Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

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Today is the last day of 2010. A year full of blessings and stretching. Yesterday I reflected on the verses that I clung to over the course of the year. Today I will spend the day out with my family goofing off in celebration of the wonderful year that ends, but first I'll take a few minutes to record my vision of the new year.

As I've thought about the upcoming year, I've made mental notes of some things I'd like to accomplish.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18

a. Read through the Bible
b. Pray more diligently for my children and husband
c. Do another Beth Moore Bible Study, I love how her studies draw me deep into God's word.
To be all that God has called me to be as a wife and mother I must be equipped and I know of no better way than by spending time in God's word and prayer.

a. Omit dairy and sugar - we've been dealing with some food sensitivities and these two must go. Once those are eliminated I'll asses if there are other trigger foods that need to be dealt with.
b. Exercise - I love the Walk At Home Series and am looking forward to getting in 3 miles a day again.

Personal Interest and Development

a. Photography - I will continue to develop my skills in this area. One of the tools I will use this year is the 365 project, which will help keep me consistent
b. Doula/Childbirth Instructor - I love to encourage women and this is something I've considered doing for years and I'm going to tackle this year after my midwife encouraged me to go for it. Thanks M!
c. Writing - I enjoy writing and will attempt to be more consistent with both journaling and blogging.
d. Leading the CHEC MOMS group - another area of encourage women and keeping me accountable to the life of Freedom God has called me to

These are some pretty hefty goal with a newborn in the house, so we'll see how well I do with these.


This past fall was very difficult because I became intimidated by having an 8th grader and let the opinions of others sway my decisions. I quickly found myself in bondage to the expectations of others and I've learned my lesson, at least for the moment, not to say I'll have to repeat it again in the future. God has a special purpose and plan for each of my children, so I will diligently seek Him and not others as I prepare and plan our lessons. I'm looking forward to pursuing the vision He has given me for the upcoming months and not following the ideas of others.

Without further ado I say Goodbye 2010 and hello 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

This is for all the mother's of boys.

From the mouth of my 12 year old son, "Daddy, there is a fresh killed raccoon on the side of the road. May I bring it back and skin it?"

Great is Thy Faithfulness

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This morning as I thought back over the previous year and all God had blessed me with I could not help but break out in singing the hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness", for it really sums up what God has brought me through and where I am now.

Lyrics | 4Him lyrics - Great Is Thy Faithfulness lyrics

That song brings to mind all the wonderful verses God has given me to cling to and try His faithfulness. As part of the Thankful Thursday Top Ten, I'm going to share ten of the verses I'm thankful that God has given me.

1. Lamentations 3:22-23, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning:great is thy faithfulness."

Not only is this the verse that the above hymn was based on but this is also the verse God gave me during the two lowest points of my life, when I felt like all was lost. When I was ready to give up and felt completely hopeless I opened His word and this verse was there to carry me through.

2. Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts."

This is the verse I go to every year as I struggle with how I'm going to accomplish everything He has called me to, like being a helpmeet to my husband and a mother, nurturer and instructor to my seven children. Although in the flesh it is impossible, His way is possible.

3. John 14:13-14 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

God showed me the importance of asking and claiming His word with this verse. In February of we discovered I was expecting our 8th child. We've allowed God to bless us with His children and timing, yet I really struggled when I discovered I was expecting. I immediately called out to God. Pregnancy is very hard on me. I struggle to keep up with the chores, meals, schooling, etc. As I cried out to God, I gently heard Him say, "You have not because you ask not.", and I immediately began to ask God for an easy pregnancy and delivery and He answered in a mighty way that brought all glory to Him. He used this pregnancy to confirm His hand and answers in our lives. He confirmed that we were to stay in the south and not continue to spend the winters in the south and summers in the midwest. I enjoyed that very much as I have wonderful friends in both places, but packing up and moving 900 miles twice a year was challenging and it would take me at least 3 months to get settled and organized and 3 months later it was time to do it all again. Our baby was born the week before Thanksgiving, reminding me of what a gift he truly was to our family. I get to experience the joy of having a homebirth again and experiencing a supernatural delivery. I could go on and on about the His faithfulness through this time.

The following verses are from Psalm 91, which I discovered in hindsight was God's passage for our family for the year. We started out memorizing it in the fall as part of our schoolwork. The following verses God brought to life for me.

4. Psalm 91:11,13a, "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, To keep thee in all thy ways...Thou shalt tread upon the loin and adder:"

The day my daughter was bitten by a water moccasin, this verse came to life for us as she received a dry bite with no harm. What a day of rejoicing this was for us as we say God's protection. I learned to trust Him more in the keeping of my family and she was reminded that God has a special purpose for her life and He loves her.

5. Psalm 91:3,10, "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence...There shall no evil befall thee, Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."

We spent most of October and early November sick, with strep and high fevers. God gave me this verse to cling to as the arrival of our baby approached. He is good and all sickness left and we have been healthy since.

