Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Favorites, the night before vacation edition

Happy Friday!  After today, I'll be taking a blog break for the next week since we'll be away on vacation.  !!!  This makes my heart so happy.  I LOVE vacation.  I had a pediatrician tell me once that a vacation wasn't a trip with your family, but one without your kids.  Can you even believe that?!  I totally disagree with his opinion.  In my world, vacation means that we go away together as a family.  I don't know how many more of these we have left with Graham graduating this year, so I'm soaking it all up and I intend to enjoy every single minute.

I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this post.

This was a favorite moment from our weekend with Denise, Joe and Katie.  We loved having them here to visit!  This was the day we ate at Pyro's and then went to Hinton Park here in the Ville.

Last Saturday, when we all started waking up, we declared it a lazy day, and this is how I spent the first part of my day.  Katie brought coloring books, pencils and crayons with her and I colored.  How old am I?  Coloring is still one of my favorite past times.

Our favorite game for the past year almost, has been this game Tripoley.  It's three games in one and is crazy fun.  This picture cracks me up.  Phyllis had JUST been taught how to play and she was smoking us all.  When she left, we all divided her chips and each got five rows of nine.

Have you ever read a book you loved so much that you take your time reading?  That's how I've been with this book.  Lately I have been reading new authors and this one might be a new favorite.  This is the one that Amazon recommended for me, and it turns out, they know me pretty well!

I LOVED our lunch together on Wednesday.  She is my favorite.  I love lunches out!  I don't do this usually, because I don't like to leave very often when the guys are doing their school work, but this was a special occasion.

This is my favorite picture that I posted all week.  I told you what I said about sweet Noah on social media, but what I said was not just words.  Every bit of it was genuine and true.  I love this boy's heart.  It's as big as any I've ever seen.

He LOVES this picture, and that boy that was sitting in his lap.

Remember the favorite pens I mentioned last week?  I used those (Papermate Flair felt tip pens) to make these lists that you see.  This is how I vacation.  I make lists and lists and I check them repeatedly.  I made more after this picture, the packing kind that the boys will use tonight when they pack.  I made a list of meals while we're gone, marking the items that I would need to buy.  Then I made a shopping list, dividing it up between Costco and Kroger.  I make packing lists for the boys, and a list of items that I need to take that are not food related.

It's detailed, I know, but it works for me.  And I know tons of people who like to do this on the computer, but I like the actual art of handwriting.  It's therapeutic to me.

Well, I need to start marking things off the list that stays running in my head, speaking of.  Have a great weekend, and I'll "see" you back here in a little more than a week.  Vacation is my most favorite.

Love to all!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

weird and unrelated topics

For the past two days, our keyboard to the computer here in the living room has not worked right.  I figured it was just the batteries going dead, but I kept forgetting to tell my husband.  Yes, he spoils me, and I did not just try to replace them myself.  But that's another blog post.  Only certain buttons weren't working, like the -- button and I kept noticing that I was getting symbols as if I was writing in Spanish.  I'm not even kidding.  Somehow, the English/Spanish keyboard was selected on the computer and that was also effecting it not working right.

(This is going to be one of those posts.)

Toddley fixed it all last night.  He's brilliant.  Seriously.  I'm so thankful for his handyman capabilities that God has gifted him with.

Drew got his truck back!  In case you didn't know, we've been sharing vehicles.  Drew's came back yesterday and then went away again.  Ha.  But really...after everything being repaired, it needed a major alignment so they took it last night right before church and will get it back today.  Next up on the repair list is my car; tomorrow we take it to get something repaired before we leave for vacation on Saturday.

We have been having a marriage retreat of sorts at our church on Wednesday nights.  After last night, I am seriously bummed that I missed part one.  It will continue for two more weeks, but I will miss next week as well, with us being gone.  I'm hoping to get it on cd or something, so I can take notes.  Last night's topic was forgiveness, and what that can do for your marriage.  He listed out what forgiveness IS and what it is NOT.  It was so good!  I was scribbling furiously the entire time.  The man giving this seminar or retreat or whatever you want to call it is a counselor and does not go to our church.  I'd tell you his name, but I cannot remember it for the life of me.  He's also written a book.

I had lunch with Abbey yesterday!  I didn't write that yesterday, because I wasn't sure if she knew the secret then or not.

Her boyfriend is in dental school and is gone all of this week and next for that, so in his absence, he planned a little surprise for her every one of those days.  He texted me over a week ago and asked if I would be available for lunch with her on this particular day, and if so, to keep it secret.  The fun thing is that he has made little riddles and such for her to find, and he's hidden them throughout her house.  So for yesterday, he created a magical Christmas word search with the names of movie characters for her to find.  When she had found them all, she had to take the left over letters and unscramble them to figure out the clue.  It spelled out "lunch with Jennifer".

Can you even believe all of that?  Todd said he's starting not to like this guy because of how bad he's making him look.  Also?  Abbey loves the Christmas season, just as I do.

Our lunch date was wonderful.  We ate at Chili's and just caught up with each other.  It was nice to have no agenda for this lunch.  If we do something like this, it's usually with other people and it's to talk about plans for something.  I soaked up the time we spent together and afterward, she treated me to a chai tea latte from Starbucks.

