New Family of 7

You might have noticed my absence here.  There has been a lot going on.  I won’t go into details because frankly there is so much that it makes my brain fuzzy.  But the biggest best-est thing that has happened is the arrival of our sweet baby girl.


Here I am getting ready for the big ordeal.  *Please excuse the swollen face and teary eyes.  I had already had a mini panic attack over what was about to happen.*  Baby girl was 4 days late and my doctor and I decided that it was best to get induced.  I was still hoping for a natural start, but since that didn’t happen, getting induced became the plan.

I have been through having my water break, to midnight contractions to ‘whoa this went down so fast that the doctor missed the birth’ to two inductions now, and I have to say the inductions have been by far my FAVORITE way to give birth.  Don’t get me wrong, its still scary and unpleasant, but its the least of these things when you have a wonderful doctor and staff of nurses and of course a steady hand of a husband all there to help you get through this special moment with the least amount of fear and drama as possible.  And we achieved our goal: healthy momma and healthy baby!  Couldn’t ask for anything better.

By the next day we were visited by some very special people.





By far this is the day that I get the most teary-eyed and heart full.  My mommy love simply explodes seeing each of my babies greet one another for the first time.  As you can see they each seemed to be so proud to be the bigger brother/sister and have special one on one time with our littlest princess.  I had to laugh looking at pictures from that day because poor baby girl didn’t get one solo picture because her siblings were too excited and held her most of the time.

Although, once that excitement wore off, they mostly kept themselves entertained by playing with the buttons on mommy’s special hospital bed.

IMG_5064I can’t blame them.  I love hospital beds and wish I could bring one home with me!  I also love the peace that comes with having a hospital birth.  I know I know…. peace?  Hospital birth?  Whaaa?????  Here’s the thing…. In the hospitals they bring you hot meals that you don’t prepare.  They cater to your every need.  They make sure you, not just the baby, are ok and well taken care of.  For goodness sake, nurses take the baby during the night if you wish so you can get some very needed sleep!  For a mommy of now five, its a rare moment where I get taken care of.  Plus there are many moments of quiet.  Newborns sleep a lot and my husband and I actually got to watch movies.  That’s right.  MovieS.  Plural.  More than one!  Mostly, I enjoy the special time that Music Man and I can spend simply adoring our special blessing that the Lord has given us.  We will never have that special one on one time again and I cherish it.


We ARE the Vacation

This summer has been quite a whirlwind of visitors and fun, fun, fun!  We have had 3 different sets of visitors that have each stayed a minimum of 6 days and nights with us, with the longest being 9 days and 8 nights.

PHEW!  I’m tired just thinking about it!

But as I’ve been saying to myself in a mantra like state “we are stressed because we are blessed“.  And it is absolutely true.  The constant what are we going to feed these people? and how are we going to entertain these vacationers? were certainly weighing heavily on my mind.  However, after stopping and remembering that all of these friends and family groups all took the time and effort and hard-earned money to actually stay with us and be part of our family was nothing short of miraculous to me.

rich and debbie eating smores


smore's with Ash


Store’s night!  (notice the essential bug repellent spray…. the humidity brings all the bugs to the yard….)

Bradyn casting with Warren


Blake casting


Jeff casting with Brian and Ben


Here is our friend and daddy teaching how to cast for fish… in the yard.  Miss Ariel was excited that her fishing pole was pink!  I was proud of all of the kids.  They all were enjoying themselves and look forward to when we can take them out on the water to test their skills.

Uncle Mike with Ben and Brian

And of course good ole fashioned family time with the kids Uncle and Aunt (not pictured).  We enjoyed each others company immensely.  Lake days, pizza at the local farm, game nights, trips to the famous Mall of America, and of course an introduction to the next door dairy farm were in store for many of our summer time guests.

These are the moments that make life worthwhile.  They are also the moments that make this momma need a nap.

Solo date

Recently I told you about my low key, kept it super casual anniversary date with my hubby.  Well I also took myself out on a date a short while ago.  And it was AMAZING.

For Christmas my in laws gave me a gift certificate to participate in a furniture painting workshop.  Ever since we bought this hobby farm, I have fully embraced the shabby chic, rustic decor trend and my inner artist was just itching to get out and make some fun decor pieces.  However, I really have no experience with this kind of painting and needed some lessons.  This workshop was a perfect gift!  Only glitch was that it is an hour and a half drive away from our home here.  I tried inviting friends who I thought might be interested, but they were busy.  I invited my husband thinking we could make it a fun date night, but unfortunately we had some out of town guests who of course needed a host.  Eventually I realized that I would just be going solo.

