Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wintery Day!

The last two days the clouds have been so thick and so white that I really thought they looked as though they could produce snow! Oh, glorious thought!!! We get very little snow where we live, and this upsets me greatly because I really, really love the white powdery stuff!!! But, even though I know very well that snow will not fall with temps in the 40's, the clouds let me dream for a minute or two. . . It has been so wintery looking outside lately, and that has made my home seem all the more warm!!!

The pool storage house not looking so poolish. . .

This morning was pure bliss! Little boys immersed in their studies, littler boys playing, Rain resting, laundry washing, dishwasher humming, James Taylor singing Christmas carols, and warm coffee in my cup!! I felt so cozy and content that I made the boys an extra special 10:00 snack ~ brownies with snow sprinkled on top!!!

I wanted to take a second to answer a couple questions. I apologize that it has taken me this long! Kimberly asked me what we let our boys say when they are disappointed. And, I really don't know the answer to that!! I'll have to pay attention! I know that I say, "Oh, my goodness!!!" all the time or " Oh, my!!!" So, I imagine they repeat those two a good bit!! And, maybe they say, "Oh, man!" But, that is all I can think of?? And, Tyna asked about my sweet Rain!! Rain had a huge, as you could see by the size of his scar, lipoma (fatty tumor) under a muscle flap by his front left leg. The vet feared it would impede his ability to walk if we waited and continued to let it grow, so out it came!!! And, he is being well taken care of here! Lots of little boys wanting to give him lots of doggie treats!!!

JCT put Lije down for his nap today. He read to him and tucked him in, but Lije wanted his mama to sing!!!! It was so sweet to watch!!!!

Oh, and if you noticed that JCT is still wearing PJ's at naptime, it is because the boys declared today PJ day!!! So, they have worn their PJ's all day!! Harmless silliness!! :-)

I have been letting Lije nap in my bed because, well, just because. . . Anyway, aren't kids so adorably sweet when they are asleep!! Like angels!!!

Still sucking his fingers and twisting his hair in his sleep!!! Love that little guy!!!

While he slept the big boys and I finished up their schoolwork, and then they headed out to play on the back porch. After 30 or so minutes, they came in with freezing cold fingers which they, of course, place upon my neck and back like their good father taught them to do. I offered their cold hands a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows ~ the first this season! You would have thought I'd offered them the moon! Oh, the excitement!!!!


And, I have to put this last picture in because I know that I won't get to look upon such sweetness forever. . .

One day he will spell out, "I love Janie" or "Becky" or Sarah Rachel" or some other sweet young thing's name. I realize my time as Queen Mama is limited!! But, I am soaking it up while I can!!!!!!!

My house is such a mess, but my heart is so, so, so content!!!!!!! :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful Monday

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of fun and energy and peace all wrapped up into one big happy package!!! We celebrated with Erik's brother, Jason, Jen, and their sweet family ~ 10 children total (This number includes the wee one in my belly who made no noise but did kick a bit to let me know that he/she, too, wanted to be part of the fun!) As always, I regret that I didn't take pictures, but there is always so much going on that playing photographer seems to fall to the waste side!

The kids had a blast with their cousins. God has been so sweet to our families. We feel so blessed. Jen and I met and quickly united ourselves in college prior to falling in love with our precious brother husbands. So, the whole idea that we are raising cousins floors us from time to time! Our children are stairsteps ~ all very close in age. Last week before we left to visit them, James Christofer announced, "Joshua's friend is Caleb. My friend is Katey. Elijah's friend is Abby. Erik Daniel's friend is Ella. And, our new baby's friend will be Noah (my new one month old, cute, little nephew.) When JCT said this, my heart nearly burst!! Such a blessing!!

So, today, I am extra thankful for so many things!!!

* I am thankful for rich conversations while sipping coffee and listening to the coos and squeaks of a newborn.

* I am thankful for the frost that welcomed us home the morning after we returned from Florida. And, as Erik said when he looked out the window and saw the frost and the bare trees which lost their leaves in our absence, "Winter came while we were away!" I am thankful for changing seasons ~ especially since the end of fall means Christmas is coming!!!!!

* I am thankful that God is ever patient with me ~ refining me and growing me in ways that I never anticipated.

* I am thankful to feel refreshed and ready to go again at least for another 3 weeks, then it is break time again!!! Hurray!! :-)

* I am thankful for the way Christmas decor makes a home feel so warm and cozy. . .

* I am thankful for a God Who is just plain BIG. Who cannot be placed in a box or understood by anyone no matter how learned he is.