I love this girl so much.  If you saw this on social media, I said it on there, but I'll say the same on the blog as well.  I don't even remember how we became such good friends, but the fact that we pray together weekly cemented our friendship.  God put in both of us the desire to have a prayer partner and through that, I feel like He literally knit our hearts together.  We are so much alike!  We have this connection that I've only had with one other friend, and it's the friend that she reminds me so much of, Christa.  There is something so unique about both of these friendships that I speak of, and it can only be that the Holy Spirit is in the middle of it all.  I know that this is a rare treasure, to have TWO such friendships, but I am so thankful to God for His gift to me in both of these friends.

It's so good for my heart, to be with each of them, and after time with them, I feel recharged.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed our lunch yesterday.  And I'm really excited that I get to see Christa in a few days!

I posted this picture of Noah yesterday.

I've been doing posts like this about each of the boys on social media, and Noah was the third I've done.  First was Jonah, then Graham, Noah and I'll do Drew in the next couple of weeks.  I used to write blog posts all about them, called He, but this is just a shorter version of that.  Here is what I said about Noah yesterday on Instagram:

Some things about Noah that I love: He eats slow and takes his time with everything.  He is generous and NEVER has money because he buys things for other people or gives it away.  He has an intense love for chocolate.  He always volunteers to pray, no matter where we are or who we are with.  He does things for people all the time, just last week, he walked down to an elderly lady's house and asked if he could do her yard work.  FOR FREE.  He loves to  give me the long hugs that I crave, often times ending it by dancing with me in the kitchen.  He puts others above himself and is a wonderful friend to have, though most kids his age don't know that about him.  He is fiercely loyal.  And the best thing about him?  He loves Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and loves others as himself.  I am so thankful that I get the privilege of being his mom.  (And the others as well.)

Isn't he precious?  He has kind eyes, doesn't he?  Someone said that you can tell all of that about him from his eyes.  I love that...and I love the verses in Matthew 6 that talk about the eyes being the lamp of the body.  That's in verses twenty two and twenty three.

Today on my agenda is a giant trip to the grocery store.  (Probably two.)  And a trip to the pet store.  Jonah and Noah need more meal worms for their leopard geckos and bearded dragon.  My sweet mama is going with me!  And Jonah and Noah, because Graham and Drew are both working for a little while.  

I'm counting down until we leave!  I'm so excited.  I will be relieved when we are loaded and in the car...the parts before that I don't love so much, because we take a lot with us, but it'll all be worth it once we're there.  Here's to hoping my husband's driving doesn't make me car sick this time.

Well, speaking of getting things accomplished, I guess I'd better get a move on.  Love to all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

fun things

I went to my mom´s house yesterday, with Jonah and Noah.  We left Graham and Drew at home, doing school work, while they waited on Todd to call them for something he needed.  They did him that favor, then drove out to Mom´s to eat lunch with us.  I love a lot of things about homeschooling, but this is a big one for us.


As long as the work gets done and the attendance requirements are met, we are good.

We ate lunch then came home so Jonah and Noah could do their work for the day.  Also in the afternoon, Graham, Jonah and Noah went to the church to set up for tonight´s youth service.  Graham has to be back by three thirty, but they did most of the work already.

Last night I had planned for us to have leftovers for dinner, but we ended up eating Mexican.  My friend Flo is moving to the Atlanta area and leaving tomorrow.  We had a ´see you later´ dinner.

Today will be more of the same.  Work for them, a fun lunch out for me!  I usually don´t leave them like this, however, today is special.  I will tell more about that tomorrow.

I am busy making all kinds of lists for our upcoming trip.  We leave Saturday for a week of vacation in Branson, Missouri.  I´m so excited!  I get to see my best friend, we have a lake day planned, a trip to Silver Dollar City is planned, we are going to see Moses at the Sight and Sound Theater, and there will be lots of swimming, games, hot tubbing and exploring.

Look at the boys the last time we were there.

They were so little!  This is one of my favorite things that we do.  We go with Todd´s parents, and we have so much fun together.  They are fun to travel with and there is always lots of laughter involved.  The house that we stay in is really cool, and that´s one part that the boys always love.

I was talking with Jonah and Noah yesterday about what they love about this trip, and Jonah´s favorite thing to do is driving super fast go carts while we´re there.  Noah loves all the swimming we do and the games we play and looking out over the property from the top of the hill when we first get there.  I love the thought of all of us being together nonstop for seven whole days.  These days are strange and we are not together as much as we once were, so I am looking forward to that, and seeing them do all the things they love.

It´s a lot of work to prepare to go, but once we get there, it´s not hard at all.  We eat at the house we stay at most of the nights we´re there, and other than planning the meals, it´s not much different that being here at home.  I never mind doing the cooking, either, and usually plan simple meals for dinner.
I will post lots of pictures while we´re gone.

Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

the weekend, a day late

We had family in town over the weekend.  It was such a fun few days spent with them.  Denise, Katie and Joe live near Chicago, and we saw them last year, at this exact same time.  They were here from Thursday night until Sunday morning.  Originally they were going to leave Saturday morning, but we talked them into staying through until Sunday.

The boys were so excited about seeing them that they agreed to take this picture.  I actually got one that is pretty decent of all of them, but this one is so typical that it´s my new favorite.  I love the way that Graham is smiling.

