Friday, August 31, 2007

Hurray! We're Going to the Beach

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be headed just outside of Ocean City, where my aunt and uncle have a beautiful 3-bedroom condo on the bay. The girls really like their pool and there is a little custard shack nearby that is amazing! We plan to lounge by the pool or take the boat out by day and then hit the boardwalk at night for my favorite pizza on the planet that just curls my toes (Mack and Manco's).

We need a break....I haven't blogged much about it, but school isn't going so well for #2. After the first day she started to withdraw and yesterday she really had a humdinger of day, complete with her mom (that's me) screaming at her in the morning over socks and shoes (today I found out that the dog took her new sock, she didn't actually loose it). I apologized immediately after, I really felt terrible for being so nasty. Then, her teacher harshly told her to sit down when she was trying to help collect pencil boxes (she had been asked to do it all week and thought it was her job). For her grand finale, she was sweating away at a long soccer practice, after a very long day and had trouble focusing on her position on the field and was embarrassed to have the coach make her take a lap around the field as punishment. It was then I saw how hard she was holding back tears.

Last night my heart broke for her as she cried for a full half hour on the ride home from soccer and at home. I know it was part exhaustion, but it was also part despair at being at a new school and being the worst (in her opinion) player on her soccer team. I had no idea her teacher had spoken harshly to her until after soccer when it all came pouring out. There are two main things that hurt #2 to the core, being embarressed, and trying to help, but getting in trouble for it.

So, it is time to reconnect and encourage. I'm so thankful for a 4-day weekend. We plan to make the most of it. And, maybe we'll bring back boxes of salt water taffy for their teachers after we explain to #2 that she needs to forgive her teacher and start over on Tuesday with a smile.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

That Was Then and This is Now

I try so, so, SO hard not to complain, but our bus saga rages on.....

Added to our transportation problems of #2 not getting home until 4:35 pm (we live about a minute away from school!), #1 is on the middle school/high school bus and must endure all kinds of colorful language and hand gestures that you never want your 11- year old to hear. I nearly yanked her off the bus for the remainder of the school year, but we gave her The Husband's MP3 player and are praying it gets better. Unlike elementary buses where the youngest kids are required to sit in the front, on this bus she is nearly the last one to get on and must sit in the very back (with all the hoodlums, I assume!). First come, first serve is the way it goes. #1 has asked us not to discuss this with the bus driver during pick up/drop off since she doesn't want to be a called a "baby".

Arghhhhhhh! This is a lesson in self-control for me.

Let me be painfully honest with you....about 4-5 years ago I would have ignored her request and just marched myself on that bus and told that bus driver that the 6th graders should have the front seats because of all the INEXCUSABLE profanity. I would glare at the high school students while I was saying this. Then I would have marched myself inside and called the director of transportation and demand an explanation as to why MY daughter at the tender age of 11 must share a bus with obscene high school kids and this is UNACCEPTABLE. But, God bless you and have a nice day.

Just being honest.

I assure you that I would never do this now! As I've mentioned in previous posts I'm going to trust them to God for protection and peace and allow Him to somehow work His miraculous power into this situation (He's pretty creative). Do I still think about doing things like I described above? Oh yeah I do! But, God's grace is abounding and I'm going to try and do things His way!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Growing Up is Hard to Do

Well, I knew the day would come when our young adult friends would begin to move on with their lives that would take all of us in opposite directions. I posted here about them many months ago and they are all near and dear to our hearts.

Susan (otherwise known as Speaking Freely, I named her Susan first so that is how I will refer to her!) is moving two hours away to be closer to the man in her life. She is living rent free in exchange for babysitting 2 elementary aged girls after school. I think my girls are already feeling slightly threatened by that, as if Susan will like the new girls better than she likes them! She has been like a big sister to my girls and #1 in particular, is struggling with her move. I've tried to prepare them for this stage in our relationship. Susan will one day (probably soon) get married and start her own family, Peter is studying in England next year and even Edmund is so busy with school and activities we hardly get to see him. But, it is okay! I want my girls to grasp that we had a season together that was very special and we'll always have a bond. And, we'll still get to see each other, just not as frequently, which will make it even more of a treasure to spend time together.
I just know that no matter what there are some traditions we have that we will still get together fact, applesauce-making-day is right around the corner! :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Penn State is Not the Only Happy Valley

Every where you go, people are smiling. They wave even if they don't know you. Every one just seems so happy.

Where am I referring? Is it Disneyworld? No. I am talking about my kid's new schools! The teachers, parents, traffic director, bus drivers, random people just driving by in their cars.....

With the exception of lectures regarding drug sniffing dogs and an art teacher that uses the word "cr*p" in every other sentence, we may as well be going to school with Wally and the Beave.

#2 and #3 really, really liked school and made lots of friends (thank you, Jesus!). The playground was the highlight of their day. It is really nice! Their teachers are wonderful communicators...we've had bus issues (as in never receiving a schedule and not having my calls returned) and the school is doing all they can on their end of things to help me work it out.

