Sunday, July 22, 2012

The New and Improved Laundry Room

Last weekend, while I was out of town, my hubby was secretly building me a whole new laundry room organizing system. 

With the kiddos growing, their clothes also grow.  I was running out of space in my old organizing system and my laundry room was being over-run by clothes.

Old Laundry Room
We had talked about building something but, I have to be honest, what I had envisioned in my head was not a pretty picture.  Because of this, I was so happy that I was not around when he built it (and I'm sure he was equally relieved). 

When the kids excitedly brought me in and opened the doors, I was SHOCKED!  It was perfect, awesome, amazing, huge, and every other great word!

It has taken me about a week to go through everybody's clothes and re-organize everything but I'm officially done and I. LOVE. IT!!!

So, I am so excited to share my NEW LAUNDRY ROOM!


There are 20 HUGE cubbies that can fit clothes for my growing children plus more!

Each cubby is labeled with things such as:
Little P/Little C/Mini C Play Clothes
Little P/Little C/Mini C Outfits
Special Occasions
Seasonal
IRON ME!
Hiking

I am so grateful to be married to a man who is always trying to make my life easier!



Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Egg Traditions

Our weekend was FULL of festivities.  After Little Man's birthday on Saturday, we were excited about Jesus' Rising on Sunday.  I was truly amazed at Little P's understanding of the day.  If you asked him about Easter he would tell you,

"The mean people didn't like Jesus because He was the team leader and they wanted to be the team leader.  So they hurt Him and put him on the cross and he died.  On Easter, He came back and we have to have our hearts ready!"

Pretty darn good for a four year old. 

Little C on the other hand, well, she informed us in the middle of Easter Mass that her heart was not ready...sooooooo....Again, I say, THAT GIRL!  She is incredible.

As we moved through the day, it was fun to see the different traditions unfold.  As I have said before, one of my favorite parts of being married is negotiating and combining different traditions from both of our families.  One of the big Easter traditions for me is Easter Egg Hunts with the eggs that we dyed.  I have so many memories of dying our eggs on Holy Saturday (making sure to have a watermelon eggs...duh) and then spending most of the day hiding them on Sunday afternoon while mom cooked.

Well, apparently, in my husbands family, they hid plastic eggs and ate the dyed ones.  And I don't think they had multiple hunts.  Just one, maybe two. 

Thankfully, my husband already knew how much this meant to me so we set out on our afternoon of hunting.  It was so fun to watch the kids as they hunted through the back yard.  But what was even more fun, was watching the competition between my mother-in-law and father-in-law.  I was really thankful that they got into it and really had a good time.  I think its reasonable to say that they might be just as competitive as P and me. 

And that brought me to the biggest competition of the day. 
Mom vs. Dad
Oh yeah!  Let's just say that it got a little heated.  All I have to say is that sometimes offensive tactics need to be utilized in Easter Egg Hunting.  I mean, if you want to win and all.  In the end we ended up tying but we sure did have a good time. 


Notice the chair that is completely vertical behind him...he was throwing chairs...haha.
It has been said many times before but it really is true, holidays are a lot more fun when you are a parent.  I look forward to the memories that we will make throughout the years bringing our different family traditions together to make a new ones.  And even more, what traditions my kids will eventually take into their futures with them. 

What are your favorite Easter Traditions?  Is it the Easter ham?  The egg dying?  Going to sunrise Mass/service?

Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dr. Denmark - Rest In Peace


I have told you about Dr. Leila Denmark several times on my blog.  Well, unfortunately, at the age of 114, Dr. Denmark passed away on April 1, 2012. 

I am forever grateful to Dr. Denmark because she really gave me a base line when it comes to having newborns.  For those of you who don't know who she is, she is a pediatrician from Cumming, GA, who is renowned for her newborn/infant routine.  Her 'old school' ways really gave my husband and I the ability to enjoy the first months of all of our children instead of exhaustedly getting through them. 

While some of her practices my be looked upon as 'out of date', the woman knew what she was talking about.  She wanted to make sure that parents understood that babies are not born knowing what to do.  Our role as parents, teaching and guiding our children, begins at birth, teaching our children to eat and sleep.  She also made it very clear that our families should be family centered instead of child centered. 

I am so thankful for all of the wisdom Dr. Denmark has imparted on me.  I am a better mother because of her hard work!  I can only hope that more pediatricians will have the courage to stand up for truth and follow in her footsteps.

Happy Birthday!

Saturday was Little P's 4th Birthday!

We have decided not to do birthday parties until the kiddos are older so for now, they get to pick the meals and activities of the day.  Little P puts a lot of thought into his birthday.  He has had it planned since February.  His plans were as follows:

*Waffle House for Breakfast
*Hiking
*Peanut Butter, Banana, and Gold Fish Sandwiches for lunch
*Pizza for dinner
*Yellow Castle Cake

When I say that he had it planned, I do not mean that he told us what he wanted and then waited for his birthday.  What I mean is that we heard about his plans, especially the yellow castle cake, almost EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!!

When you asked him what presents he wanted for his birthday, he would sweetly but very seriously respond, "I only want a little. Just one thing. I want a Finn McMissile car who shoots missiles at all the bad cars. That's all I want, mom."

So, when this weekend came, I knew I was up against high expectations.  I set out to live up to Little P's birthday wishes and the joy that ensued was worth every single ounce of effort.

He was so happy to have his first chocolate waffle and TWO apple juices at Waffle House.
After waffle house he was so excited to be the 'team leader' on our hike.  Followed by our Peanut Butter, Banana, and Goldfish sandwiches (don't worry, the adults had meatball sandwiches).


