Monday, December 31, 2007

Embrace the Chaos

Those were the Coach's words to me on Saturday. "Don't fight it." he said.

We've been having way too much fun around here over break. I'm exhausted. I think the kids are, too. And I know, after putting in 300 feet of line for a sprinkler system in our back yard in the last four days, the Coach is dead on his feet.

What I don't know is how to embrace all of the activity, fun and memory making without wearing myself out.
You can't stop the daily work of life, but I want to do the things that we enjoy doing together and will leave lasting memories for our children.

I haven't found that balance, yet.

For now, we are just surviving. Trying desperately to enjoy the kids, have fun as a family AND get all of the work done, too.

I need a 10 year nap.
Christmas Eve Morning - Stockings!

Christmas Eve Morning - Breakfast

Friday, December 28, 2007

Warning: You Can't Plan for Everything

Years ago, I gave up on creating the "perfect" Christmas for my children. Truth is, I just kept falling so short that it was painful. However, they don't seem to mind a bit. We have a few things that we make a priority, and the rest is just optional.

Even with our low expectations, Christmas was full of surprises!

We managed to have our yearly "Christmas Lights" drive the evening before Christmas Eve. Usually we follow with hot chocolate around the fire. But this year it took so long to get out the door (I was finishing up the baking) that we missed dinner completely so our drive ended with picking up pizza for a late dinner. Maybe that's a new tradition!

Christmas Eve morning Daughter (#2) woke up feeling puny, running a temp and her throat hurt. So after stockings and our breakfast (yes, I DID manage to get the coffee cake made on Sunday!) we added a new event to our schedule and I took her to the walk-in clinic. Her strep test was negative, but we came home with an antibiotic, anyway, which seemed appropriate considering the timing!

We chose mostly games, books, doll clothes and Leapster games for gifts this year. A new BB gun for Son (#1), boots for Daughter (#2), and some new clothes for Baby Boy (#8). Everyone was grateful, happy, and we spent hours playing games together, dressing dolls, looking at books. A wonderful day.

Our plan was to end the day with the candlelight carol service at church. Well, Dad needed help getting rid of dead skunk smell under the deck (they had some surprises at their house, too!), so Coach headed over there and we switched to the late evening service, but since some weren't well, we didn't all make it. The service WAS lovely.

By the time we got home from church, I wasn't feeling too great. And it only got worse. I went to bed early with Ibuprofen, thinking I could knock it. But when I woke up Christmas morning running a fever and aching all over with a very sore throat, I gave up. After helping the Coach get the girl's hair fixed for Christmas morning at his parent's, I went back to bed.
I didn't get up until 5:00. PM.

The Coach handled it all wonderfully, of course. It was a lot of work carting everyone to his parent's for breakfast, handling all of the gifts, getting it all loaded up and back here. Between all of this he managed to call Dr. Kevin (our BLESSING) for meds and picked those up for me, as well. Then off with all kids, again, to my family's Christmas. More gifts, Christmas play, and dinner. My Sweet Parents kept the six oldest for dinner while the Coach came back with the two youngest to check on me.

My very kind brother and sister-in-law turned the whole mess into a sleep over at their house with our six oldest and their six. What fun! That was a treat for all of the kids, for sure.

So ended Christmas Day. The Coach and I at home with two children (he asked, "How can anyone say having two kids is hard?"), quiet, and me feeling much improved by evening.

No, it wasn't what we planned. It certainly wasn't what I expected. And part of it wasn't at all fun. I hated missing my children on Christmas. Their joy and delight. Their laughter. Seeing them all in the Christmas Play. Never mind how crummy I felt.

But there were a lot of blessings, too. A sweet Coach who stepped up beautifully. Kind family who helped out, took pictures, and even took kids home! A Dr. friend who saved the day. And no one else getting sick.

So, no, things aren't always we think they will be.

But God is still on His throne.

He's in control.

And I'm glad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part Four

So began, for me, a balance of asking, waiting. Wondering, trusting.

I suggested to Daddy that we invite the Coach over and he surprised me right back by telling me he was planning on inviting him to lunch after church. I struggled a bit with that - we would have other people with us - but Daddy assured me that that was part of his plan.

Turns out (I learned later) that the Coach was at the lake with his family for the weekend. This was before the days when we all had cell phones, but he planned to be back for church (even though his family was staying longer) just encase an invitation came!

I spent the entire weekend worrying about what to wear, doing my nails, primping for the occasion. After all, the "meetings" had been going on for 7 months at this time. I definitely had butterflies!

The lunch was perfectly wonderful. He made the effort to sit by me, even though other people were there. We visited comfortably. I remember distinctly that when we walked outside to leave I felt, for the first time, that I didn't want him to go. There was so much more to learn about each other.

Shortly after that, the Coach called my dad. Daddy and I laughed about it when he told me. Apparently he wanted my dad to know that he was still interested in getting to know me. Even after he had had lunch with us! He told the Coach that the next step was spending time with us, and he would start inviting him.

We discussed opportunities to have him over. A few sentences later my mother mentioned she needed to go trim the grass at my grandmother's grave. I piped up, "See. There's the perfect opportunity."

My parents and I talked and laughed about it all. Their support, their hesitant encouragement. I asked my father what he thought about the Coach. He said no one had woken him up in the middle of the night and said, "He is THE ONE." I told him I was usually asleep in the middle of the night. Then he told me that the Coach was a Godly man and really had a heart for the Lord. He said he didn't want things to move too quickly (as if all of us weren't aware of that!).

I was so blessed to have precious friends who encouraged me to seek the Lord for His will. And to enjoy every moment and not lose the joy wondering what would happen next.

One night I heard my dad making plans to meet the Coach for breakfast. When he came to say goodnight I said, "Can I go?" He looked at me and said, "What?" I repeated the question and as he walked out of the room he said something about how he didn't think so.

Right after the Coach's birthday in July my dad invited him to Sunday lunch, again. This time it was just the four of us. It was an amazing feeling to not be the "odd" one. I was used to that with two married brothers and my parents. But it was wonderful to look across the table at him.

Soon after that my parents gave me the assignment of writing down the things that I wanted in a husband. Unfortunately I seem to have lost that list. But I wrote in my journal that even what little I knew about the Coach, I knew he fit the list. He had the character, the relationship with the Lord, the family. The things that mattered. And determination. Definitely.

But I also realized that in spite of my father's blessing (should it come in time) and the Coach's persistence, I would need to know myself if this was the Lord's will. I needed to hear from the Lord about it. Everyone around us seemed so sure. I felt the tug on my heart. The Lord was in this. But I didn't, yet, have the certainty that this was it.

It wouldn't take long.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas to All - and to All a Good Night

Time hasn't permitted another part to our love story saga before Christmas. Hopefully after the big fun on Monday and Tuesday I will have a chance to work on it some more. It's been such a delight to read through my journals and talk to the Coach about all that happened during those days. What an amazing and wonderful blessing to be part of God's working in our lives.

Tomorrow we will have Christmas in our own home. Stockings early, a big breakfast, presents to unwrap and candlelight service at church. Tuesday we will spend with family. The Coach's family (and most of the 50 grandchildren!) for breakfast and the morning and my family for the afternoon, dinner and a special Christmas play put on by the 20 grandchildren.

I think tonight, as we prepare to celebrate the Savior's birth, of how it must have been that night that Jesus was born. Sweet, young Mary, with all of the unknown. Joseph, and his heavy burden of responsibility for them both. The pain and wonder of childbirth. The glory of the Son of God. It's beyond my understanding and I am in awe of it all.