* I am thankful that Rain is back home and healthy. He had surgery while we were away for Thanksgiving. Elijah took one look at his boo boo's and melted into a puddle of tears. He prayed tonight that Rain would "get his body back." He loves that dog so much!! Here is a picture of his biggest boo boo. . .

Bless his heart!!! We are babying him around here! I think he is glad to be back home in his room and on his big, soft bed!!!

The vet said he was surprised at how quickly Rain bounced back after surgery! He may be 12.5 years old, but he still acts like a puppy!!! We are so thankful for our Rain dog!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Aunt Barbara's Painting

Erik's Aunt Barbara painted this beautiful picture for Erik's dad in memory of Erik's mom. It is so precious to all of us.

The picture is of Erik's Dad's coffee cup sitting beside his mom's tea cup, Bible, and glasses. Erik's dad is so proud of his picture as he should be. It is beautiful and so very special.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Kids that Call you Mom. . .

One day last week Joshua handed me this note with a large glass of ice he had gotten for me (I eat ice like crazy when I'm pregnant). . .

The "Go" and the arrow were meant to tell me to flip the note over. When I flipped it over, I read this. . .

Oh, my! My heart melts into a puddle every time I read it!!! I do not deserve these sweet boys!!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Day Off. . .

We took today off :-) ~ our first day off since we began school in August ~ except for weekends, of course!

I wasn't planning to take today off. It wasn't in the plan. I made lesson plans for Monday and Tuesday of this week. But, yesterday the boys hit me up for it. "The public schools are out all week! Can we be out, too, please???" So, I told them I'd consider it and let them know in the morning. Last night I sat in bed staring at my lesson plan debating how important each item on my list was. And, then, I decided that, yes, we would, in fact, take the whole week off!!!! When they asked me at breakfast this morning what I had decided, I told them my decision and watched as Joshua gave JCT a thumbs up and JCT gave one back to his big brother. Then, they ate happily, making plans for their day!

And, oh, my, am I enjoying myself!! We took it easy this morning. The boys didn't dress until nearly 10:00 which is unheard of in this early rising home of ours. I sipped my coffee and watched them play. I did four loads of laundry and am now sitting peacefully at my computer.

The boys are outside playing ~ all except Erik Daniel who is still napping. I can see my little men out the window playing and jumping on the trampoline with the woods of fall as a backdrop. And, my heart is so full. I love the simplicity of having young children. They are not coming and going, in and out, busy, busy. We are home most of the time, together. And, we love it here. Home is a good place. Home is a big yard with lots of room for little boys to run. Home is a safe place to learn and grow. Home is warm cookies ~ fresh from the oven. Home is brothers, built in playmates, to play with all day and to giggle in bed with at night. Home is a mom who loves her little men so much her heart overflows on a regular basis. Home is a strong, wise Daddy who knows how to laugh and play with the best of them. Home is a place where we are encouraged, challenged, loved, held close, and whispered loving words regularly.

It has been a peaceful, rich day. The only "school" we did today was curl up on the couch and read!!! I am so glad they talked me into taking these days off. I may have to take my sweet friend's advice and schedule one or two of these into every month!!! They are good for my soul!!

A Man and His Dog. . .

I was busy switching a load of laundry when curious James came running into the kitchen from the schoolroom.

"Mom, what is Mr. Cole doing??? He is outside with a huge pile of dirt! I think he is digging!!"

My heart sank. I knew exactly what he was doing.

Bruno, Mr. Cole's fourteen year old sidekick Labrador, had died the morning before. Bruno has stood stately and proper on Mr. Cole's front porch everyday since we moved here ten years ago. We all loved him. Mr. Cole walked him twice a day, everyday ~ rain or shine. You could set your clock by those walks. He would bark every evening at about 5:00 when Mr. Coles' truck neared the final turn onto our road. He would greet his owner with barks and excitement ~ anticipating his evening stroll. We'll miss Bruno.

I walked to the window and looked out, and, sure enough, there stood Mr. Cole with a shovel working alone. My heart sank. I grabbed a handful of flowers from a vase on my bar, put Joshua in charge, and headed out the door.

(The flowers were from an altar bouquet Erik bought in memory of his mother. I know she smiled as she saw me getting one more use out of them before they died. She was ultra practical like that! :-)

As I walked out of the house, I was struck by the beauty of this warm autumn day ~ the sun was shining, the trees were bright with color. And, there stood Mr. Cole, shovel in hand, working. He was burying Bruno in the shade of several large oaks. As I walked I listened to the leaves crunch under my feet and wondered exactly what to say to him. By this time, I was teary thinking about a man saying goodbye to his faithful friend.

