Monday, July 30, 2012

All Over the Place

~So, Rick and I basically just finished 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights in less than 2 months, and now I feel a bit lost.  I know, pitiful, right.  I absolutely loved that show.  I am sad it is over.  I need a new series that is similar to wrap myself into.  
  Thankfully, I have this to replace it: The OLYMPICS!!             
 I didn't love the opening ceremonies until it got to the Parade of Nations.  From that point on, it rocked!!  Of course, I am cheering for the U.S.A. all the way, but it so warmed my heart to see Swaziland walk in.  It was a bit confusing to see only one of the 3 athletes participating in the parade, a white guy with red hair.  Not what I expected.  I am just excited to see this country represented!!

~One of my new favorite things, dry shampoo.  Have you tried this stuff?  It is the perfect way to freshen up your hair when you don't have time to go through the whole washing/drying/styling routine. It is revolutionizing my life.  If you live in humidity, it would be even more valuable!!  I just bought the cheapest one I could find at Walmart.

~Have I mentioned how much I LOVE summer.  I am sad to say, I can feel it ending.  The weather at night is getting chillier.  Anything below 75 is too cold for me.  It gets down in the 50s and 60s at night here.  Blah!

~What in the world will I do with all the time I am using to break up sibling fights when school starts?  REALLY???  Why can't we all just get along?

~Speaking of school, I am tackling the beast that is called school supplies starting today.  I have a 4 phase process that I go through:
- Phase 1 - Go online, print out the supply lists, and freak out for several days.
- Phase 2 - Pull out supplies leftover from last year and ones that I bought on clearance at the end of the season to evaluate what we already have.  Create a shopping list of all supplies that need to be purchased.  That is what I am doing today:
Thankfully, I have the Olympics to entertain me while I do this
- Phase 3 - Go to the stores(yes, I said stores.  It takes multiple shopping trips to find everything) and shop for the items needed.
- Phase 4 - Separate amongst the various children and label supplies.

~I also have to figure out school uniforms, but I can't wrap my brain around that right now.

~Who knew that glue sticks could mold?  That was an interesting discovery I made today.

~I took Sam to the orthodontist today.  He needs a palate expander.  I currently have 4 kids if various phases of orthodontic treatment.  This is why I don't have new carpet.  I love it when the doctor asks if we have been on any vacations.  I want to say, "Umm, no, we are too busy sending YOU on vacations!"

I have procrastinated long enough.  I must get back to Mission School Supplies 2012 - Phase 2!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy, Hawaiian Luau, Abby!!

Abby turned 10 years old on Tuesday!!  She was my first kid born in CO.  We did not find out what we were having.  I was convinced this baby was going to be a boy.  Boy,(no pun intended) was I surprised when out popped this beautiful little girl.  At a year old, she only weighed 14lbs, but would walk around and talk like crazy.  It was a bit freakish to see such a tiny little girl walking and talking.  She was and still is a cutie pie.  It was her year to have a friend party but we did not have it until Wed. night. 
 On Tuesday, I got her a yummy Frappe' to celebrate.  
 She decided to have a Luau Sleepover.  Since she is gluten free now, we went with an ice cream cake:  Vanilla ice cream(her choice) topped with blue colored Cool Whip for the water and brown sugar for the sand.  She decorated with Swedish fish, umbrellas and gummy candies.
 She is my crafty girl.  She made this little decoration for the table on her own.
 The Dining Room
 I love how the table turned out!
 The goody buckets for the girls to take home
 We planned some outdoor water/messy games.  Literally the minute we started playing, rain started coming down and it began thundering and lightning.  I did not have a Plan B in place for bad weather. So, we put this water balloon tossing game on hold.  (Tossing a water balloon back and forth with a towel)
 We moved inside to do the hula hooping contest.  Abby was the winner!
 It didn't take long before the storm passed and the clouds disappeared.  I was so thankful!  We headed back outside for a round of coconut bowling.  At one point, the coconut cracked and every time we rolled it, coconut water sprayed everywhere.  It was very exciting.  
 Lauren won first place winning a lip balm.
We also surprised the girls with a prize for last place.  Micah won that one!

I got the next idea from my friend, Courtney's blog.  I get lots of great ideas and inspiration from her.  
I bought 6 cans of shaving cream at the dollar store.  Basically, each girl got her own can, and I just let them go for it.  They had a blast!!

