Monday, December 12, 2011

Learning

I wish learning wasn't such a process. A slow, tedious process. I wish it came easier. I wish I didn't fight it as much.

I have this tendency to immediately assume the worst when there is a change in plans. I begin to list off all the reasons why I am justified in feeling upset with the change in plans and how it's not in my best interests. It's really all about me, isn't it?

Lately, I have been trying hard to change this attitude. To flex more, go with the flow, not be so insistent on doing everything my way. Have you ever tried to push a parked car? It feels a bit like that. I never really thought of myself as a stubborn person but it is a deeper problem than I realized. My mom probably laughed out loud just now.

The good news is that I am starting to recognize this more easily now. The bad news is that I still react the same way. So now, I am upset when things don't go my way and I am upset with myself for being upset. I know I will regret it later and yet, I still lick the wound and let myself feel the hurt or anger.

I think I am beginning to see glimmers of hope. Twice in the last week, I have recognized my incorrect attitude and apologized and realized what it cost me or almost cost me. I have admitted my self-centeredness and tried to see it from the other's point of view. I am really hoping that this becomes easier with time. Fighting with myself gets exhausting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My beautiful family

These are some of the photos taken by Wendi, of Ordinary Miracles Photography. She is crazy talented and I think they turned out amazing.



My family


My boys - very comfortable in front of the camera



My girls - unpredictable but still adorable



And then there is us. So thankful to be sharing this journey with him!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

More on contentment

I've been thinking about contentment a lot lately. We have been wanting to move out of our house for the past 5 years. The twins are 4 1/2 years old - you do the math. For various reasons, it has not happened yet. I go through phases - there are many things I love about this house - our yard, proximity to stores and restaurants, and our monthly payment. There are other things I don't love or even like that much - tiny bedrooms, one (very tiny) bathroom, a kitchen that also functions as a hallway (although I think I like that better than feeling like I'm stuck in a corner). Weeks will go by when I am perfectly content to live here. Usually after I clean out all the extra stuff and everything has a place.

Then something happens - maybe there is a line for the bathroom or something else needs to be fixed again. Or I bump my head when I'm tucking the girls into bed at night. Or my knees hurt when I get up after kissing Owen good-night from his bed on the floor. (He has a mattress - but still, it's on the floor.) And I think, "Enough! I'm tired of squeezing all 6 of us in this house! I'm ready for something more spacious, where we can entertain easier and have more room to spread out." I get motivated to fix it up and get it ready to list and then it hits me. I'm not content.

I know it's not wrong to sell a house and move to a different one. But I can't figure out how to do that and be content at the same time. When I'm truly content, truly thankful for all we have, I have no desire to move. I see the positives and am ready to overlook the negatives or at least find creative solutions to deal with those negatives. I have a better perspective of how good we have it compared to so many others and realize I have no right to complain.

Does all change spring from discontentment? Change isn't bad but contentment is good. How do you have one without the other? There was a phrase I learned in my intro to psych class in college called cognitive dissonance and I am experiencing a lot of that right now. The definition is "the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time." And no, that was not from memory.

I think I was wrong before about contentment being different than thankfulness. I think when you are truly thankful, then you are content. You don't ask for more.

Last month, I thanked God for the many good things in my life. But I never thanked Him for the hard things. The things that I would change if I could. This seems like a good place to start in my quest for contentment. To recognize and reaffirm that God is good, all the time, and I trust Him, all the time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The same but different

After writing about being thankful for things all month, I have come to a realization: being thankful and being content are two different ideas. They seem to be the same thing. You would think that if a person was thankful for what she had, she would also be content. But they're not exactly the same.

Being content seems to be a bit more of a process. It's like going the next step. It's saying, "Thank you for what I have." and also, "I don't want anything else."

I'm doing a lot better with the first area. I need a lot of work in the second. Because I do want more. I feel like Sally from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when she says, "All I want is what I . . . I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share." I am thankful for what I have but at the same time, I want more and bigger and better. And often, I start to mistakenly think that I deserve more, that it's my fair share.

Maybe this month needs to be a month focused on contentment. To truly be thankful and not ask for anything else in return. To honestly mean, as Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:8, "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." Maybe I just need to read that every day for a month and see if it can start to take root in my heart. Get rid of Sally and listen to Paul more. That's a pretty good goal for December.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30

Wednesday

Ta-da! The last day in November. This has been a really good exercise for me. I have found myself thinking through the day about things I am thankful for and how blessed I am.

Today, on this last day of giving thanks (blogging about it anyways), I am thankful for a snow day.

We usually don't benefit from snow days because we're home anyways. No matter what the weather, we can get our school work done. But today was Wednesday and we had Pioneers, our homeschool co-op. But it was canceled! Suddenly we had an extra day at home in front of us.

And I started thinking about how we could do our normal school work and get ahead. But then I read some friends posts on facebook about playing in the snow and I remembered how exciting it was when I was a kid to have an unexpected break in the middle of the week. So I told the kids, "No school today." And their smiles lit up their faces.

They hurried to get their snow gear on and rushed outside. They came in to have hot chocolate at one point and I said, "Go ahead and play video games or watch tv if you want for awhile." And they were flabbergasted. That is not usually allowed until 3:30 around here, even on Saturday. And they happily played (okay, just a couple fights) until lunch and then they went back outside again.

And I enjoyed being a mom and not a teacher today. I cleaned and read and went outside with them and appreciated the snow. It was a beautiful day.

Day 29

Tuesday

Thankful for:

- my last physical therapy appointment! I am so grateful that they were able to correctly diagnose what was causing me pain and correct that and show me how to keep it from happening again but I'm also very glad to be done.

- coloring with my kids. All of us, sitting at the dining room table, with colored pencils and crayons spread out. I still haven't outgrown my love for coloring.

- a warm house that keeps us dry, especially when the weather is less than pleasant. Cold, rainy and windy - I'll just stay inside curled up with a book and take a nap. So thankful for those simple pleasures.

Day 28

Monday

Today I am thankful for a routine. I love having days off but it's only because of our regular routine that I can truly appreciate the break.

I'm thankful for a doctor who quickly diagnosed some stomach pains that Brendan has been having and had an answer and a solution. He has been having some recurring nausea and occasional vomiting for the past 6 months and this last weekend it was worse and he was not eating much at all. It was good to put a name to it - gastritis - and to know that it will most likely be better after a few weeks on a strong antacid.

I'm thankful I switched the kids from their pediatrician to our family doctor this summer. I have not regretted that decision at all. What used to take about 3 hours now takes 45 minutes and that has been huge to me. I still don't call the doctor unless necessary but I don't dread it like I used to.

Day 27

Sunday

Thankful for:

- a calm day in the nursery. We have had some doozies so I do not take this lightly.

- getting to work in the nursery with good friends - lots of laughs and lots of help.

- the chance to get to know a young lady from church and talking for almost 2 hours about how to be a wise woman in God's eyes and also what kind of music we like. Could have easily talked longer. Very thankful for this opportunity.

