Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Tornado Hit our Barn ~

~ our gingerbread barn that is. Some of you may remember our cute little gingerbread houses the kids and I made last year. You can read all about how I had to let go of my OCD tendencies and let the kids have fun in this blog post from last year. Well, old habits die hard and this year was no different than last. I always go into a project with visions of perfection...

So far so good right? Wrong.

The gingerbread pieces were too soft and kept cracking. We tried to "glue" them together with the icing, but there was no saving the barn.

Once the roof collapsed, we decided there was no turning back...we had to just go with it.

Isn't this just pitiful?

This picture makes me wonder about what could have been...

All I know is we had alot of fun with this mess. The kids were laughing and eating the candy (2 things they're really good at) and I was snapping pictures (one of my favorite things.) I'm pretty sure we will always remember the gingerbread barn the tornado hit...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Teacher Gifts ~

One day last week my friend Audrey and I got together to make teacher gifts for our kiddo's teachers. Several weeks ago we met at one of the local antique stores and came home with lots of fun stuff. I found the cutest antique saucers...I'm sure they have a name, but I don't know what it is. :) I knew as soon as I laid eyes on them that they would be the inspiration for my teacher gifts this year.

Audrey came across a recipe for chewy gingersnaps that sounded yummy. Not only are they very yummy, they remind me of Snicker doodles ~ my favorite cookie! You can find the recipe here.

Yes, they taste as good as they look.

Every year since R was in Kinder, my mom has made crocheted pot holders for the teachers for Christmas. I thought it would be really pretty to place a saucer on one of the handmade pot holders. Along with the cookies, I added a couple of Teeccino herbal coffee bags (my favorite is the hazelnut flavor ~ it's heavenly,) a cute little tin of cocoa and last but not least...a Starbucks card. I mean what gift would be complete without a Starbucks card? That's my opinion anyway.

I wrapped it all up in cellophane and tied it with a pretty ribbon. I created the recipe card using Photoshop and a free digi kit I found here.
All the teachers loved their gifts. R's homeroom teacher let out a holler when she discovered the Starbucks card...she's my kinda gal. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

While My Heart Listens ~

Every year for Christmas my Mom gets me and my sister a little Christmas book. Some are books of poetry, some may have Christmas short stories and others are cute recipe books. I love to cuddle up on the couch with these books; every year they seem new to me. The other day, while waiting for the kids to get out of school, I realized K had several of these books in the car. Thankfully, I found them before they were destroyed by little feet with muddy shoes. While sitting at school I came across this precious little poem that describes the desires of my heart at Christmastime. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do ~

While My Heart Listens
by: Mary C. Adams

My eyes delight in every dear familiar touch
Of Christmas in the house ~ the pine, the silver bells,
And all the rest. But let them not rejoice in these too much

Lest they miss seeing angels in their chorus swells
In adoration of the Child whose house was bare
Except that love beyond all other love was there.

Let me not fret for baubles lacking for the tree,
At cookies to be baked and bundles left untied;
Nor mind the cluttered rooms, but sweep my spirit free
Of any pettiness, so He may come inside.

Let me forget all small and unimportant things
While my heart listens for the sound of angel wings.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A cute little gift ~

My friend Audrey and I decided we would get together and make these cute little Christmas gifts as a "Thank you" to all the teachers at our kids' schools. My mom is an avid collector of "things" because "you never know when you might need them." I'm so glad she decided to start collecting these cute little Starbucks jars. I've been on a recycling kick lately which drives my husband crazy, but it makes my heart sing to re-purpose what might end up in the land fill or at the bottom of our incinerator.

Can you imagine throwing all these cute little bottles in the trash? I can't!
Thanks Mom for saving these for us!

I'm sure there are recipes for Spiced Tea floating around all over the place,
but here's the recipe that's written down in my Gooseberry Patch "My Favorite Recipes" book:

2 Cups Tang
1 Cup Instant Tea
1 Cup Powdered Lemonade
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

I'm telling you, if you haven't ever mixed up four batches of spiced tea, you should try it sometime. Everything in my kitchen was covered in a fine layer of spiced tea dust. The room smelled wonderful ~ that might have been the dust up my nose, but whatever, it sure smelled yummy and oh so Christmas~y. :)

Oh, and on a side note ~ I called Audrey to tell her it was going to cost a small fortune to fill all these jars and I didn't think I had bought enough ingredients to make all I needed and I wanted to make sure she had enough made up to fill all her jars. The first batch had only filled four jars; at this rate I would have to make about 8 batches just for my jars. So, we start comparing our recipes and half-way down the ingredient list I gasp...and she says, "You didn't put the sugar in did you." She knows me well ~ and let me tell you 1 1/2 cups of sugar makes a big difference in this recipe. I'm so glad we discovered my mess-up. How embarrassing would that have been!

