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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Memories for a lifetime.

Steve called on his way home and asked what I thought about making caramel apples with the kids last night. I said sure, why not? We have apples left on the tree, so he picked up a couple bags of caramels and we had all the supplies.

It's amazing how a few apples, a bag of caramels and some sticks can excite my kids.

They all hovered around watching their dad stir the melting caramel.

The apples looked so festive all dressed up, don't you think?

The kids loved it and even better yet, four of their cousins came over to visit awhile and we made some extra for them. It was timely too as we had studied seeds in our Art/Bible curriculum this week. We listened to a Johnny Appleseed book and I read to them the story of the Mustard Seed while they worked on their art this week. One more great memory tied in with learning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What would He have me do?

That is the question I have been asking the Lord in the mornings now. With all that my life has in the way of things to do, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I have been feeling overwhelmed the last week and with so many tasks in front of me it's no surprise.

There is a sea of things to accomplish, most of which are quite important. Laundry, food, schooling, ironing, cleaning, quiet time in the word, managing clothing, people and events. It never ends. Which brings me to the title of this post. When I ask Him what he would have me do and I do that, I can then rest in what I get done. It seems that quite often I am disappointing someone. I forgot to wash this, iron that, look at that picture, help find that book, put that in the mail. But honestly, when I start my day asking the Lord what he would have me do, the disappointments seem to be less. My day falls into place and my focus is altered. My will is submitted to His will and I am no longer failing. I am obeying and being guided. I am imperfect and will still disappoint but it happens less when I stop and make the conscious choice to bend my will.

That yoke is light my friends.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All things fishy.

Updated to add pictures.
We were blessed to given 10 large trout last night. The experience was not without screams and excitement and grossed outness as they had to be cleaned and prepared for the freezer. Lil helped do one and decided that she had seen enough of fish for awhile. By the time Steve and Bub had finished the other nine, they decided that putting them in the freezer was a good idea as they had lost their appetite for fish for now.

They will be nice in a month or two when their appetites return.

In other news Bub's knee is getting better. He has an inflamed tendon under the knee cap and sat out of football this last week for practice and the game. He practiced last night and it still needs to be rested. He practiced plays but stayed out of the running. They have a tie breaker game for 4th place in his division Wednesday night and so he wants to be ready for that. We will spend time today icing it today to keep the inflammation down. The doctor said that what he is dealing with won't do more damage by being used. It will just cause more pain so it's been a hard week for him as he has had to keep off of it. No riding bike, no running, no jumping, no wrestling, no moving in general. That has been more painful than his knee I am pretty sure.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pet or no pet?

Do you have a pet? We have a puggle. She is half pug and half beagle which makes for a hefty short little thing with a nose that drives her. The kids treat her like a baby or a doll at times, which is why in the picture above Chloe is wearing a hat. She doesn't seem to mind most of the time, spoiled dog that she is.

Growing up we had a Brittany Spaniel that was the sweetest dog I have ever known. We lived out in the country and she could run and run and run. The key to doggy happiness when you have a hunting dog. She was hit by a truck while I was waiting for the schoolbus with my sisters one day and that event proved to be quite traumatic. We got another Brittany shortly after that and she was hit on our road as well so I believe my parents decided enough with that.

As an adult those memories we are a tad painful and I had decided that I did not want any pets. My hubby on the other hand likes dogs and then when adding in the kid factor, eventually this momma was won over. Our first pet was a Springer Spaniel being that I wanted to relive my childhood a bit. However, hunting dogs are not so good in town on a 1/3 acre lot. We were able to find a great place for him with another Springer where they love his breed and he has lots of room to run.

That leaves us with Chloe. She is really cute in an ugly sort of way. The kids adore her and everytime she is let in, she runs to Steve's chair to see if he is there. Of course, when convincing me that we should get a pet the kids told me all kinds of tales of how they would take care of her, spend time with her and walk her. Their excitement for all things puppy care waned as time has gone by, but they do pretty well for the most part. We take turns taking her out and the youngest two love that they get to feed her. Els is the one that walks her the most out front and the twins love playing tug of war with her and her rope. One benefit to a large-ish family. Many hands, light work.

