Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Challenge for Myself

I am taking a break from the many Christmas pictures (because, yes, there are more to come :) to put my challenge in writing. Or rather typing.

This is a challenge for myself. And I guess it is for my family too since it will affect them. :)

Here it is...

For the month of January, we are going to TRY (as in make every attempt) to eat on 1/4 of our usual food budget.  I actually don't have a true budget (which is another challenge for 2013) but I am basing this on what we normally spend a month.

The kind of funny thing is what I am proposing is what actually was the total food budget for hubby and me when we first got married.  Now that is what we spend in a typical week!

Why?

I don't know.

The other day I was driving home from my umpteenth grocery store stop feeling a bit ill about all I spend a month.  That on top of the holiday spending that takes place in December, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

I LOVE to cook and have had so much fun trying new recipes, making favorites, cooking healthier and more from scratch this past year.  And we eat at home more now than ever; eating out is a rarity.

But with that (along with a child's food sensitivities), our spending has gotten out of control.

I know that housing is supposed to be like 30% of your monthly income (or less) but should food be that high on the list?

So as I was driving, I thought to myself, "Why not live out of the pantry and freezer as much as possible for the next month?"

The ironic thing is I had a friend do this in the past and thought she was a bit crazy. :)  But now it makes perfect sense.

My freezer is still full of beef and some other foods I have bought while on sale.  Our pantry is rather stocked.  Hubby just stopped at a specialty food store and picked up some much needed supplies for our food sensitive kiddo.  And we got some of our favorite (and more expensive) treats for Christmas (like pistachios, Ghirardelli chocolates, Red Bull for the hubby, etc).  So we are stocked up.

We are not going to starve.

We just need to use what we have.

I tend to plan for the week by going solely on my cravings.  I don't have to be pregnant to have those. I just get in the mood for a food and decide that will be on our next menu.

The problem is that I go out and buy for the week, ignoring the items we already have that we have stocked up on.

Which comes back to why I need to do this challenge.

Don't get me wrong.

This is not a long term solution. We can't do this forever.  With six of us, our pantry and freezer will eventually be empty. And those people around my table will still expect some kind of meal on the table.

But maybe for just a month, we will see what we can live with food wise and what we can't.

I don't expect us to have a lot of extra money at the end of the month to go live it up with...I am pretty sure my December spending already used up part of January's anyway.

But I like a good challenge.

I am eager to see what we can do.

Even if that means no shrimp for me. :(  (I almost got some the other day since it wasn't technically January but felt like that was cheating, so I put them back)

So I am putting it out there, in print.

Now I have people (all 3 or so readers :) to hold me accountable.

I do have a few guidelines for myself:
Paper products/personal care will NOT count in the total.

While I want to be frugal, some things are non-negotiable.  Things like milk, bread, and fresh fruit.  I may try to be more economical buying them but they will have to be bought. I will just have to be careful about the extra stuff I get.  I cannot skimp on the healthy stuff just to stay in budget.

Hubby is heading to the store in a bit and that total WILL count for January since the bulk of the food will be used in January.

Eating out will not count in the total. We rarely eat out any more other than an occasional sushi night.  But that is a separate part of the budget, so if we do, it will not count against us.

I can always use coupons to help but that is not my strong point. :)  Plus coupons are almost always for processed foods which we are not as likely to use these days. But it is a possibility.

Snacks and supplies for school (my class) do NOT count in the total.

While I don't want to share how much my total is for the month (mainly because I am embarrassed to admit what I typically spend :), I will give occasional updates with a percentage.  If I can remember how to do the math to figure that out.

So there it is.

It is out there.

Now it is up to me to meet that challenge head on.

Reba

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Reason for the Season

So many things to say, so little time.

I feel SOOOOO behind in Bloggerland.

Part of me hears the word "failure" over and over in my mind.

But honestly, I am not just lollygagging.

Every moment of the month has been filled.

Filled with appointments.  School.  End of the semester assessments.  Homework (for the kids).  Meals.  Christmas parties.  A child's birthday.  Wrapping books.  Buying gifts.  Writing out cards (actually, still working on that one :).  Cleaning the house.  Remodeling the toyroom.  Gifts for teachers.  Gifts for students.  Gifts for students to give to their parents.  Special holiday treats.  Making Christmas cookies for Santa. Driving around to look at lights.

I have gone to bed after 1 most days the last two weeks. 

I wake up exhausted.

I am exhausted.

I find myself prioritizing...what has to be done.

That is why as much as I love Christmas cards, they are going out late (though I had them printed early).

They are important but not top priority.

The one positive is that we aren't celebrating Christmas for another few days with my family.

So I haven't had to wrap everything. Yet. :)

And it has been good.

It really has.

I have lots of pics to share.

But that isn't what the post is about.

This is about one little baby.

The reason for the season.

I know, I know. That saying is posted on cards and signs and uttered often this time of year.

But how often do we really stop to think about it?

Last night we attended our church candelight service.

I will admit, when our pastor started those a few years ago, I balked.

Christmas is a time to be home.

A time to be with family at home.

This service was going to interfere.

I mean, I can worship at home.

But Hubs insisted we go.

And it was beautiful.  A beautiful time to worship.  With my family.

So we have gone every year since.

The last couple of years I have put baked potato soup in the crockpot so it was hot and ready when we came home.

Then my parents have joined us for dinner and to watch the kids open up presents from us and their "secret Santa sibling".  (We do family gifts Christmas Eve, Santa gifts Christmas morning)

I have actually come to treasure that candelight service.

It forces me to be still.

I can't worry about sending out Christmas cards, getting gifts wrapped,  making all of the good "holiday" foods. 

All I can do is be still.

Be still and know He is God.

It is in that quiet sanctuary, candles aglow, singing Silent Night, that brings tears to my eyes every year.

I love the time with family.  The gifts (both giving and receiving...I won't lie :).  The food.  The giving nature of the world around us.

But those are NOT the reason for the season.

The reason for the season is Jesus.

It is a God who loves me in spite of all I am.  Even with my many shortcomings.  My prideful heart. My selfish nature. My deeply rooted humanity.  He loves me for all of the things I am in spite of what I am not (patient, always sweet spirited, joyful in all things).

He loved me so much that He sent a little baby to earth for the sole purpose of later dying so I, in all my imperfectness, could have eternal life.

And when I take time to really think about that, it is overwhelming to me.

I am loved.  Unconditionally.

I am worthy even when I don't feel like it.

I am treasured, even when the world throws stones my way.

That is the reason for the season.  The reason I celebrate. 

Merry Christmas to you!

Reba

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Buddy Da Elf

As you may recall, the last time I wrote, Buddy was sitting in the exact same spot on Sunday morning that he had been on Saturday morning. A BIG no-no in Elf World. All I can say is that he must have been one tired elf. But apparently he wasn't completely slothful. He brought a movie along with him...How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  By the way, Buddy has good taste. It is the original cartoon version. :)  We got to watch it that night with shakes and popcorn for dinner.
The next day was Child 1's birthday.  Buddy was apparently celebrating in his own way by hanging from the candy cane which gets moved from day to day on our Christmas calendar...

On Tuesday (the 11th), Buddy apparently wanted a birds eye view. He propped himself up on top of the tree, holding onto the star for dear life.
On Wednesday (the 12th), Buddy seemed to remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas as he held the baby Jesus in his arms.

On Thursday, Buddy apparently got a little tied up. Or rather tangled up.  In the dining room blinds. This caused hysterical laughing when we came home later that day and the youngest child couldn't help but blurt out, "I can see Buddy's bottom!" (through the window).  Gotta love kids. :)

On Friday morning, Buddy was found on top of the breakfast table (though we rarely eat breakfast there anymore), cutting out snowflakes. I guess he was in the mood for some winter weather.
Then Saturday, Buddy was caught red-handed.  He was hanging out in the pantry, eating Daddy's almonds.  Ask any of my kids. They can tell you. That is a BIG no no in our house.  Daddy's almonds are for him, NOBODY else. :)

Apparently Buddy was a hungry elf.  The almonds didn't fill him up.  On Sunday (the 16th), we discovered that Buddy had changed the weekly menu. You can't really read it but every day reads "syrup" for the dinner for that day.  He even added "syrup" to our grocery list on the fridge. 
What a crazy elf. :)

More soon,
Reba

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Words

I was all prepared to write a Thankful Thursday (on Friday, of course).

But in light of today's tragedy in Connecticut, I just can't.

Not right now.

When I came home at lunch today, I saw a couple of posts on Facebook that had me wondering what had happened.

When I read the news, my heart just broke.

Into a million pieces.

When I say good-bye to my kids in the morning (even the ones who attend class in my same building), I do not ever think, "I am not going to see you again..."

No, I casually wave good0bye.  Give a half-hearted "Have a good day".  Then my last words are almost always, "Make good choices!"