While the kids napped, I set out to make the infamous yellow castle cake.  I have no clue where he came up with the idea of a castle cake but man was it a big deal.
After about an hour of working, I was reasonably pleased with the finished product.  It didn't come out exactly as I had hoped but it was still pretty good.


The afternoon was definitely my favorite part of the day.  While everybody played outside, I set all of Little P's presents out.  After this little boy talked so much about only wanting a little bit for his birthday, he was genuinely SHOCKED when he came inside to see a MOUNTAIN of presents waiting for him.  (Having lots of Aunts and Uncles really pays off!)

It was really fun to watch him open every present with such sincere excitement and appreciation.  When everything was unwrapped and there was no Finn McMissle to be seen, we asked him if he liked all of his toys and received everything he had asked for.  He politely said, "YES!"  Poor kid, you could tell he was a little disappointed but he didn't want it to show.  Seriously, this little boy has a ridiculous understanding of other people's feelings. 
It's crazy!

So, after a couple of minutes, we couldn't let wait any longer.  We asked little P to get up in the rocking chair as my husband drove his new remote control Finn McMissle into the room.  Seriously, I've never seen the boy move so fast!  He jumped out of his chair so fast that we couldn't even get a good picture of his reaction...it was AWESOME!  He was so excited!


The rest of the evening was full of bike riding, pizza, egg dying, and more!  After we finished eating, I was so excited to surprise him with his 'Castle Cake'.  We gathered everybody inside and called him in...

video
SUCCESS!!!

As I laid in bed that night, I couldn't help but think about how grateful I am for this little boy.  It has been so much fun to watch him grow from a baby to a little boy.  I am so thankful that he is the oldest with two little sisters.  He has this innate protection and love for his sisters that wow's us beyond belief.  He has such pride for them and even more when they learn new things.  He asks me for a new baby sister multiple times throughout every week.  He wants to name her 'sissy'.  He has a genuine love and appreciation for his siblings.  He wants to be just like his daddy often talking about what he is going to do when HE'S a daddy.  He already has a sincere love of Jesus and takes going to Church very seriously.  He thanks me EVERY NIGHT for making him dinner.

For some reason, God chose me to be his mommy.  I am humbled at the opportunity to raise him to be a fun, loving, responsible man.  But, for the time being, I pray that his dad and I can retain his incredible innocents and pure heart for as long as possible. 

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Aim for Progression, Not Perfection!

As I told you in my State of Life Address, I have been lending my heart and mind to FAR too many things.  In turn, I have found myself completely stressed, emotionally exhausted, and physically rundown.

As I try to pick and choose where to invest my heart, I have learned a few things about myself.

In a conversation with some friends of ours, my friend Robbie pointed out that I am a perfectionist.  When I quickly corrected him letting him know that my life is RARELY in order his response left me silent.  He said,

"No, not like that.  You are a perfectionist in that if you have 10 things to do and you only complete 6, you scrap the whole day.  It's all or nothing for you."

Wow.  I had never thought of it that way. 

Just that night, they had shown up 15 minutes early for dinner; the house wasn't ready, I had no makeup on, the kids weren't completely dressed, and I hadn't vacuumed under the table.  Those points CONSUMED my brain.  I spent the first hour apologizing for this, that, and everything else instead of seeing the fact we were enjoying each others company and about to sit down to a great dinner.  HELLO!?!?!  I'm missing the big picture here!

He went on to say that we should be going for Progression, NOT Perfection.  By aiming for perfection, I do not acknowledge the progress that I have made, therefore putting me right back to square one.  But, if I would just acknowledge and accept the progression that was made, be it a lot or a little, I can then pick up where I left off and keep moving.  It leaves room for learning rather than complete disappointment and standstill.

Maybe I am not quick to learn these things but MAN, that made so much sense to me!

This really got me thinking.  How often do we as mom's talk about what we need to work on and how we aren't doing enough?  Now, how often do we have conversations about how well we are doing?  It's backwards!  While it is good to be aware of our shortcomings and work to improve them, when it's all that we focus on, we start aiming for perfection and losing sight of our progression.

I, for one, will never be perfect.  I will never do everything right or have everything done.  Quite frankly, if I do, it's probably at the expense of my husband and children...NOT WORTH IT! 

I am a work in progress.  To ignore such progress is to ignore the journey.  If we ignore the journey, we'll never reach true perfection which can only be found in Heaven.

Now THAT is an 'Ah-Ha' moment!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Fantastic Resource: Lenten Adventure!

On Fat Tuesday, I told ya'll about my husband and I's Lenten resolution to do a better job preparing our family prayer time in the evenings.

A few weeks before Lent started, I received a postcard in the mail about Lenten Adventure.  My curiosity was peaked and I actually managed to keep up with the postcard for a solid week before getting around to going to the website.  The first thing I read was:

"What is Lenten Adventure?FREE video, music, and fun activities delivered to your email inbox all through Lent! Join the Holy Heroes Adventure Guides for your Best Lent Ever!"
SCORE!!!  Even better, it's FREEEEEE!!!

I signed up and was excited to receive my first e-mail.  When I did, I was so pleasantly surprised!  It came with video's, stories, coloring pages, cross word puzzles, etc.  It seems to be run by a family with the kids doing the instructions and videos.  My kids really respond to seeing the other children so excited!

While the whole program does not apply to my kiddos (we're still learning letters, not quite putting them together), it provided this creatively challenged mama a platform to teach my kids about preparing our hearts for Holy Week and Easter.  They have loved the video's, listening to the stories, coloring their pictures, and talking about what is going on.  My kids look forward to it every single night!

What I have loved the most about this program is that it is teaching ME how to teach my kids about Christ.  It takes it farther than saying the blessing, night prayers, or going to Mass.  It has given me the opportunity to teach them about LIVING their faith, not just doing it. 

