Thursday, January 30, 2014

creativity

I've been inspired by some images I've seen on the world wide web lately, and it's prompted me to take a different approach to our schooling this week.













This was a time of fun and craftiness after two loooooonnnnnnng days of writing and other fun stuff.  They did so well on their writing projects that I thought it would be fun to do something with paint and sticks.  My house has been left messy more and the only noise has been the sound of their voices and laughter.

It's been a great week.  Every once in a while, I feel like the Lord allows me days like this~the kind that goes smoothly from beginning to finish.  Isn't He so kind and gracious, as to do that?  It's just enough to encourage me to keep going.

Are you in a place in your life where you need encouragement?  Keep on praying!  Keep on reading His word.  He will meet you there, I promise.

Love to all.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

a busier than normal week

I live a very simple life, and honestly, I don't get out all that much.  I'm good with that, too!  I am perfectly content staying at home all day.  Because of our busy nights this week, I have been more intentional about not leaving during the day.  For that reason, but also because of the bitterly cold temperatures.

We concentrated a lot on creative writing on this day.  In the back of my mind, it always kind of bothers me that I think that Jonah and Noah might be missing out on great writing tips from a school teacher.  (Keepin' it real, friends.)  It's no secret that I love to write, and I also love to read.  I feel like the more you read, the better you write.  I'm not saying they'll ever love writing, but they need to at least know how to do this well.  They're doing so good at math, spelling & vocabulary, language, science and history, that I decided we are going to really concentrate on writing for the next few weeks.  We'll keep doing all the other subjects of course, but we will also be working a LOT on writing.  And being me, I snapped a picture of what the kitchen table looked like yesterday, while we were busy at work.


Because they don't love to write, I decided to make it fun for them.  I let them pick any topic they wanted and gave them a five-paragraph writing assignment.  We're working on really descriptive sentences and good, meaty paragraphs that contain five to seven sentences each.  Man, their teacher is a bear.  ;)  I also let them write with any writing utensil they wanted.  With a mom who loves all things bright and colorful, they had plenty of fun pens/pencils/markers to choose from.  We're working on the rough drafts this week, and next week we will write, then type, the real deal.  (Yes, I am also going to teach my children how to type properly at a keyboard, complete with correct finger placement.)

I'm excited about this project~they, on the other hand, might have shed a tear or two.  (Again, keepin' it real, should you think all our days are hunky-dory.  And it was just one who did that, but he shall remain nameless.)

Don't you love the little reindeer sitting in on the fun with us in the above picture?  ;)

We wrapped it up at three yesterday.  I came in to watch my favorite cooking show, The Pioneer Woman, and witnessed Drew doing this:


She was making roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and I'm pretty sure he was drooling.  I thought it was hilarious that he was standing that close to the t.v.

The kids all got dressed and their Papa took them out to dinner.  Remember how Todd was out of town yesterday?  He made it home by about eight thirty, so I was glad to hear that my dad-in-love was coming over while I was gone.

My mom-in-love and I attended a women's event at Central Church.  Angela Cottrell was there speaking...if you don't know who she is, she's married to my favorite worship leader (and Beth Moore's worship leader), Travis Cottrell.  She was a great speaker!  She talked about 'going for the gold', and how we are to put off our fleshly desires to pursue a more Godly character.  I really enjoyed it and had fun being social and seeing old friends.

I had my friend take this picture of us:


:)  We had a great time.  We pulled back in to my driveway at nine thirty, and the in-love's left for their house.  It was a great day, and I am thankful for these times when I get to go and do fun things.  Tonight is church for all of us~I'm going to the other Bible study class since I missed Monday night, and I can't wait to hear our sweet women's director teach again!  Hopefully there will be young people in there, as well.  ;)

Well...I need to get moving.  Nothing's going to get done as long as I'm sitting here!  Have a great Wednesday, my friends.  Love to all.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside! (and other random things)

I was so surprised to see a dusting of snow on the ground when I let the dogs out this morning.  I don't remember it being this cold in a long time, and my thought is that if it's going to be this cold, we should at least be able to enjoy some snow!  I am so thankful that I get to stay inside on this freezing day.  Yesterday Graham started a fire at ten in the morning, and it was still burning when I went to bed last night at ten-thirty.

A couple weeks ago when we had cold temperatures in Memphis, they (I don't know who "they" are) canceled our county schools.  I remember that day well, and how on social media that day, people were griping and complaining about how dumb it was that school was canceled just because of cold weather.  The high that day was around twelve.  I found out later that day that the reason school was canceled was because of the buses.  Most of the kids in the city of Memphis ride the bus to school, and those buses are not heated (or air-conditioned).  I no longer have kids in the public school system, but I commended them on making that decision.  Way to watch out for the kids!  (And shame on you, to all the nay-sayers that day on social media.)

