Friday, December 30, 2011

back from Christmas break

Sorry about that.  I took an unintended Christmas break.  With KOJ home the past week and still for a few more days I thought I'd surely have plenty of time to blog.  But amazingly I haven't.  I also haven't felt any creative writing juices which also affects my blogging.

We had an amazing holiday.  Christmas was super blessed this year.  My sister in law and her dog Blue visited us for a few days and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with us.  The kids had a fantastic time with their Aunt and especially the dog.  My kids love that dog.  I love that my kids love the dog.  It's too cute.

For a final small update on our giving project this holiday season we managed to give a few more treats to friends at church including the pastors and their families.  But the rest of our giving did not get done because we all got strep throat and decided not to pass our germs on through baked goods.  The children did however come away with an understanding that Christmas was about Jesus and giving and this was the end goal so I call it a success. 

Usually when the holidays are over I'm sad and wish they hadn't ended so quickly.  But then I usually spend the holidays running around all harried and busy and stressed out despite my best efforts not to be.  But this year it was different.  When Christmas day was over I didn't feel sad.  I felt peace.  I felt peace that it had been a good Christmas season and that we had lived the season to it's fullest - through our giving project and through our intentional family activities.  But we didn't rush around and try to cram too much in either.  I'm excited now to take down the decorations and move into the new year.

So speaking of the new year there will be a few more posts from me in the next few days.  I want to share my resolutions here on the blog.  Of course I have to pick some first right?  So I'm going to work on that tonight.  I am also going to try to do Muffin Tin Mondays again in the new year and bring back regular posts on that and our school day.  I've revamped the pre-k/k-4 stuff for Colton and Sawyer and am eager to see how it works out so I'll be sure to post about that.  I've also done/am planning to do some organizing/decor stuff around here and I'll post on those projects as well.

One last comment for tonight - the year of date nights as a gift for KOJ went over fantastically.  He was very excited about it and I caught him reading through the binder like three times on Christmas day.  His home made gift for me was amazing also.  He wrote me a sonnet.  It was very very sweet.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Joy of giving - update 2

Woot.  It's Christmas time.  I love the holidays.  Truly love them.  This giving project is just one of my favorite things this year.  It's not as huge and mind blowing as perhaps my imagination had intended at the start but by keeping it relaxed and doing it out of a genuinely giving heart rather than a sense of obligation has made it such a blessing to me.  So this week we didn't do much throughout the week.  I had a sick baby girl for most of the week and during the week KOJ isn't here to help corral grabby hands and what not, so it's harder to get things done.  I did have the kids make a Christmas card for a special person they wanted to give treats to.  Kayd wanted to give treats to his baseball coach (who also happens to be a friend from church lol) and I prompted Colton and Sawyer to consider giving treats to their awana teacher because she's amazing.  They jumped right on that.  Colton even wrote the note in the card he made for her.  I can't believe I didn't think to take a picture of it!  Grr.  So on Wednesday we took two of our treat bags that we'd made up with the Christmas button candies and the cards they'd made and put them in the proper church mailboxes.  The boys were so excited.  It is so fun to watch them want to give and get joy out of it.  Kayd came to me about giving a treat to his coach and I'm so blessed that he was even thinking about it.

But yesterday we made a few more treats to put together a somewhat larger goody bag for the three pastors of our church.  Not only are they pastors but they are all dear friends.  So I really wanted to do it up right for them.  So we made chocolate dipped marshmallows to add to the Christmas buttons.



Very fun, very easy, very yummy, very pretty.  It's really a win, win, win, win treat.  And it was another winner for involving the children.

Later after watching Rudolph we made homemade hot cocoa mix and again because all the ingredients were dry it really was also another great one for including the kids, I helped them measure everything out and the dumped it in the huge bowl.  I used a funnel and some fancy baggies we bought for Sierra's birthday party but couldn't use due to shape issues to baggy up two servings (in each bag).  Whichever children were still at the table and not in the bath got to put mini marshmallows in on top.  I tied them with holiday ribbon and they turned out cute.

Then the kids helped me put all three treats together into gift bags and now we'll take them with us to church today.

Next week on the giving list I plan to make potato fudge for my mom and grandma.  It's something that my great grandmother used to make once a year at Christmas and my mom always wanted to hog the whole box for herself.  I also plan to make this toffee to give to one more family at church that Kayd picked out, the mail person, and my other grandma.  KOJ is planning to take Friday off from work and I'm hoping to go as a family to visit both of my grandmas.  I'm very excited about the whole thing.

Family Saturday

Oh what a great day.  We started off the day by getting the kids ready for a "surprise".  The surprise involved something cold and required several layers to be warm throughout.  So we spent probably 20 solid minutes getting the kids in jackets, coats, hats, and mittens.  They were fairly cooperative this morning though, which isn't always the case, but was sure a blessing that started our morning off right.  Then we set off with a few blankets in hand for a ride on the "Polar Express".  Now our children are huge train lovers.  We live two blocks south of the train depot and you can see one of the main tracks from the corner nearest our house and the boys have spent a lot of time in warmer weather sitting at the corner watching the train move back and forth.  This particular train is just for paying passenger rides - like a tour type thing.  I looked into it when we first moved back here to my home town and with four children it's just cost prohibitive for us.  So when I heard that our local library was doing a Polar Express program ON the train this month I called up the library asap and got on the waiting list.  In the end we were blessed that we were able to get on.  So we walked to the tracks because with four kiddos walking was probably about equal in time to loading up the kids, driving there, parking, unloading the kids etc.  And frankly it was a lot simpler to walk out the front door and direct the kids to keep walking.

So we headed off the two blocks to the train.  At this point the boys were starting to realize where we might be going.

Once there we got our tickets and hopped on the train.

There were two coaches and one coach got to hear the story "The Polar Express" on the way to the "North Pole" and then we swapped coaches while those kids met Santa and we got to hear the story.  They had a giant screen tv that displayed the pictures from the book and a man dressed as the conductor read the book.  It was very cool.  Then we got to go to the north pole and meat Santa too.


Now I took pics of all the kids but my flash only works properly when it feels like it and it didn't feel like it for the first two kids.  I feel badly about it but that's life.  So Santa gave each of the children a bell like in the book and a little hot cocoa packet with a candy cane.  Very cute.

After this we boarded the train and headed back to the station.  We took the kids to McDonalds where a whole group of our friends (who also were on the train) were meeting up for lunch and play.  I didn't take any pictures of that.

We all relaxed during nap time and then late in the afternoon we worked on a project I'll post about tomorrow.  Then we decided to have our cocoa from Santa and watch Rudolph.  We have it on DVD so we just watch it whenever it suits us during this season.  Love that movie.  Love the line about getting the women folk back to Christmas Town. It cracks me up every stinking time.

