Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 Dessert Banquet II

Ok, I'm just having blog issues, so you're going to get everything backwards and in sections. ARG! Anyway, read the other ones for today first if you want this to be in order.

So the next thing is Sesame Crusted Chicken Salad Sandwiches. These ended up being a big hit and were all gone less 2 at the end of the banquet. These are basically a chicken salad containing chicken (obviously), chopped red grapes, pecans, and some seasoning. I used some mayo to hold them together and then sprinkled sesame seeds on the outside for appearance. The regular recipe calls for more sesame seeds, but in order to get them to stick you have to slather the sandwich sides in butter and I did not want to do that.

Numero six is Baklava. This is a distinctly Middle Eastern dessert and I did enjoy some in Israel during my stay there several years ago. It is a combination of crisy buttery phyllo dough, macadamias, pecans, coconut, sugar and honey. It's crispy, sweet, nutty, and yum all in one. I have made these before and they never last. I think they are one of Brandon's favorites.

My last dish is Meringue Mushrooms. These were fun to make because they were super easy, they came out super cute, and they were super melt in your mouth yummy. They didn't go to hot at first because some people thought they were real mushrooms. Others thought they were mushrooms covered in something sweet, but those who indulged got a cotton candy feel of meringue with a hint of dark chocolate in the center. Nothing more, just a meringue cap and a little "hershey kiss" looking bottom attached with some melted chocolate. Lots of fun.

And last, but not least, here is a picture of the table and it's fare. We had more desserts this year than ever before, though until the last two days, there was a question as to whether we had enough. We also had less people due to a threat of a snow storm so there were plenty of leftovers. It went well though and I look forward to the fun next year as well.

Merry Christmas!

2007 Dessert Banquet Offerings

As requested, here are pictures of the things I made for the dessert banquet. They aren't the best pics because I forgot to take pictures until they were almost ready to serve, so forgive me.
First, we have Peppermint Bark. This is the traditional white candy with crushed peppermint in it, only I used white chocolate, and finely crushed candy canes (and not as much as called for) and instead of placing it in a pan and breaking it up it went into candy molds- shapes of hearts, stars, roses, and little wheels. They were easy, cute, and yummy.

Next we have what our family has for years called, "Aunt Bertha's Apricot Nectar Cake". I use the phrase "what we call", because once I got the recipe from Aunt Bertha's cards and discovered that it originated with a friend of hers, but Aunt Bertha (who is 104 years old and still kicking) is the one that made this cake famous. It's similar to a pound cake in texture, but much more moist, has a bit of tart flavor thanks to a combo of lemon flavor and apricot nectar and is incredibly easy as it begins with a box cake mix. AAAAAAAAAH! Scandal! You say....well, don't knock it till you try it!Third is Ye Olde Bloated Cheeseball. I did a little different recipe this year and wasn't as pleased with it. It had less cream cheese than I remembered and the seasonings, while good weren't quite right. So, I'll definately be taking this one back to the kitchen for some more work. I definately prefer the extra sharp cheddar flavor of this one, but I think it will take some tweaking to get it just right in taste as well as in texture. It was a little crumbly and I prefer a smooth spread.

Fourth is Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Mango Chutney. I think these were my favorite thing to make because of the combo of yummy flavors, nostalgia from days in Puerto Rico, and cuteness. Jerk chicken is a Jamacan dish and features chicken with a "jerk" sauce, which is by definition and sauce rubbed on the meat before grilling. It is pasty in texture and the flavor is a variety of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with onion, jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro. Delicious! The mango chutney is also spicy and is a cooked mango sauce also containing red bell peppers, jalapenos, and some herbs and spices. I was a little disappointed with the selection of mangos, but it didn't seem to ruin the sauce even though I felt the mangos themselves were pretty much a disaster. Sometime I will enjoy making it with some properly ripe, not overipe, sweet as candy mangos and I'm sure then I will see how my earlier attempt pales in comparison.

Now for the nostalgia part. The chicken and chutney goes inbetweeen two tostones, which for the ignorant out there are fried plantains, which are similar looking to bananas, but are more starchy in taste. They are always eaten cooked and when fried in circles and smashed and fried again, taste like french fries (only better) and you would feel quite at home to dip them in ketchup if you adorn your fries in such a manner. Ok, so tostones and then they are tied with a blanched chive to hold it all together. A sensational package and best eaten right out of the pan. Someday, I will do this meal for my family on a non hors d' ouerve scale and I will relish this heaven on earth again.

Long Overdue Update in Pictures

This is our costumes at the Harvest Party at the end of October. Brandon and I are a couple that live on the prarie and the children came as, well...themselves- a bunch of wild indians. Joseph had a little head dress to wear also, but he ended up in bed for the entire thing and thus was not present for the picture taking session. They had a great time with their rock and stick tomahawk and their drum. They played with the headdresses for several days afterwards. Many thanks to my mother for her unending costume collection.

Next we have Joseph at nine months (mid November) and he is now in fact ten months. He is crawling, standing up, drooling like mad and being a generally happy baby. His one fault is that he thinks he is the center of the universe and until I manage to let him know that is my spot, we will be having a few unpleasant times. He's a cute cuddly little boy and sort of feels like holding a little ball or rolly polly, though he is not fat. I love him very much! He's a lot of fun.

Here we have the monthly toilet episode. What you cannot see in that rubbermaid container is actually the entire toilet bowl from the down stairs bathroom. You see, we have had issues with it for quite some time. Actually, it wasn't the toilet's fault as much as it was the 3 yr old's fault. The seat was clogged in before the feast in September and so after begging on my knees someone replaced it, desite their busy schedule. We had been unable to keep it unclogged. So we had the feast and the new one worked beautifully during that time and the few days after. Then we went on vacation and from the time we returned from vacation, the toilet refused to flush properly. Since I have been taught by my father that I can fix anything if I want to bad enough, I decided that after plunging it and getting others to plunge it and seeing that unsuccessful and others VERY busy, I would attempt to fix the problem myself. I pulled the toilet up and worked on it for quite some time. I got a toy purse out of the toilet and then assuming that was the problem, put the thing back together again. I was quite proud of myself, but when I flushed it, I immediately felt more in the failure category as it managed to remain clogged. SO, I PULLED IT UP AGAIN!!!!! And after hours of working on it, discovered that their was a clog in the drain pipe AND something else still in the toilet. I unclogged the pipe fairly easily, but the THING in the toilet wouldn't budge. I tried everything. A "snake", a piece of hose, a coat hanger, Brandon and I even tried to bribe the kids, "If you can reach your hand in that pipe as far as it can go and pull out a toy, you can have a prize. " Alas, all children participated in the bribe and none came up successful. The closest we came was James who said he felt something like a block in their but he couldn't get it out. At this point I was ready to use a sledge hammer. Brandon saved the toilet's short life and tried another tactic. He took it up to the tub, put the toilet bowl in a rubbermaid container and filled it full of soapy hot water. After letting it soak for a while, he went up and plunged on it in the bucket. When that didn't work he resorted to plunging the toilet up and down in the water, thus, in a way, plunging the toilet backwards and up floated a little toy- the playmobile treasure chest, complete with lid. After a thorough scrubbing and a nice LONG soak in hot soapy water and and nice LONG soak in lemon juice, we returned the treasure chest to the pile of toys (so we know where our toys have been and now you do too) Wanna come play? Bwa hahahahaha!

This is the celebration of the holiday, "Pile on Mama Day". Actually we celebrate this numerous times in the year, but there are only one or two days that I find the energy to enjoy it. And as with many other things in life: why do we do this? Answer: It feels good when I stop.

And finally for this post, we have Joseph at 10 Months. Complete with food on his face.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Bug that won't Go Away

Just a quick note to say that I am not dead....yet. The family has been sick now for almost 2 and a half weeks. Brandon started it...for the record. He came down with some sort of nasty flu and cough and such that kept him virtually in bed for a week. We drug him to Thanksgiving at his parents and there he began to recover after getting an antibiotic for a sinus infection. Jonathon is on his second round of antibiotics for two ear infections that were so bad they didn't get any better with the first round and in fact he couldn't hear hardly at all. I was practically yelling at him to hear me at all, James also had ear infections, but one round of antibiotics took care of him and he has been doing well every since. Jeff got an ear infection and it's too bad because he only has one to hear from anyway and it is not working right now. Rachel took a visit to the ER for and ear infection (I couldn't get a dr. apt.) and thus joined the crew of those on ammoxicillin. The latest was Joseph and he got his drugs today. I got sick on Tuesday, felt better Wed. and Thurs., felt miserable Friday, had a fever and felt yucky on Saturday. better on sunday and better today, though my throat feels like is was scraped with a serated knife. So, we are continuing on and I think we are over the hump, but we still have a ways to go.

And on that note, I must retire from this excitement to match socks.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Great Duo

Just a picture for your pleasure.
Here are Jeff and Joseph and their favorite fingers.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

We are in fact home from our long relaxing trip to the South. We did have a grand time and after reflecting on it a bit, I have come to the conclusion that, in spite of all the fun we had on the way down with sick children and then ourselves being sick, I think this was one of the best vacations ever! We really did have a good time, a good balance of activity and rest, good visiting with friends and good alone time as a family, and great food and beds! Therefore, I deem thee: A SMASHING SUCCESS!