Dun Da Da....and here's the finished product. I think they turned out really cute! It was totally a team effort and we had so much fun visiting and crafting. We put alot of love (and sugar) in these little jars ~ I hope the teachers know how much we appreciate all they do!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Wellness Journey ~

How many of you want your loved ones, family and friends, to be healthy? I'm pretty sure everyone who happens to read this can say, "I do" to that question. Six years ago I became very passionate (obsessed) with health and wellness. I read a book over one of our vacations and by the time we got home I was so distraught and depressed that big R took the book away from me and hid it.

It was horrible. Here I was, a mom with a tiny baby and a three year old, and I had just been slapped in the face with a devastating reality ~ although doctors have good intentions, there's this big ugly monster controlling the entire healthcare industry called 'money' and no matter how many natural cures there are out there it doesn't matter because those cures are not money makers. For the first time I realized that I have to be my family's number one researcher and advocate. I also learned something about myself: once I learn something, it can't be unlearned. I couldn't go back to the way I was before...

I began reading and learning as much as I could about 'natural' stuff. It's definitely been an evolution, but over the last 6 years I've changed the way I clean our home and the way I eat (no, I'm NOT a vegetarian despite the fact that most people link 'healthy' with being a vegetarian.) There are so many things I do that are not conventional, but to list them I would have to really think. These changes have become my lifestyle. Maybe I'll try to remember to list them and post about them later.

The best advice I got during my depression at the beginning of my journey was to change a few things at a time. It was overwhelming to realize everything I was doing was wrong, but by taking baby steps I've transitioned to what I think is a pretty healthy way of life. I've also realized that not everyone is interested in what I've learned and most people will look at me like I have a third eye when I try to share with them. I am so thankful for my sister. We're on the same page about pretty much everything and it's so fun to compare notes and help each other learn about this passion we share.

I would like to share a poem I wrote a few weeks after we got home from that vacation I talked about earlier. I was a shell of a person. I remember big R telling me I was going to have to snap out of it. After all, I did have a family to take care of. Funny thing was, that was the main reason I was so depressed. I wanted so badly to do what was right for these people I loved so much, but everything I was doing was so wrong.

The kids and I were outside on the front deck. I had been praying that God would give me renewed hope, that everything would be o.k. I prayed for the depression to go away. As we were sitting on the deck, a storm cloud was building. We're a farm family and we love watching storm clouds; as we were watching this one, the most beautiful rainbow appeared before us. I couldn't believe it and just like that, gone...the depression was gone. I jumped up, ran into the house, grabbed a pen and my notebook and, smiling the whole time, wrote this poem:

Today I saw a miracle
and that I can't deny.
My God keeps his promises
and my God does not lie.

The day began so dark and drab
and a sadness filled my heart.
But I have faith and I knew with faith
I could have a brand new start.

The clouds they built and the thunder clapped
as the cool winds blew,
And in my heart the sun began to peak through.

For in the sky a rainbow began
to show a tiny yellow, pink and blue.
God's promise that he will care for us
without a doubt I knew.

Thank you God for loving me and caring for me too.
My faith in you has grown today
through a rainbow's colored hue.

Monday, October 31, 2011

End of Football and a Little Life Lesson ~

This weekend was a busy one ~ all the sports was enough to make my head spin, much less the trick-or-treating (tonight will make three nights in a row the kids have dressed up.)

Let's start with the Rangers. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but put a Texas team up for the championship and I'm your fan! Big disappointment, but I'm still proud of those guys! Next we have our high school team that went home with a huge victory. Proud of those boys too. What can I say about those Texas Tech Red Raiders? Not much after Saturday night, but I will always be a Red's in the blood. I don't even want to talk about the Cowboys.

