Tuesday, September 11, 2012

change is good =)

For the first time in my homeschooling career, I feel like I'm in a good groove. Schoolwork and housework are going fairly smoothly (considering my circumstances of 2 kindergarteners, a preschooler, and an infant, lol).  We're following somewhat of a schedule now, which was painful for me to begin, but it’s working out well for us!

I’ve always been a “go with the flow” kinda’ gal when it comes to schooling (and housework). If everyone was in a good mood, we’d do some fun school stuff. If not, we’d wait till later. Sometimes specific school activities would be in the morning, sometimes evening. That’s how we operated for preschool…it was a blast, much of our learning was through our natural environment and woven into our days.  NOW, we’re doing kindergarten. Unfortunately, it can’t be as laid back (maybe we can reevaluate again after everyone is reading? Haha). I’m teaching two boys how to read, write, and do math.  YIKES!!!!!  I needed some structure and a plan, STAT!  I used to be amazed by the scheduled people in my life and couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around the steps involved to get to that final product….a structured day.

There’s this book, “Managers of Their Homes”, by the Maxwells, which does just that...it helps you to create a schedule by using many small steps which help you evaluate your time and goals. After many days of evaluating my time and my goals for my household (including school, chores, personal time, etc), I FINALLY came up with a schedule. To be honest, I think I got more out of the “process” than the final schedule itself. I discovered patterns in my day that could make things flow more smoothly. So here are a few examples of some changes we’ve made…keep in mind that every household is different, this is just what worked for us. =)

#1 I am waking up before everyone else to start my day off with the Lord…even if I stay in the bed, I try to get in some reading and prayer before everyone wakes up. For 5 years now, I’ve stayed in the bed till I hear the pitter patter of little feet coming to crawl in bed with me. That can be anywhere from 700-830. I used to always say “I wish I could get up earlier…I could accomplish so much more…but I need my sleep.”  BLAH BLAH BLAH.  I was going to start getting up at 6am so I could have time to read, get dressed,  AND do some housework, but because of some chore training (discussed later), it wasn’t necessary to get up so early. So far, it’s working out well. By starting my day off in the Word, I can tell a HUGE difference in how I conduct myself throughout the day. And because of my attitude, I can tell a difference in the kiddos as well.

#2  Chore training: I must say that caring for 4 kids 5 and under keeps me busy. There are always dishes to wash, laundry to put away, things to be picked up, meals/snacks to prepare, etc. Before you know it, the day is gone. So many things are left undone, and I’m left feeling defeated. These days were becoming more and more common, to the point that I was getting down in the dumps. I felt helpless. But while reading the book I mentioned above, I realized that I was skipping an important step in my day: chore TRAINING.  I don’t expect my children to do major chores, but they’re never too young to start assuming some responsibility for their messes.

Ssoooo, we started with my biggest pet peeves: shoes and dirty dishes.  As soon as they walk through the door, I remind them to put their shoes in the shoe basket. Eventually, this will become a habit. But reminding them BEFORE the shoes are missing all over the house saves me some stress. I despise looking for shoes when we’re getting ready to go somewhere and I’m certain I can’t be the only mother alive who has threatened to make their kids go somewhere barefoot. LOL.

As for dishes, part of the solution was to keep the dishwasher emptied after dishes were clean. So we load our dishes into the dishwasher throughout the day. I remind the kids after each meal to put their dishes  and trash where they belong. At the end of the day, I wipe down the counters, the kids wipe down the table, and I turn on the dishwasher. It gets unloaded in the morning when I get up…sometimes I do it, and sometimes I have the kiddos do it. Doing this has saved me a tremendous amount of stress…a messy kitchen brings me down. Keeping the dirty dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day and wiping down the counters when a mess is made has made me a happier mama. J That means I don’t have to stare at a messy, embarrassing kitchen every day. The kids are taking responsibility for their dirty dishes so it’s a win-win situation. J

