Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A New Era of Parenting

This parenting gig is such a roller coaster.

Just when you figure out one stage, a new one is upon you.

We have 6 kids and I can honestly say the baby and toddler phases became 'old hat' for me.

The elementary stage was a bit harder to 'get a handle on' due to all the additional peer and emotional baggage that enters in.  But, given time and practice, we figured out how to navigate through.

The pre-teen years haven't been TOO bad. We've 'been there, done that' three times now.  Fortunately our tweens were pretty pleasant to deal with.

The teen years have also been less traumatic and dramatic than I'd have ever imagined.  Our society depicts teens to be such wretched beings that I often fretted and worried about how we'd survive this tumultuous time with our children.

But, God is good, and our teens have been, well, GREAT!  (So far.)  Not saying they are perfect.  Not saying we haven't had days of 'what were you thinking?'  Not saying we haven't had a little angst here and there.  Yet, by and large, our teens have been respectful, helpful, and quite a joy to parent.

Now, however, I find myself in a NEW ERA. The phase of parenting a college aged individual.  A grown-up, as it were.  A young man living 'on his own', out from under our watchful eyes.  No longer under our roof.

It's difficult.  I can't say it's not.

My heart hurts some days when I think of him NOT being here. Not sleeping in his bed just steps away.  Not sitting at our dinner table each night.  Not taking part in family celebrations as they come along.

It's new.  It's hard.  It's scary.

Yet, it's exciting.  It's joyful.

We're so proud of who our grown son has become.  How loving he is.  How kind he is.  His mind is keen.  His heart is big.  His faith is strong.  We couldn't ask for much more.

I had a rough couple of weeks as we prepared to move him into his college dorm.  I cried as I packed stuff I thought he might need during his time away from home.  I sobbed as I drove to town to purchase  supplies for his dorm room.  I'd mention his name in passing and begin crying all over again.

The funniest part was he's only 30 mintues away.  I'll see him on Sun and Wed weekly.  I chuckled at one point and said to Techno Genius - "Yes, I'm pathetic."

A good friend counseled me and helped me realize it's not about him moving out or being in college.  It's about the unknown. The new.  She alerted me to remember the truth.  To allow myself to mourn this 'new phase' of life, but to also move forward.  To celebrate the changes ahead.  To embrace my  new role as 'mom of a grown-up'.  She admonished me to not allow the 'fear' that was creeping in to cripple me and keep me in my boo hoo fest, but to feel the loss, cry for a time, then pick myself up by the bootstraps and 'get it together.'

She was right.  I do/did have many fears.  Did I do enough?  Did I teach him all he needs to know?  What didn't I do?  Where did I go wrong?  What if I didn't prepare him?  Did I spend enough time with him?  The list could go on and on.

As she reminded me, however, God is not the author of confusion, but of the truth.  And as Ephesians states, we are to put on the full armor of God.  We often view the truth as the most important part -- and it IS pivitol -- God deals in the truth -- but Eph 6:4 says, 'Above all, put on the shield of faith.'  ABOVE ALL!  I need to have faith that whatever I've done is enough.  I did the best I knew to do with what  God had given me at that time in life.  I loved (still do) Jacob as we raised him.  All I did in parenting, I did out of love.  I know that.  I have faith God will do the rest.  He will take the sloppy, less than perfect attempt at parenting that I performed in the years we had Jacob in our home, and he will make it 'good'.

I can't tell you how much this knowledge healed my heart.  How much this allowed me to be joy filled instead of sorrow filled as we moved Jacob into his college dorm room at the end of August.  I became a little misty eyed as we pulled away, but I never cried.  Instead I beamed with pride throughout the day, as I watched my once little boy, now grown-up unpack and organize his new living space.  Owning his new surroundings.

Our job as his parents is not complete.  Not by a long shot.  However, it's taken on a whole new dimension.  He'll be making ALL his own choices.  My prayer is he'll still turn to us for counsel, advice, but... our days of aiming the arrow are mostly past.  We've released the bow.  He's flying now. Flying on his own. We've directed him in the way of the Lord and can now only pray - and ABOVE ALL - have faith that God will keep him on the right path.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Graduation - How Can That Be?

Our oldest son graduated from high school last weekend.  (Insert crying mama!)

How did that happen?

Didn't we just bring him home from the hospital?

Jacob at just a few weeks old.
Didn't we just watch him take his first steps?

Lose his first tooth?

Have an overnight for the first time - away from home and family?

Where did the time go?

There we sat, however,  in a gymnasium.  Folding chairs lined up.  A podium.  Proud parents with cameras.  A group of teens donning red and white caps and gowns. All the things you'd expect for a graduation ceremony.

It was a bit surreal.

We arrived and they handed him his cap and gown.  As he unwrapped it and slipped it on, the tears welled up in my eyes.

Could this really be happening? Could our little boy be getting ready to graduate from high school?

The answer - a resounding yes.

The day was filled with proud moments.

He graduated as Valedictorian.  Gave a well spoken speech about Endings and Beginnings.  Thanking those who have helped all the seniors get where they are and encouraging his fellow classmates to 'keep learning' and in so doing how they could succeed in whatever they set their minds toward.

Following the move of the tassel to the 'graduated side' of the cap.


Tears were shed.

Pride was exuded.

Memories were reminisced.

Did I mention tears were shed?



This marks a new era for us.  This is our FIRST child to graduate and get ready to move on with his own life.

Three days after his graduation, he went to stay with his aunt in town (30 minutes away) so he could be within walking distance of his new internship at the university.  (Insert crying mama - again.)  We'll bring him home on weekends, but still... 4-5 days a week.... he'll. be. GONE!

My head knows this is the 'normal progression' of life.

Kids are born then spend the rest of their days preparing to leave us.  It's how God designed it.

Our task was to get him ready for just such a time as this.  Through God's grace and wisdom, we have gotten him to this point.  He is now ready to begin spreading his own wings and taking flight without our safety net.

My heart, on the other hand, still wants to hold on.  Still wants to keep MY wings under him to lift him up, support him, keep him from falling.

Yet, I realize full well that it's actually GOD'S hands that will lift him up as he ventures out on his own.  Plus I know HE will do a far better job than I ever could.

You know what else I understand?  It's ok to have these mixed emotions.

Each child will be a little different.  This one -- our firstborn -- is ready to spread his wings and start exploring life on his own (to a degree) just 3 short days after graduation.  The next may not be so quick to leave the nest.  The one after that may be even more adventurous.  Who knows?

Proud parents with the graduate!


Only time will tell.

This change is tough.  It hurts to look over and NOT see my precious little boy sitting at his desk; sleeping in his bed; eating at his spot at the table.

But, I have the memories of when he WAS there.  I have the knowledge that we did our best.  I have the assurance he is in the capable hands of God as he moves forward -- on his own -- in this world.

Congratulations, Jacob!  We are so very proud of you.  I know God has big plans for your life.  Stay true to your faith and keep following God's will in your life and you'll be blessed beyond measure.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mom's Can Teach Us Much

As I was making our girls Easter dresses a few weeks back, I was struck by how much I DIDN'T take advantage of the wonderful talents my own mom had to offer.

She attempted to teach me so many things.

Sewing.

Crocheting.

Cake decorating.

Baking.

Cooking.

Quilting.

But.... as a teen I quickly learned that my mom was a 'doer'.

That's a good thing, right?  What does that have to do with not taking advantage of her talents?

Well, in a nutshell, I learned early on that since mom was such a 'hands on' kinda gal, I could get away with saying, "I don't get it.  I can't do it!" and she'd 'come to the rescue.

That's how much she loved me.

That translates to her taking my place and finishing whatever task it was she was trying to teach me to accomplish.

You see, my mom was a self taught seamstress, cake decorator, cook, crocheter, etc.  She could watch someone else do a task and then do it herself. She'd read books and then 'try it' for herself with great success. She practiced at the things she wanted to do.

So, one would think I'd be the same way.

But no.  I needed more guidance.  Plus, I was apparently a bit on the lazy side.

So, to you young ladies and girls out there.... I highly recommend you take FULL ADVANTAGE of the gifts and talents your mama has to offer.

Let her guide and teach you.  Dont' take the easy way out and say 'I can't' so she will do it for you.

For you mom's and older wiser women, take the time to teach the younger generations those skills you possess.

Share your talents.  Push a little to make them learn to do it for themselves.

I love my mom for all she did for me. She sacrificed..... She gave.... She loved unconditionally.

I just wish I'd been wise enough to also learn from her wonderful talents rather than 'playing dumb' so she'd do the work for me.

