Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years? Already?

My lack of blogging certainly hasn't been for lack of material.

Lack of time? Yes!

Lack of material? Certainly not!

We've had a lovely Christmas Break. We've spent many a Christmas with someone home sick. . . I'm so grateful that this year we were all well and able to enjoy the time (at least until I came down with this nasty cold).

But you know what?

It's a LOT of work enjoying a holiday. For a mom, anyway.

I love having my kids all home. I love how they holler and laugh while playing games. I love that get out the airsoft guns and have wars in the backyard. I love that they devour all of the baking I can crank out of the kitchen. I love watching them shoot baskets on our backyard court. I love smelling the smoke from the firepit while my little pyromaniacs build big fires. I love snuggling on the couch with kids on my lap, on my right and left, on my feet, and sometimes on my head, while we watch old movies. I love sleeping in on days when we don't have to get up to run (the Coach is one tough trainer!). I love having the Coach home more during the day.

It's delightful.

However. . . it's virtually impossible to keep things neat and orderly. And clean. Ugh!

Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. Doctors appointments. Basketball practices. Errands. I'm grateful I have so much help with it all. As the kids get bigger I'm becoming more of a "manager". I keep things going and make sure it's all getting done - but they do SO much of the work that it takes to keep this home running smoothly.

I may not remember the details of these busy, fun, exhausting years (especially when there isn't time to blog about it!). I may not remember what movies we watched over this Christmas (even if I stayed home for a nap while the Coach took the kids to see "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"). Or what games were our favorite this year (Rumikub!). What puzzles we put together. Or what special things I made for dinner at night. I may not remember what I got for Christmas from the Coach (yea for new clothes that fit!) or what gifts made my troops smile the biggest (RC helicopters, Hexbugs, American Girl bakery sets).

But I will remember being here all together. Being home and enjoying each other. Laughing. Until there are tears in my eyes (the Coach's new running tights had us all rolling on the floor!). I will remember the kids and their JOY at the fun of Christmas. The lights, the nighttime stories, the songs. Sharing the amazing GIFT of our Savior with my little ones. And big ones. Their delight at sharing their love for Him and how they've been changed by His forgiveness.

I've tried to spend some time with each one of the kids: Lego store with Son (#4), boot shopping (where DID his "cowboy" style come from?) with Son (#1). Sonic drinks and errands with Son (#3) and homecoming dress shopping with Daughter (#2). Good thing I have a few more days/kids to go!

The Coach and I finally made it out for our official anniversary celebration last night (two weeks late - not bad!). We watched table after table at a fabulous steakhouse in our town (that was SOME giftcard!) fill and empty over and over while we lingered over our delicious food and complimentary red velvet cake with "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate. Then we went onto Starbucks and enjoyed coffee together while talking more about all that's going on with the troops.

You know what? I've never ONCE regretted marrying my Coach. Along with all of the challenges, it has been one of the greatest joys of my life to learn to love each other and enjoy the blessing of marriage. It's good to take time to remember that now and then. In the craziness of life. . . I'm always glad he's here sharing it with me.

So maybe I haven't had time to post all that's gone on here in the last few weeks. I'm sure I'll forget a lot. But one thing I know. . .

We are so blessed.

We thank the Lord for His goodness to us this year. There have been some painful things. There have been some wonderful things. And a whole lot of just daily life things. God is still on His throne. He still loves us. And that's enough.

Now it's probably about time to start fixing our New Year's Eve Buffet - my kids LOVE it when I put all of the food out and let them "graze" all evening and eat in the living room! Or maybe I'll go check on the fire in the firepit out back - it looks BIG. Or maybe I'll just sit here and finish my blueberry tea and nurse my cold for a few minutes longer while the Coach sits next to me reading his new book.

Either way. . .

May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

Our family Christmas celebrations are winding down here at the troops. BIG times, yesterday, doing stockings and gifts and traditions with our own troops. Candlelight service at church last night. Breakfast with the Coach's BIG family, this morning. Afternoon and Christmas dinner with my family, today.

So blessed.

Wanted to take just a minute to wish all of our precious family and friends a very Merry Christmas. We are so grateful for each one of you!

. . . and to all a good night!

(special thanks to Prints Charming for the great family pictures!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's all part of the gift.

This weekend has been somewhat of a whirlwind.

Friday night we had a LOVELY time with our Sunday School class - enjoying appetizers, desserts, and coffee with visiting all around.

Woke up Saturday in a fog (at least the house was still clean!). . . knowing that the Christmas to do list was hanging over my head and that time is running out.

But a story that the speaker in church told last week kept running through my head. About a boy (in Africa, I think?) who ran for miles to get a pretty seashell off the beach to give as a gift to his teacher. When he presented her with the gift, she exclaimed, "But you ran so far!" To which he replied, "That was part of the gift."

I don't have to tell you that Christmas shopping for eight kids, my amazing Coach, parents and misc. nieces, nephews, grandparents, and friends can be a bit overwhelming.

Is it just me, or do I use the word "overwhelming" a lot?

I thought so.

Not to mention trying to find practical, useful, non-junk, economical, fun things for everyone on my list. And if at all possible, things that will be used up and not added to the STUFF in this house - or anyone else's.

But as I've worked and re-worked my list. . . scanned websites and stores. . . gone from one place to another trying to find just the right thing. . . or just the right price. . . returned things after finding a better deal somewhere else. . . and then working and re-working the list some more. . .

The thought won't leave me. . .

"It's part of the gift."

The Christmas cards? From outfit shopping to ironing to hair curling to organizing to photographers and Sam's Club Photo to address hunting and envelope printing and standing in line at the PO for stamps?

Part of the gift.

From the name drawing between kids to the whispering from one to another to the Coach's countless trips with countless kids to the sneaking gifts in the garage door to stashing in the closet to locking the bedroom door while so and so wraps so and so's present?

Part of the gift.

From the waking up in the middle of the night with the name of THAT catalog where I saw THAT darling t-shirt to the debating about what American Girl outfit to the order confirmation e-mails and the dwindling check account?

Part of the gift.

From the baking and cooking and destroying the kitchen 12 times a day (it can't possibly be just three times, can it?) to the eating more than we should to the sitting more than we should to the watching more Christmas movies than we should to the working puzzle after puzzle and playing Wii games for hours on end?

Part of the gift.

All of this is to remind us of one thing. . .

God-Man, Jesus, coming to earth as a baby - to ultimately give His life for the salvation of all mankind.

His sacrifice is not just PART of the gift.

It's THE greatest gift of all.

Happy Sunday!

(and no. . . this would NOT be the time to tell me that you are done with your Christmas shopping and have been for weeks, thankyouverymuch!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Perfect Peace

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

I'm up too late, tonight.
I have a stuffy nose.
And I'm eating mini Three Musketeers.
(don't worry, I'm counting the points, forheavenssake)

Just finished my BSF lesson for this week.

The fact that I started it and finished it, BOTH, tonight, is somewhat embarrassing. And accounts somewhat for the late hour. That and the fact that I had to make a 9:30 trip to Wal-mart.

I'm really struggling to get these lessons done, this year. Life is busier and more chaotic than it's ever been. And Isaiah takes some concentration. And quiet. And often more brain cells than I seem to have.

This week's lesson made me think about why I haven't had that perfect peace, lately. Why I hesitate to rely on the Lord?

Do I really trust Him?

Not just for eternity. . . or the long-term. . . or the big picture. . .

But for RIGHT NOW?


When things aren't exactly what I would like for them to be?

When the Christmas shopping isn't done and the list is long and I'm not sure how to buy practical, fun, useful, economical gifts for everyone?

When my children are choosing to do stupid (embarrassing) things that I know they will look back on and regret? Never mind that I made the very same mistakes at their age.

When dear friends are dealing with HARD health issues?

When valued relationships are strained, distanced, challenging?

When I'm tired? Have too much to do? The schedule isn't figured out (what day is it, again)? The meals aren't planned ahead of time? The grocery shopping has turned into daily Wal-mart runs?

When the kids aren't listening and obeying? When I don't WANT to take the time to talk things through? Do the hard thing? Persevere even though I'm ready to quit?

Perfect Peace.

A Steadfast Mind.

I don't know about you. . . but I desperately NEED a steadfast mind. Maybe I'd quit forgetting why I walked into the kitchen in the first place (when I should be in bed).

There's only one place to find this peace.

