I so appreciate the offers for blizzards and sweet tea.
Really, I do!!
I just hope you all know that I didn't post that to ask, just to say, "Here is where I am."
As one of my favorite country songs goes, "it ain't always pretty, but it's real." (typed with the tune being hummed.)
I actually had some sweet tea today. It was refreshing.
But, not as refreshing as my conversation this morning with a dear friend who has so much wisdom to offer.
I always leave my conversations with this woman feeling challenged, encouraged, and wanting to be a better me.
She brings perspective and speaks into my life in a way that no one else ever really has. And, guess what, she is moving.
Honestly, I feel I just uncovered this treasure in her in the last year, and now it will be much harder to interact.
That's okay, because the fact that she is moving to the place that she is, in the stage of life that she is in, speaks volumes to me about her faith in God and willingness to engage in a new adventure with excitement and anticipation.
You don't see that very often.
I feel blessed to be exposed to it in real life.
I hope I can have the faith to live that way in my life, no matter what the calling or what stage of life I am in.
You know who you are. Thank you for blessing me with your time, your prayers, and your wisdom.
No matter the distance, my prayers go with you.
I am excited to hear about the adventure you have ahead of you and feel privileged to be a small part of that through relationship and prayer.
With my 4 big kids, I was so good about writing down the memories. I had a calendar for each one that I would write in regularly. I wrote all the milestones and funny things they would say. Well, with Isaiah and Laila, that has been dropped. The more kids I have, the less of that kind of stuff I can maintain. I am still trying to keep a journal for each kid that I write in around their bdays. Well, I haven't even really started Isaiah's and Laila's, but I have purchased them. Do I get any points for that?
So, in order to not forget, I am going to share some of the cute things they are doing right now.
-every time she takes a bath, she pretends she is a baby whale in the tub.
-whenever she meets someone, she will point to me, and in the cutest voice say, "That's my mom."
-every day when she changes clothes, she proudly proclaims, "See my belly buccon(button). Mom, do you have a belly buccon?" Then I have to show her my belly button and explain that the mole next to it is not a belly button or an owie, just a mole. The key words in this one are "EVERY DAY."
-when she is going potty and I am helping her get on and off the toilet, she will say, "Mommy, I not pee on you." I always respond with, "Thanks, Laila. I appreciate that."
-loves music and loves to dance.
-recently on the way to church, he did not want to go. I asked him why. His response, "I am afraid there will be ninjas in my class." I have no idea where that came from. After assuring him there would be no ninjas, he went in happily.
-he cries every time he has to go to sleep. He hates that he might miss out on something.
-he can shake his hips like no one I have ever seen. He has moves I can't even imagine doing.
-is absolutely mesmerized by the TV. All kinds of horrible things could be happening around him, and he would not even notice while watching TV.
These pics were taken on a recent trip to the mall. We got pretzels. Oh, and I just noticed Victoria's Secret in the background. That makes for a nice, wholesome picture. I guess I won't be framing these and putting them up on the wall! Just focus on the cute kids, please.
We spend a lot of time in the car. As a result, some times we try to find things to entertain ourselves. Every afternoon, Isaiah, Laila, and I have to sit in the carpool line. Today was a sunny day, and we all had on our sunglasses. We decided that we needed to take pictures of the rock stars in our car. Here we are:
These are my new sunglasses.
You can't see how cool they really are.
The sides have a pattern.
I know it is blurry, but I was trying to take the picture right behind me.
There is really no such thing as a "quiet evening" in this house, but last night came close. I followed through with my plan for pizza and a movie.
I did not get the Whirley Pop out so don't tell my kids that I mentioned it. I know it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but it is. Let me just explain. I make the popcorn, pretty easy. Then, I fill 6 cups to hand out. At least 3 of those cups get spilled at various times throughout the night. Sometimes the same cup gets spilled/knocked over 3 times! Then there is some sort of aftermath from that to deal with. It is either crying over spilled popcorn or an argument of some sort with the sibling that knocked over the popcorn. Once everyone has eaten their popcorn and I am nice and cozy in my chair, I have to stop the movie to dish out seconds. Then, there is argument over whether some kids got more than others. When it is all over, and I look at my family room, it looks like I decided to just throw the container of popcorn to them like I was in a parade giving out candy. It is a mess. Then, I have 12 cups(6 for popcorn, 6 for drinks) and the popcorn pan to clean. Some of you are reading this and you have all kinds of great solutions for each of this problems. I agree. There are probably better ways to do it, and sometimes I fight those battles, but it was not worth it to me last night.
