Friday, February 28, 2014

the rest of our week

Our weeks are a little unorthodox.  I love that, and that's one of the million reasons why I love homeschooling.  Each day, where and how they do school work looks different.  It's funny how they kinda look to me to decide where they'll be for that day.  On this particular day, I think Wednesday, I was upstairs cleaning and this is where they all landed.  Three of them were in the playroom, and one of them was in the room that holds the ping pong table.  (I don't know what else to call that room, but that's pretty fitting, right?)

The reason why one was in the ping pong table room by himself was because he was hiding in there, with the door shut and locked.  He (Graham) scared the daylights out of Drew, and Drew was waiting to retaliate.  Life is never dull at my house.  :)

I'm still not drinking soft drinks, just two cups of coffee in the morning and water all day.  I'm still not eating carbs that are found in bread, pasta, potatoes and rice.  I am still eating fruits and veggies.  For lunch on this day, Drew and I had sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach.  I sauteed these goodies in olive oil, 1 tbsp of butter and about 3 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce.  It was delicious and really filling.


And pretty.

We went to church Wednesday night and for the first time ever, I went upstairs to the youth service.  It was really good...their worship is amazing.  A sweet friend was back to visit, Erin, who used to be the minister for our girls at church.  She went to Greece for three months, to work with the A21 Campaign, an organization that brings girls out of slavery.  The fact that this kind of thing exists today and all over the world (including Memphis) is astonishing.  Yesterday was the 27th of February, and on this day, to raise awareness about the 27 million people who are trafficked each year, we wore red X's on our hands.


These young people are sold into slavery for sex, work (sweat shops) and to be child soldiers.  Anytime there's a huge event (think Super Bowl), these kinds of horrific things happen.  Just recently, in Sochi, during the winter Olympics, some reporters almost became victims of this.  They had been "interviewing" for a position to cover the Olympics, and had been going through the process for months ahead of time.  When the one they had been talking to asked if she had any girlfriends who could come with her (without being interviewed for months), she knew something was wrong and notified authorities.  Sure enough, the company was bogus and the man is believed to be in the industry of slavery recruitment.

(This also reminds me of the movie Taken.)

There is so much more information about this out there, if you want to read about it.  Just Google "end it movement".

Todd was out of town Wednesday night.  We thought he was going to be gone Thursday night as well, but he was able to make it back home.  :)  We had the most amazing dinner ever (or maybe I was just starving!) of chicken parmesan, pasta (just for the boys, I skipped this part) and salad (they had ceasar, but I made my own healthy dressing).


Olive oil and red wine vinegar make for a delicious, healthy dressing.  There was nothing fancy about my salad, either, it was just organic green leaf lettuce and two huge bunches of spinach.  I'm really, really trying my very best to eat healthy.  I know some days might be more hard than others, but this first week has gone a lot better than I thought it would.  :)

Well...my dad just pulled up and it's time to hit the road.  I hope you have a great day~happy Friday to you!  Love to all.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

a little encouragement

He said, "Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."  Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!  Come here!"  So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them.  They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of the heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.  Daniel 3:25~27

Years ago I learned that that blazing furnace was so incredibly hot that the ones leading them into it would have died as well.  The fact that their captors led them into it and died, but these four were walking around unbound and unharmed is a miracle.  The reason they were led into this furnace to begin with was because they would not bow down to the image of gold Nebuchadnezzar had made.  I love the mental picture I get of an entire kingdom bowing down before this image, and then, there stand Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, these same three who served the Most High God that Nebuchadnezzar eventually subjected himself to.

When times get tough, don't forget Who carries you through...as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "For when I am weak, then I am strong."  The Lord allows us to go through fiery times to sometimes get our attention.  Don't ever doubt His love for you, though.  Whether He delivers you through the fire, in spite of the fire or straight into His arms after the fire, He will be right there beside you.

(Some of these thoughts are taken from Beth Moore's study on Daniel.)