And then I really got excited.

The thing is I so rarely get any moment away from my role as a parent (re: personal assistant to very vocal and needy tiny people), so any time off is a treasured gift.  I also fancy myself a singer and I ALWAYS use the car as my rehearsal space if I am alone in any capacity.  So an hour and a half drive sounded like bonus reward with my Christmas present.  Another perk?  Hitting up the local coffee shop that has one of my favorite blended coffees.

Kandi sipping an Anoka mocha

I enjoyed every last sip of that drink, lemme tell ya!  Calories do not count on a self date!


And I couldn’t help but be amused at this quirky and totally-fit-for-the-area tip jar this was.

I made sure to arrive hours ahead of the scheduled workshop in order to peruse the antique shops that were open and do a little shopping as well as have a quick bite to eat.  You know, the kind that I didn’t have to cook and could eat while it was still warm.  So basically a perfect afternoon.

I went solo into my workshop and throughly enjoyed my creative outlet among other enthusiastic women and came home with several new techniques and decorating books to further my interest in distressed painting.  I had such a wonderful time getting recharged in my spirit that I am already planning to go to the next level workshop so I can have the same experience again.

I highly recommend that every mommy or daddy find a hobby and allow themselves and their spouses a little time away from their parental duties as well as their spousal commitments in order to renew their spirit and re-energize as an autonomous person.

Because everybody deserves a re-charge.  I can’t wait until my next one!

A real gift

Recently Music Man and I celebrated our 8th anniversary.  We actually got a babysitter and went out for most of the day without children to celebrate our marriage.  We haven’t gotten a few hours off duty as parents in such a long time that we honestly didn’t even know what to do.  We had no game plan and no schedule, just hours to be ourselves and to be with one another enjoying the company.

We simply drove around our quaint little town and nearby areas and went exploring.  This is our 3rd summer here and we barely have scratched the surface as to what is out here.  There were many places closed due to the Sunday sabbath observance, but it didn’t stop our need to inspect what our town had to offer.  We discovered a near by lake that we plan on taking the children and visitors.  There was teeny tiny itty bitty town that didn’t even have stop light, but held a fantastic meat market that we wholly wished was open.  We ate at a local joint that many of our friends have recommended, but I had yet to try.  We had an ice cream cone that was out of this world.

No gifts.  No cards.  Nothing exchanged.  No fancy restaurants.  No fancy date.  Just good ole fashioned us time.

Quality time might just be my biggest love language and this was a special treat for me.

Happy 8 years hunny!

1st field trip!

We are already starting out with a bang here at Mommy on the Mic Academy (I have no idea what to name our school so for now it will be unceremoniously called blog title academy)  The lovely thing about starting school during the summer is that we can go to popular field trip destinations without having the hassle of competing with other school groups.  Plus, nature is looking its best during the summer months, so we decided to take advantage and hit up a local national park that just happens to be just minutes from our house.  Score!

Since we can count outings like this as school, we made sure to bring a few necessary items like kid binoculars, pencils, colored pencils, drawing paper, bird book, magnifying glasses, and our science catchers (egg cartons that Miss Ariel and Mini Man decorated in order to bring home a few found treasures).  Now since daddy was carrying a heavy baby, mommy wound up carrying all of these said items, and its worth noting that I will not be bringing all of these items next time!  It got heavy for this 6 month pregnant momma!  I would however put the binoculars, pencils and drawing paper in a backpack that one of the kids could wear.  Much better plan….

daddy holding Brian's hand at N Park

We are off down the hiking trail…

Nerstrand park leaf teaching

Here is daddy discussing what type of leaves we are discovering on our walk.  He is a wealth of knowledge!

3 kids at the waterfall

We made it to our destination, a waterfall!

Blake at N Park

Obviously this is a perfect opportunity to try your hand at skipping stones.

Ben and daddy at N Park

Oh how he wished to get into the water!

Bradyn and bird book at N Park

We brought along daddy’s childhood bird book.  It was quite helpful in determining what types of birds were around us.  Miss Ariel was more engaged in this activity then I was expecting.

Bradyn's bird drawing

Here is one of her drawings of one of the birds she discovered on our outing.  She was able to draw 3 birds while we were enjoying the scenery!  I was excited to put these in her fresh science/nature journal.

family at Nerstrand Park

All of us!  Can I just say how difficult it is to get us all looking at the camera with smiles on our faces?!  Yah… so this was our best one.  Good enough!

