11:19 AM Posted In Edit This 2 Comments »
I never understood the appeal of a slow-cooker... I mean what's the point when you actually like to cook anyway? But as the weather turns colder and the big old bear in me comes out, (You know, the one who wants to hibernate under the covers for the entire cold season?) I find myself desiring to heed the advice to just keep a pot of beans or something else healthy and filling in the crock all day so people can feed themselves when they're hungry. Then Mommy can huddle under her super-soft blankies on the couch while we school, read, and sleep away the cold weather.

The only problem being, of course, that I didn't own a crock pot.

In comes my wonderful husband, who -brace yourselves because i know you're going to be jealous!- has the sweetest tendency to suddenly show up with very useful items I've casually mentioned I would like to have.

(I'm not asking for them, I promise! It will just come up in conversation and I, not thinking, will say 'Oh I could use one of those!' or 'If I had one of these, this would be so much simpler!' and it always seems to appear in my darlings hands a few days later!)

Thus, a couple of weeks ago, an awesome, HUGE, automated crock-pot magically appeared on my kitchen counter!


And. I. LOVE. it.
It's the most AMAZING appliance EVER.
Seriously.

So, I figure the very least i can do is keep it full and steaming of yummy winter treats. Today's is red and black beans and rice with turkey sausage, onions, brown sugar, italian herbs. I'm going to have the girls make us some cornbread after Quiet Time to go with it.

(Did I ever mention the value of teaching your young daughters to cook your recipes? It's AMAZING. They actually BEG to cook... simply fantastic! I help with the hot parts but I don't see it being much longer before they take over my oven from me!)

Yummy. I think fall just got a little toastier around here. And I get to take a few more minutes relaxing in my PJ's :)


Sometime I'm going to have to tell you about my latest gift : A Shiny New Skill Saw!

Don't presume...A (polite) Tirade to Impolite People

7:01 PM Edit This 2 Comments »
I am a Christian, home schooling, stay-at-home, biblically submissive wife and mother to six children, although we would welcome any more God choose to give us with happy hearts. There. I said it. What is it about that statement that upsets so many people?

As such, I have to contend with a lot of stereotypes and preconceived notions on a daily basis, and although I must be polite, I don’t have to let it passed un-noticed. This is for all those women like me who were raised, or chose as an adult, to be ladies, not divas.

Don’t presume that I’m fanatical because I home school my children. Although, definitions of fanatical differ wildly between individuals, I assure you I am most definitely NOT crazy. I treasure my children, I treasure their ability to be children and I refuse to allow them to have their innocence stolen by strangers who don’t care a whit about them or their education as long as they keep their funding. (And yes, I do know that there are teachers who DO care, but the system and the people running don’t!) I refuse to have my girls objectified and taught that their worth is in their bodies and not in their minds. I refuse to have my boys grow up into perpetual children because ‘boys will be boys!’. Boys will be boys, but my boys will grow into men!

Don’t presume that my children are brilliant and I’m superwoman because I home school our children. It’s not my fault that my children know who Dionysus, or Alexander, or Brutus was and your’s don’t. It’s not my fault that my children read Shakespeare and your’s don’t. It’s not my fault that my children can appreciate a masterpiece by Delacroix and your’s can’t. It’s not my fault that my children understand natural processes and the scientific method and your’s don’t. It’s not my fault that my kids are eager to learn and your’s aren’t. I teach my children these things… what do you teach yours?

Don’t presume that I’m weak and stupid because I submit to my husband. I can strip down an engine and rebuild it. I can build a house, including wiring and plumbing, from the ground up. I can break a wild horse. I can milk a cow, and a goat, for that matter. I can plant a field and drive a tractor. I can run heavy machinery. I can wield a chainsaw like nobodies’ business. My husband bought me a new ax and a hatchet for my birthday last year and I was thrilled. I have my own set of tools, and they are not pink. I can slaughter a chicken, and dress out a deer. I am an excellent marksmen, with a rifle, handgun, and bow. I am college educated and graduated top of my class. I am well-read, well-versed, and well-spoken. Does that sound weak and stupid to you? I submit to my husband, not only because God demands it, but because he's an amazing man and deserves it.

Don’t presume that we only eat gross or bland food because we eat kosher, or that we can‘t enjoy eating out. Especially if you’ve eaten in my house multiple times and keep coming back for more! We eat well. What’s more than that, we eat healthy. And our choice to abstain from pork, and follow other dietary laws, doesn’t make us kooks, it makes us, US. Oh, and do you children voluntarily choose healthy (kosher!) food over junk, and does your husband and his friends spend hours raving to people they meet about what you cooked for dinner last night? Do you have people beg you to cook your ‘specialty’ for them? No? Mine does and people do. Don’t dog my cooking because I don’t season everything with pig fat.

Don’t presume we’re horrible, strict, mean, or abusive parents because our children behave, have chores, and are held to high standards. It would be completely unacceptable if my husband went to work, did half the job, shoddily, was rude to his customers, and knocked off early because he didn’t feel like working- why should I treat my adults-in-progress as if they are not capable of completing a task without getting distracted or without conducting themselves like brats all the time? I understand each child at each age has limitations, and I expect them to fulfill their potential at that age and ability. Ever wonder why your kids like spending time at my house and actually behave for me when they are hellions for you? Maybe because I don’t let bad attitudes and bad habits slide by ‘because it’s just a phase’- I expect, am given, and GIVE respect! Hard work is rewarding, and completing a job an amazing feeling. Remember, what you learn as a child, you are as adult.