#3 Laundry….i’m back to putting away at least one load a day. This keeps me caught up, there are no piles of laundry messing up the house and stressing me out every time I walk by them. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes tops to do the laundry if it’s just one load (and the kids help)…such a small segment of time is much easier to find than an hour devoted to a MOUNTAIN of clothes. Speaking of small segments of time…

#4 I am the type of person who likes to start a task and see it through till completion. With 4 kids 5 and under, 3 of which are being homeschooled, I don’t have large chunks of time to work with. It took a lot of effort for me to fight my natural instincts on this one. I would purposely not work on something because I knew I didn’t have the time to see it through to the end. So the whole day would pass and it would feel like I didn’t get anything accomplished…yuck. Now, I have finally discovered the value behind those 5 and 10 minute breaks that just happen to fall into my lap. Rather than calling someone, checking email, reading, or whatever else floats my boat at the moment, I try to work towards my daily goals. If I devote 5 minutes to the bathroom here and there, it will likely be clean by the end of the day. If I wait on that huge chunk of time to arrive for me to clean the whole thing at once, it will never get cleaned.

#5 When scheduling school, I try to do the main subjects in the morning. If they’re not taken care of before lunch, we might as well leave it for the next day. No one’s head is in the game beyond noon.  Through working on my schedule with the book I mentioned in the beginning, I realized a pattern…my kids do best right after they’ve inhaled some sort of food and right after expelling a bunch of energy. Ssooo, we fell into a nice routine after noticing this pattern. We eat breakfast, school, break, snack, school, break, eat lunch, and then we’re done. Any unfinished work is done after *dinner*, one on one with me while Joe keeps an eye on the other kiddos. As long as they’ve either just ate something or just expelled some energy playing, I am pretty much guaranteed to have their attention.  Let me just say that this isn’t how it happens every day, but this is the ultimate goal. LOL J

I am very thankful for that book, and also thankful to Amanda for letting me borrow it. She’s helped me out so much in this large family/homeschooling journey. J 

Now my current goal is learning how to homeschool with more of a meek and quiet spirit.  The Lord is working with me on this continually, and with much prayer, I have come a long way. I want to be the same with my children always…regardless of where I am, public, at home, church, on the phone, in the middle of schooling, etc. Think about it, are you always as meek and quiet at home with your children as you are in the store? Unfortunately, I’m not…but thank God I serve a loving Savior who will forgive me and whom I can lean on for the strength to press on. I fall short daily, but the important thing is that I recognize my flaws and am continually working to better serve Him through all aspects of my life.

All of these things are just that…THINGS. As Christians, we must use every aspect of our lives to serve our Lord.  For me, the changes I’ve made have been guided by Him. I must allow my roles as a wife, mother, teacher, and homemaker to reflect my faith. 
Proverbs 31: 25-28 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  
Titus 2: 3-5  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

creativity at its best

Wow, I *really* shouldn't let so much time pass between my posts. hehe. Four months? Really?? Oh well.

In the past couple of months I have been brainstorming ways to make the most of my time with my kiddos...ways to encourage more creativity...ways to get to know their heart more...ways to have more one on one time with them...discover more of their individual strengths/weaknesses...and well, you get the idea. Since I've mentioned before about some of the books and blogs I've been reading, I thought I'd share some of the changes that have taken place in our home as a result.

One of the main things is the TV. Between the fact that it's white noise that's rarely actually watched and the fact that much of it is just nonsense and a waste of time, I decided to start making a special point to leave it OFF as much as possible. We're not getting rid of the cable or anything like that, but I did start making our tv time more purposeful. More importantly, I wanted them to spend more time using their imaginations. If they were bored, I didn't want them to walk by and get caught up in what was taking place on tv. I wanted them to get creative. And boy did they EVER.

I put washable crayons and markers, glue sticks, scissors, hole punchers, tape, and a stapler in a caddy and left it sitting on their big school desk. Phew, sounds risky I know. But they now have full access to these items at all times. This has been one of my favorite and most rewarding changes. My children have shown me things on paper that have given me yet another glimpse into their hearts...what's important to them, what makes them smile. =)  I cannot believe how many boxes of washable markers we have gone through and how much paper. Oh dear...the paper. There isn't a day that goes by that my office floor isn't covered in scrap paper. Anyone know where I can get the best deal on plain white paper?? (Seriously!)  haha.

