Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love My Kids

I feel yucky today.  It could be a lot of reasons.  Weather, sinuses, old age.  Anyway, no matter what the reason, it just isn't fun.  I don't feel so bad that I can't do anything.  But, I feel bad enough that everything is a chore.  And takes way too much energy.

But, this morning, we just kept plugging along.  We stopped school about 11:30 to get ready for lunch.  I was immediately shooed out of the kitchen and told to go lay down.  That the kids would handle lunch, cleaning the very messy kitchen and doing laundry.  I was just to rest!

That is soooo hard for me.  It is so hard for me to let go.  To loosen the reins.  To not be in control.  To just sit (or lay down)!  But, this post isn't about that.  It is about my awesome, wonderful, loving kids.  I laid down in the bed.  And Boop and EG joined me.  Then the girls brought me in the perfect lunch, a hard boiled egg, rye toast with butter and a glass of water.  Then they fixed there own.

After that they took my plate away and brought me the most amazing dessert.  A cookie covered in whipped cream and caramel sauce.  I ate the whole thing.  Of course, they got one too.  Then, to top it all off, I got a fresh cup of coffee!!  Now that was a surprise.  A delicious surprise and just what an achy, cold, tired, old body needed!

I can hear the girls bustling around out in the kitchen and living room.  The little guys are sitting next to me in the bed.  Boop came in a few minutes ago and confessed to me, that during our quiet time together, where we had just read about prayer out loud and prayer in our hearts, that he had prayed to God to have a "good day."  And then he gave me a big hug.

We will do a little more school.  Daddy is bringing home a movie and we will lay low for the rest of the day.

I would say that God answered my little man's prayers . . .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Dog

A couple of months ago, there was a possibility to get a dog.  We were not interested in the least, but when the opportunity for the dog went away, I realized, I was ready.  (The kids have been ready for about a year now!)  Daddy is not ready, but doesn't really have the heart to come out and say a flat out "no."

We have been praying and know that God will have the perfect dog for us when the time is right.  But, in the meantime the kids and I planning, dreaming, and scheming to find one.  Our babysitter suggested Big Dog Rescue so we started going on their website everyday.  Reading about the dogs and deciding on which ones we all would like to look at.  We know we want a smaller, inside dog that we can bring with us where ever we go.  It can't shed or bark.  And it has to LOVE kids.  ;)  And it can't cost a fortune.

I think we also have figured out we don't want a puppy.  Ideally, a dog about 1-2 years old that is house broken and crate trained would be ideal.

We had our eye on a puppy last week and we were all prepared to go check him out this past Saturday.  On Friday, I happened to go to the website and the puppy was gone.  There were still two other dogs that we were interested in, older dogs, already trained dogs.  So, the whole family went to check them out.

Fortunately for daddy, neither dog was at the store.  But, we were able to talk with the foster "mom" of one of the dogs we are interested in.  She was able to tell us all about him.  She was able to ask us questions.  The dog would be available at the end of March.  And before then, we can go to her house to check him out.

Then last night, as I was perusing the dog site again, another dog was added.  Small, tan and adorable.  And, it just so happens he is available through the same foster "mom."  It was love at first sight.  So, I called her to get more info about the new addition.  She had wonderful things to about him.  But, he hadn't been to the vet yet.  And won't go until Friday.

I have no idea when we will get a dog.  Or what type of dog.  But, I do know if we are patient, God will find the perfect one just for our family . . .

Sunday, February 26, 2012


This post is way over due.  It is from our camping trip two weeks ago!  We had such a great time and I am so thankful for the families that we go with.  The kids had a great time.  All fourteen of them!  And the adults had a ton of laughs!!

It was cold.  Way colder than anyone expected it to be.  But, it didn't slow us down.  

Big breakfast day.  Eggs, sausage, bacon.  All cooked out of doors.  Yum!!

This campground is the site of the tallest waterfall in Florida.  Which, honestly isn't saying much.  We took the trail to go see it.

Winding wooden bridges.  Lots of trees.

The water fall was formed by a sink hole.  The whole park was filled with awesome looking sink holes.  

