Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Troops!

May you know the peace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as you celebrate His birth and His gift of salvation to all mankind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part 9 (for real this time)

Should have thought this through better.

I mean, as if it's not ALREADY Christmas season with eight kids and school activities and parties (did I sign up for two dozen sugar cookies or three?) times 6 and Christmas gifts to buy and wrap and forheavenssake you can't just let the house GO. Can you?

But here I am.

As promised.

And even though I was tempted to bail the whole "Part 9" thing and join up on Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes, I took one look around my sweet, blessed home and decided this is NOT the year for that.

And besides, she already has 524 links. Who wants to see one more Christmassey house when you've seen 524? As dear and wonderful as our house is, it's not really blog material, if you know what I mean. What with all of the kids and homemade decorations and all.

So here we go. . . .

The wedding plans began in a flurry. The morning after the Coach's surprise (to me) proposal, my mom and I headed out to the door to find "the" dress. You know the one? THE dress? Well, we didn't find it that day, but we DID find it the second day. Only to be told by the VERY proper, yet kind, dress shop lady that there was NO WAY they could have it in and altered in 7 short weeks. NO WAY. But she must have had pity when she saw my face because she promised to try - with the dress I tried on as a back up. It happened to be my size.

One of the tricky parts of planning a wedding is the DETAILS. Those pesky little things. Truthfully the Coach and I didn't know each other very well, so I continually fell back on one thing. Nothing mattered. Except marrying him.

This worked well for me. Only because I believed it with all my heart.

Wedding in a PRETTY, old, traditional church? I could live without it once the Coach said he thought we should get married in our own church where we met and had gone for years with room for everyone.

Reception downtown in the Petroleum Club on the top of the tallest building in our city? I could live without that, too, when the Coach's mom mentioned that she wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the reception without losing people in the transfer - especially people who maybe wouldn't want to go downtown, park, find their way, etc.

When it came to the wedding party (you have to keep in mind all of these major things had to be decided RIGHT AWAY ALREADY because we had so little time), we debated. He had 9 siblings. And five of them were married. I had two brothers. Both married. I didn't have any sisters, he had 7 brothers. It was complicated. And we only had eight weeks. So we decided to make it VERY simple. His youngest brother (still living at home) would be his best man. My best friend would be my maid of honor. His baby sister (then 10) would be a Jr. Bridesmaid. And that was it.

Dad (his) would marry us. The boys (my brothers and his) would be ushers. And because there were already quite a few nieces and nephews, we'd forgo the flower girl/ring bearer thing for the sake of time.

And thank heavens, it was CHRISTMASTIME! That made picking music and decorations so very much easier.

CHRISTMAS was already my favorite time of year. Favorite. So we picked Christmas carols and classical Christmas music and poinsettias and twinkling lights and big red and green bows and a black velvet Bridesmaid dress (and Jr.) and red roses.

The day came when we went to register at Dillards. Little did I know how much of the Coach's personality was showing. I didn't realize it at the time, of course. I had the foresight to go ahead of time and pick some options, so he would have less to wade through. It was a good thing. He lasted about 10 minutes. But he did tell me what he liked and we managed to get it all down. We were amazingly similar in our tastes - not having know each other long. Traditional. Simple. Practical.

One big mistake I made (he's forgiven me. . . I think) was adding Spode Christmas China to our registry, later, without asking him first. My mother had it, we used it growing up for the month of December. And I loved it. And we were getting married at Christmas! So I added it, really thinking it wasn't a big deal.

Except. Everyone saw it on our registry and thought OH how fun! And until our new set of dishes a year ago (thanks Mom!) we had more Christmas Spode than any other dish in our house! And I still love it. The Coach? Well, he didn't fully appreciate it until. . . well. . . I'm still working on it!

The showers began in full force with dates filling up faster than I could count. I took a trip with my family to Michigan just a few days after our engagement began and when I returned, we only had about 7 possible weeks left. I used the time away to order invitations and reserve the church, etc.

We filled the time quickly. We had kitchen showers, personal showers, brunches, Christmas ornament showers, nine in all! And lots of pretty, wonderful things to begin our lives with.

But a place to live? Not so simple.

We wanted to be close to the Coach's school, after all. He was coaching basketball TOO at that point (he coached football and basketball until our 5th was born), so being closer to school would mean a lot more time together.

