Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daniel- 8 months

Daniel LOVES his jumper. I have several kids who hated it but not Daniel. He could jump for hours it seems. On this particular day I think I left him in it a little too long! :-)

Daniel recently began eating food. So far he has had sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, applesauce and peaches. He likes everything except the peas... just like his mom.
I was beginning to wonder if Daniel would every have any teeth. Yesterday I saw the first bottom tooth beginning to come through.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Photo Update

The beach provided a great backdrop for pictures of the children. I'll try to post a new picture of Daniel soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We Are Home

We've been back in Tennessee for a couple of months now. The boxes have been unpacked, school began, vacation was enjoyed and life is beginning to return to normal. Or at least as normal as life can be with a house full of 8 kids! :-)

We spent our vacation on Topsail Island. It is off the North Carolina coast. Brian and I are both NC natives and tend to spend our vacation time on the less-crowded, family-friendly beaches you can find there. I asked Brian if we could get an ocean-front house this year (as we had outgrown the condos we usually stay in). I must say I think it was our favorite beach vacation ever (despite some problems with our van). Having the beach right out our front door was amazing. I had a complete ocean view from my seat at the dining table. We all enjoyed sitting on the deck in the mornings watching the gulls, pelicans and searching for porpoises.

I was afraid the kids would miss having a pool, but they really enjoyed the ocean this year. They spent many hours picking up shells, taking walks, riding the waves and playing in the sand. We also watched lots of tennis (the U.S. Open), played games, worked puzzles, read books and just enjoyed uninterrupted family time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taking a Break

Well it's moving week once again. Time to pack the boxes, unplug the computer, load the van, clean the house and move our family and belongings back to TN. Lord willing, we will begin our 16 hour drive next Monday (July 20th). We plan on making stops in Baton Rouge and Birmingham before arriving in Kingsport on the evening of the 22nd. We are looking forward to the end result but not the process of getting there. Pray that all will go well with the move and our travels.

Since we are moving (again) and will be starting school shortly after getting settled, I am taking a break from my blog for awhile. If you haven't done so already, visit my friend Kimberly at Raising Olives or one of these Top 100 Homeschool Blogs. Hopefully I'll post again in late August.

Three Months Old

Daniel turned 3 months last week. He can smile, laugh and coo. He is even sleeping 11 hours at night. (Yes, I feel like a new woman!) He found his thumb. I love watching him suck his thumb. He doesn't know what to do with the rest of his fingers, so he puts them across his nose. So sweet!

Happy Birthday Will!

Our energetic, full of laughter, baseball playing, Hardy Boy reading, animal loving son turned six on June 30th. Will played t-ball for the Tampa Bay Rays this spring, so we celebrated his birthday with a Rays theme.

He chose the often requested cheeseburger meal and a chocolate cake with Blue Bell caramel turtle fudge ice cream. (Blue Bell is a locally made ice cream we enjoy very much. We are excited to know it is now available in TN!)

He received a Better Batter Baseball and a knights and castle felt set from his grandparents. Brian and I gave him a set of Star Wars books, an I Spy book, an UT t-shirt (that would be the University of Tennessee, not Texas) and some more animals for his collection. Once again his siblings enjoyed making gifts. One sister made a secret message decoder while another made stickers for various professional and college sports teams.

(Sorry my pictures don't fit with the text. My computer has stopped cooperating. I don't know why they won't move where I want them to go. I'm giving up for now.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rotating Children's Toys

My friend Kimberly at Raising Olives is taking a break from Tuesday's Tips for Moms in order to spend more time on curriculum reviews and other things. I had been planning to stop anyway as we are moving this week and will then be starting our new school year in a few weeks. I do want to share one more tip. (And yes, I know it's not Tuesday!)

I have always rotated my children's toys. They never have access to everything we own at one time. When a box comes into their room that they haven't seen for awhile, everything seems fresh and new. I always enjoy toy rotation day as I get a few extra hours of quiet as my little ones enjoy exploring the boxes. I have at least 4 boxes for each age group, therefore the boxes are absent for about a month before the reappear.

