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Thursday, April 30, 2015

TBT: Didn't They Just Turn Seven?

I posted my cutie patootie picture from yesterday and have been thinking a lot about motherhood. There are so many things that happen that don't meet my expectations. I mean, really, have I EVER really executed a plan A through to completion? Seems like there are always alterations to the plan when raising a family.

Here is that famous example. I have been working slowly again on scrapbooks. The kids like to have the books that I have finished because they can sit down and look through memories. We always have such fun conversations recollecting the events and the feelings that went along with the activities that are documented on the pages.

I am still working through 2009. It was September, I had a scheduled C-section on Monday (the 14th) with a triplet birthday party to host the Saturday (the 12th) before. After the three birthday cakes were done though, late Friday (actually, early Saturday) a night of rest was not in the ultimate plan. By 7 a.m. I was in the hospital getting prepped for my C-section. Someone did NOT want to wait for the party!

I didn't get to go to this party, I just have the pictures and the stories as told by others. That is why when I put the pages together for the scrapbook, there are lots of pictures and no words. I just have to say I wasn't there.

The triplets are asking me what we are going to do in September for their 13th and GOLDEN birthday. Of course I have been thinking about some ideas with all their asking, but for now I answer with a smile and say "didn't you JUST turn seven?"

Time flies when you are having fun!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WARNING: Cutie Patootie Alert!

Someone asked me last night at bedtime if he could have SPIKEY hair! (Anyone want to take a guess who that was?) We sneaked a little of Daddy's gel and tried it out. This little boy was so excited to go off to school this morning. Zachary told me on the way to school that he is looking forward to asking Matt if there was anyone who didn't recognize him.

Zach also said he wants to try some of Daddy's cool hair gel too. Looks like we have started something around here! Handsome boys...like father like sons!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaching Them to "Number Their Days"

I have been so frustrated lately with the inability of my children to do what they need to do when they need to do it. Some of them have been a part of this family with activities at the same time during the week for a long time!  I find that Pinterest is helpful, and although some of the things that I see there are great for someone else's family, I haven't really found a lot of things that would work in our house.
In any project where I am trying to make a point to my
children, I like to start with a concept from God's word. This
takes the pressure off of me. It is also a great reminder for
me too, we all need to be better at using our time wisely!

So, I decided to help the children become a little more responsible with some friendly reminders. One problem we have is that no one seems to know how to tell time. I can tell them exactly what time I want them in the car so we can leave for an activity and it doesn't matter if they are 12 or 5 or in between, they don't seem to have a concept.

I was reading through Psalm 90 this morning because verse 12 is especially important to me lately and I got a picture in my head. This is important and a wise person does know how to manage their time. Not only a life time of moments, but the daily moments too.

In an area of our dining room that has become somewhat of a communication hub, I started with Psalm 90:12 as you can see. The rest of it I will show with pictures because it is more fun to see the result then try to understand as someone explains it. (Can you tell I am a visual person?) If I am lucky, my kids are too and this will actually help them!

I found a good image of a clock without hands from an
online worksheet and made some copies. I labelled
little boys' times to remember with green ink
and the triplets' times to remember with blue ink and mounted
them on black paper.
The three main times of the day that are the same for every
single day (you would think they could remember) are
Waking up time, being in the van ready for school time,
and bed time. Now, they are officially posted!

I also posted reminder times for them to stop during their
evening and make sure they are on track (yes, even the
12-year-olds seem to need this although they would never
admit it!)

This is a magnetic board where I can switch out the times
each day. Here I will post the times people need to be in the
van and where they are going. This includes practices, lessons
and also random schedule items (like concerts, etc.)

And this is my finished wall. We will see how everyone responds in just a little while. It looks good and hopefully it will accomplish the reminders I need to give to the children without me feeling like reminding is all I do!

Now, my next chore is to come up with a brilliant idea for this silly chore board that doesn't seem to grab anyone's attention ever!

I am thinking a column for each child and since it is also magnetic, I can change around chores and they can once again take ownership.

There used to be many systems in place in this house to keep it running ship shape. Just like I am starting to get my body back after cancer and all of these surgeries, I am also getting excited about getting my kids back in line doing what they know to do without me loosing my voice trying to keep them on top of their responsibilities. It is good to be back in the project managing role. I can get so much more done when the chores are taken care of!