Quite the crew!
Girl Power!
There was so much shaving cream on them and the ground that they were able to slide across the yard.  
That became the next activity.
What better way to get shaving cream off than with water balloons.
We had 250 water balloons.  They started by playing a few different games.  
Then, it was a free for all with a water balloon war!
We also had limbo planned, but never got around to it!
Once the girls were all cleaned up and out of their swimsuits, we came in for dinner.
Fruit Kabobs
We named this delicious drink:  Lemon Pineapple Paradise
I did a couple of things differently to the recipe.  Instead of using Country Time Lemonade, I just bought a premixed lemonade in a 2 liter bottle.  We also felt like the pineapple taste was too strong according the recipe so we added about 3 more cups each of Sprite and Lemonade.  Finally, I put it in the freeezer about 4 hours ahead and it was so nice and slushy.  It was sooooo yummy!!
The Birthday Girl
Let's Eat
We had "Hawaiian" Beef (It is actually called Korean Beef, but we adjusted the name for the purposes of our party).  It is Abby's favorite meal and it was a HUGE hit!
Ready for some ice cream
She did it!
Abby opened her gifts, then we did pedicures.  
I did foot soaks, massages, and scrubs for the girls.
They painted their toenails and added some decals.
They headed to the basement with a big bowl of chocolate popcorn, bottles of Pepsi, and "Journey 2."  They spent the night in the tent in the basement.
For breakfast, we has Dallas Cowboy waffles and Orange Julius Smoothies!
I have to say that I budget $100 for each kids' bday.  If they have a friend party, they know that most likely, that will be their gift from us.  They are allowed to have a friend party every other year.  This party actually cost less than $100.  If we do a family activity, the money goes towards that first.  Any money left over goes to gifts for the Bday child.  10 years old is a milestone bday so we do something extra-special.  In addition to a party, the bday child gets a $100 bill.
Abby is pretty happy to have her first $100 bill and her flip flop earrings
I love the young lady you are becoming.  You live loud!  I love how you "opera sing" every song we listen to.  I love to watch you get joy from organizing.  I love hearing you play piano.  I love that you are crafty and like to decorate. I love to see you care for your younger brothers and sisters.  You are my little "Martha Stewart"(minus the jail time).  You love monkeys and apes.  You have very strong opinions about fashion and hair.  You have so many amazing gifts and talents.  You have a heart and passion for Africa and feel called to make a difference.  You have endured years of headaches.  It has been so nice to see your smile and zest for life come back over the last couple of months as you have experienced some relief.  You are tough, girl.  I do still think on some days that I might need to wrap you in bubble wrap from all of your injuries, but you just bounce back up and try again.  You are beautiful inside and out.  God is going to take all those amazing gifts mixed with your incredible personality and do big things with you!!  Double digits, baby.  How did that happen?  You are my Abba doo ya!  You are my dream come true!
Love you, spider monkey,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Umm, Isaiah Needs Some Help..."

...said Laila to Rick.  This is how he found him:
When asked what happened, Isaiah said, 
"I got myself stuck in there, so I could see if I could get myself out."  
That pretty much sums up how this kid lives life every day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Food Adventures

I have been adding some new recipes to our meals lately.  I felt like we were eating the same thing all the time.  I was bored.  Bored with cooking the same thing because I do like to experiment and try new things.  Bored with eating and serving the same things to my kids.

I have found Pinterest to be the best way to find new recipes.  Most of what I have cooked from there has been awesome.  I thought I would share some of them with you:

The first one I tried was Ham and Cheese Sliders.  The family was split on this one.  Half liked it, half did not.  The thing that makes this recipe is the sauce that you pour over the top before you bake them.  It does have mustard in it, which I loved, but some of my kids did not.  The next time I make them, I will do half with the sauce and half without.

Next, I tried Chicken Bowtie Pasta Salad.  I had such high hopes for this one.  I was disappointed. It was very time consuming with the prep involved.  I loved all the ingredients, but was disappointed with the sauce that was used on it.  My kids did not like it, and even I struggled to eat the leftovers.  It was better the second day than the first, but I won't go to the effort again.  I plan to try this version next.  I think I will like that sauce better.  I also liked the taste of the rotisserie chicken in the pasta salad, so I may substitute it for the cooked chicken.

Since I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from the pasta salad, I decided to use it in place of the ham in this Veggie Ramen Stir fry  recipe.  My family LOVED this.  It was easy.  It was cheap.  I think that I will continue to use chicken over ham.  I just don't think I would like it as much with ham.

I actually have a picture of the final recipe that I want to share.  It turned out delicious and my family loved it.
 Presenting:  Black Bean Quinoa Bowls
This was the first time I made quinoa (pronounced keen-wa).  It is a gluten free grain that Abby can eat and has lots of protein.  I decided to add some grilled chicken to this recipe because I knew it would fill everyone up more.  It was a lot like getting a Bowl at Chipotle.  Some of my kids put the ingredients in a tortilla to eat.  It was fabulous!!

I wanted to share one more handy dandy tip with you that I actually learned from my mom.  Whenever
we visit, she always lists out the foods that are available for the kids for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks at her house.  Rick LOVES that she does that because it empowers the kids to get their own food.  It  also prevents having to tell them over and over what their options are at meals when we aren't all sitting down together eating the same thing.  I resisted doing this for so long.  I don't really know why, other than to say, I just didn't want to take the time to do it, and I knew it would be ever changing.  
I decided to just make a template on the computer that I could add to and take away from.  I am adding to and marking off things on this list on the fridge until it becomes too marked up.  Then I will print a new one.  It is working really well.  Whenever we do "miscellaneous"(meaning find something for yourself) at our house, I can just direct the kids to the fridge rather than having to go over options 6 different times.   