Don’t presume that I’m lazy because you stop by unannounced and my floor needs mopping, my kitchen is a mess, and my kids are dirty. We live here. Our home is not a stop during our daily business, or an inn to sleep in: We love, learn, play, explore, create, experiment, work, study, and embrace life here. Try having 8 people in your house all day long and see if it still looks like a model home. If it does: kudos to you! But most likely, you’ll be pulling your hair out and shouting at everyone to clean up the mess. We clean, and we work hard, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to limit our children by making them stop in the middle of being knighted by the queen for slaying a terrible dragon to have them pick up the blankets and toys they strewed out during their adventure… it can wait until they finish their game! It doesn’t bother me, and if you couldn’t pick up the phone before you left your house for a head’s up, you shouldn’t expect anything less.


Don’t presume that because we live at home that we don’t have lives, friends, appointments, and places to go or are at your very beck and call because we home school
. If my best friend has to schedule an afternoon out with me almost a month in advance, and always calls to make sure we‘re home and available, what makes you any better? We will always genuinely welcome guests and help out those who need it, but don’t assume that you can call on me to run your every errand or visit you everyday of the week. Education, for one example, is not a joke, and it doesn’t spontaneously, somehow magically, appear in children’s heads, even in home schooled children‘s heads. We are too busy to have to deal with your misconceptions, and have too much on our calendar to let you waste our time.

Don’t presume we are geeky because we home school or are home schooled. We most definitely aren’t. We aren’t afraid to be ourselves. We know how to express ourselves, converse with people, and we are not bound by societies notions of ‘cool’. And in case I’ve missed something that makes us very cool. We aren’t afraid of being ourselves, whether it’s spending an entire afternoon at an art museum or hanging out with bikers. My children are dancers, cheerleaders, and soon-to-be football and baseball players. We ‘fit in’ and ‘hang out’ with everyone from Mennonites to professional sports players to actors and singers to scientists to missionaries to regular folks off the street. We are not shrouded by cliques or controlled by peer pressure, but if that makes us geeky… so be it.

I could go on and on, but in the interest of time, yours and mine, I’ll leave it there. I hope I’ve not been too rude or straight forward, but if I have, maybe it will make you think before you begin to judge the next person you meet who is like me.

Shalom.

Oh, and I have to add: Yes, they’re all mine AND my husband’s. Yes, we know what causes it- why do you think we have so many? And Yes, we’re glad it us and not you too.

Peace Out.

It's a strange kind of morning...

2:54 AM Edit This 0 Comments »
It really is.

For one thing, I woke up before my alarm clock this morning (which I never do so I feel uber-productive sitting here at 4:56 am typing away).

For another, I discovered that every drop of my shampoo and conditioner had been used from the bathroom. (No, I'm not complaining! I promise! I just whipped out my DH's new stuff and used it! Who cares if I smell like Old Spice, huh?)

Then I realized I'd forgotten to take the clothes out of the dryer yesterday, so they were wet again from the condensation.

Then my last unbroken coffee mug was mysteriously cracked.

And my cappichino tastes funny (shows what I get for being adventurous first thing in the morning!)

Ah well... I just felt like sharing that. Here's hoping the rest of the day is much more normal!

A Cupcake to Describe Me?

11:55 AM Edit This 6 Comments »
Yummy- A Cupcake Challenge? OH ABSOLUTELY!

I'm all about the kitchen right now, and so when I found out Amy was hosting this Homemaker's Challenge- in the kitchen- cooking- and I get a yummy treat out of it- I am SO THERE!

I went through a personal debate about what exactly should I do? A traditional cupcake with my own personal flair? A super fancy show-off type cupcake? Or should I abandon the idea of an edible cupcake all around?

Well... you know me- I couldn't pass up the chance to drag out my favorite muffin tin- so here's what I came up with!



OK. It's not 100% original. I got the idea from Martha Stewart, the ultimate homemaker who ironically makes her living teaching others to be just like her. (We will leave out the whole 'her kids hate her and she's divorced' part. It's much better to just focus on what she does best!)

But this cupcake was truly me. At it's core, it's a very simple buttermilk cupcake- 1 bowl, and less than 5 minutes in the mixing. But when you take a closer look, there's something really awesome about it's simplicity. It's surrounded by so much flavor and so much color that you just can't help but appreciate the mix of the classic and the bold.

The frosting is really just plain cream cheese- in my opinion the very, very best cheese discovery EVER! I add it to everything I can. It's rich and creamy, just enough to really make it's presence known, but at the same time, melts in your mouth without too much sweetness or tartness. (Yeah... that's my delectable description of cream cheese- not of me! I'm sure it relates some how, though!)

Add in the chance to drag out the crystal tea cups and I think I've made a new favorite! It's SO GOOD!

And the purple goo at the bottom? Homemade blackberry jam. Need I say more?

Menu Planning in a Small Kitchen

8:34 AM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
Now, you may be wondering why I am starting with menu planning when there's so much more organizing that can and should be done in the kitchen. The reason is simple:

The main point of the kitchen is to feed your family!