- putting up our Christmas tree and decorations and watching the kids put up ornaments. I only moved a few, honest. Not only are they so pretty to look at, but it makes the season less stressful knowing that part is done and not having to find a time to do that. Now I'm in the mood for making Christmas cookies and snow and planning other fun events.

Day 26

Saturday

Thank you, Lord, for:

- shopping for bargains with my mom and sister. I like to go shopping, I really like finding good deals and I love shopping with others! It was a good morning. :)

- watching a Christmas movie in the afternoon while occasionally drifting off to sleep.

- sleeping in my own bed. I sleep fine at my mom's house but I guess it just fits me better.

Day 25

Friday

- getting to see a movie with my sister and sister-in-law. The 3 of us have never gone out before and we had a lot of fun. I hope we get to do it more often.

- eating pretty much all day

- knowing I still have one more day with my family before saying good-bye

So thankful for all these blessings!

Day 24

Thursday - the actual day of Thanksgiving

So thankful today for:

- cousins that love to play together

- happy noises like laughter and squeals. Still can cause a headache but I will choose that over crying and fighting any day.

- children old enough to play on their own and can handle missing a nap. Also thankful they still like to take a nap on most days.

- spending quality time with Josh, my brother and his wife at 11:30 at night waiting to get into Target. I'm not a die-hard Black Friday shopper but I liked the idea of going late at night instead of early in the morning. I'm a night owl anyways! My brother, Tony, and his wife, Ashley, are night owls, too, so we kept Josh awake.

Day 23

Wednesday

Thank you, Lord, for

- the smell of cranberry bread baking

- packing up to visit family for a long weekend

- one of my favorite restaurants finally coming to Jackson and getting to eat there - hello, Qdoba!

- finishing a week of school in 3 days, which means we can take off some days in the future just because

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 22

Tuesday

Today I am thankful for the gray skies and the drizzly rain. We finished school, the house was clean and I had time to read for a little bit and take a short nap. What could be better on a dreary day?

Also thankful for the chance to get out and do some shopping with a friend. I wasn't sure it was going to work and was prepared to shop by myself but it did work out and it was great to chat and bounce ideas off her and cross things off my shopping list.

Thankful to come home to sink full of clean dishes with the children all snuggled in bed.

Thankful for a holiday weekend soon approaching.

Day 21

Monday

Today I am thankful for a dear aunt who drove over 2 hours to walk through my house and offer some creative insight. My home is somewhat challenging. Our family fits but the lay-out is awkward and I wanted some ideas to make it look more appealing. We are hoping to list our house with a realtor this coming spring and I want to do whatever possible to draw in a buyer. My aunt is not a professional but I have seen her house and her work in my uncle's cabins up north and she is good at thinking outside the box. (This visit may have been the reason for my cleaning frenzy the previous day.)

She had so many ideas I could barely keep up with all of them. It was great to get a vision of how the house could look and how we could show off its advantages while downplaying the negatives. It was also great to know that we had a few months to work on those ideas. I am not excited about listing our house and having to keep it ready for showings. Not excited at all. But the thought of being able to buy a house with 2 bathrooms (3 would be preferred) and bedrooms that I can walk in without bumping my head on the ceiling overshadows any hesitations I have.

So thankful for those who can see things that I can't and who care enough to drive many hours to share this vision with me. Thank you, Aunt Linda!

Day 20

Sunday


I got a bit behind but that's okay - I will persevere. I will finish this task that I have begun. Not that it's hard to think of things to be thankful for - I can do that just about any minute of the day. But to take time to write them down and post them on here - that is the part that isn't easy. And I'm realizing that's true in my relationship with God, too. I can spout of things that I'm thankful for with no problems. But to actually take time and talk to God about it? To say more than a quick second prayer but to really take time to reflect and read the Bible and ponder what He's all about? A constant struggle. The contenders for my attention are not my children or my husband, although I am happy to give them my attention. The things that get in the way are books that I'd rather read instead, shows and movies that I'd rather watch, a warm, comfy bed that I'd rather lay in with my eyes closed. (I have, at times, attempted to lay in bed and close my eyes to pray but that never works out. And yet, I keep trying. )



So, today I am thankful for a spurt of energy that involved moving several storage tubs out to the garage. Including one that had been sitting in our office for a couple months. I am so good at starting projects and so very bad at finishing them. But today I finished several. And it felt so good. I love walking through the house and not tripping over things. Rachel went down to the emptied out basement and exclaimed, "Thank you, mommy, for taking out the play kitchen so I could push my baby stroller down here!" And silly me thought she'd be upset about not having the play kitchen. I didn't know it was in her way.


Also thankful for a husband who gladly carried the storage tubs out to the garage after I nicely put them in a big pile in the basement for him. Sometimes we really work well together. I can go through the stuff in the house and decide if we're keeping it and where to put it and he can take care of the piles after I've gone through them.



It was not necessarily a relaxing Sunday and yet I felt much more relaxed that evening than the afternoons where I've had a two hour nap. Thankful for that peace.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 19

Saturday

Today was not an easy day to feel thankful. It felt somewhat forced at first. I hate admitting that because I know I have so much to be thankful for. My day just did not go as I hoped it would. I am disappointed in myself for not getting things done. My to-do list seems very overwhelming right now. It's almost causing a bit of a panic attack when I think about all the things I need to get done and try to figure out when it will happen.

In the midst of this day that caused me to feel not-so-great, we had our family pictures taken by a friend from church, Wendi, who is part of Ordinary Miracles Photography. I saw some of the photos tonight and love them. I really looked at my kids and saw them for who they are. I like who they are. They are not perfect, I know that very well, and I love them in spite of their imperfections but I also like them. I am thankful for these photos, these captured moments. I will remember, when I look at Brendan's picture, how I thought it almost looked like a senior picture and how that feels too close for comfort some days. Tori's picture will remind me of how comfortable she is in her own skin - and I hope that lasts, although I fear the days of self-criticism will be here before too long. I will remember, when I see Rachel's shy smile, that this was the age when she was very attached to me and would run to give me a hug after each shot. (Is it okay that I hope she outgrows this? It'd be kind of awkward if she didn't.) And Owen's impish smile will remind me that this was the night we saw his model potential. He was so funny -he'd be running all over or climbing up stairs and as soon as he saw the camera on him, he'd stop and position his body just so and smile.

Sometimes the thankfulness might not come naturally and it might feel forced but I think it's okay to force it. I think that forcing it once in awhile will eventually create a habit of thankfulness. That is my hope anyways.

So much to be thankful for. (And I'll post those pics as soon as I get the cd.)

