Homeschool Q&A

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I chose this rather than a post because a page is more readily accessible as time goes on than a post which gets pushed to the bottom each time a new post is added.

Repeat them to your children

Sometimes I tell Siri she’s the because sometimes she is. Sometimes our 2 year old tells ME that I am the

Growing up, when acting wild or really goofy, we kids would get called little “sheisters”. It wasn’t mean at all. It was a replacement for when other families say “silly” or “stinker”. Turns out “sheister” is derived from a legit swear word in German. My mom definitely didn’t know that (she’s not at all German) when she would call us to finally get ready for dinner, smiling, “Now come get to the table, ya little sheisters!”

I say it too. And I mean it lovingly, out of jest, just like my mom did.  Kerry informed me when the boys were about 9 months old (at the beginner stages of being little sheisters) what it translated to and at first did not believe it but nowadays with the WWW you can prove anything so I was forced to reconcile the fact that not only had my mom called me cussed words many times, I had also called MY kids the same. Oops!

Alas, the habit has stuck and occasionally, when I’m running up to grab a kid and tickle them to near-death, I say, “I’m gonna get you, ya little sheister!” I am met with disapproving eyes from the hubs.

And, of course, THIS is the type of thing that sticks with our 4 year old. She has been calling wiggly babies “sheisters” for years.

Some kids, after hearing their parents do so, will call people the while others will swear at babies in German. If you know my girls I wouldn’t have even had to tell you which one does which.

Check out this conversation between our 7 year old twin boys. This is them discussing their golden birthday, “coming up” when they turn 30. (30!)

Oakley: “I want to go to China and explore new cities I haven’t seen. I want to start a new church and stay there for 2 months to get it going. Emerson, what do you want to do?”

Emerson: “Well, spend it with you, of course. We ARE twins! But after we start a church in China I want to go to Russia and spend a couple months there starting a church. Then come home together.”

Oakley: “Yup that sounds good. There are lots of cities in Russia and China that I haven’t seen before.”

[heart. melted.]

How sweet and innocent and ignorant of them to think it only takes 2 months to get a church going. Made me a feel a *little* guilty for going on a Caribbean cruise for MY 30th when my young men would rather go to unknown to them places and do Kingdom-building work for theirs.

Listen, Israel: the Lord your God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving to you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7

At our house, we talk about Jesus like he’s still alive. Because he is. At our house, we talk about Jesus like he’s really there. Because he is. At our house, we talk about  Jesus like he’s in charge of our lives. Because he is.

There are a GREAT many things I’ve done wrong as a mother, but I can say that starting to talk to the kids from birth about Jesus is not one of them.

We say things like, “God made you and God made the lightning. God has only your best in mind. If he loves you, do you think you need to be afraid of the lightning?”

We say things like, “I love that God made your butt so cute!”

We say things like, “God designed the family and the way family works is that you obey Mommy and Daddy. Do you want to be blessed by God for doing what he says?”

The vast majority of our friends have very similar conversations in their homes.

It might feel a little awkward in the beginning but you’ll get more comfortable with it in no time. And soon, it’ll be a normal part of your kids’ conversation as well. Some might pick up on it sooner than others, and some might choose to repeat the less godly things you say as well (please tell me I’m not alone here) but the truth will soak in over time. And it’s glorious.

Last week Elliette, who is 2, said, “Does Carrie Beth know Jesus?” And Carrie Beth, my cousin, upon hearing that she asked that said, “That’s really adorable! And it tells me that you talk a lot about Jesus and his priorities at home.” And to that I had to say, “We do!”

A clear analogy

You guys.

Why why why do I wait so long to update my blog? I love to write and yet I make little time for it.

Every so often (probably once every week to be honest) I have an idea and say to myself or out loud if another adult is around, “Oh that’s a neat blog post in the making.” And then it’s gone; like Frank Sinatra, like Elvis and his mom, like Al Paccino’s cash. [Nothing lasts in this life.]

BUT. I do remember one post idea and I’M GOING TO SHARE IT with you right now.

The photos to accompany it are ridiculous. But it will all come together in the end. Promise.

In one of the rooms of our 109 year old home there are 7 windows. It’s technically a bedroom and I’ve always been baffled as to why ANYONE would want in their room! Hello, lack of privacy. Hello, morning sun. (The room faces east. East!)