You can't feed your family if you don't know what you're going to cook!

Ok, maybe you can. But I bet if you do, you end up eating processed foods a lot more than you'd like to admit! We did too, before menu planning became part of my week.

How do you get started menu planning?
It can seem like an overwhelming task- you have to come up all that food you're going to eat, make a grocery list for a week (or more) in advance, and how do you know what your family is going to want to eat on a particular day?

Don't get overwhelmed! The simplest way to start menu planning is to keep a notebook on your kitchen counter and write down a meal every time you eat it, and what all you used in cooking that meal. Then, after a couple of weeks, you have a nice little list of foods your family enjoys along with a shopping list, so you just repeat!

If you're more into instant gratification, you still need to start simple. Gather up your favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and supper and put them all together in a binder. You can decorate it if you want, but it's not necessary- just give it a home somewhere that's easily accessible for both cooking and planning (You may need to move that part of your home management into the kitchen unless you want a workout dashing back and forth to check how much vanilla extract is left when you're making out your grocery list!)



Now, get a piece of paper and divide it into 3 rows: Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper. Or you can print out my personal favorite (the one pictured below) from here. Flip through your recipe book and as a meal stands out, write it down and pick a day. (Be sure to check your calendar to see what you're doing that day so you'll know if you will have time to cook that particular meal!)

As you decide on meals, open the cabinets and see if you are running low on the ingredients, and add it to your shopping list.



Now, for the clincher: Take those recipes out of the binder as you find them. Move them all to the front. That way, when you are standing over the stove at 6am with sleep in your eyes, you're not hunting for that crepe recipe that doesn't need to sit over night that you planned on cooking that morning!




See? It's not complicated at all! Before long, you'll be able to plan as you go instead of devoting an entire block of time to it once or twice a week! And being ready to USE your kitchen is the first step to having it organized, regardless of size, for your family!

Making Your Home a Haven: Week 1

2:33 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »

Courtney at Women Living Well is hosting a Fall Challenge- Making Your Home a haven. I love reading her blog and I think she's awesome, so I'm so excited to be able to do her Fall Challenge!

I also love this statement she makes:

I believe we women can create a physical environment, as well as a spiritual environment, that can bring peace, harmony and a sense of calmness to our homes if we are willing to be intentional.

Each week, we have a different challenge, relating to making our homes more peaceful for ourselves and our families. Week 1's (which starts today) challenge is this:

October 4 - Go buy an extra large candle and light a candle everyday in your home.
I will be starting mine in the morning! But you can start yours at dinner time. Do what makes sense for your family. I will be placing mine in the kitchen - the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.

Oh, this is so easy for me! I feel like I'm cheating because I already have the required supplies! AND, I already light it as soon as I sit down to check my email the first time in the morning. :)



(Excuse the pile of paper and Dr. Pepper- I'm taking a break from lesson planning to blog!)

The brown blob in the middle (ok, so it's not an oversized candle!) is my cinnamon roll scented candle. I love it and since it only comes out in the fall, I have a supply! LOL.

So each time I sit down here for this or that (which is about 100 times a day) I will be saying a little prayer for peace in my home.

A wise woman builds her home,
but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
Proverbs 14:1

Will you join me in this challenge?

Unexpected things I love about homeschooling.

7:52 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
There was a post on the Homeschool Lounge asking what was our ONE, unexpected, favorite thing about homeschooling... I, obviously, couldn't stop at one. :)

Unexpected things I love about homeschooling:

1- Eating breakfast at noon, and not being late for anything.

2- Doing schoolwork on the trampoline in the fall, fighting with the little boys to not bounce us so much!

3- Starting school at 3pm because that movie we've been dieing to see came on after breakfast.

4- Spending an entire day watching cheerleading videos with my little girls.

5- Being able to go shopping when the stores are empty and...

6- Doing schoolwork in the car between stores in our new fuzzy slippers in broad daylight.

7- Watching the light bulb going off in my kids head after they've struggled with something for a while.

8- Listening to the children have educated (for 5 & 6 yos anyway!) conversations about things I didn't realize they'd learned.

9- Forgetting about grammar and science to spend the afternoon learning how to make coins.

10- My six year old teaching an adult stranger about the Native Americans.

11- Listening to my oldest daughter read Treasure Island for the first time when she doesn't realize I'm listening.

12- Staying up until 3 am making jewelry on a school night.

13- Having my son count to 100 one hundred times a day.

14- Experiencing the pain of my first 'drop your child off and drive away' line, and being thankful it's an extremely rare experience.

15- When my two year old, not-even-in-preschool, son reads a book to me.

16- Homeschool Days at museums.

17- Homeschool Days at amusement parks.

18- Homeschool Days at popular attractions.

19- Teacher discounts.

20- Having a child who starts a business at age 6, and actually makes money at it.

21- The look of surprise on public school parents' faces when I tell them my very socially adept children are homeschooled.

22- The look of amazement on teachers' faces when I tell them my children are homeschooled.

23- Finding all the coolest, free hangouts and being able to call them 'field-trips' while we all get to meet awesome people and play all day.

24- "Go ask your Dad."

25- Piled up in pallets in the living room watching Star Wars and Lord of the Ring marathons.

