Thursday, December 19, 2013

I honestly have no idea. . .

A few posts have drifted through my mind in the last month.  Month.  How has it been a whole month since I last wrote?  Sigh.

We got beat in that second week of football playoffs and basketball has hit full force.  I'm not sure if I'm just old, or tired, or cranky, or all three. . . but I'm not handling basketball season as well as I expected.  It's busier than it's ever been (with five playing) and some weeks we've had as many as nine games.  I love watching my troops play (I do!), but I'm much less tolerant than I imagined of the officials, opposing fans, and just the schedule in general.  Yikes.

Maybe all of that wouldn't be so bad, if I were more on top of things at home.  But I'm not.  We finally got the Christmas cards ready to mail (after they sat on the desk for 5 days) last night.  The gifts aren't all bought.  Not even close.  The baking list is still just a list.  And we are hoping to take a quick trip to our favorite Christmas spot this weekend with the grandparents.

I don't have to mention (do I?) all that needs to be done?

Along with games tonight and tomorrow night.

Mostly, I just feel like crawling back into bed.  And I find myself evaluating what really matters and what are we REALLY spending our time on (yes, too many Hallmark Christmas movies, I'm sure!), and what we might need to let go.

We had TWO snow days, recently - loved having my troops home - got absolutely nothing done - but on the first day out of school we loaded the troops up in Daughter's (#2) and Grandmother's 4 wheel drive cars and went to see the new Disney movie, Frozen.

Loved it.



I keep thinking about "Let it Go."



Let the excessiveness of Christmas go.

Let the tons of gifts go (we're doing ONE for each of the troops).

Let the ideas of a perfectly cleaned home and perfectly wrapped gifts and perfectly prepared goodies and perfectly EARLY Christmas cards and perfectly hand-made thoughtful teacher gifts for 38. . .

GO.

Let the expectations of my troops - asking them to quit being kids who are learning, and thinking they should be grown, fully understanding, mature adults (even when I'm not). . .

GO.

Let those expectations of how everyone should behave (including myself!), how things should look, what should get done. . .

GO.

It's not physically possible to accomplish it all.  It's not.

And letting it go (I'm working on it, at least!), leaves room for other things.  A minute on my blog with a second cup of coffee while the list sits.

Decorating the house for Christmas (even minimally).


Running the Turkey Trot with my Coach on Thanksgiving morn.

Spending Thanksgiving with the Coach's HUGE family.

Celebrating Son's (#1) EIGHTEENTH birthday and Daughter's (#5) TWELFTH.  Yikes.




Gathering lots of eggs!


Completing countless projects for school, with the bigs taking finals this week.




Enjoying Christmas parties with sweet friends.

Going on mission field trips with my girls - preforming the nativity at nursing homes, delivering gifts, singing at the mall.





A wedding of two of the coach's former students.

Sleepovers (even on school nights - gasp!) for my girls.

Friends of the bigs - coming and going - coming and going.  With brownies and muffins always here to share.

Afternoon coffee dates with my Coach on snow days and Sundays, when the weekends are full.

A matinee of "A Christmas Carol".  Lovely.


Visiting sweet friends in the hospital and welcoming new babies.

Making gifts for "Faith Friends" and "Secret Sisters" and countless trips to Hobby Lobby with my girls.

Celebrating our 19th anniversary with the younger kids' Christmas Program at school and watching my biggest big boy play the role of Rabbi Simeon.  I didn't even cry.




And you know what?  Just the day to day cooking, cleaning, baking, washing, folding, ironing.  It's a blessing, too.  Each of my troops fills my heart.  I love them so dearly.  Even with all of the mess.

Times up for now.  Washer repairman coming this morning, bundt cake to make for Christmas Eve and put in the freezer, and Son's (#4) basketball game, along with dinner, homework, and Christmas parties GALORE, tomorrow.

If I don't get it done before next Tuesday. . . and what are the chances??  Let me go ahead and say. . .

MERRY CHRISTMAS Dear Ones.



May your hearts be filled with the knowledge of our Savior and the PEACE He brings to our souls.

~Mrs. Troop

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Meanwhile at the Coach's house. . .

This morning we had a rare moment.  The Coach and I were both awake and still in bed.  At the same time.  I know, right?  He usually gets up at 5.  And I . . . don't.  Get up at 5.  Ugh.

As I came to consciousness and realized he was STILL THERE, I rolled over and noticed he was staring at the ceiling.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked him.

"How to stop Davis."  He answered.  (Our opponent for this week's football game, of course.)

Almost like, "Duh.  What else would I be thinking about?"  And honestly if I hadn't just been waking up, I wouldn't have even asked.  Only half asleep would I wonder what he's thinking about.

I get it.  I do.

After 19 years and fewer trips to the 2nd week of playoffs, it's a big deal.

Most people probably realize that being married to a football coach requires a lot of time in the practice and game sense.

What they may not realize is that during football season, my precious man eats, sleeps, and breathes football.  He watches film, diagrams plays, jots notes on film, the laptop, his ipad, and countless sheets of paper.

He gets up at five everyday to watch more film.  Even on Saturday.

Even when we don't get home from games until midnight.  He's up and back at it 5 hours later.

I'm not complaining.

I'm tired, but I'm not complaining.

I've grown to love football, too.  I've managed to become a screaming, jumping, crazy, maniacal fan in the four years MY boy has been out there playing with the Varsity.  I'm the embarrassment of the Coach's family - all who sit calmly no matter what the bad call or interception or last minute hail mary pass for a touchdown. And yes, it's OK if they act like I'm not related.

But when preparing for the week's game IS our life here at the troops. . . it's a big deal.


Of course my preparations are different.  I'm thinking who is riding with us to the game (one time I accidentally ended up with more kids than seats - oops!)?  How far away is it and how early do we need to leave?  Will we eat dinner before we leave or on the way?  Do I have directions or an address and have I saved them on my phone (sometimes you just have to find the right highway exit and look for the lights!)  Do I have enough cash to get umpteen kids into the game and are the stadium seats and blankets in the van from last week?  Will everyone need hats/gloves/coats?  Will the Coach be able to ride home with us or will he be taking the bus back to school (This is huge because it means I either have help putting the kids to bed at 11:30. . . or I don't.)?

So you can see it's what we do.  And it's a lot of work for my man.  And our troops.

It's a lot of fun, too.

And although I'm eversograteful for the character it's developed in my husband and sons (with many more years to come, Lord willing), it's great fun to win, too.


I'm pretty sure my character has grown in a negative sense.  As I may or may not have screamed "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" at a call or two last Friday.

I'm not proud of this, of course.

But I sure am proud of my Crusaders.

GO BIG BLUE!

(Here's to hoping that basketball season leaves more time for writing?  HA!)


Monday, November 11, 2013

Reaching new lows. . . every single day.


Some weeks I'm not sure how we keep on keeping on over here.  I know we have soverymuch to be grateful for.  And I am.  But OH the mess and OH the drama of . . . well. . . I guess that would be human beings.  I may have eight kids, but I'm sure your kids have drama, too.  (Please say yes.)

Last week Little Man got sick early Monday morning.  On the carpet.  Which is fine, because here enters "handy dandy steam cleaner".  But obviously that wasn't on my agenda for the day.  Duh.  I don't really mind setting aside my "list" and snuggling with a sweet 6 year old.  But it doesn't take long to get behind.

He spent a day resting and was back at school Tuesday. Wednesday, two of the kids had eye appointments and one had piano.  And I may have baked 14 dozen cookies for our Fall Festival bake sale at school.  Thursday WAS the Fall Festival and that is some serious fun.  And I was tired.  We ended up with a group of football guys watching the OU game here, two girls spending the night, and I'm pretty sure more kids actually slept here, but who is counting (The house was a wreck so the kids just blended in.)?  Friday we were out of school.  The football guys had breakfast, one of my girlies had a birthday party, we had lunch with Granddad, and our last regular season home football game/senior night.  That was quite possibly the windiest game I've attended in 19 years.  The fact that it was miserable weather made it easier to not get emotional about my first-born graduating from high school, though.  So there's that.

