Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Wrap Up

I haven't felt like writing much lately. I can't say that it's because I'm much busier than any other times in life. Certainly I have a couple of things more on my plate (schooling a struggling reader, having a very active toddler under foot, and a baby on board has its challenges), but that usually doesn't take up any time at night. Maybe it's the lack of energy, or the added stresses that have taken away my desire to write...I kinda miss it.

Not that this post is going to turn into a regular event (like I might want it to), but it's long overdue and I feel the need to wrap up the year, especially for the kids when and if they ever read any of these ramblings.

Roman and Lucy

After lots of talk, prayers, tears, and some very sweet kids changing their favorite dog to be the other kid's favorite dog, we adopted Roman and Lucy from our foster dog's surviving 10 pups. Tom and the kids have really enjoyed them. I think they leave a lot of hair and dirt wherever they go, chew expensive shoes, and...they are pretty sweet, but don't tell the the kids I said so.


After lots of talk about taking the family camping again  (it's been in the works for at least two years), we finally made it happen. I actually have to give all the credit (or blame :>) to Tom...I could've been just as happy to have stayed at home (what a wet blanket I am sometimes).

We had a bit of a rough start to our trip: packing for 2 adults,5 kids, and 3 dogs (two are ours, one was another of Anya's pups that we were caring for until family from Chicago could come and take him home) proved a bit more complicated than originally anticipated, loading the trailer in the rain was a bit of a hassle, after finally getting on the road and driving for 20 minutes and having a tire on the trailer blow immediately following a prayer that we wouldn't have a blow-out because we didn't have a spare, finally getting to our destination (Christopher Creek near Payson) the next day after taking the l o n g way that included a side trip to an unreachable spot. Yeah. It was a fun start.

Looking back, I do have some fond memories of the experience. The kids and Tom will tell you how awesome everything was: the blow-out, the puking dogs, catching crayfish, going fishing, sunbathing in your skivvies... I've read that every family should go camping not because it's the best time in the world, filled with only highlights. No. You go because of all the obstacles you face and conquer that make the better memories. I agree. We have lots of memories.

I brought my journal with me on this "adventure" and I titled my entry (because I could), "Cutlip Camping, A Series of Unfortunate Events".

Here are some of the pictures (not one of the Mama, not that I noticed):

Announcing: 1 + 1 + 1 +1 + 1 = 6. Get it?

Baby #7

Even though I was very content with the 5 rambunctious kiddos that we have running around the house, God has seen fit to give us another. Another boy, at that. Coming March of 2016. 

Back Patio

After lots and lots of planning, prepping, and working, we finally have a back patio (after 5+ years of walking out onto three small concrete slabs shoved together)! Tom put in a lot of late night hours to get it done, and we're so glad it's done. He did a great job!! Thanks, honey!


Birthdays are those events that really mark the passage of time. From July until now, there were five out of eight birthdays.

Ben ~ 7 years old (July)

Unfortunately for Ben's birthday, I forgot to bring my camera to his actual party :(. We had it at the new bike park in Flagstaff. The boys had a blast riding their bikes up, down and around the curves and hills. Best thing - mama didn't have to plan any games!

Sammy ~ 9 years old (September)

For Sammy's party, he wanted an invite-everybody-after-church-potluck with an ice cream bar. It was a blast! Again, so nice for this mama, no games to plan:).

Tom ~ 45 years old

Also in September was Tom's birthday. I was a bad wife. I have no pictures. I do love you, my love. I truly do!!

Danner ~ 2 years old (October)

The current baby of the family turned 2 - wow! We didn't do much for him - he's two; he's not going to remember. Until, of course, he reads this blog; or one of his older siblings tells him that we didn't love him enough to give him a real party. "Not true, Danner. Don't believe them. None of them got parties at your age, except for maybe Livvy and Sammy, and that's only because we didn't know better ;)."

My first attempt at fondant (homemade with marshmallows)
- results were okay, but I'm not sure I would do it again.

Livvy ~ 11 years old (November)

After going to a Full-Circle Operation Christmas Child story event, Livvy decided that she wanted an OCC birthday party. Her goal was to fill 20 boxes. She sent out letters to friends and family asking for money to either help sponsor one or two boxes to cover the $7 shipping donation, or fill the boxes. She saved her allowance and any other money she made from summer lemonade stands or other ventures. She made, or had help making, rubber-band bracelets, draw-string bags, and tie-dye t-shirts. We also went to several local stores and asked for donations of school or toiletry items. 

Instead of friends bringing gifts to her party, they all brought money to go shopping for items to go in the Christmas boxes. It was a huge success! The girls and I (really just the chauffeur) had a blast shopping at the dollar store and Walmart for needed items. They had enough money to fill and send 30 boxes! She wants to do it again next year. Go girl, go!


As with most worthy undertakings, this homeschooling thing has lots of ups and downs, trials and triumphs. When the downs and trials hit, I'm bombarded with thoughts of all the things my kids are "missing out on", all my faults and failures, how I'm ruining my kids because of my struggles, the humongous job that lies ahead that seems nearly impossible, how they'd be better off if they could.... When we have times of triumph, I am so grateful that I have this awesome opportunity to walk with my kids through all these seasons of learning, to learn along with them, to enter into thought provoking discussions regarding pretty much everything, not just what we're learning about. It's a roller coaster for sure (and honestly, I hate roller coasters), but I'm glad we're in it together.

This year for history in school we are studying from the world from the early 1600's until the 1850's. I continue to be amazed at how 1) history does truly repeat itself, 2) history is full of adventure, intrigue, murder, power-hungry men and women, and complicated relationships of peoples, countries and historians themselves (old and new), and 3) much they did/do not teach in public middle school - I'm learning SO much!

In science we're looking at all of the kingdoms of life. So far we've covered most of the vertebrates and are moving quickly through the invertebrates so that we can end the year covering plant life. We've dissected owl pellets, frogs, grasshoppers, and worms - it's been fun!

The Men Go Hunting

Tom got drawn for elk this year! Last year he wasn't drawn, the year before that he was drawn but saw nothing, the year before that... Well. It's been awhile.

After much prepping, Tom and Sammy finally hit the road late Thursday night for the start of their hunt early Friday morning. They slept in the bed of the truck that night and started hiking hills the next day to see if they could spot anything.

On about the third hill, they were looking around, enjoying the view, when Sammy saw what he thought was a rabbit. Since they hadn't seen or shot at anything all morning, he was itching to have Dad shoot something. Tom got out the range-finder, and calculated the distance to be 190 yards. He got out his gun, made the necessary adjustments and fired.

Nothing. Turns out the "rabbit" was a cleverly disguised fallen tree. But, out of the corner of his eye, Sammy sees three elk, spooked by the noise, running running straight for the "rabbit". With not enough time to get out his elk call, Tom mimicked the sound of a baby elk with his mouth, the three elk stopped, Tom aimed and...we have meat in the freezer! Yeah!!

That's really all of the events that I can think of at the moment. Also, it's past my bed time - it's actually earlier than when I normally go to bed, but I'm always striving to get to bed "on-time", meaning earlier than my usual.

Merry late Christmas and Happy early New Year!!

Just the kids.
Kids plus one dog.
Kids plus two dogs.
Total chaos.

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