Fast forward to today, and it's really cold again, though not as cold as that one day.  Today's high is somewhere in the low to mid twenties, and while it's cold, it's warmer than twelve degrees.  And today, guess what?  School is NOT canceled.  And once again, on social media, the majority of the people are griping and complaining.  It truly is impossible to please everyone, I suppose.  I just think it's funny how the same people that complained the first time are the ones complaining this time.

Anyway, I'm done with that.

I love the coldness of this kind of day.  I am thankful, first and foremost, for the cold temperatures that have killed off all the bugs that were still lingering.  I remember one year a few years ago, we had absolutely no winter it seemed, and the bugs never completely went away.  I can remember seeing mosquitoes and gnats and flies in January and February!  Blech.

I missed Bible study last night, and as much as I don't like missing Bible study, I'm glad that I was able to be a part of my sweet friend's son's eighteenth birthday surprise.  This is my precious friend Andrea.  I met her at our homeschool group a year and a half ago, and it seems like I have known her forever!  She is one of my closest friends, the kind who has heard me laugh and cry and have near-anxiety attacks.  Her son's party was a huge hit with all the teenagers~they sat around talking and laughing and munching on chips, salsa and cake.  I also had fun socializing.  :)

I don't think I mentioned that Drew and Noah went to work with Todd yesterday.  He tries to do that every once in a while, and yesterday was their turn.  They're also the two that don't usually ask to go anywhere, so I think it made Todd feel good that they asked.  I am so thankful that they can do that with him.  I remember going to work with my dad as a young girl, and I always loved it.  I loved seeing what he did and socializing (imagine that) with the people he worked with.  Yesterday was the kind of day that memories are made of.

Today we'll do our normal homeschool stuff and we will try to stay warm.  ;)  I don't plan on getting out until later today.  My mom-in-love and I are going to Central church for a women's event and dinner.  I'm excited!  It'll be chilly, but I know it'll be worth the getting out.  In the meantime, my hubby is traveling today, so I pray that he doesn't have to spend the night on the road.  The boys are okay at home alone, but they don't love when we're both gone.  However, if it comes that that, I know that they'll be perfectly fine.

So that's what's been going on the last couple days.  Exciting stuff, huh?  I did manage to get another cabinet in my kitchen cleaned out yesterday, and I rearranged all the cookbooks I have.  It made more room in my spice cabinet, which apparently is quite full and also needs to be cleaned out.  I might work on that in between school stuff and laundry today.

I will leave you with one picture from our day yesterday:


This would be Jonah, asleep on the couch, at around one-thirty or two o'clock.  Jonah never naps unless he is sick, so at one point, I kinda wondered if maybe he was coming down with something.  It turns out that he's fine, he'd had a tummy ache, so he laid down on the couch.  When Crash jumped up with him, they both got all snug and cozy and for at least one hour, they slept.  I was shocked.  Jonah and Graham require very little sleep...they've always been like that, from day one.

I hope you stay nice and warm today!  Happy Tuesday to you and love to all!

Monday, January 27, 2014

images from our weekend

On Friday, Graham had a high school social thing with the teenagers from our homeschool group.  They met for lunch at Abner's, and my dad, Drew, Jonah, Noah and I stayed and ate there as well.  The boys wanted to go to my dad's house after that, to see his frozen lake.  We took the scenic route and drove around looking at pretty things.  This was one of them:


This is a pretty little Presbyterian church in the old town of Cordova.  I have this thing for steeples...you remember that, right?

We made it to my dad's house and saw the lake and the boys stood on the ice, just right around the bank.  The ice was so thick that we couldn't break it...we did try to do that before I let them all romp around and frolic on the ice.




The ice was definitely thinner toward the middle of the lake, but it was beautiful!  One year when I was a young girl, this lake froze so solidly that it was white.  My brother-in-law tried to chop through it with an ax, and when he finally got through, it was almost six inches deep!  That was the first time I ever ice-skated on a frozen lake.  It was also the last time I ever ice-skated on a frozen lake.  Ice and I do not get along.  ;)

Todd worked Friday night, and in spite of the fact that we had three extra boys here spending the night, I watched two movies and one show I had recorded.  I watched 13 Going On 30, and The Back-Up Plan.  The show I watched was The Pioneer Woman.  I love getting to watch the shows that I love.

Graham had to work from seven to two on Saturday.  I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the sun rise.


God is an amazing painter of the sky.

Noah had a game on Saturday.  Their team is so good!  They won this game, but both teams played really well.


I love this shot of Alex shooting the free-throws.

Yesterday was an amazing day of church!  I love our tenth grade girls.  We had a packed class, and I was the only teacher there.  I kinda feel like I did a lot of talking, but I had a lot to say about what we're studying right now.  We started right away, and ended with a time of getting caught up and talking about lots of stuff.