Sawyer loved the singing snowman and especially appreciated when he pulled out his ukelele.  Sawyer grabbed up his own "guitar" and played along.

A few more pics of the kids enjoying the movie together (and ignore the mess it's a lived in house on a Saturday, what can I say?  The living room was spotless and vacuumed at one point yesterday.)  

Sierra was intentionally hiding from the camera.  It was super cute.

She was happy to give me a "cheese" though when I asked her to.

Colton was too engrossed watching to eat much of his make shift dinner.

It always amazes me how much kids move around during movies and yet still seem to enjoy them.

Except Kayd.  He seems to have the sitting still thing down at the ripe old age of 6.

And that was our fantastic family day.  It was such a blessing to make these memories with the kids.  Truly.  Next weekend we have more fun family memories to be made in store too!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Priorities

I had an epiphany today.  One that has been six years in the making and I'm so glad I finally had it because it clears up a LOT for me and my emotions.

Priorities are important but they are not always going to be consistent and steadfast.  Not in the day to day.  I think I've had this ideal that every day my priorities should be exactly the same and in the exact same order and I realized today that this just isn't so.  I have a lot of priorities in my daily life.  They look something like this:

School kids
feed kids
clean house
watch what I eat and try to exercise
time with God - and I'm sad and ashamed to say that this always seems to fall last as the thing that I'll get to "later".

I mean really that's a very simplistic view of it all.  Cleaning involved a multitude of tasks too tedious for me to list out at the moment.  Feeding the kids happens WAY more often in the day than someone without children might think.  Schooling the kids - this one has tripped me up some this year.  I think I've had it in my head that I'm not doing a good job if school does not look the same and in the same setting and at the same time every day.  But really the only thing that can gauge how well I'm doing is the progress the children are making and since we're moving right along in both math and spelling it should be very clear to me that whether we do it upstairs at his desk while I stress about his sister and his brothers continually interrupt or if we do it in the living room or even in the kitchen (like yesterday when he sat on the floor writing and I stood at the sink washing dishes and dictating phrases - I have multi-tasking down to an art form people) while the littles nap and Howler plays an educational game online and we can both think clearly does not actually matter in the grand scheme of his life or mine.  Run on much?  Sorry.

Anyway while that too is something I realized today it's not THE thing that I realized.

What I realized is that yes each day has priorities.  But those priorities are different and fall in a different order each day.  Today the priority is the princess girl who seems to have a tummy bug.  Comforting her and being compassionate towards her today is way more important than being rigid about the house cleaning and the schooling.  We'll work those things in.  Yesterday my priority was schooling Kayd so at naptime (we spent the morning at the library) while his siblings were all asleep that was what I focused on.  By having a primary priority and understanding that cleaning the house is NOT always the top priority of my days (not even the majority of the time is cleaning the top priority) takes a load off me.  It shifts my thinking.  I no longer feel badly that I didn't get to the dishes because I was schooling.  I have a new perspective.  I got to the important task of schooling and the dishes will still be there until whenever they become priority again (usually when we decide to have company over lol).

So take a look at your priorities and see where your heart is.  I know there have just been too many times where I felt like my child being sick was an inconvenience that got in the way of the "real priority" whatever the heck I thought that was for the day.

What a fresh look at life.  I thank God for these little nuggets of truth in life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A year of date nights - a gift

So this idea is not original to me.  I found the link through a post on a mom's forum that posted a link to pinterest which led to a blog who shared this idea.  Did ya follow that?  Basically, what I'm saying, is that this is not an original idea.  Well it is, it's just not MY original idea.  Ok then, moving along. 

I had been planning to make KOJ a booklet of coupons but I was coming up blank on how to make them and what all to put on them.  Then I saw this idea and thought that it was so much more perfect.  So I'm going to create a year of date nights.  Now the website: year of date nights created this as a wedding gift (which is also a fantastic idea) but it made a lot of the date ideas implausible for us due to cost and childcare.  So I thought it would be much better to find 12 date nights that we could do here at home after the kids are in bed.  So I went to the handy dandy pinterest and searched "date night ideas" - give it a try there are some awesome sites out there.  And I read through lots of ideas and this is what I have so far (please follow the links to see the original inspiration).

January - we're going away for a night for our anniversary so that will be our January date night but I will be bringing the Date Wheel in case we run out of ideas for things to do. lol

February - fondue date night - this one really appeals to me and seems appropriately romantic for Valentine's day too!

March - Lord of the Rings movie marathon - ok to be honest this doesn't appeal to me at all but I found these for KOJ for Christmas and he loves these movies so I'll probably try to get a child free day so we can watch them all in a row.  Maybe.  I could be convinced to find another date idea for this month. hahaha  But this is really about KOJ not me.  Right?  Right.  Oh and this was an original idea that I did not find on a blog anywhere.

April - Date Wheel - what can I say, the date wheel just seems cool.

May - Dinner and a Dance - this appeals to me and it's something we've never done before.

June - Wii sports night - this was my own original date night idea.  I mean I'm sure a blog out there somewhere has offered up this idea before but this particular week I thought of it all on my own. lol  I mean we own the wii and we really should use it for something besides netflix.... at least once a year.... right?

July - Christmas in July - we will watch It's a Wondeful Life as we both love this movie and have hot cocoa and some yummy holiday type snacks.

August - Garage Sale - for this one we will get a sitter for the kids on a Saturday morning.  We both love garage sales so this will be fun for both of us.  This idea came from the original idea link above.

September - Asian night - we'll watch a Jackie Chan movie (we love pretty much all of these) and I'll make something yummy and Chinese for dinner - probably stir fry, we love stir fry.  But the egg rolls I'll splurge on from the actual Chinese restaurant.  This is also an idea in the original link.

October - Clue Night - this just looks fun and simple.  Now I've gotta find some friends who would likely agree.

November - Board game night - frankly this is one of KOJ's favorites, he loves board games.  So I pulled this out of previous personal experience and not from a blog though one or more of the blogs linked might also suggest this as a date night idea.

December - Baby It's Cold Outside - love the simplicity and the idea of just snuggling up and enjoying a relaxing night together in all the hustle and bustle that tends to be December in our home.

So the top things to notice about our dates: All but two are at home.  They use things we already have.  Are mostly things we haven't ever done for dates before.  Can be done after the kids are in bed so that childcare isn't necessary.

I'm learning something about myself while putting this project together for KOJ - that while I want romance I feel like it has to come in some big package or something but really just spending time together, laughing together, talking together is what dating is really all about.  It's really that simple and I can't believe I've missed that all these years.  Here's to hoping that these monthly date nights make our 8th year of marriage even better than the previous 7.

Also I should note that I have asked KOJ to stay away from the blog the rest of the month so this gift will still be a surprise but it was too fun and simple not to share with anyone who might still be looking for the perfect frugal gift to give their husband (or wife).