Now, as an adult, I'm needing to learn a lot more 'on my own' when I could have been taught by a woman who knows her stuff.

I'm blessed to have had a mom who TRIED to teach me. Who showed me over and over again so many valuable skills.  Who had TREMENDOUS talent to observe.  Who wanted to share her abilities and love for creativity.

Some of it did, in fact, sink in.

I'm attempting to teach our girls some of those same skills now.  I'm TRYING to NOT 'just do it for them' when they struggle and flounder.

It's hard to sit back and watch them do a task with 'less than perfect form' or in a manner that makes it so obviously more difficult.

I understand now, mom, why you often just 'did it for me'.  I made it easy for you to take over.  You wanted me to succeed, but since I wouldn't put forth the effort needed, you'd 'show me' again and again and again.

Thanks for all the time you put in.  It's because of you showing me that I have the interest now.  I only wish I'd listened more and tried harder when I was young.

It would have made a lot of things much easier as I became a mom myself.

I pray I can give my own children a love for many interests just as you instilled a fondness in me for such talents as sewing, crocheting, and cake decorating through your abilities and joy in taking part in such tasks.

Take advantage of the myriad of talents the women in your lives have to offer.  It really is.... invaluable!

Thanks, MOM!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Traveling w/Kids

Well, our vacation travels began Sat morning at 3 am.

You read that right -- 3 AM.

Techno and I set the alarm a little before 3, (yep, we KNEW we wouldn't be able to drag ourselves out of bed on the FIRST try) showered, dressed, and began waking kiddos. By 3:40 we were packing the cooler, giving directions of 'brush your hair and teeth, put on your shoes, make sure you have your pillows,' and shuffling the last minute items to the SUV.

Finally, by 4:10 am or so, we had all the munchkins loaded in the car and were rolling out of Dodge.

Normally, getting the kids up THAT early, resulted in all 6 of them falling back to sleep within the first hour of the trip, allowing us to drive till 8 or later before we stopped for breakfast.

Appears as though times have changed.

I think the older kids fell asleep for a bit fairly quickly, but those little ones?  Not so much. I think they slept for MAYBE 40 minutes not long before the older kids woke up and began talking of their grumbling tummies.

Me, however?  I think I slept MOST of the way.  LOL!

Before 8 am we stopped to eat our traditional McDonald's breakfast.

Oatmeal, coffee, cinnamon rolls, sausage english Mcmuffins, sausage biscuits, and a round of orange juice and we were 'on the road again.'

We decided to eat all our meals 'on the go' this first day to make the trip end a bit sooner.

Here's where I simply MUST brag on our stupendous children.

Other than an occasional, "I have to use the restroom", we never heard any groanings or grumblings about the long trip.  No 'Are we there yet?' or 'How much longer?' was heard.
(Unless you count mommy who MAY or MAY NOT have whined such phrases a time or two quietly to Techno-genius.)

During the trip I passed out a few 'prizes' to keep the children occupied.  A coloring book w/crayons,  new cheap dolls that can be used in pools and oceans, a notebook and pen, some lotion, suction cup balls, nerf-like blow dart guns; small trinkets of the novel variety simply to keep their minds and hands occupied.

They watched 1 movie - Frozen - the first day.

They played Gameboy once the first leg of the trip.

We stopped for gas and potty breaks several times allowing all to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and dole out snacks and lunch.

Other than that, they occupied themselves and each other THE. WHOLE. TRIP!  Limited bickering and squabbling took place.  THANK YOU, LORD!

Finally arriving at the hotel, we checked in and started dinner.  Another family tradition of microwave noodle meals in the room while watching 'kid TV' before changing into bathing suits and heading to the pool.

(It's quite a treat to watch Disney Jr or the Food Network now that we don't have TV other than DVD's at home.)

Swimming and hot tub fun then back to the rooms where we watched a little more TV while putting on our PJ's and preparing for another short night's sleep.

Techno and the boys in one room; the girls and mom in the other.

5am - wake up time.

A quick shower, breakfast at the hotel, then off and running again.

Day 2 was much like day 1 except we stopped to get Texas BBQ and actually 'sat down' for lunch.

Another movie, 2 game boy turns, a few more 'prizes', and a couple naps made the second day of driving just as smooth as the first.

We arrived before dinner on Sunday.

The girls were excited for their 'room of bunkbeds' and the boys made dibs on their rooms.

The older kids and Techno unloaded the car while I unpacked everything they brought in and distributed it to the various rooms.

The girls 'got lost' a couple times as they meandered from floor to floor to floor.  The stairs alone are quite impressive.

(Why did I bother bringing those workout DVD's and weights?  
Getting my workout just going up and down the different floors.)

Finally, we headed out to find some food for dinner.

All in all, a GREAT start to our family vacation.

Tremendous kids, a fabulous hubby, a touch of 'smart' pre-planning and our 2 day drive was smooth sailing.

Now the REAL vacation can begin with fun in the sun, trips to the beach, and lots of swimming, laughter, and playing.

Let the memory making commence.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part III

Who knew the entertainment center re-do would take a full THREE posts?  Not me, that's for sure.  In my idealistic mind, I had it done Sat afternoon.  Ha!

I should've know better.

Techno and I RARELY accomplish projects with such speed and agility.

I was just so pumped from the easy closet fix that..... I had my head in the clouds.  :-)

However, we DID manage to hang the shelves last night. Today Techno will put the chains up, I'll wrap them in jute rope and then......

...... we'll begin reassembling the electronics.

Oh boy!

CORDS!!!!!

I'm going to make a little pitstop at the Goodwill in town in search of 'decorative' pieces I can add to the new space.

BASKETS are high on the list to 'camouflage' some of the electrical components that are.... well..... less than decorative.

The kids are excited.  I'm excited.  Even Techno gave his accolades on the semi-finished project.

(He's often surprised when my 'projects' come out kinda cool.  We work quite differently, you see.  I get a 'vision' of what I want something to look like but can't quite express it well.  He is all about pre-planning and being able to visualize exactly what it will be in the end.  Sometimes, my plans work, sometimes they flop extravagently.)

This one ----- W-O-R-K-E-D!!!!!

Here's the before picture.  You might remember it's a single piece of furniture angled in the corner of the room so everyone can see the TV when it was in use.  A nice piece, but not fitting for our new space.

Functional, but that's about it.  LOL!  Notice the commercial beige on the walls too.  Not so cozy.
Now, the reveal!!!

Front view!  Love the softness of the sage green on the walls and how much more open the space feels.

Angled view.
 Cozier and so much  more open.  Not crowded -- well, except for the cord issue.

Doesn't it look SOOO much better?

I can't believe how much it opened up the room. Which sorta makes no sense as the wall shelves are significantly bigger than the free standing center was.  But..... who am I to question?

I LOVE IT!!!

Granted, I still have to find a solution for those CORDS!!!!!

I may make 'scrunchies' to put around them - or - we may purchase cord conduits to put over them on the wall and paint those.

Decisions, decisions.

I'm still working on the 'decorations' for this area, but that shall be a process.  Apparently baskets aren't that readily available around here.  :-)

Advice needed:
What would you do to 'hide' all those cords?
Would you paint the cedar chest?  I plan to make a 'cushion' for the top of it so it can be added seating for guests.
What about the black speakers?  I'm considering painting the sides either sage or bone white.  What would you do?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Living Wees and Woes

I haven't posted lately about my healthy lifestyle progress.

No real reason.  Just haven't had much << new>> to share.

I'm staying the course.  Using a healthy eating approach to life in general.

I'm not depriving myself, but I'm not over-indulging myself, either.

Through the week, we have pretty healthy fare.  Lots of fresh veggies - raw or roasted.  Lean meats.  Complex carbs.  Yummy fruits for 'sweets'.

Weekends are often a bit more 'lax' as we go out to eat on Sunday afternoons and usually have 'snacky foods' and leftovers on Saturday so we can cram more time into our house projects.  ;-)  Albeit, I'm getting much better at ordering salads and baked chicken when eating out.  Of course, appetizers are often ordered, but that's where MODERATION comes into play. :-)

Exercise has probably been my biggest downfall.

It seems to be feast or famine on that front.

One week I'll easily get 5 days of my exercise videos in then the next week 0 days.  Crazy.

That's one area I'm trying to find a better balance.

The other pitfall I struggle with greatly is drinking water.  Now that I've allowed myself to have coffee again, I tend to NOT drink water nearly enough.  Sigh.

Balance.  The key!!!

I feel much better in general.

I've lost 16-17 pounds since I began this journey in Feb 2014.

Not bad.

