Thursday, December 6, 2012

Anonymous Blessings and Truth in the Tinsel

Every year at Christmas time you hear on the news about people paying off layaway for others and people finding money on their doorstep or in their mailbox and this year it happened to me! Last Friday I received an envelope in the mail with no return address and inside their was only a small note that said, "Merry Christmas! May God bless you!" and $150 in cash! The envelope had my first and last name and my current Idaho address. Seeing as we've lived in Idaho for less than two months, I initially assumed it had to be someone who knew me. I have no idea how anyone else would get my address. Never the less, I wanted to make sure we did something meaningful with this blessing.
If you remember, I had posted a Jesse Tree reading plan using the Jesus Storybook Bible that I was intending on doing with the kids this year. Well, instead of doing that, I decided to use the mystery money to buy the necessary craft supplies to do Truth in the Tinsel with the kiddos instead. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but we don't do Santa with our kids. Never have, and never will. I would write out all the reasons for that, but the lovely Jen Hatmaker already has a blog post the sums it up with much better writing skills than I posses, so I'll just link you to her thoughts. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Elf on the Shelf unless you either don't have kids or live under a rock, and that was a big influence in us choosing to go with Truth in the Tinsel. I wanted something that created that same daily sense of anticipation and excitement for my children, but centered on Jesus instead. After all, isn't that what Advent is all about? I like the hands on nature and creative outlet that goes with Truth in the Tinsel, but knew we wouldn't be able to do it because I just don't have a ton of craft supplies on hand after moving. However, with the arrival of money we weren't expecting I suddenly DID have money to go out and get all the supplies!
Here is our first week of ornaments:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Quest for the Perfect Christmas Tree

     Today is the infamous Black Friday.  No shopping going on here. Instead we bundled up and headed into the Caribou-Targhee National Forest for our first experience with cutting down our very own Christmas tree!

The trail. The picture does not do justice to how steep it was.
      The trail leading up the mountain was crazy steep and the ground was frozen.  We did our best to make some distance between us and the parking area, but it wasn't long before the cold, thin air was burning our lungs and the kids were slipping on the path so my husband and the older boys took a detour to the closest tree that would meet our height restriction while I stood with the younger three kids on the trail.

Canon and Ephraim on the mountainside.


John with the winning tree!

     If getting up the hill was tough, getting back down to the van was down right treacherous. I had Nicola wrapped against the front side of me so she could be bundled up in my coat, but Doyle wanted to hold my hand and I was terrified that he was going to pull the baby and me down the side of the mountain, so John ended up taking him down while I stayed with the tree, the axe, and the shotgun.

John and the kids headed back to the van.

Tree loaded up on the van.

     We had to stop a few times on the way home to tighten the tree down because it kept wanting to shift around, but eventually we made it home and quickly set to work getting it all trimmed with big cool white bulbs and blue and silver ornaments.

Doyle and Hickory in front of the tree.
I got our ornaments at Wal-Mart and the cool spiral hooks I got at Big Lots. Aren't they pretty?
Say cheese!

       How did you spend your Black Friday? Were you part of the hoards of crazy shoppers? Did you put up your tree? Did you sleep off the turkey hangover??

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the Jesse tree

     Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I should be washing dishes and making desserts in preparation for tomorrow, but instead I thought I'd take a moment to talk about Jesse trees. A lot of my friends are making the plans for Advent activities and I always ask/suggest that they do a Jesse tree and usually they have no clue what I'm talking about. I first heard about the Jesse tree from some homeschooling moms about four years when I was looking for way to put more focus on Christ during the Christmas season and was completely smitten with the concept.
photo of our Jesse tree half way through Advent 2009

     A Jesse tree is an Advent tree that uses daily devotions with corresponding ornaments to tell the story of God's rescue plan from Creation to Christ. There are lots of different reading plans out there, some that begin the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, and others that begin on December 1st. You can buy the ornaments, or make them yourself. In the past, we've always used the plan from Reformed Church in America which has devotions that contain the scripture passages, a short reading, talking points to encourage family discussion, and a short prayer as well as the symbol ornaments that you can print out and either color yourself or have your kids color to go along with each story. This year however, I'm trying a new plan that exclusively uses The Jesus Storybook Bible which is by far my most favorite children's bible ever, of all time, and if you don't own it- get on amazon or to your local bookstore and snatch that baby up now!

     Full disclosure that I did not come up with this plan. I found it on another blog: here. But I want to repost the plan here just in case something happens with their blog later on down the road and the page gets lost in cyber space, or erased or something. Here is the date, the story, the suggested idea for the ornament, and the biblical passage. How we usually do things is we start with an empty tree and each day we read the story, talk about it, hang the corresponding ornament on the tree and say a little prayer.

