Sunday, July 20, 2014

Five-Year-Old Bathroom Victories

I remember hearing that heartbeat for the first time.  With all of my babies, I always teared up a bit, sighed with relief and said, "Thank You, Jesus."

Tonight, as I trained my five year old how to wipe his bum by himself, I teared up a bit, sighed with relief and said, "Thank You, Jesus."


Y'all, these are big victories for everyone.

There's not one parent out there who grieves when their little precious doesn't call them into the bathroom anymore to clean them.

This whole parenting thing is a marathon, not a sprint, we hear.  Well, we just passed another mile marker here, folks.


Next on the agenda:

1) Getting into the car without reenacting every WWF match ever recorded.
2) Everyone actually remembering to replace the empty toilet paper roll.  Who am I kidding?  Anyone in addition to me.
3) The couch surfing to stop before someone catches a big wave, falls, requiring either a cast or stitches.
4) Getting the library books back before the fine is the same amount as our mortgage payment.

These are the victories that no one ever tells you about.

And no one admitted to until now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One Year Later - The Dining Room

I realized that it's been a long time since I've done any house updates for any one interested.

For those of you new around here, we bought a 1961 ranch-style house last year and have been slooowly and painfully renovating it, one project at a time.

Renovating is not for the faint of heart, please believe me.

Thankfully, our dining area was a pretty simple project, all cosmetic, for the most part.

Here's what it looked like before we moved in, but after we had cleaned it up a bit:

I've been a fan of red accent walls for a while now, but this was too dark and closed in the room too much.  I wanted a clean slate to work with, so the whole room (and ceiling) got painted.  I adore the brick floor, though, so that definitely stayed.  One workman offered to rip it out for us.  I smiled at him serenely, knowing that he couldn't read the thousand types of death that were floating through my mind at that point.

Over my dead body was that floor coming out.

It stayed.

Here's my lovely Livy modeling what it looks like today.

Tucked back in the corner is the little coffee station made out of my grandmother's antique sewing table which she had received as a wedding gift.  Seems like I need some color over there, hmmmmmm....

 This is one of my favorite views in my house.  Even though all of the dishes are different patterns (which I adore), it's so soothing to my eye because it's all one color.  (Except for the Fourth of July decor, of course.)

On display, is a picture of my great-grandfather in his World War I uniform, which we are all so proud of.  It's important to me that my kids have an understanding of where and who they come from.  This photograph has started a lot of great conversations about our family history with them.

 I think this is one of my favorite rooms of the house, for lots of different reasons:  a) a ton of natural light comes in, b) everyone eats and gathers around the table, and c) it's actually almost finished.

Ahhhhh, it's so good to be home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stones of Remembrance

Back when I started this blog, I was using it as a way to stretch my writing wings a bit.  I had always loved to write {indeed, the love of words permeated my very core from the beginning}, but as a young mom with three littles running about my feet, there just didn't seem to be many opportunities.

After a while, as I was writing about the silliness of our days and sharing pictures of how our children were growing like the proverbial weeds, I realized that I was doing more.

I was setting things down, giving record to the amazing blessings that have surrounded and buoyed me up for years.

I call these my "Stones of Remembrance".

Joshua 4:6-7; 24
"...that this may be a sign among you.  When your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?' then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever."
" that all the people of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever."

It's all too simple to live our lives, the daily grind, forgetting all the marvelous and miraculous things that the Lord has done.

And yet, if it was important enough for the Lord to stop the Israelites to do it, I daresay, we should count it just as important for ourselves.

Our children need to know our stories, our mishaps and misadventures, our struggles and our victories.  

We are responsible for training our children up, a heavy and joyous responsibility, no doubt.  While it (the responsibility) can overwhelm us at times, the remembering of victories and miracles can keep us going.  Just those memories of silly adventures and experiences may be all we need to remind us of the joy that is ours.

After all, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

I believe that it is natural for any writer (or mother, yes?) to look back and reflect on things said and done and experienced.

Therefore, go, my friend.  Look back, build your altar with your stones of remembrance.

Build and rejoice.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Memoir of our Ten-Day-Road-Trip-With-Five-Kids... Definitely Not a Romance

Well, I've kinda been gone for a while.

I never plan for that to happen, but it does.  So there you go.

This time, we were planning and getting ready for our longest road trip we've attempted.

2605 miles.

7 people.

1 Suburban.

1 pop-up camper.

1 bottle of motion sickness stuff.

Not enough space between the seats.

Oh, everything started off (and pretty much ended up) happily.

See?  Happy, happy people.  (Don't worry.  I don't let my three year old go without a seat belt.  I promise.)

It was that middle-ish part that got a little grumpy.

Yup.  Our camper had to be escorted to a mechanic by a tow truck driver.  Wasn't that kind of the afore-said tow truck driver?

It was the middle-ish part that had me texting a dear friend saying, "Pray for us.  We're thinking about just coming home."  She prayed, we stayed and ended up experiencing some amazing things.

Does it always take going through the grumpy middle-ish parts to get us to the glory of the rest?

Wow.  I got a little deep there.  Wasn't expecting that, especially in this post-trip haze that I'm still in.