We looked at apartments, rent houses, garage apartments, everything we could think of or heard about.

Finally we had a break through. A little rent house still being remodeled a few miles from school. It might be ready when we got back from our honeymoon. It wouldn't have a yard or any other "extras" at that point (it had been moved to the lot). It would have new paint and carpet, though. And it was the perfect location. We paid our first month's rent and hoped it would work out.

Although I know most would think it strange that the Coach and I were getting married (and quickly!) without knowing each other very well, it was truly wonderful. We didn't have a lot of time, honestly. He was working - teaching and coaching - more than full time. We both had very full lives. But the wonderful part about it was, that as our wedding drew nearer, every little thing we learned about one another was so precious. It was safe. We belonged to one another. And sharing our hopes and dreams and truly our hearts with each other was amazing.

And I knew all that I needed to know. I knew what mattered. He had let me see his heart - to follow hard after God. Determined to do the right thing. Realizing God's hand in bringing us together. Purposing to follow Him together.

And HOW I loved looking at him! (just being honest here)

With time to spare (ha!) we had everything set. The invitations sent, the ceremony planned, the dresses bought, the tuxes rented, the florist hired, the musicians asked, the reception planned, the honeymoon reservations made, the house rented. All set to go. Even my dress made in it in five weeks!

I couldn't believe it as I watched my "somedays" becoming "today"s before my eyes. And to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had brought us to this point and would carry us as we began life together.

And then, four days before the wedding, we found out the house wouldn't be ready to occupy until we got back from our honeymoon. No cleaning ahead of time, no moving stuff in so it would be ready for us. . .when we returned. . .on Christmas Eve.

Right about that time (four days and counting), the Coach called to tell me he had pneumonia. . .

Happy Anniversary, Coach!

(I love you so much more today than I did 14 years ago - and what an amazing adventure it's been!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

How the Coach Won My Heart - Part 9 - Coming Soon

Next Wednesday, the Coach and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage.
Well . . .we won't actually celebrate ON Wednesday. I mean, that's a week day. And a school day. And there's NO way we could get away ON that day. Even for a minute.

BUT. . .

We will celebrate.

In our own way. We aren't exactly the "trip to Cancun" type. Not even "resort in the mountains" type.

We're more like the "take-out and a movie without the kids" type.

After all, one of these days we'll be able to go and do whatever. When our house isn't full of little people.

But for now, a quiet moment, a movie we haven't had the time to see, a roaring fire - it all sounds divine. (and I'm open for movie suggestions, by the way)

And I'm already looking forward to it.

In the meantime, it seemed appropriate to wrap up the last couple of parts to "How the Coach Won My Heart."

Which is kind of a sad prospect.

However, the truth is, he continues to win my heart each and every day.

*Putting all of the little ones to bed for me? I melt.

*Bringing the kids home from school? I'm putty in his hands.

*Writing me a sweet e-mail to tell me I'm beautiful? I'll follow him to the ends of the earth.

So you see, the story isn't OVER for us. Each day it continues as we learn to live and love and grow together. Raising the eight children that God has blessed us with for His glory. Growing in our understanding, our patience, our determination to seek the Lord in all things.

And along the way, having a whole lot of fun.

So join me here in the next few days for the temporary "end" to our story.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I Cor. 2:9

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Memories

Before the holidays get out of hand here at the Troops, I wanted to tell you about something we do as a family each year.

In time for you to think about it and plan for it and include it in YOUR traditions.

It all started with the Coach's Mom and Dad. And their ten.

They would start a couple of weeks before Christmas, on nights when everyone could be home.

They would line up 13 candles (Mom, Dad, 10 kids and one tall white one in the center) on the piano.

Each evening would be one of the kids "turn" and the other kids would go around and tell what they appreciated about that sibling.

Then the sibling whose night it was would tell about when they were saved. Give their testimony. Some of the younger ones couldn't do this, of course.

After all of the kids were talked about and I guess Mom and Dad (although I don't remember hearing about that part), on the last night they would light the center, tall, white candle, and Papa would share the gospel.

I'm sure that's not exactly how it worked, I wasn't THERE, you know. But the kids have precious memories of that time. Mom even wrote down what the kids said about each other on index cards that she will bring out and read to us now and then. Priceless!

