Lifestyle

Why We Chose to Homeschool.

by Vicki

We have been homeschooling for two months now. We are all enjoying it…most days. Peyton has grown in leaps and bounds and is starting to read little books, make connections from our school work to our daily lives, and is learning so much about her God and Creator.

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A lot of people have asked us “why?” about our choice to homeschool.  Most of the time they are genuine ‘why?’s from people who are interested in our schooling choices. This is awesome and I love to share what we are learning and experiencing. But sometimes (like from a certain grocery store cashier) I get a “Why would you even do that? Do you really think that’s a good idea?”. Ummmmm, yes. Yes we do. That’s why we are doing it. Obviously.

So, to answer everyone’s spoken and unspoken questions of “why??”, here are some of the top reasons that Mark and I have decided to keep Peyton home for her kindergarten year.

  • Peyton’s Age: Peyton is young! She is 5 now, but would have only been 4 when she started full time Kindergarten. Mark and I both feel that 4 (and early 5s) is just too small to be gone from the house for 7+ hours each day. I dreaded the rushed grumpy mornings and the exhausted irritable evenings. Peyton still enjoys sleeping in in the mornings, having an hour (or more) of quiet time (nap?) in the afternoons, and is typically enjoyable during the evenings. In a year she will be that much more ready and mature to handle longer school hours, more structured routine, and her big emotions; making ‘regular’ school a better possibility for her.  IMG_0982
  • Family Time: Family time is very important to our family (as it is to most families, I’d imagine!). Since I am currently on Maternity Leave I felt strongly about Peyton having this time with me at home. She has spent time in daycares off and on since she was one, so I wanted to give her a year at home to relax and enjoy our family. I also thought it would be good to take this time to pour attention, love, and confidence into our little girl before she starts ‘regular’ school. As well, Mark gets home a little later in the day and, if Peyton was in school, she would have to go to bed pretty soon after he walked in the door (or sometimes even before!). With Peyton being homeschooled we are able to enjoy relaxed evenings with our family. Later bedtimes typically mean later mornings for Peyton, which is okay because we can start school on our own time.
  • Family Values: We believe in a Christian worldview. This worldview affects everything that we do, especially how we learn and process the world around us. Mark and I feel convicted that we want to start Peyton’s school career off in a place that encourages a focus on Christ and an awe of how our Creator has woven this world together. And, although we toured two wonderful Christian private schools, we like having another year to pour into our little lady. We, as parents, try to model Christ-like behaviour, love and values so that our children can know who and whose they are. With one more year at home, God willing Peyton will be that much more secure in her faith and identity so she can stand firm.IMG_0958
  • Flexibility: We are able to teach Peyton what and when we want (even when following a curriculum and ensuring she is staying on par with the Kindergarten standards). We are also able to take a day (or week) off if we need to rejuvenate, if we go visit family in Kingston or Ottawa, if we’re having a bad day, or if we’d rather sit in our pajamas reading books and drinking tea all day.
  • Understanding our Little Girl: Teaching Peyton one-on-one allows me to ensure she is learning in a way that helps her. I can manipulate the curriculum to ensure she is learning to her strengths. If she isn’t getting something I can spend more time on it to ensure it is firmly understood. Or, if she catches on to something very quickly (numbers seem to make a lot of sense to her!), we can spend less time on it. I can also choose subjects and activities that interest Peyton. She is so much easier to teach and so much more interested in learning if its incorporated into something she already has an interest in. When Peyton goes to regular school next year I will have a good understanding of Peyton’s abilities (her strengths and weaknesses), her interests and disinterests, and how she learns best. I will be able to help her navigate the different learning environment and can be an advocate for her during her schooling career. IMG_0948
  • No regrets: Both Mark and myself were homeschooled at some point in our lives. Mark was for the majority of his schooling and I was for a couple of years in elementary. It is something that we talked (in passing) about maybe doing for our kids one day. When the opportunity to do so became an actual possibility one thought kept coming to me: We will never regret trying, but we may regret not trying. Its easier to do it and realize that it doesn’t work for us than to always wonder what could have been.