Also fun to note this gift costs me nothing in my 100.00 holiday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Giving project - the Joy of Giving

So I meant to post a daily update about this.  But here's the thing. I'm a mother of four small children.  Sometimes the tasks we were picking weren't do-able on that day and sometimes the day disappeared before a task could get done.  And well, basically, I realized that while my intentions were fabulous, and on paper it is a great idea, in practice it's still a little on the unrealistic side of things. 

But have no fear!  We're not giving up.  We're just not going to be legalistic about the whole thing.  So on Thursday the boys and I made some treats to bag up and take to our favorite children's librarians at the local library.

Princess loves to clean and she's trying to wash the spot on the table.

Howler and Spider work on putting their kisses into their pretzels.

Princess works on putting her kisses into her mouth (clearly she's doing a good job, note the chocolate dripping).

Howler is still putting kisses in his pretzels - Squirrel is on the other side of him but you can't see him.  Spider's have been baked and we're putting the M&M's in the middles.

This was a super fun and easy baking activity that the kids could actually help with.  I found the idea on pinterest and being a lover of chocolate covered pretzels I couldn't resist it.  You just bake for 2 - 3 min (literally here people) on 250.  Then stick the m&m's in the middles.  Super yummy and super kid friendly.  These are going to become a yearly tradition I think.

We dropped off baggies of them to the librarians Saturday morning (because I refuse to take Princess to the library right now - she's a super-destructor at this age).  I also handed a baggie to the UPS guy when he dropped off the too many diapers we didn't mean to get from amazon on Friday.  He seemed visibly thrilled about it.  He's a nice guy, always very friendly so I was excited that I actually had these treats ready to just hand on over to him as a holiday thank you.

That's all we did in the giving department this week.  Next week I plan to put together treats for the church pastors, take the kids with me to donate some coats to the coat drive, and make cards for vets, military members, and elderly at some of our local nursing homes.  I'll update again next Sunday to let you know what we actually manage to do.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seasonal activities turn into traditions

Has anyone else ever noticed how busy this time of year just seems to get no matter how hard you try to slow down and enjoy it?  Our schedule has been jam packed this weekend and will be fairly busy again next weekend.  But the times we've had so far have been a huge blessing.  The kids are starting to get old enough that these activities we're doing are going to become fond memories for the kids (I hope anyway lol).

So last night the town our church is located in had a big tree lighting event and various businesses downtown sponsored some fun things for the people to walk around and enjoy.  I was blessed to participate in a craft activity that was sponsored by our church and one of the main street businesses and it was great.  KOJ and my mom took the kids around to the other activities and from all accounts it was a great night had by all.
Candy cane craft sponsored by our church.

Decorate your own cookie at the fire station.
Spider monkey got his face painted at the fire station.
Spider and Squirrel had awesome face paint - a green soccer ball and a beautiful red flower.  Howler got a star but I don't have a pic of it.
Howler making a birthday card for Jesus.

All three boys making birthday cards.

a small live nativity

Looks like Sierra was trying to figure out what was going on.

Today the college students that attend our church blessed us with free babysitting churchwide for a few hours to go do some Christmas shopping.  As you know since you read my blog faithfully I'm already done with my Christmas shopping but KOJ and I took the opportunity to get a few groceries together.  It was so nice and peaceful.  I really appreciate those occassional breaks.

Tomorrow we're taking the children to Bethlehem.  Well, ok, so it's not the real Bethlehem but there's a nearby church that turns their building into the streets of Bethlehem.  We went last year and it was super cool.  Except the roman soldier's kinda scared the boys a little but we're prepared for that this year and can warn them ahead of time. And in the evening our church youth group is sponsoring a church wide caroling event that I'm still in the process of talking KOJ into.  I think it will be a lot of fun and that the kids would enjoy it.  But we'll see.

Next weekend we're on the wait list for a Polar Express ride on the local train that is being sponsored through the library.  Crossing our fingers (and saying a prayer or two) that spots open up so we can all go and enjoy the event.  If we do you can be sure I'll post about it.

So what fantastic things do you all have available to do in your hometowns?  Do you enjoy participating in several holiday events or prefer to keep it simple with only one or two?  I'm trying to keep it simple enough that we don't all end up grumpy at one another but also realize that these events are only available during this month of time.  I appreciate how easy it is to find fun things to do in our area that are generally free and family friendly that we can turn into traditions for our children.

Tune in tomorrow for an update on our giving project.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Joy of Giving!

I wanted to title the post "26 days of giving" but I didn't want to mislead anyone into thinking that the blog was having a giveaway.  Cause it's not.  This post is the launch of a family project we're beginning tomorrow to make an effort at teaching our children the joy of giving this holiday season.  We all know that kids enjoy receiving their gifts on Christmas and I think that's great but I want my children understand that there are others out there that don't always receive like they do and to understand the joy that comes in seeing someone else receive.

So I sat down and brainstormed - with a little help from my mama friends online - 26 different groups of people/places/causes that the kids and I could do simple things for this holiday season.  Now I've never done this project before so it's all new to me as much as it is to you readers but I have a few ideas about how it might work.  So let me start with our list.  I tried to do something for each letter of the alphabet.  Some things at the end don't match the letters of the alphabet. 


a - aunts - make treats
b - brothers - ??
c – cousins – get or make small gifts
d - doctor - make treats
e - elderly - make cards to take to nursing home
f - family - spend the day together
g - grandparents - make cards
h - humane society - take old towels and blankets in for the animals
i - imprisoned Christians – Voice of the Martyr
j - jail - make cards
k - kitchen - make a meal for a shut in friend
l - librarian - make treats
m - military - make cards
n - neighbors - make treats
o – officers – take treats to police station
p - (a family we're close to at church) - make treats
q - make quilt ornaments for my grandma (it's her hobby)
r - radio station
s - Sunday school teachers - make treats
t - toys for tots - set a budget and let the kids help pick a toy to give
u - uncles - make treats
v - veterans
w - world - clean up trash at a park or on a walk
x - BIHN - the homeless network run by local churches
y - Pastors
z - postal worker

Other opportunities are coming up as time goes by - such as the coat drive.  We have some outgrown coats I was getting rid of anyway this might be a great opportunity for us.  We're going to stay flexible but on task.  Giving is the key - and keeping the kids involved in the giving is key.  I put each of those things on a slip of paper in a jar and each day we'll draw our giving task for the day.  We will make or put together the items for whichever task that day and each Saturday as a family we will set out to do the actual giving.  Mostly because I don't want to take four children out daily for the next 26 days - the only thing that will GIVE is more gray hairs to my already growing collection.  We also want to be able to include KOJ in our project and this is a viable way to do that.  Some of the giving will be done anonymously - I plan to "elf" the neighbors and some friends rather than give straight to them.  Some of it will be done face to face.  The key here is to allow the children to see the joy that others get when we give.  To feel the joy that we can have in giving.
So tomorrow the fun starts.  I'll be posting my blogs in the late afternoon/evenings for the next month so that I can share pics of our activities each day.  So come on back and join in the fun at home too!  It is far more blessed to give than to receive!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children and cleaning.... a lesson I've learned

I learned something.  Right now it is 12:33am and a bit ago I got back up out of bed because I couldn't sleep.  I was upset about something and well I decided that since I wasn't sleeping anyway I should tackle the disaster that is currently my kitchen while everyone else was asleep and the house was peaceful.  To tell you the truth though it felt creepy more than peaceful at this time of night. lol  Anyway while bustling about the kitchen unloading the dishwasher and re-loading it I was thinking about how frustrated and burnt out I felt tonight when KOJ got home.

