Russell Brand talks PORN (and its good)

Pornography is a topic I wish would get out there more and quit being such a taboo word/concept.
I wish parents with older kids would talk more openly about their struggles with their teens and young adult children in this area. Maybe if some adults would talk more openly about their own problems with it we could begin to help the youth in America. 
Why are we so quiet? Why do we pretend its not out there? We haven't had many open discussions about it with our kids because they're still super young and don't use the Internet, but we've had "dumbed" down versions of the talk with them. We've explained why we don't allow them to be on the Internet and why we are always careful what our eyes see when we're out and about... and what to do when we do see something we ought not give any attention to.

I've had people tell me to be careful because my kids will be so sheltered they'll just stumble into something and not know. I have to laugh every time because its such a lie. Keeping your kids' young minds and eyes away from this filth will not somehow come back to bite you in the bum and actually create a bigger monster in them.
Maybe hiding the fact that it exist will. If you know your child has a propensity toward these things, then be ready. Start talking now. Pray with them. Educate yourself on how you will deal with these issues when they come of age.

I was thankfully never introduced to or stumbled upon any type of porn, outside of Victoria's Secret (and I want to say "lol" here, but sadly that's pretty much what that store has become) and like I said, I've give thanks to God for that because its becoming nearly impossible to never be exposed. And yet I still knew it existed. You have to be a dummy to not know. Every time I heard someone's testimony I felt like that word popped up. With regret, shame, guilt, hatred, sickness, disdain and their story often ended with the addiction tearing a huge hole in their life and changing it in a bad way forever.
That was enough proof for me.

This video was excellent and not from a source I would've imagined would have such great insight :)
Its not something you'd need to hide from your kids (other than him being in a bathrobe lol) and there is NO bad language or explicit talk. He does say the word "porn" though *gasp*


since I never post, here's a ton of words and pictures

Best part of January was closing the sale of our home! 

Is it really the middle of February? Already?! Time is going faster, right? And not just for me... my kids say they feel it too.
2015 arrived with a flurry of lots of things happening. We had just gotten back from our Christmas trip to California and I hit the floor running. School started back up a week earlier than usual and since I homeschool my kids and tutor for Classical Conversations, there was lots of prep work to be done. I hosted two baby showers within a week of each other and just had the every day (constant) chores, errands, emails, etc... to get to.

I hosted a shower for my good friend Sarah and a few weeks later 
she gave birth to this beautiful baby boy, Isaac David. 
David and Sarah lost their baby girl, Ava Grace at 18 weeks 
and walking through that with them and being able to experience the joy 
of Isaac's birth has been nothing short of awesome. 
So happy for them! 

 We're a busy family, but we're not THAT busy. I find my jaw dropping when I hear some of the schedules some families keep. It amazes me. Mostly because I feel like I'm drowning with my schedule and its not that bad. 
Right now our oldest 2 are on basketball teams so they have practice once a week with Saturday games. For me, that's enough sports filling our lives to last us a while. 
My general rule of thumb is to avoid the whole "kids in sports" until my kids are literally begging me. Then we discuss it. I want it to be something they really want and desire and not me throwing them at 5 million different activities. 

Miles gave up his pacifier addiction back in January. Well, it was taken away from him. He had a rough 24 hours and then seemed to move on as if it never existed. Funny how they all react differently.
We also took the guard rail down on his bottom bunk which he feels really special about. He lets everyone know he's no longer a baby and is a BIG boy.

his 2nd night without the paci. Went to sleep like a pro 

Ethan and I had our birthdays and turned 35 and 10. I told him I remember so well the day he was born; holding him and thinking "wow, when I'm 35 he'll be 10 years old" and feeling like that was SO far off. My, how quickly the time has gone.

Jason's Dad and sister spent a week with us and were here to celebrate our big day, which was so fun. We spent the day in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center, Columbia Tower and Pike Place Market.
Jason and his Dad took a few days to do some work under the house, installing a heater vent in the master bathroom and some new wiring for our projector. Its so fun to be able to get totally settled and know we're going to stay here for a long time. Much harder to unpack and set up, wondering if you're going to be asked to move in 12 months.

it was such a beautiful birthday sunset 

Oh, the Seahawks went to their 2nd Superbowl in a row!! ... and... I won't tell you how it ended. Lets just leave it at, they went to their 2nd Superbowl in a row and we are really, really proud of them.
We watched the Superbowl at our friends house and enjoyed ending the season with a bang.
Ethan and I counted and there are about 28 weeks until football season starts up again, so we're pretty much in mourning until then ;-)

this is how we feel about our Seahawks  
Seattle is truly the best place to live if you love football. 
Everyone here is insanely devoted and bandwagon fans are easy to spot ;-) 

