I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We are home sweet home...

We purchased a tent trailer about a month ago. Camping is the way we will be vacationing for the most part now. It is very roomy with one bed at each end as well as two dining areas that make into beds. Beds, a kitchen area and so far we have been able to have sites very close or right across from bathrooms with showers. That is a must for this camping maven. Fishing was part of this trip and the kids had great fun looking through the fishing box before Dad took Bub and Els. Lij, Em and Lil came shopping with me. We scored at a craft store that is going out of business.

The campground that we visited was within walking distance of the beach. Here Bub is helping little brother jump the waves. How cute is that?

I love this one. The kids and their Dad.

It goes by so fast...

My girls dancing in the water.

Now getting ready to run.

It was a fantastic trip with lots of fun and lots of serenity. This picture is symbolic to me. My kids under a sky only a perfect Creator could paint. Always under His care.

Isn't His creation simply magnificent?


We have been away for a few days and are now back in action. I will post later today about our happenings. In the meantime you can enjoy the new picture at the top and imagine the great time we had.

Green beans and prunes call.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Contest winner

Congratulations Tiffany!!! You are going to be the recipient of the digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and The Schoolhouse Planner. We put all of the names in a cereal bowl and prayed that God would have us pick out who He wanted to have it. Our six year old picked your name!

Tiffany, please leave me a comment with your email address. I won't publish the comment but will forward your email to TOS so they can send you the links to download your prizes.

Thanks for all of the comments that I received. Check back for more posts in the next few days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's contagious.

Love that is.

I have been trying to come up with some ways to show my kids how much I love them. Somehow the laundy being done, cooking for them and making sure their clothing fits doesn't quite hit the mark. Kids want to know that you love them, individually love them. The other day I was in the laundry room and I noticed that someone had left a notebook and pencil on the counter. They had scribbled a note on it, a menu item I think, from when they were playing restaurant. I wasn't for sure about who the owner of said notebook was but decided to proceed anyway.
I wrote this note, short and to the point:
"I love my kids.
Love, Mom"
Not to anyone individually I realize but it has to start somewhere. Els came to me later holding up the notebook and asked if I had written the note. I said yep and kept about what I had been doing noting her smile. The above note very shortly appeared in the kitchen and it said:
"I Love my mom. I Love my Dad. I Love my hole family. Love, Ellie"
Love is contagious.

Move over bacon!

School is coming. It is ineveitable. It happens every year. New supplies, backpacks, clothing, shoes and socks. It's a time of new beginnings and it can be even more of a starting over experience for some kids. I remember in the 5th grade being the new kid. Isn't being the new kid so hard? I walked into the classroom and the teacher told me that I could pick any empty desk and get settled. I decided to do just that so that I would have something to do to be distracted from my nervousness.

As I unpacked, a girl from my new class walked over to me and said "My friend was going to sit there. It's right by my desk and we want to sit together." I responded to her by saying "Well then, I guess she should have got here sooner". I was taken back by my own response. I am usually pretty accomodating and not quite so snippy. But in my defense it was my first day and I was completely unsettled. I did not want to be pushed around. I must have earned her respect because we became fast friends. That "girl" has been my friend ever since and we still talk from time to time today. More than 20 years we have been friends so I guess it all worked out alright.

It's another weekend of blogblast over at
Parent Bloggers. They are giving away $50 giftcards to Hanes randomly for blogging about a first day of school memory. I don't complain about free socks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can you feel it? (contest at the end)

It's in the air. School is just around the corner. School supplies have been purchased, curriculum should soon be on it's way and summer will soon be giving way to cool breezes and the colorful leaves of fall. I am still getting organized and this year is a big transition for all of us. We will have all five of our children learning at home for this first time instead of two and this has been a bit overwhelming for me. Several months ago, I saw a product at The Old Schoolhouse Store that intrigued me. It's The Schoolhouse Planner. It promises to be an invaluable resource for moms trudging through two of the most important jobs of being a homeschooling mom: homemaker and teacher. Balancing these two jobs can be a challenge and organization is the key to it's success. I salivated over the product and at $39 I wasn't exactly sure about how much I would be getting for my money. Well I finally got my hands on it and it is worth every penny. I received it not a moment too soon either with school beckoning us just around the bend.

