Tag Archives: stay positive

Polar Express Party

This our annual family Christmas get together. It is based on ‘The Polar Express’ movie. We have so much fun with this every year and it just gets better and better. It has become a fun family tradition here that everyone looks forward too!

Unfortunately we are not having a party this year but the following pics are from previous parties. I also have a Polar Express board and a Polar Express ‘Fish Fry’ 2015 board on Pinterest.

I will continue to update this page as I can. I may be able to add menu ideas as well. Last year we had a Fish Fry as the weather was really nice. Just have fun with it and build on it year by year.

Here is an example of the Facebook invitation I send out:

‘All Aboard! Our annual trip on the Polar Express Train is scheduled and plans are being made. We hope to see everyone there. Make sure you wear your PJs and get your tickets to board the train! We’ll have lots of food, hot chocolate, crafts, games, and of course a viewing of ‘The Polar Express’. I’m still trying to get through to the North Pole to see if maybe we can arrange a visit from Santa too!’

We always have lots of food and special treats which include chocolate covered marshmallows. Use sprinkles to decorate them and small stirring straws as handles. We also dipped pretzel sticks in chocolate and decorated those as well:

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We also have a ‘gingerbread’ decorating activity, among other activities, and each child gets to decorate a house or in this case a train. I used graham crackers and Homemade Buttercream Icing to make the trains. I make them a few hours before the party so the icing has time to set up a little before the kids try to add decorations.

I usually fill several small pastry bags with icing (no tips just a small angled cut at the end) and have an assortment of candies for them to decorate with.

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These were some of our party favors one year. Small pastry bags, red pom poms, hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, and brown pipe cleaners for the antlers. Use a black marker to make the faces. So cute!

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Paper conductor hats. The black conductor’s hat is worn by our ‘conductor’ when he comes through to punch the tickets for all of our ‘passengers’. I bought the hat at Dollar Tree one year. I used scissors, some sparkly ribbon, a couple of buttons, and a hot glue gun to transform it into a conductor type hat.

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Of course a visit from Santa will make any party extra special. I bought a Santa Outfit from Oriental Trading a few years back and it was well worth the investment. This unhappy child is the same one who has been begging to see Santa this year! (This picture is hard to see but we also had a couple of elves who joined us for the festivities as well. Those outfits were also bought from Oriental Trading.)

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You can also have a cookie exchange, a ‘Guess how many candies are in the jar?’, a gift exchange, or anything else your heart desires. These are just a few of the ideas that we have done. I was trying to locate some pictures from last year’s party but my phone died around Christmas last year so those pics may have been lost.

I try to have some small gifts as party favors. For the kids it might include train whistles, wind up trains, small games, coloring books, or a small stocking of treats. For the adults I usually have a variety of pocket calendars, small bottles of Bath & Body works products (that I find on sale), small games, or hand made items like jars of hot cocoa mix.

There are some more pics of some of the decor that we used from Oriental Trading on the Polar Express ‘Fish Fry’ 2015 . We went with a ‘Winter Wonderland theme’ and I plan on building on that theme through the years to come. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Just do what works for you.

After showing some of these pics to a friend last night I got so excited that I am thinking of doing a low key party for the kids this weekend. Just seeing the smiles on their faces is motivation enough for me to pull something together really quick. I’ll be sure to do another post on that. Now where can I find a Santa on such short notice?

December 6, 2016

What you did see…

Today was St. Nicholas Day and it was the first time we have celebrated this at our home. My kids were so excited as I had let them put their stockings out last night. They have also been anxiously waiting to put up the Christmas tree which was something I had promised we would do today. I posted some pictures of our St. Nicholas day so everyone could see how much fun we had. We did have fun and we made some memories that are sure to last.

What you didn’t see though was the chaos behind the scene.

You didn’t see me trying to stay calm while dealing with several issues  like a bad case of vertigo for the second or third day in a row.

You didn’t see how I spent several minutes trying to calm down a temperamental child who was upset because I had not come into the kitchen by 7:00.

You didn’t see how I dripped cool whip all over the floor while making the special Santa Pancakes for breakfast.

You didn’t see the drain that overflowed all over the carpeted bathroom floor.

You didn’t see when I spilled tea all over the freshly mopped floor and all over the fridge I had just wiped out.

You didn’t see when I dropped my lunch in the floor as well.

You didn’t see when my second attempt at lunch was a chocolate Santa.

You didn’t see when the chicken scraps got dumped before I even reached the chicken pen because the handle came off the pail I was carrying.

You didn’t see how close I came to just calling it a day, giving up, and going back to bed.

You didn’t see how DD17 and I worked hard to set up the train set under the tree only to find that the train was missing. (The kids didn’t mind as toy trucks work well on train tracks too.)

You didn’t see how frustrated and aggravated I got because of the slow internet when I had an important matter to take care of.

You didn’t see how I confided in one of my friends about how frustrated and aggravated I was feeling.

You didn’t see how I had to rush to finish dinner because I had an emergency errand to run.

