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 thing.....do 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 Titus2.com 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

 Olivia

 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! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Menu Plan Monday

Before I begin my post about What's For Dinner?, let me first say Thank You, dear readers! Between your comments on this blog and on my Facebook page, I am now so motivated to keep blogging. I appreciate your kind words so much! I am about to write down every single suggestion that you made, and I will attempt to address each one over time. Thank you for all the great ideas!  :)

This week begins the first days of our new normal. We are now a family of four here at home. (I spent last week in Florida getting Clay settled in at college.) Leah and I have chosen new seats at our kitchen table so that the four of us are sitting close together on our big table for 10. We are sitting in the middle. It is also an adjustment in cooking. Most of the summer we had 8 people here eating lots of food! I am now buying less groceries and cooking in smaller quantities. I hope to someday get my freezer stocked with some meals to pull out on busy days. 
Baby steps. Adjusting a little at a time.


After a LONG hiatus, I am back to sharing my weekly menu on Menu Monday over at Org.Junkie.

I made a weekly menu that actually began Saturday.  I am sharing some of the recipes so I can access them easily when I want to cook these dishes again. I am trying several new recipes this week that were all found on Pinterest. Each meal is either a one pan meal (with a side of rice, salad, and/or steamed broccoli) or a crock pot meal. Since we begin XC practice this week on Tuesdays and Thursdays,  I am trying some new crock pot recipes so we will have supper ready when we get home. 

Saturday:
Roasted Parmesan Garlic Chicken and Vegetables

Sunday:
crock pot Italian chicken spaghetti

Monday:
Italian sausage and vegetables
brown rice

Tuesday:
crock pot honey mustard pork chops
brown rice
green beans

Wednesday:
pasta salad
fruit salad

Thursday:
crock pot honey sesame chicken
steamed broccoli
brown rice

Roasted Parmesan Chicken and Vegetables
(adapted from a Pinterest recipe)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
6 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic salt, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
20 new potatoes, quartered
1 yellow squash, cut into small chunks
1 zucchini, cut into small chunks
2 Tbs. olive oil

Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place melted butter with 1/4 tsp. garlic salt in one shallow bowl. Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp. garlic salt in another shallow bowl. Spray a large baking sheet with sides with non-stick spray or line with a non-stick mat. Dip each piece of chicken into the melted butter and then coat on both sides with the bread crumb mixture. Place coated chicken in the pan.
Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, and season with a little garlic salt. (I just sprinkled some on them.) Also add any of the melted butter and bread crumb mixture that you had left from the chicken. Spread the vegetables on another large baking pan that has either been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with a non-stick mat. 
Bake both pans at 375 degrees for 45 minutes -1 hour or until the chicken is done. (I cooked this on the convection setting for about 40 minutes.)

***I bought my non-stick mats from Amazon (This is what they are actually called....I cannot make a direct link work...AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat 2 Pack)
 few months ago, and they have changed my cooking!  I cannot believe how easy the clean-up is when using these mats.


Italian Chicken
INGREDIENTS
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4oz fresh baby spinach (about 2 handfuls)
• 28oz can of tomato sauce
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

MA TERIALS
• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

PREP
1. Label your freezer bag.
2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients.
3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.

COOK
1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw. 2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot. 3. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with spaghetti and a salad. 
(from New Leaf Wellness)


