Workboxes with the Middles

We are starting a new school year tomorrow and are pretty excited! At least I am, since I am getting to implement our new workbox system that I’ve been working on all summer.

They have already been working with the new system a little bit during our summer school, but tomorrow will be the “real deal”.

It starts with our new schedule cards (have you figured out that the office supply & organizational stores are my favorite yet?).


The three “middles” (Caleb, True & Noble) each have their own weekly schedule, which has what they will be doing and in what order throughout the day. True’s does not look as full since I ran out of velcro sticky things. Once they have completed whatever task they are on, they take off the square, then turn in around and velcro it back to the card. That way, I can see with just a glance as to where they are at in their day.

I am planning on filling out their schedules one full week at a time, so I am not expecting to have much prep work with these. I think it will be more of flipping them back over and occasionally adding/taking away things as each week may be slightly different than the one before.

On Noble’s schedule, he will have between 2-4 “workbox” activities to do during the day…mainly during times that I need him to be busy. So far, he has been loving doing his school when I pull it out. So for example, I may have a puzzle card on his schedule, then on his workbox drawer, he will have the same puzzle card attached to the drawer, so he knows to get it out of that specific drawer. Not only does this keep his toys nicer (as we tend to be super hard on toys and they do not last long in our house) since they are not always accessible, I am hoping it will also cause him to be more interested in them as I switch them out daily.

Here is his workbox area, with the corresponding cards attached to it for tomorrow.


Each night I take out that day’s works (usually a lapbook or two, a puzzle, playdough, coloring stuff, etc) and fill it with the next day’s new stuff that I pre-made this summer…so not much work to do nightly!).

Here is a picture of the children’s workbox area. Rather than each of them having a ton of boxes like I have seen in other homeschools (we just don’t have the space), I gave them each one box to keep all their work in. The other boxes you see are things like our goody bin, supplies, etc.


I found many wonderful links on pinterest to help me with the making of our lapbooks (free) and templates, such as the ones I used for the schedules and cards.

Here are a couple of Noble enjoying his new lapbooks.



Neat God story…when I first figured out I wanted to try doing these for him, I was stumped at how much it would cost to do the print outs in color, as I did not have a color printer, plus paying to have the amount I needed printed would be just crazy. I wish I could say that I prayed that God would supply my needs, but I don’t think I did. Even so, he knew what I needed and provided it anyways, as a good Father would.

That same week after I had decided we would just do black/white print outs, a friend of ours gave us his color printer, along with all new in the box ink cartridges! It really encouraged me to remember that God will supply all our needs, even ones that are really not that big of a deal sometimes!

On the same note, I will also be starting our first year of high school with Ireland “officially” tomorrow! I still cannot believe that is even possible. I may write more about what she will be doing this year later…I really am very excited for her!

Bless you friends!

Goodbye Facebook!

I deactivated my facebook account today. I think I have had it for the past four years at least. At this point, I do not know if it will gone forever, for a week, month, year, day? But I felt compelled to do it now.

You see, for me it has become a time waster and distraction. Not to say that my friends and families random thoughts, news, clever posts, blog articles are not important. For me, I was finding myself checking the news feed every time I sat down at the computer (which is not often there since I really only use it when doing co-op work or school stuff), but mainly with my iPad. The iPad time was what I am most concerned with, I could be giving attention to my children, reading, knitting, anything other than focusing on lives outside of mine.

I also noticed a deep dissatisfaction when scrolling through it, more often than not. Either a disappointment with the many sad, hurtful, offending (which takes a lot for me to be offended by the way) things…or even the great sin of comparing my lot with someone else, then coming away discontent at times.

Speaking of comparing, I am also super sensitive to the whole impersonal side of it and the fear that I might be hurting someone else unintentionally due to my words. Example: About the time I found out I was pregnant with Pearl, I had an old acquaintance grieving over facebook about the extremely painful loss of her baby. It made me super hesitant to make my joyous announcement (which I ended up doing) do to the fear of the pain it would cause her to read it. Its one thing to be in a face to face relationship in this kind of situation, where you can both truly grieve and rejoice with one another, but the so impersonal side of my “wall” where whoever reads it, I have no idea how my words may be either hurting or encouraging them. I really prefer the face to face if at all possible.

I also noticed how after I signed up for it, my writing on this here blog really dwindled. Maybe because I was spending more time on FB, reading other blogs, than taking the time to get my thoughts out on paper. That was part of the reason, I think the other part was the reading of other blogs and doing that (comparing) thing again where I did not feel adequate enough to write anymore…all my blog friends were doing it much better than myself anyways, so what’s the point. I still feel that way a bit, but I think I will try more now, especially during this hiatus I am taking.