26- Other homeschooling families.

27- Kids who enjoy tramping around old historic sites and Revolutionary War Cemeteries.

28- Being able to catch the earlier tour b/c we're not tied to desks.

29- Being able to catch the later show b/c we're not governed by alarm clocks.

30- Waking up to six kids cuddled under the blankets watching the Wizard of Oz at 4am because there's a thunderstorm outside, then sneaking out of bed at 10 while the kids snooze away.

31- Being the one who sees all the 'firsts': the first smile, the first step, the first picture, the first story read all by theirselves, the first addition problem, the first pangs of their independence.


My little tid-bit for today

7:38 AM Posted In Edit This 1 Comment »
I wish I had something interesting to blog about, but alas... it's just me. :)

We didn't do anything spectacularly interesting yesterday. About the time I got started with school, my DH called to ask me to do some work on his website, so that consumed most of my day yesterday.

I'm going to have the baby (my niece) tomorrow, and probably most of next week, so that's interesting :)

However, this morning, i was getting out of the shower and was ATTACKED by a HUGE spider. I don't know what kind it was... it was just humongous!! The tiles on my bathroom floor are 12"x12" and it took up 1/4 of a tile! I very quietly shrieked (the kids were still asleep after all!) and ran out of the room!

I dashed to the kitchen looking for some type of poison... anything so I wouldn't have to risk getting touched by that spider and found the rabbits' flea spray. I must have used half of the bottle, and watching the spider convulse and cling to my dirty shirt laying in the floor was terrifying! My poor heart was racing and my hands shaking!

Once the smell of flea spray became too overwhelming, I left the room to work up my nerve to dispose of it. It took me and entire load of clothes drying to be able to go in and dump it in the toilet!!

I have no idea why the size of the spider directly correlates to the fear level involved... that one's a mystery to me!

So that's pretty much as interesting as I'm getting today! I hope you enjoyed my little tid-bit!

A Trip to Mulkey Meetinghouse

6:31 AM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
Yesterday, the children and I decided to make up for missing our co-op (where we have an awesome history lesson every week in old, historic buildings) and went to the Old Mulkey Meeting House.



We learned about how the church was formed... what life was like for those that attended, how the church was made, some about the Revolutionary War, and a little bit about Daniel Boone (and family) for good measure. We used maps and compasses to find our way around.


We took rubbings of the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and talked about why the Revolutionary War happened.



We went on a 'History Quest'- a scavenger hunt that Kentucky designs for their state parks that helps children relate to the historic site.



Then, because we were all tired (and Jude was unbearably cranky) we played at the playground for a few minutes before we drove home and the children explained everything they learned (all at one time! LOL) to their daddy! :)

New Family Members!

6:14 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
We have new family members!

This morning, after I woke up from sleeping in (I love my DH!) and ate a very yummy chicken and fruit salad my DH prepared, he asked me to get the kids dressed and ready to go out. I had no warning as to where we were going and neither did the kids. They sat in the backseats of the van asking each other, "Who knows where we're going?" "I dunno!" "Somebody HAS to know where we're going!"

He drove us to a local farm supply store where he went in and met, rather secretly I might add, with one of the kids who works there who promptly jumped into a beat up old pick-up truck and pulled out of the drive-way, my husband following in his tracks.

We drove out, the kids still baffled but I was starting to get an inkling of what was going on. When we got to the kid's house (and he put up his bloodhounds- gotta love Tennessee! lol) they walked together around the back of his house and stayed for about 15 minutes- the kids in an uproar the entire time because they had no clue what we were doing there and didn't understand why they couldn't get out to visit.

When Josh walked back around the house, he was carrying a box. He shook hands with the kid and climbed into the car. He handed me the box and I opened it and can you guess what was inside?

Rabbits! Two of them!

Turns out Harmony had been telling her dad how much she wanted a rabbit and he had talked to some friends of his and found out that he knew of a kid who was selling his rabbits because he had gotten a job, plus high school, football, etc and didn't have time to take care of them so Josh put in for them!

One of them is over 8 years old, she's a white and orange rabbit (I don't know the breed) named Ginger. The guy said that she didn't know her name, but she seemed to answer to it when we called her. The other is a dwarf of some sort that's a little under a year old without a name (we're still working on that because the kids want to name her Phineas and we don't like that name lol).

The kids were ecstatic!

We stopped by a building supply store on the way home for Josh to pick up some lumber. When we got home, he built the rabbits a cage while I ran to the store to pick up some cedar chips and a plastic thingy to go under the cage. We got them all set up in the living room now (Where we can keep an eye on the interaction between the bunnies, children, and cats) and it's taken forever to get the kids calmed down enough to go to their bedrooms for bed tonight (Notice I haven't even mentioned sleep... I think it'll be quite a while before they are asleep!)

Harmony's Sparkles!

10:10 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
This afternoon, Harmony was looking at cheerleading videos and came across the Titans website. She saw that the Titans cheerleaders host a clinic for kids each year and that she was old enough to be included in it. She immediately asked me if it was something that she could be a part of.

I looked through the site and found out when the deadline was, which is right on top of us, and how much it was and told her I thought it was awesome, but she'd probably have to miss a game or two (or three!) from her cheering schedule this year because the clinics on Saturdays and that she'd have to ask her daddy.

