Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dads VS Grads ***WIN TONS OF FREE GOODIES!!!***



Swagbucks' latest Team Challenge has arrived - it's Dads vs Grads! Signing up is easy - just click the image on the homepage, join the challenge and be assigned to Team Dads or Team Grads. Score points for your team by doing the following: 

Each Search win (no matter what the SB denomination) = 2 points 
Each SBTV win (every time you win 3 SBs) = 1 point 
Each SBTV mobile win (every time they win 2 SBs on either iOS or Android app) = 1 point 
Each Special Offer award (no matter what the SB denomination) = 2 points Each Survey completion award (no matter what the SB denomination) = 4 points
Everyone who earns at least one point for their team will get a bonus of at least 25 if their team wins or 10 if their team finishes second. The more you contribute, the higher your bonus can get, and the person with the most points on each team will get an additional bonus of 500 Swag Bucks! 

Whichever team has the most points at the end of Wednesday, 6/19 is the winner! If you've haven't joined the fun on Swagbucks yet, click this link to join - I've used Swagbucks rewards to get TONS of Amazon.com Gift Cards. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Do You Have Swag?? **FREEBIES**



Swagbucks has a new set of Collector's Bills celebrating their hometown of Los Angeles! There are five bills, each depicting a different part of SoCal life, winnable through Search only! They're available starting at 12:01am on Monday, June 3rd and if you can get all five before Tuesday, June 11th, you'll get an automatic 10 Swag Buck Bonus! You can see which Bills you've won and which ones you still need by look at "Collector's Bills" in the My Swag Bucks area of your account.

If you haven't been searching and winning with Swagbucks you're missing out! I've used Swagbucks rewards to get FREE Amazon Gift Cards - sign up by clicking here!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

some days were born for bubbles
if only bringing a smile to their faces could always be this simple

Higher Ground

This poem was emailed to me today via my subscription to mothering magazine. It brought a smile to my face after a long morning of rotating in the mirror like a pregnant ballerina and staring at the oddity which is my mid-section. I hope that mothers will find a smile, women will find power, and dads and dads-to-be discover a new found admiration for their loves misshapen or stretched form.

Higher Ground
I Wear My Stretchmarks Like Tattoos

to show

I am a woman

whose belly has billowed

a mainsail on a pirate ship

on its way to treasure

a queen-size-bed topsheet

on a new clothesline in March

they make

silver parentheses

around my freckled navel

tiny river tributaries

from the cold spring of my joy

pattern rising to the touch

like fired-rice-grain china

and oh

the way the sunlight catches

above my hipline skirts

when the music births itself again

and I start moving I start

moving and with my daughter

dance


Katharyn Howd Machan

Slip, Slide, and Laundry

Last night, while Ella was sleeping soundly in the house, we started a riot! We took Aeden and Sydney to the side yard, and we set up the slip and slide. I can remember how much fun they were when I was younger. They seemed to never be quite long enough, but yet every drop of water was more refreshing than the last. I remember being timid at first. Then, I would eventually allow myself to run at full sprint, dive, and stop after eating a face full of mud. There is no pleasure quite like that of a slip and slide on a scorching day.

Our evening was all giggles and drenched clothing. When they weren't sliding, they were trying to drink water out of the fountain part that keeps the track wet. It was absolute hysteria, and I loved every wrinkly-toed minute of it.

I wish that I could say that today was all giggles too, but unfortunately there's work to be done. I'm trying to spruce things up for our impending move. Maybe I'm an unrealistic dreamer, but I'd really like to be prepared when GOD gives us the green light. There is another meeting today in regards to the future of our dream home. So maybe all of this busy work is just me trying to occupy my anxious-Millie-Bassett-lip-chewing tendencies.

Today I am tackling the laundry area. It's ugly, but then again I've seen few laundry rooms that make me go, "WOW!" for any reason other than function (or super shiny appliances!) I'd like to show you before and after pics, but it's not all that exciting. It's two cupboards, a laundry rod, a washer, and a dryer. There isn't room for anything else, and I'm doing nothing more than organizing.

Now that spring is in the air, what projects are you chomping at the bit to complete?

And Then There Is You

It's amazing the simplicity through which children view their entire world. Everything about life is new and raw and intentional. While our weekend was packed with Easter eggs, candy, family, friends, and long distance phone calls, Sydney took a moment to remind me the true reason for Easter in a way that only Sydney can.

Friday morning we sat on my bed, and I was brushing her long sparkling hair. Aeden said that he didn't understand why they had such a big break from school when Easter was on a day that they already have off. I seized the opportunity to explain the truth of Easter once again. I wasn't sure what reaction they would have, but I wanted to be certain that they understood it.

I was fairly graphic. I don't want my kids to think that what went on that day was anything other than horrific and heroic. I don't want them to grow up with the prettied up, air brushed, toned down version of what JESUS did for us. Then again, I don't want any part of their walk with CHRIST to be anything but just as new, raw, and intentional as everything else that they encounter throughout the day.