Love to all.

a week gone by

I thought I would hit the highlights from our past week.

On Thursday night of last week, Noah had his basketball awards ceremony.  This guy came and did tricks for them (think Globetrotters, but not one of them) and then spoke afterward.  At the end they received their trophies...we added our first basketball trophy to the collection.


Left to right are his teammates Andrew, Carter and Alex.

When we got home, we found that Andy had bled all over the downstairs floor.  His nail had somehow come almost completely loose and it had to be taped up until we took him to the vet the next morning.


No, I did not call 911.  Todd and his partners came to the awards ceremony and were still in The Ville when this happened, and he came home to look at it.


Poor Andy the Wonder Dog.  This was his temporary cast.  Which he promptly pulled off five seconds after I took this picture.

Friday night I celebrated my best friend's birthday with her by eating at Pancho's.  That is still my all-time favorite Mexican food restaurant.  And it was a treat, because the next day, I started watching what I eat.  I think I may have a thyroid issue going on, and the way to cure it is by diet and exercise.  Today will be day five of no soft drinks and minimal carbs.  I'm not cutting them out totally, I'm just cutting way back.  I'm also not skimping on fruit and veggies, and the carbs that are in those things, I am not counting.

Anyway, Friday night I came home and went through old pictures.


I found these.  The left one is the summer I graduated, the top right is the summer my sister Debi graduated from college and the bottom one is on my graduation day.  Todd has been part of my life now for longer than he hasn't.  :)

On Saturday, Noah had a basketball game, and that night we went to a friend's house for dinner.  It was so good being with them again, it had been over a year since we'd gotten together.

On Sunday we spent the day at church and/or home groups, then Monday found us starting our week.  Monday night was ladies night at my church, and when I got home, I learned that Drew couldn't find his phone.  It turns out he had placed it on the back of my suburban and I drove off with it.


Said phone was shattered and completely ruined and is now living in our trash can.  :/  He's been reduced back down to a dumb phone for the time being.  We simply don't have the money to replace it with another smart phone.  And even if we could, I'm not sure we would.  To assure you that we're not completely horrid people, he does at least have a dumb phone and he still has an iPod touch.

Yesterday was a really good, long day of school work for the boys.  I found this picture on Drew's iPod that he had taken a week ago and posted it to Instagram for him.  He loves when I do that, but the kid has some talent.


Here are some images from what we do in the day time:




We write in journals.  We use fun pens.  Because, why do school work in boring old black pens or pencils, when colored pens aplenty are available?

Today will be another long school day for the boys, then church tonight.  Todd left to go out of town for maybe two nights.  The boys and I will muddle through without him and pray that nothing catastrophic happens while he's away.  Because you know that happens.

Thanks for reading~the two of you who read.  ;)  Love to all.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guess what day it is?!

Yes, it is hump day, but it's also the day before our homeschool group meets.  I'm particularly excited about tomorrow, because we're finishing up our study on Ephesians (that part I'm sad about), and we will be talking all about spiritual warfare.  That is something that every single one of us struggles with, and I'm hoping our Bible study teacher will bring some things to light that will open my eyes more to warfare.  A large amount of what goes on in my head is warfare.  In 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible tells us that Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, and I'll be honest with you, I have felt like I have gone through some devouring at certain times in my life.

The enemy is very real, my friends, and it's important for us to know what he looks like when he attacks.  Because if you think he won't attack you in any way possible, you are mistaken.  If you struggle with depression, or being down in the dumps, do you think he's going to let that be all you struggle with?  Nope.  He's going to get further into the recesses of your mind, and he is going to start making you doubt your friendships, or your family relationships, or even your own sanity.  He is crafty, he is very intelligent and he is the prince of this world.  The Bible calls him that, in John 12:31.