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Monday Giggle

David was working from home one day last week when I was getting a quick supper put together. I didn't plan well that day so I grabbed some elbow macaroni and thought I would come up with some kind of large pot hot dish that everyone could easily eat when they were home and could be heated up after practices when things started settling down for the evening.

It was then that I saw on the back of the bag of macaroni an easy recipe. Yes! I had all the ingredients and so I decided to whip it up. Having trouble reading off of the bumpy bag of macaroni I took the bag into the office and flattened it against the copier glass to see if I could get a cleaner copy of the recipe that would lay flat and be more readable.

David looked up at me with a questioning look and then said with a straight face "did we run out of macaroni? I don't think copying the bag we have will give you any more!" I was in a hurry and didn't follow his comment right away but then it hit me that he was trying to be funny in the middle of my flurry of energy. And, I thought it was pretty clever.

I love that he still makes me laugh! (even if I am a little slower than I used to be!)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Little Things

Matt has taken to finding me dandelions and bringing me a bunch of them for behind my ear or for a little bouquet of yellow sunshine. The other day he brought me this one:

I took a picture of it next to a regular dandelion as a comparison. It is almost like it is a quadruplet Siamese dandelion.

The stem is very thick and the top looks like there are four quadrants where there could have been four separate dandelions.

This may have just been the equivalent of a freak of nature, but Matthew and I were glad to have been able to see it. (And yes, just like all other dandelions, this one made Matthew's face yellow when he rubbed it all over himself!)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Survivor Files: Back to the Gym

I seriously debated posting a picture of the ugly scar across my stomach. Sparing you all from that, let me just say, that I have no core muscles at all. Thinking that time on my elliptical and getting back into my normal life activities would build up my endurance, I put off once again calling Personal Trainer Matt at the cancer center to get some direction to build up my muscles and endurance.

Doctor released me to workout now so it is about time I get back into it. So, yesterday I found myself back in the gym to start working on some of the problem areas. UGH! I told personal trainer Matt (not to confuse him with my Matt) that I feel like a wimp but I get tired and worn out just doing housework and trying to keep up. I told him that after I come home from taxiing my kids around town for practices for an hour or more I feel like laying in bed and resting and I hate that!

Much to my surprise, he TOTALLY understood! And duh! Why wouldn't he? He is trained to help women who have gone through mastectomies, chemo and radiation get back to feeling like their strong selves. Let me be honest here...there is a time after the recovering when you realize that you can't just jump back into the things that you do. You have lost muscle mass, you have been worn down from multiple surgeries and your body (especially your middle aged body) doesn't just bounce back.  They don't really warn you of that up front.

So there is hope for me after all!
I may be "better" than I was a year ago but three years ago before I had cancer? No, I am not there yet. I don't think I can completely explain what sitting there and listening to PT Matt felt like. You could probably call it a mix between relief and determination. I am glad to have a place to go and focus on getting strong. I am going back on Monday to get started on my plan. I have to focus on areas that are not working right and I am excited that I can get going and keep going. The last two times I started with PT Matt in the last year, I ended up having to stop because of the need to have another surgery. Not this time...I am done with that!

At yesterday's meeting we decided my first goal will be to work on strengthening my body so that an ordinary day's activities won't wipe me out. I should be able to get through my day without having to think about the fact I am doing laundry, or decide which thing that was left on the floor I will bend over and pick up and which ones I won't right now. 

My next goal after that is to build my core strong enough that I will be able to join Stacey in her daily ab workouts! (Or maybe I should say that Stacey's next goal for me is to join her...she doesn't like to do anything by herself!) I can't wait!

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the Heart Friday: Giving from the Heart

I was asked to share a part of my faith story in regards to giving and what giving has meant in my walk with God. I will share it at church this weekend. It helped me to write it, maybe it will help some if I share it...

I was raised by givers. As a girl, I was surrounded by people who give. They give of their talents, their energy, their time, they give their hospitality and they give their lives. So from a very young age, what I learned about giving, I learned by watching. On the way to church it was common for me to be sitting next to a shut-in widow, or a college student who needed a ride to church. That is just who my parents are and a direct reflection of the God they serve.