I was blown away by what this planner has inside. I knew it would be quality but there was so much more than what I expected. Calendars, recipes, nature journal pages, conversion charts, yearly goal sheets, etc. I could go and on and on. There are 247 pages of pure bliss for my organizing mind. The best part of it all? I don't have to print it all out or tote around a twenty pound notebook. I am able to print out whatever will work for my family and as many of a particular sheet as I want. It was available immediately after I went through the check out. No waiting for the postman or high shipping costs. Just right there waiting for me when I am ready to get started. This is a very valuable resource and I am thoroughly impressed.
While you are indulging me I would like to tell you about another great resource at TOS. It's their E-magazine, The Old Schoolhouse. People for years have enjoyed the beautiful magazine that comes to their mailbox. I know I have. I am a hands on person and I admit that I was a bit skeptical about it. There is nothing like turning the pages and having it right in front of me. I decided to give a try anyway and you know what? It's pretty neat. I have always loved the colorful covers and fabulous photography and didn't want to miss out on that. However, it is not lost having it on my computer. It is still beautiful. Another benefit I hadn't thought about before hand is that now I don't have to store it. I don't know about you but if you have ever read this magazine, it's one you hang onto for awhile. I have read and re-read articles and the advertisements inside are for quality, education, family-building products. I pick up the old ones from time to time and like to refer back to the old issues. No more will I have stacks and stacks of magazines taking up space on my nighstand or desk or basket in the living room or kitchen counter. You get the idea. Plus, at $16.95 for a year, it's a economical too.
I am a mom who is new to home educating. It's been overwhelming and confusing and exciting all at the same time. My kids are worth the investment however. So, if you are looking for something to get you organized not only as a teacher but as a home manager then I highly recommend both of these products. Head over to The Old Schoolhouse Store and take a look.
Now for the contest! All of you blog readers out there, come out and leave me a comment about what you would use the planner for. I will be drawing a name at random to win the planner and a e-subscription to the magazine as the prize. How cool is that? Thanks TOS! (contest ends Friday 8/22 at midnight)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Look who is 6!

I can't believe it, but it's true. Our youngest little girl has turned 6. At our house each kiddo gets to pick what we have for dinner that night. Em picked waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, eggs and bacon. Does she look hungry?

Somehow she and her 38 pound body managed to squeeze most of it in. She was one happy camper and is demonstrating here how she did it. Happy 6th sweetie pie. We are proud of you. Now go wash up, nobody likes egg on their face. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sidebar feature

I have added a new feature on my sidebar. It's things you might overhear at our house. I will try to update it often as we tend to have some gems overheard around here.

She works hard for the money...

Do you garage sale? I do. Why pay full price when you can get what you need for so much less? Especially kids items. Clothing, shoes, toys. They use them for such a short period of time anyway. Bargains are a hot topic these days with the turn in the economy. Right now at Parent Bloggers they are giving away gift cards to some who are posting about their best bargains ever. They are linked up with Couponers.com for this giveaway.

So the giveaway made me think about my best bargains ever. Garage sale or otherwise. I love Gap Kids. Their clothing ranks up there for me. I never pay full price for an item and don't shop there often. When I was a new mommy and had our first baby at home I went shopping for a winter coat for her. I walked straight to the back of the store to the clearance rack. Right in front of me was this beautiful coat of many colors. I mean seriously gorgeous. I wish I had a picture. The retail price on this jacket was $68. I would never and I mean never....ever....ever....pay that for a jacket. Even for myself. The markdown? $6.99. I grabbed and ran, no looking back. The gal at the counter was astounded that they had marked it down to that and told me what a good deal I was getting. I thought to myself "Um yeah, I know, can I go before you change your mind?" The best part though? I sold it years later when our youngest girl was too big for it for $20 on Ebay. Two of my girls wore it and I made money on it. Crazy I tell you.

My latest steal of a deal was at a garage sale. A genuine Louis Vuitton purse for $5. Now, I am not a huge brand hound. If I can find a great deal on it then very cool but I am not searching for brands. Just quality for a good price. But Louis Vuitton for half the price that I can get a purse at Wally World? Now we are talking. It does have one issue with a clasp on a pocket but I am willing to overlook that. I checked Ebay to see what this partuicular purse is listed for there. I about had a heart attack. Several hundred dollars...starting. Wowza!

So go on over and check out the links. It ends today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

They came! They came! They came!