Italian Sausage and Vegetables
Ingredients
  • 2 large carrots ~2 cups
  • 2 red potatoes ~2 cups
  • 1 small-medium zucchini ~2 and 1/3 cups
  • 2 red peppers ~2 cups
  • 1 head broccoli ~1 and 1/2 cups
  • 16 ounces Smoked Italian Turkey or Chicken Sausage
Seasonings
  • 1/2 tablespoon EACH: dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, optional
  • 4 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional: fresh parsley, salt and pepper
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil (easy clean-up) and set aside.
  2. Prep the veggies: *It is important to prep the veggies according to directions to ensure they all cook at the same time*
  3. Peel and very thinly slice the carrots.  Wash and (if desired peel, we love the peel on) chop the red potatoes. You want the pieces quite small here. (I halve the potatoes and then cut each half into 10-12 pieces)
  4. Halve the zucchini and then cut *thick* coins of zucchini. Coarsely chop the broccoli. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and chop into medium-sized pieces. Chop the sausage into thick coins.
  5. Pour all the veggies and sausage on the sheet pan.
  6. In a small bowl combine all of the seasonings and salt and pepper if desired (I use about 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt) with the olive oil. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour the seasoning & oil mixture on top of the veggies and sausage and thoroughly toss to coat.
  8. Place in the heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and toss around the veggies + sausage and return to the oven for another 10-20 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender.
  9. Remove and top, if desired, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Serve on top of rice or quinoa if desired. (Also great plain!)



Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
• 1 small onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/2 cup soy sauce
• 1/4 cup ketchup
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs • 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper 

Place chicken in crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops
1 pound boneless pork chops
1 pound frozen green beans
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I'm using yellow mustard.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup water 

Place pork chops and green beans in crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over. Cook on low 4-6 hours. 
(from New Leaf Wellness)

***Remember to visit Org.Junkie for more menu inspiration.



Thursday, August 24, 2017

To Blog Or Not To Blog

I first began blogging in May of 2008.  I don't even remember the original purpose except that it was a fairly new (to me) thing, and it sounded like something I would enjoy. I spent some time trying to decide if I wanted a homeschool-related blog only (and I looked at some homeschool blogging platforms) or a general blog (and I considered Blogspot, the only platform I saw that others were using).  In the end I went with Google's Blogspot and writing a blog of a general nature.

I have never had any rhyme or reason to my blog. I have just shared my life over the last 9 years in a less than consistent manner. My topics have included homemaking, homeschooling, parenting, sickness, grief, vacations, random fun, Scripture, how-to, holidays, running, exercise, and most recently weddings. I have also never had any specific goals for my blog--just sharing information that was relevant to me in hopes that it may bring joy or offer help or encouragement to someone else too.

I have been trying to decide what to do with this blog for several months now. Part of me wants to create a routine where I blog on a regular basis (5 days a week? once a week? twice a week?). Part of me wants to stop altogether. Part of me wants to completely delete the blog off the internet.

Do people even read blogs anymore?

Is there anything else to say that has not been said?

Does anyone even care that my family ran yet another race or that I dropped off yet another child at college, or that we have started yet another year of homeschooling (the 16th!) or that I have found the best way to clean my shower door or that my heart is broken because my three oldest children are grown and gone and it happened too fast and I am trying to find the positive in all my situations.

I am not sure what I am going to do.

If I continue blogging, what topics are you, my readers, most interested in?

  • random family life
  • homemaking tips and ideas
  • homeschooling tips and ideas
  • exercise
  • recipes and meal planning
  • home organization, cleaning, etc.
  • personal Bible study-thoughts/ideas/applications
  • products and books that I like
  • wedding planning ideas and specifics
I hope to begin our fall routine with what will be our new normal family life on Monday. We did begin school last Monday, but we left last Thursday to bring Clay to college. We have done a couple of days of hotel school, but we have yet to settle into a routine of school, piano, XC and art classes. Most of that will begin for us next week. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Let Me Tell You How I'm Doing

Everyone I see asks me, "How are you doing?" (meaning how are you doing considering your second wedding in 7 weeks is just 3 days away! Even the teller at my bank knows about my summer of the weddings, and she is concerned for me too! My mechanic asked me if I was crazy yet when I went by to pay him for an oil change.

So, let me just tell you.
I am fine.

I am a little stressed, but overall, I am fine. There are at least one hundred things running through my mind, and I write down one more thing I cannot forget to do all. day. long.