Day 18

Friday

It's Friday - need I say more? Yay for Fridays! This Friday, I am thankful for our small group. We just started meeting a couple months ago with two other couples. It's not always easy to find times to meet and we've only met 5 times so far but I have really appreciated those evenings. It's been good to read the Bible together and try to figure out what it means to follow God. It's been good to laugh together and share what has been going on in our lives. It's been good for this introvert to be able to share what I think. Definitely thankful for our small group!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17

Thursday

Sometimes it's good to just have a day at home. Just to focus on our school work and house work. Today was a day like that. And it was lovely. There were snowflakes lightly falling outside and the kids were really focused on their work. I'm thankful for a day when things go smoothly. When lessons are finished and housework is accomplished and there is still time for a break in the middle of the day. So, so thankful for today.

Day 16

Wednesday

Thankful for a husband who makes popcorn just about every night and the chance to sit and enjoy it while the kids are sleeping! I love savoring the snack and drinking a cold mountain dew, knowing all my responsibilities for the day are done. It's a really great way to end a busy day. And a not-so-busy day. We love our popcorn around here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15

Tuesday

Today, I am grateful for my 4 beautiful children. Brendan is working on an assignment for his art class at Pioneers and needed pictures of our family. I found a tub of pictures from a few years ago that I had printed to put in scrapbooks (so far behind on these, I don't even want to think about it) and Tori, Brendan and I sat on my bed and looked through them. Rachel and Owen were about 1 1/2 and at such a cute age. Brendan and Tori were 6 and 8 and looked so much more childlike. I am thankful for the memories I captured on film and at the same time, a little saddened to see how much has changed in what feels like such a short time. I'm thankful that my kids like spending time with their family and I pray that it will stay that way.

Day 14

Monday

Today, I'm thankful for the chance to run! I have taken about a month off due to some hip pain. I've been seeing a physical therapist and then last week met with a sports trainer. He could see that my form was not great and was causing the problems so I met with him again today to work on that. It was not easy -lots of little things to remember - but it was so good to breathe hard and feel my leg muscles working again. I have been given the green light to start running on my own after one more session with him. So thankful for that.

Day 13

This Sunday, I'm thankful for:

- a day of sleeping in. Much appreciated after staying up way too late two nights in a row.

- a fairly uneventful trip home. I accidentally started heading back into town, thanks to my unreliable Garmin, but after a timely call from my sister, I turned back around and headed the right direction.

- a warm greeting when I arrived home. Lots of hugs and squeezes.

- hearing stories about the fun they had with their dad. I love hearing that.

Day 12

Thankful this Saturday for:

- hearing a great speaker who shared some important truths. Truths that really sunk in. Truths about attitude and how I can choose everyday how I will respond to my circumstances. Truths about lies that I choose to believe and how I can recognize those and choose to not believe those anymore.

- coffee and creamer. Sometimes it's the little things. :)

- a shopping trip and then another movie with my sister. I love spending time with her.

Day 11

Friday

I am thankful for a 3 hour road trip by myself. I love driving by myself - the chance to sing as loud as I want and listen to whatever I want to with no interruptions.

I'm thankful for a fun night with my sister. Going to a women's conference at her church for a couple hours and then staying up late and talking and watching a favorite movie together.

I'm thankful for a husband who never, not once, has made me feel guilty for leaving him with the kids and doesn't try to keep it even.

I'm thankful for the break of a weekend and the routine during the week.

Day 10

Thursday - I'm thankful for Owen and his love for the drums.
Oh, how I love to listen to him play the drums.
I love to go down to the basement and get an impromptu concert from him while I do laundry.
I love watching drummers on you tube with him and then hearing him play bits and pieces of their set.
I love how he disappears down there when we have company over and just starts playing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9

Day 9 - Wednesday

Today the list seems long.

~peeks of sunshine among strong gusts of wind.

~watching leaves falling and swirling down the street.

~the smell of chicken teriyaki, rice and broccoli cooking for supper.

~the kids I work with on Wednesday nights at Awana. Even if their parents just drop them off for a date night, I'm still thankful they are there. This has taken me a few years to get this attitude. I love singing the kid songs, listening to the Bible stories and hearing the simple truths over and over, and working with them on their verses. I like calming down the rambunctious ones and getting the shy ones to feel more comfortable.

~a pantry and refrigerator full of food and nothing planned for tomorrow. Maybe some baking? Maybe some organizing? Definitely some reading.

~ a slower paced day for school work. Much needed and much appreciated after a busy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Days 7 and 8

I'm just going to start jumping right in - no explanation needed anymore.

Day 7 - Monday
I'm thankful for
- library day. Last year, our trips to the library were sporadic. This year, I decided to make Monday our library day. Every Monday after lunch, we head to the library. Now we can check out things that are due by the next week without worrying too much about making sure they get returned. As long as we don't forget to take them back. :) The kids like knowing they can get new books every week, too.
-family movie night. We rented Nanny McPhee from the library and enjoyed watching it together with popcorn and some Halloween candy. While we were eating supper, the kids asked if they could watch it and at first I was going to say no because I had gotten it for this weekend but then I realized we had nothing going on so why not?

Day 8 - Tuesday
I'm thankful for
-Rachel's laugh. She got the giggles during supper and I started laughing, just watching her laugh.
- Tori's sense of humor. She snickered at something Brendan said and then imitated him perfectly. We all laughed for several minutes - which I think is what started Rachel's giggle-fest. I love laughing with my family.

Days 4,5, and 6

I think this would be more meaningful if I thought of things to be thankful for on the actual day. It's usually easier to look back and see what you have to be thankful but it's harder when you're in the middle of a long day.

At any rate, here are just a few of my blessings from last week:
Day 4 - Friday
I'm thankful for
- finishing another week of school with the kids! I enjoy so many things about homeschooling but it still feels like a struggle sometimes to get the work done.
- Our children's pastor and his wife and the activities they do for our kids. Brendan and Josh went to a party Friday night so the other 3 kids and I had a movie night.

Day 5 - Saturday
I'm thankful for
- a husband who does the yard work without complaining.
- a son who willingly helps him.
- a neighbor who lets us use his riding lawn mower with a leaf bagger attachment.
- a sunny Saturday perfect for getting leaves picked up.

Day 6 - Sunday
I'm thankful for
- a Sunday School class with young people who like to laugh and learn.
- getting projects done around the house. Have you seen the cubicals at Target with the fabric bins? Love them! I keep thinking of uses for them all over the house. Josh is getting very good at putting these together.

Almost caught up! Just two more to go.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jumping on the bandwagon

Many people I know are doing this thing where they come up with something to be thankful for every day this month. I resisted at first, because I get this attitude about things like this. Not that I didn't think this was a good exercise, but if I feel like everyone is doing something, I tend to not want to do that. Yes, there are exceptions, glaringly obvious ones, like certain movies I get interested in, but if we start to analyze my behavior, we'll be here all night.

So, back to the point - writing down something every day that you're thankful for. I'm about a week late but I decided tonight it would be good for me to do this. I am having trouble, at times, remembering how truly blessed I am and tonight, while I was reading what some others wrote about being thankful, I felt a strong urge to do this. I decided to do 2 or 3 days at a time until I catch up.

