Sunday, October 31, 2010

Denver Aquarium

Cody had a field trip to Denver Aquarium this week. Rick was able to go with him. They had a great time.
They got to dissect a squid

They saw all kinds of cool fish and sea creatures.
Cool way to experience the aquarium by sticking your head up in it
and having the fish swim all around.
Cody touched a sting ray. He thought that was pretty cool.
That freaks me out a little bit!

A successful field trip that Cody and Rick enjoyed together.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Truly Challenging

This week has been beyond challenging for me.

Rick was out of town from Sat. - Tues.

While he was gone, so much happened. It really was unbelievable.

You see, I am a people person, but I am also task oriented. I wouldn't say I have a good balance of the two. I would say that I vacillate between the extremes of the two. When I want to do the people thing, I do it with reckless abandon. That usually results in me becoming very frustrated with the tasks that are left undone. Then I swing to the opposite extreme and become the taskmaster that no one(not even me) wants to be around.

I am really working on the the extremeness of who I am right now and trying to find more balance in my life. This week, and the challenges that I have faced, have not been helpful to me in my efforts to become balanced.

My week started on Monday by being totally turned upside down.

I can't even share it all at this point, but it started with a project at my house that has required my undivided attention for 3 straight days and is still not complete. At this moment, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.

When I am consumed by a project(that demands, and in this case, I really do mean demands my attention) every other area suffers.

In addition to this project, I have had to deal with a child with strep and all that that involves(dr. visit, home from school, needing extra attention, dealing with a pharmacy that is in no hurry, etc.). Poor little Sam has not been well. I have not been able to really cuddle him and love him like he needs during this time.

Abby's headaches have come back with a vengeance. I am saddened to see her hurt so much and feel so helpless to do anything about it after exhausting almost every option we can think of.

Isaiah and Laila have tested me beyond belief this week. Laila continues to take off her diapers during nap time. On Tuesday, this resulted in a an all out poop fest in their room. They had a blast, but their room was covered in poop. It was in the carpet, all over their bedding, all over them, ground into toys, on the walls, on the dresser, stuck in the fan, on the door knob, etc. You get the picture. It took me over 2 hours to clean it, and I am not convinced I got it all. I still smell poop every time I walk in there!! In addition to the poop fest, they have really turned a corner in their strong-willed behavior. They are both stubborn. They are both opinionated. They are both determined. (On a side note, I do realize that all of these qualities will be very good for them as they are older if they choose to channel them properly, I just feel overwhelmed by it all right now.) I have been on my knees in tears crying uncontrollably over the issues I am dealing with in relation to them, and am struggling to really love them well in the midst of it all.

Yesterday really was the pinnacle of it all. Lauren had to get 4 teeth pulled. Sam was home with strep. Isaiah and Laila were in "rebellion mode." I was dealing with my "project." Laila decides she wants to potty train(I will share more about that in a separate post). My house is so disgustingly dirty from my lack of attention this week that I just wanted to scream!!!! Mixed in with all of the major things were all of these tiny little annoyances that seem way bigger when you are in the midst of the bigger things. Do you ever just feel like, "Can't I just get a break somewhere in this?"

That is where I am. That is why I have been out-of-pocket this week. I have not been on the computer. I have not been answering emails or checking Facebook. As you can tell, that is why I have not been writing on my blog.

I woke up this morning exhausted. My body hurts from all the work I have done this week. I have this runny nose thing coming on. Cody is now home today not feeling well. We have some big traditions coming up this weekend. Rick is home, but we have barely seen each other. His new job starts on Monday. There is so much to do, and my "project" is still not finished.

Their is a silver lining. Rick and I have a date scheduled tonight. I need it. We need it. It will even benefit my kids for us to have it.

I don't even really know how to end this post after dumping all my stuff. I guess I will end it by saying, "pray for me." I kind of need it right now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Campfire Chats and Hot Dogs and S'mores and 10 Children!!

Rick is in San Diego, and I am in Colorado. Now, what is wrong with this picture? He keeps sending me all these pictures from his phone with palm trees and beaches, and I just sigh and respond with, "Oh, how beautiful. Looks like you are having fun." Then, I go break up a fight between two kids, clean poop out of Laila's bed, give medicine to a kid in pain, and work some more on the clothes sorting task that I am still in the middle of.

Seriously, though. I am really glad he is there and has this opportunity before he starts work again on Nov. 1. It is hard when he travels, but I have learned how to make the most of his quick trips away. It means a chance for me to have some quiet evenings to myself once the kids are in bed. It also gives me the chance to do something fun with the kids and our friends. That is what we did tonight, and we had so much fun!!!