#1 is not so thrilled with school, but as I mentioned above they really spent most of their day going over the student handbook and talking about what happens if they break the rules. I like this is definitely more on the stricter side (detention for not doing your homework!). We think once they actually start having a normal school day, she'll like it more. Her homeroom teacher is very sweet and she's getting to know some nice girls.

And, I had my first night of "mommy homework" filling out paperwork. I signed more paperwork than when we bought this house! Seriously! They all needed media release forms, fluoride tablet options, Internet rules, health forms, emergency contact forms, nose blowing liability release forms in the event they blow too hard the school is not responsible (just kidding!), group insurance, student handbook, etc...... I sat down like a well-oiled machine and tackled it in an organized matter on my dining room table. The school does a very good job of teaching the kids to be organized with planners and folders.....I like that a lot!

Overall, it was a good day for all (#1 may argue that a bit) and I think we're going to like our schools! Now, if you'll excuse me I have a house to sell.

And, everybody say "AMEN"!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sometimes I Even Surprise Myself

I woke up this morning with a migraine and a tune in my head similar to the music that plays when Darth Vader is on screen. This is it. The day I send my kids to .........................PUBLIC SCHOOL. The dreadful feeling didn't last very long, which had to be the grace of God!

The dog days of summer are over. Surprisingly though, I feel ready. I remember when we would send them off to Christian school before we home schooled and my prayers focused on them making friends and not being made fun of or feeling left out. My prayers have shifted to asking the Lord to remind them of who they are and how wonderfully made they are when, not if, someone hurts their feelings. Of course, the mom in me doesn't want anyone to hurt their feelings, but we live in a world where even good people say rotten things. I want them to deal with it in a Godly, forgiving way that not only helps them feel better, but ministers to the hearts of those involved. I can't possibly be going through this "it's not about me, it's about Him" revelation and not pass it down to my kids! The older two seemed to really struggle last night because they just were not sure if they were going to be accepted. I reassured them they are loved by God, family and friends more than they could ever know and school is just a part of their lives, not even the most important part. I didn't want them all worked up because really, it is important for them to be educated, but WHO they are is so much more important than WHAT they know.

So, without shedding a tear for the first time EVER (including preschool), I dropped off all three little women at their schools today. The tears stung in the back of my eyes, but they were proud tears, not sad tears. Will I miss them? Absolutely. But, something deep inside me felt like I was releasing them into their destiny today. I know that may sound overly dramatic, but I had the sense at times in my life I was holding them back out of fear and trying to overly protect them. I still battle that. For example this morning as I was placing band aids is #1's purse "just in case", The Husband told #1 that I would put the kitchen sink in next and if there was room I'd pack myself in her backpack! Of course, we all laughed, but there was some truth to that!

Thus opens a new chapter in our lives. Tomorrow we FINALLY go to settlement on our old house and in less than 2 weeks The Husband starts his new job.

Wow. A lot can change in a year. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Our Weekend Retreat

I was vaguely aware of the piano being played as we sat holding hands in the 2 chairs as others gathered around us to pray and prophesy. As soon as I sat down I could barely breathe. The Husband later told me he felt the same way. It was like I was on the verge of hyperventilating and I was trying to focus on breathing slowly. The presence of the Lord was so strong I wasn't sure I could handle the simple task of breathing! As others began to pray and speak over us I felt like the heavens opened up and literally showered us with God's Love. People we didn't know spoke things about us that they couldn't have known while people we did know said things that brought healing to the depths of my soul. I cried so hard I was afraid all you'd hear on the tape is me snarfing and sniffing! What a sweet release!

There is power when believers gather and pray and move in the power of our almighty God. I pray that when life begins to throw me a curve ball and things may not go as I plan, that I remember that God sees it all. The good, the bad and everything in between. I need to trust Him and know that He loves me no matter what. I could never earn it, I just have to make the choice to receive it.

I am blessed!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Making Some Mommy/Daughter Memories

I decided that I would plan a fun week, I mean a REALLY FUN week for my girls so they would remember me as the happy, smiling mommy when they return to school and not the stressed out-shrieking-too-busy-to-play-with-them mommy that I have spent too much of my summer being.

The other afternoon we went here and I highly recommend it for girls (and mommies) of all ages. The girls chose beads, strung them and then the owner finished them off. There were literally thousands and thousands of beads in all price ranges. I let the girls splurge because we had received a very nice gift certificate from our real estate agent. They made beautiful jewelery and I bought 2 pairs of very pretty earrings that I would never normally spend that much money on!

It is a nice special occasion place if you want to take your daughter to do something different. You can make a bracelet for under $10 if you watch the price of the beads you're using. #3 made a bracelet with vintage beads so I had to let her just chose a few and then fill in with some less expensive ones, she had no concept that the beads were different prices! Meanwhile, while I was helping her, #1 had made a gorgeous bracelet for around $23 that I plan to borrow. #2 shook out in the mid-price range with a very pretty pink necklace showcasing a beautiful handcrafted clay bead in the middle. They all plan to wear their masterpieces for the first day of school.

