Friday, March 9, 2018


We are taking a Spring Break beginning now!  I am leaving in just a few minutes to pick up Clay and his college roommate from the airport. We are all so excited for the week that lies ahead--even Jimmy is off work the whole week. I have several things planned for the week including our Family Bible Study tomorrow night (so I will need to clean house tomorrow!), Teen Bible Study next Friday, vet appointments for all five dogs (Clay and Bret will be taking them for me), Jimmy an eye doctor appointment, plus I also have a few deep cleaning/purging/organizing tasks for myself. Plus I am still sewing curtains for our tiny pop-up camper (which I began last March and stopped for many, many months because:  weddings.) I also want to visit our local fabric store to get some fabric samples for Julie's baby nursery! She, Leah, and hopefully Olivia, and I plan to sew some bedding and various decorative items for her nursery. So much fun! I want her to have the fabric and plans chosen before she arrives on July 11 so we can hit the ground running with baby preparations! She will have only 8 weeks until her due date when she gets home to Mississippi.

A running update: Ever since my last blog post I have been consistent in my running and attending CrossFit classes. It's true that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Once I got into the groove of running 5-6 days a week and attending CrossFit twice a week, it has been easier to keep it up. When I finish my miles tomorrow morning (just 3 left), I will have completed the weekly running plan I made for myself for 4 weeks in a row. I am pleased. I have also managed to stay injury-free in CrossFit. That is mainly because of my wonderful coach, MC, who modifies most every workout to accommodate  my shoulder challenges. I appreciate her so much. And I love my classmates (5 ladies from my local church)! They make exercising fun--well, almost least they are encouraging and a fun distraction from the grueling workouts!

I hope you are enjoying your March. The month of March always seems like a good time to do spring cleaning, both inside and outside the house.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Let's Talk About Running Again

I have a love/hate relationship with running. Although I have run fairly consistently for 11 years now, it continues to be a struggle most days. Up until about three years ago I continually trained for six marathons and numerous half-marathons. I ran my last marathon in December of 2014, and I have not even considered running another one since! I have still run one or two half-marathons a year since that time, but I have almost lost my interest in that too.

I ran two half-marathons recently--one in December and one in January. The December one was ok. My training was poor. I ran only 1-3 days a week, but for the last four weeks prior to the race I did a  10-12 mile run weekly. On race day I finished with a respectable time, (however pretty slow for me), but I was sore for days. I vowed then that I would train better for my January half-marathon.

But I didn't.
It was Christmas holidays and all my people were here for almost two weeks and of course I did not want to run. My plan for the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon on January 27 was to run/walk and somehow finish before Jimmy finished the marathon. Note to self: running a half-marathon without proper training is not the smartest idea.
I walked/ran in about 1/2 mile intervals. It was cold, and it rained the entire time. I listened to podcasts and just took my time. I set a PR for my slowest half-marathon ever!

So here I am. I have not been motivated to run for so long now. I even stopped going to CrossFit for all of December and January. I began CrossFit again at the beginning of February, and I am slowly getting my groove back. I also printed out a training plan for the Coke 10K on May 5. I actually completed all my miles for week one (which ended today). Progress. 

For me, exercise is like most other tasks. Once I get started and in a routine, I am fine. It's just taking the first step, literally. I am ALWAYS glad once I am through exercising. I like how I feel when I run in the mornings or go to Crossfit (well, except for being sore sometimes after Crossfit---but I am so weak and am basically starting over and my Coach is modifying everything for me---so I am not really even that sore yet!) My clothes fit better when I run on a regular basis. 

So I am challenging myself, again, to follow a training plan for an upcoming race. This time I am going to do it. 

Do you need to challenge yourself? Do you have a fitness goal? Do you want to join me in making exercising five days a week a top priority? Walk, run, aerobics, CrossFit, yoga, pilates.....whatever form of exercise you are motivated to do. Please join me. Let's be successful together. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Cooking Around the World: South Sudan

Way back on January 29, I cooked and served a South Sudanese meal. It was not as yummy as the Egyptian meal, but again, my family were good sports and ate what I had prepared. I downloaded an album from a South Sudanese musician, and we listened to it while cooking and eating.  (I can't remember the artist's name.....and I have already deleted the album from my Apple music.)

I cooked South Sudanese Tomato Salad, Sudanese Kirsa, and Peanut Stew With Beef and Spinach Combo. I used recipes I found on Global Table Adventure.

 the tomato salad
I really liked this, but I love tomatoes. Leah and Sam are not fans of tomatoes, so I am not sure if they even tried a bite.

 the beef, peanut, and spinach stew
This was interesting! Not my favorite (the peanut butter taste was a little strange to me.)

the kirsa
This flatbread was the best part of the meal!