6. Philippians 2:13, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

A wonderful reminder that God is working in me, despite how I may feel and how the circumstances look.

7. Philippians 1:3,4,6, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,...Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

This verse encourages as I look at the character flaws in my children and my poor parenting skills. I am encouraged to thank God for them and release them to Him, knowing that He is faithful to finish that which He began in both me and them.

8. Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Hope for this failure prone, perfectionist driven mom and her children. Thank God for His gift of grace.

9. James 1:5, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him."

What parent doesn't need wisdom??? I find myself claiming this verse all day long as I'm faced with training my children and needing wisdom to do the job right.

10. Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth, me."

This is my go to verse when I'm feeling defeated and forlorn. He is faithful to do it through me, if I will just depend upon Him.

His passed faithfulness encourages me to look forward with hope and expectation for what He will do in the coming new year. Reviewing these verses gives me a new hunger and thirst to devour even more of His word and promises.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Through My Lens


Christmas Eve

Twas' the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for Mom stuffing stockings and snapping photos of the quiet before the storm.






Breakfast & Play


Dinner with The Folks


Gifts With The Folks

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ask - Scripture & A Snapshot #2


This may seem like an odd verse for this photo but for our family the snow in this photo is an answered prayer. My children have spent most of their lives in the midwest, where a white Christmas is expected. I can only remember one Christmas of the nine we spent there, when we did not have a white Christmas. Now that we are back in the south my children miss many things about Iowa, especially having a white Christmas. My oldest son has been praying for weeks for a white Christmas. I did not discourage his prayer, but I thought it highly unlikely that we would have a white Christmas, I spent 28 Christmases here and never remember a single one being white! Yes, I had little faith, not too mention I am not so fond of snow...saw all I wanted to see the 9 winters I spent in Iowa. My son asked in faith and God who is faithful gave him the white Christmas he so desired.

Thank you Father for the good gift you bestowed on my children and the testimony of your sovereignty, goodness and faithfulness.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes


My children are praying for a white Christmas, just like the ones in Iowa.

(Taken with my new 35mm 1.8 Nikor Lens that my husband suprised me with.)
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Baking Day


Today I'm making the above, along with this and these. Off to the kitchen to work some magic.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday

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I must admit that I started the day out feeling mopey and having a pity party, not much time for that as I had to move full speed ahead pulling recipes and making a grocery list, preparing breakfast, caring for baby......then I remembered that today is Thursday and I really NEED to stop and remember the Lord's blessings in my life and for this reason I put everything else on hold while I type out this post and participate in Thankful Thursday.

1."Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." 2 Corinthians 9:15
This verse says it all! What more could I want than the gift God gave me of His Son allowing me to become a daughter of the Most High. I am also thankful for the many other blessings evident in my life today.

2. Health: All 9 of us are healthy. I can remember one Christmas we all had the stomach flu and I spent Christmas Eve on the sofa with a very sick 2 year old.

3. Family: We spent several hollidays without extended family when we lived in the midwest. Thankful to have both my brother's near, my grandmother, parents and mother in law all here to celebrate Christmas.

4. Provision: God has provided my husband with a wonderful job that provides for our needs and many of our wants and allows us to give to those we love.

5. Sun: It's shining brightly today, warming the air and reminding me of God's goodness and how His SON lights our way and warms our heart. Its visible presence also means that it will be nice enough for my kids to get outside and run some energy off.

6. Children: God uses them to illuminate our weaknesses, forcing us to draw near and depend upon Him. They also bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to what could become mundane. Holidays are always exciting when experienced with the joy and excitment of a child.

7. Sleep: Something I get very little of but am thankful for every bit I do get.

8. Legos: Sure I step on them all the time but the hours of creative play that my children are engaged in makes the sore feet worth it.

9. Clean Kitchen: Knowing the kitchen is done, helps me feel a little less overwhelmed at all I want to accomplish today and tomorrow.

10. Christmas Carols: I love listening to them and singing them with my children.

"Joy to the world the Lord has come..."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Admitting Defeat

I had two goals for today, get the Christmas cards in the mail and bake some biscotti to give as Christmas gifts. Those were the main goals but I also have to get the house clean and ready for company that's arriving tomorrow and plan and prepare for a company breakfast. After multitasking last night by holding baby and addressing envelopes at the same time I had most of the cards ready to go so I dived into the baking only to discover that a key ingredient had been mistakenly sent over to my mothers to hide with the gifts. Now I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store before I could proceed with this goal, and since the grocery store is across the street from the post office I decided to go ahead and get the cards in the mail so that I could mark off that goal.
What I didn't take into account was:
a. the crowds
b. the unpredictability of a newborn
c. how long it takes to do everything with a newborn