 Aeden interrupts my monologue. "Yissy! Are you crying?" he states.

She responds, "Why do they have to do that to HIM every year? Why do they have to hurt HIM all of the time like that Mommy? Why can't we make them stop?"

The tears were all mine this time around. As I cradled her on my lap and looked into her pooling brown eyes, I explained that JESUS died one time, but that we remember what HE did and we celebrate HIS resurrection. I explained that "they" didn't hurt HIM, but that we hurt HIM when we turn from HIM or sin or deny the truth of who HE really is.

It was a beautiful moment in our little speck on the earth. My middle baby, my mini-me, my tough exteriored teddy bear of a princess, "got it" for the first time. I believe that in my simple retelling of events, JESUS became more real to her than HE ever had before. Then again, I never have seen a 4 year old that wanted to speak in tongues quite as badly. Maybe next year at Easter I'll be the proud mama of two tongue talkers...

I Really Stepped In It This Time!

Ella woke up from her afternoon nap yesterday with a fever. She had no other symptoms, but her poor, sweet face almost looked like she had cooked in the sun. Tylenol brought it down, and she was soon playing with her brother and sister as if nothing had been wrong. She even had the spunk to terrorize Mimi and Pappy's dog, and we had a great time listening to her order, "Mithhhhhhh. Hey Mithhhhhhhh!"
We went to church, and she was still doing really well. Then, it happened. She was happily walking down an aisle when she just plopped down and began to scream. I picked her up and she was on fire. This time, we opted for the heavy hitter. The Motrin, along with a cold compress, did the trick until about 3:30am.
She woke up miserable, and we gave her the next course of meds. She sprawled on the bed, and we talked as she went from pained to pleasant. Sydney came in the room at some point, and Allen asked her to go back to bed so she wouldn't get "sicky bugs". Ella finally got an appetite around 4 am. She wolfed down two servings of jell-o with pineapple, a banana, two cups of water, a cup of milk, and half a yogurt. Take that Mr. Fever!
I was singing to her, and after a few rounds of "Hush Little Baby" and "This Little Light Of Mine" she was feeling much better. It was then that the real silliness occurred. I sang out "No more fevers...no more pain!" to the tune of the song Freedom. She sang right back, "No more sickies...I am Feeeeeeeee-dum!" I don't think Allen and I have ever laughed that hard. Well, at least not at 4:30 in the morning.
So, Ella is snug as a bug, and I decide it's in my favor to at least get my palms on the foreheads of the big kids. I discover them both on the couch. They must have been fairly concerned. Aeden seems fine, and I cover him up with a blanket. As I reach down to cover Sydney, I step in something. My first thought was that I had somehow knocked over a drink that they had on the floor. It's common for them to bring water to the living room despite my protests. Still, this felt a little too slimy to be water. So, I must admit, in the dark of the early morning...I smelled it. Poor Miss Squid was sick, too. She had thrown up on the floor, and her little forehead was quite warm also. After stacking her hair into a big pony tail on her head and getting her cleaned up, her only concerns were:
1. I hope my Ellie feels better soon because sicky bugs are no fun.
2. I need to get better so I can see Kaiya at Grammie Pepper's Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow.
Behold the pressures of life as a four year old.
Now, everyone is sound asleep, with the exception of me, but I've already claimed the crown of the insomniac queen. I hope that you drifted peacefully into dreamland last night, and that you had a restful evening lacking surprises. Well, maybe not good surprises, but at least lacking the type of surprises that one may step in while walking through a dark house.

Memories and Anticipation

I'm ashamed to admit that I am just now beginning to get really excited about our new addition. I've been excited, but not like I am now. Between throwing up, being exhausted, and the one million daily responsibilities of life, I just hadn't really taken the time to truly appreciate what is taking place within me. Now, we're less than 9 weeks from baby's debut, and I'm about ready to jump out of my skin.
I'm not freaking out about getting things done around the house, though GOD knows I should be. I'm not concerned about the tons of things that we have to purchase to bring a baby home, and I'm not all together worried about family dynamic shifts or labor and delivery. It's not that type of thing at all. It's a true excitement and joy that comes from the depths of my heart and pours out across my face.
See, my love story is pretty unique to say the very least. My husband and I, though we'd had *relationships* in the past, chose a completely different path for our relationship with one another. We became friends just over a year ago. Our first date was our honeymoon, and our first kiss was at the alter the day that we were married. From the date that he proposed to the date that we were married, it was approximately one month. It was a crazy whirlwind of preparation and excitement, but I couldn't wait to simply hold his hand...because I never had.