My family (parents and siblings and nieces and nephews) developed a similar tradition as we grew older. We sit together as families, with candles, and starting with the oldest (which I'm not - ha!) my brothers, sister-in-laws and their children from oldest to youngest tell two things. First, something they are grateful for that God did in the past year. Second, something they are praying for in the coming year.

Of course, most years ours have included the addition of a new baby or the anticipation of one! It is an encouragement to hear what God is doing in everyone's lives and what their desires are to see Him do. As each shares, they light their candle from the last person until the room is filled with candlelight. The children's words are particularly sweet and usually unexpected!

And Grandmother (my mom) writes it all down so we can read the years through, later.

Papa (the Coach's daddy) has revised the tradition a bit as the kids have left and now have families of their own. Now we gather on Christmas morning. He lights the candles all at once - reminding the 53 grandchildren of which candle belongs to whom (they are always trying to figure out which one is THEIR daddy's or mommy's). Then he asks a couple of the kids (his) to share their testimonies with the grandchildren. Then he shares the gospel and usually a story about one of the kids, the family, or something that has happened in the last year.

It's something we all look forward to for the whole year! I've only missed it once in 14 years (my first Christmas with the Coach was as a bride of one week!), when Daughter (#2) had a fever and the Coach took the other kids and left us to rest. Or maybe that happened twice.

Good grief - is someone ALWAYS sick around here?

You'd think we have a bunch of kids or something.

Just kidding.

Hope that you will add something like this to the special things you do over Christmas. Sharing with one another the Hope that is within you. Leaving a legacy for your children of recognizing and acknowledging God's moving in your lives and family.

I promise you will remember it long after the presents are forgotten.

(candle photo is from

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thankful Thursday - just go with it, OK?

This will be long. I apologize in advance.
I know it's not Thursday.

But I didn't figure that out until I'd been on the treadmill for about 2 miles at 5 something this morning.
You know how some weeks the days get all mixed up?
Tell me I'm not the only one that does this!
At least it was a day behind and not the other way around.
It's terrible to wake up and think "FRIDAY! YEAH!" and then realize that it's not.

I'm going to give credit to our nasty stomach virus that keeps on giving.

But is hopefully all given out.


So here's yesterday's list - which I didn't do yesterday because I was hand addressing the Christmas cards.

And there is only so much "disposable" time in a day. I spent all of that and some laundry, dishes and house time, as well.

1. The Christmas cards are mailed! Woo hoo!

2. No one has thrown up for almost 48 hours! Woo hoo!

3. I'm sitting in a unusually quiet house with a Diet D.P. from Sonic and I'm on the computer. IS there anything so lovely?

4. Daughter (#2) stayed home to rest today (she was the most recent victim of aforementioned stomach virus - round 2) and was delightful company. Almost makes me want to homeschool. But then she'd have to DO school and I'm fairly certain that wouldn't be fun for long.

5. The Coach brought the kids home from school three days this week. THREE! That means THREE days I stayed home all day. Does it get any better?

6. Football season is over. It IS sad that they lost last Saturday (while I was battling the forces of the evil virus having taken over 6 of the kids. By myself.) But what a year!

7. The Coach has been home more this week than the last four months combined! I'm starting to remember why I married him in the first place. He's wonderful!

8. A "Girl's Night" on Tuesday celebrating the arrival of our newest niece (we have 57 nieces and nephews - all VERY loved!).

9. Heat. And that we live in the central part of the US. Because I'm a big weenie when it comes to the cold. Big time. In fact I'm cold right now. And I can't imagine how people further North survive Winter without freezing to death. They must have warmer clothes than I do.

10. Flannel Sheets. Crazy Daisy brought me some. And they are RED! Can you believe it? I wasn't sure about the whole thing - being a high thread count cotton girl for SO long. But lately I can't seem to get or stay warm (the Coach says it has nothing to do with our thermostat being on 60) and the sheets are AMAZING. LOVE THEM. What a sweet friend.

11. And speaking of. I actually got to SEE and HUG Crazy Daisy's neck on Friday. How awesome is that? And for future reference, anyone who brings you flannel sheets deserves a big hug!

12. A free Saturday. Tomorrow. Divine. Can't remember the last one we had. Was it July?

13. The tree is up. Just up. But I'm grateful. It's a start!

And last but not least, I know I've been somewhat delinquent in the kiddo's birthday department, but I'm going to catch up. Soon.

We celebrated Daughter (#7) turning four in October. Four. Another year or so and she can take over my job. I'm not even kidding.