I hit the store first armed with my list from couponmom of sale items(if I'm at the store I need to make it count since I'll not try this again this week). I did have a victory at the store as baby slept and I saved $53.00 just on sale items, with no coupons. We hit the post office was crying but I put him in my wrap and headed in to weigh cards and address an envelope. I stepped up to the automated station to weigh the cards and baby started screaming and I mean screaming at the top of his lungs. The post office was packed and everyone was wishing that baby would hush. I realized that my cards weighed too much for normal postage and that I was going to have to weigh them all and print out additional postage, UGH!!! So I stepped aside and let the nice lady with a single envelope proceed. I attempted to address a couple of envelopes(no pen in the car, had to use the one in the post office)but as baby's cry escalated and it was now lunch hour and the line at the post office was increasing by the second I did what was best for us all, I admitted defeat, headed to the car, called my husband to express my frustration and drove the 2 miles back to the house where I am now sitting, comfortably nursing my babe. At least now I can proceed with my baking this afternoon...who knows when the cards will get out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scripture and A Snapshot 1

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Part of the following challenges:

Scripture & Snapshot
Giving God Glory Through our Photographs
Straight out of the Camera Sunday

Friday, December 17, 2010



With my oldest son well into his teenage years and my youngest a month old this week, the song "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce keeps running through my head; as I savor each moment of nurturing my newborn...nursing, colic, long nights, spit up, a zillion diaper changes, cuddling, first smile...if only I could save time in a bottle, but before I know it this young one will be big just like his oldest brother. Time passes so quickly, remember to savor every moment of every day because before you know it, you will be looking back over your photos and wondering how they got so big and where the time went.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thes 5:18

The gal who writes thisBlog does a Thursday listing of ten things she's thankful for. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to stop and count our blessings and proclaim the goodness of our Father. I've been meaning to join in the last few weeks but finding time to sit and blog and upload photos has been challenging to say the least. Instead of procrastinating until I have a chance to upload photos I'm going to dive in and post without photos.

1. I'm thankful that after 24(4)+8 hours of surviving the single parent of many life, my traveling salesman of a hubby is home :)
(can you tell I've been teaching pre-algebra?)

2. I'm thankful that last night I got twice as much sleep(4 hours) than I did the night before.

3. I'm thankful for a king size bed that I tucked 3 of the kids in with me last night because I was too exhausted to deal with the popcorn episodes.

4. I'm thankful for the sweet prayer of my two year old as she lay in bed with me fighting sleep, "Hey! It's me! I pray...I pray Mommy...I pray Daddy..."

5. I'm thankful that I was able to stay home this entire, cold, dreary week.

6. I'm thankful for 14 hands that make messes.

7. I'm thankful that 12 of these hands help clean up the messes, some of the time:)

8. I'm thankful that God's peace ruled in our home the majority of the week and strife has been minimal.

9. I'm thankful that the fact that the laundry is behind is proof of God providing us abundant raiment.

10. I'm thankful that tonight I can snuggle up next to my hubby and sleep, letting him get up with any kids that need attention :-D

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meet My Friends

God has blessed me with some amazing friends who continually exhort me to be all He created me to be. I love these ladies, but they are not who I want to introduce you to today, instead I want you to meet some "friends" who assist me in meeting the needs and caring for my family of 9.

The first friend or actually friends, they are twins, are Bali Baby Stretch and Ergo. I discovered the Ergo when my 5th child was a few months old. Really, I wonder how I survived four babies and toddlers without it. I suddenly felt like a supermom as I tended to the needs of not only my baby but also my other children and husband, carrying baby as I cooked, cleaned, instructed and ran errands. Then baby 6 arrived and I discovered the Ergo didn't work especially well for newborns and as she got older she didn't particularly like to be carried, she preferred the stroller so she could greet and smile at everyone she met. This summer when I was pregnant with baby 7 I read a post by a mom of many about her wrap and I knew that I must have one of these for baby 7. After much research I decided on the Bali Baby Stretch and I LOVE it! I can carry my sweet newborn around as I delegate chores and lend a hand to my other children. I can go shopping and keep my baby secure against me with no one touching or breathing all over him. I can eat with both hands, put the toddler on the potty, fold the laundry and type this post while baby JL sleeps securely and snuggly against me. I haven't tried it yet but I should be able to carry JL in the wrap and busy Miss M on my back in the Ergo should I be out with them both and need them secured and my hands free. Again I wonder how I survived so many babies with out these wonderful friends.

Another trusty friend of mine is the 7 quart crockpot. This lady is such a sanity saver. I love to start breakfast in the evening and awaken to find it ready. I can start potatoes in it first thing in the morning and have piping hot baked potatoes ready by noon for lunch and I can begin dinner early in the day before baby is fussy and I'm tired making for a much calmer dinner hour. Another advantage is the prep mess is cleaned up earlier in the day making for less work after dinner as well. Black Beans is a staple I make in my crock-pot. Mine will hold 3 lbs which will feed us for several meals of beans and rice, burritos and chili.

Online shopping is also a great friend for this very busy mom of 7! My oldest daughter was in need of some clothes, so I hopped online and searched several stores, found things that she and I both liked, called the local store and had them pull her size and then sent her and Daddy shopping. Much easier than running from store to store. I can search for things and either order or send someone out to pick it up for me.

