Saturday, December 27, 2008

Special Moments

Well, Christmas is over for most people, but due to sickness in my family, we were unable to travel to Alabama for Christmas Day. So, we are going to have Christmas on New Year's! We'll just pretend it's Christmas Day. Do you think it will be the same?

Since we didn't go to Bama, we went to John's Aunt's for dinner and his Dad's for a late Christmas dinner and to open presents. It is so very different in a divorced family. John's step-siblings are great and we always have a great time with them. Still, I am so thankful that my parents stayed together. There is so much we were spared from as children and beyond by them sticking it out. I know they probably had some hard times, but they were faithful through it all.

Last night (Christmas night), John and the two eldest camped out in the living room! We took the bathtub box and fashioned it into a little "tent" of sorts and they slept under it. I don't think they made it all night, though, because Gracie snuck in the bed with me and I found John and Elijah in Elijah's bed. Hehe...I guess the floor got a little hard.



Sorry, this picture is a little blurry and grainy. Probably cause I zoomed.

I've been procrastinating (ahem, Moni), and still haven't got the gifts wrapped for the trip (yikes!). But it will all work out. Besides that, we've been pretty productive around here this weekend. I cleaned out my van. It was ATROCIOUS!! I took all the seats out and vacuumed and wiped them down. I hate going on a trip in a dirty vehicle. Over at the Homespun Heart, she had some really cute ideas for road trip entertaining. If only I had the time.....sigh. We also cleaned off our front porch. It no longer looks like Home Depot blew up and all the pieces landed on our porch.

That's been something on my mind lately--it seems like I clean, clean, clean and have no fun time with my younguns. New Year's Resolution: more balance! More coloring, more games, more ice cream (well, at least for them), more trips to the
"wiewary" (library) :0).

Elijah and I had some really sweet snuggle time today while it was thundering (he's scared to death of "unner"). He whispered, "There's a terrible lizard (blizzard) outside, Mama." And then he wrapped his arms around my neck and said, "You're my main man, Mama." And later, "My Daddy is really big and strong and he loves me", so seriously. My heart just melted like butter. I love these moments. Have you had any special moments with your little sweet peas lately?

Well, it is 9:17, and I have lots to do before I hit the hay. Clean the kitchen, sweep the floors, assemble the casserole (Mexican Lasagna, mmm) for tomorrow's church lunch and iron hubby's clothes for church. Looks like it's going to be a late one for me. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Christmas Means To Me






My friends, I have recently experienced a major lack of interest in blogging. I guess it's the rush of the holidays--I'm just too busy to get creative :). So I thought I would repost this from last Christmas, to have something up here. We are having our family Christmas tomorrow, so maybe that will inspire to get back to the keyboard :).


I have struggled with whether or not I should blog about this, because I do not want to cause undue strife or hurt to people I know and care about. I want my blog to be something that lifts up and encourages, not the opposite. This has been burning in my heart and mind for about a week now, even more so since some conversations have taken place, and a comment was left on my post about our family Christmas. I was not offended or angered by this comment; on the contrary, it has caused me to look at my view of Christmas with more scrutiny and make sure I have all things in the right perspective and especially what I am teaching my children about this holiday.

Every family has their own take on Christmas, creating their own traditions and deciding where to put the most emphasis--Santa Clause or the birth of Jesus. Some families have decided not to include a Christmas tree, or anything that resembles the traditional Christmas celebration. Their convictions on this stem from the fact that the Christmas tree is pagan in origin.

Jeremiah 10:1-4
1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.


I know people who would not accept a picture of our children because there was a Christmas tree in the background. I have some friends who do not put up a Christmas tree, but instead hang ornaments and put gifts around a snow-man figure. My pastor, who was my pastor from birth until I got married and moved away, did not put up a Christmas tree, but instead put up a manger and put their gifts under and around it. These families all have their own way of coming up with creative ways to fit the holiday around what they believe. This is good. We should not do things blindly because they have always been done that way, but we should know why we are observing and/or participating in a specific tradition.

I must admit that as a child, the most exciting thing about Christmas was the opening of the presents. My parents did not have a lot to spend on my brothers and I, but they always made the part about Christmas morning exciting and fun, because it was a time for us to all be together, participating in giving something to one another. As an adult, I can say that the Christmas tree is nothing more to me than a decoration, like a wreath on a door or a picture on the wall. It is a decoration that ushers in the celebration of a period of time that we acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I cannot ignore the fact that it is pagan in origin, but this begs the question, what things do we partake in on a daily basis that are pagan or ungodly in origin? There are things that have evolved with the culture and are now thought of as the norm, and would never be put away or ceased from practicing because that would be termed fanatical or legalistic by today's church world.

Makeup, for instance, red lipstick in particular, was originally worn only by prostitutes or women of the lowest repute. The only woman of the Bible who was mentioned to wear paint on her face was cursed by God and eaten by dogs. Let me clarify--am I saying you are wicked or calling you a prostitute because you wear makeup? No. I am just drawing attention to where it came from.
Also, the practice of women cutting their hair began in France in the early 1900s when women there began to openly practice homosexuality. Women began wearing bluejeans during World War I when all the men went off to war and the women stepped into their places as the breadwinners and providers for the family. They had to do men's work, so they donned men's attire. But when the men returned, they decided they liked their newfound role and refused to give it back to its rightful owner, their husbands. Thus began the feminist movement, and women began to seek careers over homemaking. I know this because this was the topic I chose for a research paper my senior year of high school. Now do you think people today would give up these things because of how they originated? I think not.


Yes, Christmas has been overly commercialized and cheapened by the department stores and their advertisements. Parents feel their kids have to have the best and then there are all the Christmas parties to bring gifts to and people find themselves racking up senseless debt to meet the demands of the season. It would be better to take this money and put it where it is needed in the name of Christ, no doubt. But what about the other debt that we build up the other 11 months of the year? We eat out too much, we buy large vehicles that guzzle gas, we go on expensive vacations, and then there's the cable bill and the internet bill and so forth. Why don't we refrain from those things and give that money to missions instead? Ouch.

It has been suggested that too much emphasis is put on the baby Jesus at this time(!). After all, we don't celebrate a child's birthday on the very day he is born, we wait until he turns one. This is on the verge of being offending to me, as a Christian and one who Jesus is my all. How can we not put emphasis on him as the Christ child? No, we do not celebrate the birth of other babies because their births were not of miraculous conception, their mothers were not virgins, and their birth was not the fulfillment of hundreds of years of prophecy, foretold and foreshadowed throughout the entire Old Testament. The fact that that little baby is there in that nativity scene showed me the great love Jesus has for His children. He was willing to give up the splendors of heaven to come and be born in a dirty, dark, smelly stable surrounded by filthy animals so that He may one day die a cruel and brutal death. He traded his immortality for this itchy, sweaty, weak flesh and gave up Paradise for the harsh elemants of earth. That baby is my hope, my joy, my salvation. Celebrating his birth is not taking away from His life, His death, or His resurrection. I worship Jesus Christ from beginning to end, every part of Him, and I wish to know more about the parts I lack in knowledge and experience.

I once taught a Sunday School class of teenage girls, and on one Christmas Sunday I was teaching about this very thing. A comment was made about how Joseph was not Jesus' biological Father, but he took on the responsiblity of this child anyway, because of his faith in God's Word. A girl spoke up emphatically, "Yes, he was Jesus' father!" I then explained that because of the miraculous conception and virgin birth, Jesus and Joseph were in no way blood related. I could not BELIEVE that this girl, 13 years of age, whose grandfather was a minister, in whose home she was raised, had missed this basic fundamental of the Christian faith!!! What in the world?? Let us not be guilty of letting ignorance on such an important fact be found in the lives of our children.