I've spent the last three days cleaning and organizing.  On Sunday I started a giant re-organization project that touched EVERY room of the house but the bathroom.  So by the time we went to bed Sunday night the house was in shambles.  I've spent the last two days working diligently at putting everything back together only better.  No worries a post with pics to come later this week... maybe next week.  Soon. 

In my cleaning frenzy I've been trying to get the kids to occupy themselves, using the tv as a babysitter more than I like, and just getting really annoyed at having to go back and re-do something I just did because there's a 16 mo old in the house.

See:
She's totally cute (see her first pig tails!) but she's a trouble maker by nature.

Anyway I was pondering in the kitchen about WHY I've been so burnt out.  And I realized that I hadn't been feeling burnt out the last week or two because I'd gotten into a routine of sharing the burden with the kids.  We had gotten into a rhythm of the kids helping.  It isn't always consistent.  It's not always the same task or the same time of day but when things needed to get done I would have the kids help.  They are learning responsibility and it's leaving ME less burnt out.  Only I hadn't realized that yet.  Until tonight.  Now I know.

I know that it is more important for me to spend my time with my children and include them in these things.  Even though it will take longer, not be done as perfectly, and there will often be whining.  I need to let go of the ideal I have in my head of the perfectly clean and organized home.  I need to continue to do the best I can but not lose sight of the fact that it's the kids that are my main priority.  Having an orderly home is for their benefit.  Not the benefit of others.  And if there are cheerios on the floor even though I just swept the dining room for the third time today, oh well.  And if the living room only gets vacuumed once a week we'll live.  I don't want to be a lazy slob anymore but I also don't want to be neurotic about how clean the house is either.  As with just about every area of life and parenting the key is balance.  If someone finds the key let me know, I'd love a copy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Santa Claus on a Sunday Morning

Our kids have coughs, I have a slightly sore throat and a headache, and there's some bug going around at church/in our community in general so KOJ decided we should stay home today to avoid being sick on Thanksgiving.  I appreciate that a lot so he didn't get an argument from me.  So that leaves me time to sit and muse.  To ponder something that I've been pondering.

Santa Claus.  Now as a disclaimer let me say that this post is a reflection of a struggle that *I* myself am currently having and not a passive aggressive jab at any person(s).

I grew up believing in Santa Claus.  And once I was old enough to intellectually know that he couldn't possibly exist I still maintained his existence aloud for the sakes of my younger siblings.  I knew that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus.  And of course we sang songs about that and learned about that at church.  But Santa and all the movies on tv about Santa, and all the songs about Santa, and the gift exchanges as "secret Santa" just created this environment of magic and awesomeness.

But now I'm a mother.  A mother who is doing her best to swim upstream in a downstream world.  I'm trying to teach my children values that they can hold tightly onto for the duration.  And I have a six year old monkey who asks questions about EVERYTHING.  We had a conversation about whether or not angels are real last week.  And that has brought me to ponder how I would respond if in the next few weeks he asks me about the authenticity of Santa.  I have decided that I cannot lie to my son.  If I want him to trust me and trust what I say to him for the long haul of his life that I cannot lie to him about this if he directly asks me in the same way that he asked about angels.

In our home I have really tried hard to keep the focus off of Santa and onto Jesus.  This year I'm striving to keep the focus off of receiving and putting it back onto GIVING!  We don't give because Santa gave.  Santa is merely a symbol of the true GIVER - Jesus.

Starting the Monday after Thanksgiving our family is going to do 26 days of giving leading up to Christmas.  We have picked a different person/group of people/family to do something for each day for 26 days.  I'm going to be blogging our journey so feel free to join us.  I'm not good at fancy download things but I'll see if KOJ can help me link our list so you can print and use it too if you'd like.

So how do you feel about Santa?  Personally, I still LOVE all those corny Santa movies and the warm idea of him magically delivering small bits of joy to children all over the world.  But when it comes right down to it how *I* feel about a mythical symbol of giving cannot affect what truth I tell our son.  And like I said before - this is a post about me.  It is the journey I've had the past few days while thinking this issue out for myself and our family.  And the conversation will only happen if he brings it up to me.  I'm not going to run amok ruining Christmas for the children this year.  I promise!

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 100.00 holiday update

Well since it is mid-November and it's been a while since I've updated about our 100.00 holiday I thought I should do so.

Green = have, purple = making, black = need to get

DH: Something I am making for him that he will like.
DS1: Little Bear book , a shirt or outfit (need), hot wheels dynamite blaster and hot wheels triple launch jump, Postcards from Buster season 1 dvd, and a decorate your own bank kit
DS2: Little Bear book, All About dvd, Cars 2 duplo blocks set, bank kit, and shirt or outfit (need)
DS3: Sunflower Parable book (have), DC superhero and friends trio sets: Mr Freeze and batwing (have), all about dvd (have), bank kit, shirt or outfit (need)
DD: Parable of the Lily book, an outfit (need), a super hero cape (the boys got theirs a couple of Christmas' ago), little tikes doll high chair, winter coat and hat , toddler purse (need)


I have these bought, and here in my closet:
Mom: (have gc for)
Dad: (have gc for)
FIL: (have gc for)
SIL: (have gc for)


I made these last week!  I spent 1.99 on the last piece I needed to make these.  I need to purchase containers for them that will 1.00 each.
Sis1 and fam: fun family gift
Sis2 and fam: fun family gift

Sis3 (4yrs): not at all sure honestly - I'm leaning towards making her a tutu although a cape like Sierra's might be a fun gift too come to think of it.

Brother (18): no idea!
 

I had 29.90 in cash left at last check in.