She sat and thought about it for a while and came back to talk to me.

"Mom," she says, "I don't want to ask Daddy for $300. That's a lot of money and he might say no! Maybe I can just save my money and go next year!" (The deposit that's due is only $100 with the remainder due in September but she wasn't hearing the $100 after she read the $300! Josh told me after she went to change clothes this evening that he most certainly would have said yes but since she wants to earn it, he was gonna let her!)

"That's a good idea, Harmony! I bet that will make Daddy proud when you tell him the plan you came up with and I'm sure he'll agree!"

So she goes and decorates herself a "Jr. Titans Cheerleading Fund" jar out of a jumbo sized pickle jar (cause "that's a lot of quarters!"), empties her piggy bank into it, and sits to think about it some more.

(There may or may not have been an episode or two of Phineas and Ferb in there-lol!)

She comes back to talk to me.

"Mom- how many pennies are in $300?"

And I tell her.

"Well, how many quarters are in $300?"

So I tell her that too.

"That'll take me forever to save!" she says.

I try to reassure her that she has almost an entire year to save it and I'm sure that she can do it, but it doesn't do very much to comfort her. She starts trying to come up with ideas of how to make money. First is raising mice (which she told me this evening she 'hadn't ruled out yet!' although she's decided she'd rather raise rabbits than mice so the snakes don't eat them), then selling old toys on ebay (but she got discouraged when I told her how much she'd spend on shipping for the toys she was thinking about selling, even after I told her other people would pay for the shipping).

Then Jude walks up and hits her with a necklace.

"MOM! I can sell necklaces! I can make them too! Kyla taught me how!!"

I told her that was a great idea and we talked about it for a few minutes. She's thought of a business name (hence the 'Harmony's Sparkles'), 'borrowed' $27 from her dad (to which she said "I don't want to keep it, Daddy. I want to spend it and make money and pay you back!"), bought all her supplies (and spent exactly $27) and made her first necklace and bracelet tonight all by herself! (Ok, her dad helped her tie the clasps on, but she did all the bead-work!)

We went to the drive-in where she took her newly made jewelry into the concession stand and walked out a few minutes later beaming because she'd sold her first two pieces. :) (Which btw, were really pretty and I tried to talk her into giving to me, but she wasn't having it unless I paid for them- the little stinker!)

So for everyone who asked (including me since apparently I don't qualify for a free sample!), I've been instructed to tell you all that Harmony will sell her jewelry for the following prices:

Necklaces- $5

Bracelets- $4

Rings- $3

Complete Sets (matching necklace, bracelet, and ring)- $10

(I can't make up my mind whether she's charging exorbitant prices, or undercharging but that's what she says she wants to sell them for so that's what I'm telling you!) In all fairness, she's very good at making them and all the patterns are her own originals she's designed and you can't really even buy comparative jewelry at a flea market for those prices!)

So, if you're interested, just send me a message or call me and let me know and I will pass it on and she will get to work on it for you!

The Long Awaited Series!

11:50 AM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
Got your attention?

I am not starting this today, but I've been thinking a lot about it and I do believe that I am finally going to post to you a series on organizing a small kitchen for a large family!

Now, you might ask, "What makes this woman think she can tell me how to organize MY kitchen? It can't be done!! My kitchen is just too small, my family is just too large... I need a renovation or, better yet, a bigger house!" I am here to tell you that I can tell you how to organize your kitchen- it's just up to you to know whether or not you're going to listen to me!

My kitchen is 12x10. Not only do I keep a kosher kitchen, but I also buy groceries for the month for 8 people (that's including FOUR BOYS and one hungry husband)as well as extras for holidays and treats and special occasions. We don't buy convenience foods: we bake, we slice, dice, and puree. We stir-fry and broil, and saute. We make sauces. Tonight the girls and I are making cinnamon rolls from scratch.

But that's not all. I use my kitchen as "Command Central" for my house: My desk is in the kitchen and office supplies, my gardening supplies, book, and small tools, the kids' school supplies and umpteen- million books are in here, we have a 2x3 dance floor, ballet barre, my tools and building supplies, and scrapbook and other craft project supplies and projects in various stages of completion... all stored in this small area. Sounds like a lot of things in a small space doesn't it?

Let me tell you something.

My kitchen isn't cluttered. Things are not lost, never to be found. The only things sitting on my kitchen counters are a bowl of fruit, 2 vases of flowers, a microwave, and a coffee maker. I could walk to the cabinets and find exactly what I'm looking for, and I have SPARE room in all my cabinets that could be filled up! I'm not superwoman, and my house does get messy (who's doesn't with a houseful of children?!) but in this one area, in this one thing- I know I know what I'm talking about. And I want to share that information with you because your kitchen should be the heartbeat of your home and too often it's the most hated room in the house. So- It's my hope that someone, even just one person is blessed by what I'm planning on sharing.

I think I will post one day a week until we work our way all the way through, and we'll get started next Wednesday.

Whatcha think?

My List of 11 Reasons why it's awesome to have multiple kids

11:53 AM Posted In Edit This 1 Comment »
OK, so it's been forever since I've blogged. I apologize. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to find time to go into what's been keeping me so busy... but for now- I feel inspired and I want to share!

