welcome friends.....thanks for popping in my world....
I'd love to know you've stopped by, so please note that the comment section is now found at the title of each post.

wow.....powerful way to start each 2009 day

So I was looking for a new Bible for G last night....he hasn't been able to find his for the past few weeks and it doesn't looks like it is going to turn up soon. I am quite bummed out because this was a really nice one. It was nice and compact and super durable as it had a metal case cover, very "teen/hip". I got it at Barnes and Noble a few years ago, so I first started browsing online at B and N to find another one.....It kinda looked like this one.....but it didn't have that ugly beer car looking imprint on it. (no offense, but that is just butt-ugly. I mean, I get the "Thirsty" reference.......but it just doesn't seem to speak God to me. Maybe I am just getting old?)
Anyway.....I am not super picky about the Bible I use........I have a big heavy clunky one, but the words are big enough for me to see without pulling it up to my chin and the pages are much thicker than tissue paper. It has tons of highlighted passages and my own cliff notes along the empty spaces......along with some random kiddy art doodle on the back inside cover (remember to always have scrap paper handy when they cancel Children's church)........so it does show some wear, but I like to say it is well loved and most importantly......very used.

But in G's case.......I do have to consider a little "cool" factor when finding one for him. He wasn't too thrilled when I handed him N's children's Bible last weekend as he was heading into church. I thought the cartoon pictures on the cover were delightful.....apparently he didn't. ;)

So......I was browsing on ChristianBook.com and they had some really nice "teen" Bibles. I clicked on one particular one that had this cool leather cover and it had the option for more views. It had a sidebar feature that focuses on a particular scripture on that page and suggestions on how to dig deeper into The Word.....possibly relating and/or applying it to your current life or situation. It encourages you (the reader) to discover surprising things about God, see how God is involved in your life, etc. The sidebar also contains quotes and profiles of famous people of faith....def. a teen Bible that I think would work well with G.

So how awesome that the one page that I was directed to had this powerful sidebar entry. They called it Truth by Candlelight as it suggested to light a few candles and just embrace Genesis 1:26-27 followed by this awesome piece.

You are wondrously made.

Deliberately made.

Not a creature of coincidence.

Not a random consequence.




Crafted by God.

Crafted for a purpose, a promise.

A gift not to be squandered.

Or cheapened.

Or tossed aside by others....or yourself.




Loved in a way that it cannot be ignored.

Loved in a passion that inspires a response.

How will you respond to God's love?

Reject it? Embrace it?

Either way, it's a response.


Respond now....right now.

With words.....or tears....or laughter.

Soak in God's love. Open your hands, your heart to it.

You were made for it.

Oh man.....this gives me chills it is so powerful. I know that it was not coincidence that I came across this. These are words that I totally needed to hear. I am definitely printing this out and putting it somewhere in my bedroom. What an awesome message to read each morning in 2009 to remind me that God has a special plan for me and my life.....and it starts by believing and declaring it each day.

I know this is true for everyone......so I encourage you to do the same....read these words and know they are meant for you! I hope you feel a sense of peace and love surround you as I have.

Happy New Year.......may 2009 be filled with a double portion of blessings!!!!!

Prayers needed for Baby Stellan

If you have been following McKMama's story with Baby Stellan.........there is no doubt that prayers are powerful and miracles do happen.

Well Stellan needs more prayer as he is in ICU with RSV and is struggling. Please take a moment to lift him up in prayer. Prayers for God's hand to be on him and the doctors/nurses taking care of him. Prayers also for his mom, dad and family as they remain by his side during this scary time.

Thanks so much~

Operation Financial Freedom

So this is it.....we are going on a strict "cash-diet" budget as of January 2009.

No more debit cards
No more extra spending
No more fun (kinda kidding here....but not really)

It will def. make things super tight......but we are determined to clear up the last of our debt and get on an even more rigid financial plan that will ultimately set us FREE!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. ~Romans 13:8

So we are obligated......by the world's law and more importantly God's law to repay our debts in a timely fashion. We are also encouraged to not have the burden of debt upon our lives.

We are thankful that our debt is not enormous.....but it's those few small payments that add up and put us over our comfort zone. And this is stupid old debt that we just have been skating along paying the minimum and we certainly know that it will be 2015 before we get them paid off at this rate. So I am "robbing Peter to pay Paul" with one of those 0% offers and planning on knocking down the balance to zero in less than one year. This does seem pretty impossible with me not working.....but we really are determined to do this. If I have to get a more steady part-time job, I will. I really have no problem working, it's just that the amount of money I can possibly generate doesn't make what it takes for us to keep things running smooth in the homefront worth it. *WOW,.....super run-on sentence.

