Saturday, November 29, 2014

traditions~Zoo Lights

Every year for the past decade, we have gone to see the lights at the Memphis Zoo the night after Thanksgiving.  This is one of our many traditions that we love each Christmas season.  Before we go each year, we meet out at my dad's house to eat an early dinner so we can be at the zoo entrance by six.  And might I just say that we outdid ourselves on his lights this year?

I have to say that last night might have been my favorite night ever.  You have to pay to get in, but once you're in, you can ride the tram all you want, for free.  We walked all the way to the back of the zoo, then caught the tram for the ride back to the front.  Todd got us all started singing Christmas carols while we were riding, and before we knew it, the whole tram was singing with us.  We overheard a little girl say, "This is just like sitting in church and singing songs on Christmas eve, except that everyone around you can sing on key!"  She melted our hearts.  And when they got off, before they walked away, she told us all that we had beautiful voices.

Todd wanted to take her home with us.

Here are some fun pictures from last night.

We always have such a great time.  I am thankful for yet another year with my sweet dad and my beautiful step-mom.  I don't take a single day for granted.

Love to all.

Friday, November 28, 2014

the most wonderful time of year

I've been absent for so long that I don't know where to start!  I haven't felt that great all week, so I haven't really felt like doing much of anything.  The past couple of days have been fun, though.

The boys finished with all their school work by Tuesday so they could have Wednesday off, so I took them (plus a friend) to a really cool park.

There were all these cool structures for them to climb on, and it satisfied Noah's ability of being like a monkey.  I enjoyed the swings while they climbed.

Thanksgiving morning dawned bright and early for Jonah and me~we wanted to be up in plenty of time to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  :)  I don't know that I have ever finished watching that before, but yesterday we got close.  We left home at noon to go to Mom's and Bill's for lunch.  It was so good seeing my sister and niece!  I haven't seen my niece in over a year and it's been since April since I saw my sister Lisa.

This is one of my nephews, Tyler.  I wish I had gotten more pictures, but I didn't.  This picture was taken right after he shoved a bite of keylime pie into her face.  In the background, another of my nephews, Devin, was playing Monopoly with my boys.  Also in attendance were my niece and her boyfriend, another sister Trish and her son Devin, my mom, my step-dad and us.

After lunch, all the boys and Erika went out in the woods to shoot guns.  ;)

This was them walking that way.

And then there was lots of driving of the tractor.

Jonah could do this all the live long day.  He was driving around in his own little world, while his brothers played Monopoly.

We came home kinda early, because I wasn't feeling good again and needed more medicine.  I took a short nap, then Todd left with Graham, Drew and Jonah to Rack Room to buy shoes.  He got two pairs of shoes for an amazing price, thanks to the early Black Friday bargains.  :)  The man can shop, I will give him that.

I wasn't going to decorate for Christmas until today, but these two little motivators talked me into getting started.  Graham and Drew went out with their friend Kyle, and while they were gone, Jonah, Noah and I got started.

I love our tree!  I added white lights for an extra pop this year and I love it.  :)  Jonah and Noah rock at getting this thing all set up.  Graham and Drew came home while we were putting the lights on and helped out.  I did a few more things around the house, but stopped at ten-thirty to watch a Christmas movie.  However, I got sleepy and turned it off and went to bed to read.

It was a great day, one that I was thankful to spend with beloved family.  I wish all of them could have been there, but it was good seeing the ones that were.  And's my favorite time of year!  I have been looking forward to this day since November 1.  I love decorating for Christmas, and I especially love sitting by the light of our tree each night.  It's so cozy and warm and inviting and a little magical.  I also love our Christmas traditions, though some of them are changing with the boys getting older.

I am thankful for the time I have, though.  It won't always be like it is now, so I cherish the moments I do have with all my kids at home.  Time is slipping through my hands, it seems.

Today I will finish decorating and then we're going out to my dad's at four to eat an early dinner and go to the Zoo Lights.  Bring on the traditions.  This week is crammed full of them.