I have not cooked from another country since this day. The first week of February we were in Florida for a week visiting Clay and attending some of the Florida College Lectures. We also went to Disneyworld for one day while we were down there!

This week I have been cooking normal American food because I had to make my grocery list during the 12 hour road trip home last Saturday, and I just did not have the energy nor brain cells to research and plan an international meal. I scheduled my grocery pick up from Walmart that very night when we arrived home.

I bought my groceries today for next week, and I have planned a Mexican meal. Yum! One of Clay's good friends in college has grandparents who live in Mexico. His mother cooks authentic Mexican food (he told me all about it), and he helped me plan my Mexican menu. I bought two products that are new to me.  I cannot wait to cook and eat this meal!

Monday, February 12, 2018

So Many Things to Share

I don't even know where to begin!

I have a whole blog post written in my head about the value of friendship.....I'll get to typing that later.

Our passports came in a couple of weeks ago! Jimmy, Clay, Leah, Sam, and I are going to Romania to visit Julie and Big Sam later this spring. I am so excited, and we are all counting down the days. I am a little nervous about flying over the ocean and traveling internationally, but I'm sure all will be fine! I just found out yesterday that the first flight of our trip (from Atlanta to somewhere in Canada) has been cancelled. The nice lady from Turkish Airlines (where we booked our flights) assured me that another flight was available that left about 30 minutes earlier. Of course I have to now call Air Canada to book the new flight, and when I called them yesterday I got a recording saying that due to the weather conditions their phones were swamped (basically that's what it said) and if it's not an emergency to please call back another day. So I put that on my list for tomorrow.


I am going to be a grandmother!

This is an ultrasound picture of Baby Peters.

Julie and Big Sam are having a baby!! He/she is due September 6, and to say that we are all thrilled is an understatement!
They will be coming home to Mississippi in July for her to wait and deliver the baby here in Tupelo. My doctor has graciously agreed to take her as a patient. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cooking Around the World: Egypt

Tonight I cooked a meal from Egypt. I used recipes from The Global Table Adventure. Sasha, the author of the blog, mentioned that you would need every pot in your kitchen to prepare these dishes. She was not kidding! I used five of my stove burners. I needed six, but one of mine does not work. I also used my oven and my microwave.

 preparing the meal

First of all, this meal took a long time to prepare! And I made only three dishes: Fava Bean Mash, Kushari with Spicy Egyptian Tomato Sauce and Umm Ali (a dessert). You can click on the link on each recipe title for the recipes with pretty photographs. 

Here is my report.
Fava Bean Mash:
I could not find fava beans at my Kroger. The store manager didn't even know what they were! I googled fava bean substitutes right there in the grocery store and bought 1 can of lima beans and 1 can of butter beans since both were listed as acceptable substitutes. 

Here is the fava bean dish before it began simmering. 
 While the bean mixture was simmering, I cooked in three separate pots the lentils, macaroni, and angel hair pasta for the the kushari. I cooked the rice in my rice cooker.

I used only 1/2 the amount of cayenne pepper called for in the original recipe. That was spicy enough for us. Both the fava bean mash and the kushari were good. Jimmy, Leah, and Sam were all good sports and ate everything!
the kushari 

Here is my little bowl of fava bean mash with the toppings (lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and chopped boiled egg). We did not care for the soft pita bread. When we eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, I plan to spread some melted butter on the pita triangles and bake them in the oven until they are crispy. Pita chips would be good with this bean dip too.

My bowls of fava bean mash and kashari with the tomato sauce.

The dessert was delicious! It called for only 1/8 cup of sugar, so it was not sweet at all. I don't care for raisins....I think chocolate chips would have been better!

Umm Ali

Before we ate, I explained to my family what each dish was and read a little bit about it from the recipe's website. We listened to Egyptian music (found on Apple music by Leah) while we ate and also while we washed the one million dishes that we used preparing and serving the food! During the meal Leah read us a few facts she found online about Egypt. The food was not too strange, and I think everyone enjoyed the meal.

One country down, over 190 to go!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Her Children Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Granmomma--on the far left--looking so pretty at Olivia and Brian's wedding.

During the night last night, Jimmy's sweet mother passed away.

She was a lovely lady who always had a smile and kind word for everyone. In recent years she was plagued with a chronic illness that left her unable to care for those around her like she so longed to do. She spent her life caring for and serving her late husband, her three children, her ten grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She loved the Lord, and I am rejoicing that she is now free of all her earthly pain and suffering. 

I cannot think of eloquent words to do Jan's memory justice. I loved her. Maybe I can compose something better later. But for now I just keep thinking of these verses.