You didn’t see me rush to the hardware store for some plumbing supplies 5 minutes before they closed only to find that they didn’t have what I needed.

You didn’t see me have to drive 30 minutes in the opposite direction to the next nearest hardware store.

You didn’t see how my dinner consisted of a leftover cookie and a Coca-Cola. (I hadn’t had a soda in over a month.)

You didn’t see how long it took to clean up the mess from the backed up drain, the piles of dirty towels I had from cleaning up the mess, or the overflowing sink of dirty dishes because we couldn’t wash anything until the drain was fixed.

What’s important is that my kids didn’t see me frustrated, aggravated, or upset either. They didn’t see me lose my temper over things that happened.

They did see me keep promises even though unexpected disruptions kept occurring. They did see me staying calm and taking care of said disruptions as they came along.

I am human, I make mistakes, I get upset, and things happen that I have no control over. I can’t always control what happens to me but I can control how I react to them. I am not perfect and I don’t ever want anyone to think that I am or that I try to portray my life as being perfect.

When you look at the pictures on social media and you think about how perfect things look just remind yourself that you aren’t seeing the whole picture. You are just seeing one small moment of time. Don’t compare yourself, your family, your house or anything else with what you think you see in someone else’s picture.

Enjoy each moment and make the best of every situation good or bad. Life is so much easier if you do.

December 3, 2016

Good morning everyone! It is such a beautiful day, isn’t it? I hope you all answered a big ‘Yes’.God is so good to us each and everyday. My cup is truly overflowing this morning. He has blessed us so richly and many times we just take those blessings for granted.

I am thanking him today for my family, for our health, for a roof over our heads, for food on the table, for the clothes on our backs, and the shoes on our feet. He supplies us with all of our needs and so many of our wants. Thank you Lord for being so good to me, my family, my friends, and the one who is reading this right now!

Yesterday I finally managed to get all of the Fall decor down and out to the building. DD17 helped me to carry out the totes. While we were in the building, which is a big mess, we dug out the Christmas totes and carried them to the house as well. I also restacked some of the other totes to make it easier when we need to retrieve them in the future. I am in the process of color coding our holiday decor so we can immediately tell by looking at a tote what is in it. This will help when I assign future tasks for the kids to help me with.

I am sitting at the island right now drinking my cup of coffee, typing this post, and working on my To-Do list. ( I am also messaging my friend and listening to some Christmas music as well.) The kids are finishing up their breakfast, Dutch Puff, and discussing their plans for the day which makes me smile.We do have one case of the grumpies, DS3, who kept insisting that he ‘needed’ brownies for breakfast.

They made brownies last night with DS17. Then while the brownies were baking we worked on our Advent Study, which I still need to pull out the nativity scene, and then enjoyed some warm brownies. I am really thankful that I did manage to get some of it together as the kids are enjoying it. I know when I get the nativity set out and they actually get to do the activities suggested they will enjoy this study even more.

So now we have a mountain of green totes in the Living room. This makes DS14 crazy but I have assured him that they will be out of the way soon. My kitchen island looks so bare right now, actually the whole kitchen does as it held the majority of the Fall decor, but I will use this as a chance to give it a good cleaning.

My To-Do list for the day also includes getting my stack of Christmas card addressed and ready to mail. I really hope that I can get them in the mail but that will be a bonus if it happens. I have the cards, the stamps, and the addresses on my desk so it probably won’t take too awful long to get them finished up. It is just finding a moment to actually sit down and work on it that my prove difficult.

We also plan to put up a few of our holiday decorations today. Yesterday the kids did stick Santa in the yard but someone had pulled him off his stake before we managed to get all the totes in the house. So that probably needs some attention too. We decided to wait until St. Nicholas day (December 6th) to put up our tree and the anticipation is driving the littles crazy! I don’t really know if there is a ‘right’ time to put up the tree. I figured we would do a lesson on St. Nicholas and try to incorporate the tree decorating into the lesson.

I’ve also noticed that something got into the trash bin during the night. So that will be on the top of my list to take care before the wind blows it all over the yard. It is an unpleasant task but needs to be done. Sometimes taking care of the not so fun things first will motivate me to take care of the other things on my list.

For now though I am going to enjoy a few minutes with the littles. DS3 has brought his plate to the island and is sitting beside me. DS4 is dragging sheets and blankets to the laundry room and just informed me that he had wet the bed last night. That doesn’t happen often and I know that accidents will happen from time to time.

It makes my heart happy to see that he is attempting to help with the clean up and that he is admitting what he did and accepting responsibility for it. He knows that it does affect the way I feel about him. He knows that he is loved and accepted and that we will not belittle him or make him feel bad about what happened. He also knows that we will help him clean up whatever he needs help with. He just told me that he will try harder to remember to use the potty before he goes to bed. So he is attempting to learn from the situation and prevent it from happening again.

We can learn so much from this. Life happens, accidents happen, mistakes happen. When they do happen we need to remember that God still loves us and that He is there for us. When we come to Him and tell Him what we have done, when we repent and ask for His help He will forgive us. We can use our mistakes as learning tools and try not to make them again.

