Friday, June 29, 2012

Blessed by a stranger

Tonight while driving home from the grocery store, I came to a quiet intersection of 2 roads. One road T's into the other with only a stop sign to control the traffic. Directly across the street from where I had to stop, there is a small church that was built in the past year or so.

It was 10:05. It was dark. There are 2 street lights that shine on the parking lot just enough to dimly light the sidewalk. When I came to a stop at the intersection, I realized that in the dim light, you could see a man sweeping the sidewalk. I sat and watched him for a minute, taking in the way he was taking his time, not rushing, making sure to cover every inch of the sidewalk/front area of the church.

As I watched, I wondered if this was the pastor, putting in late night hours to make sure his building is ready for weekend services. I pondered whether it was a church member who volunteers to do this each week. I considered that maybe it was just a random act of kindness done by a selfless servant.

Whatever the case, I was moved by this man's quiet, unassuming, hidden act. Sometimes it is these silent people who do things behind the scenes who are forgotten, but tonight as I watched him work, I was touched. Whoever you are sir, thank you. Thank you for serving and thank you for blessing me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 5

Have mercy! Five weeks of summer, gone already!

This week has not been super eventful & that's just fine by me.

*Samuel left for camp on Sunday morning. We've been "watching" him all week long with pictures & nightly email updates from our youth leaders. (Goodness we live in an incredible age of technology, don't we?) It's been fun to see all the cool things he is getting to do and to hear about the messages the speakers are giving & things that the kids have been asked to do to teach them more about Christ. Exciting stuff! They will return home Saturday evening. This is one of the pictures our pastor posted on his facebook page. It was taken a couple of days ago while Sam had his morning quiet time/devotional time. So sweet! (and his fashion choices tickle me!)

*On Tuesday, I got my new batch of little friends at the preschool. I only gained 2 new students, but they are quickly acclimating to the group of kids who were already there and have adjusted pretty well to the routine & schedule.

*I cleaned Samuel's bedroom, top to bottom. (See previous post)

*I embraced my inner nightowl & have found myself reading emails or playing online or reading a book until (as late as) 2 am a few nights. I'm enjoying it while I can since I'm so very clear on the fact that summer is passing QUICKLY and in a handful of weeks we will be embarking on summer band practices & shortly after, back to school!

*The girls & I went to Larry's office on Monday and had a picnic in his office floor with him.

On the way home, we stopped at a local famous (to us) landmark, but it was honestly just TOO hot & the white pavement around the scenic site was so bright (from the glaring sunshine) that we didn't stay very long. Inside the very nice, very clean, and comfortably air conditioned bathroom, we took this picture.

I love these silly girls. I posted on facebook later that day that our drive to & from Larry's office was humorous. If Samuel had been there with us, I'm sure that not nearly as many show tunes would've been sung so loudly. It was hoot because the girls were belting out songs from The Sound of Music and quite a few Disney musicals. They particularly enjoyed my silly (male-sounding) opera voice. ha ha! So fun!

*Our kitchen faucet has been leaking recently. Every time you turn it on, it's dribbled out around the base of the faucet. On Sunday, I was getting something out from the cabinet under the sink and found that everything down there was wet! It was then we realized that it was leaking underneath the faucet, too! Fortunately my dad (Jack of all trades) was able to come fix it! Thank you Daddy!!

*This marks the 5th week of me enjoying an occasional day time nap! I doze off nearly every day for at least 30 minutes (usually while watching a TV show with the kids!) Oh how I love summertime!

*Goal for this coming week: eat the first snowcone of the summer!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Before & After pictures

Back in October of 2011, we found out that Samuel has ADD. We had suspected it for a while, and his bedroom was just another reason why we considered it. He gets so overwhelmed so fast & loses his focus. And honestly, I get so stressed out & overwhelmed when I go in there that most of the time I just shut the door & walk away. It's just too frustrating to deal with under normal circumstances. We really feel like the kids' rooms should be THEIR responsibility to clean, but this week I made an exception to that rule. Sam's room was so bad that I felt like it was more important to break that "rule" & help him out one time to get it TOTALLY cleaned. Kind of gives him a fresh start---a clean slate so to speak. He's gone to camp, so I could do it without his assistance or reluctance. And boy oh boy! It took me 2 days & 2 big bags of trash to get it done, but check out the difference!!

