Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas memories

We got back home today and had an absolutely wonderful time with family and friends. We were there for about a week and it still didn't seem long enough to see everyone and do what we wanted to do! But we made the most of the time we had. I even got some scrapbooking in, which I haven't done for over a year. Now the bug has bitten again. I'm somewhat organized and know what I need to work and want to keep working on it. I love going through pictures and putting them on paper and journaling about what happened. Right now I'm on spring of 2006 so the kids look pretty different! I'm a very sentimental person - I love looking back and remembering great moments.

Here are some of the fun memories from this last Christmas:

Opening presents at Josh's parents house. As you can see, there are kids everywhere! :) 9, to be exact. But they all play really well together so it's a lot of fun. Just keep some motrin handy because of the noise level.

Opening presents at my parents house. It looks like a lot of kids but those are just mine. :)

Playing games at Uncle CR and Aunt Helen's house with cousins. Always a fun time!

Owen was tired today and decided to lay on the kitchen floor while my mom was making lunch. A nice, comfy spot that's not in the way. :) Rachel thought it was a great idea so she joined him.

A not-so-fun memory would be taking Rachel to the ER Sunday night at 11:30. Sunday evening she had been crying and holding her ear so I guessed she had an ear infection. But I thought giving her motrin would get her through the night and we could figure out what to do on Monday. I had given her motrin at 7 and within 20 minutes, she was happy and seemed fine. She went to bed but then around 10:30 woke up crying and in pain. This was not good. I couldn't give her motrin again until 1 and didn't have tylenol to alternate. We sat with her for an hour but she wasn't even content sitting with us and kept crying. So instead of enduring a sleepless night with her in pain, we decided to take her to the ER and lose sleep while getting her some relief. It was a good decision.

They gave her tylenol there and one dose of the antibiotic needed for her ear infection. Then, Monday morning I picked up the prescription and a bottle of children's tylenol and children's motrin. She was not in pain and I was able to scrapbook for the day. Today she has had no pain medication at all and is back to her normal self, which is happy and playful most of the time. I tend to forget that after she has been sick because she is horrible when she is not feeling well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Love this time of year!

I love so much about this time of year. I almost said everything but then remembered the shopping trip I had yesterday and decided that wouldn't be honest. But I'll focus on the positive. I love the snow when I'm warm inside and can watch it fall. I love the lights and decorations outside. I love the yummy foods and hot drinks. I love the anticipation of Christmas and time spent with family and reflecting on the One who was born. I love the special music and children's performances that always make my eyes tear up, even if my children aren't performing.

This year has been fun because Tori has been in several performances. She is in the children's choir at our church, Abba's Choice, and her ballet class is also in the Christmas recital. Last Sunday was our church's Christmas program and Tori did her ballet special with 3 of her friends who are also in her ballet class. Here are a few pictures from the evening:

Brendan got a little tired during the Christmas program.

And one more picture just for fun - this is from Thanksgiving weekend. No, Owen is not praying. The poor little guy was so tired Saturday night that he fell asleep during supper! He slept for just a couple minutes and then looked up, surprised, and finished eating like nothing had happened.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not for sale

We've come up with a new plan. Because our new budget has been working so well, it appears that we will be able to reach our goal by early spring. So instead of continuing to half-heartedly try to sell our house, we are taking the sign down. We'll continue to work on our financial goals and, unless something major comes up, we'll put new windows in the rest of the house in the spring and have a big garage sale. Then we'll list it again but whole-heartedly this time.

I like the idea of staying put for the winter and continuing to make improvements. I also like the idea of having another chance to get rid of the piles of stuff that have accumulated already.

It's good to have a plan. It's also good to be flexible with that plan. We'll see how this one goes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I guess the snow has gotten to me. Just a week ago, I was being a bah-humbug and not thinking about putting up a tree until the week before Christmas. The thought of rearranging toys and dragging things out of the garage seemed overwhelming. Then yesterday I started looking at the calendar. The week after Thanksgiving is very busy. The weekend after is packed. And it's all with holiday events!

I want to enjoy the holidays, not dread them. I want to take time to look at the decorations, not stress about putting them up.

So I decided to start preparing now.

Some toys were moved upstairs and some were moved to the basement. There is now an empty corner in our living room just waiting for a tree with sparkly lights. Aahhh. Won't that be lovely? Assuming, of course, that I can somehow convince Owen and Rachel to not touch and grab the ornaments.

I was imagining our walls decorated with the various holiday artwork when all of a sudden, I realized something . . . our living room walls have no nail holes! This had been a conscious decision after painting when we were preparing to sell. Bare walls help a buyer visiualize their stuff on the walls and you're not supposed to have family pictures up or, heaven forbid, a buyer might realize another family lives there.

At the time, I was prepared to do whatever was suggested to make it more appealing to a buyer. I'm over it now. Let the walls be filled with decorations! There is always spackling and touch-up paint, right?

I love Christmas. I love pulling out special decorations that I only see for a few weeks each year. I love the songs. I love hot chocolate. I love making plans to see family and friends. I love making Christmas lists. I wish I didn't love that part as much as I do but it's true. I'm still very much a kid on Christmas morning. I love to give presents but I also love to open presents.

I feel myself anticipating Christmas with enthusiasm and I think, "Welcome back, me!" And now it's time to deck the halls.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Has it really been a week already?

This vacation has been so delightful. I'd love to stay longer. But work and obligations are calling us home. So tomorrow morning we will start the journey home. Mapquest quoted our trip as taking 14 hours. We made it in 16 on the way down, including stops. Not too shabby. Tomorrow we are planning to go approximately 11 hours and I don't think that's counting stops. I'm hoping that's not too ambitious. It will be nice to have a shorter trip on Saturday and to have time at home to unwind and unpack and do some shopping.

But it could make for some really bad times tomorrow. I think I've done all I can do. I have snacks, water bottles, movies, toys, books, and blankies. I just hope for happy dispositions and some longer naps while riding in the car.

It's been great to have this time with family and knowing we'll get to see them next week makes it that much better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We made it! The trip went really well, much better than I ever anticipated. Brendan and Tori are excellent travelers. We left Jackson around 4:30 on Friday and stopped for supper around Toledo, OH. We then took off again and didn't stop until 11:3o in Somerset, PA. During that entire time, Rachel and Owen fussed for maybe 15 minutes. There was never any hard crying, just occasional whining. It was so pleasant. Brendan and Tori were self-sufficient in the back of the van. They had their own activities, snacks and drinks. I bought these little snack cups for Owen and Rachel called "snack traps". They are awesome! I highly recommend them to anyone with a toddler. They're plastic cups with handles on each side and then a lid that is cut open so hands can reach in for snacks but snacks can't fall out. With persistent shaking, there will be a few that fall out but for the most part, the snacks stay in until little fingers pull them out. I could fill up the cups and pass them back and everyone was happy.