Teaching these girls has been eye-opening for me.  Without them even being aware of it, they have given me lots and lots of parenting advice.  Almost all of these girls have something to say about their parents, or their life at home, and some of it is good, but some of it is way less than good.  They've given me a lot of insight and knowledge as to how the teenage brain functions, and that has caused the boys and I to talk about a lot of different things.

My preacher preached such a great sermon, it was on the topic of worry.  Who doesn't struggle with some sort of worry?  Whether it's a sickness that causes it, or finances or this troubling world we live in, I believe all of us struggle with worry of some sort.  He taught from Philippians 4:6 and 7.  Part two will follow next week, and I can't wait.  My husband and I might have elbowed one another a time or two.

After church we went to Costco, and I bought some new hair conditioner and moisturizer (along with a lot of other things we needed).


I've been reading about all the benefits of coconut oil, and this is the good kind, so imagine my delight when I found some at my favorite store.  This huge 54 fluid ounce container cost $15.  You can use it to cook with, sure, but you can eat a spoonful to curb your appetite, you can use it as a skin moisturizer, hair conditioner, it helps make pink-eye go away, you can make your own healthy toothpaste with it (baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint extract), the list is long.  If you're my friend on Facebook, I posted the link under this picture.

Last night was community group, and then...

AND THEN...

I went to my best friend's house and we watched Sean and Catherine from The Bachelor get married!  I might have cried.  Their wedding was one of those weddings that glorified the Lord, and to see that on national television was amazing.  I have loved them from day one and loved watching them get married.  :)

No judging of me, please.

Today I am doing some of this:


And the boys are doing some of this:


And we're doing some other things.  ;)

Speaking of those other things, I need to stop writing and go do them.  I hope you stay warm, wherever you are, and I pray your day is fantabulous.  Love to all!

Friday, January 24, 2014

I don't really have a title...

I love Thursday's.  My kids love Thursday's, too.  After a full week together all day, everyday, by Thursday we are more than ready to look at other people.

There are days (weeks) that my kids grate on my last nerve.  Particularly, my oldest son and my oldest twin.  They are two peas in a pod, and they fight like cats and dogs (I should say, "They fight like Twinkles and Crash.").  They annoy each other just to annoy each other, they pick on each other, they hit each other, they just act like typical brothers.  And there are those day when I feel like I. CANNOT. TAKE. ONE. MORE. SECOND. OF. THEIR. FIGHTING.

Those are the days when I call in the reinforcements, otherwise known as my wonderful husband.  I really, really try to not be that mom who says, "Just wait until your dad gets home!".  I also try to not be be that wife who bombards him the second he walks in the back door with my long list of complaints from our day.  Because I try to handle things like this during our day when he's at work, he will usually jump right in with whatever I've asked him to handle once he gets home.  Or sometimes he'll wait until after dinner.  Because sometimes, the kids just need their dad to handle the disciplinary actions.

I'll be honest~we don't have to discipline our kids that much.  When we do have to punish them for something, it's usually over something like I talked about in the paragraphs above, or because they've not done something they've been repeatedly told.  (Chores.)  When we do have to take action with them, I am always so thankful that I have someone who has my back.  I hope that my husband also knows that I've got his back.  I would say that is one of the most important things you can do in marriage~support one another completely.  Trust me, we are nowhere near perfect, and for those times when we do disagree, we sincerely try not to disagree in front of our kids.

(Know that we have, before, though and will again...it's okay if you've done that, too!  We've apologized in front of them and we moved on from there.  Sometimes I think it's kinda good for kids to see parents disagree in front of them.  It shows them that we're human and that we mess up.)

Aside from the fact that my kids sometimes grate on the nerves, I really do love homeschooling them.  It's a privilege to be able to this, and it's something I've wanted for so long.  I feel like I'm living out my dream.

It was so cold here yesterday!  (I love it!)  The high was in the mid-twenties and it was really windy, so needless to say, as soon as we got home, I went straight upstairs and changed clothes.


I don't know if it's that I'm getting older, or that my iron is still a little on the low side, but when I get cold, I almost cannot get warmed up.  The only thing that warmed me up yesterday were these fleece pants, these fuzzy boots and this heater.  My hands are like ice much of the time, and it's usually only when I hold them up to direct heat that they warm up.  (Or sometimes I make one of my boys hold my hands to warm them~all five of them are like small heaters...I did this to Drew last Saturday night in the car on our way home from my mom's house, and he loved it.  If you believe that, then know that I was being facetious.)

It was a good night for a simple dinner...my ultimate comfort food favorite, spaghetti, Caesar salad and garlic bread.  My sister had come over to wash some things, so she ate with us.

I miss the days when my kids were younger.  They used to make forts all the time, and I loved seeing what they had come up with.  Imagine my surprise when Jonah and Noah came to find me last night to show me what they had constructed upstairs.