Small Sam (my youngest child--not to be confused with Big Sam, my new son-in-law of almost 7 weeks) is sick. So sick that after 4 days of continuous fever, coughing, headache, sore throat, and goopy eyes, I finally took him to see Dr. Marcus today. He tested negative for strep and mono, but his blood count indicated some sort of bacterial infection, and his throat and eyes look terrible. Dr. Marcus prescribed an oral antibiotic and eye drops. He has not felt like doing much of anything but lying around since Sunday. I am hoping that after 48 hours of medication he will feel up to enjoying Olivia and Brian's rehearsal and dinner.

The men in my family all picked up their wedding suits today. They are gray, and I know they will all look so handsome in them!  I have been running errands every day and also cleaning my house. Oh. and the laundry. I washed, dried, folded, and carefully hung the last tablecloth for the wedding today. I think I have prepared 50 tablecloths! It has taken me the entire time since Julie's wedding to get those tablecloths washed. With 8 people living here (and I am so happy they all live here!), I am doing laundry all the time, and it has been difficult to squeeze in the washing of the tablecloths. But, yay! They are all done!

Tomorrow Olivia, and I are getting a pedicure in the morning, and I have a hair appointment after lunch. In between those two things I have a list of other errands. Brian arrived yesterday, and 5 college kids will be getting here after lunch tomorrow. Fun times!

One last thing on tomorrow's agenda:  Julie, Big Sam, and Clay are going on a 44 mile run/bike ride early tomorrow morning. Big Sam is running all 44 miles, Clay is riding all 44 miles, and Julie is running 26.2 miles and then bike riding the rest. Doesn't that sound like fun? My part in this fun activity is to follow them to the ending point (30 minutes away), then drive them and Julie's bike to the 26 mile point on the trail, and then take all three of them to the starting point of the trail (about an hour from our house). Then I will come home while they run and bike! And we are leaving at 4:00 AM for this excitement.

Now you know--I am fine!  :)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's Happening Again

Just like about seven weeks ago, as I sit here beginning my day with reading a Psalm, it hits me.
Olivia is leaving home for good.
In 6 short days she will marry Brian, and they will leave to begin their new life together--far away from us.
Olivia is such a ray of sunshine! I will miss her terribly.

The tears come again.

Where has the time gone? How in the the blink of an eye have my older girls gone from playing dolls and stuffed animals for hours and days on end to getting married and moving away?

"How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings."
Psalm 37:7

Under the shadow of the Lord's wings; that's the only place I can live right now. I can draw comfort from knowing that Olivia is in His hands. As she begins her new life with Brian, I know they have committed to keeping serving Jesus at the center of their marriage. 

My anxiety level is high. I have a million things to do in order to pull off wedding #2 smoothly.  My emotions are all over the place. Jimmy's beloved grandmother, Munu, passed away Friday night, and we are all mourning. She was such a godly lady and is leaving behind a wonderful legacy. Julie and Big Sam are leaving for Romania in 8 days. Clay begins college in about a month. The Lord knew that I would need two more children after my older three left home.....I am so glad I have Leah and Sam. I have said that a hundred times these last few months.  Having more children to mother full time is such a blessing to me.

Those who know me well know that I rarely cry.  But recently the tears come often and in unexpected places. Change is hard for me, and that is what I struggle with most. I am praying for wisdom as I begin a new chapter of my life--I have a new role now (mother-in-law), and the great thing about that is now I have more children! 

Like I wrote about earlier in this post the day before Julie was married,  I am purposing to choose joy. I love Jimmy with all my heart, and I want all my children to experience the same joy in their adult lives. Thanksgiving produces joy. I have said that over and over again, but it is true. When I feel overwhelmed I remind myself of my blessings, and the joy soon follows. Yes, it requires discipline to not give into the selfishness of "my children are all growing up and leaving me!", but being thankful that our God and Father has them in the palm of His hand brings me immeasurable comfort.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our 26th Wedding Anniversary

Well. I decided to share some new and never seen before pictures of our big day from 1991!

Jimmy looks like a baby!


Here is a full view of my magnificent dress!  Isn't my headdress the best ever? (Julie carefully cut lace off my dress to trim her wedding dress....and there is enough lace left for a few more wedding dresses.)

