The purpose of this blog is to capture some of the high lights and low lights of just normal day to day life. Our life is loud, busy, and fast, but we love it!


Emma's Dedication at Cornerstone

On September 16th we had Emma Lynne dedicated at the church we attend, Cornerstone in Chandler. All of our girls have been dedicated as babies-each of the other girls were dedicated at Phoenix First and they were all a lot younger than Emma.  Nanny still bought a beautiful dress, as she purchased all the girls' dedication dresses.  Dedication is not a Baptism, but rather a public statement we as a family are making to raise our children to know the Lord and all that comes with that. We had all six of us on stage in the church because I know that it is not just David and I who will be teaching Emma, but her sisters will play a large role in that as well.

What I truly loved about the way Cornerstone does their baby/child dedication is that there is a required class both parents must take before participating in the dedication ceremony.  It was not new information for fact one of the women who run it laughed when she found out Emma was our fourth and said she should be asking us for advice!  Even though the information was not new and we already do so many things they talked about, it was another wonderful opportunity for David and I to know more about the heart of this church we have been attending for about two years now.  We took a baptism class with Chiara this past summer and both that class and this one were fantastic.  The topics discussed were right in line with what David and I believe for our family.

The lovely people in charge of this time ensure you feel special.  They have a photographer take family pictures, your guests get reserved seating, and we get a certificate and lovely prayer book for moms.

I am so grateful that not only my parents came, but my grandparents and Barbara brought my cousins.  It was a really nice family time at the church and after for dinner.  Hard to believe this is the last time we will do this, so I tried to soak it all in.

Here is our family picture.  Love it!

Great Grandparents, Rachel, Nick, Us, My Parents, and Barbara.  Wish my uncle could have been there too....maybe photoshop!
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Red Rock Park in Sedona

To beat the heat Labor Day weekend we decided to take a short trip up to beautiful Sedona, AZ with my parents. We wanted to do some hiking and exploring.  My parents are generally not hike in the woods kind of people but we all had a blast.  I am not sure which was funnier, Chiara jumping at every bug or Nanny!?!?!?

I did not have my camera, but glad I could still get some shots with David's. 

Before we started our hike. It was a bit humid but way cooler than Phoenix!

Off on the trail!

Beautiful wild flowers along the trail.

Wild life!  A squirrel.  We do not see those in the desert so it is a big deal for the girls. We also saw deer tracks and a woodpecker.

Stink bug. 

Leah took this picture of the wildflowers.

Emma was awesome in the backpack.  One of the best gifts Julie W. has ever given me!!!

One of the 3 bridges we crossed. 

Nanny and Grampy crossing

Water in AZ!!!  It was really flowing too. A week before the water had knocked out another bridge!

You can see why they call it Red Rock!

Probably the coolest moment....we went to have a picnic lunch and Chiara got up from eating saying a butterfly had landed on her.  It was still there and HUGE!  It did not leave until we shooed it away.  So cool.  

Chiara, Mayah, and Leah completed the work for the Arizona Parks Junior Ranger badge.  Here is Chiara saying the pledge.

Mayah and Leah said it too.

Along the way we took pictures saying Happy Birthday Great Grandma which I sent to David's Grandmother who I believe turned 85 years old this year.  Got to love the ideas you get on Pinterest!
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A Loss for a D'Amato Girl

Last night Mayah lost something. I was not ready. She was. It happened.
 Nothing I could do to stop it. Ugh...... 

Mayah has officially lost her first tooth!  It was loose just a couple weeks ago and now it is gone.  Replaced by a shiny new quarter and happy 5 year old!  She took it out herself and as you can see from the picture below she did not wait until the entire root was dead.  Crazy kid.  Funny the little things that give children joy.  I love it.  I love that I get to be here to experience all of them. 

Here she is shortly after calling Nanny and Grampy to tell them the news. They were so excited for her and she was so proud of herself to taking it out without help. 

The tooth. 

A new hole...a reminder every time she smiles that she is constantly changing and growing. 
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One Cubbie and Two Sparkies

Awana has started again at Grace Church here in Casa Grande! My girls were all very excited to begin. I was not able to capture the first night, but the first theme night is just as great. It was favorite food....

Leah was a pumpkin (orange, brown stem, green hair piece). Chiara's  favorite is a burger which I made.  Mayah was a blueberry.

Chiara is in her 3rd and final year of Sparks (her 5th year of Awana). On her second night there she was able to recite ALL books of the Bible (Old AND New Testament).  WOW!  Her favorite food is hamburgers (she orders them everywhere) so during quiet time I made this one for her with fabric and felt.