If you stop by, please tell Jaan I told you. She used to come into our cafe all the time and I want to be able to throw some business her way, too!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The "Other Woman"

She follows The Husband around constantly looking at him with those pathetic puppy dog eyes. She isn't always very nice to me, she seems to merely tolerate me most days. Wherever The Husband goes, she goes. At first I thought it was cute, now it is starting to become annoying. If he goes into another room that she does not have access to she whines and cries until he comes back.

Yes, it's The Dog.

Not to mention her crate (for those of you without dogs that is a cage with a blanket in it that she's calls "home") is in our bedroom. Thankfully, we are both in full agreement that she is not allowed on any of our furniture because I have no doubt that she would wedge herself between us and shove me out of bed most nights.

I had the brilliant idea of putting that fabulous laminate that looks like hardwood floor in our bedroom instead of carpet. Well, you try to have an intimate moment with your husband while dog nails make it sound like a 102 pound hermit crab is pacing around your bed (click, click, click, click, click, pause, click, click, click, .......). As if the Disney Princess towels hanging in the window aren't enough of a "mood-killer" on top of the clicking, how about when The Dog finally stops pacing, sits down towards the foot of the bed and passes gas louder than your Uncle Joe after Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh my word.

That's why I'm a cat person.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

1. I can't believe school starts Monday. It kept me awake last night along with the strange 3:30am phone call that hung up on The Husband when he answered. Having an octopus (#3) join us in bed at midnight didn't help the cause.

2. If you have a Cingular/New ATT phone you can go here to do a bunch of cool things like have text messages sent to you to remind you of appointments. I could have used that feature here. Just click the "Manage Your Account" button.

3. The Husband is putting in his 2-week notice today and starts his new job on September 5th. It seems surreal like it is happening to someone else.

4. I'm getting my eyebrows waxed (finally!!) today.

5. I didn't like High School Musical 2 nearly as much as the first one. Too much boy-girl junk.

6. GAS refuses to let me take her to the neighborhood senior center that is a mere 2 blocks away because when she went to a different one 2 years ago no one paid attention to her. I'm making her go to BINGO on Friday anyway. No need to talk to anyone, just watch your cards.

7. Tomorrow is the day that our home buyers sell their house and then they buy ours next Tuesday (the dates didn't work with our agent and the buyer to do this any sooner together). Once I get the phone call tomorrow afternoon that their buyers actually showed up and wrote a check, then I'll believe that this whole ordeal is behind us. Until then....well, let's just say I'm not counting those chickens, yet.

8. Did I mention every time I think that school starts next week my heart rate increases and my eyes sting with tears? Is there something wrong with me?

9. I lost my glasses which I am supposed to have to drive and my eyesight is getting worse. The soonest I can get an appointment is September 5th. You may want to watch out for me on the roads. Thankfully, I have one eye that sees perfectly, but the other eye can't read the top line of an eye chart. So, as long as a bug doesn't fly in the good eye I should be okay driving.

10. We saw Ratatouille last night. I preferred Underdog. It made me laugh more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Father Knows Best

We all look for signs from God, don't we?

Well, as crazy as this may sound I got one today. We went to kindergarten open house and met #3's teacher. After feeling like she is a very warm and caring woman who gave #3 her full attention while they were talking, the girls and I walked around her adorable classroom.

And, then I saw it.

Out of 17 kids in the class MY little #3 is going to be THE LINE LEADER for the first week of school.

You don't even know! #3 absolutely adores being "the line leader". We all laugh as we walk through the grocery store as she declares herself "the line leader" and if my cart so much as edges up next to her I am reminded of her self-proclaimed role and I best get back in formation.

I felt like God winked at me this morning when I looked at that classroom helper chart. I know that there will be ups and downs in the upcoming year, but He knows her even better than I do. His power far exceeds anything I could ever make happen in her life and He knows what is best for her.

He knows the best school for her.

He knows the best teacher for her.

And, He knows the best classroom helper job for her during her first week embarking on this new journey.

I Feel Like I'm Back in School Again

This morning is kindergarten open house and you would think I was the one going to school. I actually put MAKE-UP on, can you believe it? And, do you want to know the shallow reason why?

Because my BABY is going to kindergarten and I'll probably be one of those "older" moms there. The ones everyone feels sorry for because the next step for them is an empty nest when their kids all leave home for college ....or....sniff......the mission field......not that any of that is bad, I just can't think about it now!

I had a poor lack of planning having the oldest start middle school and the youngest start kindergarten the same year. What was I thinking?!! Both these events are traumatic on their own, now it is compounded! Somehow, when I home schooled it just didn't seem like that much of a big deal. Why now?