When you open the bedroom door & look in, this is the first thing you see. Before:

and after:

Over in the corner (far right of the 1st pic above), Samuel has this little corner between his bed & dresser that is sort of like his own personal little "man cave". But his cave had gotten messy! Here it is before:
And here it is after:

Turning a little further to the right (see the little corner man cave behind his dresser?), this was the view before:
and after:
A little further to the right is his bookshelf. Before:

and after:
Under his bed before:

And after (I didn't get the vacuum under there to get the crumbs & little pieces of trash at the back...oops):

Looking into his TV/game cart area before:

And after:

It may not be perfect, but it's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than it was. I hope my silly boy can see the major difference and will be able to keep it clean for a while!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm thankful for...

I am completely stealing this from my friend Chris. (See his blog by clicking on Xsturmination in my blog roll.) He created a list like this on his blog & I loved it! I am always intrigued by different ways people can express their gratitude & this is such a fun way to do it. Write your own on your blog & let me know when you do it. I'd love to see your list!

Things I am thankful for (in alphabetical order), some serious & some silly--enjoy!

A healthy marriage. The older I get, the more I realize how rare that is. And the more willing I am to work hard to keep it that way!

Boy child. He changes my perspective every day and brings so much laughter to my life. Seeing the changes in his heart, mind & body surprise me, overwhelm me, and move me. So grateful that God gave me 1 boy...even if I will never completely understand him. (Seriously...boy brains are wired SO much different than girls'!)

Children. My own & the ones I teach. So much potential, so much promise in them. Could anyone name anything that sounds more beautiful that a child's giggles?

Differences. Growing up, I mostly only knew people who were just like me. The older I get, the more I meet people who are different. I learn so much from those people, good & bad.

Every person who has been a part of my life, whether in a good or bad way, in my past. You helped shape me into the person I am today. Thank you.

Friends who love me despite all my weirdness & who love my kids like their own.

Girls (the ones I am raising). I love seeing the world through their eyes, watching them grow into beautiful young women.

Hands. To touch, hug, caress, rub, lift, stir, mold, climb, fold, type and more!

Insects. Seriously, I love the week my class studies bugs at the preschool. I am so totally a 10 year old boy in this regard. Engaging their little minds and eyes while they are either totally intrigued or completely grossed out is awesome! And I love watching my son's face when I pick up a slug or a worm or whatever in front of his friends. It's like he's nudging me & saying "Way to be cool, mom."

Joy. Based on nothing circumstancial, completely & soley given by a loving God who fills me with it because of who I am in Him, where I stand eternally and what He's done for me. Joy that doesn't change from day to day based on what's going on in life. It only comes from one source.

Kisses. The ones from friends (on the cheek, y'all!), from my kids, the ones I give to EVERY baby I've ever's instinctive, I swear....and the ones from my adorable squishy-lipped husband.

Larry. There is absolutely NO way in a million bazillion years that I could summarize all the reasons I am thankful for him. The laughter, the tears, the years of struggles lived through together, the memories we've made, the family we have much! I love you, baby.

Music. Nothing speaks to my soul more deeply when I am in the middle of a trial. Specifically music full of Scripture that drives me to my knees, that pushes me to worship despite my pain & through my struggles.

Newspaper. Specifically, the one that hired me to write a weekly column back in January. It tickles me to no end to write about my crazy life & hear that people are actually reading it.

Open relationships with all 3 of my kids. They know there is no subject that is taboo. Sometimes that means I get to squirm a little or blush or have to ask them to give me a minute while I google it (ha!) but they know we can talk about anything.

Puzzle books. I love logic puzzles, framework/fill-ins and sudoku puzzles. Books full of math/logic puzzles make me purr. I figure everyone has at least one geeky pleasure. Right?

Quick wit. My husband's. He can make me laugh til I snort...and he does on a regular basis. Usually because of something completely inappropriate or stupid. Or both. I love this guy!

Random acts of kindness. I love hearing stories of things people have done. Being on the giving or receiving end makes my heart flutter. Just an example that I loved reading about: If you hear stories of people performing (or receiving) random acts of kindness, email me! I'd love to hear about it!