Little P is very serious about making sacrifices to 'prepare his heart for Jesus'.  I wanted to do something so the kids could see how much they are doing to prepare their hearts so we have started a paper chain.  Each time they purposely do something to prepare their hears for Jesus (i.e. listening the first time, not whining, letting the other sibling for first), we right it down on a strip of paper and attach it to the other links.  As the weeks go on, we can watch the chain get longer and longer as the excitement builds for Christ's Rising.  Then, on Easter morning, we can open all of them up and read everything we did to prepare our hearts for Jesus.  They LOVE it!

Even if you are not Catholic or do not usually celebrate the time leading up to Easter, still look into Lenten Adventure.  You can weed out anything that you do not want to use but man the benefits are endless!  My kiddos, especially Little P, is really understanding that there is something so much bigger than the 'here and now'.  It is really cool! 

And quite frankly, because of this program, so far this has been one of the best Lent's I've ever had!  I am re-learning so many basics that you tend to skip over as an adult. 
IT'S AWESOME!

So, what are you waiting for?  Hop on over and sign up!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Housing Update

It has been far too long since I've updated ya'll on the current status of our Log House Adventure.
This whole thing has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life.  As you all know, we were not looking to move.  When we came upon this house, I immediately shut it down.  It didn't fit with the picture that was in my head.  But just as with anything that is good, my heart softened and I was willing to listen to what my husband had to say.  As we prayed and talked about it, we both felt very called to slowly move forward.  Through the whole process, we kept the same mantra,

"We'll give it our all, but if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

So, that's what we did.  We negotiated, we went under contract, we put our current house on the market, we wrestled with the bank, we cleaned and showed our house, we met with contractors, we met with inspectors, we figured out financing, and we waited.

With all of these steps, it was very hard to continue to trust in a plan greater than my own.  Being a planner at heart, this whole ordeal went COMPLETELY against everything in me.  I couldn't plan a darned thing and it made me so anxious.  All I could do is trust that we were doing what we were called to do for that day.

As time went on, and we were nearing our 30 day's until closing mark, P and I had to make a decision.  If our current home did not sell in the allotted time, do we close on the log home?  We had a few offers for renters, could 'technically' afford to keep both homes for a little bit, but was that smart?

After a lot of talking, arguing (mostly on my part...thank you anxiety), and praying, we came to the decision that we should let the log house go.  We decided that we were too young to be carrying two homes and if for some reason our economy got even worse, it would negatively effect the rest of our lives.  It would ruin everything we had worked for thus far.

So, for right now, our current home is still on the market and we are hoping that it sells sooner than later.  It could go a few ways:

1) If we go under contract on this house and the log house is still for sale, we'll go back to it and move forward.

2) If the log house goes under contract before we get an offer on our house, we'll take our house off the market.  We're not looking to move 'just because'.

3) If by mid-April, our house is still on the market and there have been no offers, we will take it off the market.  This can't go on forever.

So, there you have it.  We are at complete peace with our decision but still hopeful that it will work out.  We are learning a lot about being called to something 'only for a time'.  All we can do is listen to the inspirations that we receive and follow.  No matter what the big plan is, I know that it will bring me and my family fulfillment. 

But, I will admit, I would REALLY like to be filled in, if possible.  :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I have never been to New Orleans or attended any sort of a real mardi gras party, but I LOVE Fat Tuesday!

For me, Fat Tuesday serves two purposes.  One, it's another mini-holiday to do fun things with the kids.  Today, we are making our very first King Cake (thank you Nana).  Secondly, I feel like its the calm before the storm that is Lent.

As a Catholic, Lent serves as a pretty big season of the year.  It's 40 days of preparations for Christ's rising from the dead.  Over the years, I have come to really love Lent because of the sacrifices that you do in preparing your heart.  As much as I always tried to convince my mom that I should give up school or homework when I was younger, that never really worked.  I always ended up giving up Coke, fast food, or chocolate. 

Now, as an grown woman, wife, and mother, it has turned into so much more.  I understand that the sacrifice or added commitment during Lent needs to be something that will open up more space for Christ to fill.  It's time for me to purge my heart of the things that shouldn't actually serve as such a high priority.  I need to make room.  Moreover, I need to find something that will help my family also prepare their hearts for the Risen Christ. 

So, in my discernment for lent this is what I have come up with.  During deployment, my laptop became of utmost importance to me.  It was my connection to my husband and my closest friends.  It also served as a journal and stress relief through my blog.  It became my companion.

Since P's return, I have struggled to put it back in it's place.  I know it sounds silly, but similar to many people and their I-phones, I am addicted.  (This is why I refuse to have a smart-phone.)

So, for my personal Lenten resolution, I am giving up my laptop.  I am not giving up Internet or facebook or blogging, but I am giving up doing those things on my laptop.  We have a desktop computer upstairs and that will serve as my new 'portal to the world'.  Using the desktop will really force me to prioritize my computer time and not spend so much time doing absolutely nothing.  Moreover, I will spend more time being completely present with my family rather than half there, half waiting for a returned e-mail, etc. 

Secondly, my husband and I have committed to better preparing our family prayer/bible/holy time in the evenings.  I have signed us up for this awesome program called Lenten Adventure.  I will receive e-mails with activities, stories, and other materials to get my kiddos involved in Lent and the preparations for Easter.  We have realized that the more we put into our kids learning about Christ (on a toddler level), the more we learn and grow ourselves.  We're supposed to be child-like, right?

So, there you have it.  As of tonight at midnight, I will no longer be writing via my laptop.  With this change might also come a learning curve so bear with me.  The desktop is in our guest room (which is where Little P naps) so I am going to have to be really smart with my time. 