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on one apparel--rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God"
1 Peter 3:6

"Her children rise up and call her blessed;"
Proverbs 31:28

Friday, January 12, 2018

So Today We Celebrated Leah's Birthday

Leah turned 14 today. And how can that be? Sam will be 12 in a couple of weeks, and just like that, all of my children are almost grown!  We began our celebration last night with supper at Ichiban.

Today, we enjoyed a fun day with our family of four. I cooked Leah's breakfast request (sausage muffins). I used my one of my oldest cookbooks, the silver Bell's Best. Then she opened her gifts and enjoyed a laid-back morning while I prepared food for her party later in the day. I used my old, tattered and torn yellow Bell's Best for the recipe for the layered chocolate dessert Leah requested. Do any of you readers from Mississippi have either of these cookbooks? It was such a funny coincidence that I saw on Facebook this morning that one of my local friends posted a picture of her well-worn yellow Bell's Best. My copy was given to me as a wedding present from Vicki and Stephanie Huff. They signed the inside!

 my two Bell's Best cookbooks
I have the yellow one taped together.

The top recipe is the one I use---my notes show how I double the recipe for us.

 The birthday girl

 All smiles today!

This is her birthday table.

We ate at Thai Garden for lunch, and then we saw The Greatest Showman at the deserted theater. We were the only four people in the theater! True, there was snow and ice today, and most people just stayed at home, but we had a birthday to celebrate!

Tonight Leah has four friends over for supper and games. They are loud--shrieking and laughing, and having the best time. I am loving hearing their joy.

The day Leah was born fourteen years ago was a cold day too. But Leah has been a ray of sunshine ever since she joined our family.  She was an easy, happy baby, and she has always been a delight!

Happy Birthday, sweet Leah!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cooking Around the World

Leah and I were face timing Julie, and she told us about a fun thing she and Big Sam are doing this year. Once a week they are cooking a meal from a country in Europe. I think she said there are 51 countries in Europe, so it should take them about a year to complete this adventure.

What a great idea! The wheels in my brain began to turn. We could do that! We could cook a meal from each country in our world. I think there are 193-195 countries currently. (I'll have to research that.) As part of our homeschool, Leah and Sam are studying Africa. I think that's where we will start. I am not sure how long this will take us, but hopefully if I am consistent, we can complete all the countries of the world before Leah goes to college! I am excited about how much fun this can be. When I plan my grocery list and menu for next week, I will choose our first country. I'm sure I will be able to find all the recipes and ideas I need online, but I may also purchase the book Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin which recounts one family's journey of cooking around the world.  She also has a blog, Global Table Adventure, which is full of ideas and recipes.

I am envisioning good food, interesting facts, and maybe even some related music or short books as we begin our culinary adventure. I'll try to take pictures and share each week's meal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Does My Life Reflect My Values?

As I was reading chapter two of More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes, I made many notes regarding a statement she made concerning values. Barnes suggested that we examine our values, change them as needed, and make sure our foundation is built on the Word of God.  During this season where I am setting and trying to keep new goals for the new year,  I felt I needed to consider my goals. Were they reflecting my values? What exactly are my values?

I think to answer the question to yourself, "What are my values?" you need to look at where you spend your time and resources. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We may say and think our values are certain things, but our day-to-day lives, our time and resources spent will actually reflect what our true values are.

The source for our values should come from God's Word. How will I know what God values if I do not read and study His Word? If I value serving God with my life, how do I do that? If Jesus is truly the Lord of my life, and I value eternal life, does my life show that? If I value being a godly wife and a loving, serving mother, where do I find my examples?

For me, the answer to all those questions are found in my daily time reading and studying my Bible and spending time in prayer. Then I must examine my daily life--the time and resources I spend each day, and see if my life aligns with what I say I value.

I truly value being a wife, mother, and homemaker. I take these roles seriously, and I have spent the last 26 years trying to better myself in these areas. Passages such as Titus 2:2-5, 1 Corinthians 13, and the book of James are full of instruction on how to put these values into practice. In Titus 2 it says to love your husband, love your children. If I need more information on how to love them (or anyone for that matter), I can read and put into practice 1 Corinthians 13. If I need encouragement because of trials I am going through, or advice on controlling my tongue, and I read and apply James 1.

I truly believe that the Scriptures hold the answer to any problem we may have. It is up to us to make God's Word a treasure to us. As we read it and do what it says, our lives will reflect what God values.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spiritual and Fitness Goals for 2018

I have finally set my 2018 spiritual and fitness goals for 2018. They are subject to tweaking, but here they are for now.


