Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Sisters

My two oldest girls are each other's best friends. They like many of the same things (horses, playing piano) and love to play together. They each feel bereft without the other.

This doesn't mean they are carbon copies of each other.

Kora really excels in things like Latin and Greek, reading. She struggles with her spelling and sometimes with math. Aubrey has no problems with spelling or math, also likes to read, but doesn't catch on with languages as easily.

I don't know that I realized there was such a difference in their senses of humor until tonight.

After everyone had food dished onto their plates tonight, Kelly launches quite unexpectedly into a joke:

"So three men walk into a bar. You'd think the third one would have ducked."

Aubrey dies laughing; she literally had tears coming out of her eyes. Kora looks at us and says, "What's so funny?" I had to explain two different meanings of "bar." Even Brynna got it before Kora did.

Aubrey summed it up after Kora finally "got" it. Aubrey said, "It isn't as funny if you have to explain the joke." I agree. :-)
This was taken right after the girls cut their hair off last year to donate to Locks of Love.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Conversations With a Four Year Old

I was taking the baby to a doctor appointment today, and as we drove by a very busy intersection (410 and Bandera for you San Antonio folks) Lauryn cried out in her very incredulous voice:

I didn't know there were two of them! One by our house and one far, far away!

Me: What are you talking about, Lauryn? The HEB?

Lauryn: No, that thing, you know, that's by our house? There was another one back there!

Hailey starts suggesting anything she can think of near our house. I am racking my brain, trying to remember what is at that intersection.

Me: Lauryn, do you mean Panda Express?

L: YES!!! There's ours by our house, and a second one up here!

I just laughed and informed the poor child that there were many, many Panda Expresses all over town. I think it was an epiphany for her to realize that there more than one of some things. I wish I had a microphone to record her incredulous tone of voice.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blessed Be Your Name

I don't care much for praise choruses - they are often just shallow. I do like the praise hymns that set Psalms to music. Though this one isn't directly from a Psalm, it is definitely inspired by several, and just seems appropriate right now.

Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful,
Where You streams of abundance flow,
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name when I'm found in the desert place,
Though I walk through the wilderness,
Blessed be Your name.

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me,
When the world's all as it should be,
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering,
Though there's pain in the offering,
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise,
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say:
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your glorious name.

You give and take away,
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name.

by Matt & Beth Redman

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Quickly Things Change

I am always amazed at how quickly kids can become sick. Yesterday morning, everyone was fine. I took Brynna and Hailey to the dentist; both were fine. When we got home I made lunch.

During lunch, Hailey (aged 6) started crying, saying she was cold. I thought she was just whining (as usual), so I told her to go put some warmer clothes on and be quiet. When she got down stairs in warm clothes and was still shivering and crying, I looked at her more closely. That's when I noticed the pasty color of her skin. All my girls are very fair complected, so you wouldn't think that they have much color to lose. But evidently pale easily becomes the color of liquid glue when they don't feel good.

So I took her temperature: 101.8. Just before nap I took it again: 103.2. I checked on her during nap time and took it again: 104! Good grief! "Great! Now I have guilt!" (Name that movie.)

I guess she was due, since she missed out on the really bad cold we all had a few weeks back.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Monday

Monday - Sweet & Sour Meatballs over rice, stir fried veggies (crock pot recipe)

Tuesday - Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup, rolls (Candace made this for us when we were all sick, and we fell in love)

Wednesday - Spaghetti, salad, focaccia bread sticks

Thursday - Picante chicken in tortillas, topped with shredded cheese, chops, picante sauce (recipe from Aubrey and Kristen)

Friday - pizza

Saturday - bean and beef burritos (I tweaked my MIL's creation)

Sunday - lunch at church

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Whole-y Tired and Glad to be Home

We had a great time at the Whole Hearted Mother Conference this year. Lots of gab time, lots of laughter, way too much good food, and even a little wine, some convicting talks, nice hotel rooms, and did I mention the food?