Their very own under-the-ping-pong-table-fort, complete with Christmas lights.  :)  Pretty ingenious, right?

They were going to sleep there last night but changed their minds once they went to bed.  The plan is to do this again tonight, though, especially if their friend Andy can spend the night.

What are your plans for this weekend?  What did your kids used to do that you loved and miss, now that they're older?  Do your kids fight like mine?  What do they fight about, and how do you handle it?

I ask, because I haven't heard from anyone in a long time.  I am needing some comment love, so please humor me.

Happy Friday to you and yours!  Love to all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

hump day

I can't say that without smiling.  I love that commercial with the camel.  :)  The past couple days have been really good for us, they've also been really cold, which we all know I love.  I love that on those days, we can stay snuggled up in our pajamas and bundled up under blankets.  Even the animals are more relaxed on these kinds of days.


Can you spot her?  Twinkles like to sleep on this bench because of its fabric.  She stayed in that position for at least two hours yesterday.  The dogs were snoozing away on their beds.  All was peaceful.

Graham and Jonah went to work with Todd yesterday...it's not all that often that they get to go with him because of what he does and where he goes, but yesterday was one day that it was okay.  They love doing this and it made for a quiet day for the rest of us.

I had to make a run to the grocery store for our dinner ingredients, then we went to my kids' favorite store.


Seriously, the employees are beginning to know who we are.  We're here at least twice every week.  I think they've been there four times since last Friday...my dad is usually one of the ones they can butter up and sweet talk them into taking them.

We came home, and when I got the mail, I found this in our mailbox:


Are you kidding me?  My oldest son is only a freshman!  I am not anywhere near ready to start thinking about colleges and what will come after high school.

Today we hit the books for a while, then left to do something fun.  It's been ages since we've done anything with our friends from our homeschool group, and Drew planned a social for the middle school aged generation student council kids.


To say they were excited is putting it mildly.  Jonah and Noah have been here before for a birthday party, but this was Graham's and Drew's first time.


Gosh, I love these boys.  They were grinning like the cheshire cat.  They proceeded to jump for a full ninety minutes with only one injury, and that happened to Jonah.  He rolled his ankle.  Did you know that when the employees here see a kid crying, they come running with ice and give them free Gatorade?  They do.  Then the lady had Jonah fill out an accident report.  You should have seen the look on his face when she told him that he had to do it, in his own words.

If looks could kill...

This child of mine hates to write.

I don't even know how he's related to me.

Anyway, we came home afterward and I'm pretty sure two of them had a nap.  Three of them went straight to their bedroom and just chilled on their beds.  (I love that.)  The other one laid on the couch with his ankle propped up.

Forgive me for back tracking, but I really don't want to go backwards with this post, so...

Before we left today, we were telling Crash that he couldn't go with us, it was too cold, and that he had to stay here in his kennel.  He did not like what he heard, and tried to get us to change our minds by jumping up onto somewhere he's not supposed to be and looking all cute and innocent.


I totally give him an A for effort, by the way.  I told you, this dog thinks he is human.  I'm certain that he was trying to reason with us!  And I would have taken him with us just so he could hang out in the car, but it was too cold.  Poor little thing.

I have one more picture, and this one is from yesterday.  Lately, we have noticed that the boys haven't been shutting our doors.  We'll go into our laundry room to find an open back door, and the room will be freezing.  Drew left the door open yesterday, for a full half hour.  As his punishment, he had to open and shut the door properly thirty times and he had to unload the dishwasher by himself, and put up all the clean dishes.  He was kinda pouty about it, too.  Usually they do that chore together.

When I came in the living room to straighten up in here before dinner, this was what was waiting on me in my seat:


He had folded all the blankets and straightened all the couch pillows, too.  God love him.  I love my boys.  God has truly blessed me in them, and they keep me laughing.  Sometimes they keep me crying, but mostly, it's laughter.  And that is good for my soul and makes our home a happy home.  Because when mama is happy, everybody is happy.

Love to all.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

~words~

Yesterday was gorgeous in our town.  The sun was shining and the temperature got up to sixty degrees.  It was perfect for spending the day outside, which is exactly what my boys did.  I took them to the park for a couple hours, they played basketball, football and they went on a few bike rides.  I love days like that!  I'm thankful the weather was so nice, because today is a different story.


(Today the high is only in the lower thirties and we reached that in the wee hours of the morning.)

While they played outside, and after we had eaten lunch, I spent a couple hours doing this:


I'm reading the Bible chronologically again, but I'm doing the study that Iva May has written to go along with it.  I've done a good job at staying caught up, but on the weekends, I get behind.  I think that's just going to be the story of my life until my kids are grown and out of the house, but I'm okay with that.  I use Monday's to get caught back up.