But, I digress.....we are going to Open House and I'm ready to hand deliver my letters to the girl's new teachers telling them a little bit about each child's strengths and weaknesses and that (gulp) that I would be praying for them (the teachers) to have a school year filled with peace and joy. I am hoping that they see that as a good thing (prayer). I figured without coming right out and saying "We're Christians" I'd rather demonstrate it. Hopefully, this approach won't send an impression that we are going to be high maintenance and judgmental. I'm fully prepared to work with the school and not against it and my most powerful tool is prayer.

So, why am I so nervous to meet my....I mean....THEIR new teachers???!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Theme for the Week - "No Sugar"

A funny thing happened this week. After attending a series of classes that our church has been hosting regarding healthy living I was very convicted about the amount of soda I consume and the amount of sugar my family consumes. So, after discussing my concerns with my family we agreed we were somewhat flawed in our eating habits! Particularly, the youngest in our family.

While I am not promising that a Diet Coke will never again cross these lips, I have not had a soda or much sugar since Wednesday. I don't miss it until I venture out into the world and am surrounded by delicious temptations. I do believe in moderation, but for now I am trying to seriously get as many chemicals out of my system as I can.

Now, the funny part. The Husband got an offer to work for the soda company of all soda companies. We find that somewhat ironic. I wouldn't want him to go work at a tobacco company, and now I've pretty much added soda to the list of dangerous foods we will rarely, if at all, partake in. Hmmmmm...... Is this compromise or survival? He will be taking an actual pay cut for the first month there (which hardly seems possible!) during training, but then after that the pay will be better than what he makes now. Hopefully, it will lead to even better positions down the road. We've been waiting a loooooooong time for a job breakthrough and I am really thankful for this. We will be without health insurance for 2 months until his new benefits kick in so that is a bit of a concern. I'll have to start looking for something short-term that won't cost us $1000 a month.

And, they do make my most favorite bottled that's okay, right?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How Can My Brain Handle All This (Or, Can't It)?

I have soooo many thoughts going through my mind lately it is no wonder in the last few weeks I forgot:

1. To take #1 to middle school orientation camp. She missed the first half of it. Whoops. It's always great to be the new girl, especially when your mom is a total FLAKE!

2. To meet the people who wanted to buy my washer and dryer at our old house. Thank the Lord they waited for me and still bought it.

3. To take #1 to a pool party (thankfully, her BFF called moments before to remind me because she's starting to figure out how things work around here!).

4. That I was scheduled to work in the preschool at church last night.

5. That #2 had soccer practice and was a half hour from home minutes before practice was scheduled with no shin guards, cleats, soccer ball, food and water. I'll be emailing the coach an apology when I'm done doing my important "Mommy Work" on the computer (wink, wink).

I'm a little worried that perhaps I will walk out of the house forgetting I'm only in my underwear or maybe forget one of the kids inside a restroom at Giant or something equally as scary.

But, you want to know what I do remember?

Tomorrow night is the premiere of (shriek, gasp, clap):

I know this is controversial, but I am a closet fan of High School Musical. And, so are my kids. And, I think so are some of you.

After all, "we're all in this together".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Could This Be the Light We've Been Seeing at the End of the Tunnel?

The Husband had a job interview yesterday. It went very well, but there are some things that The Lord needs to work out on our behalf.

It is for a truck driving position with a large well-known soft drink company who I happen to like a whole lot. But, since The Husband has been running restaurants and now working customer service for the last 7 years he never renewed his Class A CDL license. After his interview he went down to DMV where he paid $101 to take the written test and get his permit and now comes the tricky part.

He needs an actual truck and trailer to take the driving test. We don't really have one of those at our disposal right now. He asked the company he interviewed with if they hired him, could he use one of their trucks, but they are checking into it. I keep hoping and praying that they liked him so much that they are willing to help him get his CDL back and they won't see him as the "high maintenance" candidate when they have many others to choose from that already have their licenses.

We also have no idea what the actual schedule and benefits would be like, just that it pays what we need to live off of and can lead to other positions later down the road (ha ha, get it? down the road...he'd be a truck driver...haha...). Plus, do I dare dream of unlimited amounts of delicious Diet cola at a fraction of the cost?

The funny thing about all this is that when I think about it actually happening it doesn't get me overly excited. I think I've been drilling myself with the mantra "it's only money" for so long and enjoying God's miraculous provision through these rough times that it doesn't change how I am feeling about life in general. Of course, it would be a HUGE blessing and a relief, but it doesn't seem to be defining who I am like it may have a year or two ago.

Does that make sense?

I was worried maybe I've become depressed because I'm not doing cartwheels or maybe I just didn't want to get my hopes up, but God assured me when I questioned Him about this, that it is the peace I've been so desperate to grab ahold of that only He can give me (circumstances can't). I've been living in an expectant state for this breakthrough as if it has already happened! This possible job is no shock to me so I can't say that I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for the phone call to come. If this isn't it, God will close the door and open another one. I'm sure of it.

Hersheypark Family Time

Since it had been ages since all 5 of our family members went to Hersheypark together, we decided to go last night for just a few hours and catch the show and go on a few rides.

Ahhhh, the show.