29.90
-3.00 (shipping and handling for the hot wheels thing)
-1.99 (the family gifts)
-3.00 (containers for the family gifts - one for our house too)
-6.00 (tulle for tutu or fabric for cape)
-1.00 (hot cocoa packets for stockings)
-1.00 (snickers for KOJ's stocking)
_____
13.91 left - 


I haven't figure out yet what to do for bank kits for the boys.  I also need to get a few more things for the stockings - I haven't bought any holiday candy yet other than the snickers for KOJ's stocking.


I'm probably going to go over my 13.91 left in cash for stockings and the banks but not by a lot and we will have still had a very nice Christmas at a super low cost.  I'm so glad that I planned ahead.  I feel so happy that I don't have to stress about whether or not we'll have the money for nice gifts or even what to get them.  As much as I enjoy black Friday shopping with my mom I'm especially thrilled that I don't have to be desperate for some hot toy item and subsequently when I don't get one of the five of them my store bothered to stock.


I'm still working towards my inbox dollars and I earned a cash rebate through a shopathome.com for a magazine subscription.  But I won't see either of those until the new year so I might try to set them aside for next year's Christmas shopping.  I am of course as always working on the swagbucks to earn up some more gift cards.


Someone might notice that I took the hotwheels car holders off my list and that was because I told my mom about them and she's going to make those as gifts for the boys which I am thrilled about and they will be too!  Even without them I think we've gotten the kids plenty.  I think I may go ahead and find an ornament pattern and make the kids each an ornament for their ornament collections.  It's a tradition I had planned to start next year but no reason to wait now.


So how are you doing on your holiday shopping?? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lesson Planning

I'm still trying to work out the kinks in the lesson planning.  Frankly the whole thing just overwhelms me.

Thankfully I chose (very much on purpose mind you) curriculum for Kayd that is basically: open the book, do the next lesson.  The lessons are scripted for me and I can see at a glance what we need to do that day.  For his math I just hand him the next two worksheets.  I mean really how much more simple does that get?  It just doesn't.

But I struggle in planning out the other areas of learning - the history, geography, art, science etc.  I bought FIAR for this portion but I have struggled with it because I feel that it doesn't have much hands on stuff and well in this house we have a hands on teacher and hands on children so yeah.  But trying to add in the hands on stuff has been overwhelming to me and I was on the verge of giving up.

So last night I spent a copious amount of time searching the wonderful internet for other blogs of families who use FIAR to see if I could find some inspiration.  And find some inspiration I did.

Here's what I'm going to try.  I'm going to choose the book I want to row and read it through.  Then jot down two to four things I want to focus on learning about with the kids.  I will check out the manual for their ideas and suggestions and find activities to make it feel more hands on.

I know a huge part of getting the hands on stuff in there is planning ahead so we have the supplies we need.  One blog I visited the mama puts the whole weeks supplies in a nice basket - supplemental books, art supplies, worksheets.  All in one nice location.  I NEED to do this.  This will help immensely.

So this week we're going to finish of Grandfather's Journey (a really neat book IMO) by learning some about the location and culture of Japan, making a couple of recipes from a Japanese recipe book we took out of the library, and make a family tree together since the book is about a couple of generations of a family.  I think it will be fun too to map out where each family member was born so the kids can see that while we haven't moved to a new country some of us have moved around from where we were first born - including all three of the boys!

I'm working on a Thanksgiving unit right now to do Mon-Wed next week.  In December we're going to be working on a giving project as a family so I'm only going to do one row that month.  We're going to focus more on Christmas for December. 

I would LOVE to hear how other mom's pull it all together - how you keep your stuff organized, how you do your lesson planning.  Feel free to link me to any posts you might have on your own blogs regarding the topic.  Truly I can always use more inspiration.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A month of giving thanks

So it's that time of year again.  The stores are crowded, traffic is crazy, the decorations are going up on main street in town.  But it's not even Thanksgiving yet!  Eh I don't mind honestly.  As soon as Christmas stuff hits the store I wander slowly and dreamy eyed down the aisles.  For me Thanksgiving is just an extension of Christmas.

This month lots of people on facebook and on mom boards I frequent are daily posting something they are thankful for.  I'm just not that dedicated and I get too easily distracted when I try to do daily things like that.  So I'm dedicating this post to being thankful for one thing for each day in November.  Are ya ready?

1 - Jesus ~ He made the ultimate sacrifice for me and my family and well there's really just nothing better than that.

2 - God ~ yeah I'm claiming Him separately.  I'm thankful for His provision both physically and spiritually.

3 - KOJ ~ He's really just a great guy.  Yeah we have our moments but all around he's amazing and I just love him so very much.  I mean he's active with the kids, does their baths, let's me get away whenever I need to, and he works hard all week to provide for our family so that I can be home with our children.

4 - Kayden ~ my oldest monkey has his moments of attitude that's for sure but all around he's a great kid.  He's super smart and he's a great big brother who takes the job very seriously.  And his logical mind just cracks me up.

5 - Colton ~ oh man this kid just he lives to be cheer.  His mere presence in a room can brighten someone's day.  I love the way that he dances through the house singing worship songs at the top of his lungs and with all of his heart.  He was an easy baby and he's still my most laid back easy going child.  He's going to strongly impact those around him in his life, I can just tell that and I'm so blessed to be his mama and get to watch first hand.

6 - Sawyer ~ this monkey is generally nothing but trouble but he's so stinking cute about it it's always hard to get angry.  He has a thirst for knowing and doing and a drive to be just like his brothers.  For all the trouble he gives me he was my easiest potty trainer.  And he just adores his baby sister.


7 - Sierra ~ I mean really who wouldn't be thankful for this precious girl?  She's just so much fun right now, watching her personality blossom and the way she has every male gendered person in this house just wrapped right around her tiny little fingers.  I'm really thankful that God saw fit to give me a daughter even though I think that it was one of the things I was most scared of in all of my life.

8 - My parents ~ they gave me a decent foundation in life and they love their grandchildren.

9 - My sisters ~ because really I can't imagine having to grow up without live-in friends.  Even my baby sister Emily who is more a playmate to her same age nieces and nephews.  So blessed to have these lifelong friends.

10 - Our church ~ we have the MOST amazing church and church family.  I've never felt so welcomed and at home at any church.  There is true friendship and a true level of accountability when asked for.  This church blesses our whole family from the smallest baby to the oldest family member (which just happens to be me lol).

11 - CMF ~ I really couldn't live without the advice, the place to vent, the camaraderie and fellowship that you all provide me in the day to day of life here with the kiddos.

12 - The freedom to homeschool my children.  Like most things involved in raising kids it has it's challenges but overall home schooling the kids is such a joy.  And hey while they're learning so am I.

13 - Our home ~ We have a lovely home and even though we rent I truly do feel peaceful and at home here.

14 - vehicles ~ I'm thankful that we have running vehicles in decent(ish) condition.  I'm especially thankful that we have two vehicles because even though I don't often choose to take all four children out alone during the week I at least have the choice if I want it.