I AM LOVING THIS STUDY!  I've read through the Bible before, but what Iva May has written to go along with what I am reading is life-changing.  Somehow what she writes and the questions we have to answer are making me see things I've never noticed before.  It's like something old and familiar is new again, and that is what I love.  I think sometimes when I read the Bible, it's really familiar and I miss out on some important truths.

One thing I've learned so far in doing this, is that there are so many visuals of what Jesus did for us~dying on the cross.  One theme that is in Genesis over and over and over again is that in order for us to be saved, innocent blood has to be shed on behalf of the guilty.  Jesus was innocent, and His blood was shed on our (guilty) behalves.  In the very beginning of Genesis, after Adam and Eve had sinned and were ashamed to face God, it says that He made coverings for them.  What kind of coverings?  Coverings from an animal~an innocent animal whose blood was shed so that Adam and Eve (who were guilty of sin) would no longer be naked.  A few chapters later in Genesis, when Abraham was about to slay his only son (HIS ONLY SON~another picture of God giving His one and only Son so that we may have life), and then God provided an innocent animal to be sacrificed instead, that is yet another picture the Lord has given us.

Fast forward a few years to the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Can you even imagine what God must have felt, watching His one and only Son be crucified on the cross?  What Jesus must have felt when He cried out, asking God why He had forsaken Him?  What God must have felt, hearing Him ask that question?

Something I know for certain: I don't know if I can ever look at the verse John 3:16 in the same way again.  I think it's a verse that I take for granted, because it's one that I've had memorized since I was a little girl:

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

The blood of the innocent being shed on behalf of the guilty.

Does that get to you the same way it does to me?

If you only take one suggestion of mine, let it be this: study the word of God.  The more we know His Word, the more we know Him...His character and how good He is.  When you read, ask that your eyes might be opened to whatever new thing He wants to reveal to you.  If you don't know where to get started, find a Bible reading plan to go by~there are so many on YouVersion to choose from.  Or comment on this blog, or email me at allboys@gmail.com, and I will try to help you in getting started.  The point is to get started.

One other thing that I've heard/learned recently is this:

"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." Romans 10:17

If you want to know Him, if you want that kind of faith that moves mountains, you have to read His word.  Bottom line, end of story.  That is why I study the Bible.  People do the same thing for different reasons, but when I am constantly hungering and thirsting for His word (or "righteousness", like in Matthew 5:6), I am strengthening my faith and my walk with Him.

His word and my relationship with Him are the most important things in my life~He gives me the wisdom, the knowledge, the discernment, every little thing that I ever need~He gives it to me.  He can do the same for you, if only you study this word that He has given us.

Well.  I suppose I've said all that needs to be said for today.  I pray you find time, no...I pray that you learn to MAKE time to get to know Him better.

Love to all.

Monday, January 20, 2014

writing & picture-ing & telling of the weekend

Good morning!  I hope your weekend was fantabulous!  Ours was, and in the spirit of feeling particularly gracious, I decided to let my kids have this day off from homeschool.  The public school kids are out, so why not?  I was told last night that I'm a nicer mom than my friend was when she homeschooled her kids.  ;)

I thought I would give you a glimpse into our world as we went about another weekend.

Friday night found us eating pizza (which has become our Friday night tradition) and watching Noah play some basketball.  It's so strange to have just one kid playing something, but I really enjoy watching this boy play.  His team and coach are amazing, and yes, I am "that mom" who cheers.  VERY loudly.  ;)



Noah is number twelve and his best buddy, Alex, is number eleven.  Speaking of his buddy, Noah and Jonah are anxiously awaiting his arrival.  They haven't seen him much in the last week, and he's spending the day with us today.  By the way, this game was a nail-biter!  They were ahead, then at the end, the other team started racking up points, but our team pulled it off.  Both teams played really well!

On Saturday morning, after being inspired by my favorite chef on The Food Network (The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond), I made a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, homemade biscuits and blueberry-cheesecake muffins.  We ate at ten-thirty, because Noah had another game at noon.

And this game was even more of a nail-biter than the Friday night game!  They lost for the first time, with the final score of twenty-three to twenty-five.  But again...they played so good!  After the game, all the kids ended up being gone.  I love when that happens!  I took a nap.  ;)  I know~we're such an exciting married couple.

The kids all came back home, Todd left to ride with the sheriff's department that night, and the kids and I headed to Mom's house.  We hadn't been out there since New Year's day, because she has been really sick.  The kids were all thrilled to see her and Big Daddy, and as usual, we had a yummy dinner.  When we were on our way, as I was stopped at a red light, I snapped this picture:


I love this church.  And I love our town.  So small-feeling, and so quaint.  :)

Look at the glorious sunset that God painted for us Saturday night:


Can you even believe this?  Beautiful.

After dinner we came home and loved on Andy the Wonder Dog.  Poor thing had fallen when we first got home and had a hard time getting back up.  Isn't he precious?