Dec 1 - Creation (dove): JSB pg 18-27 based on Genesis 1-2
Dec 2 - The Fall (fruit tree): JSB pg 28-37 based on Genesis 3
Dec 3 - The Flood (rainbow): JSB pg 38-47 based on Genesis 6-9
Dec 4 - Tower of Babel (tower): JSB pg 48-55 based on Genesis 11
Dec 5 - The Promise to Abraham (stars in the sky): JSB pg 56-61 based on Genesis 12-21
Dec 6 - Abraham and Isaac (ram): JSB pg 62-69 based on Genesis 22
Dec 7 - Jacob, Rachel and Leah (stalks of grain): JSB pg 70-75 based on Genesis 29-30
Dec 8 - Joseph (rainbow coat): JSB pg 76-83 based on Genesis 37-46
Dec 9 - Moses and the Burning Bush (burning bush): JSB pg 84-91 based on Exodus 3-13
Dec 10 - Moses and the Red Sea (split waters): JSB pg 92-99 based on Exodus 14-15
Dec 11 - The Law (stone tablets): JSB pg 100-107 based on Exodus 16, 17, 19-40
Dec 12 - Joshua and Jericho (trumpet): JSB pg 108-115 based on Joshua 3 and 6
Dec 13 - David's Anointing (David the shepherd boy): JSB pg 116-121 based on 1 Samuel 16
Dec 14 - David and Goliath (slingshot): JSB pg 122-129 based on 1 Samuel 17
Dec 15 - David the Shepherd (lyre): JSB pg 130-135 based on Psalm 23, 51, 2 Samuel 7
Dec 16 - Naaman (heart): JSB pg 136-143 based on 2 Kings 5
Dec 17 - Isaiah (crown): JSB pg 144-151 based on Isaiah 9, 11, 40, 50, 53, 55, 60
Dec 18 - Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel and a lion): JSB pg 152-159 based on Daniel 6
Dec 19 - Jonah (fish): JSB pg 160-169 based on Jonah 1-4
Dec 20 - The Prophets (party hat): JSB pg 170-175 based on Nehemiah 8-10
Dec 21 - Mary and the Angel (angel): JSB pg 176-179 based on Luke 1-2
Dec 22 - Journey to Bethlehem (scroll): JSB pg 180-181 based on Luke 1-2
Dec 23 - John the Baptist (shell): JSB pg 200-203 based on Matthew 3
Dec 24 - The Shepherds and Wise Men (three wise men): JSB pg 184-188 based on Luke 2
Dec 25 - Jesus is Born! (baby Jesus): JSB pg 182, 190, 192-198 based on Luke 2

     Another nice thing about the Jesse tree is that you can easily adapt it to suit the age of you children. Use whatever storybook bible you have or read the actual scriptures from whatever translation of Bible you prefer.  If you have preschoolers to elementary ages kids, Truth in Tinsel might be a great plan for you. If you have teens or just prefer the flowery style of Ann Voskamp, you can try her Jesse tree plan.  If you don't want to make the ornaments or hunt down individual ornaments in stores, you can buy Jesse tree kits on amazon.

     Have you ever heard of Jesse trees? Do you do them with your kids? Let me know!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On the mind of a new mom: Losing weight and getting fit.