I'm fitting clothes I haven't fit in over a year.

Pretty cool.

It's slow.

Sometimes it's agonizing.

But.... it's becoming a true lifestyle change.

I can't say I NEVER eat unhealthy foods.  I still like chocolate; ice cream; candy; brownies; even fried foods, but... I only eat them in moderation now.

Wow -- never thought I'd be capable of that.

I still eat carbs.

I eat protein in healthy portions.

I eat a lot of veggies and fruit daily.

Some days I find I don't eat ENOUGH!

Yes, you read that right.  Sometimes I eat too little.  I'm working on that.  Three healthy snacks and 3 healthy meals each day is my overall goal.

I often wish I could find that 'magic bullet' and lose 20 pounds in one month, but.... I then remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I'm in this for LIFE!  Not just for our beach vacation.

As I alter my mindset and my eating habits in a healthy manner, I'm setting myself up for LONG TERM success.  Not just success to fit in a specific dress or look a particular way for an individual event.

I'm also setting a wonderful example for our children for the rest of their lives.

I can tell as I walk around our neighborhood, as I shop, when I play with the kiddies.....

...... I..... Have...... More...... Energy!

I FEEL better.

Plus I think I'm beginning to LOOK better too.

Yes, it's MUCH slower than I'd like. Yes, it's a daily struggle.  (Although, admittedly the struggle is getting easier.  It's becoming second nature.  Yet it is still something I have to think about and plan.)

But...I. AM. MAKING. PROGRESS!

That's the goal.

The end isn't quite in sight from the perspective of the scales, but in reality????

.......the end isn't the actual goal.

Life long change IS my aim.

THAT'S a forever event.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part II

Best laid plans....

Never seem to come to fruition!

Well, my 'ideal master plan' of buying paint on Fri morning, starting to paint Fri afternoon, and hanging the entertainment shelves Sat morning..........

........ didn't quite happen as planned.

While shopping, I felt congested and as if my sinuses were 'filling up'.  I thought it was just the result of a 'sneezing fit' I had that morning.  As the day progressed, my head felt worse and worse.  By the time I got home with the groceries and all my painting supplies...... I.  Felt.  Horrible!  As if my head just might explode.

I even had a slight fever -- or at least felt a bit warm to the touch and felt feverish on the inside.

To bed I trundled.

Sleeping fitfully for a couple hours, I emerged a little before dinnertime.

By then I decided the painting could wait till Sat and we'd just push back hanging of the shelves for a few days.  :-(

The littles headed off to Kids' Club and Techno, Jacob, and I watched Saving Mr. Banks while we ate popcorn and chicken for dinner.  (When the main cook is under the weather, dinner options get interesting.)

Before bed, I took a dose of Nyquil.

That seemed to have done the trick.   It knocked me out AND cleared my sinuses.

After a quick snuggle round at 7am, Techno and all the girls headed into the living room for breakfast and I (in my Nyquil induced haze) rolled over and went back to sleep.  Finally emerging around 9:30 am, I had a cup of coffee, sat in my chair, and slowly began to feel human once again.

Not sure exactly what time I started, but midmorning I began removing all the electronics from the entertainment center. (Boy was that a doozy!  I'm not a fan of cords and let's just say THERE ARE A LOT OF CORDS IN OUR ENTERTAINMENT EQUIPMENT!)

As I mentioned at the start, best laid plans seem to fail miserably.  Once the entertainment center was cleared and dusted, the plan was to roll it back to the girls' room to await it's 'transformation'.  Apparently our hallway had a different idea.

It. Didn't. FIT!!!  So..... it's currently on it's side, resting in our kitchen.  LOL!

The initial step accomplished, I set up the boards for the 'new' entertainment system on saw horses and put on the first coat of 'bone white' paint.

While those dried, I began 'cutting in' around the edges of the wall with the lovely dried sage.  I chose NOT to tape off the ceiling and baseboards simply b/c I'm a bit lazy and I didn't want to be up on the tall ladder any longer than I needed.  ;-)

Since I only did 1 full wall and a 1/4 of another, it didn't take too long to accomplish.

Then.... the first coat.  Again, pretty quick - relatively speaking.

By the time I finished all that, it was time for a second coat on the boards.  Easy peasy.

Unsure of what I wanted to do with the trim, I decided to 'just try' the bone white around the trim of the entryway into the kitchen.  It looked 'quite white' as I painted and I wasn't sure I loved it.  But... I kept going.

Once I finished the first coat of that, I decided it was a go. I  did the floorboards along the painted walls as well.  (Have to admit, now that I've done them in the bone white, I do---- in fact ---- "LOVE IT"!)

The wall still needed to dry a bit so it was a good time to take a break.

Anyone who's ever painted, knows you should never sit down.  Once you do....... you. just. don't. want. to. get. back. up.

Since I already broke that rule, I decided to take a little break and eat a snack.

After that, the walls and boards were dry.

Flipping the boards, I painted the first coat on the second side of all three.

Next up...... cutting in for the second coat. Ah, the lovely tall ladder.  My favorite!

After that was accomplished, getting the second coat on the walls was fairly simple.

Ah, the lovely trim -- again.  Did I yet mention how much I dislike painting trim?  I'm not a neat painter and I absolutely despise taping off, so..... I get paint everywhere.  Yeah, I know, not the sharpest tack in the box.

That completed, the final coat on the boards was next.

Phew!  All the painting was done!!  (Well, on the first wall and a fourth.)

Now, waiting for Doug to have time to hang the shelves.

Waiting is not a strength I possess.  I'm rather impatient. But.... tonight, after work, we'll get started.

Can't wait to share the 'reveal' when it's all said and done.

Then, I may have to take wagers on how long it'll take me to finish painting the rest of the walls.  LOL!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part I

Since Techno-genius was on such a roll with re-doing the closet.....

Since we were scheduled for a trip to Fort Collins.....

I had the WONDERFUL idea of having him complete our 'Wall Shelving Entertainment System'.... NOW!

Yeah, he loves me.

So, Tue, while we were in Colorado we made a 'not so quick' stop at Home Depot.  There we picked up boards to use as our shelves, brackets to support them, chains to hang them, and rope to make them 'rustic' looking.

This project should be pretty easy, except......

BEFORE Techno can hang the shelves.......

I have to paint the shelves..... and the wall on which the shelves are going to hang..... and the doorframe on the wall that the shelves are going to hang.   All BEFORE Sat morning.  (It's Friday morning now.)

Humph.

Guess what I'll be doing today?

First...... a trip to town to get paint.

Second..... remove furniture from the wall/room, tape, and PAINT, PAINT, PAINT!!!!

Could be a LONG day.

Could be an interesting day.

I'm going to call it a GREAT and EXCITING day!

The house is becoming more and more 'homey'.  More and more cozy.  More and more 'OURS'!

That's the thrilling part. The fun part.

The hard work is worth it.

Our current entertainment center.
Yeah, nothing to write home about.
A nice piece of furniture, but doesn't really 'fit' our space and purposes any longer.
It's at an angle so all seating arrangements can actually SEE the TV when it's in use.
Makes for poor use of the space and a crowded 'feel' to the room.
Looking forward to the new look!!!





























Can't wait to share the reveal next week.  I'd say tomorrow night, but I don't want to jinx ourselves.  LOL!

I do have a lot of painting to accomplish today/night.  :-/  Along with the typical school day and household chores.  Hmmmmmm........

Also.... stayed tuned to what will become of the clunky entertainment center.  Any guesses?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Closet re-do -- take II-III?

Upon moving west, I was so excited about the room off the laundry that could become the 'family/kids' closet'.

Since seeing 19 Kids and Counting, I've wanted a 'family closet'.

This 'storage' porch was PERFECT for just such a room.

The only problem?  This room was used for loose storage and had NOTHING on the walls that could  hold or store clothes.

No shelves.

No bars.

Just boxes, a free standing metal 'garage like' shelf, a Sauder type cabinet, and an old cracked laundry tub.

What to do, what to do?  Especially on a limited budget.

Initially, we purchased several 'free standing' clothing racks at Walmart to hold all the kids clothes.

I was ecstatic!!

We. had. a. 'family'. closet!!!  It really did make laundry easier.  Just wash, dry, hang!  Voila.

However, time went on.

Those free standing racks? Well, they don't hold up so well to LOTS of clothes and little people pulling said clothes off of them.

Slowly..... they...... began.... to tilt, sag, and even fall apart.

Such disrepair resulted in clothes on the floor; shoes being 'lost'; mom getting grumpy.

I lamented my 'wonderful closet' more than once to Techno-genius.