I had invited Phyllis and Wiley over for dinner as well, so they could see them.  Denise is Phyllis´ niece.

On Friday we just took our time doing nothing.  I did some laundry, I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and eventually we left for lunch.  The kids wanted them to eat at Pyro´s and they wanted to show them their favorite park.  So we did all that and had a blast.

We made a Kroger run and came home.  Denise made us TWO chocolate pecan pies that were to die for.  After dinner, Graham, Drew and Katie went to the football game and hung out here and played games.  Drew ended up coming home earlier because he didn´t stay for the game, but when Graham and Katie got back, we all played games again.

That is my favorite thing about them visiting...we just sit and talk and laugh and play games the whole time.  Usually we sit more at the kitchen table more than anywhere else, and I love that.

That afternoon before they went to the game, I caught them doing this.  Just sitting on the trampoline, talking.  The boys got a new trampoline mat and they put it on as soon as the UPS man delivered it.

On Saturday we woke up to rain, and everyone slept late.  It was glorious.  I did get out a little bit, but only for about a half hour, and everyone else stayed in that day.  For dinner that night we ordered pizza and got a huge chocolate cake from Costco.  Phyllis and Wiley came over again and we played Tripoley until almost midnight.

She killed us at this game.

They went back home Sunday morning, and as always, it was sad saying goodbye.  We love them so much, and I was so thankful they got to visit us for a few days.  I cannot wait until the next time they´re here.

And, because I started a new book last night, I thought I´d share what I´m currently reading.

Seems appropriate, since I turn forty in December.  Amazon recommended this one.  I´ll let you know what I think about it when I finish it.

Love to all!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Favorites, the short edition

Happy Friday!  I cannot believe how fast this week was.  I'm pretty sure I say that every week, but I really mean it this week.  I am busy today and I have family in town visiting, so this is going to be super quick and short.


My favorite night ever, quite possibly, at community group was this past Sunday night.  Our girls wanted to learn about how we pray, so we taught them and walked them through how we go about this.  Then, they made prayer notebooks.

Proud mama moment.  And they're not even mine.  But still.

Here's my prayer notebook.  I wrote about it this week.


My favorite pens of all time are the Papermate Flair felt tip pens.  I got these in on Monday, from Amazon, thanks to my sweet husband.


A favorite moment from our Navajo trip.  I love these two and might have gotten teary over this picture.


I mentioned that our family was in town visiting?  Here are the boys before dinner last night.  I asked for ONE picture.  ONE.  This is what I got.

They're my favorites.

I'll post more pictures later or on Monday of our family that's here.


I don't have a picture, but when this family comes in town, we play games until all hours of the night.  Last night was no exception.  Those are my favorite moments.

Thanks for reading!  I'm linking up with Andrea and some others for this post.  Go check out their blogs!

Love to all.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

the one without a title

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate coming up with titles for blog posts?  My mom in love  told me ages and ages ago that I needed to title each one so it would notify her if I wrote a new post.  I've been naming them ever since, but my dislike for coming up with a title has never left.

This is another post of random things.

The boys have had a really good first week back at school.  It's not a big deal around here when we start, we just slip kinda quietly and gently back into our old routines.  I love our days.  They're quiet and peaceful and lately, I've noticed that all the bickering that used to take place has gone away.  I guess they're getting older, and the urge to pick at one another has left the oldest one and he's maturing.  We keep music playing throughout the day, either them as they work, or me downstairs.  One day this week, I let a candle burn for the entire day.  I love candles and the warm glow they create.  It's such a simple way to make your house seem peaceful.

A sad thing I've noticed is the older two boys are pulling away from me ever so slightly it seems.  I guess this happens with boys when they reach a certain age?  I don't know.  I'm new at this stage.  It makes sense that they would start this now, the goal is to get them independent, but it's still sad.  Every once in a while, they'll come into my room and talk to me at night, and for a while they were doing that pretty often, but they've stopped again.  They know that I'm here to talk and when they want to, I drop everything and listen intently.  I suppose they're growing up.

My mom has been sick lately and I've not seen her in FOREVER.  Or so it seems.  But I get to see her today!  We're going to go run errands together.  :)  And then we're going to eat lunch.

I love Wednesday night church.  I haven't been upstairs in youth in ages, and last night was a back to school kick-off night.  The boys (three of them, minus Drew) were there all afternoon on Wednesday, building a new set for the stage.

Doesn't it look awesome?  It may not be permanent, but it'll be there for a while, hopefully.  I love the ambiance it created.  The stage used to be really cluttered and dark, so the simplicity and cleanness appeals to me.  I love the lights hanging down, too.  We had a guest worship leader last night, the one that led us in worship at D Now, and it was such a sweet time of praise and worship.  Speaking of this, though, I have a pet peeve.

An issue I've noticed lately and one that bugs the daylights out of me is that people talk during worship.  Call me old fashioned or what have you, but can we just have some quiet so we can sing to Jesus?  I realize that not everyone loves to sing and CAN sing, but shouldn't we respectfully hush so others can worship?  It's not even about whether or not you can sing, David didn't say in the book of Psalm to only sing to the Lord if you can carry a tune.  No, we are to ALL sing to Him our praise.  I watch teenagers during our singing time on Sunday mornings.  I'm in choir and I stand facing them almost directly, so trust me, I notice.  I've said something to my boys about not doing this, but do you know how hard it is to worship when the ones around you are being disrespectful?  And though teenagers do this, it's not just their demographic, but adults, as well.