Let us search the Word and pray for wisdom and discernment for all the things of this world, and to what extent we let them into our lives. Too much one way or the other will cause a dangerous imbalance and confuse our children. And whatever we choose to believe and practice, let us be respectful of one another's decisions, and not seek to tear down what another family deems acceptable and right for theirs (unless it is in direct opposition to God's Word, but that's another blog, another day).

~Amy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trial and Error!

There are times when issues arise in our children and we know something has got to be done about it, this just has to stop, because we know these bad habits and/or attitudes will lead to bigger problems in the future. With my children, it is usually a matter of their strong wills, where it is a stand-off between me and them. And they can be oh so persistent, holding fast when I would think they would have been exhausted and given up long ago. This is where we as parents must stand the strongest. That moment, when you see them submitting to your authority and learning that lesson, is confirmation that you have conducted your training wisely and efficiently. Ole sloofoot (sp?) will come along and whisper in your ear that you are being too hard, expecting too much of your child. But in the end, when not only the action is changed, but the attitude, you know you acted upon the wisdom give to you by God himself. Isn't it sweet and rewarding?


For about a year, eldest child has made our mealtimes absolutely miserable. He has refused to eat anything that was put in front of him, even foods I know he liked, gagging and shuddering and crying as if he were being fed mud (or worse). We have consistently applied negative consequences to this behaviour, whether being sent to bed early without anything to eat, sitting in the corner, or, when the magnitude of his bad attitude called for it, a sound switching. In the back of my head, I wonder what we could have done to shorten the length of this ordeal (an entire year), obviously I need to read up on the Pearl's material a little more. Nevertheless, we have finally turned a corner and it is amazing how changed his attitude is. He will say, "Watcha cooking Mama?" And I will tell him and he will say, "Oh, I like that. I want some!". I about fell out the first time this happened. Last night, we had red beans and rice for supper. He was excited to put a big bite in his mouth, but then his expression changed and he made a face and spit it out. I did not make him eat this, because his attitude was indeed receptive and he made an attempt to eat it willingly. I fixed him some rice with butter and salt and he ate the entire bowl without complaint (if only you knew how glad this makes me).


The issue with Middle Child is that she has been hair-twirling, to the point that she has broke her hair off extremely bad. She twirls her hair while sucking her thumb, it's like an automatic reaction, suck thumb, twirl hair. She knots it up so bad that I have had to cut pieces out. I have spatted her little hand until it is red, and just got plain tired of it. So, I started braiding her hair in two french braids and she loves it! Plus it keeps her hands out of it. She still twirls it when she is going to sleep, so I know I have not solved the problem. Any advice here would be welcome and appreciated!




Emma has begun waking up 2-3 times a night lately, when she was sleeping until 4:00 a.m. or so and then waking up at 7:00. She seems to not be satisfied with my milk, so I started her on cereal/babyfood. She will have none of it! After three weeks of trying, and watching her gag and shudder, and spit it all out, I have about decided I jumped the gun and she is not ready for it. I am desperate to begin getting more sleep. Help! :)







One battle won, two to go. Please, you wise, experienced Moms out there, give some helpful advice and direction to a young, learning-as-I-go mother.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All About Christmas (a conglomeration)

Conglomeration? Yep. Get ready! It's time to catch up on missed blogging time. OK, so maybe you are wondering why there has been no activity on this blog lately. Well, after my husband preached a very inspiring message last Sunday night about really knowing Jesus, I felt challenged to go on a little fast from the ole puter. So this week I cut back drastically from my computer usage, only checking my email and getting on to do some Christmas shopping, and tried to apply that time in more important areas--mainly spiritual and familial. It made a huge difference and helped me to put things in the right perspective. Yes, I'm afraid I was spending too much time in front of this screen. Blogging, and the reading thereof can be rather addictive if one is not careful.

I completed my Christmas shopping this week, which included some much-needed church clothes for Grace. And you know what that means--I had to make her some new hairbows, too ;). So I have been up late a couple of nights doing what I love. It's like a creative outlet for me. One of these days I am going to learn to sew and LOOK OUT :0). Here are a couple of my creations:








We will be in Alabama on Christmas day and the weekend following, so we decided to have our family Christmas today. Last night, after the kiddos went to bed, John and I thought we would sneak and exchange our gifts for each other. We were all giddy and excited until...EGAD we could not find my present! I knew I had just seen it on a shelf (not put under the tree yet), but alas it was not there! You can imagine, we turned the house upside down trying to find it--we looked in closets, cabinets, the pantry, the kids' toys boxes...no present. I was about to get upset, and finally, we found it--in an empty diaper box???? We got a good laugh out of it. My hubby got me a really nice new Bible in a very cute Bible case:






Here are the kiddos waiting for the "go ahead" (isn't that piece of sheet rock in the background lovely?). They were so excited!



Well, at least Grace and Elijah were. Emma looks a little bored :).

And the girls were sorta dressed alike for the event. Aren't they cute?


To wrap things up, Daddy read the Christmas story to us. I had explained to the kiddos earlier in the week that they were getting three presents because on Jesus' birthday, He received three presents from the wise men. This is a tradition we started last year and plan to apply every Christmas. We do not bring Santa Clause into the equation, and I think it's because our focus is truly on celebrating the birth of Christ, and what does a fat old man dressed in red have to do with that?

I love this picture of my Big Man.

My Emma Rae is rolling over, fighting sleep like a pro, sucking both thumbs (!!) and getting cuter by the day! She wants to sit up and/or be stood up all the time, and is too big for her little britches :). We are all deeply in love with her.

Today was a good day. I cannot convey how wonderful it felt to have a day with my husband and family all together, centered on us and the true meaning of Christmas. It is going to be very hard when John goes back to school after the break, after getting used to him being here with us. He started working on the master bathroom remodel today, building the frame for our gigantic whirlpool garden tub. Very exciting. Can't wait to immerse my ample self in its warm, relaxing depths, complete with candle light an incense. One can dream, can't one?

I must now away, to fulfill the never-ending duties of my mom/wifehoodness, albeit with a heart of joy and contentment. How could I not be (joyful and content), when my Lord was born, as a precious, innocent babe, just to die for me, so that I might have hope.....joy.....peace. Abundantly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things...


We finally had our picture day today.......this is how Grace "cheeses" for her pictures. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get a picture of her without this expression on her face? I must have taken ten pictures of her alone trying to get another look from her! :) What I love about my children (just a few of the many things).....

How Grace is so girly and sassy and prissy. She doesn't just want a tricycle for Christmas, she wants a pink tricycle for Christmas.
I love how Emma smiles so big at me every time I come to pick her up from her nap. And how she leans her cheek over to my face for sugar.
I love how Elijah is so tenderhearted, and how he is so the eldest child--making sure everyone does what they are supposed to, when they are supposed to, just how they are supposed to.

I love how Gracie runs to the front of the church to sing in the booster band before it's even time yet...how she stands up there all by herself like, what are we waiting for? So eager to participate in her praise and worship time....
I love how Emma kicks her legs and waves her arms like a wound-up toy when she sees her Daddy first thing in the morning......




I love how Elijah makes up his own words/names for things tucked deep in his imagination....doze, tangle, wassum....

