Friday, December 16, 2011

Soon to turn "Sweet Sixteen"!

Nick and Joshua Hill with Amy
 What can we say about Amy?  three words come to my mind, funny faces, food and friends! well I should add in a fourth and that would be facebook!  Amy is turning sixteen on Jan. 15th, 2012 so if you drive the roads in Westmoreland County you may want to remain alert!  just kidding!  Steve and I laugh at the thought that we still have three more kiddos to teach to drive after Amy!  you all know how stressful that can be, well for me anyhow.

Hannah and Amy at the Lake

Amy is in the tenth grade this year and is doing well with her required subjects.  She keeps busy with babysitting, gardening for a friend of the family, and cleaning for two families.  When she is able she also likes to go to work with her Dad and do whatever it is he is doing, she'll probably do some of that over the next few weeks.  She was able to take two separate trips up to Kara's this year, one where she caught a ride with a friend of the family and one with Ellen.  Her other big event for the year was going for the first time to Worldview Academy at Grove City College for one week.  Ellen, Amy and two other friends traveled together and Amy was a bit apprehensive, but that quickly faded.  She made a lot of friends that she keeps in touch with almost daily and can't wait for that week to come this summer.  Emma could go along but she felt she just wanted to wait one more year before going and Ellen is now done, so it's a good thing she dispelled any fears she had about going.

Amy going down the church slip n slide 

Ellen's photography subject, Amy!

Amy enjoys reading and reads very quickly! she's always working on one book with another waiting on the desk in her room to start.  She is teaching herself to play guitar and her latest pastime is making crazy videos for her friends and posting them on facebook.  She has enjoyed a few trips with friends to the ice skating rink and bowling alley and is cooking up some kind of fancy dinner night with her friends for her birthday.  I'm sure it will be fun whatever it is!  Our prayer for Amy is that she would continue to grow in her faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and when we get those little glimpses into His work in her life it's so exciting! May He continue to lead and guide her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the almost 13 year old corner

Emma will be turning 13 at the end of February, another teenage girl to add to the ranks! our next to last one at that.   Not much new in Emma's life, she still loves art, reading, and listening to audiobooks.  She's growing quickly and that's not new either.  This summer I think we bought jeans one week and the next she had outgrown them.  She's almost caught up to Amy height wise which means she'll  pass me by.

Emma at her 12th birthday

Emma this fall

You can see how much from the two pictures above Emma has changed in her looks in the past 11 mos. she's growing into a lovely young woman.  Her favorite subject is History right now, because it's interesting in learning about other countries, religions, and cultures, followed by Grammar at a close second which she says is easy!

This summer Emma spent a night with a group from our church at Deep Creek participating in Adventure Advance.  Which was an overnight camp-out in a tent on the church grounds and sort of a scavenger hunt linked by a series of physical tests.  She had a great time and is looking forward to when they do this again. She says she enjoyed the Family VBS week, especially the Carnival Night at the end.

Here's Emma with Micayla Friend in her tent at Adventure Camp
In 2012 she looks forward to going back to Deep Creek to swim in the lake and see her friends at Pleasant View Baptist Church. She also hopes to take some more oil painting classes with the Norwin Art League come January.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The little man of the house

I'm sure Stephen wouldn't love the fact that I've referred to him as little, but that is exactly what he is to me.  My little man, so much like his Daddy.  Today we walked down to Aldi's to pick up a few groceries for baking Chirstmas cookies and he graciously carried a waffle maker we had to return down and two full bags of groceries back, I laughed and told him who needs weights, when he can carry groceries 1/2 a mile.  As I mentioned in Ruby's post Stephen learned to waterski this year, he wanted to do it over our week long stay at the lake when no one else is around, he's kind of shy that way.  Here's a photo to see his accomplishment:

Stephen likes just about anything physical to do or that involves an electronic device, thankfully right now he'll always choose the physical activity over the electronic stuff.  He loves to play hockey, football, and baseball with his cousins and at times his sisters at the house. On evenings when the Pens or Steelers are playing he can usually be found over at Grandpa's enjoying the game with him.