Now back to the real world we have gone and we promptly were on duty three days after we came back. It hasn't really been that bad. Probably the worst "get back into the groove thing" was pulling together a Sunday school lesson in about 36 hours, but it went well and the kids had a good time and I think they learned something. We talked about the Ten Commandments.

Ok, so duty week, the week that I look forward to and don't all at the same time. I enjoy interacting with the students and eating meals with them and planning a meeting for Thursday and stuff like that. I even enjoy the times I work with them in the afternoon, but I am amazed at how much emotional energy it takes me just to keep track of things and I haven't quite learned how to be "ok" with not doing everything "right" because there isn't enough time to do it right and pay attention to my family as I should. Like one day I wasted 1/2 an hour of 4 people's time because I didn't have the women's work planned out ahead of time. I HATE THAT! And yet I realize that if I had spent the time planning it, it would have taken time away from Jonathon's school time- that is required afterall, so somebody looses either way! I don't mean to complain, I'm not having a bad time with it, I'm just in a learning curve and I'm not quite on the home stretch of it yet.

Brandon did help at the beginning of the week with a couple of things- like he watched the kids so I could spent most of Sunday afternoon unpacked the entire world- which just happened to all fit in our bags in the back of our 12 passenger van. And then he gave me a pep talk on priorities. He listed about 4-5 that I had and said I could only concentrate on 2 per week for the rest of the year. Since homeschool was one of them and another was duty week, that took care of what I was suppose to think about this week. I confess, my brain still wanders to packing and house ideas occasionally, but I'm trying really hard not to let it get in the way.

So far school this week has gone pretty well. In fact, if we could have this good of a school week every week, I'd feel like I was a half way adequate teacher. Of course then I probably would give the credit to God as often, so quick- Praise the Lord for a great week of school! We've hit reading and math every day, some science and history and literature some days and most days we've gotten a good long Bible devotions in. So, things are going well. Well, we did do one experiment that flopped in science. The lesson was on elements and how when you put two things together they can create something new. Our examples were: oxygen and hydrogen= water (we just talked about this one), the old baking soda and vinegar thing, and leven and gluten= rising bread. I did some pastry dough with the kids and put baking powder in Jonathon's and none in James' and then baked them. Then I really played it up about how Jonathon's was going to be bigger just because of that one ingredient. WELL, they were the same size- in fact I think James' was actually a bit bigger. I think I just put too much crisco in and so the dough was too heavy to rise. Oh well.

The other exciting event of note is that Jonathon lost his first tooth today. He has been wiggling it for weeks and today it was pretty loose. So he came to me and asked if I could just get it out. Ah...note....this is NOT MY OFFSPRING! I never would have let my parents pull my tooth! I checked and recheck to be sure this was what he wanted and the short story is that a few minutes and a piece of dental floss later, it popped right out and "didn't hurt at all". So now he has it under his pillow and even though he knows its just a pretend game, the toothfairy has a job to do this evening. He does sleep in a loft bed and he did put it under the far side of his pillow, so I may have some interesting acrobatics to do when the time comes.

Ok, last tidbit...favorite school activities right now: Dot-to-dot for math, a reason for Handwriting letter writing sheets, memory matching game for number recognition, Little House on the Prarie.

Gotta go...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ending up Back Where we Started

Well, as much as I thought I would be able to write more on my blog during vacation, I have failed and thus I am left to write something on the return trip home. We stayed relaxed, then completely off the electronics and then so busy I had no time for the computer. There I have ended my lousy excuses why you have had nothing to read. I hope you haven’t been sitting around drumming your fingers for information.

We have had a wonderful time. After the nightmare/ ridiculous to hilarioius trip down with children throwing up so much and getting the entire city of McDonough Georgia sick, things started looking up. Brandon and I left the children (ah, complete bliss) to head to Florida where we took a couple of days to remember that we love each other and enjoy being together. I don’t mean to say that we don’t love each other most of the time, but rather that we just get distracted with other things in our life and have very little time for our own relationship these days. It was nice to have a little of that newly wed feeling again. After I’ve been holding kids, spit on, tugged on, and generally mauled over all day, it’s hard for me to feel especially cuddly, but the break was nice and since Brandon doesn’t usually make a habit of tugging on my skirt hard enough to risk it coming off, I don’t mind the closeness.

Ahem…ok, so it was lots of fun. The next thing we did was take the kids over to the Andersons for a week of fun with just our family. I am learning that sometimes at home it’s hard to find time to be our own family unit, but this week we made time. We stayed in their basement apartment where we were furnished with two lovely rooms for sleeping, a great room with a functional kitchen and living area and two bathrooms with toilets perfect for 3 year old clogging adventures. Actually, Jeff only clogged one toilet and we got it fixed with a top rated plunger, but he did manage to clog my parents bathrooms several times with an overabundance of TP, a large selection of paper towels, and at one point I caught him trying to flush a medium size plastic side salad disposable dish down the hole. Arg! Ok, so back to the Andersons,…

We stayed there for 4 nights with the idea that we would not see anyone, go anywhere, or have anything to to with electronic entertainment for that portion of time. It turned out to be one of my favorite times of the whole trip. Each day we did a little bit of school with the boys, and then did something fun. In the upstairs portion f the house is a room with a closet designed into a playhouse. That was the highlight of one afternoon. Another afternoon it was the treehouse in the woods. We also took a tromp in the creek and pulled out leaves, built dams, and rerouted the water in a couple of spots just for fun. The boys caught “a big pile” of lizards, saw beetles, stomped on scorpions, spiders, and centipedes, and played in the dirt. Jonathon learned how to shoot hoops and was hoping for a chance to beat his Daddy at a game, but we’ll have to save that one for another trip.

In fact, we liked it so much, we based the last week of our trip from their house. We slept really well there with the children waking up after 8am many mornings and then went to my parents and visited others during the day. Several of our favorite activities this past week were: church on Sunday with waffles being the theme for the potluck lunch. Our children LOVE waffles! We also had a great time with Dan and Pari- relatives of Brandon. Pari is Tamil (Indian) and she blessed us with some of her “mild” chicken curry which turns me into a glutton everytime. It is SO delicious I always wish I had enough room to finish off the entire pot. The children had a great time playing with their cousins Joshua and Rebekah. Another big hit was going fishing. We bought some worms and crickets from the Bait Store and the “fishing grandpa” was true to his name and took them out to wet a hook. My parents have a lake in the back yard and so it makes going fishing a relatively simple task. We had to wait for the weather to cooperate since it managed to rain for the second time in months (record breaking droughts) but it did eventually and we had a lovely sunny afternoon to stand on the dock and play with fish guts, worms, and bugs. The boys actually caught about 8 fish. We have always called them Brim, but they probably have a longer name that I don’t know. They are small fish, but taste great and even though some of the ones we caught weren’t bigger than my hand, Grandpa cleaned and fried up everyone and we had them for breakfast- something his mother used to do for him when he was younger. In all the fishing excitement, Grandpa got a bit distracted at point and left the scene and I was left to pull out my fishing techniques and bait their hooks, cast the line, and take the fish off the hook when caught. I recal the last part being my least favorite as I have been stuck more than once by fish fins in my time, but my courage prevailed and I successfully got about 4 off their hooks and into the basket without being cut to pieces or even pricked.

The last grand adventure was put on by our friends Nate and Penny who in an effort to visit with us and keep the children entertained at the same time, treated us to playtime and dinner at Kangaroo Kids. This facility is home to several large blow up jumping cages, slides, and climbing things. The children a lot of fun and got some wiggles out after a very rainy day and we had some great food delivered there from a restaurant nearby. So a winning combination: occupied children, great food, wonderful company!

The other major accomplishment during our trip was that I managed to pull my natural Southern accent back out from some dark closet in the back of a cave and use it excessively. It is quite unintentional, my accent doesn’t change at my command except to slaughter a British one or when I pull out my baby talk or duck quaking talents, More subtle ones change depending on who I am talking to and around. If you have never heard me speak so thickly Southern that you can’t hardly understand what I say, then you must come to Georgia for a visit with us sometime and I will demonstrate how my tongue simply runs along without me in its more red-neckish rambles. There are times when I do things that make me wonder how on earth Brandon put up with me long enough to get stuck permanently.

And now, my dear friends…we are headed home via I-95. We left this morning shortly after 6am and then stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel (a favorite that is quickly becoming tradition). The children had pancakes and bacon and devoured almost all of it. Brandon and I had eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits, and gravy. I added a cup of coffee and all of it was delicious!

I thought of two more things to mention- the campout, and some things I’ve learned this trip.