As a parent we can also use these accidents and mistakes as a model of God’s love. We can listen to our children and remind them that we still love them. We can show them the same mercy and grace that God has shown to us so many times. We can show them the power of forgiveness and not make them feel guilty about things.

We also need to remember to be quick to admit our faults and mistakes. We need to apologize to them and ask for forgiveness if we have done them wrong in one way or another. This sets a good example for them. They will see that we are not perfect and that we make mistakes too.

I pray everyone has a blessed day!

Getting Routines Started 101

‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’

OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here. Continue reading Getting Routines Started 101

Dancing barefoot in the kitchen

Yep, that’s how I am most days, barefoot, and that’s where I am most of the time, the kitchen. Why? Well that’s how I am most comfortable and that is where most of the activities in our house are centered around. I do keep a pair of flip flops at each door in case I need to run out for something like the mail man or chasing a pig outta the yard. For the most part I am barefooted though.

I’ve heard all the barefoot and pregnant jokes when I was married and pregnant. I’ve read the ‘dangers’ of going barefooted, especially the stuff you can catch from the ground. (I do usually wear shoes outside.) I have broken a few toes because of being barefooted and I’ve stepped on more Legos than you could ever imagine. The fact that there are still Legos in my house is a true testimony to the power of forgiveness!

The kitchen is the heart of our home. I really enjoy cooking so I am always trying out new recipes or letting the kids help me fix a snack or a meal. It is usually filled with good aromas coming from the crock pot or the oven. I always have sweet tea or hot coffee ready for anyone who comes to visit. Most days we can even rustle up a piece of pie or slice of cake too. If you come hungry I’m sure can find something in the fridge that can satisfy your hunger too.

The island is fairly good size for an older mobile home and it is used for everything from schoolwork, bread making, sewing projects, and vacuum repair. It is also the place where a lot of visiting takes place. The younger kids and Grandpa have claimed the playroom and the older kids have pretty much claimed the living room. So Momma has claimed the kitchen. When I have visitors, which isn’t that often, we usually sit or stand around the island to chat.

This island was also the center of activity during wedding preparations for my oldest daughter’s wedding in June. (See Who can you count on? for more about that.) My family and friends all gathered around this island to prepare the food and decorations for the wedding and reception. We shared lots of stories, caught up on news, and had a wonderful time. We made many memories around this old island with its peeling cabinets and chipped counter-top.

Our kitchen is a dine-in kitchen as we converted the formal dining area to a bedroom for my special needs son. We have a big kitchen table with benches. I love this table and I had prayed for a table big enough for all of us to sit around. My then husband and I went to the flea market, the first and only time I’ve been, and on our way out I spotted this table back in a corner. We found the seller and asked about the price and the cost to deliver it. Well, it was way more than what we had on us and over the budget I had set for a table. I was sure that it would be gone before we saved the money so reluctantly we left and came home.

A few weeks later he had went back to the flea market. He came home sooner than I had expected and he was really excited. He asked me to help him carry out the two tables we had in the kitchen. I wondered what he had gotten and soon I found out. A pickup pulled in with the most beautiful kitchen table on the back. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) The man had seen him walking around and had asked him if we had found a table yet. Within a few minutes the table was bought for the exact amount that I had saved and set back for our table.The kids were so excited to eat their first meal together. Before this we had two smaller tables for the kids to eat at.

That is a good memory and when I look at this table I am reminded of that day and how happy we were. It also reminds me of how God always provides us with what we need and many things we want. (See Are you needy? for more examples.)

Now the table is used for school work, art projects, meals, dinosaur adventures, monster truck rallies, play-dough sculpting, and so much more. It has the marks of being well-used and sometimes I contemplate having it refinished but I kinda like the character it has.

Our kitchen also has my roll top desk which is where I happen to be sitting, barefooted, at the moment. This is where a lot of my work gets done. I do a lot of planning for meals, school, budgets, outings, and other activities that must happen. I also take care of the bills and other household related things here too.

My kitchen is pretty much open to the playroom where the kids spend a good amount of time. I can cook, work on projects, make a grocery list, or just browse the internet for my next project while keeping an eye on them. I can also hear everything going on in the play yard from the kitchen.

If my kids come in looking for me they will usually come to the kitchen first. They know that is where Momma can normally be found. They also know that is where snacks and other goodies can be found. Unfortunately our cat knows this too and has developed the bad habit of jumping on the counters which we have been trying to discourage with a spray bottle of water.

When my kids have made some discovery outside or have created some interesting architectural structure that I need to come see they will come looking for me. They will bring my flip flops with them because they know Momma probably won’t have her shoes on. They keep me from having an excuse.

