Monday, September 29, 2014

weekend wrap-up

Friday night the girls from the youth group at church went out to the country for a bonfire.  Well.  Really, it was a party where they took tons of pictures for two hours, and the bonfire was in the background.  ;)  Young girls love to take pictures of themselves!  It was so much fun, though, being with them and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows for s'mores.  Here are a couple of pictures from Friday night.



I have no idea what my eyes were staring at.  The sweet gal that took these (MK) is an amazingly talented photographer...she's one of the girls ministry leaders, and this was at her parent's home.

After the bonfire I came home and got packed for our trip to Nashville!  My mom, my sister Trish and I left around nine Saturday morning to steal my sister Debi away for twenty-four hours.  Debi lives in Colorado, and her sister in law, who lives near Nashville, is recovering from surgery, so Debi was there to help out for a few days.  When we found out she would be that close to us, we decided to go see her.  I haven't seen her in over a year, and I have no idea when I'll get the chance to see her again, so I jumped at the opportunity.


We were on the way!  My mom's smile in this is precious.  We arrived at Debbie's house (that is my sister's sister in law...how funny that they share the same name) to pick my sister up and stayed and chatted with Debbie for a bit.  She is the sweetest person ever and had gotten out some snacks for us to munch on while we were there.  I loved seeing her again~I don't think I've seen her since my sister married her brother twenty something years ago!  She's one of those people I feel an instant connection with, though, and I sincerely hope to get to see her again for longer sometime.

We left Debbie's house and headed into Franklin.  I don't think I had ever been there before...maybe near there, but not actually to the downtown area.  We had lunch at a place called Puckett's.


Then we browsed through all the shops afterward.  My favorite store was one called Philanthropy.  It's owned by Christian people and they work with different ministries all over the world.  For instance, the money they make off their canvas art goes to St. Jude.  One hundred percent of it.  They also provide clean water for kids in Africa and they help women learn to make a sustainable income by making things.

They had a prayer wall, where people write down their prayer requests.


I cried over this wall.  And then I bought a cross that is beautifully crafted by women from Cape Town, South Africa.  It's now hanging on my cross wall on the stairwell, and the kids spotted it right away.


I love historical buildings, so all of this town appealed to me.

After we shopped, we checked into our (beautiful) hotel and decided on where to have dinner.  We didn't want to drive too far, so we ate at Puckett's again, but this time at the location called the Boathouse.  It was really good.  Really.  They key lime pie I had for dessert might have been my favorite.

Sunday morning we had breakfast, went to the Walmart nearby, then took Debi back to her sister in law's house.  We stopped for gas before hitting the road, and this pulled up next to us.


It's not every day that a tractor pulls up next to you on the road.  ;)  We had a great time, and I was so glad to have seen my sister!  It wasn't for very long, but I will take what I can get.  I hope your weekend was wonderful, too!  I feel like I haven't seen my family much lately, so I am glad to be home again and am looking forward to spending a night at home with them.  My schedule has been a little crazy lately, and I need to slow it back down.  I feel like time is slipping through my fingers...and usually that feeling comes when busy-ness takes over.

Thanks for reading my blog!  Love to all.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday (homeschool version) Favorites

Momfessionals

One.  

I love how peaceful our days are.  We love to stay home and when the cool weather hits, there is nothing quite like it.  Our days are peaceful, for the most part, and we keep the television off all day.  The only time we might turn it on is if we eat in the living room at lunch time, to catch up on a recorded show.  On this day, Noah had finished his work for the day and wanted to lay down.  He asked if he could get on his galaxy player, but I recommended a book instead.  :)  Crash jumped up on the couch to join him.  


Two.

I loved chemistry in high school!  Graham is taking it this year, and I am helping him memorize the periodic table.  I made flash cards for him so he can study them quickly before each test on Thursday.  I took this screen shot on my phone so I could refer back to it often.  Some of the symbols I couldn't remember, so Google was my friend. 


Three.  

On Tuesday, I made grilled cheese sandwiches and white cheese queso dip for lunch.  Our kitchen table was full of the kids' school work, so we dined at the dining room table.  Jonah photo bombed the picture.  


We had a candlelit lunch.  :)  I'm bummed that this candle is no more...after this day, there is no more of it to burn.  

Four.  