And most of all, I love how they are MINE!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Opportunities

Our pastor has been encouraging our little flock to be more passionate about soul-winning. To get a burden and start our own ministries to the people around us. I've been pondering in my mind, "What can I do? I rarely venture away from our home unless it's to go to Wal-Mart or church. I have three babies to drag along anywhere I go. It's not the best situation for door-to-door ministry or things like that." I mean, I know I can pray, and that is the most important thing, but how can I put feet on my prayers? The Word says He knows our needs before we even ask them, and I know He knows our thoughts before we ever even present them to Him in prayer. Well, the Lord has answered these questions this week in some interesting ways, and He is showing me that if I will just open my eyes, I will see the opportunities He is giving me.



Opportunity #1:

Wednesday we went grocery shopping, and though I usually go at night when John gets home from class or when a sitter can stay with them, I took them all with me this time (we've had sitters twice this week, and I didn't want to burn people out). Well, as usual, people stopped to ooh and aah over the kids, and to ask the usual questions: "Are they all yours? How old are they?" and remark, "Wow! You've got your hands full!" That one is a classic. One lady pursed her lips and said, "Mmm, Girl! You got it goin' on! I don't know how you do it, but you got it goin' on!" lol....I like those kind :). Anyway, (forgive me, I am going down rabbit trails) one lady about my age with a little boy started talking to me about how precious Emma was and she said, "You're Pentecostal aren't you?" and I said "Yes". She said, "I was raised that way." This opened the door for me to tell her about our church and invite her. She said that was just what she'd been looking for, and so I gave her directions to the church. Don't know if she'll come, but you never know. It hit me later that God can use the fact that I have three adorable attention-getter kids to give me opportunities to witness!!!! Isn't that awesome?



Opportunity #2:

A couple of weeks ago, on a day when it was nice out, we all bundled up in hats and coats and went for a walk through our neighborhood. I noticed an elderly man who lives a couple of houses down was out raking his yard. I've noticed that he lives alone and never seems to have company. God laid this little man on my heart, and every day since then I have thought about him. So yesterday I baked another batch of pumpkin bread and today John and I walked over and took him some. He turned out to be very sweet and seemed touched by our visit. I believe we just made a new friend and am excited about it.



I am not sharing this to paint roses on myself, but to give testimony to the fact that there is always some way to reach out outside of our little confined world, if we want to bad enough. It does not seem like I even got a chance to really get down and pray about it, but just thinking about it and pondering it in my heart, and all of a sudden, the answers were there! This is the busiest season of the year, and the loneliest for many people. Let's show Jesus to someone who needs Him!



I will leave you with some "Get the camera!" moments from today:

In preparation for John's company Christmas party, I took a shower (yeah!), leaving John in charge of our precious little angels. This is what I found when I came out of the bathroom--your guess is as good as mine?



And, lastly, the joyful quartet that brings peace and happiness to my life (did I say peace?).




Monday, December 1, 2008

My $20 Christmas Tree!!

On Friday, we retrieved our Christmas Tree from storage. Unfortunately, all of our ornaments are in storage in another place, so I went to the Dollar Tree with $20 and bought some stuff for the tree. I was amazed at how far that $20 went. Excluding a topper, my tree is completely decorated! Here are some pictures of the den, before we rearranged, added blinds and curtains, and put up the Christmas tree:




Elijah helping Daddy hang the blinds:


The proud decorators in front of their tree! (please forgive Grace's lack of feminine attire).




The finished product--new blinds, new curtains, and Christmas Tree.

And below, sisters playing babies together!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Delightful Poem

Yes, this is the second post of the day!

But I found this poem, I thought you would enjoy. I loved it. This will be one I print out and place somewhere I can see it and read often:

“Some houses try to hide the fact that children shelter there,

Ours boasts of it quite openly, the signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows, little smudges on the doors,

I should apologize I guess, for the toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children, and we played, and sang and read,

And if the bathroom doesn’t shine, their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I’m forced to choose the one job or the other,

I want to be a housewife, but first I’ll be a Mother.”

We are enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday here at the Acklen Household. Yesterday we had a slow day, eating a late dinner at around 3:00. John's boss fried our turkey for us, and in addition to that we had cornbread salad, sweet potato casserole, homemade mac 'n' cheese, corn on the cob and yeast rolls. For dessert we had a delicious pecan pie. After dinner, we threw a sheet over the table (so to speak) and all laid down for a looooooooooong nap :). The kids had been up playing all day so they were exhausted. It was so nice. It has been a long time since we had a day at home as a family. It's got us all a little off, though. We feel like today should be Saturday and it's only Friday.

We went to John's grandparents' house today to get our Christmas tree and a few other things that have been left there since our move. Tomorrow we plan to finish putting the den/family room in order so we can put up the Christmas tree. This includes moving the gigantic piece of sheetrock that is leaning against the wall, putting up blinds in the pictures window, hanging the curtain rod and my new curtains (pottery barn--good deal found on ebay), and positioning the two book shelves on either side of the window. I'm excited! Hopefully, I will have pictures to post.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I can't help but dwell on how much I have been given, and how much thanks I do owe my Lord. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Love,
Amy

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Realization





It is dawning on me. I am realizing. I am seeing!!

Four years ago (in January) when Elijah was born, I was such a green horn. So wet behind the ears it's not even funny. I have always loved children--since I was big enough I was carrying one around on each hip. By the time I was 13 I was babysitting a small daycare (7 kids total one summer). I've always wanted children. But I was raised with the 'a girl for me, a boy for you, and we're through' mentality. I thought if you spank a kid enough he will mind whatever you say (LOL). My Mom was a yeller, kwim? When she got to a certain pitch, you knew to find refuge. Things might start flying through the air (lol again). Nah--that happened only once that I can remember.

My Mom went to work when I was 2. I can vividly remember standing in the doorway, looking out the glass of the front door of my babysitter's home, my heart breaking as I watched my Mom drive away. I vowed at a young age that I would stay home with my kids (although I totally understand that some people have no choice but to work).

When Elijah was born, I was fresh out of college and working my first job, trying to pay off student loans. He had a great babysitter--an older lady in our church who was a retired nurse. And even though I knew he was in good hands, it literally broke my heart to leave him every day. I would cry when I left him, and I would cry when I picked him up, knowing that I was missing all the milestones and cute things, only getting reports of them second hand. I wanted to be the one to see his first step and hear his first word. It just killed me. So from there the desire to quit work and stay home grew.

God worked it out, miraculously, for me to stay at home (it's a long story). I don't stay at home because my husband makes scads of money and I don't "have" to work. I stay at home because it is my calling. We sacrifice a lot so that I can be here every day doing what I do. But God always provides, and we have everything we need.

In the last year or so, I have learned SO much through reading other women's blogs (see my blog list). I am learning the value of living more naturally, the technique of training my children's attitudes and behaviors (so much more to learn there), how to be a wife (Created To Be His Helpmeet--if you haven't read it, READ IT!!)--not a better wife, but a WIFE. What God intends for a wife to be. PERIOD. I've learned how to be organized and manage my home and my housekeeping (www.myblessedhome.blogspot.com). And most importantly, I've learned that I am right where God wants me to be. That what I do every day is beautiful in his eyes. No matter what society says, or what the worldly, feminist crowd may say or think. I am serving Him with every dirty diaper I change, with every dish I wash and basket of laundry I fold. He gives me joy and fulfillment that I never came close to having on the job.

This is my thankful for today. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be able to fulfill your will for me to be a stay at home Mom. Please keep teaching me what I need to know to please you and care for my family.

Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Our (Sort of) Fun Friday Report

Well, I'm not sure how much "fun" we had today. I started out with plans of us doing some exercises together--something to get our blood moving (to help us get warm). So I looked up an exercise at home video on youtube. Just a little ten minute work out shouldn't be that bad, right? Umm....well, after three minutes of my bra falling off and my hairpins flying, I decided that was enough. Not to mention I was about to have a cardio. Go ahead, laugh out loud. I am! ;).
Here's a look at our exercise attempt:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M38HDCGmhm4

Clue: I. am. out. of. shape. I think I'll try some mild Leslie Sansone walking workouts next time. oooh me.

Most of the day we spent watching Road to Avonlea reruns on youtube. We had a lunch of corn dogs with strawberry jelly on them (Elijah's idea). Then it was naptime and by the time we got up, almost time for Dad to come home. Grace and I made some chilli and a pan of cornbread. She helped me measure and pour the ingredients, and I can tell she really likes to "help" me. While Grace and I cooked, I put some Indiana Bible College Choir videos on (also youtube) and Elijah had a ball with his drumsticks, playing the drums along with the choir. If you like choir music, these college kids are aweSOME.

This evening, after supper, we had a family trip to WAL-MART. We took the kids down the toy aisles, to see what excited them the most. Elijah, well, he wanted everything he saw. Particularly the Fisher Price Geotrax train sets, some toy guns, and a drum set (of course). Grace was into the dress-up stuff, although I'm not sure if she is old enough for it yet.

I am going to do better next Friday. This week I am going to focus on coming up with some fun stuff to do with them, indoors on Friday. It is absolutely impossible to do anything outside in this cold.

Please forgive the lack of pictures--the batteries on my camera are dead and the charger has not been working, either. We are buying regular batteries instead of rechargeable so when they are dead we have to run to the store for more. I hate it! But we will be back on the picture taking train soon, I hope.

Till next time...

Fun Friday

I've decided that today, I am going to do the basic chores around here, and after that, the kids and I are going to have some FUN! Not sure what we are going to do yet, but we are going to spend some time just chillin'. It sure is chillin' outside, but we are going to "chill" inside in the warmth. Why, we might even have some chili soup for supper (how much cornier can this post be?). Will add pics at the end of the day of our Fun Friday (yyyyyyyyyyeaaaaaaaah).

Photo Tag!

Wendi tagged me, so here goes!............It's another picture of Emma! This hasn't been cropped or edited, but that's the beauty of the tag. Here are the rules:


* Go to your sixth picture folder then pick your sixth picture.
* Pray that you remember the details.
* Post it on your blog.
* Tag 5 others, leave a comment to let them know they’ve been tagged.


I guess this project could've been worse :).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's Schedule


First of all, my thanks for today: I am thankful that I was able to get up and fix a hot breakfast for my husband this morning (at 5:00 am!). He has not been feeling well, and got up extra-early in order to travel to another town to attend to a matter at our rental property. We had coffee, wheat waffles, and bacon. It was nice to have some quiet time with him, and after his departure, have my quiet time with the Lord. I was really cold and sleepy afterwards, and fell back to sleep, but it's a start. Goal for tomorrow morning: instead of going to sleep, stay up and get dressed and blog before the kids awake.

I have been getting up in the mornings and after breakfast write out my to-do for the day, taken from my HMB. Today:
  • Clean bathroom (tubs, toilet, mop floor). I have a little boy whose aim is a little off in the toilet department, if you kwim :).
  • Laundry--do all kids' laundry. It is hard for me to start on the categorized laundry thing. I am used to doing a load a day--washing everything from the previous day and then it's all done. I don't know about there being laundry piled up and doing a different person's/type every day. But I am doing it anyway. What do ya'll think?
  • Supper: Tonight is chicken enchiladas and green beans. Can't wait.
  • Project: Decorate Elijah's bedroom walls with the cowboy stickers I bought a long time ago but have never put up.
  • Research: Reading about natural remedies for Rosacea, which I have a chronic, spreading case of. So far I have learned that plain yogurt applied directly to the face will reduce redness and swelling. Rosacea is thought to be caused by too much yeast in the body,and yogurt counter-acts the effect. Apple Cider Vinegar (taken by capsule) helps, as well.

Of course, we also have our daily chores of dishes, sweeping, emptying trash, and picking up in general. I also am trying (if weather permits) to tackle one thing a day that needs doing out of doors such as raking, cleaning porch, etc.

It is a busy life around our house. The relaxed rythm of being at home every day is something else I am thankful for. That's about it for now. May your day be blessed and peaceful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Emma is 3 months old!



We had a little photo shoot today--to celebrate Emma's 3rd month.

What do you think? I used an editing website (www.picnik.com) that is just wonderful--it's free!
This is my favorite!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks

I've decided that from now until Thanksgiving Day, I am going to make a daily thankfulness post--listing those things I am thankful for in my life. And hopefully, if blogspot will cooperate, photos to illustrate them. Today, I am thankful for my friend Avril, who watched my kids for me this morning (for free!) so I could go grocery shopping. The cupboards were bare, friends. I am thankful that I was able to buy my groceries under-budget. Yeah, me! I am thankful that it is pretty outside and I can get out and rake my yard. Ok, these things are a little superficial, I guess, but they mean a lot to me. What are you thankful for today?

p.s.--A little apology for all the typos/spelling errors in my last post. I'll trie tu doe beter I promiss :0).

Thursday again?

Wow....another week! And what a week it has been...cold weather, snotty youguns, church every night (except for Tuesday night when I stayed home with oldest and youngest, who were both sick). But I am excited! I've been working on my HMB this week, and it's got me psyched! I'm just starting out with the basics, I figure I will revise as I go. I can already tell it is going to make a huge difference in the organizatin/upkeep of my home, as well as being a great stress-reducer for the homekeeper :).

Last Saturday night, we had a bonfire/hayride get together at church as a sort of Veteran's Day/Fall fest in one. They hayride was during the day, decorated with balloons, flags, and signs saying "Thank you, Veterans". They passed out fliers for our revival and Veteran's Day service on Sunday. That night, everyone was around the fire roasting hot dogs. The kids were all playing together on the swings. I was checking on mine every 15 minutes or so. I fixed them a plate, and when I went to gather them to eat, no Gracie! I called a few times, and she would not answer. I could not find her! I guess people noticed me calling and before long about 5 people were calling and looking. It was pitch black outside and in a wooded area close to a thicker woods. We looked and looked. I told myself not to panic, that she was probably fine. Finally, I decided to go across the road to the church and see if she had wondered over there. She is scared of her shadow, so I didn't think she would walk that far by herself in the dark. I went into the building and called her, but nothing. I walked all the way to the back of the building, and there she was, sitting in the fellowship hall, in a chair, all by herself, drinking a bottle of water. RELIEF! The little stinker was sitting there listening to me call for her and not answering! I guess she is braver than I thought.

It seems this week my mind has been going ninety-to-nothing, thinking about the president-elect, the economy, hearing people's opinions and predictions, and dwelling on what the future is going to hold. I've got past the point of worrying about it. God will provide for His people. Bottom line. But I have this overwhelming desire to sell everything here and move to the country (Alabama, Kentucky?). Grow a garden, raise some animals, and live as simply and independently as I can. We are in dire need of selling our rent house (please help us pray), and now we have this one as well, which we bought in hopes of flipping (not much chance with the economy like it is). So I know this is not highly possible. I just feel like I would feel safe in a farmhouse somewhere with barns and sheds for canning and storing naturally-grown produce and other foods. A place where my kids could go outside and play without the danger of getting ran over or kidnapped. KWIM? Anyway, enough of these dire thoughts.