So on this Fat Tuesday, we'll party it up with King Cake, Pancakes for dinner, and some Marti Gras coloring pages.  Are you doing anything special as you begin your journey to Holy Week and Easter?



Monday, February 20, 2012

State of Life Address...

So, I have to be honest, I have been avoiding my blog.  It's true.  In the last few weeks, I have gotten spun up about so many things that I have just avoided blogging so I don't say too much.  When I am passionate, I have a tendency to completely spew at the mouth without regards to any possible consequences.  So, needless to say, I have been keeping pretty close to home with my mouth shut (well, kinda...sorry fb friends!).

Anyways, I wanted to give ya'll an update on life and a brief rundown about what has been going on here for the last few weeks.

1.  We are still trying to move ahead with this house.  P and I made the executive decision that we will not be closing on the other house until we are under contract on our current one.  We still have over a month until closing so we are not OVERLY concerned but we'll have to wait and see.  After talking and praying about it, we realized that this whole thing came about because we felt called to the lifestyle.  If it doesn't work out, we're fine with that.  Maybe we were only called 'for a time' and let me tell you how much I learned in the last month...WOW! 

The bank is being completely 'bankish' and taking FOREVER to completely dewinterize the house so we can complete our inspection.  It seems endless. 

The more we visit the house and show it to our family and friends who visit, the more excited and scared I get.  It will be a HUGE undertaking but at the same time will definitely be awesome once it is completed.  We see the benefits to our family and that makes it worth fighting for.  So, we will just have to continue waiting for our inspection to be completed.  We'll see what God has in store.

2. The Government.  Holy macaroni, I highly recommend that unless you want to hear an ear full, you do not ask me about the government.  Between the HHS Mandate (and subsequent 'compromise'), the election, and all of the other drama that has been in the news I have been spinning.

In no way, shape, or form do I want to make my blog a place for politics but what I will say is that we, as Americans, need to take the time to know what is going on.  As much as people want to put blame on one or two people, it's more than that.  We are creating the country in which our kids will grow and learn from.  We have the power but we have to choose to be informed.  Sitting and expecting other people to take care of it does not work.  So, I encourage you, for the quality of life for you, your kids, and future grandkids, start learning.  This year is a HUGE year in our government.  It is a definitive line drawn in the sand.  SPEAK UP!

3. The George Huguely Trial.  I don't know if many of you know about the current murder trial of George Huguely.  He was a UVA Lacrosse player who is on trail for murdering his girlfriend.  Now, I know that most don't really care about it but it really got to me.  You see, I drive by it every single day.  Every day, I see both of their family's and friends walking in and out of the courthouse and I can't help but wonder what they are thinking and feeling.  For me, it brought up deep feelings because I know what it feels like to lose someone due to a heinous murder.  I know that Shannon's family is going to go through this exact scenario soon and it makes me angry. 

Every night, I was watching the news watching for my van behind the reporters (I know, I'm silly) but with every news report I was hearing more and more details that reminded me of the conversations I had with Shannon.  Listening to the defenses plans make me wonder what they will spew out about Chris.  It just really hit close to home.

Needless to say, these last few weeks have been rough for me.  I have the type of personality that once I start spinning, I struggle to stop.  Thankfully, my mom came up last week for my birthday and was able to poke a hole in my bubble bringing me back down to earth.  Sometimes it's hard to trust a greater plan when you feel completely out of control.  I am so very thankful to be surrounded by people who are more than willing to remind me.




Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you find a fun way to enjoy the day.  Since becoming a mom, I have found that I really look forward to these smaller holidays.  It's a fun day for me to put everything else aside and come up with fun activities to do with the kids (and show some extra lovin' to my man). 

Today will be full of heart shaped foods, special crafts, pretzel m&m's, and possibly a special Valentine's Day visit to dad at work!

My mom taught me a lot about celebrating these holidays.  Not a St. Patrick's Day went by without green milk in our cereal, heart shaped balloons waiting for us every Valentine's Day afternoon, and black eyed peas every New Years Day.  Mom taught me that taking the opportunity to add some enthusiasm to the day was a great way to let those around you know that you care enough to go the extra mile just for their smile.
Little C -Vday 2011 (Isn't she CUTE!?!?)

I have told you in the past that I really work hard at teaching my kids enthusiasm.  I want my kids to grow up knowing that putting enthusiasm into things shouldn't be a burden, rather a opportunity.  It's an opportunity to give love to those around you in a simple yet very special way.  It can be anything from answering the phone with 'umph' to having a valentine ready for the morning.  On a day like today, when I am completely covered up with everything under the sun, it's a good reminder for me to put it all aside and make some special memories with my kiddos.  I want them to know that even when mom is frazzled out the wazoo (hence the lack of blog posts), I still want them to know that I love having fun with them! 

So, do you have any special plans for Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Am So Thankful!

Every night at dinner, we go around the table sharing what we are thankful for.  For the last week or so, I have had a hard time coming up with something to say because I have been so overwhelmed by life.  This house, that house, money, contracts, politics, kids, school, cooking, laundry, etc.  It's as though I've been in a tail spin.

This weekend, the hubs took the older two kids to his parents house for a 'spur of the moment' Super Bowl visit.  For some reason, Mini C has slept the majority of the time since they left and it has given me a lot of time to reflect. 

As I looked around my house, scanned over a few blogs, and talked to a few friends I realized how thankful I really am.  I might have trouble seeing the silver lining in a crazy overwhelming day but, MAN, how did I luck out with a life like this?

I have a faith that I am so head over heels in love with.  My faith in Christ and His Will has grown and matured so much in the last year and I can say that it has truly become of utmost importance.  It may not always make life comfortable but I am reminded of what Pope John Paul II said,
"Do NOT be satisfied with mediocrity! The world will offer you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!”