I don't mean to get on a tangent, but I pray that this makes us all think about what we do during that time.  I know not everyone loves every single song we sing, but we can at least sing and meditate on the words we're singing to God.  If we do that one simple thing, our worship will change.

I have so much more to say on this, but I'll save it for a later date.

I love the church family we belong to.  I am so thankful that my husband is involved with the technical team.  So many men are not involved any more, and that creates a huge problem in the family as God designed.  If our men are not in church, they simple cannot lead their families.  I'm not saying our family is super spiritual at home all the time, but trust me when I say that they are led by example.  Todd is a wonderful husband and dad to our boys.  Neither of us are perfect, but I know that God put us together and I thank Him that He gave us the same vision for our family.  We do things differently, and we have caught some flack on that.  We are old fashioned and we are strict parents, but our boys do not hate us.  On the contrary, they love us and have we all have great relationships.

I would say that though the boys have pulled a bit away from me, they've grown closer and closer to Todd.  They call him or text him all the time, they go directly to him for things (and not to ME), they tell him everything.  If that means they're not as close to me, then so be it.  I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world, because that is exactly how my husband was raised.  And to this day, he and his dad are very close.

I know so many that don't have this kind of dad, through no fault of their own.  I pray for them, and that the men in their lives around them would step up and try to fill in some of the gaps.  I've witnessed this in my own family, and I've seen families torn apart over issues out of their control.  It breaks my heart to watch a guy try to grow up without a dad.  It can happen, though, I've seen it, even though it might be a bit harder for them.

The enemy is out to destroy the family, and we MUST do our part to make sure that doesn't happen.  We have to stay faithful to God, we have to stay in His word, and saturated in prayer.  I love the movie The War Room, and the prayer that Mrs. Clarice teaches the young lady she mentors, whose name has left my brain.  The part when the young lady goes to war in prayer on behalf of her family brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  There is such truth to this, that if we don't pray over our families, the world will try to drag them away.

I tell my boys this all the time: look the opposite.  I know it's hard, but do NOT look like those around you.  Look different, and be bold in your faith.

On a different note, I've been reading in James this week, and today I read chapter three, on controlling the tongue.  Lately, I have had to go back and say I'm sorry to people for maybe coming off rude.  I don't know if they feel that way, but looking back on what I said, I had the thought that maybe that came off the wrong way.  Because of that, this chapter really spoke volumes to me this morning.  I love the whole chapter, but I particularly love what it says about not letting praises and curses flow from the same lips.  My translation said that with our mouths, we curse men made in God's likeness.  That was convicting to me, and I loved the wording.  I immediately confessed that I sometimes do that and repented.  I don't mean to do it, sometimes I'll just go to my husband and vent, or to my friend, and it is so wrong.

I love God's word, and how it pierces to the deepest part of us, if we let it.

Where are you reading right now?  I prayed for many of you this morning, that you would be consistent in the Word of God.

I'd love to hear from you.

I have to stop and go get dinner in the Crock Pot for tonight.  Happy Thursday to you!  Love to all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

on prayer, Bible reading and accountability

A couple of years ago, I came across a blog post written by Donna Gaines, that changed my prayer life.  Donna is the wife of Steve, who is the pastor of a mega church in our area.  I'd use my own words to tell you about it, but why, when I can just paste the link for you?  Click HERE to see for yourself this post and video, and then watch it.  It is so good and worth the time.

I read the post, watched her video on how to create a prayer notebook, made one, and now use it all the time and pass on to others what I've learned.

One thing I will add here is that I also had a lady named Pat teach me on this subject one summer at Bible study.  She taught me that praying for myself is crucial in my day to day life.  So, everyday in my quiet time, I pray for myself.

What, you wonder?

I start off by asking the Lord to show me any unconfessed sin in my heart, and I pause and wait for Him to remind me something.  Sometimes that'll be a thought I had or something spoken out of line about someone, or it could be that He prompts me to go and apologize to someone.  I ask His forgiveness, and I ask that He will change me from my old ways.  I heard a pastor say that if you think you don't have sin in your life, that's your sin.  Pride.  #truth

From there I pray that He will manifest His fruit of the Spirit in me, that He will clothe me in my spiritual armor, that He will help me WANT to memorize scripture and help me recall what I've learned, that He will guard over my mouth (the words I speak), that He will show me ways to serve my family, that He would help me to long for Him like a deer longs for water.  (Most of those are straight from His word.)

I move onto the other topics next and the time I spend in prayer varies, but know that if you ever ask me to pray for something, I will.  It always gets written down.

I write about this because I believe that prayer is the most powerful tool we have to use in our daily lives.  It is SERIOUSLY underused, and many who read this don't even know how to pray.  I do believe there is a process in prayer, and I never just jump in with a laundry list of things for God to answer.  I heard Francis Chan speak on this subject once and he reminded us that God is reverent, and we should go before Him with a good bit of fear and trembling.  It is an honor that we even have access to Him, and therefore, I always begin by giving Him praise.  (Think of His attributes.)