15 - food ~ we are so blessed to live in the richest country in the world and even though sometimes it feels like the food budget is stretched thin I try to remind myself that there are children and family living on a small fraction of the food we put in our bellies every day.

16 - the internet ~ I love having this outlet, research tool, and place for fellowship in the comfort of my own home.  It's a huge resource for me!

17 - flavored coffee creamers ~ I LOVE flavored coffee creamers.  It's fun to change up your coffee from day to day.

18 - heat ~ I'm so thankful for our heat in the winter time.  I HATE being too cold.

19 - our military members - I may not always agree with what our government is doing but I will always support the people in the military because they are laying their lives on the line selflessly, missing out on time with their own families in the hope that their service will actively preserve our freedoms in this country.

20 - joy and laughter ~ I'm thankful that I can be joyful and spend time laughing - with family, friends, alone at silly things I read/see on the internet.

21 - my ladies bible study ~ I have been so blessed by the girls in my bible study group and by the book we're working through this year.  Learning some secrets to contentment and having people out there that I KNOW are praying for my requests is just priceless.

22 - the television ~ we've never had cable but netflix and dvd's have allowed me make it through the newborn stages of my last three children. 

23 - birthdays ~ we've just gotten past two of our four monkeys' birthdays and I'm so thankful that we get to have a nice day together as a family celebrating the life of the birthday person.

24 - appliances ~ the washer does the washing, the dryer does the drying, the stove and toaster oven and microwave and crock pot do the cooking, and my kitchen aid mixer gets used regularly.  I can't imagine living without these conveniences in my day to day life.  I mean if I think keeping house with four little kids is hard now just imagine the days before store bought bread and washing machines.  Geesh, no thank you!

25 - shoes ~ something so simple that we consider a basic need but that many people in the world go without!  I'm so thankful that I can walk into the local store, try them on and walk out with a pair that fits.

I know that there are 30 days in November but I'm stopping with Thanksgiving week because I have something else we're going to be starting the following Monday as part of our Christmas celebration here in our home.  More on that in another post!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feeling inadequate

So often in my life I have felt inadequate.  I have felt undeserving of any compliment of my mothering, wifing, housekeeping.  I have felt like the biggest sham on the face of the planet.

I think that this was two fold.  On the one hand I felt like I was able to put on a decent front in front of other people and so they believed me to be something that I was not behind closed doors.  And on the other hand I made assumptions about the other person's idea of this or that.  For example if someone told me that I had such well behaved kids in public then I felt like a sham because let's face it behind closed doors they are no angels.  I made an assumption that the person has this idea that my children are always well behaved.  But perhaps this person has had children or been around children and knows that sometimes them not whacking each other over the smallest thing (usually a toy car) is great behavior.  Perhaps their comment is TRUE.  Perhaps they don't care what my children act like outside of the grocery store.

I have felt similarly about my home.  I try my best and I've made huge strides this year.  Strides that I'm proud of.  As I glance around my home right now and see toys all over the living room floor, laundry needing to be put all the way away, and knowing that there are dishes on the counter and the floors need swept.  I also know that I worked hard today and that this is just the result of living with four small children.  I didn't used to know that.  I didn't used to feel that it was ok for the house to not always be lived in and it's ok to accept, graciously, compliments given to me by others who happen upon my house on a good day.  I mean really, the house didn't clean itself.  I know because I've tried to let it in the past and it just doesn't cooperate.

All that to say that I feel free.  On this issue of housekeeping and the pressures I once felt, I feel free.  On the issue of parenting my children and the pressures I once felt, I feel free.  I feel free to ignore the assumed pressures from other sources and focus on what KOJ and I believe is important to teach our children.  I feel free to go to bed without washing that last dish and with a laundry hamper still flowing with laundry.  There's always tomorrow.  And really as long as I've loved my children well TODAY and put them to bed with lots of love.  And as long as I've loved KOJ well today and go to bed at peace with him then well, that's all the housekeeping I need to concern myself with at the end of a long day.  There's always tomorrow to wash that dish, put away that laundry, and have that little argument over something that will be completely meaningless within a few hours.

I think that the biggest changes in me over this last year have had little to do with housekeeping and EVERYTHING to do with finding some contentment and fulfillment in God.  A recent verse in my bible study on contentment was from Psalm 139.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God knew my heart before I was ever born and He knows all the days of my life.  He created me especially to be me.  Finding a peace with that has just been amazing.  It is what has lead to the sense of freedom I feel.

It also lead to being more on top of an issue I've long struggled with.  My weight.  I'm not perfect.  Some days are better than others.  But I'm trying and taking it one day at a time.  If I screw up today, there's no reason in the world I can't pick myself up and do better tomorrow and in that mind set I'm very happy to say that I'm currently at a 14lb weight loss.  It's just a small dent in the long term goal but it makes me able to face myself in the mirror everyday.  Just knowing that I'm doing something about it makes me feel better about myself.  My clothes are starting to fit better too.  I can't wait for the day that I can move down a size.  Eek, so exciting.

The feelings of inadequacy still sometimes try to settle in and I try my hardest to pray and remember who I am in God.  It really helps a lot.  But I do still have my struggles.  Life isn't completely perfect, after all we're still here in this fallen world.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

organizing on the cheap update

So last week I talked about checking out the section on Organizing Made Fun  with the 31 days to cheap organization.  And I glanced through all 31 days of ideas this past week and implemented a few of them.  Some of them I've already implemented.

You might recall this post about my movie shelf make over.  Here's a pic to refresh your memory:


This organization project used cardboard boxes from our luvs diapers.  This is #2 on the 31 days cheap organizing list.



#9 is leftover containers and I used one that I didn't have a lid for here to organize our popcorn in the cabinet:


#10 is Jars and here I used a ragu jar to corral the straws for the kids' drinks:

How do you like that organizing within another organizing thing? lol  Yeah, I'm ON the ball!

The next one I'm not sure which category it falls under.  It's a washed out nesquik container that now holds our wooden spoons, spatulas, and other cooking utensils. 
Oh and it holds that lovely plastic rose my men brought home for me from grocery shopping one day.  Which I actually love.

#27 is the dollar store:
The coffee cup holders on the wall were from the dollar store.  The shelf was from a yard sale.  A nice 5.00 score.

#18 is baskets, I got these baskets for 1.00 on clearance after back to school time:
I have those baskets everywhere in the house.  They were up in one of the first pics, I have them in the sock cabinet in the living room.  LOVE them.

I have some other ideas too but either haven't implemented them or haven't taken pics of them yet.  Please remember to check out organizing made fun's list here and check out all of her other great tips!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

morning routine

Well a day long routine really.  All over the web mom's recommend these as a way to stay on track and get done what you want/need to get done.