Saturday, Granddad came to help Son (#3) built a hen house (it's getting colder) and the three little girls had basketball games.  Thanks to Granddad bringing bagels, everyone actually got breakfast - ha!  After the 1st game, daughter (#7) threw up all over the driveway upon arriving home.  So she was tucked in bed for the day with essential oils.  Another daughter also felt puny and spent the day resting.  The Coach and Son (#1) had film with the football team and then came home to work in the yard.  The hen house was finished, the house was cleaned up, the leaves and yard finished, and the Coach and I snuck out for a date night - in spite of it all. Which ended up being helpful in more ways than one because we were also out of milk.

Yesterday was quieter - with two home from church, Christmas movies galore on the Hallmark Channel, and lots of homework for the big kids.

But about 9:30 last night?  Another girlie started throwing up.  Right about the time I remembered that Little Man brought "Buzzy the Bee" home from school on Thursday and he was supposed to read books with him and take pictures at the places we went and fill out his "favorites".

Oh.  And he had snacks for his class this week, too.  (And no, the snack basket hadn't even made it out of the van, yet.  Sigh.)

So I not only do NOT have my act together, I've managed to reach new lows at the troops.  Poor Little Man.  Think I can get fired from "Kindergarten Mom"?  At least we didn't LOSE Buzzy (it could happen).  We just lost the Coach's phone.  But I found it.  After he left this morning.

I realize that none of this is a big deal and none of it is long-term and we really are blessed beyond my understanding.  With healthy (most of the time) kids whom we love and enjoy and who love us, too.  That's no small thing and I am grateful.  But those moments when being a mom of eight feels overwhelming?  Are becoming more and more frequent.  Just ask Buzzy.

If you need me, I'll just be hanging here with stomach virus round 3.

Happy Monday!




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This and That

In no particular order (because that would take too much energy - ha!):



Our FIRST eight eggs from our chickens!  




 Sweet and FUN surprise from a sis-in-law.  How cute is that?



 Beans and Cornbread. 


Field Trip with Daughter (#6) to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.


Beautiful Fall weekend at the Farm House.


Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch with Little Man.



Quick visit with our amazing Chelle!  OH how we miss her!


That's all I have time for, today.  1/2 day at school, lunch with grandparents, PT for Son (#3), eye doctor. . .  and on it goes.  Blessed.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And I thought I'd be better at it. . .

As a follow up to Tuesday's post, I don't suppose life is ever quite as you imagine it will be.

Sometimes it's horribly different.

Sometimes a wonderful surprise.

But it's impossible to anticipate what it will really be like.  Even tomorrow!  Things often completely change without our permission.  Think "surprise" ACL surgery for Son (#3) 6 weeks ago.  Ugh.

Before the Coach and I had a family of our own, I think we exuded confidence.  We "knew" a lot of information about parenting.  Books, seminars, classes, and most of all?  We had amazing parents in our own lives who we had learned from.  And maybe our own share of pride.  Yikes.

Turns out it was more complicated than it seemed.  (Yes, you can laugh.  I am!)

I remember when Son #1 was born. . . we walked in the door to our little house with him when he was a mere 4 hours old.  All 5.5 pounds of him.  Just the three of us.  Sat down.  Looked at each other.  Then, "What in the WORLD do we do now?"

Ha!

It was rough.  The nursing, the recovery, the lack of sleep.  I thought putting him on a schedule would be easy.  Um.  No.  I thought (later on ), teaching him "no" and to fall asleep in his bed would be a cinch.  Not so much.

I was grateful we'd done it, though, when we discovered we were expecting #2 when our little boy was 6 months old.  Ha!

I can laugh about it, now, but it was hard.  I wouldn't change it.  But it wasn't easy.

And you know what?  I wasn't that good at it, either.  I had vicious and relentless nausea.  I was exhausted (some things never change - ha!).  I couldn't gain weight (what a joke!) and I did NOT glow.  Unless "green" is glowing.

Turns out. . . becoming a mom does NOT make you instantly unselfish.  Is spite of the cute little Pinterest graphics that declare that it does.

A selfish, spoiled, self-centered, girl who really likes clean and quiet and her own personal space will not instantly morph into a fabulous mother.

Well, at least I didn't.

I wouldn't change the process.  I wouldn't pretend it's over.  And I'm eversograteful to be a momma and have my troops to show me so much about myself that I wouldn't have known otherwise.

But I've honestly had SO much to learn.

And still do.

Of course the kids ARE the thing, here.  It's our job to raise independent kids who can THINK (what an amazing concept - ha!) and make wise choices when they leave our nest.

But this doesn't happen by default.  They don't learn by being left to themselves.  They learn by being guided and taught and reminded, and allowed to fail.  Ugh.  Never mind that they are eight very different, very unique personalities.  Some of which clash with my own personality in glaring and painful ways.

Somewhere in the teaching and training and correcting and disciplining and loving and returning again and again to how little we actually KNOW about this whole process. . . we've been changed WAY more than our kids.

The Coach and I are better parents then we were 18 years ago.  In some ways.  In others. . . we've relaxed a lot (I have been much more easy going with Little Man - for better AND worse).  We laugh a LOT more.  I hope that never changes.

And in the process, we love each other AND our troops in ways I never thought possible.

Maybe the key has been the realization that we aren't good at it at all.  But that our Lord IS fully able to work in and through us and in the lives of our kiddos.  In spite of us.

They don't really need sufficient parents, anyway.  They need to know their sufficient GOD.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I thought it would be easier.

Silly me.

I didn't think it would be EASY, mind you.  No, not easy.  I had watched too many parents in their struggles to think it was easy.

But I had no idea how hard it would be.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.

And somehow you are supposed to do the hardest job in the world - and do it well - while completely exhausted.

Hmmmm.

Might explain why it's not easier?

Two imperfect humans (if your extra blessed to have a partner in the journey -  single parents - I don't know how you do it!) trying to train, guide, correct, instruct, and prepare for life - another imperfect human.

All while trying to insure that our own issues don't end up being their issues, too.  Because they will surely have their own to deal with.

And the scariest part of all?  You literally blink . . . and you are out of time with them.

Our date night on Saturday was spent discussing how to deal with the current issues and conflicts and areas we are struggling with.

This doesn't need to be done once.  Or twice.  Or yearly.

With eight kids it needs to be done almost weekly.

Well.

OK.  Sometimes we just talk about FUN things on our date nights.

But most of the time it needs to be a productive time where we catch up and discuss and plan.  This week?  A new standard for picking up their rooms - and appropriate fines.  Think Starbucks fund for mom.

After 18 years?

I'm tired.

I know I shouldn't be.  No babies.  No toddlers.  No potty training or diapers or bottles or night-time feedings (I've done my share.).

No.  Now it's teens and pre-teens and responsibility and teaching and (still) training and discussing and staying up with them to talk when they are "chatty" and we are worn out.  And yes, we still have a six year old, too.

The Lord knows.

And maybe rather than trying to be the perfect parent (having already failed in that regard), it's more about being a real parent.  Loving our kids - imperfectly.  Laughing a lot.  Being willing to ask forgiveness.  Doing the hard thing.

Which sometimes means (for this soft-hearted mom) being tougher on them than I'd like to be.  My apologies to Son #1's future wife.  I have no excuses - I've cleaned his room much too often.

So grateful for a man who loves me even when I fail.  Grateful for kids who are happy and fun and put up with this momma who doesn't always know what she's doing.