When we got to the hotel Friday night, we let them run around for a few minutes and then started getting ready for bed. Rachel and Owen had been sleeping for about 2 hours before we got there so they were a little wound up. We got everyone in bed and turned off the lights and then heard this:

Owen: "Heyyy."

Rachel: "Oohh."

Owen: "Nama odo min"

Rachel: "Taka cha do"

Owen: "Da so ku"

Rachel: "Maba oo"

Then silence. Owen jumps around in bed for a couple minutes. Then:

Owen: "Heyyy"

Rachel: silence

Owen starts clapping to "We Will Rock You".

We knew they had their own language but hadn't heard them so clear before. I think Owen was ready to party and wondered why we were all so lame and going to sleep.

Saturday we got up and got ready and then had breakfast and started off. We stopped for lunch and then headed off again. The day didn't go quite as well as Friday; I had to send more snacks back and pick more things off the floor for them but there was still no hard crying. There wasn't much sleeping, which was disappointing. At 4, we stopped to change diapers and use the bathrooms and then realized we only had about 2 1/2 hours to go so we decided to not stop for supper and to just eat when we got here. The last hour was the worst of the whole trip. Somehow she knew we were getting close. She had snacks, a drink, a movie, her blankie, and still wasn't happy. It wasn't hard crying or screaming so I am thankful for that.

The kids did so excellent with not needing to stop. Friday we traveled from 4:30 until 11:30 and only stopped once in between. Saturday we were on the road from 9:30 until 6:30 and only stopped twice in between. I'm hoping the trip back home goes just as well.

The condos are amazing. Josh, me and the kids have one to ourselves and my parents, Jenny, and Tony are staying in another one right next door. The decks connect so we can leave our sliding glass doors unlocked and come and go. The first level has laundry and a half bath. The 2nd level has the kitchen, dining room and living room. The next level has a jacuzzi tub and master bedroom with bath. The 4th level has a bedroom and bath and a loft that has another bed. We expected to have Rachel and Owen in our room for the week but it's worked out for them to be in the loft area and then Brendan and Tori get the other bedroom. Not counting basement space, this condo has more square footage than our house! Needless to say, it's a very comfortable place to stay for a week. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heading out

We are leaving for North Carolina today. I have mixed feelings about this trip. We'll be staying in a lovely condo with loads of amenities, courtesy of my parents, so I'm excited about that. I'll be making meals with my mom and sister and sharing the burden of choosing what is for dinner and I know I'll love that. There will be lots of games and snacking and having fun with the kids, and I can't wait for that. My only hesitation is that it is an approximately 14 hour trip and I have two toddlers who will let us know in not subtle ways when they're done traveling.

I've tried to think of everything I possibly could to make it a more enjoyable trip for them (and for us). I have loads of snacks, new books, a couple new toys and some movies. We'll stop for the night after driving about 1/3 of the way tonight. We talked about driving straight thru but Josh wasn't sure he was up for that and we also didn't know how well everyone would sleep in the van. They don't have a good track record for that so far.

I'm already praying for patience and a good attitude. I think it will be tested during the next day and a half.

Of course, I'll be taking my laptop with me and there is an internet connection there (or so we've been told) so I'll let you know how the trip went!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My little man

My baby grew up today. I didn't realize how sad I would feel. Owen got his first real haircut. Not just a little trim in the back, but a full-fledged haircut. And he no longer looks like a baby. He looks like a little boy. Just like that.

Josh took him to the barbers and they did a good job. It's a very nice haircut.

But I miss his crazy curls. I'd always play with them when I was holding him. Now there is nothing there. I think it will be awhile before I let him get a haircut again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The guitar that caused so much angst

But will bring lots of joy! Choosing this was no picnic. I struggle with wanting quality items but not wanting to pay too much. It's also hard to know how much to invest in a hobby that right now you're not good at. I think I made a good decision though. I love the look of it and enjoy playing on it. The small red one is Brendan's. Isn't it cute? It's a mini strat. :) It fits him really well. He loves to mess around with the knobs and try different sounds. I have already had to tell him 20 times to turn it down. Can you imagine the next 10 years? I think we will need to finish off the room above the garage for him.

I have seen progress but it is coming slowly. I have read different tutorials on-line and it seems like this is normal. It is a slow start and it's hard to keep up the motivation to play when you sound so bad. I just have to push through and keep practicing. They also recommended listening to great guitar music so I bought Brad Paisley's new cd, Play. It's mostly an instrumental album with lots of great guitar music. It has been inspiring to listen to.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin carving . . . or eating?


The first time Brendan helped carve a pumpkin, he gagged. Josh pulled up a handful of "guts" and squeezed it and Brendan had to look away. We crossed "future doctor" off the list.

The first time Tori helped carve a pumpkin, she was fascinated by the "guts" and would even reach out to touch them.

The first time Rachel and Owen helped carve a pumpkin, they ate the "guts". And rinds. And anything else they could get their hands on.

Do you see how this is progressing? I would never even consider eating what comes of the pumpkin but they could not keep their hands off it. I think Brendan had to work on not gagging again.

I have more pictures of the actual carved pumpkins but for some reason they are on the internal memory of my camera so that means I need to find the special cord to connect my camera to the computer. It could be a few days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can't hardly wait

I finally chose my guitar. I hope I made the right decision. I have mentioned many times my tendency to overthink things. I know it would have been better to go to a guitar store and try out a few but because of time and lack of patience, I just ordered one.

Actually, I ordered it twice. :) I ordered it yesterday and was feeling okay about it. Then a question was raised about the shipping policy and I got nervous and cancelled the order. It wasn't so much the shipping I was concerned about - I just started feeling like I should go to the store and get it there. So as of 5:00 last night, that was my plan. Then I did some more research, got some more advice, and decided I really didn't want to drive to the store (a little over an hour away) and re-ordered it today. :)

Now I am anxiously awaiting my Squier Affinity Strat HSS. It's black with a white pick-guard. I like the look of it and it has good ratings so hopefully I like the sound and feel of it. The customer service rep said I could expect it to arrive in 2-3 business days. Oh, yeah. I'll be rocking by the weekend.