Solitude. I am such a homebody. The hours at night when the rest of the house is quiet, where I can read, write, sit still & pray. Powerful stuff, folks.

Theater. And I don't mean the ones you'll find on Broadway in New York. (although I'm sure those are great, too.) I'm referring to the movie theaters that my sweetie & I and our family go to see movies in. We don't go too often, but it's always a treat when we do.

Umbrellas. I have enough trouble with having naturally curly hair & having it go frizzy without having to worry about getting drenched walking to the car.

Vans, specifically mini-vans. I've been driving one since 2001. Not such a fan of the Ford Windstar, but I've loved my Honda Odyssey & Kia Sedona. They fit my family without being the gas hog of a Suburban or Tahoe.

Work. Larry & I both have jobs. So many don't. We may not be rich, but every need is covered.

Xrays. So maybe it's the only X word I could think of right off the top of my head, but you've gotta admit that Xrays are pretty cool. I'm thankful that the technology exists!

You. Seriously, if you read this blog on any sort of a regular basis, I am blessed & honored. I'm kind of amazed that anyone reads it at all. Ya know, other than my mom & I think she's bound by some sort of mommy code to read it every time I post. :) Love you, mom!!

Zebras. Because it's the only "Z" thing I could think of right now. And zebras are cool. God has a pretty neat way of showing us his creative, artsy side in funky animals like zebras, don't ya think?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 4

Good grief. Week 4 already? I can tell already this summer is going to FLY by. I just went to the school district's website & printed out 1 school supply list and 3 school registration schedules (one for each of the kid's campuses). I do love school supply shopping, but I am not ready for that yet!

June is nearly over already & I can hardly swallow that fact. The month has been so busy, so full of things, that it has made for a very fast-moving last 21 days. Between the girls' trip to Colorado with my parents, Samuel's week at Boy Scout camp in Arkansas, his upcoming week at church camp, and my working at the preschool, it seems like there has been something on the schedule nearly every day! While I love that we've all had things to do (rather than just sitting around, watching TV and snacking all summer!), at the same time I think we may have to schedule some of those lazy days in if we ever intend to have any of them this summer!

This week's events:

*We had our first swim of the summer thanks to some friends who were away from home & let us come sneak into their backyard to enjoy their pool. (Thank you Windy!)

*Samuel had a chance to go work at the church again to help out the Family Ministries pastor and to help pay his way to camp. He is really enjoying the hard work, which is a tad ironic considering the constant condition of his bedroom. (Can you say tornado? Bomb? Hurricane Sam?) Fortunately he'll be leaving for camp next week....which means his bedroom will be unmanned, leaving a chance for this mama to go in & do some serious trashbag time. I'm willing to bet that he won't even realize I threw things away while he was gone.

*Remember the clarinet I mentioned last week? We met with the band director last Friday morning & he approved it! Hooray! We will have to take it in & get some new pads put on it, but that's still way cheaper than having to buy a whole new horn!

*The kids & I enjoyed a half-price milkshake at Sonic this week on Wednesday. They offered the discount for 1 day only (Summer Solstice) so we took them up on the offer. Their hot fudge shake is really yummy, just in case you wondered.

*In preparation for Samuel attending church camp next week, he & I sat down and started packing his things on Wednesday. Tomorrow we will go to Walmart to purchase the last couple of things he needs to take. He is excited about the trip, except for the fact that I am "forcing him" to buy & pack a few pairs of shorts. My crazy boy is such a silly goose. He'd prefer to wear jeans year-round, including in this insane Texas summer heat of 100+ degrees with 90% humidity. Goofball! I'm just praying that he will actually WEAR the shorts a few times while he's there. I hope his bright white legs don't blind anyone when he's rock climbing.

*Sarah & I finished up our final week of the 1st summer session at the preschool. (She's my helper this summer & I am soooooooo glad she's there! I am not sure how anyone has a classroom full of kiddos this age without a 2nd set of hands. God bless you, sweet girl!) We have had a lot of fun getting to know the children in the room. Next week the 2nd summer session will begin. We are losing one of our sweet babies and gaining 2 new little friends. It's always a little difficult to add a new child into the classroom once you've spent a month getting the rest of the kids used to your routine, schedule, rules, etc. so adding 2 new ones will be extra crazy. Prayers for a smooth day on Tuesday would be greatly appreciated! I'm sure we'll figure it out, but it may be a little nutty for a few days til we get our new little friends acclimated to the order of our days.

