A Month??

 Hard to believe it’s been a month since I last posted! Time is FLYING around here. We are so very busy all the time and it’s hard to find a minute to take a breather! I find myself very tired all the time, probably due to the constant brain power required to teach these rascals of mine!

Here is our past month in pictures!

Here are my cuties on Halloween:) We have some unidentifiable super hero on the left ($1.30 at the thrift store!), Super Man (borrowed costume!), A Princess/Fairy/Ballerina and….a very austere and thoughtful Monk. Quite a crew!

It was very chilly out on Halloween night but we were still able to score quite a bit of candy.

We also took a field trip with our science co-op to Stratton Farms which is a working farm on a forest preserve. It was a really neat place! The kids were broken up in to three different groups and I stayed with Eliana’s bunch.

They got to visit the greenhouse and taste several different plants!

And they got to feed chickens:) Eliana was pretty nervous at first!

But she stuck with it and let the chicken get a few nibbles:)

Their guide also took them into the woods to teach them about plants and to listen for different sounds. Here they are putting on their “deer ears” and listening to bird calls. The kids were like putty in his hands!

And let’s not forget the pigs!

We finished up with some climbing on giant hay rolls. Who’s that silly kid in the background?!

Playing in the leaves before we go!

We visited a park on a nice Sunday afternoon and I got my trio riding dinosaurs:)

We celebrated both of our mom’s birthday! We had a nice dinner here with Ben’s mom and family and unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures! And my mom turned the big 6-0 and together, with my sisters’ help from far away, I threw her a surprise party. It was lots of fun! She is looking beautiful with her “new” teeth! She got her braces off just in time for her birthday!

And I have been working on a very special project for the past month!! Don’t I look very cool in these safety glasses?

I have been sawing, hammering, drilling lots of screws, sanding, staining and painting!!

All in my grandpa’s very nifty workshop with my stepdad. Wanna know what we were up to??

Building a kitchen island!! We have a nice square kitchen with very little counter space. I showed my grandpa a picture of what I wanted on my phone, he drew up some plans and my stepdad and I built it!! Here is is before being sanded and painted and put together.

And here it is all finished! We just brought it home last week:) Isn’t it beautiful?!

We can’t believe what a difference it makes in the look of the kitchen and how much space it gives us!

And this was a peace of amazingly delicious apple pie that my mom and I made at Thanksgiving . time, Mmmm!

And here is a beautiful Plain City sunset! The sunset and sunrises are so beautiful out here! We definitely love our cute little home:)

Busy Life!

It is a beautiful sunny day here and we just finished school! Some days we get done sooner and other days we fit school in and around errands or visitors, of which we had 3 today! Most of the time, visitors are a welcome break!!

Here is a picture of our cute house!! We really are loving it here. The space is so nice and is just working better for us, all the way around. The only thing that is bugging me is that we are trying to locate the source of an unpleasant rotten egg smell. The landlords had the plumber out but it hasn’t been fixed yet. Hopefully soon!  

This is the only picture I have taken of the inside so far:) We are still finishing up unpacking a few last boxes, finding homes for belongings and hanging up pictures. It is really starting to look like a home! Our home;) This is a picture of one wall in the bathroom, where we have tons of built in storage! This takes the place of a hall closet, which we don’t have. I do like the large bathroom a lot.

We had a chance to go apple picking the day after our move briefly. We were really tired but we absolutely cannot pass up a chance to get fresh apples! We may possibly have gone twice this year:)

Cute Mr. Z!

Samuel pretending to eat an apple to make daddy jealous!

Cutie Patootie!

My mom adores her apples, too!

This was the first apple picking. It was much warmer that day!

Zakkai enjoyed trying to climb up to find the most perfect apples!

Checking out how tall everyone is! (or isn’t….:)

Getting taller….

And taller!! This kid is catching up to me quickly!

We have a cute backyard to mow now. We were able to get an old push mower at an auction for $6! Zakkai LOVES to mow the lawn and begs to do so any chance he gets. This was the day we got it and he seriously spent at least an hour mowing that day:)

Z letting Eliana help:)

Mr Z also belt-tested last week for his green belt!