Speaking of this candle...shortly after I took the picture above, Graham asked me why the key to Jonah's handcuffs were in the melted wax.  Apparently, one of his brothers thought it would be funny if they hid the key in the melted wax...so that it would be lost until the next time we burned the candle.  


I can promise you that Drew is the one who was behind this little scheme.  He was the kid who once hid his wallet so well that he lost it for six months.  Inside his wallet was $60, so imagine his delight when he finally found it again.  

The turkey.  

These were my favorite moments from this week, all of which happened on Tuesday.  I'm linking up to Momfessionals.

Love to all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

what's been happening Wednesday

There are no words to describe how tired I am.  Today has been the longest day ever in the history of long days.  I was up at and at 'em at an early hour and am just now sitting down for the first time today, in a chair not at the kitchen table.  It's nine thirty, by the way.

Anyhow.  Here's what's been going on.

Last Thursday, Drew's teacher posted some tests on the wall for us moms to see.  I was so proud of him!


Thursday night we had one of our youth pastors and his wife over for dinner.  They were the ones who stayed at our house at night to take care of our animals while we were on vacation.


Crash loves Melinda.

Friday we had lunch with my dad and that night I went to dinner with a sweet friend from high school.  Saturday was a day at home, Sunday was church activities and Monday we had to take our two dogs and one of our cats to the vet.



Drew and his friend Cole at church on Sunday.

Tuesday was a long day of school.  (So was today.)

Yesterday, Jonah and Noah were mummified.


They jumped on the trampoline in between school subjects.


Well...they laid on the trampoline.

Noah read a book when he felt sick to his stomach, then decided to just take a nap instead.


Crash joined him.

Last night, some ladies from church met at a friend's house and we watched One Night With The King, since we just finished Esther a couple weeks ago.


We watched it outdoors.  :)

Today we did more school work, I finished my Bible study homework, my mom came over for lunch, a friend came over after Mom left, then we started rearranging the boys' rooms.  They decided they were done sharing a room and asked us to separate them.  I was so sad at first, but now I'm excited for them, because their rooms look great.



And this girl is about to hit the hay.  Well...I'm gonna go watch Netflix and lull myself to sleep.  :)  Love to all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tips & Tricks on Tuesday


So, it's no secret that my brain is unique and works in weird ways.  As in the fact that I make "deals" with myself.  I do this in so many areas in my life that it's not even funny.

Here's my favorite~I make myself drink lots and lots of water every single day.  If I've had a certain number of cups before lunch, then I'll allow myself to drink a glass of tea with lunch, but I have to switch back to water right after.

I really love a clean kitchen.  If I focus on one area of my kitchen, like the sink, to look really clean, that will overflow into the rest of my kitchen.  I got that one from The Fly Lady...if you haven't read her blog before, you should.  She has lots of great ideas.

When I light a candle, it inspires me to straighten the rest of my house.  Well, at least the downstairs part.  ;)  And, your house really doesn't have to be "clean" to look clean~when you straighten up the couch cushions, clear the clutter off the surfaces and light a few candles, it takes on that appearance.  I also love to have people over, so I like to keep things as neat as possible, in the downstairs area, or as neat as one can be with four boys who have school at home everyday.

If you love to cook and are stuck in a rut with your meal planning, go watch tv.  Or read a blog.  For dinner inspiration, I love to watch The Food Network.  For something to read, I love The Mix and Match Mama.  I also love The Pioneer Woman's blog.  My favorite actual cookbook is Southern Living's Easy Weeknight Recipes.  All the recipes are few in the amount of ingredients and only thirty minutes to make.  Easy, shmeasy.

Maybe I'm slow, but I've recently discovered the internet and Netflix for homeschooling.  My boys do not love to read (the middle school two).  I have decided that when they finish their work early, they can watch documentaries on Netflix on topics that might interest them.  Today Jonah watched one on Navy Seals.  Tomorrow we're going to watch one called Abandoned America.  There are documentaries on dinosaurs, the Titanic, the Arctic, any animal you can think of and lots and lots more.  We use the internet for current events and instruction manuals.  As long as they read something, I am okay with that.  Anything at all is better than nothing at all.

Thanks for reading!  I've had a couple of newbies stop by and read...so thanks, also, for the comment love.  :)  Love to all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

sweet memories Monday


I was driving home this morning and we passed by a cherry picker on Frank road.  I asked Drew if he remembered being obsessed with them as a young boy, and of course he didn't, but it was a sweet memory for us and we laughed about it.

