Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicken Ranch French Bread Pizza

Maybe it's just that I'm overwhelmed a lot. . . or something.

But I'm really bad about trying new recipes.

As in. . . I don't.  Ever, really.

I know what the kids like.  I make what the kids like.  I make what I know we'll eat.  And I make a lot of it.

Scrolling through Pinterest is fun.  I like looking at the the yummy things other people make.  My kids have made a few of the recipes, but I've resisted.

Waste time on something "creative" when the troops are hungry and we have to head out the door to a basketball game?  Whatever.

But I did have a moment a few weeks ago.  And inspired by something similar I saw on Pinterest, I created something new.  To the troops, at least.

We had leftover french bread from meatball subs - I buy these in big bags at Sam's - six per bag.  They have wheat, too.


So just slice them in half and drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle on a little garlic powder, then spread with Ranch dressing.  Like so.



I had leftover shredded chicken that I re-heated in the microwave, then spread on the bread.  Followed by bacon - the "real" bacon bit kind (also from Sam's).  But actual bacon (as my kids say, because I feed them turkey bacon, as well), crumbled up, would work well, too.  I sprinkled a little parsley for color.  Tomatoes would be yummy, but the troops would balk.




Cover thoroughly with shredded Mozarella cheese - which I also had left over from the meatball subs.  Some Parmesan would be a good addition, too.  I'll have to remember that.




Then bake for awhile.  Maybe 10-15 minutes at 350.  I just keep an eye on it.  Then broil for a minute or two to nicely brown the top.


These pictures are from the second time I made this.  It went over so well the first time, I put it in the meal plan a few weeks later.

Unfortunately, at this point in the documentation, while I was slicing it up, the troops descended and devoured every last bit as we rushed out the door to a basketball game.  So I didn't get a good picture of a piece close up.  On a plate.

It is what it is.

Good stuff.

All I had to add was a big salad.  At least I would have, if we had actually sat AT the table and eaten it like civilized human beings and not while rushing around and heading out the door.  

(And as a P.S., this amount was sufficient for 7 of us - no Coach or big kids home.  Which at some level is depressing to me.  Ha!)


Catching Up. . . On Sitting

So I may have been cleaning trash out of the car, yesterday, after 1/2 day dismissal.  Yes, it's the kids' job.  Yes, I do it on a regular basis.  Don't judge - it's quiet out there.

Then I may have, with both hands full, tried to get out of the side door of the mini-van.

Then I may have, possibly, missed the running-board with part of my foot.

Then I may have, maybe, rolled my ankle, fallen out of the car, and landed smack on the floor of the garage.

Graceful, I'm not.

But you know what?  I'm tough.  I think.  So I got up, took a few careful steps, and continued on.  Finished unloading the car, put the groceries away (the kids felt sorry for me and helped with that part), and realized it was hurting pretty badly.

While we ate lunch, I propped it up on pillows in the chair and sat.  Like a lump.  Doing nothing.

Miserable.

So miserable, in fact, that I decided propping it up was for the birds, so Son (#1) and I hopped in the car with a couple of little girls in tow. . . and headed out to finish up the Christmas shopping.

Around stop three or four. . . I got tired of wincing with every step.  And I was even more tired, at that point, of Daughters (#5 and #6) imitating my every step/limp.

We were quite a sight.  The three of us limping around.  Son (#1) opted to wait in the car, for some reason.  Hmmm.

Anyway, I reluctantly spent the rest of the evening with it propped up.

This morning I hopped out of bed and thought, "I'm good.  It's not too bad.  Less painful than yesterday."  And proceeded to tackle the house (which was messy from last night) and a long list of errands.

At this point I'm regretting trying to be "tough".  I'd post a picture, but alas.  I have some sense of decency left.  Somewhere.

Think "cankles".  Except only one.

But on the bright side, I've put my to-do list on my iphone, created a Christmas gift spreadsheet, added school party "to make and/or bring" items to google calendar, and cleaned out my email inbox.  And I watched some goofy Christmas movie that I've seen before, while looking at Pinterest.

That's productivity at it's finest.

I'm horrible at sitting still.  And I'm bored with it, already.

So just for fun. . . and because my kids don't want to hear me whine about my ankle, anymore. . . I thought it would be fun to post a few things I've had sitting on my computer for awhile.

It'll keep me from annoying everyone on Facebook.

Temporarily, at least.

Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

He watches me. . .

I woke up TIRED, yesterday.  The head-throbbing, squinty-eyes, can't put one foot in front of the other, kind of tired.

Between the crazy-busy weekend (our girls - and the Coach - won their tournament on Saturday!), a nap FAIL on Sunday afternoon, Christmas shopping with Daughter (#2) - only to lose my phone at Target (it was found!). . . then several hours of online shopping that left me NOT ready for Monday with a house that was a disaster and lists that were longer than my brain could handle. . .

Sleep was somewhat illusive on Sunday night.

My first thought, realizing that it might be a rough day. . . was to tell my BFF.  Because I knew she would pray.

Then I put peppermint oil on my temples, drank a cup of coffee, and got at it.

Sometimes I think we are hesitant to pray for things we feel are "small" or unimportant.  My heart aches with the needs and hurts of those we love.  Cancer (what a horrible word), debilitating illness, broken relationships.  These things can be lifted up to our Heavenly Father WITHOUT CEASING.  And should be.

But when I lose my phone, or get overwhelmed, or wake up with a pounding head-ache and zero patience on the tolerance meter. . .

Does my Father care about these things, too?

If my phone hadn't been found?  He's still God.  He still loves me.  I can still trust Him.  (Although life without texting seems a dismal prospect, at best.  Ha!)

If my throbbing head had turned into a full-blown migraine and I had spent the day resting while Daughter (#6) and Little Man entertained themselves and watched movies?  God is still in control and I can trust Him.

I know this from experience.

Yesterday, we had a different result.  A productive day, a more clean/orderly house, finished school, masses of laundry folded and put away, dinner with the grandparents (and a nephew who dropped by), and the Michael Buble' Christmas special on TV with a cup of Chai Tea and my excessively silly big kids laughing so much I could hardly hear the singing.

Grateful.

Life is far from perfect at the troops.  But it's a whole lot better when I am moment by moment dependent on the Lord for His grace and strength.  Because whether I acknowledge it or realize it. . . I can't do this on my own.  This goes for productive days and miserable ones, alike.

The lists are still long, this morning.  But somehow I'm not feeling quite as overwhelmed.

Even though it's Christmastime (and I LOVE Christmas music!), I woke up with this song in my head. . .


Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

(Civilla Durfee Martin)


Happy Tuesday!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Finally Friday

This week has been a long one.  Tell me I'm not alone in feeling this way?

Turns out, Daughter (#5) wasn't almost over being sick on Tuesday night.  She's still home.  I DO really, truly, think she's lots better, today.  But it seemed wise to let her rest and head back to school on Monday.

I asked the Coach last night why it's always so crazy here.  Sick girlie, driveway construction, basketball tournament. . . and that's just this week!

He's so patient with me.  I somehow think we can get into a good routine.  At some point.  But it never really happens.  Not with eight kids (he frequently reminds me), a husband who coaches, sports seasons, 6 in school, homeschooling, and LIFE.

You'd think I would have learned by now.

Just as I clicked (Publish) on Wednesday's blog post, Little Man came running up to me.  He has this way of getting IN MY FACE that makes me crazy.  But there he was (having a "personal space" bubble does not make me the best mom).

"There is a FIRE, Mom! A FIRE!"

"What? Where?" I asked him, feeling my heart start to race.  He has a tendency to burn things.  Like toilet paper in bathroom candles.  But it's been awhile.

"In the microwave!" he yelled.  "It's on FIRE!"

Well, I was IN the kitchen, forheavenssake, but sitting in a spot where the microwave was out of sight.

I jumped up, ran over to the middle of the kitchen, and what do you know. . . there in the microwave were FLAMES!  A fire filling our microwave.

Unbelievable.

I wasn't sure what to do.  Open it to turn it off, obviously, but I was scared to get that close.

I'm talking FIRE, here.

Fortunately, when I hit the "Cancel" button, the flames died down.  I opened the door, and in spite of the thick gray smoke, I could finally SEE what was burning.

The rubber coating on a metal "to go" coffee mug.

Oh yes.

A METAL coffee cup!

In my microwave.

Sigh.

So now, we've learned yet another life-lesson here at the troops.

Life Lesson #142.3
"Metal placed in the microwave will heat to a high enough temperature to burn rubber."