Me though, I'm just so incapable of following a routine.  I've tried various ones.  But with four little monkeys who tend to be somewhat unpredictable it's been hard to even try to follow a daily routine.  But the youngest monkey is now on a mostly predictable schedule so I'm ready to try again. 

The past couple of months I've gotten things more together, cabinet after cabinet, closet after closet I've gotten things organized.  Don't worry there's plenty more that I need to dig through and organize - mostly in the schooling department.  But our daily life is able to function better now and with everyone on predictable sleeping and eating schedules it's time to try a routine again.

Now I've gone around blog land and printed this to - do sheet and that but I think I need to create something for myself, tailored to what MY day looks like and what MY important daily tasks are.  Part of that for me is splitting the sheet into parts of the day.  I tend to do a few things in the morning between breakfast and schooling.  And I tend to do stuff during the kids' nap/quiet times.  And then there's that final push to get things done the hour or so before KOJ gets home from work.  So I need a worksheet I can fill out every day that has sections for each of those times and maybe a section for "if I get this done it's a bonus" and maybe another to list the random stuff I decided to do instead of what was on the list. lol 

Like yesterday I needed to clean up the living room but instead I organized the kitchen cabinets and took stock of what baking stuff I have so I can check the list when I find a recipe I want to make for the holidays before running out and buying some expensive ingredient I already have in the cabinet.  Not speaking from experience or anything.  And all of this detailed organizing has led me to realize what I so desperately want for Christmas... a label maker.  So I can label all of my neatly organized bins and shelves and cabinets.  Eek. 

Back to routine.  I've decided some basics.  Like I'll serve breakfast by 8:30 every morning.  We're all up by then anyway.  School will start at 10am every day.  No pushing it back to do some random task I've suddenly decided I need to do.  Lunch will be served at 11:30 (so Princess can get to her nap promptly by noon!)  And Tidy time - where the children and I will race to tidy up the downstairs before KOJ gets home will start promptly 45 min before he's due home (some nights he gets home at 5:20 and other nights it's 6).  A loose routine with lots of room for unpredictable in the middle.  I'm hoping it works for us.  And in that vein it's almost 10 and I need to change the baby before we start school.  So I'm off to see if I can make this routine work for me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The great room change over

So recently (a little more than a week ago) we decided for several reasons to split the kids into two bedrooms and move all their toys and school upstairs.  There were pros and cons for doing it and not doing but in the end doing it won out.

The process involved moving all the toys and school stuff upstairs and moving our king size bed and nightstands downstairs to take over the downstairs bedroom.

So here for your viewing pleasure our new space:

Howler monkey working on his workboxes.  We started these a few weeks ago and I wish we'd done them sooner!


 A close up of his workboxes:


And in his bedroom that he shares with spider monkey, Squirrel has own workboxes and school table.  The shelf on the table has his legos.


Spider monkey doesn't get left out of the fun either, no worries.  He gets activities in his ice cube bins.  He and Howler split the large table on the landing.


Princess monkey plays in here while the boys do their school activities.  It's seen cleaner days. lol



I store our manipulatives in the jars on a shelf in the closet of the two boys' room.  


I also store our seasonal/holiday books in ice cube bins by topic.  This way I can grab the one appropriate to this holiday and set it out where the kids and I can check em out.

Overall we really like it.  It works great to have us all upstairs and away from distractions like the computer and the tv.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Welcome to November - 30 days of cleaning, organizing, and thankfulness

So it's November!  YAY!  I love this season from now until about the end of January.  At that point I'm about ready for spring but these next three months are so full of wonderful that I can't help but fully embrace them.

So first an update about my frumps to pumps journey.  I've done ok.  There was still a day or two in the past week that I didn't get fully dressed and just tossed on lounge clothes but I have been showering daily again which is great.  It makes me feel good (and smell better lol).  In fact I should be showering right now before princess girl gets up but alas it's also a peaceful time to write this blog post so I chose this.  Sarah Mae's motivotionals on her blog here have been wonderful.  Such a blessing to me.  Here's a link to the latest motivotional and at the bottom of the post are links to the others: http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com

Speaking of Sarah Mae I'm going to be tackling her 31 days to clean e-book again.  I'm very excited about it.  It is a deep cleaning book and starting it now means I will complete it right in time for the holidays.  Won't that be nice?  You can find the book and more info here: http://31daystoclean.com/

I also found a blog last night about organization.  Now I've been working diligently and I feel that our house is probably 60% organized which is great because in my past it's only been about 10 or 20% organized.  So 60% is a huge improvement for us.  There isn't as much hunting for things.  But the clutter drives me mad and whether I like it or not there seems to always be clutter here in a home with a family of 6 people.  So I'm going to be reading through her 31 days of organizing and hoping I can glean even more organization prowess.  I'd also love to get rid of some of this clutter BEFORE the holidays hit.  Check it out here: organizing made fun


In other news I'm going to do a project with the kids to learn about thankfulness this month.  Starting today I will have them eat think of one thing they are thankful for.  I need to search around pinterest for a way to put them together as a keepsake/reminder for the future.  I hope that this exercise will help my children to remember to be thankful more often.  I know they are children and even as an adult I still have my issues with discontentment but I think it might benefit them to learn how to avoid so much discontent at younger ages. 

I should also mention my progress or lack there of with the detail projects.  I don't think I even did one this last week.  On Thursday I somehow decided that I needed to re-arrange all of our bedrooms because of bedtime issues with one of the monkeys.  So I began that.  KOJ and I finished it on Friday although our new room is a mess.  I'll share pics and post about the changes soon because it has affected our schooling and play areas since we no longer have a playroom.  So far it's been nice.  Fewer toys end up on my living floor and that's a bonus.

So join me for some of these adventures and see how things turn out in the next weeks here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Proper cell phone etiquette

Now I'm not miss manners - honest I'm not.  But there is one thing on this planet that drives me completely crazy and it is the lack of manners involved with the cell phone usage of our time.

Please keep these things in mind the next time you are out and about or visiting a friend/relative.

1 - It is rude to carry on a full length conversation on the phone at another person's home.  If you are in another persons home you are assumedly there to see and spend time with this other person (people).  If you are on the phone with someone else that's not very good quality time with the person you are supposed to be spending time with. 

When I was a child we didn't have cell phones yet - or they were in their very early not yet completely necessary stages of life - and most people had land line phones.  It would have been completely unheard of for a guests friend/parent/child to call them on the hosts landline and chat with them for a length of time.  I mean really nobody would find that acceptable.  It is NO different than you chatting on your cell phone while visiting.  The fact that you own your phone does not somehow make this habit acceptable.  It really doesn't.

2 - It is rude when visiting family/friends who have children to yell at the children for being too loud because YOU are on the phone.  If you absolutely MUST carry on a conversation at this exact moment and the house you are visiting is too loud then leave.  Yes.  Really.