     I'm not really sure how to begin this other than to say that this is no judgement on anyone else, not on anyone's weight or size, measurements or eating habits. It's just about me and how I feel about my own body. I also want to say that in now way do I think I look bad or ugly at the weight and size and measurements that I currently have. That's not really the point. The point is that I don't want to just say, "Well, I've had all these kids and this is what five pregnancies do to a gal and it's just the way things are and I'll just live with it." It's more about the slippery slope of putting on more and more weight as I age and attempting to take preventative measures so that 10 or 20 years from now I'm not at an unhealthy weight that will be that much harder to lose. So I'm setting myself a goal.
     I got married at 19, about three months before I turned 20 years old. I was 113lbs and my measurements were 34-26-36. (Ever since I learned to sew at 17 I've kept track of my measurements.) Well, a month after I turned 21 I had Canon, and then 12 months later I had Ephraim. After he was born, John left for Iraq and I joined a gym so I would have something to do. Thanks to pilates and the eliptical I quickly got back down to my pre-mom size and thanks to weight training I was a fit and trim, too! (Because believe it or not, you can be skinny and still be flabby. Lack of body fat does not equal having toned muscles.) Then John came back from Iraq and 9 months later we had Doyle and I never quite got back down to my former size. I hung on to an extra 7-10 lbs and then got pregnant again and had Hickory and hung on to another 7-10 lbs from that pregnancy. When Hickory was 6 months old I had the enormous surprise of getting pregnant with Nicola and there was another 10 pounds.
     Now, I know it's quite common and some might even say normal to hold on to some extra weight after having a baby, and especially after having five babies but I am just not down with that. If I surrender those 27 pounds, how much easier is it going to be to shrug off putting on more weight as the years go on and my metabolism slows? As it stands I'm a mother of five and I don't plan on having any more. I really didn't plan on having that fifth one, but it is such a lovely blessing to finally have another girl in the house. I'm still out numbered, but at least I'm not totally alone anymore. lol. I've also always said that I wanted to be done having kids by the time I reached 30. Well, this coming January I will hit 29 and I'm stoked to be going into the last year of my twenties. It's been a great decade, but a tough one as well and I'm glad to have a new chapter of life happening for my 30's. So mindful of that I want to enter my 30's in the best shape I can. I was a certain weight and size when I entered my twenties and I plan on leaving my twenties the same way, five kids or not.
     When I got weighed at my first check-up with Nicola's pregnancy I was 130 and as of this morning I am 129! Woot woot! I'm not really exercising at all right now. (I was doing P90X for about a week or so, but it was taking me over 2 hours to get through a 1 hour dvd because of having to stop to take care of the kids, and I can't just work out after the kids go to bed because the older boys' room is below the living room and the creaking floor from me jumping all around keeps them up.) Right now, I'm just watching my caloric intake with the MyFitnessPal app on my iphone (but you can also do it online through their website if you don't have a smart phone.) It's REALLY helped me to take notice of what I'm eating. I think I'm also going to see if there's room in the budget to join a gym so that I someone else can tend to the babies while I work out. That way I get some time to take care of myself, Doyle gets to play with some other kids his age, and the little ones won't be getting neglected.
     It's isn't only a weight/size issue though. While John was in Iraq and I had turned into a gym rat, I just felt better. Exercise helped me so much dealing with the stress of taking care of everything while John was away. I also had so much more energy and enthusiasm and the more I worked out the more I wanted to try new things, take on new challenges and even just spend more time outside. I miss feeling so excited about life and wanting to get out into the world and DO things. I think my whole family could benefit from that.
     So there you go. Currently I am 129 pounds and measure 36-30.5-38 with a goal of 113 pounds and measurements of 34-26-36 (though I wouldn't mind hanging on to those extra inches up top!) I'm not sure how things are going to go over the next few months with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, but we'll see! Maybe it's crazy to think that I can be the same size at 30 with five kids as I was at 20 with no kids, but I'm sure if I work hard enough I can make it happen!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flying the dork flag: crazy Christmas lady

     So, I know it's just barely November, but I am already SO STOKED for Christmas. I've already talked about my plans for our tree, but I'm obsessively looking at Christmas decor and crafts and images on Pinterest for inspiration.

I'm in love with this very vintage inspired Christmas tree. I love the more mid-century modest than modern look of it, with the big colored lights, gobs of tinsel, and popcorn garland.        

This tree reminds me so much of my grandmother. She loves blue lights and I remember her tree looking very similar to this one.

Nothing says vintage Christmas like bubble lights! I'm glad they make safer ones these days. I'd like to avoid setting my house on fire.

I think a steeple style tree topper would be an excellent finishing touch. Don't you? I've seen lots on Etsy in a variety of price points.

     One thing that I love that will NOT be on our Christmas tree at any point in the near future are glass ornaments. No Shiny Brites for me. I'm going to have to settle with soft and shatterproof ornaments for several years to come I'm sure. I'm also on the hunt for some fabric to make us all new stockings. I'm not sure if Hickory even has one, and I know Nicola doesn't have one. Might as well start from scratch so they'll all match. (Yes, I care about them coordinating with each other. How could I be a fan of the 1950's and not like things that are "matchy matchy"?)

     What is your Christmas decorating style? Do you like vintage like I do or do you like the more rustic/primitive style? Do you like things understated and elegant, or do you want your house to be visible from space Clark Griswold style? If you don't know who Clark Griswold is, shame on you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Democracy in action!

I took the younger three kiddos with me and voted today!!! While I may take issue with our two party system and our antiquated electoral college, being able to vote is a privilege that many people, especially women, around the world don't get to enjoy. So no matter what side you're on, exercise your right lest it be taken away!