I read a blog, posted by a facebook friend (that's a link to the company she has to raise awareness and funds for several conditions that affect children if you want to check it out), that was posted by another woman, based on the blog of this other woman, who happened to come across this article.

Following so far?

So if you don't have time or inclination to peruse all the links, here's the short version:

This woman had a bad, frustrating night out with her kids. She went home and wrote a snarky book entitled 40 Reasons for Not Having Children. And she has two children.

Poor things.

Then this other woman felt inspired to use Ms. Snarky's (not her real name obviously) 40 reasons to write her own 40 reason to HAVE children. They're pretty good, although a bit formal for my taste, but good nonetheless.

So this other woman decided to write a post on her 10 Reasons for Having Kids. Much more up my alley because she has a quirky sense of humor that I can especially appreciate.

Which led to this woman writing her 100 reasons for having kids (besides the fact that I absolutely love her blog- definitely a must read!) that are both cute, funny, sentimental, and refreshing.

And that woman inspired this woman (*me* Hi!) to do my own list! So I changed the topic/name a bit because I have very little experience with just one or two children at a time. Alright, here goes:

The Crunchy Mommy’s

List of Reasons to Have Multiple Children

(Please note that most of these reasons I’ve come up with in the last 10 minutes based on conversation(s) and experiences I’ve had with my own children! I decided to go a little out of the box here and give reasons why having more than a couple kids in great, since I can’t top the aforementioned lists!)

#1- You have can have your back scratched constantly, and your arm will never get tired!

As in “Mommy, scratch my back!” “No, Jude. Mommy’s washing dishes.” “Ga-gan, scratch my back” *The scratching commences* “Ninny, scratch my back” *round two* “Forrest, scratch my back.” (You get the idea)

#2- You’re area of expertise suddenly gets much wider.

Admit it, before kids you were really good at a couple of things. After kids, you are suddenly a short-order cook, a decorator, an emergency medical specialist, a professional potty trainer, a killer laundress (as in you know how to get blood, dirt, ketchup, mustard, grass stains and everything else out of that new white dress your daughter looks so adorable in), a coach of multiple sports, a teacher, a therapist, a construction worker, a policeman, an accountant, a party planner, etc. etc.

(So yeah, this one is an old reason, but since I just finished cooking lunch, doctoring an arm, untying a knot of beads the cat ‘somehow’ got tangled into, fixing a broken tap shoe, and reattaching a light fixture to the ceiling that ‘miraculously just fell’ I am feeling just a bit multi-functional right now!)

#3- Bodily functions and fluids don’t freak you out anymore.

You’ve been up to your eyeballs in all of them. Discussed them in great detail. Made up cute little songs about them. Examined them in great detail. Waited impatiently for them to happen. Seen, smelled, felt, and, unfortunately, tasted most of them. And you’ve come to conclusion that if your kid is going to get one of them on you, you prefer spit because it doesn’t have that nasty after smell… and you realize you’ve somehow become one of those parents.

(Be honest, now! We’ve all been there!)

#4- You can hear something happening that shouldn’t be from 500 yards away. Even if it’s not your kids, or kids in general, that’s doing it.

Nobody ever said that Mommy Radar was limited to catching children. Your neighbor’s dog is in the trash again? You can bet that you’ll hear the little ding go off in your head.

#5- You are suddenly the meanest, most ferocious momma bear EVER. And you completely overcome all the things you were scared of as a child, to protect your kids from them.

Yeah, it’s a good thing. Just ask your cubs when the mean ole spiders come along.

#6- You know when the bible says “Be still and know that I am God” ? You learn how to ‘be still’ and find a quiet place anywhere and anytime…

…even when you have a stove full of food, there are 5 other people talking, 6 trucks running under your feet, 2 people screaming, a tv blaring, a radio blasting, a tea pot whistling, a phone ringing, things clattering to the floor, and a toy cat that is somehow still meowing from the trash can 3 days after you threw it in the pool and fried the batteries.

#7- “Big Brothers/Sisters” love to change diapers so they can be like Mommy/Daddy. And they love to brush hair. And pick out clothes. And mop the floor. And wash laundry. And take out the trash. And answer the phone. And wash the car. They think it’s AWESOME.

‘Nough said.

#8- There’s always enough hands and feet.

For fixing a bloody head. For a ball game. For a board game. For a video game. For cleaning the house in a hurry. For toting all your stuff to the car. For carrying groceries in from the car. For a big ole bear hug. For planting a garden. For moving boxes. For cooking and serving dinner. For entertaining people. For everything.

#9- You learn how to be really, really, really quiet.

When there are three or four cranky pre-schoolers down for a nap, you learn how to walk, wash dishes, run the washer, watch those episodes of Chuck that you’ve missed because of dance class and karate and talk on the phone all without making a single sound.

#10- Your brain increases in size with each child you have.

Ok,ok. Probably not really. But there’s a reason that our parent’s generation says ‘If you want something done, and done right, ask a busy mom.’ We are the ultimate multi-taskers. We’re so good at multi-tasking that we don’t even realize we are multi-tasking. You learn to compartmentalize and still relate each and every different topic to the other and they seem to flow seamlessly. And people never understand how you accomplish it all, when to you, it doesn’t seem like it was a big deal.