Not "I love you."

I do say those words.

Just not usually before the school day.

I hurt tonight for parents who are sitting at home without their children.

Who have wrapped presents under the tree that will not be opened this year.

Who are thinking about the last words they said to their sweet boy or girl that morning.

Were they happy words? Or were they words like we all have used..."Hurry up!"  "Let's get moving!"  "Don't you talk to me that way!"

I pray tonight for the broken hearts.

For a nation that doesn't know where to turn, who to blame.

I want to wrap my arms around the children who remain, the witnesses of such horror and tell them that things will be okay.

But even if I were physically there, I couldn't do it.

Because there are no guarantees that it will be okay.

Not here.

Not in this lifetime.

Not on this earth.

We live in a fallen world.

A world of sin, a world of pain, a world of hurt.

People will always make poor choices.  Some will be angry. Some will just be sick.

And my heart hurts for them too.  For them and for their families.

Tonight thousands of Americans are sitting at home wondering why.  Asking the questions we all want to ask..."How could this happen?"  "What is our world coming to?"  "Where is God in all of this?"

And there are no immediate answers.

I didn't have any for my children who asked me some of those questions after hearing the news.

I don't know.

I don't know how it could happen.  Or why.  Or what is going on in our country, in our world.

The only one I can answer is that God is here.

We don't understand why He let this happen. 

Yet I don't believe He is the reason it did happen.

That is not the God I know.

The God I know is welcoming several precious children into His kingdom tonight.

He is comforting the hearts and souls of the parents and the siblings and the friends left behind.

He is hearing the prayers of the people of this land.

And He is mourning the pain we endure in times like these.

There really are no words during this time.

Right now anything I think or want to say seems trivial, contrite.

I just know on Monday I will hug my kids a little bit harder, a little bit longer, and as I watch them skip off to their classrooms, I will call out, "Bye! I love you!  Have a good day!"

With a broken heart...

Reba

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thankful Thursday...Barely

I will be honest. It is a good thing I do Thankful Thursdays and not Thankful Wednesdays. Not only because Thankful and Wednesday don't flow off the tongue as well as Thankful Thursday (gotta love alliteration), but also because Wednesday was Worse Wednesday or Wicked Wednesday or any other W adjective you can think of that has a negative connotation.

Last night, I was sitting in my house after a VERY long day. I was having my typical one person pity party after having run all over for kid activities and not getting to eat dinner (one of my favorites) until 7:30 (I eat lunch around 11:15).  One child was whining and complaining, another one was dilly dallying instead of doing what needed to be done (cleaning the room), one was resisting a much needed bedtime, another was needling the whiner and complainer.  All this after a long day at school with kids who have one thing on the mind this time of year.  Christmas.  I was looking at my bare tree and very undecorated house wondering when I was supposed to work on it all.  We had some bad family news.  And I was tired.

But Thankfully, it is Thursday.

A new day.

And today I have things to be thankful for.

I probably did yesterday too but I was not in the right frame of mind to think of them.

Today I can.

That in itself is something to be thankful for.

Here are a few other things I am thankful for...

  • The joy of seeing the holidays through my children's eyes.  Child 3 is in awe of Christmas lights. It has made me slow down and truly appreciate the twinkling lights and fun displays too.
  • The warm winter weather. I know a lot of people are ready for the cold. Those people are not me. I do NOT like winter weather.  Not at all.  And I am enjoying each and every moment of this warmer weather. Today felt like spring. I wanted to have class outside the rest of the day. :)
  • A dead battery. Okay, not so thankful for that. But I am thankful that the two times it was dead, I was at home or at school AND my husband was in the nearby vicinity (a rare treat :).  Even better, we were afraid it was the starter or alternator but it was the battery AND that was under warranty.  VERY thankful for that.  Running smoothly now.
  • A rare evening at home.  One child is playing volleyball, another does gymnastics.  Three days of the week involve a lot of running around. Thankful for hubby who came home from work early to take the volleyball player to practice, giving me an entire evening at home.  Little ones and I even got some Christmas decorating done
  • On-line shopping. It is the only way to go. :)
  • A Saturday in Tulsa with my mom for some shopping and some eating.  I very much enjoyed the time.
  • Thankful that my car did NOT die when we were in Tulsa.
  • My daddy.  It is his birthday.  He was and always will be my hero. I am thankful that he gives me a glimpse of who my Heavenly Father is through his unconditional love, his hard work, his honesty, his fairness, his dedication to family and God.
  • Oh Holy Night.  The one Christmas carol that makes me stop and truly reflect.
  • Mrs. Vickey who graciously volunteered to wrap Christmas books for me for our book tradition.  She wrapped about half of them for me which has been a God-send in this crazy time of year.
  • A mostly redecorated toyroom and girls' room
  • My students. This time of year is a tough one but I am so excited to see the learning taking place. That and they just make me smile. Most days. :)
  • Ear infections. Not that I want my kids to be sick. But I had to run Child 4 to the doctor because he has been so congested. That and his golf ball size tonsils.  SOOOO thankful that it was nothing serious (I was fearing pneumonia)...just a couple of slightly infected ears.  The doctor was wonderful to work with me on finding a medicine that (knock on wood) has not affected behavior.  And he could go right back to school. 
  • Special times with friends. 
  • My co-workers.  
  • Pajama Day tomorrow. :) Can't wait!
What are you thankful for this week?  Really think about it. I bet you can think of something...

Reba

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Tis the Season...

'Tis the season for...
  • addressing Christmas cards
  • shopping (both in real life and virtually)
  • checking and double checking lists
  • writing a family newsletter
  • working on the family picture calendar
  • wrapping books for our book tradition
  • wrapping gifts
  • attending Christmas parties
  • baking cookies
  • decorating the house
  • assembling the Christmas tree
  • lighting the tree
  • decorating the tree
  • working on end of semester assessments for students
  • shuttling kids to their activities
  • grocery shopping (and lots of it)
  • reading the Christmas story
  • advent activities
  • visiting the square to ooh and ahh over the lights
  • driving around town to find holiday displays
  • standing in line for hours at the store to finalize shopping
  • pictures with Santa
  • Buddy the Elf's antics
  • Child 1's birthday celebration
  • watching holiday movies
  • listening to Christmas carols
  • singing Christmas carols
  • church holiday activities
  • doing things for others
  • making memories
  • savoring family time
  • gingerbread houses
  • missing blogging on occasion....
:)

Reba

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Highlights

Note:  This was supposed to be posted a couple days ago BUT in my complete exhaustion, I posted it on the cooking blog by accident. I am sure those blog visitors thought I had lost my mind.  And maybe I have... :)

I hope you had a happy happy Thanksgiving full of food, family, and fun.

Ours was full of...something. :)

I am just joking.

It was a good little "break".  No, that isn't the right word.  Vacation.  No, that isn't the right word either.  Anyway, it was a nice 5 days at home.

Here are a few of our highlights:

  •  We were really supposed to be in Mississippi for Thanksgiving.  However, whenever it was announced that the LSU/Razorback game would be here in Fayetteville this year (this game is typically at LSU or in Little Rock), my hubby sweetly invited his family here and announced we would be staying home.  They didn't get to come but we still stayed home and enjoyed our time together.  Even though the Hogs lost.  Again.
  • I cooked my first turkey!  I was terrified. It wasn't as much the cooking as it was the cleaning.  That grossed me out. I can pull my children's teeth out all day long without blinking my eyes.  But pulling a neck out of a turkey's cavity...well, that made me a bit queasy.
  • I totally "cheated". I used a roaster (as in an electric one).  The whole timing of side dishes with the timing of the turkey and with very limited oven space...well, it was worth it.  It didn't get as brown as it would in the oven but it cooked very nicely and very quickly.  And it was yummy.  
  • I also attempted my Mother-in-law's cornbread dressing recipe.  It was good but not as good as hers.
  • The whole meal (or at least my portion) was "clean" for my diet restricted child.
  • My favorite part of the meal was by far the pumpkin cake with caramel sauce. I make it about once a year.  And that is the reason...I would eat it all of the time if I made it any more than that.
  • We were able to visit with friends who once lived here but now reside in Florida. They stopped by with their children.  It was cool outside but the kids spent most of the time outside anyway which gave us a chance to just chat.
  • Though none of my kids is perfect (or ever will be), I couldn't help but marvel at how they really are growing up.  The youngest sat throughout the entire Thanksgiving meal.  That in itself is a HUGE accomplishment.
  • I read a book (Mindset) in about three days for school.  I learned a lot from it. I think there is a future blog post coming for that...
  • The girls had carpet put in their newly painted room which was completely the wrong carpet.  So a few days later, the company came back and took that out and put in the correct carpet.  Totally messed up "my plans" but in life, we have to be flexible.  Like it or not.
  • We are in the process of redecorating the girls' room. The furniture is basically set up.  Beds are made.  Now we just need to decorate and accessorize...
  • Hubby and I assembled the shelves that are now the bed bases for the girls without any arguing. There may have been a little sarcasm thrown around but no arguing.  That would never have happened 15 years ago.  Dare I say it...we might be growing up. :)
  • One night we needed a break from turkey (plus I was limited on time), so I made our favorite Korean beef.  I also decided I really wanted a French type bread. So I visited the very handy Pinterest and found a recipe.  90 minutes later, we had French bread on the table.  Who knew I was capable of these things? :)  I certainly didn't.
  • Last Wednesday (the first day of our break), I was feeling very ambitious.  I put together our Christmas photo card and sent it in to be printed.  There was a coupon for cards for THAT day so I went with it. About 20 minutes later, I had an e-mail that the cards were ready. I hopped in the car and drove down the street and had cards in hand in just a few minutes. Now let's see when I get them sent...
  • I did not go shopping on Black Friday.  At all.  
  • We did nothing fancy over the break, nothing extravagant, nothing that exciting. But I enjoyed it.  Each and every moment.
More soon,
Reba

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Thursday...Full of Thanks!