I use plastic boxes/tubs from Wal-Mart to store the toys. I put infant toys in shoe box size plastic boxes. I put one in the family room and one in the pack 'n play. My toddlers get a box that is about triple the shoe box size in addition to a puzzle or two and one or two larger toys (Fisher Price Little People sets, Duplo blocks, etc.) I also rotate toys for my older children, especially big things like our doll house, train set, Playmobil, etc. I store toys under beds, in closets, in the garage and in the attic. It is one of my children's chores to rotate the toys each week. I even rotate our board and picture books every 4-5 months (or when I think about it).

I have enjoyed watching the children be creative when a certain item isn't available. For a couple of years it seemed like my oldest three girls only wanted to play with the dollhouse. They loved dividing the people up among them (we have lots of people so each girl can have a "large" family) and acting out daily events. Whenever the dollhouse was not available they would play the same thing but use blocks or Legos to make houses and represent the people. We have quite a few wooden blocks with faces drawn on them. :-)

So, my last Tuesday's Tip for Moms is to rotate your children's toys. I think it's a good way to get more enjoyment out of fewer things.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tuesday's Tip for Moms- Family History

While doing a craft with my children last week, I began to tell them stories about doing crafts with my maternal grandmother. She loved crafts and was always trying new things. Theses stories then progressed to other memories I have of time spent with my maternal grandparents. As we talked, it occurred to me how important it is for my children to hear these stories as my grandmother is now in the final stage of Alzheimer's.

My children have never known the grandmother that I know. I want my children to see beyond the woman in the wheelchair who can no longer care for herself. I want them to know she loved to make things. She loved to watch old movies. She loved to dance.

Thinking about this reminded me of a gift I gave my paternal grandmother about 15 years ago. I created a book of memories about the Berry family. Her husband ( my grandfather) died when I was nine. I thought she would enjoy reading about the memories others had of him and their family. I wrote a letter asking family members (children, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, etc.) to contribute stories and memories about them. I typed up everything I received and had it bound into a book.

I thought I was making a nice gift for my grandmother. I later realized I had created a wonderful family history. All of the events and many of the people mentioned in these writings are unknown to my children (and some to me ). My father wrote of hunting with his father and fishing with his grandfather. My aunts wrote about making molasses, quilting bees, sewing disasters and how their parents supported them in all they did. I treasure this volume of memories.

My paternal grandmother will be 101 on her birthday. I don't know how many more years the Lord will give her. When she is no longer with us, I'm glad my children will be able to know her, my grandfather and his side of the family through this special collection. My Tuesday's Tip For Moms is to find a way to record the stories of your family.

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.


A friend just wrote to tell me she was blocked from leaving a comment. I'm not sure how that happened, but I think I've fixed it. I would love to read your comments.

Beating the Texas Heat

We have finally discovered something we enjoy about your Texas neighborhood...the pools. A new pool opened a couple of weeks ago that makes a trip to a waterpark unnecessary. It has two large slides and a nice play structure for the younger ones. There is even a splash pad area. Most places in the pool range from 6inches to 2.5 feet. There is a deeper section where the slides empty, but it is only 5 feet. Since there is no "deep end" I don't have to worry about my older kids too much, and there is lots to occupy my non-swimmers. I also liked that there were 3 lifeguards on duty at all times. I think the pools are the one thing my kids will miss when we leave Texas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

San Antonio

We took a day trip to San Antonio last week. On the way down we picked up barbecue from Texas Pride (a place recommended on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). We got our food "to go" and headed to Mission San Jose for a picnic.

Mission San Jose still has most of its original buildings and has retained an authentic apperance. We watched a brief film that explained why people came to the missions (there are several in San Antonio) and then toured the grounds on our own.

The church (pictured above) was the center of the mission. The walls that made up the courtyard square held over 80 individual rooms. We think each family had two rooms. They were tiny!