There is so much to pray about, more than ever, ever, ever! I think we need to remember to pray for one another, for the families out there who are trying to live right and holy and pleasing to God. And in the meantime, cherish every moment. Make more special memories. Invest your time and energy in the things that really matter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It is raining today. Cold, cold, cold. Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle. Elijah is scared of the thunder, so he is sticking by my side like glue. The heater in this house will not heat consistently. We are all bundled up in layers. The kids are snotty and coughing, which I guess just comes with the weather territory. I am so thankful that I am able to be here to take care of them. To wipe their noses and soothe their coughs. To snuggle with them at naptime. Thank you, Lord, for letting me be a mother at home.

This week, our church is in revival with Rev. Kevin Bloomfield. It has been really good so far. God is really helping us. However, revival=less time at home to get things done, so blogging will probably be scarce. Blogspot still refuses to upload my pictures, anyway, so what blogging I do will be text only.

I really wanted to post a pic of the beautiful bouquet of flowers my husband brought home to me on Friday. They are a beautiful array of fall--purples, oranges, and yellows. My dining room looks so brightening by their presence in the center of the table. Every time I see them, I smile in my heart at the gift of thoughtfulness from my best friend. Thank you, honey ;).

Hopefully I will not be too busy to sit down and read the happenings and every day sweetness of my faithful blogging friends. Your blogs mean so much to me--they are very good friends of mine. Have a good rest of the week!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting Through Thursday

Here it is........the day before Friday...ugh. The day I work hard to get everything done, so we can relax on the weekend. It rained most of the day, so I had to keep the kids occupied indoors. It's going to be hard when it gets too cold for them to go outside to play. Elijah learned the letter A yesterday. He traced it for about 1/2 hour. Down, down, and over, he would say as he traced. Down, down, and over.



Our neighbor, Mr. Charles, brought over some "new" toys for the kiddos. Toys his grandkids had outgrown and didn't play with anymore. A new doll house, a doll stroller, and a little push-car. They have really enjoyed these. I had a mountain of laundry to fold, which I did after the kids were in bed. It was somewhat glorifying, for lack of a better word, to see it all stacked high (and I mean high) on the table :). I took some great pictures but, alas, blogspot will not upload them. I'll keep tryin', though.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Valleys & Mountains







We all go through seasons in our life, and in some aspects, seasons change more than they should. Spiritually, we go through times of tests and trials. It seems I'm either about to enter a valley, in the middle of one, or just coming out of one. It's this process that teaches me to depend on God more than anything. And every now and then He gives me a mountaintop, and I stand there, arms wide, the wind blowing through my hair, viewing in awe the breathtaking view of the sky above and the earth beneath. From way up there, I can even see the beauty of the valley that seemed so dark and desolate as I was passing through it. This is the moment when I wonder why in the world do I question God's perfect plan, His infinite wisdom, His unfailing direction? He told me in His Word that His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. From way up on that mountaintop, I can see His view of the valley. And I hope and pray, that when it comes time to go through the next one, I'll remember what it looked like, and I'll thank Him for it, and I won't take a step through it without consulting Him. Because the peak of the mountaintop is much smaller than the slope of the valley, and so it takes longer to make it through that valley than it does to pass over that majestic peak. We can't stand on that mountain forever, we have to keep going, to move on to the next season.

Right now, I am on a mountaintop in my marriage. God has given us a renewal of consideration and appreciation for one another. Our looks are more tender, our words more carefully chosen, the tone of our voice softer than ever before in our relationship. This is a mountaintop I do not want to come down from! ;). As a matter of fact, I think it's probably something that should be permanent. And people, I am willing to fight for it! It's evident that as I grow closer to the Savior, that intimacy spills out on every other aspect of my life. Oh, I want more! I want more of Him. I want to see what else He will make richer and sweeter.

Looking around at the state of the world around us, the uncertainty and the change crackling in the air, it makes me want to hold onto what I know is real and solid. My relationship with my husband and my Jesus are the two most important ones, the ones that will be my strength in the months to come. I sense that the results of this election will bring on a valley of enormity such as we have never, ever experienced, as a country and as Christians. It is frightening, yet exciting! I truly believe, with all my heart, that we are the generation that will be raptured in the second coming of Christ. WOW! That is HUGE! Can you really grasp that? We will experience the rapture of the church! We will hear the trumpet sound, and in an instant, we will be in Paradise, gone from this world, no more flesh to battle. That will be the biggest mountaintop of all, my friends, and the end of all valley trials.

This will be my train of thought this week, as another Monday rolls around. Live every day the best I can. Slow down. Give Him a chance to show me what He wants for me. Get to know Him better. Apply it. See the results. Praise Him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Emma's Dedication

Sunday, November 26, 2008 we dedicated Emma Raeleigh Acklen to the Lord. Rev. Scott Loper conducted the service, taking his text from the book of Luke (I think), "What manner of child is this?" He focused on John the Baptist, and how God had a specific and special plan for his life. He was to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ, and prepare people's hearts for the Savior's message. In the same manner, God has a special plan for our little Emma, and it is our responsibility to raise her in a manner that she will be able to hear God's calling and fulfill His will in her life, when that time comes. My brother and sis-in-law sang, "As For Me And My House (We Will Serve the Lord)", which we also had in our wedding. They did a wonderful job!

It was a very sweet service, and possibly the best dedication message I have ever heard. It was an honor to have my grandparents, my great-Aunt Emma (Emma named after her), as well as John's mother there to share this sweet occasion. I will never forget the message or the spirit of the Lord that was so present in the service.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Carnality


Carnal--–adjective
1.pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.



Recently, God has been pulling me out of a fog of carnality that I have been wandering in for far too long. I used to hear that word, "carnal", and something about the very sound of it would make me bristle inside, like a porcupine raising its spikes in defense. I don't think I ever knew the true meaning of the word because I would deduce what I thought it meant from the context it was used in the sermon. I think deep down inside I didn't really want to know what it meant. My flesh wanted to reject the chastening of the Spirit that came with the word.


A known weakness of mine is the unwillingness to submit to authority, and I have struggled with this from the time I was a child. In school, I would always get a "NI" (Needs Improvement) beside the character trait "responds well to correction" on my report card. BIG problem! The root of it? Carnality! The part of me that it is of our base, sinful nature as humans. The part that thinks of only me, me, me. What feels good for me? What do I deserve? What do I want? How can I manipulate those around me to do, say think, what I want them to?


What is amazing to me is how God has opened my eyes to this awful, ugly, filthy condition of my heart. It is through Motherhood. We all know that to be a Mother is to be a servant to your family. How does the saying go? "A man's work is from sun to sun, but the work of a woman is never done"? Being a stay at home Mom, I believe, is the hardest, most exhausting, all-consuming job there ever was or ever could be. Not that I am complaining, because God has given me peace and joy in doing this. But I am just saying that one cannot fulfill God's will for a mother and wife in her home if one is full of the flesh. It will make it VERY HARD. Every whine, every cry, every underwear/panty full of poop you have to clean up will grate at your nerves, infuriate, and drive you into a deep hole of depression. One CANNOT be selfish and be a Biblical, God-fearing, home-serving Mother if one is full of the flesh.