God love him.  I talked to an old friend on the phone for an hour and a half (the kids timed me) and then I caught up on The Bachelor.  :)  :)  :)  Happiness in a tv show.

Sunday morning came and we went to church!  I love my church and always look forward to seeing "my" girls.  I was waiting on the kids to come to the car and took a selfie~I know, I know, but seriously, my hair was behaving for once!  I thought I'd snap a quick picture to prove it.


Wide-eyed wonder.

I'm a dork, I know.

How was your weekend?  I pray it was loverly!  Enjoy this day~we sure will be!  I plan on taking my kids to the park sometime soon.

Love to all!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday & Thursday

It hasn't been that exciting of a week.  It's been a good week, but a typical, boring, homeschooling type of week...the kind I most love.

Wednesday was spent doing a lot of this:


A lot, a lot, a lot of this.  Drew broke all kinds of records and got the prize for working the longest.  ;)  He chose to work way ahead so he could have an easy last couple days.

I did (and have been doing everyday) a lot of writing in this:


Why yes, it is still bringing me joy!  And will continue to do so all year long.  While the boys were hard at work, I started on our dinner for the night:


I've been going through all my recipes on Pinterest, adding some and deleting some, and I came across this one.  If you would like the recipe for this loaded baked potato soup, click here.  It's also on my "soups & stews" board on Pinterest.  I also spent lots of time organizing all my pins on there.

Thursday was our day at school and a yummy dinner that I made in the crock pot.  I didn't take one single picture yesterday, but I did post this one from earlier this week on Instagram:


Baby Sven from the movie Frozen.  Jonah gets this talent from his dad.  ;)

I hope you've had a great week!  Happy Friday to you and love to all.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

another post on being organized

I thought I would share another something that works well for our family.  When we bought our house ten years ago, one of the things I loved most about it was the storage.  We are blessed to have ample closet, counter and cabinet space.  Especially in the kitchen.

I have two huge cabinets, one lower and one upper, that are awesome and huge.  Because I don't need all that space for the storage of my kitchen things, or maybe because I don't have all that much, I decided to use one of the cabinets in a different way.  I turned it into our "homework cabinet" when Graham was in kindergarten.  There's a blue basket that I kept pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and rulers in that he needed to use every single night.  It was so much simpler to have all that in one basket that I could easily remove from the cabinet, then put back.

Over the years our needs have changed and now I'm going to show you what we use it as now.


I use the top shelf for all of our medicine, thermometers and the medicine that the animals need.  On the middle shelf are all of my cd's that I use all the time, because I have a kitchen radio with a cd player right under this cabinet.  I like to mix it up and almost always have music playing.

I also keep all of my stationary and pictures to be put into albums on that shelf.  I have at least printed the pictures out, now I just need to put them into something.

On the bottom shelf is the blue basket I talked about, but now it has different things inside~a hole punch, note cards, rulers, a picture cropper and a few other odds and ends.  On the right side of this shelf are more cd's, tape, two cups that hold pens and scissors and playing cards.

I know not all of you have ample kitchen storage, but if you do, this kind of designated cabinet keeps counters free of clutter.  Remember when I talked about how much I hate clutter?  I also have a box that's on the counter under this cabinet that I call the Mom box.  It's an upright letter-type box.  Inside this I keep all the things that I or my kids might need sometime soon, like forms from church that need to be filled out, or newsletters and such that I receive in the mail.  That box prevents piles of paper sitting out on my precious counter space.

I try really hard to keep my counters free of stuff.  I have cute things sitting out, but only what I consider to be a reasonable amount.  I am big on using unobtrusive objects to cover up unsightly things like electrical outlets, so I have a decorative tray standing up under the radio, and I have decorate bottles hiding another outlet in my kitchen.  Aside from those things that I have sitting out, I don't have a lot of other stuff that's useless sitting around.  (My step-mom calls them "dust catchers".)  I have canisters that stay out because I use them multiple times each day~there are five that I use to hold what I use lots of: straws, sugar, flour, tea bags and coffee.  I also have a wooden chopping board that's huge and beautiful that stays out because of how much I use it.  And because I love it, and because Giada does it, so why can't I?

I try to clean my kitchen every night before I go to bed, unless I am not the last one awake who takes things to the kitchen (AHEM, Todd).  ;)  I like to have clean counters and sinks before I go upstairs...I learned that years and years ago from the Fly Lady.  (If you don't know who she is, Google her.  She has marvelous ideas.)

So, in the area of my kitchen, this is what works for me.  There are a couple of other cabinets that are low that could use some work, but it's just a matter of straightening or re-positioning things.

Maybe this post will inspire you to start the process of de-cluttering and organizing your home.  I think I'm going to go find another cabinet to work on.  (My spice cabinet needs help.)

Love to all!