Monday, November 5, 2012

stranger in a strange land

     Being in Pocatello, Idaho might as well be a foreign country as far as I'm concerned. The landscape is different, the climate is different, the size of the town is much different, and I swear that even the people up here look different though I can't really put my finger on how precisely they do. Another thing that is very different is the culture. Prior to this point, I have always lived in the "Bible Belt" of the southeastern United States. Now I find myself living in what's called the "Mormon Corridor". There is an LDS church on every block and the other day while grocery shopping I saw a section of shelving dedicated to emergency preparedness, which is a nod to the 75% mormon population of the town.

     There are up sides to being here, though. John and the kids have never had the experience of having a real tree for Christmas and here in Pocatello, you can buy a tag for $5 from the Bureau of Land Management, drive off into the mountains and chop down your own!! As long as you're on BLM land and not someone's private property or something of course. I'm thinking that will be an excellent activity for Thanksgiving break. Take THAT Black Friday!!! I figure we can go cut a tree on Friday and spend the rest of the weekend making decorations and drinking hot chocolate. I bet Christmas here will be lovely. It's already snowed once and it's supposed to snow on Friday. I anticipate by the time Christmas arrives the mountains will be good and covered. I can't wait to go snowshoeing!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where's Idaho? Let me google map that...

    Three months ago, things were really really rough. While it was lovely living back in Oklahoma City, near our families and our church, civilian life had certainly turned out to be a "grass is greener" situation. It's so easy for people to say that "money isn't everything" when they aren't the ones who are stressing about how they are going to pay their rent and bills and put food on the table. We were beyond our breaking point. We were broken. My husband, John, was working himself to the bone as a diesel mechanic and doing all that he could, but doing things within our own knowledge and strength just wasn't enough. I began crying out to God on pretty much an hourly basis. I told him how we had screwed things up and that it was all our fault we were in this mess but that we couldn't fix it and we needed Him to fix it. And then suddenly- He did.
     You see, back at the beginning of the year, my husband had applied for a job in the Active Guard Reserve (AGR.) Every army reserve unit has full time people who stay at the unit in addition to their one weekend a month that people typically associate with the reserve. AGR people are considered active duty and receive active duty pay and benefits, but it's not the tedious babysitting type of job that a normal active duty NCO has to endure. Well anyway, weeks turned into months without us hearing anything back and we had both just sort of assumed it wasn't going to happen and had forgotten all about it. Then out of the blue one afternoon, John called me just before his shift and said that he had gotten an email saying that he was being offered an AGR slot!!! I was elated! God was answering our prayers!! I asked if it was at his reserve unit to which he was already assigned, but he said no.

     "We aren't moving to Enid are we?"
     "Uh, it's a bit farther than that."
     "South Dakota?" *chuckles*

     My husband informed me that the position was senior mechanic at the army reserve unit in Pocatello, Idaho. My reaction to that was, "Where is Idaho? I'm going to have to look on the map..." (Obviously Geography was never a strong subject for me.) And then another shocking twist:

     "The email says we have 24 hours to decide and let them know or I'll be moved to the bottom of the list and there's no guarantee that another position will be offered to me again."

     I'm not going to lie. Initially I was crushed at the idea of leaving my beloved Oklahoma City. The place where I thought we were settling down. I had spent the past seven years trying to get us back and now we were going to have to leave!? And have I mentioned that I was 9 months pregnant with our fifth child at the time? I so badly wanted to say no, but I knew that this was God. This was God showing compassion, showing us love, fixing our messy lives.
     By the end of my husband's shift God had really softened my heart and gave me peace about everything. A week later and I was actually excited about going! We hustled to get as much of the house packed as we could over the next few weeks, and on August 31st I gave birth to our fifth child and first daughter, Nicola Jane.
     Was it easy pulling my kids out of school (again), driving over a thousand miles (again), and starting over? Of course not. (Let me just say this- I never, ever, EVER want to drive through Wyoming again for the rest of my life. No offense to the ten people that seem to live in Wyoming...) But here we are. Trying to walk through the doors that God is opening, and embrace where we are.

Cha-cha-cha-cha changes....

 I'm doing a bit of a revamp/overhaul of this blog. No longer does it makes sense to call us the 405 Family since we no longer live in the 405 area code and there's no telling when we'll be getting back to it. I thought and thought and searched for something that would sum up our family and our situation and something that has certainly defined us is how often we move. Now it's true that we are an army family, but not all army families are constantly on the move. In fact, most of the military families that I know hardly ever move. They've moved once or twice if ever in the 8 years that I've known them. However, we have just made our tenth move in 9 years. That seems excessive even by military standards, in my opinion. So what better way to describe our family than a group of travelers? Travelers makes it sound like we are constantly on vacation though and that is most definitely NOT the case. I thought the less used "sojourn" was a little more precise for what we do- never permanently dwelling anywhere, never really being "home" and yet, everywhere is "home." It's more a state of being that we carry with us than an actual place or physical location.