Who needs to pay for decorations when your kids are constantly surprising you with different pictures scotch-taped to the walls. Now I can't imagine sleeping without Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk staring at me. haha. JK. The kids know that daddy loves to watch tv at night so they even tape pictures around his tv now.

Benjamin is notorious for his houses...I bet the kid has drawn HUNDREDS of houses in his short time of being able to draw. haha. He always comes up with new ways of drawing them too. He also loves roads, mazes, and rainbows. There are times that he's combined them for really cool drawings as well. He melts my heart. =)  Below is also the first time Benjamin ever wrote his name backwards. :P He often makes his "N" and "J" backwards so when he wrote his entire name backwards, those letters were "right". ahahaa. Anyhooo, this pic was his happy place....houses and rainbows. lol. =) The other pic was a "rainbow road".

Isaiah loves to draw random things that pop into his brain.....skyscraper, ferris wheel, and train are 3 that come to mind. He also likes to draw things and THEN decide what they are. Example: One day he drew a "watermelon attached to a pumpkin". That was the response I got when I said "It's awesome, what is it!" LOL!!! Then he asked me how to spell it so he could write what it was on the picture to give momaw Sandy as a present. :P  Just incase you can't read it, the pic on the right is raindrops, a blueberry tree, and a train with coal in it.  His imagination cracks me up.

Gracie loves to color entire pages with different colors so that there's no white left. She's like Isaiah in that she'll often scribble something and then name it. She also loves to draw pictures of mommy....which are "special". =) Each picture of mommy always has one extra scribble which she says is my "bottom". I find this disturbing and amusing at the same time...her sweet innocent mind doesn't think anything of it. And it's no big deal to her at all....no more than me having eyes, nose, and mouth. LOL!! I just don't draw any attention to it and act like it's no big deal...she'll outgrow this, right? bahahaaa.  Below is a "spider" pic...then there's a pic of me. She says the brown things are all hairbows?  =)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

why we homeschool

Homeschooling is on the RISE....the number is increasing dramatically each year. People are choosing to homeschool for many different reasons, so I thought i'd share why WE have chosen this path for our family. =) 

So why did we choose to homeschool?  Why not? Up until a couple of hundred years ago, the public school system didnt even exist. As with everything else,  we get looked at like we're crazy if we choose to do something that's outside the box. But I want our children's education to have roots in two things...God and family. These things are being lost.....lost to the hustle and bustle of "life"...lost more and more with each generation.

Our children will learn how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly of civilization, but it will be when they're mature enough to handle it.  Right now, they just need to be kids. Their minds are not ready for the filth of this nation at such young ages....they shouldn't have to hear about the immoral behaviors taking place around them at the ripe old age of 8.

We decided that this is what's best for our family...does that mean we think everyone should homeschool or that we think less of those who don't? No, not at all! (although some people automatically take the defense when they find out we homeschool).

I love that I can weave bible truths and character training into nearly every lesson we do. I love that we can strive to keep God at the root of our learning. I love that we can simply TALK about God in our "school" and maybe even , *gasp* say a prayer mid-studies.

It makes me uncomfortable when people automatically assume I'm the most patient person in the world just because I homeschool.....I'm just as impatient as the next mama down the street. And I honestly believe that having children is just as much "character training" for US. Each day is a test for me...a test of my patience, a test of my priorities, a test of faith....faith that God can give me the strength to deal with the 4 year old attitudes that are trying to chip away at me. We as mommies are being watched...how we deal with bad times...how we deal with stress...how we deal with loved ones in our lives. And we are teaching them every single second that they are around us....and for us homeschooling mommies, that's ALL THE TIME! Talk about an overwhelming feeling! Some days are harder than others, but it's all worth it!  Do I fail these tests???  Daily!!!! But I'm a work in progress.