  • Read the Daily Bible.  This is a NIV Bible divided into daily readings--you will read the entire Bible in one year. It is also arranged chronologically with thoughts and commentaries scattered throughout. I began on January 1, and so far, so good. Jimmy began reading his again, and this is either is 2nd or 3rd time through.
  • Read verses pertaining to worry, anxiety, and fear. I am using a concordance feature on my Bible app to locate verses on these subjects. I am copying them in a new journal that Sam gave me for Christmas.
  • Continue to list five things each day I am grateful for in a journal. (I began doing this 21 years ago.)
  • Do a better job at memorizing the Bible verses I assign to the children each week. Their memory is so much better than mine. I am making a copy of each week's verse for myself so I can drill the verses more than just at the kitchen table.
I have been unsure of what exactly my fitness goals should be at this point beyond exercising on a regular basis. I have somewhat floundered the last three years. Ever since I finished the Rocket City Marathon in December 2014, I have not had a significant running or fitness-related goal. I have half-heartedly trained and run a few half marathons, but I have done nothing consistently. Jimmy challenged me to running at least 2 miles every day. I considered that, but it the end I modified that goal. Here is what I have come up with:
  • Run at least 2 miles 5 days a week. Last week was my first week, and I ran 6 days for a total of 19 miles. In years past that would have been not a big deal, but for me right now, it was quite an accomplishment. 
  • Beginning this week run at least 20 miles per week. I will excuse myself from the 5 days a week and the 20 mile minimum when we are out of town for an extended period of time.
  • Start going to CrossFit again and attend class twice a week unless I am out of town. CrossFit is another fitness area I have been inconsistent in over the last year. I quit completely for a few months after a shoulder injury, but went back because I missed my friends (and coach) in the class so much! I stopped going for the month of December because, well. December! I am debating on taking off this month since I am trying to train for a half-marathon January 27. I will decide in the next few days, but I am definitely going back twice a week in after my race. My sweet coach, MC, is so willing to modify the workouts for me and my shoulder! I love being with the other ladies, so I am going to give it another try!
I have not chosen a word for 2018. I have too many words! LOL! I just finished listening to the Big Boo Cast's latest podcast, and I love Melanie's word for 2018--NO!

P.S. I set up my Instagram, but so far I have no idea what I am doing!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Homemaking Goals for 2018

I started a new spiral bound notebook for 2018. This is in addition to my daily Erin Condren planner. I like to keep a spiral notebook for all kinds of lists that are too lengthy for my planner. I headed several pages with broad categories where I wanted to list things I wanted to accomplish this year in each area.  One of these is cleaning out. We have lived in our current home for 13 years. While we have been married one 26 years, this is the longest we have ever lived in one home. We have no plans to ever move from this house.

So. After living in one space for 13 years, we have acquired all kinds of clutter. You wouldn't see it if you walked into my house, but it is there, hidden! I assigned myself an area or room to each month of this year.  Here is my list.

  • January--storage room
  • February--kitchen
  • March--garage/back porch 
  • April--Sam's room
  • May--den/living area
  • June--my bedroom and bathroom
  • July--schoolroom 
  • August--the "secret room" (a room off of Olivia's closet that houses the kids' outgrown toys and lots of other stuff that needs to be purged!)
  • September--guest room and bathroom
  • October--laundry room and hall closet
  • November--foyer and dining room
  • December--Leah's room and the upstairs built in desks/bookshelves
I also have a detailed checklist of drawers, closets, shelves, etc. in each of the above rooms. While I want all the cleaning out done right now, I realize that it did not get junky overnight, and it will take me the entire year to get through it. I hope I do not lose my stamina!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winding Down the Holiday Season

We have experienced the best two weeks ever! All of my children and their spouses have been here, and it has been so wonderful!

And now they are leaving.

Julie and Big Sam left yesterday at 6:30 AM. We all cried and hugged and prayed, and then they were gone. They arrived in Serbia this morning, and had a 5 hour car ride to their home in Craiova, Romania. They should be there soon.

Olivia and Brian leave tomorrow. More sadness!  But we have crammed so much fun into these two weeks. Fortunately, Clay has a few more days here at home, but then January 8 will come, and we will be a family of four again. I suppose we will start back to school that day, but I am not really ready.

Julie and I are having our own little book club. I gave her and Olivia each a copy of More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes. That is one of the first books I read as a new homemaker, and it gave me so many ideas that I still use today. When I went to Amazon yesterday to buy myself a copy (I cannot find my copy anywhere! And I looked through it just a month ago!), it was unavailable. I bought three copies in early December, but now Amazon has no more. Strange.  So I bought it for my Kindle. Julie and I are going to FaceTime each Friday morning at 8:00 (my time--4:00PM her time) to discuss a chapter. I am so excited!