God becoming Man. Spirit taking on flesh and later the sin of the world. So that man - the work of the Creator Himself - could have a way back to God. Eternal life. Abundant life on earth. Hope.

From our family to yours~
May the "Hope of Glory" be with you as you celebrate this Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part Three

Somehow I can't seem to make the rest of life slow down so that I have TIME to write! I've been reading my old journals at night - when I should be sleeping. And this week as I was reading I found myself thinking, "I'll just read to when we start courting." - like I didn't know when that happened! I'm getting lost in the story!

Shortly after my dad heard back from the Coach that he felt the Lord was directing him to pursue getting to know me, my daddy and I had lunch. We had been having lunch together almost weekly - a habit that I loved and had started when I was in elementary school. (One that still continues today! Except that it's lunch with grandmother and granddad and a troop of kids!) Dad gave me three options. 1) He could "blow the Coach off", which we laughed about. 2) He could invite the Coach to spend time with our family (the thought of which made me a little uncomfortable), or 3) He could meet with him a few times to see if he had "potential". We agreed on the third option.

At the time, even though I didn't know the Coach, I was strangely drawn to him. My dad once told me that there is often a second best before God sends His very best. Something in me sensed that this was what I should have been waiting for.

Before long, the weekly lunch turned to breakfast (Dad and the Coach). It continued for about 7 months! During that time, Dad said very little to me about the Coach. Or what they talked about, or what he was like. A sentence now and then was about it. Most weeks I didn't even know when they had gone.

Now, this was all part of God's plan. I had a lot of healing, growing, submitting to do. And during those months (some of the hardest in my life), the Lord began to soften me, show me that I could trust Him, and restore the relationship with my parents. One of the things I wrote in my journal during that time, "I'm far too independent. I love to be in charge, have my act together, I even love time alone. I'm so used to going where I want to, when I want to. Spending what I need to (or want to) - generally not very good marriage material." I realized that I was a long ways from where I needed to be at that time. But on the other hand, the Lord began to give me a desire to experience the blessings of marriage. Sharing my life with someone.

During these months, we had a few brief conversations at church. Neither of us were very out-going, so it was a funny sort of thing. The planets all had to align for us to make the effort to talk! We both knew that he was meeting with my dad, but he thought I knew more than I did, and I thought he knew more than he did. It's humorous looking back! All God's protection. We had two blessings in the communication area. One was his older sister, who was expecting her 8th child and homeschooling three or four of her kids at the time (HOW did she have the time to talk to me, I want to know?). She helped me think through a lot, as she knew the Coach well, and wanted to protect him, but also was supportive of our relationship. The other was a friend of the Coach's sister and mine. Another link in the "lack of communication" chain. They both gave me a sounding board and kept up with what was going on. And I gleaned a lot of wisdom from them in the process.

Once, I got word that the Coach's little sister (who was 10 at the time) couldn't remember my name and said, "You, now, that girl that the Coach goes out to breakfast with her dad all the time." On another occasion, I met his parents when they came to our church for a special service. Awkward, of course. I hadn't even really talked to the Coach!

I wrote this sometime in June (they had been meeting for almost seven months). "I've felt a squeeze in my heart when Daddy talks about how wonderful the Coach is. And I don't know him at all. Yet, when I observe the respect that my father has for him, I find myself having the same respect. And I've realized that I trust my father. If he thinks the Coach is wonderful, than I know he is."

There were a lot of questions. But I trusted God to show me His will (and the Coach, first) and even though I didn't know much about him (not the typical "dating" things, anyway), I knew what mattered. I knew his character. It means something when every person you mention someone's name to says, "Oh. He's a great guy." And it started happening a lot!

I began to have to field a lot of questions when word began to get out that he was meeting with my dad. It was easy, for awhile, because the Coach and I talked so little and so seldom saw each other. But anyone who knew my dad, knew that if he was meeting with a guy it meant something. Once we began to talk a bit at church (I detailed each and every conversation - there weren't many - in my journals), I began to tell people, "We are just friends". One very perceptive friend from church said, "You will be 'just friends' until you are married!".

Over all of these months, I had a growing desire to be with a get to know the Coach. Everyone I talked to had such respect for him. He was obviously persistent and determined. And to last as long as he had, there was something in him that my dad must have respected a great deal. But I felt out of the loop. I couldn't help but start to wonder when my turn would come.

I didn't know it was right around the corner!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Fairies

A transformation has taken place at my house.
It all started with a delicious dinner from Ted's (YUM!).
The kitchen was cleaned.
The laundry folded.
And wonder of all wonders - EVERY SINGLE Christmas gift was wrapped.
(It even required a trip to get more paper)
HOW, you ask?
HOW was this accomplished in one single night?
Well, it certainly wasn't me.
But I'll let you in on a little secret.
I have Christmas fairies.
Actually, they come other times of the year, too.
But at Christmas time when the to do list is too long for the paper,
and the house is a mess,
and the kids are hungry,
and the gifts are all thrown in the closet in piles,
and I am generally OVERWHELMED,
Here they came.

People ask me almost every day HOW DO YOU DO IT?
And you know what I tell them? I have an amazing husband AND great kids.
But I also have HELP (the fairies - otherwise known as my sweet parents).
That's how I do it all. Lot's of wonderful, generous, kind, giving HELP from my mom and dad.

What a blessing!

I'm Workin' On It

I know you are all (ha!) just holding your breath - waiting for the next installment of How the Coach Won My Heart.
However, there seem to be some needs going on here today.
For one, the bathrooms. Somehow I missed doing that last week between the power outages, the stay at my parent's and the kids being out of school. Ugh.
Also, the mess. Things seem to get out of order so quickly here. Is it the amount of stuff, or the amount of hands getting out stuff or the number or shoes (don't get me started!) or what?
At any rate, some tidying is in order.
AND it's our "short" day - the kids get out at noon today - so time's a wastin'.
So I'll keep working on Part Three and get it out as soon as I can. I'm just hoping that it's before Christmas! It's getting busy around here!

While you're waiting, here's the baby's new trick. Isn't he a doll?

Monday, December 17, 2007

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part Two

From the time I was a very little girl, my dad had made a point of talking to me about boys. To save my heart, to protect my heart. We had lunch often (still do) and he always showered me with affection and most of all, his time. He was/is the best Daddy.

Later on, I learned about courtship. I made a commitment to wait for God's timing and only enter emotional attachment with my parent's blessing when I was old enough and ready for marriage. You can learn more about courtship here. It made so much more sense than just giving pieces of my heart to guys that I "liked". I wanted to give my whole heart to ONE man.

But in the meantime, that ONE man didn't come along. In my immaturity and impatience, I began to doubt. I was only 20, but it felt like I was destined to be an old maid. I figured no one that I would be interested in would pass the requirements that my dad had. I began to think there was no one like that out there.

So when the opportunity came along to renew a relationship with a guy that I had always liked, I let it happen.

At first it really was no big deal. But when it was apparent that he needed to take some initiative with my dad, things got ugly. My parents didn't believe he was the ONE for me. They began to put the brakes on.

I didn't really want to continue to hide from them or do things without their knowledge. I couldn't figure out why they were against a relationship with him. He was a nice guy - a Christian - great family. In my mind it made no sense, and only served to convince me even more that in my dad's mind, no one was good enough.

My parents instructed me to end the relationship. I didn't.

I'm so grateful, now, that the guy was a gentlemen. That God protected both of us. The problem is, when you are out from under authority and outside of God's will, you just dig yourself in deeper and deeper.

I was in a huge amount of inner turmoil. I truly believed this guy loved me. And I desperately wanted to be married and have a family. But I wanted more.

