Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A penny saved is. . . not NEARLY enough!

It's quite possible that I am still annoyed by the price hike on my favorite 32.oz chemical/artificial sweetener/caramel coloring/carbonated water treat.  Finding two quarters in my car, on the kitchen counter, in the couch cushions - totally a possibility on any given day.  Finding four quarters or a dollar bill?  Much less likely.

Reminded me of the fact that the $3 car wash (when we moved to our fair suburb 6 years ago) is now $6.  SIX DOLLARS.  Well worth it, mind you, when you have eight kids and two cars that you swap back and forth every day to cart muddy football players, snacking elementary students, volleyball players, and go on the occasional date night in.  Of course the best thing of all is when one finds QUARTERS while vacuuming out the van at the SIX DOLLAR car wash.  Ha!

Enough of the caps, already, I know.

Back in the day (before suburbs and eight kids), we washed the cars in our driveway with the hose.  I may, in fact, have a serious addiction to clean cars.  Even back then, most often pregnant, little munchkins running all over the place - I would get out and wash the cars on Saturday.  If he'd already finished mowing the lawn (that was before we had boys old enough to do the mowing - like when they turned seven), the Coach would help.  I always did the vacuuming, though.   OK.  I do have a problem.

When I turned sixteen and was given my own car (notice how I resisted the temptation for all caps), I washed it, faithfully.  Even without eight kids to get it filthy dirty every week.  It wouldn't have held eight kids, anyway.  It would have barely held the Coach and I.  But we sold it before he came on the scene.  The only "car wash" besides my own driveway was the one that you pulled into and fed quarters into a machine and washed it yourself.  Probably more quarters than it USED to take to buy 32oz of caffeinated refreshment. 


Enough about dirty cars.

Everything is getting SO expensive.  Milk.  Bread.  And have you bought ground beef, lately?  Good heavens.  One good reason to go vegan, for sure.  Except that I'm pretty sure my football players (and most likely the Coach) would cry "MUTINY!" 

Even Netflix is moving quickly out of the "affordable entertainment for a large family who is too conservative to watch regular TV" category.  There is a category like that, right?  When we first signed up, years ago, it was $9.99 per month.  Two DVD's at a time.  Then came streaming on the Wii.  For FREE.  How awesome was that?  And now?  It's $7.99 for one DVD at a time AND $7.99 for streaming.  Ugh.  Probably should cancel that DVD part, anyway.  I've had the same DVD sitting on the counter for a month, now.  Who has time for a WHOLE movie these days?

And while we are talking about internet?  The whole phone/cell phone/DSL thing is some kind of con.  The bill goes up nearly every month.  All so we can have three cell phones, one land line, three computers, a Wii and two Nooks online at all times.  Never mind that I have to turn all of them off to get some peace and quite around here.  Can I get a credit for that?

I had a phone line when I was a teen.  My own phone line.  In my room (what WERE my parents thinking?).  It had a cord, though, so I certainly couldn't go very far with it.  And the cell phone?  No such thing!  I had a CAR phone.  Mounted in the floor of my Civic.  It was awesome.  And way cheaper.

Sometimes I just sit and reminisce about the "juno.com" days.  Remember?  Free e-mail.  Your already in use phone line, a dial-up connection, sending and downloading e-mails in one fell swoop (and only when you chose to do it).  Sure, it took forever, but think how much LESS time we spent dealing with it all back then.  Free e-mail, I miss you.

Now, my e-mail checks itself without my permission, reminding me of those 117 messages I haven't responded to.  Then there is Facebook.  OK.  Well.  They've pretty much ruined Facebook, but I can't seem to give it up completely.

And Pinterest?  Good Heavens.  Fun.  Addictive.  And a lovely and delightful waste of time that I don't have.

I'm already wasting enough time.  And without my 49 cent bi-weekly afternoon caffeine fix?  I can't stay awake long enough to enjoy the time I'm already wasting.

Just a good reminder, at the end of the day, that our wise parents were right.  Nothing is free.  At least not for long. 