#11- You know the difference between a 'I'm Dieing' shriek and an 'I think I'm dieing' shriek

And you know that if they have enough consciousness to think their dieing, they probably won't.

So... there it is. 11 of my favorite reasons for having more than one kid. I'm being a bit facetious so please don't send me mean emails telling me how horrible it all seems to you, because I enjoy my life, and I hope you enjoys yours too!




Happy Birthday to Jude!

7:35 AM Posted In Edit This 2 Comments »
emoticonHappy Birthday to Jude! emoticon



Today celebrates TWO entire years that my Juders has been here! YEA! (Yes, I am very sad that he is most definitely NOT a baby baby anymore, but he's still MY baby so that's alright!)

In typical me fashion, I've spent last night and this morning thinking over the last two years and what all has happened in his little life thus far.

Jude was born very precariously. I had a VBAC with him a mere 13 months after delivering my second set of twins 5 weeks early with an emergency c-section.

Yeah.

The doctors were gracious enough to tell me, about 20 minutes after he was born, that he had a kidney condition that they'd been monitoring in vitro for several months. (I'm still rolling my eyes. Talk about a 'the baby's fine' speech. "Oh, your son's labor was so difficult and dangerous not because of you but because of a congenital condition we conveniently forgot to mention to you, which is why we waited so long to take him and clean him up because we were worried he wouldn't survive the birth" "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?" was my response. I was very angry with the doctors!)

He has a multi-cystic dysplastic kidney. Which simply means that his left kidney was so full of cysts that it couldn't function properly and the best we could hope for was for that kidney to completely STOP working so it quit throwing the rest of his body out of whack.

He had high blood pressure, ever-threatening kidney infections, and the threat of the WRONG kidney shutting down because of the chemical imbalance for the first two months of his life. Very Scary. Here I was having to worry constantly and I hadn't had any time to prepare my mind for it. I was a wreck. It did eventually shut down and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when his little body finally was able to regulate itself.

Then he stopped gaining weight and got severe diarrhea around the time he was four months old. Both of which can be symptoms of kidney failure. One doctor we took him to actually thought I was purposefully starving him and reported us to CPS because 'I was killing my baby". *ugh* I kept thinking, 'if I was trying to kill him, I wouldn't have TAKEN him to the doctor because he's so skinny in the first place!" I reported the doctor and took him to a slew of other, more qualified physicians, all of whom thought that it MUST have something to do with his kidney or some other unknown condition that he had but was too scared to diagnose anything.

Finally, I took him to my mom's doctor. She doesn't specialize in children, but she's been practicing for over 40 years and isn't scared of anything. She looked at him, listened to his symptoms, did some blood work, and promptly diagnosed him. Lactose Intolerant.

Seriously?

Yeah. All that fuss, all the people coming to my house threatening to steal my babies because 'I was killing Jude', all those sleepless nights and dazed days because he has a lactose sensitivity and the doctors were too scared of bureaucrats to diagnosis him. Since I was breast feeding, I cut dairy out of my diet and started supplementing him with soy formula.

Problem solved!

So, although we are very good friends with both the nephrologist and the urologist and will be for many many years to come, my Jude is turning two today. I did NOT kill him. (*seriously still rolling my eyes*) The entire family drinks soy milk and we buy special lactose free cheeses (for family meals anyway!). And today, my baby is a happy, healthy 27 pound butterball! :)

He loves to fight with his brothers (and usually wins because I always end up shouting 'Don't be hitting your little brother!) and idolizes his Ninny (my oldest daughter, Harmony). He's in love with his cousin and named all the baby dolls in the house after her. He wants to watch Iron Man every single day, all day long! He chases my cats and carries around the kittens and waits every single day by the bay window waiting for his daddy to pull into the drive-way. The other day, he slid down the slide by himself for the first time. He's my sweetie. :)

We're having a private family party this evening, and then we are going to go this weekend and have a large family party with my niece (who's turning 15 tomorrow) at the local pool! Whoohooo!

I'm Baaackkk! Catching up on painting, graduations, and teeth!

8:35 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »

OK, at least for a little while :) I thought I'd drop in tonight and share some of what we've been up to in this neck of the woods the last couple of weeks.

BJ and I spent two very hectic and exhausting weeks designing and building the set for my Harmony's graduation. This is a (rather bad) picture of the final product. I tried to take a panoramic picture but didn't have anything to steady my hands, so it didn't turn out the best in the world. :) It has Jeremiah 29:11 on it, which was their theme verse.



B and I got flowers for making it and a sweet card.




Then came my family from out of state for the graduation. My dad took Harmony out shopping and bought her a new bike as a graduation gift (and bought Gabe and Elijah one as a late birthday present!)




She had to dress up as what she wanted to be when she grows up; and she wanted to be a princess! So we got her all dolled up and bought her a princess dress, and tiara, and shoes, and a petticoat (how cool is that?) and jewelry, etc, etc!




She did very well; they had to sing several songs and repeat several little poems and such. But she looked so cute in her cap and gown!




And she received her kindergarten diploma with the poise of a princess. You notice she doing a curtsy while receiving it right? She planned that for days in advance because 'that's how princesses say Thank You!'




Then we went out to the restaurant of her choice: China Buffet. She got to eat her first sushimi and about five ice cream cones!