This blog post is not about the wins or losses, nope, it's about a little football team I've been watching over the past 3 months and how proud I am of one #34. It's been so awesome to see all the boys grow and learn the game of football. Most of them went from being timid to getting major hits in the course of just a few months. I've seen friendships grow between not just the boys, but the parents as well. We couldn't have asked for a better group of men to coach our boys. They were patient, encouraging and not once did I hear a negative or condescending word come out of their mouths. At every turn these men were making sure our boys had the best possible experiences and I am so thankful for that.

R played offensive tackle and left defensive end and did a pretty darn good job. He got out there and worked hard at every practice, gave 100% every game and even sacked the quarter back a few times. That being said, he was disappointed most of the time because he wasn't given the chance to run the ball. He did touch the ball one game when he recovered a fumble. Now I know he's my flesh and blood and I'm supposed to be a little biased, but the kid can run. He's got endurance and speed. Nevertheless, he was the tallest kid on the team and expected to be on the line.

This brings me back to the last few minutes of our last game this Saturday; a game we didn't even think we were going to have. The boys were playing great, we were winning and I guess the coaches decided to mix it up a bit and let the boys play different positions. R decided at half time he would ask if he could run the ball. I'm so glad he did. With just a few minutes left to play they move R to running back. I'm busy making sure the girls aren't going to fall of the bleachers when my father-in-law elbows me and says, "R's about to run the ball." I nearly fell off the bleachers myself. First I was on the edge of my seat, then I was standing, then jumping up and down and apparently screaming my head off ~ all the while R is running past several opponents into the end zone for a 60 yard touchdown!! It was so exciting!

I told the coach after the game that it was that one play out of the entire season that will make R want to play again next year. Golfers will tell you it's that one good connection with that tiny white ball that keeps them coming back for more. I guess it's that way with any sport. You get a glimpse of victory ~ feel what it's like to score a touchdown, a home run, a three pointer or goal and your hooked. Who knows where that touchdown will lead him in the grand scheme of things, but I hope he learned that it doesn't hurt to ask for what you want. The worst that could happen is getting told, "No." R learned on Saturday that when you ask, great things can happen.

After the game on Saturday

So proud of my little guy!
 We're already looking forward to not only next season, but many seasons to come. I am going to have to learn how to control myself ~ big R told me Saturday after my screaming fit that I was going to have to get a grip or he wasn't going to be able to sit by me at the games. Not only that, I could hardly talk on Sunday. :)

"Four short words sum up what has lifted successful individuals above the crowd:
a little bit more.
They did all that was expected of them and
a little bit more."
~ A. Lou Vickery ~

Friday, October 21, 2011

Words of Affirmation ~

How many of you remember specific words that were spoken to you as a child? I'm sure most of us can...some good, some bad. I remember at the dinner table growing up; my dad would say, "Whatever you do, don't ever start smoking." You see my dad lost his dad (who was a smoker) at a very young age. He found it very important to remind us daily how bad that habit was for us. I also remember Dad saying, "C*****s never quit." Those were pretty handy words to remember when times got tough. Another important goal my parents set for me and my sister was the goal of higher education. My dad was the first of his family to graduate from college and both my parents were adament that we go. I'm proud to say we both achieved that goal and even though we chose to be stay-at-home moms, it's pretty cool that we both fulfilled that dream (thanks Mom and Dad!)

Fast forward several years and now it's my turn to remind my children of what I feel is important. Yes, I've told them that smoking is bad, but I don't say it everyday. We've talked about higher education and R is already planning his college career and big R is already saying to them, "Remember what your last name is." This is, by the way, something I've heard his dad say to the older grandkids.

About a month ago big R and I went to see The Help and I loved the little phrase Aibileen would repeat to Mae Mobley, but I didn't really think anything about it after the movie. Several weeks later I came across a canvas on pinterest that someone had printed this quote on. So half jokingly I started saying this little quote to the kids (accent and all.) At first they thought I was crazy and laughed...then something funny happened; they wanted me to keep saying it. I bet I repeated that quote 50 times that day. The more I said it, the more convicted I got that my kids really needed to hear these words and they were being spoken in a way that would cause them to remember them forever.

Last night I held K's face in my hands and said these words to her...You is kind. You is smart. You is important. She smiled and went about working on the picture she was drawing. In her own little world, concentrating on yet another masterpiece, she starts repeating...You is kind. You is smart. You is important. (with an emphasis on important.) I just listened while acting like I wasn't really paying attention. She repeated the quote about six times ~ it was beautiful. The whole time I'm amazed and prayerful that those words are sinking in.