First, the campout was, I think, a smashing success. The food was delicious and not just because my Dad employed his secret technique of cooking (wait to eat so long that it doesn’t matter what it tastes like- and eat it in the dark). We had stew cooked over the campfire, salad, and bread. We slept out, saw lots of people and then had eggs, bacon, and grits the next morning for breakfast. I got to see Roy- who is looking really good these days I might add, several of my friends from different times in life, and meet some new people I look forward to knowing into old friends. My music director from the church I attended as a little girl was there, a friend from my teenage years came by with her 6 children, another mother of 6 I met for the first time and we hit it off great. My grandmama was there and a bunch more. I think the total was just under 70. If you missed it- it was a highlight and you should come next year, they have it every year. We did cheat a little on the sleeping part and let Joseph sleep inside the house with my mother, but the rest of us had a fun time (don’t ask Brandon if he had a “fun” time sleeping in the tent) outside.
Oh, another thing we did was we went to the Bethany Baptist Church picnic Sunday Afternoon. That was a step into the past for me. I sort of enjoy being able to see those people and be a testimony that God straightened me out from what I was before. It was so good to see people that my parents and later, I became friends with as I grew up. There were a lot of memories- good ones, that came to mind and I enjoyed seeing people who I knew as a teenager did care about me. I felt very loved and cared for and that makes them special to me.

Ok, the last thing I’ll talk about is the things I learned on our trip and I’ll try to put them in the order I learned them:
- I have decent balnce while standing backwards in the moving van, going around a curve, and catching vomit at the same time.
- Always carry several trash bags.
- I know now that I can do a lot more that I think I can when I’m sick, but I’ll never admit it unless it is absolutely necessary.
- When I have too much to do I wish I had nothing and when I have nothing to do I wish I had something, thus it takes some effort to make myself relax.
- Never underestimate God’s ability to stretch the penny.
- I don’t really mind lizards as much as I thought I did, but I do mind beetles.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

For a Limited Time Only

Ok, now don't get hooked. Just because I post twice in a week doesn't mean that it's going to be happening on a regular basis. Actually, we are on vacation and as I have now taken "off" from my regular duties I am free to kick back, relax, and merely wash dishes, clean, do laundry, and ....well, actually it's better than that.

So far vacation has been an interesting mix of pros and cons. The first con being packing, or thinking of packing. Every time I get to the part of actually putting the family in a bag and sending us somewhere I think that I am really quite happy where I am and that perhaps we don't need a vacation after all! But the pro is that I had lots of friends to help out. People came in and helped pack (I had a VERY BAD cold and was feeling like I'd been hit by a truck and my face needed a plunger.) and get food ready, and kept the children away, and made dinner, and all sorts of things. I think one of my favorites was one of the Bible School girls ran in on Thursday and with a big grin said, "I have...(look at clock) 6 minutes. What can I do?" She did half the dishes on the counter and 5 times blessing my heart in those 6 minutes. I felt very loved. So we were sent off...hmmm....maybe they were just happy to see us leave...(just kidding).

We left Fairwood at 2 am planning for another record breaker to GA. SO far our family's record stands at 18 hours 45min. We did not break it this time. We tried, but got a little distracted by the mess that came around 5 pm.


Ok, so at 5, Jonathon decides he has to throw up. The short story here is that in the space of 45 min. He had thrown up 4 times and soiled the car seat and his pants twice. The boy really felt miserable. I had one bucket in the car for him and he couldn't use it for both ends at the same time. I told him he had to pick one or the other and he did, but his body did not cooperate with his brain. SO we stopped to clean up at a McDonald's with a playground.

Jonathon sat outside and I cleaned the seats and found clean clothes for him while Brandon took the rest of the children to play. I got Jonathon cleaned up and the van as clean as I could, begged a few bags from Mickie D's and thought we were good to go. By the way, if you ever want a tip on great methods of effective vomiting receptacles for a road trip I have a plethora of ideas, the best being a small garbage bag in a large cup. Catch, tie, throw into a large bag, reline cup, repeat. Anyway, just before reloading the van, Jonathon threw up again and so we cleaned up again. After loading the small children- anyone under 4, and Jonathon, James was waiting his turn feeling rather left out, so he just exploded onto the parking lot with a ream of liquid. I have never seen a child more calm during such an event, but he just bent over, hurled several times, stood up, wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve just like all boys were taught, and said, "Please can we keep going to Georgia. I don't want to go back home yet." I said ok, as we were actually in South Carolina at the time. I might have reconsidered in Virginia.

So James got in, said, "I think I won't throw up again until we get to Georgia." and he didn't. He made it just across the state line. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We're still in the parking lot at McDonald's. Ok, so in the car went James and Brandon and I climbed in and off we go. At the light to return onto the interstate Jonathon says, "I think I have to do another stinky." Around the block we go, back to the parking lot where Brandon and Jonathon rush into the bathroom and I sit in the car and think to myself: WE ARE GOING TO BE HERE FOREVER!

We weren't. Actually, we left after that and I told Brandon that if he would just keep driving and not stop, I would be the hurl patrol. I lost count of how many rounds we went, but it was quite a few between the two of them. Our total trip time was a sad 20 hours and 15 min. But considering the circumstances, I think a pretty good effort.

Let's see the next thing we did was unload the van into my parents' house. After that things started to settle down a bit. We all headed to bed and things were ok- sort of. Rachel threw up in the night- all over herself, but Grandpa cleaned up and left Brandon and I to sleep...ahhh...and then somewhere between Saturday afternoon and Sunday night, Brandon, Mary, James- again, Grandpa, Aunt Amy, Aunt Diane, Jeff, and Joseph (just bad diapers) got sick. My poor mother became the bucket brigade while Aunt Ruth kept the well children entertained.

As of today, everyone seems on the mend- except my Mom. She has been running a fever, but nothing else. I say she gets off great if that's all. Ruth hasn't been sick either. As far as the family competitions go, Diane wins the prize for most rounds, topping out at 16. Daddy gets the prize for loudest noises. Brandon gets the honor of most likely to be lifted off his chair while throwing up. Rachel and I get the one time only prize, though I felt like all sorts of bad words while I wasn't vomiting. Jeff, Joseph, and Grandmother seem to have squeaked by with just mild symptoms and avoided the unpleasantries of buckets altogether.

Now that we have been on vacation for um....5 days, we can start having some fun!
Some of it has been fun. Like my mom is Laundry Queen and I haven't had more that a small pile of dirty clothes for the entire family the whole time we've been here and that's pretty impressive considering the sickness stuff. I've enjoyed my Dad cooking and cooking with him a little. Ruth organized the playhouse for Rachel and it's fun to see my daughter play in the house that I wanted but was built after I was "too big" to play "house"-or so I thought. Apparently, I'm still not too big cause I play house every day. But she gets to feed us sand and that's way cooler! Ok, and the children went to the playground with Brandon today and left me home to reorganize our junk. Jeff and Rachel have fun in the Little Tykes cars here and Rachel calls them "Jeff's bowling green and Rachel's bowling green". (In order for that to be funny, you have to know that the place at home where we occasionally have little kids cars is called the bowling green.)

And umm....we are relaxed, albeit in a different way than I had expected, but in some ways nice. Had we come down here completely well, I would feel obligated to be out running around seeing people that I haven't seen in at least a year and since we've been sick, we've been forced to sit back, play video games, watch movies, and play together for a while. It's been good. Though if that's what God wanted us to get, maybe he could have just sent us a little letter in the mail with an itinerary or something. I don't think the stomach bug was really all that necessary.

uh....I better go to bed. But I should have free time in the near future to continue our saga and perhaps it will continue in a positive direction, or like most of life, perhaps I could just CHOOSE to see it that way. Goodnight for now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Birthday to Brandon!

I think he's pretty much the best guy in the world. A great Dad, a wonderful husband, and all around marvelous person. He is ever my leader, my friend, my counsel, my help, my love, and my laughter.

A VERY HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to you, Brandon.
I love you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Furniture

At the request of someone VERY special I have come out of blogging hibernation to show pics of our new furniture.

Compliments of Lancaster Bible College and their very generous donation to Fairwood Bible Institute. We received 2 bunks, 2 tall dressers, 4 small dressers, and 1 desk to use in our home.
The brand is "This End Up".

Praise the Lord!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Big Pile of Stuff

Happy Birthday Daddy! I must just say that I think I have a great Dad, in fact, the greatest I could possibly have! I hope he had a wonderful day! I love him very much.

James told me yesterday what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday (Aug 3rd.)
"I want a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake with strawberries and spray whip cream on top in the shape of a soldier gun and bullets."

Later he requested scrambled eggs in a circle on top, which I declined and instead told him he could have them on the side. He has opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, and waffles for his dinner. Then today he informed me that he wanted a rope on top too. I think he was prompted to remember the rope because he was in the process of hunting to catch a moose. He said he was going to catch a big moose with antlers because Jonathon told him he wasn't allowed to catch baby "mooses". He then asked me if I would help him carry it home when he caught it because it would be too heavy for him to carry by himself. I assured him that whatever moose he caught today with his rope, I would help him carry home. I can only imagine what would have happened had he been successful.

And last but not least....we bought a van- from Ebay- in Ohio! Brandon is suppose to fly out on Monday to get it and drive it home. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wiggle and Splat Update

For those of you who wondered what we did about the fish...

We did in fact get another Wiggle and Splat. They are not rosy barbs, but neon glofish instead, from the Danio family. They are pretty and speedy and fun to watch. We also added two harlequin tetras to the tank named Wallace and Gromit. Our last addition was an algae eater that James deamed it appropriate to call Slime Sucker. So that brings our fish count to five and we are enjoying them. It did involve more fish "stuff" as we had to get a heater and a thermometer for the tank when we got the algae eater because he is a tropical fish, but the children like them and Jonathon even remembers to feed them occasionally. Happy Fishing!