I have been practicing every day and noticing improvements. I am going through the chromatic scale quicker now and can find the three chords all on my own. Moving from one to the other is still tricky for me. My fingertips went from feeling slightly numb in spots to blistery. There are no blisters but they're a little tender. I love it, though. It is a reminder that I am learning to play guitar. And I just keep smiling about it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On my way

About 4 years ago, Josh and I went to see a play at Jackson Community College. We were walking around the building waiting until it was time to be seated and there was an advertisement for someone giving guitar lessons. It hadn't really occured to me until that moment that I could take guitar lessons. It wasn't too late and I hadn't missed my chance. The idea was planted but I kept putting it off. Another year went by and then we found out we were expecting twins and it was put way off. I started thinking about it again about a year ago and talked to a few people about it.

Part of the problem was when and where to take lessons and from who? Then I thought about Chris, one of the guitarists in our church's worship band. There were several times, after hearing him play, that I would think, "I want to play like that." Hmm, maybe he could teach me?

I asked him about it and he was quick to say yes. Almost a little too quick. He asked if I had a guitar. Of course not. That would mean I was serious about it and it would be a financial investment in what had only been a far-fetched dream. A "maybe someday" dream. No problem, he said, you can learn on mine. But that meant I had no excuses anymore. Nothing to keep me from my first lesson.

So I had my first lesson last night. And I loved it. I have spent several hours since then researching guitars and trying to figure out what I want so I can get it as soon as possible. My nails have been shortened to better hold the strings. I have an acoustic guitar I borrowed from a friend so I can practice until I get my own. I know it's going to be hard. I still have to look at a diagram about 5 times before I get my fingers in the right position for one chord. But it's going to be worth it. Oh, is it going to be worth it.

Brendan has also shown an interest in learning to play guitar so we are going to get him a guitar, too. Tonight he and Tori both played the acoustic one and really enjoyed it. And I could just see us having a big family jam session in the not-so-distant future. Awesome.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A New Family Activity

Up until recently, we only had one child bike seat on the back of Josh's bike. I didn't want one on the back of my bike because I question my sense of balance. So Josh would take Rachel or Owen for a bike ride and have to take turns and I would stay here with the other one. We decided to look for a bike trailer and mentioned it to my parents and they knew of a family who had one they were no longer using. Ask and you shall receive!

We've used it several times already and it's so nice to have. Now we can all go on bike rides together and no one gets left behind. It's also something Josh can do with all the kids when I'm gone. I would feel guilty sometimes because Tori would ask to go on a bike ride in the evenings but if I was going to be gone, then they couldn't go. Now nothing holds them back but the weather.

Just Plain Cute

These are just some really cute pictures of Rachel and Owen. There's nothing else to say - they are just cute and make me smile all the time. Yes, those are my shoes that Rachel is wearing. I have to apologize for the video - I rotated the camera part-way through to get a better shot and didn't realize it wouldn't auto-correct. I love listening to her talk so I still included it. :)

Identity Crisis?

Owen watched me put up Rachel's hair and grabbed a ponytail holder and tried to put one in his hair. I thought it was so cute, I helped him out and managed to take a few pictures before Josh took it out. :)


Last week, Josh and I took Brendan and Tori to the great city of Chicago for a couple days. We went to the Shedd Aquarium, ESPN Zone, American Girl Place and the Lego store. The kids decided Chicago was a pretty awesome place. :)

It rained the first night, which put a damper on my plans of walking around downtown but when we walked into ESPN Zone, some guy came up and gave us a card that was good for unlimited play for an hour on all the games! He couldn't use it because he was chaperoning a large group of kids. It was such a blessing for us. We played all kinds of games for an hour and then had dinner there. We walked back to our hotel and enjoyed our spacious, upgraded suite.

On Wednesday, we headed to the American Girl Place first and Tori had her doll's hair done and picked out a new outfit for her. She loved looking at all the neat things for sale there. Then we went to the Lego store and checked out all the neat Lego sculptures. For some reason, Brendan declined to have his picture taken.

We went to the Hershey store and also walked down to the Sears tower but decided to not ride up after finding out there was zero visibility.

All in all, it was a great trip and we all decided Chicago is a place we want to visit again. Rachel and Owen stayed with my parents and had a wonderful time. We decided a 4-hour trip coupled with no naps and lots of running around wouldn't be something they would enjoy right now and would therefore make it harder for us to enjoy. I look forward to taking them someday soon!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Okay, I have been tagged and I never even had a chance to run! :) I don't have a big base of people I know who blog - there are only 3. And of the 3, one tagged me and one was tagged by her! So that leaves one, who I will tag at the end of this post. I do have one more friend who blogs but she has said she doesn't really get "into" the blogging world so I won't tag her. :)

Here's how it works:
- post the rules on your blog
- write 6 random things about yourself
- tag 6 people at the end of your post
- if you are tagged, just do it and pass the tag along!

Okay, 6 random things:

1. I know how to knit! I just learned a year ago last summer and really enjoy it. So far I've done dishcloths and am working on a blanket. At my current pace, it should be ready by the time Brendan is old enough for college. I do enjoy knitting but can't do it while typing on the computer or eating or reading a book - so, it doesn't get done that often.

2. I have started downloading Mark Driscoll's podcasts from Mars Hill church in Seattle, WA, and love them. He is an excellent speaker and very knowledgeable of the scriptures. I normally pick music over "talk" but he and Dave Ramsey are my choice for talk now.

3. I am a list person. I love writing out things to do and then checking them off. I try to keep some paper and a pen with me at all times just in case I think of something to write down.

4. I really like to laugh. I like movies that are romantic comedies because I like to laugh and leave with a smile on my face. I enjoy going to comedy clubs, although those are sometimes a gamble whether the comedian will truly be funny or not. I tend to pick friends who have a good sense of humor and enjoy laughing, too. And I love spending time with family and laughing at shared memories.

5. I love Chicago! I just went there twice in the last week and would go again in a heartbeat. The city is beautiful and I love walking around and finding something new everytime I go. I don't think I'm a city gal but if I had to be, I think I'd pick Chicago.

6. I would love to go to Ireland and Italy someday. And I don't want to just do the "touristy" stuff. I want to see what it would be like as a local - what they eat, where they shop, how they live. I found out my grandma's great-grandparents were both born in Ireland so there is some connection there.