Well.  Coffee is calling my name.  Love to all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

a brief time of rest

I won't say that I purposefully stepped away from my blog, it actually happened by accident, but it was good to be away from it for a week.  I tend to become hyper-focused on things, and it can easily be turned into an obsession.  I've admitted to being obsessed with blogs (posting on mine and reading others) a time or two on this site.  That being said, I feel like the Lord has shown me a few things.

The first thing is that anything can turn quickly into idolatry.  Idolatry is most easily defined as putting other things before God.  This idolatry looks dangerously similar to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, all of the internet, blogs, family, friends, exercise, Christmas, decorating and television shows.  Those are just a few and I have struggled with most of these.

The second thing He has been showing me is to just focus on prayer.  I've seen something on the internet lately that says something along the lines of, "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it or worried about it?"  Prayer is something so beautifully simple, and yet it's so complex.  I have been learning so much about prayer lately, and it is something I crave.  I love praying with the small group leaders and leadership at my homeschool group, Renewed Moms.  Just last night we met at my friend's house to pray.  Two and a half hours later, I walked back out her door.  I am not even kidding.  Those are the most anointed, prayerful women I have ever had the honor of praying with.  I always walk away feeling like the Lord has been made much of.

The last thing I wanted to share about is simple and probably redundant to you by now~and that is reading the word of God.  It is easily the most important book I will ever read, but more than reading it, I have been craving it lately.  I cannot seem to get enough of it, all of a sudden, and I believe that this is an answer to prayer.  I struggled until this summer, with reading my Bible each morning.  As a mom with kids at home, this is a hard task!  Especially when your kids wake up and interrupt.  ;)  (Kidding, kidding...well, kinda...)  Our children need to "catch" us doing this every morning and we should teach them to understand that this is our quiet time with the Lord, and if it's not urgent,  to wait just a few more minutes until we're done.  (I know many might argue with this, but it's something I personally think moms should teach kids.)  Obviously, you can't really teach that to a baby, or even a toddler, but when your child is older (maybe from three and above), they're capable to start learning these things and understanding.

So if you're wondering how I solved this issue that I was struggling with~being motivated to read my Bible each morning, it's that I persevered.  And it started with the night before the morning.  I intentionally go to bed reasonably early, I wake up earlier than my boys, and I read the Bible first thing.  Well...I have to take care of my dogs, because they'll bug me, and then I grab a cup of coffee, but then I settle down at the kitchen table to read the Bible.  I am still reading the Bible chronologically with the women in my church, so that is what I read first each day.  And I don't miss a day.  It takes about twenty one times for something to be developed into a habit, and by now, it has become a habit.  I read my daily reading first, and then I move into the living room and my comfy recliner to read somewhere different in my personal time.  For instance, we are about to start studying the book of 2 Timothy at Renewed Moms, so since Monday, I've been reading that book each day.  Yesterday I also read some in Psalm and before that, I've been reading the books in the New Testament that end in the letter I-A-N-S.  (Galatians, Ephesians, get the picture.)

My encouragement to you is this~persevere.  Keep trying.  Pray and ask the Lord to multiply your time in the morning and to motivate you to jump start your day this way.  When I miss a day, I feel so off, and things seem to go from bad to worse, quickly.

I look forward to this time each day.  I also keep track of what I have read in my journal.  I know that by now you are sick of hearing about my journals, but I do think everyone should practice this.  Even if you dislike writing, it helps so much to keep track of what you've read lately.  I also journal prayers and requests and things I want to look back on someday.

I also write and make notes and highlight in my Bible.  And about that....oh my goodness!  I cannot wait to receive my birthday present from my in-love's!!  But more about that on another day, but let's just say that my love of writing and drawing and reading the Bible are all about to be combined into one amazing thing.