I have a husband who sweeps me off my feet on a regular basis.  After 5 years, 3 kids, 3 moves, 2 countries, 3 states, and 2 deployments, he continues to be my best buddy.  I have never been around another human being who has the same drive, dedication, work ethic, love, and passion as this man.  He never steps down when he's tired.  The way he understands what it means to be an American will always leave me speechless.  He always makes sure that I know that I am 'his woman' (that's a compliment for a girl from the south...haha).

I have a little boy who is sweeter than pie, a little girl who is the spit fire of my life, and another little girl who always makes sure that her mama knows that she is loved.  I learn more in a day than some will learn in a year.  They let me mess up.  They forgive me when I lose it.  They are so excited to see me EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.  It's crazy!

I have parents, in-laws, brothers, sister-in-laws, and all sorts of aunts, uncles, and grandparents who encourage me to keep up the good fight.  Keep fighting for what is right.  When I get tired, they don't let me fall, they tell me to get up and keep going.  They are my teachers, my counselors, and my guides.  They are some of my best friends.

Lastly, I have my friends.  Ya'll, I have the best friends a girl could ask for.  Over the course of my life, I have somehow gathered quite a few friends who I would consider 'heart friends'.  These are the people who don't just love me because I am gorgeous, incredible, brilliant, and fun to be around, they love me because they know my heart.  They know what makes me tick at the most basic of levels.  They will fight for my heart, for my purity, for my soul at the expense of any hurt feelings or friendship.  They have their eyes set on the same thing I do.  They want me to achieve heaven.

As I write all of this out, I am mesmerized by the fact that He chose me.  He chose to give me all of these people to encourage and lead me to Him.  He knew that I'd have my struggles and with every one, another person has stepped up to help me stay focused. 

And for that, I am thankful!



Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Time For Romance


I have told ya'll about my dear friend Lauren, from It's Becker Style, several times.  She's awesome.  One of the many reasons I love her so much is because she spontaneously does things like this.  If you hop over to her blog, you will see that she has challenged her readers to a month of silent romance. 

What does this mean?

Every single day during the month of February, she wants us to find ways to show our husbands how much we love and appreciate them.  This could be anything from a note in his lunch to a 'night to remember'.  All of these things should be done without mention of this challenge.

So, I'm in!  Are you? 

If you decide to do it, let us know so we can trade ideas and encourage each other.  I hope this helps to make the most romantic month of the year memorable!    

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Trusting You...

I have always had an innate understanding and trust in God's Will.  It is not something that I worked to develop, it has just always been there.  That faith has always brought me great comfort when I was up against something that was, humanly, very hard to understand. 

This trust has been under attack in the last few weeks.  As exciting as this move is, I am terrified!  I am scared about spending the money that we have worked so hard to save. I am scared to finally come to terms with the idea of homeschooling (I didn't say that out loud, ignore it).  I'm scared that I won't cut it when trying to be the mom I KNOW I'm called to be. 

The other day, after looking at the amount of closing costs/realtor fees needed for the selling and purchasing of these two homes, I about lost it.  As I rode in the car with P, I closed my eyes and prayed, "Lord, I don't want to do this.  I know we are supposed to, but I don't want to.  It's too hard."  With the most perfect clarity I got, "Trust me."  With that, I went to sleep (I think it was more of a body shutting itself down from stress kind of nap) and woke up with the most awkward peace.  I was still anxious, nervous, and emotional, but I had an authentic peace that if I just keep going, it will come together as it should.

My dad has always told me that at some point in life, I would have to risk it all.  I'd have to step up, shut my eyes, and just jump.  Well, I think this is it.  This is our game-changer.

I have trusted in God's Will for my life thus far, and they are right, His will always brings me the most fulfillment.  I suppose there is no reason to stop trusting now.  But for the record,

I'M SCARED OUT OF MY MIND!!!
(Thanks for letting me say that!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Raining!

I have wanted rainboots for over a year!  On rainy days, everybody always looked so cute wearing their rain boots and skinny jeans.  Then there was me, dredging through, jeans wet to the knees. 

The thing is that I am a bargain shopper.  I refused to just go out and send $30-$60 on RUBBER RAINBOOTS.  Not happening.  One time, I saw them marked down on clearance for $12.99 at TJMaxx but for some reason didn't buy them...bad decision making clearly!

From that day on, $12.99 became my goal price.  Well, almost 9 months had passed, the rainy season almost over, and I was still soaking my jeans.

Until...

We were wasting time walking through a store and there sat ONE pair of rain boots about my size sitting on the clearance rack!  P told me to go look just to see if, by any slight chance, they were my size and price. 

Size: CHECK

Price: $9.99

Enter the happy dance!!!  I was SO EXCITED!  I had waited so long and FINALLY I was finally getting my rainboots!  WOOHOO!

So, today is the first rainy day since then and I am SO excited to be rocking my super cute, polka-dotted rainboots!  Who knew, something so simple could make me so excited...does that mean I need to get out more?
______________________________________________________

On another note, we are signing all of paper work to put our house up on the market today.  Scary scary!  I'm anxious to get a bunch of contractors into the new house to give us a final number of what we are looking at in renovations...I'm ready to get this thing started!  Definitely feeling the anxiety of the calm before the storm.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Nitty Gritty

There is a great swing on the front porch!  So great that Mini-C
refuses to get off of it without an absolute fit!
Now that I have gotten everybody excited about our new adventure, I wanted to tell you more about this house.  I will preface all of this by saying, decorating, colors, remodeling, etc, are NOT my thing.  If you have suggestions, let me know!