"You've got to admit, they are getting better."

This is a quote from one of my all time favorite movies: Disney's "Robin Hood", the animated version. In the scene, Robin Hood is exclaiming to Little John that the Sheriff's posse is getting to be a bit better at hitting the mark with their bows and arrows. In this case, I mean that things are looking a bit better around here. Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement. Who knows where I'll be in the battle next week, but right now, I'm ok.

Good things going right now:

- A childhood friend of mine just moved to New Hampshire and is living less than an hour away from me!
- Jonathon, as Brandon mentioned on his blog, has been just about as wonderful as can be lately. Washing dishes, kissing and hugging regularly, helping with chores, paying attention to his little brothers and sister, and just being basically pleasant. This is especially great, since some of my family can attest that the weeks before, he was quite a royal bear! SOme of this I think was the recovery from Lyme disease, but some was just plain ornery! (sp?) Anyway, he's been great.
- Even though we are planning to move to another residence here at Fairwood soon, the move has been postponed until at least the first of the year, so I don't have to think about packing up! Whooo hooo!
- James is the one child who doesn't mind taking care of his own issues in the middle of the night. I'm glad one of them can handle it.
- Jeff is still struggling with his fettish for playing in water, but it does seem to be getting better. I actually got through two days this week without going through every dish rag in the drawer to mop up puddles.
- Rachel is getting better about her fear of bugs. Thanks to Brandon's efforts and training, she has gone from being deathly afraid of grass slivers that resembled bugs to letting a beetle crawl on her arm! She actually was caught seeking bugs out the other day!
- Joseph has learned to laugh and suck his fingers. He has chosen the two middle fingers on the left hand, just like Jeff.
- So, all in all, God continues to meet our needs. I'll just say that last week was a hard week in many ways, not the least of which involved one of our children attempting to express love to another one of our children by strangling them. No one is dead, thankfully, but I'm glad we aren't dealing with quite as many emotionally traumatizing issues right now. I think the vacation to the lake did a world of good. Many thanks to the Randall family for the use of their cabin and lake property, as well as hamburgers and hotdogs for Sunday lunch and for dinner two nights. They are some pretty awesome friends! We might could have had a better time, but I'm not sure how!
-Ok, now I'm off to prepare for company coming tomorrow. Good Evening to you all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

She is not dead, nor doth she sleep

Well ok, maybe some occasional sleep. It seems as though this is one of those times in the parent/ child relationship that feels like I am one of those Israelites walking in the desert for 40 years. And I have done my fair share of complaining. There are plenty of struggles right now. Lately the children have been conspiring (it seems) to see how many times they can wake me up in the night. I have had about 5 nights of sleep since Feb. where I was not ever awakened the entire night. Thankfully 4 of the have been in the last few weeks. More often it's around 3-4 times. I think the record was 8 or 9 (I lost count that night) and I actually started one day at 1:30 am because the children timed their needs in such a way that I never went back to sleep. Jonathon is doing pretty well lately with the exception of being a bit whiny and he had Lyme disease recently. James is having trouble showing affection. He thinks the way to love the baby is to stand,sit, lay on him, kick,hit or pound him, and on several occasion I have caught him strangling the child. I'm sure is doesn't make sense to read is, but if you were here you would realize that it all comes from a feeling of "I love you so much I don't know what to do." We are, as responsible parents doing everything we can to discourage this behavior. Jeff has hit the "get into everything" stage and seems to continue hie fixation with water. He has figured out how to hold his hand to the faucet and soak the entire bathroom. He plays in the kitchen sink frequently and I find myself using most of the dish towels every day to mop up his messes. I don't really understand why he is still doing this. I think we have made it pretty clear to him that it is not ok. He and Rachel seem to frequently wander away from the play area as well. We have caught them riding their trikes in the sanctuary!, playing in the wood shop, in the attic of the dinig hall, etc. They seem to go everywhere and despite my efforts to keep track of them every 5-10 minutes, they can get away pretty fast.

So, this is what's going on - not to mention some severe excema problems on my fingers that make it painful to type and the internet being down for a while. Hence the lack of posts and it will continue for a while I'm afraid.

I'll just say that I realize this isn't a perky post and if you have a minute, a word of encouragement from others would be nice. I am having a hard time. Perhaps sometime soon I can think of all the things that are going well and jot them down here as well. Then this won't seem so unbalanced.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wiggle and Splat

Jonathon got fish last Friday from the pet store. The fish cost about $5 and the stuff was 15 time as expensive.

And the numbers are in. Wiggle and Splat- the names of said pet fish (Rosy Barbs) lasted 6 days, perhaps only depending on when they died in the night. Jeff and Rachel fed them ALL the fish food in the packet- enough for a month and then the fish became gluttons.

It killed them. Perhaps we will attempt a reincarnation of Wiggle and Splat next week and see if we can break our record. I can't spend this much money on fish apparatus and not have fish for a while! Besides, they died in less that 15 days so we get the next ones free. Hmmm...we could be at this a long time!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've just been "tagged" to mention seven random things/ facts about myself and tag seven other people to do the same, leaving comments on their blogs to let them know they've been tagged. So here goes:

1. I just learned all there is to know about ammonia/ nitrite levels, gravel vacuums, nets, siphoning, and many other details related to fish, thanks to Jeff emptying a months worth of fish food into the tank this morning.

2. The only thing I dislike about living in New Hampshire is the biting flies.

3. It took me 16 years of practice/ spitting on myself before I learned how to whistle loudly.

4. I have a mole on the bottom of my right pinky toe.

5. I actually like children, but I keep it a secret from the ones I have more than I should.

6. My favorite sleeping position (which my children have inherited) is on my tummy with my head under my pillow and my hands tucked under my legs on the bed.

7. My favorite foods are onions- sauted or fried, super sharp cheddar cheese, salad bars, all things mexican, sweet potatoes, fried okra, shrimp, strawberries, vanilla ice cream, Kit Kat bars, and whatever someone else cooked for me.

In light of how often I check blogs lately, I'm going to refrain from tagging anyone else. Hope you enjoyed my random items though and feel free to play if you want to.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Story in Pictures

The snow is well as the puddles.

On to more glorious pursuits

And Jonathon had a birthday! 6 Years Old!

And I made the cake.

Jeff fell out of the wagon and got his mouth smacked on the pavement and a trip to the emergency room to have it checked out. Everything was ok...except "he might loose that tooth".

And I made another cake- this one for Bible School Graduation. There is only one graduate this year so I personalized it a bit and I think it came out pretty well. It's Banana Nut Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. For those of you who may not be familiar with the items on top, they are: a Bible, A Warrior Songbook, and a Red Sox baseball cap. All were made from cake and frosting and I had a blast!

The End

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Flowers and Fiascos

Well...time sure does fly. It seems like I just posted something yesterday and yet the date clearly says that it has been much longer than that! We have been a bit busy lately and thus I am limiting myself to 20 minutes on the computer this evening, so this will have to be short.

I did however want to write about several funny/ scary events lately:

Jonathon and James are on restriction from Calvin and Hobbes comics right now and here's why:

- Jonathon called me a "moron" the other day.
- James went up to Jonathon yesterday and said, "Oh, you have a mosquito on your back!" And whacked him and giggled with delight.
- Jonathon and James attempted riding in our large wagon down the front lawn with no one to stop it. *Yikes*
- Jeff pushed Rachel down the driveway in the little red wagon today and I only sprinted fast enough to catch her just as she was about to pass the dining hall and head down "Dead Man's Curve" (for those of you who do not know the layout here, she went down one good size hill and was headed for another)
- We occasionally hear James yelling at the sky, "SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!"
- James was playing with his cars the other day and I overheard him having one car tell the other that he had just turned him into a pterodactyl!
- Jonathon insisted that it was, in fact, a chicken!

Ok, so Calvin and Hobbes is great and all, but it's going to make my smart children smart in ways they shouldn't be and possibly kill others! So it's out for a while!

The other amusing note was our trip to the nursery today to buy some flowers. I am hoping against all hope that spring is actually here to stay and thus took all five children to the nursery to wander around and pick out some plants. This was my first mistake.

When we arrived I noticed that they had cool green wagons similar to one we own and I discerned that all five of my wiggly offspring would fit nicely in it and be easily contained. So, I ran to get said wagon, returned to the ever shrinking mini-van, and piled them all in. I turned it around and noticed that it was VERY hard to pull. Two more feet of pulling confirmed that we did, in fact, have a flat tire on our selected wagon. ARG! in the middle of the parking lot! So, I drug that stupid wagon to the curb and unloaded all five kids onto the sidewalk, instructed them to stay there and retrieved a different cart- this one was a flat bed. I loaded them all back on, got Joseph settled down again (he was riding on it in his car seat) and set off to weave in and out of endless rows of flowers. We got two feet and the wheel fell off. I mean the wheel came right off the axle! So, I unloaded them again, and proceed to play a sort of version of follow-the-leader through the plants when some guy (who was probably vowing never to have kids) came up with a fully functional cart and offered it to me. I put them all on and then had to remove three of them because the first plant we picked out had vines that spread way out and covered half the seating area. From then on it was only about standing still, not throwing or eating the rocks, not pulling the blooms off the plants, and the best one- please don't dismantle the gazebo flooring- even if it does look cool how they got that pipe to stick up through there like that and it comes apart. We finally picked out plants and escaped. Whew!