Day 1 - Tuesday
I'm thankful for
- a physical therapist who could correctly diagnose my hip pain and get me on the road to recovery.
- an evening at home with my family.
- a son who works really hard to get caught up with school work that he missed while we were on vacation.

Day 2 - Wednesday
I'm thankful for
- a group of homeschoolers who created a co-op to give homeschool kids some new experiences and to help homeschool parents. I love going to Pioneers once a week and hear about all the interesting things my kids are doing there.
- being able to stay home with my kids every other day of the week. I love Wednesdays but they make me love the rest of the days even more.

Day 3 - Thursday
- the chance to get out with good friends who listen to my long, ridiculous, stories that really have no point and still love me. They make me laugh. They encourage me and help me be the best me possible. They give honest feedback and ask hard questions. And, they work hard to make time to see me. That feeds my soul in an incredible way.

Sometimes it's a really good thing to join the crowd every once in awhile.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Girl and Her Pony

Tori with Penelope


For several years now, Tori has talked about wanting to learn to ride a horse. We talked about it but weren't exactly sure what to do to get started. What if she didn't like it? How much would we have to buy at the beginning? When would we have time? She was in dance or gymnastics (both one year) and also playing basketball, Brendan was playing football, basketball and baseball, Josh was teaching a class one night a week at the community college, and I needed some time away once in awhile. So we put it off.


Then, last spring a friend emailed me about a homeschool horseback riding club that one of the stables in Jackson was offering. The owner was a homeschool mom and wanted to give kids a 6-week introduction to horseback riding. It was 2 hours in the afternoons for 6 weeks and they would ride for an hour every other week and then do activities and learn the basics of horses and how to care for them for the other hour. It sounded perfect. There was nothing to buy - all equipment could be borrowed. The rate was extremely reasonable. The only catch was, we were really busy during spring. I called anyways. The club was booked already but there was a waiting list and possibly a fall club - were we interested? Yes, yes, yes!


Tori started on Tuesday, September 20th. She went into the barn to learn about horses for an hour while I waited in the van. Then she came outside with a big grin on her face, leading a pony named Penelope. I sent Josh a text saying, "I think we're in trouble." She loved it. Absolutely loved it.


Her 6-week club is now over but her riding lessons are not. She will be continuing lessons at Stepping Stones farm. I'm thankful we had the opportunity to "try them out" first before making a huge commitment and also thankful Tori found something she loves to do.








Happy Halloween!

Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, Butterfly, Football Player


After a wardrobe malfunction (tights that refused to stay up), the Butterfly morphed into a Pirate. And the Pirate complained much less than the Butterfly and all were happy with this transformation. Raggedy Andy had fun but felt a little silly at times and decided that next year, he would be a Football Player. Costumes courtesy of Grandma Judy - except the Football Player.





















Meal update

I have mixed reactions about the freezer meal system. There were some that we really enjoyed - the herbed chicken, the chicken nuggets, and the french baked potatoes. There were other meals that have yet to be eaten because they just don't appeal to me - the black bean dinner, mexican chicken lasagna and country captain (chicken with tomatoes and raisins). Then there were some that were okay but not anything I'd make again - the playoff burgers, sopa de maize, and roast. And there was also a meal that was quite time consuming for being a freezer meal - the poppy beef. There were two packages that had to be thawed - the beef mixture and the sauce mixture. Then you had to cook pasta, mix with the sauce, spread the beef in a casserole dish, put the pasta and sauce on top and bake for 30 min! And then I didn't care for it all that much.

I have bought a couple more freezer meal cookbooks and I think it's something I still want to do but definitely not the way I did it this time. I will pick meals that sound really good or ones we've already tried and put together my own list. More work, yes, but my freezer will be less scary to me. :) I think 14 meals is a good amount for a month for us. I also enjoy having bags of cooked chicken and ground beef in the freezer so it's easy to put together tacos, sloppy joes, enchiladas, quesadillas or many other casserole dishes. That also gives me freedom to pick something that sounds good or try something new once in awhile.

I'm hoping to use up a couple more of the leftover freezer meals this week but really not sure when I will have the courage to have the black beans or country captain. I guess as long as I have lots of side dishes, it should be okay, right?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October meal plan

The challenge - to plan a month's worth of meals and to have most of these meals in the freezer ready to go.

Background - I bought a book a couple months ago called "Once-A-Month Cooking". The premise is that you plan a month's worth of meals and then buy all the ingredients and get the meals ready and put them in the freezer - all of this in 1-2 days. Then the rest of the month, all you have to do is thaw the meal for that day and warm it up. It sounded great in theory but I was having trouble setting aside two days to do this and planning that many meals that far ahead. Plus, some of the meals looked strange.

A friend sent out an email that she was going to do this for another friend because of some health issues the family was going through and invited others to help her. I went over to help cut and cook chicken and we talked about the whole idea. She said that she had done it before but instead of doing it all in one day, she did a few meals every night. That seemed more reasonable.

I went home and looked through my cookbook again and found a 2-week plan that I liked. I decided October would be a great month to try it because the kids would be gone one weekend (I generally do very little cooking when they're gone) and then we'd be gone on vacation for 8 days, leaving about 20 days to cook meals. If I did 14 meals in the freezer, that would still leave 7 meals open for eating out or our favorites. I wrote out the meals ideas (in pencil) for the month and copied off the grocery list. It was a bit pricey - I had to buy about 6 spices that I didn't have on hand. It will be interesting at the end of the month to see how my spending compares to the month before.

I started putting the meals together tonight and have the following done:
Chicken Taco Salad
Mexican Chicken Lasagna
Sopa de Maiz
Chicken Nuggets
Herbed Chicken
Country Captain (this one looks strange to me - chicken in a stewed tomato sauce with raisins)
Winter Pot Roast
Farmer's Casserole

Tomorrow I will do the rest:
Denise's Black Beans
Poppy Beef
Playoff Burgers
French Stuffed Potatoes
London Broil
Spaghetti Soup

I will let you know how the meals taste and if this whole experiment was worth it at the end!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

13.1 miles, anyone? Part 3

**** You can read part 1 here and part 2 here******


The day of the race: The race was on a Saturday morning. I was pretty nervous but was ready to get it over with. Josh had decided to run it with me for moral support. He hadn't been training but he was consistently running 4 miles several times a week at a much faster pace than me and had also been running 8 miles once a week. We had our ipod shuffles loaded with songs to keep us going. We had our energy bars and coffee for breakfast and lots of water. We had our energy gummy chews for mid-way through the race. We were ready.


We got to the race and signed in and got our shirts. Our extremely bright, neon green shirt. Hmm, so much for wearing that around to proudly proclaim I ran a half marathon! We looked at the map of the course and then waited around for the start. I hate the waiting. The nervous excitement, wondering if I should try and go to the bathroom again, I just hate it. We finally started and it was going good. I was running the pace I wanted to run. It was a bit crowded at first because there were 3 races going on - a 5k, 10k, and half marathon and all of us had started at the same time. At some point, the 5k runners turned around and went back. I inwardly scoffed at how little they had to run and how great I still felt. Then the 10k runners turned back and I was a little envious but still feeling pretty good.