We got married August 22, 2009. I am 31 weeks pregnant. If you figure that out, then I'm sure you'll see how quickly this pregnancy happened. It was something that both of us wanted, but neither of us expected it to happen so quickly. The morning that we found out that we were pregnant, I was so anxious that I woke up around 3am to take a test. I blinked at the stick repeatedly, but it appeared to be negative. I walked to the bedroom, handed it to my half asleep husband, and stated, "It's negative." He wrapped his arms around me, and we both fell back to sleep.
Later that morning when we woke up, he looked at the test again. Apparently in my sleepy stupor I had misread the test. There were clearly enough lines on the stick to mean that I was pregnant. We just sort of stared at each other in unbelief. I can't remember much else of what happened. It was almost an out of body experience.
Since then, we've been busy educating ourselves on home birth, dreaming of all of the things that we'll do with our little one as they grow, and trying to decipher whether we're having a boy or a girl. How exciting is it to just wait and see for yourself!? I know that my husband wants a boy very badly. The emotions of girls can scare him a bit from time to time, and he doesn't feel as secure in his ability to raise a girl. I can't help but to feel differently than he does. I know two little girls that happen to think he's one of the greatest people in the world, and he does an amazing job ushering them along life's path.

We've slammed into a lot of obstacles throughout our marriage, and though it's been different than we expected, I'm thankful for the way that GOD is strengthening us individually and as a unit. Some days I feel as though I'll never get it right, like if I screw up one more thing in our marriage he's going to have to trade me in. Then, he reminds me that I'm being a little over dramatic about not having breakfast made and that he's pretty sure he still loves me. ;)

I'm ready for this birth, this baby, this new chapter in all of our lives. I want to plunge head first into this step of motherhood, and I have never felt this way before. It's as if everything is as it should be, and because of that, all is well.

I hope that you have a day filled with peace, love, and unity within your family-but also within yourself. Don't ever forget that you are so much more than you believe yourself to be, and even when it feels like you can't take take one more blow, you can. I wish, I had something much more eloquent to say, but when it comes down to it, this pep talk is probably only for my benefit anyhow.

Friday

I am so excited for today. I'm exhausted, my head is pounding, but I woke up so excited that I could barely wait to jump out of bed. There are several exciting events on our agenda today.

1. The girls meet with their teacher today. She always brings something fun, exciting, and challenging. Last week we made homemade playdough, and this week she is bringing a recipe for edible homemade playdough. This was one of my favorite daycare memories. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Totally delicious.

2. Aeden has his first grade play today. It is "The Tale of Peter Rabbit". He gets to share a riddle all by himself. Q: What do you get from a mixed up chicken? A: Scrambled eggs!! He's very excited. He's told us that we must sit in the front row and bring the video camera. For someone so afraid of the spotlight, he's really taking this things seriously!

3. My husband only works until noon. He's in great spirits as a result. He came home from early morning prayer with a large hot chocolate for me, and he's been chuckling and being his usual "Saturday self". I love it when he's happy, and with everything that's happened as of late...it's pretty easy to get down on ourselves.

4. The weekend starts now. Though Aeden will be away this weekend (and that totally rots) we're way close to Sunday (and that totally rocks).

Here's to you and yours. I hope that you have a spectacular weekend and phenomenal Friday.

If you only knew...


...how hard it was to say good-bye.


...how difficult it is to know that you're probably in a horrible place right now.


...how helpless I feel in your situation at this point in time.


...that someone did really, really love you, with all that they had; and that they still do.


...that there is more to life than what you see or are exposed to.


...that you are capable of so much more than your circumstance.


...that you can rise above because you alone control your choices.

...that we will always be here for you. ALWAYS.

Thankful

There are many things in life that I am thankful for:
Moves of GOD, my salvation, HIS perfect willMy spectacular husband, our families who love us so much
Our church, the truth I found there, the lessons that I've learned, the friends I've made



My children, their laughter, their growth, their love, their imaginationlove, good food, warm beds, a good set of knives, sparkling clean floors, empty laundry hampers, the ability to give, the tiny roof over our heads, the smell of a rainy spring morning
How do we show our gratitude toward other people? When was the last time that I said "thank you" for no reason other than the fact that I'm truly grateful for a particular person that I've been blessed to know?
I have a post-it note on my bathroom mirror that has two words on it. It simply says, "PROVE IT!" That is my reminder that every choice that I will make throughout the days proves who I am, what I stand for, and how I truly feel about those around me. Some choices seem simple like what to make for dinner, what to wear, or what particular household chores will get done. I've found that in these simple choices we hold great power. Preparing dinner is something that starts months before it is served. We save for the butchering of our meat, clip coupons, prepare menus, and then present our creative masterpiece (or quick whip) to our families. It may not seem like a lot, but we're caring for our families and being diligent and loving in these ways can make a huge difference in our family.
I do my best to choose my words and actions carefully because I want the people around me to know that I really do love them. I want them to know that no matter how busy I may be, how seldom or often I see them, or how insane my days can be I love them dearly. I want my children to go to bed knowing that their mommy loves them more than anything she's ever laid eyes on. I want my husband to know that my love for him is overwhelming and that I fall more in love with our family every day.
Still, thankfulness goes beyond the people that we see regularly.
I've been in the checkout line with a fussing Miss El and a kind older lady will talk softly to her while I hustle to unload the cart and pay. Did I show gratitude?
My husband made a very keen observation the other night. "America is one of the most thankful places in the world...while someone is holding the door open for us." Outside of that, we've lost our etiquette, love, and concern for one another.
You're leaving a restaurant, and there is normally this chain of events where people hand the door off to one another, politely allowing people to enter and exit. Everyone smiles and thanks one another. Yet only a few feet away in the parking lot, the same two people may have had inaudible screaming matches over who was going to take a parking spot.
I don't really have a good note to end on today. Other than the fact that I will be working harder to show my gratitude to others, I really don't have anything to say. I just know that when you pour your heart into something, it may not seem like much to other people, and for some people you'll never be able to give enough. Just remember that GOD sees the motives and intentions of our hearts even when others don't, and that HIS vision goes both ways. He sees the people who take advantage of us, but he also sees the times when we may not have been as thankful as we should have been or perhaps we just didn't show it in a way that was visible to others.
Also, if you're feeling discouraged, let me encourage you with just a few words. Even when it seems like no one cares, or notices, or even when your heart has been ripped to shreds by someone that you poured your all into...I care, I notice, and though I can't put the tiny pieces of your heart back together...I can pray with you to the ONE who can.