Thanks for reading my blog.  I pray that this encourages someone to pick up their Bible today.  Love to all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a title-less post (because I cannot think of a title)

The boys went to church tonight and Todd and I stayed home.  I don't do that very often~let them go without me, but I did tonight.  And can I say it's kinda nice to have an hour and a half of quiet with him, not competing for his attention?  (Homeschool problems.)  Not that we talked that much, we just sat in the quiet.  We don't have to have words to connect.  We just do, and it's nice.

In staying at home, he watched Drugs Inc. on the National Geographic channel.  Why people do that mess is beyond me~you would have to live in a hole to miss all the possible side effects.  And even if they "just" do marijuana, why take the chance on doing even "just" that, when it's laced with who knows what?  It's a different world we live in today, and in my humble opinion, one can never be too careful.

On a lighter note, I have a current new favorite polish by OPI.

Brace yourself for the name, it's a great one~Viking In A Vinter Vonderland.  I told you.  It's a really deep purple.  I lurve it.  And for four bucks, it was worth the splurge.

I would love to be the one with the job of coming up with the OPI names.  But Suzi does a good enough job.  (I kid you not~her name is Suzi.  Hashtag obsessed, anyone?)

Have I mentioned lately how much I detest public displays of affection on Facebook?  I'm sorry.  I do.  They make me cringe.  There is one that really gets to me on my "friends" list.  I would promise that they're probably right there on the couch together, getting all up close on personal on their Facebook status and in the comment section.  If you have to display your love life in public on Facebook...well, chances are that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.  You can accomplish much more by saying those things in private to the one you love, besides, who are they really trying to impress?  Their mate, or all six hundred and eighty-something of their friends?  Get a room.  There.  I said what all of you think every once in a while.

(Gosh.  I don't know what's wrong with me tonight.)

Please excuse the rant.  I'll be done in a few minutes.  All my Bible verses probably bug people...I'm sure someone out there thinks I'm pretending to be all holier than thou...I assure you, I am not.  When I post Bible verses, it's because I want to share a little of what the Lord showed me in my quiet time that morning.  I promise that if I am anything at all, it's that I am a wreck every single day.  But Jesus loves me in all my messiness.

In our time of being quiet together tonight, while Toddley watched television, I looked through my old pictures on Facebook.  The photo above is from there.  I had mixed emotions as I looked through all the pictures~I miss our Icelandic friends, but I am so thankful that I got to know them.  They will forever be dear in my heart.  Some of the pictures made me smile so big~and some of them made me miss old friends that we went to church with.  I told you.  Mixed emotions.

I've been extremely weepy lately.  I don't even know what to say about that.

My mom and I have this joke about us and certain shoes that we always wear.  It can be thirty degrees outside, and you will see us both walking around the house in flip flops.  Like right now, for instance.  Although, I will say that I am a little chilly.  I'm tempted to go and change right now.

The boys are struggling to get their work done this week~it's been a strange week, and I've not been that great at homeschooling.  The older two are finishing their work for Renewed Moms right now.

That's all that I can think of.  I started writing this when they were all gone, but now they're all back home.  I hope I didn't bore you to tears.

Love to all.

a quiet day and a bit of random

Today was (yet another) unusual day.  Jonah and Noah had the opportunity to go to work with their dad, and Graham and Drew worked from ten till two.  So I had complete quiet for four hours.

Do you know how happy that makes my soul?  About as happy as all the voices that will soon fill my house again...seriously, I only enjoy the quiet for so long.  :)

If you're wondering what I did, here's a picture of what part of my morning looked like.

I had Bible study homework to do...I am so sad that this is the last week of our study on Spiritual gifts.  It's been awesome, and all of a sudden, the precept upon precept way of studying the Bible clicked in my brain and I love it.  It's so hard, and definitely not a fill in the blank way of studying, but it is so worth all the time and effort it takes.

I don't know if I'll ever go back to another way of studying the Bible.