I'll make another post later about where we are now and how we came to be here, but for now this blog's focus is just what we're up to as a family in a new place and the new adventures, challenges, triumphs, and failures that we will encounter here and wherever else we go. Feel free to follow along as we sojourn.


Friday, June 29, 2012


My husband is coming home today!!! I'm so excited!!! No clue what time he is getting back to Oklahoma or when he'll get to actually come home because releasing them to go home when they get off the plane would just be too simple for any sort of military endeavor, but today IS the day! It's only been  a few weeks, but every reunion is exciting and special.

This was my very first experience with military reunions. It was when we were just two newly weds and John had graduated from basic training. March 2004 seems like a lifetime ago, and in some ways it is. We had no kids and had been married for just under four month- about half of that time he was away at basic. It was thrilling to get that first hug. It's hard to tell from this picture but I had to jump pretty high to get that hug in. My tall drink of water is a towering 6'3'' which is 11 inches taller than myself. I think this will always be one of my all-time favorite photographs of the two of us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

milestones and memories

Being a military family means dealing with deployments and separations. I feel extremely blessed that I have never had to give birth without my husband, but the poor guy has had to be away for a lot of our children's lives while they were babies. He deployed to Iraq when our oldest two were just 16 months and 4 months old and was gone for 15 months. You parents know that that is a time of EPIC changes in their lives. It's a pretty big thing to leave a 16 month old and come back when they are two and a half and even more so to leave a 4 month old baby who *just* started rolling, and come back to a toddler who is nearing two years old. He also had to leave to spend a year in Korea when our third baby was 9 months old. Our oldest was a late talker, so my husband has missed all three of them saying their first words and beginning to talk. When his contract with being on active duty ended, I was so relieved that the shadow of deployments wouldn't be something constantly hanging over us. I know the reserve and the guard deploy, too, but they aren't on constant year at home, year away or six months at home, six months away rotations like the active duty army is.

However, just because he isn't active duty, that doesn't mean that he never leaves. There's always that one weekend a month and the stint in the summer. Like I said in a previous post, it seems like as soon as my husband has to leave everything starts happening and even though this has been a MUCH shorter absence, the events inevitably unfolded as they always do. In addition to the poison ivy, me clogging up the kitchen sink and subsequently making a pipe pop off underneath and flood the cabinet, and the stomach bug that doesn't seem to want to go away, there was another big event. Hickory, my precious little 12 month old, took his very first steps this past Friday.

It was certainly exciting, especially since Hickory has had some health issues in the past that we were afraid might have cause permanent developmental damage, but it was heartbreaking that once again John was missing yet another one of his children take on a major life milestone. He was so frustrated and disappointed that these things always seem to happen, but he's such a good dad, and tries to make the most of the time that he does get to spend with the kids.

Did I mention he was also gone over Fathers' Day for the third time? He has also been away for many anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmases. These don't really phase me so much anymore. They are just days on a calendar, but I am really thankful that we live in an age of Skype and smart phones to be able to send videos like the one above. I've been blessed with a good man who takes being a provider very seriously and will do the hard jobs that others don't want to do in order to bless the rest of us. I know that the kids miss him a lot when he has to be away, but I'm glad that they get to see that their dad is a diligent, hard worker and that they can have that example. I pray that my boys would grow up to have the same strong work ethic and servant's heart that their father has.

I love you, honey!! Thanks for being so dang awesome and good lookin' to boot!

Monday, June 25, 2012

praise and grace for mothers

Like most moms, I love it when people compliment me on my children, especially when they are remarking positively on their behavior. My absolute favorite is when it is coming from someone from the older generation. I don't mean my parents' generation, though that's nice too, but I mean more like my grandparents' generation.

Last week we were doing the usual Wednesday grocery shopping and as I was loading things into the back of the van, an older gentleman in his 60's or 70's came up to me to compliment me on how well behaved my kids were in the store. I smiled and said thank you like I always do when that happens, and it does happen fairly regularly. (For some reason I almost always have older ladies compliment me on the kids when we eat at an IHOP. I wonder why that is?) Though it isn't a strange thing for it to happen, in my mind I always think about how I really have absolutely nothing to do with how well they are behaved. Oh I can instruct and correct all the live long day, but ultimately how cooperative they are comes down to them and the grace of God. Sure they were good that day, but how many other days were they trying to tackle each other in the produce section? Let's also remember that it works both ways- just because you see a frazzled mom with kids going nuts, don't assume that she's just not a good parent. Even the best kids have their low blood sugar, don't feel well, going through something at home melt down days.