We went to the Goad's house. Their hubby/dad is out of town, too. What better way for moms to pass the time. First we made a fire in the fire pit. Let me tell you, that was no easy task. We have wildfires in CO all the time. Why can't we get a piece of wood to burn while putting flaming papers all around it.? We finally got it.
Lauren took this picture.
Isaiah LOVED the fire. He got to cook his hot dog and roast marshmallows.
He felt it his responsibility to inform us if the fire as dying down in any way. He would say, "Please make the fire bigger again?" He also loved the s'mores. Afterwards, he was talking to Rick on the phone and he kept saying, "We had some chocolate and graham crackers and marshmallows(in his Swazi accent) and it was REALLY YUMMY, Daddy!!!" Rick couldn't get a word in edgewise the whole conversation.
Laila was lovin' her some food, too!
Cody, Noah, and Laila
Later in the evening, Laila was all decked out in her pink attire with her "micacone"(microphone).
We really had a great time. Ellen and I drank some yummy coffee while we ate our s'mores. What better way to spend the evening with Rick gone than with friends. The kids had a blast playing hospital together. They had an ambulance they created out of a wagon and used blankets and chairs to make beds. It was so cute. Cody and Noah spent the whole time doing their teenager boy stuff, video games, dsi, and movie watching. Ellen and I got some sanity as we talked and dealt with our kids together rather than alone.

Thanks, Ellen. When I tucked Isaiah into bed he said, "When we go to Ellen's house again?"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

That's How We Roll!

WARNING: The post you are about to read will either make you laugh out loud or be totally disgusted in the junior high humor that we enjoy so much around this house. You have been warned. Proceed with caution!!

Do you remember these signs?
Abby made them and put them all over our house for the fort that she made in the basement. Well, we took most of them down, but one was left up on the basement door. It has been there for several days. I don't know why, but I just wanted it a a reminder of my kids, the fun that they have and that I need to relax about some of the things that stress me out in this house.

Well, today, I looked at that sign and this is what I saw:
Yes, I laughed so hard. I have no idea how long this sign has said this, but obviously someone thought it would be really funny to change it. They were right. It was Cody. I needed this laugh today.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Climbing Mt. Kids' Clothes

I am still alive.

I am surrounded by piles of kids clothes.

Another reason I don't care for this time of year.

Do you realize how long it takes to go through, sort, put away, and give away 6 kids worth of summer and winter clothes?

I really hope I am done by Thanksgiving.

This little exercise does give me quite a bit of time to process all that is going on in my life right now.

There is a post "a-brewin'" in my head over the changes that we are making and the simplicity that I am trying to implement.

I am seeing glimpses of it.

We are dreaming. We are relaxing. We are getting excited about what God is doing in our family.

I am sensing a new excitement in me for the calling God has placed on my life.

Hey, I have cooked real meals 4 out of the last 7 days! That alone is a change in how we have been operating over the last 1 1/2 years.

That is only the beginning.

So, now I must go climb that mountain.

I think it is at least a fourteener.

The oxygen definitely feels thinner and my breath is shorter as I figure out how to get all this done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Closing a Chapter

Last night was an emotional one for me. For at least 8 years, I have been leading the staff women of Vanguard Church. That leadership has changed and evolved throughout the time, but it has been a constant in my life, an opportunity to pour into these women who carry out the ministries of the church. They have ministered to me in so many ways, and last night was the pinnacle of it all.

Ellen and I have known each other for 22 years!!
I met her when I was 16 years old.
As the staff has grown and changed throughout the years, we have changed the dynamics of this group. Over the last few years, I have met monthly with these women, the pastoral leadership staff and wives. I have also had the privilege of bringing together all the staff women 2 times a year for a time of interaction together.

This is something I am going to desperately miss. I love these women. We have journeyed through a lot together. We have celebrated, mourned, and challenged each other. I was so thankful for the opportunity to come together one more time as a team.

They blessed me in so many ways. Their words of encouragement and sharing the impact I have had on their lives was humbling and overwhelming. We have laughed together, cried together, and shared out joys, successes, and hurts in ministry.
From Left to Right: Tosha, Me, Dana, Bria, Jessica, and Ellen
As I have said, change is hard for me. It is hard to imagine this new chapter of my life and what God has in store. I love these women. I know that we will still be in friendship, but it will change. It has to. God is doing so much. I am processing and trying to embrace this new chapter. Right now, I am grieving the losses. I look forward to new things and new opportunities, but for now, it is necessary that I deal with the sadness I am feeling. God is teaching me even through the sadness.