And that's my twenty minutes. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ode to Spring

Spring has finally sprung! Hip hip hooray!
The kids can play with bareness of feet
and stay wet outside all day.
I'm so glad that it's no longer cold
And four changes of clothes every day
Makes laundry duty grow old.
So here's to fun and melting of snow,
Popsicles, bubbles, and butterflies.
I'm glad to let winter go!

And happy 2nd Monthaversary

to Joseph!

(hopefully he will grow out of the crosseyed stage)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good Stuff

I just got home from the Women's Retreat. It seems a little odd to say, "just got home", because I never really went anywhere, but real life begins again now. First I'll say Brandon did an awesome job with the kids. They are happy, the house is clean, and the laundry is washed! So, I can start off the week a bit ahead rather than three days behind. Whooo hoooo for keeping up!

Now, before I get on to anything else, I want to jot down the nuggets I got from the retreat. This will probably be brief, but something is better than nothing. Right?

Nugget #1. The water is in the valley.

Ruth Murray talked about Jesus as our Shepherd and a book by Phillip Keller on the intricacies of the analogy between sheep and us in the 23rd Psalm. When she got to the verse about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, she pointed out that the sheep have to go there because that's where the water is. The stream runs through the valley and the sheep have to have water. I really appreciated the aspect that our thirst can be quenced IN the valley. It's not before the valley in preparation, or after the valley to build us back up, but IN the valley- the water is IN the valley. I come away with a challenge to remember that Jesus can be filling me in the tough times as well as the plesant ones.

Nugget#2. Children absorb the atmosphere in the home.

Elaine Sandford had a workshop on How to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead. It was lots of practical tidbits for everyday living that help us to keep from getting piles, overwhelmed, and generally unorganized. The above comment was one of the first things she said and it was a good reminded. If the house is a mess, the children tend towards chaos. If the house is clean, the children tend to be more calm and peaceful- or I don't have to work at it as hard. A good reminder and incentive for me to maintain order whenever possible.

Nugget #3. One of something is many times not enough, but two of something is almost always too much.

I mentioned this one to Brandon and he said, "Yeah, like spouses." Aha! Ha! Well, that wasn't really what I was thinking of, BUT... it was actually related to Decluttering. Gretchen Post had a workshop on Decluttering and I came away inspired by this phrase in regards to owning things. I also came away with it applied to spiritual matters. I may not be all that my family needs, but two of me, or a "bigger and better" me is not the answer. What they need is more of Jesus and it's what I need too.

Nugget #4. Sometimes 1 of something is too many.

In the same workshop, I was floored by the idea that I really didn't need 1 of something. Coming from a family that has always had at least one of everything, it has never really occured to me that a person would be completely satisfied without "one". I could think of a number of things in the house that this applied to and I am looking forward to getting rid of them. Don Aslett and his book, "Loose 200 pounds This Weekend." were the main inspiration for this workshop.

Nugget #5. I can trust God because He is going before me. -or- He has searched out the place.

Ellie Pass pointed out this one. She talked about how God went before the children of Israel and searched out a place for them. What I came away with was the thought that not only was he leading them one step at a time, but he had been there way before, so in a sense, he was there twice before me- which means he really knows his stuff AND I CAN trust Him!

Nugget #6- Make a list of needs and wants and watch Him provide.

Also from Ellie's testimony. I always latch on to practical ways of making the spiritual application work. I did this. I made a list of things that have been weighing on my mind and then copied out several verses about trusting God on the same page and committed the list to Him to provide for those things. It is a freeing feeling to put it all in His lap. Some of the things were tangible, like a larger vehicle, some not- like make me loose some weight, but regardless of whether I can put my hands on it or not, He can provide for the need and for the wants as well. After all, He says he gives us the desires of our heart, and I think that can include some wants as well. Praise the Lord for practical application!

Nugget #7- Give me an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out.

Branda Lackie had this one in her testimony about enduring and having courage in the end times. I sort of applied it to my life right now- what can sometimes seem like a tribulation. If I allow discouragement, dissapointment, or fear, or whatever to get in, then it's like allowing the Devil to raise his flag in my heart and he wins that battle. I have no intention of letting Satan raise his flag in my heart! I am encouraged that I can in some ways ignore the craziness around me and look up at Jesus and focus on Him and look to him for help and He does. Then He wins and gets the glory!

Ok, so that's the tip of the iceberg of great parts from the women's retreat. All you ladies should come next year!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Breakfast in the Bathroom

I’ve heard it said: You can do anything if you want to bad enough.

Today I disagree.

I REALLY wanted to eat my breakfast. I would have been happy to eat it with only a couple of interruptions, requests for more cereal, or other needs. That was not to be. For any of you out there who think a breakfast of cereal and milk is easy, I’m decidedly against the belief and despite trying to convince myself that it is, I remain in a state of prejudice against the flaky meal.

You see, Jonathon really wanted cereal this morning and despite my better judgement ( I was going to make eggs and muffins) I said ok. Usually I say ok to this request because A) He can get it all out by himself. B) I’m usually running late for breakfast if he has time to request something and C) I try to tell myself that a quick meal will help the rest of the day go better.

So I said ok. Out came the 10 boxes of cereal- I’m all about variety. Out came the milk. And then an argument began between James and Jonathon over who was going to get out the bowls and set them around the table. I told James he could since he had begun the task and Jonathon had taken care of the cereal and milk and then Jonathon was unhappy. I put Joseph in his bouncy seat, which has an automatic vibrator and music, and thus keeps him quiet for a short while. (It’s no wonder my children feel the need to have noise and motion ever waking moment. I train them into it from birth!) We then commenced breakfast:

Pour 4 bowls of cereal.
Pour 4 bows of milk.
Pour 4 glasses of water.
Notice the husband is sitting at the table with no water and pour the husband a glass of water.
Pour my own bowl of cereal. Exactly ¾ cup of granola and a half a cup of milk because I am trying to eat responsibly and loose some weight.
Notice that the bananas are still sitting in the middle of the table untouched and offer them to everyone.
No one answers with a desire to eat bananas. This is not ok. We must consume them, after all we paid REAL money for these things, they are good for us and I refuse to just have cardboard for breakfast.
Ask each child if they want a banana. I get two takers- Jeff and Rachel and I give myself one because, I never eat enough fruit and so I should.
Jeff and Rachel can’t peel it on their own though, so I start it for them, then Jeff cries that I messed with his.
Rachel peels hers and sets it to the side of her bowl and drinks all the milk out of her Fruity Cheerios and requests more milk.
I pour her some more milk.
I sit down and eat a bite of cereal.
Jonathon needs more cereal. He had Kix and now that he’s eaten that, he wants a bowl of granola.
Pour said bowl of granola.
Sit down to eat another bite of cereal.
Rachel says she has “stinky diaper”.
She is wearing underwear- because the die hard potty training parents just won’t give up.
I take her to the bathroom to sit on the little potty as there is currently nothing in her pants. Perhaps this is a break through.
Two seconds later she declares herself all done.
Well potty training during my breakfast of soggy granola isn’t my idea of a great goal so, “Ok, all done.” Put her clothes back on. Back to the table.
She wants more milk in her Fruity cheerios again. More milk given.
Sit down to eat a bite. One bite eaten.
Rachel says she needs to go potty.
Well it did smell like she was close, so I take her again. On the way by the table I bumped Jeff’s glass and spilled his water all over him and the floor.
Humbly ask husband to please clean it up while I deal with Rachel in the bathroom.
Jeff is sad. He always knocks his water over and this time it dumped without his help and he’s afraid he’s going to get in trouble anyway. Comfort Jeff.
For some reason this time Rachel needs her panties, skirt, socks, and sandals all removed to sit down on the potty chair. She tries to convince me that her bib must come off as well. I draw the line.
She sits, I walk out to take another quick bite of cereal. Husband cleaned up the puddles, but left Jeff in his wet clothes to finish breakfast. Jeff does not like this.
I gulp down my entire banana in 5 seconds.
Rachel comes out with a new pair of “pretty panties” to wear and I indulge her because I am currently sitting in my seat and I don’t want to get up. She put nothing in the toilet.
Put pants on child and send her back to eat her food. She needs more milk. I don’t care, I just give it to her.
Jeff needs more cereal. Done.
Jeff needs to go to the potty.
Take Jeff to the potty. He doesn’t want to wet because his shirt sleeve is wet.
Move the offending shirt sleeve up his arm and command him to pee in the toilet.
Put wet clothes back on boy and return him to table.
(a bit graphic) Jonathon says he thought he had to do a stinky but wanted to wait, so he said he tried to keep it up there, but it wouldn’t stay and just came out on his pants anyway.
Tell Jonathon to go to the bathroom.
Joseph is not happy with the bouncy vibrating chair any longer and is declaring his undesireable situation LOUDLY to the rest of us.
Ask husband to PLEASE take him to bed, and oh, by the way, he has a stinky diaper and the sheet in his cradle needs to be changed because it is wet.
Husband takes the baby up to change diaper and put to bed.
Jonathon goes to the bathroom.
James needs more cereal.
Jonathon hollers that his underwear is in fact, dirty.
Mama hollers at husband to throw down Jezebel- I mean – some clean underwear.
Take clean underwear to Jonathon.
Come back to the table to inhale as much cereal as possible before the next request comes.
Jeff says he’s all done.
Throw away ¼ cup of cereal he did not eat. He gets down.
Jonathon gets finished in the bathroom and goes and plays.
Remove his dish from the table.
Rachel sees that people are done and wants to join. She gets down. I throw her banana with one bite gone and the bowl of Fruity Cheerios- with no milk- in the garbage.
James gets down.
I eat the last of my granola.
Rachel wets on the living room carpet and says “Oh dear.”
I run for the computer because if I don’t write down the insanity, I might just loose my mind!