And to give you a clue, it's NOT in my ability to get it all together, finish everything perfectly, parent without error, or love others in my own strength.

(but for some reason I usually try all of that FIRST)

The peace is found in trusting a loving, sovereign God who deals with us on His terms in HIS time for HIS purposes.

He's given us life. He's given us everlasting life with Him (if we will receive it).

I'm pretty sure I can trust Him with everything else, too.
(not EVEN the little things, but ESPECIALLY the little things)

Praying that you will find that perfect peace and that steadfast mind as you seek to TRUST the Lord this week.

"O Lord, thou are my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise they name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."

"For thou has been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."

"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. . . lo this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes it makes me cry to love eight little people (one of whom is bigger than I am, now) so much.

I sit in church with all of them, looking back and forth down the row (at least on Sundays when we get there early enough to find a whole row and can actually sit together) and my heart overflows with the goodness of God and His incredible blessing to us in these kids.

And sometimes?

I cry because they drive me nuts.


But it's Thursday today and I'm thankful for my kids.

One reason why: Little Man. With his dirty t-shirt and blowing raspberries at the camera. He still says to me (in the morning and after naptime, usually), "Mom, I NEED you."

And you know what, Little Buddy? I need you, too. Your snuggles, your kisses, and most of all the challenges you bring, that cause me to spend more time on my knees that I ever thought I'd need.

I need you (and your seven siblings) because you show me my need for Jesus. I can't parent without Him. Without His forgiveness. His grace. His character in my life. (and especially the forgiveness part)

Without these eight reminders? I might forget that, sometimes.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The stuff of life.

We celebrated TWO birthdays this past week.

Son (#1) turned 15, yesterday. Yikes. I'm looking online to find a shirt that says, "Girls - STAY AWAY - or my mom will GET YOU!" What do you think? The glaring and avoidance (mine) doesn't seem to be giving girls the message that I'm going for. The other option is locking him in his room until he's 22. But I worry about what it would smell like in there. The Glade plug-in can only do so much.

Daughter (#5) turned 9 on Saturday. NINE! As in, "my fifth born child and the tiniest member of our family" (besides Little Man, but at three he's almost caught up with her). Dear heavens. Where does the time go?

We celebrated with a Chili dinner. And Apple Pie. And Angel Food Cake with strawberries. Nothing like two birthdays in one! At least they agreed on the main course.


Thanksgiving Break was fun. Lots of family time with the troops - lots with the Coach's extended family. Lots of food. And a loss at WW on Friday. Woo hoo! SO excited about the new PointsPlus plan starting this week. Come on Friday!

Know what I did on Thanksgiving morning? Ran EIGHT miles. Didn't know that was a possibility one year ago. Felt great. Especially since I was inside and not out in the wind!

And on Saturday? After the Coach took Son (#1) on his first unsuccessful deer hunt at the farm? He took me shopping.


(for clothes, not groceries)

How much fun is that? Great sale. Great jeans. Two new sweaters. What an incredibly amazing guy. (this is a labor of love, I might add. . . shopping would not be on his list of "my favorite things")


So back to the school routine, yesterday. Three days off last week just reminded me how much I'm looking forward to Christmas Break! Then again, it also reminded me that when the kids are home, I spend all of my time in the kitchen. Lots of food. Lots of dishes. Lots of mess. Love it.


Last night, I kept hearing a loud "BANG" in what seemed to be the sunroom, right next to our bedroom. I wasn't too worried, until I woke up and the Coach wasn't there. When he came back, he said he was trying to find out what was making that loud noise. Seriously. If something wakes HIM up, I'm scared. He can sleep through an entire pre-dawn, four-kid stomach virus. It's happened.

Then this morning, I'm in the kitchen trying to focus my eyes and get 8 lunches (with a little too much help) made while putting hair in pony tails and finding missing shoes. It's tough enough after good night's sleep!

Out come the boys, talking about "that noise last night". Turns out they heard it, too. Thought maybe it was at the back door. OK. Time for a lesson in "Home Invasion 101" . IF you hear what you THINK might be someone trying to get IN our house in the MIDDLE of the night (daytime it's probably just Little Man locked outside when someone came in without him) then PLEASE wake your parents.

Good Grief.

So the Coach, now even more determined to figure it out than he was in the middle of the night (I'm oddly MORE motivated when it's keeping me from sleep - and it's dark), starts investigating.

Turns out the gate to the back yard was unlocked and blowing back and forth in the wind making a surprisingly BIG banging sound.

Mystery solved.

And then the Coach tells me didn't think it was something dangerous. Just one of our sleep-walkers slamming doors.

Which I'm pretty sure is even MORE frightening. We have an alarm that goes off if someone comes in our house at night. Eventually the police will get here whether the Coach wakes up or not. However those sleep walkers will SCARE the heebie jeebies out of you if you run into them in the hall at 4:00 am. Yikes! I know this from experience.


That about gets us caught up, here at the troops. And now Little Man is awake (sort of) and curled up on my lap. He's not so "little" anymore, so it's making typing next to impossible.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One of the best. . .

Today was a good day.

You know the kind. They don't happen too frequently, but every now and then you find yourself thinking, "Life is good." Not that life isn't always good - because God is on His throne - but sometimes I forget.

(contented sigh)

BSF in the morning. The text we studied this week wasn't the most positive (try Isaiah 15-23), but the lessons were life-changing.

Lunch with my Dad. And Little Man. At Chick-fil-A. Including free Peppermint Milkshake samples. How fun is that?

Few errands on the way home.

Quiet afternoon with a sleeping boy and phone calls with good friends while cooking dinner for tonight and cornbread for Thursday's dressing.

The Coach brought the kids home. Woo hoo!

Then a casserole in the oven and Daughter (#2) making whole wheat muffins for dinner. Coach and Son (#3) out finishing up the Christmas lights (which will NOT be turned on until the day after Thanksgiving thankyouverymuch) and I was off for my daily run.

Gorgeous afternoon and four miles pounding the pavement. Felt SO great to be outside (after weekly runs inside the last two weeks). The leaves are falling, there was a cool breeze, the sun was setting. Ahhhh.

Came home to dinner on the table and kids chattering about Thanksgiving Break, time with the Coach's family on Thursday, and sleeping in. Ha!

Finished the day with "Despicable Me" at the dollar movie. "It's SO FLUFFY!"

And to top it all of, I did NOT get up and yell at the people behind us who brought microwave popcorn from home and crunched the bags while filling their kids Wal-mart shopping bags with popcorn and shaking cups with lids and ice (I think - it was dark) for minutes at a time and jumbo size bags of candy with the loudest wrappers EVER (how big WAS this lady's purse, anyway?) all while the kids yelled and the moms hushed them VERY LOUDLY. I did not. lose. it.

(deep breath)

And now? I had better get to bed. Lots of cooking and laughing to be done with the troops, tomorrow. And a cold front, so I hear.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Good morning!

I'm a little bleary eyed this morning, but the coffee is brewing and I'm pressing on toward thankfulness. Here we go:

1. Wonderful, uplifting, encouraging visit with a sweet s-i-l last night. And a husband who took care of things so I could go (and her husband who did the same at their house - you'd think they were related, or something).

2. God's faithful provision. It has never failed.

3. Beautiful Fall weather. I even love the blustery days.

4. New treadmill. Woo hoo! Although, oddly enough, I've discovered that running outside is addictive. But I'm grateful to have another option on COOOOOLD days!

5. Wal-mart candles (vanilla is our favorite). Because as much as I love a real, boutique candle, NO WAY can I put one in the bathroom with a three year old in the house. But for $2.50? He can decide to build tissue fires and ruin one now and then and I don't get too upset.

6. Little Man who is sitting beside me coloring. How dull life would be without him. And how clean! Ha!

7. Coffee. Because a Mom isn't allowed to slow down when she's tired.

8. For 9 weeks (I think?) on Weight Watchers. I've completely stalled at 19 pounds down. Phooey. But I'm not going to quit. NOT going to quit!

9. For sweet friends who are going through HARD things. Death of a parent, death of a sibling, devastating health issues. Watching them keeps me on my knees - and leads me to glorify the Lord, when I see how He is drawing them to Himself.

10. First week of Jr. High Girls basketball season. And a three-point shot by Daughter (#2) to open the first game!

11. Good visit with my aunt and uncle from Pennsylvania. So fun to have them here!

12. Sunshine this morning (although to be completely honest, I love the dreary days even more!).

13. Beautiful Fall colors. I can't remember the last time the trees were SO pretty, here. Every time I look outside it makes my heart happy. God's creativity amazes me!