This is me and Cindi, one of our elders' wives.
She opened her home to us and prepared an amazing meal for our time together.
Thank you, ladies. I love you. I always will.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sam's Spiritual Bday

Sunday night was the time of celebration for Sam's spiritual bday.
He chose spaghetti and garlic bread as his special meal.
He also got a dry erase board
I love that immediately when he got it, he opened it up and started using it.
Sam and his ice cream sundae
Sam is such a tender-hearted and funny little guy. He still hugs and kisses me a lot, and I love it!! As his reading skills are improving, he is able to read his Bible more on his own. When he sees a need, his sensitive heart compels him to try to meet that need. He has become an amazing big brother over the last year. He has embraced his new position in our family. One of the most precious things that was said to Sam while we were sharing with him at the table, was said by Isaiah. He said, "Sam is my best friend brother." That was so precious. These two are developing a strong relationship with each other and are longing for the day when they can share a bedroom and make it into a "hippo" room.

I am proud of you, Sam. As you know, God has a special plan for you. He has shown that in His protection over you life in your 6 short years. I can't wait to see you grow in your spiritual walk over the next year!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Abby's Spiritual Bday Celebration

2 years ago, on the way home from a Baptism service at church, Sam and Abby started their relationships with God. They were asking Rick lots of questions after watching so many people follow God in baptism and hearing each of their testimonies. At one point in the drive, Abby said, "I think I want to ask Jesus in to my heart." Rick responded by saying, "Do you want to do that right now?" So, they pulled the Jeep over and before they were finished, both Abby and Sam had taken this Huge step of faith. Now they are 2 year old toddler Christians. Since they share the same spiritual bday, we are celebrating tonight for Abby and tomorrow night for Sam.
Gathering around to eat her special meal and
talk about her relationship with God
She picked a funny menu.
Starting at the left: Green beans, raspberries,
sausage balls, breaded mozzarella sticks, and marinara
Abby enjoying her meal
Her gift: A marker board with a calendar on one side and blank on the other
She is very organized so she will use this in so many ways!
No spiritual bday is complete without ice cream sundaes.
Abby put nerds on her vanilla ice cream
Abby absolutely has the gift of service. She serves at home, in school, and at church. She is a natural when it comes to "mothering." She gets a lot of practice with Isaiah and Laila. She is going to be a rockin' babysitter some day. She loves to sing, dance, and express herself through art. I see her using those gifts to worship God.

I love her. She is unique. She is beautiful. She is mine!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Challenge Update

WOW!! That is all I can say. This challenge is kickin' my butt!! I guess that is why it is called a challenge.

Today has been a major day of processing my life for me with the help of some friends and my hubby.

Simplicity is taking on a whole new level in my brain, and honestly, I am scared to death.

You see, I don't really do well with change and if you know what is happening in my life right now, you realize there is a lot of change happening. If you don't know what I am talking about, go here and here to read more about it.

I am the type of person that keeps my furniture the same from the day I move into my house on. I don't change it. I freak out when there is a software upgrade on my computer and something, even the slightest thing changes, even if it makes it better. I got an iphone over a week ago and I still don't really have the thing figured out. It took me hours and hours to get my address book and calendar fixed. I am still using my palm pilot because I don't have the energy to get everything else set up in it yet. I am pretty sure I have sent multiple texts and left multiple voicemails on the wrong people's phones because I can't quite figure out how to use what is supposed to be one of the most user friendly phones that exists. Don't even get me started about apps. Those, just send me over the edge!

Enough about me. Oh, wait a minute, this whole post is about me. So, back to the challenge.

God has expanded this challenge for me today. He has made it very clear. I either choose to obey or disobey. I desire to obey, and I will, but this one is going to really stretch me. He is calling me to a level of simplicity that will strip me of my identity. That started with Rick's job changing and me no longer being a pastor's wife. I am still processing that one. Now, it goes even deeper. I can't even fully articulate it right here, but I will as I continue to process.

My life is becoming complicated in my brain as I simplify the stuff of it. God is using this to bring me to my knees. I am grateful. I am challenged. I am becoming more of who He has called me to be. Growth involves pain. So, I embrace that pain and say, "Bring it on!" I am not the same person I was 6 months ago, and I suspect I will be saying the same thing 6 months from now.

The journey continues....


We set Wed. aside as a family day. It began with a family breakfast of bacon, eggs, biscuits, and coffee! Then we went bowling as a family. This was Isaiah's and Laila's first time to bowl. We got two lanes at the alley. One lane had bumpers. Abby, Sam, Isaiah, and Laila used the bumper lane, and Cody, Lauren, Rick, and me used the regular lane.
We really could have our own bowling team
Cody helping Laila
A little known fact is that I was in a bowling league as a kid. Oh, yes I was, and I have quite a few trophies to prove it.