We've Made It To The Dentist!


You Know It'll Be A Good Day When...

I came out to the living room to check my email before Allen puts the finishing touches on his sermon for tomorrow. I'm not feeling particularly chipper because Miss E had me up all night long.

So, I'm sitting on the couch as Sydney and Aeden streak past me giggling and shrieking. I hear Aeden yell in gasps, "Yissy! Why would you give him a weapon?" This is followed by even more giggles.

Then my husband appears with a blue light saber, ready for battle. I wish I could describe the sounds coming from the bedroom for the next several minutes. Massive carnage ensued, and from my best guess Sydney's nerf gun and Aeden's green light saber were no match.

At this very moment, Allen is holding a purple pony hostage with an unloaded nerf gun, and Aeden is tossing fake grenades from the hallway. Sydney appears in a silk night gown with a huge bow on her head...covered in a blanket, and carrying a light saber. I'm not sure if she's trying to fight or dance. Still she did catch Allen off guard with a few whacks on the arm. Maybe there's good strategy behind her madness.

I forgot how amazing Saturdays are in our home. I've missed them, and I'm so happy that they're back.

go ella

i just peed on the potty all by myself

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

After yesterday's events, I tear up every time I look at my little darling's face. She looks so tiny and helpless, and when I replay the events that caused her injury I see how defenseless she was. For the record, other than pronouncing her words differently and having pain while eating, she is acting like she would on any other day. She's bossing her sister around with the strength of a giant, and she hasn't taken even have a second to think about the possibility of slowing down. So, I started looking at my thought process a little more clearly.

Does she really look that different?

Can two chipped teeth change everything about the way that she looks?

How can her teeth possibly make her look smaller than she already is?

In my ponderings I came to the conclusion that what I'm seeing is less of an illusion and more of a blessing. Sounds strange doesn't it? Had you seen the emotion unfurl from me yesterday, you would understand the amount of head clearing and soul searching that had to take place for this revelation to ensue. If you have a few minutes I'd like to explain. I see my perky, pony-tailed princess perched at the head of my bed watching Kipper and sipping milk.

MY MIND: She's so small. How could something like this happen to her? It took her two years to hit 23 lbs. Her biggest fear is falling, even when she's standing flat on her own two feet. She loves to wrestle and play, and I've seen her take much bigger spills with no injury at all! How could this possibly happen?

Then I decided that I needed to zip the lips that were running through my head and really start to listen to things that are important.

Maybe, just maybe, my perception of her independence was blinding me to her vulnerability. She walks and talks and can tell me what she needs. If she has a boo-boo I can normally solve it with a smooch. So while her two chipped teeth don't change her size or much else about her, they sure have changed my perception of her. I'm realizing that maybe I should spend more time keeping track of her dainty little quirks that will pass too soon, and while I encourage her to stand on her own two feet, maybe I should hug her a little more closely first.
the evidence

The Brunt

My heart is breaking. One of the two year olds that is staying here decided to push Ella. It was totally unprovoked, but my little baby girl now has two very chipped front teeth. They resemble fangs. I can't stop crying. We can't even speak to a dentist until tomorrow. Can you imagine just walking along and having someone push you so hard that you go face first into the floor and almost knock out your two front teeth? My heart is breaking for my baby girl. It's just not fair.

I know that they're two, and I can't say that I'm angry at all.  It just hurts so bad to see a little one's emotional pain turn into someone else's physical pain.  I wish I could make it all better.

1st Flower of Spring

we took the kids out for bubbles chalk & baseball today. my darling sydney came running. "mommy! mommy! A flower for mommy!"

Knowledge is WHAT!?