Looking back I'm not sure that I would do it again but our family really does enjoy Chloe. Pets just require lots of attention, regular feeding and going on vacation requires a little more effort. But it can be done. If your kids, however, are in the market for a pet and you are not on board, Burger King has these cute little iDogs in their happy meals. I am not one to buy Happy Meals but we had a special day last week and so while the older two with with their Dad, the youngest three went out for Happy Meals with me. Those little iDogs have been a hit. They light up and come with a costume sticker sheet so the kids have spent their time dressing up their little turtles to look like bees. No dog food, walking or shots needed. My kind of pet!

“This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

I cried.

We finished reading the biography of George Muller yesterday. The kids have the loved the book and were disappointed when we would stop at just 1 or 2 chapters. It was a captivating book for us for many reasons but the kids were moved by at the way God changed his heart when he was young and then at how his faith grew. Bub was telling me the other day that he can't believe that people could question that there is a creator when you hear of how George would pray and how God would provide the exact need at the exact time it was needed. They marveled at how the orphanage was provided for only by praying and asking God and not asking man.

When we got to the part where George died, I had to stop and take a breath. It brought tears and even though he died over 100 years ago it still impacted me today.

This was a great read aloud and I highly recommend it.

A love affair with chocolate.

I love it. Oh man, I do. I'm not picky about it either. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet, Easter bunnies, etc. Even those sad little gold coin chocolates will do in a pinch.

What is it about this sweet or not so sweet little substance that has me hunting through the pantry like a crazed woman?

My kids understand my obsession. Well, maybe they don't so much as understand it as much as they just know if they provide for it, all will be calm. When they receive little goody bags they sift through it and most of them come to me with the pieces of chocolate they think I will like.

I knew I liked these kids for a reason.

Now where are those goody bags....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's the little things.

Now that's he is four he is allowed to get the mail. He loves getting the mail. All of us do actually. It's kind of like Christmas all the time. You just never know what might be in there. Granted we set ourselves up for the disappoinment knowing that there may be bills or advertisements, but the hope of a letter or something fun always lights the anticipation day after day. First, he runs to the mailbox. (Notice the rainboots. Any reason he can find to wear them, he does.)

When almost there he remembers that he needs to find the correct key. Just as I got to him he figured it out.

He puts the key in all by himself.

What did we get little man?

Sorry, Mom. Just political fliers. Maybe next time. Well, it was fun watching him feel grown up so not all was lost.

Calling all book lovers and homeschoolers.

Have you heard of The Homeschool Library Builder website? It is run by homeschooling moms with kids ages 8-20 and they have a fantastic site with lots of books and activities. They are having a sale right now and have $1, $2 and $5 bins (some of the books are up to 92% off). This is a great way to build up your library with quality books for your children to read. The site is organized nicely into categories which makes it easier to look by topic but you can just search by title also.

They have a large selection of books and if they don't have what you are looking for they perform book searches to try and locate it for you. I also discovered that they have a frequent buyer program where you can earn points for purchases and for referring others.

There have been some issues with processing some credit card orders on their site. They are in the process of correcting it so if your order doesn't go through they ask that you please give them a call and they will help you with your order manually.

In the market for good books? Click on this link and enjoy the sale. Happy reading!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Library Days are here again.

Oh how we love the library. All of us do. When I told the kids at 11:00 one day this week to get shoes and load up, they were thrilled to hear that we were starting library days again. (Notice Bub has a cookbook for kids. He was planning lunch on the way home.)

It is so nice to visit the library when it is quiet and we almost have the children's section to ourselves.

I was able to let them roam a little more freely while they looked for things that interested them. As you can see, the books only made it to the car before being opened. I love that. You could almost hear their brains working away on the quiet car ride home.

No trip to the library would be complete without stopping at the cool water fountain. Not the best way to boost their immune systems but hey, we threw caution to the wind and had a sip. Ok, really, just they had a sip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Interesting Irony

I found out yesterday that today, October 15, is the National Day of Remembrance for pregnancy and infant loss. The day has been our own day of rememberance for the last 9 years but it's kind of neat that the same day has been set aside to remember others as well.