Someday my kids will look back and remember the words that were repeatedly spoken to them over the years and I hope my grandchildren get to hear these words of affirmation some day ~ You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Best Day Ever ~

When I got home from the grocery store on September 28th, I noticed several Monarch butterflies fluttering around our backyard. I knew it was time for the Monarchs to migrate, but this was the first time I had seen so many in our yard. I unloaded the groceries and had a few minutes before I had to pick the kids up so I grabbed my camera and snapped several photos of the butterflies. Let me just tell you, it's not easy to photograph a butterfly, and I quickly found out getting a photo of one with it's wings open was next to impossible. Oh well, better luck next time and off I went to school...

On this day, R was to go to the fair with a friend which left me with a dilemma ~ how to break the news to K. I chose the easy way out and decided not to tell her until absolutely necessary (which I was hoping would be never.) My kiddos love the fair and we had already gone on Sunday, so it wasn't like she was being completely mistreated. Anyway, back to my story...R went with his friend and K and I went home; all the while she's planning what we would do, just the two of us. First on her agenda was a picnic in the front yard. We packed our basket with whatever we could find that was portable, locked Sam in the garage (because the last thing we needed was a dog destroying our picnic,) and headed out to spread our blanket. When we rounded the corner of the house, we saw the most amazing sight ~ a sea of butterflies floating over the flowers in our flower bed. The same flowers I almost cleaned out the week before (I'm ready for pansies people!) I sprinted back to the house to get my camera and a second chance to photograph the elusive creatures. We snapped pictures in between bites of pb&j and marveled at their beauty.

Have you ever listened really closely to the flutter of butterfly wings? It's magical ~ and if you close your eyes you can imagine the sound of angels wings.

I finally found a butterfly nice enough to let me capture it in all it's glory. I'm not kidding. Try it someday, it takes persistence. :)

While we were sitting outside enjoying our picnic, K climbed onto my lap and said, "This is the best day ever!" The best day ever wasn't being spent riding rides and eating cotton candy, it was being spent on a blanket surrounded by butterflies.

Our picnic eventually came to an end. We loaded up her scooter and went to the park and then came home for "do it yourself" pedicures. We had fun! Yes, she found out the next day her brother got to go back to the fair, but she was only sad for a second. I really think in her little mind she knows we shared a very special day that wouldn't have happened if we had not been home, together, just the two of us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

She would be 11...

I've had this blog post idea swirling around in my head for over a week now. On the morning of Sept. 12th I was listening to the radio and the DJs were talking about the 9-11 memorials. They were asking their listeners (me) if there was anything in our lives that we memorialize year to year and how God has healed us over time.

I immediately thought of our sweet baby girl and the tradition we started 11 years ago.

Here we are at the cemetary on Christen's 1st Birthday
R worked so hard in that little plot of dirt. We planted trees and spread lava rock and rejoiced in the miracle of life. In the midst of our sorrow, God had blessed us with hope for the future ~ Christen would soon have a baby brother.

July 26, 2002

This was the picture that started the tradition. I really had not set out to do this every year. It's just something that happened. Instead of blowing out the candles and singing, "Happy Birthday" we sat as a little family smiling...for we were blessed.

July 26, 2003

July 26, 2004
July 26th, 2004; now this was a special day. Just about two hours before heading out for our traditional birthday picture I found out that R was going to be a big brother. I cannot tell you how it made my heart sing to find out this wonderful news on Christen's 4th birthday. Once again...blessings.

July 26, 2005
Look at those sweet little faces. So happy to be able to share this day with our sweet babies.

July 26, 2006
I remember as a child feeling very uncomfortable going to cemetaries. It's always amazes me that my kids are totally fine with it. They've grown up knowing this is where we go to celebrate their sister's birthday. They run around looking at headstones. Now that they're older they like to read them. They fix the flowers that have fallen out of vases. They are especially interested in the smaller headstones...

July 26, 2007
I love these pics from 2007. I wish I could go back and hug those little people that have grown so much over the last few years.

July 26, 2008
K's 4 and R's 7 and we're smack dab in the middle of summer baseball, but we make the drive south to the cemetary to take flowers and a picture. Our little family is growing and K talks about her sister as if she's right there with us. I love how this little girl, who was born almost 5 years after we said good-bye to her sister, keeps her alive in her heart.