14. Having the Coach back from the consuming football season. How I love that man! At dinner time when he walks in the door? I can see that he's really WITH us - not already thinking about the film that needs to be watched or the plays he needs to work on. Without football season (which we really DO enjoy), I wouldn't appreciate the rest of the year so very much.

15. Did I mention coffee? If I drink much more my heart will be racing all afternoon. Ha! (and it's only fair to tell you that when I have caffeine I have a hard time shutting up. Or ending a post.)

16. That my fever and head cold on Sunday were short lived. I'm grateful to the Lord and for IgG. That stuff is amazing!

17. That the Coach is recovering from his annual "end of football season sinus infection". IgG can only make up for some much exhaustion! Ha!

18. That the three little girls clothes, closet, and drawers are all cleaned out and switched to the Winter Season. It is my least favorite chore, but WOW it feels good to be done! The 10 bags of clothes in the garage that are ready to pass on to someone else feel awfully good, too! (Thank you, Lord, for so many darling hand-me-downs!)

19. My Hoover Steam Vac. Cleaned traffic areas and spots removed in both living rooms. Ahhhhh. I feel so much less trashy when the carpets are clean.

20. BSF Isaiah study. I'm struggling to stick with it and get my lessons done. My brain feels like mush. The questions often look like they are in a foreign language. But God's Word NEVER returns void and He is using this study to cause me to praise Him. Thank you, Jesus!

May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7, Mrs. Troop paraphrase)

Happy Thursday!

More coffee, anyone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Humble? Or Humiliated?

The longer I'm a parent, the fewer things I can find on my list titled, "I'll NEVER. . . "

Truth is, being a parent is humbling. I think.

When Little Man and I arrived at Wal-mart after BSF this morning, he was SOUND asleep in his car seat. Poor guy. But the troops have to eat. And we were THERE, forheavenssake.

I carried him into the store. Pulled off his hoodie for a pillow. And laid him down in the cart. Asleep.


Can I tell you how many times I've seen people in the grocery store with sleeping kids and thought, "Good Grief! Take that child home and put them to bed!" Granted, it's usually 9:30 at night and not 11:30 in the morning, but that's beside the point.

So now I'm officially one of "those" parents, I guess.

It was easy for me when I had one little one, or two or three, to think, "I'll never do THAT!" Never finish my grocery shopping with a screaming child in the cart (until I knew there wasn't TIME for another trip). Never give my child something to shut them up so I can finish my shopping (Skittles work well). Never take shoeless kids in the store (I can carry them).


And why do so many of these moments happen at the grocery store? Ha!

We have such high ideals when we start our parenting journey. At least I did. My kids would obey the first time (ha!). The girls would always have their hair brushed and fixed (for years I actually CURLED it). Often they were even matching when we went out. And shoes AND socks, thankyouverymuch.

How we've digressed.


Sometimes I fix the girls' hair for school. Sometimes they do it themselves (grimace). I only curl it if we are taking family pictures. Which, for the record, is only once a year. Socks are optional in my book. So is matching clothing. And obedience? We're still working on that. Every day. With all eight kids. And this mom, too.

I like to think that parenting eight children has made me humble. More compassionate when I see those parents with sleeping children in Wal-mart.

But I'm pretty sure it's just humiliated me. Because you know what? I actually thought I could pull it off. For years. And once I realized I couldn't? I figured no one needed to KNOW I couldn't. Now I have not only realized I can't keep it all together, but I am happy to TELL you I can't.

If I could do it all well? Parent perfectly? Keep my kids in line all of the time? And look good while doing it (Yes, that was me you saw picking up two packages of noodles in Homeland, yesterday - even though I could see in your eyes that I only look vaguely familiar in my running clothes with no make up and sweaty hair. No need to embarrass you by speaking up so that you realize you DO know me.)?

Then I wouldn't need my precious Savior. Moment by moment. Hour by Hour. Day by day.

Anything I do well these days (and it's short list!)? It's only God's grace.

That's all I have left.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Memories are Always the Best Part

I can hear the Coach and the three big boys playing Wii in the playroom.
Little Man is running hither and yon, so happy that "the kids are home, Mom!"
The three little girls are out in the sunroom playing school and drinking hot cocoa (it's too cold out there for me!).
Daughter (#2) is here beside me typing away on a homework project.
My hot tea is "Sleepy Time Vanilla" and my heart is grateful.

Last Friday another football season ended, here at the troops. We were sad for the loss in the first round of playoffs. The boys played well and the Coach was pleased with their performance. Son (#1) walked around a bit down in the mouth on Saturday. Today he's already looking forward to starting basketball on Thursday.

Another football season. It was a good one. Our team improved. The guys learned to play hard and leave it all on the field. Son (#1) got to play in more Varsity games than I would have guessed. And he totally enjoyed the JV season.

It was kind of a blur when we were in the middle of it. Son (#3) babysat more than he has in the past - during volleyball season, especially. And by the way, he's the best at it, yet. We had our share of 8 o'clock dinners and tired little girls. Fortunately, I never left anyone anywhere on accident. Although I did get to a game without my purse, once.

When you look back at it, the memories are the best part. Watching Little Man find his way around the football games, making friends with the big kids friends and his many, many cousins. Seeing Daughter (#7), now a student, herself, mingling with her little Kindergarten friends at the games. Having older kids who can help more. Every year it changes and in many ways gets easier and we enjoy it more and more. And I must say that the Coach's gift to me of a stadium seat sure saved my back!

Tonight, though? It sure feels amazing to have all of the troops home under our roof at 5:00. Wow! There's chicken noodle soup in the crockpot - it smells so good. I don't guess I'll MISS football season. Part of me is glad that it's over for another year.

But by God's grace, we survived. . . no, thrived, actually . . . through another year. And my heart is full of gratefulness.

Gratefulness for my Coach - for the blessing of having a job that he loves. Even if he's ending the season with a sinus infection, bless his heart.

Gratefulness for a GOOD first highschool season for Son (#1). He's still in one piece! Ha!

Gratefulness for the memories for our kids. . . watching their daddy coach. Watching their brother play. He looked all grown up out there on that field. (sniff)

Gratefulness that I have my husband back. That he won't have to spend so much time in the evening watching film and sketching out plays. That he'll be here on Saturday mornings and can help out with the soon-coming craziness of basketball season.


But it was fun while it lasted!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sniff. Cough. Sneeze.

So I have some kind of cold/sinus thingie.

It could be viral, I guess.

Or it could be a secondary thing caused by a long, miserable allergy season here in our lovely state AND my stomping around in the attic and moving storage tubs around while switching all of the girls clothes from Summer to Winter, yesterday. (wheeze)

I'm not thrilled about it.

It's not like I don't have anything to do, forheavenssake.

However, hot tea, a box of tissues, Advil, a blanket, my pillow, my chapstick, and countless episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" have improved my outlook, somewhat.

That and the fact that the Coach insisted I couldn't do the grocery shopping with a low-grade fever. And he went for me. With four of the kids.

Did I mention he's a saint? As if you didn't know that, already.

So now that we have cereal and milk for breakfast, sandwich fixins for school lunches, and some soup for dinner? Life can go on.

Even though my head still hurts.

Better go. "Take Home Chef" is deciding what to make for dinner.

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In One Word. . .

Do you ever feel like your entire life has come down to one thing?

That one word could pretty much sum it all up?

That all you do, are, think about, and exist for has all boiled down to this?



That's it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some things are suprising. Some aren't.

So it's been awhile since I've posted about my Weight Watchers journey. I've been at this for EIGHT weeks! It's gone so fast! Some days I feel like I've been doing this forever, others it seems like just yesterday I ate a pan of brownies by myself. Oh wait. Maybe that WAS yesterday.

But in all seriousness, I'm learning a lot. About reality. About food. About how I feel now that I'm thinner. How I DON'T feel (odd, I know).

For instance: Reality. We LOVE those Mega Thins tortilla chips. Love them. And one night last week, since I had quite a few points left in the day, I thought I'd have a few with my Chicken Tortilla soup. I had the points, right? Well, once I plugged in the calorie/fat/fiber info into my points calculator, I realized that I could only eat eight chips for THREE points. Gag. And I wonder why I wasn't losing weight while eating half of the bag in one sitting. (sigh) They didn't taste quite as good after that. This has happened with other foods more times that I would care to count.