There are so many more reasons that we have chosen to keep Peyton home, but these are the main ones. We have many friends that have chosen to send their children to private or public schools and we love that. We do not think that homeschooling is the only or even the best way to teach your children. We do believe that you need to know your children and make choices that are right for them and for your family. For us, that means keeping Peyton home (at least for this year) and reevaluating her schooling situation next year.IMG_0952We just finished our first two months of school. And it is hard. But we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a couple of field trips already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my ‘peanut’.  I will do more homeschooling posts about some of our day-to-day life in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about homeschooling or are wondering if this is a choice for your family I am more than happy to share (the little of) what I know. I am by no means an expert but I am happy to help you with this journey!

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Lifestyle

We Went on a Field Trip.

by Vicki

Homeschooling has been going well.

Better than I thought it would.

We haven’t started sending Peyton to “real” school yet, so I guess that’s a pretty good indication that we are surviving. 🙂

IMG_0847Over the last couple of weeks we have been learning the letters “L” and “A”. Along with these letters our units have been about Leaves and Apples. I thought that this would be the perfect time to visit Chudleigh’s Apple Farm.  Aunt Danielle, Kiera and Carter joined us which made a fun day even more fun! We were blessed with the perfect Autumn weather and were able to enjoy the sunshine as we explored the farm, picked apples, slid down giant slides, watched animals, and ate some yummy treats.

IMG_0881IMG_0872IMG_0890IMG_0886Homeschooling Bonuses: we were able to choose a day to go that had beautiful weather, we could stay from 10:30-4 without worrying about catching a bus, and I got to enjoy the farm with all of my kiddos! IMG_0921IMG_0939IMG_0935Visiting Chudleigh’s is one of my favorite Autumn traditions. What traditions do you have for this beautiful season? IMG_0861

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Life in the Slow(er) Lane.

By Katie


Have you noticed that there are Christmas trees set up in Costco?  The fall and Halloween displays have been taken down and the left over merchandise is tucked into out-of-the way aisles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Christmas music will be playing next time we go (which will be next week.  I love me some Costco samples!)  I am fully expecting to go on Dec 24 to buy Valentine’s Day cards.

What is going on?  How did our culture get sucked into living at super speed?  It is not only shopping: its all aspects of our North American Culture.   The part the gets me is how it has affected parenting.  I know of parents whose children are in school all day, and activities all night.  Weekends are full of activities and obligations and running around.

I don’t want that life.  I can’t do much about unseasonable displays in retail locations, but I can do something about my children’s childhood. I want to do something about my children’s childhood.

I want to slow it down.

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This is a picture from last fall. I am wondering where the energy is going to come from to rake up all these leaves this year.

I have always wanted to homeschool.  I was homeschooled for 3 years and consider them the best, most educational schooling years of my life.  I mentioned earlier this week, one reason is to have an impact on my children’s mindset – I don’t want them to adopt a fixed mindset, which I believe institutionalized education fosters.  (I am not saying all children in schools have a fixed mindset; I think the current set-up of education pushes children towards, and intentionally rewards a fixed mindset).

The other reason I want to homeschool is because I don’t want our family life to be sucked into the whirlwind of busy.  I understand that life will be busy, that my life will be busy with 4 kids close together in age.  But, there is a difference between external busyness and family busyness.   External busyness is running everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off trying to accomplish all the tasks that society tells us we must in order to be living the best life ever.  Family busyness is attempting to sit down for supper and having to get up 134 times because you forgot all the things kids need in order to complete a meal.   Family busyness it trying to corral your kids and all their stuff at the same time so you can take a leisurely fall walk in which you spend all your time answering questions, guiding the run-away kids, preventing a tumble into the lake.  (Ha. Leisurely…)

I want to be able to intentionally slow down on a regular basis.  I don’t want my schedule to get cluttered with external obligations at the expense of my family’s life.   The art of slow does not come easy to me:  I like to be productive.  But I want to change my mind set to see that spending time doing life with my kids and husband is productive in the best kind of way.