The last friend I would like to introduce you to is what I call the "crock pot of homeschool" - Audio Books. I always have some in the car and around the house, they are great for bed time, quiet time or when mom just has too much to do to sit and read for hours. When I get a chance I'll compile a list of some of our favorites!

There you have a few of my favorite friends.

End of a VERY BUSY Week...

This was a busy week around our place with errands to do every day but Monday so I enjoyed staying in bed a little longer this chilly morning even if I did have 6 wiggly kids join me.

Although I'm worn out from the week it was a productive week.

On Wednesday my Mom was taking the girls for hair cuts and I decided to use the opportunity, since I'd have only 4 kids, to start my Christmas shopping. By God's grace I was able to get over half of it done in only 3 stops and despite the fact that I had 4 of the 7 kids with me. Unfortunately a few things will not be a surprise, but I have managed to keep at least one good surprise per child.

Thursday morning at approximately 10 am I decided that I could not stand going another day with out a hair cut. I had procrastinated long enough! I called a salon and was able to get in that afternoon. After I made the appointment I realized that I had no one to watch the kids and with a new born I did not feel comfortable leaving them home with big brother. I proceeded to coordinate a grand production in order to accomplish the much needed hour of cut and pampering of my hair. Two children had writing class that afternoon, so I needed to find someone to watch the others and someone to meet me at the salon to hold our newborn. After a few calls all was arranged. I left the house at 12:45 and dropped off the two for writing class. I swung by my husbands office and left one there and then headed to my cousins where I left 3 others. I arrived at the salon 15 minutes before my appointment and nursed little JL while I waited in my bro and sil to arrive. They had agreed to come and tend to him while I got my hair cut. When I sat down in the chair to have my hair shampooed, while enjoying a complimentary hand massage, I relaxed and realized the energy expended to work out the details had been worth the hour of relaxation and pampering. I left refreshed and looking better than when I arrived, ready to reverse my rounds to collect everyone and return home to find dinner ready thanks to my crockpot(one of my best friends!).

Friday I got a day out with my hubby, my oldest daughter and JL. We had fun shopping and dining. Marked a few more items off the Christmas list, got home very late buy enjoyed having time to connect with them.

Today I'm catching up on the laundry and snuggling up JL and letting him nurse as much as he wants, after three crazy days of car seats and outings.

Tomorrow another crazy week begins where I need to fit in some baking and hopefully begin working on our Christmas cards. Getting a photo of the SEVEN had proved to be challenging.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why I ate cold spaghetti for breakfast???

A: The kids ate all the breakfast not only leaving me no toast but not even any bread to make toast.

B: I'm a famished mom nursing a newborn and I must eat immediately before I have to nurse said newborn again.

C: There wasn't enough spaghetti left to feed all six kids for lunch and not wanting a squabble I decided to finish it off.

D: All of the above.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Neverending Journey

It's been a month + since I've posted. The past weeks have been filled with the daily survival chores and an attempt to discard excess, organize the remaining and establish some routines and plans. The kids also completed their Public speaking classes, which entailed writing speeches, memorizing speeches and presenting speeches. I'm glad that's over! We also got to spend a day visiting with a couple of my aunts and cousins in a neighboring state. We had a great time catching up and the kids had fun making friends with their 3rd cousins. Too bad we all live so far from each other.

Although we've continued on with some schoolwork we still have yet to get on a good schedule where we get most of what I have planned for the day accomplished, but I have managed to plan and implement a couple of things that have brought some order and sanity to our household. Keeping the kids motivated to keep their rooms presentable had become quite the challenge and with three kids in each room it is easy to imagine how quickly their rooms can become overwhelmingly messy. I gathered all the kids together and explained the new system, which this post inspired, and then I spent the day helping them clean out their rooms, discard all the excess and non-essentials and change their sheets and make their beds neatly. We are now in our third week and this system is still working and their rooms are remaining neat and orderly! The other thing I've done is implement meal planning. I've tried this over and over only to become overwhelmed by the decisions one must make to plan out 3 meals for seven days, but after reading meal plans of other large families on different blogs I felt ready to overcome this obstacle. We are on week 2 and WOW!!! what a difference it has made. I always dreaded the first words of the morning, "Mommy what's for breakfast?" I would cringe before my eyes ever opened. Also their were constant protests to what I was planning on preparing, but now that the menu is plainly posted on the fridge, there seems to be less inclination to argue with the plan. Breakfast and lunch repeats weekly, but dinner I still add in some variety. Tomorrow I will share our menu for this week, but now I'm going to rest while my toddler is napping.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A New School Year

