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.)