Planning Ahead

In light of our school year beginning, I thought I’d write a few words on how this year is already different (in a good way!).  The first thing that I changed from last year is PLANNING.  Last year it was my first year teaching, and as I already said I bought a full boxed curriculum, My Father’s World.  I had blindly assumed that I could honestly ‘open and go’ as many boxed curriculum tout.  So I had it sent to our California residence and jumped right in without even looking at it beforehand.

What a mistake!

I always felt behind and that I wasn’t doing enough because I hadn’t planned ahead.  I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this year and I kept my promise.

This year I had my Sonlight curriculum sent to my Minnesota residence, along with a new set of Math U See blocks.  The rest of the things I needed to start out our year I packed in a rolling suitcase and traveled with it (and boy was it heavy!), like our Express Readers workbooks, and other paraphernalia.

Then I mapped out an entire weekend where I sent my husband and the kids to my in laws house.  Yes I forced them out of my house simply so I could plan our school year in peace!  I also invited my sweet mother in law, her sister, and my sister in law to join in the ‘no kids’ fun party.  They each brought their own fun project they were working on (i.e.: quilting and scrapbooking mostly) and we simply enjoyed each others company while having nice warm meals where we were not interrupted by crying children who needed help eating.  Basically it was the closest thing to luxury as this momma can get!

Here is a bit of what I was able to accomplish….

Sonlight binder

See this bad boy teacher’s manual?  Holy smokes its fairly large and intimidating, but once I got my hands really in it, I discovered it is not to be feared.  Its do-able.

Core A readers

Here is a week by week of books I will be reading to Miss Ariel.  We are already a week ahead on our chapter book and poems because she and Mini Man are so into it!

Core A LA readers

Here are the books she will be reading to me.  

Core A science and history

Here is my science/history/bible grouping.  Those boxes are some supplies that Sonlight provides you for your experiments.   So you provide some supplies (usually things you would already have handy around your house), and they provide less likely found items.

This was the system that they recommend and so far I’m loving it.  Mostly I’m loving feeling in control and not behind the 8 ball with school.  Every night I check off the boxes of what we have done and pull out items/books will be using for the next day.

If you get a chance I would highly recommend taking a breather from your family to get yourself situated for the school year. Remember, this is now a job.  Take it seriously!  But also, have fun.  Hey you have no kids for the weekend.  Enjoy your nice warm dinner!!!

Summer (home)school

Due to several factors, I have decided that we would start Miss Ariel’s 1st grade year in the summer.  Considering that I am having a baby in October, and Music Man’s work will be in chaos during the fall, it only made sense to get ahead start on things.

So last week was our first week back!  Since there wasn’t much fan fare for kindergarten, I wanted to make a greater effort in starting fun start up traditions.  I lovingly displayed new school materials for the fresh student.

1st day of 1st grade school supplies

She was really excited to open up her new things.  I also got everybody donuts to help celebrate our new year.  I mean what’s not to love about art supplies and donuts?!

Last year, at the advice from veteran and newbie homeschooling mommas alike, we did My Father’s World kindergarten curriculum.  Now there is nothing wrong with this sweet curriculum, but after trudging along I realized that neither my kindergartener nor I were thrilled with it.  It was just too basic and the readers left us both going “that’s it?”.  I do think its a good choice for a PRE-K, just not kindergarten level.  I also didn’t do my due dilligence and hardly went to the library to grab the suggested readers to accompany the weeks lesson.  I had every intention, I really did!  I made a list with our local library of all the extra readers I would need so that when the time came I would simply press ‘select’ and it would be ready for pick up in a few days.  Or so I thought.  I don’t know if you understand what its like taking 4 small children anywhere, but let me tell you, you are not missing out.  I wound up hating anytime I would have to take all 4 of them to the library, so of course that meant that I finally stopped doing it.  Yup, not exactly parent of the year, let alone homeschooling parent, but I just couldn’t do it.  Now you might ask, ‘well why didn’t you just go pick it up yourself?’ and my response would be, I did.  However, our local library took forever getting in the books that I needed that I wound up being weeks behind when I would finally receive the books I requested.  Eventually I gave up and my enthusiasm weaned.  I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a library toting homeschooling momma.

I did however learn an important lesson.

Stick with my gut.