And grateful for my Heavenly Father.  The only perfect parent ever.  And some of His kids?  They've had issues, too.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Laugh or Go Crazy

I actually beat the Coach to bed last night.  It was a little Christmas miracle.  OK.  A Fall miracle.

Because he is forever and always scolding me about staying up too late.  And then going to bed without me while I fold laundry or wash dishes or line up lunch bags or wash water bottles.

But I'm not bitter.  (wink)

Last night I was so tired that the mess didn't even phase me (now THAT is tired!) and I stumbled back to bed earlier than usual.

I was trying to focus my bleary eyes on the newest edition of WORLD when he came to bed.  Don't you just love how you take out your contacts, wash your face, put cream on your face, chapstick, eye drops, brush your hair, put lotion on your hands. . .

And the guys just brush their teeth and climb into bed?

So not fair.

Anyway, I had actually DONE all of that and still beat him to bed, when he came in and said, "I love what you've done with the hall."

It took me a minute.

You see. . . a week ago (yes a WEEK), the kids had been begging to get out the Fall decorations and I finally gave in (usually October 1st is the earliest I pull it all out).  They had a great time switching out the wreath and putting the leaf garland on the mantle.  They even convinced the Coach to take them to buy pumpkins for the porch.  Sweet Man.

But in the process of getting the stuff out of the hall cabinet, I set two Fall candles on the floor and. . .

Well.

I may have just moved on and left them there.

For a week.

I laughed at the Coach's sarcasm.

Then I told him, "That's not the half of it.  I've actually vacuumed around them.

Twice."

And you know what?  This is just evidence that I'm getting better at letting things go.



And yes, they are still there.

I'm thinking it's their new home.  At least until I catch up on everything else.

Happy Monday!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Oh. Fall.

There is a cool crisp bite to the air this morning.  I almost didn't even notice until my mom said something about it on the way to our boot camp workout.

I feel like I've been missing a lot, lately.

What happened to the me that used to enjoy pansies and pumpkins and write things about how lovely fall is and how it's when the Coach and I fell in love?

It IS lovely.

We DID fall in love.

But last Fall?

A blur.

And this one so far?

Also a blur.

I wonder sometimes.  How to stop and enjoy when there is so much to do?  How to slow down long enough to notice the cool air?

I used to.

Lately?  Not so much.

Because last Fall?  I had a sick girl who I attended school with for two weeks and then pulled out to home school all while going to doctor's appointments and having various tests run and getting virtually no sleep while she cried on the floor by my bed every night.

And this Fall?  There was surgery and recovery and now therapy (for Son #3). . . along with eight kids in school and a VERY busy Coach and all of the kids sports schedules.

Do I miss the beauty of the moment just because I'm tired?

Or do I even care what season it is when there is laundry to do and fold and meals to plan and cook and carpet that (once again) desperately needs vacuuming and there was a day when I actually trained for 1/2 marathons and. . .

Where is that girl?

Where did she go?

When your kids are little . . . other moms tell you to enjoy it and that they won't be little long and that the days are busier when your kids get older.

Boy are they right.

I LOVE this season (life, not weather) of bigger kids and football and volleyball and discussions and dinners out (never did THAT when they were babies) and cars filling the driveway and work and friends and calculus (thank the LORD for a math teacher husband).

I love it.

But it's exhausting.

Forget time to blog.  I shouldn't be doing it, even now.

Forget anything proactive around the house.  Decorating?  Who has time.  Cleaning is my goal.  A goal that is only reached for brief moments in time.

Forget the lunches and coffee dates with girlfriends that I dreamed of.  By the time I get the kids off and my workout/run in and shower and get the laundry going and fix something for dinner and run errands. . .

It's time to leave for school.

I'm not complaining.  I'm NOT.

And I really do love it. All of it.

But I look back with fondness on that girl who loved fall and had time to plant flowers and light candles and drink chai and make muffins (I still make muffins but they don't last long).

Life is, at the same time, much HARDER than I ever anticipated. . . and also much SWEETER as the years go by.  With my Coach.  With my kids.

And I suppose everything else can wait.

Happy Monday.  Happy BEAUTIFUL COOL FALL MORNING Monday.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Time to be Thankful


Surgery for Son (#3) on Wednesday went great!  Thank you so much for your prayers for us all.  There wasn't any other damage, just the ACL, which the surgeon described more as "mutilated" than a tear.  Ugh.  But we were home by 11:30 that morning and it's been busy ever since.

My heart has been full as I've watched our friends and family love on my sweet boy.
The visits.  The cards.  The cookies.  The movies.  The dinner on the night of his surgery.

He missed his class retreat on Thursday and you know what they did?  Made a life size cutout of his face and took pictures with him in them at each activity.  No one has friends like that!  Amazing.

Grandmother has helped with the other troops, folded laundry, and taken the ironing to her house. . .  the other kids have helped Son (#3) and kept up with school beautifully, the Coach has kept me from losing my mind (that's nothing new), and I even got a run in on Saturday.

We've crossed some milestones - like pulling the drain tube out of his knee (I do NOT get paid enough for this job!  Ha!), changing the bandages from surgery (can you say 17 staples?), and weaning off the meds during the night (I am TOO old to get up every four hours thankyouverymuch!).

He is gradually needing less pain medication and is getting up and down on his own.  It's still a full day to get in 6 hrs on the CPM while icing.  My job is just to feed him.  (smile)  Mostly bacon.

I even threw caution to the wind and watched "The Village" with him last week.  Yikes.  Fortunately I've been so tired I haven't had any nightmares.  Yet.

He's still not back to school (tomorrow is our goal) and we are still missing a lot of football and volleyball games while trying to keep things together here at home (And honestly?  The carpets need vacuumed sooooo badly!).

It's all good.

And blessed.

I'm so grateful for it all.  Even the time with this son of mine.

And now he and I are off to take Daughter (#7) to the dentist to get teeth pulled.  Because who wants a quiet day at home?

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

At which point I realized that HE has been taking care of ME, for quite awhile now. . .

All eight of the troops are different.  I don't say this out loud for your benefit (I'm sure you're thinking "DUH!"), but for my own.  Because sometimes I forget and try to parent them like they are all the same.

I'm learning (slowly) to enjoy and encourage these differences.  They are all unique and there are things about each one that make them such a vital part of this family and hold such a distinct and HUGE place in my heart.

There differences are also what annoy the tar out of me.  Just sayin'.

But one of our kids (I don't have favorites, but it is what it is), is particularly thoughtful.  Helpful.  Kind.  Generous.  Intuitive.

He has a way of realizing "Yes, Mom is about to lose it, again." and jumping into help.  Picking up the living room (it's my sanity), vacuuming when the latest craft project has left teeny tiny bits of paper everywhere.  Or beads.  Or Legos.  Or laundry.

He knows when I need a body guard for a late evening trip to Wal-mart (although the early morning trips seem to be more risky).  And then suggests a stop at Starbucks on the way home - his treat.

When I need some news songs on my running playlist, he's the one I ask.  We like the same music.  Which is saying a lot considering the various genres on my ipod.  And we look over the race schedules each season to decide which 5K or 10K or 1/2 marathons we are going to run.  Although he's about twice as fast as I am.

And his brownies are THE BEST!  It's my recipe, but it tastes way better when he makes them.

He takes care of the chickens, the hamsters, the fish AND the crabs.  He and his younger brother mow and care for the yard and he shops for, plants, and waters ALL of the flowers each season.

Then week before last?

He tore his ACL in a pre-season football scrimmage.

Ouch.

So my independent, helpful, thoughtful, extremely hard-working son is pretty much totally dependent on me and the rest of the troops for... well... everything.

Super hard for him.  He's had a great attitude about it all.  I've let him "vent" to me as much as he needs to.  But then he turns around and shows such kindness and humor.  We've had some good laughs through it all.