I am not full of food yet.  That comes in a little bit.

But thanks...I am full of it.

Overflowing you could say.

Much like the rolls I put out way too early to thaw.

They look like balloons, about to pop.

That is how much thanks I have.

A lot.

Even though it has been a hard year.

Even though I have felt like Stretch Armstrong, pulled and stretched beyond what I have desired.

Even though the year has held disappointments and tears, losses and struggles.

I am still thankful.

So it is time to get back on the Thankful Thursday track.

Here are just a few things I am thankful for this Thursday (which happens to be Thanksgiving)...in no particular order:

  • my husband. He truly is my best friend.  We laugh together, cry together, survive together.  I know I can tell him anything and not be judged (at least out loud :).  And he still makes my heart skip a beat when he wraps his arms around me as I work in the kitchen or I see him unexpectedly out and about.  He is such a blessing and proof to me that God must REALLY love me to give me such an amazing man in spite of who I am.
  • my children.  I know, I know.  They are work.  And they exhaust me. And exasperate me.  This motherhood thing is the hardest job I have ever had.  At the same time, they bring me joy.  They guide my thoughts and actions each day. And they make me strive to be a better person.
  • my pup.  She is like therapy in a bundle of fur.  At the end of the day, we usually hang out...she curls up on my feet while I blog, FB, and do whatever I need to do in cyberspace.  In her, I have unconditional love.  Well, mostly.  When I give her a bath or a flea treatment, she dislikes me for a bit.
  • my crockpot.  It has faithfully served me many a day when I needed a good warm meal ready when I came home.
  • my minivan. Don't get me wrong. I still miss my beloved Accord.  Still.  But the minivan is a necessity at this point in my life. And it has been good to me. That and I love my heated seats.  
  • my parents who didn't do too bad a job raising me (or at least trying to :) and who now are very involved in the lives of my children.
  • my sister (and her family).  She has known me for many years and still claims me.  :)
  • our house. Oh, it could be bigger.  It could be newer.  But it is a good house and I am grateful we live in it.
  • my job. Much like being a mom, being a teacher is no easy job.  It requires a LOT of time, energy, and strength. And it requires a thick skin.  Everywhere I turn, teachers are blamed for the many ills of society.  But the teachers I know love what they do. We love our students and give our all to make sure they become the men and women they were designed to be.  It is rare for me to have a truly bad day at school...most days I can't help but smile.  Those kids bring me joy.
  • my ipod/iphone. I love having such an eclectic mix and pushing "shuffle".  Then I get to listen to a little Bon Jovi followed by Michael W. Smith.
  • blankets.  I am always cold.
  • warm showers after a long day.
  • my elliptical.
  • My Fitness Pal which reminds me when I am eating too much or need to exercise more. :)
  • Pinterest.  I have found some mighty fine recipes and school ideas on there.
  • the blog. Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with it but it is my family history and the closest thing we have to a scrapbook around here...
  • my mini food processor which shreds cheese with ease for me.
  • my bed. Nothing fancy but I love curling up in it and snoozing.
  • sunsets and rainbows. Both take my breath away.
  • the beach.  Sigh.  I love the beach.
  • sushi dates with my hubby.
  • on-line shopping
  • time off with family.
  • friends.
  • a God who loves me all of the time.  No matter what.
  • the promise of eternal life.
I could go on and on but I better save some things for future Thankful Thursdays.  :)

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving week?

Reba

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Back to Bloggerland

I am back.

I haven't really been MIA.

Life has just been busy.

Mark was out of town all of last week.

I thought I would get a lot done while he was gone.

But instead I was in survival mode.

My accomplishments were getting the kids where they needed to be, both morning and night.  And surviving.

And I did.

I did start a blog post at some point.

But then I fell asleep before I finished it.

Now we are in remodel mode.

We are redoing the girls' room.

It is a slow process.

In that time, I have questioned whether I should continue blogging or not.  At least the family blog.  The cooking blog is a totally different experience.

To blog or not to blog.  That is the question.  Or was the question.

I love the family history on here because this is the only record I am going to have beyond photos of what our family is doing.

But sometimes I struggle with feeling like a failure when I don't post or when I don't post something "deep".

And sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself.

The image that comes to mind is Jacob wrestling with God in the Old Testament.  Except this was me wrestling with myself over the whole "Do I blog?" question. 

In the end, I have emerged with the decision.

I want to continue blogging.

I want my family to have these memories.  I want to share our struggles and celebrations as a family (and mine as a mom/wife) with family and friends (those who have taken time to read anyway :).  I want this outlet to share whatever thoughts come to mind, scary as some are. :) 

I am just going to have to let go.  Let go of the expectations.  I will have to forgive myself when I can't get on here.  And I just have to share what I can, deep or not.  I have to remind myself that this is our family history, the good and the bad.  And that some people are just not going to be interested in reading it. 

And that is okay.

So I will be back, though it may be after I help make Thanksgiving dinner. I have a feeling I will be in the kitchen a lot in the next 36 hours. 

After all, I have a Food for Thought Part 2 to share still (and I write it constantly in my mind...).

So stay tuned, my favorite few readers...

Reba

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gettin' Away

As I mentioned in my last post, our 16th wedding anniversary was this past Friday. I went home for lunch and returned to find these waiting for me...
I know a lot of women say that flowers are a waste of money.  And they are not really practical. But they do make my heart happy. And I am thankful for a man who knows that and indulges me once in a while.

On Saturday morning, we packed up our car, waved good-bye to the kids and my mom, and headed down the road to the big D.  As in Dallas.

A night getaway.

Just the two of us.

We may or may not have skipped to the car with giddiness.

We had about 5 hours to chat, catch up, just enjoy one another's company with NO interruptions as we cruised down the road to...

Ikea.

It was my first trip to an Ikea store.

We had a product in mind which is how we ended up in Dallas to begin with.

Bookshelves.

Shelves to be used for many reasons, none of which really involve books.

Darn Pinterest.

Driving to Dallas and staying in a hotel was actually cheaper than having them shipped to us.  As long as you don't count the shopping we did while there. :)

Very thankfully, what we wanted was in stock.  An hour or two later, we had them loaded in our car and we headed down the road to check out some other stores (not nearly as exciting).
Saturday night we had dinner at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant.

Oh yum.

It was definitely a splurge.  A treat.  A "not going to happen too many times in my lifetime" meal.

And the biggest splurge I have had since I started my diet.

But it was worth it.

At least until I step onto the scale again.



On Sunday, we made a couple other stops at stores then enjoyed one last meal...deep dish pizza. It wasn't quite the same as Chicago's but it was pretty good.

Then we returned back home to our reality, crazy as it is.

A little refreshed, a lot happy.

We love our kids but we sure do love our getaways together.

:)

Reba

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sweet 16

16 years.

16 years ago we stood in front of friends, family, students, and most importantly God.

I stood in my long white dress, my veil covering my face.

I looked at him, looked into his eyes.

I heard his voice tremble as he declared his love for me.

Was it fear or was he overwhelmed with this beauty before him? :)

We vowed.

We promised.

For better or for worse.

In sickness and in health.

Until death do us part.

When we uttered those words and sealed them with a kiss and a prayer, we had no idea.

No idea what was ahead.

Financial struggles (that first year was rough).

Tears. Lots of tears.  (Mainly me...again that first year was rough...probably more for him than me :)

Lost jobs.

Found jobs.

New business.

A lump in my breast.

Two births of biological children.

Two adoptions.

Five trips to Guatemala.

Four "homes".

Trips to the beach.

Weekend getaways to San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago.

A visit to our nation's capital.

Weight gained, weight lost.