3 - It is rude to ignore the person on the other end of the phone in order to talk to someone in the room.  If you don't have the time or attention span to give to the person on the other end of the phone say goodbye and try to fit in a call when they won't feel insignificant because of all the interruptions.

The last two reasons are the main reasons I don't make phone calls.

4 - If you are somewhere public it might be polite to hold off on calls.  Walking through walmart talking to yourself really doesn't make you seem cool and business like - at least not where I live.  It actually makes you seem weird and self important.  Having your phone ring at the library or during a church service should go without saying as seriously rude.

5 - If you are babysitting - no matter your age - it is not appropriate to spend the whole time texting and not interacting with the children.  I would not be inclined to ask a babysitter back if I found them texting on the job.

To be honest, for the most part I hate phones in general, but I especially hate the lack of manners involved with cell phone usage.  On the one hand the invention of cell phones is incredibly handy for emergency situations or if your spouse is at the store and you suddenly remember something you forgot to put on the list.  But overall the lack of common sense manners is beginning to outweigh any benefits for me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

and now he's 6!

My oldest monkey turned 6yrs old yesterday.  It was a long, full, but fun day.  He got to open the gifts his two grandpa's had shipped to him (they both live long distance) before church.  Then we came home and let him open our gifts.  He had a friend come over to play for a couple of hours while the two youngest ones napped.  Then Grammy came over for dinner and cake.  It was a full day.

This year he asked for a transformers cake but as he has never even seen transformers nor does he have any of the toys I resisted and once my husband mentioned that a friend recently had a transformer cake at a party I did not attend with them I knew where it was coming from.  I try to urge him to carve his own little path and not copy others for the sake of going with the crowd so I asked him to pick a cake that HE wanted/would like.  A nascar race track.  Then he starts giving me details - it must have a pit and such.  I told him to draw me a picture.

So I had a tall order for this cake but really a track cake is pretty simple.  He had a track cake for his 4th birthday too but it wasn't an oval shape and was just small scale.



So I started by baking the cakes.  Which wouldn't come out of the pans.  So I had to literally scrape them out.  So I had to make new cakes.  This time I put parchment paper in the bottom of all the pans so there would be no risk of sticking.  This time they came out with no problem.  I will say though that I used a yellow cake recipe and added strawberries that I had pureed and it made the cake turn out more pound cake like.  Not sure why.  But now you know.  Then I sat in the silence on Saturday morning while my husband and children were have quality time at the McD's play area because I desperately needed some peace!  KOJ is awesome!  So I sat and worked on the details.

I colored the coconut green:
I scored the tootsie rolls to look like stacks of tires for the pit area:
I crushed up the cookie part of the oreos for the track "asphalt":
Then after the kids were in bed Saturday night I sat down with the strawberry cream cheese frosting I'd put together and the decorating elements and I created this:
The scale is totally off but my mom told me it would be going overboard to move the "fence" made of graham cracker pieces out towards the edge further. So I didn't.  But I really wanted to! lol

I found that set of stock car race cars at the store and I couldn't resist it for the top of the cake.  Monkey's reaction when I pulled the foil off was amazing.  He loved it but I think he was mostly excited about the cars on it. lol


Happy birthday baby boy!  I hope it was everything you hoped for and more!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Once upon a time: Prayer and happily ever after

Once upon a time there was a young girl.  She loved God with all of her heart.  She knew that what she wanted to be when she grew up was a teacher, wife, and mommy  .  She wanted to save the best gift in the world for her future husband.  In the innocence that is child-like faith she began praying for her future husband.  That he would wait for her.  That God would be with him and call her future husband to Himself.  She prayed many a prayer.  She felt very strongly about this habit.  She didn't know who he was or where he was just that he was someone somewhere and God could be with him at this time when she couldn't.

Meanwhile halfway across the country there was a boy.  He was in his pre-teen years when a young girl a few years older than him began praying for him.  He lived with loving parents and a sister.  He had been exposed to church but didn't have a loving relationship with God, his creator.

Throughout his high school years God gave him friends that invited him to church and witnessed to him about God's love.  At about this same time the young girl wasn't as young anymore and she hit a somewhat rebellious phase.  She still attended church and believed in and loved God but she had reached a point of wanting to do her own thing, her own way.  One night while on the internet she began chatting with a guy in a chat room.  They chatted about a lot of things and she just really felt a click.  There was something about this guy that drew her to him.  She was bummed to learn that he wasn't a Christian, but it wasn't enough to stop her from getting to know him further.

They spent hours chatting online and on the phone.  They wrote actual letters to each other too.  It was all very romantic.  She had also been chatting with another gentleman online who was a fellow believer but she didn't feel as much chemistry with him.  She knew that HE was the one she should be drawn to but he wasn't.

One crazy day she just knew she had to meet them.  She knew she needed to meet the Christian guy before the other one because logically he should be her first choice.  So she took time off work, hopped in her car and drove 20hrs or so to meet this guy.  She drove all night.  She met this man and while he was a great guy the chemistry was no more there in person than it was online and on the phone (despite his awesome southern accent).  She drove home though knowing that she had at least given him the chance he deserved.  She knew she needed to go meet the other guy now.  So she planned a weeks vacation, picked up her 12yr old sister along the way and they headed off to meet this guy she felt so drawn to.

Ironically they met at church (it was a public place!) a church that several of his high school friends attended.  She was completely smitten.

Two months later she packed up everything she owned and moved East to be near him while he attended college.  Five months later he began a personal relationship with the loving God she had been praying to all of her life.  He grew, he changed, she grew and changed.  She loved him.

In an intimate (and most perfect!) ceremony, in his parent's backyard, they got married.  Ten months later they welcomed their first child.  A few more children, job changes, home changes, and heart changes later they still love each other.

The girl has often pondered over the years how God could bless her when she was for all intents and purposes being rebellious when she met this man.  But she remembered recently the prayers of her youth.  The prayers for her beloved future husband.  Those prayers did not return void.  Those prayers were answered.  Even in her rebellion the Lord answered her faith filled prayers.  He had his hand on her husband even all those years.  He called her husband's heart to his as she had always prayed.

Now as a mother she will purpose to pray for her own children's future spouses because she has seen that even though it will take a long while to see the results of those prayers, those prayers work.  God is faithful.  So pray not only for your children, pray for their spouses.  You have no idea what kind of difference it might make in the spouse they become for your beloved child.

Make no mistake.  This girl doesn't look at her life, at her husband and children, and think to herself  "Wow I'm good, I got it all figured out and it was ME that got my life so right."  She looks at her life and says in a prayer "Despite me, my flaws, my rebellions, my own issues, God has been faithful to weave things together in exactly the right way to bless my life and answer my prayers."