Tuesday Goings-On

You will be glad to hear (or maybe you don't care) that yesterday was much better than Monday.  It's amazing what a little punishment being doled out can do, and it doesn't have to last that long to be effective.  Bottom line: these kids love their electronic devices (phones, iPods and Galaxy Players) and do not love having them taken away.  Consistency is the key to parenting.

The boys woke up, had breakfast and got started on school after all their morning chores were done (making their beds, straightening their room, bringing down all the dirty clothes).  They worked a good few hours, then we left to run some errands.  I went to get my new glasses first, because it was the farthest away.


Aren't they cute?  I love them.  I can see so GOOD!  It's a great thing, being able to see that well.  My right eye has changed tremendously since my last eye doctor visit.

After this, we went to Costco, or Costly-Co, as I've nicknamed it.  We decided to have lunch while we were there.


When we were done at Costco, we went to Crash's favorite store.  (He was anxiously await for us in the car.  He threw a bit of a tantrum when we tried putting him in his kennel and that resulted in him going with us.)  We had to run to Pet Smart to get orange cubes for the crickets so they would stay alive until Buddy the leopard gecko can kill them and eat them.  Is that part of the circle of life, or what?

Crash loves to go to Pet Smart because of all the animal scents.  He loves to go see the dogs going through obedience school and he especially loves to torture the cats waiting to be adopted.  He really went crazy over the guinea pigs that all the boys got to hold.  He might have cried a little over those~he wanted to play with them so badly!  He's a jealous dog...he does not like his boys paying attention to other animals.  But his most favorite part of going to Pet Smart is the check-out lady.  If he sits pretty, she'll give him a treat.  If he catches the treat (which is the only thing he does well), she'll give him lots of treats.

We headed home at this point, and by then it was almost time for the neighborhood kids to be home from school.  The boys rode bikes up to the point where they like to meet them after school, then they all came here and played outside.  Yesterday was a gorgeous day~it almost made me long for Spring.  Almost, I said.  I'm still okay with it being Winter.

I got started on dinner while they were gone and was really excited about it; it was another recipe I got from Pinterest.  But then we ate the dinner, and well...it wasn't as good as I had hoped.  It was a great concept~chicken parmesan casserole~but there was something about it that I did not love.  I deleted that pin from my recipe board on Pinterest.

After dinner Jonah and Noah played outside for a bit, but Drew, Graham and Todd did this:


There were some parts of math that Drew could not comprehend yesterday, so Todd helped him with it until he was able to grasp and fully understand the concept.  Graham needed help as well, but we decided that he needs to watch the dvd again.

When Jonah and Noah came in from outside, I found them doing this:


They had a Nerf war for the second night in a row.  I love nights when the tv doesn't even get turned on until nine-thirty or ten.  Last night was one of those nights.

While they had their Nerf war, I was reading and studying Ephesians 4~6 for my Renewed Moms Bible study tomorrow.  We're still reviewing that book and I wanted to get a good head start.  I ended up writing out almost the entire three chapters I had to review...if you haven't read that book lately, I would encourage you to do so...it is full of good things!

Well, speaking of the Bible, it's time for me to get off of the computer.  I need to read my plan for the day and do my homework that accompanies it.  And then there's laundry and grading papers and putting away laundry and some light cleaning, and well, I could go on, but I think you get it.  I pray your today is fabulous.  Love to all!

Monday, January 13, 2014

just so that you don't think every single day is perfect

It all started out quite normally~everyone got up and had breakfast, we did a devotion and we prayed.  Everyone had a pretty good day's worth of school work, too.  Like I said, everything started out nice and neat.

And then the day creeps forward and the arguing and aggravating starts.  I know that I have a house full of boys, and I know that part of what they "do" is bug each other.  But y'all.  This is on the verge of being ridiculous.  I am so tired of having the same conversations over and over and over and over about not aggravating one another.

And it's usually just one or two that cause all my headaches.  The two who are exactly alike, but shall remain nameless on here.

The more I heard, the more aggravated I got.  (And this is after we did a devotion about patience this morning.)  I finally had had all that I could take and I separated three of them from each other and I started taking away electronics.  Again.  For one of them, I also took away anything he wants to do in the next week, aside from church.  I will never punish with taking away church.

So that's how my afternoon ended.  I sent an SOS text to my sweet friend Andrea, asking for prayer and guidance because I was so frustrated.  She never lets me down and she prayed the sweetest prayer over the both of us, because wouldn't you know that she was struggling with the same things today?!  I was bawling by the time I was finished reading the prayer she wrote out in her text to me.

It's so good to have friends like that~the type who will drop everything and pray.  It's good to have people you can be real with~the kind you can laugh with, cry with or just vent to.  The type of friends who are always willing to prance for you.  (Yes, I said "prance"...I couldn't resist talking about our inside joke.)