Sometimes I miss the days when I was clueless. I don't mean to pretend that I've got it all figured out, but I am definitely no where close where I was even eight months ago. It's amazing how GOD opens our eyes, and there is nothing quite like a breakthrough. There is power in the search. It's amazing how many times in life we feel like we have it all figured out only to have the carpet ripped from beneath our feet.
Now, I feel like I'm standing on a plateau, and I don't like it here at all. I feel like I'm stuck right smack in the middle of two opposing forces. I'm not yearning for things that I've left behind, but I am mourning the loss of my blindness. It was easier to walk around blind to my own sin. I know it seems weird to mourn a disability, but sometimes viewing things through the eyes GOD gives us can be so overwhelming that it feels less like a breakthrough and more like a break down.
My past hurts and confusion are gone, and I love the freedom that I now have. I don't fear the direction of my life because I have fully submitted to the ONE in control. Yet, I feel particularly stagnant. It's like my spiritual breath needs a good dose of Listerine. I feel like there has to be something more, but yet I feel like anywhere that I go from here will throw me out of this comfortable place that I'm floating in. I'm not lukewarm. I'm definitely taking steps of faith that I never have. So what is this feeling?
I feel like being knowledgeable about certain things has left me somewhat complacent. I'm not harboring a secret sin, my faith is firm, and I'm not even remotely considering that horrible B word. It's not that. I think it's the frustration of seeking something so hard that you become exhausted.
Have you ever felt an emptiness within you, like you know that GOD has something that HE is waiting for you to grab hold of but you just can't see it? That is how I feel. There is something there, just out of my reach, and I can't see it. It doesn't matter how hard I look or how far I reach because I'm not getting it. If I stopped over analyzing myself for one minute I'm sure it would happen, but I'm a great big chicken when it all boils down. So, that is my goal. Seek until I have it, at all costs, withholding NOTHING.

ellas's 1st

this is the 1st pic my hubby ever took of ella...snap shot w/his phone @ church...she was so tiny...it would have been just over a year ago

Rainy Drainy Day

I woke up to the rumbling of distant thunder and the smell of rain filled air. I love to wake up a little late on days like this. It's quite a luxurious feeling to take your first alert breath of the morning knowing that you're fully rested. Adding that sweet smell of rain to the mix makes me come alive. It's such a refreshing and renewing event.

Last night I had a dream of my great-grandmother's baked oatmeal. My poor husband ventured out in the rain to get oatmeal because ours had been used up on no-bake cookies. At least I know that he enjoys it enough to volunteer his shopping services. So while I wish that I could share with you a picture or a recipe, it was devoured too quickly for pictures and the recipe is top secret. I suggest scouring the internet to find one of your own though nothing will ever top Ella Mae's Baked Oatmeal.

Amazing Chicken


Here are some pictures of tonight's dinner. This was the best chicken that I have ever roasted in my life. Special thanks goes out to Brother and Sister Harmon for making this drool worthy dinner a possibility. Tomorrow night it will be chicken and biscuits, but for now it's:


Scrum-dilly-umptious Roast Chicken

Ingredients:
3 Roasting Chickens
3 TBSP Two Sister's Gourmet Lemony Fresh Dill Blend
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 TBSP Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel the skin away from the chicken breast and smother it with butter.

Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Mix the seasoning with the olive oil.

Cover the chicken with the oil mix, front and back.

Place chickens in roasting pan. 350* 90 minutes.

YUM!

I also want to make mention that this seasoning is available through PartyLite only. If you're interested in contacting my consultant her name is Shannon and she can be reached at 570.238.3169

Let's Play

video

Enjoy

video

henry naps

can you possibly be any more tired than this?

Burden-ed

Pray for us.

Big news.

Potential big changes.

We need GOD'S will.

Pray for clarity of direction.

Pray for peace of mind.

Pray for strength if we don't get the answer that my heart so desperately desires.

Pray for unity.

Super-flop

There are days that I feel like I can conquer the world one wiped nose at a time, and other days when I feel as if it's all caving in on me. The last couple of days have been a huge challenge for me. I am so sleepy that it hurts to stand up straight, and I'm so pregnant that rolling over in bed causes sharp pains to radiate through my abdomen bringing tears to my eyes. I feel as if everything that I do is counterproductive. I'm losing my firm grasp on the spotlessness of our home, and I'm not nearly as flawless as I was at the beginning of the week.

I guess three meals and three snacks per day for 7-10 people and managing to keep the dishes done and floors shiny is something to be proud of, but I hate this nagging suspicion that I should be doing more. I should be getting up earlier. I should be able to manage everyone without ever having to raise my voice. I should be able to calm a crying child with a smile. It's not happening.

The night before last Sydney managed to throw up on every clean blanket on her bed as well as mine so my entire laundry day revolved around puke. It did nothing for the clothing and other essentials that need to be taken care of for 10 people. I've also discovered that someone must be throwing away their utensils after meals because we have exactly enough spoons to feed everyone once, and our forks are getting low, too. My dishwasher runs 2-3 times a day.

