Friday, August 28, 2009

First Week of School

Well, we made it.
Pretty much.

School started on Wednesday.  Three days into it, we are exhausted!

With the exception of a tummy ache and a visit to the office (for the tummy ache) on Wednesday, everyone has done great!  Bless her heart, she loves to be in control and know exactly what's going to happen (I have no idea where she gets it!).

Mornings have gone more smoothly than I could have hoped.  This year I decided it was time for them to pack their own lunches.  It's been great!  They do most of it at night and make their sandwich in the morning.  It's my mornings less hectic for me, at least!

The little ones set out their clothes at night, so they need very little help in the morning.  We reorganized the kids chore charts for their rooms.  That helps them SEE what they have to do in the morning before school.  Instead of asking (have you brushed your teeth?  have you made you bed?  etc.) about each specific responsibility, I can just have them check their list!

Our new Google calendar on the computer (which merges the Coach's, the school's and my schedule) has been a huge help!  They even include t-shirt days on the calendar - so the kids can look and see what's ahead.

Bedtime has been a little rough.  It's HARD to start bedtime right after dinner.  We eat later during football season (although we've been starting before the Coach gets home, just to give us an extra few minutes) and the kiddos need time to get ready for the next day, take baths, do their reading, make their lunches, etc.  

I miss the evening play time outside.  We've just moved it to before dinner, I guess!

They've all done great getting their school stuff done first thing when they get home.  Assignment tablets, lunch bags and water bottles emptied, papers signed (and the soon to come homework).  It's gone really well.

I'm not enjoying all of the socks to wash and fold.  Ha!  Miss those flip flops! 

So very grateful we weeded through ALL of the kids clothes.  It makes it so easy for them to find what they need for the day.  School shirts and pants in specific drawers so they don't have to dig through play clothes to find them.  We also just pared it down to LESS clothes, as well.  So much easier for them to keep up with.

Here at home, during the day, it's been a bit of an adjustment.  The little ones are tired, too.  My goal this year was to have the "work" (laundry, kitchen, dinner started, house cleaned up) done before lunch so that right after lunch,Little Man could go down for a nap (we have to leave so early for school pick up, naps are early, around here), and Daughter (#7) and I could have some school and rest time together.  There hasn't been enough time!

I'm really working on getting things organized and simplified.  It's getting there.  I want the kids to come home and be able to get things taken care of efficiently and have some play time!

One thing that hasn't happened is my early morning workouts.  I had high hopes!  The little ones have been up in the night, though (seems like it's always something!) and I'm so tired!  Without my big kids here, it's almost impossible to get on the treadmill once everyone is up.

So that's something to work on next week, right?

The Coach is very busy, but feeling a lot better.  I'm so grateful.  I've been reminded, once again, this week, how wonderful it is to have him THERE at school with all of our kids.  He can check on that tummy ache.  Bring kids home if they have to be at school longer for activities.  Hug on the little ones during lunch hour (the cafeteria is right across from his office), keep things in his office for the older kids, take the boys to football scrimmages with him. . . could I be any more blessed?

Jr. High is going well for the big kids.  There's been some trouble with lockers (keeping the gym locker and the school locker combinations straight - ha!) and there seems to be a lot of rushing around between sports practice and trying to get outside quickly after dismissal while the little ones and I are waiting.  But all in all?  Really good week.

All of the younger kids have wonderful teachers. They seem to be enjoying their classes.  Last night, while Daughter (#6) was reading to me, I was thinking how amazing it is that she's old enough for 1st grade.  Reading everything in sight.  Keeping her stuff orderly (that's my girl!), being one of the first kids ready in the morning.  Even Daughter (#5) hasn't had trouble getting up in the morning.  The boys never do!  Ha!  

I guess my overwhelming sense of the week?  Gratefulness.

We are tired, yes.  Ready for the weekend?  You bet!  But a really great start to the year.  I know it's going to be crazy.  Hopefully we can laugh in spite of it all.  In the meantime, doing my best to keep things in order.  And when it all falls apart in the chaos (because we all know it will!)?  Laugh some more.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School

And they're off!

8th grade, 7th grade, 5th grade, 3rd grade, 2nd grade and 1st grade.

I have a particularly grateful heart this year.

Maybe it's because I realize how fast they grow. How little time I actually have with them in our home. How MUCH we have to teach them before they are gone. How grateful I am for the help in doing that.