The death of three grandparents, one uncle, and one stepmother.

The challenges of parenting.

Building a house.

Moving.

Numerous vehicles.

Debt.  Debt paid off.

Family stresses.

Concerns.

Prayers.

Lots of prayers.

Hikes.

Visits to Silver Dollar City.

Two trips to Disney World.

One little fluffy puppy.

Busy activities with the kids.  

Lots of laughs, lots of tears, an occasional disagreement, and lots of love.

If we had known, would we still have chosen to say those words?

I would like to think so.

Life is hard.

We live in a fallen world.

And until He comes, it is not going to be easy.

And it hasn't been (though I know it could always be worse).

Especially this past year.

This past year has been extra tough.

But it is part of our lives.

And I cannot imagine another person I would rather face each day with than him.

He is my best friend.  My confidante.  My strength on the hard days.  My encouragement.  My gift from God. My helpmeet.  My partner.  My love.

And while the 16 years has been a roller coaster ride, having him holding my hand on both the ups and downs, had made it a ride I will always treasure.  I can only hope and pray that we have many more years together (though on occasion I wouldn't mind hopping off the roller coaster and jumping on a much slower paced ride :).

Happy anniversary, my love.

Reba

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sick and Tired...

I am going to by-pass my usual Thankful Thursday. Not that I am not thankful. I am. I just want to share a little about the week. Let's see, on Tuesday, our youngest child got up after coughing all night.  He didn't eat much breakfast (which is unusual), telling me he wasn't hungry with that "fever".  I said, "You don't have a fever."  Then I grabbed the thermometer to prove my point.  Except I didn't.  He proved his point.  He DID have a fever.

So, little guy 4 hung out at my mom's house for the day.  Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, he pops up out of bed. Still not much of an appetite but he was perky enough.  And no fever. So we headed to school.

Around lunch I received a text from child 3's teacher.

"She has a headache."

Um, that is unusual.

A few minutes later, that sweet teacher stopped me to let me know she (my daughter) also had a fever.

Sigh.

Thankfully it was lunchtime. And thankfully my mom was around to help yet again.  (Thanks, Mom!) 

I dropped child 3 off then headed back to school.

After school, I went to pick her up.  She was just waking up.  We started to walk to the car when she got sick.  Really sick.

She spent most of the evening, stretched out on the floor, sound asleep.

 Sigh again.

I don't like missing school, but I had no choice. I needed to be a mommy.

So we hung out at home today, child 3 and me.

And it was a good day. 

She woke up feeling rough but improved as the day passed. She even had an appetite. 

I was torn as to what to do with myself.

Child 3 is pretty independent. She likes to play on her own. She can read books.  She likes to talk but doesn't require full attention.

So, do I clean and organize or take it easy?

I went with both.

I cleaned out the pantry.

Worked a little on the fridge.

Started prepping dinner.

Worked on laundry.

Cleaned out a file cabinet. 

Packed and labeled some clothes boxes.

Vacuumed up some cobwebs. (I guess I could have kept them around for Halloween)

Answered some e-mails.

Stuff like that.

I really wanted to take a nap but I didn't. :)

I did take little breaks throughout the day, just enjoying the quiet (fairly quiet).

Finally it was time to pick up the other kids.

We got home, worked on homework, then I cheerfully went to work on dinner.

I was so excited about dinner (plus feeling good about the day's accomplishments).

I had defrosted and salted some ribeyes (from our half a cow :).

I decided to cook them in the skillet (on the stove, then finish in the oven). I also made baked Parmesan potatoes, Rhodes bread, and black-eye peas.


The house was smelling good.

My mouth was watering.

Finally, hubby was home. We sat down to eat.

And I enjoyed every bite.

The meat was very tender.

The potatoes were delicious.

And Rhodes bread...need I say more?

Then it happened.

One of my children made a really rude comment about dinner.

And I felt like a balloon.

Deflated.

Honestly, I still do.

I had worked hard all day and felt slapped in the face. :(

Tonight as I was running errands, I started thinking about it.

And I wondered if God feels like that with me.  With us (people in general).

He takes care of us. He gives freely to us.  He provides for us.

And we don't appreciate it.  We complain about what we have or even more what we don't have.

Does it feel like a slap in the face to Him too?

Reba

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Fog is Lifting

This has been a stressful time. 

As in the whole year.

Stressful.

And it is easy for me to get caught right up in the stress.

In some ways, it is like being under a fog.

When times are like this, it is difficult to look out beyond my own circumstances.  My own worries. My own concerns.

I want to, but I can't.

However, about a week ago, I realized that I was letting myself worry too much.  (I know, any worry is probably too much)  I also realized (though I knew this before but had forgotten :) that I was worrying about many things I had no control over.  Obviously if I had any control over them, I would have gotten them UNDER control so I wouldn't worry about them. :)

And slowly the fog lifted.

I can't say that life got easier.

It hasn't.

School has a lot of pressures right now as we implement new curriculum and have new standards to meet (as teachers).

We are still struggling with how to best help our kids be the best people they can be.

We are running all over in the afternoons and evenings so kids can do their activities.

We struggle to find time together as a couple (though we often manage to squeeze in a few minutes here and there; if anything, we have a spontaneous sushi night together or run to the grocery store when time allows.

I am having to learn that I just can't please all people as much as I would like to.  I also have to accept that some people won't please me either as much as I would like them to.

I am not getting to hike like I would like. :(

I feel like I am failing at the blogging world.  Every. Single. Day.

Some friends and family are dealing with tough stuff too...much tougher than anything I am dealing with.

But even with these difficulties, the fog is lifting.  I can focus my eyes on the Sun again, remembering that God is in control.  (I say that to my children often...why is it so hard for me to believe?)  I can see the beautiful colors that are emerging around us as autumn unfolds in our area.  I can treasure the sweet moments with our children even if they are sometimes overshadowed by the struggles.  And I can know that even in the struggles of school, I am there for a reason and a purpose...that has never changed.

More soon,
Reba

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Not sure today was just the greatest day...in fact, at one point today I felt like hitting my head against the wall (since it felt like I was doing that already :).

But I will still choose to be thankful anyway.

Especially thankful it was better than last Thursday when I didn't feel thankful at all. :)

What am I thankful for today?

  • the cooler temperatures. I LOVE summer but I also love fall. 
  • pumpkin muffins.  Nothing deep to that...they are just tasty. :)
  • my kids' teachers (who are patient and kind and loving and hardworking)
  • reaching my weight loss goal...finally!  (Ten months later)  I am still not sure whether to just go into "maintenance" mode or try to lose a few more
  • my heated seats
  • my laptop
  • the "family" game of Sorry tonight.  What I am even more thankful for is that one of our children has just become a fun kid full of humor...I am SO thankful for the way God is moving in her life!
  • a fun field trip to the pumpkin patch (with my class and even better, our youngest on his first field trip :)
  • a sweet note one of my children wrote to a sibling
  • a spontaneous sushi night with my main man
  • friends who encourage, listen, and pray
  • watching my kids play games (volleyball, t-ball, etc)
  • that volleyball is an indoor sport (especially on the cool nights :)
  • an evening we were ALL home together...no practices!
  • my parents.  I love that my mom texts my kids and keeps up with their lives.  I think sometimes she knows more about them than I do. :)
  • my sister.  She is always there for me even though she is miles away.
  • the gift of prayer and a God who listens to me, no matter how big or small the request
I know I could come up with others but I better head to bed.  I am sure tomorrow will be just as busy as the rest of the week has been.

Now, what are you thankful for this week? If you do read this, leave me a comment and tell me something.  Those comments always make my heart smile!

Reba

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Freezing Friday Fun

Sorry there was no Thankful Thursday this week.  I was NOT feeling thankful on Thursday. In fact, Thursday was pretty much a nightmare to me.  The kids were in a sour mood, I was in a sour mood. Bad combination.  (Ironically the day was pleasant, then the evening was...dramatic :)

On Friday, it was cold and wet outside.  But overall it was a good day for all.

Friday night= football.

I have missed two of our high school's football games.  One involved a sick child (and another child who was facing a very messy room).  And another involved bad weather and a desire to just be at home.

I was determined to NOT miss another one.

Okay, part of it was due to the fact I had NOTHING planned for dinner. Nothing.  Why? Because I planned on being at the football game. :)

Plus, I just like going. I feel such a sense of community when I go. I love seeing former students and their parents.  And I like being outside.

Three of the kids were on board.

Hubby not so much.

The ironic thing is I am usually the one who is complaining about going out in the weather.

This time it was him. :)

But with my charm (or maybe because of the night we had before), hubby saw things my way.

And we loaded up the car and headed down the road.  Blankets in tow.

We got there a tad bit early and decided to hang out in the car for a bit.  Because at that point, the sun had set. And it was chilly.  Chilly chilly.