Some things I learned this weekend:

1. I love my Garmin GPS device.

2. Someone needs to pack a cork screw to Whole Hearted Mother.

3. I always eat too much and drink way too much Dr. Pepper on these trips. Time to de-tox.

4. There's no such thing as packing lightly when you also have to pack for a baby.

5. When babies aren't asleep, they tend to not appreciate the car seat.

6. Reserved tables are the BEST!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ta Ta for now!

Kelly got tired of me, and is forcing me to go to a getaway weekend with the girls. We, along with Ashlynn who is still somewhat attached ;-), are headed to DFW, for the Whole Hearted Mother Conference.

In my absence, I'm sure there will be a lot of movie watching, WOW playing, and all around fun stuff going on. I'll be back on the blog on Monday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Making it Realistic

Is saving oneself for marriage unrealistic? According to Sarah Palin's daughter, it is. And you know what? I agree with her, and so does Al Mohler. His blog post today puts it most succinctly.

Is sexual abstinence realistic for teenagers and young adults? Well, abstinence is certainly not realistic when teenagers put themselves - or they are put there by others - into a situation where sexual activity is likely. At some point, sexual abstinence becomes very unrealistic indeed.

The real issue for Christian teenagers and their parents is not to debate whether sexual abstinence before marriage is realistic or not. The larger and more important issue is that sexual abstinence until marriage is the biblical expectation and command. Once this is realized, the responsibility for everyone concerned is to ensure that expectations and structures are in place so that abstinence is realistic.

The debate over whether abstinence is realistic or not misses the more important issue -- abstinence must be made realistic. [Emphasis mine.]

Parents and teenagers must make certain that adequate protections and expectations are in place so that sexual abstinence is very realistic indeed. Far too many Christian parents allow their teenagers to be part of the "hooking up" scene of teenage culture. In that highly sexualized context, sexual abstinence would appear unrealistic in the extreme.

Read the whole post here. He makes the point here that the way modern dating practices are exercised, even by Christians, set up a situation where abstinence is nearly impossible. "Premature pair dating and unsupervised liaisons," as Mohler describes them, are not set in place to maintain purity. This is the reason that Kelly and I long ago decided that our family will not be taking part in modern teenage dating practices. Hopefully, Bristol Palin's comments will serve as a wake up call to Christian parents.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Delightfully Politically IN-correct

Kelly and I are NOT bumper sticker people. However, I saw one today that might be the only bumper sticker Kelly might ever consider putting on one of his vehicles.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleaning and Organization

When we talk about organization, we can't help but talk about cleaning. Partly because organizing stuff makes things look cleaner and makes it easier to clean our homes. Also, as busy moms we have to organize our cleaning time, since usually we are the cleaning crew in our homes, or at least the boss of the crew.

Before we had kids (was there ever a before kids?) and while we just had one or two kids and lived in small apartments or homes, a cleaning schedule wasn't that big of a deal. I grew up in a household where my mom had a housecleaning day. She did laundry on Thursdays and cleaned house on Fridays. When our family was smaller, I could usually do the same thing.

As our family grew and we got larger homes, I found this more difficult to do. Finally, I gave up on the idea of getting the entire house clean all at one time. It was very freeing, although it was completely against my Type-A, perfectionist personality. I decided to scrap the idea of getting the house all clean at once and decided to make sure I cleaned the whole house once a week.

To do this, I sat down and wrote out all the once-a-week and twice-a-week things I did around the house. Then I divided them all out among the days of the week. I still do this, although every year, as my family grows and grows up I change the lists up.

When I first did this I had a bathroom day in which I cleaned all the bathrooms, a floor day in which I swept and mopped or vacuumed all the floors, a kitchen day in which I scrubbed down the kitchen, etc. Sometimes I did that before the kids got up, sometimes while they were playing, sometimes during nap time. Eventually I was able to add in the kids and hand some of these chores off to them. However, even with the extra help, I don't try to get it all done in a day, but rather spread it out.