So let's just say I get a part-time job at Target (now the discount is tempting!).....and I start at minimum wage ($8.50).....if I worked 3 nights a week from 4-9, that would be about $127.50. Take out Big Brother's share.....and I am pulling in about $100 week. Now don't get me wrong....the extra $400+ a month would def. be great, but now the night-time commitments of a family of six would fall on one person 5-6 nights a week. Josh works 2-3 nights/week with the recent changes at his job. Again....still is doable and I know many single moms/dads do it everyday.....it's just that we made a commitment to keep family first a while ago and we knew that it would entail sacrifices.

So we are starting our cash diet as of next week. We used this cool budget calculator I found online that helps convert your monthly expenses into a weekly commitment. I tried to do it myself, but it was too confusing when some bills are monthly, some are bi-monthly and then factor in that some months have four weeks, while others have five.

We plugged in the "constant" expenses such as the mortgage, utilities, tithing, etc. So the calculator shows what is "extra" at the end of the week......and this is what we are going to withdraw as cash and use for groceries, drug store runs, birthday presents, Dunkin Donuts coffee runs.......everything else! eek!

When our debt is paid off, we will then know that we can cover the payment for the projected well needed addition to our home that is anxiously waiting on the back burner. Our plan is to convert our garage into a family room with a wood stove, therefore making us totally free from relying on oil, (Josh is actually borderline psycho when it comes to his feelings on oil, Iraq, the government, etc) We also will have more room for homeschooling, a home office for me and a workout area (DESPERATELY needed!.....my treadmill, although very dusty and basically used as a coat rack at the present time.......is in the middle of our family room and quite the eye sore)

So we have a nice little dream all laid out that we hope/pray will come into fruition in the very near future. We are going to pray about it and declare that it will happen. And we will do it without causing more stress (financially) and stretching ourselves too thin.

So with that said.....I am really going to be diving into more coupon clipping, thrift store shopping and evaluating the wants vs. needs more often.

Thankfully, I subscribe to The Coupon Mom and Money Saving Mom. It is unreal to see how much money you can actually save by clipping coupons and using them when certain stores have buy one/get one free offers and special sales. They have all the inside scoop on the CVS deals with the Extra Care Bucks program. Figuring out the money saving systems does take some extra time and energy.......but when you see what you can save, it is totally worth it. And for us.....it is going to be a necessary thing to do if we want to keep brand name toilet paper and Tide in the house. For what it's worth........I am far from a brand name snob, believe me! My kids are used to Crunchy Sugar Bombs and Fruity O's.....they can tolerate store brand peanut butter and jelly.....they even are starting to enjoy the way Josh enhances the store brand pizza with his own special toppings.

But there are only a few things I cannot go generic with.. toilet paper and laundry detergent. I have tried.....but I just cannot do it. I can accept that we are living on half our income and need to make many sacrifices to keep me home.....but I have informed Josh that I use toilet paper more than twice than he does, and my only request for luxury/comfort is soft toilet paper. I will feel defeated in this rat-race if I have to subject myself and my tender parts to toilet paper that feels like I am using newspaper. I told him that if I cannot buy the "good" toilet paper.....then we would convert to "family cloth" (which a few of my extra crunchy friends use......basically re-usable cloth wipes). I know this sends Josh into a ballistic frame of mind when he even thinks about it.....he made a funny comment about how he would rather drag himself on the floor like a dog than consider using cloth wipes. (sorry about that gross visual, but it was hilarious when he said it).

So yes, I do treat myself to good TP and Tide detergent. I am not a huge fan of Procter and Gamble, but I have tried every other detergent that exists and nothing gets clothes as white and clean as Tide. And I am so not particular about most things in life......my house can be upside down.....I can have piles of clutter everywhere......but I have this thing about white clothes being white. I actually am a little quirky about it.....I get this great sense of accomplishment when I take out socks and they are stark white. I even give them a quick whiff to seal the deal. I love the way they smell when they are warm with a hint of bleach......reminds me of when you are in the hospital after having a baby and they dress them in those freshly laundered onesies/blankets. Yes, I have issues.

So back to Operation Financial Freedom, I am working on the last of the budget plans these next few days. I might even peek in the Want Ads. I am going to say good-bye to 2008 with a happy heart.......we were blessed with good health, employment and spiritual growth......and now look forward to an even better 2009. :)

from relaxed to overwhelmed in 3 minutes

So much for a nice relaxed day (scroll down to this morning's random thought).......well, I still am in my pajamas and it's past noon. The kids are getting along pretty well and Mufasa is sleeping by my feet. I have most of my laundry done and I even washed the bathroom and kitchen floor. The added touch is some "clean linen" candles burning and I am getting to enjoy my Christmas music with no interruptions.

But my insides are wound so tight, I feel like I am going to snap.

I am feeling so overwhelmed.....and would like to ask if anyone has any words of wisdom to help. As you know.....the world wide web is just so inconceivable in respect to tapping into stories, resources, etc. Just in the world of blogging, you can visit someone's blog who has a link to someone else's blog and so on and so on. If I have some time, like I do today, I like to venture into blog-hopping and find so many talented people....some who can make you laugh out loud, some who share a fun craft, some who inspire you to do greater things in life. Then there are the ones who share their journeys of having sick children who need prayer. These families are displaying such amazing testimonies of faith and praising God "in the storm".