Another thing we have been doing is playing music throughout the day. There is just something about music that can calm the soul. It can reach deep inside a person and make their heart happy. It is not uncommon to walk in to the kitchen and find me dancing around while cooking or cleaning. If the kids come in and laugh then I will grab them and ‘force’ them to dance also. Sometimes a whiny kid will be ‘forced’ into dancing, as well. This has become a fun outlet that is an immediate cure for the ‘grouchies’. We all know that grouchies can’t survive for long around music, dancing, or laughter.

I want my kids to have good, consistent memories of their childhood. If seeing Momma dancing barefoot in the kitchen is a memory that is forever etched in their minds then I’m happy. If they break into a smile every time they hear ‘Walking in the Sunshine’ then I’ve succeeded at this mission. (This is also a proven cure for the grouchies that was passed along to me by a dear friend.)

So how long has it been since you’ve danced barefoot in the kitchen? Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens?

It’s Natalie not Octomom

I’m sure most of us remember the story about “Octomom’. The single mother of 6 who underwent IVF and gave birth to octuplets. There was a ton of media coverage and backlash on anyone involved in the controversy. It raised a lot of questions about a lot of different issues that I am not going to get into.

What I do want to point out is that she is in the news again, in a more positive light. She is using her experience for the good and so many of us can learn a lot from her transformation.

She admits that she had turned to stripping, pornography, and adult films to earn income to support her family. She has also admitted to being addicted to Xanax. She was receiving public assistance, which is not a bad thing, but failed to report the earnings she had made. This caused her some legal problems.

Think about the situation she was in. Can you imagine what she was going through? Can you imagine the shame and disgust that must have went through her mind at times? This could’ve have been part of the reasoning for the drug addiction. Can you imagine not having anyone to support you during such a hard time? She had so much negative publicity surrounding her that it was probably hard to find a ‘decent’ job.

As a mom of many I can only imagine how overwhelmed she must’ve felt at sometimes. I have six kiddos underfoot all day, I have had as many as eleven at one when I was fostering. From some of the articles I’ve read she didn’t seem to have a lot of support coming in. She was also going through family issues and dealing with the death of her mother.

She seems to feel that she deserved at least some of the judgement and negative publicity she received but she decided she didn’t want that to haunt her family. She has apparently decided to make some big life changes. I, for one, am encouraged to see this. She also owns up and accepts responsibility for the bad choices she has made and she doesn’t want her past to be a reflection on her children’s futures.

She has left the adult film industry and is now working as a counselor. She is still receiving some public assistance but is trying to better herself. I admire her for going public about her struggles and especially for admitting what she has done and not placing the blame on others.

I also admire and respect the fact that she has not put her children (at least to my knowledge) in the spotlight and has tried to protect them from as much of the negativity as she could. I know that being a single parent is hard and being a single parent to 14 must be extremely hard. When you are constantly surrounded by negativity and drama that does put an almost unbearable weight on your shoulders.

For all those moms (or anyone else) who are feeling down and discouraged please don’t give up! Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we ever look up to see where we are. Just remember to take it one step at a time and keep pushing forward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It takes a strong person to admit they need help and to ask for it. If someone offers to help then please don’t push them away.

Always remember that GOD loves you! Nothing you have done, are doing, or will do can separate you from His love!

You may also like to read:

Turning I Can’ts into I Cans

God uses cracked pots

We need mentors

Open Doors

 

Additional credit to:

‘It’s haunted us’: Octomom Nadya Suleman changed her name and found a regular job in effort to escape criticism for having 14 kids while on government help 

‘I WAS ADDICTED TO XANAX’

God is everywhere, even at McDonalds

I just read a post on Facebook that really touched me. It was originally posted January 20, 2015 by Gerrard B. Laidler. This is a very moving testimony and reveals how great and awesome our God truly is.

He can reach down to anyone in the deepest darkest moments of their lives and he can bring them out of whatever situation they are in. Then he can use those that he has helped and lifted up to help others.

So please remember that no matter what your past is God can use it for His glory. Your story may be the story that one certain person needs to hear, you may be the only light that can lead them to Christ.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” – Luke 7:44-48

Below is a copy of the post from Facebook and it should link back to the original post, if you wish to read it there as well. I hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

Tears of relief

Gerrard B. Laidler

TEARS OF RELIEF…(a Testimony Nugget)
The strangest thing happened to me yesterday. As I sat in my car while the insanely “cheap gas” filled my tank…out of nowhere this woman taps on my window, “Can you please buy me something to eat?” Opening my car door, I took my headphones off and said, “Excuse Me!” She responded: “Can you please buy me something to eat?” Instantly frustrated: It’s 34 degrees outside. I just worked 12hrs overnight from 7pm-7am. I’ve been under the weather for the past few days. And I just want to go home, take some more NyQuil and tap out again (Big Sigh). “Go inside and I’ll be in shortly,” I motion to her. Still sitting in my car, I replay the words of this lady in my head and say to myself: “She did not ask for money, but for food!” I’ll definitely do this, I concluded as I hopped out of the car.