Isaiah won both games on his lane. Rick won both games on our lane. I finally got my groove about midway through the second game and Rick beat me by 4 pins!! We are quite competitive as a family, so much so that certain children didn't enjoy themselves quite as much as they might have. One in particular was very frustrated most of the time.

Isaiah and Laila had a blast. They wanted to have a turn over and over. They were so cute and got the hang of it right away.
This little guy is so passionate that he laments and wails any time a good thing comes to an end. The only way to calm him is to assure him over and over that he will get to do it again "sometime."

I think this just might become one of our favorite things to do together. I see many "competitions" in our future.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rockin' Fall Break

I have really wanted to take advantage of the kids' week off from school. We went bowling yesterday. We forgot the camera. Rick took some pics with his phone and has informed me that they didn't turn out too good. So, when he sends them, I will share any that are decent. It was a really fun time, but more about that later.

Today, I decided to be a rockstar mom and just have fun all day. Now, I am exhausted. We started the day with cinnamon rolls. Then, I took the kids swimming at the YMCA.

Why is it that when I see someone else with 6 kids, it looks like so many, but when I look at my crew, it looks just right?
Big Kids
This boy loves him some swimmin'
After we got showers, I took the kids to Chick-fil-a. It was fun to go out to eat. That is a rare treat for us!!

Cody had football practice and Lauren had soccer practice. I was supposed to pick Cody up. Instead of waiting until his practice was over, I took Abby, Sam, Isaiah and Laila to the park by his practice field to play for a while. Now that is not like me. I am not a big fan of the outdoors. Parks really aren't one of my favorite places to go. Not to mention, the chilly evenings we are having now. (Let's just say, I was depressed the whole day when Rick took the a/c out of the windows. I am already missing summer already!!)
Trying to embrace the scenery with this picture
Sam on a fake mountain with real mountains in the background
She is actually smiling so hard that it looks like she is crying!!
She LOVES to swing!
Brothers in da House!
My beautiful Abby
Laila is making "ice cream"
I don't usually pack so many events into one day, but we did it, and we all survived. Tomorrow will be a day to sleep in and rest. I am thankful for the time we have had together this week!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October Challenge

Simplifying is not always a simple thing to do.

I am struggling with this month's challenge.

This is not a challenge I can do alone. It has to be a family affair.

I had a discussion today with my kids about stewardship.

I feel like we have lost sight of that concept in our house.

There is a lot of wastefulness and carelessness with things.

Silly bands and food erasers are fun for a day. Then, they lose their glimmer, and I find them scattered all over my house.

My 4 big kids have no idea what it means to go hungry. Sure, there are some days where they aren't real thrilled about the choices I offer, but even on those days, they have a choice and way more food than many children in the world.

I go ballistic when I see food wasted, especially when it is from carelessness like shredded cheese all over the counter from meal prep or chips that are spilled and left behind. Half full glasses of milk really make my skin crawl.

I don't only blame them. I find myself shopping the bargains because they are bargains. It doesn't matter that I am trying to clean out my fridges and pantry. It is on sale. So, I must buy it. As a result, we end up with bulging shelves, an empty grocery budget, and food that continues to stay in storage in the back of the pantry or freezer because we want to eat the new stuff.

Then there is the leaving of lights on in empty rooms, using half a roll of toilet paper when a few sheets would have done the job, or 4 paper towels used to clean up a spill that a towel could have cleaned up.

We talked through it today. We talked about how I can't do this alone. We talked about being responsible with ALL that God has given us. We will see how much of it sinks in and results in change. I realize it has to start with me. We talked about how much more we can give to others when we don't waste it on things that don't matter. I want to invest our money in the lives of people, not toilet paper and cheese.

We have TOO MUCH STUFF!!! I think it is going to take more than a month to solve this problem. I guess I have to start somewhere.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Awesome Fort

Lauren and Abby have created a fort in the basement. They are quite creative in their design.
There are signs all over our house(and I mean ALL OVER the house)
In case you aren't sure how to get there, they have put arrows for you to follow
While you are there, feel free to donate some money to Africa
They dividd part of our basement into several distinct areas.
This is the snack shop(their snack shops always include lots of candy)
Here is the entry to the actual fort
This is the dance area
They also created a play area, a trampoline and rest areas. They had music playing.
There was a dance competition
Laila has herself some moves
When Isaiah dances, he always has this serious face
This is the pose at the end of their dance
Sam won the competition(that is a candy bar from Africa)
Laila and Daddy in the fort
Inside the fort, you can watch movies while you have your snack.

I love it when the kids play like this. Their creativity amazes me. It is also one of the few times that they seem to work together and actually have fun doing it.