As I approached him, he smiled at me. Mr. Cole, I think, smiles in his sleep. In the ten years I have known him, I have never seen him without his smile. It is his natural expression. We talked for a few minutes. He showed me the box he built for Bruno. My heart hurt. I handed him the flowers. He assured me he would place them on top after he finished. Then, I ran back home to my boys.

They were concerned about Mr. Cole.

"Was he crying?"

"Is he sad, Mommy?"

Then, Joshua asked for a piece of paper and a pencil. And, I knew what for, sweet son of mine. I gave it to him, and a few minutes later, he handed me this. . .

He knows how Mr. Cole "fills." I thought that was so sweet. No doubt, he was thinking of his Grandma in heaven with Jesus. So, later that day we took Mr. Cole some peanut butter brownies with chocolate buttercream icing and Joshua's note. Just our way of letting him know that we are thinking of him.

There is just something about a man and his dog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Our Fall Door. . .

I ran outside one day last week to take a picture of our home with the fall leaves behind the house, etc. And, I had to get a picture of my four little pumpkins' pumpkins!!!

This is what our front door looked like last week...

I haven't taken pictures, but we put up our Christmas decorations yesterday!!!! I think the day you put up Christmas decorations is one of the most fun days of the year! We cranked up the Christmas music and hung greenery, decorated the tree, etc. I will miss fall!! It has, once again, left us too quickly!!!! Today is windy, and the leaves are falling like rain with each big gust! It is beautiful, but I will miss the pretty colors of fall as the cool hues of winter are just around the corner. But, there is good in that as well!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Everyday. . .

My stairsteps. . .

This time of year is heavenly to me. Thanksgiving is still to come, and Christmas is right around the corner! The cold weather is cozy and peaceful and calms my anxious heart. And, for some reason, maybe it is because I was so completely in over my head last week, this week is so peaceful and easy. Each day it seems that I actually have time to do all of the important things. Last week I couldn't even get the clean washed wet clothes into the dryer to dry!!! It was pure chaos, and I am so grateful for the reprieve this week is.

I don't know if anyone out there wonders what it is like in our house, but I thought I'd put a few pics that I have taken over the last two weeks ~ a glimpse into our everyday. I have had some serious ups and downs with homeschooling this year. But, I have come to a place of peace. . . finally. At first I tried a little too hard. I pushed a little too hard. I stressed a little too much. We haven't taken a single day off since school started. Even when the public schools were off, we kept right on studying. They handled it well, but it wore me out and made me miserable. So, we have slowed our pace slightly. I am learning to relax and trust God where I am inadequate. I have bumped down some of the extras and bumped up the things we enjoy like reading together. I think I will really enjoy homeschooling during the fall/winter months. Cuddling up with books, singing carols, making cookies and crafts, and sipping hot cider and hot chocolate with a few of my favorite people. Oh, and a big thanks to my sweet homeschool friends, you know who you are, that encouraged me to slow down and make these days rich. My children thank you!!!! :-)

So, without further ado, some pics from everyday life here in our little corner of the world. . .

One day my sweet little men decided it would be superhero day. So, they dressed up and remained dressed for the day. I had to refer to them as Superman, etc. They had fun with it. They said it was Superhero School.

I like to use my older kids to help teach the younger. I think I was stuffing lunch into my face while Joshua quizzed JCT on his phonograms. . . I mean while Superman quizzed Wolverine. . .

This picture was taken one rainy day. We did school on the back porch with intermittent breaks for little boys to play in the rain. . .

This makes my heart get that warm fuzzy feeling. . .

We took our reading tee pee outside one day last week for lunch. . .
Joshua and I have found that math is much more bearable when done with chips and salsa. . .
And this, also, warms my heart ~ Elijah and Rain. Elijah loves Rain. He really, really loves Rain. He sits and pets him. He looks for him first thing in the morning and tells him that he missed him during the night. And, you know what? I think old Rain kinda likes my Lije, too. Mr. Lije is pretty hard to resist!!!!

And, last but not least, we turned on the fireplace for the first time today!!! I put the little boys down for naps and flipped the switch. I left the big boys downstairs with books to read, Alli Rogers Christmas music playing, and a fire in the fireplace. Now that is my kind of reading environment!!!! I came downstairs, little ones tucked in bed, made a pot of coffee, and snuggled in next to JCT on the couch! It is easy to be thankful this time of year!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Science and Gratitude

Again, I am not ready to post a menu plan this week. This is our last week of soccer, and that will help tremendously ~ at least then we will sit, once again, and eat all together at the same time!! Right now I am just doing the best that I can to get by day in and day out.