Here are my bridesmaids....They are all so pretty!
Stephanie, Jennifer, Geri, Kristi, Me, Sharon, Kim, Jenny, and Lori. Lovely ladies!

It's been a nice day.....Jimmy had to work until about 7:45, and I spent my day cleaning and doing laundry.  But all of my children are here at home (all 6 of them!), and I could not be happier with my life, my marriage, and my family.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Julie and Sam Have a Blog!

Julie and Big Sam have started a blog. I am so excited, and I know you will be too! We can all keep up with them on their Romanian adventure.

Here is the link:
The Peters Progress

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Words and Thoughts

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

In my Psalms reading this morning, this particular verse stood out. What a tall order--for my words and the meditation of my heart (my thoughts) to be acceptable in God's sight.  Lately my thoughts are anxious, so my words are sometimes less than acceptable in God's sight. I am working on this. The second part of the verse gives the solution...."O Lord my strength and my redeemer". On my own, I will fail every time. With God's help and with my willingness to submit my selfish desires to Him, I can hope to succeed in making my words and thoughts acceptable to Him. 

What's been going on:
  • Julie and Big Sam are married! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way. As soon as the photographer gets the pictures to me, I will share some. He texted me a few.....here is one of them.
  • The kids and I attended Rustic Youth Camp last week. My team of teachers (of the 3rd and 4th grade class) graciously allowed me to just be a helper for the week of camp since I am in the middle of two weddings! It was such a blessing to not have to spend hours preparing lessons and crafts and then packing and taking the whole house to camp! Thank you so much Beverly, Desiree', Chrystal, and Heather!
  • I am still washing tablecloths from Julie's wedding!  They must be washed and dried one at a time in order to get the wrinkles out. The wash cycle is 35 minutes, and the drying time is 20 minutes. I have to get them out of the dryer the second the dryer cuts off. Then I hurriedly lay the tablecloth on my bed and fold it carefully before hanging it on a hanger. I think I have washed, dried, folded, and hung 23 so far. We used about 40 at Julie's wedding, so I still have many left. I also have some additional tablecloths that are new that we will also need for Olivia's wedding. They must be washed and dried before using them because they have hard wrinkles in them from the packaging. I think I have about 50 tablecloths to prepare in all for Olivia's rehearsal dinner and wedding reception.
  • I'm slowing increasing my running miles. I have really let myself get out of shape with the traveling and wedding planning. I also starting rowing yesterday. I plan to row 3 days a week to hopefully strengthen my shoulder (that I injured doing CrossFit). I hope to go back to CrossFit class in July. 
Today Olivia and I have a long to-do list for her wedding.
Fun!

Friday, June 2, 2017

I Choose Joy

"I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9: 1-2

Today I choose joy. 

My precious Julie will be married tomorrow. 
Today I have one thousand things on my to-do list, the bulk of which will take place beginning at 8:00 this morning at the wedding venue. I am meeting my BFFs, my wedding planners extraordinaire, Lynn and Leanna, there for us to work our magic! I have packed my SUV like a game of Tetris, and I have many more items to load into the back of Jimmy's truck, including an arbor he built (absolutely beautiful), four ferns, and a keyboard and bench. 

I slept poorly last night, thinking of all I had to do today. I am also a little nervous to let my child go. And the tears fall.

So I get out my Bible to try to begin my day in the right frame of mind. I turn to the Psalms where I read from each morning to get my mind on God, praising Him, petitioning Him, reminding myself that He is in control. Psalm 9 begins with the psalmist praising God with his whole heart. That's how I can choose joy today in spite of my personal feelings of being overwhelmed by the tasks before me. In spite of the fact that I am entering into a new and unfamiliar stage of life. My whole heart must be focused on praising God and His goodness. I will be glad and rejoice in Him. 

I could not be happier for sweet Julie and the life she will begin with her beloved Sam tomorrow. They are both mature; Christ and serving Him is the center of their lives. They are both smiling continually, and their joy is contagious! 