For years I have received the Sonlight Catalog and poured over their wonderful selection of books and resources. I've even attempted to round up used materials and instructors guides and follow it, but each attempt has ended in frustration, although we have read many of the books and thoroughly enjoyed them. This year I found myself drawn into their catalog again and with the arrival of a new baby approaching, the need for more structure in our homeschooling. I spent several days surfing the internet looking for user reviews and opinions. I already knew that it was a great curriculum, but I wanted to see how real families, with many children were using it as a tool to educate their children and enhance their time together. That is when I found Raising Olives. My heart immediately identified with her and the goals she and her husband had for raising their children. Her reviews of Sonlight and how it worked for their , family really spoke to me and I gained a renewed vision for our homeschool. After evaluating each years core and reviewing it with my husband, we decided the best fit four our family would be the Core 5, Eastern Hemisphere. I placed the order and we received our box full of books, in less than a week! I was very impressed by the quick shipping, but the wonderful books were the icing on the cake. Although my kids aren't avid readers, they are avid listeners and were completely enthralled with the books. All 6 children grabbed a book as I began to pull them from the box and even my husband joined in the fun, grabbing his own selection to explore. Now that we've seen what is ahead, we are all so excited to begin. We've already begun to explore with the World Book CD Rom that was included in our package. Just this morning the kids were searching for hares and jackrabbits. Now that I've finished my back to school supply shopping and organizing we should be digging. I'll keep you posted on how the year is working for us.

Right now Raising Olives has a $50 Sonlight Gift Card contest, so if you're interest in using any of their wonderful resources, visit here, for a chance to win!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Summer is quickly approaching here in the south and I can tell by the tiny fruit on my vegetable plants, the lush herbs outside my backdoor, the smell of fresh cut grass, the occasional thunderstorm, the constant puddles from children playing with the water hose and the many creatures my children keep bringing in from the creek. Just today they've captured a snapping turtle, another variety of turtle, a crawdad, minnows, and a frog. My favorite part of summer is that life seems to slow down a bit. There seems to be more time for stopping and smelling the flowers and enjoying the world around us. There are more opportunities for sitting around, sipping iced tea and visiting with friends and family. I feel the freedom to let go of the agenda and take whatever the day brings. This morning I had really hoped to get some math done with the kids, but before we got to that they were outside exploring the creek. God and His creation has much to teach them, so I can relax, let them enjoy the blessing of exploring and making a mess and when that afternoon thunderstorm arrives we can review our multiplication tables, work a few problems and settle down to read a great book together.

"To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, May 21, 2010

Missing CR

Yesterday we attended a homeschool function at a park here. I was really excited about getting to connect with other homeschoolers and making new friends. Fond memories of time spent at the park in CR with all our wonderful friends filled my head. I arrived at the park with much excitement and anticipation, which quickly diminished as the kids and I walked up completely un-noticed and not seeing a face we recognized. Suddenly my excitement was gone and replaced with a longing for CR. I missed walking up and being greeted by familiar faces. I missed the lush green grass and big shady trees. I missed the laid back, casual atmosphere that resulted in long leisurely days fellowshipping. Here I was faced with strangers, glaring sun, red clay, a crowded park and rushed moms who came only to rush off to the next event of the day. I resisted the urge to run and found the opportunity to chat with a few moms. That is how friendships begin. I know God has a purpose and plan for us here! He surprised us with my Mother and Grandmother showing up at the park just as we were leaving and inviting us to lunch. I then had the opportunity to spend a leisurely afternoon visiting with my Cousin-in-law, while the kids played in her large, lush fenced back yard and we ended the day cooking out with them.

Thank you God for the blessings of new friends to be made, family so close, and the wonderful memories of past park days in CR. Thank you for giving me a purpose and plan and revealing it each moment of every day. May you be glorified in it all.

(This is in no means meant to reflect badly on my new friends here, or the homeschoolers here, it is only a journaling of the emotions I'm dealing with as I adjust to leaving my life in CR behind and beginning a new life here.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ode To The Laundry

This week has been Spring Cleaning, aka Reclaim My Domain. I have spent the week rearranging, reorganizing, decluttering and in general just catching up all the things that have been neglected over the last few months. The most overwhelming task of the week is the laundry. I have plenty of excuses for why it has taken over our home, like moving cross country a few weeks ago, being in my first trimester stupor, switching out seasonal clothes, just returning from a week of vacation...but rather than waste any more room with all these excuses, which aren't much of a justification for letting the clothes rule, I'll take a few moments to ponder my plight before I begin the process of taking dominion over the clothes and putting them back in their place and space.

Ode To The Laundry

When it comes to the laundry,
Oh where do I start???
There are piles of clothing
in most every part.
Clean mixed with dirty,
That's not too smart.
Heaps in the bedroom,
Mounds in the bath,
Stacks in the den,
Socks in the garden,
Do I even want to know how???
Hangers swing empty,
drawers are bare,
Closets look like
A bomb burst in air.

Time for reflection has ended for now,
Armed with a basket,
It is time to plow!
Out with the excess,
down with the past season,
Sorting the dirty,
Hanging the clean.
Refilling drawers with socks and underwear!
Little by little the piles will shrink!!!