That got me to thinking that I might start writing about some of my favorite memories from their younger days...it's good to document things, and I have a lot of stuff written down in my journal, but I have forgotten so much over the years.  

Our little talk in the car led me to remembering some other sweet things about the other boys.

Like when Jonah was a toddler, he loved this movie we had about firetrucks.  His dad was a volunteer firefighter at the time, so it made sense that he was obsessed.  The movie was a really cheesy movie someone gave us, made by a company called Little Hardhats.  There were a series of movies, and we tried a couple more, one about garbage trucks and one about land-moving machines.  Those were not as well loved, though, like this one on firetrucks.  We must have watched that thing a thousand times.  Sometimes multiple times in a row.  

Todd and I were laughing just a few days ago, about how Noah used to call every animal that he saw a kitty.  We'd be driving on the road and pass cows, and Noah would be saying, "Kittyyyyyyyy!" from the backseat.  Because that's how he said the word.  :)  

Graham was never really into one certain thing like some of the other boys, but wherever adults were, Graham wanted to be there too.  I remember painting the foyer in our old home, and Graham "helped" me.  He was mesmerized by the ladder and the pretty green paint I was using.  He was such a good kid~I could have left him alone with five of his favorite colors in open paint cans and told him not to touch it, and he wouldn't.  He always listened so well and he loved helping me...probably because he had a younger brother at the grand old age of one.  He doesn't remember ever not having Drew around, and I love that.

I also remember thinking they would never outgrow a certain age.  I read a quote that I tell people about all the time, and I can't remember who said it, but I'll share it here.

The days are long, but the years are short.

That is the truest thing!  When your kids are young and you have no life, when you're potty-training, when they're newborns, when they can't tell you what hurts, when the food on the floor or the high chair tray is greater than the amount of food that made it into their little tummies, when you don't think you will ever get out of your house easily ever again, remember that the days are long, but the years are short.

My favorite Christian fiction author wrote a book that I loved, Let Me Hold You Longer.  It's a book about their lasts, instead of the firsts that we are always so quick to write down, and it helps me to slow down and soak up the moments.  

Because before you know it... 

...I suddenly realized that one of them no longer sleeps with his lovey.  When did that happen?!  I cannot even begin to tell you.  And I thought for sure he'd be sleeping with that thing in his college years.  ;)

...I don't remember when I last held them and cuddled them in my lap.

...I can't remember the last time they brought me a new rock for my collection of rocks they gave me.

...I'll start getting college brochures in the mail.  

Time really does fly.  My encouragement from this today is a reminder to myself, and to anybody who reads this: slow down and enjoy this time.  I've become increasingly more aware that my days with all four of them in my house are growing fewer and fewer.  The house will be messy, and someday maybe I can have a perfect home, but for now, I will enjoy the mess that makes our home, home. 

(I will re-read this when I see that they forgot to make their beds.  Again.)  

Love to all.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday Favorites (on a Saturday, because I forgot)

Momfessionals

I'm posting my favorites from this week...they are random...some are people and some are just things that I use on a daily basis.  These are in no particular order.

Here we go!

One.


I adore this Dutch oven.  My mom bought me this the week after I had surgery, because she overheard me say how much I loved The Pioneer Woman's that I saw while watching her show.  I love to cook and though this thing is really heavy, I leave it out on my stovetop all the time.  I use it literally every single day whether I'm making a huge pot of chili (like I did on Thursday) or macaroni for our lunch.  I love it.  I love it even more because it's red.  And in case anyone is curious, this is the Martha Stewart brand, bought from Macy's.

Two.


I've mentioned before that I love Post-It Notes, but they're really practical for me.  I use them all the time with homeschooling, as page markers or little notes that I leave to the boys in their school books.  I also leave them all over the place for myself, as little reminders of what needs to be done, or an important email I need to reply to.  

Three.


Friends!  I've had some really great friend time this week, including time with this precious lady.  She and her boy came over for breakfast yesterday morning, and for a blessed two and a half hours, we laughed and got all nice and caught up with each other.  I love her so much and we are so much alike that it is almost freaky.  Seriously.  You would die if you knew all that we had in common.  This is my sweet friend Andrea that I met at Renewed Moms two years ago.  It feels like I've known her forever.

Four.  


Fruit filled Twizzlers.  I am addicted, as I mentioned earlier this week...and last night, thanks to a friend from high school that I went to dinner with, I now have another pack laying around! 