Finally, we headed out, jackets zipped, blankets in our arms.

We stopped by the concession stand.  Gathered up our foods.  (Cheapest meal ever :)  Then headed to our seats.

Oops. 

Forgot the towel.

It had rained all day.

Hubby sacrificed his blanket to dry it off for us.

We settled in.

Ate our food.

Wrapped up in our blankets.

Cheered our team on.

It was cold.

But fun.

Because for older kids, a football game is a social gathering, we just had our two Guatemalans with us in the bleachers.

And they were funny.

Child 4 hammed it up for the audience around us.  He loves to watch the score and cheer on the team.

Child 3loves to ask questions.  They make me giggle.  "What time does the game end, Mom?"

I am pretty sure hubby was ready to head home after five minutes.

And me? The one who is always cold? Well, I was chilled. But I was happy. 

We made it to halftime.  (Had to watch the band)

Then we headed back to the car, our team winning in the background.

We hopped in the car.  And didn't go anywhere.

Dead battery.

Thankfully, a sweet lady sitting right across from us had jumper cables.  It took a few attempts.  I was starting to think it might be that pricey starter.  But then it jumped.

And today it worked every time I hopped in it.

Thankfully.

We rode home, heated seats on high, listening to the game.

Really, I cannot think of another way I would like to spend my Friday night.

More soon,
Reba

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday on Finally Friday

I know, I know, a day late. A dollar short.  Story of my life.

I don't know what it is about conferences that takes it out of me, but it does.

Whatever "it" is.

Anyway, I did want to do a Thankful Thursday.

So I will.

Just on Friday.  Finally Friday.

What am I thankful for recently?
  • Conferences are over and done with until February! I do love talking to parents about their children; I learn so much.  However, it is hard being away from my own family in the evenings.  And it is really tiring after teaching all day.
  • My own kids' conferences are over with!  Overall, they were pretty positive. I am so very thankful for ALL of their teachers.  And I am thankful for my kids.
  • Thankful for a hubby who sends me sweet love texts mid-week, out of the blue.
  • Thankful for chocolate.  My little bit of pleasure every single day.
  • Thankful for my class.  I find myself smiling and relaxing, letting the cares of the world slip away, when I am with my students.
  • Thankful for encouraging friends
  • Pinterest. I find some good recipes on there.  Good school activities too.
  • a hard-working hubby
  • no football games this weekend
  • my crockpot
  • cards and pictures made by my students or my own kids
  • listening to Child 4 "read"
  • watching Child 3 do some really hard math. I have no idea how she does it but she almost always gets the right answer
  • my eternal optimist (Child 2)
  • how responsible Child 1 has become this year (let's hope that continues)
  • intern solo week coming up.  It is hard not to be in front of the classroom all day but it is such a valuable experience for the intern (and the kids). Plus, I can hopefully catch up on some assessments.
  • blue jeans (just because they are comfortable)
  • watching 5 year olds play t-ball
  • two more pounds to go to my goal weight!
  • my bed...comfy and warm and inviting me to sleep.
Heading there right now.

What are you thankful for this week?

Reba

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

How does your garden grow?

This nursery rhyme has been going through my mind this summer.

I don't think it is a big secret that we had kind of a rough summer.  One of our children was just a lot more challenging this summer than he/she has been before.

All I had planned (lots of organizing, some book reading, etc) went out the window as I found myself immersed in parenting books looking for any suggestions to help.

Between reading and putting things into practice...

There went my summer.

Toward the end of the summer I met with a lady I somewhat knew.  She actually studied under the author of one my parenting books.  (If you have adopted, I HIGHLY recommend "The Connected Child" by Karyn Purvis)

My friend J spent a couple hours listening to me, offering me advice, giving me perspective.

I needed that.

Too bad I hadn't met with her at the beginning of the summer. :)

One of the things I said to J though was "I have been parenting for a long time. It has worked well for two of them, fairly well for a third. Why is it not working here? Why can't this child just be normal like other kids?"

Because you know other kids look SOOOO much more normal than your own.

Or at least for me they do.

My friend J shared an analogy with me, thus the title of this post.

"You go to a store to buy some plants. Some plants are garden variety. You can just water them, give them sunlight, but you don't have to do anything special. They will just grow.  Others are specialty plants. They require special care to grow and blossom."

Wow.

So true.

My typical parenting worked for my kids.  Most of them.

But for one of mine (and really, probably some for another one), special care and special parenting methods were needed.

That week changes were made.

And while we still have some work ahead of us (and don't we always as parents?), we are seeing that the changes were needed.

Don't get me wrong.  It has been just as much a time of growth for me as it has for the child.  Probably more.

I have had to rethink.  Redo.  Commit more time and energy than I was before.

And unfortunately, it feels like much of the world must be growing the garden variety.  And there is often a judgment against those specialty plants and their parents.  Sad but true.

I thought years ago, we had planted those garden variety kids.  In our minds, our ideals, our dreams, they are.  They will be easy, require basic care, and will just flourish.

Yet somehow I had a specialty plant or two planted in my garden.

And like any true gardener, we will give the care and attention required be our little blossoms to help them to grow.

Reba
PS Thankfully our kids thrive much better than plants in our house; I have a black thumb :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thankful (Is It Really Only) Thursday

I really hope to get back to writing more than a post or two between Thankful Thursdays.  Eventually. Obviously it won't be this week. :)

Whew!

What a week.

It hasn't been a horrible week. Just an exhausting one. 

But even in the midst of exhaustion, there are things to be thankful for...

  • Labor Day.  I am pretty sure it was designed for teachers and students who need a four day week after the beginning of the school year.
  • Dinner with my parents (our grilling smorgasbord)
  • My children.  They make me laugh (when they aren't making me cry :)
  • A hubby who works his schedule around my faculty meetings
  • Beautiful sunsets (tonight's was breathtaking)
  • My bed.  The one I keep falling asleep on instead of blogging.
  • Air conditioning (especially when we climb back to the triple digits)
  • Journals with my girls. We don't write in them every day but we do fairly regularly.  One daughter has a journal where she can just write and ask me questions or vent.  The other is more of a question/answer journal. I ask her questions (some fun, some serious) and she responds.  She is a bit on the quieter side side so it gives me insight to what she is thinking.
  • The pick up basket. At night (MOST nights), anything left out in the living room/kitchen area that doesn't belong there ends up in the pick up basket. To get their items back, the kids have to do a chore (one per item). I have never had my house dusted so much!  
  • My dishwasher.  It works overtime.
  • Dates with the hubby. Even if they are just quick trips to the grocery store
  • Weekends.  No homework. :)
  • Green grass. We are still considered "in a drought" but I am thrilled we have green grass these days.
  • Interns. It is WONDERFUL having an extra pair of hands in my room this time of year. :)
I know there are many more things I could share. But I also know I have to get up in a few hours and teach 19 eager children.

So I better quit for the night.

What are you thankful for this week?

Reba

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Full Moon Friday

I wanted SOOOO much to do a Thankful Thursday. I really did. 

And I was thankful.

But getting it from my head to my fingertips (on the computer keyboard) was a challenge.  Mainly because my eyes kept closing.

So I will just be thankful for Friday, full moon and all.  (Just ask my opinion about whether I think a full moon affects the behavior of others... :)

So what am I thankful for this week?
  • my co-workers
  • a patient teacher for child 4
  • a spontaneous family trip to my favorite Shave the Planet so I could enjoy my last Hog Wild of the season
  • little successes. In kindergarten, we celebrate those little successes the first weeks.  Things like getting in line successfully, a quiet story time, a remembered routine
  • a sweet class
  • morning snacks.  I just started this with my class, just a little something to tide the kids over from their breakfast to their lunch. It makes a difference. It only took me 20 years to figure that out!  (We have always had an afternoon snack)
  • helpful suggestions for my own children
  • a furry dog that bounces around with joy when we come home
  • a mom who is willing to help when hubby is out of town
  • encouraging comments
  • a new shirt (representing my son's junior high now that I am a cross country mom)
  • cooler temperatures
  • rain!
  • my crockpot
  • a hubby who goes out to get me a sweet treat after a long day
  • getting caught up on the laundry- at least for a few minutes
  • new shoes
  • a clean dog (who had a bath suddenly after deciding to dig in the mud/dirt)
  • dark chocolate.  A necessity.
  • hearing my youngest read to me
  • seeing Child 3's smiles after a good day at school
  • watching Child 2 braid her sister's hair
  • watching Child 1 run cross country, determined to finish (which is much more than I could do :)
These are just a few things I am thankful for.

What about you?