Here's a photo from Stephen's 9th birthday back in July, pictured with his Ripstick.  He was introduced to the ripstick in June at a farewell party for our friends the Emslie's and so he asked for one for his birthday.  Meme and Grandpa obliged and it was not very long after that, that he could be found riding up and down the driveway with cousins Mal & Nate.  The faster the better it seems!

Here's a photo from our week at the lake, practicing some target shooting with Dad, Ruby, and Emma.

I asked Stephen what he's looking forward most to in 2012, he said he'd like to learn how to wakeboard, kneeboard, and do some target shooting with a BB Gun.  Yep, he's all boy and we are so blessed to have him in our lives.  Dad has taken to reminding him lately when he's fighting with his sisters of piddly stuff that he needs to learn the Four P's of Godly manhood, how to be a Prophet, Priest, Provider and Protector.  Protector means helping your sister buckle up in the car instead of complaining she should now how to do that already!  lots of learning to be done these early years, by God's grace will we only make progress in these areas, may He equip us to the task at hand.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ruby, Rubykins, Roobers or Roo as we call her

Ruby turned six years old back in June, here she is with her Fancy Nancy Baby Doll, if you haven't read any of the Fancy Nancy books you are missing out, check one out at the library and find a child to read one to! As you can see above Ruby has a delightful smile and the charming personality to go along with it.  She loves to do pretty much what everyone else is doing, such as waterskiing.  Stephen decided he wanted to learn to ski this summer which Ruby echoed that she thought she'd like learn also. We weren't sure she'd be able to have the strength to get up and get going, but as you can see in the next photo determination won out. This is actually a photo of her second time up with the beginner skis (the bar is holding them together) she actually got up earlier in the summer without the bar.  Hopefully she'll always keep and apply this kind of determination with her schooling.  She does very well with her subjects and loves to read. One of her favorite times of the week is when we make a trip to the library.  Art is also another favorite of her studies, unfortunately for Stephen, she is usually reminding me that we need to do art, a subject he does not share her enthusiasm for.

We are so blessed to have Ruby in our lives and pray she grows into a virtuous woman. 
 Prov. 31:10 A virtuous woman who can find? her worth is far above rubies. 

Ruby enjoying some time playing in the sand Herrington Manor State Park, MD

Stay tuned for more updates, up next Stephen...

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like the end of the year!

     Well as we have now reached December 2nd, I figured I better get started on a family update for the year.  I'll try and blog every few days about someone in the family and share some photos of the past year.  I have to tell you that every year it gets harder and harder for me to separate out what happened in what year, the lines just seem to blur together.  Can it really be going on a second year of marriage for Kara & Derrick? yes in just 4 1/2 short months they will reach their second wedding anniversary, that does not even seem possible, but Steve and I will reach our 25th year that same month! When I think of that it's almost unfathomable, 25 years, how is that even possible???? well seeing that Kara turned 22 this year I guess it is???

Mt. Nebo Hiking Trail, MD
Joseph being taken off to prison
      Many great family memories were made in 2011, Spring was especially busy and exciting.  We attended a week long program that our friends the Watt's had invited us to at their church on Egypt, this is like having a VBS program in the spring, which is a great idea!! we all enjoy it and are looking forward to 2012, here's a photo of "Jospeh" who the children would get to meet and talk with each evening to learn about his life.

Table all set to celebrate the Passover
     March also brought the arrival next door (to Steve's brother Paul and wife Dawn's family) twin girls.  The Lord blessed them with  Abigail and Rebekah who were born on Dawn's birthday and welcomed home by their five brothers and one sister! We also finished up our time with our home church by celebrating Passover together, Kara & Derrick were able to join us for this, we extended the table out and were able to squeeze all 24 of us around it.

    Late summer till early fall weekends were spent at Deep Creek,  were we were blessed to relax and worship with our church family there.  We spent a week there during their Family VBS program which was great fun and learning and then ended with the church picnic.  Here are a few photos from that event.
Miss Debbie  paints Ruby's face 

Baptism is held annually at the church picnic

The famous mile long slip and slide, what fun!