So, when asked to tell my giving story that would be where it starts for me. There are giving “no-brainers” for me, and then places where I struggle or have struggled in the past. I grew up in a very legalistic old covenant church. Without going into too much detail, the church I attended believed that the Old Testament Jewish holy days should still be observed along with selected other points of the Law (and that is Law with a capital L!) Tithing was one of those points. So when we talk about finances, it brings up all kinds of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Our family kept the tithing law as it was interpreted by our church. 10% to the church, 10% as a second tithe in a savings account to use during the annual festivals, and every third year, another 10% for widows and orphans, or what we call benevolence. I will tell you, that even as a child in a household like this, I KNEW it wasn’t easy for my parents to give up to 30% of their income.

Growing up and marrying a man who was raised much the same way, it wasn’t easy to start a home just the two of us with that stringent of a tithing regime. The truth is though, as David and I talk about it now, we did that out of obedience. We truly thought that is what God wanted us to do. So, in 1992 we began our story together. There is no doubt in our minds that God honored our giving from day one. I saw His hand in my family growing up as my parents obediently gave and I know He honored our giving from the start too. God could see our heart and although misled in our interpretation, I know He was pleased with the heart of our gifts.

Although we lacked nothing during our first 10 years of marriage, we did make some unwise financial decisions. All the while, still paying our tithes. It was what we knew; it was what we did. Although some of our decisions were not very wise, we were able to see how God carried us along and the blessings that He poured out. This is a faith journey for me, giving as we trust Him with everything else is a part of that growing faith.

We struggled with infertility knowing that it takes money to pursue doctors and help in that area. God opened many doors on our path to parenthood, which is another story all together, but one that is full of God and His miracles. We found ourselves in an uncomfortable position with our landlord because of our faith and needed to move. We trusted as God focused us on the goal of saving a down payment for our first house and in three months we were moved out of our apartment. There are no direct correlations to how much we gave and how much we were blessed dollar by dollar but we know that God promises blessing for obedience.

Moving forward, our giving changed after we came out of the church we were raised in. We learned that God wasn’t commanding us to give a tenth of OUR money. He was commanding us to be good stewards of HIS money. That concept came to us about 2005 or so when we took the Crown Financial Study and saw our money from a whole new perspective. Once we realized the “tithe” wasn’t something God was commanding us, we really didn’t know how to re-evaluate what our giving should be. So, we just did the comfortable thing and kept giving the tenth we had been giving. Somewhere after going through the Crown study and after the first Embracing Faith campaign here at New Covenant, I realized that our tithing 10th had become just like every other bill we were paying. I was convicted that things needed to change in my heart. God didn’t want me to give just to check something off of my list. To be honest, we were deeply in debt after a year of unemployment and again, some hasty and not so wise financial decisions.

We evaluated things and God put it on our hearts to take care of our debt as priority one. We talked and prayed through that for a while because it was against what we had been doing for years. The two of us didn’t agree right away. David and I are both first-born rule followers and are happiest when we can know what’s required of us and just do it. This was a little out of our comfort zone. Ultimately, the decision was made and we stepped out of Embracing Faith giving to focus on paying off our debt. We actually lowered our 10% at that point after fifteen plus years of marriage and we now regularly adjust as we are digging out of that debt and paying medical bills. Giving looks different now with five active kids than it did when it was just the two of us and I know that it will keep changing through the years. Without that “command” mentality hanging over us, it is much easier to think of giving outside the box when we see needs around us.

To me, the most important part of giving starts with my relationship with God. The Holy Spirit has taught me through His word. Instead of my obedience being focused on a number set up as part of the Old Testament Law, my obedience is in the relationship I have with the Lawgiver who guides my giving as I walk with Him and my husband. God blesses and so I ask Him daily for trusting obedience and ultimately He sets the number. He is still leading us and as we grow and continue seeking His priorities for us, we know He is faithful to keep our hearts in the right place as we give back to Him the resources, time and talents He has given us.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

TBT: Missing Little Sister

Sitting by the garden
Once upon a time there was a little girl. She lived out in the country on an acre of land with her family. There was her father, her mother, her little brother and her baby sister. They had moved there after her father was transferred into the area. It was a big transition for the little first grader. For as long as she could remember, she lived on her grandpa and grandma's farm surrounded by much of her extended family.

Her mom and dad loved a big garden and raised goats so the acreage in the country was the perfect place to live. During the warmer months, her dad would walk the goats down the road to an abandoned farm overgrown with tall grass and let them wander there and eat all that they wanted. He would leave them there for awhile and come back to bring them home.

