Friday, November 30

Thanksgiving 2012

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Again this year, we spent Thanksgiving Day at my in-law's new home.  Last year at this time, they were just getting settled into their new home after the loss of their home of over 30 years to fire.  Also, last year at this time, we announced the news of my pregnancy to our kids and family! 
It was a relaxing evening, with lots of laughs and love to go around. 
I am always so thankful when we're all together for one Thanksgiving dinner, and this year was one of those times!  My Dad and Stepmom were there as well, it's so wonderful to have loved ones all under one roof.  We were also extremely thankful to be healthy again just in time to attend. 
We have wonderful family living close to us. 
What a huge blessing they are to us. 
5 month old cutie and her mama
Jeremy's Mom, Anita, on the left, and Marla Kay on the right, being turkeys in the kitchen. 
Several times that night, the boys were plopped on the couch reading.  I love how these boys devour books. 
My Dad, Lou, volunteering for dish duty after dinner.
Levi having some fun with the Grandmas!
Grandpa David and the youngest grandchild...

I wrote a blog post on Thanksgiving Day that shares more of my heart on the subject. 

We have had the most amazing sunrises lately, this is the view from the back of our house out the kitchen window.  I am thankful each day to wake up to it.  This one was over Thanksgiving weekend... God is so creative and good to us!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, however it was spent. 


November moments

I caved and upgraded our photo storage - blog posts are so much happier with photos! 

As mentioned before, we were plagued with sickness in the month of November...  we had children falling asleep all over the place at random times of the day; something that never happens!  I just love this photo of Levi sacked out on the couch during playtime in the morning after breakfast. 

We had our first snowfall somewhere in there, but then it disappeared and we have yet to see snow fall again!  But the forecast calls for some more of the fluffy white stuff in about a week.  The kids will be thrilled. 

Little brother having his first snow angel lesson.  

Here is Morgan, once again, being the super big sister that she is.  She adores Emmy (as they all do) and loves to help out with her whenever she gets the chance. 

Thursday, November 29

Advent Season

Advent season is close at hand, and I thought we'd venture out this year and read and do something new.

For the last couple of years, we have read through my friend Mukkove Johnson's book "Christmas is About Jesus."  It is fantastic.  If you don't own it - go snag yourself a copy, and while you're at it, buy her brand new book, "Easter is About Jesus" too.  You can buy both here.  There are also coloring pages and ornaments you can download and print. 

This year, we're going to read through Ann Voskamp's "A Jesus Advent Celebration".  It is downloadable (74 pages) and comes with printable ornaments you can color and hang on the tree.  Read her blog post about it here!  She is so much more eloquent than I. 

 We are decorating our home for Christmas tomorrow!  I can't wait. 

Wednesday, November 28

no space and reasons why

Major bummer.  Google is no longer letting me upload any more photos to this blog because I've run out of storage space.  A year or two ago, I paid for more storage... but that has now run out.  I am 356% over quota it says.  I'm amazed to have gotten this far! 

So, sadly I'll have to pay for more storage.  But I think it's spendy:  $2.49 a month!  But I guess when I put it in perspective, it removes the sting.  I occasionally get a latte when I'm out on the town, and those cost around $3.00 each.  I suppose for something I really love like blogging, it's worth it.  Please tell me it's worth it!  I really do need to resize my photos before posting them, that would help me save on storage space tremendously... but I don't have a good photo editing program on my computer.  I own Photoshop, but can't figure it out for the life of me.  Any suggestions?  I've tried some online ones, but I'd love to know what you other bloggers use. 

In other news,  we're out of the fog of sickness that kept us quarantined at home for a couple of weeks.  Wow, when you've got a big family, the sicknesses sure make the rounds.  But don't let that deter you from having a big family - the benefits greatly outweigh the hard parts. 

I've needed those reminders lately, so I thought I'd make a list here to encourage myself.