Okay, there you have it - 6 random things about me. And now, drum roll, I tag . . .

1. Wendi!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Music Of My Life

Here it is - the songs that made the final cut for the "music of my life". The party was fun - we almost didn't have a cd player to listen to all our cd's! Wouldn't that have been ironic? But one was located and we listened and talked about music and what it means to us. There is talk of more cd parties in the future. There are so many great songs out there and it was hard to narrow it down. In the end, I chose songs that have a strong memory attached and also songs I still like to listen to today. So for that reason, there are some that have a very strong memory (New Kids On The Block, anyone?) but that did not make the list. Maybe they'll make the next one. :)

1. You’ve Got A Friend by Carole King, Tapestry
I remember this song from my younger elementary years. We would listen to the light rock radio station a lot. I still love this song and the message about friendship.

2. I Am A Rock by Simon and Garfunkel, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
We had their greatest hits on 8-track and I love every song on there. This one is definitely my favorite though. Amazing lyrics.

3. Hard Habit To Break by Chicago, Greatest Hits 1982-1989
I remember riding the bus and listening to this song when I was in elementary school. I remember feeling grown-up because I understood what a song was talking about.

4. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses, Greatest Hits
I was in band in junior high and remember seeing a high school band student play the intro to this on his electric guitar - that might have been the first time I realized how awesome the guitar was.

5. Back In Black by AC/DC, AC/DC Live
This song has the best intro - I just love it. The first time I heard it, I was in a car with my friend Claudia and I just started moving and she thought something was wrong with my neck. She wanted to dedicate it for me at my wedding but the DJ didn’t have it so she had to settle for You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC.

6. Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks, The Hits
This was the first country song I liked. I always made fun of my friends for liking country and then I finally understood. I love the lyrics in country songs and how they tell a story.

7. Thunderstruck by AC/DC, AC/DC Live
Okay, this is a tie for best intro. This song gets me pumped and motivated. In high school my junior year, our basketball team was having a good year so they would shut all the lights off right before the game and play this song and then turn them on while the guys came out to do warm-ups. Talk about getting the crowd into the game!

8. I’ll Be There For You by Bon Jovi, Cross Road
I had to include a Bon Jovi song! I like so many of theirs but this one is one of my favorites. I remember thinking it had special meaning for me because on my 16th birthday, there happened to be a NCAA tournament game on tv and after I blew out my candles I looked up and Josh was watching the game and not me. We had a fight - he claims he looked after I blew out the candles. There is a part in the song that goes, "I wish I'd seen you blow those candles out." Oh, the drama.

9. I’ll Never Let You Go by Steelheart, Steelheart
When I was in high school, my cousin Keith, who was just a few months older than me, told me he heard this song and thought I would like it. We had been close growing up but just saw each other at family events by that point and didn’t have many similar interests anymore. I thought it was cool that he would recommend a song to me - we often would talk about music we liked and give each other a hard time when we disagreed. So I went out and bought the single and really liked the song. Then 4 years later he died in a car accident. This song brings back precious memories.

10.Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
I took a psychology class in college and we were talking about how you will often find people who remind you of people you know really well when you’re in a strange place. Just a few days later I was listening to this song and realized that they talked about it in this song - “and every stranger’s face I see reminds me that I long to be homeward bound”. I mentioned that to my professor, who then came up with an impromptu assignment of having us partner up and pick a theory or definition and find a song that described it. There was some groaning about it but it ended up to be pretty neat and then our exam for that chapter was matching the lyrics of the song to the correct term. I also just love the song for the simple fact that I love to be home and with those I love.

11. O Come All Ye Faithful/ O Holy Night by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve and Other Stories
Josh and I were driving home for Thanksgiving a few years ago and listening to a classic rock radio station. Josh said, “Is this a Christmas song? I think it’s O Holy Night.” and I started listening more closely and couldn’t believe it! I loved it. We made sure to listen at the end to find out who had performed it. That weekend I bought the cd and the next year we went to their concert. That was by far the best concert experience of my life. I want to learn to play like this!

12. This Is Your Life by Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown
I just think this has a great message - very positive and pro-active. If you don’t like something in your life, change it. This is your life, are you who you want to be?

13. In Christ Alone by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore, It Takes Two
This song is about truth and faith to me. It is the essence of what I believe. I always get emotional when they cheer and talk about Christ standing in victory. The music is beautiful, too.

14. Just Might (Make Me Believe) by Sugarland, Twice the Speed of Life
When I think of this song, I remember driving to the hospital to see Rachel and Owen by myself and I had tears running down my face. I just didn’t feel like I was handling life well at that point and I wanted to believe that things would get better. It felt like Josh was constantly having to reassure me that everything would be okay.

15. When We All Get To Heaven by Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
This song was one we sang often at church. It was a favorite of my grandparents, too. I heard this version not long after my grandma died last year and it made me think of her and smile. I believe it’s true, too, and look forward to seeing her and my grandpa again.

16. You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins, Greatest Hits, Vol. II, American Man
I think this is the one that inspired lidija to come up with this idea so I had to include it! No, really, it’s another reason why I love country songs. The lyrics are just so good and bring tears to my eyes. It’s a good reminder to me to enjoy the moments and each stage of life. There will be a time in the future when I will wish we were all home together more.

17. Love You ‘Till The End by The Pogues, P. S. I Love You
This song is from the movie “P.S. I Love You” and touched me deeply. I bought the soundtrack the same day I saw the movie. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and how beautiful it was. To me, this is the definition of true love. To choose to be with someone and to choose to love them until the end, no matter what. It’s a perfect love song.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Little Bible Scholars and Football Players

This was not a posed picture, I promise you. Owen and Rachel each grabbed a Bible and sat on the chair together and started to look through them. I'll have to get them one of their own because some of my maps in the back are nowhere to be found.

Football season has started! Josh is coaching Brendan's football team through the YMCA again this year and having a great time. Here they were huddling up before the game.

An action shot of Brendan running right when someone grabbed his flags. Notice the dirt on his leg? After the game, they all compare dirt streaks and try to figure out who is the dirtiest. I am noticing that there is a big difference this year in the number of injuries and also the number of players who end up on the ground after every play. So far there has been nothing serious but lots of scrapes and bruises and just kids falling down. Have I mentioned that I would be perfectly happy if he gave up football and just concentrated on basketball?