Dad bringing the goats home
Her baby sister was still small and took naps during the day. One day while she was napping, her parents were out in the yard tending the garden while she and her brother played. After some time her mom went in to check on her sister and found that she wasn't in her bed!

Herding goats down the road

She searched all over the house for the toddler but could not find her. After searching everywhere in the house and around the property, her parents decided to take a look down the road. There was their youngest, a toddler, on her way back up the road. She had woken up from her nap, didn't see anyone in the house and thought that her daddy had taken the goats down the road. She set off to find them. When she saw they weren't down the road, she turned around and came back. What a relief to see her making her way home as we ran to greet her!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's For Dinner?

Today I am sitting at my table with a stack of recipe books and some of our favorite recipes printed out from Pinterest to tackle a BIG part of my job that has been a mess since way before I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost two years ago. To be totally honest...meal planning has not been a regular routine for me since probably before Matthew was born. (yes, that would be about six years!)

I had an awesome system for a long time that worked well for us. It was so long ago now that I had forgotten how much stress it took out of meal planning and grocery shopping. That isn't even mentioning pantry and freezer management. It helps there too. I have been searching high and low online for all kinds of organization tips and have printed out a few things for my menu too.

It was when I got together with a friend to rant and rave about "how I used to do my menues" that I realized I already have a plan, I just need to update it and execute! (I am such a distracted indivitual sometimes!) There are so many things out there on the internet that I get paralyzed and forget that I am a very capable person. I have a college degree, I have been a successful secretary, administrative assistant and teacher, and I can trust myself in my home where I am in charge. 

I ranted and raved as I showed the print out of my plan. Then I thought to myself "why in the world haven't I been using this?" I guess I am a glutton for punishment. Today is the day. I am pouring through my recipes, plugging them into my full proof menu plan and releasing myself from the stress of trying to figure out on a daily basis what's for dinner!

My plan consists of a four week schedule of our favorite meals listed on the first page. After that there is a page devoted to each week with a detailed shopping list including all of the ingredients needed for those meals. There is also a secondary list embedded down in the footer of each list with the pantry items and spices that are needed so I can be sure each week that I have what we need in the pantry. Then, under each section of the shopping list I put blank lines for anything else we may need for lunches or special meals for that week.

I am trying to work on a fill in version that I can do on the computer that would be easy to change out menu items because lets face it, there are times we just get tired of eating some of the dishes and want to try out different ones! I also have alternate items depending on the season. For example, my summer menus have grilling items and my winter menus have soups and stews.

Don't ask me why I have been sitting on this gem for so long when it has been a tried and true tool in the past. No more delay...updating today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

These Darn Socks!

A couple of months ago I invested a little extra money in socks for my kids. Lately, the socks I was getting for them, although saving us money on the front end, were so cheaply made that I wasn't able to reconcile the money I was saving to the number of times I was back at the store buying more when the holes would develop.

You will need a light bulb, scissors, needle and thread to
match your socks.
This was a difficult thing for Zach especially since he has a problem with throwing things away. Add to that list now holey socks! He wanted me to "fix them" for him. I held him off and distracted him until I was able to buy the new better quality, more expensive socks. The socks have been working out great for everyone else but Zachary is still having problems. In just a couple of months he has put four holes in these brand new socks. He has very flat feet and not only wears holes fast, he wears them in strange places!

Having spent a lot more money on these socks than the flimsy cheap Walmart ones, I was not going to just throw these away. That is when I decided to resurrect a little something I learned in my 4-H years. Somewhere in my nine years in 4-H I learned to darn socks. 

It really is a great way to get more life out of a pair of socks. I realize back in the day when part of a homemakers job was mending and darning, this little skill saved them from having to make a whole new pair of socks. Today we can just go out and buy another pair I suppose, but with the extra money I spent this time around, I am not willing to throw a pair of socks away after only a month and a half  to two months! Besides, Zach LOVES these socks and for the boy who doesn't like to throw anything away, something he loves would be that much harder when there really is no need.

So how do you darn socks you ask?

First, put the light bulb inside the sock. Be sure not to stretch the sock past how is would normally stretch on the foot. you want the sock to be as close to its natural shape as it can be. (There are special darning bulbs that you can buy but a burnt out light bulb is in my drawer in my sewing room and the life and usefulness of that bulb has lasted much longer than its ability to give off light!