Our first daughter, Olivia Margaret, lived a miraculous 10 days and went ahead of us to heaven on October 15, 1999. Both of our mothers' names are Margaret and it was fitting that she carry the name from both of them. We had picked out her name early on in our marriage just waiting for the birth of our first daughter to use it. She was born at 25 weeks for reasons I do not have. In all honesty because we did not know if she would live or die we found it hard to give her the name. I love her name. Really love it. I am a name and meaning person and I so desperately wanted to be able to call out her name. To call her for dinner or to say her name when it's time for bed. I wanted to protect myself and find a different name. One further down on our list. But the next day when the doctor came in to tell us that it had been a rough night with pneumothorax issues we both felt that we needed to name her. Not a second best name, her name. That even if she never came home, she was our daughter. Our daughter who deserved my whole heart. The best that she would have been given even with a promise to live.

"Olivia, it's time to come in now."

"Olivia, it's time for bed."

I will never say those things to her.

But I did get to say...

"Olivia, mommy loves you."

"Olivia, I'm going to read you a story."

"Goodnight, Olivia, we will see you in the morning."

I remember checking out of the hotel that cool, fall October Day. We had decided that we would check out of our hotel that day because we wanted to sleep at home. Home was thirty minutes away from the hospital and we had no idea what the future held plus expenses were adding up. Little did we know what the day ahead held for us.

My parents had decided to come back and visit and as my parents and I went to the hospital cafeteria for dinner, Steve came with an urgent look on his face. He informed us that her oxygen levels were so low they were now doing permanent damage and we had some decisions to make.

After an hour talking together just the two of us and then with our parents we decided to make the excruciating decision to let her go. To ask her to stay now felt so selfish. We went in to see her first before telling everyone what we had decided. Moments that I remember of that day are still too painful to recount.

Family was called. The hospital gave us a large room to all be together. Steve and I and our parents all sat in the room and took turns holding her for the first time, praying together and giving her back to the One who created her. She was so tiny. My brother-in-law had purchased some very tiny clothing for her and we dressed her and wrapped her in a blanket he had purchased with her name on it. I was so grateful to have those things.

After some time, we invited the rest of the family to come in. We spent some time together and then everyone left us so we could be alone with her. The nurse would come in every once in awhile to listen for a heartbeat. There was a moment where we both felt that she had left us and we knew that she was gone. It still seems so impossible. I felt like I was watching myself go through it and not really living it at the time. I had always felt so protected and what was happening did not feel real.

With each passing year I feel it a little more. The numbness and self protection is wearing off. I process it more each October. Some years are harder than others but each one that passes it becomes more and more real. The grieving process is long. 9 years seems long to me but not when I think back to that day and it all comes flooding back reminding me that it wasn't all that long ago. It seems like only yesterday that I gave my heart to a little 1 pound bundle with no guarantees. Give her my best, I had told myself, no matter what comes.

We have no guarantees for tomorrow. The only guarantee that I have is found in my salvation that Christ has given me. In that salvation lies the promise that someday I will see my daughter with no IV's, no tubes, and with her eyes open looking at me.

For that day I cannot wait. But for today I will remember her. I will remember her and all the others that have been lost.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkin carving isn't for the faint of heart.

We aren't Halloween people at our house but we do enjoy fall. With the purchase of pumpkins from our pumpkin patch excursion we decided we should make it a family project. But of course to get a fun end result, you must begin by getting rid of the muck. (Spiritual analogy anyone?)

Lij was less than thrilled with this part of the process but he perservered none the less. I loved his expressions as he tried to clean out his gourd.

Bub on the other hand didn't mind the experience too much. He kind of enjoyed it actually. It was more of this is gross and so cool kind of a moment for him.

Lil is always prepared and was the only one that thought to put an apron on. Such a smart girl. Em's pumpkin looks like it has a serious goose egg over there.