Yes, it will.

The microwave appears to be uninjured.  But the rotating glass tray cracked in two.  Pretty sure that was one HOT fire.

Thank heavens for Google - I had a replacement turntable on the way in no time.  Whew.

And next time you want to reheat your hot chocolate?  May I offer you a ceramic mug?

Although the guilty shall remain nameless, it wasn't Little Man. . . although I think it re-lit his fascination with burning things. . . he keeps asking me, "Will THIS catch on fire if I put it in the microwave?"  Good grief.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh Dear. . .

On the way to the Choir Christmas Dinner/Concert last night, I made some comment about how we all need therapy.  My mom was telling the kids about getting sent to her room for laughing at the dinner table and I reminded her that she did the same thing to me.

But I'm not bitter.

Daughter (#7), sitting next to me in the big van, said, "Mom.  What is therapy?"

I said, "Well, I really mean counseling."

She said, "What is counseling?"

"Well. . . it's when you talk to someone who helps you understand things.  Like what the Bible says about relationships, how to forgive someone who has hurt you.  They help you if you are sad, or upset," I tried to explain.

"Oh."  She said. "Well. . . what if you are REALLY REALLY HAPPY???"  She giggled.

I told her that she should probably be the one doing the counseling, then.

"OR. . ." she continued, ". . . you could just invite everyone over for a BIG PARTY!  Then they would ALL be happy!"

Sounds good to me.  We're all about the parties here at the Troops.

At which point, Daughter (#6) chimed in.  "Give them cupcakes and alcohol.  That makes everybody happy!"

Um. WHAT?

Amazing that it only takes 1.2 seconds for my mind to thoroughly evaluate my combined 17 years of parenting and wonder where exactly I've gone so terribly wrong.  Before bursting into laughter, anyway.

Later on she explained that one time she saw a "Monk" episode in which Monk drank wine and he got REALLY silly.  Right before he fell asleep.

Oh.  Well, that makes sense.

NOT.

The concert, however, was BEAUTIFUL!  GLORIOUS!  WORSHIPFUL!

One of my favorite nights all year.

My kids are all blessings.  Every one.  An example?  Son (#3) offering to stay home last night with Daughter (#5) who is not quite over being sick.  Did I mention he also made her dinner, did the dishes, and folded the laundry?  After which they played Rumicub?  Yes.  I'm proud of that boy.

But something about having my two oldest sing in that wonderful choir (that I've been listening to since the Coach and were engaged) makes me cry with joy.

I know, I know.  I need therapy.

Maybe for today I'll just go with the cupcake minus the alcohol.

And when Little Man has graduated from high-school and I don't have any kids left to sing in choir. . .  you think they'd let me join, instead?

Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Sunday

Woke up with a START this morning.  Don't you just hate how your brain works while you sleep?  I wish mine would just REST - then maybe it would be more capable while I'm awake.  Well, mine managed to remember mid-wake that I forgot to pick up the 1/2 side of beef that was ready on Wednesday.

Sigh.

Can't. Keep. Up.

On a positive note, I've bought five Christmas presents and a few stocking stuffers.  Of course I have a million bazillion left to go.

Not really. Because I really AM trying to minimize the materialism this Christmas.  But as you all know, it's more work to buy with purpose (something that is needed or teaches or to read) than it is to buy all of those fun, trashy, junk toys.

More expensive, too.

And who has the ability to think coherently enough to come up with ONE wonderful, fabulous, unique gift idea for each person on your list?  Not me, for sure.

My kids make their lists.  Prioritized from "most wanted" to "least important" - top to bottom - and those become my shopping lists.  My online shopping list.  Because the mall?  "Ain't nobody got time for dat!"

This morning I'm going to enjoy the immense QUIET while Daughter (#5) sleeps next to me on the couch with a fever (boo.).  I'm going to relish the fact that, while sitting here with her, I've whittled the nightmarish email inbox from 300+ down to 48 emails.  Well, 49.  50.  51. . . it's hopeless, you know.  Just wait until Monday morning. . .

I'm going to be grateful that the Coach brought home leftover brisket from his Coach's meeting - HELLO Sunday lunch!  That the calendar for the week is updated and printed. . . assuming that all of the kids are well.

That it's another beautiful WARM December day.  December!  Can you believe it?

That the house is decorated for Christmas, the laundry is humming, the dishwasher. . . oh fudge - forgot to start the dishwasher.  So much for the lunch dishes fitting.

That I'm learning (slowly) to use my Young Living oils to help my kids stay well and treat them when they are sick.

OHOHOH!  For my new iphone!  Woot woot!  Loving it.  So fun.  Feel guilty how much I enjoy it.

For old episodes of Cake Boss on Netflix (before she fell asleep), that we've already seen but are still fun to watch.  For library movies.  For a safe trip to T-town and back on Friday night (in spite of the agonizing loss.  Sniff.)  For a quick visit with my BFF and her precious family, yesterday.  For a date night, last night, with my handsome Coach - there's nothing more romantic than trips to Home Depot, Lowe's, AND Target. . . all in one evening.

And OHMYHEAVENS we are getting a new driveway this week!!  Well. . . more like taking out the scant two-lane drive that's slowly become more like gravel and putting in a PARKING LOT, but I can't begin to say how excited we are!!  The cars at the troops are multiplying (Daughter #2) gets her license in February.  Whew.  There is already a big excavator sitting in our side yard.  It's going to be a mess, but it's going to be GREAT!

So, I may be overwhelmed, I may have a sick girlie (and it may be the start of more sickness. . . we'll see).  It may be the busiest time of year EVER.  But there is so much to be thankful for.

My heart is burdened with so many needs - asking God for miracles on behalf of others.  Asking Him to HEAL, restore, redeem the grief of living in a fallen world.  He will.  Eternally, if not before.

Most of all. . . MOST of all. . . thankful for the sustaining grace of God. Some days it's all that there is.  And it's enough.

Happy SUNDAY!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Partied Out!

Last week was FUN at the troops.

*Tuesday the girls high-school basketball team came for lunch after a morning scrimmage.  Their coach is SO handsome!  (grin)  They ate lasagna and played Nerf basketball in my living room and Little Man ate up all of the attention from those pretty girls!

*Tuesday night, one of the Coach's older brothers and his family arrived at my in-laws up the street - he's the only one of the 10 who doesn't live close by.

*Wednesday found all of us (kids, especially) going back and forth from my in-laws to see them, visit, and trade kids.  Loved watching the pack of boys play football in the yard!  Cousins are the best!

*Wednesday night we were SO excited to be given tickets to go to the Thunder/Clippers game downtown.  Four of ours had never been!  Winning in overtime just added to the fun.  I won't mention whose dancing ended up on the jumbo-tron, but his name starts with C and ends with Y and he may or not be the Coach's younger brother.

*Thursday we were back at the annual extended family Thanksgiving Day gathering.  Not sure how many were there, but it was quite a group!  The Coach and his siblings were all together for the first time in. . . something like 3 years?  Longer?  I'm not sure.  Want to see?  In this photo they are lined up youngest to oldest with their parents in the middle.


We didn't attempt one with the grandkids (55 + 3 spouses + 2 great-grandbabies).  Several were with in-laws or away at school, so it would have been incomplete (and loud!).  But here are the 10 kids with their spouses.


Have I mentioned how much I love this family?  I grew up with two brothers (whom I love, dearly), but the addition of sisters (on both sides) has been a joy for me!  I have 11 of them!  :-)  My brothers-in-law are pretty great, too.

*On Friday we loaded up our troops (minus the Coach and Daughter #2 who had basketball practice) and headed to the farm house for a family day.  Sunshine, cool weather, leaves blowing, coffee, hot chocolate, snacks. . . ranger rides, skeet shooting, bonfire with marshmallows. . . good times.

(Little Man is on the laptop and just asked for my credit card.  I'm worried.)

*Friday night we continued the party at my extremely brave sister-in-law's house for pizza, football, and Duck Dynasty episodes (some of them hadn't seen it before, can you believe it?).

*Saturday found us back at home, with cousins here to play, Christmas decorations all over the place. . . then over to another sis-in-law's (again - BRAVE) house with our crew plus some to watch the bedlam game and partake of yet another round of SNACKS.  Ha!  The younger kids rode the horse and played with the dogs and ran around like wild indians while we "older folk" - teens included - watched the game.  Another overtime win - crazy!