Well, except for the saving grace of our Lord Jesus.  No matter who you are, how much money you have (or don't have), where you live, what you drive, wear, eat or waste time on. . . God's grace is there.  Free.  His gift of salvation.  At His expense.  No fine print.  No loopholes.  No exceptions.

I'll always be able to be thankful for that, even when I can't find four quarters in my dirty car.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

1.  Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of when our courtship began.  Maybe this is why I love Fall so much - it reminds me every year of falling in love with the Coach.

2.  Full pantry, fridge, cabinets, and freezer.  I LOVE that my kids can be in our amazing school.  I do NOT love unloading and putting all of the groceries away by myself.  Ha!

3.  RAIN.  Lovely thunderstorm last night and this morning.  Cool, rainy weather is my favorite!  And we needed the rain so badly.

4.  A pedicure with my mom, yesterday.  The uninterrupted visit is more of a blessing than the pretty toes.  Which is a good thing, because as soon as I walked in the door, someone dropped their homework notebook ON my pretty toes.  (sigh)

5.  Volleyball season is winding down.  It's been fast, furious, and FUN.  A break before basketball season will be nice!

6.  Sale at Coldwater Creek today.  Not sure if I'll make it over there, but I'm going to try!

7.  Finding packages of lean ground beef with reduced prices at Sam's this morning.  Now I just have to make some things with it.  Will be SO nice to have in the freezer, though!

8.  The nap that Little Man and I are going to take, here in the next few minutes. It's cool, cloudy, and when I turn the phone off?  Quiet!  He and I are both SO tired!  And we need to rest up because tomorrow?  Football!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flawed Genes

It's bound to happen.

They are, after all, my offspring.  And the sin gets passed down right along with the brown eyes and big feet (mine, not the Coach's).

My kids are going to fail.  Make poor choices, do something they shouldn't.  I pray every day that in these life lessons, God will protect them.  But they are human, imperfect, learning (just like me!).

When they do?  How do I respond?

Do I remind them who they ARE and who is WATCHING and how embarrassing it is that MY kid would do THAT?

(I'll admit this is my first reaction, if I'm not careful.)

Do I tell them that having a good name is hugely important and that they inherited a VERY good name that they haven't even earned? 

(Which is certainly the truth.)

Do I threaten them with monstrous consequences (real or imagined) and tell them I am disappointed at so many levels?

(When I am, of course.)

Or do I say:

(along with their Heavenly Father)

"Nothing you can ever do will make me love you more.
And nothing you can ever do will make me love you less."

Not for being perfect.  Not for making straight A's.  Not for excelling in sports.  Not for having great friends.  Not because they do things that please me.  Not because they DO anything.

But because they are MINE.


The sin?  It breaks my heart.  But the love?  That's a choice.  Not based on performance, but on the never-ending, never-failing love of my Savior.

Tonight?  I'm choosing to love (right along side consequences of a natural and applied nature).

This is hard stuff.  Parenting isn't for sissies (although I sometimes am one).  It isn't the first time one of my kids has blown it.  It won't be the last (there are eight of them, after all).

~Thank you, Lord, that we can't see all that the future holds and that Your grace is sufficient and Your mercies are new every morning!

Help me to LOVE, even when they fail.  To reach out, even when it's hard.  To forgive. . . in Your strength.

Because as much I could ever love these precious children.

YOU love them more.~

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and Other Stuff. . .

Seriously. Tired. WAY too tired for a Tuesday.  I'm pretty sure losing wears us all out.  Maybe character-building is over-rated.  (Don't tell anyone I said that.)


Where was I?

Oh!  The good news!  Dad's surgery went well, yesterday.  He had a cancerous place removed from his nose.  Things went smoothly.  When the kids saw it, the boys all said "Cool!" and the girls all said, "Eeeewwww!"  Success!  Thanks so much for all of the prayers.

The bad news?  OnCue raised it's prices on the 32 oz. fountain drinks from 49 cents to 79 cents. This is depressing and has pretty much ruined my week. (I jest.  My life will go on.  But I'm not happy about it.)

And the random?

Judging from the response to my painfully revealing post last Thursday, it seems that finding out someone else's faults makes us all feel better.

Glad I could help.