I worked a little bit yesterday and today on my January clean-out project, my storage room. I am overwhelmed! I am not even sure I can get it all done in one month! So far I have cleaned out and organized all my scrapbooking supplies (and who knows if I will ever scrapbook again, but if I do, I am ready!), and generally made a huge mess in the room pulling out boxes and making piles everywhere. Plus it's super dusty in there. Yuk.

It's just January 3. Let's keep on working on our new goals and resolutions!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Something New for 2018: Instagram

Big Sam's brother, Abe, and his wife Grace spent a couple of days with us over the New Year's weekend. While we were visiting Grace encouraged me to join Instagram (get an Instagram account? whatever the right way to say it is). So. I am going to sign up for Instagram and try to figure it out. I have no knowledge of how it works, how I will connect with other people, how it will will relate to my blog, etc.
But, I am excited to figure it out! Julie is getting an Instagram too, so we will have fun learning about instagram together.

I have begun some of my January goals. I am not sure what my exact exercise goals are, but so far I have run both yesterday and today. 4 miles total. That is a start!

I made a list of 12 areas of my home that I wanted to clean out, organize and deep clean. I assigned each area to one month of the year. January's space is my storage room. I may not finish it this month, but I have big aspirations! I plan to begin today. I wish I had a couple of days that I could block out and do it all at once, but I don't. So I plan to work in small chunks of time with hopefully a few blocks of 3-4 hours. It looks so bad in there that I don't even want to take before pictures! (But I might).

How are your January goals and plans coming along?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Menu Planning on Monday

Somehow I got on a email list for Stephanie at the Ultimate Meal Planning Bundle. Earlier this week she began a series of emails with free daily tips for bootcamp menu planning. Her most recent idea inspired me to look inside my pantry and freezer and take inventory of what I have. I plan to create my weekly supper menu and grocery list based on what I found.

Here is what I have to work with:

  • small pan of lasagna
  • 1 container of chicken broth
  • about half of a spiral sliced ham
  • ham bone with ham attached (for soup)
  • small bag of spaghetti
  • 2 bags of onions and peppers blend
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 container of beef broth
  • 5 bags of mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of corn
  • 1/4 of a pork tenderloin
  • 1 bag of green beans
  • 2 bags of lima beans
  • grilled chicken strips
  • 1 bag of hash browns
  • 6 containers of mystery soup (I can't tell what kind of soup it is)
  • 1 container of a brown mystery soup or something? lentils maybe?
  • 1 container of red mystery sauce--pasta sauce?
  • 1 large jar of pasta sauce
  • 5 cans of tuna
  • rotin
  • pinto beans
  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas
  • cream of chicken soup
  • rotel
  • baked beans
  • chicken broth
  • vegetable broth
I think we will take a chance and defrost the mystery soups for one or two meals. I plan to make some chicken fajitas with the shredded chicken and onion/pepper blend. We can eat the lasagna one night for supper, and the spaghetti one day for lunch. With the remaining frozen vegetables, pork tenderloin, and one of the broths, I can make a vegetable soup. (I'll buy some canned tomatoes to add to the soup.) One more meal idea is to serve the ham with the baked beans and make some potato salad to go along with that.

What's in your pantry and freezer that you can menu plan with?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Books, Books, and More Books

I love to read. When I was a child and a teenager, I read all the time. I did not read much for pleasure when I was in college, but I began reading again as a newlywed. I continued to frequent the local library where I lived and read lots of books until Olivia was born. Then I read a few parenting and baby care type books, but that was about it for my personal reading. Of course I have always regularly read my Bible.

From the time Olivia was a baby until about 8-10 years later, I did not read much of anything strictly for pleasure. I read about homeschooling when I began to be interested in that, but I rarely read any fiction. In fact, the only fiction I read from 1995 until about 2004 was John Grisham's new book each year. Sometime before Leah was born (or maybe after, I can't remember) I discovered the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and I read all four of her first ones. I have not read any of the series past those first four, but I do own them. (Julie has read the entire series, and is currently reading Karon's latest book.)
About 2004 or 2005 Lynn introduced me to the Karen Kingsbury Baxter Family series, and I was hooked. I voraciously read every novel Kingsbury wrote over the next couple of years. My love for reading fiction was rekindled, and I have not stopped since. I have also added works of non-fiction, biographies, self-help, memoirs, and classics to my reading library.

I still go through spells of reading and not reading so much. When we take a vacation to the beach or the mountains, I will read a lot. During my normal day-to-day life, sometimes I read daily, and sometimes I read weekly.  A couple of months ago I tried a new "reading time" with Leah and Sam. After lunch (if we were not rushing out the door to CrossFit) I set the timer for 20 minutes and all three of us read silently. I love doing that, and I plan to continue that routine when we begin school again on January 8. Since I still read aloud to Leah and Sam each day, three times a day (Bible lesson, school, and bedtime), I read numerous books. But I still would like to carve out more time in 2018 for personal reading.