The course was a bit confusing but there were people standing there, pointing out the direction we should go. Sometimes there would be arrows on the ground and we assumed those were for us. There weren't many runners after the 10k group turned around. We stayed just behind one runner for quite awhile and passed some others when we would loop around the course. We were never in a big pack after the first few minutes. I thought it was nice not having other runners to worry about but later I began to re-think that.


Josh was having no trouble keeping up with me. It was a bit annoying at times. I ran out of things to talk about and he's never really been one for small talk so he decided to listen to his shuffle. I never really knew this about him until that day but he's really loud when he has headphones in. He tried to tell me what song he was listening to but he was shouting it. Then he even started singing along.


Right around mile 9, I started dragging. I didn't want to do it anymore. We were all by ourselves. I was tired. Josh made the comment, "Huh, it looks like the it's a gradual increase along here." I told him that was NOT helpful. Then he walked beside me. I had slowed down so much that he could walk next to me while I was jogging. This was a tad discouraging, too. He tried to rally my spirits but for some reason, it had the opposite effect on me. I even stopped running and walked for a bit.


That was the opposite of how I wanted the race to go. After a couple minutes of walking, I decided to turn on my shuffle. I'm not sure why I didn't turn it on sooner. I guess I just didn't want to mess with it and wanted to stay focused. It helped immediately though. I heard the music and started jogging again and was focused on finishing. We headed back into the woods that we had gone through at the beginning of the course but this time, there were no helpful people pointing us in the right direction. There was one runner ahead of us that we followed for awhile and then passed him. After we passed him, there was a fork in the trail, and we took the one less traveled, which was the wrong one. Or maybe we took the one more traveled - either way, it was wrong. We had to backtrack a little bit to get on the right trail and I was discouraged.


I started walking again and then we saw the finish. Right there! It was so close! We could see the flags! And then Josh pointed out we had to go all the way around the parking lot and I wanted to stop. It just felt too cruel. We still had to run a half mile, which seemed so much farther, when we could see the finish line!


Josh had his GPS watch on and said that we would technically finish 13.1 miles before the finish line so I told him to stop the watch when it said 13.1 because I wanted to know the real time, counting our extra distance for backtracking because of a poorly marked course. It still wasn't a great time. 2:21.30, which averages out to about 10:45 a mile. It's certainly not bad for someone who ran a 5k (3.1 miles) 2 years ago and did that at an 11:00 minute mile pace. But I had been training at a 10:00 minute mile pace and was hoping to do around there or better. So my first thoughts when I finished weren't full of pride and accomplishment. I was unhappy with my time and upset that I had walked. It wasn't the race I wanted to run. I said afterwards that it was just too long of a race for me.


We went to get a drink but all the water and food were gone. Another major disappointment. So we drank the water we had brought ourselves and then went through a drive-thru to get a chocolate milk. We came home and a friend called me to see how it went. I told her my time and that I had walked part way and wasn't super happy about it and didn't plan to run another race that long. She was very encouraging, reminding me of how far I'd come in a short amount of time, and said she wouldn't be surprised if I changed my mind within the week. I took a shower and realized that I wasn't that sore. I didn't actually feel too bad. I JUST RAN 13.1 MILES AND FELT OKAY! And that's when I realized, I was going to run a half marathon again sometime. I was going to run one that was better marked and better attended so I was never wondering which way to turn. I would turn my music on sooner this time. I would know what to expect and would train harder and I would run it faster. Because I am a runner!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 things I learned at jury duty

1. Don't wear a belt. Because then when the security alarm goes off, you have to take off the belt and walk back thru. And then put the belt back on. And then you feel like you're getting dressed in the courthouse, which isn't really a good thing.

2. People will clip their nails in the courtroom. I find this both disrespectful and kind of gross so I wouldn't recommend it. Besides, how did those make it past security? But there was a prospective juror clipping her nails in the courtroom. Eww.

3. Real lawyers aren't like tv lawyers. Some talk just like me! I guess I expected them to talk like they were reading off a great script (or an average script) but they weren't all that eloquent. And some look like a kid playing dress-up. Or maybe that's because I'm getting older.

4. There are a lot of messed up people out there. And I'm not just talking about the ones on trial. I'm talking about the jurors and the experiences they talked about that were related to the trial. I have had a cushy life and it's good to be reminded of that and to not take it for granted.

5. Jury duty isn't as scary as you think. It is something I have been dreading because I would have to go by myself and had no idea what to expect but they explained everything thoroughly and I began to really get interested in the court proceedings and watching the lawyers decide who to let go and what questions to ask. It's fascinating for someone who likes to analyze human behavior. Then they would dismiss someone and a new name would be selected and I'd start sweating a bit, wondering if it'd be me and what they would ask me. But my name was never selected and both sides were happy with their jury so I was home in time for lunch.

I remember my dad taking me to the courthouse when I was younger - 5th grade, I think? - just to see a trial. The judge was funny and kind of sarcastic, very matter of fact. I was remembering that experience today and how much more interesting it is to actually be there instead of just reading about it. You begin to understand the implications of the whole court process and that it affects real people. It's definitely something I want to do with our kids. One more field trip to add to the list for our school year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our summer






Tori rides the Huckleberry Railroad with Shelby



Rachel and Seth with Owen and Josh behind them


Brendan gets to drive Uncle C.R.'s tractor at Pines of Paradise



Brendan was asked to play on the all-star baseball team for the tournament. I won't lie, that was pretty cool. They lost the 1st game, won the 2nd and then lost the 3rd.



Blake, Brendan and Travis on the train




Rachel and Owen ham it up for the camera



Tori also gets to drive Uncle C. R.'s tractor at the resort! He is a brave, brave man.




We spent a week at Pines of Paradise in Carp Lake, MI, and had a wonderful time with family. Even though it was crazy hot (northern Michigan should not be that hot - ever!) and the mosquitoes were out in full force (my new favorite t-shirt came from up there and it says "Vampire of the North" with a picture of a mosquito on it), we had a great time boating, swimming, jumping in some crazy waves in Lake Michigan and getting to know our family again. I love seeing my kids running off with my cousins kids and knowing they're making memories of their own to exchange at future reunions.


Later in July, we borrowed a camper from our friends and camped with Josh's family at a really nice campground in Otisville. It's a small town close to Mt. Morris, which was hosting the Warrior Dash this summer. The Warrior Dash is a 5k race with obstacles - just little things like running over tires and old cars, through a mud bog, climbing a ridiculously high rope wall, and jumping over fire. You know, no big deal. Josh and his brother Jake thought it sounded like *fun* (this is why I am generally skeptical whenever Josh has a suggestion of something *fun* to do - I also am skeptical if he says something is not spicy - there are certain things we will always disagree on). I will give them this - the race was fun to watch! The campground was great - nice biking trails, a small, shallow lake for the kids to play, lots of shade, and some chiggers to bite our ankles and make us scratch like crazy. Ahh, camping. :) We also discovered that the campground was only 15 minutes from Birch Run! That made up for the crazy chiggers. And we discovered a new bar and grill that had just opened and they weren't scared off at all when we walked in and said there was 18 of us and more than half were kids. I believe the name of it was Otie's. Best BLT pizza I've ever had!


