Monday, December 8, 2014


I've mentioned before that we are studying world geography and cultures this year. It is actually called Exploring Geography and Cultures by My Father's World curriculum, and we love it! The studies are divided up by continent, and incorporate the ecosystems, climate, and animals of each continent for the science portion, as well as geography, a brief history, and culture for select countries. We also learn about missionaries who worked in the various countries. It's an all around fun time, as we enjoy learning about people and nature. :) Oh, and trying new foods from other countries is a pastime of ours, so that works in well, too.

Thankgiving and into December

Thanksgiving was a blast. Papi and I enjoyed making the menu and preparing everything together, taking turns in the kitchen at times, and dancing around each other quite a bit as well. Papi made the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole. I made the sweet potatoes, apple cherry pie, herb dinner rolls, and something else I can't recall right now. Everything was gluten and dairy free, and everyone said it was delicious.

Playing Enchanted Forest

JA and L played Draw Something, sending pictures back and forth to each other.

Ita and JL
 Thanksgiving weekend is when we like to decorate for Christmas. Papi usually has a long weekend, and the house tends to be relatively clean, so it works out well. :) Papi puts up the tree and all lights. He also drags the boxes out from the shed (and commented that we don't have very many Christmas boxes!) The kids and I put on the ornaments, strategically placing the breakable ones up high, and those that are toddler-safe down low. This year, our tree has very few ornaments on the bottom third and top third, but the middle third is quite full. :)

On Tuesday, JMC had his first eye exam. We like to take the kids once they are 4 or 5 years old, since it's covered by insurance and we both wear glasses, so we figure it's only a matter of time. Well, we were surprised to learn that JMC is the first of the kids to need glasses. He was excited, and requested that they be either green or red, preferably both. We were glad to find a pair of red frames that are flexible (like Papi's) and they were ready the same day. It's been an adjustment (for all of us) but JMC is beginning to notice that he can see better with them on, which makes things easier.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I thought we ate fairly healthy, most of the time. Papi and I both have IBS, (or that's what we thought) so we really did try to eat well. When JMC was 6 months old, we discovered that he's allergic to dairy products. He was just a baby, so it didn't change things for us much at first, but as he grew, and began eating what we eat, we considerably reduced dairy as a family.

A couple years later, a doctor told us that JA had celiac disease (allergic to gluten). A different doctor said that diagnosis was incorrect, and we breathed a sigh of relief. I mean, how could we ever eliminate gluten from our diet? We didn't think we could afford all of the specialty gluten-free foods, and so we were absolutely relieved to have that diagnosis retracted.

I just wrote and promptly deleted a very long paragraph about JT's digestive issues. No need for TMI. He has had digestive issues for years, as I look back, probably since infancy. We worked with 4 different doctors, 3 of which are specialists in their fields, and the end result was to give JT an adult dose of Miralax daily, with the need for a "clean out" every 3 months. I was not ok with this, and after 6 months with no improvement, I began to look for alternatives.

Then, JL began having issues, above and beyond colic and reflux. So, with my research online and talking with other friends, I decided that we would go dairy free as a family. And, we would also go gluten free. By this point it was November, and we were gearing up for the holidays, so I put it off. By New Year's, I began the elimination diet, and JL began to improve in just a few weeks.

The rest of the family followed in February, though instead of doing the elimination diet, they just eliminated gluten, dairy, and soy. Within 2 weeks, JMC's eczema disappeared. Then, JT began to feel better. I kept him on the Miralax for awhile, and then we stopped it completely about a month later. And, he's better! No more digestive issues, and no more stomach aches (they had been a daily occurrence.)

Papi still had acid reflux and stomach aches, so we researched more, and found that he may be allergic to nightshades. What?!? I hadn't even heard of nightshades before. It was worth a try though, so we eliminated tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant, for Papi, and his acid reflux completely cleared up.

We continue to research and try to figure things out about our health and nutrition. Making even more changes to our diet is intimidating, but after the results we've had so far, I can't help but think more changes might be just what Juan needs to completely heal his stomach aches. I have read some promising research and heard some miraculous results for an elimination diet that heals the gut, and therefore reduces (and often eliminates) most digestive problems. We'll see. I need to research more, and then we may give it a try after Christmas and New Year's.

a decade

I've been delaying this post for a month, for a number of reasons. First, I told myself I should wait until after the party so I could include all of the pictures in one post. Then, I thought I just didn't have the time to sit down and upload the pics. Then, I didn't have time to write the post. In all honesty, I believe I just didn't want to admit my baby girl is growing up.

It's so fun when they are little; watching them learn to walk; all of the "firsts." The firsts become less obvious and a bit more spaced apart, and you forget that they are growing. At least, that's how it is for me. I can't deny it any longer though - my baby girl is now 10 years old - a decade! My full-of-faith, beautiful, smart, musical, and crafts-of-all-kinds loving, little girl, just isn't so little any more. To my great joy, she has a deep faith in God, and trusts Him and His truth when even I doubt, which calms my heart when I think ahead of the life trials that face everyone. Also, she still loves to create and imagine, so all of the "little girl" hasn't quite gone yet.

Here are some pictures of her birthday, and a few of her party (her very first "friend party" at which her papa and I were too busy keeping track of 12 girls (ages 6-12) that we didn't get many pictures.) I didn't get any pictures of the day of JA's birthday, though we did celebrate as a family. I was 3 days post gallbladder surgery, and still recovering. Papi did take her for professional pictures though. Here are some of my favorites.

JT is hiding behind the flowers, calling out the Bingo words (wildcats of the world)

Our nieces, C & O, came to help out. O painted the girls' nails (cat prints, of course) and C helped out with JL.

Papi used hot glue to fix the girls' craft projects, as the glue dots just didn't hold.

They all crowded around the table to eat cupcakes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Papi's Birthday

For his birthday, Papi, JA, & JT, got up really early and went fishing. JMC, JL, and I stayed home to prepare birthday pancakes while they were gone.

Papi was so excited that he caught 2 catfish - 1 was about 18 inches long and 3-4 pounds, and the other was about 2 1/2 feet long, and about 6-7 pounds.

JA loves helping Papi prepare the fish

Making lunch

Look at all that fish! In addition to the catfish, there were also some bluegills that the kids had caught.

JT made a paper crown for Papi. :) He also received 2 birthday pies - apple and banana cream. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Randomness from the past 2 weeks.

JL has mastered climbing onto the sofa.

See JT's legs protecting JL from falling off? After about half an hour, he kindly asked me
to come get her because his legs were getting tired. :)

We began our mealworm project last week. So far, the kids are really enjoying it. This was the 1st day.


Mexican yarn art

JMC needed LOTS of help. :)
Top to bottom: JT, JA, JMC (& Mami)

JT, doing math, on the floor, while entertaining a cute toddler. :)

JA's free choice reading - How Nature Works

Papi sat down with a container of grapes and was immediately surrounded by all 4 children!
It was quicker than when he snacks on candy! :)

JL kept climbing in and out of this tiny suitcase.

JL has a ponytail now! She doesn't like ANYTHING in her hair, though we are making some progress. 

Pinata making. This project was beyond JMC, and he quickly gave up. We'll try again in a few years when he's older.

Someone loves to remove the posters from the walls.

When she can steal it away from JMC, JL really enjoys playing on this rocking horse that doesn't rock, but has wheels.