Here are a couple of book lists. Some of these titles are found in the sidebars of this blog.

What I'm Reading Right Now:

I'm taking notes while reading Empty Nest, so that's usually the book I read during our afternoon silent reading time. 
I'm reading Reading People either at bedtime (sometimes) or when I have some downtime while waiting somewhere. This is the book I keep in my purse.
I listening to Rooster Bar on audible while running on the treadmill. I am only letting myself listen to this book if I am running, so it is serving as a great motivator for me to run in the mornings. (I really, really needed a motivation, so this is working well so far!)
I have Soulful Simplicity on my iPad, so this is what I am reading while sitting with Sam at bedtime. I sometimes continue reading it as my bedtime reading.

What Is On My Bookshelf to Be Read:

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy Holidays

I'm going to just jump right in and try reviving my blog.

The last several days have been WONDERFUL. First of all, Clay came home from college on December 14. Secondly, Julie and Big Sam arrived at 9:30 AM December 18 after driving all night long from Chicago (where they flew to from Romania). Thirdly, Olivia and Brian arrived on December 20. FUN TIMES.

Julie and Big Sam have to fly home on January 2. They are leaving our houses around 6:00 AM that morning.
Olivia and Brian are leaving January 4.
Clay will leave for college on January 8.

While I am super sad that everyone has to leave, I am overjoyed that they were all here at the same time for so long! The best Christmas present ever! My days have been full of cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, and trying to keep on top of the stuff every where....but it has been my joy to do so. I am so happy!

Jimmy gave me a Roomba for Christmas, and I love that thing! I am running it every day. I am amazed at the dirt, pet hair, and dust that it picks up. I hope I don't break it with overuse!

I plan to leave my Christmas decorations up until after Olivia and Julie leave. We have had our live tree in our den since Thanksgiving weekend! I normally have everything down and packed up by this time, but I am letting the girls enjoy it all while they are here. I do plan to take down the Christmas stuff before Clay leaves because I need his help! Plus we are beginning school again as soon as he leaves, and I need a clean, holiday-free house to get in the school frame of mind.

I have been working on my 2018 Erin Condren planner. The planners are actually on sale for 20% off right now if you are interested. I love my EC planner! This is my 4th year to have one. I ordered mine for 2018 back in September when they were on sale then, and Lynn ordered hers at the same time too. Guess what? We got the same exact planner! With all the choices and color combinations, what are the odds of us choosing the very same one? Last year we got the same design, but in different colors. I guess great minds think alike!

I have been making lists of many areas in which I want to improve myself in 2018. I love to make goals, resolutions, lists, etc. I have also spent some time reading a few blogs with ideas for simplifying life, meal planning, homemaking, etc. I am always trying to grow.
I have also been prayerfully considering my spiritual goals for 2018. I haven't pondered or chosen a key word for 2018, but I think I have decided what my focus during my Bible reading and study will be for 2018----worry/fear/anxiety. Now that my two girls are married and live far, far away, and Clay is at college, I struggle with those things. I plan (with the Lord's help) to get a grip in this area this year.  Or at least to make some positive progress.

One goal I am setting is to blog more regularly. I haven't set a specific goal in this area, but I am purposing to get back into writing more.

I'll be back soon with all kinds of goals, lists, and hopefully some motivation!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Well. Hello

I am still alive over here in Mississippi!

I am still trying to figure out how to be a mama to children near and far. As most of you know, Julie and Big Sam live in Romania (over 5000 miles away and an 8 hour time difference), and Olivia and Brian live in Indiana (9 hours away), and Clay is a freshman in college in Tampa (12 hours away). Leah and Sam are sill here with us! Yay!

But things have not slowed down like I thought they would. I have lost all my drivers, and that has made a huge difference! I am back to driving them to piano lessons, XC practice, CrossFit, and art. It's fine, but it has been an adjustment. Leah won't have her driver's license for 3 years, so I will be the mom taxi for a while.  We have also traveled a lot over the last couple of months, so that keeps me behind at home as well. (But the trips have been wonderful!)

Our days are full of homeschool (around 4-5 hours a day) and outside activities. I am also drowning in housework and laundry.....I am still working on the best system for cleaning my house. Actually, if I could just find a consistent block of time to clean I could do it. The trick is finding the time! I will blog about my homemaking struggles in the near future, because I am all out of ideas!