We've been so blessed at our new (to us) church. I signed up to serve in Sunday School and was placed with 1st and 2nd graders which are my favorite <insert heart eyes here>
We've enjoyed getting to know new families and making new friends, being challenged by the Word and finding a Bible Study group that's going to press up and encourage us in literally all the areas I asked God back in December to help me grow in. Thanks, God <3
Last year (well, the last 2 years) as I was struggling more and more with the church we were at and feeling like it wasn't where God wanted us, I kept making short lists of what church means to me; what I'd like to get out of it and put into it. It amazed me how much my opinion has changed over the years. The top few things on my list were:
1.) solid, unapologetic preaching from God's word. 
2.) genuine people who love and serve God. Not to post it on social media or get praise or attention, but because they know God's love for them runs so deep, they are compelled to love and serve. 
3.) a church that is truly, deeply rooted in the community. Simply to get the gospel out and to love people well. Not looking to serve only those who can profit them in some way. 
4.) A church dedicated to helping us train and raise up the next generation, understanding that our kid's generation is the proof for our efforts and Worship to God. 
5.) a church IN our community. Close to home, where we can be involved and serve without a long trek. 
So those were my top 5 things. I told myself that when God moved us to try new places, I would throw away the silly ideas I so often get caught up with and simply focus on things I knew God wanted us to be focusing on.
Its hard to do. Because I'm self centered. So its hard to actually say "Lord, show me where you want us to be; to serve, to be used for your Kingdom." and not get wrapped up in the lame, music, clothing, people, popularity, entertainment aspect that seems to be everywhere these days.
Anyway, we're feeling settled and blessed there.

Kara's wonderland in our front yard 

our Christmas gift to the kids was a huge trampoline

Spring is fast approaching and I guess I'm happy about it. The draught on the west coast (mostly just in CA) has me a bit worried. I noticed our winter seemed to be different this year and I can't help but wonder if it means the draught issues will creep up here. We have flowers blooming way too early this year, but I'm doing my best to trust God and enjoy it.
The kids are SO anxious to use the new pool, so they're all thrilled at signs of summer coming quickly :)
He woke up, ate some breakfast and went out to play with his 
water toy and dreamt about swimming... 

Oh! I'm no longer on Facebook, so for those of you reading who think I deleted you, I didn't. Jason and I deleted our accounts back in August and it was for us and had nothing to do with any of you, so no worries there :)
Went to a new donut spot with amazingly huge donuts... 
followed by a park visit to run off the sugar :) 

Happy Valentine's Day! 


Christmas, on the road

We decided a bit last minute to go spend Christmas with our families. Its such a hard decision every year because staying home is easy, comfortable and fun... but we know how much our parents appreciate seeing our kids on the holiday and we do always have fun there :) 
When we realized it would be decent weather over the pass, we decided to go for it. 
Jason bought travel DVD players and ear phones for the kids - both ended up being perfect for our trip! I stocked up on new travel (mostly trivia) games and we set off for the long drive. 
We decided to break it up into a 2 day trip and to stay over in Oregon, so we didn't have to do 16+ hours in one day. 

here we go! 

our stop over at a hotel in Oregon. 
Ends up its perfect to drive about 7 hours the first day and 5 1/2 the second day. 

arrived at my parents house just in time to watch the Seahawks beat the Rams (!!!) 
and the next morning my Dad made us killer omelets. 
He has a real gift and has no idea how much money he'd make if he opened his own place. 

#dailyclouds from my parents front yard. 

all the kids that had winter vests on, with my Mom. 

Christmas morning 

all the grands on Christmas Day. 
Its so weird to see my nieces and nephews that were once toddlers, all grown up into 
full blown teenagers. My mind still places them all around Miles and Kara's ages and then when 
I see them in person, they're all taller than me... voices are becoming deep, getting ready to drive 
their own cars and going on dates. I feel like my head spins for a while :) 

Christmas Eve breakfast at my in-laws! 

my heart melts when I find these two cuddled up sleeping. 
It tells me that Miles woke up scared or fussy and Ethan took over as big brother and comforted him, 

Rachel with her Uncle Jeff. 

the Great Grandmas. 
These two ladies have had one rough year. 
Especially Grandma Elsie (on the left). 
We thought we had lost her in May. Jason flew out to say goodbye and support his parents, 
and by the time he flew back home, Grandma was much improved, amazing even the Doctors! 
We've seen God heal her and restore her back to her old self and even though she struggles with her memory, she is doing really, really well. 

seeing my kids show affection and care for their Great Grandmas makes my heart so happy. 

painting nails with Auntie Jenny :) 

making homemade ice cream! 

headed back home! 

