Thursday, December 29, 2016

How about a ton of Christmas photos?

We were once again overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas season. Our parents are so generous and set an example for how I hope to be as our children grow up and move out. I tease the kids and say that we had so many kids so they will take care of us when we get older...but in reality I hope that we can be a blessing to them for many decades to come. Our holiday has been mostly quiet and relaxing.

As I approached gift-giving this year, I tried to follow the same theme that we did last year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. It was a helpful guide, though I didn't really get something for everyone in the "something you need" category. Some kids (like Josh) had a bag full of clothes, while other kids (like Micah) only had a couple things...I guess that was based more on what they needed or what they asked for. I am pleased that we were able to get something for each kid that they really wanted.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Dog's Tale

To find out how we got here,we have to go back a ways...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fall Semester Winding Down

As the fall semester winds down, I find myself looking forward to a break. Our break is shorter this year than normal, but since we had a longer-than-expected Thanksgiving break, it evens out.

Some fun things happening here:

~Obi is now in All About Reading Level 1, and is reading his first words. I made a lot of hoopla about it, and he is so proud.
~Eden just finished her last final today. Only one more semester of high school to go--and she will graduate with her AA degree from the community college.
~Micah was accepted to St. Cloud State University for the spring semester and is waiting for his advising day so he can sign up for classes.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Thanksgiving, etc.

I didn't forget I have a blog, but it sure feels like I forgot. I have been doing relatively well keep school on schedule through the morning and after lunch. By the time Genna is down for a nap and school is done for the day, the kids are often begging for "screen time" and I am more inclined to give it to them at that point. Unfortunately, that leaves me with no computer time. It does, however, leave me time for other things. I have enjoyed reaching one of my goals for the school year--spending regular time in prayer and quiet time (for journaling) each afternoon. I love using the app PrayerMate (android or itunes) to organize and keep me on track. It has been a sweet time for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Zeke is 13

I can't believe I almost forgot to blog about this! There's another "teenager" in our house...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Papaw Jim and Lydia

I was thrilled when I received a text from my dad that he had the opportunity to come to Minnesota for a visit. I hadn't seen him for 3 years (when Mercy was 1 month old), and the kids hadn't seen him for 6 years (when we went on a huge trip with Patrick). Obi and Genna had never met him! And he hadn't been to Minnesota in almost 13 years (it's mostly too cold here...hehe).

My dad's wife Lydia had a training to attend in Duluth the first week of October, so they made a big trip of it all. I'm so thankful she dragged my dad along.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Family Pictures part pics

We got out Friday afternoon and took the kids' individual pictures. I am still sorting through the mess. I need to wait a few more days before I decide on my final favorites to print. I'm sure the older kids would like to give their input too. But here are some quick collages I picked out.

Minus Micah...I didn't put a collage together of him. I think I'll print his cap and gown photo for the wall.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Good Deal

My grandmothers taught me to be a thrifty shopper. This skill was invaluable when I got married, though I don't claim to be the best. I often miss good deals or spend too much money and realize it later. I rarely clip coupons, though I do grab what I can at the grocery store and stock up on sales of items that we use frequently. Early in our marriage Mitch and I made mistakes and within a few years found ourselves under a burden of debt that we didn't have the means to escape. We took Dave Ramsey's course, Mitch changed jobs to increase our income, but we were still unable to fix the mess ourselves. I tell people, "We flunked Financial Peace University."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Family Pictures 2016 edition!

Micah warned us a couple months ago that come September, he was leaving. He has changed his direction a few times since then, but the date of departure has only varied by a few days. I finally got serious about trying to find a time to take family pictures before he left, but it seemed to elude us. He was planning to leave today, so my time was pretty much up. Last night we got it done. I didn't take individual shots, but I got the family ones. Here they are, along with some extras!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Bee Keeping

Mitch has been bee-keeping with his dad this summer. It has been quite a journey! It has been something that he has taken the kids along to do. He has read books, watched videos, and gone to meetings. He has been through a range of emotions too--giddy in love with his bees, to having terrifying nightmares of being attacked. :) He has spent many, many hours this summer taking care of them, and he is sure that he has been in trouble with me because of it. (There may be a little bit of truth to that.)

Here are some incredibly beautiful pictures Kathi took when she was here this summer...

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Genna at 19 months

Genna is 19 months old today and I thought I would write a little update.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Josh is 11!

Poor Josh was so excited for his birthday that he made a countdown chain. It was disappointing, then, to learn that we would be doing school on his birthday. Not to worry, since it is the first week, we are taking things pretty easy. I think the thought of doing school on his birthday was worse than actually doing the schoolwork. ;) He didn't have to do that much.