This spreading out of the weekly cleaning chores has three main advantages for me:

1. I am not worn out cleaning, and have time for other things in my life. We have a rather large house now, and I would have to devote an entire day to cleaning each week in order to get it all done in one day. Frankly, not only would my duties as a mother never permit that, I just don't want to do it. I have grammar and math to teach, babies to nurse, diapers to change, books to read, meals to cook, and emails to write. It's much easier to fit in an hour or two of cleaning a day than it is to carve out an entire day each week to it.

2. I feel as if I accomplished something today. I like lists. I like to-do lists, especially ones that are crossed out. And let's face it, "a mother's work is never done." It doesn't matter how clean the house is today and how wonderful supper was tonight and how great a child did on math today, tomorrow the house will be messy (again), the kids and husband will want to eat (again) and that same child will probably forget all the grammar she ever learned. So knowing that I did accomplish my list helps me not to feel frustrated.

Even more importantly, a completed list gives me permission to stop as well. If I didn't watch it, I could easily work until midnight every night and go to bed feeling like there still too much to do. But once my list is done, I can rest assured that even though I didn't clean the powder room today, for instance, it's on the list for tomorrow. So I can stop and spend time with my family.

3. I am more easily able to fit in monthly or seasonal chores as well. If I tried to have a housecleaning day, there's no way I would be able to do anything other than the basic cleaning on this day. By spreading the workload out throughout the week (and among the kids) I can fit in those necessary chores. I love this, because these types of things were very hard for me to find the time for before I started scheduling a few each week. For me, these are things like dusting blinds and ceiling fans, cleaning out the refrigerator (ideally I'd scrub this baby down every week, but I'm being realistic here - I'm doing good to get to it once a quarter), etc.

I still dream of having a maid one day. Actually my real dream is to have a "Susan" from the last few books in the Anne of Green Gables series. But realistically, I know it probably won't happen until I have no more messy kids in the house to clean up after. Fortunately those kids can also be taught how to clean! Next organizing/cleaning post will be about kids and chores. Now, if I could just teach those kids to eat without getting food all over the floor...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Monday

This is what's on the menu rotation for this week:

Monday: Funeral Casserole, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, rolls (This casserole, which I got from a cookbook put out by my grandmother's church years ago, is so named because the submitter always made this for potluck lunches for funerals up at the church.)

Tuesday: Chicken tortilla Soup, salad, cornbread

Wednesday: Granny's Meat patties, mashed potatoes, green beans (We call this dish that because Kelly's grandmother made it for us several times when we were first married.)

Thursday: Yummy Chicken pasta, rolls, roasted zucchini (My friend Cathi made this for us after we had Ashlynn, and it has been a family favorite ever since!)

Friday: grill something

Saturday: Steak tostadas

Sunday: taco salad

Because I am leaving early Friday morning to attend the Whole Hearted Mothers Conference in Irving, the weekend menu will not look exactly like this. I'll leave a lasagna for Kelly and the girls to throw in the oven either Friday or Saturday,and I'll have taco fixings for the other night. Kelly will be making taco salad for Sunday and I'll have hot dogs on hand for any other meal time needs. When Mama is gone, the meals get pretty simple. I'm even buying - gasp! - muffin mix and canned cinnamon/orange Danish rolls for breakfasts while I'm gone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I took Kora to get her pictures taken a couple of weeks ago, and here they are.

This one is my favorite.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


If you are easily offended, don't watch. But this is the biggest laugh I have gotten out of current events in a long while.

It's enough to make ya sick

I made a CVS run a couple of days ago. That is when I realized how crazy my life has been of late:

I had let $12 in ECBs expire!!!

I didn't know whether to cry or be sick.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vampires versus the Civil War

Yesterday afternoon, I took Aubrey to her monthly orthodontist appointment. We both took books to read, as dentist offices can be boring places, especially if they are running behind and Dr. Phil is playing on the waiting room tv.

We were taken back into the exam room, and I continued reading while we wait for the doctor to come in. Now you have to understand that I have several books on my nightstand. I never read just one book at a time. Right now on the nightstand I have a theology book some friends gave us for Christmas, a book on organization, the book on mothering that we are going through in our homeschool group, an autobiography, a marriage book, and a history book. I always have a history book. This one is one on loan from my father-in-law. And in the iPod I have Jane Austen's Emma.