Feel free to compliment the mom when the kids are being good, so she can be sure to catch her kids being good and praise them, instead of just catching them acting up, but let's also extend some grace and understanding to the mom whose kid is crying and throwing a fit in the middle of the store. Who really knows what has been going on that day or in the days leading up to that epic melt down in Target or Wal-Mart. We're all just trying to do our best.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why does life fall apart when my husband leaves?

It's always when the husband is out of town that life decides to test what you can handle. At least that's how things work in my experience. This week I've spent a lot of time asking the Holy Spirit to give me strength for the day. We've battled a stomach bug that circulated from Hickory, to me, to Doyle, and on to Ephraim. I think Canon is the only one who hasn't had the plague, but he could have just not told me about it because Canon always has some sort of digestive issue happening pretty much. At the same time we discovered poison ivy growing in the backyard by way of Ephraim breaking out in a nasty, blistery rash. I didn't even recognize it at first because when he first showed it to me it was just a few red bumps that looked like mosquito bites, which all the kids have. However, when I went to put some Benadryl cream on it, it was starting to sprout small blisters and I knew it must be something else. Despite living in the country and taking multiple walks through the woods with my dad with him educating my older brother and me on how to recognize poison ivy, I had never had the rash myself and had never really learned how to distinguish it from other plants. I sure know it now though.
the culprit

in front of his ear and his index finger

This was just what I originally saw that made me think, "Um, this is NOT a regular mosquito bite..." but I still wasn't quite sure what to think at this point. These got much more red and the blisters much bigger and I noticed the rash in more and more places over the next few days. Poor kiddo. However, for the last couple day I've been having him take Benadryl and have been religiously putting clear Caladryl on it and it seems to be getting better. Today I picked up some spray specifically made to kill poison ivy plants. I'm just waiting for the wind to die down (hahaha. Not sure if that will ever happen here in Oklahoma.) so that I can spray the heck out of the thing and kill it.

I've also had to battle with a clogged sink, which resulted in me attempting to fix it myself and thus having a pipe come apart under the sink and flood the area with hot soapy water. Luckily, the person who owns the house we rent has a son who is a plumber, so he came over and rebuilt the plumbing under the sink since it was what he described as "built to fail." Even I, who knows nothing about plumbing, could tell that the old plumbing was basically being held together with hopes and dreams, so I'm pretty stoked that it's fixed now.

Do you have a spouse that travels?? Does it ever seem like things seem to fall apart when the leave? Or is that just me?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

busy busy bees

My oh my has it been a busy time in our house lately. This past Saturday my husband left for his first time doing summer training with the Army Reserves. We spent 8 years with him in active duty Army and during that time he deployed to Iraq for 15 months when our oldest two were 16 months old and 4 months old, and then about a year and a half after he returned he had to leave again for a 12 month duty in Korea. That time we had upped it to three kids who were 4, 3, and 9 months when he left. His active duty contract ended back in January- at which point we had increased again to four kids who were now 6, 5, 3, and 8 months. Even though I can certainly adjust to dealing with life while he is away at this point, it doesn't make the time go by any faster. At least this time it's only for three weeks. I don't want to say that I don't think I could handle any longer than that, because as an Army wife I know that you do what you have to do, but I certainly am counting the days till he comes home. Let's face it, someone who is getting to the "super pregnant" stage and whose love language is quality time and has a home and four kids to take care of just doesn't really want to be doing things without her husband.

We have been keeping busy to help make the time go a touch faster, Saturday we got up and went to the zoo. It was hot and crowded, but we still had a good time. Afterwards we came home and vegged and watched a marathon of Tanked on Animal Planet because I felt so wiped out after spending the first half of the day out in the sun.

Sunday we all got up and went to church. I seriously considered skipping it, but I knew Terry Virgo was going to be preaching that morning and honestly I didn't really know anything about him, but I am SO glad I went!!! His sermon was so on point and funny, but also very reassuring that we ARE more than conquerors because Jesus is our righteousness and he is the same whether we feel like we're doing okay or we feel like we are total scum. If the church posts the video of his sermon online I definitely want to link it here. I hope they do, because I think my hubs would have gotten a lot out of it as well. 