Enough on that rabbit trail. We had our heart-shaped pizzas. The kids were very excited when they saw them. I even had a couple of them come to me and say, "Thanks, mom for doing that." That is so nice when it happens. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside like I have instilled some manners that have seeped out.
Isaiah was not happy in this picture and I have no idea why.
After dinner, it was movie time. We rented Nanny McPhee Returns. It was good, not great. We didn't like it as well as the first one, but I don't regret watching it. It was funny to see the kids pair up to watch the movie.
Lauren and Isaiah sat like this the whole movie
Once the kitchen was clean, I joined Abby and Laila on the big comfy chair
Cody and Sam shared the couch
I got everyone to bed and then had some time ALONE!! It was fabulous. I made breakfast dishes for MOPs, watched some DVR'd shows, read a little, and got to sleep by 11:00(which is really early for me, especially when Rick is out of town). I think this was the first Valentine's Day since Rick and I have been married that we have not been together. I am glad the kids and I could do something to make it a fun night.
Today is Valentine's Day. I think it is a bit overrated. Rick and I kind of like to spend all year long showing each other how much we are in love.
I don't like flowers or jewelry(unless it is something that has significance related to my kids or Africa).
I enjoy a nice meal out, an overnight getaway, or some cold hard cash more than anything.
The older I get, I am less into things and find myself craving experiences.
Rick asked me what would be the first thing I would do if I had unlimited money. My answer: Travel. I would take our family on a big vacation, and Rick and I would go on a big vacation(there would need to be palm trees at both locations).
Rick left this morning for a business trip in Dallas.
We did all of our celebrating as a family over the weekend.
If you know me, you know how I feel about him being in Dallas without me.
It is one of my favorite places on earth, and has some of my favorite people on earth.
To top it all off, he will be eating at all of our favorite places!! UGH!!
I called him while he was out with a friend at our favorite Tex Mex. Do you know what he said? "It is better than I remembered it!"
Really? Thanks for rubbing it in even more. Now, I will just go home and eat the leftovers from Isaiah and Laila's mac n' cheese.
I scored a deal for our supper tonight. I purchased a Groupon for Papa Murphy's Pizza a while ago. I used it to buy heart-shaped pizzas for tonight. I ended up getting 3 pizzas for $7!! Score!
It will taste even better to me knowing how good of a deal it was.
Tonight will be quiet. After getting the kids home from school, we will all put on our jammies, eat pizza, and watch a movie.
Who knows? I might get real adventurous and crank out the Whirley Pop.
Even though my true Valentine is far away, I will snuggle in with my 6 little Valentines, and thank God that each one of them is in my life!!
On Saturday night, we had our Annual Family Valentine's Party. To be honest(and I am all about honesty on here. I don't want to create this image of a magical world that we live in where all traditions run smoothly and we have a love fest all the time!) it started off pretty rough. I was in the kitchen trying to pull together the final touches on the meal while chaos was all around. Kids were under foot. There was lots of noise and running around. Kids were coming to me trying to get me to mediate their arguments. I was thinking the whole time, "Why do I go to all this trouble?" Then, we sat down to eat and it wasn't much better. The kids were being selfish and bickering. They were being impatient. Let's just say, it was not pretty.
Doesn't it look so pretty in the picture?
The girls did do an amazing job decorating the table. That was pretty for sure. After we got food passed out to everyone, salad, spaghetti, and garlic cheese bread, we tried to get the chaos reigned in. It sort of worked. Rick and I kept looking at each other with this look of "how much longer before this will be over?"
I took some pics of everyone with their food. Oh, and let me just say, we do this one comfy. We are all wearing our jammies, because that's how we roll!!
Sam and his signature food-stained face
This expression pretty much sums up our feelings during dinner.
Love the "spaghetti hanging out of the mouth" picture
Once the main meal was completed, it was time for dessert. Dessert consisted of Love Potion and homemade chocolate and strawberry truffles. We decided to try to switch gears and calm things down a bit, so we handed out the dessert, turned off the lights and lit some candles. Wow, now that made a difference. After we were all settled down in the candlelight, we talked about LOVE. We talked about God's commandments to love Him and others. Then, we asked if they could quote any verses about love or sing any songs about love. It was so cute. Laila began singing "Old MacDonald." Then, I asked her, can you sing "Jesus Loves Me?" She did, and it was adorable. Each February, I challenge the kids to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 to win a prize. Rick read it to us.