I shared my lofty plans of putting up 'permanent' rods around 3 of the 4 walls in the room - 2 layers of rods to be exact.  Not to mention my dream of shelves above the rods around the entire perimeter of the room.

"Imagine the storage", I mused.

Finally, those dreams have become a reality.

Techno built my dream closet.

He put up the clothing rods.

He fashioned my shelves around the room.

He.  IS. My. H-E-R-O!!!


Prior to the closet re-build, we had 4 free standing racks along the side walls and back wall plus 2 in the middle of the room - a total of 6 clothing racks.  That allotted us lots of hanging space, but made for a very cramped room.  The last wall housed the wooden cabinet for 'kitchen storage' and hat/glove storage and the shelves with the baskets for the girls socks/tights/undies/tank tops.  There was literally a small path down/between the middle racks on either side and THAT. WAS. IT!  

Once you added baskets of clothes to fold and shoe buckets, it was overflowing and ALWAYS a mess.


I had planned to take before and after photos, but, alas..... those 'falling down' clothing racks combined with the 12 and 14 year olds who are responsible for putting kids' laundry away made. for. QUITE. a. mess!  I was a tad too embarrassed to take, let alone, SHARE such 'before' pics.  Ha.

So, the AFTER photos will have to suffice.

Here's the NEW and IMPROVED 'kids' family closet'.
Looking IN to the closet from the laundry room door.
Don't you LOVE the shelves above?
Enough hanging space for all 6 kids' clothes AND the snow pants.  YAY!!!
Not to mention space UNDER the clothes for each kid to have their own shoe container.


Looking to the corner - this door leads outside.
I plan to hang a clothes line out this door for spring/summer
drying of clothes.
Next to the shelf of baskets will be our extra produce fridge.
Can't wait.
It's currently in the garage
and freezes everything in the winter.


















Looking at the opposite corner - ALL the kids clothes.
The WONDERFUL shelves around the whole room.
Just imagine all I can store there?





















I'm so pleased with the final product.

The kids are thrilled with the open space.

All in all?  A HUGE SUCCESS!!!

Go Techno!  You rocked another home improvement project.

THANK YOU!




Monday, March 24, 2014

Imagination

I've been reading a fair amount of articles and blogs lately about 'too much entertainment' for our kids.

I have to say........ I FULLY AGREE!

Where has imagination gone?

It's not uncommon to go ANYWHERE and see little bitty kids, some barely sitting up, with their noses pressed against the screen of a tablet. Little eyes blaring, little fingers fumbling at the screen.


WOW!


Never mind the older kids with their phones, tablets, ipods. They rarely even look up. Some even walk while reading, texting, gaming.

It's insane.

Plus, it's commonplace to have our schedules filled.  Some might look like this:

Mon:  Park play date
Tue:  Swimming at the Rec. center.
Wed:  Soccer practice
Thur:  Piano lessons
Fri:  Movie night - in or out
Sat:  Zoo
Sun:  Jump and Play after church

That's an ENTIRE week of 'fun and activities'.

No down time.  No outdoor play.  NO IMAGINATION!

In my day, that amount of 'fun' would have been spread out over the course of a YEAR.  Maybe more. 
(exaggeration intended)

No wonder so many kids respond with 'I'm bored' when they have a day at home or the TV breaks or the iPad is charging.

I can't say we haven't been guilty of this ourselves.

Our kids have WAY more toys than they need. We do take them to the zoo and park on occasion (granted NOT weekly or daily).  We do allow them to play games on the computer. We do have Friday  night family movie night -- usually IN.

However, recently, we took most of our children's (especially the younger set) toys away.

You know what happened?

They. Began. To. Use. Their. Imaginations. Again!  Not that they didn't before, but it's on a whole new level now.

Selah has printed and cut out 'paper dolls' with which she and the other two girls make elaborate games and stories.

They go outside more.

They read books more.

They interact more.

It's fun.  It's new.  It's exciting.  It's IMAGINING at it's best.

And..... I LIKE IT!!

Not once have they asked for all those toys back.  Not once have they asked to 'go to _____________' whatever venue of entertainment you can think of.

They are enjoying 'playing', make-believe, being home.

What I'm not saying is I never hear 'I'm bored'.  Just last week I heard it twice - from 2 different littles.  Know how I responded?

"Go clean your room."

The first unsuspecting victim giggled nervously and said, "What?"

"Go clean your room.  You said you were bored. There's plenty to do.  Your room needs cleaned.  Go, now."

Reluctantly she meandered off and did, in fact, clean her room.

Another day, another "I'm bored" rolled out of one of the girl's mouths.

Without hesitation, the response was, "Go clean your room."

This time, no back talk, no shock, she remembered he sister's plight.  Off the couch she slid and down the hall she trotted and ...... clean her room she did.

You see, I knew that these 'I'm bored' statements were more a result of our rule of limited computer time each day than any lack of fun stuff to do.  These little manipulators were HOPING mom would give in and let them have a little 'extra' screen time.  Their ploy backfired.

We do need to stop 'entertaining' our kids all the time. They need to learn to occupy themselves. To find things to engage and inspire their brains that don't revolve around a screen of any size.

Want to join me?  Turn off the computers, the phones, the ipads, the ipods.  Send them outside. Send them to their rooms to read, clean.  Unschedule your calendar a bit.  Grab a board game and get playing.  Print out figures and have them play with paper dolls.

It'll be worth it.  It'll be GREAT!

Maybe, just maybe our kids can learn to be content where they are; to play and utilize their own imaginations rather than having it filled with the imaginings of others.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

They're only little for a time

As I stood singing hymns in church, the girls clamoring for WHO would sit beside mommy.......

Hands groping my legs; bodies pushing against mine hard enough to make me teeter; little feet on top of my feet; arms wrapped around my waist to ensure their coveted spots........

I leaned back to a friend and commented:  "This is when the touch quotient goes through the roof."

She smiled, then politely stated, "Enjoy it while it lasts.  Soon enough they won't WANT that attention."

I had no choice but to agree.

It's hard, this stage of mommy-hood.

My body is not my own.  My time is not my own.  My thoughts sometimes aren't even my own.  LOL!

HOWEVER, as my friend reminded me:

I. 
wouldn't. 
change. 
it. 
for. 
the. 
world.

I'm not going to lie and say that I don't have days when I literally shoo the kids away because I just need time to decompress or have literally been touched so much my skin actually hurts.

But, I can honestly say that I LOVE snuggling, caressing backs and heads, and just generally loving on my kiddos.

Secretly I yearn for them to clamor for my attention.

I DO know that this time is fleeting.

I have 3 older children who generally sit in an entirely different pew across the aisle from us at church nowadays.

To you mommies who are 'in the thick of it':  Relish this time.  Enjoy their hugs.  Memorize the feel of their little arms wrapped around your legs and waist.

It won't be long and they may take a step back when you approach them for a hug; when you put YOUR arm around their shoulders.  At least in public.

Thank you, friend, for stating what I already know.

This time DOES go fast.

I AM relishing it.

Even though some moments I need a little extra space to breath.  Once that needed moment is over, I'll willingly go back to being pressed against, tugged on, squished, and all around 'touched' by my bundles of joy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blessing

Last Tue night our second to youngest daughter asked Jesus into her heart.  She personally claimed Him as her Savior.

<<<HAPPY DANCE!!!!>>>>

What a blessing.

What an answer to prayer.

Techno and I have prayed for all of our children. That they would all come to a personal decision to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.  To acknowledge their need for a savior and then welcome Jesus into their hearts and lives forever.

So far, 5 of the 6 have made that choice. Accepted His precious gift.

PRAISE GOD!!!

We remember how each of our children, thus far, have come to this knowledge.  Most were pretty young.  One of the benefits of being in a home where the whole family attends church and has accepted Jesus as Lord.  Of having the Bible read and taught.  Of having family that attempts to live out their faith and love of God and His Son.

Charity has been 'on the cusp' for quite a while.

She knew all the right words. She just hadn't made it personal.  Hadn't accepted the gift Jesus put before her.

When asked if she believed Jesus died for HER sins, she'd say, "I don't know."

That changed this week.

Now.  She.  Knows!  And.... believes in her heart it's. for. her.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of salvation that you give so freely.  Thank you that 5 of our 6 children have claimed that gift. Opened it.  Accepted it with joy.  We continue to pray for our youngest.  That she too will come to know you.  Personally.  
In Jesus' name.  Amen.

We rejoice that our precious daughter has also become our sister in Christ.  The best, most important decision she will ever make. The one with eternal rewards.

