Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blizzard in San Antonio!

No, it isn't a freak arctic storm.

A few weeks ago, Kelly and I realized that our frugalness had deprived the girls of an important piece of culinary knowledge:

they had no idea what a Dairy Queen Blizzard was!

Yikes, how did this happen? Then we realized that to get that many mouths a blizzard... well, you can see why we have never done it. So we decided to take them sometime, like maybe Labor Day weekend!

So tonight after a light supper, we surprised the girls by taking them to Dairy Queen and letting them each have their own blizzard and let them each get to pick their own flavor. This is nearly unheard of in our family. I am the queen of figuring out how to split meals between kids, rarely letting them pick their own anything! So this was a real treat. They had butterfinger, M&M, and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Most of them decided that their favorite flavor was daddy's Georgia Mud Fudge (they had to sample a little from every different flavor). I didn't see the chocolate dipped strawberry flavor until after I had ordered or I might have gotten that. Yum!

Tough Times

We've had times of troubles in our married lives. Everyone does.

But right now we are doing fairly well. But many people in our family are enduring trials of some kind. And it is hard to watch it happen from afar and know there's really not much you can do about it. Our family - parents, siblings, nieces and nephews - are spread all over the Lone Star State. So when times like this happen we can only call and pray.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dirty Trick

Last weekend, I played a dirty trick on my almost 6 year old daughter, Hailey.

I didn't mean to.

Just in case you have forgotten what Hailey looks like right now, this is the one and only Hailey.
And I served one of the girls' favorites last weekend: fresh corn on the cob.

By the time Hailey got through with the corn, it looked more like a jack-o-lantern. Poor Hailey.

Everybody: "All I want for Labor Day is my two front teeth. My two front teeth..."

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Aubrey has also been working on a doll dress for her Life of Faith doll, Millie. I had to help her a little more than I did Kora, but she still did most of the work herself, and did all of the handwork.
I think she did a fabulous job.
I love these vintage doll patterns!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nanny Help? *Updated

The other day I was flipping channels, and ran across one of those nanny shows. You know, where the British nanny comes over to some family here in America whose kids are totally out of control. They come in and straighten the whole thing out in a few days with a few simple rules. Yeah, right. I wonder how long it takes for things to get back to the way they were once the cameras and nanny leave?

But I digress into my eternal pessimism.

Anyway, what caught my attention was that the nanny was suggesting that the parents set up an allowance for chores system, because the kids took everything for granted and were used to having everything given to and done for them. I was surprised because current popular American child rearing wisdom says not to tie allowance to work of any kind. If you are familiar with our family, you know we think that is hogwash.* I think, ok, maybe these nannies do know a thing or two.

So she went about setting up a chore chart for an 8 and 9 year old, who had never done chores before, were completely disrespectful to mom, dad, and grandma, and screamed for what they wanted. The nanny set up three chores for these two kids. They had to:

keep their rooms clean
clear off their dishes after meals
make their beds every day

I was stunned. In our house it is considered a "chore" if it helps out the family at large or takes a job from mom or dad. In other words, picking up their own toys in their room is not a chore. It is simply taking responsibility for their own things. Cleaning a bathroom, doing dishes, etc. are considered chores.

Besides that, my three year old does more around the house than that. She does all of these, plus puts away her laundry that she can reach, helps fold the towels - like washrags and dishrags - and put them away if she can reach them, puts the clean silverware in the drawer, brings down her dirty laundry from her hamper on her wash day, and is always bringing me things when I ask.

That poor nanny probably doesn't want to know what my nine year old does! Not only does she do her own laundry, as well as Ashlynn's laundry, she dusts, vacuums, cleans bathrooms - including scrubbing toilets - sweeps, helps cook, does dishes, pulls weeds, dusts blinds, and folds a good bit of the laundry, along with her sisters. Of course my eleven year old does even more than that!