After four days of an "accidental" vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado, we were back on the road.  Six out of seven of us were thrilled.  Number seven?  Well, she was quite happy with being in a hotel room, eating out and going shopping.  What?  Whose child is this?!  Ahem.

And one of the glories that awaited us?

So, yeah, that was pretty neat-o.  {Pardon me lack of grasp of the English language and all of its beauties and intricacies at the moment.  I was recently in a car for ten days with five kids.}

And this, too.

When you live in suburban America, you just don't really get to experience 90+ horses being driven to their pasture every evening.

Balancing out the glories, were the real life moments that keep us... humble?  Maybe humble is the word.  Like when you leave the shower early in the morning at the KOA and are being friendly and smiling and waving at lots of people (because that is just what you do) and you realize that your orange undies have slid out of the pile of dirty laundry in your hand and are flapping in the breeze.

Yes, humble sounds just about right.

And then there's the trick of keeping your wonderful husband awake for the whole trip, especially through the great wilderness state of Wyoming (which coincidentally has the same population as the one city you live in.)

Y'know, because you just don't want to die?

So you buy a Red Bull (for him), a Cherry Coke (for you), start munching on chocolate, turn up "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, and start dancing like a maniac.

It's just a free service that I provide.

Or what about when you are determined to make sure every child has plenty to do in the car so that they don't a) bicker, b) throw up, or c) remember every road trip as a movie fest in the car.  After all, I'm all about our children being a bit bored so that they make their own fun and getting a real appreciation of seeing their country from the road.

That was the first few days.

On the tenth, it was a free for all.  Stuck in traffic and a pelting rain storm on the last (and longest) day, they a) watched four movies, b) scavenged through the pitiful remains of the snack box that I had so cutely decorated before we left but was now scraggly and filthy, c) smacked each other around, crying, or d) all of the above.

D.  All of the above.

But no one threw up.

Booyah, baby.

And when we finally turned onto our street, we cried tears of joy.  All seven of us filthy, exhausted people.

Then, we started planning our next trip.

Because we're just gluttons for punishment, especially if it means that we get to give our kids more amazing memories to take with them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

No Words Needed

Technically, no words are needed, but how can I resist?

My husband is a teacher at heart.

And when you have the rapt attention of our nine-year-old, why wouldn't you teach?

My heart continues to melt a little bit each time.

{I'm linking up with my friend Jennifer's No Words Needed link-up today.  I'm so thankful that she did this because it had been on my heart already, so it was perfect!}

Monday, June 16, 2014

18 Summers

I read something a couple of months ago:  "You only have eighteen summers with your kids."

Uh, excuse me?  {gulp}

C. R. A. P.  

Pardon my French.  Ooh, la, la.

As our oldest is already thirteen, the pressure is on.  And we all know that the last summer between high school and college really doesn't exist.

C. R. A. P.

Hubs has been hankering after one of these bad boys for a couple of years now and it just hasn't been something we could squeeze into the budget.

That is, until we realized that, really, we only have four more summers with all five of them.

Suddenly, renovating the kids' bathroom took a back seat and we now have a behemoth parked in our driveway and a constant smile on Paco's face.

Worth it?  Oh, yeah, baby.

I mean look at this face.  Is it worth more than a new toilet and tub in his bathroom?

Again, I say, Oh, yeah, baby.

Because you know what? We're going to make amazing memories and have stories of our adventures and mishaps and hysterical goings on to tell our grand kids years down the road.

And that's way better than a new toilet and tile any day.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

When It's Too Hot To Play Outside - Or, Put Simply, Paper Bag Houses

Most of you know that my family lives in Arizona, which is great if you don't count the summers.

And seeing as the summers 'round here last nine months out of the year, you really do have to count them.

Which really, really stinks.  Especially when you run out of travel size deodorant that hides out in the bottom of your purse.  (I'm not even sure those last two sentences are grammatically correct.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  It's the heat I tell you.  It melts the brain cells.  Heaven help me.)

While staying inside for weeks at time doesn't sound to bad to a girl possessing Amazon and Netflix accounts and an addiction to jigsaw puzzles and crafts (oh my word, I sound like I'm seventy), this doesn't exactly work for my five little monkeys.  They must move and create and make noise and hack into my phone to take selfies, etc, etc, etc.

Mama must be on her toes.

The heat is just starting for reals around here, so we're trying to remember what it is that we actually do to stay sane all summer long.

Thank goodness for a stash of Elmer's, construction paper and paper bags.

Here's why:

At Christmas time, Hubs and I painted little towns and roads on painters' drop cloths for our two littlest. Can I just tell you how excited I am that the whole project for both boys cost $15 total and they love them with all of their little hearts?  Amen and hallelujah.

Today, we decided to create 3D building for the towns using.... paper bags.  Ta-da!!

(we have an antique store.  but, of course, we do)

(and walmart.  always walmart.)

(jack's favorite thing ever
is having a car in his hand.)

(even our big one got in on the action.)

Will these last all summer?  Eh, probably not.  Does that mean we'd need to make more?  Yup.  Anyone sad about that?  Nope.

See what I mean about the heat?  I am now only capable of one word answers.  And slang, at that.

Blast those lost brain cells.

One hot day down, thirty five thousand left to go.

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