Well, how can I describe it to you?....hmmm....let's see....lots of great gymnastics and acrobatics as a rendition of Beauty and the Beast. If they hadn't announced that I would have never known what they were trying to do. It was more like The Matrix goes Asian with a little extra weirdness thrown in for good measure. But, really great stunts. Unfortunately, I missed a lot trying to figure out if one of the girls was really a guy (I'm still not certain). I'm thinking if you have little kids....DON'T GO! Even #1 left the theatre saying "Man, that was freaky and kind of scary". I would have to agree. The preview doesn't do it justice. The stunts are really cool, though.

The park has become crowded pretty much all the time now so we don't do too many rides. We did manage to get The Husband on the carousel as our last ride of the evening (in keeping with our tradition).

Aren't they all so cute in their baseball caps?

She didn't try to get off while it was moving this time! She named her horse Sparkle (no relation to Like I was Saying's.... daughter!).

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Teenager...Friend or Foe?

Lately, I've been talking to Christians who are raising teenagers and they are scaring me a little bit. I'm being serious. I'm not talking about the typical teen/toddler behavior that we often joke about. I'm talking about kids being raised in Christian homes who are going off the deep end when they turn 15. Thankfully, one mom told me that when her daughter recently turned 18 things dramatically improved and she apologized for all her bad behavior.

This said, I don't want to appear naive, but I refuse to let this happen to my children. Some may argue there is very little I can do about it at that stage. True. That is why I was taught at a church parenting class to take action years ago to attempt to purge any sign of rebellion out of my kids from the time they were babies. I'm a pretty easy-going mom, but my trigger points are rebellious behavior and mean-spiritedness. It is quickly corrected and brings about the most severe of consequences at our house.

This has been on my mind since picking #1 up from a Youth Retreat. It was like I dropped off a girl on Thursday and picked up a teenager on Saturday. Not necessarily bad, just different. Of course, this started me thinking if we should be moving up to the next round of "talks" since her first day of school is a mere 2 weeks away and believe me when I tell you I am more concerned about her long bus ride with 7th & 8th graders than I am about school itself. I feel like she knows so much already, but it may be time to introduce some of the "slang" she may hear so she doesn't participate in a conversation she shouldn't be because she has no idea what everyone is talking about. I hate that we have to do this with an eleven-year old! The teen years are supposed to start when they turn 13, not 10 or 11! Some days I long to put her in a protective bubble, zip it up and send her out the door. It seems like just yesterday I was worried about her bottle being too hot or how to get her to sleep in her own room........

This age defiantly has its perks though! She and I can have great conversations, especially regarding spiritual things. And, she is great to help around the house. She makes lunch most weekdays for her and her sisters while I am working in our home office. Overall, I am enjoying her grow into the young woman God is calling her to be. She is a delight and I catch myself just staring at her and her sisters and being overwhelmed that God would place 3 of His treasures in my care. I am extremely blessed and grateful.

After re-reading this post I realized I had made a mistake. I said that it is true there is very little we can change with a teenager that is rebelling, that it must start earlier. That's wrong! Parents can do a lot! Most importantly they can pray and continue to guide that teen in the direction they should be going by placing restrictions on who they spend their free time with. The point I was making was to correct rebellious behavior from birth and not waiting to lay down the law when they become teenagers.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Absence Made My Heart Grow Fonder

Last night I took #2 and #3 to Hersheypark after a looooong time of not going (over a month). I not only adored it my usual amount, but because it was at night, I adored it even more! There was a chill in the air and seeing all the rides lit up did something to slow down my frantic thoughts about the earlier Wal-mart disaster. It also helped #2 to keep her mind off of it, as well.

I have vowed to make my once a week HP treks in the evenings because it is definitely less crowded and a bit more magical.

Someone please tell me that it is only June and not mid-August....I can't stand that summer is winding down!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thank You for Shopping Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal-Mart

Now, I'm MAD.

Someone just took #2's wallet at Wal-mart that contained 2 birthday gift cards totaling $40, a $50 check, and $19 cash. We are unsure if they stole it out of our cart or if she set it down and it was taken and never turned in. We spent an hour retracing our steps and practically begging the customer service people to alert the cashiers if someone comes through with these particular looking gift cards that they are stolen. Her name was on at least one of them and we described what the cards looked like. The lady told us it has been a bad day for things being taken, but they did catch a few of the people. No one seemed very eager to help is such a common occurance.

Nice, huh?

Who the heck goes to Wal-mart to rob people? H-e-l-l-o....we are at Wal-mart so we're probably not the kind of people who have a whole lot of money. That's just plain mean. And, don't get me started when they saw it was birthday giftcards for a little girl.

I know this seems unrealistic, but I am done with Wal-mart. I waited in line for 35 minutes the last time we were there a few nights ago while I had to engage my children in intense conversation so they were not aware of all the other people in line around us cursing up a storm. I would have just abandoned my cart and left, but it was filled with items for #2's birthday party that was the next day. I guess none of this compares with our all time worse Wal-mart horror story of when the man pulled down his pants and exposed himself to #1 and #2 several years ago when I was bending down to look at DVDs. It scared them both so bad that they didn't tell me until 5 months later.