Life has been getting busy lately. We are desperately trying to get a bunch of renos finished before the twins come.  I feel like it is consuming my life and I am constantly anxious because I don’t think we will get done.

But I think that life will be easier if we get them done before the number of kids we have at home grows exponentially.

But I feel like I am pushing my family to the side to achieve these goals.

So, when I noticed that a new friend of mine joined a challenge for October called The 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge I joined as well.  Because I am a follower.

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I should clearly add “haircuts” to my Before-Babies-Arrive to do list.

Ok, I joined because I thought it would be good if we could take a month to relearn how to slow down before the little ladies join us in 7 short weeks (eek!!).

The challenge comes with daily things to do with your kids intended to slow down your day.  Some of them are easy: read aloud to your kids.   My kids wouldn’t let me go a day without multiple stories being read.  Others are more difficult: make a piece of land art.  My kids are constantly collecting nature to do things with, but I never follow through with the actual creating of something.

It has been difficult to find time to complete all the tasks of the challenge.

I thought it ironic that my slow down challenge has become one more thing to check off my list, so I decided to slow it down a bit more.  I am not completing all the tasks (I am not sure I will ever be the mom that does yoga with her toddlers.   Just doesn’t seem like fun to me.)   There is a daily journal component that I really want to do but haven’t yet.  Part of the reason is that I think I need to go out and buy a beautiful journal in which to transcribe my oh-so-poignant thoughts.  Really, for the poignancy of my thoughts at this stage of pregnancy, the back of a receipt would do.

One the challenge items I latched on to was the “Purge 25 items.”  I have made it into “Purge a multiple of 25 items.”  I am collector (that is ‘hoarder’ in euphemistic terms).  I have So. Much. Junk.   And even as I purge I think, “this could be useful one day.”  But I am attempting to be ruthless, as ruthless as I can be, because I actually like my stuff.

I have gone through purges before and regretted the stuff I got rid of.  Ok, there was only 1 thing I ever regretted:  my old SLR camera that used film.  It was the camera I bought for my travels.  I hadn’t used it since I purchased my DSLR, so I sold it.   And regretted it the moment the transaction was done. Now, I live in fear that I will regret another purged item.  So maybe I should keep the terra cotta pot that has one side broken because maybe I will make a fairy garden like this one day.   Or maybe it just should go into the dump pile.

Some of the tasks I missed I want to do next week, like make the land art.  We have so many leaves here from our maples that I think would be fun to collect with the kids.  I don’t know what we will do yet, but if Atticus has his way, it will involve glue and paint.  And a drill.

My journey to slow is far from complete.  These reminders and challenges are good to keep me on track.  I don’t want to raise workaholics, but rather adults who take pleasure in the simplicities of this life that God gave us.

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Clive believes in the slow life.

And, by the way, the pot got chucked.

Lifestyle

Fall into Nature.

By Katie


 

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I think I can safely say fall is my favourite season.

Of course, I safely say that at the start of every season.  But, I really do love living in a part of the world where there are four distinct seasons.  I love each and every one of them and would have a hard time moving to a country that doesn’t have the warm rains of spring, the heat of summer, the cool breezes of fall and the snowy wonderland of winter.

But, back to fall.  Fall has just started and the temperatures are still warm during the day but oh-so wonderfully cool at night.  I have put additional blankets on our beds.  I have pulled out warmer pajamas for the littles.  I have bought fall mums. I have stacked cords and cords of wood for our fire place.  We are all set for the coziness of fall and winter.

This season also brings the start of school.  We are planning on homeschooling our littles but they are currently still too young for too much formal education.  Atticus is 3.5 years and Vivien is 2 years.  Atticus could technically be enrolled in preschool, but I wasn’t going to be too gung-ho with him this year.