Josh asked for a white cake with chocolate frosting and sixlets as decorations. I did my best to deliver!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back to School (2016 curriculum)

I love blogging about our homeschool curriculum choices. I wish I had written an update at the end of our school year about how it all went. It was fine...we didn't crash and burn overall.
We just completed our 9th year of homeschooling. I have to count...that can't be right! And now we start the 10th year. An entire decade spent homeschooling. Wowzers. When you take things one day at a time, it really adds up fast! I am so thankful that we have the opportunity and freedom to shape our children's education. I am more committed to our family's mission statement than ever before. My philosophy of education is continually being shaped and rebuilt. I know that homeschooling isn't for everyone, nor should it be. But I think that somewhere deep within this model of education lies the secret to the reform that the United States Department of Education needs to adopt for public schools. I hope they find it some day. In the meantime, we are still far from perfect here, but we arm ourselves with the resources that we have available and we strive always to move forward with clear goals.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Special Visitor

We had a very special visitor over the past few weeks.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Long Road Home

On the 10th day of our journey, we set our sights toward home, but we didn't hit the road right away.

First we went to church together at a local youth camp. Their pastor is preaching through the book of John this summer and they were at chapters 4-6. We paused at these stories that you probably know well: Jesus and the woman at the well, Jesus feeds the five thousand, and Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." For context, we flipped back to the end of Exodus chapter 15 through the beginning of Exodus 16. Moses had just led the Hebrew people out of Egypt. God had performed many miracles in the exodus. But now the people had been walking for 3 days and had no water.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Games, Grand Beach, Turtle Tide

I'm going to try to wrap up the rest of our time in Canada in one post. :) Then I'll write about our return-trip drama.

When we weren't playing on the water, we spent down time relaxing. The kids enjoyed playing games or playing on their kindles. I did some reading and knitting. I think there were a few naps thrown in for good measure.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


In the weeks before our trip to Canada, Mercy would ask us many times a day, "When are we going to Canada?" When we finally got to Canada, she was in such a habit of saying it that she still occasionally asked. We just laughed and laughed. Eventually we pointed out the Canadian flag, and I think that was what helped her make the connection that we were in Canada.

I didn't want to add to her confusion by telling her that the cabin we were staying in was actually Cam's parents' home and that Cam lived in a different house. But we did get to go to Winnipeg and visit Cam's place. When we walked in, he said, "Welcome to Cam-a-lot." Hehe.

We headed into Winnipeg after we were done visiting Lower Fort Garry. On our way, we stopped at a cute little restaurant and picnicked outside.

Lower Fort Garry

One day while we were in Canada, we took a trip to Winnipeg. Cam actually lives in the city, but we were staying at the lake for our visit. On the way in, we went to Lower Fort Garry for a visit. Wednesdays are children's days at the fort (was that planned, or did we just happen to go on Wednesday? Knowing Cam's mom, it was probably intentional...). When we arrived, the kids were handed checklists so they could "work" at the fort that day and earn their "salaries." It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fun on the water

We spent a lot of time at the cabin in Canada just playing on the water. The kids splashed around on the shore, learned how to tool around in the kayaks and paddle boat, and played in the sand. Cam's parents (and brother) took us out in turns on the pontoon boat, too. Here are a whole ton of water pictures. They are out of order because they are a collection from all our cell phones and my big Nikon.

We were blessed with such beautiful weather the whole week. At the beginning of the week, the forecast included rain every day. Each day the forecast changed, sometimes hourly. We thought, "Oh, let's get out and play now because it looks like it will rain this afternoon." Then by afternoon, the rain was postponed until sunset, and by sunset the threat had passed. It was so cool. We just enjoyed each moment that came.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

O Canada!

On July 1, which happens to be Canada Day, we headed off to Canada for our first international trip as a large family (only missing Micah). My mom said she tells people I'm so far north that I practically live in Canada anyway, so I guess this trip is not big news. We were gone for 10 12 days, so I won't be able to tackle this all in one shot.

Genna is not a good traveler. She doesn't like her car seat and will cry persistently. Up to this point, we hadn't really had to endure her screaming for more than short trips. She proved her endurance on our journey, which was not less than 7.5 hours of straight driving (which we did not manage to do). During one rest stop I flipped her car seat around forward facing, hoping that the change of scenery would improve her mood. As you can see, it did not...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

June Updates

I realized when I re-read my last post (about Micah's birthday) that I am really rusty with writing. I guess if you don't use it, you really do lose it. I must make time to write more! I must!