  1. I get loads of hugs, smiles, and I love yous each day. 
  2. I'm a part of what God has all planned out for me, and that rocks.
  3. You get reeeally good at multi-tasking.  Say, talking on the phone, while changing a poopy diaper, while saying no-no to a toddler, while reading the directions on a school worksheet to your 2nd grader.  Yup, I'm a really good multi-tasker.
  4. You get to pick out Christmas gifts for seven kids.  LOVE that. 
  5. You get to have a sweet and lovable baby in the house for a lot of years.  We're going on twelve years now.
  6. The older kids can buckle the younger crowd into their carseats for you. 
  7. I've read so many picture books to young kids that I'm sure I have several memorized by now.
  8. I love re-living the preschool and kindergarten years of homeschooling.
  9. Baking cookies is always a thrill, and they all come running when they smell freshly baked goods. 
  10. The house is perpetually baby proofed.  I don't think we've ever unproofed it!  Bring your babies over - they'll be safe here. 
  11. There are always great hand-me-downs to go around. 
  12.  Our kids are learning to share their things, rooms, parents, and love with each other.  Which will prove beneficial in their future lives.

There are many, many more benefits to having children and having a lot of them, these are just the few I could think of off the top of my head in one sitting. 

I'm off to bake some goodies for tonight, and enjoy a bit more peace and quiet during our break time today...  three littles napping upstairs, three bigger ones playing downstairs, and one mama relishing the quiet on the couch. 

Thursday, November 22

Happiest of Thanks-givings to You

We are heading out in a couple of hours to go join our families for the Thanksgiving feast.  This Thanksgiving season has snuck up on me like it never has before.  I still cannot believe that today is Thanksgiving Day! 

My life screams by at warp speed.  Maybe yours does too.  I have been quiet on this blog lately.  I come here each and every day and sigh, knowing that this season of my life is not exactly conducive to creating blog posts.  Though I love to do so, and it is a fun hobby for me that is two-fold.  I love to encourage women in their lives, and make our amazing God famous.  I really miss being able to do this. 

But God has shown me over the last several months, that I can make him famous right here in my home and in my heart.  I don't have to shout it from the rooftops right now.  I need to speak into little lives and young souls the glories of our God and King.  Sitting with a sick kiddo that has been on the couch with a fever and nasty cough for the fourth day, is sitting at his feet.  Teaching the kids at home is my way of polishing and sharpening seven arrows to be shot out into the world after their time living at home is through. 

I have been weary and spent. 

But I have been reminded time and again that God will take my burdens, carry me, and give me the strength to carry out his plan for me. 

I am thankful.  God has done immeasurably more for my family and I than I could ever ask or imagine. 

When I am weary,  I am reminded that I have a Father, and his heart for me is love. 

When I am spent,  I am reminded that if I spend myself for others, I am spending myself for him. 

I have much to be thankful for.  You have much to be thankful for.  Let your life and not just this day of official Thanks-givng be a chorus of praise and thanks to God. 

Tuesday, November 6

Boys in the Kitchen - Top 5 Ways to Get Them Involved While They're Still at Home