We started Jr. High football last year with Son #1. He's playing, again, this year, along with Daughter (#2) in Jr. High volleyball. Then, of course, the Coach and his varsity team. I've already admitted we won't make it to every game. We'll do as much as we can without wearing out the little ones.

I'm so grateful for my kids.

This Summer, they have helped, babysat, cleaned up the house, mowed lawns, done meals, cleaned up meals, played with cousins, taken care of Little Man, gotten their stuff ready for school . . .and we've had a LOT of fun, together!

I'm grateful they know how to work hard and pitch in and LAUGH.

Yes, there are more messes because we HAVE eight kids.

Yes, there is more WORK.

More activities.

More errands.


But there is also a lot more HELP. More hands to do what needs to be done. And someone to laugh with while you do it.

I'll miss them, today. But what a blessing that they can be at our wonderful school, doing some of the needed learning and growing under the extremely capable hands of their incredible teachers.

It's going to be a full-time job this year, for me, to keep things organized and prepared here at home so we can GO GO GO to games most nights. It will keep me busy, teaching and training Daughter (#7), who is already getting to be quite the helper, and Little Man, who tends to get himself into quite a few messes throughout the day.

My goal is for the kids to come home to peace and order (ha!), meals ready, laundry and errands done. So they can do homework and play and go to yet more games.

It's going to be an adventure!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am determined to not let this day go by without posting a thankful list.
So determined, in fact, that it's taken until all of the troops are sound asleep to get here.
And I'm a bit tired, myself.

But how could I skip this week's opportunity to tell you all that I have to be grateful for?
Can't do it.

So here goes:

1. The stomach virus? Short lived and only ONE sick (do you realize the monumental amazingness of that?)  It still may resurface, I realize. But I'm grateful for the break!
2. Son (#1)? Arrived safely (Thank you for praying with us!), only three days late - Tuesday at dinnertime. The stories are coming out here and there - he seems so very grown up. He is. I'm so proud.
3. My Parents? Home, as well. Hamburgers eaten together on Tuesday night on the way home from the airport. Missed them so much!
4. The Coach and the boys? Home from football camp Wednesday afternoon. They had a great time!
5. School supplies for six? All bought and organized. (Still need to mark them all with names, but that will come.)
6. The laundry? From 18 days in Africa and four days x three at football camp? Formerly stinky, but now all washed, folded and put away.
7. Daughter (#2)? Putting in and taking out her new contacts like a pro. After only two days! (Took me two WEEKS! And I was fourteen, not twelve.)
8. School clothes for three boys and three girls? Purchased (very few), organized (Thank you Lord for hand-me-downs) and ready to go.
9.  The house?  In spite of all of the coming and going, it's in pretty good shape.  The kids have been a HUGE help with that.  They can all clean like pros!  What a blessing!
10.  The Coach?  HE IS FEELING BETTER!!!  (Thank you so much for your prayers!)  He's already full force into football season and I miss him, already.  One of the blessings of 15 football seasons?  I know it will end.  :-)

In spite of all the work? I think we've enjoyed this last full week of Summer. With volleyball practice in it's second week and Jr. High football (for Son) starting Monday - it's only going to get crazier.

Honestly? I don't know how it will all work this year. Just like I didn't know how most days this week would work. We plan and prepare and try to stay organized - we give it to the Lord and ask Him for HIS direction - and we tackle it as it comes. Learning a great deal of flexibility, patience and giving up of our rights, along the way. Learning, too, to be humble and ask for help. I couldn't do it without help. 

It's all good.

In the meantime, I apologize for the messed up blog. It's all my fault. I did it. On accident, but by my very own self. Ha! Sweet Friend, Crazy Daisy (as if she doesn't have anything else to do), is trying to help me piece things back together. I hope you can still read it! And thanks for understanding that sometimes I just mess things up.

OK. Maybe A LOT of times I mess things up. How grateful I am for a God who loves me no less because of my messes. Who loves me know more on days when I (appear to) have it all together. He just loves me.

Happy Thursday from the Troops!

Monday, August 17, 2009

It can always get worse.



I'm a bit of a pessimist. You all who know me well know that. But the truth? I have peace and hope in my heart, even if I feel discouraged. Truly.

Last night, though, things seemed pretty dismal. Son #1 stuck in London. And yes, I know "stuck" in London probably sounds wrong to you. But he's been gone 18 days. 18! And he's only 13. 13! (sorry, sometimes I get dramatic) Never been away from him this long. And I'm simply ACHING to hear about his time in Africa. And the baking I'd done? Had to go in the freezer. Which just isn't the same!