Thanks for the sweet comments, Facebook discussions, and for stopping me while out and about to tell me that you were encouraged.  You've blessed me!  I may have a multitude of weaknesses and faults, but I have the BEST friends.

In the meantime, while I admitted my love for magazines, reading in general is one of my greatest pleasures.  Magazines, books, articles, I even love the newspaper (even if we canceled our subscription long ago).

I'm currently reading Bonhoeffer.  Incredible.  The current issue of World magazine.  October's Traditional Home.  So pretty.  This morning I read this article on homeschooling.  Which reminded me of this book, which I highly recommend.  Reading things like that (the parenting, not the decorating) always challenges me.  What is my priority with my kids?  And why do I sometimes feel like feeding and clothing them is more than I can handle?  Much less training them up in righteousness - with grace - preparing them for the world - trusting the Lord to reach their hearts - loving them unconditionally - giving them opportunities to fail - instilling in them a Christian world view.


Sure am glad that my kids have such a wonderful dad.  Ha!

In the meantime, Little Man wants to watch Garfield on Netflix with me (wonder what world view THAT is teaching?).  I think a second cup of coffee is calling.  Along with some much-needed laundry folding.

What are YOU reading/watching/folding today?

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming Clean. . .

They say confession is good for the soul (I don't know who "they" are, but I listen more than I should).

And I would never, in any sort of way, want any of you to think I'm something I'm not.  So for those of you who "don't know how I do it" or call me "Supermom" (please stop, by the way!) or think juggling the Troops makes me "amazing"?

Here's the truth:

1.  I can be seriously grumpy, impatient, and intolerant of my goofy kids.

2.  Sometimes I want to leave and/or quit.  (Usually when all of the goofy kids are home.)

3.  I like to stay up late.  Even when I'm tired (drives the Coach Mr. Self-Discipline crazy, by the way).

4.  I love rainy days.  And Eeyore.

5.  I hate getting up in the morning (especially since we got that 3 inch memory foam mattress topper.  Grrrrr.).  (See #3)

6.  I'm am even more grumpy, impatient, and intolerant when I'm on a diet.

7.  I'm always on a diet.  Did I say diet?  I mean "life-style change".  Whatever.

8.  I haven't lost any weight since February. 

9.  I have a horrible memory.  Embarrassingly horrible.  If I call you the wrong name, just remember it's not because I don't love you.  I call my kids the wrong names all day long.  And I love them, even when I'm grumpy, impatient, and intolerant of their goofiness.

10.  Calling the girls "Sister" and the boys "Brother" helps with my memory issues.  And it makes me feel like I live in the deep south.  Except the deep south was cooler, apparently, this Summer than it was here.  Go figure.

11.  Heat makes me cranky.  And sweaty.  And cranky.  This Summer the average temperature was higher in our state than it's ever been in history.  That's a lot of cranky sweaty.  I may not cool off until December (because I never, ever, sneak the thermostat down a degree or two.  Never.).

12.  I'm addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper.  But I quit drinking it rather frequently for weeks at a time because my firstborn won't stop telling me how bad it is for me (maybe he's one of the "they"s who say things?).  Except that when I'm not drinking it, I'm even more difficult to live with.  If that's possible.

13.  I think television (or Netflix, Hulu, DVD's etc.) is God's gift to mothers.  Forget playing outside (remember those record setting temps?). . . go "watch something".  Unless your laundry isn't put away or you have homework, in which case if I catch you watching something you will meet "Cranky" in a whole new way.

14.  I eat when I'm stressed.  Getting out of bed is stressful.  Getting seven kids ready for school is stressful (How DO you lose ONE knee pad?  How?).  Making eight lunches is stressful (especially with help).  Calls from the big green van to tell me what was forgotten and needs to be brought to school is stressful.  Trying to get all of the laundry done, grocery shopping done, meals cooked, and house cleaned before I have to go BACK to school is stressful.  (See #7)  Don't even get me started on what it's like after school.