Shasta, from the mirror 

we stopped off at Costco and bought bathing suits so the kids could 
enjoy the pool at the hotel we stayed at. It was the highlight of the night. 

Washington showed off for us upon our return ;-) 

December in a post

December has gone by in a whirlwind. I had grand dreams of it going by slowly and enjoying every single moment. Going to all our favorite holiday places and really relishing the month. 
Then we decided to drive to California to spend Christmas week with our families. 
And some dear friends of ours decided to move to Georgia (we hate Georgia now, just FYI) 
and we hosted their going away party... and I hosted my annual ladies only cookie decorating party. 
And then we finished up school, celebrated a small Christmas here, went to a couple parties, packed and left town. 
my friend Katie had me over with her sister and Mom for a cookies and cocktails 
party, which was super fun. We baked cookies together, drank cocktails and laughed a lot. 

evidence of said annual cookie decorating party. 

I bought these leaves at a market in Tacoma and have loved the color 
they've brought to our house! And as a bonus... they're still alive! 
Feels like Fall hung around months longer than it should've :)

enjoying our last play date with our friends :( 

I love these two girls so much! 
Not having them here anymore makes me so sad. 

Had a nice farewell to say goodbye to the Deans. 

best friends since 2010 

I took a bus with my friend Sharon's church and spent a Saturday 
in an amazing little town called Leavenworth. 
We had such a nice time and hit fabulous weather! 

some gorgeous views out the bus window. 

in Leavenworth 

so pretty at night when the lights come on

the next day our kids sang in our church's kids choir. 
Miles was a total ham and made us laugh so hard. 

before heading to California we celebrated Christmas here, just the 6 of us. 
It was so fun to watch Miles this year - I feel like it was the first year he fully
understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. 
He gasped and screamed as he opened gifts and loved watching everyone else 
open theirs. I can't wait to see how much more fun it gets next year. 

Rachel was beyond thrilled to get a Frozen blanket :) 


the obligatory Christmas letter, 2014 style

Merry Christmas!                                               {all photos taken by ivy & tweed photography}

2014 is almost over and while I can't point to anything that made it a bad year, it was a hard year. Lots of changes; some good and some difficult, and it felt long.
Most years feel like they flew by, but 2014 has had moments where it feels like its dragging on and on.
Our family had good health all year. No terrible sicknesses or hospital visits (woo-hoo!) and we did some traveling which is always fun.

Jason had a business trip with Amazon in November and I got to tag along with him, which was awesome. We enjoyed the alone time and enjoyed a few things about Vegas. Its a fun place with weird people :)

We took a month long trip to California in June and while the visit went amazingly well, we decided a month is way too long to be away. We were all a hot mess when we got home and it felt like it took us several months to recover and get back to normal life. But we loved the time with our families and enjoyed seeing some friends.

We left our only church here in Washington back in April and began the search for a new church home. Its rarely an exciting endeavor, but I have to say I am extremely thankful that the process was smooth and we enjoyed visiting lots of churches and meeting a ton of new people. It was exciting to see what God is doing in the greater Seattle area.
We felt called to one church in particular and have been blessed there and are enjoying making some new friends and finding new areas we can serve God and our community.

We moved in October into our first home we're BUYING here in Washington! This felt like a long time coming, but its finally here and we couldn't be happier. There are so many fun and interesting details wrapped up in this news. If you haven't already heard or read the long version, go here.
The super short version is, God provides. He shows us in the most amazing ways that He's taking care of us and this home sale was nothing short of His amazing grace and provision.
We're feeling settled in the new home and definitely enjoying our first holiday season here.

When people ask Jason and I what we "enjoy doing" we usually both stare and probably look a little confused. We enjoy being together. We have 4 kids, he works full time and I homeschool, so its hard to pull out these random, exciting hobbies we have. Right now our "hobbies" are,

serving God.
raising our kids.
being involved with our church.
spending time with friends.
keeping in contact with family.
watching movies, going on walks, playing board games, visiting new places, trying new recipes, working around the house and yard, talking (our family loves to talk) and just being together, the six of us. We're all most happy when we're all in the same place at the same time.
We both have a "core group" of couples that we enjoy spending time with on nights when we want to get out and enjoy guys' nights or girls night.