I wanted to marry WITH my family's blessing. I wanted a love story that glorified God. I wanted a man that would do whatever it took to win my father's approval and my heart. Someone who thought I was worth it. Whatever it took.

Problem was, I didn't think it was possible. I had lost the hope of that dream.

Until that day when the Coach called. HE was the kind of guy I'd dreamed of. And he was interested in me.

And I had completely blown it by settling for second best.

From that moment on, things began to change. I saw that phone call (not the Coach himself, necessarily) as the Lord saying to me, "See, I'm big enough to handle this. Let go." It took awhile, but God began to break me and bring me back to Himself. Once again, under my parent's authority and submissive to Him. It was a long, horrible, painful process. But through it all, even though I didn't know anything about the Coach, he was in the back of my mind.

Would he think I was worth it? Would he do what it took? Would he be able to please my father and win his approval?

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part One

I began writing our story for the first time on June 22, 1994.
At the time, I had no idea how it would end. However, I knew something amazing was happening and I wanted to remember every detail. Somehow I knew that God was working in my life and I wanted to give Him the glory.

Truth is, as we celebrate 13 year together, today, my memory isn't sufficient to give you the full story - the amazing details - the tremendous miracle that our marriage is. So to keep it real, I'm referring back to my journals of those days and the Coach's much more accurate memory! Too many sleepless nights, pregnancies and the demands of motherhood have taken away some of the details from my mind. Gratefully, I wrote it all down. And it's been great fun for me to read about how it all happened and remember it, again. Because it's an incredible story!

The most amazing part is that the man you will learn about in these accounts, the man who pursued me, fought for me and won my heart, is the very man that I have the blessing of waking up to each and every day. The same man that shares the joy and the difficulty of raising eight wonderful kids with me. I live with the blessing of a man who is determined to obey God no matter what the cost. These are the things you will see in our story. The same things that make him *still* the man of my dreams!


It all began one Wednesday afternoon in January of 1994. The phone rang at my parent's house and I answered it. It was a young man from their Sunday school class, asking for my dad. I attended the women's class that my mother taught and he attended the men's class that my dad taught with his brother and brother-in-law. I had no idea why he would be calling, but it didn't seem unusual. I gave him my dad's work number.

We had spoken once before - a month or so earlier - when he had attended the Christmas party for the class at our house. I had been surprised to see him there (it was all couples!). My best friend from out of town and I served at the party, but planned to skip out, since we didn't really fit in. But he showed up and hung around long enough to help us clean up afterwards. She and I talked about him, later, of course! He was really cute!

So the phone call didn't mean anything to me, at the time. But later that night my dad mentioned that the Coach had called him at work. I said I already knew that, because I'd spoken to him earlier. I was completely unprepared for what he said next. That he had called to ask permission to get to know me.

I was completely shocked. "You're kidding, right?" I couldn't imagine that a guy like that would be interested in me. He didn't know anything about me. We weren't even friends. And had only spoken, really, that one time. I did however, know who his family was. I was friends with his sister and sister-in-law (from the Sunday School class). More than that, though, I had SEEN him. He was incredibly handsome. Already out of college, teaching and coaching at a great school. I knew enough to know that he was quite the catch!

Dad didn't give him an answer. However, they met for lunch two days later. I found out (much later, of course) that during that lunch, my dad explained to him that he had very high standards in dating. That the Coach really needed to seek the Lord and determine if He was leading him in the direction to pursue a relationship with me.

You have to understand something. The Coach, unbelievably, had made the huge step of calling my dad in the first place. Before he even tried to be my friend! My dad isn't easy to approach. Especially for a young man who was interested in his daughter. I'd sent many a potential boyfriend his way, only to have them mowed down and never heard from again! They would SAY they would talk to my dad, but most of them never did.

When I heard my dad's report on the lunch and what he had told the Coach, I was horrified! How could he know if he wanted to make a commitment to this when we didn't even know each other? There was no way he'd call back. I was sure he had been sufficiently scared off, just like the rest.

About one week later, on a Saturday afternoon, our unlisted number rang. I, of course, answered, as I always did! And it was the Coach's voice on the other line. I ran upstairs as soon as my dad hung up the phone to see what he had said. Dad (surprised as the rest of us) told Mom and I that the Coach had prayed about it and felt like the Lord was leading him to pursue a relationship with me!

I don't think the three of us ever expected that answer. Or had thought about what would happen if it came.

Of course, the whole thing was very flattering. He didn't know me and yet was somehow drawn to me. I couldn't believe it all. It amazed me that he had the guts and determination to not only initiate a relationship with me, but hadn't been intimidated by my dad or his declaration of the seriousness of the prospect of befriending me. I was impressed. Tremendously impressed. And have I mentioned, yet, that he was really handsome?

It was all very incredible. There was only one problem. Secretly, behind my parent's backs and against their wishes, I was dating someone else. . .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Anniversary Eve

Betcha didn't know.

Today is an important day!

No, not Christmas Eve - you don't have to get the kids dressed up for the candlelight service just yet.

No, not Christmas, you still have a week of shopping left.

It's Anniversary Eve!

And tomorrow the Coach and I celebrate 13 amazingly BUSY, wonderful years as husband and wife.

To honor the occasion, I have a special post waiting in the wings.

The very first installment of our love story!

So get your Diet Dr. Pepper or hot chocolate, or whatever makes you feel warm and cozy, and join me tomorrow for a wonderful story.

By the way, just a hint - the wonderful part is the Coach! You're gonna love it!

See you then!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thankful Thursday - Ice Storm Edition

Can it really be Thursday, again?
Feels very much like a roller coaster.

In the spirit of the adventure that has been this week, today's list of thankfulness will have a theme - here goes:

2. HEAT (powered by, you got it - electricity)
3. LIGHTS (yep, again, electricity is involved)
4. Candles (that's encase of NO you-know-what)
5. Blankets
6. Fireplaces (ours is gas - so it was nice and toasty - and expensive!)
7. Parent's house (WITH electricity)
8. Brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and nephews (Also WITHOUT electricity and camping out with us at the aforementioned parent's house)
9. Hot Chocolate
10. Microwave popcorn
11. Cable TV (at the parent's house - not here)
12. Washer and Dryer (I can't adequately describe the amount of laundry that piled up during the power outage - wait a minute, we weren't even HERE! There must be devious little elves that come into my house when I'm gone and get things dirty! AAARGH!)
13. School IN today (can I say QUIET?)
14. That the Coach is diligent in trimming trees (and we have many) away from the house on a regular basis - I guess the chainsaw was a necessary purchase, and not just an excuse to buy something loud and dangerous, after all.
15. The Coach's 4 wheel drive Monterro. It DOES NOT slip or slide. Ever.

I realize that I have a strange perspective on gratefulness after the week that we've had. But truthfully, how many of us take these basics for granted?
Did I mention ELECTRICITY?
Oh, and card games and puzzles and mittens and stocking caps and boots and coats and. . .
Don't forget to leave me a comment and tell me what YOU are thankful for today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - Keeping up with School

I often tell the Coach that our family is personally responsible for the destruction of several trees each week.
With five children in elementary school, the amount of paper that comes home with them is insane.
Over the years, I've come up with a simple system that helps me keep it all straight.

1. If it needs a response (signature, money sent, etc.) I do it THEN and return it to them or their folder or backpack (for the younger ones). The FIRST thing we do each afternoon is sit at the table and go through folders, sign papers, and get things organized for the next day. I if I try to wait, it doesn't get done.