Okay, that is a brief update on what we've been up to. Other big news this summer - my little baby brother got married! It's hard to believe he's that old. Their wedding was beautiful. It was neat to see Brendan as a junior groomsman and remember my brother as the junior groomsman at my wedding. I have one very big regret - I didn't make sure my camera battery was charged and it died Saturday morning with no spare and no charger with me. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures that others took and hoping to get some copies from them. The best part of the day - watching Rachel dance on the boogie bus we rode after the wedding to the reception! It was so out of character for her. She was a dancing machine and didn't care who was watching. It was a special weekend for all of us.


And now, we're starting our school year! But that will be another post.





Sunday, July 10, 2011

The best view


I loved my view of the parade - watching these 4. :) They were mostly watching to see who was throwing candy. A certain young girl was on the look-out for horses and one little guy kept an eye on the tractors. But mostly, it was the hope of candy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Learning to ride a bike

Here is a short clip of Owen riding his bike. He learned how to ride all by himself this week! Lots of milestones this summer - Rachel learned how to swing by herself but I don't have a video of that yet.



video

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Birthday cakes made easy

I love the fancy birthday cakes. And there are some truly talented and artistic people out there who can make the cutest cakes. But that just isn't a talent of mine. I hate even frosting a cake. Every year, I'd try to make my kids a special birthday cake and just get frustrated with the simplest designs. This year I stumbled across something that changed all of that. Edible icing images.



Rachel with her Dora cake



Owen had requested a John Deere cake for his birthday. I was looking for cake decorations that I could place on top, maybe even cute cupcake decorators, so I searched on ebay for "John Deere cake decorations". Up popped some edible icing images. These are pictures printed on special sheets of thin icing with edible ink. They were really cute and you could personalize them. How fun! But would they be easy to put on? I googled it and found that you just have to frost the cake and use a lot of white frosting (the secret to easily frosting a cake is to use lots of frosting so the cake doesn't peel up and to do it when the kids are in bed or outside). Then you peel the image from the wax paper and gently place it on the cake and lightly press down. The image absorbs into the frosting and becomes the top layer of cake.




Owen's John Deere cake


I was so excited! There were so many pictures to choose from. Rachel wanted Dora and Owen wanted John Deere. No, a drum set. No, John Deere. I waited until he knew for sure what he wanted and then ordered them. I found out they really should be ordered more than 2 weeks ahead of time because that was cutting it close - they actually arrived the morning of the party and I had already purchased some other edible icing images from a local place that I didn't like as well and they weren't personalized so I scraped those off and put the other ones on. Lesson learned- order about a month ahead of time just so you don't have to worry.



Tori's Taylor Swift cake



Tori picked Taylor Swift (kind of strange cutting a cake and hearing - "I want her hair!") and Brendan picked the Detroit Lions. They looked delightful and were fabulously easy and inexpensive. My children thought they were the best cakes ever. And I have to agree. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius.


Brendan's Detroit Lions cake

13.1 miles, anyone? part 2

After getting back into running and then not running for a few months, I "overheard" a facebook conversation between a couple of friends talking about getting together to run. It was during the kids choir practice time at our church. One of my kids was going to that choir practice and I had planned on taking her there and was hoping to be able to leave the others at home with Josh and maybe read or visit with some other parents. My first thought, when seeing their conversation, was "No way would I be able to ever keep up with them." I started thinking more about it and decided to ask if I could meet with them and figured if I couldn't go that fast, I could go at my own speed and at least I'd be running again. I added a comment to their message and they immediately encouraged me to come with them.

It was tough. I couldn't talk the entire time. We were running for 5 minutes and then walking for one. After 3 intervals, I had to walk an extra 5 minutes. I ran another interval with them and then decided to head back. Another friend said she was done, too, and ran back with me, encouraging me to keep up my pace and finish strong. I was exhausted and completely out of breath but was motivated - I wanted to get better and be able to keep up with them. I envied their conversations and the ease with which they ran. They said they'd run every week when the kids had choir practice and I decided I'd be with them.

I also decided I'd start running during the week. Suddenly, it was important to me now. I had a goal - to keep up with those girls - and I was motivated. I got up early sometimes, I ran at 8:30 at night if I had to, I ran during nap time. My regular speed on the treadmill was 5 mph, or a 12 min. mile pace. My goal was to get to 6 mph, or a 10 min. mile pace. I started setting it at 5.2 or 5.3 and by January, I was running at 6. Then I started going farther. I'd finish 5 miles and still feel great. I had never gone more than 3 miles on the treadmill before. The next week I did 6. The next, 7. I felt unstoppable. Powerful.

A friend asked me about running a half marathon. That seemed a bit excessive. 13.1 miles? All at once? I was excited about running 5ks this summer now that I was in shape but I didn't know about that long of a distance. I started to wonder if I could do it and felt a little excited by the possibility. That's when I realized I really did want to run a half-marathon. I wanted to be able to say that I trained for something and completed it. So towards the end of February, I made the commitment to run a half marathon. I had run 8 miles at this point.

My friend was planning to run a half in Kalamazoo and wondered if I'd like to train with her. Yes, I did, but this race was the same weekend as our annual garage sale. I knew I didn't want to train on my own so I decided to try to fit the race in that weekend. We started planning our training program and coordinating our calendars to make sure we could find times to run together. We even paid for a babysitter to watch our kids one afternoon so we could run 12 miles! That is something I scoffed at a couple years ago and even said out loud, "I can't imagine ever paying someone so I could go run!" And now, here I was, paying someone so I could go run. And totally loving it.

I looked at the sign-up page for the race in Kalamazoo and decided to see what other races there were. I saw one close to where my parents live and it was a couple weeks before the Kalamazoo one. We had started training early enough that we were actually ahead of schedule so I'd technically be ready. It was during Easter weekend so we could stay at my parents and Josh could run that race or a difference distance if he wanted to participate and my parents could watch the kids. It'd be nice to get it over with before the garage sale weekend. There were too many positives to not run this particular half. So I signed up.

This seems ridiculous but it appears there will be a part 3!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

what if?

I know, this isn't part 2 about running. I'll get back to that, I promise. But I've had a thought rattling around in my head the past few days and wanted to get it out and write about it.

A few weeks ago, our church had the Life Action team come and do a week of revival services. The pastor was talking about the Word of God and how we should obey it completely and not think that it's not important. He also talked about obedience being better than sacrifice. So when God tells us to love each other, that's what He expects. He doesn't want excuses or a lame attempt.