She's looking forward to this coming Sunday when she will be baptized.  Demonstrating her obedience and showing others her decision..... To. Trust. JESUS!!!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Journey

I've been struggling with losing weight for several years.

In all honesty, I've struggled with weight most of my life.

In highschool I was so active that I managed my weight by riding my bike E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!  In addition, I was a majorette with practice daily throughout the week.   I could eat what I wanted because I just burned. it. off.

Then college.  Yeah, I gained the typical freshman fifteen and came to the conclusion I was huge and became a borderline anorexic.  All at the wopping weight of 130 pounds.

Crazy, I tell ya.

After losing down to 105-110 pounds my jr/sr year in college, burning more calories at the gym a day than I'd eat, and popping laxatives to 'eliminate' those few calories I did eat, I realized I was walking a thin line.

Yeah, I had 6 pack abs and could wear most any piece of clothing I wanted, but I was skeletal.

105 pounds isn't quite enough 'meat' on a 5ft 6 in frame.  Especially for a young woman of 20-21 years of age.  My body was trying to do the natural thing and prepare for babies, while I was starving it.  The two don't mix well.

As I hit my lowest weight, I met Techno.  I like to say he 'saved me' from myself.  From anorexia.

The downside to that equation was eating became a HUGE part of our relationship.  That component continues today.

Hence, I swung the pendulum of being way underweight and catupulted to way overweight in the early years of our marriage.

That has been my plight for the last 21+ years since we've been together.

Yo Yo!

Up.....

....... down.

Mostly up, however.  (7 pregnancies aided in that since I wasn't overly careful with what I ate and didn't get much exercise during those times.  Or after.)

My pendulum swing had been edging to the VERY overweight side in the last couple of years (despite having lost and kept the weight off for several years prior).

With that looming before me - knowing I was creeping toward my heaviest weight - I made the decision to MAKE A CHANGE.

I ordered the AdvoCare 24 day Challenge.

I knew 4 couples who had followed this program and had great success.

I was willing to give. it. a. shot.

Something had to give. The supplements and support were just what I needed.

A jump start.

With my blood pressure and cholesterol on the rise, my energy levels at an all time low, and my body image plumeting, I figured, "Ain't got nothin' to lose!"

I finished the challenge with an 8 or 9 pound loss.

Since then I've continued to make healthy lifestyle changes.

I'm currently down 13 pounds and a couple inches off my waist, hips, bust, and thighs.

Woohoo!

I'm continuing this journey of healthy living.

I'm eating better; exercising; drinking plenty of water; and overall just striving toward health and fitness.

I know it's a long journey.  That old adage:  'It's a marathon, not a sprint' is right on target for this particular journey in my life.

Come along.  Join me.  We can do it together.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Quest for Modest Swimsuits

Having 6 kiddos, 4 of them girls, means swimsuit season can be challenging.

We believe in being modest EVEN at the pool or beach.

This is NOT an easy order to fill.

The boys are pretty simple.  A pair of long swim trunks or board shorts; a rash guard shirt and...... they. are. set. to. go!

On the other hand, the girls..... well, that's a whole different story.

When the 3 littles were smaller, I frequently found suits at Target that consisted of a rash guard shirt and swim shorts.  The shorts - because the girls were still pretty young and their legs were still kinda short - were long enough to keep us happy and feel they were pretty modest.

Now that they are bigger, those shorts just. don't. cut. it.  Not to mention, most of the 'suit sets' now have bikini bottoms.

We don't do bikinis.  Period.

Not an option.

I've scoured the internet and have found some feasible options.  The cost, however, is quite prohibitive.

Especially considering we have to buy 4 girls' suits, plus one for me.

Not to mention, part of our quest in being modest is to avoid drawing undue attention to oneself.  Some of the 'modest suits' available would turn as many heads as wearing a bikini.  Granted, the girls and I would still be 'covered', but that's not our ONLY goal.  Our aim is to be modest and glorify God in so doing.  NOT cause others to gauk and stare because we look 'odd'.

Bethany is a challenge in an of herself.

She's a teen now. Starting to LOOK like a young woman.  Tall.  Lean.  Long legs. Long torso.

A nightmare for ANY swim suit shopping let a lone the modest variety.

In the past she's had a couple options.  She had a swim dress, but the top was a bit low and she had to wear a swim tank or high fronted sports bra under it.  Not the most practical.  For the last 2 years, she's worn a pair of boy's board shorts (we picked a teal color that didn't look masculine) with a one piece teal bathing suit under them and a matching rash guard shirt over that.

Functional, but WOWZA, the layers.  Talk about a challenge to use the restroom.  Sheesh.

I started the search for modest suits recently when I noticed summer items appearing in the stores.

First I checked the racks. Always cheaper and easier to buy from a local store.  Then I searched on-line - despite having done so NUMEROUS times before.

I'm pretty familiar with WHAT'S available on-line.  Deciding which suit we REALLY preferred and HOW MUCH we wanted to spend, was our next step.

We were fortunate to stumble upon some cute swim suits for the 2 youngest girls at Costco.  They had a rash guard shirt and a skirted bottom.  The bottom was a bit short, so we purchased black capri leggings to go under them.

Cute.  Functional.  Modest.  Feminine.  (Plus, fairly easy for 'potty breaks'.  Important when your are dealing with a  5 and 6 year old.)

Unfortunately the sizes did not go high enough for the other 2 girls.

More searching.

Walmart had some cute rash guard shirts, but only bikini bottoms.  Any shorts I have found might as well be bikinis - as short as they were.

That wouldn't do.

Finally, it hit me.

I. COULD. MAKE. SWIM. SKIRTS. TO. GO. WITH. THE. SHIRTS!!!

Duh!  Why didn't I think of that years ago?

The quest is on.

Finding the 2 older girls and myself swim shirts we like, coordinating capri leggings, and matching lycra material and.....

Voila!

After a bit of sewing.....

Modest suits all around.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

You've heard the song.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.

Boy is it.

As I posted recently, the healthy lifestyle thing has had it's challenges.

I discovered as we learned of Doug's cousin-in-law's passing, that I dealt with sadness by...... wanting. to. eat.

Humph.

I knew stress could do that, but this was different.

As I cried and thought about the situation, I simply wanted to dive into a pan of brownies or a big bag of chips and dip.

Crazy.

It hit me.  Breaking up with my old eating habits; my love of junk food; my desire to munch is hard to do.

In just the last week, I've caved to a pizza dinner where I ate 2 pieces of pepperoni pizza.  Followed the next day by eating nachos and cheese at the carnival - simply b/c they were cheap and easily accessible.  Then on Sunday I had too many carbs, no fruits or veggies, AND a piece of the rose cake I made at our church fellowship dinner.  Finally Monday for dinner I made taco salad and allowed myself a second bowl PLUS an extra handful or two of corn chips.  All this after almost a month of 'standing firm' and 'staying the course' with healthy eating and avoiding temptations.

Sigh!

As I sat and watched one of our children eat a bowl of cereal, I fought the urge to grab the biggest bowl we own and fill it full with the crunchy goodness of corn pops and milk.

SO NUTS!

I didn't.  I stood firm.

I've done better since these 'slip-ups'.

I didn't have to fight the urge to make a batch of cookies or fudge simply so I could stand there and scarf the entire pan myself.

I more easily coaxed myself into doing my Biggest Loser Bootcamp video 4 days this week.  (Granted, my legs killed me most of the week, but I felt so much better once I'd accomplished that task. Stronger.  More confident.  Empowered.)

I understood this journey to health would be challenging.  I knew there'd be days I'd want to give up. Days I'd crumble and eat poorly.

I knew that 'Breaking Up Would Be Hard To Do'.

But..... I'm NOT giving up.  I'll stay the course.  Techno is worth it.  My 6 beautiful children are worth it.  I'M worth it.

After all, I AM fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.  

This body of mine?  It is HIS temple.  It's my responsibility to care for it the best I can.

That's my aim.  My goal.  

As I break up with my old habits, I may lapse into them once in a while, but each day is new.  Each day I have a choice to make.  I can make the right choice after a relapse.  I just have to be cautious and not have a full collapse.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Eye Surgery and Date Night - Rolled into One

Odd as it sounds, Doug had his second laser surgery in Fort Collins yesterday so we decided to take the opportunity to have a little 'get away'.

We reserved a room at the Embassy Suites and stayed overnight -- away from the kiddos -- just the two of us.

Heavenly.

The surgery went well.  The pooling blood in his eye had subsided some, but the doctor noted new bleeding so he wanted to get the eye treated as much as possible to try to cease that leaky vessel.  80% of the eye was able to be 'lazed', as the doctor put it.   We'll return in 3 months to try to 'finish it off'.  (Who knows, maybe another 'night out'?) 