It will be interesting to see how this time ends up. Will I find something else to distract me, or will I stay in the present more? Will I quit wondering what news I am missing, or be thankful for the personal texts or calls that I get announcing friends news (like the one I received tonight!). I really miss life before Facebook…where I did not feel like I could not live without it (because obviously we all did!). It truly has become a love / hate relationship.

I miss the old days (the one’s I did not live in), where wives worked at their homes all week long, getting more things done without the modern conveniences in a day and week than I can in a year! Then on the weekends, had time to spend with their community, finding out the news and visiting.

So though I doubt many will read this (as I’m not linking it to my fb account!), I’m really writing for myself…to be reminded when I am wondering if I start missing it…why I made this decison!

I am thinking if I do start it back up, I really need to put stronger boundaries around it. Maybe not have it on my iPad at all..have only a specific day of the week to get on with a specific amount of time. If any of you have been down this road and would like to share what’s worked for you, I’m all ears!

Bless you friends who might read this. I love your emails, visits, calls, even if its just to say hi and hear your voice (since we moms have barely any time to really talk on the phone)!

By the way, sweet Pearl is 13 months now and still as wonderful as ever. And can you believe it, still no teeth!


Birth Story of Pearl

We named her Pearl for a few different reasons. The main reason was as a Pearl is something that is made through suffering, the year she was conceived was one of great personal suffering for myself. I had been in a deep pit of depression for a few months (thankfully) due to my thinking being on idols in my life, rather than keeping my focus on Jesus. But through that suffering, the Lord saw fit to bless us with a precious child, that being our Pearl. Another is how the scripture speaks of pearls, as a costly and precious stone, in the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, and how twelve gates of Heaven were made out of pearls, we just thought that was neat. And lastly, the meaning of my name is a Pearl, so that was also a consideration. Her middle name however was one that we were wanting her to be, a serene child and person. After her rambunctious and strong willed yet wonderful big brother and sister Noble & True, we were ready for a serene child! We’ll see if that comes to pass, either way, we will love her the same!

Pearl is my fifth child, and most of my pregnancy with her I believed her to be a boy. Mainly because I felt I gained more weight, as I do with boys. But mostly because Mark had named a boy child before I became pregnant which seemed prophetic to me (Gideon). He has done this in the past and that is who I ended up having. So maybe it is possible that Gideon is to come in the future? We will see?

I think I was about 20ish weeks here?

There were signs though that she was a girl…for example how I broke out on my forehead towards the middle of the pregnancy really bad, which I remember doing with True as well. But the most obvious sign was going into labor when I did. My boys tend to need more “cooking”, so they have come out within a week or two after their “due” dates. All of my girls have arrived right around their due dates, within a day or two before or after. Pearl came one day before.

One of my biggest fears was that I was going to wake up in active labor in the middle of the night, then take too long to decide that it was time to call Rene’e (midwife) and her not making it as she lives an hour away from us. That was the one thing I continued to bring up to God, as well as asking for a gentle birth in which I would not give in to fear during the labor and delivery.

38 weeks, just set up the birth tub and being silly!

For about 2 weeks before she came, I had a few days of ongoing cramping that came like waves throughout a full day. Nothing uncomfortable or anything, but definitely knowing my cervix was doing something. After the first time that happened Rene’e came for our prenatal appointment and decided to check me. I was 50% effaced and at 1 cm, that was when I was 38 wks. Mark went ahead and set up the birth tub that weekend and was sure that I was having the baby that night. I knew I was not in labor, but I was thankful to have the tub up and ready (though at the time I felt like I would be looking at it for the next four weeks as I had with Noble).

Early Thursday morning around 3 a.m I woke up to a contraction and wondered if it might be starting. I had a couple more after that but more like Braxton Hicks and I was able to go back to sleep. Throughout the day I noticed that I was cramping all day long, just like I had those other days. But since I had the strong ones early in the morning I decided to send a text to Rene’e around 4pm to give her an update on my cramping. She called me while I was out running errands to check up on me, and since I was a day from my due date I guess she took it more seriously than I did. We decided that I would call her before bed to check up and to let her know if anything changed.