We have had an eventful summer already. We kicked it off with a visit from my mom, Janet, and Joel. That launched us into our list of summer projects, which looked something like this (sorry for the bad picture quality):

Monday, July 18, 2016

19 years old!

The way time passes just never ceases to amaze me. Rather than moving forward through time, I feel like I have stood still, while time flows around and beyond me. It is so strange. And now we are marking the passing of 19 years by celebrating Micah's birthday.

We were on a vacation in Canada and were supposed to be home in time for his birthday, but then our van broke down and we were delayed a couple days. So we finally celebrated his birthday a week later. I should count up how many times over the years that we have not been home to celebrate Micah's birthday. It seems that half the time we are going and doing. :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Malachi is 9 years old!

We celebrated Malachi's birthday on the 2nd. This summer doesn't seem to be slowing down any and I'm so far behind. One thing at a time!

On the day before Malachi's birthday, he was sort of "jumping" onto a chair that has wheels on the bottom and missed. He cut his foot open and it looked pretty deep. It was early in the morning, and I wasn't even close to ready for the day, so I woke Mitch up and sent him off to the ER with Malachi. A few hours later they returned, Malachi sporting 5 stitches.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Way Behind

I'm pretty far behind, and I admit it. We've had a full, busy spring here, and it doesn't look like we'll slow down any at all as we head into summer. Sigh...

I have missed so much and there are literally thousands of photos to choose from if I wanted to even share a glimpse of what we've been up to. I don't know where to start!

So I bought myself a little journal to carry around and write myself notes, so I can remember what I *really* wanted to blog about. And I'll get to it, I hope.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Graduation Announcement

Navigating new waters, we are pleased to announce the first Theis Family Homeschool graduate,

Micah Theis

Class of 2016

HEY Graduation Ceremony

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Calvary Community Church
St. Cloud, MN

We invite those who would join us in supporting Micah as he makes this important step into adulthood. Since many of our extended family live far away, we want those friends who have been our stand-in "family" to feel welcome and invited to attend the ceremony. 

Please join us in extending congratulations to Micah and prayers of blessing for his future.

Thank you!

(We have not yet planned a separate celebration.)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Mother's Day (and Josh's Baptism)

I had a beautiful Mother's Day. Genna woke me up fairly early, and I looked over and thought I saw Mitch's form curled up under the covers. As I got up and dressed quickly, I thought it was strange that Mitch was sleeping with the pillow over his head. I took a second look and realized he wasn't in the was all just a pile of pillows. I had a little chuckle. I came upstairs to find Mitch and Eden working in the kitchen like two busy bees. The table was set for breakfast, pancakes, bacon, juice and coffee were all in the works. I passed Genna off and went to enjoy a shower. It was glorious!! Eden gave me some of my favorite chocolates. Mitch was a natural leader in the kitchen, getting kids breakfast, directing them to their showers, and cleaning up.

Josh had been asking for some time to be baptized. Last Sunday we heard that there would be a baptism service this Sunday, so after an interview with church leaders he was added to the slate. He was SO excited all week long!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Tirzah is 7 years old!

I thought I would get this post written right away, but instead the days are flipping by on the calendar in such a blur. Over the past month or two I have begun a new routine with the kids to help our day go a bit more smoothly. I have been doing school right away in the morning with Tirzah, while the older boys get an hour or two to play. This gives Tirzah and I some one-on-one time to work on reading plus any other concepts she needs direct instruction for. It also gives the boys time to "get ready" for school. In some ways, it helps them get out their wiggles and focus better. This morning Tirzah begged for time to play also, with Malachi, so I relinquished for the sole purpose of writing her blog post. :)

Tirzah's birthday was a fun day. Mrs. E came over Tuesday morning with a birthday treat. A cupcake on a cookie!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mercy's 1st Haircut

Mercy joined the ranks of her sisters in giving herself a haircut today. :(

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Obadiah is 5 years old!!!

I realized this morning that for the first time since Micah was born, we don't have a little boy under 5 years old in our house. Weird.

I can't believe my little guy is so big. He is 100% ready to start kindergarten, at least in motivation.

Genna's words

Genna's first word was "Momma." She also could say "Dada" and "baba" but mostly just babbling. She also learned to say "uh-oh" and it was the cutest thing ever, but she stopped saying it after a while and worked on other things. "No" was another word in her vocabulary. But in the past few days she has added the following important words to her vocabulary.



Along with the word "no" she hasn't stopped practicing all three, and she has demonstrated that she knows exactly what they mean. Not.even.kidding. For example, she will do something she isn't supposed to do, then look up at me and say, "Stop," before I can.