2. If it's already in the past, or doesn't need any action, I throw it away.

3. If it's in the future, I put it on the calendar. Every child has a letter (for their name) - followed by the activity or what is needed (ex. T-sack lunch, or B-school shirt) on the appropriate day. Sometimes I use a sticky note on the top of the calendar if it needs more of a discription. Like this:
Day of the Week


After they leave for school WITH it that day, I throw the note away.

4. If it needs to be saved for reference at a later time (study sheet, list of requirements for a project, etc.) I put it in their folder.
Each child has a pocket folder, labeled with their name. ALL school stuff goes in these folders. Papers they bring home, pictures they draw, notes from teachers, report slips, etc.

5. Each week or two, I sit on the floor with all five folders and clean them out. If it's something I need to save for them, they have a file in the filing cabinet with their name and school year. If it's past, I throw it away. If it needs further action, I put it on my list. If it's not finished yet, back in the folder.

For the last 6 years, I've used this system with great success. Without some kind of organization, I know I would miss a lot!

Hope it helps you, too!

Be sure to check out the other great ideas at Rocks in My Dryer, WFMW!

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful

Well, Folks. It's not pretty. The downed power lines, the tree branches littering our yard, the MESS everywhere. But we are home. After 30 hours or so camped out at my parent's house with the Coach's brother and his family, we have ELECTRICITY and we are home.

I knew the ice storm was coming, though. So we were prepared.

With popcorn and hot chocolate, you can survive anything. And electricity. That's important.
You can't see this, but the hot chocolate says, "GREAT FOR: Offices, Restaurants, Schools, Daycare."
Yep, that's us.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What IS that smell?

Our house is full of excitement.
Excitement, I'm telling you.
Of the greatest kind.

Sometimes, it's billows of smoke coming out of the oven.
I'm SO generous with my advice to you all, I hope you appreciate it.
Here it comes: Lego's will catch fire.

But other times, there are good smells.
Not over on the boy's side of the house, of course, but that's just the way it is.
Tonight, in our kitchen, it is smelling lovely.

Believe it or not, I have three 6th grade boys making candles in my kitchen.
With the help of the Coach, of course.

There are certainly days when the school projects wear me out. Seriously. A poster on games played in ancient Egypt? Please!
Or a map of little Christian's journey? With 3-D images? Oh Boy.
On on those days, I contemplate the possibility of homeschooling. Surely we could get by with math, grammar, the basics. Forget the projects. Forget posters and dioramas (don't get me started!), costumes, authentic pioneer lunches and bake sales. I have eight children, for heaven's sake. I don't have time for this!

However, we have good moments.
And tonight, with the green apple scent permeating the kitchen and candles being cranked out by the dozens (or at least ones), all is right with the world.

Just don't ask me later when I'm trying to get these boys to be quiet and go to sleep.

Soup - tacular


Happy Friday, All!

Boomama is hosting a soup-tacular today, so I'm jumping right in. We LOVE soup around here. Lots of it. Beans and sausage, taco soup, tortilla soup, potato soup, as well as the two listed below. Our very favorite thing of all is chili, but I'm not sure if chili is really "soup", so here's a chicken recipe, as well.

Happy Cooking!

And be sure to check out all of the other recipes at BooMama's Soup-tacular.

Quick Chicken and Noodles

3 or 4 chicken breasts
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
2 cans of milk

Cook in slow cooker all day, then take chicken out, shred, and return to sauce.
30 minutes before serving, add one package of frozen egg noodles.

Turkey Chili

No one will ever guess this chili is made with ground turkey. And guess what? It's not only lower in fat - it's CHEAP! So give it a try.

4 lbs. ground turkey
1 onion, chopped (I use my Cuisinart - no one likes "pieces" of onion at my house)
2 bell peppers (again, Cuisinart)
4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large cans of tomato puree
3 cans of chili beans (not drained)
1 can of corn (drained), or a couple of handfuls of frozen corn

1 pkg William's chili seasoning
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder
3 T parsley
2 T butter
2 t salt
3 T honey

Brown turkey in large stock pot while chopping the onion, pepper and mincing the garlic. Add vegetables to browned turkey. Mix in tomato puree, beans and corn. Add seasonings.
Simmer for an hour (or more) on low.

At our "house of many children" I serve this with Fritos, grated cheese, and sour cream on top.

Enjoy the warmth!

Here's a bonus recipe, for those who have asked. It's one of our favorites.

Creamy Chicken and Rice

4 C cooked rice
1/2 C butter, divided
1/4 C flour
2 C milk
2 t chicken bouillon granules
1/2-1t seasoned salt
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t pepper
4-5 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
12 oz. Velveeta
2 C sour cream
1/4 C cracker crumbs

Spread rice in a 9x13 pan. Melt 1/4 C butter, stir in flour. Add milk, bouillon, seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper. Bring to a boil, cook and stir 2 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat and add chicken, cheese and sour cream. Stir until melted. Pour over rice. Melt remaining butter, toss with cracker crumbs and sprinkle over casserole.
Bake uncovered at 425 for 10-15 minutes (I usually bake for longer - maybe 30-45) until heated through.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thankful Thursday

It's already Thursday, again!
In spite of the fact that some moments drag - like last night when the baby wouldn't go to sleep - time seems to fly around here.
And don't forget to leave me a comment and tell me what YOU are thankful for this Thursday!

1. A Warm Home
2. Cabinets full of food
3. Plenty of clothes to wear (never mind the washing)
4. Gas in the Van
5. Short hair (does 5 minutes to get ready mean anything to you?)
6. Colored Pencils (my kids' very favorite thing)
7. Christmas Music
8. Diet Dr. Pepper
9. My Vacuum (yes, I don't get it out as often as I used to, but I love it, still)
10. Three full bathrooms (last night was bath night - still not sure how we did that with one bathroom)
11. Hot Water (usually we can get everyone clean before we run out - on a good night!)
12. Trees (a listing for our house would say "Wooded Acreage") - Love that.
13. A baby pulling up on my chair, as I write
14. Big 12 Championships
15. That tomorrow is Friday!

And most of all, I'm grateful for the hope we have in Christ. Because without it, I wouldn't be able to get up and do it all again every day. Because the truth is, sometimes the work of life gets to me.

But I can keep going when I remember that motherhood is a privilege and a blessing. That I have the opportunity to teach my children the character of Christ. Through serving, responding in love, and giving of myself. I can only do that because God gives me the strength.

I'm over thinking I can do this by myself.

But I still find myself trying, sometimes.

"Lord, give me the grace today to show You to my children."

And just to help you out with a little advice - because that's just how generous I am, People - a bottle of formula left upside down on the couch WILL drip it's entire contents down in between the cushions and cover the underside of the cushions, the frame of the couch and all of the cracks in between with stinky formula.

And a little bonus advice - generous, that's me - while you are cleaning the couch, make sure that your child doesn't move her (or his, you know, either way) cereal bowl full of sugary milk to the living room floor to watch (because it's the excitement of the day, No, week! when we clean out the couch, let me tell you). Because (and here's more advice - it's just oooozing out of me today!) when you get the baby out of his (or hers, you know, doesn't matter) highchair the very first thing he will go for is that bowl of milk.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

WFMW - Mexican Casserole

It's Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer!
Today is "What Do I Fix?" Edition, so here goes:
One of our favorites - for those "What Do I Fix?" evenings - is Mexican Casserole. Here's how I do it, but the possibilities are endless.