So, our lovely, new, enormously big house.  I never expected to buy a house in the 5000 sq ft range.  Neither of us did.  I grew up in a large home and since becoming a mom, I have learned that chasing children through a big house can be quite complicated.  So, when I first saw the square footage on this house, I was hesitant.  Then, when we went and saw it, I realized that it was wonderfully compartmentalized.  It is not huge open spaces, rather large specific spaces that I can keep under control.

The house is a forclosure so it's not in perfect condition.  In fact, it will need quite a bit of work upon closing but that was something we took into consideration with our offer.  We had it inspected before we even put in our first offer so we knew what we were getting into.  While the list is long (new roof, flooring, kitchen counters, sealing/staining the logs, etc) there are no structural issues.  In fact, the inspector, in his awesome country accent, referred to it as "a sturdy ol' gal."  haha.  How's that for comforting?

The land is AWESOME!  The home backs up to a ton of trees with a creek being our property line.  We also have an AMAZING rope swing tree in the front yard.  That will be one of our first things we do upon moving in. 
We don't close for another 60 days, so we have until March 25th to get all of our stuff in order.  While the purchase of that home doesn't depend on it, we will also be selling this house.  So, pray for my sanity as I organize all the necessities for a renovation and showings on this house with three kids all at the same time.  I'm a little worried. 

So, I am going to do my best and keeping ya'll up to date and keep the blog posts coming.  BUT, if I am not around, you know where I am...losing my mind! 

Stay tuned for this awesome adventure!  I can't wait to see whats next!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Under Contract!


My husband and I have a dream.

We have a dream where we can raise our kids to be self-sufficient, do it yourself, running through the grass barefoot, fun loving, 'old school' kids. 
We have a dream of having a few chickens, maybe some horses, a goat or two, and some dogs. 
We have a dream of teaching our kids real life and practical lessons that will not only help them pass their standardized tests but will also give them the confidence to go out and chase their dreams with enduring perseverance.
We have a dream that our kids will grow up as kids and not know about the chaos of the world around them until they are actually old enough to comprehend it.
We have a dream that our kids will care less about the TV and video games and more about going outside to play on the rope swing and treehouse.
We have a dream to raise our kids in such a way that responsibility is not something they do rather it's who they are.

We have this dream.

We've always known exactly what we were working towards but we were waiting to see how we got there.

Then, about 6 weeks ago, P sent me a random e-mail with a link.  I opened it and laughed.  It was of a foreclosure listing of a huge log house that looked like it was an old house sitting on the side of the road. 

NO WAY.

Then, it just kept going.  He finally convinced me to go see it.  After that, I agreed to see the inside with a realtor.  With every step, I was expecting SOMETHING to scream

NO!!!!!!!

But, it never did.  The house is SO COOL.  It has almost 4700 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, and 4 1/2 bathrooms.  It's on 5.5 acres.  Despite it's look of utter discombobulation, it's bones are beyond sturdy.  With every meeting, inspection, and pre-qualification, the journey just kept moving.  And now, as of January 25, we are official 'Under Contract'. 

When our realtor called to tell us the news, neither P nor I really knew what to say.  This is it.  This is the start of our dream.  It may take a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears but it is what we make it.  The door has now been opened, it's time for us to step through.

So, here we go!  This road will be long but worth it.  We are not just buying a house, we are buying a dream.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let's Do Something Fun!

For the past month or so, Little P has approached me at least once during the day to say,

"Let's Do Something FUN, mom!"

When he first started saying that, I wanted to drop my shoulders and ask what he was talking about!  We've been building castles with blocks!  Coloring!  Dressing up! 
WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT 'SOMETHING FUN'!?!?!

It took me about a week but I finally figured it out.  He wasn't asking for me to move mountains, he just wanted me to shake up the routine a bit.  While our routine is very functional for me, the one who has a bazillion other things to do in the day, it can get boring for them.  So, whenever he's asked, I've been trying to be creative with coming up with something different. 

This morning, he asked first thing and, in light of the fact that we're leaving for a trip today and I need some time to finish preparations, I suggested that they eat their breakfast at their little table in the playroom while watching a movie!

THEY FLIPPED!

He was so excited to do something different (aka 'fun')! 

My kids are great at pushing me to break my mold.  I am such a woman of routine that sometimes I lose sight of the fact that, while it may work for me, it could bore the heck out of them.  I'm trying to learn how to be a little big more 'loosy goosy' and just go with it.  Routine's are great, but even they need to be adjusted sometimes!

So moms, break your routine, forget your laundry for a bit, and GO DO SOMETHING FUN!  They aren't little for long, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pocket Surprise

After the Crayon Catastrophe I had a few months ago, I have become very diligent about checking pockets before putting clothes into the washer.

Today, while putting in a pair of Little C's super cute skinny jeans, I laughed when I saw what she had stuffed in that oh so small pocket of hers...


A car. 

Of course!  Girls should ALWAYS carry cars around, right?

I think its time I get her some pretend make-up or something.  

Living the Island Life

A few years ago, while we were living in Italy, P and I got the chance to go to Paris for the weekend sans kids.  While we dated often (we aim for a date every other week), we had never left them over night.  We jumped at the opportunity.
Naturally, P had zero worries and was super excited to spend the weekend with me and I, while very excited, was anxious beyond belief.  I had zero worries about the safety of my kids but rather I was nervous that they would wake up to early, whine the whole time, and just basically make the weekend very inconvenient for the family that was keeping them.  Well, that didn't happen and WE. HAD. A. BLAST!