He did really well and is very proud of his new belt (which he was about to receive in this pic!) He is starting some new fun things with this next belt, including using sticks for special routines. We are so thankful that he has the opportunity to do this!

We have officially entered the “busy season” of our life. We were in denial for awhile, fooling ourselves into thinking it was temporary but we looked at each other this past weekend and said, “I think it’s going to be this way for the next several years!” (possibly with a sigh and a groan!

Between settling in to our new place, school, TKD, baseball, ballet, and Awana, our days and evening are really full. We may or may not be looking forward to the end of baseball season so we can have a couple of our weeknights back again. Thank the Lord for fall and winter!!

Remind me I said this when we are knee-deep in snow in a few months:)

New House!

We are all moved in and finally got our internet hooked up today! As much as I try not to be too techy-internety, it is amazing how hard it is to live without!

We are settling in little by little. We even hung our first thing on the wall yesterday:) One very good sign about this place is that we are rapidly giving away/recyling our boxes. A year ago when we moved, I saved every single box that was salvageable! We all really love it here and can’t wait to show pictures:)

One crazy thing we have done is to put all three kids in the SAME room!! It is a huge room so Eliana has her own cute girly corner and the boys have their stinky boys corner. (Hey, boys really are stinky!!) They all  LOOOOVE it! Eliana so much that it’s hard to get her to go to sleep. But that’s really not a new thing with her…..She was super lonely in her old bedroom and would constantly say, “Mommy, I’m all alone in here with just my elephants and Hoppy and my stuffed animals and no persons!”

We are using the 3rd bedroom as our study/school room! We have some adorable old fashioned school desks that my mom got for the kids and our bookshelves and it is really wonderful. It is so much better than having it in our kitchen!

The layout of our new-to us (but really old!) house is much better than our last place. It has really cool nooks and crannies and built in shelves and cabinets, which I just love. We have adjusted really easily so far to having just one bathroom. That’s right folks, just one bathroom for all five of us! It’s a huge bathroom and has lots of storage and I am thrilled to pieces to not have to clean three bathrooms anymore:)

We are trying to get back into school routines and life routines again. Everything gets thrown so out of whack when you move! This is going to be a good change for us, I think. We are very thankful! Pictures soon!

Camping! And moving!

 We have been buuuuuusy! When we looked at the calendar at the end of August for this month, we felt really overwhelmed. But here we are….the day before moving day and we are still alive! But first, last weekend we went camping! Ben took his very first earned vacation day last Thursday and we took our long awaited camping trip, which had to be rescheduled because of all the rain this summer.

The boys got to sleep in their very own tent this time. They begged to be allowed to set it up themselves so we let them! They did a really good job:)

The end result! It’s a very cozy tent, made for 2 to sleep side by side with little extra room so as they grow, we will probably have to upgrade. They were so proud of themselves!

My mom and Derek upgraded to a tent with a sunscreened porch:) They also had a hammock, which was a big hit!

Nothing in the world like a good campfire and s’mores!

We didn’t go too far from home but it felt like another place! There was a nice trail to hike so we went on a long walk on Friday.

My stepdad loves to take pictures for possible paintings so I snapped him snapping pictures:)

Samuel with his walking stick! We all found good walking sticks for the weekend:)

Eliana and her daddy!

Love, love this pictures!!

We brought along the kids’ nature journals and had them write observations about flowers, bugs and other things like these deer tracks. Camping is definitely educational!

Everyone hiking. We went with my mom, stepdad, my brother in law and niece. It was a fun crew!

Everyone admiring the scenery!

Eliana is such good buddies with her cousin Evy. They had the best time together!!

The boys were helping to blow up the swimming pool for the girls. It was pretty warm on Friday so it was perfect to cool off for a bit. Can you guess who’s legs and who’s arms those are?? (hint; it’s a trick question!)

Derek took this gorgeous picture!

And here’s Ben fully enjoying his brief vacation:) He took a nice long nap on Friday!

We only stayed 2 days so that we could still have a weekend, too. It was a short and sweet trip! We felt good about our camping skills this time:) Ben and I invested in a double sleeping bag which made sleeping SO much better! Now we don’t have to drag along sheets, blankets, etc and be huddled shivering all night. Definitely recommend one!
We came back from camping and our whole week has been spent trying to balance school (more on that another time) and getting ready for moving this weekend. It has been CRAZY. As a matter of fact, I have to scram and finish getting ready for our moving help to come in the morning. Ah! Can’t wait! This is going to be a fun place to live!!