This is Leah's first year as a Cubbie.  She was so excited and asks about going every day.  I am so proud of her for memorizing her first verses!

This is Mayah's first year as a Spark and 3rd year in Awana.  She was so nervous about having to memorize all of John 3:16, but did it with flying colors!  She has a desire to learn God's word.  I love that even though she and Chiara are together all day every day they love being together in Sparks.  They are not at the same table, but I can really see how deep their friendship goes. Beautiful. 

Of course, this is the picture Leah wanted me to take.  "Silly faces!"  Sure, Leah....silly faces.
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Not a Peanut....A Pea!

Finally have my camera back!!! I was starting to feel like I was missing part of me. 
Thankfully there are not too many events that I missed. 

My sweet Emma Lynne has turned 15 months old.  Tick, tick, tick goes the clock.  How is it the first few years FLY by????  

At 15 months old Emma is everywhere! Up and down the stairs...inside and outside.....faster and faster every day!  She is demanding of my time and everyone's attention.  Her lungs work VERY well.  She eats just about everything put in front of her...unless of course she is having momentary vegetarianism.    She laughs, explores, loves putting things in and taking things out.  Her most favorite activity is 'reading' books. She prefers Mama to hold her and Daddy to "whisper" her to sleep.  She yells for Leah....all the time.

Her big sisters and I took her to her 15 month well check this week.  I thought for sure she would finally make 20 pounds on the scale.  Surely.  Surely not.  She did not even make 19 lbs!  She was 18 lbs and 15.5 oz.  Hilarious.   She is 30 inches long and very healthy.  She is making her own curve....waaaaay outside the curve! We used to call her big sister Mayah "peanut" because she was so tiny.  Well, if that was tiny and Emma beats that then I have decided she is a pea....a SweetPea.
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"I could never do that!"

I didn't think I would be a mother of 4. Never. A mother of four girls. Absolutely not.  A homeschooling mother of four girls.  Are you crazy?  Yet here I am.

When David and I got married and started discussing having children and our "five year plan" we thought about having four kids.  You know, two boys and two girls.  Lovely.  Well, our five year plan turned into a three year (not so) plan and our first daughter was born.  Once we hit that five year plan date we already had two children and wanted more. 

We had always talked about me staying home when we had children.  We knew there would be sacrifices that would have to be made, but of course at the time we were thinking just financial.  I can say those are the smaller sacrifices a stay-at-home mom makes.  There are unknown sacrifices to who you are and the risk of even losing the 'you' before kids.  Sacrifices to your social life and being limited to talking about poop, drool, and lack of sleep.  I know I can close to completely losing myself in motherhood, but with the encouragement of great friends, an amazingly supportive husband, and a couple mentors I not only did not lose myself, but rather rediscovered who I was and want to be. 

With all that being said, we had been playing around with the idea of homeschooling when our first was born.  I cannot recall conversations about it.  I never felt pressure from "the church" or friends, but I did feel led to consider homeschooling.  When I tell people there are many reasons we homeschool there really are.  From not wanting my children gone 8 plus hours a day to being able to teach how, when, and what I want.  I spent a few years teaching in the public school system and even though I loved my job I knew I would not want to send my children to that experience.  I am grateful and consider myself blessed for the choice and the means to homeschool. 

I can't count how many people I hear say, "I could never do that!"  Do what? Teach? Spend entire days with your children? Be responsible for them learning to read, add, think independently? Balance housework, school work, marriage, and your own needs? I know those words are meant as a compliment and trust me I take the acknowledgement of all I do as one, but why do you think you can't?  I am not a good homeschooler because I was a teacher.  In fact, in the four years I have been homeschooling I have rarely used the knowledge I learned to teach the masses.  It just doesn't work that way. My children are not those quiet, passive children sitting reading all day....far from it.  My house is not pristine, but with greats amount of purging it stays orderly. 

I believe this works for us because I believe I can do it.  I also believe it works because I have my priorities in line.  My life is not all about my children.  Sure, it is A LOT about them, but not all about them.  Big difference.  My life is (take a deep breath hear reader!) not all about my husband either.  He is amazing...supportive, gorgeous, funny, loving, so much more!  My life is about....ummmm, me.  My journey.  My God.  When that is out of balance I find everything gets out of balance.  HE first made me Jennifer, then wife, mother, homeschooler. 

I believe anyone really could do what I do every day....if, it is what they desired.  I am not better equipped than anyone else out there.  I am just living my heart's desires.  Not supermom.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  "Just Jen" to quote that gorgeous husband of mine. 

If you are reading this, I hope you living your heart's desires and being "Just You" too!