Once I got home I decided to sit down and knit so I could time the contractions (though to me at the time they still just seemed like cramps rather than true contractions). After about 6 of them I called Rene’e to let her know they were coming every 4 – 5 minutes and lasting about 40 seconds a piece, plus I was having a little bit of lower back pain. I still did not believe I was in labor, and figured I’d trust her to do whatever she thought was best. She said she would like to come to the house, so we agreed for her to come after I put the children to bed, between 8-9pm. Mark and my mother were relieved that she was coming out, but I still felt like it would be a wasted trip for her as I did not think I was in labor. I had always prided myself (yucky pride!) in that I always knew when I was in true labor and never had the false ones where I felt like I would be a nuisance to my midwife for coming all the way out, then having to go home. I was beginning to think this was a false one and was feeling guilt at her driving out for nothing. That is another issue of mine, worrying about everyone else and how I am being a bother to them. Obviously something that needs to be changed in me.

A few months old

Due to these feelings, I was also feeling pressure from everyone (even though they were not pressuring me at all) to have this baby tonight. Mark and I went on a walk right before she arrived where I was telling him this to which he so kindly encouraged me not to feel that way. Of course Rene’e also never pressured me; it was all in my head.

Laboring in the living room

She arrived at 9pm and we promptly went to my room to check me. I normally do not choose to have my cervix checked until right before I begin pushing (sometimes not at all), but this pregnancy was different. We quickly found out that I was at a 5 and 90% effaced…so that encouraged me greatly in seeing that yes, I was probably in true labor. Rene’e went ahead and called the other midwife to let her know to start making her way over here (Pam Holland, who actually attended Noble’s birth, so that was neat). Once she made that call I figured it must really be happening, though still not 100% convinced!

I was still having a bit of lower back pain (not bad at all, just enough to know she was probably posterior), so I got in the hands and knees position in the living room leaning over my birth ball while Mark massaged my back. She must have flipped pretty quickly after that because it never got any worse and went away after a while.

About 9:30ish Mark and I went and heated up our leftovers from Pei Wei and I ate the rest of my Mongolian beef (yummy!). Rene’e was laughing saying how rarely she ever sees a woman at 5cm eating, but there I was enjoying my meal. Then Mark and I went outside for a bit and he was encouraging me that I was doing what I was created to do, and that my body would do it great. It was so nice to hear those things from my wonderful husband at that point. He is such an awesome birth partner!

We spent most of the time till midnight sitting in the living room visiting, knitting, laughing, me sitting on the birth ball or leaning on it. It wasn’t until close to 12 that I had to breathe through the contractions, but they still were not painful…just something I had to concentrate on and be sure to relax through.

Through this whole time I kept waiting for Rene’e or Pam to look at me and tell me they did not think it would be happening tonight and to go ahead and go to bed, or to go back to the bedroom and use the breast pump to get it to progress which I REALLY did not wanting to do. Or even worse to say they would leave and come back in the morning, at which I was scared they would not make it back in time if indeed I was in labor (they both live about an hour from me). Thankfully none of these things ever happened.

Around midnight I looked at the clock and was surprised to see how late it was and that I was still not in what I consider “active” labor. To me “active” is where the contractions are super close and I have to groan through them. I was bored with laboring in the living room, so then decided to get in the tub. Normally I get in the tub when I believe the contractions are getting difficult and I need help relaxing, but this time it was out of pure boredom and needed a change of scenery.

Rene’e checked me before I got in and saw I was around a 7. I got into the tub and couldn’t believe how amazing it was, so incredibly warm and relaxing! I was a bit nervous that getting in would slow down my labor, but it seemed to pick it up because within two contraction I was having to make the low groaning sound to get through them and they were coming more frequently. This was around 12:30am.

I had scripture verses and prayers for the birth typed out and taped to the wall in front of me that really helped encourage me in between the contractions to trust the Lord for whatever might happen and to stay completely relaxed during the contractions. I remember a contraction would come and I would lower my head, relax my hands so that my arms and hands were floating in the water and just completely let go physically, just allow my body to do what it needed to do to let this baby come down. It was amazing how doing these things really did make the pressure so much less intense and not painful at all. I had done the same with Noble and had similar experience of very little pain, just pressure.

Both Mark and Rene’e were praying over me at this time, though I was completely focused on being relaxed and not much else…I remember hearing them both praying. It brought such peace and calm to the already beautiful setting to bring a new life into. Just another reason I love having the people who are attending me during birth being lovers of Jesus.