I'm learning a lot about what IS worth it. Starbucks, for instance. I LOVE to go to Starbucks with the Coach. It feels indulgent and luxurious and totally frivolous to BUY flavored coffee. Now we don't do it often, but we DO go and those points are totally worth it. I just make sure I have enough points left during the day so I can really enjoy it when we go. And I have changed what I order. Three or four points can always be "fit" in, but eight? Or ten? For a drink? You get the idea.

I feel like I have a new understanding of the fact that I can't just eat everything I want whenever I want however much I want. It's reality whether I've accepted it in the past, or not. Submitting to the cause and effect of my diet is oddly freeing. If I want to be a healthy weight, I have to accept the reality that what I eat DOES matter. I've always known all of this, of course. I've just failed to apply it. At least on a consistent basis.

And I'm learning a lot about myself. I don't like the attention that I get from looking differently. Well. . . I like the attention from the Coach! (smile) But I'd much rather stay in the background, otherwise, and it feels very awkward to have others notice that I look different. This, of course, if my own fault. If I hadn't broadcasted HERE that I was trying to lose weight, I'm sure no one WOULD notice. Ha! Didn't think about that until it was too late, though.

Never expected it, but I feel oddly insecure, too. My clothes are all too big. I'm not ready to buy more. Yet. And when I am ready, I'm not sure what to buy (besides the standard good pair of jeans and some black pants). My budget won't allow a total wardrobe makeover. Yet I have very few things that fit. Another dilemma I didn't plan on. My kids think they should call "What not to wear." Ouch.

I did walk into a store while running some errands last week. And honestly? It was intimidating. I'm not complaining. I'm really not. I don't want to go back. But looking through clothes I realized I have a "standard" that I always look for. Things that feel "safe" for me after years of pre-baby and post-baby and post-miscarriage and post-stress weight. The ups and downs have made me very self-conscious and the thought of trying to shop for and find new things makes me want to go eat a package of Oreos. Still have some work to do there, I guess!

But all in all, I feel great. I don't mind the baggy clothes (except that my workout pants wouldn't stay up while I was running the Coach this morning and how embarrassing is that?). I still have one pair of jeans that fit (even if they are really old). Tops still work just fine - well, except for the baggy t-shirts that fill 2/3 of my closet, but I do have a few cute tops that I've purchased more recently.

If I had the TIME, I would clean out the bigger things that I can't wear anymore. That would feel GOOD. I think. Then again, I guess I worry that I won't be able to maintain this (if I could maintain, I wouldn't be losing this Little Man baby weight for the third time). But when I started, I committed for the long haul. Good weeks and bad weeks. Ups and downs. If I quit, I'll never find victory over this weight issue and I'm SO done with being fat. SO done with it.

In spite of the need to keep learning and growing and adjusting (which is just part of life in general, is it not?), I'm thrilled that I'm no longer regretting the fact that I should "do something" about losing weight. I'm doing it. Most people celebrate when they reach their goal weight. Not me. I'm going to celebrate when I get my "lifetime"! Being able to maintain a healthy weight is my goal this time. And now that I'm almost done with the losing part, the hard part is just beginning.

Thank you for all of your sweet encouragement! I'm ever so grateful for your prayers. I really don't regret laying it all out here and being real. I hope it's been encouraging at some level for someone. I highly recommend Weight Watchers for those of you who need some help with losing weight. But you know what? I love you just the way you are. Inside you are YOU. The outside is just the package. I'm still the exact same person, personality, strengths, and weaknesses that I was here. Even though since that amazingly wonderful day I've lost 27 pounds (19 of it in the last 8 weeks). Still me. Even if looking at those pictures made me cry. I was so happy. And yet so disappointed in myself for not losing even ONE pound through all of those months of training.

But I'm not there, anymore. Now I'm out running with my girl and my Coach. Learning to navigate cooking for a big family. Figuring out ways to indulge that I enjoy and can fit in my plan. Making the most of the TIME and not just he FOOD of life. It's all good.

It may take some time to adjust to my "new" size. But I will. The Coach will, too. Although I hope he doesn't ever quit looking at me like he has been, lately. I like it. A lot.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Thursday, again? Whew!

We've had a great week. Kind of the "lull" before the "storm" of basketball season! And we're enjoying it!

1. Having everyone home in the evenings three nights. Lovely.

2. Fall Festival tonight at school. Talk about excited kids!

3. That Daughter's (#7) Monday night tummy ache didn't materialize into anything serious.

4. This article. So encouraging to a tired mom! One of my most frequent sayings, "Obeying me is just practice for obeying God."

5. Can't believe it, but finishing up week EIGHT on Weight Watchers. Loving it!

6. Coffee date with the Coach on Sunday night.

7. First few Christmas gifts purchased. Long way to go!

8. No school tomorrow! Woohoo!

9. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Fall weather!

10. Being able to run outside in November! Amazing. Especially thankful since our treadmill isn't functioning these days.

11. Boys who take care of the yard. On Wednesdays. And Saturdays.

12. Local victories for conservative candidates on Tuesday.

13. My boys have kept their room clean all week. I know! Crazy!

14. Teachers who love my kids.

Time to get this day going!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Always reading. . .

If you visit much here at Mrs. Troop, you know I love to read. I'm always reading something. I read a lot of good, challenging, "learning" books and now and then I get tired and read something just for fun, like Francine Rivers. She can't publish new books fast enough for me!

But along with that, I read several weekly, monthly, quarterly publications that I enjoy tremendously. One of my favorites is No Greater Joy. I have to be in just the right frame of mind to pick up the newest issue. It is ALWAYS challenging, usually convicting, and almost always leaves me with a choice to change something or not. (sigh)

The latest issue had an article about emotional attachments outside of marriage. And hidden in the text of this article I found something precious and beautiful that absolutely thrilled my heart.

"I explained to her that young girls who are coming of age have a deep seated need to be loved and appreciated by a man. I told her that all young women have a soul yearning to be tenderly understood by a man who listens to their deepest feelings and shares their hopes and longings. I explained that when young couples marry the girl has this profound need, but her young husband's need for spiritual union has not yet been awakened. He is thrilled with the fulfillment of physical intimacy, and he might feel a touch of the emotional attachment, but almost none of the spiritual connection. The soul-bonding for which she yearns is not likely to be satisfied until the marriage has matured. To most young brides the husband appears clumsy and unfeeling. But as the wife continues to obey and reverence her young husband, he will grow in appreciation for her soul, and in time learn to care for her emotional and spiritual needs.

"Adam knew his wife and she bare a son. The intimacy of marriage is viewed as knowledge. This soul bonding we are discussing is not knowledge of the intimate, but it is intimate knowledge - soul knowledge, which is the real essence of marriage. It is emotional and spiritual copulation, to be shared with that one special person to whom you are married. Anyone that has ever experienced this "knowledge" in their marital relationship knows why marriage is sacred, holy, honorable, and used by God as a picture of Christ and the church. God calls it a 'great mystery'.

"Marriage done according to God's plan is glorious. Having known this glory first hand, I wrote Created to be His Helpmeet, wanting other women to know it was within their grasp to have a glorious marriage. A man instinctually responds to a woman who reverences him, especially so if she honors him in the early years of marriage, before time has polluted the waters of bitterness."

This rang so true in my heart. Mirrored so beautifully the progression that the Coach and I have experienced in our relationship. It brought tears to my eyes as I read the exact words I would use to describe what the Coach and I share. Marriage is a mystery. It can be glorious. I'm blessed to have such a marriage. A husband who understands me, loves me, lays down his life for me each and every day.

We are gloriously happy and wondrously in love. It started out great. But it's gotten better and better. And I can't tell you the excitement I feel thinking about the years we have ahead of us! Wrinkles and all! Ha!

I thank the Lord every day for this kind of marriage - I know it's becoming increasingly rare in these times that we live in.

May the Lord encourage you through these words. If you are "young" in your marriage, trust the Lord that He has so much more in store for you - and glorious marriage will come if you continue to seek Him and reverence your husband. I never thought the Coach and I didn't have a great marriage - we always have. But the kind of marriage we have NOW, after almost 16 years, was never within my imaginations. It's beyond wonderful.

God is so good to give us this earthly love!

(You can read the article by Debi Pearl in it's entirety here.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sanctification. . . or "Someday I'll"

I often wonder if I really AM learning, growing, changing, becoming more like my Lord Jesus?