The above picture is of the water fall.  Because of the lack of water, it was more like a trickle.  It really was beautiful.  My friend got some great pictures.  It was really hard to do the whole scene justice.  

This is the sink hole the falls went into.  We guessed that the water just was absorbed into the ground.

Another sink hole.  The were all around us.

Great, great, great group picture!!

The birthday girls.

Coop's best buddy making breakfast for his family!

Saturday night we had a great, big fire.  And we hung around it and roasted marshmallows and s'mores.  EG fell sound asleep in hubby's arms.  Of course the big kids could have sat out there all night.

Another great adventure with our family and with our wonderful friends.  It is great making memories . . . 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Highlights from Little Mama's Birthday Week

As I mention before, Little Mama's birthday started a week before with a February birthday celebration with some of her buds that also had February birthdays.  Birthday with the Besties.

This past Saturday was all about LM.  She said it was the best birthday ever because she didn't have to make her bed and her Grandma brought her a pretty pink rose, which she placed in a beautiful vase and put in her room.  Grandma and Sissy took her out for lunch.  It has become a tradition that I absolutely love and so does she.  They went to Steak and Shake and Sissy brought her a cupcake from Lucy and Leo's.  They then went to the dance shop and Grandma bought her a brand new dance bag.  It is black with tap shoes all over it.  Very cute and very big.  Then Grandma took her for a full manicure.  Her nails are a beautiful!

During the day I had asked the whole family to take a little time and each write a little note to LM telling why they loved her.  Why they thought she was special.  And after dinner she read them aloud to us all.  (Grandma's note was extra special.)  They warmed my heart.  And hers too.  I am going to put them in her memory box.  LM really is a special young lady.  

We played Bingo after dinner, at her request.  After showers, we all watched The Princess Bride.

Sunday we had another family dinner.  This time with A and Sissy as well.  We had all of LM's favorite foods, nachos and fried okra and red velvet birthday cake.  

Isn't she beautiful?!?

EG had to help LM open her presents.  LM, being so selfless was more than happy to let her help.  Boop wrapped her up a Valentine cookie of his.

Nature Girl gave her a horse she had painted.  LM is into horses these days.  All the kids got her a baby animal sticker book.

We got her the American Girl "Get Better Kit."  It came with crutches, two casts, finger brace, band-aides and an ice pack.

Sissy got her a really cool set of girl Legos.  I LOVE girl Legos.  I can't wait to do them with her!

So much fun to celebrate with my middle baby girl . . .

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Middle

It is hard to believe but little, middle baby girl is going to be 9 on Saturday!  It seems like just yesterday I woke up, my water broke and off to the hospital we went.  She was a stubborn little stinker and just didn't want to be born.  Probably the hardest delivery I've had.  But, oh so, worth it!

She is such a beautiful, sweet, loving, compassionate little girl, young lady.  She hates to hear her baby sister cry.  She is magnetically drawn to other women's brand new babies.  She loves to hold them, hug them, play with them, love on them or just watch them.

She love to be with me whether it is in the kitchen or going to the grocery store.  She loves her family.  She loves to clean, clean like mop floors and clean toilets.  She is a domestic diva.  She loves all things domestic.   Sewing, crocheting, baking, mothering.  She is going to make a wonderful wife someday!

She has a style of her own.  She is girly and likes skirts and just a little bit of glitter.  She loves to wear headbands and I love when she wears her navy and white stripe shirt with her navy plaid headband.  It makes her big, blue eyes stand out.

Hers are the only eyes that have stayed a steely blue.  And they are big and beautiful.  Framed with dark, thick eyelashes.  Sometimes when I look into her face, I am amazed by the sweetness I see.  She can have her sassy streak but her great big heart tends to overshadow it.  And I am always a little shocked when she is a little sassy.

We just read a book about Mother Theresa.  In LM's oral book report she told everyone that she wanted to be a missionary in Calcutta.  My prayer is that she follows God where ever He leads her!

She is excited about her grandma coming today.  And that Grandma and Sissy are taking her out to lunch tomorrow.  Very rarely does she get to do stuff alone, so this is a big deal and I am so glad they doing this for her.  It makes her feel special.  And she gets their undivided attention.