I'm selfish. Time is fleeting. I want to be with my children as much as possible. Our children are small for such a short time.....I don't want to give up my time to some teacher, no matter how great he/she may be. These are my children and I'm confident that the good Lord will give me everything I need to educate them and enstill a love of learning. Sure, I need my breaks just like everyone else. And yes, I have a stack of projects a mile-high that could be accomplished in no time if I had a few free hours every day. But I do not like the idea of sending my kids to school for the day, working on homework for hours, doing bathtime, bedtime routines, and BLINK, time's up. Do it all again tomorrow....that just isn't enough time for me to bond with my kids. I WANT MORE!!  I want to have my morning snuggles. I want to teach them responsibility with chores with time left over for more fun stuff. I want them to help eachother learn a new idea/concept. I want to see their lightbulb moments when they finally get it.

I want to tailor their education to their interests. It's a proven fact that we learn best (and retain) when we're learning about something we're interested in. If they become obsessed with frogs, I can tailor their science, math, reading, english, and handwriting lessons to something pertaining to frogs.  I don't have to fit their love for frogs (or whatever interest it may be at the time) into weekends or the short amount of time during the week that they're not either eating, bathing, spending time with the family, or doing homework. I wonder if this whole concept of tailoring education to interests is why there are so many homeschooled kids who grow up to become entrepreneurs?

I love the flexibility. There's no alarm clock in the mornings...the kids sleep as late as they want (well...my cut-off is 930 but they usually start waking around 800'ish). We're not bound to vacations during peek seasons. We can have shorter homeschool days and school all year IF we choose to (who can stand to play outside when it's 90+ degrees outside anyway). I like the idea of a continuous education and not having to spend time reviewing from 3 months "off".  We haven't decided what our schooling timeframe will be, but at this point, I'm definitely leaning towards schooling all year.  If we want to schedule a playdate in the middle of the week with other kiddos (obviously homeschoolers, otherwise they wouldn't be available midday) we can just not do school that day. There's no need for a rigid structure. We can do it all in the morning or do some of it in the evening with daddy. Learning doesnt have to take place behind a desk for hours and hours....It doesn't take 7 or 8 hours of "schooling" to cover all of the needed information. A couple hours and you're done. The rest of the day can be spent exploring interests. I keep hearing of the hours of homework that my friends' kids are coming home with these days.....and I cannot imagine having to spend "my time" with "my children" doing all of that homework after having them away from me all day!!!

I want to teach my kids in whatever style they learn best. I don't want them stuck in the mold....you know, the public school system mold of how "most kids" learn best. Sure, they try to tap into all sorts of learning styles, but if you're excelling in one area and a little slow in another you're out of luck. At home, extra attention can be given to the problem areas to get caught up.  And if you need to go up a grade-level to be challenged, then go for it. I want my kids to have a custom-education...whatever is best for each of them!!

Many people wonder about the "socialization". That's the biggest misconception about homeschoolers...that they're weird and don't know how to socialize (okay, so for some this IS true, but it doesn't have to be). There are sssooooo many opportunities for my kids to socialize with other homeschoolers around here (moreso in kanawha/putnam counties than boone at the moment, but still, opportunities nonetheless). There's actually so much stuff to be involved in that it would be easy to become over-extended. lol. I've just been waiting for that magic age of 6 months for Levi to be old enough to take meds (if he were to get sick)...we're almost there and I'm ready to get out more.

So anyhoooo.....all of this is just to give a little insight into why we are choosing this path. We in no way think less of people who choose different paths. We might try to talk you into homeschooling because of how much we love it, lol, but we don't judge. It's not for everyone....and it's not easy....but the rewards are endless!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"fb friends unite"

It's always refreshing to meet new people who share a love for our Lord....who don't mind getting caught up in endless bible conversation....who are in a similar "season" of life as we are (you know, a house full of kids, in the beginning of homeschooling, who attend a church where there are no other "young'ns")....who tend to think outside the box a little (ex. family planning, modesty, homeschooling, etc)....who have kids around the same age as ours.....