I had some pictures of my chaotic mess, but unfortunately someone deleted the software to my card reader, so they are still in my camera.

Time to sort and fold.

Living Free In Him despite the chaos!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If you....

give a pig a pancake...That is the kind of day we are having today and my frustration level is on the rise. I had one plan for today. Change my laundry room from a family closet into a mudroom. The constant piles of clean and dirty laundry all over the laundry room, mixed with the monstrous piles of shoes, books and jackets that keep collecting in the kitchen have pushed me to the limit and I decided that I must cut some clutter and redistribute the remaining in a way that is easier to manage for all of us. A daunting task, but my goal for the day none the less. Before my plans could materialize into action I found myself cuddling a sick child, refereeing so many battles and fights that I can't even count them, and looking over a pile of boxes that my son, trying to be helpful, drug in from the garage so that I could unpack them. I now cannot walk through the dining room or get to the kitchen table. The washer and dryer are no longer accessible because of the amount of things piled in front of them and on top of them. It is already 1:00 pm and the hopes for a shower have vanished. My children's ability to stay focused on a task and follow through to completion seems to have gone with the wind, or I should say gone with the appearance of the sun and my patience with them is very thin. I'd love to run away from the mess and the chaos, but I must persevere and have hope that soon order will return to our home and day. Surely God has a plan amidst the chaos and His goodness and mercy shall overcome.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A New Chapter

The last week and a half I spent clearing out clutter, sorting through boxes of momentos, reminiscing about the good and bad of our nine and half years in Iowa and visiting with dear friends who have blessed my life immensely and who I will miss tremendously. Friday morning as we pulled out at at 5 am with the trailer loaded with our worldly treasures my mind was filled with wonderful memories of long, sunny days lounging at the park with friends, all the prayer, support and encouragement these same friends poured into my life, the many opportunites we had to serve and minister to others here but as the sun began to rise and I took in the beauty of the dawn as it bloomed over the open prairie my mind turned to the new opportunities God has waiting for us in the south. Over the last year and a half I have wrestled with God over this move. I knew it was coming and I appreciate the time He gave me to adjust to it. I now can rest in His perfect peace that this is where He has for us at this appointed time. I look forward with anticipation to the relationships and ministry opportunities He has for us here, not the least of which is the new child we will welcome into our family in November.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Madness

This morning started as a normal day with me opening my eyes to the all too familiar question, "Mommy, what's for breakfast?". As I mumbled "oatmeal" I began to formulate the plan for the day in my mind, lessons to finish, a history test, music to practice, laundry to put into motion and maintain, read out loud a couple of chapters and a couple of appointments that required being out the door around noon....Yes, it was going to be a busy morning! I quickly directed the children to their different tasks and we were off and running. First interruption of the morning...a smelly dog and kennel. The dog just couldn't wait for the boys to decide exactly who's turn it was to walk him. So my first load of laundry was decided and the dog got some TLC from some kiddos.

The rest of the morning progressed on somewhat chaotically with a slightly damp dog in the middle of it all, but we did manage to get everything accomplished and out the door on time. Let me rephrase that, we finished up the school work that needed to be done, but the housework got neglected as we had to rush out the door.

While out I decided to pick up some chocolate so that I could attempt PW's Mocha Brownies. Upon returning home we ignored the previously neglected housework and set about making this treat. Let me tell you they are dangerous! Dangerously delicious. Dangerously fattening with a pound of butter hidden in there. Dangerously messy with the help of a toddler and preschooler, especially when the chocolate covered toddler grabs the spatula and runs through the house! I had to call in reinforcements as I pursued her giggling self down the hall. She thought getting to play in the running water of the sink was just as fun as licking and smearing chocolate every where.

Despite the fact that they day didn't go as previously planned and imagined we did accomplish all that the Lord had planned for us today...a mountain of laundry folded and put away, dinner cooked, the kitchen put back in order, a sweet treat, and a some good reading time before bed. My kitchen floor still needs to be mopped as traces of the chocolate covered toddler are still visible...I'll think about that tomorrow, after all tomorrow is another day full of adventure and opportunity, which is quickly approaching bringing with it the standard greeting of "Mommy, what's for breakfast?"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learning with Life

Each and everyday presents numerous opportunities to teach our children and expand their horizons without ever opening a textbook. Here are a few of the opportunities we took advantage of in the last few days.


Baking with Mommy


Looking for locations on a map




Spelling words on the driveway
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I had the opportunity to attend a local homeschool mom's encouragement meeting this week and listen to Allison Carter, a professional organizer share some tips of the trade. I will attempt to translate my notes here and share with you some of the most meaningful tidbits I gleaned(at least meaningful to my situation).