Here is the finished product. Steve found some great templates online and the kids picked their favorites. It was a really fun project and the kids enjoyed roasting the seeds and have been eating them for a snack the last few days. Family, fun and food. Sounds like a pretty good recipe for memories, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Followers and short update

I have added a new feature to my sidebar. Those of you who have a blog and follow my blog can click and add yourself as a follower. It will be fun to see who's reading.

It's been a busy weekend. Women of Faith, Ikea and football. What could be better than that? We carved our pumpkins. I will post more about that with pictures tomorrow.

Today I was able to get video of Bub scoring three touchdowns. Three! It was a great game to watch and a nailbiter at times. I sure love watching him play.

Tonight the kids watched a movie with their dad. Sorry to say that this momma is not much of a movie buff. It is really hard for me to sit still long enough for dust to collect, let alone sit for two hours to watch a movie. I did catch parts of it here and there, enough to laugh with them and talk about it after. But the living room got straightened up, mail gone through, dishwasher loaded and the dining room reclaimed. Productive eh? Not too shabby for running on fumes.

Off to get some sleep. The pool calls in the am and it is an early bird. 5am here I come!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What's on your plate?

My friend Brooke inspired me to do something that I have been seeing around more often in blog world. With all of the life that happens around here it is so easy to have food plans go to the compost pile. We do pretty well with how much we spend, though there is always room for improvement. One thing I have not been doing so well is meal planning.

In an effort to do better both in how much money we spend and the quality of our meals, I will be listing our upcoming meals on my sidebar. This will provide a bit of accountability for me and really, knowing what you are going to make is half the battle when executing follow through.

I hope to have another day of meal making soon. I will post when I do that including my shopping list, how much I spend and how many meals I got for my money. I love having a cooking day. It takes some planning ahead of time and you do spend about 4-10 hours depending on the amount of meals you are making. But let me tell you, spending 6 hours one Saturday putting up meals for the next 30 days versus countless hours added up throughout the month? What a load off to go to the freezer that morning or the night before and know what you are having. How great it is when you are having a busy week and you can take something out, leave the days with work, field trips, errands, doctors appointments and come home pop something in the oven that will be ready in an hour. In the meantime you can unwind, throw in a load of laundry, go through the mail and take care of any other pressing needs. It really is a win-win.

I plan to have my cooking day Saturday, October 25th and I will post my list and meals sometime during the week before. Anyone else in?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The fall is coming

** Scroll down a few posts to see some really cute kids at the pumpkin patch**

I love the fall. It feels safe. It's a time heavy with emotion for me but I have always loved this season the most. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, the trees are gorgeous and it feels like the fall gives everyone permission to slow down. Living in the Northwest the rain comes without fail but it's a promise to me of green yet to come. It's harvest time, the barns are filling from the work of the summer and there is comfort in the full pantrys.

I feel like I can settle in, have a hot drink, curl up in my chair and watch it rain. When it rains you can't go outside and play (except for the occasional football game with the kids in the rain) or do outside chores. We stay at home more and that is comforting to me.

The older I get, the more of a homebody I become.

I think I'm getting old or at least older...and I'm ok with that.

Creative little mind

I ran outside to take a picture of something. When I came back in, I was greeted with this scene. When asked what he was playing, he said "Spiders, I'm a tarantula." Makes sense to me. As you were.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nine years ago today...

1. I gave birth for the first time.

2. I was scared out of my mind at what the future would hold.

3. I held her tiny hand.

4. I was scared to name her.

5. I felt empty.

6. I was grateful.

7. I hurt deeply.

8. I had hope.

9. I prayed like I never had before.

Nine years ago today our first daughter was born into this world much too early at twenty five weeks. She was gorgeous and so tiny at just one pound and six grams. She had brown hair like mine.

Nine years ago today I became a mother.

Secrets Revealed

The well kept secret was finally revealed and it was worth every painful minute of keeping it. We waited until we were on the road to tell all. The reactions were varied but not without excitment. There was the "Are you serious? No really, seriously?" to the permagrins to those who needed to sit on their hands lest they hit someone with the excitement threatening to burst through their skin. It was too much fun and I can't wait to do something like it again. The secret?