Monday...I don't really remember what on earth we did on Monday, lol. Tuesday, however, I got it in gear and got ALL the laundry done- which in a house of 6 is a big deal- and vacuumed and swept and mopped and just generally busted my hump all day long because I knew that Wednesday there would be no time. Yesterday we were going going going non-stop. We got up and took Canon to summer school and then went to Wal-Mart to grocery shop. I don't even remember the last time I was in a Wal-Mart before then. I usually do my  grocery shopping at Aldi, but I was already on that side of town, it was the only place open that early, and there were some things on my list that I knew Aldi wouldn't have. It felt like it took forever to get everything in the cart and check out, probably because the store is so much bigger than an Aldi, but we got it done and got back to the house. Groceries were unloaded and put away and I sat and had a bowl of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and cheese. Next thing I knew, it was time to go pick up Canon and then head over to my mother-in-law's house. I got a chance to sit and rest and chat with her until I left to go to my 28 week prenatal appointment. It was time for the glucose test. I don't mind taking them. The sugary stuff doesn't make me queasy or anything and I don't mind getting poked by the needle either. I headed back over to my mother-in-law's house and picked up the kids and we headed home for dinner of not-so-healthy but fast frozen pizza.

Seems like I barely sat down before we were leaving for church. I volunteered to do child care for the ladies' bible study on Wednesday nights and I didn't want to call and say I was too pregnant, or too tired, etc. I don't really think there is going to be a time in my life that I'm not somewhat tired and/or somewhat inconvenienced within the next 20 years, so why not just embrace life the way that it is? There ended up being only one other kid besides my own, but I think my boys enjoyed being out of the house and getting to play in a different setting. We ended up getting home around a quarter till nine, so everyone just got changed and went to bed. I think we were all ready to just be still and rest by that point.

Funny, last night I thought I would take it easy today, and maybe it's the hormones, but I just can't seem to sit still for too long! While Canon was at summer school I washed clothes, cleaned out the van, and switched car seats around to accommodate for our fifth blessing. (I know I still have 12 weeks left, but I'd rather do it now before I'm too big and awkward to manage it myself. ) After we came home from picking Canon up I got to work shredding chicken from the crock pot and doing other things to prep freezer meals. I've never really done make ahead meals/freezer meals before, but I've always wanted to give it a try. With a baby on the way, why not start now?

I feel like I still need to finish up the laundry and clean up the giant mess I've left in the kitchen. I want to be able to watch the Thunder play tonight in the peaceful setting of a clean house. How on earth will I keep my house clean when I no longer have nesting hormones to keep me going?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

writing his word on my heart...with technology

There is so much value in memorizing scripture. It can encourage you, strengthen you, transform you, and also help you to do the same for others. Back when I first started the Soul Detox reading plan on You Version, I really wanted to focus on taming my tongue, specifically when it comes to how I react and speak to my kids. Going to get really transparent here- I am not always the nicest person when it comes to talking to my kids. I can be so short with them and so quick to snap at them, even when they aren't really doing anything other than just being kids. I stop and think, "If they talked to me like that, they would be in big trouble, and if some other adult was speaking to them like that I'd be going ALL kinds of momma bear on them. So why am I doing it? What is wrong with me?" Soul Detox covers toxic thoughts and speech right off the bat, and I knew that I needed to take my thoughts captive if I wanted to speak to my kids the way the Lord wanted me to speak to them. So along with repenting and daily, if not hourly, confessing to God that I am weak and cannot parent these blessings without His help, and asking the Holy Spirit to fill me up so that my mouth would over flow with His words and not mine, I also purposed to have a verse that I could say to myself before I opened my mouth to speak to the kids.

I know a lot of people will write verses on note cards or post-its and place them up around their house. At first that was what I intended to do, but I don't have any post-its and all of my scotch tape seems to be M.I.A. I didn't want to just forget about it, so I took a verse that I had screen capped on my phone and set it as my image that comes up when I go to unlock my phone (which is ALL the time.) This way, I constantly see the verse through out the day, and not just at home, but everywhere I go! I'm sure there are probably other people that do this, too, but I haven't had my iPhone for very long and I just figured out how to even take a screen cap a week ago or so, but I thought I would share this for anyone else who needs a help for memorizing scripture. If you don't have a smart phone, you could always take a picture of the verse you want to remember in your actual bible and set it as your background or something.

