Friday, September 30, 2011

When God Gives Back

We're starting all over and laying good soil down because the
soil you see here isn't too great.  So, no more grass for a bit
till the new soil is laid.
Recently I had a neighbor who went to have surgery.  She didn't come back for 2 months because she almost died!  I couldn't believe it.  Well, she needed me to run her some errands, go to doctor's appointments, etc.  It took several hours but she was just really in a lot of pain and the poor gal had to get in and out of my tall van.  It LOOKED painful.  By the end of the day we drop her off and she can't barely get out because her body was really hurting. It was towards the evening when I get a phone call from her and she says, "I'm sending over a landscaper to do your front and back yard and clean it up really nice."  Wow, what a blessing!  We really spend no time out there during the heat of the summer so it was just looking really bad.  This guy was so fast he had it done in an hour.  An hour!  We take so much longer when we work outside.  I went outside in amazement and the beauty of our backyard and couldn't believe she gave us such a blessing.  It was not cheap to hire him but she did it as a gift.  

What's really crazy was before she called, I was talking to Ryan and telling him thanks for being so patient riding around for so long (along with the other kids).  I told him that we don't do things for a profit or to get something back.  It should just come from our heart and caring for people that need help.  Literally, my neighbor called 15 minutes later with a lovely gift of landscaping for free.  Ryan was so grateful he grabbed a shovel and went outside to work with him.  That boy amazes me.  God amazes me.  It's amazed how He knows your needs, the desires of your heart.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Buy Used?

Our "new" couch
One of the biggest lessons we've learned since changing careers was how to save money.  At first we made a lot of mistakes being used to a bigger income.  Over time I finally figured out that it's just not possible to spend more than you earn. We paid off our debt 5 years ago and didn't want to go back into credit.  Since everything had to be paid with cash, it was either we have it or we don't.  

We've been waiting and waiting to get a couch that would fit our family.  Our old way would be to go to a furniture store and just put one on credit, bring it home, and make payments.  That's how we got our tables.  By the way, those are the worst tables every that we bought at Mor Furniture.  I'm embarrassed to even tell you what we paid.

Girls in their "new" outfits
We always went to the mall to buy our clothes before and it didn't bother me one bit to drop $40 on one shirt.  Now that makes me cringe.  I've been keeping a list of clothes that are needed in the house and waiting for a half off day at a local thrift store.  So I took my list and headed over with the kids.  We stick to the list to save money and not bring stuff home we don't need.  First we headed to the shoe rack.  Another lady was standing there staring at the shoes.  I just grabbed all the ones that looked new, had my kids try them on and threw them in the cart.  By the time we were finished with that section I had emptied half the rack.  No joke, only the used looking ones were left and that poor lady was still standing there trying to decide on one. :)  We had one cart completely full of just shoes.  

Ivy needed just shirts and tights so we headed there. She has lots of skirts but they needed tights to make them more modest.  Then she needed shirts.  We grabbed about 2 weeks worth of new looking tights and shirts and headed out of that section.  Kyle needed only regular shirts and Chaz and Ryan needed dress shirts.  They also needed belts.  As soon as our list was fulfilled we headed out.

Just as we were heading out we saw the couch we'd been looking for.  It's hard being patient sometimes but patience paid off!  We wanted a couch where we could easily wipe stuff off, was dark, and could fit our whole family.  This was perfect.  We grabbed it for $100!  Before, we would had no problem putting a couple $1000 on credit to get something like this.  Oh, the lessons we learn.  If only we knew this stuff back when we could've bought used and saved the difference.  Now it's out of survival but then we could've saved the difference.  

I think people assume that buying used means you dress poorly and it's real obvious.  Well, it can be obvious if we're not picky of course.  lol.  There has been times where I walked into a used store and could only find one thing that met something on my list and looked new.  Also, there has been times we walked out with nothing.

Lessons learned the hard way I guess but better late than never, right?  :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caleb Turns 2!

The last kid birthday we celebrate this year is Caleb's!  He's two years old now.  Wow, time sure flies.

Lately I've been thinking about how fast my kids are growing up.  My oldest is 11.  If the first 11 years flew by so fast, won't he next seven years go even quicker?  Chaz will be 18 in seven years.  It just amazed me how fast life seems to speed at.

Caleb kept just trying to take huge bites out of his cupcake.  It was so cute.

We love our little Caleb Joseph.  He's really stolen our hearts.  The kids all adore him and will do anything for him.  Whenever he falls down there is a kid who runs to pick him up.  When he was a baby it broke their hearts to hear him cry.  They'd always get me right away and want to me immediately rescue him.

My mom holding Caleb in church.  :)

He loves Nana and can spot her from really far away. When he does see her he runs as fast as he can to her.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Boys Got Baptized!

My two oldest boys were baptized last night at church! I'm so proud of them and know they were being brave by going up in front of 300 people. They have both been asking me for over a year but I just wanted to make sure they knew what they were doing and be ready.

Nowhere in the bible does it say to baptize infants but only when they understand what they are doing.  When they have accepted Christ and make a choice to be baptized.