We are having a revival (AKA Gospel Meeting) at our church congregation this week. Our speaker is Paul Sheehan, and he is fantastic! He is motivating, convicting, and infectious! If you are interested in hearing the Word of God presented in a simple and inspiring way, you can listen to his sermons from our church's website or download the podcasts. Our regular preacher, Trey Haskett, has all his sermons on the podcast too, and they are excellent as well.
Here is the link.

One more any of you call your kids by the wrong name? Like every.single.time. you try to say their name? I cannot call anyone by the right name, and it is starting to irritate Leah and Sam. I understand. I would not want to be called by my sibling's name all day long, but I don't know how to stop. Any suggestions?

I hope to check in again soon!

Monday, September 11, 2017

After Hurricane Irma

Clay's dorm today
(photo credit Ethan Behle via Facebook) 

Whew! My prayers were answered, and Clay and the other college students made it through Hurricane Irma just fine last night. He texted me Sunday night around 10 to let me know the power went out. I had another text from him around midnight saying that it was very windy and rainy, but he was just fine. And then we didn't hear from him again until this morning. However, I knew that all was well because I have a couple of friends who live in Tampa who did update on Facebook that all was well. Some wind damage and loss of power, but otherwise doing just fine. I also watched the Tampa local news on my laptop and could tell when the worst of the storm had passed. And then I tried to sleep.

I feel conflicted. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that Clay is ok. That Tampa escaped the worst of the hurricane. However, I feel terribly sad that since the Irma moved away from Tampa, it hit other areas instead. I am so sorry for those people.  Today my prayers were full of thankfulness and for protection, comfort, and healing for those affected by and continuing to be affected by Irma.

Clay's college still has no power, cell service is sporadic, and their classes are cancelled through Tuesday. If power is not restored by Tuesday, then it is my understanding that classes will be cancelled Wednesday too. I am so thankful for the dean of students and others in positions of authority who made all the hard decisions concerning the welfare of the students. I cannot thank them enough for their provisions and updates. The dean even moved his family into one of the dorms for the duration of the storm so he could be with both his family and the students.

Please keep praying for all affected by Hurricane Irma. I will too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

About Hurricane Irma

Our son, Clay, is a freshman in college in Tampa, Florida. Yes, he is still down there. He is staying on campus with the other students, dorm parents, and staff, and they will be hunkered down.

Jimmy and I have gone over this in our minds and out loud a thousand times.
(Do we tell him to start driving north?--Our home is 12 hours away. Do we leave him down there? Do we let my daddy or Jimmy's uncle go get him?--they offered because we were out of town when the window of opportunity for evacuation was still open.)

The school has been sending us lengthy, detailed email updates twice a day. They have a plan. They have food and water to last an extended period of time. They have safe places (in the basements of the concrete walled dorms) for the students to be in during the storm. Clay has a full tank of gasoline in his car, water and food in his dorm room, and a charged flashlight. The school will be serving meals to the students inside their dorms beginning tomorrow so they can stay put. We have stressed to Clay to follow all directions.

Tampa is not currently in a mandatory evacuation zone. I have some friends who live in Tampa, and they have been making preparations all week, but they are staying home.
I am now following the Tampa weatherman, Denis Phillips, on FB. This is my main source of accurate weather news for the Tampa area.

And we are praying. Lots of praying. Not only for Clay, but for all affected by Irma.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our May Trip to Denver

It seems like a lifetime ago, before the weddings, before my fabulous beach vacation, and before taking Clay to college (in Tampa, and we are anxiously watching Hurricane Irma!), but way back in May, our then family of seven went on a short vacation to Denver, Colorado. 

To our great surprise, the forecast was SNOW! It began snowing our second day there, and the blizzard continued until the entire area was covered in about three feet of snow! Definitely the most snowfall we have ever seen in our lives. It was beautiful! And so much fun to play in.

Our plan was to spend our days hiking the Rocky Mountains, but due to the snow, we got only one day of hiking in before the snowstorm hit. We tried to venture to the national park on one of the snow days, but it was too dangerous. We tried! And almost got stuck in the snowdrifts! So we headed back to our cabin and let the kids play in the snow there. They built Baymax and another snowman, and Sam built some sort of snow cave. It ended up being a relaxing vacation. We read books, played games, and ate some yummy food. It was a nice to get away before the crazy summer began.

 airport selfie

 We ran into Teri Maxwell of at the park! I recognized her and talked to her for a few minutes. She was so kind!

the weather forecast!

 Julie, Sam, and Clay


 Leah, building her snowman

 the finished snowman

 Of course, Julie and Clay had to go for a run!

 playing in so much snow!

 That's the road behind Sam. That's why we couldn't drive through the park.