I usually start with the thread by stitching a box around all sides of the hole in the secure (un-holey) area around the hole to give the area structure (socks are stretchy). Then, decide which direction to start first. I usually determine that by how much of the hole is frayed. In a frayed hole, I will stitch across the fray instead of with the fray. It helps hold the frayed part flatter so you don't end up with a big clump when you are done. On this hole, I stitched across horizontally first. Darning is like weaving, so I will create the horizontal part of the grid first by stitching back and forth across horizontally.

Once the threads are stitched horizontally, you will turn the sock so the horizontal threads are now vertical and weave your thread in and out of the rows you just stitched. What you are doing is actually creating a surface with your weaving that will take the place of the hole. I like to use as much of the frayed sock material being sure that I push it flat as I sew across it to keep it strong. (Keeping it flat is also important if the one you are darning for is on the autism spectrum...bumpy socks are a definite no-no!)

This is my final product. I have found that the darned part much of the time turns out stronger than it was before. So, when you are dealing with a boy who has flat feet that puts extra stress on certain areas of their sock, this may be a great option to buying new socks ever other month. It doesn't take that long to do, and is a great t.v. watching activity if you like to watch with busy hands.

It certainly isn't a skill that has to be done if you have a lot of extra money and like to throw away socks but I don't. I do love the feeling I get when Zach sees his socks without holes. Holey socks really stresses him out. Again, one of those Zach things I don't understand but I am thankful that somewhere along the way, I was taught this important skill to help me better take care of the child God choose for me. I like to think He was preparing me for this job. It makes me smile.

Today, I darned three holes in two socks. I love my job!

Hole number three - BEFORE
Hole number three - AFTER

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Big Week For My Little Man

As we finished up last week and look to start a new week coming up, I have to say, Matthew had a great week. He had a big announcement almost every day after school. He got the "superhero cape" in library, he got to sit in the "special chair" in music class, and he was the number one chore doer in the house with good attitude and everything! Yesterday we even found out that he has grown an inch since November! For him that was BIG!

There was also an unpleasant first he had to deal with last week. That being getting his first two fillings in his teeth. It seems that he and his brother Zach have groovy teeth that are more prone to cavities. The two of them combined have more than the triplets put together. Actually, to be honest, Zach had them beat before Matthew added these two this past week. Poor guys!

Not making a big deal out of it and Matt not really knowing much about what happens to fill teeth, we set off to the dentist on Wednesday. I picked him up from school and off we went. The ladies are great in the dentist office explaining the different instruments calling them by cute little kid-friendly names saying they are going to get rid of the sugar bugs.

The dentist had told me that the cavities weren't very deep and they may not have to use Novocain. They got him all ready to go and told him to raise his hand up if there was anything he needed. The drill they referred to as the tickler or something similar to that. So Doctor Amy would say "okay, here comes a tickle" and she would start in.

He kept nodding that he was fine when we would check in and ask him so she moved on to the other side where the other cavity was. He seemed to be doing great. Before we knew it he was done and I was proud of him for getting through without too much trouble. It didn't seem to be as rough as I had thought it would be.

It was on the way home when I heard from the backseat...

"Hey, Mom, that tickler thing didn't just tickle, it hurt a little bit too"... PAUSE..."Actually, it hurt A LOT!"

"Why didn't you raise your hand to let Dr. Amy know?" I asked him feeling pretty awful about it.

He answered me in the most classic Matthew voice "because I was just being brave Mom."

Yes, yes you were sweet boy!

I assured him during the next couple of days following that his teeth would get used to the new fillings and wouldn't hurt as much when he ate and last night when I tucked him in he happily announced "hey Mom! My teeth hardly hurt at all anymore!" Phew! I am pretty proud of that boy! He really is tough, but then he always has been!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Celebrating 50 Years - A New View from the Big Screen

Guess what I got to see today in the theater?

The Sound of Music was playing at the local theater this week in celebration of it's 50th anniversary. I was excited to go but it was after all, The Sound of Music. How many times have I sung these songs or watched the movie in part or in its entirety? Lots of times...I grew up on musicals and this one was on the top of the list!  I love the story, I love the casting, I love the chemistry.