For the past year or more, Joe and Jewell (friends who visit our church once a month...they live in KY) have talked to us about a couple they go to church with in KY, Tiffany and Aaron. Apparently they thought we had a lot in common since they were always talking to us about eachother. Ssooo....we did the "normal" thing these days and started talking on facebook.

"Hey Tiffany! I'm a friend of Jewell's (they visit our church once a month in WV). I hear so much about you all the time from Jewell because apparently she thinks we have a lot in common (big families and potential homeschoolers?) haha
Ssooo...thought I'd send ya a message on here and see if ya wanted to chat about life sometime. =)
Hope to hear from you soon!!!

And so it began.....recently, we decided to meet up with Aaron and Tiffany for the first time. There was only one catch: they live 3+ hours away. Hhmmm....how could we work this out? Tiffany mentioned that Aaron preaches at a church in Ashland 3 times a month. Perfect! We decided to drive to Ashland on a Saturday so we could go to church with them on Sunday. Tiffany and Aaron always spend the night with her mom near Ashland anytime he's preaching at Westwood. So,we got a hotel in Ashland and they came over to spend the evening with us and order pizza. It was so much fun!!! =)  Such great fun and fellowship with Tiffany and Aaron, and the kids had a blast.

You can imagine....no tv, no toys, only two big queen sized beds spaced fairly close for the kids (we had a couch and chairs for the adults), and IMAGINATION. Their oldest, Emma is around the same age as Isaiah and Benjamin, Brac is the same age as Gracie Belle, and then little Maggie is just a few weeks younger than Levi. =)  We had such a great time that we've invited them to drive 3+ hours to spend the weekend with us next month. Can't wait!!!
On Sunday morning, we headed to Westwood Church of Christ with them where Aaron gave a great sermon on the 2nd chapter of James. Everyone at their church was super sweet and laid back, just as we're used to where we attend church at home. After services, we all headed out to O'Charley's.....you can imagine the looks. Four adults with SEVEN kids under the age of 5. LMBO!!!!  Good times. =)  Tiffany whispered to me as we were walking in, "Yes, they're all ours and yes we know where they come from."  ahahaaaa =P

So I guess i'll sum this up to say to Tiffany and Aaron: apparently you're our "twin family"....LMBO!!!  We look forward to your visit next month. =)

Oh, and I can't forget to include our family hotel pic that we take anytime we go somewhere.....this is our first one since Levi was born. =)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A child's time with their daddy is a special, special treasure on this earth.....

and a time for mommy to see into the hearts of her husband and children, to see the children look up to their daddy as if he's Superman himself (minus the cape),

to see the relationships unfold of admiration, trust, and unconditional love,

to see the laughter/rough-housing that these children associate with their daddy, to keep myself from giggling when I see the kids trying to purposely get a laugh out of daddy during nighttime bible reading just to make him smile,
and to see that honestly, there is very little "serious" time with daddy because he's just one big ball of fun.....it is such a blessing.


Just like Gracie's cowgirl teetering on daddy's lincoln log creation, life is just one big balancing act.....learning how to balance the most important things in this life and putting to the side the things that don't really matter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

ice, ice baby.....(throwback)

It wasn't until I was browsing back through my pics and saw Benjamin with his hat on sideways, holding a piece of ice, that I decided on the title of this blog post...heheheee! =)

The events of this afternoon began with the boys saying, "Mommy!!! The water is HARD!! Why????"  Thus a perfectly unplanned homeschool moment surfaced. I'm all for hands-on learning, so I had to run with it, right?

We shattered ice across the driveway like broken glass, just to watch it melt in the sunshine.

Then we collected a bunch of pieces of ice in a cup to make our hypothesis "How much water will be in the cup when all of the ice melts??? I put a line and initial where each child thought the melted water would be.....then we put the ice in the sun to melt.  See below to find out who made the
best guess! =)

Who would have thought ice could be so much fun!!!  They played till their little fingers were completely numb.

We also crunched ice with a big stick found in the wood pile...