So Sunday seemed awfully quiet with "only" church and Sunday lunch with just our troops.  Son #3 is the Christmas decoration master - he helped me finish up inside and helped the Coach work on outside lights, too.

It seemed oddly quiet when the troops headed off for school this morning. . .

But the piles and lists were ready for some attention.  FUN week, but time to get going on Christmas shopping, groceries and meal planning, laundry . . . you know, real life.  Except made more cheery by a visit from a sis-in-law bearing happy, red Starbucks cups this morning.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Is it really only Tuesday?

Because I'm Thursday kind of tired.

The Coach and Daughter (#2) left for early basketball practice before I was awake. . . no, that's not true.  Their clanging around, opening and closing cabinets and turning lights on and off woke me (and I know the Coach tried so very hard to be quiet!).  After the Coach's alarm woke me.  Because his alarm wakes me and I wake him.  Sometimes I wish I were the one who can't hear.

But I digress.

Daughter (#6) is sitting beside me at the kitchen table writing her spelling words.  She just told me, "Mom, I don't GET the whole 'Mrs. Troop' thing.  It's like you're trying to be funny.  But you're not."

Sigh.

Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.

And for the record, I'm not trying to be funny.

All of the girls' clothes that were stored in the attic from Daughter (#2), who is almost 16 (yikes!), are all over the playroom.  At some point I did quit saving them (there is a 5 year space between my first two girls), but these were still up there taking up space in my brain.  Tell me I'm not the only one who has to get things OUT OF MY HOUSE before I can stop thinking about them?

Last night, after dinner, was one of those moments.  You know.  When you look around your house and see kids everywhere, projects being working on (and messes!), homework, reading, dishes not quite done, brownies baking for a class party, a Nerf gun war coming through the kitchen now and then, laundry piled high needing to be folded, the piles and lists on my desk literally taking over, the phone ringing, clothes to be found for PE and basketball today, what IS that weird smell (discovered later to be the fact that Son #1 cleaned out his gym bag from football.  Last Friday.). . .   And MOM can you type the computer pass word ONE MORE TIME so I can find a picture of a blue bird?

You know.

A full, noisy, happy, beautiful life.

But a messy one.

I want to take mental pictures of these moments.  All eight kids around the table (YAY!) for dinner, talking non-stop about funny things that happened at school, telling me about practice, all while Little Man makes funny faces and has to be brought back TO the table to eat, and I keep telling the little girls to put their knees down (why DO they like to sit like frogs?), and someone knocks someones cup of pomegranate tea over, and can you put strawberry jam on my muffin, Mom?

I don't want to forget it.

Well. . . sometimes I do.  While lying on a desert island with a Diet DP in my hand and the surf rolling up and touching my toes (and could I be 20 pounds thinner while I'm dreaming?). . .

Oh wait.

The here and the now.  It's where we live.  And I want to LIVE it.  The noise and chaos of it all.  Even when my instinct is to shut it all out and make it just STOP and be quiet. . .

It's beautiful.  And blessed.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Because you know what?  Son (#1) will be gone in another 2 years (sooner than that, actually).  Once he heads off to college the troops will dwindle quickly.  And before that?  There will be lots of nights at the gym and evenings when kids are here and there and not HOME.  Soon we'll have two drivers and it's only going to be busier and crazier and these evenings at home will be what we have to FIGHT for (like we did during football/volleyball season).

Lord, help me to soak it all in and NOT be drowned by it.  Help me to be grateful and joyful and not nag and complain about the MESS of it all.

Life is good.  And messy.  And good.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm not feeling very inspired, this morning.  Or eloquent.  Or awake.  But I am feeling thankful.  And I've got a mug of coffee (my "She Who Must Be Obeyed" mug, nonetheless), pumpkin muffins, and a gorgeous view out my kitchen window.

As inspiring as those are. . . my brain still feels fuzzy and overloaded with all of the prayer needs of those I love.

But here we are.  Thursday.  And for this week?  Our last day of school.  Time to be thankful.

1.  Great friends (cousins among them) for my kids.

2.  Laughter (of said kids and their friends last night).

3.  A clean house.  Although I probably should check behind the furniture one more time for remnants of "The Candy Wars I"  and II, and III. . .

4.  14 dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies baked and sent to school this morning for tonight's Fall Festival.  Whew.

5.  The Psalms.  Spending a lot of time there, lately.  Especially with Daughter (#6).

6.  Fall Festival tonight at school.  And not having to cook dinner!  Yay!

7.  Day out of school tomorrow.  There is, of course, basketball practice and a football game.  But a slower pace in the morning will be lovely.

8.  New fireplace screen installed by Granddad and the Coach last night.  Looks great!  Can't wait for our first fire (gas logs - I love them!) of the season.  Soon!

9.  Christmas Branson trip planned and reservations made.

10.  Have I mentioned how much I love all of the Fall flowers that Son (#3) planted for me?  I have?  555 times?  Well, I do.

11.  A still, sunny, cool morning.  The wind wears me out.

And now, I think I'll join Little Man on the couch for an episode of "Phineas and Ferb" while Daughter (#6) is still sleeping off a rough night.

Happy Thursday!

What are YOU thankful for, today?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday

1.  Cold front.  I may be wishing it away at tomorrow night's football game when it's in the 30's and my little ones are all freezing!  But for today?  I love it.

2.  Going to try this recipe for the first time, tonight.  Yum!  Maybe Son (#3) will make us some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins when he gets home from school.

3.  Somewhat "final" diagnosis for Daughter (#6), yesterday.  Not serious.  Although it has a rather vague cause and treatment. The Lord knows.  Trusting Him for direction.

4.  A clean house.  The kids all pitched in a got it done, yesterday afternoon.  It was a zoo, but they worked hard and accomplished an amazing amount.

5.  The blowing leaves, the pots of pansies and mums, the cloudy sky.  Ahhhhh. . . Fall.

6.  Sweet friends who check up on us (Tuesday's post was just for them!) and pray for us.  We are so blessed.

7.  Coffee date with two of my boys on Tuesday.  I love them.  Even when they rope me into taking them to the pet store.

8.  Watching my girls play school together in the afternoons.  Watching the big kids play games together in the evenings after the littles are in bed.  Brings me joy.

Time to get my little home schoolers some hot cocoa and get in the shower.  I may or may not have completely missed getting a shower, yesterday.  Ugh.  And I may or may not have said (in the past), "I will never be one of THOSE moms who doesn't even take a SHOWER every day."  And now I have eaten my words, once again.

Not the first time.  I'm sure it won't be the last.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me another day to seek You, adore my husband, love on my kids, care for our home, cook a warm meal, fold fresh smelling clothes. . .

Blessed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life at the Troops. . .

It hasn't crossed my mind to post anything, lately.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe my creativity is stalled out.

But this blog is how I keep up with those of you who love and pray for us (and aren't on Facebook - ha!). . . so I figure an update is in order.  So for all of the Aunts AND the rest (that's you, Sara!). . .

We celebrated Daughters's (#7) EIGHTH birthday on the 13th.  My precious baby girl.  She's not so little, anymore.  Thankfully, after a rough illness and a tough transition back into school?  She's doing great.  Talking on the phone to her BFF every afternoon.  So cute.  I have pictures of her birthday.  Somewhere.

Last week was Fall Break.  We packed up and headed to the farm, in spite of multiple commitments in "town" each day.  Lots of driving, but the quiet moments out there were worth it.  Such a beautiful time of year!  And I didn't take one. single. picture.  (sigh)  Football was Thursday night last week, and son played well against a tough team.

On Thursday I finished a 10 day raw juice fast.  It was hard.  But good.  Glad I did it.

The kids had a friend's birthday on Saturday, so the younger five had pizza at Grandmother's and Granddad's house so the coach and I could have a date night.  Ahhhhh.  There are not words for how much that refreshes, encourages, and strengthens me.

I LOVE Fall.  I love the leaves on the ground (even though the Coach can't wait to rake/mow them!).  I love the pansies, mums, and ornamental kale that Son (#3) planted for me. I love the colors.  I love the cooler weather (not the wind - but we have that ALL year!).  It's my favorite season.

And this week?  Started at the hospital, yesterday morning, for Daughter's (#6) scope (EGD).  She was under general anesthesia, but all went well.  The scope was clear, the doctor and anesthesiologist were great, much to be thankful for.  We are both tired, today.

Yesterday was Daughter's (#2) first basketball practice of the season, and Son's (#3) last Jr. High game.  Not just for the season, but since he's an 8th grader. . . his VERY last Jr. High game.  Next year he'll be a freshman.  How is that possible?