*Today, Larry celebrated 1 month at his new job. While I can't say exactly what it is he does publicly here on the blog, I can say that he's not a spy, he's not an undercover agent, he's not a private eye and he's not working for the CIA. But what he IS doing is sort of a combination of all those things. Intrigued? You can email me privately for more info if you really care.

*This week I celebrated 5 months at the newspaper. For those of you who don't know or don't remember, I took on a little side job in January writing a column for our local newspaper. Many of the articles I share in my column are editted versions of things I've written here on the blog. I've written some "fresh" articles for the paper, too, but I love having this blog to pull things from when I remember an old post that seems fitting for the newspaper. Due to the newspaper website showing very clearly where I live, I am choosing not to share the link to my columns here on the blog for safety, but if I know you personally and you'd like to read my columns online, email me & I will share that link with you.

I'm sure there are a few other things we've done this week, but at the moment, I'm drawing a blank so I'm going to close with this picture. I took it today at the preschool with one of my little sweeties! Seriously folks, is it any wonder that I love my summer job at the preschool? Could it get any sweeter? I hope you can see the JOY in my face. You can't wipe that grin off my face when I am there!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 3

I sat down to write this post earlier but couldn't come up with anything to say. We've had a pretty quiet week around here. Honestly? I love those weeks! But it doesn't make for exciting blog news. ha ha!

I realized something this week. During the summer, I drink tons more water. I sleep way more than I do during the school year. (Oh how I love having older kids who sleep a little later & entertain themselves if I want to take a short snooze in the afternoon!) I eat way more fruits & veggies. I go for more walks in the late evening with my sweetie, even though it's still blazing hot at 8:30pm. All of these things are so very good for my health. But on the flipside of that, I also go to the gym less often (if at all) and eat fast food more than usual. I think it all balances out because I can still wear my clothes at the end of summer, but I should probably be more intentional about getting to the gym!

When the kids are home, we often find ourselves looking for something to do outside our four walls. We hop in the car and often find ourselves in a stall at Sonic getting half price drinks or an afternoon milkshake. Or we go spend money that we should be saving at the dollar store. You know, land of the plastic junk and crap nobody needs. Where we live, visiting a park is almost as fun as saying "let's all go dance in fire". It's just way too hot to hang out outdoors most days, so somewhere with air conditioning is preferred. It's about time for us to bust out the million board games that are tucked away under the couch & love seat and see how many Monopoly tournaments we can pull off by summer's end.

This week's events:
*Sam made it safely home from Boy Scout camp. Google Camp Orr in Jasper, Arkansas. It's beautiful! He had fun. He came home stinking to high heaven with a grin that we couldn't wipe off for days.

*Sarah's new-to-us clarinet (for her first year in band, next year) arrived in the mail today! Tomorrow morning we are meeting with one of the band directors to let him check it over & make sure it will be approved for her to use. (They only use certain brands, types, etc.) We were DEEPLY blessed by the previous owner of this clarinet --- she sold it to us at a real bargain!

*Sam & Savannah got the opportunity to go work at the church this week. Aside from the fact that they're working to pay for some summer youth events, I love that they're working to help our church staff! The family ministries pastor & the children's director both seemed pleased with their work & thankful that they were there to do it!

*Another fun week of working at the preschool! The kids in my class are a little younger than I'm used to this summer. Today's Circle Time activity particularly cracked me up & reminded me that I need to adjust some of the activities that I do with the kids. Typically, I can 'recycle' ideas and activities that worked well in previous years, but this year, it is a little different. I usually have 3-5 yr olds and this summer, the kids in my class are all in the 2 1/2 yr old range. Anyone who has worked in early childhood programs can tell you that there is a HUGEEEEE difference in a 2 1/2 year old and a 5 year old. Speech is completely different, fine & large motor skills are completely different, reason & logic are completely different, they are really just in a complete other universe developmentally. Sometimes I forget that & press ahead with things that are over their heads. Halfway through I smack myself in the forehead & think "Oh yeah! They really can't do this yet!"