Five.


Not a day goes by that I don't thank the good Lord for our homeschool group, Renewed Moms.  Thursdays are my favorite day of the week and a total God send.  I love all these ladies and I love my small group!  I have the honor of being a small group leader here, and the time we spend praying and talking and sharing is precious to me.  Our prayers are anointed, and we are all striving for unity in our faith.  Denominations are not mentioned, we just all love Jesus and we love studying His word inductively.  

Six.


Mexican food.  I went to a yummy new to me restaurant last night called Las Delicias.  It was delicious, as the name states.  I loved the salsa and guacamole and my entree was amazing~fresh chicken flautas.  Pictured above are the tamales we enjoyed on our vacation, but they're Mexican too, so I thought I'd use that picture.  :)

I'm linking up with Momfessionals for this post.  Thanks for reading and love to all!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

what's for dinner Thursday

Todd has worked late this week, so when he's gone, I tend to keep things simple on the meal schedule.  I will spare you the details of every meal we've eaten this week, but I've re-visited two of our favorites.

Hot ham and cheese sandwiches were what we had on Tuesday.  You can find the recipe here.

Actually, they are favorites of just Drew and me.  Nobody else in the house is in love with them, and I thought they were.  Oops!  When I made these the other night, I left out the mustard, because three of my children hate the stuff.  They are so good, and I made broccoli cheddar soup to accompany them.

Another favorite is what we're having tonight, and that is from my best friend's website.


 What, you didn't know we were BFF's?!  I wish.  I do love her (The Pioneer Woman, aka Ree Drummond) recipes, though, and on the menu for tonight is her perfect, simple chili.  You can find that recipe here.  I triple this recipe when I make it.  The single size, that serves 6-8, does NOT serve that many.  I've tried doubling it and it wasn't enough, so now I know to triple it so we can eat leftovers.  The longer it sits, the better it gets.  Don't let the masa harina throw you off~it's what makes the whole recipe.

We're having some friends over for dinner tonight, so I am excited about what we're eating.  I love a good bowl of chili.

Hopefully this will inspire someone to make a yummy dinner tonight.  ;)  Love to all!



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's been happening Wednesday

Monday was spent cleaning my house, doing the mountains of laundry, grocery shopping and running errands.  Vacation is always so much fun, but it's always so good to come back home, even if that means lots of work needs to be done.

With that being our Monday, Monday night was spent kicking back.  Well...kinda.  Graham and Drew went to a powder puff game that some of their friends played in, and Jonah and Noah played outside.  I'm a single parent this week, at least until ten p.m. each night, so I stayed inside and watched tv and drank coffee.


And cuddled with this one.


I think he was devastated that Todd wasn't here.  Speaking of Todd, he's having to take a refresher course this week to stay up to date on his First Responder license.  I don't think they call it that anymore, but you get my drift.

Tuesday was a long (and good) day of school.  We did math, read the book of Esther, made replicas of Stonehenge (Thanks to our neighbor's rock flower bed!  They did return all the rocks.), and did a science experiment with heat and a spiral made out of paper, as we learned about air currents.  We did have a small fire in the kitchen, but Noah put it out quickly.  :)



The base to their replicas of Stonehenge is their homemade kool-aid dough.  We need to make some more of this stuff, theirs is getting hard and the yummy smell can no longer be detected.  If you've never made this stuff, Google it and make some.  They use it all the time for school projects, and sometimes just to play with.  I don't know that one ever outgrows the stuff.

I spend almost all of my day in the kitchen...I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before on here.  I made them a really good breakfast yesterday (sausage and biscuits), a hot lunch (chicken strips, homemade ranch dressing and salami with provolone cheese inside and heated up), then dinner last night (hot ham and cheese sandwiches with worcestershire and butter dressing on top and broccoli cheddar soup).

I'm not complaining.  I love making them meals like this all day, and I don't do that all the time, usually just a couple days a week.  I feel like it's important to start out strong though, when we've got a long day of work ahead of us.

Last night Graham had soccer practice and Drew went to see his youth pastor's son play peewee football.  Jonah and Noah were outside until almost nine and I enjoyed some quiet.  And I snacked on these.


Fruit filled Twizzlers.  They're sour and so yummy.  It's kinda like my crack of choice right now.  I only crave it a few times a year, and I rarely buy it, but on Monday when I saw it on the candy aisle, I couldn't help myself.