Inside of McDonald’s…

I approach the counter and the lady appears from behind me like a dark shadow. I motion towards her, “What will you like”? “A two for three Egg Mcmuffin,” she exclaims hesitantly. In this moment I decide to get me a “two for three” as well, but I substitute the Mcmuffins for their biscuits (y’all should try this). Meanwhile, once our food is placed on the counter, I walk to the back of the restaurant to divide our sandwiches. In a hurry, I quickly tell her “you don’t need to be out here in this freezing weather like this!” “I don’t have a place to stay,” she mummers. “I’m homeless!” The conversation continues. “What is your name?” I ask, politely. She replies and shares a bit more about herself as I listen intently. “Sir, I can’t be over here by you for long. My boyfriend is jealous and he will jump on me if he sees me talking to another man!” At this point I’ve recognized a golden opportunity for ministry as I blurted out: THAT COWARD AIN’T GON’ DO NOTHING TO YOU (y’all pray for me. I can’t stand to hear about a man beating on a woman).

Sharing My Testimony…

Ma’am, look at me! I slowly make a handgun signal with my right hand, point it directly in her face, and pull the trigger while shouting…”POW!” I continue. “Can you look at me and tell that I was shot at point-blank-range in my face?” She nods her head in disbelief. “Ma’am, I should be dead, but God kept me here to talk with people like you.” In addition, I share my notorious 10 year drug history and prison background so as to come down to her level of common ground and reasoning. For the most part, I realize one important aspect of ministry, is this: If You Have No Common Ground With The One You’re Ministering To And Cannot Relate To Their Pain Or Struggles…It’s Less Effective In Pulling Them In. This explains why Jesus wrapped himself in our human flesh. He knew that in order to save mankind, He had to experience all of the tears, all of the burdens, all of the pain, and all of the sorrow of mankind, including death (Heb. 4:15). Frankly, It’s just something about it when you have previously worn the filthy shoes of the one you’re now trying to convince that they should remove off of their feet for their own good.

Tears Of Relief…

With the stage set, I asked the most reckoning and eternal question that every human being alive must answer someday: “Do you know Jesus Christ as your ‘personal’ Lord & Savior and the free pardoning of your sins?” (John 14:6). Tears begin to roll down her face. The question pierced her heart. She rebuts, “I’m afraid to accept Christ, because I’m afraid I will fail Christ!” I explain to her that due to our fleshy nature and frailty, walking in 100% complete perfection as a Christian is a myth from Satan. We strive for it, however, we are constantly changed daily through prayer, studying scripture, and submitting to the power of the Holy Spirit within us. The biggest lie the devil presses upon our minds is that we are just out here alone to fend for ourselves. We have Peace, Power, and His Presence within. The Tears Are Pouring Heavier and Profusely.

Brighter Days Ahead…

With the Spirit of God moving, I grabbed her by the hands and asked her plainly: Would You Like To Settle Your Eternal Destiny & Resting Place After You Depart This World? Tears Steady Flowing. “Yes!,” she finds the strength to speak. Holding her hands firmly, I said repeat after me. We Began: “Dear Lord, Jesus. Please Forgive Me For All Of My Sins…I Know My Heart Is Not Right With Thee…” Tears Of Relief Are Pouring. And Oh!…How A Peace And Calm Filled That Section. Heaven Rejoiced! Meanwhile, to encourage her of Brighter Days Ahead, after being released from a Federal Prison, I reflected back on how God has blessed me with two jobs: One that provides a 401K, full health, dental, vision, and another life insurance policy. And the other, a night shift manager to further develop my professional, communication, and business management skills as I seek to press forward after everybody counted me out since all I’ve ever did for money was sell drugs. Finally, I said “You are beautiful. Your life has purpose and meaning. And if God can turn my life around I am speaking over your life for TRANSFORMATION, RESTORATION, EXALTATION, and Financial REHABILITATION! You may not understand if you’ve never had it hard in life. But I was elated that I pushed myself aside so that God could use lil ole’ me. What A Beautiful Picture Of Tears Of Relief… ~MrGBL

****Prophetically, I’m Believing A Behavioral, Relational, Occupational, and Double Financial Turnaround For Everyone Who Shares This Timely Post On Their Page. The World Needs To Know That Nothing Is Too Hard For God…#Type AMEN! #Share

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November 26, 2016

Today is another great and wonderful day! I want to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive in my heart and in the hearts of everyone around me. Sometimes it is so much easier to find things to complain about than to be thankful for what we have in front of us.

Looking back on this week I can see how many things that didn’t go as planned. How I reacted to those things greatly changed the whole attitude of those around me and those I interacted with. I tried my best to stay upbeat and positive even when I was sick and having a bad day. (I’m not saying I didn’t have my moments but I tried.)

After making my ‘secret’ (see It’s true, I went to a bar!) public that lifted a big weight off my shoulders too. Even though it wasn’t a grand revelation or life shattering event that others have made it out to be it did help me to just get it out.

I’m not perfect, never have been and never will be on this side of heaven. I fall short every single day. That is the most amazing thing about God. His mercy and grace are there for us and he loves us no matter what we have done.Each and every day is a new opportunity to start fresh. I am so thankful for that!