Have you heard of TLC? You know the cable channel. Well if you have then have you heard of the show Little People, Big World? My kids adore this show. There is just something about it that they relate to. We are a mixed family, some of us look a like and some of us look very different. The Roloffs are little people who have four children. Three of their children are average height and one is a little person. They are a mixed family. This is highly interesting to my kids. The Roloffs live approximately ninety minutes from here and they have a pumpkin patch that is featured on the show every year.

We decided to make a trip of it on the twins' birthday and visit their pumpkin patch as a family birthday celebration. We prepared the kids and told them that we probably wouldn't see any of the family and that didn't bother them. They were so excited just to get to go there. Well, we were wrong. Not only were Matt and Amy there, but TLC was filming them also so we got to see some of the camera work. I was determined not to be one of "those" fans but Amy came over to ask the kids where they were from and other questions. I asked her if she minded if I took her picture and she said sure. I was so impressed with her. She was very friendly and interested in the kids.

The patch wasn't a let down either. It was very nice and we didn't have to trek very far. It only rained for a few minutes during our hunting for the perfect pumpkins. Orange pumpkins always make for a great fallish background for pictures and I couldn't resist preserving the memory.

Five kids and their eighty three pounds of pumpkin made for a heavy cart but they didn't mind. We offered to help but they wanted to do it themselves. It was all part of the experience. The Roloff's have done a great job making paths and having some great activities to do as well. They had a little fun house that had pumpkin themed rooms as well as an Exotic Animal Shack where the kids got to see things like skunks, big spiders and other weird creatures. All of the staff around the property were extremely friendly and helpful. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience.

These two ten year olds had a birthday they won't soon forget. We are coming up on seven years since they came. How time flies.

It was an exciting and tiring day. One we will talk about for some time. Just one more memory we have making home and family one of the best places to be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Great resource and promotion

If you are a not a homeschooler you can skip this post and return to our regularly seheduled programming...if you are a homeschooler here is a great promotion for you.

I love The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It is filled with fabulous resources and articles that encourage and build us up in what we do everyday. The advertisements are helpful also giving me excellent choices for products for my family.

I wanted to tell you all about The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Fall Special. You can get two years of the magazine, 6 fabulous physical gifts (no downloads!) worth over $120, plus the current issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that is full of ideas for the new school year, so you start receiving your magazine in a flash!

It really is one of their best deals ever and you don't want to miss out. In fact, they've got a really cute Homeschooling with Heart tote bag (valued at $13.95) for the first 1000 to subscribe. About half of them are gone, but you should still be able to get one if you hurry!
(They will remove the info from the subscription page when the bags are all gone.) The total value is over $212, but you receive it all for only $39 - 50% off of cover price! Plus subscribers get their online monthly Teacher's Toolbox which focuses on a different topic each month, giving you words of encouragement, hands-on teaching ideas, book recommendations, field trip ideas, and a bonus download item.

If you are interested in checking out the magazine out just click on the link here. It really is a beautiful magazine that I have benefited from.

I have a secret

Shhh. Don't tell. My kids can't find out.

When they do find out, they will flip.

Seriously.....they will FLIP.

I might need to bring a lunch bag for one particular girl to breathe in.

Remember it's birthday season around here. 5 kids in 7 weeks.

Tomorrow is the twins' birthday and the big finale for the birthday season.

I can hardly stand the wait.

They know something is up and they are dying to know.

We won't tell them until we are on the way.

I can't tell you now either, it's too risky. Much too risky.

My voice carries...and well, it's just too hard not to get excited when I talk about it.

I can't type it either. The kids already think I abuse my keyboard with my passion and I wouldn't want to tip them off.

I can tell you that we are going somewhere tomorrow though.

Stay tuned for pictures. I have to go read my camera manual now. I have done all that I can do on my own knowledge and I have some things I want to try.

Enjoy your day and I hope your curiosity doesn't kill the cat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

(it's just a sprain, Grandpa, whew!)