Somehow I haven’t been able to loose weight.

And just in case you think this is a crazy way to eat breakfast, I’ll point out that noone dumped their cereal out this morning. This is how it is most of the time here. I should have made eggs and muffins. I like them better, I don’t have to do refills, and you can’t make as big of a mess with them.

Hope you have a great Thursday.

OH…and we’re having a snow storm today. In the middle of April. And James is going to the dentist today to have his OTHER front tooth removed- probably. The one that Jonathon smacked with a snow shovel. James is following in Uncle Roy’s footsteps of being toothless for as long as he can.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fun with Grandmother

Sorry this is belated, but I thought this was a great shot of how much the children enjoyed Grandmother- the one who lives with "The Fishing Grandpa" while she was up here.

The sure did have fun with her, especially during a few games of "Alligator". She created this game one evening while the children were in trouble and had to stay on the couch. It involved something with pillows thrown at her and her trying to "eat" them. Sounds like only a slightly different version of "Diaper Woman" if you ask me. (Diaper Woman is a game she made up when I was little. It involved a cloth diaper on her head and running and screaming by us and I think at least one time we were chased with a broom, but it was fun!)
Which just goes to show, quality time- time invested in interaction with the child is what they remember and cherish most. Grandmother did a great job of quality time while she was with us and the children loved it!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Today's Favorites

Favorite friends: A family in church whose last name rhymes with "Need" who invited us over for the afternoon.

Favorite meal: Blueberry muffins for breakfast that I made the night before- no dishes, no messy clothes, happy children.

Favorite clothes: White Land's End dress shirts for the boys to wear to church, from the grandmother that lives with "The Fishing Grandpa".

Favorite conversation: Talking with a person whose name rhymes with "sellin'" about enjoying my family and my role as a mother.

Favorite Scene: Rachel drinking from the dog bowl.

Favorite activity: Watching a girl whose name rhymes with "stain" boil maple syrup.

Favorite thing I learned today: Details about sheep shearing and cutting their tails off.

Favorite time of the day: 9:30pm- When I pulled in the driveway and knew the children would be in bed soon.

Favorite quote from James: (half asleep) No! I want to stay here and sleep. (he said this in the van and refused to get out. In fact, I almost couldn't drag him out because he was convinced that he was actually in his bed.)

Favorite quote from Rachel: "I'm a kiddo."

Favorite comment from Jeff: (actually it was best when he finally stopped asking for more food some three hours after lunch was completed)

Favorite Snapshot with imaginary camera: Jonathon trying to feed a sheep some hay.

Favorite Hymn at church: Great is thy Faithfulness, for that part, "morning by morning, new mercies I see".

Today was exhausting and wonderful all rolled together. I wouldn't change much except I might not have put James' pjs on so soon and then see him go back outside in the mud and thus have to put different pjs on before he went to bed.

Life is good.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Tally

What did you find in your washer this evening? Here's what I found:

26 nails

16 acorns

4 rocks

3 toy bullets

2 sticks

1 playmobil sword

and a handful of debris

All because I didn't check one garment's are worse than squirrels!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Our Resident Acrobat

Here's one of Jeff's tricks:

His other new trick is going to the potty!!!! Whooooo hoooo! He's been ready for a while, but his Mama just won't get with the program! So he's been in underwear for a while and today actually stayed dry several times and made it!

Rachel is trying to go as well, though she has some sort of bitterness harbored against the toilet and though she desperately tries to keep from wetting her undies, she also loathes sitting on the little toilet. Well, girl, you can't have it both ways. Sooner or later it's bound to come out- usually on the floor and the couch, at which time she gets excited because she gets to pick a new pair of panties to put on. Hmm...the purple ones with flowers or the green ones with little bumblebees? What a girl!

And to all this, James would say, "Mama is a potty mouth!" (*chuckle*- probably the only time he would be allowed to use that phrase without his tongue meeting up with some hot sauce.

Just so Jonathon and Joseph don't get left out of this post, Jonathon is going to be a overly merciful parent if he doesn't learn some balance. He notifies me every time Joseph is crying and immediately wants to pick him up and "walk him". For some reason Joseph likes it, even though he looks a bit precarious in Jonathon's arms. (Ever seen a 5 year old carry a little baby down the stairs??? Don't watch- it's much easier to let him do it that way!) I'm glad he likes his little brother.

And for random comments:

We're having meatloaf for dinner.

I've washed 3 loads of laundry today, 4 yesterday, 5 the day before that, and I lost count of Tuesday's loads before the day was out! Muddy clothes and "accidents".

Going to a girls' party this evening! I suppose Joseph is going too.

It's really great weather outside today- in the 50's.

I've exercised most days this week and am looking forward to beating my family in "the RACE" though ever since I started working on loosing pounds I have only gained them! Arg! This is not supposed to happen.

Ok gotta go.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Catching up quickly

(More attempts at a family pic.)

Here's the "Cliff's Notes" Version of life here:

-We had the Feast
-Grandmother and Ruth came for a visit
- As a result of their visit we had good times, Brandon and I got a break from laundry duty, we successfully went through all the boy clothes and most of the girl clothes, and Ruth learned how to sled.
-Grandmother did not take part in the sledding, though she did wash the clothes from the event -She also helped Jeff and Rachel work on potty training. Jeff is just about there and Rachel with some focus efforts could be there soon I think.
-I've been catching up on the house
- We have LOTS of laundry these days- spring is the worst for making dirty clothes pile up. Today 3 children changed clothes 3 times and one changed 4 times. Can you say MUD??
- I cleaned up several rooms, organized here and there, and am back to making some real meals
- We celebrated Grandmother's birthday...with our friends, the Reeds. Anybody for fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, fried okra, Breyers ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie cake?
- Joseph is sleeping much better lately, just once up in the night most of the time now.
- I'm getting up in the morning at a normal time again.
- Devotions are back to a generally regular thing. (I always have trouble, always have.)
- Things are looking up.
And here's some favorites:
Favorite scene lately: Little Rachel sitting on the big couch alone playing with the Leap Pad.
Favorite Idea: Winning an "Original Recipe Contest" and going to Provence, France for a week.
Favorite Quote: James on his way into the tub: Hey! The water will clean us and wash our sins away!"
Favorite Person: Brandon, because he gave me two spontaneous shoulder rubs today and gave four children baths this evening.
Favorite Time of Day: 10 am when I'm awake, the children are out playing and I'm not tired yet.
Ok, gotta run. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Real Life

Hi there...this is just a quick post to say that real life has begun to settle back in and all those blissful moments of wasting time at the computer are coming to a grinding halt. So don't expect great things from me anytime soon... but here's a picture to make up for it.

Evening rough housing with Daddy (I try to stay out of it and often even leave the room.)

And my, oh, my! High speed internet does wonders for uploading pictures. I am VERY happy about this!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

James is still alive...somehow

Just an update to let you know that by some miracle, James still lives. Last week he got bashed in the face with a snow shovel (unfortunately a result of brotherly anger) and ended up with a busted lip and a loose front tooth- which will probably fall out soon. Then, yesterday he ran into the branch of a bush and tried to poke his eyeball out. Fortunately, his eyelid took the hit instead of his eye and now he just has a nasty scratch on his eyelid and some bruising. I must say, if he makes it to adulthood, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that there is a God and he does protect us! A living testimony!

Lessons from Mother- #3 No Procrastinating- Ever!

I’ve never seen a woman who can work more than my mother. In fact, if she has any fault, it would be that she doesn’t know how to take a break. However, she taught me not to put things off and since I have had more and more children, I’ve realized the value of doing things right away. Sometimes it means hanging up my clothes when I take them off (which I still can’t seem to do) and sometimes it means starting a 2 hour long project when you only have 15 minutes to work with.

It is often said that we don’t know how long we have here on earth and to use what time we have as best we can. I’d like to boil it down to something more simple: As a mother, I don’t know exactly how many more minutes I’m going to have to clean out the diaper bag before a disaster strikes, so I better make the most of it.

Lately, I’ve been working on another part of avoiding procrastination. Work before play. Mother used to tell me that if I was too sick to go to school, I was too sick to play afterwards. This can also apply to motherhood. Since in a lot of ways I am my own boss, it’s easy to decide that I can go play even though there are things around the house that need to be done. Now don’t get me wrong, I could work all day, all week, and all night long and there would still be things that need to get done, but I’m talking about the essentials. This week I’ve been focusing on dishes, laundry, and the living room. That means if I’m going to take a break, I try to make sure that the dishes are washed, the living room is relatively tidy, and the laundry is caught up. In the long run I know that having these things done makes me more relaxed and more prepared for those “surprise” situations that happen every day.