We sure do have our work cut out for us! 

Friday, April 08, 2016


Micah will be graduating in May. I asked him months ago if he would like to join our homeschool association's graduation ceremony and to my dismay he said no. A week ago we got a "last chance" email and I asked him again. I guess this time nagging paid off--he said yes. Part of the preparation that we need to do now is to gather 12 photos for a slideshow. As Micah and I went through photos and "argued" about which ones to include, I came up with a brilliant idea. It didn't seem to please Micah for the graduation slideshow, so I decided it would work very well as a blog post. And here it is...

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Eden has another birthday!

T minus 1 year until she is a legal adult. One year until she graduates high school. One year until she earns her AA degree (a 2-year college degree). Unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mercy's 3rd birthday!

Last Thursday we marked 3 years of cuddling Miss Mercy in our arms.

{20 weeks}


Thursday, March 17, 2016

3 Year Olds

As we celebrate Mercy's 3rd birthday today, I was contemplating the fact that over the years I've had 9 three year olds. :) I decided to compile photos of them all...


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

7,000 Days of Marriage

{2,000 days of marriage}
This whole thing started with the dress. At least that's the way I remember it. I had a pretty dress, and I wanted to take pictures. We scheduled something at Sears, and lined up a sitter. I put rollers in my hair and was so pleased with how it turned out. The sitters arrived, and I was feeling impatient while Mitch, with a calculator in his hand, said, "Hang on a second." He said, "We've been married 2,000 days today!" We arrived for our appointment at Sears and the photographer said that we had the wrong day. It was the next week. I blinked back tears and promised we would be fast, couldn't she just get us in? It was our TWO THOUSANDTH DAY OF MARRIAGE!! :) She got us in, and the rest is history. We ended up with 3 great shots to remember this day by. We went to dinner at Applebee's, then to the dollar movie in the old theater that doesn't exist anymore. It was and is still such a fun memory. Me--ever the impatient one--and Mitch, always the fun one, giving me the gift of sentimentality that I will always cherish.

Genna Update

Genna saw the doctor last week for her 1-year-old checkup. She weighed 22 lbs 6 oz, and was 29.5" long. She is walking everywhere now, and is sporting a few new bruises from bumps and falls. Ouch! She had a couple bad nights recently--one morning she was "up for the day" at 4:30 am and didn't fall back asleep until it was time for me to get up. The next night she was up in the middle of the night for a couple hours. ::yawn:: She hasn't had anymore trouble since then, so I guess I'll never know what that was about. She still wakes up to eat at night, but I hardly notice. Ha!

Ice Skating

Even though we live in Minnesota and virtually every body of water freezes for at least part of the winter, every year, we have never gone ice skating. There is a spot in town where you can go borrow skates for free, so we decided to try it out this year. I will only share a few of the best pictures.

 {Tirzah, who loves to roller blade, was a natural on the ice}

Catching up...Valentine's Day

Here we go again, another month another couple hundred pictures. ::grin::

 Red heart balloons for Valentine's's a tradition!!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

1 Year for Genesis Grace

Today we celebrated one year of holding Genesis Grace in our arms. It is the one-year anniversary of her birth.

I wanted to celebrate on Thursday, but our schedule was chaotic. On top of that, she has been having tummy troubles and I didn't want to introduce cake. Since Mercy and Obi both started having tummy troubles after they turned a year old, it could be a similar phase that Genna is entering. I also had mastitis a couple weeks ago and just finished the since they are excreted in breastmilk and Genna is still nursing, the antibiotics could have taken a toll on her gut. She could have had a virus, but no one else in the house even hinted of being sick, so I kind of ruled it out. We have been doing probiotics and some good yogurt. Today was the first day that she seems to be semi-normal. I hope we can avoid "toddler diarrhea" and the excitement that caused for Obi and Mercy.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business. There are a lot of pictures to share!

 This is the cute thing she does with her ears. She has been doing this for a few months now. I always say, "What? I can't hear you!"

Monday, February 01, 2016


Some kids can, some kids can't. Ha!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mercy Me

 Oh this child! The duplicate of my oldest sister. I text my sister often and refer to Mercy as her little "mini-me." One day soon I'm going to go dig out some pictures of my sister and compare the two.

She loved the baby Jesus doll we had and plopped herself right down in the manger.

She has some serious bed hair! It is hard to get the tangles out, and I've tried several different products. Even when I comb it in the morning, by the end of the day it is usually in knots again.
She loves to line up things...and put things back in their places.
One day she drew a picture on paper, then continued to draw off the paper as well...