Enter one of my (or was it my husband’s?) most practical remodeling ideas: make said bedroom with 7 Windows (tangent- I have to edit “Windows” every time because it auto corrects with Windows with an uppercase W as if I’m not currently typing on an apple product. Notice it did not capitalize Apple. Oh, now there it did. What in the world. Moving on) into a SUNROOM.

Get it? All the sun.

In that room, the windows are old, circa 1960. We decided to take out 2 of them and replace it with a sliding glass door.

After the patio door was installed, we still had 5 old windows in that room. The difference blew my mind.

I knew that the existing ones weren’t perfect but I never knew how undeniably awful they were till they butted up next to a brand spanking new one.


This is one of the old windows. You can still see out of it, yes. It’s not totally opaque. And it could use some scrubbing. But, not the worst view I’ve ever had, right? Look at the grass!


And here’s the new.

Hold up. Wait a minute.

Yes, these windows are in the same room looking at the same grass at the same time of day (photos taken approximately 10 seconds apart with zero editing on either).

That does not even look like the same yard!

Believe it or not, I’m not a window salesperson and I am not even  sponsoring the purchase of new windows.

Here’s what I saw.

Our old windows weren’t great but they were fine and if it’s all we ever had then with that we’d say, “Whatever. They’re  fine.”

The new pane opened my eyes to the dirty, filthy nature of the old windows.

By comparing them to the new, I realized that the old windows were so dingy that they needed replacing because no amount of scrubbing would clean up those bad boys to the point of being able to see how green that grass really is.

It reminded me of the Law (the 10 commandments of which you are more than likely at least a little bit familiar) and Jesus Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Law.

God gave us the Law to show us how much we need HIM.

If I abide by my own standard, things don’t look that grim. I think, “I’m not THAT bad, especially not compared to HER. I would go to heaven, of course, because I’m a good person.”

But the Bible is very clear that our own goodness doesn’t cut it, and we won’t be able to see that truth until we look through an unblemished window and compare it with our faded one.

The Law. If you break even one of God commands you are tainted. Have you ever told a lie? Have you stolen even one single cookie? Have you ever been rude?

Jesus never coveted. He never lusted. He was never greedy. He had no unrighteous anger. He was perfect.

Like my new patio door, but much, much better.

We cannot rely on our goodness. We must have Jesus. Have you trusted Him?

(And for the record, those old windows are gone now. Excited to have that perfect standard all throughout our home!)

For more on my personal decision to trust Jesus, go to the main menu and click “the story of my life”.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

But God proves his own love for us in that whole we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

there is hope (even when life stinks)

It’s been a tough week.

Our son was hospitalized Sunday-Tuesday for his asthma. (And that was our second trip to the ER in 3 days. The first one was with a different kid. I won’t get into that.) On Wednesday I came down with a terrible cold. On Thursday the drain to our dishwasher got clogged and started flooding our kitchen. On Friday I got diagnosed with bronchitis. (Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!) On Saturday I accidentally started a very real fire–think 8 inch flames–in our kitchen. (My husband put it out before anyone could get hurt. Why in the world is there no knight in shining armor emoji?!)

Some good things have happened. We made it out of the hospital alive. Our friends have rallied around us time and time again. We got a free regulation size in-ground basketball hoop installed. We are all still alive… Have I already mentioned that?

This is not our first rodeo. Oh no. Not only were the boys born at 32 weeks, needing 21 days in the NICU, this is our son’s 5th hospital stay in his 6 years of life.

He asked me two nights ago when I put him to bed, “Why does God let so many bad things happen to me if He loves me so much?”

Re-read that if you need to. Let it soak in.

You guys, he’s six.

My heart broke for him. It’s had me in tears several times today.

Thankfully, though, I’ve thought about this question on his behalf many, many times.

God, what did I do so wrong that you thought it right to deny me of every single prayer request I and hundreds of others were praying about the boys’ birth?

God, if you want us be prosperous, why do you allow us to accrue tons of debt as a result of what feels like a gazillion hospitalizations?

God, if you love him so much, why’d you give him so many health obstacles to battle?