I've been working on developing a loving spirit towards others. And I've discovered that there are some people I really like to not like. They irritate me and I enjoy going on rants about how much they irritate me. I have been trying to take captive those thoughts and turn them into prayer requests - both for that person and myself.

A verse has been popping into my head often lately - Ephesians 4:29. Actually, I had to google the verse to find the reference. The verse says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." What would happen if I took this verse literally? How would my speech change? My interaction with others? What would I do when I get annoyed or frustrated with others? Pray about it? Hmm. Maybe, just maybe, I would find myself getting frustrated less and loving more.

You know what I really like about this verse? The "why" is included. It's so complete. It's straight forward and there are no exceptions. It says, "don't do that, do this instead, and here's why." It's for my own good and for the good of others. It won't be easy but it will be worth it. So, this is my personal challenge. To start a habit of not letting any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth.

Monday, May 23, 2011

13.1 miles, anyone? Part 1

First - some background information. I ran in high school. Not really because I was good at it but because my friends ran and it was one sport I could be in and not really mess up. I'm not the most coordinated and always felt like I froze under pressure. I'm also not much into sacrificing my body for a sport so when I'd play volleyball or basketball in gym, I'd hesitate, never sure of where to pass the ball or if I should take the shot or if I should go after the ball and I never, ever dove. With track and cross-country, that wasn't a problem. You just had to run. (I didn't attempt hurdles or high jump.) In elementary school, I loved playing tag and red rover. Running fast just felt good.

I wasn't much of a distance runner. I ran cross-country basically to try and stay in shape for track and because my friends were on the team. It was a small school and they needed the extra runners, too. I always did the minimum though. I did the least that was expected and if there was a way to do less than that, I'd do it. Dedication and commitment were not strong suits. I wanted to perform well but not really put in the time and effort to make that happen. I also don't think I understood how good I could possibly be but mostly, I just didn't care. I was happy just to finish the race and hang out with the team. So if our coach said to run 4-6 miles, I did 4. And possibly took a few short-cuts.

Fast forward a few years (after college and 2 kids) - I started going to a gym to get in shape. I had been walking on a treadmill but decided one day to jog. And almost fell off the treadmill because my ankles locked up. What in the world? It used to be so easy for me! A few more years went by (2 more kids). Some friends had talked about a training program called Couch to 5k - in 9 weeks, you go from being a couch potato to being able to run a 5k. We invested in a treadmill and I started running. I met with a friend very early twice a week to run 3-4 miles and occasionally, I'd run on the weekends. I was a runner again. I wasn't fast - but I was running and it felt good. I didn't use the treadmill a whole lot. If I couldn't meet with my friend, I usually didn't run. I didn't want to get up early or shower twice in one day or run too soon after eating something. You can see how it'd be difficult to fit a run in with all those requirements.

And then my friend and I weren't able to meet because our schedules got complicated and I stopped running.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where to begin?

Time has gotten away from me once again and it has been a long time since I updated this blog. Now I'm wondering - do I write a lot of posts in the next couple of days or do I just do a quick update right here? Or maybe a combo - a quick update but then go into more detail about some things?

The quick version of what we've been up to:
- half marathon. I ran my first half marathon! I didn't do as well as I hoped but I still like running, so that's a good thing. And I plan to run more in the future.
- baseball season started. Brendan is the only one playing this year, which is a good thing. Our calendar still feels too full.
- gymnastics program. Tori has been taking a gymnastics class for the past two years and this year they decided to do an end-of-the-year program to show off their stuff. It was well done and fun to see what she has learned.
- garage sale. My mom, sister and I had our annual garage sale here. I got to spend the week with them, make some money and get rid of a lot of stuff. Really, what could be better?
- Life Action Summit at our church. This was a revival team that came to our church and led services for a week. This will require a separate post. It's really hard to describe what that week meant to me.
- end of school. We will officially be done with our school work tomorrow! Brendan has one test left in his Bible class and then we're done! Woo-hoo! I don't know what we'll do yet to celebrate but we need to come up with something.
- sick. I started feeling cruddy Tuesday morning. I powered through the day on Tuesday but then felt awful on Wednesday - run-over-by-a-truck awful. I didn't do much Wednesday or today. Tonight I started feeling quite a bit better so I'm hoping for a normal day tomorrow. It's been hard to really appreciate being almost done with school when I'm just laying in bed as much as possible. Although, I did really appreciate being able to lay in bed and that would not have been possible if we still had a lot of work left. But it will be nice to appreciate the summer break and feel good at the same time. :)

I am questioning my decision to take a 2-hour-nap this afternoon. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now that I'm feeling better, I'm also feeling very wide awake and it's after midnight. I better start counting sheep.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh, no we didn't . . .



Oh, yes, we did! I think that face says it all. That is Owen, sitting behind a full size drum set. And that was taken in our basement.



Here he is in action . . .

His child-size drum set just wasn't cutting it anymore. The cymbal resembled more of a pie tin and kind of sounded like one, too.

So we took the plunge and bought a used set.

We had to set some boundaries - no playing drums while Brendan and Tori are doing school, for one. So every morning, before he eats breakfast, Owen goes downstairs to get some playing time in.

I think it was a sound investment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being you

I'm reading a book called "Up From the Blue" by Susan Henderson and just read a part that I had to share. Seriously, I just read this two seconds ago. I read it, re-read it, and then went to my blog to write this down. Listen to this:

"Everyone likes to tell you the ways you're wrong and ways you can improve yourself and what you should and shouldn't do. Sometimes you have to tune it out or there's nothing left of you that's right."

She's writing from the view of a 3rd grader but the truth of the statement really struck me. And I wonder if my own 3rd grade daughter feels like she can't do anything right. I know I have felt that before. I hope I can remember this and let it sink in and tell her the things I like about her. About all my kids. I know they need to be corrected and they know they need to be corrected. But they also need to know that they are loved, not for what they do right, but for their uniqueness and for being who they are.

This is why I love to read so much, for those quotes that just reach out and grab me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some real talent?

This boy may have some real talent on the drums! And his sister looks quite comfortable with a microphone in her hand. I love my little music-makers!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Joys of Parenting

We have been in the middle of basketball season around here. It has been crazy busy at times but I love watching the game. I don't know all the rules - half the time I don't know why the ref blew the whistle - but I can keep track of the ball and know the basics, which is more than I can say for most sports. Plus, it's indoors - I love not dealing with weather when I'm watching sports!

Lucky for me, Brendan has loved basketball since he was little. There have been times when he loved it a little too much - he had all the players and their stats memorized and loved to tell you about them. Do I really care how how many points a certain player averaged and what team he played on before he was with his current team? No, but I tried my hardest to pretend.

This was his 6th year playing on a team and I think he has shown the most improvement this year. The refs started calling more fouls and traveling - things that previously they had let slide in an effort to keep the game moving and to let the kids work on dribbling and shooting. It just started feeling more like real basketball. The last couple of games were intense! Edge of the seat, hands in the air when the ball went in, lost track of other children, intense. So much fun to see him practice and grow as a player and watch him do something he enjoys.