All is well.  It's a busy, busy time of year, but we are enjoying it.  I'm grateful for the Lord's grace and strength.  Every moment of every day.

Now to get back to an abbreviated day of homeschooling from the sofa. . . while Daughter (#6) catches up on her rest.  I can't believe it, but I think ALL of the troops will be home for dinner tonight!  Yay!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday This and That

The sun is out this morning.

As much as I LOVE dreary weather, I'm grateful for the cheer of the sunshine, today.  We need it at the troops!

SO blessed to have my mother walk in, this morning, fold four loads of laundry, take the kids on a walk to look for leaves (while I put the laundry away and start dinner), iron four shirts, and remind me that I have the most wonderful husband.

Because I do.

Our playroom has been converted into a "nursery".  Over the weekend, we pulled all of the Bitty Babies out of storage and the girls have been playing non-stop.  Complete with a laptop to play iTunes and keep track of the babies "schedules".

Little Man just came in a said "I think this baby needs an antibiotic."  This may or may not be a result of the fact that we had some sort of doctor's appointment every. single. day. last week.  Yikes.

I am so very grateful for the Coach's help with Daughter's (#6) lesson planning.  And checking each evening to make sure the work is done.  Why didn't this occur to me the first time we home schooled?  Or the second?  He IS the teacher!

Friday night's football game was COLD.  Really too cold for comfort.  But homecoming was fun.  For those of you who haven't seen on Facebook, yet, here is a picture of Son (#1) as the Junior attendant.  This girl is a sweet friend of ours and it was fun to see them out there, together.  I have no idea how she handled the smell (since homecoming followed a very intense football game!).  Bless her heart.



I wish we had taken a picture with all of the troops, but alas. . . they are never all in the same place at the same time at football games.  I'm lucky if we get out of there without leaving someone behind!

Here are the Coach and I with our boy.  Love them both so much.



It seems like over the last few months, the Coach has had to carry more and more of the work load around here.  He's taken over the finances.  The bill paying.  Now the homeschooling.  Even helping with the majority of the discipline issues that arise.  All things I used to be responsible for.

I don't know why I can't seem to handle it all just now.  But I'm grateful for a husband who steps up and makes sacrifices to keep things going here at the troops.  On top of a job that is several full-time positions rolled into one. . . and coaching football and basketball. . . and teaching Sunday School.

And when I feel guilty that I need so much HELP to make it, he just smiles and says, "We're a team."

I love him.


Other than that, there's just the learning obedience part of life, the learning to get along part of life.  Lots of clothes to wash and food to cook and dishes to wash and messes to clean up. . . and a WHOLE lot of laughing (with some tears thrown in along with way).  

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

So I shouldn't grow weary.  But I do.  How grateful I am for these verses, too. . . (from last year's BSF Isaiah study. . . )

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint."

Thankful that MY GOD does not grow weary.  

Happy Monday!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I could get used to this.

I mean it.

TWO FULL nights of sleep.

Now, granted, on Tuesday night, we had two little girls in our room, on our floor.  One with reflux, one recovering from strep.  But they SLEPT!  No, "Mom.  Mom.  Mom." beside my bed, all night.  Not even a, "Please sit up with me?  Please?"

Last night was even quieter.  Lots to be thankful for this morning.

1.  Thunderstorms the last two nights.  Love it.  And RAIN.

2.  Productive day yesterday.  Doctors appointment, coffee with Granddad, chapel at school, lunch with my kids, groceries, cooking, piano lesson, laundry, and a clean house.

3.  Shorter "To Do" list for today.  And more school work at home for my girl.

4.  Son's (#1) improving elbow.  He played last Friday and is continuing to get better.  Hoping the new brace will help, too.

5.  Volleyball season winding down for Daughter (#2).  So many nights I've felt torn between going to watch her and staying home with other kids who need to be HOME.  But she's played well and been sweet and understanding when we couldn't be there to watch.

6.  Friends who pray.  I can't begin to express my gratefulness for sweet friends, teachers, family. . . who have prayed us through these last few weeks.  There have been nights (like Monday) when I really didn't know how we could keep on with it all.  But God has continued to give His grace.  And day by day by day. . . we are seeing Him work and move on behalf of our girl.

7.  Our pediatrician.  We've spent a lot of time in his office since July.  Grateful, again, this week, as we found out that Daughter (#7) had strep.  Poor thing.  Hoping to find her MUCH better, today.  (And no, I won't win "mother of the year" for letting her be sick an entire week before taking her to the doctor.  Sigh.)

8.  Our school.  It makes my heart hurt that Daughter (#6) isn't there right now.  Because I know how much she is missing! We are so very blessed to be able to send our kids.

9. God's enabling to home school.  I'm just not good at it.  I don't even want to be good at it.  I don't want to DO it.  But when you know you are doing what you should be doing. . . well. . . you just do it.  It's given so many opportunities to work through things.  And I'm grateful for what we are both learning.

10.  New cordless phones for the house.  And the blessing of having kids (in this case, Son #3) who can get on Consumer Reports, find the best rated phone with what we need, get online and find the best deal, and order it.

11.  ALL of the kids help.  It's taken all of us working together to survive here at the troops, lately.  Daughter (#2) has taken over meal plans and they've ALL helped with laundry, schedules, rides, and making sure the Coach and I get a date night now and then.

12.  So much wonderful help and counsel from sweet friends who love us.  Trust me, I need the help!  I have been tremendously grateful for the words of advice.  We are trying it all!  Ha!  And some of it has been just what we've needed when we've needed it.

Can I ask for prayer, yet again, today?  We have now been referred to a Pediatric Gastrointestinal specialist.  Pray with us that the Lord will give the doctors discernment, insight, and wisdom and that test results will give clear direction.  Thank you.


Happy Thursday!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

In spite of all of the kind, loving, and soveryencouraging comments. . . as I reread yesterday's post, it sounded much more like "Whining Wednesday" than the update I was going for.

I apologize.

And to get my attitude back where it belongs, I spent my time trying to go back to sleep last night, after being awakened over and over, by a little girl who SHOULD NOT have eaten chili for dinner (duh!  whatwasithinking?), beginning to make a thankful list for today.

The only problem?

I could only think of one thing for my list.

Hopefully, that is only because every time I fell asleep and was wakened once again, I had to start all over.  Surely there is plenty to be thankful for.

1.  A hair cut.  After four months.  So nice.

2.  Chili for dinner last night (first time this Fall!).  9 of us enjoyed it.  Well, ten enjoyed it, but 9 seem capable of actually digesting it.

3.  A good long visit with a sweet friend, yesterday, who I have missed terribly.  And what happened to those days of talking on the phone while shushing my toddlers and cleaning the house?  I miss that.  I don't have time (to talk on the phone), toddlers, OR a clean house, anymore.

4.  "The A Team" on Netflix.  We are on our second trip through all five seasons.  They are oh-so-predictable.  And funny.  And it's even funnier that my 7 year old GIRL is the one wanting to watch them!

5.  Pumpkin muffins.  Son #3 made a batch on Sunday and they were gone sometime Monday.  I'm sure I didn't eat more than half of them, myself.  And for those of you who missed the post on FB, here's the recipe on my BFF's blog.  Just use the batter to make 3 doz muffins instead of loaves.  Or a combination of the two.

6.  A back-up pair of glasses.  Little Man decided to "try on" my favorite pair one morning this week, while I was in the shower and then set them by the chair and then hopped down ON them.  Oh well.  Glad I have another pair to put on in the mornings. . . those contacts just WILL NOT go in at 5:45.  Ugh.

7.  My hard-working husband/Coach.  I haven't been feeling great this week, and he has walked in the door every evening ready to help.  Dinner, homework (of the math variety, I can handle the rest), baths, bedtime.  It's all seemed a bit overwhelming to me since I'm a bit under the weather.  But he handles it all gracefully AND sends me to bed early while he waits up for the older kids.  I love my Coach!

8.  Parents who are back in town after two weeks away.  I missed them.

9.  Our sunroom.  I never would have guessed how USEFUL that room would be when we moved here 7 years ago.  It's school-room, play-room, craft-room, treadmill-room, extra dining-room, and this time of year it's SO pretty out there!

10.  The trampoline.  Dangerous, yes.  Wonderful at getting all that extra energy out of the kids after school?  YES!

11.  Along with that, the basketball court, swing set, big backyard.  So blessed.

12.  Cooler weather.  80's are better than 100's any day.


Now I'm off to tackle the laundry, dishes, and vacuuming, get dinner in the crockpot, and hide my glasses while I take a quick shower.  Ha!