And then ON Thanksgiving, my sweet little Peanut, Daughter (#5), turned 7. SEVEN. Never mind that she's the size of her 4 year old sister. She's very grown up - I can't wait to tell you about her.

And last but not least, my eldest, my firstborn son, turned THIRTEEN on Saturday. He had the most interesting birthday ever in the history of our family. His dad gone all day at the week 3 class A football playoffs and six younger siblings puking all over the place. What a trooper. Seriously. He has the best attitude ever. And he's grateful, too, which makes life a lot more fun. And did I mention he's taller and WAY stronger than I am? Love it.

We had a proper celebration on Wednesday. I'll tell you about it, later.

Remember I said I had a lot to be grateful for? Well, this only touches the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it's made you think about all that God has done for you this week.

Most importantly, whether your life is good, difficult or impossible, He's given you the Hope of Salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thank Him for that today.

And leave me a comment and tell me what YOU are thankful for! Yesterday, today, just PICK ONE and tell me something.

Happy Thursday. OH - I mean FRIDAY! IT'S FRIDAY! YEAH!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nothing is ever simple. . .

Don't you wonder why?

I mean, theoretically speaking, I should be able to make a few recent address changes, sync my PDA with my computer, run a mail merge and have Christmas card envelopes printed in nothing flat.

But for some reason, I've already spent about 3 hours on it.

And that was before I realized that the list on my computer that I was making changes to was pre-2007 Christmas cards. What? And that none of my changes saved. Hmmmm?

I could have hand addressed them all by now. Good grief.

And the tree is up, although not decorated.

It does have lights.
(it's been six days since we started)

Then I tried to take some video of Little Man's incoherent babbling. But alas, when I turned the camera on he was silent. And he's never silent.

But life is good.

Even if it's not simple.

And it's a good thing that tomorrow is Thursday because OH BOY do I have a lot to be thankful for!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guess what, GUESS WHAT?

We have a winner!

Actually, we have TWO winners!

My sweet friend over at Magnificent Manager let me pick TWO!

Don't you LOVE IT?

And since some of you are my in-real-life friends, I used to pick the winners so everything would be fair. (although I can hear myself saying - about 200 times a day - "Guys, LIFE IS NOT FAIR. But this drawing is!)

Drumroll please. . .

Winner #1:

JO! From over at Jo's Kitchen Table. You go girl!

Winner #2:

micaela6955 with the msn e-mail. Woo hoo!

Congratulations to you both!

Just send me an e-mail at sometime today and I will send you your certificate for $20 of free product!

How fun is that?

For those of you who didn't win, be sure and check out MM's great sale going on RIGHT NOW for holiday shopping.

(And I completely apologize for not getting this done last night. Let's just say the wet carpets, Jr. High basketball game, kids everywhere and lingering effects of the stomach virus did me in - I went to bed early!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sometimes I wonder. . .

If I can clean up vomit one more time. . .

If I'll ever get all of the sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and jammies washed. . .

If all of the kids will be back at school any time soon. . .

If I can possibly have things ready for the carpet cleaners today. . .

If I will actually get sick, too. . .

If I have any sympathy left for sick kids. . .

If our house will ever smell nice, again. . .
(it was doubtful BEFORE the stomach virus)

What in the world I should make for dinner. . .

If there is enough Lysol and bleach in the world. . .

If my hands will ever feel soft, again. . .

If I have enough big plastic bowls. . .

If I will actually get a shower today. . .

How long Little Man will have the runs. . .

Why I ever thought "normal" was hard. . .

~But one thing I DON'T wonder about:

God is the blessed controller of all things.

And I trust Him.

(In spite of the smell.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guess what, GUESS WHAT?

I have something SO exciting for you today!

Have you ever wished you could get more organized? Get the kids to do their chores without griping? Plan meals for a whole week?

Well, today is YOUR day!

My sweet friend over at Magnificent Manager is having SALE!

Did you hear me?


And right before Christmas, too.
Can you believe it?

You could get your sister-in-law a chore chart, your mother-in-law a photo frame, your cousin a meal planner, just THINK of the possibilities.

But it gets better, my friends!

Because I have connections!

My sweet friend is so kind as to let me do a

Here's the prize - are you ready?

A $20 Credit towards your purchase!

How cool is that?

That makes it basically FREE to BUY SOMETHING.