After visiting Mission San Jose, we went to the Alamo. Only the long barracks and the church remain of the original Alamo structure. I was glad we had already seen Mission San Jose so that we had a good idea of how a mission was structured and what the Alamo probably looked like.

Our next stop was the famous River Walk where shops and restaurants line the San Antonio River. The children thought it was pretty. Some said it was their favorite part of the day. The fact that we stopped to cool off at the Rainforest Cafe with drinks and dessert didn't hurt their opinion. :-)

Our final destination was the Japanese Tea Garden. Visiting it was a nice relaxing way to end our day.

Although it was very hot, we enjoyed our day in San Antonio. The best part...everything we did was free! We only paid for gas and food. I told Brian it was nice to know there are still things you can do that don't cost any money.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Teenage Years Begin...

There is a teenager in my house!!! ( The exclamation points represent joy, not dread) Ashley turned 13 on June 5th. We had a wonderful celebration with our oldest daughter. We feasted on cheeseburgers, hashbrown casserole, baked beans and homemade apple pie. Brian and I gave her a necklace, piano sheet music from the Lord of the Rings and the second set of Elsie Dinesmore books. She also received gifts from her siblings and grandparents.

Ashley is a delight to Brian and me. She helps around the house and in the kitchen (often without being asked), cares for her younger siblings, does well in school and is diligent in all she does. She loves horses, reading, drawing, reading,the Lord of the Rings, reading, playing the piano and reading. Did I mention reading? I can't keep enough books in the house to satisfy her voracious appetite. Ashley's current desire is to write and illustrate her own books some day. I look forward to seeing how God uses this special young lady for His glory.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ice Cream in a Bag- Tuesday's Tip for Moms

One part of our summer schedule is called "Fun with Mom". Years ago I subscribed to Family Fun magazine. This past weekend I looked through some old issues for ideas. Today's "Fun with Mom" was making ice cream in zip-top bags. My kids loved it! (I tried to take pictures but discovered the batteries for my camera need to be charged.)

2 Tbsp sugar
1c. half-n-half (We used whipping cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c salt (Kosher or rock salt work best)
Ice cubes (enough to fill a gallon-size bag about half full)
1 pint-sized zip-top bag (we used qt-sized)
1 gallon-sized zip-top bag

Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-sized bag and seal it tightly. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-sized bag then seal the smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when its done. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add min-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy cleanup too!

We made four batches. It was enough for my 7 oldest. We put it in bowls. Making individual bags would have made clean-up easier, but it was nice to be able to share the shaking job. The bags get really cold. We finally wrapped dish towels around them. That helped a lot. We mixed-in M & Ms and chocolate syrup. Yum!

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lists- My Tuesday's Tip for Moms

Many people have commented to me over the years that I must be a very organized person. I'm not exactly sure what they see in me that makes them think that, because I definitely do not list it as one of my strengths. It is something that has developed out of necessity. :-) One of the tools I have found useful is to make lists.

The Grocery List- I realize this one is probably very obvious, however I am amazed that almost no one I see in the grocery store is using a list. I use a list every week and still find myself missing the occasional ingredient. Kimberly wrote about setting up weekly menus. I have four weekly menus that our family rotates through. I also have a grocery list for each week. Initially it took a lot of work, but now it is so nice to be able to print a copy from the computer, mark off the things we don't need and add what we do. I keep a running list in my kitchen of things we have run out of or that are running low. I've also divided up things like toilet paper, shampoo, aluminum foil, etc. among my weekly lists and buy them each month, if needed. I use a similar list when shopping at Sam's or Costco.

The Shopping List- For many years I've kept a Wal-Mart list on the dry erase board along with the items I need to add to the weekly grocery list. Last year it occurred to me I should keep lists for others stores and web sites I visit. I created a list with the following sections: Sam's/Costco, office supply store, pharmacy, home improvement store, craft store, homeschool supplies (usually web sites). When I am ready to go shopping, I cut off the portion I need and take it with me.