Something that goes along with prayer is spending time in His word.  I once heard a sermon in where the pastor said think about spending time with Him in this way: consider meeting someone for the first time.  Your personality clicks with theirs, you know right away that you could potentially be extremely good or even best friends with this person.  You start to get to know them; you text, you talk on the phone, you make plans to get together every so often.  But what if you didn't do all those things?  You wouldn't know them at all.

That's how it is with our relationship with God.  You call Him Lord or Father, but if you don't spend time with Him, how ever will you get to know Him?

His word is how we get to know Him.  If you're a believer in Him and you don't spend time in His word, something is desperately amiss in your relationship with Him.  God is way more than just someone we visit on Sunday morning.

(Preaching to the choir here...I have been guilty of this.)

I like to go through reading plans in my Bible.  I don't use devotions, I only use the Bible.  I'm not saying that there is something wrong with a devotion book, but when it's more a person's words than the Word of God, then that gives me reason to pause.  I was convicted of LOVING the devotion book I read once more than God's words.  Right this very minute, I am going through the book of James with my boys.

We must be reading God's word every single day.  It's okay to skip a day or two every once in a while, but don't make that a habit.  There's no reason why we can't take ten minutes and read a chapter.  I have more than that to read, but many of you don't.  It's not about quantity, it's about quality.

Along with reading His word, I love to write His words out.

I stumbled across a blog who made a monthly writing plan, and I print out the sheet and I write out a passage of scripture every day.  Again, it's okay to miss a day or two, but don't get too far behind if you do this, or it'll be hard to catch up.  I had to write out two pages this morning, because I missed yesterday.

The blog is Sweet Blessings.  Go here to check it out for yourself and to find the printable version.  And join me, if you want!  I'd love to hear that you're doing this with me.

Here was a picture of what I wrote out in July.

Sometimes she will make the month a topic, but other times it'll just be random passages from the Bible.

I post about these things on social media because accountability helps everyone, and that brings me to my last topic.

If you do not have an accountability partner, then go and get yourself one.  Or let it be me and I'll help you out.  I have a few, but I'll tell you about one: my friend Andrea.  I don't see her that often, maybe about once a month, but we text every single day.  We text pictures to each other of what we write out and we let the other know that we are praying for one another.  Just this morning, she asked me to pray for something specific, and I did, right when she asked.

It helps you to be faithful when you tell someone else what you've done for that day.

I am open about all of this in my life because I am a leader in youth at our church.  The teenage girls that look up to me see what I do on social media, and I pray that what I do inspires them to do the same.  Paul said something about this in the New Testament.  He told the church at Corinth that they could look to Paul's example as he looked to the example of Christ Jesus.

That can be found in 1 Corinthians eleven verse one.

That is how I aim to live out my life.  I have younger ones looking to me as an example.  My own teenage boys, other teenagers, even young adults who God has put in my path.  If they look to me, I need to be looking at Jesus.  I certainly do not profess to be perfect, I am a CONSTANT work in process, but I pray that He sharpens and uses me every single day.

That is why I share with you on this blog, and that's my prayer for it, that He will give me the words to write and that they will honor Him.  That's how I use social media, too.  I have family members who are not believers, and I pray that what I write on there is always pointing to Him Who is at work in me.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Love to all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

our first day of school

When the schools around here start, I like to give us a week of it just being back to us.  We have a constant stream of kids at our house during the summer, so the week school starts for them feels so quiet.  I usually take that time to organize the school book shelves and order any last minute things I need to buy to get us started.

I did all of that last week in preparation for this week, because we had our first day back yesterday.  I'll do a day in the life type post here soon, but we are relaxed around here and the first week back at it looks different each year.  Flexibility is key, because lately, things have been crazy around here.

I woke them up at eight thirty and they came down for breakfast and coffee (the bigs drink coffee and don't usually want food).  We sat at the table and had a little pep talk about what this year would look like for them, we got a game plan for what needed to be done that morning and we prayed.  Then, Graham and Drew had to leave and go do something for Todd at work, so it was just Jonah and Noah at home.

See what I mean?  Flexibility.

We went through their subjects, did some reviews and they started by doing geography and vocabulary for grammar.  They also took the time to clean off all of the shelf that their books are on, making it neater, getting rid of the old work and some of the things they no longer use, and they got their notebooks all organized and ready to hold all the work they'll do this year.

We use three ring binders and notebooks for all the school work.  They don't write in anything because I'd have to buy two of everything for them, so I make copies.  That way I can either sell it or give it away when they're finished with it.

They only did those three things yesterday and today they'll jump back in, full force.  Also for today, I plan on taking them to the library to get books to read.  They'll be reading a lot more this year, for school, and for pleasure.  I'd like for them to have two books going at all times, but Graham and Drew nixed that and said that would make them crazy, so I guess it's just required stuff for them.

I am appalled to say that they do not love to read.  They will read, because I make them, but none of them are ever chomping at the bit in wait for the next book.  Only Drew will occasionally be like that, like when he read the Divergent series and when he started the Harry Potter series.  They are NOT my children, apparently.

Graham and Drew came home and ate lunch, and did their work.  I'm not sure what they did, if you want to know the truth, but they were upstairs and quiet for about three hours, so I'm trusting them that they got some more of the difficult things out of the way.