After that weekend, we made a promise to each other that every year we would take a weekend (3 nights) vacation.  It didn't have to be anything special but our marriage needed that one-on-one time to re-check ourselves and get a chance to take of our mom and dad hats.  In addition, every 5 years (convenient to the big anniversaries), we would take a week long vacation.  Something that we would save for little by little over the course of the 5 lead-up years and then be able to go all out and have a ball.
We made a deal.
A side note: Our weekend vacations are no less than three nights for a reason.  The first night away from kids, while I am enjoying my freedom, I am thinking about how they are doing, if they went to bed easily, etc.  By the second night, I am so tired after not sleeping overly well the night before and a full day of fun that I pass out and sleep great.  To have to get up and head home would be a drag.  I just relaxed!  So, that last night ensures that mom and dad actually gets a day or two to really relax and connect.  That last day is usually our most fun day and the day when we have our best conversations.  I know my kids are having fun and I am completely focused on P.
So, last week, was our first 5 year vacation and boy did we enjoy it!  I booked a 7night/8day cruise to the Southern Caribbean.  We had saved a certain amount of money so we could do whatever excursions we wanted.  Unfortunately, laying on the beach just isn't our thing, we love to DO things.  So we did.

One of the best decisions was our balcony.  Holy macaroni, I will never cruise on an inside or windowed room.  For just a little more money, we were in HEAVEN!

We cruised with Princess Cruise lines and it was GREAT.  During the whole cruise, I only saw maybe 10-15 kids and they had a great spread of ages.  The food was INCREDIBLE!  Well, maybe a little TOO incredible since my pants are fitting just a little tighter these days.  Anyways, our first stop was St. Thomas.
For the first time in years, I was going on vacation and was not pregnant!  It was awesome to finally get to do all of the things that I couldn't.  So, in St. Thomas, we decided to go Scuba diving.  We had never been before and it was awesome!

One of my most favorite things about Princess cruises is that they often "Movies Under The Stars" which means that next to one of the pools they show movies on their HUGE (think football stadium) screened all throughout the day.  I am not a 'layerouter' (I definitely made that word up) but I LOVE to watch movies.  So, while we were in Tortola, instead of doing an excursion, we planted ourselves in two lounge chairs watched a few movies, ate some ice cream cones, and had an awesome time!


The next day, we stopped in Antigua.  I was super excited about this stop because we were going ZIPLINING!!!  So cool!



The next day we stopped in Dominica where we went on an 'Off the Beaten Path' private tour with our tour guide Woody. 


One of my most favorite memories from this trip was stopping to speak with some of Woody's friends who have moved from the States down to Dominica.  They are building a home down there and living in tents in the meantime (they have a pretty cool set-up).  I got a chance to ask a lot of questions about their experience!  So glad we got to meet them!


As we got back on the boat that evening, we captured one of the coolest pictures!


The last port that we went to was Barbados.  We went on a thriller snorkeling trip.  We got to swim with the turtles, snorkel around a reef, and three ship wrecks.



You know that beautiful 'windblown' look these swimsuit models talk about?  Yea, this is mine!  I think I'm in the right line of work.


Our day at sea was an awesome one!  We slept, watched movies, hung out on our balcony, slept some more, got room service, and then slept a little more.  It was perfect.  For people who never get to lounge, it was the perfect day!

This vacation served us so well.  It gave P and I the opportunity to really recap last year and  talk about our hopes and excitements for this year.  We are starting a new budget, trying to buy a house, hopefully get a new job, and, dare I say, maybe getting pregnant with #4?  We got a chance to talk about the things that we want to work on and the things that we want to completely change.  Every year throws ridiculous curve balls but we are starting as a team.  As long as we're on the same page ready to support each other and our family, we're not scared about what could come.  We're excited to see where we are this time next year and the experiences and lessons that we have learned. 

So, here's to mommy/daddy vacations!  THEY ROCK!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beginning With The End in Mind

P and I got home last night from our cruise.  It was such an awesome week is so many ways! 

 While I get everything back together today, I wanted to share this post written by one of my most admired mom's.  I have read Lindsay's blog, My Child, I love you, for several years.  She is a mother of 6 with another babe due in April.  She has the perfect mix of faith, humor, encouragement, and practicality.  Without knowing it, she has taught me so much about being a wife, mother, and woman. 

Without further ado, here's Lindsay!

Thank you, Jeanne for offering space on your blog to share thoughts.  In reflecting upon our gratitude for your husband and all our military and their selfless service, I cannot help but be grateful for you and your service towards your family and our country while your husband was away. That being said, you both must have "the end in mind" with your ability to serve in such a selfless manner and understand a deeper motivating love.  Thank you. 

Beginning with the end in Mind

Oddly, what motivates and drives me most days in motherhood and life in general is picturing myself on my death bed or on judgment day. I even say often when questioning a decision, "Will I be glad I did this when I am dying?"  Someone once told me this advice regarding parenting. She said you should picture the kind of adults you want and work backwards.  I tend to picture the kind of life I want to have in the end and work backwards.
I know on my death bed, I will be grateful I kept my faith.  I will be grateful for all the rosaries said, times stopped by to make a visit, hours spent in prayer instead of doing other distractions, time reading God's word, and ultimately the sufferings I either endured and offered up and even greater the sufferings through the grace of God I willingly took on myself for the greater glory of God.  As hard as suffering is AT THE TIME, I know I will leap with joy that I ENDURED and USED it to save my soul, my children's souls, and poor souls in purgatory.  I will be glad I used suffering to help others who are suffering. 
It will be like training for a marathon.  Day after day, you wake in the morning to run the allotted miles amidst all conditions i.e weather, fatigue, lack of motivation.  It will be so gratifying on race day that I trained and trained well.

I cannot recommend enough the book "Consoling the Heart of Jesus" by Michael E. Gaitley.  I am not all the way through this work, but the message is so very powerful.  He reminds us once again the purpose of our lives and the things in it be it people, children, spouses, jobs, friends.

"Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to SAVE HIS SOUL.
The OTHER THINGS on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment OF HIS END, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition.  Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created."

