Sunday, April 5, 2015

soothing the soul

life has been a bit insane lately.
there's some unpleasant things going on around here but we shall persevere.
and since i can't speak in specifics but didn't want to paint life as all rosy all the time, i'll give you some encouragement. 
 i am trying very hard to spend consistent time with the Lord. 
the picture above is where i sit when i'm alone with Him.
a friend gave me some great advice regarding our current life situation:
don't get stirred up in the crazy of it all. spend time being still in the Lord. 
--it has soothed my soul.

another thing good for the soul?
family time.
and chess games and obstacle races and eating a potato as big as your face.

and little boys becoming bigger boys.
another birthday came and went. 
he's such a big dude.

in trying to simplify some things out of necessity, i have not scheduled anything other than helping out at the kids' schools and house-related tasks.
it's been nice having things be a little simpler, especially when life around us is a bit out of control. 

i know we all have our crazy times.
times we wish weren't happening.
times we would prefer to be doing something else.
but it was so beautiful and wonderful this weekend to be with my family, slow down, work hard (the boys and i raked leaves and worked our tails off!), and then enjoy our Risen Savior.
in the chaos or pain or suffering or irritation or anger, 
we can be joyful 
Christ is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

march madness: our way

 march madness means a different thing around here.
it's the season where we have four out of five kids' birthdays, two gotcha days (anniversaries of adoption) and this year we have more out of town court stuff with our foster kiddo, little miss.

once february ends, you just keep your head down and plow through, trying not to forget a momentous guy...

turning NINE.
what happened? 
when did he get so old?
and lose so many teeth?
and stop wanting to hug me in public?

i have to brag about this guy.
he is quite a thinker and takes his time doing mundane tasks because he's daydreaming about who knows what...usually a cool new invention. 
BUT we got an email yesterday from his teacher saying that he recently took some tests and did amazing, staying on task,  finishing on time, and he got a great grade.
the great grade part is nice and all, but we are THRILLED he finished on time and did his best. 
*he's a pretty big deal*

and then a few weeks later, this little dude...
(look at his wee stumpy legs!)

turned SEVEN!
--complete with fake smiles for every picture i take.

he is such a sweet heart. he's a passionate dude, our resident theologian, and quite the blooming artist. 
he started out the school year almost making himself sick about doing things perfectly and now is rocking it out with reading and math! wahoo victory!

over the next several weeks, we are getting to see a lot of our extended family and i'm trying to get lots of stuff done so i can just enjoy them. 
 my dream is to sit outside with our wonderful fam, look at the blooming plants, eat dinner on the porch, and turn on twinkle lights outside.
and i think i'll just leave the "productivity" to someone else.** 
twinkle lights and good conversation are a heck of a lot more fun.

**as i say this, i'm making yet another mental to-do list of stuff. 
maybe a bit of productivity and a bit of fun? 
that mythical "middle ground/everything in moderation" people talk about?
does that exist?

enjoy your march madness!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

a whole booty-load of photos

i just figured you wanted to see every picture i've taken since the last post. 
so prepare thyself.

my wonderful sis came into town. 
we celebrate when she visits.
so we headed off to a family fun day.
--complete with getting to use aunt sissy's big fat camera. 

these boys felt like a big deal.

the weather here in texas has been the know...79 one day, 35 the next.
one day, the temp dropped 10 degrees in one hour.
a fire and book were absolutely wonderful.

i got to take asher and his school friends on a field trip to a local landmark.
we had a great time.
i know i'm a weirdo, but i tear up a little every time i get to go do school things with my kiddos.
i know.
--the blessing of getting to be a part of stuff like this is not lost on me. 
i am so thankful.
so i cry a bit.
don't judge me.

gabe turned 9...NINE. 
so i'm an old lady and he's growing too fast.
we took the kiddos to a fun trampoline park.
the kids had a blast!

and i'm not sure if i've told you but the hubs is so stinkin' obsessed with jiujitsu, it's crazy.
here he is doing yet another move on one of our children.
and you can see how into it judah is. 
jiujitsu again, dad? really?
--and he keeps eating his ice cream cone.
(no children were hurt in the making of this photo)

baskin robbins has a flavor of the month. and february is the best kind.
love potion 31.
it ROCKS my face off.
so naturally we went weekly.
(BR, if you want to supply me with ice cream for writing this awesome review, just tell me. i'll take it.)


little miss had a court date and such recently. she's from out of town so we went to stay with family.
the boys learned how to play chess during our visit and have been fans ever since.
the weather was terrible so we had tons of time to play games.
it was a blast!

we're almost done with all my pictures. hang in there.

i grew these flowers in my yard. and i feel like i've got mad skills.
and by "grew them in my yard," i mean that they grew there because they were planted by the previous owners and i get to pick them and smell them and it's wonderful.

in addition to being really into board games lately, the boys have also been developing their tree climbing skills. and so now if you look thru my phone, i have at least 10 pictures of each child climbing. 

so there you go. 
i'm not fancy enough to have a theme for this post or anything...
it's how i roll.