Part of being organized is not needing to do extra work. Keep your system simple, and easy to use, not one that creates extra work. I knew she was talking to me here because my systems are always so complicated that I can't seem to follow through with them or be consistent with them because they OVERWHELM me! She also addressed the fact that many of us creative types change our systems constantly not because they are not working but because we are bored with them. Yep, that's me again! And of coarse there is the fact that my perfectionism knows there must be a more "perfect system" that will bring magical results and it is just waiting for me to create it or discover it. We all agreed that the purpose of organizing is to save time and money, reduce stress, promote peace and harmony at home and train our children in stewardship of time and things.

Keep in mind that in running our homes we are running a business, only thing is we can't fire the help, aka: our family. We need to: 1. Give clear instructions. 2. Have clear expectations. 3. Clear and consistent consequences. Remember up above where I said I became overwhelmed? Help! How exactly does one give clear instructions, clear expectations and consistent consequences??? I better take these to the Lord in prayer and seek my husband for wisdom.

As far as expectations go, well we were exhorted to set our perfectionist tendencies aside, lower our expectations to achievable and let our kids help, but don't try and redo or fix what they do. Ahhhh, some lessons are learned very slowly. At least I'm free from sock matching perfection...just find a similar shape and color put them together and call them a pair or better yet let the kids grab two out of the large drawer full of unmatched socks. I also no longer wince when I find the kids have washed their white socks with their jeans, they really aren't white very long anyway because of all the mud and dirt in their shoes.

Here is another solved mystery! For years I tried to set up a separate homeschool area, first one was in the basement...we NEVER went down there, it was drab and depressing and felt like it was too far one was in the sun room right off the kitchen...still felt closed off from life, although at least this roomy was bright and sunny...the house we are in now I set the dining room up for school, but we always end up at the kitchen table or in the den on the sofa. Why? Kids want to be near mom! Where is mom? In the kitchen, which is the hub of the house. So store you books and supplies out of the way in portable containers that can be moved to the hub of the home when least I had finally figured this one out, but I now have the freedom to enjoy this discovery and the fact that the laundry room is just a step away from the kitchen table so now our school really is in the heart of where I spend my time...the kitchen and laundry room.

Are you like most Americans, who is drowning in paper. Well here is the overview of Allison's Communication System where all paper must pass. The key here is sorting by what it the next action that needs to be taken.

Here are the File headings she recommended:

1. To Do - anything that needs immediate attention, like repairs, phone calls, etc
2. To Pay - make sure to check this one weekly or bi-weekly and take care of them in a timely manner, to avoid late fees and such.
3. To Go - events, appointments, anything you will attend.
4. Waiting For/Pending - this would be things like insurance bills, rebates you've submitted, orders waiting to receive, things that you need to discuss with you husband before a decision is made.
5. To File - items that you need to keep and file away
6. Coupons - this is service, restaurant coupons, gift cards etc. If you are a coupon clipper you want a system devoted entirely to organizing those.
7. To Enter - items of information that need to be entered into your computer or address book. Allison recommended as a way of storing and organizing this information on your computer.

You can set up folders of these same titles in your email program to help you sort emails as they come through as well.

For school paper organization you will want a separate file area and possibly more depending upon how you choose to sort. You may want to sort by child, year, subject, etc. The key to remember is that you don't need to keep everything but only a representation of the work each child has done or is doing. For keepsakes give each child 2 boxes to store their treasures, again they only need to keep a representation. For Photos start with the current and work backward. Don't get caught up in details. Sort by year or event instead of by date. Drop the perfectionism and enjoy the memories!

Now to tackle our clothing and laundry! Did you know that there are 7 steps involved in doing laundry? Despite the fact that I spend an enormous amount of time doing laundry, I've never stopped to count the steps. Just in case you want to know what you are spending your time on here they are:

1. Into Hamper
2. Sort
3. Wash
4. Dry
5. Hang/Fold
6. Put Away
7. Iron

Doesn't it make you feel more productive to look at how many steps you've been accomplishing? Of course I tend to experience delays and interruption at steps 5 or 6 and I only do step 7 on a need only basis, ie: grab it from the closet and do it right before I put it on. At steps 5 and 6 is where many people get derailed and it is very possibly because of perfectionism and not letting anyone help us in this area. We want our clothes folded and put away neatly. Then again it could be because we don't want to find a pile of clean clothes tossed back in the hamper because someone was just too lazy to open the drawer and put them away. Maybe giving our kids large baskets in which to toss their clean clothes would work better than sets of drawers where they have to sort, open, cram, close, well you get the idea.

Now here is the flip side of the coin: WE OWN TOO MANY CLOTHES!!! How much clothing you can own is dependent upon the amount of available space you have for storing it. You can only own what fits in your space. If you don't have a lot of space, you can't have a lot of stuff. Of coarse this is true across the board not just for clothes. If you have say 6 kids who are sharing a small space you might actually run out of space without having enough clothes to keep everyone dressed in clean clothes. So the larger than the normal family in the normal size family space will have to be creative with storage and brutal when it comes to discarding excess. Just remember it is just stuff and stuff after all is crap! Our internal contentment should come from who we are as a child of God not from our stuff.