Words I Needed To Hear

This Sunday I heard some words I really needed to hear. I saved the printed version of our pastor's sermon so I could write exactly what he said but then forgot I was going to blog about it and threw it away in my cleaning frenzy last night. Now I'll have to see how good of a memory I have. Unfortunately, I'm not usually good with details, especially with conversations or things I have heard.

Our pastor was talking about a man who worked at a cemetary filling in graves. He said this particular time he was filling in the grave of an infant and he was shoveling very carefully and tenderly, with a manner befitting such a solemn and tragic event. "If Jesus had this job," said our pastor, "that's how he would have done it." Those words really spoke to me. If Jesus had my job of caring for my children and teaching them, how would he do it? Oh, forgive me, Lord. I am so quick to anger and lose my patience so often. I speak sharply and raise my voice. I see them doing the same thing and it hurts to know I have set this example.

It was such a needed reminder to me that my goal should not be just to make it through each day. My goal should be to show Jesus to my kids every day in every way.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Worth The Time

Guess what?? I won the diaper giveaway! I just found out last night and was so excited I could hardly sleep. :) I won 3 packages of Huggies diapers and 2 packages of wipes. I am having so much fun with this coupon thing and entering giveaways for free things.

I have been on my cash-only budget for one month now and it's been awesome. I have stayed within my budget and managed to stock our basement shelves with whatever has been on sale. We have also eaten out less! That was something I never expected. I do feel like I cheated a little bit because last month my budget was more and I got part of that back in rebates this month. But I guess the end result is the same, no matter what my actual spending amounts are. I'm spending a lot less than I used to (about 50% less now) and getting lots in return. Good times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Diaper contest entry

I came across a diaper contest entry today and you get extra entries if you share your diaper story in your blog and also include this video. I'll do just about anything to win diapers!

This video is about a recent Huggies diaper commercial - enjoy!

Okay, here is the diaper story. This is a true story and it just happened last night. It didn't involve anyone getting sprayed while changing a diaper but it did show the need for bottoms to be covered up!

I was giving Rachel and Owen a bath and noticed that at some point, one of them had pooped in the tub. I quickly realized that this was having the opposite effect I intended the bath to have so I rinsed them off and got them out. Now I had two naked toddlers running around who did not want to be covered. I caught Rachel and dried her off and diapered her. I went to get Owen and dry him off and realized that he had peed on his towel! Thank goodness they are covered most of the time. And no, potty training is not in the near future.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


My brother-in-law was recently reading my blog - I'm not sure what took him so long - but he read my profile and thought it was funny that I used the word "riff". Now he apparently pictures me jamming on the guitar every time he thinks of it and cracks up. :) I really need to get a guitar and take some lessons to show him I'm serious. In the meantime, I looked up the definition of "riff". I knew the main idea but wasn't sure how to articulate it. Here is the definition, although I'm still not sure I can articulate it. This is from Wikipedia:

In music, a riff is an ostinato figure: a repeated chord progression, pattern, refrain or melodic figure, often played by the rhythm section instruments or solo instrument, that forms the basis or accompaniment of a musical composition (though they are most often found in rock music, Latin, funk and jazz).


This defintion made a little more sense to me, also from Wikipedia: Rikky Rooksby (2002, p.6-7) states that "A riff is a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song."

So, on that note, I've started a list my favorite riffs. :) And yes, I will use this word as much as possible when I'm around my brother-in-law now. :)

And again, these are in no particular order.

1. Iron Man, Black Sabbath
2. Sweet Child of Mine, Guns-N-Roses
3. Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple
4. Kashmir, Led Zeppelin
5. Walk This Way, Aerosmith
6. Enter Sandman, Metallica
7. Thunderstruck, AC/DC
8. Back in Black, AC/DC
9. Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin
10. Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin

I know there are lots more out there - feel free to share your favorites!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Remembering . . .

I was planning on going to bed early tonight but it's just too nice to have the house to myself! All is quiet and peaceful. I'm trying to go to bed earlier so I can get up and run in the mornings but so far this week it has not been going well. I even made sure I didn't nap this afternoon so I'd be more tired but here I am, wide awake.

I was reading my friend Judy's blog tonight and a lot of memories came back. She had her baby yesterday and he's in the nicu because his lungs were a little underdeveloped. She writes about getting to hold him for the first time and talks about his stats and how her older boys have to have their temp taken before they can go in. Tears just started dripping down my cheeks.

It's amazing to me how quickly I can get taken back to this time:

The emotions return in full force. My eyes tear up, my heart rate goes up and I get a little pit in my stomach. It was such a helpless feeling to have Rachel and Owen in there and not be able to do much to help them get out. I remember crying a lot and feeling guilty no matter what I did. I remember wanting to see them but not really wanting to be at the hospital a lot - feeling like I couldn't do much when I was there and there were two older kids at home that needed me also. Then feeling guilty when I was home because I had two newborns that I wasn't taking care of. And it felt so incredibly wrong to leave the hospital without them. And even more wrong bringing one home without the other 10 days later. Although when Rachel came home 8 days after Owen, we did contemplate taking her back - she was not an easy baby! We did seriously wonder if they let her leave too soon because she was not eating well but after a day she seemed to get the hang of it.

I mostly remember crying a lot during this time. My mom would try and prepare Brendan and Tori because it really bothered Tori. She started looking deep into my eyes, trying to see if I had been crying or if I was going to start soon. I remember one time a few months after they had been home I was laughing hard and my eyes teared up and she instantly looked very concerned. Then I almost did start crying for real. I think I have extra tear ducts.
On a more light-hearted note, this morning we were doing our Bible and history lessons. I got the books we needed and sat down on the floor and told the kids what we were going to be talking about. Owen came in the room and saw me sitting there and ran to the bookshelf, grabbed my Bible, climbed on the couch, opened it up and began to "read". What a great thing for him to imitate.

It's very difficult to get a good picture of both of them together but here they are looking at all our books for school. I had to move this step stool and put the books on a higher shelf because it was impossible to keep them on the shelf and the edges of the books were getting nibbled on.

Rachel apparently has inherited my blinking problem when getting a picture taken. And of course, they both decided to get up after 2 tries. They really do love looking at books though!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Budgets and Spreadsheets

It is kind of scary how much I like spreadsheets. I know this is very geeky to admit but accounting was my absolute favorite class in high school. I loved setting out all the paperwork and getting it all totaled up. It was like playing office, which I also loved doing when I was a kid. I wish I would have had more insight when I was in college. I thought briefly about going into business but didn't really pursue it. And who knows? Maybe I would have hated it. I don't think so, though. I still sometimes think about getting a degree in accounting. Maybe someday.