This morning I will get them all started and then I'm leaving to go meet a couple of friends and pray.  Usually, I don't leave while they're busy.  I like to be around in case they have questions or need help, but I do trust them to get done the things they need to get done and to just move on if they get hung up on something, coming back to it later.

All day yesterday I kept thinking to myself, I should take a picture....but then I never did.  I did, though, take a picture of THIS when the mail ran yesterday.

These make me so happy.  I love these pens.  They are Flair felt tip pens and they don't bleed through too much.  I like to have fun pens around because, honestly, sometimes that makes the school work more fun.  Why use boring pencils, when Mom has a million colored pens laying around?  They don't use them for math or writing, but they like to use them for vocabulary, or social studies.

I use them to write out the scripture plan I do each day.

Well.  We need to get a move on this day, so I'll stop for now.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all.

Monday, August 15, 2016

the weekend, Pascal edition

I think this might be the perfect day to start our school year.  It's kinda dreary outside, and it can't decide whether or not it wants to rain.  Either way, I'm good.  I have nowhere to be all day and I have plenty to do around here to keep me busy, AND I have lots of dinner options, thanks to trip to Costco and Kroger over the weekend.

Our Friday night was super exciting.  (Insert sarcasm.)  We made a Costco run for the second night in a row.  We only had Jonah, Noah and Alex with us.  Graham went to the jamboree at Houston High School with friends and Drew and his friend Andrew went to a movie.  We shopped, then we ate.

On Instagram, about this photo, I said, "Some husbands buy their wives flowers, but mine buys me books."  Which is fine with me, because we all know how I feel about books.  I love Debbie Macomber and was excited to see this new one.  This is her fifth book in this particular series, which I started reading at the beginning of the year.

After Costco, we ran to Pet Smart, because Jonah and Noah wanted to make a purchase.

Meet Pascal, their new bearded dragon.  He will grow leaps and bounds in the first few months of his life and will eventually be about two feet long.  Drew's girlfriend Emma named him.  Pascal is from my favorite Disney cartoon movie, Tangled.  For now, he eats the same meal worms as the leopard geckos, but will eventually eat the giant ones.  They already had the tank for him, but they purchased a new water bowl, a bulb for the lamp, and a heating pad to sit the cage on top of.  Later on that night when I posted this picture to social media, my friend Shea told me that they had some stuff for him they could have if they wanted, so the next morning, they went and got another cage (with a background on it, so it's way cooler), a lamp, a shelter thing and a water bowl.  I'm so thankful for sweet friends who help a girl's twins out.

They are pleased as punch over this new little guy (Girl?) and he really is a sweet little thing.  He's pretty chill and just hangs out on your shirt if you hold him.

He's still a teensy bit freaky, but he's sweet.  They were laughing at me when I took this.

That was only meant for Snap Chat, by the way.

Also?  They thought it would be fun to put Pascal on my kitchen counter and the LIVE meal worm on the counter as well, and feed him.  That ranks right up with them using my good tweezers to feed meal worms to the leopard geckos.  (Yes, both of those things actually happened.)

Saturday we stayed home all day and watched the Olympics.  I ran a few errands and came home and made brownies to take to a friend's house that night, and we ate dinner at their house and played cards until Jonah fell asleep in their living room floor.  We haven't been to the Essary's house in forever, and it was fun being back with them.

This for real happened.  Every singer inner brownie was eaten (three by me) and all the edges and corners are left.  Crazy.

Sunday was church!

This is our new class!  They're the junior girls and we are LOVING getting to know them!

I had choir practice yesterday afternoon, then community group was last night.

These girls wanted to learn about prayer, so we talked about that and I told them what someone taught me.  After that, most of them made prayer notebooks.  These are some happy girls you see coloring to their little hearts desires.

It was a great weekend.  I hope yours was too.  If you think about it, I'd love your prayers for our school year that we're starting today, that everything they (WE) do is done enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

That's from Colossians three.

Thanks in advance and love to all.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this post.

My friends who are teachers or who have kids that went back to school this week survived!  I know this first couple of weeks is usually dreadful in the world of going back and finding a routine again, but I know they're thrilled to have the first week behind them.  I am ready to start our school week next week and look forward to our year ahead.

Before I go any further, I have to acknowledge that one of my most favorite people in all of the world turns TWENTY-NINE today!  (Why yes, I am a decade older than one of my very best friends, but we don't like to talk about that.)

I pretty much had my dreams come true when I got to be with her on three different trips this summer.  And let me say, you can learn a lot about folks when you travel across the country with them, but I learned nothing new about sweet Abbey.  She is the same one hundred percent of the time. The thing I love most about her is her love for Jesus, her love of prayer and the word of God.  I've not had that in a friend since my other bestie Christa lived here.  And speaking of Christa, they remind me of one another.  I really want them to meet and they've come close several times, but it's not happened yet.  Someday, though.

Some other favorite things about her include her style: she considers herself "grandma chic".  Think lots of pastels and floral prints.  I love that we are constantly texting pictures to each other of our newest finger nail polish colors.  I love that she loves picnics as much as I do.  She has the most beautiful, genuine love for the Lord, more than I've seen in anyone in a very long time.  I love that often times, God will give us the same scriptures without us even knowing it until after the fact.  I love to hear her pray.