So here's what you do:

Go to her site: and look things over.
Decide what your favorite thing is.

Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me all about it and what you would use it for or who you would give it to.

Because I am SO not picking out gifts for MY family this year - you're going to do it for me!

On December 1st, I'll use our friendly random number generator to pick one of you for $20 of free product.

Woo hoo!

If there is something you want to order, go ahead and do it SOON - because quantities on her sale products are limited - if you win, she'll give you the credit after the drawing.

Please pass a link to this post on to your friends so they can join in.

And hurry!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good Choices

This morning I headed to Sam's with my two youngest for some pre-Thanksgiving shopping. Wanted to beat the crowd.

Lately we've been going to Sam's a lot. Cheaper milk. Which is huge when you use five or six gallons per week.

The kids love Sam's. Big boxes of Nilla Wafers and Cheez-its. Not to mention corn dogs and chicken nuggets. It doesn't get any better! And every now and then we actually BUY them.

So there we are strolling through, trying not to forget anything on my somewhat vague list that I scribbled on the back of a post-it containing phone messages. I'm some kind of organized these days, let me tell you.

As we usually do, I asked Daughter (#7) if she wanted to call Grandmother and see if they needed anything. I'm there anyway. When there are only two of you (she and my dad) it's not really worth the extra trip. Unless they are having US over for dinner, of course.

While fighting off Little Dude (they were both sitting in the front of the cart), who loves phones, she managed to ask Grandmother what she needed and relayed to me, "Strawberries, blueberries and butter," in between yelling, "NO, NO!" to her brother.

We picked up an extra of each and after checking out, headed by my parents house to drop them off.

As we turned on to their street (Daughter talking non-stop all the way, of course), I heard her say, "Mom, Grandmother makes good choices."

Hmmmm. "Good choices about what, Punkin?" I replied - my mind elsewhere, but intrigued.

"Strawberries, blueberries and butter. You can put butter on a tortilla or bread or make cookies with it. And strawberries and blueberries are good."

"You're right." I said. "She does make good choices."

And one of these days, when Daughter is a little bit older, she'll realize that she was right about her Grandmother.

I pray I'll be the same kind of mother to my children and as wonderful a grandmother as she is. We are blessed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Glad Game

Once again, I'm home from church with a sickie.
Seems to be my fate as a mother.

Not that I'm complaining. The quiet is nice. Although it's only quiet because he's REALLY sick.

Any ideas for getting vomit out of carpet?

OK. Enough of that. You get the general idea.

So how about a round of the Glad Game, Polyanna style?

~ I'm glad that so far I only have one child that has thrown up.

~ I'm glad that the Coach's team won WEEK TWO of the state playoffs last night. Woo Hoo!

~ I'm glad that we have a family birthday party tonight. Hopefully both of our birthday kiddos can stay well and attend.

~ I'm glad I have an awesome chili recipe that I'm making to take for dinner. Yum!

~ I'm glad that we only have 1 1/2 days of school this week before Thanksgiving break.

~ I'm glad that the Coach's brother and sister-in-law and kids are coming for Thanksgiving.

~ I'm glad that I have a big washer, lots of bleach and Lysol. (sorry, I was determined not to go there)

~ I'm glad I made Puppy Chow and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (one loaf of bread = 12 muffins) this weekend.

~ I'm glad the kids ate it all so I didn't have to.

~ I'm glad that I made THIS for my s-i-l's birthday. Isn't it great?

A cute basket, some Christmas tea towels, a recipe and ingredients. Now she can make some Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, too!

~ I'm glad the Coach's football practice on Thanksgiving Day is in the morning.

~ I'm glad the Week 3 Playoff Game in on Saturday afternoon instead of night - Brrrrr.

~ I'm glad that I have a warm house, plenty of hot chocolate and cider, clean clothes, a somewhat clean house, hot showers, fun kids and the most amazing husband ever in the history of the world. In spite of the stomach virus.

Sorry. Got carried away.

Happy Sunday! Enjoy time with family this week. And eat an extra piece of pie for me, OK?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Good and the Bad

Although we've been extremely busy, lately, I've certainly had a lot of things running through my mind. The death of my granddad, the time with family, the very full schedule, the Coach's team in the playoffs. It's a lot to take in.

I can't articulate much of that well, yet, but there is something that has really stood out to me. Starting with this verse from Ecclesiastes:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Notice how all of those examples are contrasts?