now that spring is here in texas, i get to take more pictures of pretty, green things and that usually inspires writing.
maybe i'll post again before summer. 
much love to y'all!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Christmas donkeys, obstacle courses, and talent

asher was donny the donkey in the school play:
"donny the donkey."
my son was the lead in the school play.
i think it's because he actually had no lines and the teacher knew i had five kids. 
running lines during Christmas season?
ain't nobody got time for that.

so above you see the cutest, most precious donkey ever. 
and he did amazing. 
he's quite the comedian. 

i know these pics look like they're posing for cute pictures. BUT in reality, my sons are practicing obstacle course type stuff outside all the time in preparation for their upcoming obstacle race in march.
they are stoked about it. they are running it with the hubs and maybe even grandpa and an uncle. it's a fun way to see family and do something new and exciting. 

they already have a traverse rope and a pull-up bar in the back yard.
they also want tarzan rope swings. 
i am excited they like being active but momma likes her beautiful yard. 
maybe we'll find a compromise somewhere.

we have been inundated with sickness and activities and church events and crafting projects...
the list never seems to end. 
this time of year is usually a bit slower. holidays are over, but spring stuff hasn't begun yet.
not so this year.
asher's at a kinder program that does a new activity every day, has a field trip once a month, has class parties, and makes a huge igloo out of milk jugs we get to collect. 
-not to mention the 100th day of school, bringing in pringles cans for star gazers, and beginning readers and spelling tests. 
it's a bit overwhelming. 
but when you see the culmination of their space unit is a kid who can sing about planets and wear this adorable space suit he made, it makes it seem worthwhile.

gabe was part of a team at school where they built rube goldberg machines. 
you know, cause and effect. a marble drops down a ramp, hits dominoes, they hit a car, the car hits the balloon, and the balloon pops. 
it's an after school program that has been going on for 10 weeks and gabe has enjoyed it so much.

so this week his school had a science night. 
he got to show off what he and the team have been working on.
i'm tellin' yah, guys, he lit up like a Christmas tree.
he LOVED it.

at one point he was the only kid left demonstrating and all the other kids from the team had left. 
he was kind of a one-man-show. 

it's so great to see the boys' passions and talents and how different they are. 
judah loving art, elijah loving to write, gabe loving science, and asher loving puzzles.
we tell them they can do anything.
and it's exciting to see how they carry that out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

organizing my time

recently a blog i read posted this about organization and i found all of these links to be helpful.
i really enjoy organizing and getting tips from others, but i find it's such a personal thing based on how your household runs. you have to take the stuff you find helpful and add in your own stuff, too.

this link about time management was so helpful! it's part of a series you should totally check out. i used her ideas to schedule my day. she also has free printables which i didn't use but they look cute and useful.

since reading that, i've typed up a schedule and put it in a page protector on my desk so it's extra durable but also accessible.

i've only done this new routine for a week or so but i'm finding it to be easy to manage.

daily tasks:
1. make bed
2. start laundry
--older kids to school---
3. quiet time/ bible study
4. fold laundry if needed (see my previous post about kids helping)
5. dishwasher: empty or load or both

now don't judge me on the next part. i am not a clean freak. i just do what i can so i'm not totally embarrassed by my home.

clean out fridge

vacuum upstairs and down

1x/month: (i said don't judge)
shop at costco

1. load dishwasher
2. clean sink
3. wipe down counters
4. wipe down table cloth or put on new one
5. defrost meat for next day in fridge
6. boys' chores

i've also been taking about 10-15 minutes each evening to make my next day's to-do list and set out clothes for myself for the morning. around here, mornings can be uncertain and rough based on the amount of sleep we all had or lack there of. i've noticed anything i can do to make the morning run smoother has a huge impact on how the day goes.

and this concludes my organizational skills. also, do you like the random photos of flowers throughout this post? i couldn't find any photos relating to organization and i thought, hey, flowers make things feel clean and pretty, right?

today, in the midst of being unorganized and stretched too thin for a few weeks, i am diffusing jasmine oil and listening to acoustic guitar music so i can trick my brain into relaxing. i guess the study i've been doing on sabbath hasn't taken hold yet.
happy organizing, peeps!

Monday, February 2, 2015

kids as helpers

so i mentioned in my last post that i have started a new sort of schedule thing to help me organize my day and help get the kids involved more around the house.
we've always given the boys responsibilities but as they grow, they need more. i want them to be active helpers in keeping the household running. things like, "what are you making us for dinner?" and "where are my clean clothes?" send me over the edge. so i'm putting the ball in their court as much as i can.

our boys are 8, 6, 6, and 5 (a tiny 5, which makes it hard to be a helper when he can't reach things).
in our family, we have days of the week assigned to different people. gabe, the oldest, has mondays, which means he does his laundry that day, picks which way we do discipleship time, prays at meals, showers first, gets to pick the book we read together as a family, etc.
so i've sorted the chores into four categories and each kiddo does a set based on what day it is.
this sounds confusing. i'll just show you:

but a not-so-quick side note:
laundry. this will change your life. i decided back in september that i was wasting so much time folding the boys' clothes when they just shove them in their dressers. also, the boys would fight over whose clothes were whose. AND i would wash the clothes, dry them, fold them, divvy them up for each kid, and put them at the base of the stairs for the boys to put away and they had the AUDACITY to complain about the work., sirs.