On a funny note, I was reviewing science vocabulary words with the boys one day last week. I quoted a definition. The word I was looking for was germination ~ that was the correct answer. JCT responded first to the question. And, this is what I heard him say. . .

"Darn it!"

I was dumbfounded. I said, "Excuse me, but, we do not say that." He stared at me completely shocked and taken aback. I continued, "I don't know where you heard that, but we do not say that. Do not say it again, please!"

Joshua looked at me completely confused and in defense of his little brother said, "Mom, he said dormant. What is wrong with dormant? It is one of our vocabulary words."

Ooops. I said, "Oh, well, okay! I thought you said something else. Sorry!" I couldn't contain my laughter!!! :-) Of course, then they wanted to know what it was that I thought he said!! :-)

I have a gazillion pictures to post, but I'll do that another day! On to gratitude. . .

I am thankful for. . .

* A cold rainy day and a warm toasty house.
* A week that is not quite as busy as last week.
* Sleeping babes snug in their beds.
* A baby that every so often wiggles and tickles me deep inside my tummy.
* A somewhat clean house.
* A wonderful, handsome, selfless, loving husband who is as steady as a rock and who God uses to still my storms.
* Christmas around the corner!!! Ahhh, the lights, sounds, smells, and beauty of the season!!! I can't wait!!!
* Our God Who came near, Who stooped to look down upon us, Who humbled Himself and came to die so that we might live!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trusting in Myself

The wind blows gently outside, the temperature is dropping a bit, and I am sitting in a house full of sleeping children and soft music with a coffee cup to my right, and a full heart within me. It is a good day.

Laundry beckons me as do ten other things including my greatest enemy ~ cluttered counter tops. But, I am going to stop for a second and reflect on this week. What a week I have had. God is teaching me so much, and my heart is drinking in His sweet words and His unending peace. I love Him for how He will not allow me to be satisfied by any single thing but Himself. When I begin to derail, to travel off course, I am miserable. I sense the separation, the error in my ways, and gently, sweetly, He speaks to me in a place so deep and intimate that no human is able to reach. And, He tells me like the wind whispering to my soul to trust Him. No matter the problem, no matter the error, the words I often hear spoken deep to my heart are these, "Trust Me, My child, trust Me."

I guess that is because the root of so many of my sins is trusting in myself. I seem to find myself trustworthy though that speculation is entirely inaccurate. Bless my heart. I always fall for it, over and over again. I am a thinker, a planner, so I think I have it all figured out. I have analyzed the situation and I can handle it and I know the best way to handle it!!! So, I follow hard after whatever rabbit I am chasing until I realize that I am exhausted, miserable, and things are simply not falling into place like I planned. Then, I realize that once again I have fallen for my age old sin. So, I fall to my knees, and beg Him to take the weight, to free me from my own cords of entanglement that are literally choking me. And, He is faithful. He is trustworthy, and I see that His way, the way of peace, patience, and self-control was the way to take all along. I tend to get a bit ahead of Him. I take the reigns and steer those horses fast and furious. I think fast is better. I think busy is better. I think I have to work, work, work myself into a dither. He says, "Hold My hand and tread peaceful steps with me Godspeed."

So, this week began as all the others. Without realizing it I dove into the week trusting in my lesson plans, my to do lists, and my own strength. And, by Wednesday, I was ready to throw in the white towel. And, so I did, and my sweet Savior caught it. He encouraged my heart to try things His way for a change. And, so Thursday, I woke up refreshed and ready to start anew, and it was a good day. His strength is perfect, His ways are right, and He. Is. Good. I am eternally grateful that my Creator cares enough to relate to me, to speak to my heart so tenderly, to love my restless soul, but most of all to never, though I deserve it over and over again, to never, ever give up on this silly little girl.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday's Gratitude

My goal last week was to begin posting gratitude and my weekly menu plan on Mondays. Well, my menu plan this week is a bit sketchy, so I am going to skip that part and go straight to gratitude! There is always next week!!

Today my heart is thankful for. . .

A long morning! By 7:45 I had been up almost 3 hours. . .

And, for those sweet little risers who do not understand the meaning of falling back. . .

Also, I am thankful for the sun rising through the trees out back. . .

Sunlight dancing on the pond's water. . .

A belly beginning to grow with life. . .

Boys full of life, energy, and love. . .

Reading time and holding littles close. . .

The peace that comes over the house at naptime. . .

Cold weather and hot peach tea. . .

Little football pad wearing boys laughing and playing outside my window. . .

And, most of all, I am thankful for a God Who loves tenderly, sweetly, and intimately.

He is good.