My list would look something like this:

Extremely sad, yet blissfully happy
Chaos, yet peace
Life is very hard, yet very good
Tired, yet energized to face the new day
Hungry all the time, yet losing weight
Dirty house, yet cleaning all of the time
Training and disciplining children, yet enjoying them so much
Grieving death, yet rejoicing in life
Stretched beyond comprehension, but experiencing new depth in our marriage

This past week we celebrated the end of my grandfather's earthly life
and the beginning of life for a new baby niece.

Death and life.

They go hand in hand.

Death is a horrible, awful thing. It's painful, sad, tragic. Even for a life well-lived, it's heartbreaking to lose someone you love. It's also unavoidable.

And if it weren't for the hope we have in Christ, it would be unbearable.

Yet. . .

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The ONLY reason we can face death and not despair is because Christ conquered death on the cross. Death is a result of sin. It's ugly, it's painful and without Jesus it means separation from Him forever.

I'm so grateful for the HOPE. That we can have VICTORY. That someday I will see my wonderful granddad, again. And our tiny baby. And my grandmother. And my grandfather I never met. And so many others who have left their earthly bodies for their heavenly home.

Tell someone today about the HOPE we have in Christ.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our Day in Numbers

8 - Bowls of Fruitloops for breakfast
(the Coach had Raisin Bran)
7 - Early morning dentist appointments
0 - Cavities (pretty amazing, considering the Fruitloops)
6 - Kids back to school
2 - Kids home with me
9 - Quick lunches after half-day dismissal
2 - Appointments with the Pediatrician
3 - Immunizations that Little Man cried through
4 - Pairs of tights purchased for Great-Granddad's funeral on Saturday
5 - Hair cuts given (by me) - all of the men
4 - Baths taken
4 - Showers taken
10 - Should be sleeping.

I'm the last to go. . .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There just isn't time. . .

So sorry about the silence at this end. . .
it's been a little busy here at the Troops.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, sweet notes, calls and just for loving on us.

For those of you who don't know, my Granddad died on Saturday. We will miss him very much. So grateful he's with his Saviour.

I've been working on a post to tell you about him - he was such an amazing man. But there's so much going on and my brain is somewhat foggy. It will come.

In the meantime, Have a blessed Tuesday!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

1. Thunderstorms last night.

2. Cousins to play with. I'm watching Daughter #7 and her buddy and it's quite entertaining!

3. Son (#1)'s football season is over - they finished 7-1! Yeah!

4. The Coach's Varsity team made it to the playoffs!

5. Fall Festival tonight at school. The kids are SO excited.

6. Not having to cook dinner tonight - yeah!

7. A day OUT OF SCHOOL tomorrow.

8. The Coach will be home, too!

9. More time with my Grandfather this week. Thank you for your prayers!

And last but not least, that God's will is not frustrated by the will of man. He is still on His throne. The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. I'm resting in that.

Happy Thursday, All!

Be sure and leave me a comment and let me know what YOU are thankful for today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Randomness

Well, I've been tagged by ZimmsZoo! I haven't done this before - but it looks fun!

Seven random things.

1. Growing up I only wanted to be one thing - a mother. Thought it would be great to have fourteen boys. God had other plans, though, and my four boys keep me VERY busy! Along with the four girls, of course. I also thought I'd marry at 18. But it was three years after that when the Coach came along!

2. I attended a small private Christian school through fourth grade - when my parents took my brother (a Junior) and I out and started homeschooling. I wasn't thrilled about it. But I loved having more time to read. And travel. And I'm sure my mom wouldn't be one of my dearest friends if we hadn't had that time together.

3. I love to clean, cook and entertain. It's gotten harder with a house full of mess-makers, but I love it still. Just don't expect things to be perfect! Martha Stewart is impressive, but she doesn't have eight children and a budget, does she?

4. Never in my wildest imaginations did I dream that I would marry a teacher. A MATH teacher! Especially after being homeschooled, myself. And I don't have a college degree. He loves me, still! And can you imagine having your very OWN math tutor in-house for homework help? DIVINE!

5. I have two older brothers, both have six kids. The Coach has two sisters and seven brothers. All of them have kids for a total of 57 something cousins for our kids. FIRST cousins. We live around the corner from the Coach's parents AND his sister and her family. We live 2 1/2 miles from my parents, grandfather, grandma and the Coach's grandma.