Even more frustrating is that I can't leave the kids occupied by an activity so that I can do something in another room. My bathroom needs cleaned so badly that I'm afraid it's going to detach from the house and walk away. My bedroom is a landing station for clothing waiting to be folded, hung, or ironed.  My husband thinks our bedroom looks like the back room of a thrift store. At a minimum there are 5 baskets of clean folded clothes staring at us as we sleep because they're being utilized as dressers for the kids. It's hard to keep from feeling frustrated and overwhelmed when that job is complete and still looks like a jumbled mess of clothes.

I realize that all too soon they will be gone, and I can go back to conquering my corner of the world, but then I wonder if a spotless haven will fill the void caused by watching them leave. I doubt it, but who am I to be concerned. I'm just the lady that took them in. It should be just as easy to take them home as it was to pick them up. *sigh* If only that were remotely true.

Spring-y

It's so spring-y outside. With all of the wrestling that my heart has been doing, it feels great to be able to walk outside in flip flops and a light sweater. I decided to make chili tonight for dinner because nights where we crave piping bowls of savory stews are about to come to a halt. Soon come evenings full of campfire smoke and freshly grilled meats. I can't wait to bite into a tomato sandwich stuffed with ripe tomatoes that turned red in the window sills.
It's amazing how quickly winter disappears when the time comes. Aeden is upset that his snow fort is now invisible. He can tell you right where it was and exactly how tall it stood, and he can remind you of the fact that he only got to play in it a few times before the evil sun turned it into a puddle.
We played with side walk chalk yesterday, and it felt good to stretch the muscles in my arms as I tossed a ball with the kids. The blinds are up, the windows are open, and I am excited to get the outside of them sparkling clean. Besides if a certain favorite grammie of mine is ever going to visit, I'd better have windows that you could serve a meal from. Otherwise, she'll spend her visit plotting how to politely or not so politely tell me that I had better get the winter crust off of my peep holes. Maybe she's a little wacky, but she kept me on my toes and I miss that. She's a wealth of knowledge, and I love hearing her tips and tricks on how to save a few pennies, handle poor customer service, or make a quicker tastier mac n cheese.
I want tulips and crocuses and silly little daffodils to peek their heads up from the earth and smile at the sun. It is spring, and I'm ready for every part of it. Well, every part except for the birds that will inevitably use my porches as their own personal potty.

yumm-o!

no- bakes make them smile!

christopher

i draw circle

Sock It To Me

Henry & Allen are playing with a sock that Henry pulled from the laundry basket. Allen says, "sock Henry. Say sock." Henry says it back about three times before losing interest. About ten minutes later Henry is sitting on the floor playing. He clearly and loudly says, "JESUS!" my husband & I look at each other. Allen says, "JESUS Henry?" Henry says, "JESUS! JESUS!" Can you imagine?
We're having a lot of trouble dealing with some of the attention that we're receiving as a result of this. I almost wish that we could have disappeared for the time that they were here so that no one could know. We appreciate the help, but I hate feeling like we should be taking any glory for this. It's our burden & our passion, and I hate how it rips at my heart...but it's not a big deal. If I slipped $5 bill in the offering plate or swept a church floor without being on the cleaning schedule it would go completely unnoticed. Yet this is something that people see. I am thankful for the help and support, but sometimes I wish we could just slip off the radar and live away from the microscope.

Princess Sydney

...all dressed up to pout...


When Does Frugal Lose It's Purpose?

Frugal is one of those words that can cause many people a great deal of confusion. I've always been a penny pincher, but taking on the added responsibility of 5 kids has caused me to look at our spending even more critically. Let me start with a dictionary definition of the word frugal.
fru·gal   /ˈfrugəl/ Show Spelled[froo-guhl] Show IPA
–adjective
1.economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.
2.entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.

I was forwarded a video recently that showed a mother feeding her family on $4 a week.  She did a great job saving money, but I was appalled at a lot of the things that she fed her family. It seemed to be a lot of overly processed, pre-packaged, low nutrition garbage. A $4 grocery bill seems appealing, but I don't think I could rest at night knowing that I fed my family a bunch of junk that did little more than fill the hole in their gut. I can't see it as being satisfying for them or for me.

On another note, I have friends that are coupon geniuses. They can squeeze a penny so hard that Lincoln begs for help. I have trouble finding coupons that work well for us, but when I do I'm all over them. As a matter of fact, I've committed to making more informed purchases using my coupons. I'm challenging myself to save even more than I have recently. On the same hand, these friends don't allow their ability to save money keep them from being generous. I don't think that saving money gives us an excuse to be miserly. I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of the families that have helped out with the "new kids". Some of the families are much worse off than we are, others live with a similar income to ours, and others live well above our means. The shocking part was that the more generous people live in a similar or lower income bracket that our family. Saving our pennies to help those who really need it, should be more of a priority than so many other things that we deem important.