Pictures coming soon! (a.k.a. after the internet is installed, which won’t be for another week and a half:)


 We were not able to get our kids in sports much in Chicago, other than a few little classes through the Y. We were determined to change that this year! Zakkai, as you know, is now in Tae Kwon Do and he goes 2x’s a week and is doing really well! He is currently a gold belt and will be testing at the beginning of October to become a green belt! I will be sure to post pictures:)

Eliana just got to start her very own, much-desired “sport” (as she calls it) last week! She is finally taking ballet! She is in a 4/5 year old ballet/tap combo class. She has her second class tomorrow and she is SOOOO excited! It’s pretty much all she talks about.

Pretty in pink! Love that soft little belly:) Mr Z had one at this age, too and now he’s a skinny as a beanpole!

She walked right in a sat down. I got to watch through a window the whole time and could not stop smiling:)

Practicing at the barre with her tap shoes!

She learned curtsying, walking on tip-toes, balancing, stretching and some tapping. It was just plain old the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I can assure you that I will be posting more on this!

Samuel just started fall ball (baseball) a couple weeks ago and last Thursday was their first game. His new team are the “Green Dragons.” Samuel wasn’t thrilled about the new team name (change is hard for him!) but after the game, he was feeling much better about it!

His batting has improved a lot since he first started in April!

He even got to pitch for one of the innings! He says he wants to pitch or play first base so he and Ben have been working hard. His current coach (Ben is an assistant again) is letting all the kids try different positions for a few weeks and then will place them where they fit best. It seems like it will be much better than his last team, where favorites were definitely played and the same three kids got the best positions all season.

Samuel pitched SO well! He threw more strikes than any of the other pitchers and was named ‘Most Effective Pitcher’ of the night! He was very proud and so were we:)

They did lose the game but you wouldn’t have known it from these kids’ faces! They got some great hits and catches in and were proud of their hard work. Go Green Dragons!


We just finished Day 6 of the “Thomas Family Homeschool,” as the heading of some of our worksheets say. (thanks to Daddy!) Things are going really well so far. Mostly. It is definitely going to take some time to adjust to the schedule, get the boys back into the routine of working again and figure out how to protect our school time from other intrusions and fit in other responsibilities.

The first day, last Wednesday, the boys and I just went over everything that we are going to do for the year. I showed them their binders that I put together, all the books I got, talked about the different subjects we will cover, let them ask questions, etc. It took longer than I thought it would and I was totally exhausted at the end of it!!:)

Thursday we did a little work in the a.m. and then had to take Eliana to the dr for yet another ridiculous mosquito reaction!

That is just one mosquito bite! It went from the size of a pea right before she went to bed Wed night, a quarter by Thurs morning and an apple by Friday morning! It was really hot to the touch and swollen and she was beyond miserable, crying that it hurt her so bad. We got a cream to help her and it is mostly gone now!

We had our lighter school schedule Friday and started full-time Monday. We have definitely had some meltdowns and attitude issues but we are working on that. I have already had to tweak a couple things with our schedule to make things run more smoothly and I think I will have to do that a few more times these first few weeks, as we figure out what works/what doesn’t work.

I told the boys that I think they’ve learned more in the last 6 days than they did in 6 months last year!! You think I am joking….

We start out our mornings, after breakfast and exercise (MWF) with devotional/prayer time (definitely the best way to start out the day!), followed by calendar time. During that time we fill in daily planners, mark the day, weather, etc. and get ready to start! Monday through Thursday, the boys are doing English, Math, Spelling, Literature/Reading, Writing/Narration, Science, History/Geography and some kind of fine arts. Most subjects are in 20 minute increments. Just enough to get good work done, not enough to overwhelm them! (or me…)

The boys are learning Latin and Spanish. Ben does the former, I am doing the latter with the boys using a really neat language program called Mango that we access for free through the library! I am really amazed at how quickly they pick up on the language. They may complain about having to do two languages sometimes but they actually mostly enjoy it. And if they think two is hard, they have nothin’ on their Daddy! He learned at least 9 over the course of his Ph.D!