It seems to me a poor way to raise hardworking adults if we never expect them to work, and working around the house is a built in way to instill a desirable work ethic, which includes teamwork and self discipline. I'm all for kids having fun and playing, being creative and doing extra-curricular type activities. We do those as well. But whether your kids are in a day school or homeschooled, they need to learn early and consistently that they have to pull their share of the load. Not only does this teach them valuable life skills - I think we all went to college with kids who had never washed a load of laundry before - but it will prepare them for a productive adulthood.

It also helps make life a little easier in a house full of short people.

*UPDATE: I said this in the comment section but decided to say it here as well. There are perfectly valid reasons not to tie allowance to chores - that is something for each family to decide, as Kristen said. That's not what I meant by "hogwash."

I have read several articles by experts of one kind or another that warn not to ever tie allowance to chores because of the psychological damage it can cause. They premise that paying kids money for chores will cause them and their work ethic harm. They'll grow up only doing housework if they are paid for it. This, I believe, is hogwash.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Even more conversations with a three year old

During family devotions:

Kelly: How do we "clothe ourselves in humility"? What kind of 'clothes' would we get to do that?"

Lauryn: Yellow ones?


My dad is talking to Lauryn on the phone:

Pa: What are you learning in school?

Lauryn: I don't do school. Only the older ones do. (She said it more like "the o-der ones" making it sound like the smelly kids were doing school.)

Pa: Well, what do you do while they are doing school?

Lauryn: Be quiet.


Kelly has been ordering DVDs of the Muppet Show from our Blockbuster Online subscription. So Lauryn has been going around the house, trying to impersonate the Swedish Chef. I wish I had a way to record her doing this because there is no way to recreate it in print. But it sounds a little like:

Bee shtee borshtee bee shtee bore.


One evening at supper, the girls were being pretty silly. At the peak of silliness, Lauryn rolls her eyes heavenward, shakes her head and asks:

"What is with these girls?"


I guess I should be glad that my girls are bad at name calling.

The other morning after breakfast, Kora and Aubrey reminded Lauryn that she had silverware to put away in the drawer. She did not appreciate the reminder. As she stalked and stomped off to the kitchen, she yelled at them,

"You're just... just... just MEAN OLD LADIES!"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kora's First Offertory

Today during church, Kora played the offertory piece for the first time. She's been working on this piece this summer, and we are very proud of her.
She said she was very nervous, but I never knew it. She's always so calm.
Her piece was a rendition of "Faith of Our Fathers."
(By the way, I did not take these pictures during church. I snapped them while she was warming up before church.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I wonder what the people who put out/bought the

"Anybody but Hillary!"

bumper stickers think now?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Remember Kora's doll? Well, Kora has been working on a dress for her off and on for quite some time (we put it aside for several months at the end of the pregnancy and the first few months Ashlynn was here). This was her first item that she made from pattern to completion. She cut it out, She stitched, she gathered, she hemmed, she pressed seams, she did the hand work.
She finished it last night. Kora is also the photographer!
Back views.

Here you can see the front of the dress without the shawl. The sleeves have a double layer of lace.

Next step: making a skirt for herself. Aubrey is nearly finished with a dress for her doll as well. I have to go get some silk flowers for her dress. When she gets them on, I'll post a picture of that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Conversations with a Three Year Old

Lauryn, who has gotten in trouble numerous times for playing in the water in the bathroom sinks, had been running the water a little too long the other morning. When I went in to tell her that she had washed her hands long enough, she told me,

"Mama, I was not playing in the water. I was killing the bubbles from the soap!"


"Mama, Can I play a game?"

"What do you want to play?"

"I wanna play Hungry, Hungry Pickles!"


The other day Lauryn wandered in while I was watching a men's diving competition from the Olympics. Lauryn sits down on the floor, proclaiming,

"Cool! I would want to do that!"

After watching for a minute or two, she turned to me with a worried expression, "But, Mama, I wouldn't want to get my panties wet!" (I couldn't help laughing when I explained that those weren't their panties, but their swim suits.)


At the dinner table, the girls were discussing which bug they would want to be if they were to become a bug for a day.

Lauryn: "I don't know. Hmmmm. (Cocks her head and thinks for a minute.) I don't know, but I'd want to be a biting one!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Our youngest daughter seems to have an unusual habit.