For now, I get to use my math skills and create spreadsheets at home. In the past week, I've created a spreadsheet to keep track of my rebates, a spreadsheet to keep track of how much I spend, and a spreadsheet to keep track of our savings account and the "mini-accounts" we have within it. It is so incredibly satisfying to see all those numbers in the right columns.

It is strange to me, then, that with all this love for numbers, I have trouble remembering to enter debits on our quicken program. It is strange to Josh as well. I'm tired of the overdraft fees and am going to try really hard to record every time I use the debit card. It also helps that we are using cash for a lot more things. I shouldn't have to use the debit card that often so hopefully the overdraft fees are a thing of the past.

We got a little more serious with our budget this past week and I'm really excited about it. I know, it's not cool to get excited about budgets. This is the real me though. We purchased some things from Dave Ramsey and feel like we're on the right track. We used his on-line budget software and told each dollar where it was going to go. Now we just have to make sure those dollars obey. Once I see the big picture, it's easier to stay focused and not start sliding back into old habits.

Oh, by the way, my new coupon binder is awesome. I used it on Wednesday at Meijer for the first time and absolutely loved it. I've got it organized and can easily flip through to see if I have a coupon for an item. Now to get that kitchen countertop cleaned off again . . .

Monday, September 8, 2008


I've been thinking about goals lately. It's important to set goals but it's also important to think carefully about the goals you set. One of my goals this year was to finish our curriculum. I wanted to be consistent and to do school every day and to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the school year. These are good things but I don't think my original goal necessarily would achieve that end result. I suppose I would certainly feel a sense of accomplishment but at what cost? Would my children have learned what I wanted them to learn? Would we have enjoyed the process? As we're now one week into our school year, I think I need to re-define my goals.

Yes, I still want to do school consistently and use our time wisely. But I started looking ahead at Brendan's math and realized that he's going to get frustrated and really struggle in a couple months. He'll be introduced to division when he won't have fully memorized multiplication facts yet. I debated about what to do - I really wanted to finish that curriculum this year! I thought about the bigger picture and eventually realized that it is more important that he learns a few things and learns them well this year then learning many things and not really knowing what he's doing.

I'm going to work on more individual goals for Brendan and Tori and possibly make some curriculum changes to better fit what they need this year. When I was first thinking about this school year earlier this summer, my goal was to get through the year. :) I no longer worry about achieving that goal. We're going to have a great year.

Another goal I've had for a few months has been a personal goal - to run 3 miles. I used to run in high school and occasionally in college. I ran a few times after Brendan was born but it was hard to find a time to run and I didn't like running by myself. I had lots of excuses. Then a couple years ago, I joined a gym and would walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical machine. One time I tried jogging on the treadmill and after only a couple minutes, my ankles completely locked up! I slowed it down right away and had to hold on so I didn't fall off. Can you even imagine the humiliation?

I tried it again at home a couple days later and was shocked at how out of shape I was. I shouldn't have been shocked - exercise has never been a priority for me. But it was so easy to just start running in high school. I guess that is a difference between running when you're 30 and running when you're 16. So sad. I determined I wanted to be able to run again but then found out I was pregnant. Not the best time to start a running program.

After Rachel and Owen were born, I heard a friend talking about a running program called Couch to 5k in 9 weeks. You start out slowly alternating between a brisk walk and a jog for longer periods of time until you are running 3.1 miles or 5k. That sounded perfect for me. I'm not a very disciplined person and the idea of a written assignment really appealed to me. We decided to buy a treadmill - another major incentive to really do this. I didn't want to waste that money! I started in early April and was diligent about running 3 times a week. I built up to 18 minutes of running but then decided it was okay if it took me longer to get up to running 3 miles. It was more important that I was running at least a little bit.

In July, I asked my friend Lisa if she'd like to run with me. She hadn't been running regularly but thought it sounded like a good idea so we met to run and ran 1 1/2 miles and thought we'd never make it. Then we had to miss a couple weeks because of vacation and family visiting. We had been toying with the idea of running a 5k race on Sept 13 but now it was mid-August and we still hadn't run more than 1 1/2 miles! We ran 2 miles that week and then decided to shoot for 2 1/2 the next time. We managed that but just barely. This last week we tested ourselves and set a goal of 3 miles and We Did It! It was such a thrill.

We're still not sure about the 5k race this Saturday but knowing we did it once is a great incentive to keep going. I know there will be another race to run. Now to set another goal . . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008


How can you not love a face like this? Their big eyes get me every time. I love this age.

5 Reasons I Love Homeschooling

I decided to come up with 5 reasons I love homeschooling to remind myself that there are definite advantages. This year I really struggled with that and kept thinking about how much easier it'd be to send my kids to school. I know it's a "grass is greener on the other side" mentality so I wanted to count my blessings and remind myself of why I do what I do. These are in no particular order - I think it would change depending on the day anyways.

1. The kids don't get up until 8. We don't have a bus to catch or have to get in the van by 7:30 every morning. We just get up around our normal time, eat breakfast, get dressed and are ready to start at 9.

2. Rest time every day. Even with our later start, we finish by 1:30 or 2:00. The latest so far (out of all 3 days!) was 2:30 and that was because Owen and Rachel had a dr's appt that morning so we basically did all our schoolwork in the afternoon. Brendan and Tori still go up to lay on their bed for an hour in the afternoon to rest and read books and just have some quiet time. Of course, I practice what I preach and I do the same thing! This schedule means the kids generally aren't over-tired and get plenty of rest.

3. Free evenings. Except for extracurricular activities (currently ballet and football), there is no homework around here. We work until we're done and then we put it away and enjoy time as a family. That is the goal, anyways. There are days when there is more arguing than enjoying but we're working on it.

4. We can vacation when we want. This is huge to me. I love that we can plan a vacation whenever we want and either take our school with us or change our schedule around to fit us better. It is just so freeing. This year we are following the normal school schedule because I am a creature of habit but we will be taking a week off in November to go to North Carolina. We'll either go a week longer in the summer or make it up another time.