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”                 John 9:1-3

This account of Jesus and the blind man was brought to my attention nearly 5 years ago by my husband. He regularly shares Scripture with me. I’m thankful for that.

He read this small passage aloud and by the end I was sobbing. Total and complete ugly cry, you might say.

I was crying because I knew that God was giving me those verses as the answer to my questions, the faith to cure my doubt, the seed of acceptance to overcome the root of bitterness that had sprung up.

God let all these things happen so that His power could be seen in and through my son. And that’s what I shared with him in response to his question at bedtime.

What a privilege it is to know he was marked since before birth to carry these trials throughout his childhood because God wants others to seek and find Him as a result.

Do you know what people say of my son to me in private when he’s in the hospital, the clinic, the speciality doctor, etc? They say, “He’s the sweetest and bravest boy we’ve had in here in a long, long time, if ever. I just wanna take him home with me! You should be so proud, Mom.”

And I am.

But more so than that I am hopeful that my son sees his weakness as a way for God’s power to be perfected in him and that many people know Christ better because of him.

I know I already do.

Why I’m 100% Okay with Jumping on the Chicago Cubs Bandwagon

It’s been a while since my last post. (Do I always start with that line?) Almost all of my blog posts are heated or heavy and since I neither like being hot nor feeling heavy I decided to shake things up a bit and go for the lighthearted route this time around. I do not know how well that will go. Consider yourself warned.

Re: baseball

I have said “I hate baseball” at least 100 times in my little life. This one time however, 2 and a half years ago, my friend gave me tickets to an Iowa Cubs game. My husband was busy that night so I took all the kids thinking “Oh we are such cute Americans going to this baseball game.” I was doing it for the kids.

It could not have gone more poorly unless one of us had died. The kids had negative 10 interest in the game and I spent $30 on food even though we had eaten dinner at home beforehand.  (Free tickets my booty!) I left covered in nacho sauce, dripping in sweat, and on the verge of swearing at people. THEN we let our boys play t-ball in this lahaaaaaame league which cost a small fortune and taught them nothing but made me feel similarly to how I felt after that Iowa Cubs game– week. after. week. Boy oh boy did that solidify my opinion of baseball.

(Here I told you this was going to be lighthearted, yet I’m ranting about my experience with baseball. The turn around is coming soon. Just stick with me!)

Fast forward to the 2016 World Series.

I’m proud to be an American, a Midwesterner, and Des Moines (home of the minor league farm team to the Chicago Cubs, mentioned previously as the Iowa Cubs) resident so I was happy to watch history be made. I didn’t want to miss out on what people would be talking about for decades.  I started thinking, maybe I will give baseball another chance, for patriotism’s sake. I was soon energized by it all and I felt like THIS is how I should feel about baseball. The fact that the Cubs’ colors are red, white, and blue was a major bonus!

So just like that we have reason number one of why I’m jumping on the Cubs bandwagon: It’s borderline anti-American to bash America’s favorite pastime and geographically speaking the Chicago Cubs make the most sense for me.

1908. Second to last time the Cubs won the World Series. (The last time was a week ago.)

Guess what else happened in 1908? OUR HOUSE WAS BUILT.

I’m not superstitious but coincidences like that get me super pumped. By game 5 I was telling anyone who would listen the year I house was built. “Just remember,” I’d say. “Our house was built in 1908. We got this!” as if it had any bearing at all on whether or not they could clinch the series. It pumped me up though, and I got a few sympathy laughs in the process.

So, reason number two that I’m okay with bandwagoning the Cubs: 1908 means something to me AND to them.

Then you have the slo-mo in the major leagues. This is not available to the average high school, much less little league, teams. In my naïveté and pride, I have always viewed baseball players as “less athletic” than other professional players. They don’t have to run very far or for very long. It’s not that hard to hit a ball with a bat. No one is tackling them. Et cetera.

But when you watch baseball in slo-mo you are stunned at how much athleticism there is going on down on the field.

Balls thrown at 100mph (!) are very hard to hit! Stealing bases is very difficult because those bags are so darn little! Tagging someone out at second and then immediately afterward someone at first requires insane teamwork and precision and oftentimes stretching in very flexible ways!

And if you’re talking pressure, if you’re talking one wrong move by one person and the entire game can be lost- that’s baseball. It’s so intense!