In the mic Ryan said, "Hi, my name is Ryan for those of you that don't know me.  I asked Jesus into my heart and now I just want to obey God and get baptized."

I thought the first part was cute since everyone there has pretty much known Ryan since he was born.  Many changed his diaper in nursery.  :)  Soooo cute.

Charles and I were super proud!

Chaz gave a great testimony too but he was SUPER nervous up there.  I'm so proud of him though because it's not easy standing up with a ton of people staring at you.  He kept his short and sweet.  :)

By the way, my boys don't normally dress that casual in church.  They just had to change into something they could get wet in.  :D
Chaz coming back up after being baptized.

Chaz and Ryan are just so close in age that they tend to do everything together. They are my Irish twins.  :)  They are 12 months apart in age.

Proud mommy and daddy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kid's First Day of Homeschool School!

I signed my kids up for a different kind of school that is only for homeschooled kids. They can go once a week and get extra help or just their extra curriculars.  They can even join band!  So my kids are signed up for Fridays only and they were so excited. Finally, they got to use their new backpacks I bought a couple of months ago.  I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of their first day!  Here is Ashley and Caleb as we were leaving the school.  You would think Caleb is squished here but he never complains loves it when Ashley sits on his lap.  She's such a lightweight.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to run some major errands and I didn't stop till school was out at 3:30pm.  I set up the little ones under a shade while I washed the van and cleaned it out.  Tee hee.... They had drinks and cookies so they were happy.

After I took care of the van I drove about 45 minutes away to my Mother-in-law's work. She had some miniature chickens. They are amazing!  They are the size of one month old chickens yet they are full grown. I can't wait to see the eggs.  I know they look big in the picture but I can hold them with one hand.  Its just hard to tell their size from a picture.

When I picked up the kids from school, after they loaded in the van I turned around and saw Ivy with these huge ears that says "I can hear."  So cute.  You can only get away with little kids doing something like that.  Only little kids would walk around with huge ears and them be proud of it.  It was so cute.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Mother's Sacrifice

Oh, this store breaks my heart and is amazing at the same time. It amazes me a mother's love, especially in these days where abortion is so rampant. This mother not only gave her child life, but she gave her own so he could keep his.

This is a true story of Mother’s Sacrifice during the Japan Earthquake.

After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head. 

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

22 Hilarious Adult Truths

These are funny and I had to share them with you.  Hopefully, if you're having a hard day, this will give you a chuckle.  

1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

2. Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

21. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

22. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important!!!

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Fun

I can't believe I forgot to share with you the party we had for Kyle and Ashley.  The birthdays are so close together that it just happens in a whirlwind.  Ivy kicks it off first in July, then 2 weeks later is Chaz, 2 weeks, Ryan's, 2 weeks Kyle's, 2 weeks Ashley's, and then 1 week later is Caleb's.  So his is coming in just a few days and he's turning 2 years old!  This year we decided to put Kyle's and Ashley's together because they both chose Chuck E Cheese to celebrate at.

OF COURSE I brought lots of coupons for all the pizza, drinks and tokens.  It is very costly there but not as much as Amazing Jakes.  We usually we'll do something big for each kid every other year.  Then the next year we keep it small.  Thankfully my blog helps me to keep track of who gets a big birthday in what year. :D

On a big party year we let the kids pick a friend or two that they'd like to bring along.  We don't always have a ton of friends, we still keep it small.  So Kyle picked a buddy and Ashley picked a buddy.  Was so cute.  Those buddies happened to be siblings so they brought their mom and older sister.

We don't go overboard on gifts but get them one or two at the most.

Man, this age is sooo easy to shop for. We just had to get some barbies for Ashley and a cool dart gun for Kyle and they were happy campers.  It gets so much more complicated when they get older.

So this next baby that's due in May has it good because his/her birthday will be set apart.  Kinda wish I could've kept the tradition of having their birthdays two weeks apart.  That was never a chosen tradition though so I can't really plan that.

Easy Strawberry Banana Milkshake

My friend showed this recipe on her page but without the sugar. I did try it without the sugar but my husband liked it added.  :) Be sure to check out her cooking blog because she's a fantastic cook and she cooks for her large family.

It's sooo good though.  The picture shows less bananas because in this house, strawberries and bananas go FAST.  I didn't make it in time but this is what you use.

*3 bananas
*Fill up to almost top with strawberries
*1/4 cup of sugar
*Fill up to top of strawberries with milk

Blend till smooth!

Soooo easy and super delicious.  It goes so fast we usually have to make two of these to be enough for all of us.

Finding a Curriculum That Works For Large Families

Today I had to call K12 and ask them to take my kids off the program.  They were trying to talk me back into it but I said no way.  They asked which program I was using and whether it was legal.  They did what another friend did that is on K12 administration.  They just figured the program I was using is trying to ditch government regulations which is not true.  I do feel that K12 can work for some families, maybe not large families, but it can work.  I honestly feel that it's not very suitable when homeschooling several kids at a time. They just require too many meetings, phone calls, deadlines that could mesh together and cause havoc when just trying to get their regular assignments out.  Just trying to schedule regular appointments and doctors got to be kind of crazy and caused us to miss deadlines.  There just isn't really any freedom in it.  Before I always said I wasn't a K12 fan but now I can say it from experience.  NOT a K12 fan.  Really though, if I had one kid it probably would be a great program.  I could just split it up throughout the day and it would even be enjoyable.  They give some really fantastic materials and I'm gonna miss the extra computer.