15.  I have failed to teach any of my eight children to change the toilet paper roll.

16.  Finding an empty toilet paper roll when I go to the bathroom is stressful.  (See #14)  (And #7)

17.  All of the socks in our house go through the wash inside out.  And get folded inside out.  And somehow are STILL inside out when they get put back in the laundry basket.  Go figure.

18.  I love magazines.  And I read them from back to front.  And I may or may not hide in the bathroom to read them.  With the door locked.  At least I'm HERE!  (See #2)

19.  I'm a list maker.  Bet you couldn't tell.  Some of my kids like lists, some of my kids hate them.  I can't ever remember which is which.  So I make them for everyone.

20.  I like quiet.  And clean houses.  And personal space.  (Yes, I CAN hear you laughing.)

There are days, or weeks, when I seriously feel for my easy-going Coach and my fun, happy (in spite of me) children (who love to make big messes).  Because I can be really hard to live with.  My expectations are too unrealistic.  I get frustrated when I should laugh.  I'm ALWAYS too tired for one more story, one more song, one more piano duet, one more math problem, one more "Look Mom!  Look!".

Maybe I should go to bed earlier.  (See #5)

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Even when I fail miserably, to be the comforter and encourager that I should be to my family, I'm so grateful that the Lord (and the kids) offers forgiveness and that I can return again and again to HIS strength and grace.  The love of Christ is wide. . . long. . . high. . . deep.

Pretty sure that's enough love even for Grumpy Cranky .

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Things I love. . .

~Catching the Coach sitting at his desk, at night, working, with a big smile on his face.  Asking what?  And having him say, "Just grateful.  Grateful for responsible kids." While looking into the living room where our 13 year old is doing homework.

~Having my firstborn stop me in the kitchen and say, with a muffled mouthful, "Mom!  These muffins are GOOD!"

~Listening to my big kids talk and laugh about the big varsity volleyball game they were at tonight.  Even if they should be in bed, already.

~That my 11 year old son goes to bed without being told.  The other kids say that when he sleeps he's "recharging".  Whew!  I think they are right!

~Listening to my 1st grader read her books from school to me at night.  Sounding out BIG words on her own.

~Little Man spelling his name for me.  Especially when he remembers the "T".

~Hugs from my kids.  From Son #1 who is way bigger than I am, to little man who is all arms and legs.  Love them.

~The Coach's nicknames for all of the kids.  He's the only one that calls them "that" and they love it.

~This song on my i-pod (actually it's Daughter's - #5 - i-pod, but she lets me borrow it) while I run.  Praising Jesus while I run helps me forget how much it hurts.

~The fact that the Coach saw all of the clean laundry in piles in the living room and suggested that maybe we combine "family devotions" with "laundry folding" tomorrow night.  Love him.  Even when he's being sarcastic.

~My Tervis insulated cup.  I have this one.  Gift from my kids this Summer.  Makes drinking water SO much prettier.  And colder.

~Watching my oldest daughter play volleyball.  And her smile.

~My third-born getting to play in his FIRST football game this week.  For his dad (who is the Jr. High Coach).  Made me tear up.  After all of those years taking my babies to their daddy's games - and now my "babies" are PLAYING for their dad.  Sniff.

~Our new "lockers" in the garage that our very kind and very talented fire-fighter friend built for us.  Eight of them.  I'll take some pictures for you!

~That my parents are coming home tomorrow after TWO WEEKS away.  We have SO missed them!

~Coffee-mate Belgian Chocolate Toffee Creamer.  Ahhhhhh.

~Pinterest.  Still waiting to start my own board, but WOW that site is fun.  Need to stay away from those baby pictures, though.  Be still my heart!

Seems this has turned into a Thankful Thursday.  Except on Tuesday night.  But I think I feel better, already!  There will be more to "love" on Thursday, I'm sure.

And now I'm off to bed.  Another crazy busy day awaits, tomorrow.  Oh, another thing I love?

~That when I tell the Coach I can't do this anymore (this being football, volleyball, seven kids in school. . . life), he reminds me that I don't have to.  "The Lord is your strength."  (big sigh)

May you find YOUR strength in HIM this week~

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Coach's Wife and a Momma, too

It's football season here at the Troop's.
(just encase you've been living under a rock)

Cool Friday night games - finally!  What a hot, miserable Summer, it's been.