Happy Thursday!

Leave me a comment and let me know one thing YOU are thankful for today. . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ready to move on. . .

Life is full of seasons.  Phases that come and go.  Things that in the moment seem huge, but later on seem so. . . well. . . temporary.  Like those days of diapers, or toys all over the floor, or keeping toddlers in their beds at night.

Before you have time to figure it all out, life has moved you on to the next thing.  Driving, high school, sports. . .

And as Fall (my favorite) is beginning to peak out a bit around the corner of the end of Summer, I grow sentimental.

I love Fall.

The cooler weather, the pumpkins, the Chai Tea (so perfect on a Fall morning), the pansies and mums in the pots on the porch, watching my boys play football on Mondays and Fridays, and ohmyheavens I'm ready to pull out the sweatshirts!

But this "life" season we are in?

I'm not a fan.

The Coach is busier than I can ever remember.  There's football, there's basketball, there are papers to grade and work to do at home every night he's here.  He got up and ran, early Monday morning, and I'm pretty sure it's the first time he's run since school started.  And I'm in the same boat.  Can't even remember how we trained for a half-marathon during football season?  Or any season?  Seems somewhat illusive at this point.  Kind of like regular blogging or keeping up with the laundry.

Son #1 is still out with the elbow situation.  Have sure missed seeing him play!  I'm extra thankful that he's driving, but I don't see him much.

Daughter #2 is tired.  T.I.R.E.D.  The girl is worn out.  Late nights at volleyball and a massive amount of homework.  And a friend of hers at school lost her mom this weekend.  That's a lot of pain to bear at 15 (for the friend) and a lot for my girl to comprehend.

Son #3 is doing well.  Early morning practice and homework in the evenings.  He's such a blessing to me, always pitching in and helping out when I'm tired and the Coach is gone.

Son #4.  Well.  I may or may not have googled "boarding schools for boys" this week.  Just to see.  I'm not serious, of course, but the kid is wearing me out.  He's fun, smart, athletic, hard-working, and has WAY too much energy.  I wonder if I could find a full-time job for a 12 year old?

Daughter #5 is precious and sweet and so easy to have around, be with, talk to. . . but then I start thinking I depend way too much on her consistency and howintheWORLD is she almost 11?

Daughter #6?  Well.  I could write volumes.  But I won't.  She's still sleeping in the hall, but I DO think we are making progress.  Real progress.  We brought her home from school.  For awhile.  She needed rest and the Coach and I needed a break, too.  And I'm really good at not making school at home fun.  She'll want to go back in no time!

Daughter #7 is sick.  Picked her up at school on Monday and she's yet to be back.  On the positive side, I'm thinking the first few weeks of struggle with Daughter #6 at school were her reflux AND whatever virus this is.  So there's hope in there somewhere.  In spite of the fact that I think I'm coming down with it, too.

And Little Man?  He's ready for some kind of normal schedule.  And maybe just a little ready for all of the big kids to LEAVE, already.  But in the meantime, we are working hard at obeying and speaking kindly.  It seems the more kids we have in the car, the uglier his words get.  Have NO idea where he gets that.

But at the end of the day?  I realize that each of these things will change.  Some quickly, some not.  And then there will be a new season and new "issues" and more things to work through and deal with and pray out on my knees.

And in the meantime, a batch of pumpkin muffins and some chai tea certainly wouldn't hurt, right?

My struggles fade as I think of dear friends who are grieving, suffering, fighting illness.  Some faced with a new perspective on eternity.

I can trust them to the Father's loving hand.  I can pray for the Lord's peace and comfort.  For them to reach out for the HOPE He offers.

That's a good reminder for me, as well.


Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finding JOY. . .

With bleary eyes, I stepped over my 6th born this morning. . . asleep in the hall, where she's been every night for the last month or so, since we told her she couldn't sleep on the floor by our bed, anymore.

There's something so sad about her curled up little body sleeping outside our door.  As close as she can get without being IN the room with us.  Not to mention the fact that it can't be very comfortable.

How odd that in this moment, my mind wanders back to a trip to Taiwan way back when . . before I had the Coach or the troops.

We stayed in a youth hostel.  I can still remember he noise, the food (I've never quite understood how bread with a slice of cucumber you can see through is a "sandwich", but maybe it's why everyone is that culture is so thin!), the traffic outside our windows, and our constant campaign to get to a McDonald's for something to eat that we could recognize!

The room wasn't bad.  It wasn't great, either.  Three of us.  Bunks end to end on one wall.  Every night and every morning and sometimes during the dark in between, I'd hear my friend exclaim,

"YA'LL, THESE BEDS ARE SOOOO HAARRRRD!" in her Southern drawl.

She had a point.  I think our carpeted hall is probably softer.


And these last few weeks, I've found myself saying over and over (in my head, mostly),

"YA'LL, BEING A PARENT IS SOOOO HAARRRRD!"

I don't know what is wrong.

I don't know how to fix it.

I don't know what's causing the problem.

I don't know how much is emotional and how much is physical (can a little 9 year old girl even tell?).

I don't know WHAT TO DO.

I don't know how long I can go without decent sleep (we're heading into month 4, at this point).

I don't know why the Lord is allowing this.

I don't know how much to "push" her and how much to just comfort her.

Or how to do both at the same time.

I.  DON'T.  KNOW.

And in the dark early hours, I am sometimes frustrated with God for not making it all more clear.

As a mom, you try everything you know to try.  Then you try some more things you hadn't thought of before.  Then you keep going, even though you don't know where you are headed with the whole big mess.

We are so very tired.

I think of that quote (I should go hunt down the source, but thank you for giving me the grace to skip it just now),

"Oh the JOY of a trial, accepted."

The JOY.  Of a TRIAL.  ACCEPTED.

Maybe the joy is only possible when we accept (not fight against) this hard thing because it comes from the hand of a Loving, Sovereign Lord.

I trust Him.  With my self, my marriage, my troops, my hurting girl.

"Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Great is THY faithfulness, Lord until me."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Reality Check #555



First day of school!  First day of School! 

Summer wore me out.  Football/volleyball season promises more of the same.  But maybe with a bit more quiet in my days. 

Little Man literally GIGGLED when he asked to watch "Curious George" this morning, after the kids all left.  For the first time in months.  And chocolate milk?  You betcha!

It's quiet at the troops.

But all isn't exactly "well".

First of all, my hours and hours of preparations and even a late night trip to the store last night for a few more "lunch" options. . .

Still made for a crazy morning with very tired kids.

Then. . . mid-sandwich making and cereal bowl gathering. . .

My big boys tried to sneak out.

Good thing I caught them in time for a "first day" photo.  Whew.  Because we wouldn't be able to survive without THAT, right?

Son #3, 8th grader. . . football practice first hour.  Son #1, Stuco meeting BEFORE first hour.  And they were off.



No problem, right?  I'll catch the other five on their way out.  If only it WERE that simple.  Sigh.  Between sleepiness and a continuing struggle with acid reflux, Daughter #6 was unable to participate. . .

So here we have. . . Little Man, Pre-Ker extraordinaire in his spider man jammies.  Daughter #5 - FIFTH GRADER, forheavenssake.  Daughter #2, Sophomore.  Son #4, 6th grader.  Sniff.  Daughter #2, 2ndgraderlittlehappypants.



So not everything went wrong this morning. 

But I thought a "real first day in the life" post was in order.

And now I'm off to call the pediatrician.  Before "Cat in the Hat" is over and it's time to start "homeschool" (ie: coloring pages) with Little Man.

Happy Monday!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Farewell to Summer

Officially the last week of Summer here at the troops.  One week from RIGHT NOW, the kids will be back in school.  Little Man and I will be alone, again, for a few hours of the day.  I won't lie.  I'm looking forward to the quiet.  And if we are going to be this busy ANYWAY - with football, volleyball, Jr. high football, and getting everyone ready for school, we might as well be IN school, right?

At 5:30 this morning, as daughter and I sat on the steps outside of the DMV, 16th in line, and waited for the doors to open at 7, I thought about this Summer.

It's been so good.

And so short.

I am determined to take time to be grateful.  Even though things are always so busy.

Here's my Monday list for this week.

