Alaska – Part 1

This post is long overdue, but that is just the way it goes!  Being away for 2 weeks made our summer fly by even faster than it usually does, so there wasn’t much time for blogging. 
We had the amazing privilege of visiting Alaska for 2 weeks back in June/July with the adults in Brian’s family.  His parents are incredibly generous and are the ones who made this trip happen.  We spent a week on a cruise (with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, as well as scenic tours to Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjords) and then a week on land in a beautiful cabin on Big Lake.  Just a warning, this post (and the ones to follow) will be a little long because narrowing down 700+ pics to a few blog posts is tough.  Alaska is a gorgeous state!

Pulling out in Vancouver (As a side note, we barely made our connecting flight in Toronto because a passenger, who is afraid to fly, had a panic attack right before we took off. The airline had to remove her from the plane and then also remove her luggage before we could takeoff. As another side note, only Dad Herr would crack a joke to some folks in Toronto about staging a panic attack to delay the plane from taking off until we all made it there and then have them respond “actually, that women in Philly is a part of our group!” Thankfully they had a sense of humor and laughed.)
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Ketchikan
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Juneau
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Walking to find our hiking trail
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Brothers
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Hiking with a view like this is glorious.
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Our trail was buried in snow! We pressed on (after a vote, ha).
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This one was for our kids.
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At the end of our 7.5 mile hike we had a gorgeous view.

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We moved a little faster on the 7.5 miles back out (partially because certain members of our hike were a little unprepared to hike 15 miles with absolutely zero food in their backpacks!)
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At port in Juneau
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To the Best Mom Ever

I am one blessed girl because God ordained this woman to be my mom. I don't know anyone who has more patience or serves as selflessly as her. My kiddos adore her and I am constantly blessed by the countless ways that she serves our family. Mom, thanks for making sure that we get date nights, loving our children, driving hours every month to sacrifice your time for us, making memories with our precious children, and encouraging me as a wife and mother. I love you!!!

 

I am also incredibly blessed because God has given me the joy of being a mom to the 5 best kiddos ever!

 

Faith like a child

A few weeks ago, one of our daughters accidentally bumped and spilled approximately 2 cups of hot tea directly onto our laptop.  Immediately, the laptop shut down and went completely black. By the grace of God, my first concern was whether or not she was alright and God gave me an abundant amount of compassion for our girl.  I knew she felt terrible.  After making sure she was ok and not burned, I flipped the laptop upside down and watched a ridiculous amount of tea pour from the laptop.  Having heard enough stories similar to ours, I knew the chances of the laptop ever working again were probably not very great.  The very laptop that holds all of our files for school, pictures, music, budget, etc. While we do back up our files regularly to an external hard drive, it had been a longer length of time than normal and I knew that I was in trouble if I couldn’t recover our files.  My mind immediately began thinking what this would mean for school and life in general. 

Since I am not the techy genius in our family, I called my husband to let him know what happened and to ask if there is anything that I should do.  He told me to remove and dry the wet battery and just let the laptop sit until he got home.  Shortly after hanging up with him, he sent our daughter, who caused the spill, a couple of text messages to let her know that he loves her and that he wasn’t angry or upset with her.  That alone was enough to bring tears to my eyes, but the next message he sent to her made me love him all the more.  He said to her “let’s pray for it to work again.”  Our girl took him seriously.  She prayed that somehow the laptop would not be broken, but that instead it would work again.  I loved my husband for his leadership, love, and care.  I loved my daughter for how she prayed in faith.

Fast forward to that evening.  My husband came home, took the entire laptop apart, cleaned it, dried every single drenched piece, and then put it all back together (as to how he was even able to take the thing completely apart and then reassemble it is beyond me).  He was hopeful that maybe the hard drive was saved, but was a little discouraged by the amount of liquid that was inside the laptop.  This wasn’t too surprising to me considering the amount of liquid that came out of it when I turned it upside down!  That evening, after reassembling the laptop with dry parts, he tried to turn it on and nothing happened.  Instead of becoming discouraged, he and our daughter agreed to keep praying. 

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The next morning before heading into work Brian tried once again to turn it on and nothing happened.  It appeared dead but our girl kept on praying.

That evening after getting home from work my hubby told me that he borrowed something from a co-worker to hopefully retrieve the contents of our hard drive.  Before using that, he decided to try turning the computer on one more time.  Amazingly, the laptop turned on!  Brian immediately called for our daughter and the interaction between them was priceless.  She was overjoyed to see that it had turned on.  And he was overjoyed to show her.  However, we quickly realized that although the laptop turned on, things were definitely not running normally.  Before putting the kiddos to bed, he reminded them all to keep praying for our laptop, because God cares about even the little things.

Miraculously, the next evening our laptop not only turned on but actually began to function!  Well, at least parts of it anyway. The keyboard was dead, but all of our files were completely fine and by hooking up a keyboard and mouse to it I was able to confirm that my beloved school plans, lessons, audio, files, worksheets, and everything else that I need to homeschool was accessible.  Oh happy day!  There was much rejoicing in our home and we had a wonderful opportunity to remind our children about faith, prayer, and the love of our Father, who cares for even the tiny details of our lives.

The next evening we discovered that our keyboard had come back to life, or at least about 95% back!  The e,s, c, and control/shift keys on the left side were all dead.  But the finger touch pad was alive again and every other key was functioning.  Our daughter didn’t seem nearly surprised as me about this revelation. 

The following day we realized that the e,s, and c keys were now working!  I was overwhelmed by the kindness of God to not only allow us to have access to all of our files, but also for the ability to begin using it again with a working keyboard.  Our daughter was amazed, not because she has the best daddy ever, but because she knew that even he couldn’t make the laptop work again.  It is a wonderful thing to see God at work in your children. 