5. Learning more about my children. It has been amazing to see how differently they both learn and to see our relationship develop as we learn to work together. I have to remind myself that this is a blessing because there are times when I want to be the mom with the cookies after school that says, "How was your day?" and hear all about it. It is a burden to have to decide what to teach and how to teach and when to teach it. Or at least it becomes a burden in my mind. But really, it is a privilege. It is one that brings me to God many times saying, "I can't do this on my own but I know that nothing is impossible with You." Actually, I usually say something like "I can't do this! I don't know what I'm doing!" But He has been faithful and when I seek Him, He shows Himself to me in so many ways - through His word, through Josh and homeschooling friends who are always encouraging and supportive.

I was going to list 10 reasons but it's getting late. :) Maybe I'll do a part two. This has already helped me look forward to tomorrow. Anything that brings me closer to my children and to my God is a good thing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coupon deals and our 1st day of school

I've had a few comments on here and facebook about couponing and how to get started. I would recommend Money Saving Mom for starters. She has a lot of helpful info on shopping at CVS and Walgreens and using coupons in general. She also always lists free sample offers, as well as giveaways. From that site, I started blog-hopping those who were posting comments on other deals and found some other great sites. Two that I really like are The Coupon Coup and Common Sense With Money - both of which are also listed on my favorite sites on the side. I just try to read these at least once a day to find out what deals are going on. I've had to recognize that I can't hit all the deals all the time and that's okay.

I switched to a cash budget for groceries and have given myself some flexibility while I figure this out but eventually I'd like to get it lower. My goal is to maintain our current lifestyle or even better and spend less to do it. Last month was very successful and this month is off to a great start, especially with some rebates coming back! That will be a nice addition to my cash budget. So far I am spending a lot less (about 1/2) than I was before just using a debit card and I have 2 shelf units in the basement full of things I've gotten besides our normal groceries! And that doesn't even include the rebates that are coming back.

I enjoy shopping, spending some time out of the house, and using math skills and couponing manages to do all three at once! I also enjoy being on the computer and reading blogs and also contributing to our income. Since I don't bring in any money, I feel good about taking less out. It's really been a win-win situation for me. Last Friday, we went up to my parents house and I wanted to go to Walgreens. My mom went with me and their Walgreens was so awesome. They went out of their way to be helpful and I got everything I wanted and it went just how I hoped. My mom just laughed at how euphoric I was. My total before coupons was $82, after coupons was $35 and then I will get $48 back in rebates! How can that not be exciting? No, it's not all stuff we need, although we'll be able to use 90% of it. But I basically got paid to do that! I just love it.

Today was also our 1st day of school for this year. It went fairly well, all things considered. We were interrupted numerous times by Owen and Rachel, which was expected. We started around 9 and finished everything by 11 except for science, which we did at 1. My biggest challenge, besides Rachel and Owen, is figuring out how to do one on one time for Brendan and Tori and what to have the other one do while that is going on. I think we will just keep trying to figure it out and hopefully as the year goes on they will become more independent with some things. If we had a different lay-out (which is a dangerous road to go down because it quickly leads to discontent) then I could have them in different areas but still close enough to go back and forth as needed.

Speaking of houses, we now have our "for sale" sign ready - but it is propped up on our porch instead of in the ground. I tried to push it in today and was having trouble so decided to let Josh do it when he got home. Maybe tomorrow? I have still managed to keep everything organized and can get the house cleaned up pretty quick - all except that kitchen countertop. It just looks like something exploded on it. I am in the middle of trying to organize my coupons and just can't keep that area clean. I did win the coupon binder that I posted about the other day (yea!) so hopefully I can get all those taken care of this weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Day With Aunt Jenny and Uncle Matt

On Thursday last week I met my sister halfway with the kids. We did a little shopping and had lunch and then Brendan and Tori went to her house for a couple days. They were really excited about going - Tori was lamenting that it was only 2 days and said she wanted to live there. It's okay, I'm tough. :) Besides, I know how she feels - I like having Aunt Jenny to myself, too. It's like a mini-vacation for the kids when they go there. She plans the menus around their favorite foods and always picks at least one neat place to go.

This time they went to a place in the mall called Ridemakerz, where you build your own car. The cars are really cool and the kids had a blast. They also went to a sports store and each got a basketball. Thanks Uncle Matt and Aunt Jenny!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cutting Coupons

Once upon a time, when my life was simpler, I started coupon shopping. There was a Meijer not too far away that doubled coupons up to a $1 and there were many great deals to be had. Then this Meijer stopped doubling and life got more complicated and I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Then Rachel and Owen were born and it was all I could do to make sure we had bread and milk in the house - who cared how much I paid for it? Now I am feeling like I have more control over my life and I have started to take back my grocery spending. It was getting way out of control because for so long the important thing was convenience, not cost.

It all started when I was blog-hopping one night. I found a blog by a friend from college and she had quite a few blogs on there about saving money. I started reading a few and thought, "Wow, these people are serious about it." I read more and started thinking, "I wonder if I could do this?" I decided to start out slow. I've been trying to pay attention to it for about a month now, maybe more, and have been excited with my success. I am actually spending less time shopping and spending less and feeling more in control over what we have and what I buy. I love it!

I am also getting addicted to samples and drawings. Are all addictions bad? I don't think so. I hope not. Maybe "addiction" is too strong of a word. Anyways, one of the websites I found while blog-hopping is called The Coupon Coup and has lots of great info on deals and coupons and all kinds of thing. She is having a drawing and to enter, you had to post about coupons or deals and then include a link to her blog. Pretty creative, huh? So I thought I'd give it a shot. My favorite "coupon coup" was getting paid (after rebate) to buy 4 bags of Hershey candy. With the coupons and sale price at Walgreens, it was $2 oop (that's coupon lingo for "out of pocket") and then it qualified for a $5 rebate. I was hooked after that. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

House For Sale!

It's done! It is ready for sale. We worked very hard the past three days but it was definitely worth it. Now it's time to advertise - more decisions. :) Buy a website service, create a flyer on our own, use the paper? So many different options. And we should probably do more than one. Actually, I guess the main decision right now is deciding if we use a website service or if we just create our own flyer and advertise through the local paper. More pros and cons to think about. :)

In the meantime, our house has been thoroughly cleaned. I'm feeling optimistic about keeping it this way because I feel like everything has its place now. I'm also feeling better about starting the school year. We'll see how long this optimism lasts. :) We only have two of our four children home right now and they were only up for an hour before it was bedtime. I might be singing a different tune tomorrow night.

I took pictures to use in a flyer and also as proof that our house actually did look this clean once!