Last night after the season opener football game, while I was helping put the compression tight on his hugely swollen foot after he finished his bath (that I had to run for him), then putting the stabilizer back on his knee (while he grimaced the whole time), I was SO frustrated.  Not just because I was exhausted and trying to get the littles bathed and to bed, as well.  Not just because it had been a super long day.  Not just because it was LATE.  Not just because we lost our first home game and our quarter back was injured.  Not just because I wanted to SLEEP so I could get up and run.

But also because I am sick and tired of my boy being in pain.  And we have a long way to go.  And it turns out...I have grown to depend on HIM so much.

The gaps around here have been HUGE.  We've had to reassign care for all of the pets and to be honest?  I don't care for feeding the hamsters.  And last week?  I threw the hanging ferns on the front porch away because I kept forgetting to water them (also his job).

So yes, we are all different here at the troops.  And thank the Lord we are all still learning how to love one another and serve one another and get along.  Me, included.

Surgery is Wednesday.  Prayers appreciated.  Coffee donations accepted.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A new, but not less busy, chapter - at the troops. . .

Here it is.  Our second week of the school year.  And I'm just now sitting down to write.



Our troops started the year - all eight of them - in 12th, 11th, 9th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 3rd, and Kindergarten - last Monday.

What have I been doing the last 8 days, you ask?  Hmmmm.  I won't go there.  Suffice it to say, that having the kids AT school all day doesn't seem to lessen the amount of laundry to be done and food to be cooked.  Not to mention that I was WAY behind from the last couple weeks of school supply/clothes/shoes shopping and trying to cram every bit of fun in that we could before the freedom of Summer was lost.



Just making lunches x 9 is a bit of an ordeal.  Even though most of the kids make their own.  Just think a whole loaf of bread (plus some), turkey, cheese, pb & j, granola bars, applesauce cups, chips. . . you get the idea.

This morning?  Little Man threw a fit.  He LOVES school.  Happy every afternoon when I walk in to get him.  But sometimes in the morning, he asks just like his mommy.  He'd rather stay in bed.  Or dilly dally over breakfast.  Or skip putting on his belt.  It's a rough life.

I finished my run this morning and realized I hadn't gotten the mail yesterday.  Volleyball tournament.  After a new bootcamp session started in the morning.  Busy busy day.  But in the mail?  Senior pic proofs for Son (#1).  And yes, they've already taken them.  Before school actually started.  Good grief!  Can't a mom get a break?  (sniff)




So between the sweat dripping down my forehead and the piles and PILES of laundry needing to be folded and the FULL rack of shirts hanging above the dryer waiting to be ironed. . .

I'm going to have a hard time making it to Sam's and back before school dismissal.

This is the life of a stay at home mom of eight whose kids are all in school.

Pretty glamorous, right?

Oh, I HAVE been able to sneak away (from the laundry) for coffee with a friend and lunch with my parents one day last week.  Lovely.

And I LOVE having muffins or cookies ready for the kids after school (when we don't go straight to volleyball or football games).

And being able to head out to run *alone* with my ipod and the early morning sunshine really is a delight.  Truly.

If only the work weren't here waiting for me when I get back!  Ha!

Blessed.  Grateful.  Praying for my little guy who wanted to stay home, today.  And thanking the Lord every time I walk by those senior pic proofs for HIS faithfulness.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Note to Self. . .

1.  Do not go straight from bootcamp to Wal-mart at 7:45 AM to get chicken for dinner.

2.  When there are police cars outside of Wal-mart, you should probably think twice about shopping right then.


. . . because when you come out?

There may be a news camera recording you.




All sweaty with frizzy hair.


At least it's not smellavision, right?  (you're welcome)

And to those of you who are about to say, "This is why I don't shop at Wal-mart!".  Read the article. He robbed a Target FIRST.

3.  Move "get my concealed/carry permit" to the top of the to-do list.

Happy Tuesday!




Saturday, August 3, 2013

He just knows.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, after a morning of boot camp, caring for a sick girl, errands and my Weight Watchers meeting. . .

I got a text from the Coach.

"Meet me at the 4:20 movie?" it said.

Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal.  But it's not something we do very often.

And it meant JUST. SO. MUCH.


Sometimes, it's the little things that touch me the most.

The little thoughtful things that make my heart squeeze and remind me that this man I share life with?

He's the best.

He knows when I'm tired and discouraged.  He knows that it's easier to leave the troops for a couple of hours in the afternoon when someone is sick and will want us there in the evening.  He knows I need time with him.  He knows I was up half the night and am lacking patience.  He knows I'm sore from workouts and sitting in a cool theater with a Diet Coke and popcorn was just right.  And even though we usually don't chose seeing a movie for our dates (because we would rather go somewhere quiet to talk), sometimes it's the perfect thing.

I want my kids to know that marriage isn't easy.  That it's a lot of work.  That it takes commitment and patience and lots of forgiveness (especially on the Coach's end).  That it takes time to learn to receive God's grace so you can extend it to your spouse. That some days you don't feel loving or thoughtful or kind.  That some days (particularly when there are kids involved) you have nothing left (or so it seems) for one another.

But I also want them to know THIS.  What this almost 19 years of living life together is like.  That marriage can be amazing and wonderful and having someone know you deeply and still love you is incredible.  That after all of this time, their daddy is still my favorite.  That we still have fun together and love being together and laughing together (like when some guy started snoring in the middle of the movie). I'd rather be with him than anyone else on the planet.

Even for an afternoon movie on a hot Summer Friday.

No.  Especially for an afternoon movie on a hot Summer Friday.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Big Huge Sigh

Opening up this blog tonight, feels a bit strange, I'll admit.  It's been a month since my last post.

What a month.

Tonight we had friends over for dinner.  For meatball subs.  They are those friends.  You know the ones.  They have your kids over when you are out of town, your house doesn't have to be perfect when they are coming, you don't have to have everything ready before they arrive and the kids can't wait for them to get here.

Please tell me you have friends like this in your life!  If not, I'll pray that God will bring them!

Our dinner, conversation, laughter, and watching the kids together was like a sigh in my heart.

The happy kind.

The "we've survived this crazy, insane, heartbreaking, joyous, exhausting two months of Summer and here we are with people we love and it's nice" kind of sigh.

Grateful for friends like this.  Who encourage instead of wearing out and who share the struggles along with the laughs.

In the last month (after having all eight troops home only one night since Memorial Day), the Coach and I traveled to California for my uncle's funeral - spending time with family and sharing lots of hugs and so many tears.

We spent July 4th at the farm house with much of the same family, enjoying time with our troops and setting off enough fireworks to hurt someone - but it was quite a show and everyone remained unscathed.

We welcomed my uncle's family, hosted them at the farm and at our home and loved them in whatever way we could, while they buried my uncle here in our city.  With more hugs and more tears and SO. MUCH. SAD.

We packed the troops (in just a few hours the night before) and drove to beautiful Breckenridge for a week of COOL weather and hiking and cousins and puzzles and rafting and trains and coffee and more hiking.

Arriving back here last week . . to find it HOT and busy, once again.

God is good.

Even in our heartache, He's there with us.  I love that.  My Jesus WITH me.

It's about time to think about school supplies and khaki pants and new football cleats and who has what teacher and volleyball has started and I'm doing a boot camp for the next four weeks and the Coach is busier than ever at work and . . .

He will be with me in all of that, too.



Happy Sunday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It happens

One day.

You wake up and realize it's happened.

It didn't happen all at once.

It certainly took it's time coming.

You've wished for it and waited for it.

You've wondered if it would ever happen at all.

Some days you doubt that it will.

Other days it seemed just out of your reach.

But here we are.

Drumroll please. . .

All of our kids can shower by themselves and come out CLEAN!

After 17.5+ years of bath time and hair washing (ohmyheavens - girls and their hair), towels on the floor and bath toys and tear-free shampoo. . .

I can just SAY THE WORDS.