I posted this on Instagram, and the caption read something about how much I love color.  I do.  It's all over my house and throughout all the things I love, like in my Bible, my journal, my planner, my notebook and my pens.  I also would like to take a moment to tell you how much I love the pens pictured above.  They are Paper Mate Flair pens.  They write like a very thin marker (a little more thick than the fine tipped Sharpie markers).  And they don't bleed through!

I love them and am always in search of pens that are colored, that I love.  These fit the bill.

I started writing in my new journal Monday, and I won't tell you how many pages are filled already.  I have been in the habit of writing out passages from the Bible.

And speaking of my Bible...this year I am in the market for a new one.  I get a new Bible every three years or so, and I begin to mark it up the day that I receive it.  I am torn on what I want this time, though...I definitely want a different translation, probably New American Standard, because (a) that is what my pastor preaches from and it's the closest translation to the original languages of the Bible, and (b) because this is what I use for my precept upon precept Bible studies.

But there's also this thing called a journal Bible that appeals to me~it's a single column Bible with a wide margin to write and journal in.  The whole reason why I love marking up my Bibles is because I want my kids to have them some day.  I just can't find it in the NASB translation.

I am also interested in a Hebrew and Greek word study Bible.  Because in studying the Bible the way we do at our homeschool group, we are always looking up certain words in Hebrew or Greek.  And so a lot of that work would already be done for me.

I'm torn.  See my dilemma?  I know~first world problems.  Most people don't even have one Bible, and I have multiple.  I love reading the Bible, though, and after all the markings I make, it eventually gets harder to read and I find myself skimming over verses.

So, in all the quiet of today, these are the things that have been going through my head.

But now the two older boys are home and doing their school work.  I am loving this cold weather!  I have pulled out my most beloved sweatshirt of all time, the one that's sixteen years old, and have been cozy in it all day.  I am hoping to enjoy a fire one of these days...

How's your day been?  Do you have a Bible that you love and can't part with?  What's your favorite translation?  Feel free to share the love and comment...I'm curious to find out what people like.

Oh!  Look what I pulled out last night.

My Christmas books!  I started reading  I'll Be Home For Christmas by Julie Cannon.  It's really good and I'm about to read some more.  :)  Love to all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

catching up again

Life has been slightly crazy the past few days.  Maybe that's why my last week was so easy and simple~the Lord must have been preparing me for the days ahead!  ;)  I'm joking, I'm joking...kinda...but I am thankful for the quiet of last week to rest up.  

On Friday, after my dad left, I picked up a couple of awesome teenage girls and headed to the country for our church's girls retreat.  This was such a fun time we had last year, and this year was no different.  I am always so excited to be a part of things like this, and I do love having some time with these girls that God has placed in my life.  I wish I had gotten tons of pictures, but I didn't.  Here are a few that I did take, though.

It was a sweet time of worship and learning the attributes of God.  By the time I left on Saturday afternoon, I was so exhausted!  I almost felt like I had been drugged by seven that night~my reactions were delayed and I didn't feel like I could form a complete thought.  I guess I'm not as young as I used to be.  

I was so glad that my mom and step dad let us come out for dinner that night.  If ever there was a night that I didn't want to cook, that was the night.  :)
Sunday found us at church bright and early, and I was a wreck, emotionally.  (I was Friday night, too.)  Seriously, sometimes I get so overwhelmed with how much I love the Lord.  I feel like He loves me so much, and He does, but I love when He shows me this through His word.  I have really been studying His word lately, and I am amazed by Him.  (If you are interested in how I do this, please feel free to leave a comment with your email address, or you can just email me at  

After church, we went to lunch with some friends and then I was going to take the boys to Skyzone and Todd was going to go to Costco, but my car had other plans.  As I got off the interstate, my car just died.  I could no longer accelerate and I assumed I was out of gas.  (I was, but there was more to it than just that.)  