6. We homeschooled our oldest for two years before he and daughter (#2) started attending our school. I was expecting Daughter #6 at the time. I thought putting them in school, even the very BEST school, where the Coach teaches and their Papa was headmaster, was second-best to being home. Little did I know what a blessing it would be!

7. I lived in the same house from birth until marriage. So did the Coach. Both of our parents have moved, since, though. And the Coach and I? This is our third house. We love it here - with almost all of our family VERY close by.

Well, that wasn't hard. Or particularly random. But I'd LOVE to hear YOUR randomness. So I'm tagging Lori, at Crazy Daisy, CJ, at loud but happy, Jo at Jo's Kitchen Table, and The Anderson Zoo.

In the meantime, the laundry calls! And the dishes and the dust, and the cereal that Little Man dumped on the floor while I wrote this. Off I go!

Happy Monday, All!

Pray for our nation~

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's a beautiful morning here at the troops.

There is so much "ugly" going on in our nation and in the world right now. It's hard for me to not get discouraged thinking about what the future holds.

Those of us who believe in God and in a limited government and free enterprise are a minority.

On the horizon we see greater taxation, more powerful government and limited freedom - the very things our forefathers fought to free us from.

And as if that's not enough, it's Halloween today. We don't "do" Halloween at the troops. But you can't go in Wal-mart or anywhere else without being exposed to it.

For me, it's enough that everything about it is dark and frightening - so opposite of the Light of the World, who is Christ Jesus.

Phl 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Jhn 12:46
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Rom 13:12
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
2Cr 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Eph 5:8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

I'm so grateful for the beauty of creation that the Lord gives us. It's His reminder to us of His nature, His beauty, His great love for us.

May the Lord grant you His wisdom, His angels to watch over you and may he give you the grace to be His light in a dark and dying world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Name that Smell

One of the greater challenges of my life is all of the odors that accompany eight children.

It all starts with diapers of various smells and consistencies when they are babies. Through the years it progresses to the "boy" smells that seem to permeate walls, carpets and entire rooms! This year we've added an entirely new smell to the mix - football gear. Fortunately, it has a new home in the garage.

I'm known to deal with this some what patiently - to a point. Then I lose it completely, strip all of the beds and run them through a hot wash, Febreeze the mattresses and carpets and FORCE my three young men to pull everything out from under the beds and dressers because that smell HAS to be coming from somewhere! Usually it's not anything particular, but the room looks great afterwards.

The girls have their own unique smells, as well. Fingernail polish, paints and markers, lotions and lip glosses, gum and mints. Although annoying, not nearly as repulsive.

For about three days, I've noticed a peculiar odor in the room that my three young daughters share. Truthfully, I haven't done a lot of searching for the source. There's been some kind of Bitty Baby/Polly Pocket convention going on in there and I was scared to look. I did take out the trash, but the smell was still there.

Today, my nephew came for lunch and playing after BSF with Grandmother. He and two of the girls (one home from school because of a fever yesterday) were playing in the girls' room. SO, I thought, perfect time for some sorting, putting away and general junk organizing.

Looking for shapes that fit in Bitty Baby's high chair (we only have two out of five, for some strange reason), I made a swipe under the dresser. To my amazement, out came a baby jar filled with blue liquid, sand and some kind of fish (I don't want to know). And the smell? The exact odor I'd been searching for for three days.

Ah Ha! (It was Daughter #7's from Sunday school)

Another mystery solved. I'm so glad I found it BEFORE I took all of the sheets off - those bunk beds are a pain to re-make!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Food Friday

So it's Friday. And with all of the election garbage going on (Yes, I said garbage.  And I mean it.), it seemed appropriate to post a delicious, decadent and comforting CHOCOLATE recipe. Yee haw!

A couple of weeks ago, we had my Grandma over for dinner. It was her 89th birthday. She's amazing! In planning the dinner, I pulled out a recipe from a local magazine to make for dessert. It is low-sugar and reduced-fat, so it seemed like a good choice. She can't have much sugar, I don't need the fat. HA!

Here is the cast of ingredients. The original recipe called for a chocolate graham cracker crust, but I couldn't find those anywhere (read: Target or Wal-mart), so I went with an Oreo crust. I'm sure it was an improvement!

I'm not sure why the cream cheese isn't in the picture.  Must have been in the fridge.  Sorry.