Today I will be making up a quick grocery list and I may run to town for a bit. I found an article yesterday, A Healthy Diet For $20 A Week, that follows some of the same principles I use on my tight budget weeks.  This would also be a good beginning point for couples just starting out or people who may be wanting to cut back on their food budgets a little. I plan to look over it and try to come up with some ideas for my family menus also.

I guess now that Thanksgiving is over we should probably take down our Fall decor and start putting up Christmas decorations. Of course, that also means we will need to drag the tree out of storage too. I’m not sure I have the energy for that today so I may just concentrate on getting the Fall decor put away. Then we maybe we can at least drag the Christmas decor out of the building. Who knows, maybe seeing all the decorations may motivate me to get them put up.

I hope everyone has a blessed day!

P.S. Did I mention how thankful I am to each and every reader? I pray that you can find some hope, inspiration, and maybe a little laughter to help you get through your day!

When things don’t go as planned

We all know how it is to be planning for something. We get all excited as the details are being made and the final preparations are almost finished. We had planned to go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving. This would be a good time for all of us to visit and enjoy our families together as two of my other sisters were coming also.

For me it was going to be a welcome relief from some of the stress I’ve been under lately. It was also going to be the first time in a long time that I didn’t cook a whole Thanksgiving dinner. My kids were excited to visit with their cousins and aunts that they haven’t seen in awhile.

Wednesday morning I woke up not feeling quite myself. After I showered and got dressed the little boys came to my room and said they weren’t feeling well. One then proceeded to vomit all over my bed, rug, and foot. So I grabbed him and ran to the bathroom and held him over the toilet for a minute. After he felt a bit better I proceeded to strip him down and shower him while gathering a load of laundry to wash.

This was our routine several times before lunch time. I got out our ‘puke bucket’ for the kids to carry around with them and a beach towel for them to sit on wherever they went. (We learned these tricks a while back and it helps to contain these messes and makes clean up so much easier when they can’t make it to the bathroom.)

So as the morning went on I felt worse and worse and was in a semi-zombie state by the time we finished school. It took every last ounce of energy I could muster to fix some lunch. Once big sister came in I let her take over and put the kids down for naps. I headed to bed. I slept almost all afternoon. (At some point during the day I did manage to send a couple of texts to let everyone know we wouldn’t be able to make it to dinner.)

Luckily I had almost everything we needed to make our own Thanksgiving dinner. I know I could’ve joined my brother and his family but as a mom I really didn’t want to possibly expose anyone else to whatever bug we had.

Some time Wednesday morning I had thought to take a turkey out of the freezer and made a quick menu. I had also arranged with my other daughter to make the mashed potatoes as that was one thing I did not have on hand.

I fixed some oatmeal for breakfast, which was not our normal Thursday morning breakfast, and it seemed to upset one of the kids as he likes everything to go according to routine. Once I settled him down with a puzzle to keep him I occupied I began to work on dinner. Turkey went in to cook, and then I began on the pies. Fortunately I had gotten a couple of frozen pies on sale so I just had to take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven.

Then I thought I should make a Lemon Meringue pie for my dad. (I had planned on making two on Wednesday but I was too exhausted and sick to think about eating much less making anything to eat.) I pulled a pie crust out of the freezer, yes I cheated, and left it on the counter for 15 minutes or so. While it was defrosting I also pulled some frozen bread dough out to defrost.

Well, the pie crust didn’t seem to defrost the way it should have so I popped it in the microwave and thoroughly messed it up! So I pulled another one out and reread the microwave defrosting instructions. It still didn’t work quite as planned but it was salvageable. While baking the pie crust I divided the dough into rolls and placed them into a pan to rise. I began the pie filling and broke an egg yolk into the whites when I was separating them. I have not done this in forever but I did manage to scrape most of it out and the meringue turned out fine. The pie crust could have been prettier but the meringue covered up the flaws.

My daughter came in and mentioned that she wanted a Chocolate pie. By this time I was already feeling pretty worn so she offered to look up the recipe and make it herself. I agreed to that. I retrieved another pie crust and attempted to defrost it correctly with better success. She made the pudding and finished the pie. We then decided to make a Peanut Butter pie which went went fairly smooth with the exception of me baking the crust a little too long.

I checked on the rolls and they had not risen at all. I mean no signs of life at all, nothing, not even a little puff here or there so I threw them in the chicken scraps along with my failed pie crust. I then proceeded to make a batch of 30 minute dinner rolls, from one of my favorite cook books Real Mom Kitchen, and realized I only had enough eggs for a dozen rolls.

I borrowed a couple of eggs from my sister-in-law-to-be and started on a new batch of rolls. Within a few minutes I could already tell that they were definitely alive and well. I didn’t have quite enough regular flour so I added a bit of whole wheat flour to the rolls which made them a little darker but they turned out just fine.