Is there any coincidence that I've been thanking God (out loud) for increasing the compassion I feel towards people lately? Yeah, but I'm not sure if my compassion is extending to little-girl- wallet-stealing-people or the many foul-mouthed talking people that seem to surround me and my family everywhere I have been over the last 2 weeks.

I just want to lock myself in my house right now and NEVER come out except to go to church.

The good thing is I'll get over that soon and take the kids to Hersheypark tonight.

But, you better believe I'll have a good grip on my wallet.

By the way, #2 and I have already talked about forgiving the person who did this and prayed for God to do a miracle and bring her wallet back safely to her while revealing Himself to this person (or people) in a life changing way.

Change is in the Air (Again)

I have been pondering my attitude lately and trying to figure out how I can fix this funk I keep finding myself in. I've been praying, worshiping God and meditating on scripture in a desperate attempt to know that I am not alone (sounds selfish, I know).

I've realized a few things in this pondering. There have been some things nagging at me that need attention. First and most importantly, I have decided not to attend the school of ministry at our church. As much as my heart desires to do this, I believe it is not in the best interest of our family if both The Husband and I go. So, I am going to do the hard thing, but the right thing. I feel sadness and relief at the same time. Financially we both can't go and there is some scheduling conflicts with #2's soccer practices. Probably most importantly, if I have everyone out on Thursday nights in childcare while we are in class we will very rarely be able to spend the gas money and another late school night going to Wednesday night services. I believe #1 needs to be there in youth group to recharge and be with like-minded kids her age. I have to officially withdraw from the school, but I feel a peace about it....dissapointment, too......but, I believe God will honor the sacrifice. I have my own little school of ministry to teach with 3 fabulous students right here at home! I pray I don't grow resentful of this because I certainly don't want to feel jealous of The Husband being there and I'm not. I also don't want to come off as self-righteous because I am the one giving something up for no gain. My heart is not there at all. I really am believing that God has a plan for my life and this season that I'm in is all a part of that! This is my season called "Mom" and I love it!

Another area out-of-whack is my body. I have been so busy and stressed I have paid very little attention to what I am eating and even less attention to exercise since April. I feel bad. I have a lot of headaches and I feel lethargic most days. I need to pay better attention to what my body needs and start fixing some of the problems.

So, it looks like I have some changes ahead to get used to. But, I think I'm going to be okay!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Not Feeling Like Myself Lately

I haven't felt like "me" in such a long time. The carefree, happy-go-lucky, joking and smiling me. It seems as if the fearful, cynical, serious and confused side of me is holding the other side hostage. I find myself questioning why am I like this, even on good days. Worse, what if this is who I am becoming? I hate to think that I'm so shallow that a lack of a good job and all the house issues (aka circumstances) are having the power to change my personality so I can only resort to one other theory......

The devil is so afraid of us that we are being bombarded with heaviness and hopelessness like never before. But, the good news is, the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is ALIVE in us (I keep saying "us" because The Husband is going through this, too). The Bible says we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. Translated to mean we are not fighting against a lack of finances and a new job, we are fighting against the powers of darkness trying to knock us out the game.

It ain't gonna happen. I am determined that we are only going to grow and come out victorious as we cast our cares upon Him daily. We are definitely not Super Christians and certainly not the only people on the planet the devil wants to destroy. But, I have to tell myself that this "thing" that I'm feeling isn't real, it is just an attempt to distract me from living the life Jesus has called me to live.

Now, if I can just shake that icky feeling......

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Good Time Was Had By All

#2's slumber party was a lot of fun. The night flew by with a whirlwind of activities mostly conducted by #1 and her BFF. When the Aly and AJ and Jump Five CD's came out this is where The Husband and The Professor could be found...... the was much more manly in there, especially with the big, black dog.

The 11 girls danced, sang and ate like a hoard of hungry locusts. I wish I could tell you they were all quietly tucked into their sleeping bags asleep by 10pm, but, half of them could still be heard well after midnight. One in particular asked to have her mom pick her up around 11:30pm. I think it may have had something to do with the horrible thunder and lightning that were shaking our house almost all night. The Husband and I jolted awake at 3:50am and rushed around the house making sure everyone was ok because it sounded like something exploded. I had 5 seconds of terrible thoughts of terrorist attacks and then 15 minutes of terrible thoughts of lightning or a tornado hitting our house.

I'm a little tired right now.

I think I'll be treating myself to a well-deserved nap this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, #2!

She was the easiest pregnancy, easiest birth, easiest to potty-train.....she is my beautiful middle child and she turned 8 years old at 3am this morning!

I have a feeling she will grow up to be either a nurse or a pastor because she loves to help people. It can be a real challenge for me to nurture that when I "just want to get it done quickly!".