Stinky practice clothes, rank football pads, and muddy cleats in my garage and laundry room.  Yuck.

VERY hungry teen-age boys.

VERY busy husband-coaches.

Football film running on the computer continually.

Plays scratched on clipboards all over the desk.

Lots more time with the TV on, depending on who is playing and who wants to watch.

Snacks and coloring books replenished and repacked on a regular basis in our "game bag".

The stadium seat staying IN the car (why take it out?).

Sitting in the bleachers as a "single mom" (while the "little" kids play their own game of football behind the stands) and laughing with my sweet school friends and sisters-in-law.  There may or not be some screaming, yelling, and jumping up and down involved, as well.

Borrowing money from my kids to get admission (for 8) into away games.

Early dinners, late bedtimes, and some loooooong drives in between.

And every now and then?

A VERY disappointed Coach and middle linebacker in residence.

Because our boys?  They got pounded last night.

To their credit, this team was WAY out of our league.

To their demise, they didn't play their best.

It happens.

The football pads can be sprayed with Lysol and set out on the deck to air out.  The stinky clothes can be washed.  The cleats can be scrubbed.  The hungry bellies can be fed.  The sore muscles and voices made hoarse by yelling can be rested and recovered.  Naps can make up for some of the lost sleep.

But sometimes the disappointment takes longer to get over.

Sure it's just a game.  It won't last (in fact, we'll do it all over again next week) and it won't matter for eternity.  No amount of "coulda, woulda, shoulda" will change the final score.

It's rough to get spanked by a bigger, badder team.  No fun at all.

But underneath it all?  The character it builds WILL last.  My boys will (I pray) grow up to be more patient, more disciplined, more determined.  And yes, more humble (losing will do that to you).  Like their amazing Coach/Dad.

So even though it's a bummer, I'm going to be grateful that God has given the men in my life ample character building opportunities this week.

Win or lose. . . they are #1 to me.

Hopefully, next week we can build a little less character and come away with a WIN.  Ha!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wisdom, Discernment, and various other needs. . .

Some nights I go to bed with absolutely no idea of how tomorrow will work.
And unless something miraculously changes overnight, this usually leads to getting up in the morning having no idea how the day will work.
(occasionally the answer comes to me in the night, but that is rare and I don't count on it.)

In spite of my efforts, sometimes the kids are even off to school with the Coach, STILL having no idea what we will do or how things will work.
It's life.
With eight kids.

I look at the calendar.
I look at the list.

I see some contradictions.

I look at them both, again.

And then, for the 10th, or 100th time, I offer it all up to the Lord.

God is the blessed controller of all things.  I trust Him.  "For I know the plans I have for you," becomes more than just a verse relating to the big issues of life.

Because it's about the small issues, too.

In the end, everything will work out.  Maybe not the way I would choose, or with the outcome I would like, but time will pass and decisions will be made (I get SO tired of making them!) and the day will come to a close and my heart will be thankful (sometimes by choice) for those "plans".

As moms, we need a great deal of wisdom - seeing things from God's perspective.  Looking at our day, our calendar, our list, with eternal eyes.  We can't do THAT on our own.

In all of those decisions that need to be made and carried out - discernment becomes my prayer.  I don't always know the best thing to do in any given choice.  OK.  I rarely know.  But I can come before the throne of my omniscient Savior and have access to HIS discernment.  Even in the small things.

Because MOST of life is dealing with the small things.

Schedules, rides, games, homework, paperwork, bills, laundry, meals, errands.

Today, I have the refreshed perspective of fires burning to the East of our fair city.  Fires that are close to the homes of many friends and my brother and his family.  A reminder that the small things are just that.  Small.  Not much will last for eternity.  Certainly not houses.

So with my heart full of petitions for the protection of those I love, I approach MY duties for the day.

Grateful for a God who loves, cares for, protects, gives direction, and offers His grace.

The small things still have to be done.  The schedule still worked out.  But hopefully I will tackle it all with a grateful heart and a desire to remember what really matters, today. 

Happy Thursday!