Along with wondering if they would EVER make it back, the Coach and Sons (#3) and (#4) left, as well.

And I'm all for time with my girls - really!
But with the Coach still sick, the timing seemed a bit difficult.

Basically, I was one big whiny pants last night. The Coach didn't call, I was super tired, the girls had FUN. Too much fun, really. I had the dickens of a time getting them settled and into bed. Had a hard time getting to sleep without the Coach - I always do. And forgot to take a sleeping pill early enough in the evening.

By the time I crawled into bed, I was tired and already had one of the girls sleeping beside me with a tummy ache.

Can you see where this is going?

That particular daughter slept just fine. But about 2:30 AM, another little face whispered "Mommy" and after getting her settled on a pallet on the floor beside me, I fell back to sleep.

Only to be awakened and hour later by what must be the worst sound in the entire universe.


I hadn't had the opportunity to wash my new dust ruffle, yet. But I did today. And the pillow shams and all of the bedding on my entire bed. And the carpet. Enough said.

But you know what? In spite of it all, it wasn't a bad day. Really. Yeah, the poor thing was sick. But on the other hand? I had to cancel my plans. Stay home. Sit with her. Comfort her. And do my Lysol/Clorox Wipes/Febreeze/Candles/Million loads of laundry routine.

But all in all, it was OK. Even without the Coach to whine to, even without my mom here to help, or Son #1 here to babysit so I could get to the grocery store for Ginger Ale (daughter #2 had volleyball).

And you know what that teaches me? Once, again? God's grace IS sufficient. Always.


My perspective is a bit more positive tonight:

~Son (#1) and my parents actually have tickets for a flight arriving home tomorrow afternoon. Woohoo! Finally!

~The Coach called and thinks he might feel a bit (?) better (isn't he just incredibly handsome?).

~The boys are having a great time at football camp.

~Daughter (#7) is back to her bouncy and extremely loud self.

~No one else has gone down, yet.

~I ended up getting the grocery shopping done, after all - just a bit later in the day.

~God provided a sweet friend to take Daughter (#2) to practice at school (so I didn't have to load up everyone with towels and bowls) and a sweet niece to bring her home.

~We had another fun girls' night with a movie and chicken sandwiches and lemonade.

~And in a mere two days, all of the troops (Lord willing) will be back under the same roof, once again, for the first time in three weeks.

I may not sleep well tonight.
Someone else may get sick (and it could be me).
The Coach still has two more nights away.
And I know Son (#1) is coming home TIRED and with some really stinky laundry.

But I am reminded once, again, that God's grace is sufficient for it all. Always. And next time I feel discouraged, I'm going to count my blessings a little bit sooner. There are so very many!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And then there was one...

One boy left at the troops, that is!

Son #1 was due to arrive in from Africa last night.  Well, turns out, the timing was bad.  I'm not sure whose timing. . . but the airlines they were flying out on was on strike.  

No, I'm not joking.

Instead of making out of there Friday morning (US time), they left this morning.  Most of the 48 hrs was spent in the lobby of the airport waiting.  Lobby.  Waiting.  With hundreds of other people.  No seats.  No food.

I wish I were kidding.

Anyway, they are finally on their way.  We are just going to pray them all home.  

In fact, I did way more praying than sleeping last night.  (yawn)  Well, praying and learning how to text.  It was morning there and my daddy was on his iphone - so we chatted a bit.  Slowly.  One letter at a time (I'm not very good at that texting stuff!).

We are hoping they will make it by tomorrow night.  Please, Lord!


In the meantime, my still-has-pneumonia Coach left today with our boys (#3 and #4) for football camp with our school's varsity team.

They have been doing this for a few years, now.  From the beginning, the Coach has taken our boys along with him.  They love it.  "Big" highschool football players (they seem big to my boys, anyway) who all know their names.  Big meals - they love that part, especially - swimming several times a day and enough football to satisfy even the Coach.  

And one year?  I think maybe the first year they went, after evening devotions with the team. . . Son #3 prayed to receive Christ.  

So we are fond of football camp around here.  The boys have a blast!

And in the meantime?  We get to watch "girly" movies and have cookies and mini pizzas and ice cream for dinner and go swimming without the ornery boys and paint fingernails and toenails.  Poor Little Man.  I promise we won't touch HIM with the nail polish!


But before we get down to business here for our girl time, I have the oven cranking out chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls and whole wheat bread for Son #1.  

I know he's going to make it home, eventually - and I want to be ready!