1.  Another driver at the troops!  She passed her learner's permit test at 8:15 this morning!  Woo hoo, extra HOO!

2.  A brand new, baby great-niece arrived safely this morning.  Great-granddaughter #2 for the Coach's parents.  Seems like just the other day, we were the ones having the babies. . . now it's our nieces and nephews that are adding to the family ranks.  Two sisters-in-law are now GRANDMAS!  How fun is that?

3.  Football camp for the Coach and the three big boys.  They left yesterday.  I don't really sleep with the Coach gone (which helped when I had to get up at 4:45 this morning!), but they have SO MUCH FUN!  And our "girl time" is fun, too.  Oh, "girl time plus Little Man", I mean.

4.  Two weeks of the Olympics this Summer.  Fun times.  Late nights.  WHEW, I'm tired.  Time for a more reasonable schedule!

5.  A new computer at the troops!  I'm not using it right now, since Son #1 hadn't quite finished setting it up when he left for football camp.  But it's NICE.

6.  Cooler weather.  We almost fried to a crisp at a record-setting 113, but the Lord has given us a reprieve and I'm so glad.

7.  School supplies all bought and divided among seven kids.  Let's see, just to give you an idea. . . there are 43 notebooks.  FORTY-THREE.  Yikes.  Gotta laugh!

8.  Almost all school clothes. . . shoes, football cleats, basketball shoes, PE shoes, socks, khaki pants, polos, etc. bought and tried on.

9.  Closets and drawers organized in all of the kids' rooms and a NEW dresser for the boys' room!

10.  No more junk drawers!  I gave Son #4 the job of cleaning them all out this Summer (we had. . . uh hem. . . FOUR!).  I can't find some things, but it was WELL worth it!  Ha!

11.  New hooks on the garage wall for towels and swimsuits - thanks to the Coach!  It may have taken me all Summer to think of the best way to keep up with them all, but we will be SET for next year!

12.  Countless little "projects" completed to get us all set for another crazy football season.  And basketball season.  The Coach is mostly "gone" already, but he was sweet to take care of so many little things for me before the season actually began.

In closing . . . Our wonderful school flooded with 2+ feet of water last week, 10 days before the start of the new school year.  It's going to be crazy to start school in the middle of construction, temporary classrooms, and the work that was already going on on our school campus/parking lots/street.

I've been so blessed by the sweet attitudes of our headmaster, administrators, teachers. . . as they have faced this sadness, frustration, challenge. . . with grateful hearts.

And now, we are off to Sam's for groceries and to get the "actual" (one of Little Man's favorite words) driver's permit for my sweet girl.  Maybe I'll let her drive home.  Not!

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Here at the troops. . .

Sitting by my biggest big boy. . . while he attempts to eat a Red Mango smoothie. . . with numb lips, jaw, chin.  It's quite humorous.  But I keep laughing at the TV, instead.  Top Gear.  His favorite show.

Or one of them.

The Coach went to pick up the pain meds so we could get them started asap.  Grandmother took Son #3 to his volunteer job this week at a NOVO day camp so we could be on duty here at home.

I can hear Little Man and two of the girls laughing with my cousin, who is visiting from California.  We love her.  And her sister who left this morning.

Daughter (#2) just got out of the shower - after her first morning back in volleyball practice.  I probably should send her in to clean her room.

Daughter (#6) is at a friend's house.  The first play date of the Summer.  HOW have we not done this even ONCE all Summer long?

We've had a great week with family here from not only California. . . but also Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas (did I miss anyone?).  Lot's of late night movies and games with our California girls. . . many of which I had to excuse myself from so I could get some SLEEP.  All to celebrate our precious family AND the dear lady we all call "Nana", who is celebrating her 95th birthday!

In the middle of which, we've discovered that Daughter (#6) has Acid Reflux (something about the month-long lack of sleep, nightly crying, and weight-loss, followed by an appointment with our wonderful doctor).  She's adjusting to the meds, and so far. . . I think they are helping!

Thank you, Lord.

Summer is almost over.  Unfortunately.  It hasn't seemed very restful.  But it's been good.  Lots to be grateful for and lots going on.

Sometime (next week, hopefully), I need to start having the kids try on school pants and shoes. . . go through supply lists (did I mention everything from the end of school is still piled up on top of the lockers in the garage?). . . make sure backpacks are in working order. . . and get ourselves geared up for volleyball and football season.

Crazy.

I love it.  I do.

But I'm tired.  I am.

(Yoda? Is that you?)

Wishing we were back in Colorado on vacation (like last week - it was lovely!).  Wishing it wasn't 100 million degrees outside.  Ugh.  Wishing I were caught up on posting and pictures and thank-you notes from my birthday (in June!).

The Coach and I were talking a few weeks ago (probably during our weekend together in Branson - Spiderman movie included) and he said, "I think you should start blogging, again."  It took me a minute.  "You mean I've stopped?"

I guess in my mind, I blog a lot.  I'm either praying (more often these days) or writing a post about whatever craziness is going on here at the troops.  Yes, you could say that I am just talking to myself. . . but I'm NOT!  I'm talking to the Lord.  And my blog friends.  Even if you rarely hear what I'm saying.

God is good.  Life is busy.

Happy Friday!

OH!  Son (#1) just got his wisdom teeth out - I kind of forgot that part.  He's doing great!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes. . . when it's a particularly disappointing day. . . the best thing to do is give thanks.  I know there are hard things.  In our nation.  In our families.  In our lives.   Even the weather is yucky.  But today, I choose thankfulness.  Choosing to be thankful, is choosing to remember that the sovereign Lord God is in control.  Our hope is in Christ alone.

1.  Air conditioning.  That works.  And it helps to close the blinds and keep the lights off, too.

2.  Dinner in the crock pot, smelling yummy.

3.  Clean kitchen, somewhat orderly house, and clean folded laundry.

4.  A husband who has a job that he loves.

5.  A son who also has a job that he loves.

6.  A good week of football camp finished up.  Giving me two very tan, tired, boys.

7.  Snuggles with my Little Man.

8.  Phengren for upset tummies.  Times two.

9.  A day "off", resting with my girls.

10.  "Lark Rise to Candleford".  We've watched two episodes today and we love it!

11.  Vacation to look forward to (assuming the entire state of Colorado doesn't go up in flames - yikes!).

12.  A neighborhood that is mostly shaded for my morning run, even when I don't make it out there before 8 because of little sick tummies, bowls of cereal, and phone calls.

13.  Granddad's and Grandmother's neighborhood pool for daily swims.

14.  Friends and their babies to swim with us!

15.  A yard full of cool green trees.

16.  Birds to watch at the bird feeder (two pairs of cardinals, in particular) and hummingbirds, too.

17.  Ceiling fans.

18.  An evening without basketball practice or volleyball practice or 7 on 7 football.  They are few and far between.  And such a gift.

19.  OnCue drinks with lots of ice.

20.  Sprinkler systems and a whole crew of our own boys to keep the lawn looking lovely.

Today we woke up (after a short night sleep because of a little girl with a tummy ache in our room all night) and I decided we'd take the day off.  No errands.  No extra jobs.  No projects.

I went for my run, showered, supervised breakfast and morning cleanup, started dinner in the crockpot, picked up Daughter (#2) at school, ran to the store for Sprite, supervised lunch, and then a bit of quiet time, then back to school to pick up the boys from camp, fill up the car with gas, and drop Daughter (#2) back at school for volleyball.

Believe it or not, it's been a quiet, restful day.

So very much to be grateful for.

God is on His throne and I can choose to submit to the blessings AND the trials of this day.  Choose to "lean into" the Lord.  Lean HARD into Him.  Not fighting, kicking, screaming, resisting (although I do my share of that, too!).  But resting in Him, even when things don't make sense and our minds can't understand.

Make the Lord give you His grace for a grateful heart, today.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Summertime!

It's hard to believe that just four weeks ago, the Coach and I were packing up to go to Chicago by ourselves for an amazing four days.  It was so very wonderful, restful, romantic, fun. . . we just had the best time!

Three weeks ago, we were packing up our two oldest off to Rwanda with Reaching Souls International.  They saw over 14,000 people saved.  Yes.  I said fourteen THOUSAND.  Life-changing, I tell you.  For them AND for us.

Two weeks ago, the kids and I celebrated my 39th birthday. . . with Starbucks in the morning, dress shopping, Madagasscar 3 at the matinee, dinner at Chipotle with the kids (minus our two oldest) and the Coach, the Thunder game, and the MOST AMAZING CAKE EVER from Lori.  Amazing.