I guess it was a little weird, since he JUST had surgery on his eye.  However, when you have 6 kids..... you grab opportunities wherever, whenever you can.

Checking into the hotel, his eye was actually taped shut.  Probably a funny looking sight, but we sure didn't care.

As we arrived, they informed us of the 'Manager's Reception' going on from 5-7:30 in the dining area.  This included free drinks and snacks.

FREE!!!  Did I mention that?

You bet we chose to head down once we had all our stuff lugged into our room.

I had no expectations as to WHAT the snacks might be, but... boy was I still surprised.

First it seemed simple enough.  Tortilla chips, salsa, a little hummus, and guacamole.  Then we noted the fancy 'pita chips'. Even better than that?  The hot spinach artichoke dip.  One of our favorites.  Even some chunk cheese.

What a dilemma I had.

I've been trying to 'be good' on my healthy eating adventure.  These snacks?  Yeah, they didn't exactly fit into my menu options.

I decided to give myself a 'free pass' and to just 'go for it'.

Probably not the BEST decision, but it sure was a YUMMY decision.

I was careful to keep my portions small and didn't have TOO much.

Much of the enjoyment came from the experience of sitting across from Techno, my wonderful hubby, and soaking in the moment.  Holding hands as we talked.  Listening to and watching the water feature beside our table.  Blissful, romantic, memorable.

We called the kids from our hotel room once we finished eating our 'snacks'.  (We may enjoy a little time away, just the two of us, but we still miss our precious gifts back home.)

Settled in for the evening, we simply enjoyed the time together.  Watched a little TV, chatted, snuggled.

What more could a girl ask for?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Little Miss Trinity

It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since she was born.

I remember her pregnancy and birth quite clearly.

Tests came back showing a distinct possibility that our precious bundle of joy could have Trisomy 13.  A chromosomal anomaly that was incompatible with life.

Fear.  Uncertainty.

We went through several months not knowing 100% if our 4th child would live or not.  The ultrasounds seemed positive, but the doctor's continued to monitor her progress regularly.

In hindsight, we now know that was God's protective hand upon her all along.

As my due date approached, the babies growth slowed.  Even ceased.

The OB ordered yet another ultrasound.  This one showed that our little bean had gone from the 90%tile for growth for gestation to the 50th.

Not a good sign.

Bedrest for a couple weeks to see if any improvement occurred.

This was a tall order as we were moving into our second home at that same time.  I rested, but only AFTER I'd cleaned a bit, helped (mostly watched others) paint, packed a little, supervised the movers (while sitting on a chair), etc, etc, etc.

When I went to my follow up, not only had the baby NOT grown, but the amniotic fluid levels had also dropped. He wanted to induce me.

We were hesitant.  All our other babies had been born naturally, on their own, in the timing God had planned. That was our goal with this pregnancy as well.

The doctor's only other option was full bedrest IN the hospital.

Well, given the fact we had 3 other children at home - ages 4, 6, and 9 - and Doug working full time, THAT. wasn't. a. feasible. option!

Induction was scheduled for that weekend.

I was nervous.  I feared the pain and duration of an induced labor.  My natural labors had all gone quite quickly -- the first barely six hours, the second only an hour and a half, and the third about five hours -- with no pain medication what-so-ever.  I had heard horror stories of LONG, AGONIZING inductions.  We had also heard of the possible risks to the baby from being induced.

But... our alternatives were limited.

It took a little while for the pitocin to kick in, but once it did, as per my norm, labor progressed rather quickly.  Especially the actual pushing and delivery part.

A little girl - Trinity - entered our world, our family that day.

Merely 6 lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long, she looked SO tiny.  (Especially since our last baby was almost 9 lbs.)

As the doctor examined her placenta and umbilical cord, he held it up for us to see just what had caused the odd shift in her growth and my fluid levels.  Before my eyes I beheld a complete KNOT in the life giving cord that connected her to me.

A catch in my throat, tears began to stream down my cheeks.

God truly was watching out for our girl.

Had we NOT allowed the doctor to induce me a couple weeks early..... this precious angel that we just celebrated, most likely would have been born without breath.  Our lives would have still changed that day, but in a drastically different way.

Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom you provided.  For the 'false positive' test that resulted in stress and a myriad of ultrasounds.  If it weren't for all those ultrasounds, we may have never noted her significantly smaller size and drop in fluid levels.  We wouldn't have been induced.  We most likely wouldn't have a special 8 year old to have a birthday for TODAY!

As we celebrate you, Trinity, we give thanks for your life.  We thank God for guiding us so you could be here with us now.

You are such a joy.  Such a treasure.  Such a gift.  We're grateful to be your mom and dad.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Getting in Shape is Hard to Do

It's been almost a month since I began my healthy quest.

I've had a lot of successes, but I've also had some struggles.

I started out strong on ALL fronts.

60 - 80 oz of water a day....

Limiting my meals to lean protein, fruits, veggies, and a small portion of complex carbs -- each and every meal....

Actually EATING breakfast -- not just drinking a couple pots of coffee.....

Incorporating 3 small snacks of either fruit, veggies, or lean protein -- you know a palm full of nuts; an apple; carrots; etc....

Eliminating coffee and junk food from my diet.....

Exercising for 30-60 minutes 3-5 days a week!

Then....

I....

Didn't.....

Exercise......

At.....

All.......

Last week!

I managed to keep my diet on track.... for the most part.

With the carnival and a 4H pizza dinner before set up, I did go 'off course' for a couple meals, but I DID manage to keep my portions small.

I guess I can't be too upset with myself. This is L-I-F-E! I realize that not ALL food I eat will ALWAYS be the most healthy.  Not all will fit into my little formula.  Plus, I have lost 10 pounds in this last month.

It's ok.

As long as it doesn't become the 'norm' again.

Today I recommitted.

My focus is on getting the exercise in as well as watching the overall content of my nutritional intake.

I tried to make excuses as to WHY I should skip my workout.  I have to clean, do laundry, bake Trinity's birthday cake, chop up pineapple to freeze.

The list could continue.

I could nap -- after all, tomorrow we will be 'on the go' all. day. long.

However, I resisted.  I forced myself to change into my exercise clothes.  Walk to the back porch.  Put in the workout DVD.  And complete the workout.

I'm so glad I did. I feel more energized. More alert.  More ready to finish all those 'excuses' I made before.

Today's workout of choice?  Biggest Loser Bootcamp -- week 1-2 workout.

Only 30 minutes, but a good combination of cardio and strength training.

Now... to bake a cake for a precious little soon-to-be 8 year old.


Monday, February 24, 2014

All Things New

The snow continues to fall.

I watch Techno and the boys shovel - again - so we can make our way to town.

My heart is still heavy.  My eyes are swollen.

My mind continues to travel to the surreal event of the recent loss our family has experienced.

It's so close to home.  It's so real.  Yet, I wish it weren't.

I hurt for Laura.  It's easy to put myself in her shoes.  To dare to imagine how she is feeling.  How I would feel in her situation.

I want to use this event as a catapult for my own life. My own interactions with my family.

Time is too short to worry about the little infractions that cause irritation, that raise my temper levels.

Life's short span should not be lost on aggravations over crumbs on the floor; on kids' toys strewn about; on dishes left in the sink.

The snow outside is serene.  It blankets all the imperfections of the landscape.  All the rocks, bumps, divots.  At this time, they appear gone.  No longer present in our yard.

It reminds me of how Jesus has covered all my flaws.  He's forgiven me for all the wrongs, the mess-ups, the outbursts.  He's made me new.

New!

Just as the blanket of snow makes this winter wonderland scene seem so new.  As the snow melts, the water it produces will help make things truly new.  New life.  New buds.  New grass.

New!

This tragedy makes no sense to me.  This loss of a loved ones life.  The grief for those left behind baffles me at best.

Yet.... I know.... God will make all things new.

He will use this event; this heartbreaking, mind-numbing loss of life to grow. something. new!

In us.  In Laura and her children.  In all those who have ever known and loved Jim in one way or another.  Even in those who simply cross our paths.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

With Great Sadness

As I write, my heart is breaking.

Yesterday we received news that Techno's cousin's husband had had a heart attack or at least some sort of heart incident and was in the ICU.

Later that evening we got the call from Doug's dad that Jim had passed away.

Shock!

Heartbreak!

Jim was my age.  He and Laura have 5 children similar ages to our children.

My heart wept as tears flowed from my eyes.

It's still very surreal.