And I didn’t realize any of this until 2016. My extremely late twenties…

So reason number three: slo-mo, specifically of the Cubs, gave me an appreciation for baseball I never had before and therefore I owe my allegiance to them in particular.

(I have never cheered for the Cubs before this year and they’ve never won a Series in my lifetime, so please excuse me if I feel like a bit of a good luck charm to them.)

We let our 6 year old boys stay up for game 7, which went on till 11:53pm. I do not for one second regret it and I hope they remember it their entire lives.

At the end of the game, one of them said while obviously recalling hearing me say “I hate baseball” in the past, “Mom, if I play baseball will you come to my games?”

Poor thing was concerned his mama might choose her unnecessarily strong aversion to baseball over supporting him in the sport.

When I replied with an emphatic, “I will be at every game I can possibly attend,” they both said, “Good, ’cause I love baseball.”

Reason number four: by being a Cubs fan, I open wide a window to my boys’ hearts. And if they love baseball, then by all means, I LOVE BASEBALL.



thai curry recipe

Warning: I’m not a food blogger!  I feel like such a poser right now. 😄

I’ll start off by saying that my curry recipe is a few things:

1. Originally mine.
2. Adaptable.
3.  Being published here by request of several friends.
4. Usually made on a dirty stove so please don’t judge the photos. 😂😂😂

I make curry about once every two weeks and all 4 of our kids love it. I use it to clean out our fridge of all the veggies before they go bad.

For me, curry is all about the timing. It’s definitely not a walk away for 10 minutes kind of thing. It’s involved, so I will give you step by step– lest you make the mistake I did at first (which was burn the milk right out of the coconut milk.) 😳

I don’t measure while cooking hardly at all, and most certainly not with a dish I make so often. So, for my friends who thrive best with specific instructions, you may find my recipe slightly irritating. 😵

(I’m doing such a great job selling my recipe, am I right???😄)

Ok, so here’s the basic preview.

My curry has chicken in it, but you can make it vegetarian if you like. Also I  ALWAYS use sweet potatoes in my curry- I highly recommend it. Other than that, you can add or subtract from this list according to your tastes, or according to whatever you have on hand:

Sweet potatoes
Bell peppers
Green beans

I would never even think about using canned or frozen veggies to pull this off. I’m sure someone, somewhere does it, which is totally cool, but my recipe is all fresh, every time.

Here’s how I do it:

Cut all the vegetables into bite size pieces.  Curry is eaten with a large spoon and you should be able to fit about 2-3 pieces of food on it in my opinion


You can see here that I didn’t have peas, but seriously how gorgeous is this spread? Taste the rainbow!

In a large fry pan, melt coconut oil and add your potatoes. Cook on medium heat for 7 minutes or until soft.  Stir occasionally, using this time to cut your chicken. I do larger strips than bite size because it cooks down so much.

Add your broccoli to the potatoes after about 7 minutes, then your bell peppers 3 minutes after that.


In a separate pan, sauté some garlic and onion in a small amount of coconut oil and then fry up your chicken.


Douse it in curry powder. Just go crazy. When you think you’ve added enough, add more! 


Apart from the veggies, pictured here are your essentials. Coconut oil, curry powder, green curry paste, and coconut milk. All of these items were purchased at a normal, American grocery store. I don’t make a trip to the Asian market that often, but when I do I buy all but the coconut oil there. They know what’s up!

While the chicken and veggies are cooking, start your Minute brown rice (oops! not pictured! told you I’m not a food blogger!!!).

Add the peas and mushrooms.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the green beans to your stir fry mixture last. They are best a little crispy in my opinion but if you like them soft throw them in with the bell peppers.

When the chicken is fully cooked, add it to the large pan of veggies.


Pour two cans of regular coconut milk in. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. Make sure it’s not the low fat or low something or other kind. No no no! That stuff is terrible. Just the original.

It’ll come out looking like this:


Half milky, half watery. Appetizing, right???

Add green curry paste, approximately 2 tablespoons.

Stir well. Add more curry powder. Cover. Simmer on low just until the concoction is warm. Over-cooking will happen easily if it cooks too long or on medium-high heat, and then the coconut milk will lose its milky texture and become flavorless, leaving you without a real curry.