And in a matter of minutes. . .

We have no more hot water and freshly scrubbed littles.

(Sigh)

This is BIG ya'll!


Now, don't get me wrong.

Lots of answered prayers going on here that are way bigger.  But I'm grateful for the small things.

Kids all sleeping in their own beds (can you hear my joy?)!

Everyone can potty alone and wipe themselves and get their own drinks (gasp!).

Everyone can *almost* do their own hair (littlest girlie still needs some help now and then - but honestly?  I have three other girls who can help her!!).

The kids can all clean up, put things away, sweep floors, wipe up bathrooms. . . no more different chore lists for the littles and the bigs.

I rarely even have to start the washer or dryer anymore - thanks to a self-appointed 11 year old "Queen of the Laundry".


Seriously?

I can FEEL my lazy coming on.

Never mind that we also have kids who have traveled the world sharing the gospel, maintain full-time jobs, can serve others with energy and love, can babysit for Date night and Coffee dates, work for their grandparents, and help aunts and uncles on moving day.

And Little Man (who isn't so little anymore?)?  He started "reading" (sounding out simple words), yesterday.  When all of the kids can swim, ride a bike AND read?

I may have survived "Phase One" of this eversoexhausting parenting journey.  Ha!

Happy Sunday.

And may "Phase Two" (sending them out as independent young adults) commence.  In another year or so.  First I get to enjoy THIS!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1.  A fabulous FORTIETH birthday, last week.  Thanks to sweet friends and the amazing Coach. . . who organized and gave me a big darling bag full of sweet cards, notes, and gifts.  After a fabulous dinner out with the troops. . .and then the kids gave me a new pair of black fit flops and a new wallet. . .
And yummy red velvet cupcakes. . .

It just kept going!  Ha!

The final and most unbelievable thing of all?  A new laptop.

(contented sigh)

And honestly. . . the gifts weren't the best part about it - I felt so loved and blessed with the amazing people God has brought into my life.  Love them all.

Anyhoo. . .

2.  A great Father's Day with the Coach.  Taking Son #1 and Daughter #2 to the airport - they are spending a couple of weeks at Summit.  Already sounds like they are having a great time!!  Then lunch at home with the Coach, some resting, some suit shopping, Starbucks with the kids, and a visit with his parents.

3.  Gods grace to all of my mother's family as we've grieved the lost of my Uncle. . . and also rejoiced that he has received his ultimate healing. . . and is in the presence of Jesus.

4.  Safe travels for Son #3 who arrives home, tonight, from Africa.  So ready to have him home!!

5.  Beautiful weather.  As in, "not hot yet".

6.  VBS for the littles this week.  Little Man has been too excited to sleep, too tired to wake up, and can't stop talking about it!  Today I told him there was only one more day and he said, "That's really sad."  Ha!

7.  And lots and lots of projects getting done at the troops.  I guess when you are married to a Coach, who rarely has any free time all football season and basketball season, and end of the school year season. . . Summer is the TIME to get it all done.  Love it.

8.  Lots of days with the Coach coming home early (see #7).  Love time with my man!

I'm out of here.  It's Summer!  Time to heat up leftovers, get kids ready for bed, and READ!  Ha!  At least until we go to the airport.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just. So. Blessed.

My heart is unusually full, tonight. . .

or the girl at Starbucks didn't hear me say, "DEcaf".

Either way, I'm awake.  And since tomorrow will probably be too busy for a post (what day isn't?), I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts while waiting for sleep to arrive.

Tomorrow is my fortieth birthday.  4.  0.

I know, right?

And although I'd take my 20 year old body back ANY DAY if someone offered it, I would, in fact, rather be 40.  Sags, aches, and pains in all.

Life is good.

It's not perfect, forheavenssake.  If I've communicated anything on this blog in the last 6 years I would hope it would be THAT.  Not.  Perfect.

But oh so blessed.

Sure I'd love to be thinner, and fitter, and more organized.  I'd love to be more encouraging to my kids and more supportive of my husband.  I'd love to see relationships restored and those I love following hard after God. Most of all. . . I'd love to be the kind of Christ follower that my heart longs to be.

But here's the thing.  I'm thinner than I was a month ago.  We are working on organizing. . but honestly swimming comes first.  It's Summer, after all.  Every day I love my kids more and I enjoy them more.  I adore my husband. A.D.O.R.E. him.  I would take today - 18 something years after becoming his wife - in a second over newlywedness (as blissful as it was).  We finish each other's sentences and read each other's minds and he NEEDS me.  Mostly to find things.  But I'll take it.

There is always ALWAYS hope in Christ for those we love.  No matter the struggle, no matter the bondage.  Christ is the victor, sin is conquered.  I find my HOPE there every day.

And yes, most of all.  Most of all I'm learning that I can only LOVE because He LOVED ME FIRST.  And still.  Not because of anything I've done but because of who HE IS.  I'll never muster up the ability to BE what Christ made me to be.  And today?  I lived more fully in who I already am. . . abiding. . . than I did yesterday.

That's enough.

At 40, I care so much less about what anyone might think of me.  Or the troops.  That was certainly not the case in my 20's.  I am so much more comfortable with who Christ made me to be.  With letting others be who He made them to be, as well.

Every day I have little people who come out with sleepy eyes looking for a hug.  I have big kids who work hard and play hard and make me laugh.  We have a comfortable home that we enjoy and delight in sharing.  God's abundant provision for our every need.  Every day.

And this.




Kids (and their daddy) who love God and love others and care more about making HIM known.

So tomorrow?  I'll miss having my parents and Son #3 here. . . but I'd rather have them in Zimbabwe pouring out God's love on His people.  I've been praying for each of the troops, since birth, that God would give them a heart for missions.  My prayers are being answered.





400 students came to know Christ, today.  And my boy was there to witness the Holy Spirit at work.



When all else fails?  There are the chickens.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Happy Early Wednesday morning to you all.

And thank you, Jesus, for "40".

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The most Thankfullest of Thursdays. . .

Short list?
1.  The Coach is home safely from Haiti!

You know. . . that could really be the end of it, for now.  Because HELLO, best news ever!

But I'm sitting here with a full heart for more reasons than that.

I SLEPT last night.  So thankful.  I don't really sleep when the Coach is gone.  I guess that's what happens after 18 1/2 years.  I was so, so tired!

The washer is humming with mission trip laundry load number four - and the last.  I can hear the mower, blower, and trimmer going.  The best part being that my GIRLS are the ones out there doing it!  Well, the Coach is edging, but for lack of big boys around here, the girls have stepped up to help.

Son (#1) is at work - he started his Summer job on Monday.  So proud of him.  He's definitely a "Mr. Steady" like the Coach.  Daughter (#2) is on the way home from lunch with a friend - and is picking up Son (#4) from basketball camp on her way home.  I just took Cowboy cookies out of the oven - her one request when she got home last night.

Son (#3) is on a plane somewhere over the ocean - flying from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  13 1/2 hours.  And yesterday's flight to DC was his very first time on a plane.  Ha! So excited for him.

The house is clean - minus the piles of clean laundry from the trip - and it's a beautiful, cool, NOT stormy day.  The garage door (which broke yesterday morning as we were trying to leave for the airport!) is fixed and the exterminator just left - we have a earwig problem in the bathroom.

See what I mean?

Just so much to be thankful for, today.

I still have a to-do list a mile long and the electricity in the sunroom is still not working and the chickens?  Well.  They are a mess.  Not to mention the HUGE hole still in the backyard which they haven't been able to come fill because of all of the rain.

Let's just say we are no longer in a drought.

Every time the Coach is gone for awhile (thank heavens he's home to stay!), I think, "Whew.  We made it."  I knew when Spring arrived that he had three trips coming up and we're blissfully through them all and back to normal.  As normal as it ever IS here at the troops.

