Family Photo Shoot

My dear sister-in-law (thanks again, Krista!) once again took some amazing pics for us this year.  We had a lovely fall day that was perfect for being outside!  Here are some of my favorites:

These 5 are such a blessing to our family.
herrfamily 8

Emma – 3 years old
herrfamily 4

herrfamily 5

Callie – 4 1/2 years old (5 this month!)
herrfamily 1

herrfamily 65

Sydney – 7 1/2 years old
herrfamily 16

herrfamily 66

Justin – 9 1/2 years old
herrfamily 12

herrfamily 70

Hailey – 10 1/2 years old (11 this month!)
herrfamily 50

herrfamily 14

The girlies
herrfamily 15

A fun family shot.
herrfamily 36

The love of my life.
herrfamily 41

Me and my girls.
herrfamily 45

My favorite guys.
herrfamily 63

Me and my boy.
herrfamily 52

My love with our girls.
herrfamily 74

12 years of marriage.
herrfamily 56

Daddy and the kiddos.
herrfamily 78

Me and my 5.
herrfamily 53

Love these shots of Brian and Emma.
herrfamily 75

herrfamily 77

It is rough being the baby of the family.
herrfamily 43

Of course we also have many more different family poses, but since I don’t know which one I’m using on our card this year I am saving those!

Our Memory Master Girlie

As many of you already know, we are a part of a local Classical Conversations campus.  We concluded our year in April and this past week was memory master proofing.  For the 99% of you reading this, you are probably wondering “what is a Memory Master?”    Here is a brief description: “Memory Master” is an honor bestowed on Foundations students who have mastered all of the memory work during the twenty-four weeks of Foundations class.  This year we were on Cycle 1 (CC follows a 3 year cycle), so the facts memorized included topics from these 7 subjects:

-161 events and people in a chronological timeline, recited in order
-44 U.S. presidents
-24 history sentences, to add depth to our timeline
-120 geographic locations and features and the ability to locate each one – this year found in Africa, Europe, South America, and the Old World
-24 science facts (such as the classification of living things, each continents highest mountain, parts of the earth, parts of the atmosphere, etc.)
-5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
-24 English grammar facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs, plus the definitions of those parts of speech)
-Math multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

This was no small feat!  Hailey was incredibly diligent throughout the year to memorize the new memory work each week and also spent much time over the last 2 weeks preparing for the big day when she would  need to recite (by memory, without prompts or help) all of the memory work.  Hailey first recited the information for me and then another adult (my mom) at home, then for a tutor on the day of testing, and then finally she had a “spot check” with the director of our campus before receiving the distinguished honor of becoming a Memory Master!  Put together that is over 400 pieces of information!  I’m pretty sure that I was more nervous for her than she was for herself, but we were both incredibly happy when she was finished. 

Particularly for those unfamiliar with a classical education, some of you might be wondering, “what’s the point of this?”  Yes, it teaches diligence, confidence, commitment, and hard work … but really, “what is the point?”  Leigh Bortins, founder of CC, answers this:

“Modern education scoffs at the first tool of learning – memorization. Why learn to memorize if you can just look it up? Isn’t critical thinking more important than rote facts? My response is, ‘What can I think critically about if I know no facts?’ I can offer only my opinion, my point of view. Yet shouldn’t truth play a factor? For the Christian, absolute truth exists. His story is unfolding. I want to know who did what, where, when, and why for Him. I want to see His creation revealed through science. I want His word to be a lamp unto my feet. That means I must acquire, nurture, and expand my ability to store information, words, and abstract ideas. I want to be able to repeat truth and think about how truth affects my life. This requires hard academic work – brain training – habits of character.”

We are incredibly proud of our girlie for working so hard!
Ringing Rocks and MM 028

Hailey with her proof sheets completely filled in!
MM 004

Oh Sandy and Hailey turns 10!

It has been quite the exciting week here in our neck of the woods.  Hurricane Sandy rolled in on Monday and left quite a mark in our surrounding area.  Brian was able to come home a little early from work on Monday as they sent everyone home early before the worst of the storm rolled in.  Around dinner time the wind really picked up and by 8 p.m. we were without power.  We lit candles and the kiddos all got their flashlights out to have some fun.  Thankfully, we were spared much damage compared to so many others we know (who had trees fall on their homes, finished basements flood, and are still without power).  This is one time when living in a house with small trees surrounding us was a blessing as there really aren’t any large trees that are within distance of hitting our house.  By late Monday night we were wondering if our house was going to blow over!  We did have some siding come loose (that my husband took care of by climbing up on the roof, while it wasn’t too windy of course!), and because of being without power for almost 24 hours we did get water in our basement.  However, since it isn’t finished this wasn’t too big of a deal.  We had to get rid of the carpet remnants that we had down there, but other than that there wasn’t much damage.  We really were quite blessed as we have a gas fireplace and gas stove, so thankfully we had plenty of heat and a way to cook and heat water while we were without power. 