I amused myself with my phone for four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  

And I had too much to drink at lunch.  :/  

My sweet neighbor came and got all the boys and I cried (seriously...hormones???) thinking of how much it sucks that they're moving to Nashville when their house sells.  I couldn't leave Todd, so I sat with him and played on my phone (above) and took a nap.  I only froze a little and was thankful it wasn't colder or any hotter.  We finally had to call his parentals at five, and they came to our rescue when he realized that changing the fuel filter didn't help.  I drove his (monstrous) truck home and he and his dad towed my car home.  

And Todd worked on it all day yesterday, but praise God it's running again!  He was even able to go to a friend's house last night and they made my instrument panel work again.  Yay!  It's been out forever.

The boys all went home with my in-love's Sunday night and I sat and watched television all day.  I did accomplish some laundry and light cleaning, but it was awesome to just sit and not have anything to do or anywhere to be.  Graham and Drew worked yesterday, which is why they went home with Todd's parents (they needed a ride), and they got to meet the CEO and CFO of Chick Fil A yesterday, Dan and Bubba Cathey.  

How awesome is that?!  Graham was slightly starstruck.  More than slightly.  He said after meeting them, that he understood why this corporation is so amazing.  

While not doing anything yesterday, I went on search of a new journal for me to write in.  I found all the ones I've finished, since 2006, if you can believe that.

The reason I journal is so that I can look back and marvel over God's faithfulness.  These little books have given me an outlet to surviving some tough times in my life.  I am thankful that I wrote down everything, because in looking back, I can see how far He has brought me.  Talk about faith building!  I encourage you to try this for yourself~I write down prayers, sermon notes and verses that stick out to me in my quiet time.  I usually go through about two of these a year, but lately, I've been writing in my journal much more than usual, so it may be more for this year.  Only sixteen are pictured above, but total, I have about twenty that I've completed.  

And I did find one that was unused in my collection.  :)  I started writing in it right after I found it.  

Last night, the older boys went to a guys only lock-in at church and returned at seven a.m. this morning.  Jonah and Noah had a couple friends spend the night~Alex and Cole.  And a third friend just got dropped off, so it should be a fun day off for them.  We usually go to the veteran's day parade downtown, but because of the lock-in, we missed it this year.  I'm a little sad about it, too.  I really want to go downtown soon and ride the trolley.   

Well.  I need to go fold some clothes now.  I hope you enjoy your day, whatever it is that you're doing.  Love to all!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

mid-week random

It's been a good week around these parts.  My definition of a "good" week often consists of days when my plans are laid aside.  I am often reminded in our homeschooling journey that flexibility is crucial.  Almost every single day, something happens that I didn't plan for, and I've learned to become okay with it.

I love my husband for many reasons, but one of the main things I most love about him is that he is not particular when it comes to dinner.  I was not feeling great Monday night, so our dinner was mundane.  I redeemed myself last night, though, and we had taco Tuesday.  He never complains about what I make each night.  Never.  And if something isn't that great, when I ask him about it (and only when I ask him!), he might say, "It wasn't my favorite, but it was okay."

God love this man of mine.

He did love taco Tuesday, though.  :)  And speaking of husbands, I saw this image on Facebook this week and loved it.

I have routines for certain days of the week, and this week has been a little off.  For instance, on Monday's, I always straighten up and vacuum the downstairs.  Things get all out of whack over the weekend, and rather than stress about it all weekend, I just let it go and deal with it Monday.  That didn't really happen this week.  Another thing I do is polish my fingernails twice each week~on Wednesday afternoon and Saturday afternoon.  We don't get out all that much until Wednesday night and are busy from then on until Sunday night.  It just works for me.

This young fella has been feeling mighty frisky lately.

Seriously, he's been doing great lately.  He has had tons of energy, he's been more "social" lately and he has been coming up to us, wanting to be loved on.  Tomorrow before we go to our homeschool group, we are dropping him off at the vet's office for some dental work.  Andy the Wonder Dog turns twelve this December.  :)  I love that he and Jonah and Noah have grown up together.