Observe this picture taken when she was about an hour old.
Now compare it with this picture taken over the weekend.
What is up with those toes?!?

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School

Well, I survived the first day of school! Without Dr. Pepper, even! (Not without chocolate, though.) It was a bit rough at times, as all the girls tried to remember the routine, and how we don't watch movies or play on the computer during school. But it went much better than I feared. YEA!

We've never taken this long a break before during the summer, however one thing that helped was a gradual start. By this I mean that we did not start all subjects this week. We did do math, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and Kora did science. We'll start history and Latin next week, and science for the other kids the next week. It always takes the kids a little while to get into the routine, so easing into it helps as they adjust.

But I'm not holding my breath for tomorrow! ;-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Four months old

Ashlynn decided that since she will be four months old on Tuesday, she would wear a big girl outfit.
This flowery onesie and denim shorts are perfect for that "tween" baby - you know, between a newborn and toddler.
To celebrate this milestone, she celebrated this week by finding that her thumb was attached by God for the express purpose of being sucked on, and by sleeping upstairs in her bedroom that she now shares with Lauryn.
As an ornament she has all of her older sisters (and Daddy!) wrapped around her little pinkie.
I, of course, am immune to such manipulation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Super Savings Saturdays

I finally take a picture of my way cool CVS run, and Crystal over at Money Saving Mom isn't hosting her normal Super Savings Saturdays. Oh well, I'm gonna post it anyway.

Everything in this picture cost me a total of $2 out of pocket. This was two transactions, actually the second run.
I had been to CVS earlier that day, but had forgotten a couple of really good coupons. I had to go home to nurse the baby anyway, so then I went back. All told that day I spent $22 at CVS and got all of this:
The diapers alone should have cost more than that!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Update on the Ticket

I received a registered letter today informing me that the police department was changing the charge on my ticket. The new charge is failing to yield right of way when turning left. I had had a couple of people tell me I should fight the ticket since I really didn't run a red light, but someone figured out the mistake and changed it. So I guess I am stuck paying the - gulp! - $172 fine. That was one expensive migraine!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just One of Those Days

Yesterday, I should have stayed in bed.

And I really wanted to. I had gone to bed the night before with a terrible headache that I had hoped to sleep off. However as my consciousness slowly awoke, searing pain met me every time. So I kept going back to sleep, hoping that next time I started the waking process it would be different.

It wasn't. I had a full fledged migraine on my hands. Or head.

I finally got up around 8:30 (all my plans to get up early and cut out Dr. Pepper have been severely defeated this week), and fed the baby. Kora and Aubrey had fed the other kids already and cleaned up the kitchen, thankfully. Kelly called to check on me and strongly suggested that I go to the chiropractor. Although I didn't really feel like getting out of the house as I was also strongly fighting nausea and couldn't stand the sunlight, I decided that it would be better than suffering all day.

So I got all the kids into the suburban and headed out. But the motion of the car and the bright sunshine made my nausea ten times worse. Kora asked me, "Should you be driving?" I asked her, "Who else is going to drive me there?" She conceded the point while talking about when she was going to learn to drive. I was concentrating on not loosing the breakfast I had finally eaten.

As I turned onto the service road near the doctor's office, I was seriously about to loose it. I was thinking about how once I got past this nightmare of an intersection, with tons of construction and closed lanes, I could get out and hopefully get relief. The car in front of me turned left and naturally I followed. I looked up just in time to notice that the light was green. What didn't register was that I no longer had the left turn arrow. The light was green, but so was the light for the oncoming traffic. In my nauseous, miserable state, it didn't occur to me that this was a problem until I had to swerve into the construction area to avoid getting side swiped by the other cars.

In my foggy headed state I barely even registered what had happened. The girls thought all those other cars had done something wrong. I mumbled, "No, it was me." Just as the siren started blaring behind me.

Oh great. Sure enough, I get pulled over and given a ticket. Ironically the ticket is for running a red light, which technically I didn't do. I did fail to yield the right of way, but I had a green light. Oh, well, I thought, I'll take online defensive driving again.