First, we'll make the crust. WAY easier with a food processor like this:

Now, you could certainly do this with a Ziploc baggie and rolling pin. But this is SO easy!

Then we mix in some melted butter (the Oreos really NEED that, of course) and pat it into a greased springform pan. 

The filling comes next. You start by creaming the cream cheese and slowly adding in the sugar substitute. Today we're using Splenda, but you could use the real thing, too.

The eggs go in, one at a time and then the sour cream and vanilla. It's already looking yummy, don't you think?

So next, we have to make this a CHOCOLATE cheesecake (did I hear an "Amen"?). We'll start by melting our semi-sweet chips in the microwave.  You want to be careful to not melt it very long at a time.  The first one I made (don't ask!), the chocolate was a bit bitter - I think I over cooked it.  So this time I was more patient.  After 25 seconds, they look like this:

I thought about taking a picture of them IN the actual microwave, but I would be humiliated beyond belief. I mean it's GROSS, People. I'm embarrassed by that. So instead, while we're waiting for those to melt, would you like to see my spice cabinet, instead? Rather respectable, don't you think?

Note:  I'm just so THRILLED that the former owners of this house didn't just confine the green to the Formica counter tops.  They painted the insides of the cabinets, too!  Thank you, Former Owners!  I'll think of you when I someday get motivated to paint them WHITE and have to take every thing out and practice strange arm tangling positions to paint them.  In about 10 years.  Or when all my children are grown.  Or never.

But back to our chocolate.  Just keep melting for 15-20 seconds, stirring between times.  Here's our chocolate, all melted and creamy and good. My mouth is watering just looking at it!

We're going to add this to our cream cheese mixture. Then we'll have a chocolate cream cheese mixture. Mmmmmmmm.

This goes into our springform pan on top of our Oreo crumb crust. Spread it around a bit and it will look like this:

And although I should have mentioned it earlier, if you're anything like me, you better have some of this on hand to keep you occupied so that you don't eat all of the chocolate chips, Oreos or batter in the process.

I feel better, already!

Now the beautiful deliciousness has to bake. Unfortunately for quite some time. About an hour.

At least my oven is clean! Whew.  You can see I wrapped some foil around the bottom of the pan.  The first one I made dripped a bit on the oven.  Hence the clean oven.  Don't tell me you thought it was ALWAYS clean?  HA!

Now it has to cool for quite some time.  Over night is good.  I made it in the morning to serve that night and it was fine.  It just needs a bit of something, though.

So let's melt some more of those semi-sweet chips in the microwave.  And I'm sure you know this little trick, but if you want an easy way to decorate, just use a Ziploc bag (you can do this with buttercream frosting, too).  Put your topping in the bag, get as much of the air out as you can, seal, and cut the very bottom corner off, making a 1/4 inch opening.

Then you just use it like a pastry bag to decorate.  You can just throw it away when you're done!

Doesn't it look pretty?

But wait a minute!  You can't have JUST Chocolate Cheesecake!  You have to have dinner first.  How about some hot lasagna and crusty whole wheat bread?

I think we need a closer look, don't you?

MMMMMmmmmmm.  Now we just throw together a salad and we're good to go.  I didn't take a picture of the salad.  Oh well.

Looks like we're ready for Grandma.  The table is all set. . . 

But wait. . . that's not enough seats!

Oh.  There they are!  Keeps things from getting so crowded in the dining room.

After dinner, look what's for dessert!


Light Chocolate Cheesecake


1 C Oreo cookie crumbs (I used reduced fat)

2-3 T melted butter

Fold crumbs and butter together until mixed thoroughly.  Grease interior of nine-inch springform pan.  Pat bottom of pan with crumb mixture.  Set aside.


3 - 8 oz packages low-fat cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 C Spenda

3 eggs

1 C light sour cream

1 t vanilla extract

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Beat cream cheese in mixer and gradually add Splenda.  Add eggs, one at a time and continue mixing.  Add sour cream and vanilla and mix.  In microwave, melt chocolate, stirring frequently.  Fold melted chocolate into cream cheese batter, scraping down sides of bowl.  Pour batter into pan and bake 55-60 minutes at 350.  Cool completely, then remove from pan to a serving dish.  Refrigerate overnight or several hours.


Melted chocolate drizzled over top

Fresh raspberries.

Happy Friday!!