Reba

Sunday, August 26, 2012

TTR

Things to Remember from the day:

  • Enjoying a snow cone on the patio tonight as the kids played while the sun set
  • The warmth of the pup on my legs as she snoozes (and I type)
  • Watching my oldest child running his first cross country race...I love his perseverance
  • Hearing the kids thank me for making a good dinner (in today's case:  chicken spaghetti)
  • Taking an afternoon nap after a really long week
  • Hugging my hubby before he left for a work trip :(
  • Hearing my youngest apologize (without any prompting) after a little meltdown (both him and me :)
  • Watching the two youngest play nicely together in the toyroom this afternoon
  • Watching Child 3 ride around the yard on a two wheel bike (after her SISTER taught her how!) rather than one with training wheels
  • Having a former student ring up my groceries today (and wondering where the time went)
  • A nice chat with the produce guy on a shopping trip (because sometimes I feel invisible when I am shopping)

Just a few things but I wanted to remember. Because tomorrow may be a hard day. Then all of this will be a distant memory to me...

What do you want to remember from the day?

Reba

Friday, August 24, 2012

The first week of school is done.  Over.  Complete.

And I am one tired pup.

There are really NO words to describe the first week of kindergarten.

It is like...herding cats.
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That commercial was and still is the best way to describe it.

Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE my job. I would NOT go back every year if I didn't.  And the students are precious.

But the beginning of the year is a process. It feels like a really long one though I know it is never as long as I think it is.

We have around 20 students in our class.

Some have been in preschool, others have never left their homes.  Some are 5 years old, others are six. Some speak English with ease, while others are just learning.  Some are reading books while others are learning the letters in their names.

Even those who have been in preschool experience a little "culture shock" after a summer at home.

So the first few weeks, we practice routines and procedures.  Simple things like lining up, walking in the hallways, cleaning up procedures.  I even have to teach the kids to be quiet when I talk. 

There really are no words.

Now add to that stress my own kids and their mega paperwork to fill out.

And a certain little boy starting kindergarten who wants to be with his mama 24/7.

That makes for a tired, tired, blog author.

One about to fall asleep...

G'night!

Reba

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thankfully Thursday (A Couple Days Later)

I will just be honest.

The next few weeks will be hit and miss with blogging (across the board).  As school days come, my stay up power goes.  At least until I get readjusted to the new routine.

Anyway, even in the midst of extreme fatigue and at the risk of falling asleep in the middle of this post, I wanted to share a few things I am thankful for this week...

  • I am thankful it is Thursday which means tomorrow is Friday.  It has been a good week but I am worn out!
  • I am thankful for my alarm clock.  I didn't say I really liked it or anything since I prefer not to wake up early. But I am thankful it keeps me prompt.
  • I am thankful for a mom who is willing to keep my crazy crew this week while I am in in-service meetings...that is a challenge of its own!
  • I am also thankful for a hubby who is flexible in his schedule to help out with the kids when I am needed at school events.
  • I am thankful for my kids' teachers.
  • I am thankful for an intern...an extra pair of hands (and lots of new ideas) is a great way to start the year off!
  • I am thankful for friends who encourage me in parenting.
  • The dog. I know I am thankful for her a lot. But she is the best form of therapy I have.  I can have the worst day and at the end of the day, just feeling her warm little body curled up on my lap...it doesn't erase the badness of the day. But it lifts my heart.
  • Ms. Vickey. She is the wife of our Sunday School/Bible Fellowship teacher. She has taken two of our children school supply shopping (giving them much needed attention), encouraged me and prayed for me more than I will ever know, and gifted me with a sweet book about motherhood.  She is truly a servant, serving like Jesus would...
  • A successful shopping trip with my oldest daughter
  • Kohls cash
  • A new pair of shoes
  • Lunch with a co-worker/friend this week
  • Cooler temperatures
  • Watching the meteor shower last weekend
  • Movie night with the kids (and holding hands with my hubby during it)
 I know there are many more things to add (and that is after having a not so great day) but I better wrap it up...two days later. :)

What are you thankful for this week?

Reba

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I DID This Summer

Every year when school ends, I have grand summer plans in my mind.  LOTS of organizing.  Redecorating.  Fun travel.  Visits to the lake or river.  Tackling the stack of magazines I have only partially read. 

And every year when August rolls around and I see my "break" coming to an end, I feel panicked.  And defeated. And sad.

Sad I didn't do SOOOO many of the things I was just sure I would.

In those times, I could wallow in the pit of despair.  It is a good excuse to eat a lot of chocolate.

OR...

I can stop and reflect and think about the things I DID get done (even if they weren't on my original list).

That is what I am choosing.  I still may eat chocolate though...

  • Supported husband as he launched his own business
  • Cleaned out my medicine cabinet (which had not been cleaned out in quite a while apparently)
  • Sorted kids' schoolwork (only the saved pieces) from last school year
  • Baked and decorated the girls' birthday cake
  • Organized the girls' birthday celebration
  • Exercised at least 5 days every week I think, actually hitting 6 most of the time
  • Tried several new recipes (some that have become favorites already)
  • Took the kids swimming at the river
  • Transported kids to swimming lessons
  • Sent Child 2 to her first week camp
  • Transported two other kids to their camps
  • Visited my sister for a week while the girls went to a horse camp
  • Had shaved ice dates with my husband
  • Planned, packed for, and went on a week long vacation at the beach...our pup's first vacation!
  • Enjoyed a day at the lake with friends
  • Met TWO "virtual friends" (friends via adoption but only met through the Internet prior to our real meetings)
  • Hosted a friend for a couple of days
  • Read two "fun" books and more parenting books than I can count
  • Lost a couple more pounds...about five more to go
  • Took the kids swimming at their grandparents' house
  • Played numerous rounds of Candyland and Apples to Apples, as well as dramatic play with Little People
  • Washed, dried, and folded at least 6 loads (usually more) of laundry a week
  • Organized Child 4's books (with his assistance)
  • Planned the girls' "new" room (though we haven't implemented yet...)
  • Shredded
  • Experienced some "life changing" parenting training via a book, DVD, and a mentor who thankfully answers questions any time I have them
  • "Re-adopted" our younger two (now I have to get the youngest's name changed on everything...)
  • Organized under our bed
  • Weeded out clothing in the closet
  • Worked on a puzzle with child 3
  • Started journals with both girls to keep the lines of communication open
  • Celebrated hubby's 40th birthday
  • Hopefully encouraged several via Facebook and blogs
  • Watched the meteor shower
  • Had a night getaway with hubby
  • Tried some new foods (like edamame and quinoa)
  • Took kids to doctor's appointments (3 I believe)
  • Took the pup in her for her yearly checkup and booster shots
  • Took the youngest school supply shopping
  • Menus planned and executed each week
  • Got a deep freeze (and filled it with cow meat)
  • Climbed a light house
  • Blogged fairly regularly
  • Cleaned out the car...a couple times :)
  • Cooked lunch for the church interns
  • Watched several hours of Lock Up
  • Pulled out child 4's first tooth :(  I wasn't ready for that one)
  • Read up on and started implementing activities to help with sensory issues one or more of my children are dealing with
  • Took and edited TONS of pictures
  • Donated my hair
  • Got a new roof
  • Started parenting "intentionally" (will explain one day)
I am sure I can think of more, but I am getting tired.

I do know that thinking about what I did makes me feel much better about the things I didn't...

Reba

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Yes, it is.

It is Thankful Thursday.

And since next week, I will be back at school, I need to be extra thankful this week. I will probably be too tired next week to even utter the words, much less type them. :)

So, what am I thankful for this week?
  • Our pup Marley had a good checkup today. Her 1 year checkup complete with shots. She didn't even flinch.  I was so proud, especially when the vet said "She is a polite dog".  Bless her heart though, she was shaking like crazy and holding on to me as tight as her little paws could.
  • A visit with a friend from my younger days. Her mom is here for surgery so she came to town to be with her mom and I got a visit with her.  She was such a blessing to me in my younger days living in Stuttgart and working at my first teaching job.  
  • A new book. I ordered "The Whole Brain Child" after reading a good recommendation for it.  Wow. It is good stuff. I know it doesn't sound exciting but it it really is interesting and not too hard to read.
  • A hubby who offers to make pancakes and bacon one night out of the blue.  I love cooking but a nice break is appreciated too!
  • A pedicure with my sister. That hasn't happened yet but it is coming. :)
  • Friends who share their expertise and answer questions I have (mainly in the area of parenting)
  • A husband who works hard
  • A surprise rain yesterday
  • New clothes
  • Child 3 learning to ride a bike!
  • A new attitude and view as a mom
  • Not setting my alarm...this is my last week for that. :(
  • Afternoon naps (last week for that too :()
  • A friend/co-worker who takes time to truly listen to me
  • Getting out of a workshop early :)
  • Cutting back on Facebook. I miss it but I am getting some things done around the house
  • New pajamas...just because it is fun to have something new
  • Dr. Karyn Purvis
  • Answered prayers
  • My Turvis cup. I am so spoiled to that thing now!
I am sure I could go on and on but I am going to stop for now.