Today has been another long (and good) day of school.  The boys were trying their best to get as much accomplished as possible so they can enjoy Friday off.  The public school is out of school that day and the boys want to play outside with their friends all day.  I don't mind, as long as they get their assignments done for the week.  They might have to do a little more work tomorrow afternoon, but I would say that they've done a great job.


I took this of Noah reading the book of Esther while I was finishing my Bible study homework for Renewed Moms.

It's been a wonderful week so far, and I am so thankful that I get to homeschool my kids.  We have our ups and downs, and there are times when I feel like I am going to lose my mind if anybody asks me one more question, but I so love having them at home with me.  They are so much fun to be with and do experiments with, like when Noah set his little spiral he made on fire by accident yesterday.  We laugh so much, and I have seen so much growth in them these past couple years.  I am so grateful for what I get to do everyday.


This was a little humor that I cracked up at on Facebook last night.  I saved it to my phone and sent it to my sister-in-love, who also homeschools and we shared some laughs and we vented a little with each other.  I'm glad I have family who knows what it's like, and though all the good far outweighs the bad, some days the struggle is real.  And I feel like my kids look at me like this sometimes.  Ha!

Well...I guess it's time for me to get dressed for church.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Monday, September 15, 2014

vacation post

Forgive me for the length this is going to be, but it's so that I'll have it all written down somewhere.  I thought I would hit the highlights of our week in Branson, Missouri.


Sunday, on the way there, we stopped at the natural bridge somewhere in Arkansas.  I got carsick on the way down the mountain, but it was worth it.  Phyllis snapped this of the six of us.


My best friend Christa and her little girl Annalise came to see us and spent all of Monday with us.  We had so much fun catching up and laughing and eating and swimming.  It was awesome.



After a day spent at the condo all day on Monday, we had to get the kids out Tuesday.  They were driving me bonkers!  My list of things I wanted to do included seeing Table Rock Lake up close and personal and eating a yummy local lunch.  The tamales you see pictured happened because we took a wrong turn trying to find a winery.  They were delicious!  We also ate pork rinds and fudge.  We visited a fish hatchery, explored a campground toured a winery.





On Wednesday, we drove into downtown Branson and took the boys to ride go-karts.  That night we went to the Sight and Sound Theater and saw Jonah, the production.  It was amazing.  The theater is beautiful and we all loved it!  Jonah loved all the merchandise with his name on it~we bought him a cup while we were there.


Thursday we shopped.  All day long.  It was fun and the boys scored some new outfits from some of their favorite stores, like Under Armor, Nike and American Eagle.  Thursday night we went to the Dixie Stampede.  It was awesome and the boys and I loved it.  I had never been to that, so it was a treat for me as well.  After that was over, the boys wanted to stop and get their picture made with this giant elephant statue.  Roll Tide.  ;)






Friday was the day they had been (im)patiently been waiting for~Silver Dollar City.  It was quite cool outside and guess who forgot their jackets?  We bought sweatshirts for them all to wear, and I was glad we did. (I had a jacket, but it wasn't very warm.  When Todd took his sweatshirt off, I wore it instead of the jean jacket I had worn.)  Before we left, the weather turned drizzly.  They all rode roller coasters and I watched.  I'm such a fuddy dud...I can not stand heights or anything that spins.  As in, they make me sick.  But I had fun capturing lots of pictures.  :)  I love this picture of Phyllis and Wiley.  They are as much fun to be with as it appears~I am so fortunate to have them in my life!






We got to see Christa and Annalise one more time before leaving, and this time her hubby Jason got to come with them.  He was out of town on Monday.  I love all these pictures~my boys fell head over heels in love with Annalise and so did Todd.  I am so thankful I got to see them twice in one week!  I miss Christa so much, and having her nearby.  It did my heart lots of good getting to love on her.

We left Sunday morning and got home close to five last night.  It was an amazing week, and our vacation plans for next year are already underway, this time to another place we've never been.  Today will be spent playing catch up on housework and laundry and grocery shopping.  I'm also almost finished with a book I started while we were away, and I want to finish it.  I have to go to the library to return books and I have a week of work to plan for my kids.  But we're starting tomorrow.  Today I am enjoying extra cups of coffee and staying in my pj's for as long as possible.  Tomorrow will come fast enough.

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...