Sometimes I sense the Holy Spirit shutting my mouth and I actually obey! WOW! Other times it isn't until I've responded like my 3 year old and THEN realize that I didn't even hear the caution in my heart. (sigh)

I see those around me changing.

I see my teens - their desire to do right, to please the Lord. Sure they blow it sometimes. . . but I see their tender hearts when they come to talk and make things right. Their willingness to ask forgiveness and mend the relationship. The Christ-like character that is developing in them.

I see my Coach. How the Lord has softened him over the years. Given him a desire to pour his life into his own kids. How he doesn't lose his temper. How he loves God's Word (he always has) and makes it a priority (even when I'm too tired to crawl out of bed). I've seen him become a man of humility. Learning to have a grateful heart and a learning spirit.

I've watched my parents. Over the years they have had a desire to grow and change and learn. Learned to say "I don't know," instead of always having to have the answer. Learning to ask forgiveness and admit they are wrong. Learned to be slow to judge and quit to offer grace.

I see God working in my little ones. Their questions about Him. Their love for His Word. Their desire to do right and show kindness and love. How they are more sensitive than I am to what is right and how important it is to obey.

I see Him at work all around me.

But sometimes I wonder. . . will I ever change?

I lose my patience. I holler at the kids when they have ignored my instructions. I fail to take the time to help them work through their conflict with one another and instead I just let it go. I get frustrated when the Coach is gone four evenings out of five. I lose it when I have spent hours washing and folding clothes only to have them never put it all away (or worse yet, put it right back into the basket still folded!) I am irritated when my hours in the kitchen conclude with grumpy faces around the dinner table. Some nights I don't want to spend 45 minutes tucking in the younger 6, singing songs, praying, scratching backs, and catching up with the older two before falling into bed, myself. I am selfish. Impatient. Quick to anger. Intolerant of the childishness.

I so grateful that God is faithful. I may not always feel it, but I know and believe and trust and hope that He isn't tired of working on me. I'm going to continue to say "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" I'm going to continue to confess to Him my total inability to be the mom and wife and daughter and friend that I should be. I'm going to submit to Him every day, every hour, every moment, trusting that "He who began a good work in you . . . will be faithful to complete it."

I realize that I won't be "complete" until heaven. But I know He's working in me. And someday? Someday I will learn to be more patient. More long suffering. More self LESS. But I won't get there just by trying harder. Take my word for it, I'm the queen of trying harder! Only by God's grace, the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the instruction, teaching, correcting and training of His Word. (II Timothy 3:16)

How blessed we are to know that we serve a living God who cares intimately for us and is working on us to conform us to the image of His Son. There is hope!

And in the meantime? Don't be surprised if you hear me yelling out the back door to a yard full of happy, playing, jumping, swinging kids. . . "You'd better get in here and put your laundry away! NOW!"


Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thankful. . . uh. . . Friday.

Happy Friday!

Someday I'll be a more faithful blogger.


Someday I'll do a lot of things.

Like wash the windows.

But today? I'm thankful!

It's been busy here at the troops, but we are doing well!

FABULOUS Fall break with our kiddos last week. Lovely time together. Got a lot done, but rested, too. So nice.

1. The Coach finished up the Jr. High football season this week. We have our Monday nights back. Temporarily, of course, because basketball is about to start!

2. End of week 7 on Weight Watchers, today. Want to know how much I've lost? Well, do you? Hee hee.

3. Jogging with my Daughter (#2) twice this week. Feels great to be out there in this beautiful Fall weather with my favorite 13 year old! And feels good to be able to keep up with her!

4. Phone line fixed after 6 days without home phone and VERY slow DSL. Woo hoo!

5. THREE field trips this week for the Elementary kids. Fun week for them! Thankful for all of the moms who DO go along, drive, help the kids, and provide comfort and encouragement to my kids, too!

6. A Friday night at home, tonight. The kids opted for a night at home with pizza instead of the football game, tonight. I'm good with that! I think we even have a Netflix movie to watch!

7. I missed posting about it (and everything else that's happened in the last two weeks), but the Coach proposed to me in October. 16 years ago. One of the reasons I love Fall. It's when we fell in love. (smile)

8. Weeks and weeks of glorious Fall weather! My favorite time of year, for sure. But usually we get only days of this amazing weather. It's been wonderful to be outside so much!

9. Pumpkin Spice creamer. Or Belgian Chocolate Toffee creamer. It's a toss up. Usually the chocolate would win, but the pumpkin has been perfect, lately.

10. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (uh oh, haven't I given you that recipe?). I haven't eaten any of them, but oddly enough, I'm enjoying watching the troops enjoy them! One of the many things I've learned in the last 7 weeks. Baking for OTHERS is fun. And I probably WOULD have had one of them, if I hadn't eaten one of THESE earlier in the week. Ha!

11. Hair cut on Wednesday. Ahhhhhh.

12. Good reading material. World magazine. The New American. Books on the Coach's Nook. Weight Watchers magazine. All of the lovely holiday catalogs. Perfect for a cool Fall evening while the Coach is watching football film.

And NOW. . . it's time to finish up the day's laundry, check the younger kids notebooks, and let the weekend begin!

Blessings on YOUR weekend! I hope you are able to enjoy time with your family, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Busy week at the troops.

1. Son's (#4) broken finger is healing nicely. Woo hoo for front yard football!

2. Fun day with Daughter (#6) and her class celebrating Columbus Day on Monday. Pretty sure I've NEVER been a class parent helper. Ever. In 9 years. It was time.

3. Son's (#1) JV win on Monday. Fun to see him play. He even got "Bandit Team Player of the Week" this week. How fun is that?

4. Good BSF class on Tuesday. Really missed being there last week (even though I enjoyed the day with my kiddos). Love studying God's Word and learning from the other women there.

5. Taking treats to Daughter's (#7) class on Wednesday for her SIXTH birthday. Sweet little Kindergarten kids. And grateful that "elementary teacher" was not my calling in life. Those teachers are AMAZING!

6. Fun Play Group with moms and tots from our Sunday School class this morning. Coffee, conversation, funny kiddos. Enjoyed it!

7. Dinner tonight with all four grandparents for Daughter's (#7) birthday (a day late). Bacon Bowtie Pasta, Bread, Broccoli, Cupcakes (she asked for white with chocolate frosting and chocolate with white frosting!).

8. The long-awaited American Girl Doll that our girls have all received from my mom on their sixth birthday. She told me tonight at bedtime that she's been waiting her whole life for that doll!


10. Tomorrow will be five weeks on Weight Watchers. Feeling great.

11. Football tomorrow night. Friends coming home with our kids to play for a bit before the game.

12. Then SATURDAY (I'm getting ahead of myself here) - and maybe, if we are REALLY blessed. . . Date night! Woo hoo! Missed my time with the Coach last Saturday.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Weight Watchers edition

Happy Thursday!

I have so much to be thankful for, today.
So much.

But I've also had lots of people ask me. . . "What ARE you eating?"

After four weeks (tomorrow) on Weight Watchers, (and loving it, by the way) I thought it might be fun to share with you some of my favorites "quick" meals and snacks.

I won't eat it if it's not "quick". Seriously. I barely have time to eat, as it is. Which is puzzling since I have managed to eat enough, if the past, to be overweight. Maybe I just eat FAST. Ha!

So today here's a Thankful Thursday "Favorite Low Point Food" list:

1. EAS Shake. You can find these in the grocery store, but they are cheaper at Sam's. The chocolate shake with 17g of protein (I think it's 110 calories). Perfect for a busy morning after a 4 mile run (Can I use the word run? Because it sounds awesome. But really I just jog most of it and walk up the HUGE hills in our neighborhood. Sigh.) *2 points*

2. Oatmeal. 1/4 C of oats (I prefer the NOT quick cooking kind), 1/2 C water, 1/8 C raisins. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 of a chopped banana. I eat this EVERY day - for breakfast OR lunch. Fills me up, tastes great, helps me get my fiber, and YUM (I know I'm weird. This is not a new concept to me.) On mornings when I walk/jog six miles I will sometimes have 1/2 C oatmeal and 1 C water, instead. Adds one more point. *3 points*

3. Eggs and Bacon. Or a close relation. 2 egg beaters, scrambled with minced onion and dried parsley. Right before they are done add 1 oz chopped Canadian Bacon. You can also add some "Light" bread, toasted (2 slices = 1 point). *3 points*

4. Turkey Sandwich. 2 slices of "light" bread, three slices of turkey (read labels for your point values), 1 t light mayo (I can't stand Fat Free Mayo, but if you must, you must), tons of Romaine lettuce. *3.5 points*

5. Veggie wrap. Read labels to find a 1 point tortilla or wrap that you like. Fill with fresh veggies and a spray of Ranch Spritzer. If you have the points to use, you can use 1 T grated cheese (we just have "regular" cheese around here, so I make it work), for 1 point. Or you can add some sliced turkey. The veggies are mostly "free" (be sure and look them up to make sure of the serving size). So this would just be *1 point* without cheese or turkey. You can also throw in some grilled chicken or whatever you have on hand.