When it got closer to dinner time we made the green bean casserole and finished up a few things. We pulled out a folding table and covered it with a sheet as I had not dug out the Thanksgiving table cloth. I don’t really think anyone noticed anyways.

We ended up having a pretty good dinner and enjoyed our time with family. The kids watched Godzilla and they are still running around pretending to be Godzilla. I had to lie down after dinner, which I could not eat as I was still feeling a bit puny, and I fell asleep.

In the end it wasn’t about everything being as planned or looking perfect to the last detail. We managed to work together and make a meal that everyone could enjoy. We didn’t have cranberry sauce or everyone’s favorite sweet potato casserole. We don’t have tons of leftovers, well we do have plenty of pie, but everyone ate until they were full and content.

It wasn’t the Thanksgiving we had planned but it was a wonderful day. I was a little upset that I couldn’t do what I had planned to do but it was out of my hands. I have learned that sometimes God has other things planned for us and that we just need to let go of our plans and see where He is leading us. It was much better to do that than to cry or be grumpy because things didn’t go our way. (OK, I do admit I may have been a little grumpy but I will blame that on not feeling well.)

When things don’t go as planned just breathe and try to relax. Accept it for what it is and just work with it. If there are things you can change, like your reaction to the situation, then work on changing those but leave the things you can’t change to God and He will work those things out for you.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11

November 20, 2016

Today is a good day! God is so good! He has blessed me far more than I ever deserved to be blessed.

I still have things swarming around that bother me but I know He is using all of these things (good and bad) to shape me into a better person. It may hurt a little now but if I just trust Him this pain will be nothing more than a faint memory in the near future.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

We are to praise Him always, in the good times and in the bad. It is easy to praise Him when things are going good but it can be a test of faith to keep the praises going when things are tough.

(A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.) I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. – Psalm 34:1-4

So how is your day going? What are you thankful for? Take minute right now not to ask for anything but just to thank God for His blessings on you and your family.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

– 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

November 18, 2016

This week has been hard, really hard. It has been painful and upsetting. I have been dealing with a lot of gossip and rumors for what seems like an eternity. Every time things get bad I have tried to find the source to no avail. However there has always been one person in the center of it who wants to know everything.

This person is a family member. This person is someone I should be able to trust to look out for my best interests and well being. I don’t know how anyone could constantly want to keep stirring up trouble for others, especially those who are close to them.

It seems that every time things are going well for me or my family then the rumors start. If my attention seems to be going to someone other than this person then the rumors start. If I seem to be having too much fun or enjoying life too much then the rumors start.

I always seem to be the last person to hear about it. Then when things get really bad someone will let me know what they’ve heard. Then it always seems that there have been previous tales that no one wanted to mention but considering the latest news they feel the need to mention them. This time it has been said that some of the rumors can not be repeated and that everyone knows I would not have done what was said.

The pain from this can get almost unbearable and can cut through my soul like a knife. When I hear the rumors I know that it is someone close to me and that breaks my heart. My heart has been broken so many times in just the past few months that it is scarred more than you can imagine.

It leaves a person afraid to trust anyone. I don’t have many close friends because of this. I don’t want to possibly drag anyone else into this constant drama that I am dealing with on regular basis.

When confronted this person does not seem to have any remorse for the damage and pain they have inflicted on me, my family, and others around us. They deny any knowledge of who could be responsible or why they would be doing it. They always pass the blame on to others and say it is because of jealousy. They can build a convincing case against anyone.

The sad thing is that this person can also convince others that the gossip they spread is true. The rumors have gotten outrageous and out of control lately. I had chosen to ignore them thinking that the ‘do nothing’ approach would quiet the storm. It only seemed to make it worse and this person redirected their attacks on me.

There is usually a bit of truth to the gossip they tell, as is usually the case with gossip. However they embellish the stories and take them way out of proportion. They intentionally add details to hurt others and to cause people to question one another’s true character and morals.

This week, as in times before, these rumors and lies have caused major misunderstandings between my ex husband and myself. It has taken us a long time to get to the friendly place we have been at lately but now that relationship is strained again. This in turn has affected our children as he has not come to visit them or to take our little birthday girl out to dinner.

Earlier in the week I was on a mission to track down the source, once again. I made several calls and sent a few texts. I finally came to one conclusion after talking to many different people. That conclusion was that the person who I had confronted about the situation before was indeed the one who started the gossip yet again. Granted, each and every individual who passed on the gossip is guilty too, but this person is in my house everyday.

I have struggled a lot this week to treat this individual in respectable way. I want to scream and yell at them. I want them to experience the hurt and pain they have caused me. They saw me in tears Sunday night when I learned of the rumors. They listened when I explained part of what was going on and yet they showed no emotions, no remorse, nothing. They immediately pointed the finger at a person I hadn’t talked to more than once in the past few months.

I admit I have been a bit cold towards this person this week. I admit I don’t know how to handle this situation. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. I pray when he comes in the door, when he sits and watches TV, when he leaves, even when he isn’t here. I pray that God will give me wisdom when I speak to him and that he will give me the words to say. I pray that he will give me the strength to get through each and every day because I know that it will get easier as the days go by. This is a lesson I have learned so many times just this past year.