July 26, 2009
K went with me this year to pick out the flowers. She loved the butterflies and helped me arrange the vases.

July 26, 2010
This picture almost didn't happen. My camera had just enough battery to take one picture. Thank you God for this one picture.

July 26, 2011
Here we are this year. I love these pictures. I love how the kids are posing behind Christen's headstone. I love how, in their hearts, they know they will see her someday and the cold stone that makes her real today will be replaced with loving arms.

This is our memorial. This is proof that God is a God of hope. We will keep going every year and we will keep remembering what God has brought us through.

We love you sweet girl...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A campout for Socks

This was one of those mornings. It started out fine; they always do. I woke up in plenty of time to get ready and I'm usually in a pretty good mood. Then 6:45 rolls around and I have to wake "the bear cub." Some mornings are great, but there are some mornings that I'm convinced aliens descend upon our home in the middle of the night and replace my sweet 6 year old with a grouchy bear. Well, this was one of those mornings. I will spare you the details and just say that I wouldn't have won any "Mother of the Year" awards today. K was banished to her room for most of the short morning before leaving for school, so I could at least fix lunches and feed R breakfast. Before you think I'm too horrible, she did get to eat breakfast; after she shut her brother's head in her bedroom door, which resulted in a much needed spankin'. My blood pressure is rising just typing this...

Anyway, we finally made it out the door (most of the tears had subsided by this time) only to find the Tahoe was locked with the keys inside. After running back in the house to get the spare key, grinching the whole way because someone had locked the car, I hear K say, "Socks is locked in the car." What?!? That cat had spent the entire night in the Tahoe! I was really worried about what I would fine upon opening the door, but luckily he has a big bladder and apparently a taste for beef jerky because he had ripped open an empty package of jerky and licked it clean. There's no telling what goes through that cat's mind, but I wish I knew sometimes.

We finally decided that Socks locked himself in the Tahoe. R had left the door open for a few minutes the night before, that's how he got in in the first place. The way the morning was going, I'm surprised Sam hadn't been in there as well.

Here is Socks trapped in a much smaller box.

I will end this blog post on a much happier and sweeter note. No one wants the images of my horrible morning swirling around in their head all day. So I will leave you with this old journal entry I came across this morning:

Written August 29, 2009

On our way to school to take Socks our cat for R's Show and Tell, he was under the seat meowing (crying.) K said, "Do you think God is in the kitty's heart saying, 'It's o.k. It's o.k.?'"

I just love that girl (even if she is a bear in the mornings.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Best Smoothie Ever

K at 11 months enjoying, you guessed it, The Best Smoothie Ever.

How my smoothie recipe came to be is a rather long and interesting story, and maybe in the near future I will bore you with the details, but for now I'm just going to share the recipe.

The Best Smoothie Ever

*2 Cups Kefir (I use the strawberry/banana flavor)
2 Cups cold water
Handful frozen strawberries
Handful frozen blueberries
about 6 frozen cherries
*1 pkg Unsweetened frozen Acai
*Scoop whey protein powder
* scoop Garden of Life fiber
*2 Tablespoons Coconut oil

I learned about Kefir and Acai while reading a book called the Perricone Promise by Nicholas Perricone about 7 years ago. This smoothie recipe has evolved over the years. I just started adding the protein powder, fiber and coconut oil in the last few months. Needless to say, I have to make the smoothie without all that stuff, pour it up for the kids and then add the rest of the goodness just for me. I've been able to pull the "protein powder wool" over their eyes the last couple of time I've made it, but the coconut oil is a no go. Of course, if I had started 7 years ago with the oil (and I do wish I had) they wouldn't know the difference and we would all be happy campers. Anyway, every time we have this smoothie, which is about 3 times a week, I feel really good about what's going into their little bodies. My mom, who is getting over some pretty major intestinal stuff, was told by her gastrointerologist to start taking Kefir. Hmmmm...should it upset me that it took a man in a white coat telling her this to make her believe it? Maybe, but whatever works. I've only been preaching for 7 years, but whatever. :) Mom told the doc about the smoothie I make and how my kids consume kefir quite often and he was very impressed...yes, I did pat myself on the back and say, "I told you so." I'm really not that big of a brat, but when it comes to health and wellness, I'm pretty passionate. I also realize that people are not going to listen to me because I do not have the appropriate letters at the end of my name, but that's ok. I'll keep reading and learning and taking care of my little corner of the world.