Last week, we were mid-VBS (for three), girls' basketball camp (for two), jury duty (for me - yay.), and were preparing to welcome our very own missionaries back home from their two weeks away.

I don't suppose it's necessary to say that this Summer has been busy.

And we continue struggling to find the balance in it all.

Needing desperately to get things done that we don't have time for during school - cleaning out, organizing, projects.  But also seriously needing FUN time. . .swimming, playing, friends. . . after such a hectic school year for the troops.

Understanding more fully each and every day, what matters for ETERNITY (and it's not cleaned out cabinets, by the way) and yet realizing, too, that the groceries still need to be bought, the meals have to be made, the laundry has to be done, none of which will last even a day.

Loving and finding joy in the blessed life the Lord has given us. . . healthy kids, lots of laughter, a home we love, a job the Coach enjoys, family close by.  Yet, our lives are also burdened with pain, trials, heart-ache. . . as we struggle to submit to the "hard" and find joy there, too.

So maybe the theme for this Summer is balance.  Letting some things go (like the blog) so we can enjoy some others (the laughter at the pool).  Remembering that the PEOPLE (particularly my Coach and my eight troops) matter more than the Projects.  That a relaxed mom matters more than a perfectly clean house. That the TIME with each other matters more than crossing things off the to-do list.  And our HOPE?  It's in Christ. . . not in our ability to handle it all on our own.

And especially thankful for grace. . .

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spoiled for sure. . .

I slept in this morning.  Well. . . at least I woke up at 6 and went back to sleep. . . woke up at 7 and went back to sleep.  A few minutes later I gave up.

It's colder than I expected here in the Windy City.

Yesterday, we were having trouble figuring out the trains from the airport to our hotel (imagine that. . . ), and a couple of guys on their way to the Cubs game helped us out.  The said it was in the 90's last week.

This week?  Not so much.

More like 50's.

Add to that the winds. . . don't get me wrong - I'm used to wind!  But coming off Lake Michigan the wind is COLD.

SO I bundled up with everything sort of appropriate for running that I had in my suitcase. . . and headed out to Lake Shore Drive.

Turns out running is just as hard here as it is at home.

But colder.

And then it started raining.

I'm not complaining, mind you.  The fact that I CAN run. . . on the shore of Lake Michigan. . . by myself. . . at 8 on a Thursday morning.

Is truly awesome!

The Venti half-caff skinny mocha warmed me right up.

Have I mentioned how very SPOILED I am feeling right now?

Thanking the Lord for this amazing time.

Now I think I'll hit Michigan Avenue to find a warm jacket!  Ha!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Every now and then. . .

I'm sitting in a lovely hotel room in Chicago.  Looking out on a view of the city. . . knowing the water is just out of sight in one direction. . . and Michigan Avenue is just out of sight in the other.

The best part of all?  Those countless moments in the last few weeks when I felt like yelling, "I need a vacation!!"

One was on it's way.

I haven't been to Chicago in about 20 years.  It's an amazing city.  It's humorous to me how much it looks the same - I recognize much more than I thought I would.  So many memories.

And trust me.  I wouldn't be on the computer if the Coach were here.  But our reason for coming was a school administrators conference of some sort that he's attending. . . so I'm just tagging along.

So happy to be tagging along.

SO very grateful for the sweet friends and family (in four different places) who are pitching in to keep up with the troops for me so I could come.

This room is so quiet.

And there are so many channels on the TV (I don't get out much).

A big bag of Garrett's Chicago mix is on the counter of our kitchenette.

Starbucks is right around the corner (I'm on my way here in a bit).

Endless shopping (of the window variety) goes on for blocks in every direction.


Leaving home doesn't change anything in the long run.  When we get back, there will still be eight kids, relational struggles, discipline problems, and the never-ending WORK of life.

But for now?

It's nice.

Really nice.

Every now and then the Lord gives us a beautiful break.  A chance to catch our breath.  Rest a bit.  Talk through things.  Spend some time away.

I'm grateful.

And I sure hope the Coach isn't expecting any of this popcorn to be left when he gets back from his meeting!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waking Thoughts

Don't you love it when you wake up, bleary-eyed, as the alarm is going off, way too early for your liking, and your first thought is that you never went back and cleaned up that red icee that someone left in the car from our after-school On Cue run that spilled all over the car on the way to get pizza before the 1st grade author's tea at school last night?

What?

This has never happened to you?

Apparently I'm all alone.

And we were late to the author's tea in spite of the fact that I didn't stop to clean up the icee.

(sigh)

We are tired at the troops.  Something every night this week.  Friday was a LONG time coming, for sure.

I would say it's quieter with two of the kids gone on school trips. . .

But it's really not.

Maybe we sent the wrong two kids?

I would say that we are ALMOST there. . . almost done. . . almost to the end of the school year.

But ohmyheavens the calendar for the next two weeks is full.  And for the three months after that, honestly.

I would say that once Summer is here, the troops can RELAX.  Finally.  Sleep later than 6 am.  Not rush the little ones to bed on beautiful evenings when everyone is playing outside (I really hate that!).

That maybe, just maybe, I'll get caught up on my "cleaning out" projects (every drawer and cabinet in the house, for starters).  That maybe I'll finally finish switching out the girls Winter/Summer clothes - that I started a month ago.  That maybe I'll get the school stuff that has already started coming home by the dump truck load organized BEFORE August.  20th.

But more than likely. . . we won't.  And I won't.  And it won't.  And I'm pretty sure the eight that the Coach and I are responsible for will NOT magically become everything we hope and pray for them to be, overnight, giving us the peaceful, happy, restful Summer of our dreams.

Sure would be nice, though. . .

However. . . on this cool, cloudy Friday morning (only one more Friday left in the school year!), as I sip my coffee and contemplate how best to clean up the mess in the van. . .

The God of the universe who is sovereign over all. . . loves me.

And that's enough.

So I will be thankful that I can clean out the car IN the garage (it just started raining).
I will be thankful that the coffee is hot.
I will be thankful that the Coach asked me to go on a date, tonight.
I will be thankful for a Little Man who makes me laugh, even if he talks incessantly ALL DAY LONG.
I will be thankful that it's Friday.  Finally.
I will be thankful that the two traveling troops will be home, today.
I will be thankful that the second thing I remembered this morning was that the girls' school pants were in the wash and needed to be in the dryer asap.
I will be thankful that the house is sort of clean.
I will be thankful for new babies and cousins and family.
I will be thankful.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Quick Catch Up!

Whew!
The school year is marching on to the end. . . and the troops are finishing well.  We've had a lot of fun in the last couple of weeks.  Not all of which was captured in photos, but here are a few things. . .

Land Run day for Daughter (#5).  Here's her "claim" with Little Man.  It was a COLD, wet day!









Some of the activities were in our gym, to minimize the time we spent outside freezing in the cold wind. 


They played pioneer games and sang songs and did some "skip to my louing", as well.












Then there was "Annie" weekend.  SO MUCH FUN!  Daughter (#2) was an orphan.  With LINES, forheavenssake!  If you know her, you know what a huge deal this was.  And she loved it!  Son (#3) was Bert Heely.  "You're never fully dressed without a smile!"  And a servant in the Warbucks mansion and a ticket booth attendant in "NYC". 

This is all of the family that had parts in the play, with the Coach's parents.  Not many grandparents can go to a school play and have SIX grandkids participating.  (And they had just gotten in from the 6th grade Washington DC trip with two OTHER grandkids!)


Here are my two with their amazing, awesome, MUCH BELOVED director.  She does a fabulous job!  The rest of the troops didn't even know "Bert" could sing!  Ha!



Sweet little cousin audience members.  Daughter (#5) second from left and Daughter (#6) on the right.  They went to ALL three performances!  It was THAT good!  I'm sure it had nothing to do with the homemade cupcakes for sale during intermission!



And the same weekend, we had the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  I had to sit this one out (stupid leg), but I LOVED watching the Coach and Son (#3) finish in UNDER two hours.  Unbelievable!  Think I might slow the Coach down a bit?



Here is the Coach and Son (#3) with Grandmother, who ran the half. . . and Granddad who did the FULL MARATHON in his hand-cycle.  Do I have amazing parents, or what? 
(And yes, Granddad raced in his JEANS!)




And then among a multitude of other fun, year-end things this week. . . Son (#1) finished up his year in YLX (Youth Leadership Exchange) with a "graduation" last night.  Here are all of the kids from our school who participated.


And my handsome boy with my handsome Coach.  Love them.