Love Potion(Raspberry Sherbet with 7UP)
A toast to love
Once the meal was over, we played our traditional game. We have to use chopsticks to get candy hearts from one bowl to another. The person with the most in 2 minutes is the winner.
First it was Abby and Sam
I just love those little hands
Rick won with 60 hearts!! Then, the kids opened their Valentine's Cards from Papa and Grammy. It was so funny because Lauren screamed out, "I got $5 in mine." Then, I said, "Wow, Laila got $20 in hers!" All the big kids said, "What, no fair!" Of course, I was just joking, but it was hilarious to see their responses. I love how my mom picks out a card that fits each child's personality.
The card opening
Thanks, Papa and Grammy!!
We ended the night with a family movie, "Letters To God." It was really good, sad, but good. It is nice to have a movie that reinforces our values and dependence on God in our children's lives.
Even though we had a rocky start, the night ended well. It was a success!!
We spent a nice quiet evening at home for the Super Bowl. We still had 4 kids running fevers and feeling overall yucky!! We cranked up the Whirley Pop(one of Rick's fun 40th bday gifts from his friend, Tarro! Thanks, Tarro, we all love that gift!) Honestly, I don't like football and only vaguely watch if the Cowboys are playing. I will go to Super Bowl parties because there is yummy food, and I can talk, but with sick kids that wasn't even an option so I did some reading during the Super Bowl. Here are some pics of the rest of the family enjoying the festivities.
The girls set up a concession stand.
They gave out tickets. Once you used up the "free" tickets,
you had to buy more if you wanted more snacks
As always, there was a donation bucket for Swaziland that Abby put out
Lauren also decided she would try to raise some money for her trip
We didn't like either team, but we cheered for the Packers
Isaiah was getting into it cheering and groaning
It was nice to have a day at home wearing jammies and relaxing.
We have some 3D looking glasses that we got at Knott's Berry Farm this summer. When you wear them and look at lights, you can see shapes. These particular glasses show you the heart shape. Isaiah found them tonight and put them on. He excitedly proclaimed to me, "Mom, I see the loves! I see lots of loves!" I love that he calls hearts, "loves."
I hope he will always be able to see "loves" in this world. I don't want his little heart to be hurt and tainted from the sweetness that is there. There are many things about his life that could distract him from the "loves." I pray the "loves" always win out.
I just had to share this picture because it was from Isaiah and Laila playing together today. This is my new basket to collect items on the main level at the end of the day that are left out. It is part of my new "dropping the hammer" plan that I talked about earlier. Somehow Isaiah got a white "mustache" from his breakfast this morning. Oh, and yes, that is our "throw up bowl" on his head. We are so versatile. Why do I even buy these kids toys?
~I have determined that if everyone in my house leaves 3 things lying around, that means there are 24 random things lying around my house!! On most days, we way exceed that number. I am going crazy trying to keep this place presentable. I just want to throw it all away and start over!!
~Isaiah and Laila have had explosive sneezes all day today. I have wiped more snot and seen more hanging from there noses than I care to talk about.
~Isaiah and Laila are still running fevers. Sam and Lauren are home from school again today.
~I think my vacuum died. Although I don't enjoy vacuuming, we can't survive without one. It makes me sad to think that we might have to spend money on something like that. I am praying Rick can magically bring it back to life tonight.
~As part of Laila's sickness, her right eye is watery. She has this perpetual little tear right under her eye that looks so pitiful.
~My house gets really messy when I have sick children. I just can't keep up with all of it.
~We are now in the year 1991 in Rick's 40 days for 40 years celebration. I love that we are now in the years that I have known him. So many people are stepping up and making him feel so special. Thank you!!
~My emotions are all over the place these days. I had no idea this transition would be so hard for me. I asked Rick yesterday, "How much longer do you think it will be before I can sit through a whole service at church without crying?" UGH!!
~Preparations have begun for this year's Swazi trip. Lauren is going with us. She is doing all kinds of things to raise money. She is cleaning houses. She and I are going to make fresh whole wheat bread to sell and maybe even some of our famous truffles.
We took Sam out on his bday date with Rick and me. To our dismay, at first he said he wanted to go to McDonalds. I was not looking forward to that, but had to remind myself that it was his bday, and he could choose. Thankfully, by the time the day arrived, he had decided he wanted to go somewhere he had never been. So, we took him to TGIFridays.
He ordered pizza, french fries, and Dr. Pepper
This boy cracks me up. I asked him several questions on our date. We don't get a ton of one-on-one time with each kid so I really wanted to use the time to get to know him better and give him a chance to talk. Here was a sampling of our conversation:
Me: Sam, is there anything new you would like to try this year?