Life here at the troops?  Crazier than a circus!

And so very blessed. . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Awful Truth

I know some of you are WAY ahead of me on this.

I'm a little slow.

Or possibly in denial. VERY possibly in denial. I admit it.


Summer is almost over!

Can you believe it? I can't. I'm not done, yet. We have more sleeping in to do. More swimming with cousins and cooking out in the backyard and HELLO. . . sleeping in. And movies to watch and walks to take and GOOD GRIEF, where has the time gone?

We've had fun. Lot's of fun. But in my dream world (where I live when I can't take the real world, anymore) it would be Summer all of the time.


I know there are two groups of thought on this. Some of you are thinking, GO BACK TO SCHOOL ALREADY SO I CAN DRINK MY COFFEE IN PEACE. I hear you. Really I do.

Problem is, school or Summer, I have yet to actually get to that point, yet. So while I'm at it? I'd rather have. . .

Extra eyes to watch my extremely ornery two-year old.
Sisters for Daughter (#7) to play with all day.
Boys home to mow the yard, take out the trash and lift heavy things.
Afternoons in the POOL.
Built in babysitters for hair cuts and errand running.
Lunch with Granddad at Chick-fil-A.
Did I mention swimming?
Brown little arms and legs and sun-bleached ponytails.
Help in the kitchen (making messes AND making brownies).
Bike rides with cousins.
Playing basketball in the backyard all afternoon.
Etc. Etc.

I'm going to miss it all!

And trade it in for. . .

Early mornings (yawn).
Making 7 lunches before breakfast.
SOCKS (oh how I will miss the flip flops).
Homework and notes to sign.
Jr. High Football and Volleyball games.
Early bedtime and (gasp) baths at night.
Short afternoons and shorter naptimes for Little Man.
Dress Code laundry (shorts take up MUCH less room in the dryer!).
Projects, posters, reading lists, programs. . .

Truth is, even though it's quiet with six of our troops at school. . .  and even though I sometimes actually get the house cleaned up for more than five minutes when they aren't all here. . . I miss them so much!  I miss their hugs and yelling and questions and laughter. . . 

Then, again, what a huge blessing to be sending them off - with their daddy - to the best school there is (I may be slightly partial) with multitudes of cousins, their Papa, their uncle as headmaster and the BEST teachers in the world who love on them and teach them things I'd never get to. And I'm not kidding about those teachers! Amazing!

So for now, I'm going to suck in my bottom lip, get out the school supply lists and go to it.

Here's to Summer. It's the best.

And to a new school year. It's going to be great, too. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Answered Prayer

My mother's heart is full tonight. My eyes keep threatening tears. Maybe it's because I'm tired. And I have a cold. And the Coach is still sick.

But I'm pretty sure it's because I've seen that God has answered my heart's cry for one of my children.

Today? My eldest son was privileged to be a part of sharing the gospel. With thousands. Just today.

I've prayed for all of our children, that God would give them a heart for missions. A desire to share the gospel. At home and around the world.

Well. . . He's answered that prayer. In a big way.

Somehow I don't think my son will ever be the same.

To God be the glory.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good News

Have you ever known what it was like to be the bearer of good news?

I remember when my dad called me to tell me the Coach had his permission to court me.

That was some GOOD NEWS!

And the day I told Coach that Son #1 was on the way (I honestly don't remember how I did it. Sorry.). Of course we've had lots of that kind of news around here over the years! Ha!

When God has provided a new or bigger car. Or this amazing house. Or the one before.

All good news.
But I keep thinking this week, as our Son #1 is half way around the world, that he's getting to share the "Goodest" news of ALL. With many who have never heard it.

"As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10:15)


We've been blessed to have somewhat regular communication with him over the last 8 days. E-mails, mostly. A couple of very treasured phone calls (both of which I managed to miss)! Some iphone photos. Even a couple of videos - one of Son helping to lead worship (hate to have missed THAT!).

Pretty amazing, really. When I had the blessing of taking trips around the world, we only called home if something was REALLY wrong. Ha! Love getting to hear from him.

Here is where they are staying:

The view from their quarters - A beach!

When the tide is out:

My sweet mother has been blessed to speak to the Pastor's wives:

And hold some sweet, sweet babies!

Here are the Pastor's in their teaching sessions:

And our very missed, very much loved Son:

Thank you for all of your prayers on his behalf and on behalf of their team there. God is truly blessing the work. To Him be the glory.

And I think they are being mightily blessed in the sharing of the best of GOOD NEWS.