The Book List- We buy a lot of books. One of my husband's desires is for us to have a large family library. I often joke with people that we buy books first and if there is money left, we buy food. I keep a list of books we need and a wish list of books we want.

The Gift List- Throughout the year I keep a list of gift ideas for each member of our family. I also make a list of the gifts we give to others each year so that I don't duplicate items later.

The Size List- This is a list I've just recently started. I don't do a lot of clothes shopping in stores, but when I run across a good deal it will be nice to know my 13 year old's measurements.
Many styles today are made to fit tight, so just because I think she should wear a ladies' medium doesn't mean my selection will fit. Last week I bought an XL in something I could tell had a "tight look" and it was still too small! If I had had her measurements with me, I wouldn't have made that mistake.

The Recipe List- I'm actually not doing this right now, but at times I've kept a list of recipes I wanted to try.

The Borrowers List- How many times have you gone to your bookshelf to find a certain book only to remember you loaned it to someone. The question is can you remember who you've loaned it to? I loan out a lot of books, baby equipment, children's clothes, etc. I've found I can't always remember who has what, so I created a list to help me keep track of where my belongings are.

The Packing List- Since getting married, my husband and I have never lived in the same state as our parents. This being the case we do a lot of traveling to visit family. When we only had 1-2 children packing wasn't so difficult. Now that I am packing for 9 (Brian hasn't let me pack for him since I forgot his dress shoes and we had a wedding to attend!) it is a monumental task. I actually have several types of packing lists. The first one is for all the "things" we need to take on any trip. This list covers items from pacifiers to our portable DVD player. Attached to this list is a list of my personal items including clothes, glasses, Bible, toiletries, etc.

When my children were all young I listed their clothing and personal items on the master list. Now that some of them are old enough to pack for themselves I have a list for each child. It lists each item of clothing, shoes, extras like sunglasses, MP3s, etc. After printing each child's list I fill in how many of each item they should pack. I check each child's selections before they are packed.

My final packing list is for vacations. We usually rent a house/condo when we go on vacation. This packing lists consists of things I need for housekeeping. (i.e. dish detergent, aluminum foil, linens, etc.) It also contains items related to that specific location (i.e. sunscreen and beach toys for the beach). I know lots of people who camp use a similar list.

Making these lists requires some initial effort but once completed I only have to do the actual packing. I don't have to spend much time thinking about "what" to pack.

I realize this post doesn't relate specifically to spending time with our children, however I think being organized helps free us up to spend more time with them. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you as perform your various "mommy" duties. So, what type of lists help you?

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Buddy Time

My friend Kimberly hosts an amazing blog at If you have interest in homeschooling or how to manage a larger than average family, you should visit her blog. She hosts a blog carnival on Tuesdays called Tuesday's Tips for Mom. This post is part of her carnival. (I've never done anything like this before. I hope it works.)

We are beginning our summer schedule this week. Basically we do math review, lots of reading and work on things I don't have much time for during the school year. (training how to do new chores, art projects, etc.) One of the things my kids enjoy most is Buddy Time. Last week when I told the children I was working on the summer schedule, several of them asked me if we were going to have Buddy Time again this year. They said it was their favorite part of the day.

I have 8 children ages 13 (on Friday), 11, 9, 7, almost 6, 3.5, 19 months and 8 weeks. The oldest six participate in Buddy Time. During this time each of the older 3 is matched with one of the younger three. The younger child then picks what he/she would like to do. My older children have toys/collections that they don't allow their younger siblings to play with without supervision. Buddy Time allows the younger children to play with these items under the watchful eye of its owner. This year we've decided to have a few days when the older child gets to pick the activity. We rotate pairings through all the children. Our schedule allows for this activity to last for 30 minutes, however last summer I was constantly asked if it could last longer. I've scheduled this activity prior to nap/quiet hour. If the children are quiet (and aren't one of my nappers), I allow Buddy Time to last longer.