Even as I was writing this post, I had this really strong urge to stop and pray for our group of precious moms tomorrow.  I know that the enemy will use any ploy he can to keep us away on Thursdays, including bad weather (Have you checked the forecast?!), and I am asking that the Lord keep any bad weather away until after we all arrive tomorrow morning.  I know that's a big request, but I serve a big and mighty God.  I know He is able!

Well...I almost feel like I should end this post there, but that's not really what I had intended to write about.  Maybe that was meant for someone tonight, and if so, I pray you find some encouragement from the word of God.  Nothing comforts me like His word.

Today was a good day.  I have this rule that starts first thing every morning, and that is a no-technology rule.  The boys can get carried away with it, and if they don't put it away first thing everyday, they might never.


They always keep them in the kitchen on silent, and I decided to take a picture of it this morning.

For lunch I made homemade macaroni and cheese.  Who eats sandwiches, when you're homeschooled?!  Unless they're some kind of special sandwich.  I snapped a picture of what it took to make lunch:


This lovely grater was my Valentine's day gift.  Some gals are wooed by jewelry or flowers, but not me!  (Although I do enjoy flowers on random days, ahem, Toddley, and he's good at giving them to me.)  I am wooed by practical gifts.  I had been wanting a better cheese grater for ages, and it's not necessarily something I would spend money on.  But as a gift?  Perfection!  This one has a grater, a smaller size grater, a slicer and a microplane zester.  Insert happy, contented sigh here.

I especially love this because I don't buy bagged grated cheese.  I grate my own and I have a home full of cheese-lovers, so you can understand how much cheese we can go through.

After lunch, in browsing the internet, I came across what I'm going to use for science next year for Jonah and Noah.  (Graham and Drew will be taking science~chemistry for Graham, biology for Drew~at our homeschool group on Thursday.)  I am so excited!  It's chemistry for middle-schoolers.  And it's free!


I took a picture of it, so I would remember.  I've also started a note on my phone for the curriculum I'll be using for them for the next school year.  I'm trying to be more on purpose right now, in order to save us money.  I feel like I'm always thinking ahead, but that's a good thing, right?

I came across a saying that I love today:


I wish words could explain how much I love this saying.  I love books.  I adore books!  And I own a lot of books.  A LOT.   I feel like you can't have too many, and I feel like the more you read, the more intelligent you will be, especially as an adult.  I'm always pushing the boys to read.  They don't always want to, and it's something they resist me on, but it's a subject that I always push back with.  They will be readers.  Even if it kills us all.  ;)

As I was making dinner in shifts tonight, at one point I was sitting at the kitchen table reading my chronological Bible, when I looked down and saw this.


They really do love one another, at least from time to time.  ;)  Every time I see them laying side by side like this, I start humming the song, Ebony and Ivory, by Stevie Wonder.  Remember that song?  And, you're welcome for that.  If you're like me, you'll be singing it for the rest of the night.

Today was a good day.  I think I already said that.  But it was.  I pray that you feel the same way about your day, and if you don't...well, may I encourage you?  Don't look to others to make your day~if your boss says something you don't like, or if someone hurts you, turn the other cheek.  Don't look to others.  Look to Jesus.  I know that days will be rough, but I know that the Lord has already gone before us.  He knows what we're up against each and every day, and if we walk each day with Him, having spent precious alone time with Him prior to getting the day started, I promise you this: your day will flow.  Words will roll off you.  You will smile freely.  You will see the goodness of God all around you.

If you don't believe me, try it tomorrow.  Put Him first when you wake up.  Before you turn on the tv or open up that laptop, spend time praying and reading His word.  One thing I like to do is read in Proverbs~whatever that date is, that is the chapter I will read.

Enjoy what's left of your night, my friends.  Love to all.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We...

We
...