 Drew, now 12,  whipping up some cheesy goodness as an 8 year old.
I have the blessing of being married to a very helpful husband who is an excellent cook in the kitchen, does the bulk of our grocery shopping, and does dishes too. 
I don't ever want to take him for granted. 
He is the product of being raised by an extremely helpful
role model in the person of his father. 
Time and time again, I hear of men who are hands off around the house, namely in the kitchen.  And I can't help but wonder what kind of role model they had in their father?   I see the amazing difference a helpful mate makes in my life, and I want the same for my boys' future wives.   
As parents of three boys (along with four girls), we see the importance of raising our boys to be helpers that are confident in the kitchen.  So when they leave this nest, they will be self-sufficient men who will be able to sustain themselves on more than the nutritionally deficient ramen noodles and boxed meals that I ate in my nest-flying days.  Also, that they will be able to bless their future families the way their own father has ours. 
So if you'd like to get your boys involved in all things kitchen related, this is your day!
 Our Top 5 Ways to Get the Boys in the Kitchen:
1.  Let your son take some creative license when it comes to making his own snacks, then move on to meals.  My oldest son invented a snack he loves that is a piece of buttered toast, spread with peanut butter, then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. After he becomes comfortable making himself a snack, let him graduate after spending time as an "apprentice" alongside you making meals and following recipes. Let him move on to making a simple lunch for the family, after he runs his idea by you.  I've found that the boys love to choose the menu and prepare something simple.  Favorite simple things our boys have learned to make for us without any help include, scrambled or fried eggs, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, noodles, sandwiches, and fried Spam. (Yuck - but they have a Dad that LOVES Spam!)
 2.  Show your boys where the groceries go in the pantry and refrigerator and have them help you put them away.  Our boys help bring groceries in from the car and are responsible for stocking the pantry on Costco shopping days.  What better way to get them comfortable in the kitchen if they are responsible for putting things away in it and can tell you where everything is found? 
3.  Teach your boys how to unload the dishwasher when you feel they're ready to do so (around age 6-8), then as they age and are good at that job, teach them to load it too.   The boys (ages 10 and 12) are great dish helpers.  We taught them to unload the dishwasher as a team a couple years ago and they happily chit chat the time away as they empty their designated dishes and put them away.  Each day, they are responsible for unloading the dishwasher together as a morning chore, and they do the complete dinner clean-up as well.  That includes clearing the table, sweeping, wiping down the counter and table, doing the dinner dishes, and scrubbing the hand washables and setting them to dry.  Let them chose some music to listen to, it's a big job!  This has hands-down been the biggest help around the house for me, since much of my time is taken nursing the baby and wrangling the little ones.  It has taken quite a load off, especially since we welcomed Gabi, Levi, and Emmalie these past two years. 
4.  Let them see their Dad at his culinary best!  Even if your man only steps foot near the food to do the grilling, let them help and learn how.  Jeremy is very comfortable in the kitchen and that has come with practice.  He has tried his hand at and has gotten really good at grinding his own wheat and making bread, cooking, grilling, canning, and experimenting with his own recipes.  Talk to your husband about what you want your sons to learn as they grow up in your home, then let Dad be the example you'd like for them to model after.
5.  Teach them to have servant's hearts.  One thing I think makes a huge difference in a healthy family life, is teaching all members of the family to have servant's hearts toward each other.  If you're walking into your home with an attitude to be served, rather than to serve others - you're walking to a trap of disappointment you've set for yourself.   Our kids are learning that extending oneself for the sake of others as Christ did for us, is more rewarding than any amount of service that was brought to them by another.  Engaging in acts of service directed toward each other is a visible way that we can serve God first and foremost with our actions. 
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples:
Luke 22:26-27
"But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves."
Monday, November 5

me and my dwarves

When I got home from a quick trip to the store yesterday, I told Jeremy that the young cashier told me I looked like Snow White. 

I said thanks and told her that I'd never heard that one before! 

She looked crazy surprised at that.  And I was crazy surprised at her reaction, and knew I needed to get to a mirror.

Jeremy was quick on his feet, despite a monster flu bug that has him down at the moment, and exclaimed, "Did you tell her you have 7 dwarves??" 

Oh man, why didn't I think of that!!?? 

I looked in the mirror to see what that young girl saw, and surprised myself - I wore my shoulder-length hair straight yesterday, but it curled under at the bottom and was pulled back in a headband.  And I was wearing a red puffy vest and scarf.  Yup, Arctic Snow White!

Then the kids and I started teasing about who would be which dwarf.  Hilarious. 

Since there weren't better options, here's how we assigned them:

Drew = Doc  (yup, Mr. Bookworm)
Gavin = Happy  (pretty much)
Morgan = Sleepy  (she was asleep on the couch with the flu)
Annika = Sneezy  (well, no - but there wasn't a dwarf named "Singy")
Gabi = Bashful  (in new places, yes)
Levi = Grumpy  (um, Levi definitely has his moments!)
Emmalie = Dopey  (drool and a smile?)