Currently, the only thing that doesn’t work on the entire laptop is the control key on the left hand side.  While it has meant adjusting to how I copy and cut/paste things (I always used the control on the left side, not the right side), I am actually thankful for that one little key that doesn’t work.  Because every time I need to use the control key I am reminded of our little story and how God used tea spilling all over our laptop to build faith in all of us.            

Life is Full … and New Books!

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Life is full of wonderful blessings, most of which include the love of my life and our darling children!  It is so easy to get busy amidst the chaos of life and not prioritize our time properly.  I want to look back on these days of having young children and homeschooling with gladness knowing that my time was well spent.  That being said, there were many times over the past several weeks where I would’ve loved to blog about school, field trips, birthdays, Thanksgiving, how we celebrate the Advent season, Christmas, our relaxing vacation over New Years in the OBX, etc.  However, I am well aware that blogging takes time.  Time away from something else.  Sometimes that is ok, but most of the time there is a little person asking me to read them a book, help them with their school work, “help” them bake a batch of muffins, or just spend time playing with them.  We live in a world where getting the undivided attention of a mom is easier said than done.  I want my children to know that they have my attention.  There will always be the never ending laundry, dishes, meals to make, house to clean, and school lessons to plan.  Not surprisingly, that doesn’t leave me with much spare time.  What little spare time I have usually finds me reading a book instead of blogging. 

I still enjoy blogging when I get bits of time, but it will likely continue to be incredibly sporadic around here!  Hopefully those of you who read this blog use some kind of blog reader so that you know when there are updates and aren’t checking in every day.  To the few who still read here, thanks for following along!

Since my book posts are often the most loved, I thought I would kick off the new year with a post highlighting some new favorites around here.

The Ashtown Burials Series by N.D. Wilson – A wild, action packed fantasy adventure filled with lost civilizations, ancient secrets, and buried treasure.  These are wonderful books to read aloud if your children can patiently wait for you to read to them! 

Andrea Carter Series (Circle C Adventures) by Susan K. Marlow – Hailey read this entire series on our vacation and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Twelve-year-old Andrea “Andi” Carter, who lives during the 1880s in California on her family’s ranch – the Circle C, attracts trouble the way her palomino horse, Taffy, draws flies on a hot summer day.  Andi is the type of girl that loves adventure, is curious about everything and always seems to get into trouble, despite her best efforts not to.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – This book has a captivating and unique story line with puzzles built into it that are filled with creative, engaging characters focused around 4 orphans who are exceptionally talented in their own ways.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks – An imaginative story about friendship and responsibility.

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry – A classic for horse lovers. 

The Kid from Tomkinsville by John R. Tunis – A great read, especially for boys who love baseball.

The Redcoats are Coming by Marianne Hering – Book #13 in the Imagination Station Series is the first of three books about the American Revolution.  In this book, the cousins meet Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.  A quick, engaging read that all ages will enjoy.

God’s Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera – Captures the message of the gospel in a beautifully simple and engaging way.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – This is a current favorite of Callie and Emma’s, but all of the kiddos find this book hilarious (especially the peach crayon).  We are hoping that if we keep reading this book to Emma she will comprehend the proper way to treat crayons, ha!

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn – Another favorite of the little girls right now.  A sweet story about a girl who has a favorite dress, outgrows it, and then her mom repurposes it so that she can continue to enjoy it and she learns to embrace change creatively.

God’s Providence by Sally Michael – We have enjoyed similar books (God’s Names and God’s Promises) and so we knew this would make a great devotional to use with the kiddos in the morning.  I often read this to the kids before we begin school as part of our Bible time together. 

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung – “A mercifully short book about a really big problem.”  As the subtitle mentions, we live in a world where being busy is the norm.  This book is filled with biblical tools to address the busyness problem.  No one is too busy to read this highly recommended short book!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breath by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson – This book offers hope amidst the sometimes mundane and exhausting work that moms experience.  Full of practical advice and wisdom to help you persevere and thrive as a mom to young children.  The two perspectives (Sarah Mae who is currently in this season of life, and Sally Clarkson who is beyond this season of life) bring a unique vantage point that is refreshing and encouraging.

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotion by Lysa TerKeurst – A funny and heartfelt book that will help you understand emotions and make wise decisions amidst those raw emotions.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield – An inspiring testimony and thought provoking read.

Not By Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom – Brian and I have been reading this together (well, I read aloud to him!) and have thoroughly been enjoying these short, faith building stories together in the morning.  His imaginative story telling brings fresh life to old stories in an engaging way that will build your faith.

And last, but not least … I have been reading the last book of the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson to the kiddos.  This book is technically not available yet, but because we were a kickstarter backer for the last book in the series, we received a PDF version of the book (before final editing).  However, it is only approximately the first half of the book, so pretty soon we will be waiting with everyone else for the conclusion!  Now is a great time to start this series because you will not have to wait long for the final book by the time you finish the first 3 books in the series!

Happy reading!  This time of the year is the perfect time to cuddle up on the sofa with a hot drink a good book!

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.
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Emma – 3 years old
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Callie – 4 1/2 years old (5 this month!)
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Sydney – 7 1/2 years old
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Justin – 9 1/2 years old
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Hailey – 10 1/2 years old (11 this month!)
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The girlies
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A fun family shot.
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The love of my life.
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Me and my girls.
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My favorite guys.
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Me and my boy.
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My love with our girls.
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12 years of marriage.
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Daddy and the kiddos.
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Me and my 5.
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Love these shots of Brian and Emma.
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It is rough being the baby of the family.
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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!