People ask me how am I coping with "losing two daughters at once". First of all, I am not losing them! I am gaining two more children when they marry. Sure, I could be selfish and focus on myself, my feelings, my "loss", but would that be right? Instead, I choose joy. What more can a mother ask than for her children to marry godly spouses? Men who will love her daughters and take care of them. Men who love the Lord and will strive to keep Christ at the center of their lives.

But mostly I comfort myself with this thought......I am so happy in my life. I love my husband. I love my children. Jimmy and I have had such a full life so far. Of course we have had bumps along the way, but overall, I am living my dream of being a full-time wife, homemaker and mother. I get to homeschool my children. I get to spend my days serving my family....And that is what I want for my children. 

If I don't let them grow up and leave our nest, then they will never experience the joy of marriage and parenting that Jimmy and I have delighted in. They must leave to have their own families and lives and to one day face their own children growing up and leaving home. 

So today, I chose joy. Joy in the future that awaits Julie and Big Sam. Joy in the fact that the Lord will comfort me as I experience many emotions over the next couple of days. Joy in the fact that God loves Julie infinitely more than I do, and she is in His care and protection.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

One Week From Today

Well. Wedding #1 is one week from today. Julie and Sam's wedding. I am not quite ready!

Here's what's been going on since I last blogged on May 2:

  • We hosted several of Olivia and Julie's college friends for a weekend while they all came to run the Coke 10K race. We bought new bunk beds for Sam's room for this occasion which sleep 5! The beds are two double beds bunked with a twin trundle bed. I only put 3 college boys on these beds, but I am thinking that 5 future grandchildren can sleep there just fine.
  • Our family also ran the Gumtree 10K the following week.
  • Clay graduated, and we had a huge party to celebrate the occasion at our home. It was supposed to be an outdoor BBQ, but it rained and rained, so I had to host 94 people inside my house! I was able to seat 42 people in tables and chairs on my porches. Still, it was fun and crowded!
  • Our family of seven took a short vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Except we did not do much hiking in the mountains.....it snowed. Three feet of snow in 24 hours! We have never experienced snow like that before! We stayed in a cabin in Estes Park. The first day, before the snowstorm hit, we were able to do three hikes. The next two days we played in the snow and even tried to drive into the park to explore (unsuccessfully!). The last day we drove to Boulder, Colorado, where we were able to drive up to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. We took a few picture there in the snow before heading down to explore the Pearl Street Mall.
  • This last week I have done wedding stuff every single day. This included counting and sorting tablecloths, vases, lanterns, and candles, shopping for ribbon, fabric to drape over the arbor and various other items, taking the program to the printer, picking up Olivia's invitation envelopes (the outer and inner envelopes were printed), and much more.
  • Last night Leanna and I spray painted 38 clear vases gold and silver speckled. 
  • I've had my final meetings with the caterer and florist. 
  • Lynn and Leanna have been diligently working to plan the flow and flip of the ceremony and reception. I am so thankful for both of them, and there is no way I could pull off these weddings without their help. 
  • Julie finished her wedding dress and veil, and they are both beautiful!
  • Olivia's dress is hemmed and ready as well. Both gowns and dresses along with bridesmaids dresses are all hanging in the closet.

I actually have so much to say about our fun and busy month of May, and I have lots of pictures to share. I really hope I can find time to do that! 

Big Sam will fly in Tuesday! He will stay with us until the night before the wedding. I am sending all guests to a hotel for Friday and Saturday nights. :) After that, the Johnson Hotel will reopen for business. Julie and Sam have not seen each other since the beginning of January, so they are both super excited! Their plan is to come back here after their honeymoon and some other traveling they need to do (Sam will be giving reports to the churches that have supported him the last year). They will stay with us until after Olivia's wedding on July 22. Then they will fly to their new home in Romania. 

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The College Girls Are Home

Leah and I drove down to Tampa last Monday.  We made record time....11 hours and 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the trip back also took record time:  the longest drive to or from Tampa ever...14 hours, 25 minutes. What a trip!  I pulled a Uhaul trailer behind my SUV with Olivia, Leah, and Sam as passengers. Clay drove Julie in the girls' college car. We encountered numerous traffic jams due to wrecks and construction, and every stop took longer than usual because I am not the best parker when pulling a trailer.