6. Along with all of these, you can have your light bread, 2 slices toasted (1 point) with light butter (1 T=1 point). Or a light English muffin (1 point) with light butter. You can also use spray butter, but I like it better on potatoes or steamed veggies. Not so good on toast. I keep looking for the WW cream cheese spread, but I haven't been able to find it, yet.

Now for some Snacks:

1. Popcorn. You can have FIVE CUPS (popped) of fat-free microwave popcorn. WOW! *1 point*

2. Pudding snacks. Now here is where it gets really down to reality. I HAVE to have something sweet. These really hit the spot when I need something chocolate. Read the labels to check point values. *1 point*

3. Fiber One Yogurt. Why didn't someone tell me this before last week? YUM! *0 points*

4. Jello. Sugar free. *0 points*

5. Small apple, 1 C of grapes or 1 1/2 C strawberries. *1 point*

6. Pretzel Twists (for when I just have to have something salty and crunchy). 15 = *2 points*

7. Raw veggies with Roasted Red Pepper Humus. You just need to count the humus. 2 Tablespoons = *1.5 points*

8. Pumpkin Muffins - *1 point*

Now. For dinner? I've just been cooking as usual for the troops. I eat a serving of the main dish (using my online "Recipe Builder" to calculate points). We have a big salad or raw veggies with every meal. I eat whatever steamed vegetables I serve with it. Skip the bread. I use brown rice/whole wheat pasta/beans with every meal. Makes it go further. Haven't had trouble fitting that in and still staying within my points.

At night? I love a cup of decaf coffee with my favorite creamer. The creamer is two points, but WAY worth it after a day eating well.

One thing that I've had to carefully consider - if I don't LIKE it, I don't eat it - healthy or not. Every one's tastes are a bit different. Don't eat something just because you think you should. Make what YOU like work for you. I've had Panera on our date nights, hamburgers (out and at home), cinnamon rolls, Starbucks. We eat at Chick-fil-A with my parents every week and I LOVE the salad - but if I don't feel like a salad? I get the grilled chicken sandwich! I tried the 0 point dressing and I didn't like it - so I get the 1 point dressing instead.

My point is this - you won't stick with something that makes you miserable. If you LIKE something, consider if there is a healthier version. If not? Eat it. Just count it. Make it fit into your day's points. However DO NOT eat something just because it's there. Think about whether or not it's worth it. It's amazing to me how figuring the points on some things has been a huge motivator to give them up. It's just not worth it.

Hope this has given you some good ideas. Leave me a comment with YOUR favorite healthy "quick" meal or snack.

Happy Healthy Eating!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Watching your Weight? Try these!

You all KNOW how I love a good pumpkin muffin. And a Chai Tea Latte.
(which I'm pretty sure has something to do with my need to lose weight)

My favorite? This recipe from Crazy Daisy baked in muffin pans. Divine. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Sad, isn't it?

But this girl IS watching her weight and although I CAN eat those fabulous muffins, I can't do it very often. (sigh) It's reality. I don't always LIKE it, but it's reality. Me eating a batch of Crazy Daisy's muffins every week and being the size I was? Or eating a "thinner" version and reaching my goal weight.

It's all about choices.

So these are my favorite right now. I haven't had time to tweak them, much. Pretty sure I can improve on them in some way or another. But they are good just like this.

ONE point Pumpkin Muffins

In mixer, blend:
2 eggs
1 C pumpkin (I doubled the recipe and used the whole can)

Add and mix in:
2/3 C dry milk
6 T flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t nutmeg
3 T brown sugar
Dash of salt

Fold into well mixed batter:
3/4 c grated carrot
4 T raisins

Bake in well-greased muffin pans approx 12-15 minutes.
To make these "one point muffins" you need to make 12 muffins with this batter.

These will be smaller muffins - if you want big, over-the-top muffins, you could make six from this amount of batter and they would be two points each. Or make them regular size - 9 muffins per batch - and they would be 1.5 points each. You get the idea!

They don't last forever sitting on the counter - they are VERY moist. If they won't be eaten right away, I'd recommend storing them in the fridge.

I'll whip some up this afternoon and add a picture when they are done.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Really Great

Not every day here at the troops could qualify for "really great".
Most days don't.
Not to be "glass half empty" or anything, but it takes a lot of work to keep things rolling around here and our schedule? Could be classified as hectic. Or insanely crazy. Whichever you prefer.

Today was different, though.

~Started with sleeping in (kids out of school for parent teacher conferences) after a fun JV game last night in the cool Fall air. Son (#1) played the whole time, grandparents came, it was cool and clear outside - and I wasn't a bit worried about how late it went. It didn't matter!

~Continued with a BIG breakfast for the troops. Cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, fruit, juice, and hot chocolate. These things make them happy. Very happy. :-) (and I enjoyed the smell!)

~Unexpected visit from BFF Daisy Girl. Wow! Wish I could hug her neck every day of the week. But it was lovely to see her for a minute or two.

~Four miles with my Son (#4) and Daughter (#6) - she made it about 1 1/2 miles - on the most beautiful of mornings! And a faster time than I've had in awhile - 47:11. The leaves were falling, the breeze was blowing, and I got to visit with my boy. He was the lucky one on the bike, by the way.

~Lunch at Chick-fil-A with Granddad and Grandmother. Yummy salad. Lovely visiting. Delightful.

~Errands with seven of the kids. Don't do that very often - but we had FUN! Picked up things that were needed for Fall. Payless BOGO is wonderful, is it not?

Now we are home. Little Man is napping. Kids are finishing up some projects for school. The Coach and Son #1 had an early afternoon practice so will be home MUCH earlier than the usual Tuesday evening. Hamburgers are ready for the grill and did I mention. . .

What a beautiful Fall day!!

So, no. . . it's not always like this at our house.

But when it IS really great? We're sure going to enjoy it!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Late Sunday Night. . .

So I took a nap with Little Man this afternoon. It's become our Sunday routine.

I realize that these days won't last forever and I try to enjoy it while I can. On weekdays he naps in his own bed. Rather willingly, I might add. But when all of the troops are home on the weekend, he has a hard time settling down. Imagine that.

Someday he won't be willing to lie down beside me and let me rub his back until his heavy eyelids finally fall shut.

It's lovely, really.

With the older seven I didn't have time for naps. Any naps I did manage to sneak were while lying on the living room couch with a movie on and kids climbing all over me. (sigh)

I kinda miss that. Not.

Now the older kids are old enough they can entertain themselves, read, work on homework, play on the Wii or run around outside during naptime on Sunday. Leaving me to take a REAL nap. Now that I don't need it nearly as badly as I used to.

Little Man was so tired, today, that it took him awhile to get settled. The blanket wasn't soft enough. His foot hurt. He wanted milk. He didn't want milk. You get the idea.

As a younger mother, these things would have annoyed me. OK. Last week they annoyed me. But I really WANT to be filled with God's grace. To approach any "irritation" (mothering can be virtually ALL irritation on some days) with more of a grace filled response.

Today? I was able to comfort him and not worry about how long it would take him to fall asleep or how soon someone would need me and come in to wake us both up in the process.

I'm learning (I hope) that so much of mothering is just comforting and loving and letting things work themselves out.

Not to say that training and teaching and correcting and disciplining aren't huge.

WAY huge.

But so much of what I get worked up about isn't WORTH getting worked up about. I've taught my kids to respond too quickly, with too much frustration, to things that really don't matter in the long run. They've become much more like their mother than their laid-back "it is what it is" father.


So I'm trying something new. I read that Amy Carmichael offered "short" prayers in time of difficulty (I'm not suggesting that having someone step on your bare toes with their cowboy boots every morning while there are 8 people in the kitchen making lunches is a true difficulty. . . but BOY it annoys me!).