Miss Priss, on the other hand, was not into the ice....she was having more fun goofing off on the swing with mommy!    

Then along came popaw with a present.....some trucks to play with. Perfect for loading ice. =)

So who guessed correctly on the water/ice??  No one, but Isaiah's mark was the closest!

And what was my little Levi  doing through all of this, you ask?? Napping through much of it, but after he woke up, he was all smiles as usual! =)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

thanksgiving memories

This time last year, I was completely devastated. I had just gotten two positive pregnancy tests two days in a row on the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. I spent ALL weekend trying to decide how to announce the news and wanted to somehow incorporate it into our Thanksgiving festivities that coming Thursday. After finally deciding on how to announce it, i stayed up late Saturday night making a shirt for Gracie to wear. The front said "I've got a secret" and the back said "I'm going to be a big sister". Sunday we found out that all of joe's family would be getting together after church. They were ALL there, so we couldn't wait till thursday to share the news. It was a fun time, seeing the look on everyone's faces as their eyes just happened to glance down at Gracie Belle's shirt, especially joe's dad. hehe. It was a fun time.

The next morning when I woke up, I had a bad feeling in my gut...something wasn't quite right. No strange symptoms, just a bad feeling. Since you typically have to use your first morning urine to get a positive pregnancy test this early-on, I waited till Tuesday morning to test again. My fears were confirmed. NEGATIVE. A few hours later, I got my period. I had never even heard of a "chemical pregnancy" but apparently this is what happened.....the egg was fertilized, implanted, and produced just enough hormones to raise my HcG levels for a positive test, but the life could not be sustained for whatever reason. According to my research, this happens to a lot of women and they just think their period was a few days late. Had I not been testing so early, I would have never known....never been heartbroken....never had to go BACK to the family and tell them the "bad news" only 2 days after sharing the "good news". All of this during what was supposed to be my favorite time of year...total heartache...tears, tears, and more tears. =(

Who would have thought that we'd be pregnant again the following month! =) 

Fast forward one year later...I'm holding this beautiful, perfect, pleasant, cuddly, warm, smiling baby boy in my arms. He's so happy and giggly with his mommy. My #1 fan. A true joy in my life. And had I not gone through this total nightmare of a Thanksgiving last year, I would not have my Levi Nathanael. I know God knows best...and it was all in His hands from the beginning. For everything there is a reason. And this alone has given me peace.

Thanksgiving this year was wonderful....wonderful memories made at my moms with perhaps the most random, original dinner-table discussions known to man (i won't go into detail here, LOL). All I will say is "here witty witty witty"!!  Gracie Belle ate more green beans at momaw Sandy's than all of the adults combined. Isaiah had 4 or more servings of stuffing. Benjamin was the mac n cheese eater...and he LOVES rolls with butter but even HE wouldn't touch momaw sandy's new baseball, i mean, roll recipe. bahahaaa.  =) (love you mom, mean it) Seriously though...the rolls had a good taste, just not the best texture. LOL!!!!

After dinner at mom's, we headed over to Foster for dinner at his grandma's house. Good times were had as always. =) They are such a loving, sweet family and I'm so thankful to be able to be a part of it. Years ago, grandma June gave Nate his dad's bible (his dad passed away from cancer back in the 70's). This year, Nate had the bible encased in some wood from their family's old house. He announced to the family that from now on, each year, the bible will be passed between siblings (Nate, Drema, and Diann). They will continue this tradition every fall until only one of them remains....the bible will then belong to that family to keep. Isn't that just the sweetest most thoughtful idea? =)

On a funny note, we also did October/November birthdays at grandma June's thanksgiving dinner.....the card we got for Nate might as well have had his name written across it. When he builds houses, he usually wears bibs and a straw hat. This card...well, just let the picture speak for itself ----->

My wonderful sisterinlaw is expecting to go out of town in a couple of weeks and is concerned because she needs to have some extra milk stored up for Cody while she's gone. The chunky monkey is drinking every ounce she produces. hehe. Ssoooo, i offered to pump extra and freeze it for her to use. Dad calls me the milkmaid. haha.  Anyhooo...Leah surprised me at Thanksgiving dinner with the sweetest, funniest picture EVER!!!  See for yourself:

Family is one of the greatest blessings on this earth...and for all of my family, I am forever grateful. May God be with us all....guide and protect us through all of the trials we may face.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My 31st bday is less than a month away, and I've decided that turning 31 is way harder than turning 30.
Turning 30 didn't bother me at all....31 is just about to be welcomed with tears. =/ Suddenly I see ssoooooo many wrinkles and gray hairs.  In a wonderful blog I read the other day from The Unplugged Family, Cassandra said, "I won't fear aging.  I say, bring it on.  Every laugh line on my face is a sign of the deep joy I've soaked up in this life.  The days of sunshine bliss and belly laughs.  The days of seeing first steps and hearing first words.........Stretch marks from babies grown in my womb are love scars woven deeply into my physical skin but deeper still into the frabric of who I am. Those scars changed everything. Those scars saved me. I would never will them gone." 
I couldn't have said it better myself.....however, agreeing with those words and living out those feelings are two different things.

I used to say I wanted to have a tummy tuck after having the twins (saggy skin with so many stretch marks that they're all connected, lol), but I moved past that. I am pleased, or eh let's say "content", lol,  with the marks of my journey that have brought me to where I am today. I have 4 amazingly wonderful children on loan from God and those marks are just part of the journey. I can still remember my belly with the twins being stretched ssoooo tight and covered in stretch marks that it was literally purple and I thought I was going to spontaneously burst open. hehe. A deep purple that almost looked like blood in some spots.
Right after having the boys, I remember my skin sagging so bad that when I would sit, it would lay halfway down my thighs. I daydreamed of having that useless chunk of skin cut off. lol. Thank GOD it shrunk back...some.

My face has shown more age (in my opinion) in the past year than it has in the past 5 years...I can think of 4 reasons. bahahaaa. I don't feel like I'm as "stressed" as some think I am, but apparently the constant tending to my 4 babies and having them literally suck the life from me with breastfeeding has finally started to leave a mark, or many marks I should say. :P 
I'm not a fan of invasive procedures to reverse aging, but I do think that for my 31st bday I will invest in a daily skincare regime. I know, some of you are thinking "SHE DOESN'T HAVE ONE ALREADY?! WHAT'S SHE THINKING!!" 
Yah, well.....some of you sell avon, some mary kay....anyone wanna hook a girl up, maybe even a discount rate?!?! lol. I want something that works. I don't want someone with already beautiful skin to sell me something and saying this product made their skin that way. I want someone with "average" skin who's used a product that made them say "wow". LOL!!
On a funny note, I suppose wrinkles aren't always a BAD thing:

And then there's the gray hair(s)....oh the gray. I honestly thought I'd HATE seeing those gray hairs multiply in number. How do we not notice them till they're like 10 inches long anyway???? Do they spontaneously sprout out overnight? Anyhoooo...I don't imagine I'll be one who colors my hair till the day I die just to cover my gray. You can quote me on that and throw it back in my face 10 years from now. I may change my mind. hehe. But I know beautiful ladies who'd LOVE to stop coloring their hair but can't. How do you go from coloring your hair for so many years to stopping altogether (once everything underneath is gray)? Especially if your hair is long?? It would take YEARS for all of the color to grow out to where you only have gray left. Do you just wear hats for a few years to hide the gray roots? lol.
Anyhooo...all of this rambling to say, yes, I see the whole concept of "growing old gracefully". But can I live it? Can I really EMBRACE aging? Cassandra later states,
"Loving age in myself and accepting aging as a God-ordained progression through this crazy ride called life. Knowing, hoping, praying, I'm heading towards something even more amazing than what I've been gifted with here."
I'll try to see it that way...really, I will try. It may take awhile.

Until then, be gentle with me on my 31st bday. When I'm down in the dumps, remind me that it's not about "aging".....it's about aging gracefully...not even in a physical manner but a spiritual one. =)