I have never seen so many massive trees taken down by the wind!  As we drive around, the damage that so many fallen trees have done is devastating to so many.  As of today we still have many friends who are without power.  Brian was actually without power at work all week until yesterday around 10 a.m.  Anyone who knows Brian will understand how frigid he was while at work for the past few days!  He was incredibly thankful when the power came back on.  The schools in our area were out of school all week long due to power outages, and today we held church in a different location because the Christian school that we meet in is still without power! 

Some dear friends and neighbors who were without power until yesterday hung out with us this week, so that was a highlight for the kids.  They were secretly hoping that their power would never come back on so that they could see their friends every day!  I don’t have any great pictures of trees down around our house, but if you want to see some of what you would find if you drive around our area, you can check out my friend’s blog who are the same friends that were hanging out with us this week.  They had 2 huge trees fall in their yard, thankfully not on their house.  The pics that she posted will give you an idea of just how strong the winds of Sandy were when they came through our area. 

In other exciting news, we (and by we, I really mean just me!) survived two crazy busy weekends of celebrating Hailey’s 10th birthday!  The first weekend we had family in town to celebrate with us and then last weekend I took Hailey to NYC on Saturday to visit the American Girl Doll Store and to see Annie on Broadway, and on Sunday she had some of her girlfriends here for a cooking/baking party.  I waited until early Saturday morning when I woke up Hailey to tell her that I was taking her on a surprise trip.  She was completely shocked and it was a blast waking her up to surprise her.  We took a bus trip, and another part of the surprise was that my mom (“Mimi”) was joining us!   We arrived in NYC around 9:30 a.m. at the American Girl Doll Store.  Even I was surprised by how enormous this place was!  It has 3 floors and is pretty much every little girl’s dream come true!  We spent the first hour just walking around looking.  Due to some incredibly generous family and friends Hailey knew she had quite of a bit of spending money and wanted to chose wisely how to spend it.  After an hour of walking around looking, she was set on buying the new historical doll, Caroline.  She already has the doll Kit, and as a surprise I packed her along since everyone knows that you are supposed to bring your doll with you when you visit the store!  As part of her birthday present, Hailey’s cousin gave her money to get her doll Kit’s ears pierced since Hailey got her ears pierced for her 10th birthday!  So that was a fun surprise for Hailey and was quite the experience being in the “doll hair salon.”  After we finished up at the doll salon, we headed to the café upstairs for our lunch reservations.  They really think of everything at this store including giving you a portable chair that attaches to your table for your doll!  It was around that moment of walking into the incredibly feminine café and seeing tables and tables of moms/daughters/female friends that I knew Brian made the right decision in having my mom come along instead of him, ha!  The three of us girls made some wonderful memories together.  After lunch we finished up at the American Girl Doll Store and then headed outside to do some walking.  We decided to head to Times Square to give Hailey the full NYC experience!  We went into some stores such as Toys R Us, M & M, and Disney.  Hailey loved everything about our trip and thoroughly enjoyed taking it all in!  After walking around for awhile, we headed to the theater to see Annie on Broadway.  This was a wonderful show with an amazing set and we all loved it!  After the show, we stopped at Starbucks and then headed to the bus to catch our ride back home.  Although it was a long day, it was filled with adventure and excitement and I loved watching Hailey enjoy it all. 

The next day was Sunday, a day that Hailey was long anticipating!  She had been planning, decorating for, and talking about her baking/cooking party for weeks!  Since we were going to be baking/cooking at the party, I decided to use cupcake liners for all of the decorations.  We had a blast making streamers, pom-poms, wreaths, flower lights, and a large pom-pom ball with the cupcake liners!  I’m pretty sure I have never stayed up so late for so many nights in a row, but it was all worth it (thank goodness we don’t do birthday parties every year!).  Her friends party started out with having each girl decorate their personalized apron.  They used fabric markers, buttons, and stencils to beautify them and make them their own!  Next, they each made their own individual pizza for dinner.  While the pizzas were baking they make fruit and veggie kabobs to go along with their pizza.  Then after they ate their dinner they got to decorate cupcakes and assemble mini apple pies for dessert!  While the pies were baking we played a game called “What do you remember?”  I filled a tray with all different things from the kitchen, allowed the girls to look at it for one minute and then took it away.  They had to write down as many things as they could remember in 3-4 minutes.  It was fun to see the girls work together in pairs to try and remember the items … and sometimes to try and figure out what it is called!  To wind down while waiting for the parents to come, the girls watched one of the American Girl Doll movies that Hailey got for her birthday.  We were so thankful that the weather held out ok for her party on Sunday before the storm rolled in on Monday!

