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. :)