Now that I am a swimming hound, I decided it was time to get the proper equipment. The Olympics are only another four years away, you know? In all seriousness, I am excited about the new stuff. A new cap to save my hair from the chlorine, anti-fog goggles so I can stay in my lane and best of all? A waterproof MP3 player complete with armband so I can up my pace. It's amazing how having upbeat music speeds up your workout. I have to have some way to keep up with Michael Phelps. My word, that guy is fast. Five gold medals so far. There is more to my life however...

Bub. Em and I pulled the carrots out of the garden today and canned them. They will be great in all of our winter soups this year. They are the easiest things to can in my opinion. I may even have time to do a second planting and can more before winter comes. Hubby was so impressed with all I got accomplished today that when he came home that he took over dinner, BBQ'd and cut up a nice watermelon. I threw together a salad and voila dinner was done. Summer is so nice.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fishing and schooling

Bub and Dad got to go fishing early Saturday morning. He enjoyed the catch of the day, an almost 8 inch Large Mouth Bass. They can't wait to go again and already have another trip in the works.

I am working on the school room today. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a planner. This is my work from yesterday. We are adding two more schoolers to our school this year as well as adding a cool chalkboard so I need to revamp the room. I drew in all the fixed items to scale and then cut out the pieces from another sheet that I need to be able to move around. I do not want to have to move the actual furniture around several times since I am trying to do this while my hubby is at work. Speaking of my hubby, he went to an auction Friday night and scored some great fixtures for lighting to add to the garage. Very cool. Way to go hon! I better get out there. I am procrastinating a bit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The big warehouse store

In an effort to remain consistent with my economy theme here I go again. This morning after my lovely swim, quiet time and breakfast with the kids, I decided that we should trek out to that giant store with all the bulk products. You know the one that starts with a C and ends with an O. The place where you can buy 15,000 paper plates, condiments by the gallon and a cat scratching post all in one place.

We have our $400 per month food budget that we try to stick to but about every three months or so a trip to this monstrosity of a place becomes necessary. There are some items that I just can't get for less anywhere else. Laundry detergent, mayonnaise, torillas, cheese and eggs for example. Now, we do stop here more often that every few months but it's more for the container of mayonnaise and tortillas we ran out of and that comes out of the monthly budget. This trip is the stocking up kind. I did pretty well only spending about $141. This is pretty good considering what they have available. Really I could do very little snack making if I got carried away there. But alas that may save me some time but not money and well, healthy a lot of the snacks are not. So moving on.

I went in and I knew what we needed. Five kids in tow we ventured in and we had a plan. Now I should have realized from the beginning that the writing was on the wall for this trip. That is, when I tried to show the nice man at the door my Safe*ay card. Nice start. Finally found it and in we went.

Aisle by aisle we went. The kids knew the rules. No picking things up. Stay with me. You follow me, I don't follow you. If you see something you would like to stop for I will slow down for you to take a look. But when I leave, you leave. Simple enough and it worked pretty well.

We were quite efficient and finished our gathering of supplies for feeding our little army and we headed to check out. At this point I am thinking "Wow, that went well." You'd think I was new at this. I know as well as anyone else that a well oiled machine is not immune to trouble.

As soon I as think we are doing well and that the end is in sight, Lij now has to go potty. So off he and Bubba went. Well of course hearing that someone else has to go potty has the same effect as sitting in front of a waterfall for the girls. So off those three went. There I was left keeping an eye Mt. St. Feed our faces, aka the cart. I wasn't about to abandon my well stocked cart. Fifteen minutes later all were safely heading to the food area to have an inexpensive lunch before we head home.

Lij suddenly must have been bitten by a bug on an upper because now he was all over the place. He wanted to sit in his chair, no now stand with me, no now back to his chair. At one point while in line I turned around to find him licking the water off the soda counter from spilled ice. Nice. That's mothering at it's finest. Or so I thought. I now have drink cups in hand walking towards the soda fountain when I hear behind me "I want to go with you!" As I turn to look, he climbs on top of the table and walks across it to get to me. I am now becoming discouraged at what was once a successful shopping trip that seemed to be quickly deteriorating. Fortunately, the lady he climbed across by was amused by our family and was chuckling.

I finally get everyone seated keeping my cool. Really Lij was my only challenge as everyone else behaved beautifully and were sitting waiting for me. We ate our lunch and I was able to breath again. I decided that we should head home and get this 3 year old hoodlum for a day, down for a nap.