I think that is one of the greatest joys and challenges of parenting. Encouraging our children to find what they love to do and what they're good at and help them practice and keep at it. Allowing them to try new things and then letting them stop if they decide they don't really like doing something. Teaching them that you don't have to be the best at something to enjoy it - but you do need to be the best you can be.

Owen has a passion for drums right now. He has watched several YouTube videos of the top drummers and really likes Neal Peart from Rush. He has asked when he can get more drums and cymbals so he can have a set like Neal's. We told him if he keeps practicing and gets better, we'll buy him more. This satisifes him for now. I secretly taped him performing for my mom. This is his version of "I Surrender All". I think he re-wrote at least half the lyrics.






video

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Taking pictures

Does anyone else go in phases with taking pictures? I feel like I have really dropped the ball on this one. I need to challenge myself to start walking around with my camera and get some candid shots of how our days are spent. I don't want the standard birthday and holiday pictures to be the only pictures I take. I want pictures of the kids coloring together at the table or playing dress-up or laying on the couch reading or laughing together.

I was just thinking the other day how I really like this particular stage of life. I have 4 children who are more independent but not to the adolescent stage yet. We don't deal with a lot of attitude - some, but not a lot. It's going to go by so quickly. Anytime we look ahead a few years, I gasp when I realize the ages of our kids. Even in 5 years - Brendan will be 15, Tori will be 13 and Rachel and Owen will be 9. Did you hear my gasp? Did you gasp, too? I remember when 5 years didn't seem like a long time. Now I can't hardly bear to plan that far ahead.

Part of me is excited for what the future will bring. But mostly I'm very aware of how fast it is going. And I'm really not ready for that yet. So I will start taking more pictures to make these moments last a little longer.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Did you know . . .

- 4 year olds don't pick their nose anymore?
- 4 year olds take care of their dishes after they're done eating?
- 4 year olds don't "toot" at the table?
- 4 year olds can drink from a regular cup and not a sippy cup?

Rachel and Owen didn't know that either, until they turned 4!

It has been my past experience that age 4 is much better than age 3. I'm wondering now how much of that has to do with my expectations. Maybe by age 4, I just let them know that certain things won't be allowed anymore and they go along with it. At any rate, it's been fun to tell them that "we don't do that when we're 4".

Although, there have been times Rachel has sighed and said, "I don't want to be 4 anymore." Growing up isn't easy!

A squishy pillow

Last week, Owen wet through his pull-up at night. I washed his sheets and was making his bed before rest time. He came in to "help" and saw his pillow case in a heap on the floor. He poked at it and said, "What the hay? My pillow is all squishy!" It took me a minute to realize he thought his whole pillow was in that heap. He was relieved when I explained that his pillow was in the hallway (where he had taken it) and that heap of fabric was just his pillow case.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"What if he didn't?"

I was working with Tori on her Awana verses a couple weeks ago. We were trying different activities to help the verse sink in a little more. The first activity was writing the verse on a white board and then erasing one word at a time after she said the verse each time. This works great for Brendan but Tori is more visual and just seemed to focus on the words that were left and couldn't remember what had been erased.

So I tried the picture route. We took each part of the verse and drew out a picture of what it was saying. This seemed to be much more helpful, along with repeating the verse several times.

The verse was 1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." I drew Jesus on the cross and then had many arrows with the word "sin" pointing to his body.

I know Tori has heard this many times. It's not new information. But this time it seemed to really sink in.

I know the feeling.

This time, she looked at the very poorly drawn picture and said, "He took all our sins." And I said, "Yes, he did." And she responded with, "But mom, what if he didn't?" And I was struck speechless. I just looked at her and honestly said, "I don't know." And we both just looked and pondered that for a minute. And then agreed that we were so thankful he did.

I love seeing things through the eyes of my children.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Starting 2011 with a bang - almost too literally

I have started this post so many times. There is just a lot to write about! I was trying to figure out a way to put it all together in a cohesive way but that just wasn't happening. So this will be more of hodge-podge post.

It's a new year and I'm feeling good! I started some changes last December and decided that one of my resolutions this year would be to continue those. In November I started running again. I've been running on and off for a couple years but haven't felt committed. I often used any excuse to not run. For some reason, this time something clicked with me. I felt the need to prove something to myself. I ran a couple times with some friends who were a lot faster than me. I thought about telling them that I just couldn't keep up with them but they were very encouraging and said that if I kept at it, I'd be running at their pace. I'm almost there! Before, the most I would do on the treadmill was 3 miles. This time, I've gone 6! I'm improving my speed and am making time to run 3 times a week and actually enjoy it. I'm really excited to run some races this summer and see what I can do.

Another goal for this year is to read the Bible. Our church is doing this together but I decided to be a little different. I didn't want to buy a new Bible with the reading plan so I looked on-line and saw a chronological plan and decided to go that route. It's been good to get in the habit of reading it every day, even if it's occasionally very late at night. For some reason, I'm more apt to fall asleep when I try to read it in the afternoon but reading it at 11:30 pm is never a problem.

I've also been watching what I eat and trying to limit certain foods. I think I'm making better choices. I joined the SparkPeople website and have been tracking what I eat and trying to stay within the recommended amounts for me. It has definitely made a difference. It seems to be a change that I can continue. I wanted to lose some weight but it wasn't just about the numbers on the scale. It was how clothes were starting to fit (or not fit, really) and I knew that my current eating habits were not helping things. I kept saying "moderation in all things" but I wasn't really moderate. And again, I wanted to stick with something and prove that I could do it.

That seems to be a theme for this year - stick to it. I should probably pick up that guitar and add that to my list of goals. I seem to be more focused and goal-oriented than I have been in the past.

Last Saturday, I heated up some water in the microwave to make tea. When I walked back through the living room, it smelled strongly of bacon. We had had bacon for supper so I didn't think too much of it. On Sunday, Josh heated some water in the microwave to make hot chocolate for the kids after they had played outside. This time it smelled like fish. We could not figure out what was going on. Monday morning, I was heating some oatmeal in the microwave and Tori happened to be sitting in the living room. She hollered out, "Mom, this is bad, it's going to be a fire!" I walked in and she pointed to an outlet that had sparks coming out. I quickly turned off the microwave and unplugged it for good measure. I called Josh and he called an electrician, after cautioning me to not use the microwave again. No worries there.

The electrician came on Tuesday morning and showed me our old outlet, with some melted wire around it, and said we were very close to a house fire. I asked if that would have caused a fish-like odor and he said that would have been the wire burning. He even had me smell the outlet and the odor was still there. He put in a new outlet, one that is now grounded. So thankful for a daughter who was done eating and who happened to be sitting in the right spot at the right time to alert me to the danger. I don't really like to think about what might have happened.

Now, to keep up with these goals past January. :)