...have these days that are so productive.  The boys don't have to stay in one area to complete their school work, but usually what happens is that Graham stays in the living room so he can work on the computer, and Jonah, Noah and Drew stay at the kitchen table.  Today, Drew and Noah sat here at the kitchen table and Graham and Jonah sat at the dining room table.  In this picture, they're working on memorizing the 44 presidents by writing them all down.  I love days like today.  While they were starting their school work, I was getting started on Bible study stuff.  Sometime after lunch, around two, I got around to actually getting out of my pajamas.  That fact alone is one of my favorite parts about homeschooling; the option of getting dressed in something other than pajamas.


...have impromptu picnics.  Especially on days when the high is seventy degrees and the sun is shining.  (Even though, by the time we got there, the sun was no longer shining.)  I decided we needed a little break from our usual evening routine, so I bought us (with my Christmas money) dinner and we added it to the additional food I had packed, and we headed to our local park.  There were tons of cars there, though, so when Todd spotted this little wooded area with picnic tables, that's where we went.  It was so peaceful, and I adore eating under a brilliant canopy like the one in this picture.


...hammock.  Did you know that's a verb nowadays?  (Kinda like Google?)  It is.  Todd, Graham and Drew have these hammocks that are similar to the brand Eno, and they do this.  Todd's the one in the picture.  Jonah and Noah don't have these yet, but I'm thinking that for their birthday they might each get one.  Speaking of their birthdays, we begin our "birthday season" two weeks from today.  Jonah and Noah turn eleven on March ten, Graham turns fifteen on March eleven, and Drew turns fourteen on April third.  See what I mean by "birthday season"?


...have fun by doing simple, everyday things, like going to Lowe's.  Graham needed to buy something for his hammock, and while he, Jonah and Todd went in, I pulled the car over to watch for them.  Drew and Noah decided they wanted to climb the light pole.  I have no idea why, but I love that they have fun together.


...drive vehicles until we can no longer drive them.  I was sitting in the parking lot at Lowe's waiting on them to come out and was trying to see how many miles were on my car.  There are a lot of miles on my car!  It's okay, though.  I'm thankful for a vehicle that runs well that has lots of life left in it.  One hundred thirty-three thousand, eight hundred eleven and a half miles.  And prayerfully, many more to come.  


...like to dream.  Of the warm days that are on their way, and of things that I would like to plant.  Someday...hopefully when we're living in the country.  ;)  Inside these buildings are lots of things that are fun to plant.  I'm going to try and make our beloved deceased neighbor, Mr. Paul, proud and plan more of what we're going to do this year.  I feel like last year we just kinda threw something together, and it didn't work that well.  We did get some okra, and some peppers, but that was about all.  


...laugh a lot, but sometimes not enough.
...try to love others the way Jesus loves us...or, we're at least working on that.
...genuinely enjoy being together, but sometimes we enjoy being apart.  ;)
...sometimes have these amazing days, and then sometimes...not so much.
...try to do our best with everyday "stuff", but sometimes we fall behind.
...are constant works in progress.

Love to all.

Monday, February 17, 2014

~weekend~

I love our weekends together at home.  I also love the fact that Valentine's day fell on a Friday this year.  It was the perfect night to make a delicious and special dinner for my family, whom God has so blessed me with.  What better way to celebrate this day, than with them?  I made steak and potatoes.  That's something everyone loves, and it's something we don't eat often.  The kids drank either Kool-Aid or sparkling grape juice out of wine glasses.  For dessert, I made individual molten lava cakes.  If you want the recipe for these, click here.  (Several people have asked me for it.)

Here's a picture of the one I chose:


Doesn't it look yummy?!

It was a great night, and a friend of the boys ended up coming over to spend the night after dinner.  (Because when you have steak and potatoes, there is NEVER any leftover to share.)

Saturday found us sleeping in and staying home until Noah's basketball game.  It's hard to believe that he plays his last game next weekend.  They are a great team and have won every game, except for one, and they only lost by two points.  :/

Saturday afternoon, Graham and Drew had something to do with their student council group, so after I dropped them off, Jonah, Noah, their friend Alex and I headed to my mom's for dinner.  I was passing by my sister's house, so I picked them up and we all rode out there together.  :)  I love spending time with them...we don't get much of that.