So, here are ways that we save money & more of my thoughts on being frugal:
1-My dad gives us a pig and a cow each year. We pay for butchering. All of the meat ends up costing us less than $450. We plan our menu based on what we have available in our freezer.
2-We grow veggies and herbs. This will be our first year doing this. We've decided that we can't afford to NOT garden. We'll also be canning and freezing. The things that we can't grow due to zoning restrictions, for example corn, will be purchased from farmer's markets in bulk and prepared to last the winter.
3-Work the rewards!! We love our gas points. It's amazing what 90 cents off a gallon of gas can do to your budget. It makes driving the suburban a whole lot easier!
4-Don't be afraid of the thrift store, hand-me-downs, eBay, yard sales, etc. You'd be amazed by the quality of things that you can get at a much lower cost just because someone else has used it before.
5-Be satisfied with the simple finer things in life. Decide what you really want, watch for sales, and be patient. I fell in love with a set of knives that my dear friend owns. My husband knew how badly I wanted them, and he got them for me for CHRISTmas at an amazing price. I couldn't have been happier. Quality is worth it, but rarely worth full price.
6-That being said, I was once accused of being materialistic because I bought a set of pans ($99) that another person thought was wasteful. Her claim was that all of her cooking items came from thrift stores and they worked just as well. My response was, I cook three meals each day. I need something durable and long lasting. Not only is $99 a reasonable price for a SET of pans.
7-My mom made a statement that resonated with me. She was purchasing a new car, and she was having a lot of trouble making a decision. Her comment was, "I want to know that each month when I mail my payment, I'll be doing it with a smile on my face." Your money is yours. Don't settle until you find exactly what you're looking for.
8-We rarely eat out. It's a treat. It's not expected.
9-NO TV. We have personal convictions about why we don't have one, but do you really need to pay that bill each month to rot your brain? I'm certain that you won't miss it if you simply unplug.
10-Let GOD guide your spending. If you're not sure, leave it up to HIM. HE will never let you down.
11-Find a buddy with a simliar passion, and make it a challenge.
I hope that you found at least some of this useful. I'd love to hear your tips

Go Ha Ha

i started chanting "go henry! go henry!"...he is now marching around saying "go ha ha! go ha ha!" sounds like progress...for a kid who "can't" talk...praise JESUS!

Nooooo! Not the Feet!!!

Spinning Tickles

What Fun Looks Like

Rise And Whine

I'm exhausted. Last night, I was told by a brother at church, "you need a break. I'm sorry, but you're exhausted. I can tell. You need a break." I almost took his comment as permission to collapse on the chairs and have a good snooze. I'm congested and my head is pounding. This is day three of that nonsense. I can't breathe, and I rarely medicate myself. I don't medicate at all while pregnant. I feel like I've been hit by a bus, and for some reason they packed my nose with cotton balls.
Yesterday was a new form of torture. The older two boys broke the toilet. They didn't tell anyone. They kept using it. When I went in to clean it, I found a new breed of horror lurking in the depths of the once shining porcelain throne. A friend came and got me out of that jam, but in the meantime someone who should know better decided that pooping their pants and playing in it was a good idea. The girls just decided that their best course of action for the day was screaming as loudly as possible at every possible second. Oh, and every rule that I had established went out the window as if they had never heard it before. They weren't sitting during meals, they wouldn't stay out of the kitchen while I was cooking, they wouldn't keep their hands to themselves.
I'm not really sure what happened yesterday, but it was not fun, and I can't imagine having another day like it. They're already awake which isn't a surprise, but we're having an extended rest this morning. As soon as Angel began to scream, we brought her to our room to prevent her from waking the others. She's snoozing peacefully, and as long as the boys keep quiet the twins will remain in dreamland a while longer, too.
Please pray for us. I need physical strength to get through the days of mopping and scrubbing and mountains of dishes. I need healing for this congestion and pounding in my head. Most importantly I sleep. I need that kind of sleep that lets me wake up feeling like I can conquer the world.
I just brought Blaze to my room for screaming "WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" at the top of his lungs. Peace...we need peace.

skyler

ethan

part of dinner

mac n cheese & meatloaf

pump it!

videotis a sweet sweet sound
the quietest time of the day...they don't even sleep this quietly


The Burden That We Share

I will be posting some pictures this morning after I get Aeden off to school. I want you to see the two people who spent their Sunday afternoon helping me get our home back into order. I was astonished by this amazing duo. They wiped down tables and chairs. They set and cleared tables.
Skyler used the vacuum to suck all the cooties out from under the stove and refrigerator. He unloaded the dishwasher, and he made the rivels for the soup that we were making. He swept all of the floors, and he helped watch the kiddos while I mopped.
Ethan wrangled kids. He kept them all in the living room so that we could finish the work in the dining room and living room. He prevented rocking chairs heavy laden with little bodies from crashing into our walls. He not only washed the tops of the table, but he washed the under side as well. (Maybe he knows something we don't, but at least if there was something there it should be gone now.)
They took their work seriously, and they worked diligently. I count myself truly blessed to have crossed paths with such amazing men of GOD. JESUS is alive and at work in the lives of these young men. This is selfless giving in all its splendor, and I couldn't have rested half as peacefully last night had it not been for the hardwork that they endure to help me accomplish my daily goals.