Buuuuut then he found my preschool books.  And begged to start.  BEGGED.  So I acquiesced to his request.  I have a few of the Kumon early learning books and a couple of dry-erase books from Costco.   We don’t do school every day, but most days we do manage pull it out for 10 or 15 minutes.  Vivien colours and cuts while I do some tracing/numbers/maze-ing with Atticus. (I just got this colouring book for Vivien to start.  I am excited to see if she enjoys it.)

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Anyways, all this is to say that since we are planning on homeschooling I have connected with homeschool groups in our area.  This is the first year that I am actively participating in some of the activities.   One of the programs we were introduced to is the Little Cataraqui Creek  Conservation Area  Home and Early Learners program.

 

Its done in 3 3-week increments.  The program connects your kids to nature with different hands-on activities.  (It also gives Mamas good ideas to do at home. )

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I love this program, and so do the kids.  So it’s a win-win.  We are sad that today was the last day of this session, especially since we will most likely miss the winter session due to the 2 littlest littles who will be ex-utero by then.  I am hoping to be able to participate in the spring session again.

It is so, so good to be outside with my kids for a couple of hours just discovering this incredible creation that God has given us.  There is so much to see if you just stop to see it.

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One of the cool ideas we did today was to try find matching colours from nature to the paint chips the organizer handed out.  The kids were thrilled with every match they found (though one of our colours was green. It was hard for me to be excited after the 1000th green leaf they found).   It’s definitely something I want to do at home, or on our walks.  I also want to get magnifying glasses for them (great stocking stuffer!!) since its incredible to see the intricate workings of nature.  And it’s also so cute to see them walking around with a magnifying glass stuck to their eye!

What’s your favourite season?  Have you been out and about in nature this fall?



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Lifestyle

Homeschooling Recap: Weeks 1 & 2

by Vicki

So, although technically we are just finishing up Week 3 of our homeschooling adventure, I wanted to do a short medium length long recap on our first two weeks.

As I have mentioned, we have chosen to use the My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum. This curriculum starts the year off with a two week unit on God’s creation. It also does a review of (get familiar with) all the letters and works on teaching the student how to use different tools (like the alphabet chart). I really enjoyed this unit and it was a great way to familiarize myself with how the curriculum flows. It was also a good two weeks for Peyton and I to get comfortable with schooling and to figure out a schedule that works for us.

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Each day we read a part of the Genesis story and learned about a different day of creation. I love the creation story – God’s awesome power, the beauty that came from just His words, and the comfort that is encompassed in the “and it was good”. Peyton memorized what was created on which day (not a requirement but she picked it up pretty quickly) and enjoyed the different activities that we got to do. We made Creation Numbers (each number was decorated with what was created on that day), visited the park to look at things that God created vs. man-made objects, talked about light and darkness in the world and in our hearts, visited the Butterfly Conservatory for a Monarch Butterfly presentation, learned the song “This is my Father’s World”, and illustrated our very own creation story books.

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For the cover page I wanted to do something different so I went to the idea factory: Pinterest. I found this craft on the blog Preschool Crafts for Kids. It was fun to make, it turned out really cute (I think) and I liked the idea of showing that God has the whole world in His hands. We took the title of Peyton’s book from the song “This is my Father’s World”: His hands the wonders wrought.  I thought it was an appropriate title considering the book contains just some of those wonders.

In the book there is one page for each day of creation. We had fun using different craft items to make our book very special and original. I think my favorite page is Day 3!

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Of course Chase is included in our schooling. He enjoyed making the book as well (although, as you can see, he sometimes didn’t have the focus to finish some of the crafts). He did finish the entire book and is VERY proud of it. I only took a couple of pictures from his (I love how his people don’t have bodies…so cute!).

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The Day 7(s) were just plain paper saying “God rested.”

I really enjoyed this craft. It was fun to plan (I planned different things for each page beyond what was suggested in the curriculum) and it was fun to watch the kids create while talking about their Great Creator! Both Peyton and Chase talk often now about the different things that God created in the world around us. I love how they name things and marvel that God created it!