Sunday morning was church (!!!) and afterward the boys and I came back home.  Todd and Graham made a Costco run and they had to return Graham's new tennis shoes that broke the night before.  Drew had puppet practice and CAMO at church, Jonah and Noah had AWANA, and Graham and I had community group.  I also picked up a car load of girls to take with me, then I had to return them when it was all over.

Before we left the church that afternoon, I took this picture of the setting sun:


God's glory.  That's what I think of every single time I see a sunset or a sunrise.  How was your weekend?  I hope it was great!

Love to all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

random

There's this huge thing going on right now~the Olympics~and for the life of me, I cannot force myself to watch anything else on television.  It's like someone is making me watch only that.  I'm not a huge sports fan (please don't tell my husband and kids that), so I don't understand why I so love the Olympics.  Maybe it's the stories we hear about different Olympians.  Maybe it's the fact that, for once, though nations are competing against one another, everyone is getting along.  I'm not sure what my deal is, but I love the Olympics!

A friend and I have been messaging funny Facebook posts back and forth to one another all week.  Funny Facebook posts that have everything to do with Valentine's day, and why, on this day, we don't love social media.  ;)

My throwback Thursday post on Instagram yesterday was this:

It was on the newsfeed until Graham asked me to take it off.  So I did, even though I didn't want to.  This was a night when they wouldn't stop arguing, so we made them hug it out.

Yesterday was my favorite weekday!  As usual, our Bible study was amazing and my kids had a great day at our homeschool group.  Afterward, we went to my happy place (the library) and got books.  I "caught" Noah doing this...


...and reading in bed too late last night.  That makes my heart so happy!  

Today is a half day for school kids, so after lunch, the boys' friend Alex is going to spend the afternoon with us.  It's also a long weekend for them, and he'll be spending Monday with us as well.  My kids love when he hangs out with us.  He's really a great kid, and a pleasure to have around.

Did you know that my husband I don't celebrate Valentine's day?  We don't.  Ages ago, I asked him to not ever buy me flowers on this day.  They're too expensive!  I don't get how a florist can get away with jacking up the price on this one day a year, but they do.  There have been years when he didn't listen to my request, but for the most part...we don't "do" this day.

He does, however, buy me flowers on random days.  He's also been known to go fill my gas tank for me.  He's grocery shopped on days when I didn't feel able.  He does lots of little things that are huge to me.  All those things are far more important to me than this one teeny tiny little day a year.  

Well...I think I just heard the dryer go off, and there's laundry to be done.  Have a great day!  Love to all.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

things we've been doing

It's been cold.  I haven't really been out of the house since Monday, and in an effort to not be on Facebook as much, I've been keeping busy in other ways.  Also, my boys love to watch the Olympics, have I mentioned that?  While they watch events I might not be interested in, I have been being creative.








I love to write and do little drawings, and I found an art journal yesterday, so why not?  Plus, I have these great pens my mom-in-love gave me...

Anyway, the boys get a kick out of it.  I've been asked to make them some things in books they can keep for themselves.  I love that and think it's really sweet.  ;)

Both yesterday and today were great days of school for us.


That doesn't always happen, but when it does, I am one happy mama.


Boredom kicked in.


My day was made when Sean Lowe from The Bachelor gave me a shout-out on Instagram.  Whoop whoop!  If you are interested, go to I Am Second and watch the video they posted today.  I congratulated him on making much of Jesus and he was thanking me for my nice comment.  Of course I promptly took a screen shot and texted it to my best friend.

It's been a great day~I'm ready to get out tomorrow, though!  And actually put make-up on, I mean.  ;)  Love to all.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

a blustery cold day at home

Tuesday.  Yesterday was a complete blur, and I didn't feel like myself.  Today I'm back to normal, you'll be glad to know, and thus, it was a good day.  ;)  I say "was", because all the things we set out to accomplish we were able to accomplish.  :)

I started our day out by making breakfast.  Graham loved what my friend made them for breakfast all weekend at the ninth grade boys host home, so I decided to try it as well.  It was good~not my favorite, but he sure loved it, and so did Noah.  It's a crescent roll, sausage and cream cheese thing.  I don't know what it's called, but "thing" seems to work well.