I wanted to try Sonlight curriculum in the first place, but listened to too many people who thought of many reasons why I shouldn’t try it.  Even the Sonlight staff has reasons that this is not a great choice for many.  So I listened to them instead of my own gut and perhaps even the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  After we competed the year with My Father’s World (sort of), I decided that it was high time to try what I really wanted.  So this year we are doing Sonlight Core A, along with Math U See PrimerGetty-Dubay Italic Handwriting and adding Express Readers for added fun and phonics.

Sonlight 2015 catelog

After carefully figuring out what kind of student I have and what kind of teacher I am (which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND), I was even more convinced to try Sonlight.  My daughter was rarely enthusiastic to ‘do school’, but she always loved snuggling on the couch and have me read to her.  These were also my favorite times with her and the boys, who would often want to sit along side us for a listen.  I’m also an actor by trade, so reading was highly enjoyable to me, in fact I would often view it as rehearsing my lines!  So this literature based curriculum seemed right up our alley.

Now this is only our first week, and it is much more intense than what we were doing last year, but so far, I’m already appreciating the work, and more importantly so is my daughter!  We are already ahead on our readers and poems simply because she wants to.  What a difference!

So far we are liking what we are doing and that is a relief to me!

More fun in the sun

Before we made the leap from California to Minnesota for the summer, I decided that it was high time the kids had proper swim lessons.  Now, we have a pool in California, so our kids were definitely familiar with water (I mean, hello, my daughter idolizes the mermaid princess for goodness sake!).  And we are all blessed with my Renaissance husband whose talents seem to have no bounds, because in a former life (ie: before me) he was a competitive high school swimmer, life guard and swim coach.  He definitely has the chops to teach our children water skills.  However, as with lots of things, sometimes its simply best to hand over the reigns to a professional.  Well, a current professional who isn’t daddy.  Because lets face it, daughters especially have daddy wrapped around their fingers and sometimes just want to splash around instead of learning how not to drown in the water.

So the kids had swim lessons and loved every second of it!  Welllllllll….. at least 2 out of 3 did.  My SPD kid, who is deathly afraid of the bathtub, wasn’t too keen on getting submerged in a big body of water.  However, even he looked forward to his time with Mrs. Best Swim Coach Ever when it was his turn for pool time after a few rounds of sheer terror (i.e.: simply getting into the water).  I hope every kid gets the experience of a wonderful coach like my kids got this summer, because it made all the difference in the world for their safety, their enjoyment, and momma’s fears of her kids drowning at any moment.

Blake's torpedo arms

This kid is only 4 and check out his near perfect form!  Too say I was impressed would be an understatement.

Brady's pointy elbows swimming

It was difficult to capture, but my 5 year old daughter is already learning ‘chicken arms’ which is the beginning of learning the crawl stroke.  By the end of her 3 weeks of lessons she was already starting to side breathe like a swimming champ.

Now Little Rascal started off his lessons like this…..

Brian touching spa water

….with one hand firmly around his coach and possibly touching the warm spa water.  By the end of his 3 weeks, he was doing such miraculous feats as this….

Brian's torpedo arms

Not only is he displaying fabulous ‘torpedo arms’ as his coach calls them, but he is jumping to her!!!  This is a miracle as far as I am concerned.  My heart swelled with pride for this little dude who overcame so much to do this.

All in all, the kids had a great time and I am wishing that we had a pool here in Minnesota so they could practice their new found skills.

Spring Recap

As I’m going thru my photos, I have realized there was so much that we have done that I haven’t had a time to share with all of you (and by all I mean one.  Hi mother in law!).  So I thought I’d give you a quick recap this week of some fun things that we had done this past spring before I launch into what we are currently doing this summer.

One of my favorite days was the day we took the kids to the beach.  This was Mr. Sunshine’s first time and if he could talk I’m pretty sure he would yell “This is the best day of my life!!!!”  His joy was contagious.

Ben at the beach

Ben's wrinkly foot

I can’t tell you how excited this little boy is to play in the water.  I mean check out that wrinkly foot?!  He loves the water!

Now for my SPD kid, the beach can be a bit of a challenge.  Check out those hands!  He may have a hard time touching the wet sand, but he is still determined to have a good time.  I was so proud.

Brian at the beach

Some of us decided to fully embrace the sandiness on the beach side.

Blake in the sand at the beach

While others couldn’t get enough of the bitterly cold Pacific Ocean.

Bradyn in the ocean

All in all, this has become one of my favorite family memories.

4 kids at the beach