So anyway, the orthodontist walks in and asks how were are doing and the usual small talk. Then he glances at the book now lying in my lap, which is a hard back roughly 2.5 inches thick. He asks me, "What are you reading?"

I pick it up and show him the spine: Nothing but Victory: The Army of Tennessee 1861-1865, by Steven Woodworth. He looks at me a little funny as I tell him that it's about the civil war in the west. (Not the far west by any means, but it was the western theater.)

He laughed a little. "Not the normal reading material I usually see around here. Most people seem to be into that vampire thing."

I just laughed and told him that vampires weren't my cup of tea.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting real

OK, so I like sports. I grew up watching sports with my dad. I watch more football than my husband does. I like baseball (our guest room is even decorated in a baseball motif). I am an Olympics junkie. If I'm vegging on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, I'll watch anything from beach volleyball to golf.

However, can we get real?

I agree that when you take an oath to be truthful, you should do so, but Congress shouldn't even have been involved in the whole baseball/steroids deal. Of course, I don't think baseball should be federally subsidized, either.

And REALLY? He "insisted" ?!? And she had no say so in the matter?

And, just to be clear, I don't think that the players should be taking these substances. However, MLB has set up this culture of turning their heads to what was going on and now it is reaping the consequences. And this is a complete breach of privacy and blatant corruption by the government. Not only is this a stretch of the "in plain view" rules of search and seizure laws, but how come it is that there are 104 names on the list, and only one was leaked? Look for this one to end up in the Supreme Court. And also look for players (as well as non-sports employees in any career field) to either refuse these "confidential surveys" or to just outright lie on them. After all, confidential isn't really confidential anymore.

And finally, and not so seriously, how many think Brett Favre will actually stay retired this time?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eleven Kids

A dear friend of mine is sitting up in the hospital with her very sick 4 year old. Little Sam has severe asthma and when he get sick... well, it ain't pretty. And unfortunately this time, her husband was out of town when he was admitted.

Anyway, several of us in our church have been pitching in and hosting her older kids while she is at the hospital and her husband is gone. Today, I had 5 extra kids at my house. You know you have a pretty good size family when 5 extra kids doesn't make a dent in your psyche. I just had to make a few extra hot dogs.

The real difference is that four of the kids were boys, which is something that doesn't happen too much around here. Fortunately we have Star Wars movies and a pretty cool swing set in the back yard. After lunch, the boys were teaching the girls a few games.

A couple of the boys taught Kora how to play Stratego, a game we've had for a while but they didn't know how to play.
Others were playing card games. I think this one is "slap jack."
Josh found a word game to play.
And the younger girls were upstairs with my friend's lone daughter in little girl heaven.
My kids have had a blast. Hopefully, little Sam will be well enough to come home soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu Monday

This is what's on the list for this week. This week promises to be a bit nuts, so we'll see if I stick to it.

Monday - Cheeseburger Macaroni, rolls, green beans

Tuesday - honey mustard chicken, roasted veggies, baked potato

Wednesday - Italian Meatloaf, salad, breadsticks

Thursday - Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, refried beans, steamed broccoli

Friday - homemade pizza (probably one pepperoni and one garlic chicken with mushrooms and pesto sauce)

Saturday - roll-ups

Sunday - lunch at church

Friday, February 6, 2009

I DARE you not to smile!

Come on, I double-dog dare you!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


A few years ago, I didn't even know what an MMORPG was. You don't either? Well, go here for the encyclopedia version, but it means "Massively multiplayer online role playing game." In other words, it is a game hosted on dozens (or hundreds) of servers that people all over the world can play over the internet at the same time.

A couple of years ago, my husband got into playing W.O.W. - World of Warcraft. I totally didn't understand the lure. I didn't understand the game, the concept, or why you would spend time doing it.

Before too long, my two older girls were watching Daddy play, and wanted to play too. So my husband set up a second account (that my girls use allowance money to help pay for) for them. He also set up strict rules: they can only play with him, they only play on weekends, and they are only allowed to chat with him and anyone he gives approval to. There are others, but those are the main ones. He has filters in place so they don't get exposed to inappropriate language. And since they play on a computer just a couple of feet away from my husband and their characters are playing together, my husband is with them every step of the way.