Sam: (Without even hesitating)Yes, I would like to set a world record.
Me: Really? What kind of a world record would you like to set?
Sam: (Once again, without skipping a beat) I would like to set the record for the most pretzel sticks in my mouth!
Where does this kid even get this stuff?
Then, our conversation progressed to what he wants to be when he grows up. He has a list, and here it is:
1. Professional Wrestler
2. Professional Skate Boarder
3. NFL Player
4. Police Officer
Well, it looks to me like he is keeping his options open. I am so relieved to know that. I think he should add comedian to the list as well. He really gets a kick out of singing songs like, "I Feel Like a Woman" and "I Feel Pretty" and making us all laugh. He is definitely an entertainer. I hear that he gets quite a few laughs in the classroom as well, maybe too many.
After our dinner, Sam announced, "I could really use some dessert!" So, we headed to Cold Stone Creamery. He ordered a Mega Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cone filled Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips(Yuck!). He liked it, so that is all that mattered.
He decided the cone didn't taste as good as it looked so he turned it into a toy.
This tradition has really become one of my favorites. I love having some focused time for Rick and I to spend with each of our kids.
On Sunday, January 30th, Sam turned 7 years old. That 4lb. 6 oz. baby is now 50lbs. of pure boy . This kid has been such a light in my life. He always smiles. He is tenderhearted. He is a cuddler. He gives me lots of hugs and kisses. His big blue eyes could melt anyone's heart. He is going to be a heartbreaker for sure! If you ask Sam to tell you about his life, he will tell you that he almost died 4 times. Actually, that is pretty accurate. We almost lost him at birth. He was not thriving which was obvious when we induced him only two weeks early, and he was so small.
Then, at a month old and only 5lbs. he got RSV and had to be hospitalized for a week. He had one very rough night that we weren't sure if he would make it or not, but once again he pulled through. He was the smallest baby in the RSV unit, but gained weight the whole time he was in the hospital.
Then, at 10 months old, he fell down some stairs in KY. Even though he came out with a broken leg, we considered it a blessing that he was protected from a more serious injury.
Finally, when he was 4, he got a hammock tangled around his neck in our basement. Abby was with him and immediately got me. I got there just in time to keep him from passing out. It was so scary. I believe God has big plans for this little guy. He gave his life to Jesus when he was 5 years old. We don't take for granted that his life has been spared over and over, more than the average kid. I can't wait to see what God does with Him.
This was Sam's year to have a "family party." (We alternate between friend and family parties each year.) He decided he wanted to go to ITZ as a family. Our day started with a big breakfast of pancakes. Then, he opened his gifts. He got to spend all morning playing and relaxing. For lunch, we had Nathan's hot dogs, french fries, and ice cream cone cupcakes.
Making a wish and blowing out the candles
Love this expression
Chocolate cake with chocolate icing in an ice cream cone
After the little kids' nap, we headed to ITZ. We had a blast playing games, riding rides, bouncing in the bounce house, earning tickets, and choosing prizes.
Sam was very excited about this ride.
Isaiah driving a motorcycle
Bumper Cars-Cody and Sam
Lauren used her tickets to buy candy for her and Laila
After playing, we ate diner. The kids love having a buffet to eat from. They get to eat anything they want and as much as they want. One of their favorite things about ITZ is that they have Icees to drink.
We chose the Cartoon Room to eat in.
Isaiah was completely enthralled in the big screens
Pasta, pizza, icees, soda
Sam ate enough noodles and pizza to feed our whole family
Sam's special song is "You Bring Me Joy." It is so amazing to me how the words of the song that I chose for him before he was born have become so true of him and his life.
"Love of my life, you bring me joy.
You bring me joy.
Love of my life, you bring me so much joy.
You fill my world with the wonders of His love.
I got a glimpse of heaven, heaven."
Sam, I love seeing you grow into a little man. Your sense of humor and ability to light up a room the minute you walk in warm my heart. You have become a really good big brother to Isaiah and Laila. I am so thankful that you are my son. Don't ever let the yuckiness of this world take away from your sweet heart and your tenderness of spirit. I love you more than words can describe.
I am living my dream by being a wife to the most amazing man in the world and the mom of 6 beautiful children - 4 biological and 2 recently adopted from Southern Africa. It is my desire to follow Christ in all that I do. My life is not my own. I am moved and forever changed by my experiences in Africa. My husband and I often say our life could be a reality show. I am offering you a glimpse into our adventures. Welcome to my World!!