Just get the keys and walk, right? Keys? What keys? Where are the keys? Are you kidding me? Where are my keys? I don't remember doing anything with them when we arrived. Just then Bub reminds me that I had handed them to him when we got out the van, for a reason that escapes me, and he clipped them on the cart for me. "Why didn't you tell me that you clipped them there?" I ask. To which he responds that he had told me he put them there and I had said ok. Really? I had said ok? I don't remember that. Does that mean that I was distracted and tuned him out? Oh, that never happens with me. I am the ever present, always listening momma who never misses a word her angelic children utter. Ok, sorry to burst everyone's bubble...warning...honest confession coming....I sometimes answer my kids when I don't know what they have said. I know. I know. I should be ashamed. And I am. Really I am. But I am also not too hard on myself. It's easy to get distracted with five kiddos and thousands of items within their reach.

Back to the story. So the clipping of the keys to the cart would have been fine except that when you unload your items to be scanned they place your items in another cart for you to take out. This meant that now, some other customer behind me had my cart and we had left the checkout over 20 minutes ago. My old cart could be anywhere. Customer Service didn't have my keys, the cashier missed them and they said that all I would have to do is go check all of the cart returns in the parking lot. Oh, we're saved, all we have to do is check ALL of the cart returns in the parking lot and hope that no one had picked up this cart and was now shopping inside.

I was now in serious crisis mode. As I was leaving the store to go outside, I stopped to ask a superviser if anyone had turned the keys in to her. I was not looking forward to taking my cold groceries and five children into the 90+ muggy heat to go aisle by aisle. It was my fault that we had lost them but I was procrastinating a bit. She said that she had not seen them but again told me I could check the returns outside. But what happened next made this woman and her sidekick my new heroes. As I walked away from her out into the abyss that is the parking lot, I heard her behind me instruct the man talking to her to go with me until I had found my keys. This young man ran from cart return to cart return, in the heat, while we looked at straggling carts between cars, until he found my keys at the entrance of the store.

I was ever so grateful and so were my kids to get out of the heat and head home. It felt like we had been on safari and I wanted to kiss the ground in my driveway when we returned home. I fought the urge and instead played on my laptop and took a nap. Whatever works.

I will be writing a thank you letter to that supervisor and her cohort. That was customer service at it's best.


I finally started swimming. My friend next door has invited me several times and I finally took her up on it. Sounds like a benign, good thing to do, right? The kicker? It's at 5:30 each morning in order to be back in time for our husbands to go to work. Holy moly! That's early. Really early for this nightowl. So early, in fact, that even the sun, the roosters and the rif raf are not up yet. Seriously early. Dark early. Pretty sure that some people are just going to bed, early. Having someone to go with however means that I have accountability. Knowing that someone is going to be outside waiting for me to come along, means that I now have the motivation that I need to get going.

I have joined her two times so far and I think I actually might be hooked. As hard as it is to roll my lazy body out of bed that early, the payoff is fantastic. I feel great when I get back and my day starts much earlier and quieter. It's easy on my body, which is high mileage due to giving birth to four babies and having one miscarriage in five years time. Not to mention the fact that I really don't enjoy being hot at all. For me, hot is warmer than 75 degrees. I think about exercise and I get hot so I have to stop thinking about it. Being in the water is genius really.

Swimming is a great option for me. Thanks Brooke!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

30 days of nothing

Another financial post if you will indulge me. There is a challenge out there to do 30 days of nothing. Meaning spending nothing on things not needed. The challenge can look however you would like it to. Steve and I have decided to do this and I will post more details as I get them organized. The idea is not mine but we really liked it. It can mean no new clothing, eating out, buying coffee, no garage sales or auctions, whatever you choose. I think we will do it in September as August is our stocking up month on school supplies.

It will take some effort on my part as I will need to do some more freezer meals for busy football days coming up so we are not tempted to eat out. I do this some already, but not nearly enough. The result of this will be a stellar example for our kids. They watch our every move and if we become dependent on convenience then they will follow suit. My goal is to leave a legacy, one that sparks the next generation. Everything we do matters, including the way we spend and eat.

Can we do it? I'm not sure but I am betting that we will save some money regardless of whether we do it perfectly. I am sure we will set up a plan for those items that are a good deal and do matter to our household if they are a great deal. But it will be a 2 yesses plan. Meaning we both have to say yes to the item and it's necessity. I believe that accountability will be an essential key to this challenge.

Are you game to try? Leave me a comment if you are and I will see if I can get some details up.