God's Word says that in child bearing, shall a woman be saved. I need to study it out, but I don't think this is means exclusively the act of pushing a baby out of your uterus (or having one cut out, as is my case). No, the very act of motherhood can save you from yourself, from the very nature of sin. Open your eyes. Watch yourself, and how you respond to the needs of your children and husband. Is it with dread? Is it with an "Do I ever great a break?" attitude? If so, then whup! That's your flesh speaking. Join me in seeking to rid myself of my carnal nature. I'm right there with ya :).


I guess that's enough of my sermon for today. Expect more on this subject, as God is daily revealing his spiritual truths to me.


On a lighter note, I will share Elijah's funny conversation for today. We were playing with their play horses and barns when Elijah says, "This is Uncle ____'s church." I kind of laughed, because Uncle ___ does not go to church. I said, "We need to pray for Uncle ___ so he will get saved and go to church and then he can go to heaven." Elijah said, "No!" I said, "You don't want Uncle ___ to go to heaven?" Elijah--"No!" Me--"Where do you want him to go?" Elijah--"The petting zoo!" LOL Well, so much for my spiritual application for the day :).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Worst Mother of the Year

And the award goes to............

Yours trully!! I took the kids for their checkups today. They have not been to the doctor in over a year, and Emma was having some problems with colic and Grace with reflux. I pictured going in and discussing these things with a doctor and finding out what was triggering them and what we could do besides medicating them (I prefer not to medicate until it's a last resort). Here is what happened:


Did I mention it was terrible? My family and I just moved here in May, and since my husband has taken a lower-paying job, we got our kids on Medicaid. Medicaid has this new thing where they will actually pay for your monthly premiums if you can get insurance through your job. So that insurance is primary and Medicaid is secondary.
It has been very hard finding a pediatrician who will take both insurances in this manner. I finally picked a doctor from the list who did not sound foreign and who was in practical driving distance. I made an appointment for all three kids at 9:15 this morning. I got there at 8:45 so I could get all of the paper work filled out. by 9:00 it was all done. We waited in the waiting room for about 30 minutes, and then were called back. We got all three of them undressed and weighed and then were taken to a room. We sat and sat. My 3 1/2 year old, 2 year old, were getting a little hard to handle. So we started singing kids' songs to get them to sit still. My son loves the drums, and had brought his drumsticks along. He was playing them on the vinyl-coveed chair along with our singing. The nurse came to the door and informd us we were making too much noise. It wasn't like we were singing to the top of our lungs or anything. Just trying to make the time go faster.
Finally, at 11:00, I told my friend (who so graciously went along to help) that if no one came by 11:30, we were leaving. At 11:30, I began to get 6 wk old dressed when the nurse came to the door and said the doctor had arrived (we didnt' know she was gone). Apparantly, she had had an emergency admit that morning and things got a little haywire. It would've been nice to have been told that when we arrived and given the choice to wait or reschedule!! Anyway, we decided to wait a little longer. After all, I had gotten them all up very early and fed and dressed them to get them there on time. Why not just get it over with instead of coming back and doing it all over again? So, we waited more. Finally, at 12:30, I said this is it, we are leaving. I got them all dressed and as we were walking down the hall we met the Dr. and nurse. I told them we were leaving, that I would reschedule at a later date (not). The Dr. starts asking me please don't leave I am about to get started. I said I am sorry, I'll just reschedule. As we were walking out the door, a nurse comes running out and said the Dr. says if you will stay she will see you RIGHT NOW. So I agreed. Back in the room we go, undress all three kids again. Wait another 20 minutes. When the doctor comes in, she is rushing around, giving excuses about why she was late. She didn't take time to talk to the kids, get them comfortable with her. She just started poking and prodding and examining. Needless to say they did not cooperate.
Then came the shot issue. I knew my 2 year old was behind, and I didn't want to do them all at one time. I asked if we could do a couple today and come and do the rest later. She said no, we need to do them all today, there's only 3. I reluctantly agreed. Then she says oh no there's 4. I said I really don't want to do that. She kept pushing me, saying she's gonna scream the same with 4 as she would with two. Which really wasn't the point. The point was I don't want all those chemicals in my daughter's body at one time. Then she starts going off about she has to have these to start Kindergarten. Well, hon, she's not starting kindergarten next week! Ya know? So we wait longer. Six week old is screaming unsconsolably. The Dr. says, "Can't you give her that pacifier and calm her down?" I said, "No, I can't. She is tired and mad and she won't have this pacifier in this condition." I mean, dont' you think I would calm her down if I could? (thought, not said).
So my friend takes 6 week old and 3 1/2 year old to the waiting room. It's time for 2 year old's shots. When the Dr. comes back in she says, "Oh, I forgot, there's a 5th shot that she needs." I should have stood up right then and there and said, "NO! We are leaving. You are not injecting my daughter." But I didn't. I sat there and let them stick her FIVE times. I was crying, she was screaming and crying. I signed the papers and went out to the waiting room to my screaming infant.
I get them all loaded into the van when a nurse runs out to our van and says, "I need you to wait so I can give you these papers for proof of shots." So I said OK. Wait 8-10 minutes. Put the van in drive, drive across the parking lot. Another nurse runs out and stops us. She says, "We need you to come back in. We need to do a pulse ox on them [(whatever that is)]." I said, "No, ma'am.We are leaving." She says OK. We leave. Five minutes down I-20 the Dr. calls me on my cell. "We need you to come back and get these papers and their presciptions." OH! I forgot to mention that 6 wk old has a double ear infection and she prescribed antibiotics. I know this is controversial, but I do not feel comfortable giving antibiotics to an infant." I said, "Nnnnnnnnoo. I am on my way home. I am not coming back." She says ok and hangs up. It is now 1:00! Needles to say, I will NOT be returning to this office and have a word of advice for everyone: if there is more duct tape then vinyl on the waiting room chairs, LEAVE!! Stand up for what you want for your kids, don't do like me and give into the pressure. That's why I feel like the worst Mother in the world.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ordinary Joy

As I tried to think what to blog about, I realized there's not been very much of interest going on around here lately. We've been going about our days, getting established in a routine and just being a family. Our home is pretty ordinary, with ordinary messes, mishaps, and merriment. I find myself singing more lately, and I see that joy spilling over onto my children. The Lord is stirring me, drawing me closer. There is something in my soul that says we don't have long. Not only are the signs all around us, but they are inside me as well. Something is saying, "Get ready. Draw closer. Get away from this, put away that. It doesn't matter. It will rob you of your desire for Me. Come near. Sup with me." Does anyone else feel it? This Christian life, it really does get sweeter as the days go by. It has matured me, changed my view of myself and where I fit in this world. I want more of it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Conversations With A Three Year Old





Elijah's vocabulary and semantic have really improved by leaps and bounds lately. I find myself surprised and amused at the things he says. Here are a couple of conversations from this week:


Elijah (pointing to his toy): Mama, are these batteries dead?

Me: Yep, they're dead.

Elijah: Well, shouldn't we bury it?


Me: Elijah, get in this house! You can't be outside when you're naked!

Elijah: I'm not naked, I'm Elijah.


Is it possible I am raising a little smart aleck here? He may get it honest!
Oh, and in case you're wondering about the picture above, that's Elijah using Emma's headband as a bandana. He was an outlaw cowboy at the moment. ;0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yesterday (Wed), we closed on our house for the final time. We actually refinanced it, but it's complicated, so I won't go into how it all works. Anyway, we've been through that before, and we always get schmoogled somehow in the process. Shmoogled meaning they tell us an amount for the monthly payment and/or the closing costs and it's always a significant amount more than what we are told, which is not revealed (conveniently) until we are at the lawyer's office, signing the papers. What do you do but sign? Let your house go? Move out after you've been living there for 5 months? Well, this time, my hubby stood up to them and the lawyer got on the phone and did some negotiating until the amount was back down to what we had been told. Go Baby! :) So we are now proud owners of our home, with a nice fat little note to prove it!