(Note to self:  When wearing "flowy" tops, do not lean forward in pictures.  I've spent enough of my life pregnant without looking that way NOW!  Ha!)

Time to make cookies for Daughter's (#7) Author's Tea, tonight.

We sent Son (#4) off to Creation Nation Science Camp, yesterday morning.  And Daughter (#2) off on her Freshman Oklahoma History Trip, this morning.

Too bad we won't be home, tonight, to enjoy having ONLY six kids in the house!

Thanking the Lord for His ever-sufficient grace and strength. . .

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Note to self. . .

1.  The front porch is a nice place to check e-mail and write on the blog.

2.  Being "stuck" at home without a car is lovely.  Having a son who can drive himself to the orthodontist in my car is even lovelyer.

3.  "90 degrees is NOT hot."  I've said it five times in the last five minutes.  That and, "Just wait until it's 110 every day and THEN you'll be asking for this weather."

4.  I'm not a very compassionate mom.

5.  Little Man is not as coordinated at his older sister (who is seven, now, but was riding a scooter like a maniac at 4).  I'm OK with it - it's less scary.

6.  Having a clean house makes me happy.  At least for the 10 minutes it lasts.  But the rest of the minutes I can choose to be happy, anyway.

7.  I should spend more time working in our flower beds.  Instead of writing.  But I like writing more.

8.  The kids look cute with flushed red cheeks.

9.  Hedges do not appreciate volleyballs.  But I think we'll keep the volleyballs.  And the kids.

10.  Having a yard that is 99% shade makes it hard to grow grass, but cooler to play outside when it's 90 degrees.

11.  Next time the wind is gusting at 50 miles per hour, I'll remember that when it's still, there are more bugs.

12.  Five kids = easy peasy.  When I'm not having to remind them that it's NOT too hot and to quit hitting the volleyball into the hedge.

13.  With "only" five kids here, there is "no one to play with".  I'm guessing it's the choice of playmates, not the number?

14.  Need to have the boys mow the lawn.  Later.  When I'm not on the porch.

15.  Chalk writing all over the porch, driveway, and sidewalk is precious.  And it's "art".  And someday I'll miss it.

16.  My kids are WAY better artists than I am.

17.  A porch swing is therapeutic.  Especially when it's the same porch swing that we were sitting on when the Coach asked me to marry him.

18.  Remind the Coach, more often, how much I love him.  And that I still think he's soveryhandsome.  And that I would say YES, again, today, if he asked.

19.  Conversations between 5 and 7 year olds are funny.

20.  Swinging on the porch swing makes the porch a poor choice for bike riding.  I almost lost a foot.

21.  I love this house.  And this yard.  And this neighborhood.

22.  Clean the windows.  Soon.  But not right now.

23.  Stop making lists.  And procrastinating.  And letting my kids whine.

Think I'll head inside.  It's hot out here.

Happy Wednesday!!


Friday, April 20, 2012

A little of this and that. . .

It's been busy at the troops.  The last big HURRAH to the end of the school year.  There hasn't been much time for writing.  Except in my head at night while I'm trying to go to sleep.  Fortunately, most of that doesn't make it to the blog.

Since the weather has been SO beautiful, The younger kids and I have been going for a walk/bike ride sometime after school and before dinner every day.  We've loved it.  It's added so much FUN to our busy afternoons, even if it makes the rest of the evening a bit rushed (and let me give you a hint . . . even "quiet" kids talk on a walk!).

Little Man whined the whole way the first two days ("You are all going over the SPEED LIMIT!").  But when I offered to let him stay home with one of the big kids on Wednesday?  He would have NONE of it!  He's just learning to ride his bike, so sometimes he just walks with me, instead.  Or rides his bike to Papa's house and leaves it there for awhile until we come back by.

He notices everything!  EVERY. THING.  Every flower.  Every leaf.  Every rock.  Every squirrel.  Every dog. 

And the dogs?  He "talks" to them. 

One day. . . I hear him beside me, "Woof, Woof, Woof-woof, Woof!"

"Mom!  I just told that dog that mac and cheese is really cheesy!"

Then yesterday. . . he was paying particular attention to a dog who was barking at us as we walked by his yard.

"Mom!  That dog just said, 'YOU WALK LIKE A GRANDMA!'"

Perhaps this should concern me.  Especially since I don't know if the dog was insulting me or Little Man.  Except that I remember as a young girl that his grandmother used to talk to the birds and squirrels.  She probably still does.

Maybe it runs in the family.

Son (#1) is going to JSB, tonight, as a Sophomore to "observe".  This makes me feel old.  And we bought a suit coat this week.
Daughter (#2) is finishing up club volleyball season and getting ready to be an orphan in our school's production of "Annie Jr." next weekend.
Son (#3) is also in "Annie Jr."  Can't wait to see them!  And he takes care of all of my flower beds.  Hopefully we can get all of the containers and pots planted this weekend.
Son (#4) turned 12 a couple of weeks ago and is the lawn guy extraordinaire.  Such a hard worker.

(I told you they all like to sit together on the couch!)


Daughter (#5) went to school dressed for the Oklahoma Land Run reenactment with her 4th grade class, today.  I'm supposed to pack (another) pioneer lunch.  It has to be food they would have had in the pioneer days.

I cheat.

Daughter (#6) is flying through 3rd grade.  Laughing loudly and keeping us all on our toes.  If it weren't for her, the house would NEVER be clean.  But it would certainly be quieter!
Daughter (#7) just passed the 200,000 word mark at school in her 1st grade reading.  Last week she had two pieces in our local Christian school art festival.  And she didn't want her picture taken.


And Son (#8)?  Well. . . he talks to me. all. day. long.  And to anyone (or anything) else who will listen. 

Off to have lunch with my little homesteader.  Think we'll throw in some hard-boiled eggs and butter/jelly sandwiches, too.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The good stuff. . .

After seeing a rare and wonderful post on the Elisabeth Elliot Facebook page last week (we all know that SHE doesn't post these things, but it was a quote from a much loved book), I picked up "Keep a Quiet Heart" and began to read.  I don't know what made me do it, besides the quote, itself.  


"[Christ] is my model. This means a different set of ambitions, a different definition of happiness, a different standard of judgment altogether. Behavior will change, and very likely it will change enough to make me appear rather odd--but then my Master was thought very odd."

The oddness is something I know about

In my high school/college days (which were, of course, not the typical, since I was at home or 
working for all of them) I read everything EE wrote.  I heard her speak countless times, I've even had the privilege of knowing her personally.  But what has struck me as I have been re-reading this fabulous book (I highly recommend it!) is how deeply her writings (and others, I know) formed in me the basic truths of life.


Trust.


Submission.


Resting.


Serving.


Thankfulness.


In these days of blogging and Facebook and Twitter. . . online articles and magazines. . . Hunger Games and Karen Kingsbury (which I've read a lot of). . . 


THIS is what I miss.  


The kind of writing that feeds your SOUL.  That challenges your thoughts and requires a response.  "Will I?"  


Will I trust the Lord in my circumstances?


Will I submit to these trials. . . this husband. . . the LORD?


Will I REST in the Lord?


Will I serve others without thought for SELF?


Will I be thankful in ALL things?


These are basic, daily, LIFE struggles.  I know I have them.  I assume you to do, too, if you seek to follow Christ.  And going back to this old, favorite book. . . it's reminded me that I've missed this.


Good writing.


I know so many of you, my blogging friends, enjoy good writing, just as I do.


You won't find it, here. 


But I would encourage you to seek it out.  Go back to those classic Elisabeth Elliot books (and pray for her, along the way, as she struggles in the sunset years of her life).  Find GOOD literature and biographies to share with your kids.  Read "Evidence Not Seen" and "A Chance to Die" and with me, keep plugging away at "Bonhoffer" (even though I'm about six months into it and only 1/3 of the way through).  And let me just say. . . THAT book?  Makes me feel really stupid.  But WOW it's good!


Leave the "easy" on the table, for today, and read something that will challenge your heart and mind and cause you to trust the Lord in a deeper way.


And yes, I know that this humble blog isn't on the list.


But thanks for reading it, anyway.  For encouraging me by YOUR lives and YOUR trust in the Lord.  For letting me use this modern day forum to collect me thoughts and chronicle what goes on here at the troops, so I don't forget.


Because I forget a lot.  Like how much I love EE's writing!


Happy Wednesday!


And did I mention that we celebrated Son's (#4) TWELFTH birthday last night?  Yikes!  Time is a flyin', I tell you!