Here are some pics of the birthday happenings …

October 24th – Our 2 birthday girlies!

Hailey's 10th 019     

I made the usual Ice Cream Cake Torte for dessert at the family party … can’t believe our girl is double digits!
Hailey's 10th 002

Hailey with her doll Kit in front of the Kit stand  
Hailey's 10th 032

Hailey and Kit – both with pierced ears!
Hailey's 10th 042

Mimi, Hailey, and Kit
Hailey's 10th 044

Mommy, Hailey, and Kit
Hailey's 10th 045

Hailey with her purchase, the new historical doll, Caroline
Hailey's 10th 054

M&M Store
Hailey's 10th 055

Mimi and Hailey in Times Square
Hailey's 10th 057

In the theater getting read to see Annie on Broadway!
Hailey's 10th 068

Hailey with her girlfriends and sister at her baking/cooking party
Hailey's 10th 070

All of the girls with their beautiful aprons!
Hailey's 10th 082

Some more of the decorations
decorations 001

Up close of the Party Pom-Pom ball … here are instructions to make your own!  This was Hailey’s favorite and I would’ve made more if they didn’t take so long to make! 
decorations 002

Cupcake Flower Lights … inspiration found here!  Hailey did a wonderful job making these on her own!
decorations 003

Inspiration for the Cupcake Liner Pom-Poms found here!  Both Hailey and Sydney were a huge help in making these by folding the many cupcake liners while I glued them together.
decorations 004

The best part about many of these decorations is that I am planning to save them for future birthday parties.  There has to be some benefit to having 4 girls, right?!  Sydney has already told me that she wants to have a baking/cooking party for her 10th in a few years, so I’m sure the decorations will be used again … of course, knowing my girls, they will find some things to add to it as they love finding ideas on pinterest with me!

To anyone who made it this far … thanks for reading along and hearing all about how we celebrated our Hailey girl turning 10!

::10:: and ::4::

Ten years ago today, we welcomed a beautiful little girlie into our lives who forever changed our family.  We are so thankful that God blessed us with Hailey Joy as our firstborn child.  As we often tell Hailey, she sets such a wonderful example for her younger siblings of what it means to serve others, be a peacemaker, put others before herself, and bless others.  I often tell Hailey that she reminds me of my mom for which I am incredibly grateful!  I love the relationship that we share with one another and look forward to the coming years.  As I reflect on this past year what I am most aware of is the numerous ways that Hailey selflessly serves our family with joy.  It has been a privilege to watch and observe the girl that Hailey is growing into and I thank God for the work He is doing in her life!

Our girlie after her ballet recital this year
Ballet 019

Massanutten Peak
068

114

Four years ago today we welcomed another beautiful little girlie into our lives!  Callie Beth burst into this world 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital and has been going full speed every since!  I love how all our girlies all have such different personalities (well, at least on most days I’m thankful for this!) because it makes every day an adventure.  Callie is the kind of kid that is either completely happy or completely not-so-happy.  Thankfully, on most days we get to see the happy Callie girl.  She is incredibly full of life!  Pretty much every day involves dress-up, dancing, singing, twirling, and jumping.  She loves to be a big kid and do whatever her older siblings are doing, which probably explains why she learned to ride a 2 wheeler without training wheels at the young age of 3 1/2!  It has been neat to see her develop different relationships and friendships with each sibling.  Over this past year, we have been encouraged to see Callie grow in self-control, patience, and kindness.  We love her spunk and are so thankful that God chose to bless us with her!   

Massanutten Peak

083

055
089

136
Happy 10th Birthday, Hailey and Happy 4th Birthday, Callie – we are soooo thankful that you are both a part of our family and we love you both!

Meet my Students (and future students!)

Recently, I have been seeing lots of ideas on Pinterest about interviewing your kids every year.  Some do this every year on their birthday, but I thought I would just do them all at the same time before we start school every year.  It will be fun to look back and see how their answers change from year to year!  I interviewed them individually so any duplicates are just by chance.