Yesterday, I made a point to spend some good, quality, one-on-one time with each of the kids. Emma is not a problem, since she is stuck to me half the day :). She is such a precious sweetie, really smiling big smiles at Mama now. Everytime I pick her up from her bed she seems heavier and longer. It's amazing!

Elijah is so funny in his expressions. He talks with his hands. It is so cute. After he woke up from his nap yesterday I laid down with him and we had some good chat time. I could tell he drank it in, every minute of it. And so did I!

Grace needs soooo much attention, there's no doubt about that. She gives me many opportunities to show it to her. We had some rock & cuddle time in the recliner yesterday afternoon. She is a mischevious little hoot! She usually wakes up first in the morning and is SO loud and does not know how to tone it down. One morning I got close to her face and told her, "You.....have.......got........to.......be........quiet!!" She grinned, scrunched up her nose and said, "Gimme a kiss." You would have to be there, to appreciate the full impact of that statement!

To end this blog, I will say, please, fellow bloggers, send up a prayer for me. I cannot seem to get back into the rhythm of the schedule I was going by last week. I need to do better next week! It was so nice to be organized and planned out and stuff get done. I wanna do it again!

Thanks in advance :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To Save a Squirrel

Interesting title, eh? Yesterday, Elijah and I were sitting out on the porch swing while the girls were napping. All of a sudden I heard the most dreadful sound--the sound of some creature in pain and panic. I looked up to see our cat, Snowbell, walking across the yard with a squirrel in its mouth! The poor little thing was crying with all its might! I felt so sorry for it, I immediately jumped up and ran to Snowbell and hit him, hoping the squirrel would get away. Well, the squirrel would get loose, run a little ways, and then Snowbell would chase him down and capture him again. Thence I would hit him again (I had a stick after about the 3rd time). Snowbell decided I was not going to let him have his lunch, so he grabbed the squirrel and tried to run under the house with it. I caught him by the tail, just in time, and held it! The little squirrel ran under the house, Snowbell hot under his heels. I don't know if it got away or not, but I sure did try to save him!

Elijah thought the entire ordeal was hilarious and had a wonderful time watching us! If only you could've seen me! :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Weekend

Wow, was it busy! I forgot to mention in my Friday blog, a little incident that happened to Grace Friday afternoon. I put her down for a nap, and of course, she got up and was playing in her room. I heard some thumping and singing going on, and went to administer some understanding to her, but alas, the door was locked!! Every other door in the house has a flat little slit where you can just stick in a butter knife and unlock it, EXCEPT Grace's room! This was a lock-and-key thing that only a locksmith could unlock! I started telling her to unlock the door, which she doesn't know how to do! So I told her to go lay down in her bed and go to sleep, hoping she wouldn't realize she was locked in and freak out. It didn't work. She started crying hysterically. Elijah was telling her, "Just TURN it, Gracie!" lol That was cute. I called Daddy, he said just try to keep her calm til I get home (another 45 minutes). Then Elijah started sliding her pictures and pieces of paper under the door and that disctracted her so she calmed down. I prayed a very serious, heartfelt, "Lord, please help her to unlock this door", bcause I knew even when John got home he did not have a key and I wasnt' sure if we could take the door down because the hinges were on the inside. And a few minutes later, here she comes, "I got out, Mama!" Whew!! Thank you, Jesus! Aren't you glad he hears our little Mom prayers when we need Him?

So now on to the rest of the weekend. We got off at about 11:00 Saturday, with plans to meet with John's sister and her kids (who were up from Mississippi for a visit) for lunch. I really expected Emma to do worse than what she did--she hates her carseat. But she surprised me and did all right, actually. We had a good visit with Wendi, Andrew, Tatiana, and Diego, whom we rarely get to see, and then we headed to Columbia, LA, to spend the night with John's uncle and aunt. My dear, sweet, thoughtful, loving husband informed me on the way that we were going to go pick out a dishwasher!! He sure knows the way to my heart :). I can't wait to get it installed!

The kids had a ball at Uncle Mike's, playing with their toy poodle Bear (isn't that a name for a tiny poodle?), riding the four-wheeler, and watching cartoons. And Emma, well, she actually fell asleep when we got there and slept for 6 hours straight!!!! I was checking her breathing every 15 minutes! It was nice to relax and be someone company for a while!

Yesterday, we went to church at John's home church and saw a lot of good friends we haven't seen in a while. It was a little like going home for us, since we went to church there for 5.5 years. The church services there have always been so powerful, and I think we forgot about that a little. We just looked at each other in awe during the song service like, "Wow, doesn't this feel good?" It was a great day in the Lord's house.

We're back home now, and glad for it. There is lots to unpack and put away, lots of laundry to do. I am so thankful for the peaceful, happy home I have to come back to when the traveling is over.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Feelin'

Does your home get a certain vibe to it on Fridays? Ours does--it's a feeling of excitement, anticipation, and relief! I am more positive and upbeat, which the kids pick up on, and in turn, they are excited, too! For one, Daddy will be home early today. He gets off at 3:45 every Friday and is home by 4:30. His homecoming is the highlight of all our days, but especially Friday. He usually has something up his sleeve--a plan he lets me in on at the last minute. I have learned to have the diaper bag packed, the kids dressed nice and ready to go somewhere--wherever it may be. Sometimes it's just to browse around Home Depot and dream of the things we'd like to see done to our house. One Friday we took the kids to Chick-fil-A so they could play (we are now anti-McDonald's). It's always fun, but sometimes rather nerve-wracking when I am not prepared. It's quite a job to get three little ones ready to go somewhere in a rush!

Today, we are just hangin'--John and the kids are in the backyard. Daddy is trying to fix the John Deer gator he managed to get us for free! It doesn't run right now, but he thinks he can fix it. Very exciting. We also got a new computer today! It is very nice! Also very exciting. Tomorrow we are packing up and heading to Monroe, LA where we will be attending the Homecoming service at the church we went to for five years before John's job took us elsewhere. Another exciting thing to look forward to. How about your Friday? Does your home have that Friday Feelin'?

:)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Improvement

OK, things have gotten a lot better since the last time I blogged. I read it and am a little embarrassed! I started implementing a cleaning schedule this week, and it has went really good. My goal is two rooms for each day, just surface cleaning and tidying the first week, and the second week, deep cleaning. We are still in the first week, so there may be some adjusting to this routine after it's been tried out. It has been very relaxing and pleasing to have my house stay tidy this week. I am proud of it. And I have also had enough time with my kiddos, too!

My schedule basically revolves around Emma's feeding/fussy times. My goal this morning was to have Elijah and Grace sitting at the table doing "school" work by 11:00. Miss Emma had other ideas and we still haven't got to it! We also had a friend and her two children over for a visit today. It was nice to catch up and just hang out with another Mom for a while. But anyway, back to the school part. Elijah loves working in his workbook (just a WM pre-k thing). I can see vast improvements in his skills already. He is learning to color in the lines really well. Previously, he had not shown much interest in coloring, but is now going at it full blast and is becoming quite the little artist. He likes to draw and I am often surprised at how he gets the concept of what he is drawing down on the paper.