She is part kangaroo and if I had to compare her to a cartoon character, she would definitely be a Tigger! Her sisters find her affection somewhat annoying at times and she is always, always in motion from the time she was a baby. She would sit in her highchair and sway back and forth, then she would climb up on top of any counter or table before she could walk. She is quite the opposite of me and much more like The Husband, both physically and personality-wise. This could be why her and I get along very well most of the time!

Being the middle child has not diminished her "take charge" skills whatsoever! In fact, she frequently tries to prove herself capable of anything her big sister can do, she can do, too. She has no problem pointing out the rules to other kids and adults, even if she offends them. I struggle with that because I believe her heart is truly to help people most of the time and not to be bossy, but I think she gets a little misunderstood at times for that. We're working on the appropriateness of her reminding others of "rules" when she notices someone doing something we don't agree with. It can be tough....I feel like a hypocrite some of the time and I'm sure there is a lesson in there for me that God is trying to teach! She is very sensitive and hides her hurts for the sake of "sucking it up". That bugs me and leaves me in a continuous state of trying to figure her out.

Please remember her in your prayers. She will be seeing a pediatric urologist to figure out why she keeps having reoccuring UTIs and the poor dear has been suffering with abdominal pain for a little over a year now, cause unknown. Her appetite has decreased and she barely weighs sixty pounds (no weight gain in the last 6 months; although she has shot up a of couple inches). Her doctors don't seem overly concerned. I try not to worry, but she is so precious to us!

She is an incredible blessing and adds a lot of joy to our family! I remember being 8 years old and it was a horrible year for me. Nothing majorly traumatic happened, just so many small things and an overall memory of feeling lonely and rejected that school year. And, my mom had my long hair cut and people thought I was a boy. Maybe that was pretty traumatic after all......well, I plan to give #2 a lot of happy memories this next year and I won't cut her hair to look like a boy!

Monday, August 6, 2007

I've Outdone Myself!

Here is a picture of the birthday cake I made for #2's party tomorrow...... my dreams!!!!!

Oh My Word! I'm just kidding. I'll be picking up a little something special for the poor middle child at Giant tomorrow! Cakes like the one pictured are reserved for the first born of the family, although I must admit I did make a pretty sweet hula dancer cake 2 years ago for #2's pool party (if you didn't get a good look at her backside that was crumbling apart).

But, I wasn't just finishing up the most major move of my entire life 2 years ago, so a homemade hula cake seemed like a good idea at the time.

I'm praying for God to bless me with visions of fun activities and general slumber-party "funness" (that is so not a word) while I sleep tonight. We have an interesting group of girls coming, one that #2 just met at a VBS last week (I keep wondering if her parents are wondering if we are pyschos because I would NEVER let my child sleep at someone's house I have known for less than a week). It was bizarre even inviting her and even more bizarre that they said yes. Oh, well, lucky for them we aren't completely out of our minds.

Most of the time.

Anyhoo (or, is it anywho?), I'm hoping Giant has some sweet girlie girl cakes for us to choose from tomorrow because Wal-mart had NOTHING of the sort tonight. Wal-mart continues to live up to my low expectations, but that's a whole other post altogether.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Just a Little Randomness

We went to see Underdog tonight since it rained and we could not go to Hersheypark as planned. It was a very cute movie and worth the (gasp, choke, gag) $32 plus refreshments it cost to see it. The mad scientist parts were a little scary, but other than that this is one of those few movies that the kids and adults all liked. But, don't even get me started on The Disney Single Parent Conspiracy because yes, you guessed it...the mom in the movie died and it's just Dad and Son.

Praise the Lord we sold our washer, dryer and spare refrigerator this weekend. It worked out perfectly since we had told our "renters:, a.k.a. the people buying our house on August 28th, that we would have everything out of the garage by today. Instead of having to figure out where we would put all of it, we were able to sell this stuff in the very God-orchestrated-11th hour-kind-of-way I've come to expect from Him! Now, I just have to sell my antique bedroom furniture and we will have earned enough to buy some smaller, more modern pieces of bedroom furniture and stop living out of Rubbermaid storage totes! I guess I can also take down my Disney Princess beach towels that are our current curtains and buy some real window treatments. As much as I enjoy falling asleep with Cinderella watching over me, I'm not sure I like Jasmine's bare belly being exposed in front of The Husband in our bedroom (who is BEGGING me to buy curtains to hang up. BEGGING ME!!!).

Please pray for The Dog. She has a left hind leg injury that she seems to keep re injuring and as much as I love her I don't want to cart her over to our OVERPRICED veterinarian to receive a diagnosis that goes something like "Well, it's not broken, but she did sprain/bruise her left quadrant of her femus dogisis so just keep an eye on her and there is nothing we can really do. Thank you. That will be 1 bazillion dollars, please." She's still walking and playing, but if she continues this week limping or favoring it like she seems to randomly be doing for the last 2 weeks then I'm going to take her sorry, expensive self in to get checked out. Let's pray first though, kay? I do feel bad for her and want to act responsibly.