As I got settled into the theater seat with my popcorn and Dr. Pepper, I wasn't even into it five minutes when I realized that I have never seen this movie in a theater. I have never seen it larger than life. My memories of this masterpiece start with the annual showing of The Sound of Music on the local television channel. It was one of those rare occasions when I got to stay up past my bedtime each spring.

I think what drew me to it back then was the children and the music. Who can't help singing along with the wonderful music? It was rather surprising as I got into the movie to find myself tearing up and being so emotionally moved at different parts of the show. I kept thinking to myself "this has never happened before when I have watched this movie!"

It was then I realized that the last time I actually saw this movie was back in VHS days because we haven't updated to DVD or BluRay. That would make it more than a decade ago. Life has changed a lot for me personally in that time. So, when the soaking wet redressed children are serenading the baroness while their surprised and proud father looks on, my heart sort of skipped a beat. Then when the children realize that their father isn't mad at them and they all hug him, well...sniffle, sniffle. I am a mom now after all, that kind of thing moves me.

I was very surprised to be so moved during the scene when Maria is back at the Abby talking to the Reverend Mother. Living more of my life than I have since the last time I have seen the movie, I appreciated more of the message now that I have more experience to pull from in my own life. This story will always be a favorite and for the first time watching it in a theater without any distractions I just want to watch it again and again. I love watching certain movies on a regular basis and I am so glad to get to see this one again. As I sat there it was hard to believe it has been so long since I have seen it all the way through from start to finish (and with no commercial interruptions)!
There isn't a lot out there today to watch on television or at the movie theater that is sweet and heartwarming. There aren't a lot of "classics" being produced these days either. There seems to be more and more dark and dreary type of movies and although there has never been a time in my dating and married life when David has burst into a song right in the middle of a romantic moment, somehow, when it happens in a favorite musical it isn't all that unreal. Because even though our mouth may not sing the words out loud, there are times in real life when our "hearts will be blessed with the sound of music". That is why I will always "sing once more"!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Mario Update

I am back to work on Mario! The last of the Mario quilts was my activity today. I finished Red Mushroom and started on Cloud today. After Cloud I have two more blocks left!

 I can hardly believe that I can see the end of all of these one inch squares! Bullet Bill and Coin and then I can sew the last quilt together. Ryan's will have blue sashing. 

It is amazing how fast I can get these blocks cranked out here at the end when I have had so much experience! Almost makes me sad to be nearing the end...ALMOST! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Survivor Files: From the Heart This Friday

I drive by this stretch of 380 multiple times a week. For the last couple of years there was always a surgery on the schedule that hung over my mind even if I wasn't consciously thinking about it. I know this only because since February when I started driving by here again after my final surgery I have a lot less heaviness when I look over to the left. I have been breathing easier without that hidden stress associated with passing by the hospital.

It is crazy how our mind works. I had a very busy day today. I deep cleaned my master bathroom this morning and then I gathered all of the bins of clothes too big yet for some, and outgrown by others. These said bins have been stashed everywhere in this house since we have moved here. There was a stack that we have gone thorough digging for something to fit as the kids have been growing, but I haven't had anything organized for a long time!  It felt good to have things all in one place. Not only that, I have begun to sort them out. A little bit of normal stuff does the heart good. Tomorrow I will take it a little easier and work on some "sitting down" chores. There are still some pain areas that flair up now and then but I am thankful that those days are fewer and more far between. Not overdoing it is still something that I have to keep reminding myself.

I have also been running around a lot this week so just being home and not having any place to go for enough time to tackle a big project was nice. I had a little extra time to read too and I found myself in 2 Samuel and Psalms. Here are a few of the great highlights...some of the reminders I really needed as my heart and my mind catch up with my body that has been healing much better this time around!

  • Psalm 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me and made me bold with strength in my soul.
  • Psalm 139:11-12  If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me, even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You."
  • 2 Samuel 22:3-4 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You saved me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.
  • 2 Samuel 22:32-34 For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? god is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. He makes by feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.
Sometimes when I get discouraged about the speed of my heart recovery or the expectations that are not being met on the mental and emotional side, it is a blessing to hear from the One who holds my strength. I was reminded of the things that God has done and keeps on doing for me. I will be honest, there is a whole lot more to the mental and emotional recovery than I expected. When there is cancer in your body the most important thing is to get it out, you tell yourself that you will deal with the rest later. That is probably very normal, I am just now face to face with later. That is where I find myself today.