Yesterday, I cried all morning.  Noah is such a precious child, one with the kindest heart.  He gave the very last of his money to Graham and Drew, to put toward their mission trip funds.  Money is hard to come by when you're young, and the fact that he would willingly give what he had away makes my heart swell.  I am ninety five percent sure that one of his top spiritual gifts is the gift of giving.  Nobody gives as much as Noah.

Because of his kindness, Drew asked if I would take them to Chick Fil A so he could buy him lunch.  Then Graham bought Jonah's lunch, too.  And I went out on a lunch date with one of my most favorite people in all of the world.

Abbey.  :)  These were our excited faces, because as we were driving through the town square, we saw a truck with men hanging Christmas lights.  We LOVE Christmas!  Seriously.  And the fact that we would see this together just made it all the more perfect.

This weekend is the girl's retreat for our youth girls at church.  I am so excited about this!  I get to see this lady lots more over the next few days, and I get to love on some teenagers.  And hopefully I'll get at least a little bit of sleep.

Yesterday I had a couple of errands to run, so I had Graham drop me off at the library.  I finally decided that I needed to read the sequel to one of the books I read by Francine Rivers a couple years ago.

It's so good!  I'm already halfway through it.  I stayed up till midnight reading last night.

And then I went to vote.

It is such a privilege to vote!  I am thankful that we have this right, and yesterday morning, I spent some time in prayer over our nation and our city and state.

Today is rainy and chilly.  I let the kids sleep in and I've enjoyed multiple cups of coffee.

A perk of homeschooling is getting to stay inside on days like today.  Trust me when I say that I thank God for the opportunity that I have to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom.  My husband works hard to provide for us, and though we give up some comforts that working parents have, we are all thankful that we have this chance.  I do not take it for granted.

Well.  I need to get a move on today, laundry is calling!  I hope your day is great.  Love to all!

Monday, November 3, 2014

weekend wrap-up

I love the cool weather we had this weekend!  And I love that Halloween fell on a Friday night, even though we didn't have many trick-or-treaters.  It was kinda strange, actually, but we have lots of leftover candy.  That makes the kids happy.  ;)

I made a huge pot of chicken tortilla soup for dinner.  My mom made chili and brought it over.

I have enjoyed eating on this all weekend.  :)

The kids all went trick-or-treating with their friends.  I didn't get any pictures!  I don't even know what they went as, how's that for mom of the year?

I did get a picture of one of my children, the only one I have who would be willing to dress this way.

He went with a group of girls and they said he could come with them if he dressed as one.  So he did.

After my mom, step-dad and sister left, Todd and I sat around this.

It was a loverly night.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early for us, since we went to bed at ten thirty.  Todd had a lot to do that day, though, and he got an early start.  One of the things included replacing our old, broken fence with a new one.

It was cold!  He had lots of help.

The boys thought it would be fun to give me a heart attack.

Eek!  Toddley found a black widow on the wood in the backyard.  Drew thought it would be fun to bring it inside.  She's back outside now, though, still in this jar.

My mom came and picked me up and we did some running around together.  Our last stop was Target, and we got our first red cup of the season!

I was freezing, so I came home and put on something a little more warm.  Brrrr!

I stayed in this all night at my mom's house.  Seriously, I was freezing, until I had a cup of coffee, then I got hot and took off the scarf and jacket.

Sunday morning found us at church very early for a teacher meeting.  Afterward, we came home and guess it...chicken tortilla soup.  :)

Todd and I watched a little telly.

I took a nap right after this.  Last night our community group met at a different house and we sat around the bonfire and talked about the book we are reading together.  We also enjoyed s'mores.

I am so bummed, because we are not having community group next weekend.  :(  But, we are having a girls retreat Friday and Saturday, so yay for that!  I look forward to spending the weekend with some of my favorite people.

It was a great weekend!  I hope yours was too.  Love to all!

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...