I hope you try the smoothie, and if you do please let me know what you think.

I do have to say, I have the best parents ever! They saw my love of smoothie making and bought me a Vita-Mix ~ the greatest blender in the world! Thanks Mom and Dad ~ Love you both bunches!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PlanetBoxes are Totally Cool!

This may sound like a crazy thing to want to blog about, but I can't help it. When I get my hands on something as cool as this, I want everyone to know about it! Back several months ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, PaleoTalk. This podcast is about eating Paleo. I won't go into the details, but it's awesome!  If your interested in checking it out you can find the link for the podcast at Who knows, I may blog about it one of these days. :)

Anyway, on this show they were talking about what they send in their kids lunch boxes and Sara (yes, I'm on a first name basis with the hosts,) was talking about these totally cool lunch boxes she found for her kids and how everyone at their school was wanting to know how to get their hands on one. After looking it up online I knew PlanetBoxes would be on our "must have" list for school this year. Being the procrastinator I am (you didn't know that about me did you?) I finally ordered them when school started. The kids have been asking all summer if I was going to order Planet Boxes...I finally did, the first day of school. :)

The much anticipated "PlanetBoxes"

This morning was a lunch box packin' party! I've never seen two kids so excited about packing lunches. It was crazy and fun ~ it was crazy fun! I'm loving these lunch boxes because for the last 4 years I've been limited to what I could send in their lunches. I'm a zip-lock baggy mama and strawberries, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and such don't do well in baggies. The kids refused to eat squished berries and tomatoes. I don't blame them; unpacking their lunch boxes was a pretty gross job. But no more ~ Planetbox to the rescue! If you think you might be interested I highly recommend going to to watch the video. 

I can't wait for the kids to tell how me how lunch was today!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We're a Football Family

R has been saying for two years he wants to play football, but for some reason sign-ups always seem to come and go and we would say, "Maybe next year." Several months back when news of the Pop Warner league coming to our area was all over the place my mom asked if R was going to play. I didn't think much about it; I guess I always figured we would get enough football in a few years. After visiting with some friends and finding out their son was going to play, we decided to look into it. Next thing I know we're signing the papers, paying the fee, getting weighed and being fitted for a helmet (not me, R.) Over the course of several weeks we were inundated with emails from our new coach about all the upcoming practices, game schedule, fund raising, t-shirt purchases, etc...I was starting to wonder what the heck we had signed up for. Then I get the practice schedule ~ three nights a week with games on Saturday. Yikes, I was beginning to think we had signed our lives away for the next 4 months.

Fast forward 4 weeks and here we are the day of the Pop Warner opening ceremony. We have to be there at 7:45am, yes, you read that right, am. The ceremony starts at 9, and our team plays a scrimmage at 12:15. Ok people, that's alot of sitting around and waiting in this heat. We were sweating, the boys were hot and hungry and I was dealing with a 6 year old who wanted to be anywhere but there. She loves her brother but come on this is ridiculous.

The scrimmage finally starts, I video every play (do you know how hard it is for me to video, watch the game and control my screaming? I'm taking the tri-pod next time for sure.) I realize it was only a scrimmage, but the boys played their little hearts out and we got a glimpse of what this season is going to hold. I honestly have never seen Ryan genuinely smile like he smiled coming off of that football field. I think he finally found his sport and so have the rest of us.

This is just the beginning and I'm so excited! These are the "fun years." Watching my kiddos participate in activities, seeing them excel in the things they enjoy, encouraging all they do, at the same time making sure they know this is not what defines them. They are growing, discovering their passions and having fun along the way. I can't wait to see what the future holds ~

* Just a little funny ~ during the ceremony all the little cheer leading squads were sitting on the sideline in front of their respective teams (our team doesn't have cheerleaders this year or we would have been all over that.) K turns to me and asks, "Are the cheerleaders just for decoration or are they going to do some cheers?" It was hilarious!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our First Fan Letter

Several months ago I took K to see Soul Surfer; a few days after that we went again with big R and son. K talks about Bethany like she's a personal friend of the family and has said on numerous occasions she wishes Bethany was her sister. So when I found her fan page on Facebook last night we were very excited. She sat with me for about an hour looking at all of Bethany's pictures until we came across a drawing a little boy had sent her. Well, that's all it took; immediately K was rounding up her crayons and stealing paper from the printer. "I'm gonna draw Bethany a picture!" Keep in mind this was all happening about 10:30 last night and yes, school starts Monday and no, we have NOT established any kind of routine around here. On a side note, I've learned over the last 4 years the bedtime routine takes care of itself. That being said, we were up until about 11:30 creating 'the best picture I've ever colored' for Bethany Hamilton.