The next day, Saturday, we all went to the park to celebrate and ride the new bikes!



Then, tonight, Harmony 'became a
real big kid' and lost her first tooth!



And so, I've had enough growing up milestones to last me a while!! I don't know whether to be happy about her (and them... did I mention that Jude has decided he HAS to be potty trained and has gone two evenings in a row without a diaper?) or to be sad because their getting so big!

Show us your life- Baby Names

4:59 AM Posted In Edit This 2 Comments »
Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

When I was growing up, I never even thought about childrens names. Seriously, even though the majority of my friends already had a boys and a girls name picked out, and several have used those names they picked in their teenage years, I just didn't care.

So whenever we got pregnant the first time, Josh was at basic training (when we found out) and I finally had to start thinking about names. I've always loved J-names. Jonathan, James, Joseph, Joshua...go figure, right? I married one! Jennifer, Jessa, Janna... so those were the names I gravitated to.

Of course, Josh didn't like any of them. And still doesn't. But here's how we picked the names:

Harmony Michelle- I told how we picked Harmony here and Michelle is the middle name of a dear friend of mine, who I always wanted and still want Harmony to grow up and be like.

Forrest Nathanael- I actually loved the name Forrest, even after the movie came out and it was so associated with it. I didn't care. Forrest means kingly or stately and it suited our first son. Nathanael, of course, means walks with God... good, strong name, right?

Regan Elise- Regan is Gaelic for queen (and we went through a very brief period where we were gonna give Forrest the name Ray some where because it means king, but we changed our minds!) so since we both have Irish blood in us, it seemed suitable. Elise is a French version of my mothers Spanish name, Alecia (which of course is Alice in Spanish!)

Elijah Liam- originally, Elijah was going to be Gabe's middle name, but we decided against it. Elijah was, of course, a major prophet, and some texts refer to him as the silent prophet, which suits Jah to a T. He is actually the only one of my children who is dark haired, skinned, and eyed, plus he's quiet and subdued and only speaks when he has something to say so the name suits him well... a friend of mine actually picked out Liam (Gaelic for protection).

Gabriel Levi- Oh my goodness, WHY would we name a child after the "Voice of God"? Gabriel is loud and pale... but the name came from my MIL who thought he would need a voice in the midst of all of our children. (And boy, does he have one!!) Levi is the name Josh picked out and it means United, although he picked it out because his middle name is Lee. LOL

Jude Connor- Josh picked Jude's name, although we didn't decide for sure until the administrator was asking to fill out his birth certificate! I've always loved J-names like I said, and Josh picked out Connor because it sounds good with Jude!

So that's how we picked out names! If Jude had been a girl, or if we have another girl, I am almost set on Charlotte Ruth (although knowing us, that will change a dozen times before we actually have another girl!) and Josh says if we have another boy, his name will be Noah... I think he said Noah Samuel, but I am not 100% positive on that one! :)

My baby's got an ear infection! :(

8:08 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »


My poor little Jude Connor has an ear infection, but not the way you'd think...

He was bitten on the ear by a tick the other day while visiting his Nana's house, and although we got the entire tick out, his poor little ear doesn't seem to realize that. Yesterday afternoon it was all swollen and purple. He was up at 3 in the morning on Monday with it aching, and he just won't stop picking at it so I pledged that if it wasn't better by today we were off to see the doctor.

It wasn't better.

So this afternoon, after Regan literally tried to set the house on fire (LOL don't ask! I promise: it's a LONG story!) and we were sure it was out with minimal damage to any and all personal property, we set off to try and make it to his doctor. We had to drive through several areas where the flood water hasn't receded and through lots and lots of debris, but we did make it and they did work him in.

And the diagnosis? He doesn't have lyme disease or any other scary, yucky thing that results from tick bites, it's just gotten infected from where he won't leave it alone. The doctor prescribed the first round of antibiotics for 10 days Jude's ever taken and told me if it gets any worse and not better to bring him directly back.

Fun.

But so far, Jude feels better... (especially since while we were waiting on them to fill the prescription he got to buy a toy tiger and a toy horse and ran into his Uncle Dale who stood in the middle of the store and played with Jude's feet!) He's sleeping, finally, and hopefully the swelling will be down by tomorrow and it will stop aching him so much!

"The Monsoon of 2010"

7:41 AM Edit This 3 Comments »



People around here are calling this weekend the 'Monsoon of 2010'. It literally did not stop raining from Friday night until early, early this morning. Thankfully, we live on top of a hill and didn't suffer any flood damage, but that doesn't mean that our yard wasn't under a foot of standing water, and the bottom of our hollow was... well I couldn't even tell you how deep the water was down there, because I wasn't getting close enough to find out!! The picture about this paragraph is from the bridge in Red Boiling Springs, in the middle of town! You can see our old house in the right hand side of the picture!

I was in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, and got out just as they were closing down I-24 because it was under water! There was a man that was stuck on the interstate that caught a fish swimming past his car!!




Remember the waterfall we went to for our Tennessee Unit Study? This is it after 17 inches of rain in two days.



This is the road we live off of.



There is a road under that water!



Here, the road was flush with the ground.



This was a standing hay pasture.



Another picture of the road we live off of.


We haven't even ventured out of the house this morning, but the sun is shining so hopefully the water will be receding!
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