Well, other than feeling a little touch of the grumpies due to "the time of the month" being right around the corner it has been a pretty good weekend. Tomorrow I have to start the full swing planning of #2's birthday party the next day which consists of 8 or 10 girls sleeping over.

In my house.

My new house.

Is this all random enough for you? I'm having a hard time signing off because there is nothing to summarize in this, I'll just say: see long.....Happy Monday......Jesus loves me this I know......later, alligators.........

ok, I'm done.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Our Friday Night

In response to my "Mommy Guilt" in the previous post, I planned a fun and somewhat inexpensive evening of family fun.

First, we had received free Kid's Meals coupons from Old Country Buffet for our summer library reading program so we went there for dinner. The kids were so funny, especially #3 who hasn't been there since she was a baby. The kids wanted to eat everything is sight and I must admit, their food has improved from a few years ago.

After we ate so much we could barely breathe, we went here. Once again, the cheapskate that I am had the girls change into their PJ's for "Kids Paint in Their PJs for $1 Night". And, at Christmas I ask some of the grandparents for gift cards to places like this. So, my bill for all of them to paint cost me $2.27. They all made something for their new rooms and the girls that were working there were very helpful teaching them techniques and giving them ideas.

As you can see, even The Husband and GAS got in on the action! They painted at the more quiet "adult" table, but I think they had as much fun as the kids!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Let the Countdown Begin

Unlike most parents, I am beginning to dread the first day of school. I am really going to miss my kids. Having such a hectic, stressful summer has not helped. If I don't get to Hersheypark soon I may just wither away.....

Ok, not really. But, I am now concentrating on making these last few weeks of summer vacation fun for my wonderful, precious daughters!

I do wonder if the "Mommy Guilt" will ever end? Will I continue to second guess myself through the teenage and adult years of my children? I am consistently asking myself, "Did they watch too much TV today?"or "Should I have played Candylane instead of reading my book for a few minutes?" or "Are they in too many activities or not enough?"......blah....blah....blah....blah.........

Now, I can add "Are they going to be okay in new schools, public school no less?". Oh, I know I need to trust the Lord with all this, but let's face one ever intends to mess up their kids, but it happens! I don't want a lifetime of regrets, I want to live each day with them as though it is my last.

On a positive note, I hardly ever raise my voice to the "yelling" stage anymore, especially after this. I know that has to be an improvement!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Happy Birthday, Speaking Freely!

We celebrated Speaking Freely's birthday last night at our new "crib". Her best birthday present arrives tomorrow.

This lady is a huge blessing in our lives and I thank God that our paths crossed 2 years ago! She is blowing out a candle on her blueberry dump cake which is not only delicious, but VERY easy to make......

4 cups fresh blueberries tossed with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of sugar in a 9x13 pan. Pour a dry yellow cake mix on top. Melt 1/4 cup of butter and pour that on top of the cake mix and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes until lightly browned on top. Serve warm with ice cream.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

You Would Think I Figured This Out By Now

Can anyone relate to this?

For a season we are walking close to the Lord, then some trials and hard times come and although, we are still walking close to the Lord it is more out of desperation and our focus begins to shift. He still comes through with His peace and His power, but you start to realize you somehow stopped focusing on His kingdom while you were focusing on yours.

Did I lose you?

Let me share an example....we have gone through this house ordeal (I've stopped using the word "nightmare" because there really is power in our words) and I have lost my ability to feel compassion towards our buyers. The agents involved went on and on about "poor them" and "imagine how they feel". The only thing I saw was them collecting deposit money from their deals falling through while we have been stuck with 2 mortgages. I saw them get new carpet installed while I'm trying to scrounge money together for #2's birthday party.

Bitter? Maybe a little.

It wasn't as if I wanted them to suffer, but could someone please acknowledge that WE are the real victims here? grieves me how wicked my heart can be when I leave it unprotected.......

SO, as this revelation hit me on the way to the old house yesterday to clean one last coat closet out so they can "take occupancy" as our renters, I stopped at Giant and bought some chocolate chip muffins and a card congratulating them and letting them know we will be praying for everything to go smoothly for them as they move in.

I didn't even have to talk myself into felt as natural as breathing. It was then I realized that should have been my attitude the entire time!

Our buyer (female) was already at the house doing some painting when I arrived and looked at me like I was handing her a box of snakes when I gave her the muffins. I couldn't tell if it was shock or her wondering what I was up to (maybe she's allergic to chocolate??). It has sort of nagged at me that maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I know the still small voice of the Holy Spirit when He tells me to do something!

So, what's my point? My point is that I lost focus and didn't know I had lost focus. Part of that frustrates me and makes me afraid it will happen again. But, the other part of me rejoices that I even had the revelation at all! I could have walked through this entire situation with no clue whatsoever that my attitude needed some adjusting. I think it is natural to feel hurt and disappointment, but it is where we let those emotions take our thoughts, and eventually our words that is more important. We are called to take every thought captive to Christ Jesus! I can't let my emotions hold my thoughts captive!