A few details. Leah and I listened to Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle on Audible. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think I liked it better than Leah did. It was only 6 hours, so that was perfect to listen to on our trip. We alternated listening to the book and Leah watching movies (with headphones) while I listened to podcasts.

I spent last Tuesday packing up Julie's dorm room and Wednesday packing up Olivia's. I can't believe how much stuff they have! It almost did not even fit in the Uhaul and our two vehicles. On Thursday I finished up the packing and did some cleaning. My parents, Jimmy, Clay, and Sam arrived Thursday afternoon. We all attended Olivia's Senior Coin Ceremony which is where each senior presents a commemorative coin to a teacher or staff member that had the greatest impact on him or her during their four years of college. Olivia presented her coin to her dorm mother, Momma B. Momma B has been invaluable to both Olivia, Julie, and me too!

Friday our family explored Lettuce Lake Park near our hotel, and then we attended two graduations! Julie received her Associate of Arts Degree at 3:00, and then Olivia received her Bachelor's Degree at 7:30. Both girls graduated with highest honors, and I am so proud of them.

Jimmy and my parents flew back early Saturday morning (Jimmy had to be at work at 4:00 PM), and the children and I finally got on the road at 10:30 AM. We finally arrived home just before midnight CST.

Olivia and Julie are diligently unpacking and sorting through all their college belongings. I think things multiplied in their dorm rooms. I am not sure where are going to put all this stuff! We unloaded the cars and Uhaul into my schoolroom. I moved Leah and Sam's schoolbooks to my kitchen because you cannot even walk in my schoolroom!

It actually looks a lot worse than this picture right now because they have started going through the boxes.

The final days of wedding planning are in full force, and next week is filled with Clay's graduation, the kids' piano recital, and Clay's graduation party. Fun and busy times!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

15 Minutes Again

Yesterday, blogging for 15 minutes proved to be successful for me, so I'm doing it again!

Jimmy was given The Daily Bible by one of the elders in our church a few years ago. In January of 2016 he began reading it, and he liked it so much that he started it again on January 1 of this year. Around the beginning of February I decided that I would like to read this Bible too, so I ordered one. Initially I wanted to double or triple my daily readings and catch up to the correct calendar date, but after a couple of weeks of this I realized that I would not catch up anytime soon. So, I decided to just skip to the actual day's reading and just read from there. Perfect!  Now Jimmy and I are reading the same passage each day, and we can discuss it if we want. Leanna also purchased this Bible and began reading on the current day, so we can discuss it too while we are running if we like. Clay has this Bible, and I plan to buy one for Leah to begin reading January 1, 2018.  I don't think Sam is ready for this amount of daily Bible reading yet, but I will probably go ahead and get him a copy of this Bible so he can begin when he is ready. He currently reads one chapter of his Bible each day.

Olivia and Julie are both graduating on April 28. Olivia will be receiving her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, and Julie will be receiving her Associate's degree in English. One ceremony is at 3:00, and the other one is at 7:30. Clay will be graduating high school on May 9. Lots of graduations, weddings, showers, and parties going on around here!  We are also squeezing in a short family (just the 7 of us) vacation to the Rocky Mountains before the weddings.

I recently finished a book called The Year of Living Danishly. It was fascinating! It is the one year memoir of a young woman and her husband living in Denmark while he worked for Lego. They are originally from England. I enjoyed reading about the culture and traditions of Denmark and how  Helen adjusted (or tried to adjust!). I have several books on my shelf just waiting for me to read! I also just finished The Westing Game (for my English class--our fun book for the year), and yesterday was also our last class for the school year. So now I will have more time to read for pleasure.

Oops! I just checked my timer because I thought surely it had been more than 15 minutes. Yes. It has been 20 minutes! I accidentally set my time for 1 hour, 15 minutes, not just 15 minutes!

Have a great day!