We also did a little poster project: God Created vs Man-Made. Such a fun activity and a little confusing for Peyton. She was confused with flowers in a flower garden (but people plant them!) and that God didn’t create cars or toys. We did talk about how God created humans with brains that were able to invent things so really, yes, God is the creator of all things (even cars and toys). It was an excellent exercise for her. Plus it helped with her cutting and pasting skills.

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It was a fun first two weeks. And we enjoyed our third week (this past week) as well, learning about the letter “s” and the sun! I really recommend My Father’s World curriculum (not an ad!) for anyone looking for a more guided curriculum for their kindergarten homeschooling adventures!

Lifestyle

How Homeschooling Happened in our Household.

by Vicki

Let me tell you a little (true) story.

It is February 19th of this year. It is unseasonably warm outside, with sunshine and a warm breeze. Inside our little house there’s an air of excitement. I am sitting on our couch snuggling a baby who is not yet 48 hours old. The adrenaline from receiving this beautiful gift from God is slowly ebbing away and being replaced with a deep, deep tired. I am looking with amazement at one of the three cutest babies ever born. In my head are swirling the questions that always fill my mind after having a baby: Will I be able to be the momma he deserves? Will he sleep for more than 1.5 hours tonight? Am I nursing properly? Will he love his LORD? Can I handle three kids while I only have two hands?

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I am so thankful to have this little human out in the world. Worried about his future. Hopeful for sleep. Sore from labour. Tired. So very tired. Really really tired.

Down the stairs bounds Mark from grabbing a receiving blanket. He plops down on the couch, hands me the blanket, throws his arm on the back of the couch, looks over at me and our new baby, and breezily says, “So, I was thinking we should homeschool Peyton this year!”

Upon seeing my eyes fill with tears and hearing me stammer, “W-w-what? S-s-seriously? School Peyton at home? With THREE kids?”, he quickly adds, “Which we should totally talk about at another time.”

This is Mark. This is the man that I love. And this is how he does life. We didn’t talk about his great idea that night. We sat and started at our baby and gushed about how wonderful he was.

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But the damage had been done. Now, swirling in my head along with all the “Dax” worries and thoughts was this niggling idea about keeping Peyton home for one more year and teaching her letters and numbers at home.

So, in typical Vicki style, I started researching: I read blog posts, searched articles, talked to homeschool moms that I knew, asked Danielle for curriculum recommendations, and prayed. Everything that I read, excited me. But then I would remember the life that I live – hanging out with friends who’s children are all in junior and senior kindergarten, my moms group and bible study that provide child care where the other children would be 1 or 2 years younger than Peyton, my desire for Peyton to be ‘socialized’, and the fact that often just keeping my house running properly was a lot for me.

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So I kept praying.

And slowly I started realizing that all those worries weren’t really enough to decide against homeschooling (for our family). I knew my friends, they wouldn’t turn their backs on me just because I had a 5 year old at home. I knew my church family, they wouldn’t be annoyed about a 5 year old in the child care facilities (especially one that plays well on her own and with kids of all ages). I knew that the worry of ‘socialization’ wasn’t really an issue at this age, Peyton knew how to make friends, has good friends, and will always be around other people. And I knew myself, sure my house might not be perfect, but I am capable of running a household and spending an hour and a half sitting with Peyton doing school.

Then I found the My Fathers World Curriculum. And that really helped to solidify my desire to keep Peyton home. I loved the lay out of the curriculum. It gives a lot of direction so my involvement (planning) could be as much or as little as I wanted. It uses a combination of regular schooling (doing desk work) and the Charlotte Mason approach (teaching with living facts (narrative books, etc.) and a hands-on approach). It contains week long units that encompass all the subjects (For example: next week we will focus on the letter “s”, learn about the sun, doing some sun projects, read poetry about the sun, and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world). With the purchase of the curriculum I also received 26 renowned children’s books, which allowed me to justify the cost of the curriculum because even if homeschooling doesn’t work out, at least I have 26 great new books to add to our library (I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe).