    As always summer flew by and we were soon into fall and time to return to school, we are in Year 1 of Tapestry of Grace, Ancient History this year.  We are getting together with three other families to do some co-op learning including personal finance and art every other week.   

Emma building a model of a molecule

Emma with her plate of food from "Eat through the plagues"

We made balsa wood combs to represent bone combs from ancient times

     Now we are looking forward to finishing up school for the year and taking Christmas vacation.  Kara & Derrick are coming in this year for Christmas on Wednesday, so we are anxiously counting down the days till they arrive and we get to spend those days together.  We did see Kara for 5 days before Thanksgiving, but Derrick had to work, so we'll be glad to all be together for the celebration of Christ's birth.  

     Stay tuned for more updates on each person from our family, this was just the overview!! There is so much to share and some of our favorite photos as well. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

be sure and read my previous post first on VF, then:

Then you can go to one of my favorite blogs at:  and find out how you can win a wonderful gift certificate for their products in the amount of $300, $200, or $100!   You'll want to head over to and start making your wish list!

Vision Forum Products

Well if I said we were blessed to own so many VF Products I don't think that would be a strong enough word to get across exactly what that means.  We are long time purchasers of items in their catalog that include christian books , tapes (long ago), cd's, dvd's, toys, curriculum and gift items over the years and some of our girls were able to attend their Father/Daughter retreat in Georgia years back.  

I am so excited about their new dvd curriculum series that are helping to make history come alive for our family. We have always had the dream of going to some country alongside them to hear correct historical teaching, but the closest we came was when we went with Richard "Little Bear Wheeler" to Jumonville, PA for a week, which was one of our children's favorite vacations! Imagine that an educational vacation that they absolutely loved!  It would be wonderful to go this time of year to Plymouth Plantation with the VF family of teachers and experience it first hand wouldn't it?  Well we do the next best thing this time of year, we get out our cd's of the talks from one of their trips there and listen in.  There's always something new to learn.

If you've never used any of their products before, I'd encourage you to check out their catalog, either on line or via a hard copy, just don't ask to borrow mine as the little ones have marked up nearly every page with giant letters of what they are requesting for Christmas and it's a little hard to read!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sad to say summer is winding down....

and we are getting back to into our school routine, slowly, but surely.  I always like to start slow and add additional things each day till we get up to full speed.  But this week no one really was complaining with all the rain we were getting and so we did pretty much everything from the start.  Amy's math is still on backorder so she'll have some catch up to do when it arrives but other than that the routine isn't too hard to adjust to. 

One thing we didn't do over the summer was our chore chart (yippy skippy! the kids exclaimed), but with my time focused on schoolwork I can't let that happen any longer!  so we are back to adding in daily chores using our chore card system and pocket chart and that's a huge help to me.

We are starting off with just 4 days right now as my Mom is need of some help at least one day a week right now.  My stepdad's health has been up and down and so we are trying to help out 1 day a week by sitting with him so she can get her hair done and run errands.  Then we also can help out with some cleaning in her apartment.  The kiddos may take along some schoolwork to do while we are there, Pap will be busy with a phys. therapist and then he'll be resting as it'll tire him out, so they will have time to do some work.  I'm so glad we can help out in a tangible way, up to this point he did ok staying on his own, but now I don't think it's the best idea. 

Last week when we were there it was kind of sad and a bit funny.  We got the in the a.m. and Pap was eating his breakfast.  We said greeted him and then Mom left.  After breakfast he got up and moved to the livingroom and fell asleep.  We went in the kitchen and were cleaning and Ruby & Stephen were doing a math lesson for a little over an hour.  Then Pap came walking in with his walker and said, "Well Hi, when did you guys get here? "  It gave us a chuckle, but was also heart wrenching, but at least he didn't ask where Mom was, he must have remembered her telling him good-bye, so that was good.