This is Bethany just before the shark attack. Notice the shark coming out of the water, but most important, notice the cross above.
God was watching over Bethany.

I don't remember ever sending a fan letter to anyone. As far back as I can remember I've always felt like a small fish in a huge pond. But here we are smack dab in the middle of 'the information age' and social media makes us feel like we can be friends with those who in the past have been unreachable. And my little one, with her 'I can do anything' spirit thinks "Why not!"

So, this morning I got up, went to the computer and found Bethany's fan club address and in a little while we'll make a trip to the post office to send our very first fan letter.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

County Road Lemonade Stand

For the longest time (pretty much every summer) the kids ask if they can have a lemonade stand. Every summer I manage to put them off. I'm not doing this to be mean or squash their entrepreneurial spirit, but to keep them from experiencing failure. Before you start judging me and thinking I'm a bad mom, seriously we live out in the middle of nowhere USA and the people that do drive by are going at least 10 mph above the speed limit. Which is the exact reason why I will never spend time putting a garage sale together, but that's another blog post. Back to lemonade...for some reason when they asked me yesterday, before I could really think about it we were making lemonade, a sign and loading up the Gator to head to end of the driveway.

Before we left the house, I made a phone call to their daddy to let him know that when he got home he better be prepared to buy a little (or alot) of lemonade. :) And right as we were walking out the door the phone rang; it was their Bo (Big R's mom) to see if we were home (yea ~ another customer!)

As we were sitting in the Gator, sun beating down on us, waiting patiently to sell our first cup of lemonade, R commented on how he really hoped we had some real customers. I asked him what he meant; he said he wanted real customers who we hadn't talked to and told them to have their wallets open. I laughed so hard at this; it really was funny.

When it was all said and done the kids sold 10 cups of lemonade and half of those were unsolicited. Ok, so 10 cups @ $.25 per cup is only $2.50. They somehow managed to walk away with $16.50 (all of which R wants to put away for our Hawaii fund.) The moral of the story is this: If you're cute, live out in the country and take a chance on a lemonade stand you might just make a few bucks and a few memories. Pretty sure they will remember this for a long time...and me? I will remember to let the kids take chances even if they might end up disappointed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's so quiet...

If you're a mom you've had those days where if you hear the theme song to Zach and Cody or Phineas and Ferb one more time you might scream. Those are the days all I want to do is curl up with a good book and fall asleep after only reading a few pages. (Just a side note: No one has taken a nap in our house all summer, not even on Sundays.) My children have been Energizer bunnies all summer. Even on the days we go non-stop and I think surely they're gonna crash early, one 30 minute sitcom and they're bouncing off the walls or should I say jumping on the trampoline. :) I love my life, I love my kiddos, most of the time I don't mind the noise...but every once in a while I need a little peace.

This past Sunday my mom took the kids to the farm. We ran a few errands in town, ate lunch and then went our separate ways; her with my kiddos and me in the quiet of my Tahoe all by myself. I may be weird, but I've always been one to get homesick. I could never spend the night with friends as a child. My mom always had to come get me in the middle of the night, and forget about Girl Scout was horrible. Well, that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when things just aren't quite right, that's the feeling I had on my ride home. My dad always refers to that feeling as being "baby sick." I remember going to college and every time I talked to my dad he would tell me he was baby sick. I talked to my dad after Mom and the kids got to the farm and the first thing I told him was that I was baby sick and the house was too quiet. He said, "Just wait until they go off to college."

I've enjoyed these last few days of peace and quiet. I've gotten to have a lunch date with friends, finish a quilt I started several years ago and watch a few movies. I'm about to walk out the door to meet my parents to bring my kids home. I've missed those little people. I wonder what we'll do when we get home? I'm kinda in the mood to watch a little Phineas and Ferb...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Has it really been 20 years...