Do you know what has kept me from acting out towards this person? Love. I love this person and I could not cause them the pain and hurt that they have caused me. I know God loves this person too. God loves me and He has shown me that love time and time again. I have to pray when it is hard that He will help m continue to show His love, mercy, and grace. That He will not let my light be dimmed by this situation.

When we truly love someone we want the best for them, even if it hurts us. We share in their joys and triumphs. We grieve with them when they are hurt or have lost something important. We encourage the ones we love and we do our best to build them up and support them. Even if we have the chance to expose their flaws and shortcomings, we don’t if  we truly love them.

I pray that God will touch his heart and help him see what he is doing. He doesn’t just do it to me but to everyone around him. I pray for God to help me to forgive him but also that God will help me not to give him an opportunity to spread any more lies about me. His lies have caused major misunderstandings with a close friend of mine also. I have pretty much given up on repairing that friendship and have left it in God’s hands. I pray that God will build a hedge around me, my family, and my friends to protect us from this gossiper.

I also pray that God will keep reminding me that it is Satan who is working through this person to get to me. I am trying my best to remember that and it makes me pray even harder for this person.

I keep reminding myself that nothing that happens today can separate me from God’s love or God’s will for me. He loves me no matter what has been said and He knows me. He knows where my heart is and He knows what I’ve done or not done. In the end that is all that really matters.

Living the country life?

Original Blog Post April 6, 2016
What does living the country life really mean?
I know I think of farms with cows and chickens.
I think of lazy mornings sitting on the back porch sipping my hot coffee while wondering what to do to pass the endless amount of free time I have.
I think of working in a garden with lots of beautiful plants springing forth.
I think of my kids playing barefoot in the yard.
Then after a nice dinner, made from things we have grown on our farm, we sip some sweet tea and watch the sunset go down from our back porch swing.
In reality things are not quite so simple and not so peaceful.
I wake up before the alarm goes off and hear the roosters crowing. I try to carefully roll out of bed because any movement will wake up one or both of the little ones in my bed.
I tiptoe to the bathroom with my clothes in hand and softly close the door. No sooner do I turn on the water then I hear the pitter-patter of little feet, see a hand under the door and hear ‘Mommy, is you in der?’. Sigh, that’s how most mornings start around here.
I try my best to get up early and have a little quiet time, a little sliver of time for me and time to talk to God but it rarely happens the way I have it planned in my head.
After a quick shower we make our way to the kitchen for a chocolate milk sippy for him and one for my his big brother (yes, they do look out for each other) and he heads to the couch for his daily dose of Animal Planet.
Meanwhile I go back to the kitchen and start with pouring a cup of coffee and trying to remember what I need to do next.
Breakfast… Yes, I should probably do that. I grab my phone and check my calendar for the recipe (I’ll probably write about that another day) which is blueberry muffins. I don’t feel like making muffins. Actually I don’t feel like doing anything but going back to bed.
I mix up the muffins (using frozen blueberries from our farm) and pop them in the oven. I remember to set the timer too! (Last night I forgot and I almost burned the cookies.) I have about 15 minutes so I hurry back to the bathroom to fix my hair.
I sneak back to my room and read my daily devotional and say a quick prayer to ask God to watch over us and guide us through the day. It bothers me that I didn’t have my ‘quiet time’ as I do need it to help get me through the day.
I pick up a few stray items on the way back into the kitchen and grab my laptop off my desk. I thought I would sit down really quick and figure out a few more things on this blog thingy I’m trying to do. I grab a sheet of paper and jot down a few ideas as well as some other things I think of that need to be taken care of.
The minute my butt hits the stool the other kids start waking up. I start to get bombarded with questions and problems.
‘Mom, she has my shirt!’
‘Mom, I’m hungry!’
‘Mommy, mommy, mommy!’
I close the laptop because it is only stressing me out trying to figure out technical details with life happening. I wonder how anyone really has the time to do this and is it really worth it? This has been a similar scenario for the past few months when starting a blog was first brought up to me.
Right now I’m typing this on my phone and praying it will post correctly. The cats are at the door begging to be fed. The roosters are still crowing and so is one of kids. I can hear Oscar, my gander, scolding me for being late to feed.
Mornings are crazy here. Actually most days are crazy here. After breakfast I will head out to feed the animals and then come back in to oversee our morning chorea and start our school lessons for the day.
I have somehow lost the simple country life I dreamed of and it has been replaced with a chaotic, noisy life. I wouldn’t trade it though. I know this is just a season we are going through.
I know I will find moments through the day to speak to God and there will be quiet times when he will speak to me. There will be moments with the kids that I will always cherish. I may get stressed from time to time but I can use these times to push to my goal of the simple country life.
For now I’ll drink my cold coffee and then put some water on to boil so I can make some tea. I might not have a back porch swing yet but I can watch the sunset from my back steps and dream.