They had an amazing trip to THIS place.  Son is on his way to Kadoma, Zimbabwe, with THIS ministry.  And . . .

I can catch my breath.

At least until Son (#1) and Daughter (#2) leave next week for HERE.

Blessed.

Happy Thursday!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tornadoes, Chickens, and Missions. . . OH MY!

I've meant to sit down and catch up here for. . . oh. . . awhile, now.  But then something ELSE will happen and I think, "Well.  There's that."  How do you begin?  How do you explain?  How do you describe?

My last post was right after the Coach made it back from DC.  Now he's off somewhere down in Haiti with Daughter (#2).  School is out (We barely made it.  Barely.).  Summer has begun.

I'm eversoproud of my students.  Since it's my blog and I can say what I want (sort of), I have to mention that all six of them got straight A's/Honor Roll.  They get their brains from their daddy, no doubt.  And my homeschooler?  JUSTSOGRATEFUL!  Ask anyone that's watched her this year.  We've come a long way, Baby.

But between the horrid severe weather - one night missing us by only 2 blocks and another night hitting so many dear friends to the South and just last night having to flee to the farm house and the basement with all of our kids and grandparents and sibling's family. . .

I'm over it.

How do I talk about the crazy that's going on HERE when nearby we have friends who lost EVERYTHING?

How do I say how much I miss my Coach (so much. . . ) when over 30 people have lost their lives in the last two weeks in our city?  And so many family have loved ones who won't be coming home.

How do I tell you how RELIEVED I am that we survived the last few weeks of school (it was a close call)?  Honestly, Jen does it better than I ever could.  I sincerely felt like I'd run a marathon by the time we finished all of the end of the year activities/snacks/cookies/gifts/assemblies/graduations.  Whew.


My kids had 36 different teachers this year.  Bless them.
They deserve SO much more than cookies!

And at some point in the whole thing I threw a big-time I'mnottwobutIcanstillactlikeit FIT.  The Coach had been gone so long and we were all so tired and my leg just kept hurting and I couldn't catch my breath.

But God, in His faithfulness, sees only His righteousness.  And the Coach, with eyes of love, is willing to forgive.  Again.  Even if he is a little too quick to agree with me that I've been a jerk.

I don't know that Summer is less crazy.  It's just a different crazy.  We sleep later (well, except that basketball camp for Daughter #5 was every morning last week).  I have more help around the house, but also more bodies to make messes.  We spend more time at the pool.  More time reading.  Eventually, more time out in the yard (although tornadoes, torrential rains, and hail do not a lovely yard make).  The kids are already turning a lovely shade of brown (in spite of my OCD sunscreen applying tendencies).

OH!  And the kitchen floor is fixed.  As of the last Saturday of the school year.  Because we didn't have anything else going on.


Tonight?  I'm grateful.

For the Psalms.

For library books.

For sweet friends who call to check on us and text when there are tornadoes and come over to laugh with us and make the time go faster.

For my parents - who are gracious, generous, and always willing come over, take us to dinner, let us hang with them, and fill in the gaps when I'm beyond tired.  And they may have attended more end of school year activities than any grandparents in history.  Just sayin'.

For my Coach and Sweet Girl - who are sharing the Love of Christ in Haiti this week.  Miss them.  Proud of them.  Can't wait to have them home.


For my big boys here at home.  Who run errands, and rearrange the garage to get another car in when it's hailing, and take out the trash, and decide to raise chickens (??), and make me feel safer when their daddy is gone.

For my little girls who help clean and fold laundry and do the dishes and still play dolls and watch American Girl movies and laugh.  A lot.

For Little Man, who (the last week of school), lost a tooth, learned to ride his bike without training wheels, and tested for Kindergarten next year. . . then told me, "Wow!  I've had a big week, Mom."


The fact that his monumental "first lost tooth" picture was taken in the car
SHOULD give you an idea what our last few weeks have been like.  Ha!

And for a night without severe weather warnings.  Thank you, Jesus.

My bed is calling.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thankful Thursday

We did JUST FINE while the Coach was gone.  Managed to keep it all going - juggling all of those plates in the air.  The kids were a huge help.  Having drivers to help with school trips and errands AND kids big enough to mow the lawn without help and fix a sprinkler head.  Life is way easier in some regards with teens.

But can I say. . . and I know I have in the past. . . and there really aren't words. . .

SO SO happy to have my man home!

It's not as traumatic to have him gone as it was when we had all little ones.  I'm grateful for that.  But there is nothing like being "on" constantly and not taking two seconds to catch your breath.  Even at night when I would lie down in bed. . . still on duty. . . listening. . . making sure everyone is settled and the house is shut down for nighttime.

It's exhausting.

I spent a great deal of my nighttime and even daytime praying for my sweet friends who are single moms.  It has to be incredibly tough.  I am exhausted after just eight days.  Enough said.  Each time the Coach is gone, the Lord brings them all to mind and I pray more fervently than ever that these mommas will feel God's LOVE for them.

But with all of that said. . . it's Thursday!

1.  Safe travels for my Coach.

2.  Fun memories made with Son (#4) in Williamsburg, DC, and Philly - he'll arrive home via bus sometime tomorrow night.

3.  Safety for the the troops while the Coach was gone.

4.  Teens who did SO MUCH to help this momma.

5.  Lunch with a sister-in-law and her four littles on Friday.

6.  Sweet friends who came for dinner on Friday night.

7.  Protection from the hail Friday night.

8.  Volleyball games on Saturday.

9.  Safe and fun Half Marathon on Sunday morning.

10.  Dinner with family on Sunday night.

11.  Dinner out with a friend on Monday night.

13.  Our school's community service project going smoothly, yesterday.

14. Chick-fil-A lunches with Grandparents (times two).

15.  The cold rain.  Sort of.

16.  Hearing the kids playing Hide and Seek around the house this morning with little friends who came to play.

17.  LOTS of projects completed while the Coach was gone. . .bills, receipts, filing, emails, insurance, new kitchen floor scheduled for next week.

Just. So. Blessed.

And I might possibly get a nap this afternoon.  Since it's cold and wet and my two at home would probably love to curl up a watch a movie.

Happy Thursday!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday!

Longest. Week. Ever.

Is it just me?  Because when the Coach is gone, it's like I'm walking around with only half of myself.  And less than half of my brain, because we all know he's the smart one.

It's a cloudy, cool Friday morning.  I'm loving the LEAVES that are all coming out on the trees, softening the landscape of the yard.  I love every season.  But I grow tired of the harshness of Winter.  The tree branches that let the sunlight glare without filtering it before it hits the grass.  The sunlight rarely touches our backyard, once the leaves are out.  It's beautiful.

Yay for Spring!

And pansies.  Which I love.

The new kitchen floor should be scheduled sometime today.  There's that.  And tonight we have friends coming for dinner.  To make the time go faster, the kids decided.  We miss the Coach.

We've managed to survive a sprained wrist, pink-eye, and fingers slammed in a door.  Life at the troops is somewhat dangerous.  Today is also "Noah Webster Day" for the little sister, so she headed out looking like a cute little student from the 1800's.

The half-marathon is Sunday.  Yesterday, in the middle of my very last short run before then, my tummy did a little flip.  It's a weird feeling to FINISH training.  I can't describe it.  It made me oddly emotional. . . remembering last year's struggles (stress fracture - ugh).  And this year's.  It would be unusual (for me) to train and NOT have any issues.  It's hard.  It's such an analogy of LIFE.

Son #3 finished his run just as I was heading out, yesterday.  He runs at a 7:20 pace.  This makes me laugh and feel like congratulating him every time he finishes a run.  This annoys him.  My 10:30 pace is so much less exciting!