Genna loves to play on the couch. If we take the cushions off, she can get up and down by herself. Mercy lined all her baby dolls up on the couch, and Genna thought it was open season. Mercy tried to keep Genna away...
...when she realized that she couldn't keep Genna from grabbing the dolls, Mercy gathered them all up into her arms.
I insisted that she share with her sister, so Mercy tossed her one of the smallest dolls. It was hilarious. Genna was not impressed. Selfishness is contagious!

If you are just checking in for the first time (today...or in the past couple weeks), I just finished writing 6 new blog posts. This was the 6th one. So keep reading to see what all you missed!


Our homeschool year is nearly halfway through. We are doing really well in some areas and lackluster in others. That's normal, right?

 We have a few kids who enjoy spelling. This year Josh was the bravest one of all and competed in the homeschool spelling bee. We didn't do a ton of practicing. We did watch a documentary that gave us a peek into the world of championship spellers. Josh did most of his practicing using In the bee, he made it to round 4. He was so upset when he got the word "median" wrong. He showed me that he spelled it correctly on his scratch paper, but he did, in fact, spell it wrong out loud. By round 5 the words were getting very difficult and by round 7 there was a clear winner. I don't know if he will want to try again next year, but I hope he will! He was the youngest person there this year. I'm sure he will get even better if he tries.

 Mostly I just took these pictures while I was playing around with my camera. I don't even remember what I was trying to do. :)

Malachi does good with all of his schoolwork. He is working hard on learning to write this year using IEW's Ancient History based writing lessons (alongside Zeke and Josh). I know that the long hours I put in now at his side helping him complete writing assignments will reap big rewards later. He is nowhere near an independent writer. I use a lot of prompts and suggestions and sometimes write for him. Model, model, model. It will come. By 6th grade, he will be working independently.

 Josh loves spelling and writing. Math? Not as much. But he does good at it, too. Some days Josh can complete his work efficiently and without much guidance. Other days he needs to be pushed.

 Tirzah is doing well in school, but I lack consistency with completing her checklist each day. If I could choose only one area to improve (in our homeschool) it would be this one--that I could spend more time with Tirzah each day. Sigh...

 Genna impresses us all with her pencil-holding abilities. Unfortunately, our walls bear some new marks thanks to her.

Not pictured:
Zeke is really good at math. He is also good at writing, although it depends on the day. I've read some of his work and almost accused him of plagiarism. It is surprisingly good. Other assignments it seems like he writes just the bare minimum. That's ok...the minimum gets raised nearly every week. :) Zeke doesn't like to practice typing, but he would rather type his work than write it. He isn't good at spelling, so writing in a word processor is a life-saver for him. It finds almost all his misspelled words!

Caleb hides in his room and works all day on his school, 7 days a week. No, I'm not a slave driver. He says his work takes that long to do. He has turned into such a teenager! I make up reasons to pop into his room on a regular basis. I feel like it's my duty as his mother. When I want to go over the problems he has missed on the latest math test (rare), he rolls his eyes at me. I insist that it is the highlight of my day, and it's ok to "let" me teach math once in a while. He is exasperated. :)

Eden is enrolled in her second semester at SCTCC. She tells me frequently that she wants to go back to being little when all she had to worry about was playing with barbies. Me too some days.

On that note...yes, when I look at the big picture of what all I'm doing and how much longer I will need to do it for, I am completely and utterly overwhelmed. When I'm having a bad day, it's enough to physically knock me down and keep me there. So I don't look. Not too often anyway. I try to stay focused on just what is in front of me. I borrowed that from one of Donita K. Paul's books recently, and I'm clinging to it.

Dentist Visits

 The kids love going to the dentist! We love getting to see Lori. Everyone had good reports and no one needed any additional work done this time. Mercy had her teeth cleaned for the first time. I did a bit of coaching in the days/weeks ahead of time, and she also got to sit and watch some of her siblings do it. Also, she can hardly resist getting a turn to play on the Kindle, so I used that as a bribe.

A few days after going to the dentist I caught her sitting quietly reading this book to herself. As soon as she knew I was taking pictures of her, she began telling me all about going to the dentist. Most of it I had no idea what she was saying, but she babbled on and on about opening her mouth and counting teeth. It was adorable!

This past week Micah had his wisdom teeth removed. I was glad I could be there with him. When he first woke up from anesthesia he was pretty loud and talkative. He kept his eyes closed and told me he was going to "fast" from seeing. Haha. He was in pain for a couple days. Today he still has some bruising and swelling, but things look pretty good inside his mouth and it sounds like he is eating normally. Exciting times!