"Your love, Lord."

"Your grace, Lord."

"Your patience, Lord."

He's answering. I know I won't change overnight.

But I know that one moment at a time. . . one irritation at a time. . . one interrupted nap, one squashed toe, one spilled cup of lemonade or stain on the carpet at a time. . . I'm learning.

And since I had that nap with Little Man? I'm not tired. A bit.

So what to do, now?

Take a sleeping pill and catch up on some sleep ?
. . .That might make me groggy in the morning, though.
Go to bed and read until I'm tired?
. . . Finished my new Francine Rivers, book, already.
Work on my BSF lesson?
. . . OK. START my BSF lesson.
Stay up and balance the check book?
. . . For the month of June, July and August, anyway.
Fold seven loads of laundry while watching "Keeping Up Appearances?"
. . . What would I do, tomorrow, then?

I can't decide.

But if, in the meantime, someone needs help going potty while half asleep, starts sleepwalking (we have several who have that habit) or crying because of a bad dream. . . remembers something they need for tomorrow. . . or asks me to sing them ONE MORE SONG. . .

"Thy patience, Lord."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sat down to start a post and all of a sudden it hit me: It's Thursday! (I'm a little bit slow. But you already know this.)

You're probably glad. . . I was going to post about our septic system. Instead, I'll just start there. . .

1. Having the septic tanks pumped this morning.
(I'm just being real here. And it WAY needed to be done.)
2. Time with a friend last night. Dinner. Coffee. Shopping. Ahhhhhh.
3. Diet DP for lunch, today. Such a treat. And YUM.
4. Parents coming back tonight. What is WITH all of this traveling? Don't they realize how much I depend on them? It's not as if anyone else will come fold my laundry or take all eight kids to lunch, forheavenssake.
5. Good walk on the treadmill this morning. And kids who download songs onto my ipod for me (even if some of them make me go, "Hmmmm.").
6. Clean house. Clean sheets and towels. At least it was all clean, yesterday, and I'm holding onto that thought.
7. Tons of clean laundry to fold (because the washer was busy with sheets and towels, yesterday). And old episodes of "Lois and Clark" to watch while I fold it. Maybe during naptime, today. I'm a sucker for super heros.
8. New season of Biggest Loser. I haven't actually gotten to sit down and watch a whole show in the first two weeks, but I love it, still.
9. Putting on smaller jeans this morning. Woo hoo. Not my SMALLEST jeans, but smallER. Which is feeling pretty great!
10. The end of a wonderful volleyball season for Daughter (#2), on Tuesday. She played well and had FUN. Such a sweet group of girls. Now on to basketball!
11. Beautiful weather. Here in Oklahoma we only have about two weeks of perfect weather every year. Here it is.
12. Fall wreath on the front door. I didn't quite make it until October 1st, but I only had time for the wreath, so far.
13. Sidewalk chalk on clearance at Wal-mart and hours of fun for my kids, yesterday.
14. $2 shirts - one for me, one for Daughter (#2) at Old Navy last night. Can't beat that!
15. New Pumpkin Muffin recipe. Only 1 WW point per muffin. Fabulous!
16. The look on the face of the septic service man when I told him that 10 people live here.
17. The anticipation of a visit, on Saturday, with some very sweet friends from my past life. You know the one - before marriage and eight kids. Can't wait to catch up with them!
18. Three weeks of Weight Watchers down. Many more to go!
19. New Sunday School class study starting this week - really looking forward to hearing my parents teach on marriage. They've had 47 years of experience! (And I love them. Did I mention they've been gone a lot, lately?)
20. Football game tomorrow night and the possibility of Son (#1) playing some for the Varsity team. He's not ready for that (as a Freshman) but it will be a BIG deal for him! (and for us!)
21. New "Cat in the Hat" show on PBS. I can get through almost three miles on the treadmill while it's on and Little Man LOVES it. He's playing on right now while I write.
22. Last but not least. . . one of our sweet sitters (precious gifts from God during the years when our troops were all little) is going to deliver her first baby today. I am so excited for her! Babies are SO exciting! God's greatest blessings. Happy for her - feeling her pain (why is it still so fresh after 3 1/2 years - ha!) - and waiting to hear of her sweet boy's arrival.

Some days I am overflowing with thankfulness! I hope you are, too, today.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Points? What points?

So it's Monday.

And I have regrets.

Somehow, in hindsight, sharing my weight loss struggles in such a raw and honest way is feeling like it may have been unwise. Is it possible to be TOO real?

Don't get me wrong! All of the sweet, encouraging comments and empathy blessed my heart! How wonderful to feel like I am not alone in this struggle.

But in the light of week three on the plan, I find myself thinking it's time to give you an update. And do I really want to do that?

I guess I could delete that first post. Move on. Not tell you how things are going. But that wouldn't be right. I wouldn't have a blog without you reading it! From your response to my first weight loss post, I'm humbled that so many of you care and can relate.

(big breath)

First two weeks, plus some, have been AMAZING. Should I tell you how much I've lost? Or is that not really the point? I don't know.

But it's going great.


Weight Watchers is SO doable. So workable. So flexible. I didn't expect that. Could it be because the last time I attempted it I had an 8 week old baby who had been a preemie and 7 other kids 11 and under (and even then it WORKED!)?


I am finding lots of great things to eat that make it easy to stay within my points each day. Quick. Simple. Healthy. When I want something. . . . I decide if it's worth it or not. Sometimes it is. More often it isn't. But either way it's the stopping and thinking that's really helping me.

Life is rushing along at a break neck speed here at the troops. I guess there is great benefit in that, as the weeks on WW are rushing by, as well. Week three will finish up on Friday and I'm hoping to hit the 5% goal. Can't believe it.

God is good.

Something has "clicked" for me and I'm not only doing well on the plan, I am enjoying it. I've only had a couple of days that I've struggled, but there is always something I CAN eat and eating healthier, more filling food has helped me feel better, have more energy AND sleep more soundly.

I want to clarify that part of my success thus far has been because of where we ARE in life here at the troops. I don't have a baby. I have lots of older kids to help out. It helps to be in the stage of life when I can get a full night's sleep most nights. When I can get older kids to take care of some things. It's where we are and for all of it's craziness, I am able to do more things like this, now, than I could in the last 15 years. I'm grateful for that. For this time of life when I have the help and situation that allows me to add "one more thing". Even if I have to drag Little Man to the meetings with me!

That's all for now.

It feels so great to be DOING something about getting to my goal instead of just getting on the scale and being bummed. I was already doing so many things RIGHT. . . this has just brought it all together and given me the encouragement and accountability that I needed.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday

The Coach called from school this afternoon. Unusual to hear from him in the middle of the day. Thought maybe something was wrong, but all seven school kids were a-ok. Whew! Between the stomach virus going around and the lice scare, any call from school makes me nervous!

He thought since football practice is over a bit sooner on Thursdays and Daughter's (#2) volleyball game was a bit later and at our school, he could catch the last of her game and bring her home (along with Son #1). Which would mean that we didn't have to go.

(Is it possible to get a degree in schedule coordination? And yes, I realize it's going to get worse!)

We have been running hither and yon for weeks, now. Rarely coming home from school and STAYING home. Many days we don't come home at all until after a game. Or two.


A free after school afternoon at home?

Ahhhhhhh. What a gift!

The girls are playing school (go figure - eight hours doesn't seem to be enough) in the sunroom.

The boys are reading their AR books outside on the trampoline with the breeze blowing and a cloudy sky overhead.

Even Little Man seems to be thrilled to be playing by himself instead of riding in the car or sitting at a game.

Dinner is already started (thought we'd be rushing in late to eat and get everyone to bed).

House is straightened and laundry done.

Every one is happy and quiet and enjoying being home.

So much to be thankful for!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Needing to hear it.

Today the Coach and I celebrate our "courtship anniversary".

16 years ago, today, my father gave the Coach permission to win my heart.

Well. I'm celebrating it at least. Not sure the Coach even realizes what day it is. I'll go remind him here in a minute.

I didn't make the "winning my heart" part very difficult - my daddy had already done that. (you can read about it here, if you haven't, already)

For some reason this brought to mind a "list" of sorts. Things the Coach says on a regular basis. He's a Mr. Steady kind of guy, so I can count on a certain response, in a given situation. And he's a man of few words, so I usually try to listen when he DOES say something!