A kitchen countertop that is cleaned off - amazing! This will be the biggest challenge for me to maintain. Things have a way of piling up here and becoming a mountain so quickly.

It feels so good to finally be ready to take this step and see what happens. And if nothing happens, I'm so glad to have a house that is de-cluttered and organized.

Tickle, Tickle, Tickle

Rachel has recently started "tickling". She'll tickle her toes or Owen's (or anyone else's) and loves to say "tickle, tickle, tickle". I got her on video on the way home tonight. I tried to get Owen to do something but he was feeling camera-shy.

I didn't realize she was putting her finger in her nose! Or that I was talking so much. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Ready

I don't like to make decisions. I especially don't like to make definite decisions. I hate committing to anything until the last possible minute. I say words like "probably" and "most likely" way too often. I over-think and over-analyze everything. I list the pros and cons of a decision and then go through each pro or con and give it a rating system based on 1 to 10 . . . okay, not really, but it's not a bad idea. I just hate making mistakes. I hate regretting decisions I made, especially when maybe those decisions could have been reversed had I just thought about it a little bit more. I get what is called "paralysis analysis", or is it "analysis paralysis", often, even with little decisions.

So, after much talk (lots and lots of talk!) and thought (lots and lots of thinking!), I'm fairly sure (see, I did it again!) that we will be putting our house up for sale this weekend. Or soon after. I know, I have issues. :)

Brendan and Tori had the opportunity to go camping with Josh's parents this weekend and they were thrilled about it. They love everything about camping. I love a lot of things about it but not the dirt - if it could just be cleaner. Anyways, I said I would take them up to their house and then had the bright idea of seeing if my parents (who live in the same town) would be able to watch Owen and Rachel for a couple days. They said that would be fine so now I have a few days at home with no children around. That means no excuses for not getting things done. :)

My goal is to take advantage of this time and get the house ready to sell. There isn't much to do but it could be time consuming if done right - organizing, sorting, all that kind of stuff. We hope to have a sign up and an ad in the paper by Monday. I'm still not sure that I want to move or that it would be best for us but I'm sure I'll analyze it some more. :) In the meantime, we'll see what happens. And we'll have a cleaner, more organized house.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Well-Behaved Rachel

I changed my mind - Rachel would not be a well-behaved little girl if her brother wasn't around to give her ideas - she just wouldn't get caught as often! She is no saint, no matter what she wants me to believe. I don't know why I continue to buy toys when they would really rather play with the guitar from guitar hero, climb on the table or pull off all the books, cd's and dvd's. I might as well box up their toys and just let them have at it. Can you tell it's been a long day? It's nap time now so all is well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Owen's 1st Haircut

This was not my idea at all. I absolutely loved his adorable curls in the back. But last Friday night when I gave him a bath, I saw that when his hair was wet, it went down to his back, past his neck. I hoped Josh wouldn't notice. Then I made the mistake of having Josh comb his hair and he made several comments about how ridiculously long it was. I decided it'd be better if I cut it and could control how much was cut rather than having Josh take him somewhere and getting it cut really short. So on Saturday morning, we got him all set up.
I don't care what Josh says, I didn't think he looked like a girl at all. He did very well and sat still, except when I was ready to cut. Then he'd turn and try to see what I was doing with those scissors so close to his head. :) He also decided it was as good a time as any to suck his thumb.
It wasn't the most even hair cut but there are some curls left and Josh seems satisfied. I'd like to take him to a professional to get it evened out but now I have pictures for the scrapbook and the hair clippings in a bag so nothing needs to be documented.
Doesn't he look like a little man? Except for the thumb sucking. :) He is just the sweetest and yet, most exasperating, little boy. He does not listen and seems to have to learn lessons the hard way and that doesn't even always work! I will be so frustrated with him but then as soon as I pick him up, he puts his thumb in his mouth and gently pats my back. How can you stay upset with that?
If I start going gray, I'm blaming it on him. :) Just today, he has climbed on the table 4 times and tried to grab a pan on the stove while it was hot. I think Rachel would be a very well-behaved little girl if it were not for his bright ideas. She was also on the table but tried to scoot off as fast as she could when she saw me coming. He is either defiant and doesn't care that he's not supposed to be on there or he hasn't figured it out yet. I don't know what would be better. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

High School Friends

My scanner is still saying there is an error and I haven't wanted to take the time to troubleshoot it so here is the recent picture of my friends and I from high school.
From left to right, Bethany, Claudia, me and Lori (and her 2 year old, Brayden). He kept trying to slide off and she was trying to keep him up. It's amazing to me how I feel like I'm a teenager again when I'm with them. Definitely fun times! I guess I'll just have to post those pictures from high school another time. :)

Lessons Learned

There have been a lot of lessons learned around here this past week. Some have been humorous, some have felt like a big accomplishment and others feel like they should have been learned before.

The kids are done with swimming lessons this year. Brendan learned to dive and Tori jumped off the diving board all by herself and swam to the side! They both did great and I'm proud of them. I know it looks like Tori is going to hit her rear in the picture but it's just a weird angle. She cleared the board!

Owen learned that he can't yet take his shirt off by himself. I'm not sure why he thought that would be a good idea this morning but he got himself stuck and was not amused by it.

Rachel learned that pine trees are picky. Ouch!

Yesterday, I received our homeschool supplies that I had ordered. There were 2 big boxes and 1 smaller box. Imagine my delight when I opened one up to find all these great books! I knew I was getting them but it was still exciting to hold them all.

Later I started to go through the instructor's manual. I'm not kidding, it is the largest binder I have ever seen. Now, one of the reasons I bought this curriculum was because they have an instructor's manual with everything laid out for the whole year. I just didn't realize how huge that would be! And how overwhelming it would feel. I began to get a little depressed thinking about school starting soon and wondering how in the world I was going to get through the year on my own. The lesson I am learning (again) is that I can't. I can't get through anything on my own. But if I lean on God and look to Him, He will give me wisdom and strength and patience and everything I need. I have been guilty of trying to do it all on my own. Like my nephew said when he was 3, "I can do it by me-self!"

It gets frustrating to have to learn the same lesson over and over again. To feel like things are going so well and you really have a handle on things and then to fall flat on your face and realize that once again, you became prideful and started thinking you could do it all and you didn't need any help. Okay, God, I'm back on my knees again and ready to stand but only with Your help this time.

And now I need to find a place to store our new books.