On my death bed, I will be so grateful that I was a good wife to John and kept the promises that I made to God however many years back that I would be with him UNTO DEATH DO US PART.  I will be so glad I took care of all his needs each day because I love him, but ULTIMATELY because I love God.  The days as a wife, mother, and human in general are just routine.  We wake to laundry, food, meals, discipline, correction, food, naps, food, prayers, and bed.  At first, I think we do things out of love for ourselves for the other person.  We are trying to impress THEM to like US so we bend over backwards to win their heart.  It is not real love because OUR end goal is still being sought after.  Next, if we let our love mature, you start doings acts out of love for them and not necessarily our benefit.  You may not want to, but you press on out of love in hopes of making their life good.  Finally, you reach the final stage of love which is you do all for them out of LOVE FOR GOD.  The joy that takes over your life is immeasurable.  Even if you are married to a difficult spouse, you press on out of love for God whose love for us is constant.  John's grandfather told him this before we were married.  He said, "I will share with you a little secret.  The more you serve Lindsay out of love of God and putting aside your own desires, the more your marriage will grow and blossom."  Our ultimate hope is in the end (or should I say beginning if our real lives in HEAVEN), the wayward spouse will see God's love shining through and be moved to love God and be with Him in heaven.  You read it over and over in the lives of the saints namely St. Rita and St. Monica.  Sure, by today's standards they have every reason for annulment, BUT they stayed married out of love for God and they were made saints because of it.  What a heavenly reward for their years of suffering, sacrifice, and loneliness.  No deed given to God goes unseen.  We must remember that when enduring trials.  He sees every tear dropped out of love for Him and will remember them on our judgement day.

On my death bed, I will be glad and thankful for each child we had by God's grace.  God could have chosen any way he wanted to bring forth new life and yet he chose the way he did.  It seems so simple in my (our) minds that it be left of up to HIM who states "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU.  Before you came to LIFE, I consecrated you."  If HE knew you before you were even formed in my womb, then it seems so funny that I would try to think I have control over the people He already knew.  For some reason, He allows us to participate in the creation of new human life.  It seems so funny that I think I control it when God is the ultimate giver of life.  He deems every person ever lived.  I believe He desires us to be like Mary, Our heavenly mother and her simple "Yes."  Imagine her circumstances. Not married.  Stoning as a punishment.  Having to tell her parents.  Confusion of knowing she was not with a man.  And she said "Yes."  So to you my Heavenly Father, I say "Yes.  Let it be done unto me according to thy will."  We say the words in the Our Father "Thy will be done."   My grandparents (2 people) had 13 children.  From that 13 children, came 70 some grandchildren.  From that 70 some grandchildren has come a hilarious number of great-grandchildren and still growing every year.  If we back it up, from those two people came hundreds and hundreds of generations of people and souls in heaven.  Two people=hundreds of generations and souls.  For me to say "No" to another child, I would have to say "No" to hundreds of generations of people. If my grandmother's parents said "No" I would not be here.  Fascinating to think about.  It is not about numbers to me.  It is about God's plan for salvation history if we listen to the words in scripture.  "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU."  When I look at each of our children, I see generations.  I see a soul who will pray.  I see a soul who will suffer for others and bring them to heaven.  I see a soul who probably will hold their own child's hand and teach their own child about God and try to lead them to heaven.  That is why each one is so important to me.  Their life is so valuable not only to John and I, but valuable and essential to all humanity and its survival.  God has a specific plan for EACH PERSON. 

Childbearing and child rearing have no guarantees.  I do not know what God has planned for their futures.  I do not know what He has planned for their life spans.  There is much pain physically, spiritually, and emotionally involved in parenthood. I have felt the pain of miscarriage several times.  I have felt the pain of wayward siblings who were raised right and chose to turn their backs on God, BUT I do know each soul has a purpose. 

I know I will be grateful on my death bed that I gave God the dominion over my fertility to use as He sees fit for all eternity to bring forth the lives He has chosen to be with Him forever in heaven.
On my death bed, I will be glad I was home to watch my children grow everyday.  My grandmother recently told me, "I wish I would have realized how they are BIG for most of the lives and little for just a few short years.  I would have had more patience knowing that."  I will be glad for the books we read, the meals we cooked, the birthdays we celebrated, the walks we took, and the times I just sat and listened to their stories.  I will be glad I didn't miss it and somebody else saw all their firsts.  In the end, it will be all worth it.  It will be worth every financial sacrifice made for the TIME we were together.  I know I will be glad I wasn't somewhere else while they grew up everyday before me. 

To get to these points of death bed vision, I think I (we) must first understand that just because we are struggling either mentally, physically, or financially doesn't necessarily mean you are doing the wrong thing.  In the END, it is probably quite the opposite.  It is in the struggle that we are closest to Christ.  It is in the struggle that are efforts are most worthy to Him.  It is in the struggle that we are able to console Him the most.  So, I would gander to say if you are struggling you are doing just fine and right where God wants you to be.  The world will preach to you the opposite that IF you are struggling you must change something or MUST be doing the WRONG thing when really it is Christ calling you to closer union with HIM if you let HIM and know of HIS love for you.  The ultimate act of love.

Being that we aren't guaranteed a full 80 years in life, I want to live my life right now with those visions and that motivation.  I know that when I die, I will be well-satisfied that I finished strong, struggled, failed, consoled, and used all sufferings to show God how much I loved Him.  We must get to this point that we see our work as saving OUR soul.  We must get to the point that we see OUR marriages as saving our souls.  Everything we do is out of love for God.

Beginning with the end in mind, how do you care to view your short earthly life?  What do you want to say on your death bed you accomplished out of love for God? 
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