The first verse I set out to remember, and thus repeat to myself through the day was Proverbs 15:4
I would specifically repeat the first half of the verse to myself every time I looked at my phone, and again every time I needed to speak to the kids, especially if they were frustrating me. It has been incredibly helpful to have God's word constantly being put back into me. In just a couple of days there was already a complete 180 in the way not only that I speak to them, but the way I think about them as well. God's word changes us, and transforms us. Instead of dwelling on toxic thoughts about my kids (Why are they being so loud? Don't they know I'm trying to xyz? Why can't they just do what I told them to? etc.) and then consequently toxic thoughts on myself, (How dare you talk to those kids that way! What is your problem! You're being such a witch!) I'm dwelling on the Lord and His heart and His thoughts, and THAT is how you take your thoughts captive and you are transformed by the renewing of your mind! It's exciting to see God working on me and how it not only is for me, but for my whole family!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

a pleasant surprise

Yesterday our oldest child had his first day of summer school. His school calls it "summer camp" for what I assume is to make it sound more appealing to kids, but I think that's a bit misleading. It's free and only kids that are behind are invited to come. That's not camp. That's summer school. Canon has been excited about going since before the regular school year let out and I had a feeling that all the hype was going to back fire. When we picked him up yesterday at noon, my suspicions were confirmed.

"How was it? Did you have fun?"

"We did not even do a single fun thing! It was worse than school! I don't want to go back ever."

We asked him what they did, and he told us that they were supposed to write a story and then build an at aquarium, but you had to write your story first. We asked him if the teacher was nice and did she help him at all, and he said that she was really nice, but that he didn't really need any help with his assignment. Ah! The truth comes out! Building the aquarium was the fun part that he didn't get to do, not because he couldn't write a story, but because he just didn't want to write a story.

This morning when my husband woke him up, Canon was still saying that he didn't want to go back ever. Hmm...I don't want him to be miserable and hate school, that's for sure. His teacher suggested him for this, but she was also going to promote him to second grade for next year and I'm having him repeat first grade instead. So, if he is going to repeat the grade, does he really need to be in summer school to prep him for the grade he isn't even entering? No sooner had we decided that if he really doesn't want to go, then we won't make him go, does Canon walk in dressed, ready to go, AND holding his ESV bible that the church gave him on Sunday and The Action Bible New Testament that we got for him while we were out yesterday. (It's really neat. Written like a comic book, so much more appealing to my kid who doesn't have much interest in reading a regular book.) We asked him if he wanted to go or if he wanted to stay home and- get this- he wanted to go!!!!! He said something like, "Well, I really should go because I have a couple of things of work that I haven't finished yet." I smiled and looked at my husband and we asked him again, just to make sure, "Are you sure you want to go?" He kind of tucked his head and fiddled with his books and said, "I could go...."

What a mature decision he made, and a great example to set for his little brothers! He didn't have the funnest time ever, but he saw the value in what he was doing and even when provided with a way of getting out of it, chose to stick it out!! I'm so proud of him!
left to right: Doyle, Ephraim, Canon, Hickory (in stroller)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Waking up for my kids, and not to my kids

Towards the end of the school year I was so excited to be able to turn off my alarm clocks (yes, clocks. I had three of them set to go off every fifteen minutes.) and be able to sleep in. However, what happened was that my kids and I were so used to waking up at a certain time that we STILL woke up at that time. I would try to go back to sleep and my kids would pop up like daisies, ready to get the day going. Inevitably, I was waking up to my loud children and starting off the day in a  pretty crappy mood. After a few mornings, my kids started sleeping in a little later, and a little later. I continued to wake up around the same time I woke up during the school year and- gasp- I actually liked it!!! I liked having that quiet to myself before the rest of the house got up for the day. Thanks to seeing a bunch of people posting on Facebook about it, I decided to download the You Version app and actually read some scripture and pray during that time. As much as I hate to admit it, I have had a serious lack of daily scripture and prayer happening in my life for awhile now. Going to church on Sundays is just not enough. That's like eating only once a week. It's not going to cut it. I had made attempts to get back into reading the word every day, but they always seemed to fizzle out. I love my big ESV study bible, but it's not the most convenient thing in the word to dig out, and I definitely feel like I need some guidance on what to read every day. I've been following the Soul Detox reading plan on my phone and am loving it. Not too short on scripture, but also not reading 6 chapters a day. It's right there on my phone, right next to my bed. I can wake up grab my phone and tap the icon.

This morning on Impress Your Kids, one of my favorite parenting blogs, she posted links to The Hello Mornings Challenge and She Reads Truth. Perfect!!! Hello Mornings is all about getting up before your kids so that you are waking up FOR your kids and not TO your kids. She Reads Truth is about spending daily time in the word and they are even following the Soul Detox plan on You Version!! I love how God matches things up like that. Both of them can be participated in simply by using the hashtags #hellomornings and #shereadstruth on Twitter. You can follow me on twitter and/or instagram to see what God is showing me each day if you'd like. My username is 405family on both. :)