(Z working on spelling words. They choose a different way to practice every day!)

Little Sweetie Pie is doing homeschooling, too! We weren’t able to send her to her preschool for financial reason along with the disruption to our schooling schedule it would cause. It was a hard choice for us but she is very happy to be home with us learning! She has worksheets that she does and her own little pink binder:) She loves to pull it out each day and practice writing her name (she is working on lower case letters) and doing her worksheets. I plan to do the Alphabet Weeks with her that I did with the boys when they were younger, just a little more advanced. It should be fun!

It’s definitely a lot of work and I feel very much in need of some quiet time in the afternoons when we are done but it is really rewarding and fun sometimes. They are getting to do things they never did in school and we are so involved now in what they are learning. Yesterday for example, for science/nature study, we took our nature books and went out in the backyard and observed the clouds. We talked about what they looked like, drew pictures and looked in our cloud books to see if we could identify them. We sat on the swings and the different levels of the playgym and it was peaceful, quiet and lovely! Who gets to do that in school?!

I am hoping we settle into our routines quickly because I need to get a move on packing! We move in 4 weeks. I tend to think of all that I need to do right when I am trying to fall asleep at night and work myself into a slight panic:) Moving is never easy and I tend to want to put off packing and all the little details until a little closer to time but I think it would behoove me to do it little by little since my days are so full now! Thankfully, we saved all our boxes from last year so that is one less thing I have to do.

A beautiful sunset we saw in Plain City the other night on our way home!

Life is very full and getting fuller by the day it seems but we are thankful and taking things one day at a time! Happy Wednesday!

A Fun Birthday Present!

 By “fun birthday present,” you may have assumed I was talking about my Vitamix (which is the most totally awesome machine ever!) but no, I am talking about another birthday present. Samuel’s birthday present!

Ben’s mom went in with us on a very fun birthday outing for Samuel! This past Sunday, we headed down to Cincinnati for the day to watch a Red’s game!! It was the first major league baseball game for Eliana and I to go to and the first Reds home game for the boys.

Within probably 15 minutes of the game starting, thunder started rumbling fiercely, followed by lightening. They quickly covered the field and asked all of us to take cover down by all the concessions, etc. So we huddled along with thousands of other people and watch the storm slowly move over the field, soaking it and then when it stopped, we went back to our (wet) seats and watched the fascinating process of the many workers uncovering the field. It was actually really fun to watch!

As you can see, all 3 of my guys had Reds shirts on:) We all inherited the Reds as our team because Ben loves them (although if you asked him this year, he would tell you they stink!)

Eliana and I don’t have Reds shirts, as you can see:) After the rain went away, the sun came out and it was SOOOO hot and humid! We were literally dripping in sweat and had to keep reapplying sunscreen through the afternoon.  I had to keep taking Eliana down where they had this humongous fan that blew mist out. There were crowds of people around it, trying to cool off!

We drank so much water, it wasn’t funny! The game was really exciting to watch and made all the more fun with the announcements, fun music ditties they play here and there and crowd shots. The cameras did silly things like the “smile cam” or the “kiss cam.” It was fun to watch! We were a little too high up to have the cameras make it to us, bummer.

One of the most fun things about the game was the home run that Suarez (a Reds player) got. They make a huge deal of home runs, shooting off fireworks, etc. It was awesome! Also, the relief pitcher, Chapman, who comes out for the last inning or two to finish the game threw his 500th strike which was the fastest record in MLB history. He was a fun pitcher to watch! We even got to see him throw a few 100 mph balls! (all the pics are on Ben’s phone though) Zakkai was so fascinated with watching the speeds of the balls so he was thrilled to see it reach 100! (and so was I, quite frankly:)

We lasted the whole game (11 innings!), only to have the Reds lose but it was still a blast and the kids all got certificates saying it was their first game and/or happy birthday. We were all hot and sweaty and exhausted by the time we left (it was almost a 5 1/2 hour game!) We got in bed late but happy and full of memories:)

Go Reds! (or as Ben says, those Stinking Reds!) haha.