It's been a struggle to get homeschool done this week.  We have Spring Fever.  It's all we can do to get through those math lessons and grammar before the itch to do something else sets in.  This week, Daughter (#6) has cleaned out the fridge, organized the bathroom cabinets and shower (four girls = way too many shampoo bottles), folded masses of laundry, planned meals, made the list and helped me shop for groceries, along with her usual routine.  The girl is amazing.

Note to self:  When at home (the beach doesn't count), do NOT take a sleeping pill AND a Benadryl to keep from being up all night.  Unless you want to feel like the walking dead all of the next day.  And my apologies to everyone I talked to, yesterday.  Yikes.

And now we are off to get this day going.  Floor guy coming to measure, allergy shots, a trip down to the Expo to pick up our race stuff for Sunday, and getting the house and dinner ready for later, tonight.

Praying for all of my dear friends who have husbands who are gone more than not (I'm such a baby when the Coach isn't here).  And asking the Lord to show YOU His love, today.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lots of Send Offs

Just "yesterday" I had 6 kids seven and under and they NEVER WENT ANYWHERE.  And neither did I!  Ha.

Last week I had a fabulous beach trip with girlfriends, (and this one and this one and another one that doesn't blog). Ahhhhhh - a rare moment when I was the one being "sent off".  It was lovely.



While I was gone, Son #1 had his first Junior Senior Banquet (our school's version of Prom - with dress checks and minus the dancing!)



We love these girls!




This morning I kissed two of my men good-bye (the Coach and the 13 yr old) to travel to DC for 10 days.  It's an amazing trip.  This is the Coach's 3rd time to go - he's been with all of our 6th grade boys.  And I LOVED going with Daughter (#2) four years ago.  Wow.  Four years ago.

This Sunday is the OKC Memorial Marathon (and Half-Marathon, thank goodness!).  Training is done.  Love the taper!  Son #3 and I are running it, along with my mom (isn't she amazing?).  I dream of the day when THIS girl will come run it with me.  Someday!

And when they get back?  I'll be saying good-bye to the Coach and Daughter (#2) for the Sophomore trip.
And Daughter #5 will be off to 5th grade Science Camp.
And then the Coach and Daughter (#2), will be off to Haiti for a week.
Then Son #3 and my parents will be off to Africa for two weeks.
Then Son #1 and Daughter #2 will be off to Summit for two weeks.

While the big kids are all gone in June, the younger ones will have football camp, basketball camp, volleyball camp, and VBS. Along with Summer jobs and workouts and hopefully some time spent with this ministry, too.

Sometime around the first of July we'll all be here, together again.  For more than a few days.  And a week in Colorado that's already been planned.  Thank heavens.  We'll be back just in time for a new season of volleyball to start.

This is a crazy, busy, FUN season of life.  Never dull.  Never enough time in the day to get it all done.

I don't let my kids do "everything" - with the exception of Africa and the Summit, all of our activities are school related.

But with eight kids. . . it doesn't take very many things on the calendar to make it crazy.

The nights when all 10 of us can be around the table?  Have been few and far between.

I'm not complaining.  I love it all.  I love the opportunities my kids have to go and do and learn and share the gospel.

But it already seems quieter this morning with only eight of us.

Of course it could have something to do with who is gone.  (smile)

And I'm not talking about the Coach.

Yesterday (I found out after the fact) the three bigs gave speeches for Student Council offices.  They don't bother mentioning it because they don't think it's a "big deal", but the Coach told me last night.  And when I fill out forms and make appointments for overseas shots and check passports and. . . well, you know. . . I'm just so grateful.

For kids who LOVE the Lord and His people.  For a Coach who goes with them, encourages them, teaches them, reminds them that serving it where it's at.

Because he lives that each and every day at school and at home.

(sniff)

I miss him already.

Happy Wednesday!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hard to Predict

Some mornings I wake up with an idea of what the day will hold.

Unloading the dishwasher and starting the coffee.  Getting out the cereal and waking the littles.  Lining up the lunchbags and writing names on the lunch sacks (at a certain age, lunchbags become uncool, you know).  Washing out and filling the water bottles.  Putting in ponytails, making sandwiches.

Occasionally (OK.  Pretty much every day.) there are surprises.  Son #3 forgot to put his khakis in the dryer last night so they are still wet.  Shoes are lost.  PE bags are still full of dirty clothes from earlier in the week.

Or someone wakes up sick.

It happens.

Yesterday, I wasn't surprised at all to have two girlies who needed to stay home.  I wasn't surprised by the ice on the trees, or the frigid temps.  I wasn't even surprised to wake up to our 4th born turning THIRTEEN!

But I was just a bit surprised when the plumber, who came to fix the kitchen drain, got his snake STUCK in the kitchen drain and couldn't get it out.

Hmmmmm.

Then a bit more surprised when he told me that the reason it was stuck was (I should be saying IS because it IS still there, this morning!) that the line has a break in it.

Why does this scenario feel strangely familiar?

OH?

We've done this before?

Jackhammered up the kitchen floor?

Replaced a section of the kitchen sewer line?

Re-poured the slab?

Replaced the entire kitchen/laundry/boys' bath flooring?

Yep.

Not our first rodeo.

I was just a tad bit frustrated when the Coach called to discuss our "options"  (which seem to be leaving the snake IN the drain and never using the sink, again. . . or tearing up the floor).  A birthday party to get together for evening.  No way to wash dishes.  Two sick girls.  Trees covered with ICE and a cold blowing wind.

Not my best moment.

He reminded me, though (as he always does), that "it is what it is".  Do the next thing.  We can't change it, so get on with what needs to be done and purpose to be grateful.  (Which always seems easier for him to say while sitting in his quiet office at school. . . instead of the chaos that is here!)

I am grateful.

For foam bowls and plastic spoons.
For running water in the bathrooms (and some way to wash the dishes I can't avoid using).
For a clean house (at least until the jack hammer arrives).
For healthy kids (one girlie back at school and one still home but MUCH better).
For sunshine and melting ice.
For a handsome, fun, newly THIRTEEN year old son.  Love him.
For parents, in-laws, and friends to help us celebrate.
For birthday gifts and angel food cake from Sam's.
For clean clothes (the washer and dryer are still working!).
For a warm house.
For a precious Coach who loves me in spite of my tendency to have a melt down on a fairly regular basis.

So see?

I may not be able to predict what any given day will hold here at the troops.  But I can count on having something to be grateful for.  And a loving Heavenly Father who holds it all.

Maybe I should get a shower before the water gets turned off?

Happy Thursday!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Loving this SUNSHINE!

Thank you all for your sweet and encouraging comments on Tuesday's post about the temptations our guys face.  I was blessed by knowing there are so many of us on the same page - desiring the same things - with the same goals and struggles.  Bless you all.  I promise, anew, not to mutter under my breath the next 50 times I have to type in a password.

This morning I'm stuck at home while electricians are here.  Trying to get the house in order after a late night.  Looking at the piles of laundry and mail/papers and ohmydearheavens the email inbox.  Am I the only one who just quits looking after it hits 300?  Yikes.   The only problem with ignoring it?  My kids need to know how much to bring for "this" and when "that" starts and did I get the email with the attached permission form for "that"and did I send a check yet for ChoirTour-WashingtonDC-CreationNation-8thGradeRetreat trips?

Sigh.

I'd rather iron.

And I hate to iron.

Our two oldest have been gone on choir tour this week.  I miss them.  I love getting their texts about where they are singing and how much fun they are having and how someone was SAVED at their concert last night!

But can I just say?  It's quieter with six.

I know you are laughing.  I am, too.

But it's less food, less laundry, less noise.  I should mention the two that are gone are by far the quietest.  Although without Son #1 home I can cut the food volume in half.  Easily.

I still miss them.

And their ability to run errands, pick up kids, and bring home the afternoon carpool.

Yesterday we had a major crisis.  The coffee tasted HORRIBLE when I fixed the Coach's to-go cup for school.