The before and after pictures in the plastic surgeons office are one thing, but the reconstruction of life is an ongoing process. So when you wonder how I am doing, I would say a quick "great" with a smile. It is the inside stuff that gets worked out along the way as we get used to the new normal. That is where I am right now. Accepting the decisions we made in that time of distress and not second guessing what may have been "better". It was cancer, nothing is "better" than where I am right now. Cancer-free!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TBT: Grown Up Siblings in Pensacola

I was getting coffee out of the cabinet a couple days ago and at the back of our coffee cabinet sat our coffee grinder. I have gotten lazy and we haven't had freshly ground coffee in a long time!

My memories went back to the occasion in the fall of 1996 when we bought that coffee grinder. We were in Pensacola, Florida not long after Johanna and Bryan's wedding. It was the first vacation with my adult siblings. Jeremy and Loretta, Johanna and Bryan and David and I rented a three bedroom condo and spent a week together in Pensacola.

All of us love coffee so we splurged and bought beans and a grinder. I was remembering other pictures from this trip. After digging through boxes in the basement I found the appropriate scrapbook, these were the only ones I found of us. I must have seen some of Loretta or Johanna's pictures because I do remember a picture on the beach with people in it but that one isn't in my collection.

This was the small window of time in our lives when we were three married couples with no children. Time has flown by since then! As the years have gone by I don't remember all of the things that we did but I do know we had fun, ate good food and spent a lot of time on the beach.

Oh..and we drank freshly ground coffee!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do...

I don't know about you but I really hate repeating myself over and over again to three 12 year olds who know exactly what chores need to be done and when they need to do them. Chores are not new to these people! They have been helping with age appropriate tasks around the house since their help was actually a hindrance (you know like when your two-year-old tries to help you put their clothes in the drawers and you end up having to refold EVERYTHING?!)

I have told them that I don't mind washing up the pans each day because I can be sure that they actually get clean and the soapy dishwater cleans up my wedding ring nicely and keeps it shining (which is a great reminder on those days that I don't always feel so shiny in my marriage!) In order for me to do that part of the chores though, they have to take care of the rest of the dishes that go into the dishwasher and clean up the food and counters. Otherwise, the pans are theirs to clean too!

The three of them have been doing this now since second grade. Back then they were all but accusing me of child abuse for making them do something that none of their other friends had to do "MOM! No one else has to load and unload the dishwasher!" They actually said that once to me and I listed the moms that I knew who made their kids do these chores. (We moms do talk after all)

I am not going to argue with them anymore and I have been trying to develop a new strategy. Today it is self evaluation. I started this pile of dishes last Thursday. Many of the pans have been used and washed again. A few have been there since Thursday. One of the children did go on a cleaning binge and washed all of the pans on Saturday but I have since put those dishes away. This is still what sits on my counter.

Self evaluation...let them know the test they are taking and let them determine how they are doing. All have been guilty of walking by something they know they should do but acting like they don't see it. What they don't know or even think about is that I was a kid once too, I didn't like to do chores and I know their ways!

We will see how they respond to the note after school. If it was a perfect world, the counter will be clean and dishes put away with no complaint or comment. These kids are Sloans though. I know their mom and I know their dad. They will have something to say. So, the conversation should be good around the dinner table tonight.

I have had a couple other strategies that have worked out pretty well. My favorite is the photos in the cabinets. In a hurry all of them will just throw a dish or bowl into a cabinet. Never mind that it is teetering on the edge of falling back out on top of them or anyone else who dares open the cabinet next time. I had enough of that a couple months ago so I put everything in the cabinet where it was supposed to go and took pictures of what the shelves should look like. Nothing has fallen out and that particular cabinet looks great every time I open the doors. Now it is just photographing the rest of my cabinets!

I also have labels on the outsides of the cabinets during this stage in my life. It makes things a lot easier and holds the kids accountable as I teach my dad's favorite parenting verse to them Ecclesiastes 9:10 "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might..." Why would you want to do anything if it isn't done right? It was a great concept when I learned it and it is still a great concept today. Arguing with them gets very old, listening to them point fingers and tell how much THEY have done is extremely annoying. My brain is always devising new ways to cut down on all of that. I am not sure if I am succeeding, but if any of this helps someone else to know they aren't alone or gives them ideas for their own home, then it was worth me sharing today! One day they will be responsible adults and they will probably be labeling their cabinets for their own kids!