Another benefit to Buddy Time is that it forces all of the children to spend one-on-one time with their younger brothers and sisters. For the most part my children spend large amounts of time enjoying one another. However I've noticed one girl and one boy don't often choose to play together. One prefers to be outside and the other prefers quiet inside activities. I've enjoyed watching this pair during Buddy Time, especially when they are laughing together. I think this activity has helped their overall relationship.

Hayley assist Kathryn with one of her favorite activities...dressing her dolls.

Ashley and Will are battling Lord of the Rings and Star Wars action figures.

Emily and Luke have developed a baseball game just for two.

Tuesday’s Tip for Mom is a blog carnival hosted at Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Moving Again

Our family will be moving back to Tennessee in mid July. This will be our 4th move in less than 2 years. Brian's project has been put on hold, so Eastman is sending everyone back to Kingsport. We are not looking forward to the actual move,(If we had known we would be here for only six months, we would have left much of what we brought in Kingsport!), however we are looking forward to returning to our house, friends and church. We are grateful for the opportunities we've had to see new places and meet new people, but "there is no place like home."

Daniel Week 3

Another Baseball Star

Andrew has spent a lot of time watching Luke and Will play baseball. Today he decided it was time for him to start practicing.

Another Birthday

One of the many advantages to having a large family is the opportunity to celebrate lots of birthdays. Brian once said he wanted to have a different birthday each month! I don't think we will ever achieve that goal as we have two birthdays in April, June and October. Daniel and Hayley are our April birthdays.

Hayley turned 9 this year. It is hard for me to believe she is only nine. I always feel like she should be a year or two older since she is over 5 feet tall and wears a ladies size 9 shoe! People often think she and Emily are twins.

Hayley chose fajitas and peanut butter pie for her birthday dinner. She received money from Mimi and Pa Pa which she enjoyed spending at Michael's. Grandma and Grandpa sent an assortment of small gifts including Sculpey clay and a stained-glass coloring book. Brian and I gave her a book light and an audio CD of several books. She also received many gifts from her siblings including homemade cards, a hand-crafted ring and a special treasure one of her bothers gave up because he knew it was something she liked.

Daniel- Week Two

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Daniel Phillip Joyner

Please join us in thanking God for the safe arrival of our newest blessing. Daniel Phillip Joyner was born Wednesday, April 8th at 3:33 p.m. He weighed 8lbs 4 oz (small by Joyner standards) and was 21.5 inches long. He provided a scary moment for us when he tried to practice being the perfect gentleman by reaching out to shake hands with my nurse! Had my doctor not been able to get his hand back in, I would have needed a c-section. Thankfully Daniel behaved himself and moved his hand back where it needed to be. His arm was bruised at birth but has since returned to normal.

Oh how I love to hold and cuddle him. He looks absolutely perfect to me! :-) I can't believe he is a week old. Time passes too quickly. The week before I was induced seemed to last forever. I felt like time was standing still. Now that he is here, I want to stop the clock and enjoy every moment with him.

Houston Rodeo

Each year Houston hosts the nation's largest rodeo and livestock show. Since Ashley turns 13 this year, she gets to take a "birthday trip." She really enjoys horses and therefore decided she would like to take her trip early to attend the rodeo. Brian took the day off from work to take her. They spent most of their day watching a Palamino horse show. That evening they attended the rodeo. Ashley said she enjoyed watching it so much that she forgot to take pictures. Each evening the rodeo ends with a concert. On this particular evening the entertainer was Clint Black. Ashley said she really enjoyed the day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sibling Fun

We have been told that we probably have 1 more month of enjoyable weather. We are enjoying it before the heat and humidity arrive. For the past several nights the children have enjoyed playing in the backyard after dinner. I love to see them all playing together. I've even volunteered to do some of the older girls' kitchen chores so that they can go out and play. It thrills my heart to see the older ones enjoying the younger ones. It is one of the things I enjoy most about our large family.