Rick, you were right!  Okay, I said it.  I should have done this a long time ago.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lemonade - 25 cents

Lauren and Abby did a lemonade stand on Saturday.  They were very excited to make some money.  There were pretty smart at how they went about it.  They went to the end of our street where there is more traffic and set up near a yard sale that was going on.  

They made over $12.00!!  The highlight of their day was when a woman payed them $5.00 for 2 cups of lemonade.  They came home so excited with plans to set up shop again soon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Soccer, Finger Painting, and a Spa Day

This week brought many adventures to our house.  Lauren had soccer camp.  She was so excited to get back into the swing of things since she missed the spring season with her foot injury.

 Gotta love the her new cleats!
 In my quest to find free or cheap activities to get these kids outside, I decided to make finger paints.  They turned out great.  You can get the recipe here.
 The roll of butcher paper that the kids got for Easter has turned out to be a wise investment.
 Don't you just love his sweet little pose?
 The girls had a Spa Day set up in their bedroom.  They made fliers and we had to call to make reservations.  They offered a variety of services and gave the money earned to Africa.  
Lauren is the receptionist ready to check everyone in
 There was a gift shop.
Every customer who purchased a massage or pedicure received 50% off at the gift shop!
 Isaiah is ready for his massage
 He kept saying over and over how great it was and how relaxed he felt
 The nails station
 Abby painted nails
I love it when they play creatively.  They were occupied all afternoon with this little business!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


After my post about Africa yesterday, some very wise and timely words were shared with me that I am meditating on today:

Deny your “right” to do things the way you think they should be done and surrender to His ways. Deny your interests in the project and surrender to His interests. Deny your feelings of frustration and surrender to His grace. When we follow Christ, we walk in peace, love, joy, righteousness and the like. When we follow our own will and our own way—even when our will and ways are eager to serve God’s vision—we just plain wear ourselves out.

I know the harvest is plenty and the laborers are few. But your crew—however small it is—is a mighty force when you surrender to God. Don’t worry about who walks away from the vision, who betrays the vision or who is too scared to execute the vision. Just surrender the vision to God and He will bring you the resources you need for the victory.
-Jennifer LeClaire
"Knowing When It's Time to Surrender the Vision"

Surrender is not a one-time thing for me.  It is a process and decision I have to make on a daily basis.  So, once again, I surrender the calling.  I surrender my plans.  I surrender control.  I surrender the outcome.  I trust you God, completely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Africa On My Mind

Even though I have talked about it in a while, Africa is ever present in my thoughts.  I love that place.  God has given a special calling to our family, specifically to Swaziland.  We have been doing lots of behind-the-scenes work for Africa over the last year.  We have spent the time, effort, and money to make Beyond Survival a non-profit organization.  We have been in the process of laying the groundwork to make ourselves credible, functional, and able to really begin the work of the ministry.  Our website is very close to completion.  We have a board in place to help make decisions.  We are praying about the initiatives that God wants us to pursue and promote.  We will be planning events and fundraisers very soon.

This season has been hard for me.  Usually this time of year is packed with "Africa moments."  We are usually taking a team of people over, seeing our friends, and getting the opportunity to minister.  That has not been the case this year.  As an organization, we just weren't in a position to take a trip this summer.  The Lord has been revealing to us step-by-step and only step-by-step what His plans are for Beyond Survival.  

To be honest, it has been so hard for me to wait on the Lord in all of this. I know He has called us to Swaziland, but the last year has felt so void of following that calling.  We are spending so much time getting things set up for Beyond Survival and laying the groundwork for the organization, that we have not been able to do the real work of the ministry that I so long to do. My heart literally aches to go back there this summer, but that is not God's plan for now.  So, we continue to wait.

Rick and I, along with some of our prayer warriors, have been spending the last couple of weeks seeking God for the next steps of Beyond Survival.  I can't really say He has revealed any huge plan to me, but he has been reminding me that Africa is still our calling.  I know this sounds crazy, but we see Africa EVERYWHERE.  I try to take pictures when I can.  Here are the pics from the last two weeks.  Every one of these is completely random.  I did not create them at all.  I just saw them.

I literally had a spoonful of butter that I splattered into a bowl for a recipe and this is what happened:
 As I was washing dishes, I looked down and saw this:
 Walking out of the library:
 This one is hard to see, but it is pretty amazing.  The kids were playing with ice out on the back patio.  When they left, the water spot looked like this.  The top part was shaded, but if you turn it to the side you will see it, too.
 Abby outlined it in chalk so it would be easier to see:
 As I was eating my salad today, I looked down and saw this:
 Laila is even getting in on the action.  She came to me saying, "Mommy, Africa in my soap."  
I know it is a stretch, but since she saw it, we added it to the pics.
We only want to do what God has called us to.  We do not desire to create something apart from Him.  I was reminded on Sunday as I listened to the sermon that this "season of waiting" has purpose.  God is doing things in my heart.  I can pinpoint at least 4 life-changing lessons He has taught me during this process.  He has changed me for the better.  I have to trust and believe that this is all part of His plan.  I have to cling to the fact that whatever work He is doing in me right now will better prepare me for this calling in the future.