At one point I changed positions to hands and knees and had a few contractions that way. I remember those seemed more intense and noticing that during them I would begin to shake my head “no” while my face was down towards the water, but consciously thinking to change that to a “yes”, so I would change and nod “yes”. I did not want to be saying no to what my body was doing and in so doing tense up or fall into fear.

Rene’e said that we would be having the baby soon as she could tell I was bearing down a bit during the contractions by the sound of my moaning, to which I was completely surprised because I had no knowledge that I was doing it! I flipped back over so she could check me (I was beginning to get impatient and wanted to begin to push) and she said I was complete with a bit of a cervical lip on the top and side. This was at 1:13am. I immediately asked for some Arnica to help get rid of the lip, so Mark took it out of my jewelry box to get about 5 out, but he couldn’t open it so he gave it to Pam and she put them in my mouth.

Getting listened to and loved on by Rene'e

The next contraction came and all of the sudden I was pushing and could feel her crowning. It totally took me by surprise as I had no idea she was that far down and I did not feel like I was in control of her coming. Normally when I feel that “ring of fire” I try to stop pushing in order to stretch slowly and not tear, but it just happened so quickly and so intensely I went with it and pushed with my body that was doing the pushing I wasn’t doing (if that makes any sense at all) and out she came! I would say that was the only truly painful part of the whole experience, which I’ll take any day – 15 seconds of pain!

In love!

Mark caught her and handed to her to a very shocked momma immediately. A towel was placed on her and the hat with everyone asking what she was. I looked at her face and said that she must be a girl as she was too pretty to be a boy. But Mark lifted the towel to look and declared she was a boy! So the first few minutes of Pearl’s life we thought she was a boy! The midwives must have seen what I saw, a very pretty “boy”, so after giving us a few minutes to cuddle and kiss over her, they asked me to check agin. I did and this confirmed that she was in fact a sweet little girl! Ireland broke down in tears at that point as she had really really wanted another girl apparently! It was very sweet!

Clamping the cord for Ireland to cut

I stayed in the tub about 10 minutes to let the cord finish pulsing, then we had Ireland cut the cord while I was in the tub. Mark and the midwives helped me to get out of the tub and then I went immediately to my bed to begin nursing and letting the midwives do their work delivering the placenta and making sure I was all good. We were so happy to see that even with the crazy fast delivery, I did not tear! Yea for no stitches!!!

Daddy holding baby while I get in bed

My mother and Pam started the herbal bath water for me in the bathroom which was so much fun as I had never taken one with my newborns. In the past, the only bathtub we had at our old house was your standard small one, so getting into it was not an attractive thing to me. This time though, I decided to take advantage of our large tub and I am so glad I did! I got into the tub maybe a half hour after her birth and held her under her neck as Rene’e instructed me, then let her body float. She was so relaxed and focused on me, it was really a beautiful experience. My mom and Pam had lit candles in the room, so it was very calm and peaceful, along with giving me a drink to be sure I was hydrated.

After our bath, we got back into bed and let Rene’e and Pam do the newborn exam. They stayed for a hour or so after that, then left us settle down to sleep. Of course, Mark passed out pretty quickly, but me, with all the hormone raging through me and the beautiful baby girl next to me to distract did not get much sleep at all. Finally about 7 that morning I texted my mom to see about breakfast as I was SO hungry!

About 30 minutes later, Caleb came out of his room and walked over to me as he usually does to greet me for the morning. What a joy it was when I was able to point out his new baby sister next to me…his huge smile and excitement was so sweet! True & Noble came out a little bit later and were also so excited to meet her. All the children were hoping for a girl this time, and so they got their wish!

Their first meeting of Pearl

Mark took the next two weeks off of work as he had done with all the other children after their births. It was truly a wonderful, bonding, quiet, restful two weeks for me as he and the children did all the cooking and cleaning, and let me pretty much stay in our room the whole time. Due to that time of pampering, I healed and recovered very quickly. Isn’t he amazing?

All ready for bed now!

I’m finally finishing this now that Pearl is 10 months and she has been such a wonderful addition to our family! We are just now entering a new season where she is sleeping on her own for her naps and in her own bed at night. It is such a bittersweet time, as I have so enjoyed the past 10 months with her so close to me. But at the same time, I am really enjoying the new freedom of being able to spend more time with the children and my hot husband after she goes to bed! There are many more seasons to look forward to with all these amazing children I’ve been blessed with…I am so thankful God has allowed me to be a mother, praise Jesus!

Learning early!

Pearl Serene Jones

8lb 12 oz.

20 ¼ in.

Friday, 06.24.2011

1:15 a.m.