Layer in a 9x13 baking dish:

2 cups of cooked rice (usually left over from another meal)
1 lb. cooked ground beef or chicken
1 can of chili beans (or black beans or any beans)
1 cup of frozen corn
1 can of enchilada sauce (it's good without it, too)
1 cup of shredded cheese (I use Colby/Jack)

~As you can see, this has too many substitutions to mention. But I most often have these ingredients on hand.

Bake until it's heated through and serve with warm tortillas and salsa. Sometimes when I only have a few minutes, I mix all but the cheese in a large skillet until heated through, top with cheese and serve it from the pan.

My troop loves it - and it's cheap, quick and simple.


And be sure to check back at WFMW for more ideas!

The Evolution of "Clean"

I'm working on our love story, Folks. But it's not ready, yet. It's hard to write in any kind of continuity when I only have five minutes at a time! I don't know how Pioneer Woman does it!

Have you ever thought about how your standards of housekeeping change as you have children? I washed our sheets (just ours - one bed out of 9) yesterday and couldn't remember the last time I did it. Was it two weeks ago? Or two months? Yuck.
There has been a gradual change in my definition of "clean" over the last 12 years as our family has grown from 2 to 10. There was a big decline when #4 came along, for sure. And maybe another decline when I was expecting #8 and felt horrible.
I grew up in a home where cleanliness was really next to Godliness. Really. And it was clean, my friends. My mother trained me well. And for awhile I managed to keep up. Then life happened.
Overall, my conclusion is, we live like pigs.
No more vacuuming each and ever day.
No more washing all sheets once a week.
No more mopping all of the hard floors twice each week.
Washing windows? Only if there are fingerprints where I'm trying to look out.
And baseboards? When DID I have the time have to clean them so often?
The bathrooms, well, that's necessary. At least when they reach "disgusting".
I don't iron anymore.
And the oven only gets cleaned when someone leaves Legos in it and I preheat it for dinner and it catches on fire.
I can't remember the last time I dusted. O, yeah, when the Coach's family came over two weeks ago. But before that. . . eewwww.
Scrubbing tile grout - well, isn't that what bathroom cleaner is for?
My cleaning toothbrush and I are distant friends rather than close companions.
And I'm sure the light fixtures are full of bugs. Not that I've looked.

And yet, days go by. The children are happy. And I'm learning.
Learning that it doesn't really matter.
That "clean" is relative.
That compared to the rest of the world, we live in amazingly sanitary environments.
Except for my boy's bathroom.
But that's another story.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'm Buried!

Truth is, I'd rather be writing.
I'd rather be telling you my love story.
I'd rather be doing anything else.
But I'm not.
I'm folding laundry.
Lot's of it.

Yes, it's true. We have so much clean laundry to fold that it's now the fun thing to play with.
Maybe I can get through it this weekend and get back to writing on Monday!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Book Review

"Sometimes You Are What You Wear"
~ An Argument for Tzniut - Modesty
by Eliyahu Safran

I just finished this book yesterday, and I really enjoyed it!
One of the most interesting things is that it comes from a Jewish perspective, one that I'm not terribly familiar with. Not being Jewish, and all.
However, the passages from the Old Testament that he quotes throughout the book WERE familiar. And I loved the whole attitude that he conveys about modesty.

"Clothes are like costumes. You become the kind of person who would wear the "costume" you are wearing."


Not sure what that says about my Nike yoga pants and t-shirt that I wear each and every day.

"The glory of the daughter of the king lies on the inside. It is not put on display for the entire world to gawk at. It is hidden and protected."

He says that when we dress immodestly (to draw attention to ourselves or our sexuality) that we are saying to others, "This is all I am."
However, when we dress modestly, we are saying, "There is so much more to me than my physical appearance."

Isn't that awesome?

He addresses many different perspectives on modesty. But I like the thought that the greater the treasure, the higher the wall. And when we dress in a way to protect our physical selves, we are conveying that our souls hold great treasure. Wow.

"Dressing modestly removes you from the vicious cycle of fashion and self-loathing that seems to dominate our culture."
". . .by observing tzniut [modesty] you are making a very clear statement that you are more than just a physical presence. You are a complete person, inside and outside, physical and spiritual."

Although this book had some concepts that I don't agree with (like that man and the world are inherently good), I liked the whole idea of modesty being a spiritual issue. And I like the depth that it brings to realize that what we wear does show who we are, in a sense.

Just hope I don't have to get rid of those Nike pants. Gotta love 'em.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

O How the Years Go By/Thankful Thursday

Today is Thursday, and therefore this should be a list of what I'm thankful for.
But this week we also have two birthdays. One is my #1 son's 12th. And I'm having trouble processing that.
I AM thankful for my precious kids.
Looking back, it seems to have gone so quickly. So many babies, so many sleepless nights, so many diapers and laundry and peanut butter sandwiches.
I don't remember a lot about the first half of our eldest son's life. He was only four when our fourth was born. His Kindergarten year I homeschooled him and had our fifth baby (the birthday girl in this picture). His first grade year his third sister came (our 6th). A lot of haze in my brain from those days.
But I know what he's like today. His growing strength, his character, his hard work and responsibility. His dependability. His desire to do what is right.
He does ALL of the mowing on our 1 acre lot.
All of it.
Every week.
Since he was 7.
I'm so proud of him. Not just because he's our oldest, our firstborn son and bears his daddy's middle name.
I'm proud of him because of the young man that he's growing in to.
And I do mean growing.
Did I mention how much he eats?

This picture is also of our daughter (#5) - she turned 6 this week. SIX. As in, "I am completely grown up and independent now". She's sweet and fun and spunky and bright and TINY.

So here are the birthday kids.
The (almost as tall as his mom) eldest, the 12 year old, the "Can I have an IPod or a rifle for my birthday?" boy.
And the tiny little six year old that bounds out the door to Kindergarten every morning girl.

I'm telling you - it goes so quickly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The BIG play

I know, you've been holding your breath!
Here are some long awaited photos of the wonderful Oklahoma Centennial Play, titled "There's No Place Like Homa" that my five children participated in the week of Thanksgiving.
This first picture is Daughter (#2) and her class singing.

The second picture is of Daughter (#5) waiting to go up on stage.
She came home after one of the rehersals and told me, "Mommy, our part is when George Washington comes out and says, 'HAIRY, HAIRY'." I had to explain that he wasn't talking about the boys in the white wigs, he was saying, "Hear Ye, Hear Ye." Have to clarify a few things when you are 5 going on 6.

The third is Son (#1) and his class singing.

Now you can all get up from your computers and get on with life. I know you've been sitting there for about a week. Sorry to make you wait so long.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Are You Well?

OK, Friends.
Just read this post and decided I have nothing to contribute today that could compare.
I'm so glad God is Sufficient.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cousins, cousins and more cousins

The weekend isn't over, but we've survived so far!

The Coach's brother from Colorado, along with his family, were here for the week. That made 13 kids here most of the time (although they stayed with Coach's M & D)! Along with S & B and their three who come and go. And so many other family and friends!

We spent Thanksgiving with the Coach's Mom's family - so much fun! I have no idea HOW may were there, but it was a crowd. Friday night we had most of the Coach's family here for pizza. At our house. 48 (I think) people. It was fun! And loud! The kids all play like crazy - they have so much fun! And we all slept really well last night!

I am completely overwhelmed with the goodness of God. His amazing, unearned grace. His unconditional love for and undeserving people. The blessing of a family of which the majority are following God and serving Him. Wow.

We went to meet with our pastor this morning, in preperation for the baby dedication service at our church in the morning. At eight months, Baby Boy should be somewhat cooperative! I was convicted by Pastor M's words. Committing ourselves to raise this baby to know and serve God. To be faithful Christian parents. And our church to commit to that as well, realizing the seriousness of leading a little one astray. How Jesus loved the children. What a blessing they are!