Today, we sat down to discuss things that their fathers like to do (since we talked about Father's Day this week). The paper I used is pre-printed & shows pictures of about 8 things that dads might like to do: golfing, fishing, hunting, lifting weights, riding a bike, and a couple other things. The kids are supposed to identify 1 or 2 things that their father likes to do before I move on to the next child. Instead, today I found that they were much more intrigued with talking about the things in the pictures or claiming that their dad does ALL of the activities or performing sound effects to illustrate each picture. It was a hilarious endeavor because it took 10 times longer than it should have and I have no idea if any of the answers they gave were legitimate truths about their fathers. Ha ha! Score one for the kids!

*I have looked back & forth between the piles of books waiting for me to read and a book of math & logic puzzles I have been working through all week. I guess my brain's been more in the puzzle mode this week because I've only read about 2 pages in one of my books. That's ok. I'm loving my puzzles and I'm positive I will catch up on my reading later in the summer!

*Speaking of reading, I was so tickled to find out this little gem of information from a friend! During the last week of school, I was talking to a coworker at the school as she looked through her wallet for a card of some kind. As she pulled things out, I saw a Barnes & Noble Educators Discount card. I asked about it & she said that all you have to do is go into any B&N store & show them your ID badge for the school where you work & voila, you get a discount card! It takes 20% off every item you buy (excluding magazines) and it's good for 2 years.

Let's just say that I got Larry's Father's Day present yesterday....and I saved 20% buying it!

(And for my homeschooling friends---you can get one too! On the form I had to fill out, it asked what kind of school you work for & homeschooling was listed! Check it out!)

I think that's about it for this week. My challenges to myself this coming week include drinking EVEN MORE water (I may float away--just look for the pairs of animals & you'll find me), break out the camera & take some summer pictures of my babies, get to the least a couple times!

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A picture is worth 1000 words!

As I mentioned in last night's post, Samuel left for Boy Scout camp on Sunday. He returns home tomorrow evening. There is ZERO cell phone reception where he is so the contraband cell phone he snuck into his bag is useless there. Needless to say, I have not heard ANYTHING from him since he pulled out of the church parking lot last weekend.

Tonight, one of the dads who went to camp posted this picture to Facebook on the troop's private page. I had to giggle. For 3 reasons.

1. Sam has his trademark smudge of breakfast/lunch/supper on the side of his mouth. He *always* walks around like this until I point it out & either do the mama cleaning (ya know...lick my thumb & wipe it off) or I send him to clean his face. It's always in the exact same spot, in the corner where he wipes his mouth with his dominant right hand & smears it down toward his chin. I have to laugh because, considering that he's at camp with a bunch of men & boys, there's a good chance that smudge has been there since Monday. ha ha!!!

2. He idolizes his daddy. Fortunately, he's got an amazing dad who is worth all the weight he gives him. Larry has always got a pen or two in his pocket. His job has him constantly writing down little details or interviewing someone where he's taking notes, so he's always ready to write. Do you see what Samuel has in his pocket? He hasn't seen Larry in a week, but he always has a little bit of his daddy in his head, heart...or pocket!

3. I can almost taste the exhaustion. The look on his face says it all. You know the one, the look that says "I could fall over right here & sleep for 3 days." I know it's exhaustion from a week of FUN! I can't wait to get him home & hear about all the adventures and cool stuff he's done this week. They're leaving at 6am to start the drive home. We should see him by suppertime.

Sometimes a picture really does say 1000 words. This one speaks at least 4 --- I love this boy!

(Faces of the other boys have been covered to protect their identity.)

Pretty Please....

Before you do anything else, click on the link over on the right side of this page that says Praying for Noah. It's the sweet picture of the little boy. Go read today's update posted by his mother, Kate. It's the one titled "Unbelievable". (If you are reading this via email, go to

After you read it, PRAY for him. And don't just pray, post a comment here or on Noah's blog and let his family know you're praying. (If you post it here, I will let the family know.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

For many years now I have attended a local Women of Faith event with great anticipation of hearing one of my favorite speakers, Marilyn Meberg. The first time I went to one of the WOF conferences, I saw her in the line up of speakers & convinced myself that I wouldn't enjoy her talks. I don't know why, but she just didn't have "the look". She looked more uptight or serious or reserved or something. With all the other ladies being so silly & fun, I suspected that Ms. Meberg's talks would be more serious, less likely to make me laugh.