I love that her arms are always long enough to take our many pictures.  I love that someone once said about us that we were the perfect type of friends, that I fit right into her when we hug.  I love that she, too, loves to hold hands when we pray and that she is affectionate.

There are a million other things, but I'll stop with my favorite: A couple of years ago, God gave both Abbey and me a desire to meet and pray with someone weekly.  We did not know that we each had that desire, but God brought us together in that way, and that is when our close knit friendship began.  I like to think that He knit our hearts together in this way and we quickly grew very close.

I want to encourage anyone who is interested in that kind of a relationship.  Pray and ask God to give you someone to do this with, and I promise, He will bring you someone.  We picked a day that is good for both of us, and we are consistent in meeting on that day, around that same time.  We don't let much stop us, it's usually a sickness or extreme busyness that sometimes cannot be helped.  I always tell her that after our times of prayer, I walk away feeling like I've had a counseling session.  Prayer is so good for us, but more than that, it's the most important thing we can do every single day and it is MUCH under-used.

I challenge you to find this kind of person you can do this with and start.

I do have some other favorite moments from this week.

A favorite from this week was definitely these guys being reunited over last weekend.  A friend of their family died, and our friends Katie and Travis attended the visitation and funeral.  Though we didn't see much of them, I was happy that we got to see their older boys, Myles and Zander.  The boys had a great time all weekend, and they got to spend both Friday and Saturday nights.

There are not many things I love more than hearing laughter come from upstairs.

One last favorite thing this week was catching Jonah's room so clean yesterday.  The other half was messy, which I think might drive Jonah a little crazy.  He is so my child and is a neat freak.  He also stress cleans and cleans when he's bored.  I love that about him.

This week has been good, though also quiet.  It's always weird when school starts back because the constant parade of teenagers stops abruptly.  I know they're excited to be with their friends again this weekend, and hopefully, we will have some of them stop by at some point.  I love their friends.

Have a great day!  Love to all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Life Lately

Happy Wednesday!  For those who live near me, I know of some students (and parents) who are thankful to have made it to the halfway point of the first week of being back at school.

I've been asked when we will start back, and my answer is next week.  We have so many kids in and out of our house all summer, that when school starts, I like to take a week and just get my house back in order.  I like having the private time, too, and usually spend this particular week making changes to our curriculum, or ordering it, or organizing the school shelves.  We also enjoy this downtime together, or at least, I think they do.

Here's a little of what this week has looked like.

On Monday, I did a little laundry and the boys all went separate ways.  Jonah went to work with Todd, but Graham, Drew, Noah and their friend all went to lunch together.  (This was after Drew gave blood for the first time ever.)

On the way home from lunch, Graham's Bronco broke down three times.  THREE.  It was harrowing for a while on my end, I won't lie and never have I prayed so specifically.  They made it home and changed clothes, then we had to go to a very sad funeral.

It's not mine to talk about, though, so out of respect for the family's privacy, I won't talk about that on here or on any other form of social media.

We came back home for a few minutes then left to go to my mom's for dinner.  My sister Lisa has been in town from Colorado, but she has been so busy with helping her son get settled into a new home he just bought, that the only time I saw her was Monday night.  It was a great night, and I am thankful for the few hours I had with her.

I took this picture at Mom's.

When Mom and Bill went to Hawaii several years ago, Mom brought back a stick of plumeria.  Look at what it has blossomed into!  As pretty as it is, you should smell it.  It smells like the tropics.

Yesterday I was going to clean the house, but I read my book all day long.  I was also going to go to bible study last night, but because every night this week involves me not being at home, I decided to miss it and kept reading.  (I finally had to go to bed, and finished the book this morning.)  

Also, yesterday was the forty seventh anniversary of these two lovebirds.

This picture was taken months ago at CiCi's pizza.  #goals

They celebrated by eating dinner out at Ruth's Chris Steak House.  Yum!  

I shared this square on social media, because I was asked to, and because I am so excited for this study.

Truth.  I am so awed by how the Lord continually pursues me.  Never have I felt so loved, as I do when I think about what He did for me on the cross.  My job, then, is to love HIM and to love others and to share His good news with everyone that I can.  

Today I am doing more laundry (as always) and we're all getting around to doing a little light cleaning.  Drew is working today, and the rest of the boys are about to go to the church to do some work in the youth area.  I am joining them at noon, not to work with them, but to join my friend Lori in cleaning out the youth kitchen.  

I hope your day is great.  Love to all.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

my love for pretty

Ever since I was a young girl growing up in the florist shop that my mom and sister Lisa used to own (From the Heart), I have had an inclination for the pretty things in life.  I used to love walking around the shop and florist, running my hands reverently over all the things that filled up the shelves.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I still feel that way.

I don't love spending money on things like this, though.  I am given a lot of the things in my house, usually from my mom, because for the last few years, she has worked in designing dried floral arrangements in the cutest little decorator shops.  I thought I'd give you an example of some things from my kitchen that I love.

I love pretty little containers that are also practical.  This green cream and sugar set are some that my mom gave me a few years ago.