I can only imagine the grief Laura is feeling.  How she must be reeling.  It happened so fast.

Life is precious.

Life is short.

Hold those dear to you close.

Let them know how special they are... today... now.  You never know what day is your last.  Their last.

As I awoke this morning, my heart heavy, I thought about all we had to do today.  It all seemed so insignificant given the situation.

Yet, it is our life.  I'll do laundry.  Techno will work.  The kids will do their chores.  We will go to the 4H carnival.  We'll have fun.  However we'll still remember. We'll still think of Laura and her great loss.

This made me think of how the rest of us - those who know and love this family - will continue.  Life will go on as usual, even though we'll remember, we'll mourn; but life won't necessarily be changed dramatically.  Not like it has already for Laura and her children, her family.

No, we won't forget.  But... it's different for us.

I'm glad they have HOPE!  The hope of eternity with Jim one day.

Yes, that hope is there, but the day to day - here on this earth - will continue to be hard. To be a struggle.

My prayer is all reading this would have the same hope.  The same knowledge that THIS life is not the end.  Eternity is available to all who believe in Jesus. To all who accept his gift of salvation.

This event was such a reminder that today is the day to make the choice.  Ask Jesus into your heart.  Don't delay.  You just never know if tomorrow is guaranteed.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Techno's cousin and her family.  May God's comforting arms embrace them during this time of grief and loss.

We love you, Laura!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sometimes you have to break your own rules

It was 3 am.

The dog was barking in the hallway.

Since he'd gotten into chocolate, I knew it was best to 'let him out' despite my sleepy state.

Up I dragged my half-asleep body.  Feeling around in the dark, I found my warm slippers.  (It was way too cold NOT to grab those.)

Stumbling to the door, I tripped over my cowboy boots I had left near the side of our bed.  (Another good reason to keep ones room tidy.)

Finally, emerging from our bedroom, I walked out to meet the dog and lead him to the door.

He was resistant.

Can't say I blamed him with the snow and wind blowing at high speeds.  But, I was persistent and out he went.

Returning to bed once he came back in, I heard a little voice.

"Mommy, I had a bad dream."

"Where are you?"  My eyes had not re-acclimated to the middle-of-the-night-darkness after having turned the lights on to let the dog out.

"It's me, Charity." Came the response.

"Ok, Charity, but where are you, sweetie?"  I could still NOT see anything.

"Right here."

I stretched my arm out toward the direction of her voice.

Contact.  I felt her hair brush against my fingers.

"Do you need to snuggle a bit?"

With that she crawled into our bed.

Rubbing her back, I asked, "What was your dream, sweetie?"

"I don't want to say it."  She replied.

I simply hugged her tight.

"Can I just sleep in here for a while?"

We aren't co-sleepers.  (Outside of when the babies were super tiny and I was nursing them multiple times over the course of a night, our kids have ALWAYS slept in their own space.)

Techno and I made the choice early on to make our bed, just that, OURS!  So, as a general rule, we don't allow the kids to sleep with us.

This night, however, I could tell she. just. needed. us. close.

"What do you think, Daddy?"  I whispered.

To lighten the moment he responded, "Well, if I fall sleep, my snoring just might keep you awake."

Charity was prepared, "That's ok.  I'll just put my head under the pillow."

Stay she did.

Daddy's snoring did seem to 'jolt' her a couple times, but...... she did fall asleep and slept soundly, with no more 'nightmares', until the morning.

Yes, we broke our 'rule'.

I decided it was more important to send the message that "Mom and Dad are always available. When I'm scared I can go to them.  They will comfort me." rather than to 'stick to the rule' of kids sleep in their beds and parents sleep in theirs.

Granted, this doesn't mean that our bed is an open invitation, but it does mean the kids needs will be evaluated on an individual basis.

This morning..... she was able to finally tell me WHAT she had dreamed.  The comfort she gained from sleeping, safely, with mom and dad made all the difference.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Wyoming Wind

Driving to Fort Collins for Doug's doctor appointment, we were vividly reminded of the phenomenon that is.............  'Wyoming Wind'!

We were also acutely aware of the looming winter storm that seems to be lingering 'just over our mountain'.

You see, as we drove away from our little section of the world, the snow began to cease. The wind died down - to some degree.

As we passed the state line, entering into Colorado, it was as if the wind stopped completely.  No more drifting snow on the roads, no more swirls of white wisps across the pavement.

Here, the snow is on the ground NEXT to the road.  Not being blown ON to the road.  Astonishing.

While in Colorado, the temperatures were mild, the wind virtually non-existent.

As we drove home, we experienced similar happenings as we did on our way to the doctor's office.

Only this time -- in reverse.

We passed the Wyoming border - wham!  The wind started blowing.  Immediately snow patches covered the road here and there.

Driving through Laramie things were pretty good.  Fairly dry.

Heading toward Centennial all seemed decent until we hit a certain spot.  It was as if the snowstorm cloud hovering over our little mountain simply engulfed us.

Slick snow and ice covered the roadway; visibility dropped to zero; the winds pushed against our truck; Welcome Home!

This phenomenon has become a regular thing for us.  It seems our little corner of the world, our mountain, is perpetually stuck in this wonderful snow storm.

Overall, we don't mind.

Our community needs the water this snow will provide as it melts; the ski area is certain to be seeing some wonderful revenue from such great 'powder'; our beloved little town is getting great business as well from all the snowmobilers that are coming to enjoy this epic snow.

In the meantime, we'll just keep shoveling our lovely drift out of our driveway.  It builds character, you know.

Yes, another topic for another blog post.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy Black Bean Chili

Having started a 'healthy living' eating plan (I'm avoiding the use of the word diet - it's a mental thing. LOL!) I have been seeking easy, yet healthy meal ideas.

This week I came across a recipe for Easy Black Bean Soup.

I didn't have all the ingredients this recipe called for, so..... I 'winged it' and came up with a darn good 'chili' - for lack of a better term.

If you are looking for a hot, easy, quick, yet healthy meal to serve your family on these cold snowy nights (in case you live in a place that's getting walloped with snow like we are) this meal might be right up your alley.

Key words that I liked in that description?  EASY, QUICK, HEALTHY!  Hot is pretty good too.  :-)

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:  I made a huge batch - I am feeding 8 people, after all, and we like to have leftovers.
3 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used chili ready/spiced)
1 can rotel (because we like spicy foods)
2 boxes chicken stock/broth
3 cups cooked rice (give or take depending on how 'thick' you want your chili)
Additional spices to taste - I added garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and no salt seasoning
Optional - avocado; sour cream; shredded cheese

Add all ingredients into large pot except rice, avocado, sour cream, and cheese. While rice is cooking allow 'soup' to simmer.  Once rice is cooked add it to the pot with other ingredients.  Let simmer till heated through.  The longer it cooks/simmers the more the rice will absorb the liquid and it will become more of a 'stew/chili' rather than a soup.

Serve in bowls with a little avocado, sour cream, and shredded cheese on top.

I just had a little avocado and a small dollop of sour cream and it was REALLY yummy.  Helped cut the spice a bit and gave a little 'creaminess' to the dish.

Techno added cheese to his with some Sriracha sauce and thought it was GREAT!

He went so far as to say this meal could be added to our 'rotation' of items I could serve on a regular basis.

Whoohoo!!   That means it was a hit.

Charity had seconds; the boys both had seconds; Techno had seconds; I had my full bowl and it was tasty enough that I would have LIKED to have had seconds, but.... being good I stuck to just. one. bowl.

I will add, it was quite filling.

As leftovers:  It was ok.  Had a small bowl tonight heated in the microwave and it was still tasty, but a bit mushy.

Still... giving this easy, go to recipe a thumbs up for a quick, hot, weeknight dinner idea.

What are some of your favorite 'go to' meals?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Pinterest Win!!!

Bethany is going to do a cake decorating project for 4H.

Due to that, she will be attending a 'cake decorating class' on Sun with her friend from our local 4H group.

In order to participate in the class she needs to bake a cake in which to decorate.

Since she is going to the class with her friend, we decided to have the girls bake their cakes together this week.

More fun when you do things with friends, right?

That means:

I......

Need......

To........

Clean.......

My.......

OVEN!!!!!

Not a chore I enjoy.  One I put off quite readily, actually.

Comical, really, as we have a 'SELF CLEANING OVEN'!!!

Alas, taking the oven racks out, I start the cleaning cycle.

Originally, I was just going to soak the racks a bit, using soap and water to wash them.

However, THEY. ARE. PRETTY. DISGUSTING!!!