Boy was I wrong!!!

Marilyn Meberg became one of my favorite speakers at the very first event I attended. She is a psychologist by trade, but she really should take on a job as a stand up comic. Ms. Meberg is able to make you laugh, cry, gasp in shock, and look inward with such great depth that you see things in yourself you had no idea existed. All in one talk. She is both intelligent and hilarious, and her love for the Word of God is apparent.

And so, when Booksneeze offered a book by Marilyn Meberg, I jumped at the chance to review it! ( offers free books to bloggers in return for reviews on their blog sites.) I was sent a copy of her latest book, Constantly Craving, last month. It has proved to be just as fabulous as all of Ms. Meberg's talks at the Women of Faith events I so dearly love.

Constantly Craving focuses on the way we, as human beings are constantly on a search for more. It discusses at length the psychological & spirital reasons and implications why we all have this habit. It is about the way these cravings for more, better, newer, nicer (etc, etc, etc) always leaves us empty & searching, never completely satisfied.

Ms. Meberg discusses cravings in life in regards to romance, marriage, contentment, happiness, friendships, time management, and more. She points out that Eve wanted "more" than what God created for her (perfection in the garden) -- and we all have tried to crawl back toward that perfection ever since. We all have an "itch" for something more that is out there, although we don't really know what it is we're craving.

I would definitely recommend this book. It is not a light-hearted read, however, so if you're looking for a pleasure read, this might not be your book. This one is for introspection, studying and spending a lot of time thinking through the chapters Ms. Meberg so expertly created. If that's the kind of book you're looking for, you will really enjoy this one!

Summer 2012: Week 2

Another week has gone by in our summer!

On Friday 6/1/12, the girls and Larry came home! Larry spent several days out of town for work and the girls came home from a trip with my parents. Such a treat to get them all HOME!

On Sunday 6/3/12, Sam left for Boy Scout camp. I won't say where he is or when he's due back home here on the blog, but I will say that I'm anxious to get him home because we have had ZERO communication with him this week. Hopefully he's not making his counselors crazy. We've seen a couple of pictures of the location and it looks beautiful!!

Every morning this week, Savannah has attended a training class for our youth group's upcoming "5 Day Club". It's like Vacation Bible School at a local park. The kids will run the show with a handful of adults there to supervise & help out. Savannah will be teaching the missionary story. Sam will also be helping to lead the club (he'll help with the music) but since he has had to miss this week's training, the other boys who are planning to lead music with him will have to get together & teach him all the songs & motions later. Sarah & I will also attend the club as helpers!

One day this week while Savannah was in her training class, Sarah & I had to kill some time. The class is 2 hours long & at the very far opposite end of town from where we live. I couldn't justify driving home & coming back later due to the time or gas it would take to do so. So in an effort to fill the time, we visited a local science museum. The museum is really geared more toward kids in the 3-10 year range. My kids have all been to summer day camps at this museum and we've visited it probably 15 times over the years, so we really do know the place inside out, but it was still fun! There were a few new exhibits that have been added so it wasn't a total bust. Here are a few pictures of the fun!

A cool machine where kids can test their skills at using hand controls to operate a machine similar to what surgeons use in laproscopic surgeries.

a new rocking climbing wall

In the pretend news studio, Sarah decided I could do the news & she'd run the cooking segment of the show. I was sitting in the "control booth" watching her through a glass wall here.

She approached the monitor I was watching & did this. ha ha! Gotta love 11 year olds!

She took this one of me behind the news desk.

Two mornings this week, Sarah & I took care of some sweeties in my preschool classroom. She's such a lifesaver to have there with me. Having a second set of hands (and a 2nd story reader, and a 2nd person to walk kids to the potty, and a 2nd person to help with clean up, and......) is so awesome! I snapped this picture today. (Yes, I covered the kids' faces on purpose!)

Summer is sweet at our house. How is yours going?