One thing I also love is to incorporate scripture into all the areas of my house.  A sweet friend had this verse printed out on card stock laying around her office, and she gave it to me.  I had it forever before I finally found a frame to stick it in.  I love it, and it's from Psalm 56:3, in case you can't tell.

Excuse the dishes in the sink, but that's exactly what that side of the sink always looks like.  Keeping it real.  A friend gave me the pewter cross thing (I cannot think of a word to call that) years ago, and I love what it says.  "Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible."

My mom gave me the potted flower and I am pretty sure that the green pottery it is sitting in once held a Swan Creek candle.  (If you've never had a Swan Creek candle, you are missing out.  My first one was a gift five years ago, and it smells like COFFEE.)

The tiger is something Drew bought me from the zoo when he was five or six years old, and it has lived on the side of my sink ever since.

Because sentimental things, and because I am sucker for sentiment.

Most of the things I have are things given to me as gifts, and I love that there are stories behind them.  This Colorado towel is one my sister Debi bought me last year in September, when I was there for my niece's wedding.  I keep it hanging there all the time to remind me of her and my sister Lisa, that also lives there.  I actually use it, so this, too, is considered to be practical.

The tea kettle you see stays out all the time, because we literally use it every day.  We go through sweet tea by the gallons (seriously) and when Todd and I got married, that's how I started making it.  My mom always uses a sauce pan, but I don't know why I started using a kettle.  Maybe because I liked the way they look.

I have to have things placed where I use them often, and though those aren't always considered pretty, I need a good mix.  Hence the butter dish and the spoon rest you see sitting on either side of the stove.

The cross you see is one that Graham and Drew brought me back from Guatemala.  You know I have a love for crosses, right?

Remember this wall?  This began as a very small collection and has grown to epic proportions.  These were all gifts, with the exception of one that I made when I was at a ladies night out with my mom-in-love one night.

Anyway, above the cross is Andy the Wonder Dog's tag with his name on it.  (Tears.)  And the adorable owl was on a gift as a tag, and I loved it so much that I hung it.

My favorite cook books sits out all the time.  I use this thing so often, y'all, that if you don't own it, you should look into buying a copy for yourself.  All the meals are five or six ingredients or less, and take about half an hour to make.

Also?  I love that Bible verse you see hanging to the right of my cook book stand.

If I am at home, I am usually burning a candle.  I love them, I love the way they smell, and I love how homey they make my house feel.  This one was a Christmas gift that I picked out for myself from my family, and I burned every bit of it just last week.  I'm on the lookout for a replacement.

I mentioned those Swan Creek candles earlier...I just added one to my Amazon cart.  They smell like HEAVEN.

One last picture and I'm done.

I know it's not in style to have things on the fridge, but I got this idea from a friend last year and I copied her.  I hung all our Christmas cards that we got on the side of the fridge so I can remember to pray for the ones hanging there.  I love this so much that I just left them there all year.  On the front, I keep things with important dates or things that mean something, like the cross you see.  It was given to one of my kids by some of the kids from our Navajo trip.  They all signed their names.

I don't spend money on things like this, I save things, or I get things people no longer want for themselves, and I am always moving things around and re-purposing them.  I love things to make my house cozy, things like candles, lamps, books, and blankets.  I keep my lamps on all the time, never the overhead lights.  I love to keep the light above the kitchen sink turned on and every night I turn on my front porch light.

I love cozy.  Todd finally gave up on trying to turn things off that I purposely leave on.

There are little things I do that make a difference.  I always keep things tidy.  I always make the beds.  I have pillows to lounge against and keep them fluffed.  I have tons of pictures all over my house, never the expensive fancy ones, either, only snapshots of our real life.  I hang some things others might never consider hanging, things like canvases that my kids paint for me.  One of my favorite things in my living room is a little winter bird that I got at a party last year where I played dirty Santa.  My friend Andrea picked it out, and I LOVE IT.  It reminds me of her.  If I don't have out items that were given to me by a certain friend, know that a picture of the two of us can be found somewhere.

I also clean a little everyday so that nothing in my house ever overwhelms me, and I've trained my boys to do the same.  They (mostly) make their beds everyday, and they keep their rooms pretty tidy.  Also, ever since they were little, we have always worked together.  Many hands make light the work, I have always told them, and that rings true even today, when all of them are teenagers.

Something that helps me to be able to do this is the fact that I homeschool.  While the boys do their school work, I stay busy downstairs.  I don't turn the television on at all in the day time (except maybe during the Olympics), and I refuse to sit on my phone or the computer, because I tell them they can't do that either, so I clean or organize things.  I also cook a lot during our school year, because they love hot lunches, and because who doesn't love a great Crock Pot meal when it's cold outside?

I love reminders of my family and of my friends.  I am thankful to God for all He has given us.  That is, hopefully, reflected in our home.  Also, I never want my house to be so fancy and pretty that someone can't just come by and take off their shoes and grab a blanket to cover up with.  I always want our door to be open and I love when people stop by.  Even when it's an entire house chock full of teenagers.  In my world that saying "the more, the merrier" really is heartfelt.  A full house equals a happy heart if you're like me.

So, if you're near me, feel free to stop by any old time.  Only, don't judge me if I'm at home in my pajama's, because I also have this thing that if I am at home for even a little while, I love to be in something loose and comfy.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed sharing my home with you.

Thanks for reading.  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...