The dwarves and I are about to start our school day, praying that the flu flees and the rest of us (me included) will stay healthy. 

Saturday, November 3

Life Interrupted

"Seen October Baby?" came the voice at the next Redbox kiosk, where a sharply dressed elderly man was standing.

"No, I haven't.  Thanks!  That is one I really want to see," I answered surprisedly.  While thinking how wonderful it was that a perfect stranger, who hadn't even taken his eyes off of the touch-screen while speaking to me, was giving me good movie suggestions.

"Oh, it's a good one.  A really good one." he said. 

"Seen What's Eating Gilbert Grape?  That was a weird one." as he laughs to himself, still staring at the screen.

"No, I've never seen that one," I commented, "but Johnny Depp tends to be in some strange movies."  I was trying to figure this old man out. 

"Oh, and The Three Stooges." he added,  "That one was good too."

"You're really up on your movies!" I exclaimed.

"Well, when you're old and single there isn't much else to do.  I used to get two movies a night, but now I only get one and get more sleep instead."  he laughed.

"That's a good idea - sleep is a good thing," says the sleep deprived me, sad for this lonely guy.

After hearing several more movie suggestions, and chit chatting in between, I chose my movie and headed out. 

"Well, take care and enjoy your movie!" I offered.

"God Bless you, goodbye!"  he said as he waved to me. 

This guy cheered me up, how cute was he?  I prayed this man had some companionship with friends and family.  I prayed he knew Jesus. 

Just an hour earlier, I pulled up to the grocery store for the second time.  I was eager to get out of the house just me and Emmalie for some break time.  But I zoomed out of the house, forgetting to make sure that my wallet made it's way back into the diaper bag.  I got to the store, which was my first stop in town, realizing that my wallet was nowhere to be found.  Defeated, after a long sleepless week, I called home to see if Jeremy would look for my wallet in the only other place it could be - in the bag I used the other night when I ran a meeting at church.  He confirmed it was there, and through my tired and frustrated tears, I said I'd be right back home to get it. 

So after driving into town twice unexpectantly, totalling in just over 45 minutes of driving with a baby who was fed and ready for a shopping trip - I was back with my wallet in hand.  On my way back into town, I was wondering what God may have protected me from on the roads, perhaps, by this "interruption", or who I may run into on my outing, that I would have otherwise missed had I been on my way after only one trip to town. 

I prayed, with a changed attitude, knowing that God has my best in mind.  And I thanked him, relieved to be back in town, and done with driving. 

I couldn't help but smile to myself, after my interaction with Redbox guy.  And to think!  I would have missed this. 

While I was smiling to myself and pondering all of the other ways that God allows "interruptions" in my life for my good or the good of someone else, I arrived back at my car, sat Emmy's carseat in the backseat, and I heard behind me, "Oh, hi!" 

I spun around and saw a woman who I don't see often, but love keeping up with even though she is new in my life and about 10 years younger than I.  I'd been thinking about her a lot.  Since I removed myself from facebook, I no longer knew what was new with her family.  We talked outside, as the wind whipped and chilled to the bone.  I found out that after her miscarriage last spring, she was now 16 weeks pregnant with their 4th child. 

Another gift from God to me that day. 

Oh, how I wish I was so quick to accept an interference in my plans as good for me in the long run.  This day, it was good for me in the short run, and it pulled me back to the reality that God works all things out for my good, because I love him and am called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

And by the way, we watched October Baby.

There wasn't a dry eye throughout.  What a powerful way to proclaim the beauty of life and the far-reaching effects of abortion.   And not to mention adoption.  The now wanted find a home, a family.

The movie is based on the real-life true story of Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor.  Google her. 

Our little Levi cried out from his bed at the exact moment the main character, Hanna, was finding out some crucial information about the abortion she survived.  My heart leapt.  Through tears, Jeremy went and got him out of his bed to be out in the living room with us and hold him.   Our two little miracle two year olds.  The now wanted found a home, a family. 

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