What are you thankful for this week?

Reba

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

TBH...

If you are not up on the texting/FB lingo of the world, TBH means "To Be Honest".

On occasion, on Facebook, I mention that has been a rough day or that I really need a little time to myself (one of my kids is a little shadow...almost always within just a few feet of me...all day long!).  And invariably that status update with get several likes.  It will also get some comments.

"Enjoy these days...you will miss them!"

"Some day you will miss hearing those sounds in your house..."

"One day you will wish you could go back to these days..."

I know they are well meaning.  And I know there are nuggets of truth in them.

But let's be completely honest here.

Will I really miss all of it?

I mean, I loved having newborns.  I loved holding those little babies while they slept.  I loved that sweet smell after their bath, all snuggly in their pj's.  I loved seeing those first smiles and gazing into those sweet eyes.

And some days, I miss that.

(That is when I volunteer in the church nursery)

But I don't miss it all.

I don't miss having the sweet baby wet all over my clothes right before I leave for work.

Or the crying in the middle of the night.

Or walking around with circles under my eyes because I was sleeping in 2 hour shifts.

There were many parts of toddlerhood that were fun.  Really.  I mean, kids grow by leaps and bounds at that age. Every day is full of new skills, new vocabulary, new everything.  What makes your heart smile more than a chubby toddler hugging your leg when you come home from the store? Or the sweet giggles that erupt when you play peek-a-boo or Pat-a-cake?  Or singing "Jesus Loves Me" over and over together?

But there are things I do not miss so much.

I don't miss the tantrums.  I don't miss the whining. I don't miss the live and die by a schedule or the crying over having a blue cup instead of a yellow cup. I don't.

That wasn't fun to me.

So while I know those commentors are well-meaning, I don't know how honest it is.

Will I miss some parts of my kids' childhood?  Yes.

I will miss hearing my daughter sing at the top of her lungs in the shower.

I will miss the way every child comes into my room to ask me how Marley slept last night.

I will miss the handwritten notes and cards and pictures I am given regularly.

I will miss our dinnertime sharing..."What are you celebrating today?"

I will miss watching my girls dress each other up in new outfits and take pictures of their "models".

I will miss sitting in the floor listening to my youngest tell me these elaborate stories about his dreams the night before.

I will miss our movie nights, all gathered in front of the t.v. with shakes and popcorn.

I will miss Taco Nights and walks around the park and reading books together.

But will I miss the tattling?  The whining? The arguing among siblings? Tripping over shoes?  Closing the pantry doors yet again?

Um, I don't think so.

I asked my mom about this not long ago.

And she confirmed what I thought.

Yes, there are things you miss. But there are also things you don't miss. And while you may miss them, you enter new phases of life and you just enjoy where you are.

That is my goal.

I hope as I grow as a mom, I will remember.

I will remember that the days are long, the years are short.

And in 20 years, if I am even still on Facebook or whatever other social forum or even in real life, if a weary mom says they need a break or they are tired, I hope that I will pat their arms. I hope I will smile.  And I hope I will say, "This too will pass."  I hope I will tell them that in the blink of an eye, this will be over. And I hope I will say that there are parts of it they will miss one day, but there are also parts of it they won't.  (Kind of like high school...parts I liked, parts I don't miss one iota)  Then I will tell them it is okay to be tired or weary and to find time for themselves. 

And maybe, just maybe, if I am really missing those childhood things, I will offer to babysit if they need me to.

Reba

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Place in This World

I have mentioned that this has been a big summer of reflection and refinement. Neither are particularly fun but it is apparently where I am in life.

I have been thinking a lot about my place in this world.

I am sure there is some psychological name for this. And I probably even learned it once upon a time. I am reflecting about where I have been, where I am going, but especially where I am right now.

I am not necessarily where I thought I would be.

For one, i never expected to have four kids.  Two, yes. But four, no.  And honestly, adoption was not really on my radar even ten years ago. 

I will be honest. I sometimes look at our oldest two and take just a minute to think about what life would be like. I am not saying I regret our decisions or our life now.  I just can't help but think sometimes. Life would be a little easier. A little less demanding in some ways.  Obviously things like meals out and trips would be less expensive.  And the house would be much quieter.

Again, I am not regretting. Just being honest.

But that is not where God led us.  That is not my place in this world at this time.

Not long ago, I saw some pictures on Facebook that hurt my heart a little bit.  Just a reminder of something we weren't invited to.  There is a lot of that on Facebook, by the way.  It is hard not to feel like I am back in elementary school watching someone pass out invitations and walking right by my desk.  I guess those insecurities never truly go away.

Anyway, the truth is, we probably couldn't have gone to this event. And I know that. 

I am just in a different place than a lot of people my age.

I have younger kids.  And those kids require some special care.

I can't just drop everything and run to the pool with all four kids in tow. While three are strong swimmers, the last one isn't yet.  And that child is constantly on the move.  While others can just sit and chat by the water, I end up running all around the pool making sure all four heads are accounted for. 

We go to the movies on a rare occasion but it is a bit pricey with all of us. And with such a wide range of ages, we are limited as to what we can see.

Many activities are way too overstimulating for kids with sensory issues. And for my introvert kids, they can be exhausting.

I feel bad that my older children get invited to way more fun activities (which they love) than I can reciprocate.

But it is just not where I am in life right now.

And after a lot of prayer, a lot of thought, and even some tears, I am okay with that.

My life is what God wants it to be.

It can be hard some days.

And many may not understand.

But God does.

And being where He wants me to be is the only place in the world I want to be...

More soon,
Reba

Thursday, August 2, 2012

41 Birthday Blessings...And Counting

This time last year, I was on the beach.  Both dreading and enjoying the big 4-0.

And here I am a year later.

Not on the beach.

But, I am...


A few pounds lighter. A few muscles heavier.  A little eyesight weaker. 

It has been a year of growth.  And loss.  Joy.  And sorrow.  Changes. Conflicts.  Disappointments. Adventures.

But overall, it wasn't so bad.

Yet I am more and more aware each day (as I squint at a screen that is too close) that I am not getting any younger.

And more and more, I understand the longing for heaven.  When I was younger, I didn't. I mean, why leave the pleasure on earth? Except these pleasures are temporary.  And the pain can be intense.

Many days I long to see my Savior.

But my time here isn't done yet. 

So, while I continue on this journey of life, I must take time (as I do each year) to celebrate the blessings in my life.  The things that make my heart happy.  The joys that are gifts from my Heavenly father to me...

Here they are, in no particular order...

41.  My big "deer" blanket that is actually my husband's. I just kind of took it over.  Even in the summer, I love to curl up on the bed with it.
40.  Our little fuzzy furball.  I can't believe she has been here a year already.  My little Marley is a HUGE blessing in a little body.  She is my calm at the end of the day.
39.  White lilies or magnolia flowers.  Both are specimens of beauty to me.
38.  Chicago pizza.  I mean, it is inches and inches of gooey cheese.  What is there not to love?
37.  A good afternoon nap. A rarity but still treasured.
36.  A hike in the woods on a fall day.
35.  Watching my students discover and learn...some days I can literally see those light bulbs go off!
34.  My Mac. It has been a good friend to me. And it turns on WAY faster than my HP ever did.
33.  A chilled Ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt caramel square.  I eat one a day. Dark chocolate is good for you. :)
32.  Buying clothes in a smaller size.
31.  The deep belly laugh of Child 4
30.  Walking along the beach, barefoot, as I listen to the waves crash against the sand
29.  Sunsets.  They just amaze me.
28.  Fresh herbs, especially basil, cilantro, and thyme. How did I go my whole life not knowing about those?
27.  My iphone, particularly the music on it. It is an eclectic mix but each song is on there for a reason.  The songs cover many phases of my life and are full of memories.
26.  The unwavering faith and strong convictions of Child 1.
25.  The newspaper. You know, the one in black and white print.  I still love to sit down to breakfast while reading my morning paper.
24.  A God who surprises me over and over again with unexpected blessings
23.  Paid off vehicles.
22.  Dates with my husband, whether it is for a dinner out, a weekend away, or a quick shaved ice run.  I love any and all time I get with that man.
21.  Organized shelves and closets. I have a lot to do and a long way to go. But it sure makes me happy when I get some of that accomplished...
20.  Pinterest.  I am such a visual person. Seeing pictures and saving them just appeals to me. I have found some WONDERFUL recipes and teaching ideas through Pinterest.  It can be a time killer BUT it also saves me time by showing me the best of the best. :)
19.  The smell of a fresh rain (I vaguely remember...)
18.  Time with my parents and sister/family. It is never enough, but it is such a treasured time when it does.
17.  Child 3's willingness AND eagerness to help with cooking, shopping, and cleaning.  As long as it is her idea. :)
16.  Friendships. I have learned a lot about friendships this year, some happy lessons...others not. But I am thankful for friends who encourage, who check up on me, who pray for me, who actually seek time to spend with me. I pray I will be that friend too.
15.  My blogs. I am "behind" on a couple but I am thankful for them. They are my "scrapbook" whether it is family or food.  I know that blogging is "out" while Twitter is "in". But my blogs are still my outlet, a little bit of therapy after a hard day.
14.  Pedicures.  They are a special treat, but they always make me smile. Especially when I get a picture painted on my big toes.
13.  Reading a good book. A fun book.  Not necessarily a parenting book.
12.  The encouragement of child 2.  I get e-cards, notes, little gifts, and even just a hug on a hard day from her.
11.  My Sweating to the Oldies DVD's. Yes, I know.  Richard Simmons is a bit over the top sometimes. But I can actually keep up, still get a good workout, and get to enjoy fun music...
10.  Midnight talks with my husband when neither of us can sleep.  Okay, it is rare...we usually are exhausted by the end of the day. But I love pillow talk and just getting to share what is on our  minds and hearts.
9.  My Bible Fellowship folks. 
8.  Payday!
7.  Evenings outside in early summer (before it is blazing hot), watching the kids play and the dog chase the soccer ball
6.  Baked potato soup on a cold day
5.  Family movie night (usually a DVD, popcorn, and Shakes)
4.  A dedicated husband who get up each day to work and support our family (and then comes home to work and support our family :)
3.  My crockpot. It makes my life SOOO much easier.
2.  Waterfalls.  I am not sure what the fascination is but they bring me peace and joy.
1.  You.  Thank you for being part of my life!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Saying Thanks Sunday