We started her birthday celebration last weekend, while camping.  Three of the nine girls had February birthdays so we had a little party (pictures to come.)  Tomorrow will be LM day and Sunday will be her family party.  It is fun to celebrate for a whole week.

Happy Birthday, Little Mama.  You are so special to this family . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

We are not much on Valentine's around here.  Some years I do cards and candy for the kids.  Apparently last year we got them a birdfeeder.  This year, Valentine's Day kind of creeped up on us all.  The kids wanted to know if we had school!  They are so funny!

Hubby had asked last week what we were doing.  If we were exchanging gifts etc.  I told him no.  He really is so good to me that it isn't necessary for him to do something different than what he already does, just because someone decided to name February 14 Valentine's Day.  (Next year I am going to find out why that is.)  Can you tell neither one of us is very romantic?!?

I did make the kids each a card last week so I had those sitting at the breakfast table when they woke up.  And, it did promise TCBY after dinner.  They were thrilled!  We had a normal school day, although they did ask me again, if other kids were in school.

Later in the afternoon we had to go to Publix.  The bigger girls very secretively bought Valentine's for everyone.  When we got home, Boop, EG and I had to sit in his room while they placed it all on the table for our surprise.  It was so thoughtful and selfless!  Boop got candy and chocolate, EG got socks and candy, the girls bought each other chocolate, I got a coffee mug and "I Luv U" chocolate and daddy got a big Reese's candy and a chocolate fish!

Hubby came home between shifts and brought me flowers!  They were perfect.

The kids and I had dinner of mac and cheese then went to TCBY.  The kids loved it and as an added bonus we ran into a family from out LifeGroup (Sunday School class).  I got ice cream to go for both hubby and I to eat after the kids went to bed.

Then as another added bonus, after showers, I let the kids watch the Westminster Dog Show.  They were in heaven!  Those dogs are so darn cute.  EG fell asleep on the couch, LM and Boop went to bed around 9:15.  NG got to stay up until daddy got home (her week to stay up late with me.)

When hubby got home NG went to bed.  We ate our ice cream, watched a little TV.  I could not have planned a better Valentine's Day.  Perfect for our little family unit . . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Oldest

Anybody who knows me knows I don't cut my oldest daughter a whole lot of slack.  I expect a lot from her.  She is the oldest and that comes with a ton of responsibility.  At least it does in our house.  I have big hopes and dreams for her!

I am feeling a little guilty though.  I focus way too much on the negative and not nearly enough on the positive.  Of which she has a ton of wonderful qualities!  Not only is she beautiful and graceful but she is always, always happy.  She is a whistle while she works kind of gal.  And always singing.  And boy can she work when she puts her mind to it.  She loves to clean and straighten and organize.  For our time together last week, she wanted us to clean out the school room.  Which we did, together.  I love doing that stuff too so it was cool to do it together.

She is honest and truthful.  And is constantly "confessing."  She calls them like she sees them.  And, in all honesty, I get that!  One of her biggest faults, for lack of a better word is, not everything needs to be said.  And just because it is true doesn't make it appropriate to say.  Oddly enough that is probably one of my biggest faults as well.

Anyway, she tells me everything!  I mean everything!  There have been times when I wish she hadn't told me things because I don't know what to do with her information.  We keep those lines of communication open.  I tell her all the time, I might have to address and correct the things she tells me or take some type of action but the discipline/punishment/action for letting me know will be a lot less "damaging" then not telling me at all.

Sure, I question some of the choices she makes.  She thinks differently then me.  But, I see her wheels in her brain working these days.  I see little glimpse of comprehension on her face.   She is determined and knows what she wants.  When she follows through on a task it is done perfectly.

She is smart and inquisitive.  And, I believe, loves to "learn."  Although she wouldn't call it learning.  She has a thirst for knowledge and wants to know it all.  And I mean all.  Many times I just can't keep up.  I need to be a step ahead with her and I just am not.  I put all types of books from the library on the coffee table.  At any given moment throughout the day, I will see her on the couch reading those books.  Ancient Egypt, the book of Presidents, Rembrandt.