I was skeptical at first, but this has really proved to be something that the girls and Daddy do together that they both enjoy. (It has an added bonus of a great privilege that can be taken away as part of discipline.) The three of them have really bonded as they've taken characters and shaped them and battled adversaries together. Plus my husband has been showing them how to use technology responsibly.

Last fall, I was growing discouraged because my husband and I didn't seem to be spending as much time together as I wished. Some of that was due to a new baby who took up a lot of my time, some of it was due to Kelly's frequent illnesses and travel for work. I decided to look for something we could spend time doing together. But it had to be something around the house, of course.

I had a crazy idea that I fought for a couple of months. But finally I decided to step out of my comfort level... and ask Kelly if I could create a character on W.O.W. and play with him. Gulp. I didn't understand the game AT ALL. To me, it was a bunch of fantastic looking bizarre characters running around killing even more bizarre looking monsters. I didn't really want to "waste my time" on the computer either. I primarily use the computer as a tool - for communication, running a household, doing research, and for my blogging hobby. But I felt this was something I really needed to do for my husband.

So New Year's week, Kelly had taken a couple of days off, and we got started. We still don't play that often, usually once, maybe twice a week for a couple of hours. But I now have a level 16 human Mage and a Level 10 night elf Warrior. Don't worry, two months ago I didn't know what that meant either.

To my surprise I have enjoyed it. I don't think it is something I would enjoy playing by myself, but it is something Kelly and I do together. It showed him that I am interested in what he is interested in.

So gals, if you are wishing you and your hubby could do more things together, look around and see if there is a way you can get involved in something he is already interested in. Even if you aren't initially all that enthusiastic, chances are you'll enjoy it more than you realize. You're also much more likely to get him involved than in something like ballroom dancing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Budding Musical Talent

We are just full of musical talent in our family. For example, take Lauryn, she not only plays the violin, she builds it herself... out of Duplos.
And of course, Ashlynn thinks she is a virtuoso.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tax Time

As most of you know, it's income tax time! Last year we discovered the wonderful joy of free online tax preparation software, which includes free e-file! This only works if you are using the basic software program, but it works great if that's all you need! I'm sure there is more than one option out there, but here's what we use. Just click the "Free Edition."

Maybe I'm the only one out there, but I do not take tax preparation software for granted. For the first 8 or 9 years of our marriage, I did our taxes every year by hand. That's right, just me, a pencil, paper, and a calculator. Frankly, I was too cheap to spend the money on the software to do it. We didn't have anything very complicated but it still took a while and I was always nervous about making errors. In fact, one year I got Aubrey's social security number wrong and we had to file a correction. What a pain.

Then six years ago, I had four children 6 and under, the youngest being only 4 months old. I was still deep in the depths of post partum depression, and we were getting ready to list our house for sale and build a new one. I couldn't even THINK about doing taxes that year. I finally got up the nerve to tell Kelly that I just couldn't do it. I told him I didn't care if he hired someone to do it for us or whatever, but I could not even look at the stuff.

To my utter and complete relief, he said, "Fine. I'll take care of it." He went and bought a $50 piece of software, and had it all done in about 15 minutes. I was astonished. And kicking myself for not doing that years ago! The next year we figured out that we only needed the $25 version - even better! And now they offer that same program for free on their website! Every year, I am very thankful for the software that makes it so much easier.

And for a husband who never gave the job of tax preparer back to me!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Menu Monday

Monday - Lasagna, salad, breadsticks

Tuesday - Hashbrown Sausage bake, sauteed squash, rolls

Wednesday - Baked Chili Rellanos, Spanish Rice, green beans

Thursday - Parmesan Chicken, rice pilaf, cooked carrots

Friday - grilled pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli

Saturday - Crockpot BBQ chicken, oven baked fries, roasted veggies

Sunday - Roast with carrots, mashed potatoes