Wrong. I read on the ticket that you cannot dismiss a ticket via DD if the offense was in a construction zone. Great! I can't wait to tell Kelly this one.

The chiropractor did help, but it always take a few hours for complete pain relief. I have a couple of vertebra in my neck that get out and press on my spinal cord area. All the drugs in the world don't give the relief that our wonderful Christian chiropractor can give.

I spent the rest of the day in somewhat of a haze as the pain slowly died down. Just when I thought everything was OK that evening as the kids were going to bed we hear a terrific crash, and Lauryn screaming. We run in there and the dresser has fallen over on top of Lauryn! I think both of our hearts stopped.

Just then Lauryn crawls out from underneath - stark naked. She got knocked pretty good in the eye, but was unharmed otherwise. We still aren't sure what happened, but we think she opened all the drawers at the same time, and the weight was too far forward. The only thing that was broken was her coin bank. It could have been much, much worse.

Then the baby refused to go to sleep. I rocked her to sleep three or four times, laid her down in her crib and up! she would pop. I had really thought we would be past this by four months old and time for school to start. Evidently I was wrong. Needless to say, it was a little late when I got to sleep last night.

If I had just stayed in bed, none of this would have happened. Right?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane: An Addendum

My mother-in-law found a couple of pictures that I didn't have from our proms. Here's the junior prom again. I think my mom-in-law was going for some sort of refined gangster pose. :-)And here's the dress from my senior year. This one illustrates the skirt I was talking about. This was very "in" at the time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I love the Olympics. I can't seem to help just watching them. When I was growing up, my mom would lift the time limits on tv watching during the Olympics. Maybe that's where it started. Regardless, I love watching all these sports I don't usually get to see. Two years ago during the winter Olympics, I got into curling of all things. Now if the network would just leave off all the dramatic bios and time fillers, I'd be perfectly happy.

Monday, August 11, 2008


On our tenth anniversary, Kelly surprised me by taking me to Ruth's Chris Steak House. Even though we had never paid that much for a meal before, it was soooo good! We loved it and decided then and there to come back on our 15th anniversary.

So for the past couple of months we have been talking about going back to Ruth's Chris. So that's what we did. If you've never been there, you are sure missing out! Kelly had made a reservation, so when we told them who we were, the hostess replied, "Oh, happy anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. smith. Right this way." She then scattered rose petals on our table.

The hostess came over and greeted us by name every time. We started of with an appetizer of calamari in a sweet and spicy Thai sauce. Yum! Then we had a salad, followed by the main dish. I had a petite sirloin, while Kelly had two smaller petite sirloins topped with shrimp. The shrimp were so large he shared a couple with me. I paired this with a really good Riesling. (Yes I know you aren't supposed to do a white wine with steak, but I'm not big on red wines and I love Riesling!) We topped it off with a chocolate chunk bread pudding. I didn't think I liked bread pudding, but this stuff was wonderful.

Not only was the food good, but the service was unparalleled and so completely spoiling. They even used a little metal scraper thing to clean off the white tablecloth between courses. Just save up before going - I refuse to publish how much dinner was, but we could've bought enough groceries to feed the whole family for a couple of weeks! Good thing we only go every five years...

We went with very full tummies across the highway to see The Dark Knight. The best movie either of us had seen in a while. I can see now why there is Oscar buzz for Heath Ledger. His character was disturbing, eerie, all those things. The only downside was the casting for "Rachel." Maggie Gyllenhaal was totally wrong. She was too bubbly and not nearly as sophisticated or complex as the part was supposed to be. But it was such a great movie, that it didn't matter too much.

Well, I doubt this topped last year's anniversary announcement, but we still had a great time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The other half of the girls

As promised, the other three girls.
Lauryn who loves her baby sister.
Brynna loves her glasses, and has been on a braid kick lately.

Hailey has been lisping around here with two missing teeth and two braids as well.

We have two three year olds in the house. This is Lauryn with an attitude - the my-life-is-so-rough Lauryn. The Lauryn we want to sell - no! - pay someone to take at times.