Of course, more in the front of my mind today is getting eight children ready in the morning, making sure the baby is fed and napped and happy for the service. And what WILL I wear? Truth is, even though I know that all of those things are not important in the eternal perspective that I always hope to have, they still have to taken care of. There is work to do!

So for now I'm back to my half Thanskgiving/half Christmas decorations everywhere house. A husband who is gone watching football, three heads of hair to cut, and groceries to put away. What AM I doing posting?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Biggest Thankful Thursday of ALL!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Before we head out with our kids to the Coach's BIG family Thanksgiving, I wanted to be sure I didn't miss the chance to post on Thankful Thursday. So here goes:

1. Our Home
God's provision of this house was truly a miracle - one that I think of EVERY day. It's so beautiful here and is such a perfect place for us.
2. Our Church
Leaving our church home of 18 years was hard, to say the least. But over the last 1 1/2 years I've really grown to love our new church. It's been so good for us to go to a "community" church that is near our home.
3. Our Nation
In spite of the current state of things, the freedom that we enjoy each day is because our nation was founded on the principles of God's Word. We have liberty (the freedom to do RIGHT) because of those who have gone before, many of whom gave their lives for that liberty.
4. Our (LARGE) Family
It truly it is wonderful to have parents and grandparents so close by. And aunts and uncles and cousins, galore! FUN!
5. Our School
It never fails - we go to a school program, I cry. Every time! I am overwhelmed at the tremendous blessing of being able to send our children to a school where the Bible is taught as God's inspired Word, the teachers love God and our children, the curriculum is from a Christian world view. They learn scripture, character, all in the setting of a very rigorous academic environment.
6. The Coach's job
He is, I know, a blessing to all of his colleagues, and they are to him. I'm not sure if I could be away from my 5 school kids all day without knowing they are with the Coach! And it sure is nice to have him take them to school every day!
7. Amazing Friends
It's wonderful to have friends that stick closer than a brother. Who are there with you through good and bad. Who love you in spite of your many faults. And whom you can laugh with, cry with and eat Panera with. I love you, Girls!
Be sure and leave me a comment and tell me what you are thankful for. We'll just send a sweet savor of praise up to our Heavenly Father together today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The day of the BIG PLAY

Today is the day, folks. My five school age children have been preparing for weeks for this day. The all elementary school play titled, "There's No Place Like Homa" to celebrate our state's centennial. I've scrounged Wal-mart, Target, the Internet and more for the required "costumes".
And here we are.
Aside from Son #1 refusing to wear his suspenders (he's a pioneer school boy), the morning went well. And who cares about suspenders? Just hope I can return them.
Everyone was excited.
I'm not sure if they were excited about the play, or getting to come home at 12:30. I'm just excited because I didn't have to make six lunches! Yeah!
So, I will try to post some pictures, later. Or sometime this week.
Should be fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Life is a lot of work

So much work, in fact, that I haven't had the time to write at all in about three days!
It's a dire situation, for sure.
This picture is one thing we've accomplished this weekend. Fun!
The Coach (isn't he SO handsome?) and I looked at this photo tonight (I've spoiled it for our card, I suppose, by showing ALL of my readers!) and we both said, "Can you believe all those kids?" Hee hee.
And tomorrow is the BIG play at school!
Of course, in the meantime there is still laundry and meals and laundry and cleaning and naptime and homework and laundry and bedtime and dishes and groceries and. . .
I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. What should I cook? Will the baby take a nap while we are there?
Will we have time to get the tree up? What about Christmas lights - a cold front is expected.
And do I look fat in this picture?
As you can see, lots of really useful thinking going on in my head.
But underneath that all, there is Peace.
In spite of the work. In spite of the busyness. In spite of the scatterbrainedness! In spite of the ringworm (another story for another day!).
Strange to think of that. Maybe not so much at 11:15 at night when it's perfectly quiet in my house. But from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and often in the night, there is noise in this house. Chaos. Lots of people. Often extra people besides our 10. Often crying. OK. Lots of crying. Fussing, fighting, laughing, yelling (hate that, but sometimes it's even me), talking, working, reading, writing, washing, laughing, yelling. . .
Where does that come from? That underlying sense that all is well and God is in control?
One of my dear, sweet, friends (whom I have known since we were 13) tells of her mom, who died of heart failure 6 1/2 years ago, saying, "God is in control. And I'm glad."
I think of that a lot.
I'm not in control. God is.
I don't want to be (well, at least I shouldn't). I don't have the wisdom, the eternal perspective, the right heart motivation, to know what is best for anyone.
Am I glad about that?
It's not always easy, mind you.
But I'm grateful for the peace. I can rest in HIS control. I would fail, for sure, on my own. But I can trust Him. He is, after all, my Savior, my ROCK, my Deliver, my Comforter, my GOD.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Blessed Day

You know, some days start out really bad and they only get worse.
And others don't turn out so bad after all.
The Coach and I are going out tonight with friends. Our sweet sitter, Allison, is coming.
No matter how tired I am, I'm going to put on make up and something presentable and leave this house.
I would use an exclamation point, but I'm too tired.
Truth is, today was a blessed day.
Our sweet sitter, Michelle, came and played this morning.
The baby slept until 1:30 in the afternoon (from his morning nap).
Grandmother picked up the kids for me.
Now we have cousins over to play.
And shortly I will be enjoying a meal I didn't have to cook, with good friends that always make me laugh, and the Coach. Have I mentioned before how handsome he is? :-)
The kitchen is clean, the laundry is all folded and put away (I should take a picture) and I'm on my way to get pizzas before the Coach gets here.
Life is good.
And I won't have to cut up any one's food or clean up a spilled drink or do the dishes, or put the kids to bed tonight.
OK. Things are really good!

When I Get to Heaven

Do you ever think about what you will want to ask God when you are finally with him for eternity? Or wonder if we will have to ask? Or will we just know the answers when we see the face of Christ?
I think about it a lot. The older I get (yes, I know) and the more struggles we experience, the more I long for heaven. And sure, I think about the important stuff like: What WAS Noah's wife's name? And did Abraham and Sarah argue about where they were going? And what WERE those children of Israel thinking when they made the golden calf?
But today I have a question that's different.
Lord, why, when we have the greatest opportunity to impact our children for Christ, do we have the least to give them?
Let's face it, I'm tired. Not just "Yeah, a nap would be nice" tired, but bloodshot eyes and head ache kind of tired.
The baby cried most of the night.
I'm sure he's fine. Stuffy nose makes it hard to suck his pacifier and I'm sure he was uncomfortable. I have to think I was MORE uncomfortable trying to keep him quiet so he didn't wake everyone else.
I'm at the end of my energy and it's only 8:00 in the morning. Full day ahead. Lots to do. And I don't have anything to give.
Yet, I know that right now is when my children need me most. They are so young and tender and they long for lots of hugs and words of praise and book reading and cuddling and having me color and play games with them.
So, Lord, I don't understand, but I trust You. I know you will only give me what your grace can enable me to do. I accept it, and I rest in you.
Hmmmm. Wonder if I could put a movie on and go back to bed?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's HERE! Thankful Thursday!

It's so easy to think of things I'm grateful for. Some big, some small. In no particular order of importance!
Leave YOUR list in the comments - I know all of us are so very blessed.
And today I am thinking about how sometimes the "hard" things are what we should be most grateful for. They keep us on our knees, dependent on our Savior. That's a blessing really. Although I'm not going to list any of them today!