My younger ones are using an online program called Mesa Distance Learning (which also comes with book work) and my older kids are using Switched on Schoolhouse.  I'm just amazed at the difference in the day and how much more freedom we have to go to learning places.  Before, wanting to even go to a museum was just impossible and I had to pass up a lot of good learning field trips for my kids. Our day is much less stressful and I feel like I got my family back.  I'm no longer a zombie in the evening and the kids aren't hating school. 

The really cool thing is my kids are now enrolled in a school that is only on Fridays! It's a school just for homeschooled kids and you can pick the day.  Friday was open and my kids are super excited to use their new backpacks.  It's really nice to have that backup and having a Teacher give them some tutoring.  We've met some fantastic friends before through this school since they've gone before. They're excited!

My lovely kitchen
There are so many other fantastic curriculums out there for large families and I guess its just about what works for yours.  I would love to hear what your family uses.  Do you piece together yours and with what? Use a put together set?  Online program?  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giving Your Trash a Pick Up with Designerliners

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Designerliners will be featured on starting Thursday 10/6 for either two or three days. They are being offered at $3.00 off the regular 12-pack price!

I had these really cute Designerliners sent to me and I use them for the bathroom and office.  They are a perfect size because usually I'm using bags that just barely fit over the basket.  Then when I go to take the garbage out, it's usually overflowing. These ones give plenty of room to pull up and tie.  Besiiiiiides all that, they are super cute and you can pick the style for the room your basket was in.  I was sent the leopard print but my favorite is the black and white polka dot.  It's like giving your normal, everyday trash bag a pick-me-up.

Here is what mine looks like that was sent to me. We keep this one in the office.

Cute, huh?

Product Description Designerliners are stylish biodegradable trash bags that can beautify any room in the home. The bags come in ten different color/pattern combinations; Pink Polka Dot, Orange Polka Dot, Navy Blue Polka Dot, Red Gingham, Gold Gingham, Black Leopard, Blue Leopard, Red Toile, Blue Toile, and Black Tattersol.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bringing My Monkeys to the Zoo

We got another zoo membership and since its our absolute favorite place to go on a monthly basis, we're excited!  We love to bring a picnic every time and get to be involved when they have special events.

They made a brand new area for the orangutans so we got to go inside of a atrium type building where you can look all around you to see the monkeys.  Underneath us was their night house and hospital.  There were so many upgrades since we had been there last.  

I love the picture (above) of Charles and Caleb.  It is so sweet!  

Ashley (above) leading her brother around in the caves that shoot water.  It's still pretty warm out so we were excited they hadn't shut the water off yet.

We took a break and had lunch while watching the kids play in the water.  My dad is to the right of the picture.

(Above) As we walked up to the turtles my kids asked "Mommy, why is that turtle bothering the other one?"  I replied, "Oh, they are just wrestling." 


The conversation that happened around the Rhinos was how big of a spank would it take for the Rhino to even flinch?  Would it take a really big "whap!" or just a small one to notice?  Would he get angry?  I don't know but we talked about this for a good 15 minutes.  

I am very scared of seeing the tigers.  I don't know why, I just really keep a grip on my kids when we pass by that area.  I guess because of the story I heard recently of a kid on a school field trip climbing over the fence and running into the cage to "pet the kitty."  Yeah, so I get really nervous.

A lady was inside the fox cage cleaning the windows but we had fun with this one.  We walked up and said , "Ohhhh, what is this?  It's a human!!!  Wow!"  We kept talking about it but she didn't even crack a smile. It was so funny.  To us. 

(My dad is so sweet carrying around Caleb).  Well, this is the cage that the lady was cleaning.  The sign actually said "FOX".  I resisted the urge when she was cleaning the cage to say "Look, it's a fox!"  She might've gotten really offended.

The lady finally finished cleaning the windows so we could see the actual fox.  Cute.  His hearing must be really good with those ears.

If you look really close you can see the bugs cool eyes.  I loved taking this picture.  

Kyle and Ivy (above) are so cute.  I saw them sitting up on the tree house and took their pics. When I take pictures I rarely make my family pose because I just like to catch them playing.  Pictures are so much more fun to look at when they are just natural.  

We were looking at the turtles here and there were a lot more than last time.  They had to get rid of a lot of them and sell them because people were dumping their turtles in there.  They said what happens is parents buy their kids turtles as gifts but they don't realize they are gonna keep growing.  Once they get too big, the  parents will bring the turtle and dump them here.  The problem is they were bringing ones that eat the zoo turtles.  So they had a big net catching them all.  

It such great exercise walking around the zoo.  By the time we got home we just collapsed.  If I were to pick between going to family fun places or having more material things, I pick going places with my family 100 times over. 

Chaz walking Caleb to the exit with.  You can tell Caleb had fun on the playground and water just by the back of his pants.  

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