End result of my normal pot of curry looks this:


Thick, milky, and less colorful than the previous steps.

Serve over brown rice immediately. My husband and I add crushed red pepper, Cayenne pepper, and siracha in the bowl to taste.

It’s the easiest recipe to make just the way you want it. I hope this wasn’t too overwhelming! You’ll get the hang of it after making it the first time. I don’t even think about the steps anymore!

And nowwww for the abbreviated version.

Kayla’s Thai Curry Recipe

Time: 45 minutes.
Serves: 6 (👈 hubs says it’s even better the next day. make a bunch and bring it to work!)

1 Sweet potato
Bell peppers
Green beans
4 tbsp or more of coconut oil, divided
2-3 tbsp curry powder
2 15 oz cans original coconut milk
2 tbsp green curry paste
6 servings Minute brown rice
Crushed red pepper, optional
Cayenne pepper, optional
Siracha, optional

In large pan, heat coconut oil. Add potatoes. Cook for 7 minutes. Add each vegetable in succession, cooking until desired tenderness is reached.

Cook Minute brown rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sauté garlic and onion in coconut oil. Add chicken and 2 tbsp curry powder. Cook chicken until juices run clear.

Add chicken to veggie pan.

Reduce heat to low.

Add coconut milk and curry paste. Stir well. Add remaining curry powder.

Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes, just until warm.

Serve immediately over rice.

Add spices to taste.



Have you ever been around a really successful person who is also very humble? These people don’t brag about their accomplishments or compete with you to see whose better because they don’t find their worth in what they’ve done.

They’re the type of people whose words you find yourself clinging to. Like, “What gem is going to land on my ears right now?”

My husband and I had dinner with such a man and his equally successful wife last week. They are both very smart, very fit (former college athletes and current marathon runners), popular, musical, good-looking and humorous. They have high degrees and prestigious jobs.

And they are humble.

Their humility makes them generous. It makes them super laid back about their possessions. It makes them approachable. And it also makes people really listen up when they talk.

There’s something he said during dinner that I have not been able to stop thinking about all week.

“I want our kids to be average at everything but loving God and others. That’s where I want them to be excellent.”

Listen. This guy has been excellent at everything he’s touched his entire life.  He got straight As. He started on varsity. He was on homecoming court. He played college sports. He is musically inclined. He’s a handy man. He got an advanced degree. He owns a large, beautiful home. He has a wonderful wife and healthy children. He is ANYTHING but average. He is well above average.

Do you realize how monumental this is?
Someone who has tasted everything the world has to offer, who has money and status and experience, and yet says that love is what matters, love is what counts, that’s where he wants his kids to excel… Holy cow.

This tells me that everything my heart wants me to chase after is not worth it. What my flesh craves will not satisfy me. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and even that there might be inherent danger that comes with success. (Pride, forgetting God, and greed are just a few things the Bible says about it.)

This isn’t a new concept for me in all actuality. After all, I’ve been going to church my entire life. 

I have to say, though, that there’s something about wanting my kidssuccess that seems justifiable. Am I right? It’s like, “Ok God, I’ll stop chasing after the world but please make my kids good-looking, well-mannered, athletic, popular, smart, and motivated in school so they can get high paying jobs some day. K thanks!”

What if my child gets straight Bs, can’t speak publically, never makes varsity, is kinda clumsy, is relatively unknown in her school, doesn’t really want to go to college, doesn’t even get asked to go to homecoming (let alone make court) BUT is fiercely loyal to her small group of fairly nerdy friends, gives God her anxiety, reads the Word, and tells others about Jesus?

Will I consider her successful??? Will she have lived up to my expectations? Will she be the young woman I have always wanted her to be?

If I’m honest, my flesh wants more for her, but my spirit says that would be enough because the one who is last shall be first, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must become the least among you, and because if you seek first God’s kingdom (not your own) and His righteousness, allllllll these things will be added to you (Matthew 20:16, Matthew 18:4, Matthew 6:33).

Let us aim for godly success and work hard in all God has given us to do, whether that’s laundry or building houses or fixing cars or nursing someone to health or taking biology class. And if worldly success comes our way, praise God. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights, ” James 1:17a.