1. Leaves, Leaves, and MORE Leaves

2.The feeling of a baby nuzzling your neck when you get him up from a nap.

3.The END of football season (at our school, that is!)

4. Special K Chocolate Cereal
(what a way to start the day!)

5. Pansies. My favoritist flower ever.

6. My washer and dryer. We spend SO much time together!

7. Cousins

8. My treadmill. We're getting to be fast friends.

9. Weight Watchers (20 pounds off and 15 to go!)

10. God's Grace (the only way I'll lose that 15 more!)

11. My amazing, strong, handsome, kind, hard-woring, helpful, loving, done-with-football-season husband!

12. Swivel sweepers

13. My Bible

14. Naps (I'm GOING to get one today!)

15. That tomorrow is Friday!

So go out and be thankful! It's an attitude, folks. And it makes all the difference.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Seven Shining Smiles

We all went to the dentist today, oh yes we did!
I fell asleep in the waiting room holding my sleeping baby. Oh yes I did!
No cavities in the lot. No cavities at all.
Of course the Sonic drinks on the way back to school will fix that!
Time for a nap.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

One of the drawbacks to having a husband who is a football coach is that you are single every Friday night from August to Thanksgiving. I've adjusted to the fact pretty well over the last 13 years. Sometimes we go to the games (if they are close by) and if not, we have a "fun" night. $5 pizzas and a free kids movie from our local video store.

As much as I love watching the Coach in action, I really enjoy the nights at home a lot. It's fun time with the kids, no pressure, no cooking, no to do list. And usually I can get them to bed at a regular time, unlike when we go to the games and get home at 10:00.

So Friday night was going to be a stay home night. I'd even invited our sweet Allison to join us for the evening. Thought it would be a nice way to end the week.

Well, as mothers are known to do, my mother called.

They had company in from out of town, and would we come to the family farm (about 20 minutes out of town) and join the four of them for dinner?

Well, as daughters (at least this one) are known to do, I felt compelled to go.

Things started out crazy. I got the children dressed in presentable "play" clothes and socks and shoes and got the baby's food and bottle and such, and then gathered some food that she asked me to bring, and went to get my Sweet Sitter and then to my parent's house in town for some more food, then to the store for Fritos (my kids won't eat chili without them) and by the time we got there it was almost dark.

Can you see it? Me and 7 of my kids (minus our boy, #1), my parents, my Sweet Sitter, and the guests from Boston, all sitting around eating chili. Now, my kids can behave when the need arises. And they did. Eating, visiting (quietly, for the most part). No flailing arms or legs or back sides, no food flying or drinks spilling. Almost brought tears to my eyes.

As soon as daughter (#7 ) finished her dinner, she moved to my lap (as she often does) and I was still trying to maintain some decorum in front of these guests with a wiggly three year old on my lap.

Then it happened.

She let the biggest toot you've ever heard (or so it seemed) escape from her little body.

Right there.

On my lap.

In front of the company.

Truly, folks, I wanted to crawl under the table.

I managed to compose myself, and keep the other children from losing it completely. Whew.

I suppose this is just a consequence of having precious, Godly parents who have precious, Godly friends come visit.

And me feeling compelled to answer when my mother calls!

Friday, November 9, 2007

My House after the Clean Up Fairy

By now we've established, folks, that I, myself, am the Clean Up Fairy at this house.
Or at least my children think so.

Just to prove the point, here are some before and after pictures.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who goes through the house in the morning and makes things presentable!

To give the kids credit, they were really rushed this morning, since the Coach had to leave early. Normally I would have had time to send them back into their room (the boys, anyway) several times. That's what it takes!

And to give the little girls credit, they always clean up their room WITH me. So that doesn't really count. However we all know it's less work to do it yourself! HA!

Boys Room Before the Clean Up Fairy

Boys Room after the Clean Up Fairy

Boys Bathroom Before the Clean Up Fairy

Boys Bathroom After the Clean Up Fairy

Girls Room Before the Clean Up Fairy

Girls Room After the Clean Up Fairy

It always scares me for a moment when I enter the boy's room in the morning. It looks very much like the rapture happened and left me with the mess!

Did you recognize the decorating theme we have going on? It's called BUNK BEDS.

Thanks to my friend, Lori, at Crazy Daisy, for suggesting I add some pictures to my blog! Little did she know they would be so inspiring!

And just to end on a positive note in a happy place (all this mess is giving me a head ache!), here is my sweet daughter's room when SHE left this morning. Thank you, Jesus, for 10 year old girls!

The Clean Up Fairy

Do you ever fantasize about having a perfectly clean house?

Everything put in it's place. No dust on the piano. Nice vacuuming stripes on the carpet in every room. Sparkling bathrooms. Clean sheets on all of the beds. A clean and orderly kitchen. Fresh smelling fridge full of everything you need for dinner. Clothes all washed, ironed, mended and hanging neatly in the closets. Windows without hand prints (or nose prints), mirrors without splashes.

Some women, I hear, love clothes, shopping, scrap booking, going out with friends, spa treatments, vacations in the Caribbean, etc.

Me? I just dream about a clean house!

Sometimes I think the answer would be to have help with the cleaning. Surely, I reason, if someone else got everything clean twice each month, I could keep up with the maintenance in between. And there have been times that I've done that.

But I'm over wanting a housekeeper. I can dust when it really irritates me.

Or have one of the kids do it.

What I want is a Clean Up Fairy!

I'd never see her. When I leave the room, she would fly in. Straighten the beds, put the clothes away, organize the toys and books. When I walked back into the room, it would be neat and clean.

When dinner was over, I could just get up from the table and go read a book. When I came back in a few minutes later, the table would be clean, the dishes washed, the food put away.

After I take a shower, I could just leave the towel on the floor. After all, she'd be in shortly to hang it for me!

And make the bed? Why? She'd do it.

And I'd never have to pay her, thank her, or do anything myself any more!

Talk about fantasy. I guess it's OK to dream.

And wonder what it would be like. . .

Maybe I'll just ask my kids!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Make your man smile!

When you analyze it carefully, it's rather simple to make our men happy. Yeah, maybe they'd like us to be thinner, work out more, or even start a money making venture out of the home. But they know by now that's those things are somewhat unlikely.
I propose an easier solution.
Cook meat.
Really. They love it. And it's easy. And it doesn't require any time on the treadmill or lost sleep.
So give it a try.
Here's our favorite.

Famous Pot Roast

Any type of roast - I usually get whatever is a good deal. Actually two or three of them.
1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Honestly, the generic kind works just as well.
2 cans of Campbell's Golden Mushroom condensed soup
Baby carrots
Peeled and chunked potatoes
(Onions and celery are good, too, but the Coach isn't a big fan)

First thing in the morning, or after you get the kids off to school and breakfast cleared, wash the roast and trim any excess fat. I cut mine into big pieces so it fits nicely in the crock pot.
Place the meat in your crockpot and sprinkle with the soup mix.
Pour soup over the top and turn onto high.

Sometime around lunch, add the vegetables and turn down to low.

If you really feel like earning some points, the afternoon is a great time to bake some whole wheat bread.

Then all you have to do is put the roast and veggies on a platter, slice the bread, and steam some green beans in the microwave.

He'll love you.

I promise.

If not, I'll come eat it for him.

Waging War

"You knew this would happen."

The Coach had pity on his face.

He saw my bleary, bloodshot eyes and could tell by the way I moved about the kitchen that I was exhausted and yes, at a mere 6:30 a.m., I'd already had it.

I stopped for a moment. Wondering where this was going.