I remember doing lots of spontaneous things with my family growing up. Everything wasn’t always picture perfect at our house, but my mother did try to stay on top of the dishes, laundry, and the orderliness of the main family room. I think it paid off in how we were able to drop what we were doing and “go and do”. Sometimes it was for someone else, sometimes it was just a fun opportunity that came along, but always it was easier to manage if the essentials were covered.

The other place I have noticed that avoiding procrastination helps is in the evenings. If I just take a few minutes and prepare for the next morning, it helps that morning go MUCH better. My brain doesn’t operate in the morning unfortunately, so if I use it in the evening when it does work to plan out what needs to happen the next day, all of us are better off.

So, here’s to not putting off till tomorrow what I can do today!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lessons from Mother- #2: Bake Cookies

Before I begin this one, I should clarify something about my Mother. She's a wonderful woman! I love her. She cares, is honest, and works hard to make sure her children have every opportunity to follow Jesus. But she is not gushy. Since I have been married, I have heard more sympathy from her during struggles than in all my growing up years and I'm not complaining about anything, just stating it as fact. She doesn't commiserate often and certainly doesn't ever spend time coming up with reasons why it's ok to complain about things. For these things, I love her. Sometimes it's not the easiest thing in the world to hear the truth. Running 4 miles and then being told you need to run another isn't always fun, but it gets me to the finish line faster than if someone told me to take a break because it's hard. (not that I've run 5 consecutive miles anytime in my life) So, there are probably some people out there that if their mother told them what mine tells me it would be very difficult to handle. It's good for me though and so I'll keep her.

Ok, so, "Bake Cookies". This isn't what she says, but it's what I hear. This is the start to the pep talk I get when I am groaning about myself. Sometimes, I get in a rut where I start thinking about all the things that are hard it life, mostly to do with me. For example: during my pregnancy I was groaning about how I have this allergy to formaldehyde that makes my skin break out in little liquid filled bubbles and itch like crazy. If I come in contact with any of the stuff, I have a reaction for about 2 weeks trying to recover from it. In case you don't think this is a big deal, I have discovered through this problem the millions of things that have formaldehyde in them: shampoo (all of it), liquid soap, baby wipes, some lotions and creams, moist towelettes, makeup, some clothes when brand new, and many other things. This allergy has changed my lifestyle in many ways. Anyway, that's an issue. Then there was the blood sugar problem. I got gestational diabetes and rather than deal with insulin, I maintained it with diet- which pretty much involved eating almost NO carbohydrates. For the health conscious out there- I could get away with about 15 grams of carbs at one meal. Look on your cereal box and see how much cereal you can eat for that amount. Not much. So it was pretty much eggs for breakfast, cheese and peanut butter for snacks, meat and cheese rolls with a salad for lunch, and some sort of meat and veggies for dinner. If I ate more carbs I had to walk- which I did, but for the longest time I hated. Then I had kidney stones. Ugh! I won't even revisit that unpleasant subject. (I'm not trying to complain here, but I want to set an accurate background for what I have heard from my Mother) So, I couldn't change the children's diapers without wearing gloves, I couldn't wash the dishes without gloves, if I grabbed the dish rag to wipe the table- I need gloves, I couldn't eat what everyone else eats at the meal, so many times I had to cook TWO things, and after kidney stones, there was the struggle of drinking tons of water. It might be easy for you to see why I could become discouraged at this point.

SO, discouragement day comes. I'm not sure what the breaking straw is- maybe less sleep, or a new skin break out, or maybe it was just the 24th day in a row that I had eggs for breakfast and I would have rather thrown up. Whatever it was, the day came and I found myself calling my mother as I have before to say, "I can't do this! Why is life so hard! I have all these problems! Etc."

Then in her wisdom, she listens and comments and though it usually isn't at the very beginning, she always gets around to the "Bake Cookies" talk. Basically, it's the idea that I am spending too much time thinking about myself and I need to do something for someone else.

That's never the first thing that pops in my mind when I am struggling to survive. "I can barely get up in the morning, so what can I do to bless someone else?" It doesn't really seem to make sense on the surface, and yet it works. Being concerned only with myself only causes me to focus more on me and my problems. Doing something for someone else, like baking cookies for a friend, takes my mind off of me and my problems and focuses my attention elsewhere. As a result the problems go away forever! No, just kidding. But they do tend to fade into the background a little. It also tends to give me a more accurate picture of "my problems". I may have some issues, but there are so many people out there with bigger issues that could use some encouragement, too.

So, my thought is that the quickest way to dig myself out of depression and discouragement is to get up and do something for someone else. Thinking "poor me" only causes me to spiral downward and only makes me think I am less and less capable of anything. But doing something makes me successful in a small way, makes me a blessing to others, and gives me hope that since I conquered one problem I can tackle another. No one ever climbed a mountain by sitting on the ground looking at it and saying, "I don't think I can do that."

Some would say that I don't know about depression because "I've never really had it." I'm not here to argue the point and in someways, I don't really care about the clinical diagnosis and the fact that it's a disease. I have been in a depressed state at times and know that with or without an official name on it, the way out is to choose to do something rather than sit there. It may be harder for the one who has a regular chemical imbalance in someway, but the choices are the same.

Baking cookies happens to be my way of remembering to bless others, though when I get to it, cookies is rarely the actual blessing.

Here's to thinking about someone else besides me! God, help me to do it more often!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lessons from Mother- #1 Don't Focus on the Dust

Lessons I’ve Learned from my Mother
#1- Don’t focus on the dust.

I thought I might do a little series of posts on things my mother has taught me through the years that I have been married and have been raising my children- things that she tells me when I call on the phone and wail about the latest incident in the house. I appreciate her balance of being sympathetic to my situation – she had 8 children herself, and yet honest and bold enough to tell me what I need to hear. Sometimes it’s the tough side of love, but it is usually the quickest way to get me out of the emotionally drained hole I am it.

So, the first one I’ll mention is “Don’t focus on the dust.”

She doesn’t quite say it that way on the phone, but that’s usually the way I remember it. Generally I hear the dust pep talk when I’ve hit rock bottom with the children and the house and everything all together. Usually I’ve had some disaster (real life example: Jeff floods the kitchen with the water that comes out of the door on the freezer.) and I’ve been interrupted with Bible School questions, and there are 5 piles of laundry sitting on my bed to be folded, and I haven’t done any school, and we need groceries, and I probably didn’t go to bed on time the night before. I’m worn out, upset, tired, and without a plan and so I call her and say, “I quit!”

She translates that into, “I am an Israelite walking through the desert. I don’t like it and I want to go back to Egypt.” Then I get the “talk”. She tells me all about the Israelites. I never really thought much about them and how they went from one place to another, but since she has latched on to this story, I see them very clearly now:

The Israelites are walking in a line, well a sort of line with all the tribes, one after the other trudging along. There are groups of cattle with their owners and then comes another family behind, then a cart or two of stuff bumping over the rocky ground. After that is another family with their meager herd of goats and 5 children and a wheelbarrow, next is a man who had a cage of chickens and a very large tent that no one understands WHY he must lug that huge thing around when EVERYONE knows it’s terribly impractical. There are 600,000 of these people and YOUR family happens to be smack dab in the middle of the line. Somewhere in between Reuben and Benjamin, thousands of animals, carts, kids, stuff, and noise, there you are walking along with the rest of them. It’s hot, it’s rocky, and the wheels on whatever you have don’t roll smoothly across the ground. Generally your children are running in circles around you because they’ve already walked for so long that they are TOTALLY bored of it and there are no signs for playing the ABC game- even if you could stand it. Since you are in the middle and happen to be behind some family’s herd of cattle and in front of some lady’s prize rooster, you manage to get the best of both worlds: the mounds of cow dung to avoid AND to try to keep your kids out of, the dust that gets in your face from being stirred up by all those hooves, and the lovely crowing behind to serenade your little escapade as you go. Can you picture it? Don’t you love your journey through the desert? Of course not! It’s hard, hot, long, crazy, and besides that, every night no matter what, you have more sand in your bed than anyone else in camp!
The key is that in your walk- you’re focusing on the dust. All the hard things of the NOW. Everything that’s tough that makes you want to complain. It’s hard to have long range vision sometimes, but that’s what the Israelites needed more of- long range vision. They needed to look beyond the dust and the noisy animals and see where they were headed: The Promised Land! God had prepared a special place for them, just for them. He was carving out a way, feeding them, giving them water, meeting their needs and going before them every step of the way to get them to their glorious home. That’s what I need to remember- where I’m headed.

God says children are a blessing from the Lord. He says that because they ARE, not because they might be or could be or someone else’s are to them. NO. Children ARE a blessing and right now during the little years when things are really hard, He has still said they are a blessing and they will be later too.