Here are a few final tips. Sort everything by how it is used. Examples would be toys, if your children play with the blocks and cars together, then store them together instead of constantly sorting them out. Put things together in kits. Have a paint kit that includes ALL the items your children need for painting: brushes, paints, cups, paper, smocks...

Organizing works best when one little action creates big results.

We are unhappy because we think we NEED new stuff to be fulfilled. This stuff clutters our homes and our lives.

CHAOS=Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome

A final quote that a friend had on her facebook status, which pretty much sums up the importance of having a place for everything, which to me is organization.

"The key to finding a thing is knowing where it is."

I hope my muttled notes and thoughts help you to tackle some of your clutter and bring some order to your CHAOS and I hope they do they same for me.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Favorite Place

There is a magical place that will whisk you away to anyplace you can imagine and it is one of my favorite places to visit. Where is this place you might ask? The local library! A place full of worlds to visit, countries to explore, interests to discover, talents to develop, and more discoveries than my mind can comprehend. I love to wander the aisle and browse the shelves discovering new treasures. After my brief visit there over the weekend I came home with a pile of magazines for the kids, The Children's Homer, DSLR Photography Books for me, On The Banks of Plum Creek audio cd's for the kids...just to name a few. In the last few weeks I've read The House at Sugar Beach, The Relaxed Homeschooler and many a picture book to the kids. Whatever your interest I urge you to visit the library and see what treasures you can discover. Happy Reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cookies for my Cookie Monsters

What child and mother doesn't love cookies? Baking cookies is a favorite around our house, measuring, stiring, eating the dough, shaping the cookies, baking, eating...MMMMM. Here is one of our favorite recipes.

Coconut Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 cup of coconut oil(butter can be used, but coconut oil is yummier and healthier)
1 cup of raw sugar
1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour or fresh ground white wheat
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of quick cooking oats
1-1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans
1/2-1 cup of shredded coconut(I use unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease the baking sheets. In a large bowl cream the coconut oil with the sweeteners until light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, beating well. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt with a whisk. Add slowly to the creamed mixture, then stir in by hand oats, nuts and coconut. Shape into small balls and bake for 10-12 minutes.

If you are using fresh ground flour you may need more of the nuts and coconuts and if you used all purpose flour you may need a bit more of the liquid sweetner. Just have fun experimenting. This recipe always turns out well no matter what adaption I make to it.


Coffee Cake Memoir

Sometime back my husband brought me home a wonderful coffee cake from The Honey Baked Ham Company. This coffee cake was of a pound cake consistency and texture with a cinnamon nut crumb topping and a marbling within. Very Yummy! Ever since that first cake he brought home I purposed to attempt to recreate it and the bleak, dreary day yesterday provided the opportunity I had been waiting for. The results were, in the words of my nine year old..."this is the best cake ever" I take that as success. I must say yesterday's cake was even better this morning after the crust had hardened slightly and the flavors had increased in intensity.

Here is what I did. I found a pound cake recipe(my favorite is the sour cream pound cake in an old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)since my favorite recipe was not at my disposal I used Grandmother Paul's Sourcream Pound Cake from Paula Deen's Lady and Son's Cookbook. I followed the recipe exactly, but next time I will cut it by 1/3 since it ended up being a bit more batter than needed for the bundt pan I used.

Here is the recipe as written by Paula Deen

2 stick of butter
3 c. sugar
1 c. Sour Cream
3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda(I guess I did make a change here, I added to this 1 tsp of baking powder for more rise)
6 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together; add sour cream. Sift flour and baking soda together. Add to creamed mixture, alternately with eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla.

Here is my coffee cake addition to the recipe. I didn't measure, but I'll try and give some estimated measurements here.
Place the following in a bowl:

1-2 cups of chopped nuts(I used pecans)
1/2-1 cup of brown or raw sugar
2-4T of cinnamon
4T of butter
Blend together with hands.

Place half of mixture in the bottom of a greased and floured bundt pan, pour in half of cake batter and sprinkle the other half of crumb mixture in, cut through with a butter knife and top with remaining batter. Bake at 325 for an hour and then sit back and enjoy or save for the next morning to have with a cup of coffee.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bail Me Out

Today I found myself in over my head with laundry, toys, laundry, dishes, laundry, sweeping, laundry and did I mention laundry? Days like this is when I miss being in my midwest home where a very dear friend would come bail me out. Bailing out is what I needed! When I get to this point I feel so overwhelmed that it is difficult to begin, but since there was no dear friend to bail me out I pressed on. Tonight things don't look so bleak, the laundry is well underway, most of the toys are put away, the floor is swept and tomorrow looks promising. Praise God for his grace and mercy that is sufficient for the tasks He has given me.

In Him,

Living Free

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


One sweeper
One bus boy/girl
One dishwasher
One laundry maid
One cook

Oh, wait! I forgot I have one of each of those, they are just MIA! I also have one chief mess maker who is in action and is the reason for needing all of the above :D