We butt heads.  We see things differently.  If I give her half a chance, she shows me the possibilities in life.  Nothing is impossible for her.  She is a "can do" kind of girl.  Her dreams are bigger than reality.  And the words that make me quiver are "I've been thinking . . . "  The girl can think!!  She is definitely a problem solver.

Sometimes I wish I had a lot of  those qualities.  She definitely looks at life as a glass half full . . .

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I Enjoyed School At Home Today

Not every day is an easy day and not all days are good days.  But, today was a day that helped me and encouraged me to keep on keeping on.

Today I was reading Poor Richard to Nature Girl.  Part of what we are doing in school, to encourage writing, is to do written narrations instead of oral ones (NG is not a big fan.)  Anyway, part of the Ben Franklin story was when Ben was in France watching one of the very first hot air balloon rides taken by man.

When I asked NG to do her writing, she wanted to write about the hot air balloons.  I was OK with that.  So, when we were done reading she sat down with the encyclopedia to look them up.  While trying to find info on hot air balloons, she read about the Kennedys (her curiosity is piqued in "America's royal family"), the first helicopter, Herbert Hoover, the Hoover Dam, Billy Holiday and Harry Houdini.

There was really no rush for her to find the info she needed.  So while trying to locate hot air balloons in the "H" encyclopedia, she read all about the above listed subjects.  We discussed each one for at least five minutes before she would go on to something else she found interesting.

My first inclination was to move her along, help her focus.  But, as she continued on with her list of "H" subjects, it dawned on me, she is learning.  I am learning.  She was reading about, we were talking about, stuff I am pretty sure we would not get to in school.  At least not all of it.

I don't know how much she will remember tomorrow.  Or how much that really matters.  What I thought was cool was that she was enjoying the encyclopedia and taking the time to delve into subjects that interested her and were so diverse.

I think I like these type school days best . . .

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Post Vacation School

We desperately needed a change in our school day.  I was frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed.  I felt like our days were always 5 steps behind and constantly putting out fires.  I disliked it very, very much.  I don't think the kids were happy either.

I had to get a grip on what our priorities were to be.  What were we, as a unique family of God, suppose to be doing.

My/our new school day looks like this:

5:30AM   My quiet time
6:30AM   Shower
7:30AM   Wake kids/chores/breakfast/Bible reading
8:15AM   Walk
8:30AM   School starts/catechism/habit/character training
9:30AM   Math/snack
10:30AM  Reading to LM
11:00AM  Reading to Boop
11:30AM  Reading to NG
12:00PM  Lunch/Poetry
1:00PM    Science/Language Arts
1:30PM    Family Quiet time/Devotions
2:00PM   Rest time/One on One time/Personal Reading time
2:30PM   Get ready to leave the house Mon, Wed, Thurs

I have had to give up many of my books and realize, if we are learning and meditating and focusing on God's word, seeking His Kingdom and striving to share His love with each other and others outside our home, then we have had a good day.  All of the books I have in my school room had become a burden and an idol of sorts.  I was motivated every day by what books we were reading and  how far we read in all of those wonderful books.  (Or by how far we were behind.)  Yet, that is not what I knew to be important.

No matter how much I try I will never, ever be able to teach my kids everything!  (I am a slow learner.)  After much prayer and thought, my main focus needs to be encouraging each child to grow their relationship with Christ and instilling in them a desire to learn.  They can not learn everything either but they can become lifetime students.  Never wanting to stop to growing in Christ and learning on their own.

We have finished week two and we have done pretty well.  The first day back to school, after having more than a month off, the kids informed me, voluntarily that they liked school!  It is a work in progress and I reserve the right to change my strategy again.  But, we are good for now.  And I am not buying any more school books for a long time!

Less is truly more . . .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day Ten and Eleven

We had to head out the next day.  My brother came by the hotel early in the AM, which worked out really well, because hubby need help getting all of our stuff back into the van.  Somehow, we managed to have a whole lot more than what we came with!  And stuffing it back into the van seemed a little bit harder and not nearly as organized!