On a more positive note, our day wasn't ALL frustrating.  We had lots of moments of laughter today, which is good for the soul.  I made a hot, yummy lunch for them and I cleaned out the cabinet that causes my headaches in the kitchen.  I actually had that penciled into my planner for today, and it felt so good crossing it off!  In cleaning out the cabinet, I came across this fun little headband:


I might have forgotten that I'd put it on to begin with.  My kids were cracking up at me and I didn't know why.  Graham said it was because he couldn't take me seriously with this on my head.  ;)

I also came across this little gem of a picture:


That would be me at the age of ten or eleven in Jacksonville, Florida at the Jacksonville Landing.  Was I cool, or what?!  I love that my Converse high tops perfectly matched my yellow shirt and shorts.  And the purple socks with them?  Icing on the cake.

I totally get where Drew gets his crazy dressing from.

This is also probably why my sister Tricia hated to be seen with me when I was young.

:)

How was your day?  My tomorrow cannot get here fast enough~my eye doctor's office called and told me my glasses were ready!  I can't believe it was that fast.  I plan on going first thing tomorrow to pick them up.  Well, I need to go to bed, or I will not be able to wake up early enough.  Love to all!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

the past few days, at a glance

This will be heavy on the pics.  Lately I've been speaking more with pictures than anything else.  I just can't help it, though.  It's what I do.

Thursday was a LOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG day for us.  Our homeschool group started back, and it was a long day.  We meet from 9 until 1, but we had a potluck lunch until two, then Graham and Drew had a meeting that lasted until 3:30.  Whew!  We were tired and kinda grumpy when we got home.  I just remembered what all happened on this night, and boy we really WERE grumpy!  Or maybe it was just me.

The boys were getting caught up on chores and were upstairs for a bit when Drew came down holding something to his hand.  He had been cutting something with his pocket knife and his hand slipped and he cut it.  My stomach was KILLING me when this happened, and just the sight of the blood alone almost made me vomit.  But the cut was pretty deep, and Todd wasn't here.  I sent him a text with a picture of it, but he thought it looked deep.  He actually ended up coming home really quick to get a better look at it, and while he was here he pushed the skin back together and bandaged him up.

While all that went on, my sister Tricia was here.  Thank goodness!  Graham and I went to Chick Fil A to grab some dinner (it was spirit night for our homeschool group, where a portion of the money made goes back to us) and I came back home.  He stayed there and my friend brought him home for me.  After we ate dinner, Jonah was running the vacuum in my room and accidentally blew a fuse.  :/

And my stomach started hurting again.  We were all just kinda blah and decided to turn in at nine.


I was laying in bed reading, when I witnessed this: the Christmas lights were on in their room, and they were calling out history trivia questions to each other.  I love hearing them talk and laugh at night.  It puts things into perspective for me.

Friday my dad came and had lunch with us.  We did some running around and he took the boys to Academy sports.  I stayed home and filled in this little jewel:



I love this planner!  It's so bright and fun and I am so thankful to have gotten it as a gift!

Friday night was Go Fish at church~as in, "Go and be fishers of men."  It's a free kids event from 6-9 and I volunteered.  Because Austin loves me, he placed me at the registration tables and left this with me:


I was so tempted to run up behind him and hit the siren button, like he does to us at camp.  But I didn't.  I was a good girl and just kept my eye on it.  I love this night at our church, it's so much fun being with all the other volunteers, even if you do get teased relentlessly.  ;)  I think it was pick on Jennifer night.

Saturday dawned bright and early and I took Graham to work.  I came home and got "officially" dressed, then drove into Memphis for an eye doctor appointment.  I snapped this picture of my car while driving:


Doesn't my car look like Shrek?!  Cracks me up.

I picked out two new pairs of glasses.  They look very similar to this:




I can't wait to get them!  I'm hoping they'll be ready by Wednesday or Thursday.  I'm seeing blurry right now because my right eye has changed so much.

Drew~God love him.  Here's a picture of what his hair looked like yesterday morning:


I made lunch for some hungry children and did some more laundry, and we made some goodies to munch on, while Jonah's and Noah's friend Ben was here.

Noah had his first basketball game at two (and won!) and then we went to my in-love's house for dinner.

It was a really good day, but by ten o'clock last night, I was ready to hit the sack.  We went to church this morning and I got to see my tenth grade girls and we attended an awesome church service.  Here's a picture I snapped from the beginning:


All the men went up to pray before we began worship.  I loved seeing it and took the picture.  Brother Chuck preached an awesome sermon on diffusing disharmony in church.  He used Philippians 4:1-5 to preach from and, boy, was it good.  It was one of those nice and convicting services, the kind where you get your toes stepped on.  ;)  I am so thankful for a preacher who preaches like that!  I was also convicted to pray more earnestly for him.

So that's what we've been up to.  I hope you've had a great past few days.  Love to all!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I am linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals , and her friends, for the writing of this blog post. This week has been ...