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would come and sprinkle blood on the lid of the ark with a branch from the hyssop plant. The ark represented the sins of the people and the sacrificial blood was to purify from sin. David wrote in Psalm 51 verse 7 "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." The fulfillment of this was later when Jesus offered His blood for our sins. What a loving, forgiving and gracious God we have! He never overlooks our sin, yet He provides a way for us to be made clean and forgiven.

This picture of God's forgiveness in the ark was a whole new concept for me. I thought it was just too good and exciting to not write about! I hope it was a blessing for you as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apologia elementary science journals contest

It is the time of year that I start planning and purchasing for next year's schooling. I'm getting really excited and look forward to ordering our new books and materials! I was just reading Kelli's blog at www.thelandofboys.blogspot.com about a new contest to win a notebook journal for Apologia's elementary Botany or Astronomy books!! We have used the Botany book this past year and have loved it. The new notebooks to go with the text books look fantastic!! This contest is over May 29 - so enter right away if you are interested. Here is all the info.

Apologia is now producing notebooking journals that accompany each of the elementary science books. Both Botany and Astronomy are now available.
These journals are beautiful spiral bound notebooks that will save you time and money. You won't have to print and keep up with your child's notebook pages, buy and maintain page protectors, or purchase and compile binders...everything that makes notebooking time-consuming and labor intensive for mom. Also, your child will adore having their own notebooking journal.

Each of the notebooking journals include:
A daily schedule for those who like to have a plan or would like their children to complete the book on their own
Templates for written narrations, the notebooking activities and experiments
Review Questions
Scripture Copywork, with both print and cursive practice
Reading lists and additional activities, projects, experiments for each lesson
An appendix with beautiful, full-color, lapbook-style Miniature Books
Field Trip Sheets to keep a record field trips
A Final Review with fifty questions the students can answer either orally or in writing to show off all they remember and know at the end of the course.
See the sample pages here:

Botany: https://apologia.securesites.net/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=128


Astronomy: https://apologia.securesites.net/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=127

Jeannie is giving away four Astronomy Notebooking Journals and four Botany Notebooking Journals to bloggers who post about this on their site. Visit her blog to learn more about this contest: www.jeanniesjournal.com

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All the Last Times

At bedtime on Sunday night, I gave Jaden a kiss and put him in his crib to sleep. Just like hundreds of nights before. What I didn't know is this: it was the last time I would ever put my child to bed in a crib!

Granted, he is nearly 3 and a half years old. Our other two children were out of the crib before his age and into big beds by age 3. We knew we really should be getting a big bed for Jaden, but we didn't feel rushed. I had slept in a crib at three years old - I still remember it! But Jaden is already 3 feet 3 inches tall and the crib was starting to get cramped. So when I was walking around the neighborhood yesterday at all the yard sales (it's an annual thing here on Memorial Day) and I spotted the perfect bed for Jaden, we bought it!

Mark went to work taking the crib apart and assembling the new bed in his room. It is a very nice bed - big storage drawers underneath for all his toys, a bookcase headboard. Just right for his little room! But seeing the crib dismantled and ready to be put into storage made me have a strange little lump in my throat. Good-bye crib!!! That piece of furniture and that stage of life has passed for us now.

Then I began to think about all the other things that I unknowingly did for the last time - all those times that passed un-noticed and unaware. All the first things are celebrated and recorded - first smile, first teeth, first steps... But the last things slip away silently and it is not until afterward that we notice they are gone......Like the last time I ever carried Joel in my arms. There was a last time, but who knows when that was? The last time I ever washed his hair... gave him a bath... helped him brush his teeth... wiped his nose...put him on time-out... walked him in a stroller... exchanged Eskimo kisses... buckled his seat belt? All those times have long passed. I never knew when I did any of those things for the last time.

When was the last time that I did all those things for Ivy? Rocked her to sleep... Held her on my hip... Fed her in the high chair... Kissed to make it better... Sprayed "No More Tangles" spray in her hair... Held her hand as we crossed the street... Let her stand on a chair in the kitchen so she could help stir... Played "hide and seek" with her? All those last times have all happened and I didn't know at those times it was the very last time!

One of the advantages of having a baby again after the other children were older is that I've realized more and more how quickly the stages pass. I've learned to treasure those moments along the way, all the "ordinary" times that later are looked at as being so tender and sweet in the memories. I've also experienced the blessings of having older kids and know that I have much to look forward to with Jaden!

Here are some pictures of some of those things that passed by seemingly unnoticed:

Holding Joel in my arms

Changing Joel's diapers on the table

Making Joel laugh with his favorite cow puppet

Joel riding horsey with Daddy

Our little family of four with toddler Joel and baby Ivy

Carrying Ivy in the sling

Mealtimes holding Ivy and Joel in the high chair

Giving Ivy a bath on the table

Ivy wearing an Easter bonnet!

Ivy snuggling up on Daddy's lap

Joel wearing a Cowboy hat and boots

OK - you get the idea! I could add about a hundred more pictures illustrating these things that passed by so quickly, but I'll stop here. Instead of grieving the passing of those things, I will embrace the moments today and look forward to the future memories that we will make!