P.S. I can't go to bed without reporting about the results of day one of the new strategy:

  1. You will find photographic evidence of my kitchen before bed to the right. I did not ask anyone to do any of their kitchen chores this afternoon/evening.
  2. Supper was made almost completely by one of the 12 year olds without me asking.
  3. Not ONE single complaint about a chore and no one was fighting about who was going to do what.
  4. No one told me that THEY put all of the pans and hand washed dishes away, it was just done!
  5. All three 12 year olds did one or more of the chores.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Walgreen Saves the Day!

I remember when Ryan was around seven thinking "what is wrong with this boy?" Having not been a boy I wasn't familiar with their ways. Even though I had three brothers I never saw them from a parent's point of view and so I was rather mystified with his behavior at times. I would wonder "how many times do I have to repeat myself looking right at him before he gets what it is I am saying." His usual response was a blank faced "what?"

Around that time he had a friend overnight and I realized, this must be a common thing with boys this age. His friend was the same way. I picked up a couple of the raising boy books in the bookstore and was relieved to find that he was totally normal! Phew! Now having two more sons, nothing really surprises me anymore and I am more prepared for the "ways of the boy"!

I have been thinking lately about all of the things I want to be sure we cover while our 12-year-olds are still under our roof (because lets face it, these last 12 years went by like a blink!) Friday was a a reminder that I still have some work to do.

He came home from school and like everyone in our house who likes to play video games, was eager to play his thirty minutes of allotted time. I told him which chores needed to be done and that he needed to be packed for his sleepover that was occurring a little later in the evening. He was good with all of that and went on his way to get started.

About fifteen minutes later I saw him on the couch with his brothers, all of them playing their electronic devices. I asked him if he got all of that done and he said yes and that he was packed and ready to go. When it came time to leave he got his stuff and proceeded to get into the van. After dropping his brother off at soccer practice, we were on the way to Walgreen to pick up a birthday / gift card. He turned to me and said "oh no, I forgot my allergy medicine!"

He asked if we could go home and get it and I told him no, if he has his inhaler he will be fine for a night. Well, he didn't. Hmmm...he knew exactly the lesson he was learning from all of this and you can be sure I will remind him next time we have to pack for anything. (Because that is just one of those things in my job description).

When we got to Walgreen I told him to go pick out a card and gift card and I would shop for what I needed. Thankfully, with Walgreen's computer system I checked and found out we could get both of Ryan's prescriptions refilled right then. Having not been (or ever will be) a mom, Ryan is sometimes mystified by the tricks I pull out to make things work out. He was pretty relieved and impressed that I knew how to fix the problem without us having to drive all the way home. He told me he is sure that he will remember next time. That is what life is all about!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ready or Not Here Comes Soccer Season!

Soccer practices have started and soon we will be out in the frozen tundra of Tuma to watch four plus soccer games each weekend. I enjoy watching the kids' games much more than I imagined I would when Ryan first told us a few years ago "Mom, I think I would really like to try soccer." I did not grow up watching or playing soccer and it didn't seem that interesting.

Thankfully, Ryan has made it very fun and interesting most every game he plays. I really enjoy watching and it has gotten better year by year. The first year I did not enjoy Stacey's games. Girls seemed more social than actually interested in playing soccer. This past fall was much better and even Stacey has gotten more serious about soccer. Zachary spent all last fall out of the game with his broken arm so I am excited about seeing him back in the game! Yea, I am looking forward to the spring season!

One of the behind the scenes things that I absolutely HATE is the managing of the soccer uniforms. Last fall it started with me putting all of the socks, shirts and shorts into one of the laundry room cabinets so at least we weren't rummaging through clean/dirty clothes in each bedroom. It helped a lot last fall although it was still a little discombobulated! (did you know that word is actually in spell check...COOL!) I never really folded them and sorted them by player so we were still digging around and wasting time on soccer day!

This past weekend I got out my label maker and made a place for each players uniform and socks along with a box of extra practice socks. Oh, and I forgot that Matthew is  now playing too so he has his very own spot as well. There was even enough room to put a pile of long sleeve tops for those very cold mornings when their arms need warmth.

I even had all of the kids try on their cleats to be sure the they all fit. Woo Hoo - they do! I have my folding chair in the back of the van so I can say that we are all officially ready to take the field!