This is the cute Lauryn, the one that makes us laugh continually.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Snips Heard 'Round the World

Or at least all around the house.

These are our two oldest girls, Kora (11.5) and Aubrey (9.5). This what they looked like Thursday afternoon.

This is what they looked like 30 minutes later.

CJ, Aubrey did this just for you - you've always wanted to trade hair, so now it is your turn to cut about 12 inches off!!
Actually, the girls are going to send in the ponytails to Locks of Love, to be made into wigs for kids who have lost their hair.

And the girls are still amazed at how easy and quick it is to wash and brush their hair now. But I'm still doing a double take every time I look at them. So many times I have wanted to cut their hair; but now, I'm a little sad.

Now for something totally unconnected to haircuts. Ashlynn! My dad requested some new pictures of Ashlynn, so here goes!

More pics of the three other kids tomorrow. And coming soon, our anniversary date and other changes around the house!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary, my love

15 years of marriage
14 different hairstyles (at least)
13 trips to the hospital
12 years of pregnancies and parenthood
11 employers
10 moves
9 major appliance purchases
8 vehicles
7 years of homeschooling
6 children
5 years in the Air Force
4 different cities
3 years of college
2 souls
1 flesh

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane, pt 7

Engagement and Wedding Shower Pictures

Back to BIG Hair. Here are our official engagement pics, taken in March of '93.
My hair was longer by this time, so I guess that meant it had to be poofier.

I had several wedding showers. That spring my roommate and a friend of mine gave me a lingerie shower. I don't remember how this happened, but my mom AND future mother-in-law AND grandmother ended up coming to the shower hosted in a living area of our dorm building. Much as I love all three of those women, it was just a little embarrassing. I'm not sure which was redder, my face or some of the items given to me - especially one from MY MOTHER IN LAW!

Here are April, Lara, and I - the two very sweet hostesses, and one nervous bride-to-be, trying not to look as embarrassed as I really was.
My church gave me a traditional wedding shower that summer. Here are the aforementioned mother and mother-in-law. Fortunately blenders and dishes don't embarrass me.
Kelly's church gave us an old-fashioned "pounding." It was terrific. We got a quilt made by the ladies from the church who still met once a week to quilt on a frame that was suspended from the ceiling in one of the rooms at the church, as well as all sorts of handmade goodies and necessities for our kitchen.

Someone gave us this rolling pen as well. Since my cooking skills were negligible at this point, I believe I was making some comment like, "Oh, is this to keep you in line?" And Kelly was saying something like, "Keep that thing away from me!"
We had no official wedding coordinator. But my mom and I had everything under control. Here I am at the rehearsal handing out everyone's marching orders - er, I mean, handing out the order of events so that everything could run smoothly. yeah, that was it.
What a bunch of hooligans! Somehow I don't have a picture of the girls in the wedding. I think my mother-in-law was biased - her two sons were in the middle and her nephew is the red head beside Tony, my brother-in-law.
Always trust Tony to add a bit of fun to any circumstance!
My mom had to rehearse every part of the wedding - even crying!
The old-fashioned tradition of not having the bride go through the rehearsal allowed me to stand back in the aisle and direct traffic. That's why there is a red-head (Kelly's cousin Becky) beside him. I did NOT dye my hair right before the wedding.
As an aside, the little girl who is my flower girl? She is my cousin's daughter, and last year, we went to Abilene for her wedding! Talk about making you feel old!

Everyone was such a great sport at the rehearsal and we actually had a good time. Then we went to the little church Kelly's dad was pastoring for the rehearsal dinner. (This church wasn't big enough to hold the ceremony in, so we were married at Second Baptist in Odessa, where Kelly's family had been attending before FIL became a pastor. My parents' church was in the next town, and we wanted to be married in Odessa.) Kelly's mom and grandmother grilled up a ton of hamburgers and hotdogs, and it was a very fun, casual time. At least for us. My mom tells me she was pretty stressed out. I understand now - I'll probably be that way too in a few years when it is my turn to be the mother of the bride.