So, without further ado, meet my students:

Hailey – 4th Grade

8.16.12 021

What is your favorite color?  Pink
What is your favorite food?  Taco Salad
What is your favorite toy?  American Girl doll
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Eggs and toast with homemade bread
What is your favorite book?  The Bible
What is your favorite animal?  Cat
What is your favorite holiday?  Easter
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Run around in the grass
What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Yogurt smoothie
Who is your best friend?  Tamsin
What is your favorite drink? Coffee drink (I make a homemade coffee drink for the kids using dandy blend, not coffee!)
What is your favorite movie?  Kung Fu Panda 2
What is your favorite fruit?  Orange
What is your favorite thing to do with your family?  Play kickball
What is your favorite sport?  Soccer
What is your favorite game?  Dutch Blitz
What is your favorite song?  10,000 Reasons
What is your favorite dessert?  Homemade Coffee Ice Cream
What are you most excited about this year?  Being a part of the choir (Sola Gratia Musicians)
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A mommy

Justin – 3rd Grade

8.16.12 020

What is your favorite color?  Red
What is your favorite food?  Fish
What is your favorite toy?  Legos
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Pancakes
What is your favorite book?  The Bible
What is your favorite animal?  Dog
What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play with my sisters
What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Peanut butter and Apple Sandwich on mommy’s bread
Who is your best friend?  Judah
What is your favorite drink? Water
What is your favorite movie?  Kung Fu Panda 2
What is your favorite fruit?  Peach
What is your favorite thing to do with your family?  Play kickball
What is your favorite sport?  Baseball
What is your favorite game?  Dutch Blitz
What is your favorite song?  How Wonderful the Father’s Love
What is your favorite dessert?  Homemade Apple Cinnamon Muffins
What are you most excited about for this year?  Fall Ball   
What do you want to be when you grow up?  An Engineer and daddy

Sydney – 1st Grade

8.16.12 019

What is your favorite color?  Purple
What is your favorite food?  Spaghetti
What is your favorite toy?  Cars
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Pancakes
What is your favorite book?  The Gospel Story Bible     
What is your favorite animal?  Horse
What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride bike
What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Grilled cheese
Who is your best friend?  Joe
What is your favorite drink? Milk
What is your favorite movie?  Kung Fu Panda 2
What is your favorite fruit?  Grapes
What is your favorite thing to do with your family?  Play games
What is your favorite sport?  Soccer
What is your favorite game?  Dutch Blitz
What is your favorite song?  10,000 Reasons
What is your favorite dessert?  Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
What are you most excited about for this year? Ballet   
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A mommy

Callie – Preschool

8.16.12 023

What is your favorite color?  Pink
What is your favorite food?  Homemade pizza
What is your favorite toy?  Dollhouse
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Oatmeal
What is your favorite book?  Curious George
What is your favorite animal?  Cat
What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas
What is your favorite thing to do outside? Catch fireflies
What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Yogurt and granola
Who is your best friend?  Claire
What is your favorite drink? Water
What is your favorite movie?  How to Train Your Dragon
What is your favorite fruit?  Strawberries and blueberries
What is your favorite thing to do with your family?  Play with us
What is your favorite sport?  Kickball
What is your favorite game?  Go Fish
What is your favorite song?  How Wonderful the Father’s Love
What is your favorite dessert?  Homemade Ice Cream
What are you most excited about for this year?  Turning 4       
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A mommy

mma – The Cute Toddler

emma 8.16 002

This picture (above) is what happens every time I get my camera out.

emma 8.16 003

This smile was captured in .5 seconds before she could cover her face once again!

Since Emma couldn’t actually answer the questions, I’ll give a little update about all the things she does talk about …
~Daddy – all.day.long I get questions asking where daddy is and when he’ll be home.  She adores her daddy and loves it when he gets home from work! 
~Food – this girlie might be petite, but she can eat and asks for food all.day.long.   Now that she knows how to open the pantry door, I often find her sitting on the kitchen floor devouring an entire bag of raisins.
~Outside – she will go outside with anyone who is willing to go with her.  Some favorites outside are chalk on the driveway, jumping on the trampoline, swinging and sliding on the play set, playing on the deck, and trying to keep up with whatever the big kids are doing.
This girlie brings so much joy, cuddles, good laughs, and love into our family and I can’t believe she is going to be 2 in less than a week!!