I haven't given them a thorough scrub since we moved in (over a year ago) and I can't guarantee WHEN they would have been scrubbed before that.

Needless to say.... they are in dire need of deep cleaning.

To Pinterest!  In search of the best way to clean said kitchen apparatuses.

One intriguing idea is to simply soak them in the bathtub with dawn dishsoap and dryer sheets.  Yep, dryer sheets.

I am game.

In the tub they go.

A couple hours later, I decide to check to see if the gunk is budging.

Guess what?  IT IS!!!!!

According to the Pinterest instructions:  
Submerge the racks in super hot water, add dish soap, and several dryer sheets.  
When done soaking (after several hours to over night) use the dryer sheets to 'scrub' the racks.

When I did this - with a little elbow grease - the once baked on food began slipping right off revealing the shiny silver racks underneath.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

I plan to let them sit overnight to make the 'scrubbing' easier.

It's so exciting to have clean oven racks, I'm not sure I want to bake anything anytime soon.

Hmmmm.... sort of defeats WHY I began this cleaning journey in the first place, doesn't it?

Now that I know what to do..... might as well throw caution to the wind and let it get messy again.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Making Time for Fitness! Better Yet.... Making Fitness Fit Your Time

Weight loss and exercise are not NEW to me. I've dealt with my weight to some degree or another most of my life.

Several years ago, when our littles were 'VERY little' I was part of a small group of women who challenged one another to get daily exercise.  We kept tabs on one another via texts and phone calls.

This little group was such a Godsend for me.  I didn't really lose a ton of weight during this span, but I maintained and got much more physically healthy.  My fitness level was greatly impacted by this band of ladies.

Another thing I garnered from this group was how to make exercise fit into my limited time schedule with homeschooling multiple children and living a fairly hectic and busy life.

Something I'd be willing to bet many-a-woman finds difficult.

It all began with a challenge.  A challenge to do 25 push-ups, sit-ups, and leg lifts.  Expanding to 100 each over the course of a month.

At first this was difficult.  I would come to the end of the day only to remember I had yet to complete my 75 reps.

I devised a plan.

BEFORE getting out of bed each morning, I'd complete my sit-ups and push-ups. Then as I was brushing my teeth I'd work on the leg lifts -- side, front, and back.

As I did this, it hit me.

I. Could. Do. Exercises. Throughout. The. Day!

All while doing the mundane tasks that seem to 'get in the way' of fitting in exercise.

That's exactly what I started doing.

While cooking, I'd do leg lifts.  Sometimes I'd do push ups on the counter.  Other times I'd do 25 squats or lunges while waiting for the water to boil or the microwave to finish.

Gradually I expanded this idea.

I began wearing wrist and ankle weights as well as a weighted vest while I folded laundry.  I'd walk in place; all the while getting my chores accomplished.

It was amazing.  I didn't have to take an extra half hour to an hour AWAY from my day to accomplish exercising.

I could combine chores WITH exercise.

Novel idea!

The best part?  It actually worked.

I will admit, I have gotten away from that model.

However, as I realized I needed to be INTENTIONAL with getting fit and healthy, I decided to take a different approach to enable me to multi-task with exercise.

I set my girls up with independent work; I grab a book I want to read; and I jump on the treadmill.  I usually walk for 45 minutes to an hour and accomplish reading 2-3 chapters of the book - depending on the length of the chapters.  (It's not super easy to walk and read while on the treadmill.  My pace of reading is impacted by the combination.)

I'm teaching our children to work independently, working on my relationship with Techno-genius, AND getting an hour of physical activity logged.  Simultaneously.  Without taking too much from each task.

Whoo hoo!

As I get stronger, I imagine I will add in the weight bearing exercises I had grown so accustomed to doing during those challenge days, several years ago.  Or, I may alternate days on the treadmill with days on the bow flex or doing DVD's that focus on strength building.

How do you manage to 'get fit' while managing a home, a job, kids?

Although not conventional, this way is working for me........ for now.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Getting Fit

Having gained more pounds than I'd like to admit since moving here; my blood pressure and cholesterol being on the 'borderline high' side of things; having energy levels at an all time low.....

I decided to FINALLY make a change.

Interesting how suddenly one can just 'be ready' to make a life change.

So..... I decided to try the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge.

I will admit, I was skeptical.  I've tried other 'programs' before.  Some with success, some not so much.

Tending to NOT stick with things if I don't see immediate and fast results, I was nervous.  This was probably perpetuated by the fact that I USED to lose weight quickly on 'fad diets'.  (as well as gain back what I lost just as quickly, sometimes.)

I knew this had to be different.  I needed to make a REAL change.  This new way of eating needed to become my new LIFESTYLE.  It was not to be a diet.  It was to be a Way. Of. Life!

My adventure began.

I ordered the 24 Day Challenge.

What I liked about this program wass the focus on eating healthy and altering your mindset as well the supplements offered.  Granted the supplements help you succeed and stay on target, but for me, it was more about changing my 'thought patterns' regarding food and eating.

I like food.  It's tasty.  It's comforting.  It's also fuel.  It's hard NOT to eat more than I need.  THAT had to change.

Since starting this journey 2 weeks ago, I have lost 8 pounds and 1 inch each off my waist, hips, bust, and thighs and 1/2 inch off my arms and calves.

If that's not motivating, I don't know what would be.

I'm using food to fuel my body.  I'm being mindful of what I eat, when.  I'm avoiding high fat, fried foods.  I'm sticking with 'clean eating' for much of my calories.  I've eliminated coffee -- for now.

I'm.  Being.  Successful!

In addition to healthier eating, I've committed to daily exercise as well.  Not only for weight loss, but for my heart health. Especially in these higher altitudes.

My goals are lofty - I'd like to lose 50 pounds - but I know with God's help, I can be successful.  I've committed to staying the course.  Techno and the kids deserve a healthy, happy wife and mom.

Not saying it's been easy.  Some days are rough. Some days I want to eat 'junk'.  Some days I just. don't. want. to. exercise.

But..... I'm determined to persevere.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.

ONE.  DAY.  AT.  A.  TIME!!!

Want to join me on this journey?  I'll be posting my progress here, periodically.

Accountability IS a good thing, after all.

Friday, February 7, 2014

New Furniture and Rug

It's here!  IT'S HERE!!  IT'S HERE!!!

Several weeks late, but our new sofa, chair, and ottoman FINALLY arrived at our home.

It was quite the adventure.

The delivery truck called around 10 am to state they were leaving the warehouse in Cheyenne and would arrive in about an hour.

Looking out the window, I made my own adjustments.  Realizing the weather would most likely deter their arrival time if not prevent them from arriving all together.

After lunch, the phone rang.

The delivery truck was on the main thoroughfare of our subdivision, but they had already gotten 'stuck' on the unplowed road and had no idea where to go. Could I drive out to meet them and 'lead them in?'  (Comical as I could see their headlights from our front window, but.... if you don't know the area, it's not clear where our road turns off from the 'main' road.)


Donning my coat, boots, ear muffs, and gloves, I grabbed the keys and trotted out.

After a 15 point turn in the middle of our snow covered dirt road, I managed to lead them back to our house.

The furniture is big.  Our doorways are not.

After much maneuvering of items in our house; removing the cushions and legs off our furniture; they finally managed to get the monstrous pieces into our space.

I pointed out where I wanted them placed.

There and there.

Done.

Once they left, however..... I really disliked the look of our room with the sofa and chairs in the spaces we had previously mapped out.

So..... Jacob and I moved them!

Once.....

Twice......

Three times......

Four times........

Finally the fifth configuration won the vote!  Thanks to Bethany's insight on what she thought would look the best.  

The ONE way I really didn't think would work.

Here's the final resting place of our new furniture including our new cowhide area rug.
The couch, the cowhide rug, my old leather recliner, and the oversized chair and ottoman!

A different view -- the entertainment center is going to be replaced with hanging wall shelves.
The hope chest will go under said shelving.
Cozy!
The nice big couch!
All the kids can fit on it.
They are thrilled to NOT have to sit on the floor anymore.
My big oversized chair.
All three girls and I can fit here.
























We're excited to simply have furniture again.

We whisked our old furniture away several weeks ago!  Maybe a bit prematurely.  But.... we wanted to be prepared.

The floor has been the kids 'couch' since then. (I think they may be even more excited than I am.)

Next up:  hanging our 'entertainment shelves' and eventually getting new curtains that don't look like they are straight out of some by gone era.  ;-)

Upon seeing our new furniture, what recommendations do you have for decorating our walls to give it a rustic/cabin feel?  I'd love to hear your ideas.