Anyway, we had one more stop to make to visit my mom's side of the family.  We were heading south to Madison to spend the day with them and have dinner.  The drive was pleasant enough.  And we were excited to see more family that we had not seen in some time.  (Well, hubby sees them every year because it is where he hunts.)  But, the kids and I had not seen my uncle, cousin and her son in about 7 years.  My aunt and her husband came to our town last year for a fishing trip.  But, it would be great to see them again, as well.

We arrived early in the afternoon and spent the day just catching up with family.  The home we were in was gorgeous and it was on a lake.  One of the things the kids got to do was walk on a frozen lake and see an ice fishing shanty.  They thought that was kind of cool.  I was a nervous wreck.  I am sure the lake was frozen through, but it was just the thought of the whole thing.

There was plenty of snow and the big girls built a fort out back.  Big enough only for a small animal.  Oh well, they tried.

We had a fabulous dinner.  And it was great to visit with family.  Unfortunately, we had to leave that evening around 9 PM.  Hubby had to possibly work on Tuesday and we knew we needed to get on the road early the next morning.

My cousin has a great family picture.  And as soon as she forwards it to me, I will post it.

Our plan was to head out and find a hotel within an hour of Madison.  But, as we started traveling south we quickly realized a place to stay was not going to be all that easy.  The few hotels we were willing to stay at, could not accommodate all 6 of us.  So, we kept driving and driving and driving.  Until sometime in the middle of Illinois we were able to find a hotel.  Around 2 AM our time.

We grabbed our over night bags, dragged the kids to our room, changed clothes and fell into bed.  I was never so thankful to put my head on a pillow!  Our plans were to get up early and head out first thing in the AM.  We had two friends we were hoping to visit during our trip back.  And maybe stay the night with one, if the timing worked out.

But, we over slept.  So got a late start.  So then we weren't sure if we should stop anywhere at all or just keep driving on through.  After much discussion, we decided to drive straight through, which really meant not stopping anywhere.  We had had breakfast at the hotel and ate convenience store snacks for lunch.  We did stop for dinner (and was able to watch a little of the Packer game) and by the time we hit North Alabama, around 8ish we were just too close to home to stop again.

We bribed the kids, who had been doing fantastic but were real disappointed we were not staying in another hotel, with movies until we got home.  Around 12:30AM.  As the night wore on though, about 11, the DVD player had to go off.  And everyone fell asleep.

We arrived back home around 12:30/1:00AM on Sunday night (Monday morning).  We came in, changed clothes and all fell asleep on the couch in the living room.  We woke up late Monday morning.

We spent the day unpacking, washing and cleaning.  As it turns out hubby did have to go to work the next day, so it was nice to have a little time to readjust.  We had such a wonderful time, filled with so many great memories.  But, we were thankful to be home safe and sound. . .

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day Ten

Sledding!!!  The kids' dream come true.  There was just enough snow for us and the hill was just the right size for us.  Grandpa J had got some sleds and we were ready to go.  The kids had a blast and never got tired or cold (well, except for EG).  Precious, precious pictures.

The kids had a blast and probably could have stayed much longer.  But, it was cold and they were covered in snow.  So after a good while we had to call it quits.  They were sad to go but did not complain!  I think they love, love, loved it.  And it was so much fun just watching them.  Although, hubby and I did take a turn. ;)

We did not have many big plans this day.  We had to head out the next morning to finish up our trip. So, from here we went to the Goodwill store and found a bunch of really great buys.  (Two official Green Bay packer kids' jerseys.  They had the number 4 on them but we figured they might be worth something someday.)

Then we headed back to the hotel to get lunch and pack.  The motivation to get the kids going was that as soon as everything was packed up and ready for daddy to take to the car, they could spend the rest of the day at the water park.  So, needless to say, they packed up in record time.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening at the water park.  Grandpa J and Nona K came by and sat at the water park and chatted and watched the kids play.  We got take out barbecue and ate together.  After dinner we visited a little bit more and then we had to say our good byes.  It was sad, but we had made a ton of really great memories!

We let the kids go back to swim for a little bit.  Then we had to get some rest.  We had another busy day with packing up and heading out to make one final stop to see family before heading back for home.

It was a whole lot easier unpacking the car with no snow and 35 degree weather then it was packing up the next morning.  My brother came by, so that was a big help.  More tomorrow on our last couple days . .