 Julie and Leah

 Sam in his snow cave

 Sam, Jimmy, and Leah with Baymax

Moose in the road were a common sight.

It was a wonderful trip!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chick Fil A 5K

This morning we left at 5:00AM to drive to Memphis for the Chick-Fil-A 5K race. Our family has run this race on and off over the past several years. It is one of our favorite 5K races! It is a large race (over 1200 finishers this year), and the door prizes and post-race refreshments are outstanding.

All four of us met our running goals, and Jimmy placed 2nd in his age group!

 Here we are looking sleepy....we had just gotten out of the car after our 2 hour drive.

 Here we are posing in front of the finish line (before the race). The finish is inside the Auto Zone Park. (Which is the baseball field for the Memphis Redbirds)

 Leah and Sam, enjoying their post-race Chick-Fil-A sandwich!

Jimmy and Me....
tired, but happy!

We hung out at the Bass Pro Shop for a little while before heading home. When we got here, Jimmy mowed the grass, and Leah and Sam did a math and science lesson.
It was a good Labor Day for us.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Just Freeze the Bananas

Early this morning I made myself stop what I was doing and take the time to peel and freeze three very ripe bananas. It took less than one minute. However, trying to decide if this was a good time to stop what I was doing and actually complete this task took me longer than one minute.

Do you find yourself doing this same thing? Things like walking past some towels that are folded but still need to be put in the cabinet? Or knowing that a plant needs watering, or something needs refilling, or some shoes put away? Just little things that can be done in probably less than a minute, but for some reason you find yourself walking past them because you think, "I don't have time to do this right now."

The reality is doing those little tasks the moment you recognize they need doing takes much less time (and mental energy) than thinking about them, not doing them, and nagging yourself about leaving them undone.

What are some things you can do now instead of putting them off to later?

I try to always carry something that goes in the room I am going to as I head that way. For example, we have a basket at the top of our stairs leading to the basement (where our schoolroom, craft area, workout room, garage, and storage room are located). Throughout the day I place items in that basket that belong in one of those areas. Every time I go downstairs, unless my hands are already full, I try to take either the entire basket and empty it or at least take a few items out of it and put them in their proper home. When I leave my bedroom in the morning, I like to take the stray items that ended up there the night before and return them to their proper place.

My children each have a plastic dishpan with their name on it in my laundry room. I place their folded laundry in there each afternoon, but I also place anything I find around the house that belongs upstairs in their room or bathroom in there too. They are responsible for emptying the buckets (that's what we call them, but they are not really buckets) each evening. I used to keep a basket at the bottom of my stairs that lead to the children's rooms for those random items, but now I just put everything in their buckets.

So, my challenge for you today is to just do that small, but maybe annoying task that won't take longer than one minute! If you do several of these tasks each day, it will keep your home looking tidier and hopefully boost your morale too!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Memorizing Scripture

Since most of you are starting a new school year, I though this might be a good time to share my memorizing Scripture system. While I use this system for learning Bible verses, it could be used for anything you wanted your kids (or yourself) to learn.

I am going to share the link to the last time I blogged about my Scripture memory box. It has very detailed instructions on how to set up your own memory box.

I mentioned in this blog post that I copied all the Scriptures that Olivia had learned into a journal and gave it to her when she started college. I also did that for Julie and Clay, and as you can imagine, Clay's journal had many more verses than his sisters since he has been home four more years since Olivia left for college!

Here is the link:
Scripture Memory Box

I hope this encourages you to either begin learning Scripture with your children or to
continue hiding God's Word in your heart.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Graduations

I'm going to go back a few months in time to share this monumental occasion. All three of my oldest children graduated!
  • Olivia:  Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education
  • Julie:  Associate of Arts Degree in English
  • Clay:  High School Homeschool
Olivia's and Julie's ceremonies were on the same day in the same facility, but at different times. Julie graduated at 3:00 and Olivia graduated at 7:30. Here are some pictures from the big day.

 my parents with Olivia and Julie

 Me, Julie, and Jimmy

 Mims, Julie, and Pops

 Jimmy, Olivia, and Me

Mims, Olivia, and Pops

 Our whole family with Olivia later that night. 

Clay and Parker (who is the son of my best friend, Lynn) graduated homeschool Kindergarten together. I found this precious picture, and asked them to recreate it on their high school graduation night!

 Clay and Parker, at age 6

 Clay and Parker at age 18

 Mims, Clay, and Pops

 proud parents of homeschool graduate #3
(Yes, I am wearing the same dress I wore to the girls' graduation.....I called it my graduation dress!)

 my grown-up children!

one more family photo

The end of April began months of exciting times and major changes for our family of seven. So much has happened since these photographs were taken, and most of it is just a blur!