so i bought them each a dirty clothes hamper, had them label them with their names, and instituted this new method of laundry.
it has saved me so much time and i don't resent laundry so much. so here you go.
on their day of the week, one boy will take off their sheets, blankets, and pillowcases and bring them downstairs first thing in the morning before school (little tiny 5 year old gets help from a brother because the sheets are heavier than he is). i wash and dry them during the day, and after school the boy gets them from the dryer and takes them upstairs. i make their beds, but they put their clothes away.
"do they fold them?" --you may ask. probably not. the boys take care of their dressers how they please. some like folding their clothes so their space is more organized, others shove the clothes in every nook and cranny. the only rules are: no clothes on the floor and no complaining that you can't find what you need. they have more ownership of their space in their rooms. i don't oversee it. i figure we all have a way we like our own space to be, and this lets them figure out how they like their space. it's been so freeing. then on fridays i do the baby's laundry and my husband's and mine. it's wonderful.

ok, back to chores:
here's what our chore chart thingy looks like:
kid 1: laundry put away, clear table after dinner, wipe down bathroom counter and clear it of junk
kid 2. take out recycling, help me with dinner, straighten the game room
kid 3: take out compost bin, vacuum under table (little handheld vacuum that stays in kitchen), straighten bedrooms (they share rooms so it's only 2 to straighten)
kid 4: take out trash from cans in each room if needed/take out kitchen trash, feed the dogs, straighten game room if it's extra messy or straighten the craft room

---so on monday, gabe is kid 1, judah is kid 2, elijah is kid 3, and asher is kid follows birth order. on tuesday, the line moves up and judah is number 1, elijah is number 2, etc.
 it rotates, which helps the kids not get sick of stuff. it's been a bit challenging keeping it all straight. even with it written down, the hubs and i seriously ask each other which kid does what like 7 times each night. so i have big plans to have a friend make me a beautiful chart complete with days of the week and a cute pic of each kid so it's easier to manage.

we usually do our chores after dinner and before showers because after that it's just crazy time with reading and logging books and such. doing all this with a baby to feed and put to bed in addition to my own after dinner chores has been challenging but we're finding our groove.

i'll post more on how i'm organizing my time soon.

a few of my favorite things

hi friends.
it's been a bit busy around here. science fair projects, oh joy of my life. super bowl parties for our life group, seriously a hugely wonderful time with new friends. cold weather one day and then nice weather the next which pushes us outside to run around and enjoy it for too long and then the rush to finish school stuff before bedtime. too few hours in the day to get it all done.

but i thought i would share with you a few of my favorite things. things that make a day just a bit lovelier.

1. flowers from my sister when we were all sick with the flu:  it was awful, but like i always say (and so does meg ryan) "daisies are the friendliest flower."my sister sent these to me to cheer me up and who doesn't feel happier with lovely bright flowers to remind you that the sickness won't last forever.

2. a new bible study, breathe, by priscilla shirer: it's all about creating a sabbath. i'm only on the first week but am enjoying the time dedicated to how to practically do this in day-to-day life. as a mom of 5, rest sounds pretty amazing.

3. my lemon tree, full of lovely smelling buds: we call it lulu the lemon tree and sometimes we sing to her to get her to bloom. last year we had....guess how many...ONE lemon. this year we are hoping for a bountiful harvest. haha. we shall see, folks. no matter how many lemons she gives, she smells amazing.

4. little miss and her new toothy grin and crinkly nose: so our little lady has 6 teeth now and let me just tell you, she's even more adorable. didn't think it was possible, but it happened. she's growing so fast. she's such a tough, sweet, feisty gal. i enjoy her so much. even when she decides that she wants to communicate by screaming in restaurants. she's a precious blessing. maybe not to those sitting near us, but we're pretty fond of her.

5. the boys. they are stinking hilarious! the things they are saying and doing crack me up. yes there are moments, whole days sometimes, where they drive me nuts and i struggle to be kind and patient, and i put them in separate rooms so i don't have to listen to the ridiculous fighting about legos and taking turns and who stole whose toy. but there are moments where i just have to stop and enjoy how funny and smart and clever they are. and sometimes how sneaky they are. i'm learning not every moment is a teaching moment. sometimes you just gotta laugh and shake your head. otherwise you'll go crazy.

5. a new plan/schedule for cleaning: i can't remember where i found it. it was a link on a blog i read. but it gave great organizational tips. so i've set up a schedule (a loose one) with tasks to target morning, afternoon, and evening. along with chores for the boys to do. each one has three each evening. and although the boys are feeling a bit overwhelmed by their new responsibilities, i think it's going well.

i've been writing in a thankfulness journal for several years now. and when life seems to get me bogged down and i can't seem to figure out what of the many tasks need to happen next, it's helpful to stop and think of the things i'm thankful for. some of my favorite things.
that should be on my to-do list everyday. stop and list things i'm thankful for.