I'd been up half the night with kids. Various kids. Lost track of how many different kids. I know the baby cried several times. At one point I fed him half a bottle. I know someone was sleeping on the floor because I almost stepped on her every time I went to check on someone else. After that it's all a blur.

"What do you mean?"

I felt sure he had a point, but honestly, there were pb & j's to make.

"We should never doubt that we are in spiritual warfare. It's a fight."

A fight.

So maybe the fact that we set out this week to rise early, exercise our bodies, spend time with the Lord, drink more water (and don't get me started on my Diet Dr. Pepper that I haven't seen in days!), and go to bed earlier - has something to do with this?

"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."


Somehow I don't think I've had enough sleep to battle with all of that.

Fortunately the passage continues:
"THIS is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand."

Good thing it's not up to me.

I wouldn't make it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Brownies called. . .and I answered.

I'm blaming the Brady Bunch.

You know.

They had six kids, they all got along and worked things out.

Great show.

But they had Alice.

My life would be great, too, if I had an Alice.

Today was half day of school. Nice to have the kids home. I look forward to it. Usually they aren't home at 3:00 when Brady Bunch is on. Except for Wednesday. And they really get excited about the treat of watching TV. Big deal around here. Big deal.

Today they didn't get to watch it. None of them. It was terribly quiet at 3:00.

You see, about 2:50 they started fighting over the couch. Yes. I know, it makes no sense. But apparently my three older boys all thought they should get to stretch out on it. Two of them figured out how to share, but when the third plopped down, it got ugly.

It went downhill from there.

It wouldn't have been right to let them watch after that knock down drag out. So I didn't. I spent the rest of the day regretting my decision.

But in the spirit of June Cleaver - who didn't need television to control her kids - I made brownies.

We'd all be happy, I thought.

Me included.

"For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God's law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin." Romans 7:19-25

So therefore with my flesh, I am a slave to the brownies.

OH for the glory of heaven. When my body (flesh) will be redeemed so that with my spirit the struggle with the flesh is forever ended.

That's the hope we have in Christ.

And don't you think there will be brownies in heaven?

Without the guilt!

Coming Soon: Thankful Thursdays

For all you readers out there, an idea has been born! My friend Lori, at CrazyDaisy, and I have been encouraging each other to be thankful!

Well, without my creative friend, I might have made the horrendous mistake of starting "Thankful Wednesdays". Painful, isn't it? Instead, because we are in it together and Lori is the talented half, we will launch "Thankful Thursdays".

Not until next week, since I posted a list today.

But now, audience, you have something to look forward to!

And make your own list, too.

Because we all have so much to be thankful for.

Like friends.

Who keep us from sounding stupid. :-)

The Thankful Game

Sometimes life really wears me out. You know what I mean. The ENDLESS laundry. Did I mention it never ends? The kids that keep thinking it's time to eat. Didn't we just have lunch? And the dishes, toys, homework projects (did I mention a poster board with pictures and descriptions of games they played in ancient Egypt?), messes, dirty diapers, etc.
Thanks to my BFF, Lori, I'm learning to turn these "ugh" moments into "ahhhh" moments. How, you ask? How do you transform a disaster of a day into a shining success? With Thankfulness. It's that simple.
So in the spirit of starting my day right (as I've already given it to the Lord and walked 45 minutes on the treadmill, and eaten my Special K, and had two glasses of water, and taken my SuperMom pill. . .), here are 15 things I'm thankful for. And to make it more fun, let's just assume you already know the big things I appreciate and let's mention some of the things that make me smile.

1. A Baby that sleeps through the night! Thank you, Jesus!
2. Waking up with the Coach beside me. Ahhhhh.
3. The best school in the world (ask Coach) to send 5 of my kids off to this morning.
4. That my 5 oldest LOVE going to school every day.
5. Lunches at Panera (I'm going today to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday!).
6. Granddads who will pick up the kids from school and take THEM to lunch on their half day.
7. Wednesdays - half days at school - I love the time with my kids (and honestly, it's nice to have a day off from making lunches)!
8. FALL - can I say BEAUTIFUL? Every time I look out my window I am speechless.
9. A big crock pot of beans and family that stays for dinner (Thanks, Brooke, Seth, Baylor, Ford and Crew - we had fun!)
10. Hot Chocolate for snack time with 7 kids and a cold Fall afternoon.
11. Hot showers - I'm headed that way!
12. Kids who make their own beds (OK. Not all of them do, yet, but we're getting there!)
13. The pilgrims (A little deep, I know, but still)
14. Michelle, Corrie, and Allison (That's three things, but I could spend all day on how much I love these girls!)
15. The unconditional acceptance, friendship, encouragement, kindness, sympathy, fellowship and just plain FUN that I share with my Friend, Lori.

Of course we all know that these lists could go on and on. And they should. And maybe I'll just start doing "Thankfulness Wednesdays!" That would give me a chance every week to transform my day.

So go out and be thankful!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Football Season Ends

This is the last week of our school's football season. And somehow, I'm a happier, less-stressed me!
Every year (for the last 13) it seems to go more quickly. This year was no exception. It is, however, harder to survive the season when we have a baby! I'm grateful for the safety that God has given to our family through these months. Traveling to and from games, often late at night, and God's protection here at home without the Coach.
Although I'm thrilled to be almost done with the stinky clothes, late nights, and dinners without Dad, football season really is a fun time. I've learned to enjoy the games (a challenge with a baby and three little girls hanging on me), the cool air, and when I stay home, the descriptions that the Coach gives afterwards. Always fun!
This will be my last year as a spectator. Usually the most exciting part of the game for me is checking out my HOT coach on the sidelines. But next year I'll have a boy out there. Getting hit, making plays, and more likely making mistakes. It will be a whole new season in our family. One that will last a LONG time. I'm sure I'll have my scared to death, anxious moments. But I hope, too, that I will enjoy the step my boy is taking towards becoming a man. Ugh.
For now, it will be fun next week to have the Coach home earlier, less tired, and with us on Friday nights. Another good season.
That's what life seems to be about, for us, these days. Seasons. Some easier, some harder, most rather difficult. But they come and go. For that I'm grateful. Just reminds me that the Lord knows what we can handle, and gives us the grace for it all. Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall Has Arrived

There is a slight (very slight) chill in the air today. Nothing makes it more difficult to dress children then the beginning of FALL! For one thing, I haven't switched clothes out, yet, as it was in the 90's just days ago. The other reason being that it takes DAYS and all of the patience I have to get it done. Something about all of the boxes of clothes and piles for eight children of various sizes makes my stomach turn. I'll get it done, eventually. For now, there are always sweaters!
A, S and I ran out onto the deck to see how it felt outside - to which S exclaimed, "Oh my Word!", which sounded more like "wood". :-) It's really just barely cooler than yesterday, but we are eager to buy pumpkins and hay for the porch and plant some pansies.
Fall lasts about two weeks in Oklahoma. We enjoy every minute of it! I fell in love in the Fall - mid football games and banquets and school happenings for my coach. Our first holiday as a couple was Thanksgiving - that was overwhelming! It's taken me 13 years to learn (most 0f) the first cousin's names. It was hard to transition from formal meal in the dining room with our "smallish" (at the time) family - dressed up and seated, taking turns to go around and tell what we were thankful for. Thanksgiving now consists of a HUGE family gathering at a church gym with paper plates kids running around everywhere. Literally. In our family alone there are 50 grandchildren. I'm grateful to be a part of it!
I'm off to clean the kitchen and straighten the house up before the children get home from school. With visions of pots of chili and falling leaves dancing in my head!
Verse for the day:
"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2