And so we decided to keep Peyton home for one more year. We just decided when Dax was a couple of months old instead of only 2 days old ;).

IMG_0567We just finished our first two weeks of school. And it is hard. But, we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a field trip already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my precious Peyton.

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I have a couple of homeschooling posts in the pipeline, so stay tuned!!


** Chase needed to have a first day of school picture too. Homeschooling plus: Chase and Peyton are truly becoming the best buds!

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Lifestyle

Our Very First Post

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Welcome to our very first post. Please, come along on a journey with us.

Imagine, if you will, that you have driven up to any one of our houses on any one of the rare days that we are all together. You would enter the house and, depending on the season, would be greeted with 10 pairs of small sandals and flip flops, damp towels and swim suits draped over chairs or hanging on hooks, or, you would see 10 pairs of wet boots strewn across the floor, snow suits hanging up to dry and many, many pairs of mismatched mitts lying all over the ground.

If you were able to navigate safely through this obstacle course you would enter into a home where you would hear little voices squealing with delight, shouts of victory as a game or competition is completed, belly laughter as big cousins make little cousins laugh, voices rising and lowering as a detailed game of house or cats or Playmobil or train is dictated to each other, the occasional squabble, and the general hum of happy children who love each other, and love playing together.

You would smell numerous aromas from oil diffusers, to fresh paint, to dirty diapers, to wood burning fires, to fresh baking or supper cooking, to paint and glue from kids’ crafts, to the sweet smell of fresh babies.

You would look around, and depending on whose home you had entered, would notice a 100 year old farmhouse being lovingly restored, a small townhome filled with DIY, a bright farmhouse with years of family history, or a raised ranch nearly completely renovated and fresh. Each house has different styles and decor, but each house feels like a home where people live, love, and grow.

If, after all of this, you haven’t been taken down by the tiny army we created, excited to tell you their latest stories or include you in one of their numerous games; if you haven’t been distracted by a project on the go, or a book left open on a couch; if you haven’t stopped to see what oil is diffusing or to sit and enjoy the warm fire, you would come to the dining room. And there, sitting on top of the table, you would see three teas and a coffee. And, when one of us isn’t changing a diaper, or settling a toddler dispute, or feeding a baby, you would see four sisters.

Four sisters completely different and yet very much the same.

You would see 10 years between the oldest and the youngest.

You would see 350 km stretching from the eastern-most home to the western-most home.

You would see a teacher, a modern-day pioneer, a planner, and an aspiring psychologist.

You would see a mother of 4, a mother of twins, a mother dealing with postpartum, and a brand new mother of one.

You would see university degrees and career diplomas.

You would see laugh lines and messy buns.

If you took some moments to listen you would hear laughter over childhood memories, emphatic (but kind) political debates, discussions about disciplining children, tears as heartaches and struggles are shared, encouragement for new journeys and for journeys that feel never-ending. One would tell of her chickens’ latest antics, another the latest stories in her classroom, another of her latest room “re-do”, and another of life as the wife of a student. You would listen as they discussed family budgeting tips, meal prep and planning ideas, vacation dreams and plans, and stories from last week. You would hear them share their favourite products, books, foods, and TV shows (for binge watching while cluster feeding babies). You would see them share their love for their Saviour and hear as they discuss their churches and latest devotions.  Even though their lives are different, they would, for that day, do life together.

You would leave feeling like you had witnessed something beautiful and messy, peaceful but chaotic, intricate and yet simplistic.

Our hope for this blog is that we can use it to experience these sister visits more regularly than just once every few months. We have something special in our sisterhood. Something that encourages, stretches, challenges and grows us.  What we want for this blog is to share our lives and to connect, with each other and with you.

We are four sisters. This is our one blog. Please join us.

Much love from, All of us.