So we are just praying that he can be well cared for and safe longer, we know that moving him from their home into a nursing home would be devastating  He gets so disoriented when he's in the hospital, calling home, begging Mom to come and get him.  He doesn't talk when he's there as he can't hear well and it's just very confusing for him.  At least at home he can walk around the apartment and watch his on t.v. and he knows where he is.  So this was a real answer to prayer to bring him home.  He's getting some p.t. and an aide is coming to help Mom with his bathing, but in that respect he is doing so well they say they won't be there for too long.  It's great to have that type of help!

So if you think of it pray for them and pray that we will be helpful to them in whatever ways we can.  Also we pray that their eyes may be opened spiritually to all that God has done for them. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him might not perish,but have eternal life." John 3:16

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So what's on your bookshelf?

Summertime is the time for reading for me.  I often just can't get to it in the winter with planning school and all the other activities that seem to go on, but in the summer I often can read a book a week.  Last year I read some Ted Dekker books, some I liked some I did not, but had to finish them if you know what I mean. 

This year I stumbled upon a Karen Kingsbury book at the library called "Unlocked". 
Unlocked: A Love Story
I've seen her books around Sam's Club and the various catalogs over the years, but never read one.  It was a very easy read about a boy with autism and how music unlocks his world.  While there was some content I wasn't 100% sure about, overall I enjoyed the book enough to read 2 more by her from the library. I finished
One Tuesday Morning/Beyond Tuesday Morning Compilation Limited Edition
Beyond Tuesday Morning easily which is about a widow after 9/11, it was very enjoyable and then I readSunrise, Sunrise Series #1
Sunrise which has gotten me hooked on wanting to read the whole series.  One thing I do love about the author is how she takes you into her characters thoughts and you feel like you can see them growing spiritually, making choices, and living them out.  There are often written prayers and someone presenting the gospel through the story and she always includes the gospel within the book cover. 

I've been also trying to finish The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn.  While I loved Safely Home immensely, I haven't loved Deadline or this book. 
The Ishbane Conspiracy
It is written in the style of Screwtape Letters about a demon and his thoughts and lessons on how to deceive and control people.  There are some awesome lines in the book, but I just can't seem to get into it.

So I started another book called Reshaping it All.Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual FitnessThis is by Candace Cameron from the t.v. show Full House and sister to Kirk Cameron who many of you know from his acting days and his work now with Ray Comfort on The Way of the Master.  This is a non-fiction book is about how her faith has helped her stay healthy and fit.  I've only gotten 2 chapters in so far, but I think I will enjoy it. 

On my nightstand is also One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.  I follow Ann's blog and this book is very thought provoking, not one you just rush and read through.  It's a book to contemplate each chapter and give it a great deal of thought.  I'd be interested if you've read it what your thoughts were. 

Lastly, when we were in Harrisburg I picked up a 6 week Bible Study that I've been doing daily and will finish up soon by Brenda Lancaster.  It's called Living in a Zoo.   The study is great, very Biblical, points you to scripture to read and meditate on daily and really helps you keep your focus on the Lord.  I'm finding it very helpful for my life, especially on this slower summer days.  I was able to really apply some of the teaching with my children last week and anything that helps me apply scripture to life lessons for them is a good book! 
Living in A Zoo?

Hope you are enjoying some great books this summer, check out your library for some of these books, ebay, or

I almost forgot one I did not read, I just couldn't.  I like clean books, I do not like profanity when I'm reading.  I only read a page or two of a murder myster called Cold Springs by Riordan (the same guy who has written the Percy Jackson Series). 
Product Details
I just couldn't get past that and did not read on. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Graduation Party Weekend at the Lake

And to think just a year ago Ellen was up front being recognized for graduating! made me sad to think how fast the past year has gone and how soon we will see another graduate in our home with Amy entering 10th grade next year!

The Graduates at PVBC: Laurel, Mary, Tori and Doug

Josiah graduated from GCCC, on to Liberty Univ.

Pastor Wally sharing a prayer from scripture for Tori

One of the Weeks horses, Emma took this great shot! This is Ladigo

another shot by Emma, this is Sarah

ahhhh, the serenity and beauty of Garrett County

Ruby was so excited to brush the pony

Mr. Ray, I'm sure sharing how big his last fish was!