So I missed Thankful Thursday this past week. It wasn't intentional. And it wasn't that I wasn't thankful.  But it has been a BIG week for me as I implement some new parenting techniques and help one or more of my children move beyond some difficulties in their lives.  But that is all for another day.  Anyway, even in the midst of challenges, I have a LOT to be thankful for. Even when I am too tired to articulate that. So today will just be a delayed Thankful Thursday. We will call it Saying Thanks Sunday...

  • In trying to help one of my kids (who is very sensory seeking), over and over we found that a mini trampoline was recommended. Except that it feels like we have spent a lot of money this summer (that time of year) so I was reluctant.  I checked out Craigslist. Nothing.  I mentioned it on Facebook.  A friend replied that I was welcome to come get hers...for free.  A HUGE answer to prayer!  In just one day it has already been put to good use.
  • A visit with a friend of a friend who just listened and sweetly advised me on how to help with some of those parenting struggles
  • A husband who goes grocery shopping.  And not only that, takes two kids with him so I get a little quiet time.
  • Air conditioning. 
  • Our one rain this past week. First in a month or more.  It didn't last long enough but we will take what we can get.
  • A shaved ice outing with a friend
  • A visit with an aunt and uncle who live away from here.
  • Watching my kids swim at dusk in my parents' pool
  • A "break" on a price of something I wanted/needed for one of my kids
  • A school supply shopping date with my up and coming kindergarten student
  • Dinner out last night with a stop at the park (it had cooled off to 99 degrees or so :)
  • A daughter with a gift of empathy who sends me sweet e-cards on hard days
  • A little weight lost (though I think the next few pounds will be the hardest...)
  • The Olympics...love watching the gymnastics with my girls
  • A fruit bowl.  We have always had it but I have moved it down to the table rather than on top of our fridge. My kids are eating fruit like crazy.
  • A sweet offer from a friend
I know there are more. And I wish I could give more details on some of these but I try to be careful to walk that balance between honesty and protecting my family...

I just know that even in the tough times, God is there.

And for that, I am thankful.

So, what are you thankful for this week?

Reba


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Organized Chaos

I get asked a lot, "How do you do it?"

I am never quite sure whether that is truly a request for information or more of a nice way of saying, "Why on earth would anyone want to have four kids, a dog, and a job outside the house?  And blog too?"

The truth is, I really have no answers. Some parts of my house are fairly organized. Other parts are a big mess.  I can be really on top of things (like school paperwork) but at the same time we have all of our bills electronically taken out because sending the check in the mail is not our strong point.  Our children are probably not as social as they would like to be and most of the world is...some days getting out for a simple birthday party is a challenge.  And then there are the parenting challenges themselves, like the ones I mentioned in the last entry.

Anyway...my answer?

I don't do it.

At least not with guaranteed success.

Some days, I just feel like I am surviving.

Okay, most days.

That being said, there are a few things I have found that do make my life a little less crazy.

Nothing to write a book about.

And actually several things I do that others poke fun of and sometimes even critique me for.

But to me, organization, even among the chaos, is important.

It gives me just a little sense of control.

And goodness knows I can use some of that.

 I probably have written about some of these things before, but I thought I would share again a few of my tips.  I would love to hear what tips you have for running your household smoother too.  I am always in search of new ideas!

One summer suggestion I have is that I cannot see my children before 8.  I rarely get to sleep that long since I usually awaken when hubby is leaving for work. And the youngest child is not really very quiet though we are continuously working on that.  But he does know how to read the clock nowadays.  And I shouldn't see him before 8.  (Obviously they can get up and quietly run to the bathroom if needed...if they wake up and there is sunlight, they are allowed to play QUIETLY in their room or listen to books on CD)  With some early risers, it is a way of ensuring a little quiet time for me before we hit the ground running.  I also have a mandatory 2 hour quiet time (which is true on the weekends during the school year).  The older ones usually read books or use a little of their screen time.  The younger ones listen to books on CD, read, or rest.  Obviously, if we are out and about during that time, we skip it. But it is a good quiet time for the kids and for me. :)


Next up is the "daily menu".  A couple years ago, I was tired of the "What can we have to eat for breakfast?" or "What is for lunch today?"  So last summer I started printing a little "menu".  It has a couple of purposes.  One is that it lists the day's chores.  There are three main chores that the older three rotate through; the youngest child will be participating soon. One is emptying the dishwasher. Another is re-loading it (because by then the sink is usually full of dishes).  And the third is taking out the recycles which accumulate throughout the day on the counter.  That person is also responsible for helping set and clear off the table.  In the summer I also have an "extra" chore, such as sorting clothes, dusting certain rooms, and cleaning certain areas of their room.

The other purpose is the breakfast and lunch "menu".

Like most kids, my kids would eat chicken nuggets or Ramen noodles every single day for lunch or Pop Tarts for breakfast daily.  Not that Pop Tarts are bad, but I just can't afford to have four kids eating Pop Tarts seven days a week.  And while Ramen noodles are a very cheap lunch, we do occasionally have leftovers that need to be eaten. They won't be...unless choices are limited. So now I give about four or five lunch choices (including leftovers)
I think I shared this before but I keep this on my wall in the kitchen.  I change it weekly with a dry erase marker.  (I usually plan on Saturday for the next week what our meals will be, then I make grocery lists based upon that and use the Grocery IQ app on my phone.  I also post our weekly menu on our cooking blog, mainly for accountability. :)  I still get asked a few times a day, "What is for dinner?" But I will only answer the youngest child who is not reading yet.  The others, I just point to the wall...
One thing I do for my youngest child is "bag" outfits in gallon size ziplocks.  I keep several in his bottom drawer.  Each day, he chooses which outfit he wants to wear and puts the bag back into the drawer empty.  It gives him some choice in his clothing but helps make sure they match.  When I do laundry and put his clean clothes away, I refill any empty bags as I look through the other clothes drawers.  With my 8 year old, I do something similar, just minus the bags. I pair outfits and keep them in one drawer. Otherwise, she tends to dig through drawers trying to find matches, and then we end up with a really big mess.
These are the dirty clothes baskets in our (Mark's and my) closet.  We have a "whites", "Off-whites/yellows/khakis", "reds/pinks/purples", and darks (blues, greens, and blacks) basket.  When it is sorting day, the kids either move the baskets to the living room or bring their dirty clothes basket to the closet and sort them.  By the way, even my five year old can sort with assistance.  One tip my friend Katie shared recently was buying mesh laundry bags and having the kids keep socks in them, then just washing the bag. Saves on lost socks and trying to match up. I haven't bought any yet but I am going to do that. I think I will have them throw undies in their too.  Should save me a lot of sorting time.

We also have a separate towel basket. And speaking of towels, each child has a set color so we always know who they belong to. 
The snack drawer.  The kids know when it is snack time, they can get something out of the snack drawer or the fridge (like fruit, yogurt, crackers, etc).  They used to dig through the pantry and would on occasion use an ingredient for an upcoming meal.  So this has saved me a little frustration. :)
These are just a few of the things I do for the sake of my sanity

What are some of your favorite organizing tips?

Reba