Happy Monday!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Little Deaths

We've had two rainy days in a row, and I am in heaven. The cool, overcast tones mixed with the warmth of the brown, golden, and burnt orange hues of late fall make me feel peaceful and a bit melancholy all at the same time. And, I love it.

My heart is so full. The leaves are, for the most part, dead. Most have already fallen. But, I see beauty in their death because I have faith, great faith that says, deep within me, that somewhere in the dormant death of winter there. lives. life. And, come spring, death will bring forth from somewhere deep within itself, beautiful, vibrant, amazing, fresh, and colorful life!! The process cycles over and over, and I am astounded year and year.

And, it is my prayer that God is doing the same work in me.

May my soul be His garden.

Little deaths. I am a selfish creature if ever He created one. I love peace and the calm life. I was the baby of the family, quite doted on, really. And, then, I grew and married. I prayed to be selfless, to put others first, but given the choice, the opportunity, I still wanted things my way. Erik was easy to be selfless with because he has always been so selfless with me. So, I gave, and he gave, and we were very happy. Enter Joshua. . .

Suddenly, someone wanted me to get up with him at night, every night, and several times at night. He woke up early, interrupting my quiet time. He cried forcing me to cut conversations short. I didn't realize it then, but the process of death was beginning.

And, it continued. . . two children, then three, then unexpected number four and now five. . . What is alone time? It has been so long. Slowly through each child, each phase, each year, I have died little deaths. From the death of attempting to look like I have it all together, to the death of my little ones are perfect angels who never do wrong, to the death of superficial peace ~ the kind that comes from a quiet, calm household, to the death of a clean, organized home and car, to the death of time alone with my husband, to the death of being able to go and do as I please, to the death of my young girl body and the time to primp and fix up, and on and on. . .

Little deaths. But, when I think about it all, do you know what I see? I see that the things that are dying are meaningless in the grand scheme. And, deep within this dormant state, where I am nestled in at home not out and about like I used to be, there is life growing in my soul. And, the things that are growing are not meaningless. No, they are lasting. So, these little deaths are precious to me, and though I fight them tooth and nail, I am thankful beyond words for how they are shaping me. The patience that God gives allowing me to teach and train my young men all day without a break. The peace that only He could give that allows me to be stirring chili in a kitchen full of wild indians and feel so blessed, so complete. The joy that comes when I hear the pitter patter of feet on the steps from an early riser waking just as I drink my first sip of coffee, quiet time not happening ~ at least not in the old sense of the words. Now quiet times, I realize, can happen all day off and on, as God speaks and I listen.

I am different because of these little deaths. Though they are hard and at times I hate them, they have made me stronger, better, and, most importantly, closer to my Strength Giver. So, as I look out the window and gaze upon the fallen leaves, I pray that God will continue to be my Master Gardner. And, I have faith, deep in the depths of my soul, that one day, one fine, fine day, spring will come and maybe, just maybe, beautiful fruit will burst forth from my soul!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Quickly. . .

It is a quiet, rainy afternoon here at the old homestead. I'm worn out, and it is not even 3:00 yet!!! We have been so busy today! The little boys are napping and the big boys are outside playing in the rain. So, here I sit. . .

My husband surprised me this past weekend with a little getaway, and we had a wonderful time. We had such a good time just being together. We went to Birmingham, and I had no idea how pretty Birmingham is! We always drove through the city to the airport or to Atlanta. I had never seen the mountains and trees and beauty of it all! And, the Summit was a wonderful place to shop and eat Cheesecake Factory! All day Saturday I kept looking over at Erik and saying, "I'm having such a good time!!" We shopped all day, and then around 7:00 we got hungry for dinner. We decided that since we had such a pretty room (Rossbridge Resorts) that we would just get burritos at Moe's and go back to our room to eat. So, we sat in our hotel room and watched the Oregon/USC game and ate! It was great fun and so us!!!

Oh, and the highlight of the day was when Erik bought both of us iphones!!! :-) His in a little blue Otter case and mine in a little pink Otter case! Happy were we! Nana told JCT, "Your mom got an iphone!" And, he said excitedly, "Who'd she get it for???" He has been asking for an iphone for over a month now, so he was hoping it was for him. Then Sunday morning he started crying and saying he missed me. Nana said, "She'll be home after lunch." And, he perked up and asked, "Is she bringing her iphone??" And, as you can well imagine when he saw me, the very first words out of his mouth were, "Where's your iphone?? Let me see it!!!!!" He is my little techno man! He is still teaching me how to use my iphone since he knows more about it than I do. Crazy!

Now, I am off to make chili for dinner! It is the perfect night for chili, and, thankfully, we have no evening activities planned for this evening ~ except being together! Yay! These are my favorite nights!
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Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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