After cleaning the coffee maker twice, washing the pot and letting it air dry, changing the filter and getting new creamers. . . we are back in business.

It did require a stop at Starbucks for my own morning caffeine fix.  Sad, I know.  Fortunately, my dad was there having coffee with a friend so we got to visit with him, too.  Is there a support group for Starbucks addiction?  Hmmmm.

For now, I'm off to refill my cup with coffee that is once again. . . delish. . . and make the best use of my stuck-at-home morning getting caught up on things here at the troops before the weekend and all of it's craziness hits:  Two volleyball games and a wedding on Saturday, Sunday morning choir concert for our kids, and running the Red Bud 10K on Sunday afternoon.

Each and every day I am grateful for my Coach and how he continues to talk me down from the ledge. Last night when I arrived home late with a little volleyball player and the house was a mess, the kids not settled down in bed, yet, my shins hurting, and in desperate need of a shower?

"This is just crazy," I told him, eyes glazed over while standing in the less than clean kitchen.

"Well.  It's just going to be crazy," he responded.

Eight kids from 6-17.  Six in school.  Homeschooling a 4th grader.  One Pre-Ker.  Three playing volleyball.  One taking piano lessons and training for the 1/2 marathon.  Four cars.  Two in after-school workouts.

And all of the books, homework, laundry, and food that go along with it all.

I love it.  I do.

Another group of workmen has arrived to put a counter in over my new washer and dryer, so the day is off to a running start.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Purposing to be grateful . . . and vigilant!

The other night, I stopped, turned to the Coach, and thanked him for being a faithful husband to me.

I take it for granted, and I don't say it as often as I should.


But I'm so so grateful.


He would tell you his faithfulness is because of the LORD's faithfulness to him.  He would.  And it is.


And if one of us stumbled, fell, or blew it completely, God would still be faithful.  To both of us.


In our culture, though, it seems like a marriage of faithfulness and commitment and determination to be pure is a rarity.




There are so many things pulling us away from each other in towards the world.  The devil, the sensuality of our culture.  Even our own selfish hearts.


Hearts that often would rather NOT work though a conflict.


Hearts that are often too quick to snap when irritated.


Hearts that treat someone unkindly, then expect them to respond in love.


Hearts that think being tired is an excuse for not reaching out to one another.


Hearts that only focus on what annoys us, instead of how we are blessed.


It's tough.  I won't lie and say it isn't.




We can NOT underestimate the temptations that are out there for our men.  From larger than life pictures in store windows at the mall, to the easy and sometimes acidintal access to pornography on our computers and phones, to the junk that arrives in our homes over the airwaves and is just a TV power button click away.


Our culture is rough on men.  The visual assult never ends.  It requires non-stop vigilance and protection and accountability to survive.



"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Phil 4:8



So today. . . help a guy out.  Your husband, your sons, your brothers.  If you don't have a filter on your computer, a good one, install it NOW.  Install it on your phone, your itouch, your ipad (on EVERYTHING!).  Get the mail before they do and trash the swimsuit catalogs.  Go through the paper in the morning and chunk the ads.  Dress modestly and encourage your daughters to do the same.  Limit your freedom, if necessary, to be blessing to them.


And then. . . SAY IT!  Tell your husband you are grateful for all he does and how hard he works to be faithful to you.


If he has failed in the past, encourage him to get the help and accoutability he needs to be faithful to you from today ON.  PRAY for him.  Every day.  ASK him the hard questions.  Encourage him to have men in his life that will ask him the hard questions, too.  Find someone who has loved their husband through failure and ask them to pray for you and encourage you.




I wish I could just ignore it.  Stick my fingers in my ears and shout, "I'm not listening!" when yet another friend starts to tell me their husband is having an affair or is addicted to pornography or worse.  But as a wife and mother, I don't have the option.  I have to fight.  Fight to protect my family.  Fight to guard my sons, do the hard thing, say NO to things I know will open them up to temptation, and work constantly to have a relationship with them that warrants talking about it all.


Think I'm blowing it all out of proportion?  Just ask someone who is struggling right now in the battle of the mind.  Ask them  how hard it is.  Ask them if they can even quit fighting.  Ask them how many relationships their addiction has destroyed.  Read some statistics about addiction.  Ask your boys what they've seen or been shown, lately.  Then get on your knees and PRAY for the men in your life.  Do everything you can to protect them.  PRAY some more.  And encourage.  And love.


We are beyond the place in our culture that our boys will get through life without seeing pornography.  They WILL see it.  They WILL have someone show it to them, come across it on the computer, or even find it intentionally.  They WILL.  Have you prepared them for when that happens?  Have you given them scripture to show them how dangerous sin is and how far reaching the consequences are?  Have you equipped them to look away, turn the page, close the browser, turn off the TV, and then tell you the truth?




This is something we are constantly talking about and working on at the troops.  If you don't think you need to be working on it, I pray the Lord will open your eyes.  And then give you the strength and grace to face it honestly in your home.


I hate it.  But it's our reality.  It's your reality, too, whether you realize it or not.


The GOOD news (yes, there is good news!)?  Is that no matter what you've done, no matter what sin holds a grip on you, no matter what your past (or future) failures. . . CHRIST gives us hope.  We have forgiveness.  We have power over sin.  HE has conquered sin and death and because of HIM we can conquer it, as well.



"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  I Cor 15:57-58

Come quickly Lord Jesus.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Catching Up

I have a habit.  When I can't sleep . . . I pray. . . and then if I'm still awake, I write blog posts in my head.

The biggest problem with this is that most of them never make it to the actual blog.

It is what it is (as the Coach would say).

The Coach and I had a fabulous weekend ALONE.  Wow.  That seems like forever ago.  And it wasn't.

We had another week of school, Daughter's (#6) 10th birthday, Spring Break, and just last night, Little Man's SIXTH birthday.

That's my baby.

Who is six.

Sigh.

Life is moving at a crazy pace.  It's busy, fun, overwhelming, and usually LOUD.  We are blessed.  And tired.  And trying desperately to ENJOY the moment and not just hang on for dear life.

Or maybe just enjoy hanging on for dear life.

Over Spring Break we had a mini "cousins camp" at the farm house with some of the younger cousins and their parents (the Coach's siblings).  Ranger rides, bonfires, Dutch Blitz, ping pong, and lots of yummy food.

When we settled back in at home, we took the troops to a Thunder game (so fun!), cleaned out closets, found/bought sandals for the girls, did some shopping for Daughter's (#2) Spring wardrobe, and the Coach and the boys worked in the yard.  And watched lots of basketball.

The three oldest boys took cousins and a friend to the farm for a one night campout.  They came home early, tired, and smelling of . . . outdoor smells.  Yay.

We slept in.  And stayed up late.  Ugh.  We watched basketball, Hoosiers, Vertigo, and episodes of Monk that none of us remembered (we've seen them ALL!).

It feels good this morning to be back to our normal routine. Even though I'm bleary eyed and struggling to get my head around what needs to be done first.

Easter program this week, then choir tour for the older two, a nephew's wedding, Son's (#4) THIRTEENTH birthday.  Yikes.  School-wide community service project, a girls' beach trip (for 40th birthdays - mine, included), JSB, 6th grade DC trip for the Coach and Son #4, and the Memorial Half Marathon for Son (#3) and me.  All in April.  Ha!

And this week?  Visits from the aunts.  Which ALL of the troops are excited about!

It's so easy, at this stage of life with older kids, to just constantly think, "OK.  Get through the next thing."  Birthdays, trips, projects.  Just bearing down and getting it done.  Because it's a lot of plain ole WORK.

But my heart's desire is to ENJOY it.  Not just survive it.  Although sometimes surviving seems questionable.

Purposing to ENJOY today.  And tomorrow.  And the rest of it.

Grateful for the Giver of Life ABUNDANT (don't you love that word?)!

Happy Monday!