Ethan is almost 10 and just typing that made my heart race a little bit. 
He's in the 4th grade and with that comes a much different school schedule. He's still doing the Foundations class with Classical Conversations but has also begun the Essentials program which has been as fun for me as it is for him. And I'm not joking, we both love it! We've enjoyed reading, writing papers, coming up with interesting vocabulary words and learning as we read.

 He loves football and was so excited that his team went to and won their first Super Bowl! He got to go to their post Super Bowl parade with Jason and said its a day he'll never forget.
He enjoys being outside, playing with friends, playing Legos, Minecraft, reading, and having one-on-one dates with Dad or Mom. Out of all our kids he is the one who most enjoys being one on one with us.
Ethan has a sweet personality and is super friendly. He has no fear of meeting new people, finding random kids to play with him at the park and truly likes everyone. 
 This year we focused on some character issues that definitely pop out more at home and while some days are harder than others, we're really thankful for such a kind, outgoing son.

Rachel is 8 1/2 and has had the most noticeable growth spurt this year. In looks and personality she just seems to have aged overnight. 
She's in the 3rd grade and says her favorite subjects are History and Art. She is very artistic and has great plans of designing and creating many things when she gets older.
She likes to be busy with projects and enjoys playing dress-ups and make-believe with Kara.
The two of them are so fun to watch because they start playing and enter this amazing world that is their own and they totally forget anyone is watching them. It takes me back to my own childhood and makes me long for being a kid again.
Rachel also likes to read and enjoys when I read aloud to them. The kids said their favorite book this year that we've read are The Land of Stories and The Bronze Bow. Two very different books, but both excellent.

Rachel is my helper girl. She is always willing to serve her family and does it with a great attitude. I'm often amazed at how often she's already doing something to help out, even before I ask. Its definitely a huge blessing on days when I'm pressed for time and feeling overwhelmed.
She isn't a born leader and feels comfortable following, but does a great job being a big sister and is very trustworthy and responsible.

Kara is 6 and the life of the party. She has endless amounts of energy, never runs out of the things to talk about, likes to make people laugh, has a hard time turning off her silly side and when she's done for the day she crashes in a major way. 
She's in the 1st grade and is a happy early reader. She was beyond thrilled when she learned how to make sense of all those letters on the page :) It amazes me how much Kara and Miles pick up from hearing me teach Ethan and Rachel. I've been really impressed with math facts that she already knows, simply from hearing them being taught when she was little.

She said her favorite subject is Geography and is most excited that she learned ALL the U.S. states and capitals, can point to each one and is learning how to draw the United States map by herself.
Kara is driven and determined. I always tell her she can conquer the world someday because she definitely has that "I'm going to try and not give up" mentality.
She is outgoing when she's comfortable, but definitely shy at first. She likes to follow closely behind Rachel and when the situation seems safe, she opens up :) 

Miles is 2 1/2 going on 12. He has the most elaborate vocabulary and makes us laugh often. He reminds me of a mix of Rachel and Kara's personalities, with Ethan's fondness for books.
He sings all the time, but mostly in the car. His new thing is to take a common tune and then add his own words. The other day it was the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star but he was singing "I like the sun and I like the rain. I like God and I like Mommy..." :)
He is passionate in every sense of the word. Passionately happy and passionately sad. If the older kids take a toy he was using, he is not passive about it. We heard loud cries and I've often panicked thinking he's had a bad fall, only to find out he is just completely broken over someone not being nice to him. I think when you're the youngest of 4 you find creative ways to be heard :) 

 He struggled a lot this year with sharing. I would have a little friend over for him to play with and he would gather all his toys up into a pile and inform the child they were HIS toys and not to be touched.
I was so happy the last time someone came to play with him and he handed his friend a toy and said "you can play with this... but when you go home, just put it on my bed." ... Progress :) 
He loves Curious George, being outside, playing with his train table, talking on the phone, and doing crafts. Rachel is his 2nd Mommy and if Jason or I am not around when he gets a boo-boo, only Rachel is allowed to console him. Out of all our kids, Miles is the one who enjoys it the most when the whole family is together. He cheers when Jason walks through the door at night and says "yay! everybody is home now! Everyone is here!" and we even notice his mood improve on the evenings and weekends. He's a major cuddler and is always worried if someone is hurt or sad.

Its hard to wrap up our kids growth and changes into one letter and I always feel like I need to shorten what I write. Because this is being posted on the blog and not sent out in an actual LONG letter for you all to read, I worry a lot less about its length :)

We hope you each had a wonderful year. I'm praying 2015 is a year full of good changes and fun times for our family, but I know that whatever comes, it is first known by God and He will take care of us and provide our every need.

We love you all,
Jason, Stef, Ethan, Rachel, Kara and Miles


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