Tori on Harlan's Harley! you can tell why she had her Dad take the photo, I cut off part of the bike!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trip to Lancaster/Harrisburg

 Last week on Wednesday, Steve, Emma, Stephen, Ruby & I headed out to Lancaster and Harrisburg for a mini trip to attend the CHAP (Christian Homeschool Association of PA) Homeschool Fair. Something we figure we have been doing for about 14 yrs. now (except for last yr. as Kara & Derrick were having a reception after their wedding up in Milan, PA).  We decided to go a few days early so we could go to eat at Shady Maple Smorgasboard! no I'm not kidding, we did go just to eat there! if you've ever been there you know why and if you haven't well you really need to go there yourself and then you'll know why.  We stayed at this Farm Bed & Breakfast which was literally over the hill from Shady Maple, this way we could actually go there twice on our trip!! lol! We knew we had been there long enough when we arrived for lunch the second day and the cashier looked at us and said, "Weren't you here yesterday?".  Now that was quite a feat seeing that they seat thousands of people every day.  Look it up on line and you'll see how humongous this place is!  Well worth the trip, in fact the lady who has cut our hair will make the 4 hr. drive in a day to go there to eat, well you get the point! 

So after pigging out as much as possible, we headed over for an enjoyable evening to explore the farm.  This is more of an agricultural farm with a minature horse, donkeys, cow, fish, a big dog, chickens, and some cats that were not to be found. (Emma was looking for the cats).  We enjoyed the beautiful weather and sitting outside till evening when we headed into sleep.  We got up in the morning and did some local shopping at the Re-Uzit Store, 2 giant floors of stuff! while the guys went to the Sporting Goods Shop.  This is all in the little town of New Holland, we've made some big purchases in this little town, including our big van, which we bought years ago out there at 4-Way Auto Sales.  Then we at a huge lunch and made a stop over in Lancaster at a few of our favorite shops.  Kitchen Kettle Village was one of those stops where we went to buy snickerdoodles (do you think we like to eat??) and the leather store where Steve bought his new cowboy hat you see below.  He always wears one when he's volunteering at the fair.  Then we drove on to our hotel.

We rarely stay at the same hotel in Harrisburg, but this time I believe we will be repeating our stay at the Country Inn & Suites.  It was a lovely hotel that served, you guessed it!, choc. chip cookies in the lobby!  and a full hot breakfast in the a.m.  They had a nice pool and fitness room (which I did check out & use, seeing as how we were eating so much!!). The price was super reasonable for all that was included.  Steve says we will be staying here again unless the rates jump tremendously  We headed to bed early as we had to be up at 6a.m. so we could be at the Farm Show Complex by 7:30 a.m. 

We had a wonderful day, looking at books upon books! seeing Doug Phillips, Ken Ham, and some other wonderful folks.  Then we headed back to the hotel and ordered pizza with our friends the Emslie's.  Now that meant that there were 11 of us eating together in the lobby!  We asked if we could go to a conf. room or the breakfast area and they said no they were closed but we were welcome to eat there.  So we sprawled out our giant pizzas and took over the couches and ate.  Then it was more swimming and to bed early to get up and repeat the day.  We stayed till the traditional American Girl Doll drawing was over at 1:00 and then decided we could go ahead and start home rather than stay till the fair ended at 5:00.  

It was a wonderful trip and went way to fast as do most trips.  I'm enjoying looking through my purchases today.


Feeding the cows

Emma, Ruby & Stephen

Ruby & Jez, Ruby throwing a rock in to get her to dive for it!

Jez rolling on the rock she dove for

The upstairs of the bed and breakfast

The downstairs of the bed & breakfast

Stephen feeding the chickens some grass

Emma & Jez

Taken from the car obviously

At the hotel in Harrisburg

oops out of order! breakfast at the B&B


lol! Steve's strike a pose, working security at the CHAP Fair

the new entry to the fair, see all the crates and suitcases ready to be filled

Show me your wristbands!

Ruby ready to go to church at Valley Chapel & Stables

After church checking out the horses