I admit more and more often these days I am reminded that time passes quickly and 20 years ago can feel like yesterday. My lovely children delight in reminding me that I'm "old;" needless to say, this doesn't bother me. "Old" is a relevant term and I admit to thinking my mom and dad were old when they were 39.

A few weeks ago my sister and I were going through a box of things from her high school days and we came across several letters I had written to her when I was a camp counselor one summer at Kickapoo Kamp for Girls down in Kerrville. I decided it would be great fun to work at a summer camp, so when the camp job fair came to campus I was the first one to sign up; little did I know how much work it was going to be ~

Following is an excerpt from one of the letters dated July 2, 1991:

Let me just give you a sample of my day:
6:30 Wake up for myself to get ready in order to get 7 little girls ready at 7:15
7:15 Wake up the girls
7:45 Flag raising
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Clean up cabin (get it ready for inspection) Try getting seven 7 year olds to clean the shower, toilet,   sink, mirror, sweep the floor, line their shoes up, make their beds, put their dirty clothes in a bag and take out the trash in 15 minutes because at
8:45 Go to classes
9:00 to 11:45 Teach classes
12:30 Go to lunch
1:30 I get to take a 30 minute nap while they are at song practice. Yea!
2:00 they wake me up. Not yea!!
2:00 to 3:30 Rest hour! Best part of the day (just kidding)
3:30 Go down for campers to get a Coke
3:45 Classes start up again
5:45 Classes over!
6:30 Supper
7:30 Night activity
9:00 Up to cabin. We usually listen to music and sing and dance. Sounds like that's right up my alley huh?
Anyway, that's my schedule. Don't think I'm griping, I'm just really tired right now. I guess I better go get some sleep. Kiss Mom and Dad for me and give them big hugs! Love, Tina

Now I wouldn't trade that summer for a million bucks; I learned so much as a camp counselor and gained a little independence being on my own so far away from home, but I'm pretty sure if I had known in advance what my summer job was going to be like I would have chosen a different path. Isn't life in general just like that? We grow, we learn and we become the people God wants us to be because of the experiences he puts in our paths, but 9 times out of 10 if we knew what it was going to take to get through those trying times we would chose the easy way.

I just happen to read these letters to K today and noticed the date at the top of one of the letters...July 2, 1991. Twenty years to the day has gone by and in my mind I can still feel the cool summer air on those early mornings. I don't know how we managed to get those 7 year olds to do all the things that had to be done to pass inspection, but somehow we all managed (and survived.) Now I have a little girl of my own who sat listening to me read those letters from a summer so long ago. She has big plans for summer camps in her future the only catch is she wants me to be her camp counselor ~ isn't that sweet? :)

Here's to all those sweet memories of summers past that we all have... 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Artichokes, Kale chips and a Mango...

I'm back after a short break to visit my sister and her family. We stayed longer than we ever have and had a great time. We swam, went to the movie, enjoyed a nature walk that was not so enjoyable once my nephew H was stung by a bee, and just had fun being together. The girls played dress up while the boys chased each other through the house with nerf bullets flying. They built tents and played with water balloons. My kiddos got to join Hunter in his Cross-Fit class and had a blast! I'm now bugging Rodney to hang us some rings from the ceiling in the garage so the kids can do pull-ups. I got some great ideas on how to make fitness fun for the kids. Thanks Sis for letting us tag along.

Watermelon for breakfast ~ yummy!

Yesterday we went to the grocery store and I thought it would be fun for the kids to pick out a fruit and vege they had never tried before. The catch was they had to at least taste what they picked out; so after much deliberation they agreed on an artichoke and a mango. I picked up some kale; I've been wanting to try making kale chips. The mango was a huge success; they had it for breakfast this morning. The artichoke is still waiting patiently in the fridge (I'll be Googling "how to cook an artichoke" shortly.) As for the kale chips?

This health nut mama thought they were delicious! I have to hand it to the kids, they at least tasted them. I must say, for those of us living a low carb, high fat diet these little chips are perfect for those days when we need something crunchy and a little salty. Not only are they tasty, they are so good for you. Kale is rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, calcium, manganese and loaded with sulfur containing phytonutrients which have been shown to protect against many kinds of cancers including breast and ovarian. The chips are super simple to make; simply wash the leaves, spin in a salad spinner, gently tear the leaves from the stem, place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

I hope you try them and if you do, let me know what you think ~


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