#1 would definitely be "I love you." No doubt about it. He told me he loved me the first time right before he asked me to marry him. And has said it many times every day, since. I never tire of hearing it.

#2 is most likely, "Where is. . . " And believe it or not, he's not usually referring to one of our kids. It's probably keys, his football hat, his whistle, a shirt, a book. . . you get the idea. I'm so happy to report that my oldest son has inherited this trait. Those two can open the door, look in the pantry, and miss the peanut butter that is right in front of them. It's an endearing quality, really. It's nice to be needed.

Following closely at #3 would be "Embrace the Chaos, Sweetie." When things get crazy and I start unraveling. . . calling him at work to tell him I have NO idea how to get everyone where they need to be on time AND get homework done AND feed kids dinner AND get them to bed early enough that the following day won't be misery for us all. . . there it is. My calm, easy going, cool, "it'll all work out", guy saves the day.

Sometimes the words are enough to make me stop, take a deep breath, and start all over.

Sometimes I need a hug to go along with it. And the promise of a date night.

I didn't know back on this day 16 years ago what life would hold for the Coach and I (and it's turned out beautifully, by the way). But maybe I did see that quality in him and know that the Lord was giving me exactly what I needed. A man who would help me handle the chaos of life with a smile, a deep laugh, and a hug.

And I'm sure the Lord knew the Coach would need me, too. To find things.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday

1. That Daughter's (#7) stomach bug, Tuesday night, was short lived.

2. That no one else is sick. Yet. Thank you, Lord!

3. For a Hoover Steam Vac. Enough said.

4. For a husband who helps clean up the worst of messes.

5. For the entertainment of watching his face while we are cleaning up such messes. HA!

6. For Netflix online when kids are sick.

7. Everyone back in school, today.

8. Hair cut, yesterday, for me. Haircuts for all of the boys on Tuesday night.

9. My treadmill. Haven't used it in awhile - but nice to have when you are stuck in the house with a sick kid!

10. Clean house (thanks, Mom!). Love that the scheduled cleaning was right after sickness. Between the two of us, I think we disinfected and laundered EVERYTHING. Whew.

11. IgG (Immunoglobulin). Because Mom can't get sick.

12. GREAT first week on Weight Watchers! Loving it! And no, I'm not being sarcastic!

13. A found TV remote. Unfortunately it's the one we've already replaced, not one of the other two that are missing.

14. BSF. Started Tuesday. So good to be back.

15. Hummingbirds. We've had SO many at our feeder this year. They are delicate and beautiful and the kids love to watch them.

16. Little Man has learned to go potty BY HIMSELF. (do you hear the angels singing?)

17. Mom is coming home from California on Saturday! Yea! I've sure missed her. Especially during morning workouts. Her mad laundry folding skills have been missed a lot, too!

18. More time with my dad this week (see #17). I am so blessed!

19. Tomorrow is Friday! (is it just me, or has it been a LONG, EXHAUSTING week?)

20. Oatmeal for breakfast. Yum.

*Be sure and leave a comment telling me what YOU are thankful for today!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bad Timing

Five minutes before I have to leave for car pool duty (i.e. picking up 8 kids from school) is probably not the ideal time to start a post.

But here I am.

Tuesdays changed today, for Little Man and I, as we headed back to BSF. This year is a new study - in Isaiah - and I'm really looking forward to the encouragement of regular Bible Study.

It made me think about some things.

(other than how "odd" I feel telling people with 1, 2, 3 and 4 kids that we have EIGHT)

God's Word is what it's about. It should be our food, our water, our air. Actually it IS, we just forget sometimes.

It's unbelievably comforting to me that God has a plan for all of the creation - including me and the troops. Because things are bad in the world right now. Sometimes I find worry creeping in. Not for us. I figure it is what it is. Until I think about my children and the world they may have to live in.


And motivating. Better make sure I do everything I can to get them ready, right?

(hoping this includes massive amounts of time watching "Cat in the Hat" videos on PBSkids because that's what it's all about this week for Little Man)

My other thought, today, (hey, two deep thoughts is a lot for one day!) is how precious the fellowship of other believers is. FUN to see familiar faces at BSF - women whom I have prayed for and shared with over the years. Also fun to talk to other sweet friends today whom I know love me unconditionally. Then family. . . especially when they are fellow believers, too - a fun visit from my dad this afternoon, seeing a sister-in-law at BSF, looking forward to having a nephew at the volleyball game, today. Precious. Love them all. Grateful the are so close by and share our faith.

Time is up! Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Misc. Monday

Here are a few recent pictures taken around the troops.
Nothing inspiring, but it's our life.
And we love it!

First of all, this overwhelms me:

Little Man wanted to take a nap "on the Living Room floor" today. ??

Two little monkeys!

Can't believe this guy is TWELVE!

We're off to finish homework, eat dinner, and head to football AND volleyball, tonight. Sometimes we have to call on Granddad to help get everyone where they need to be and/or have someone to cheer the troops on. Whew!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins.

My older kids watched it so many times (back when I had to put a movie in FOR them) when they were little that they hate it, now. The younger kids only get to watch it now and then. When I make them. So I can watch it, too and sing along.

It was the first DVD I bought. But I still have the VHS, too. I have the whole movie memorized. Dialogue AND all of the songs.

And every now and then, this useless information that clogs my brain comes in handy.

Like when I walk into the girls' room and blurt out the first thing that pops into my head:

"It IS rather like a bear pit, isn't it?" (said in my best Mary Poppins accent)

Now if only we could snap our fingers and watch the mess pick itself up!

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Time.

Today I did something big.

As in "monumental proportions" big.

At least for me.

I went back to Weight Watchers.

Now, if you are one of my dear, sweet, skinny friends, you may not be interested in my struggle with my weight. I love you, anyway (just like I love the Coach - except I love him MORE), even if you are thin. I envy you (and yes I realize that's wrong). But I love you. You can skip this post.

However, you might think about something. There is, no doubt, someone in YOUR life who struggles with this like I do. How do you respond to that? Do you think (or say to others), "If they would JUST lose some weight!" followed by how they would be happier or healthier or more accepted or have a better life?

Let me tell you a secret. (and you owe me for this one because it's a painful one)

If we could "just lose the weight", we wouldn't have this problem.

If only it were that simple.

And every time you act as if it would be easy for us to be thin like you are? You make us feel like we are lesser beings. Failures. And now and then? You make it seem like we are the only ones with problems.

So here's another secret.

Everybody has struggles.

Mine? You may be able to see. You may be able to tell by how I dress, how full my face gets or how tight my clothes are that I'm stressed and eating everything in sight.

You may be able to see on the outside that I'm overwhelmed, sad, hurting, or just not dealing with life the way I should.

But here's the thing - you have struggles, too. Just because I can't see them on your "outside", I know they are there.

And may I suggest that you start with the issue of pride?

For today. . .

I got back where I need to be. Being held accountable, receiving LOTS of encouragement, being reminded every day and week what I need to be doing to stay healthy and take care of myself so I can feel better, have more energy and be the wife and mom that God has called me to be. And while I'm being brutally honest - I NEED my clothes to fit. Ha!

It won't be easy.

Good grief - writing THIS sure hasn't been.

But I'm one step closer than I was, yesterday.

For those of you who WANT to follow me on this journey - I'm going to start writing about it a bit. It will be hard. I've never really talked about this before with you all. My dad suggested another blog. But honestly? I barely have time for ONE blog. So here's what I'll do. When I write about weight loss, I'll post it just like everything else here at Mrs. Troop. But once it's posted, it will be included in a new tab/link (coming soon!) on the side. That way if you are coming by JUST to check on this part of the blog, it will be easy to find.

And if this is NOT something that is hard for you, I'm going to keep writing about the rest of the chaos here at the troops, as well. But would you do me a favor? Find someone in your life to love and encourage who struggles with their weight. Don't be condescending. Don't act as if they are inferior to you. Whatever you do, DON'T tell them to "just lose some weight". Just love them. If they are ready? I highly recommend Weight Watchers. Offer to help them with their kids or help them pay for it or go walking with them every day.

But before you do? Check your heart for pride (that's something we ALL struggle with). Realize that you have issues as well. They may not show like mine do. But we all have things we need to work on.

Here's to counting points and tracking food and weighing weekly and. . .

What WAS I thinking? :-)

Happy Friday!