They got a really good start on their work for the day, then it seems like it was time for lunch.  For lunch, I made hot ham and cheese sliders.


Yum.  Hawaiian dinner rolls, ham and mozzarella cheese with butter and poppy seeds on top.  They were a huge hit, and all the school kids loved it.  (I posted on Instagram that this was what the school cafeteria served for lunch on this cold day.)

After lunch the kids finished all their work, I ran out to run an errand, then Graham started a fire.


He was alternating between tending the fire and completing his lab assignment for the day.  That's a pretty awesome fire, there, isn't it?  It feels so good!

And while he finished his work, we enjoyed some watching of the Olympics and I was in the mood to doodle.


Actually, they all did this, too, I just took a picture of mine.  We've been keeping up with the medal count each day, and we've been learning about Sochi.


I love The Message version of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.  Have you read it?  It's beautiful and poetic.  I decided to write it out in this art journal thing we like to draw in.

Horribly exciting, right?!  This is our life.  I am blessed and thankful for these types of days.  Love to all.


Monday, February 10, 2014

weekend & D-NOW (#treasured2014)

This weekend kicked off with a visit to Pappaw's house.  His lake was frozen, and we went to go see it.


They were frozen when they got back in the car.

I love my dad's house.


It'll always be home.

We came home and did all our stuff, and then got packed up for the weekend.  We had to be at church at 4:30, and the festivities got started at seven.  The worship was amazing!  The girls that we teach get it, when it comes to worship.  They were all so free with their worship and uninhibited, that it brought tears to my eyes.  Multiple times.

After church, we had late night, then we went to our host home.

Here's all the girlies!


LOVE.

We had a group session, then they wanted to go to bed.  Scottie and I stayed up later than them, and kept a few of them up, I think.  Who doesn't love a good sleepover?!

Saturday dawned bright and early, with snow, and our plans were changed.  Instead of doing an inner-city mission project, we stayed local.  An event called The Amazing Race was moved up from 3 to noon, with our ministry projects in The Ville happening afterward.  For the race, we had to do all sorts of crazy things and post pictures to Instagram.

One girl, in particular, was very excited and dressed specially for the occasion.  ;)




We did crazy things, like get in a bathtub together and Saran Wrap people to telephone poles.


Scottie and I waited in our warm cars for some parts of the race.


We finished the race and set off to do our ministry projects.  We were assigned the task of visiting shut-ins.  We were able to visit with two different sets of people, an elderly couple and an elderly widow.

They were both precious, and we adopted Mr. Frank and Mrs. Audrey as our tenth grade grandparents.

Here's a picture of them with the girls, and a picture with Mr. Frank praying over them before we left.




Sweetest. Thing. Ever.

We headed back to the church for evening worship and then it was time to go back home.

Sunday morning found us back at church, sleepier than ever, but always ready to smile for the camera.


We named our group, We_Be_10g.  That was our Instagram name, so if you want to see more pictures, go there and follow us.  We'll keep adding pictures to the account, I'm sure.  After we all almost fell asleep multiple times during church, it was finally time to go home.

I slept for five hours after lunch, y'all.  I don't know when I was last that tired!  To top it off, I think I'm getting sick.  :(  It's all sinus-related, but still.  After I woke up and went and fetched all the boys from church (they have boundless energy), we came home to eat and watch the Olympics.

In front of a roaring fire.


Insert happy sigh here.  :)  It's always great to be home.  With the people I love most.

Love to all.

things that make me happy

Yesterday's post was long and detailed.  Today's will be short and sweet.  Here are some random things I've loved this week. I...