I am the grinch

Tonight after church I tucked eight exhausted little heads into bed. They had full bellies and empty hearts. The oldest of the "new" kids cried for his mommy, and I could feel my heart mourning along with him. After all, when you don't comprehend time, everything is eternity. After all of the cleaning and scrubbing, cooking and serving, diapering and laundering I thought that I would be ready to pass out, but that amazing mama reserve tank throttled into action and rocketed through the bedtime routine. This is when amazing things began to happen.
My supernatural husband and I put them all into bed, and all ten of us sat in one room. I began to walk them through the basics of praying. We prayed step-by-step on a level that is so basic that it shouldn't shake a somewhat seasoned CHRISTian. I closed my eyes and we prayed.
Step one: we thank JESUS for all that HE has given us.
Step two: obviously is just glorifying God. From across the room I heard my words echoing from whispering lips, "JESUS you are amazing." I began to tremble.
Step three: we share our secrets with GOD and we ask for HIS help. I asked them to pray with me on behalf of their little brother. I began to sob.
By the time I explained to them that we must do and ask all of these things in the name of JESUS I had tears streaming down my face, and I could barely get the words to come out.
We all said good night, and I tucked my three,pink cheeked cherubs into bed. My husband and I went to our room and just as I sat on the bed I squeaked out three words, "My heart hurts." At that moment he was sitting down, and I collapsed onto his waiting shoulder. My sobs were uncontrollable at this point, and I was more howling than speaking. We sat on the bed crying out in prayer, begging for our burden to be increased and never decreased, and thanking JESUS for giving us the opportunity to serve these children...and for the reminder of how precious our small but growing family truly is.
So I'm like the grinch in the aspect that my heart has grown, but it really feels like someone ripped it out, shook all the yucky parts off, and put it back together. Isn't the HOLY GHOST awesome like that!?

It's only noon!?

5:45 am wake up
scrambled eggs, toast, & juice
one load of laundry
unload dishwasher
wake up 7 kids...only two cry
kids eating...load dishwasher & fold clothes
wash 7 faces & 14 hands
change 4 diapers
dress 7 kids
8:00 am go to church, prepare music, prepare puppet show
9:30 am teach sunday school
10:30 am puppet show, play piano & sing with the praise group , church, my husband preached an awesome sermon by the way
11:30 am head home with 2 extra kids (one of whom is a huge help)leftover homemade mac n cheese, pb bread, raisins, cucumber slice
wipe 8 faces & 16 hands
diaper changes
read 3 stories to kids that should be napping
spend rest time with laundry & dirty dishes
1235 pm post blog from cell phone

8 kids...for a little while

sydney, blaze, ella, christopher, henry, angel, kathy...and aeden will be # 8 when he gets home tomorrow night

you're the apple streudel of my eye

ella loves chitty chitty bang bang...here she sings one of her favorite songs emphasising her "eye"

bump-it

yes...she's 4...but she thinks she's bigger

glove fun!

the one on the left is my creation. allen did the one on the right. the kids had fun beating each other with them

I QUIT!

My Resignation
Author Unknown


I am hereby officially tendering my
resignation as an adult. I have decided
I would like to accept the responsibilities
of an 8 year-old.

I want to go to McDonald's and
think that it's a four star restaurant.

I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud
puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple; When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you, because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care.

All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simple again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and loss of loved ones.

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind, and making angels in the snow.

So... here's my checkbook and my car-keys, my credit card bills and my 401K statements. I am officially resigning from adulthood.

And if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first, cause....... .

......"Tag! You're it."

crowned

mimi got syd a burger king crown. when that wore out we made our own. what do you think of the results?

fun with mimi

Yea Burger King

future artist??

whatcha think?? this is an original aeden  creation & it's autographed!!

ready 2 play!

walking in a winter wonderland

ellie says duh bug!

this is ella trying to heal a spider that her sister squashed on the kitchen floor...when healing didn't work to "says duh bug" she tried to eat it!


ella hor-tee

ella used her gift card from mimi & pappy to get a hobby horse or (hor-tee). she just tucked it in with me. you can see her hands tucking us in. apparently he has trouble sleeping & i need to help. afterall it's his 1st night out of the toy store. she's madly in love with him. maybe that's why his nap lasted about 90 minutes.

Syd's hair!

one of my favorite squid styles


Love Letters

nothing says love like a hand made label on your range hood!

Beware the fro!

this is what happens when mommy isn't feeling well & allen gets to take over the very important task of putting in Sydney's curlers

More Bows From Mimi

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All Tied Up With A Bow

too cool for pics

Funny Faces

squidney & allen

Scary Smooches

cheese curls

me & my mini-me covered in pin curls & headed to bed