My camera is being cantankerous right now! I have changed and charged the batteries and it still tells me the batteries are dead! There are always good things to take pics of when the camera is down. With the cooler weather, the kids have played outside almost all day every day. I went to the back yard with them yesterday and stepped into their world of play. Elijah has collected scraps of wood from his Dad's discard pile, and has built "barns" with them. What a great picture to post (I wish). He has also set up drum sets with different sized buckets and boxes. He uses sticks for the drumsticks. He sleeps with them, and I have often heard him making drum sounds in his sleep! Grace uses her play cookware on her picnic table and her food is little nut thingies that fall off the trees and she gets water from the rain buckets to cook with. I love to see them outside developing their imaginations! I wonder, could they have this kind of imaginative play at a daycare or preschool? A good question to ponder.

Emma is getting better at her downtime. She will sit in her bouncy seat for 20-30 minutes at a time now and let Mommy have a break from holding her. Not that I don't like to hold her, but you know what I mean. She is sleeping better at night, as well. She is 4 weeks old this week, and holding her head up pretty well. She definitely has her own look!

I'm hoping the nice, fall-like weather continues. I think the Lord wants to bless us a little with some nice weather after the perils of the storms that have been passing through. It's like He is sending a healing balm in the breezes that flow through our hair. The storms of life are scary and destructive, but for a child of God, there is always hope. Quite often, the repairs we make after the storm make the land/houses look better than they ever did before the storm. If we can trust the Lord through it, we will be better and stronger after it.

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Messes Can Be Deceiving

Ok, I started this blog Friday night and I'm just now getting to finish it (Sunday). We were out of power for a while from Ike, but thank goodness, it's back on already. The news was saying it may be out for 2 weeks--I was about to start packing and head for Alabama (seriously).

I look around at the disaster of my house surrounding me and think, "What have I done this week?" Then I remind myself, you have a four week old baby who is not an easy one to say the least, and you also have one preschooler and one toddler--just breathe and let it go. I think it would be funny to post a pic of how bad it is. People are always posting pictures of their clean houses and stuff they are proud of. I am changing my thinking. "Look at this mess. This means I focused most of my energy on my children, nurturing, instructing, rocking, feeding, bathing, schooling, and playing with them. Emma will get older. Things will get easier. I am proud of the things I did in place of stressing over this mess!"

On the other hand, I did tackle some pretty significant project this week:
  1. Hung pictures on the wall in living room and dining room.
  2. Helped hubby hang new ceiling fan/light fixture in living room.
  3. Put together new floor lamp for living room (on sale at WM for $11.00--tag read $54.99).
  4. Started cleaning out den formerly used as storage/junk room.
  5. Friday I watched Micah, my friend Janna's little boy, while she was having her tubes tied and also made her a batch of potato soup.
We also had a series of mishaps and misadventures:
  1. Grace fell of the back porch and could have very easily broken her leg from the position I found her in (whole body dangling from one leg that was stuck between step and rail).
  2. Elijah poured out a bucket of paint in the living room floor. Thank God we have laminate floors instead of carpet. I scrubbed on hands and knees and got it up, as well as the trail of paint from the living room to the dining room.
  3. Elijah picked up Emma from her bouncy seat and carried her from the living room to the kitchen!! What am I going to do with him? This is the 2nd incident of this nature.
I think you will agree with my new line of thought--messes can be so deceiving! The fact that my house is a mess does not mean I've been idle or negligent--maybe just not the best manager of time. I am proud that I am learning to look at it differently. It is making my life easier.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Making It

This week has been challenging, to say the least. Emma has decided her home is on the boob and nowhere else! If she is not eating or being held or asleep, she is screaming. We went on an errand for John today, which took about 3 hours, and she cried the entire time (in the carseat), except for maybe 15 minutes. I remember Elijah going through something like this for a period, but he grew out of it. That gives me some hope.

Our camera is acting up, or rather the batteries are. And so I was really disappointed that I could not get a picture of Elijah today when he brought me a nice little present....a big, fat, long, squiggly worm!! He thought it was hilarious when I squealed and demanded he take it back outside. I caught him hiding in Grace's room playing with it later. I think he was carrying it around in his pocket!! Ugh! Boys.

Grace asked to go tee-tee twice during church last night and made her deposit both times. I am very excited. She has done great today as well. It's the cutest thing--when I take her and she can't go, she will shake her head woefully and say, "It not workin'." :)

John is now back in college full swing. He has classes on Monday and Thursday night this semester, and we are all adjusting to his absence. The kids miss him so much and start asking "When is Daddy coming home?" almost as soon as he leaves each morning. He is such a good Daddy. He helps with nursing home service and the adult SS class at church, so he also has to study for those occasions. It is hard to leave him alone to let him study when he is here. I am proud of him and his commitment to better our family. I know it will all be worth it one day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Experiences

Last Friday night, we went to Pancho's for supper. This is not my favorite place to eat, but John loves the turkey rolls, or fluatas, and I do like to please my man (wink) so that's where we wound up. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but we have three kids now, and in my opinion, that's not considered a "large" family. Although today's average family generally consists of only 1 or 2. When I think of a large family, I think of 5 plus. So I was a little surprised when we became the object of many a fellow diner's attention during our meal. First I noticed the looks, then I noticed that people would look and then call their dining partner's attention to look at us as well. There was lots of glancing and nudging going on. Then came the questions: how old are they, how far apart are they, how old is the little one? Now don't get me wrong, I was not bothered or angered by this, just a little....suprised, for lack of a better word. Maybe it was because they are all three under the age of 4? Yea, that was probably it.
If we do fulfill my husband's desire to have 5 (which is a subject of much debate), I can't imagine what it will be like going out in public as a family. I would expect this kind of attention for a family of say, 10, but my goodness! We are not there yet! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lately...







I've been walking around in a seep-deprived fog! Emma is a good sleeper when she sleeps. But it takes a while to get her there...sometimes an hour. She wakes up, I change her and then nurse her for 1/2 hour--15 to 20 minutes on each side. I burp her every 10 minutes, at which time she normally burps pretty good. After feeding, she goes right to sleep. Then the hiccups start. So I nurse her a little bit and after about 3 swallows, the hiccups are gone. Back to sleep, lay her down. Then she poops and wakes up again! Now she wants to eat again! I try to get her to sleep without nursing her, to keep her from getting into the snacking mode. I nurse and rock until she is asleep again. Then she will sleep for about 3-4 hours. Shew!!! This is exhausting at 3 a.m.!

Elijah is acting so growney! He is all the big brother, loves to hold the baby, correct Grace and do his share of tattling. This morning, Daddy took him to Home Depot to the kids' craft hour. He built a field goal and got a Home Depot apron with his name on it. I tried to take his picture with it, but he wouldn't let me! He loves his Daddy so much and wants to be just like him. This morning he HAD to wear a red Alabama hat just like Daddy's, so he wore John's older one--what a cutey! One day this week we were eating hot dogs for lunch and he said, "Aaah, the secret to flaky hot dogs." ????? It was so funny!

Grace is potty training (again). She was ready months ago, but with all the moving around we were doing, it was really a futile effort. So now we are in it full swing. She is doing pretty good, as long as I take her. She is still the happiest little thing, and very dramatic. When she is happy, she is high, and when she is sad she is in bad shape! She always says please and thank you and if she gets a piece of candy or some such, she always asks to "take Wijah his". Ain't that sweet?

Our house is coming along. The appraiser came Thursday and appraised it for $140,000. Pretty good since we bought it for $82,000.00. I probably will not want to move out when the time comes.

We are enjoying a Saturday or not doing any home improvement projects, just chilling and enjoying our family today.