Then my Mom often reminds me of my relationship with my siblings. Since we grew up in a Christian family that focused a lot on doing things together- we love each other and times when we are together, it’s one of the best things in life. They are my best friends and we have a blast together. That’s the vision I can see. I also see my siblings making wise choices having good character and being a “Jesus” influence on others in the world. I can look at those things and think of them as my Promised Land for my family. When I look ahead, it’s easier to make sense of why I put up with the frustrations of here and now. I no longer want to give up and sometimes become inspired to walk harder, faster and most importantly, with a smile on my face.

We are building an army for Jesus in our family. As one politician put it, though I can’t recall who, "If we can’t change them, we’ll just out number them." Training lots of little soldiers is hard work, but we can have the vision of a mighty army of Christians changing the tide of thinking, action, and moral decay in our society and that is what keeps me going when the road is dusty.

So, don’t focus on the dust. Focus on the goal at the end, our Promised Land, our vision of making a difference in the lives of others, and the vision of raising Godly men and women who can do the same.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Credit to Whom Credit is Due

Lest anyone think that I am conquering the world here and at the same time finding more time to blog than ever before...I'll just state right now that "it ain't so"! Therfore, without further hesitation let me proclaim far and wide and high and low that "my husband is wonderful"!
I don't know how I rated to get such a great man, but I feel like one of the most blessed people on the planet and here's some of the reasons why- just this week...

1. Willingness to keep the children ALL DAY LONG, multiple days in a row.
2. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed for almost an entire week.
3. When he doesn't know what I want, he walks in and in an elderly, raspy voice says, "Dietary".
4. The laundry is done- I fold it, but he has washed and dried it all, including two rounds of Jonathon ?!? wetting his bed- all of it.
5. He has kept the kitchen clean.
6. He has kept the living room picked up.
7. He even cleaned off the clutter "hot spots" a time or two.
8. He changes dirty diapers.
9. He makes the children clean their rooms and make the bed.
10. He has sent one child up at a time to me this week and thus we have had a continuous week of school!!!!!!!!!!
11. Somehow he managed to squeeze in almost 30 hours of "real" work. (Not without help from friends and neighbors, but nevertheless...)
12. He made SALAD to go with dinner tonight!
13. He makes me laugh.
14. He is teaching the children to love me. Jonathon comes up one day and says, "Dietary. Mama, what's a dietary?"
15. He stopped working and went to town so I wouldn't have to go one day.
16. He has been my servant many times, fetching things from downstairs so I would not have to climb them or do without.
17. He drove 5 of us (Jonathon, James, Joseph, Brandon and myself) to Joseph's circumcision appointment and held his little hands during he operation.
18. He let Jonathon watch #17 and thus we have a budding doctor in our midst- at least a child who is fascinated with all manner of dealing with human ailments and blood and guts and such.
19. He has put his comfort and rest last and the children and my needs first.
20. He cares about me and lets me know it.

Anyway, the disclaimer is that I have had a tremndous amount of help from others as well and I don't want to discount their efforts, but the brunt of the responsibility of running the house has fallen on him and he gets an A+ for his efforts.

Oh, and the children are happy!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Attempting the Impossible

Here's one or the results of our attempts at a group shot. I think five is the number at which we might have to stop trying to get everyone looking at the camera, with no fingers in their mouths, and happy, but not fake smiling, and no falling over or looking the other way or leaning back on the pillow, or ....arh! Anyway...they are still charming when they are out of trouble and at this moment none of them were in trouble so life was good and I'll take it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In Times Like These...

…all the world seems to be a peace. This week of recovery has been quite productive and I have found rest for the whole of me, not just the physical side, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

First, I have been blessed to have a wonderful friend- DR- who, took two of her four personal days (per year) to stay home and help take care of our family while I rested! I remember days in years gone by when I prayed that God would supply me with “real” friends that I could enjoy, trade encouragement with, and be moving together towards God. I haven’t been on the asking side of that prayer for a while now, but there are many times when I find myself thanking Him for supplying that need in my life. So, this week, even though the baby wasn’t suppose to be here yet and thus threw us for a bit of a loop preparation wise, we have had help. I should mention that DR is not the only one who has assisted. I’m sure to skip someone, but there is ES that came on Thursday when the midwife left and Brandon was at the airport and she stayed the day to babysit “Mary and Joseph” (hehe- I didn’t think about that combo until after he was born) . Then there was GP- who in my hour of social thirst came and filled my cup to running over with all manner of conversation, laughing, day dreaming, and general talkativeness. And ER, usually with many children in tow, who has stopped by several times to see me and always lifts my spirits- even if we don’t talk about much of anything. ER has 9 kids and sometimes my strength is renewed just by seeing her alive and knowing that it is possible to have that many children and not be dead from the work of it, but she usually has a smile and a laugh as well- which makes it all the better. And of course, there have been many others who have stopped by to see me, the baby, and say hi. For me, that’s like drugs. I’m practically addicted to people and the worst part of being away in my bedroom is the lack of company. So, thanks to all those people out there who have come to visit and all of you who wish you could…that helps too.

Second, I have been way productive. I feel like I’ve climbed mountains. First and foremost, I’ve been able to read my Bible and have virtually no excuse for not getting it all in. So, that has been a huge boost. I also managed to sneak into the school room yesterday and tidy it up a bit so I could walk in there. When it isn’t in use, it quickly becomes a dumping grounds for all things without a home. Now it’s tidy. I’ve also managed to write up a family letter for this year and hopefully I’ll actually get it sent as well. Among other things, I’ve also finished two books I was reading, cleaned up my room- more thoroughly, made some necessary phone calls, received some books in the mail for school next year and glanced them over, done some long overdue blogging, taken plenty of naps, given orders for the fridge to be cleaned out, done some school with James and Jonathon, put puzzles together with Rachel, gotten my birthing supplies packed away and ready to be transported back to the attic until the next round, had plenty of prayer time, updated some pictures of the children, and numerous other little tidbits. The great thing is that since I have had several days of bed rest recently due to the kidney stone issues, I have actually crossed off lots more of those little nagging things that need to be done than I ever anticipated. I never have much time for work that I need to sit for, because I don’t sit for much, but now I’m caught up with tons of it!!!!! WHOOOOOHOOO!

Third, physically I’m doing pretty good. Joseph has had a bit of trouble eatting due to engorgement issues and the fact that his mouth is so tiny, so that has been tough, but other than that, I’m feeling pretty good and every day find I have more energy. I’m especially thankful now for the disgusting diet I’ve had to be on for my blood sugar issues. For the first time in all my pregnancies I only gained 25 lbs. and lost over half of it at the birth, so getting back down to a decent weight seems more realistic than ever. Two thumbs up for exercise and healthy eatting even when I hate it…it is paying off! Hooray!

Spiritually, I’m doing pretty well. I was just recently feeling discouraged and like I could pray, but felt convinced that God wasn’t really able to respond to me in a way I could hear it. Perhaps you have felt that way about something- like the idea that you want to call God up on the phone and talk to him about a particular matter, but even though you talk and talk and then listen, there is no voice that comes out of the phone saying: “I will send you money tomorrow to pay for the car bill.” Then you say, “thanks, that’s exactly what I needed to know.” So, I was basically griping about a host of things that I didn’t have answers for- that was Saturday night- before the baby was born.

It’s too bad that I am such an impatient person, but Sunday I received answers to several of the things that I was frustrated with and once again I was reminded that God DOES hear, he DOES respond, and even though it may not be through a phone or maybe we don’t ask and then find: GO TO TOWN THIS AFTERNOON written in Matthew, he DOES lead us! So, not only did I get answers to at least three concerns, but I also got a gold nugget from a George MacDonald book I was reading. The idea I got from that, though I don’t remember the quote exactly was,

When we reach the end of the land of possibilities and find ourselves stepping out into the realm of impossibilities, that is just where God dwells.

I was so encouraged to be reminded that God is the KING of conquering impossibilities. And somehow it reminded me once again that he wants to be the KING of what I think is possible too. He would rather me fall flat on my face, than bring glory to myself by doing a thing solo. He wants me to need him for EVERYTHING, to trust him for everything, so that when I get to the end of the day, I can say that God did it.

The other nugget of truth I have been blessed by this week came from listening to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on DVD, thanks to a particular CS here at Fairwood. I was listening to the part where the children are discussing Edmond’s recent fall in with the witch and they were despairing over his fate. One of the girls looks to Aslan and says something like, “Surely, something can be done to save him.” And Aslan replies, “All will be done…” And I rejoiced to be reminded that when there are those we know who are stumbling along in their faith, or perhaps it’s just a bad habit that I cannot conquer within myself, I am reminded that God doesn’t stop after he’s tried a couple of tactics. NO! ALL WILL BE DONE! He would not stop until he has given up all of himself and more for every single one of us! He doesn’t throw in the towel after “experiment #4” and say he’s done with it. NO! ALL WILL BE DONE! He keeps going, keeps knocking, keeps pointing, keeps leading, keeps going, and keeps himself on the cross long enough for His death to be the necessary answer for everything we have done, and could ever do, and ever will do.

I’m a bit inspired…

Anyway, I was thinking along those lines for those people out there who want to be following God on one hand, and yet more and more find that they want to be following the world at the same time. I am so thankful He is not content to leave us in such a state!

Well…I guess you got your sermon for the day! I wasn’t really planning on going on that tangent in the beginning, but now you have it. Praise the Lord for rest on all sides!