I don't know how to describe how I am feeling other than I feel suffocated at times knowing that for every one story/family I read about.....there are hundreds or thousands more who are going through the same difficult journey.

So God orchestrated me to this family's blog today

.....and my heart is breaking for them. I will lift sweet Abby and her family in my prayers and encourage you all too. God is The Healer.......the Ultimate Physician and there is nothing He cannot do. If you follow MckMama's blog......you will witness that first hand with the miraculous healing of baby Stellan.

I guess I am at a humbling state of being right now....I am having a hard time grasping how to not be emotionally held captive to the magnitude of families who all are in need of prayer right now. And these are only a fraction of them that we learn about through the internet.

So please.....either post to my blog or email me with your insight/wisdom as to how to turn this turmoil of emotions into something I can feel is more productive. I will continue to pray for these families as I know God is the Almighty and everything is part of His plan...... maybe I am in need of some type of prayer to turn this captive feeling into something more encouraging.

If you are still reading, thanks for listening~


Today is going to be a nice winding down day....I really am so thankful that I don't have that big Christmas Crash. You know that feeling (at least I do from past years)...the one you don't really want to admit, but you do feel somewhat let down, disappointed, empty after the big hype of opening presents, running around to please everyone but yourself and your family (who should matter the most). This year....I am thankful that we did not overextended ourselves with gift buying and over scheduling our visits.

On Christmas Eve, the kids get to open one present. It usually is the present that their siblings bought for them. I have to say.....they really looked like they truly loved each other during that time. (*insert a snicker)

We went to bed fairly early after watching A Christmas Story and stuffing our faces with every imaginable kind of food. (thoughts of needing Tums for Josh's stocking was an after-thought)

This Christmas morning, we woke up at a nice acceptable time of 7:00. Unlike, in the years passed when the kids would wake up at 4:00AM which was approximately 2 hours after we normally got to bed. This causing us to be in zombie mode for the entire Christmas Day festivities. We were released from the late night scrambling for batteries, constructing of bikes and other "easy set-up" toys that required a degree in engineering.

No, we woke up fairly refreshed and alert......we actually could have slept in a little longer, but Mufasa was licking Josh's face at 6:50 to go out. This was a gift in itself, rather than waking up to a puddle or worse.....stepping in another kind of present.

Now that Josh was awake, he decided to walk around the house HO HO HO-ing in his best Santa voice and waking everyone up. I love seeing all our little "creations" (as we loving call them)....stumble in the room, one by one with Don King hair and half open eyes.

We sat around and the kids opened their presents and it was the best gift to see all the smiles. As much as we know Christmas is about Our Savior's birth.....we felt so happy to be able to have them get some of the things on their lists.

Favorite presents were

N- we scored a used GabeCube system with a Sonic game. Now there will be no more lock-picking going on to get into E's room for a quick game.

E- china and splash cymbals for his drumkit....(I know, what were we thinking??)

H- some "shrig rig" thingamajig (no clue) but it goes to his HV20 video camera and apparently he is very cool to have one now and this will bring him to new heights with his film-making.

G-we pitched in with Grandma/Poppy and got him an X-Box 360. We really tried not to get sucked into the world with video games and systems, but it was the only thing on his list.

and Mufasa- a nice dog bed for our bedroom, instead of the blanket that gets kicked around. Granted he has to curl himself in a ball to fit completely on it....but it was the largest one they make.

We then had a big breakfast compliments of Josh.....scrambled egg wraps with all kinds of good stuff in them like mushrooms, onions and bacon. Thankfully I have been living in yoga pants for the past week, as he has been cooking these kinds of breakfasts every morning since taking his mini vacation this Christmas. Sometimes you hear about when husbands are home, they mess up your everyday routine....well mine messes up fitting into any sort of pants with a snap and zipper.

We later packed up and headed over to both sides of the family for more eating and hanging out. Again it was really nice to not be bogged down with extra bags of "stuff"....instead, we left with a few baskets of homemade treats,good memories and probably a few more pounds added on. The kids did get a few extra presents which were all awesome practical gifts. N got a new coat and snow boots that she desperately needed and H got a couple of film making books that he has been eyeing on Amazon. G got a gift card to buy another X-box game and E got a double bass pedal for his drumkit (because what "practical" drummer doesn't have the heavy metal sound of double bass?)

Josh and I got some very nice practical gifts.....grocery store $$$, a gift certificate to our favorite restaurant and some movie passes. *very* practical.......children need to eat to be happy and healthy......and parents need to have our scheduled "date" nights to keep everyone happy and healthy. ;)

We also got this fantastic present from Josh's brother......it was Psalm 127 matted and framed. What a POWERFUL scripture.....and such a thoughtful gift that is priceless. We read it before we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus (N and I made a quick carrot cake this morning, thanks to Duncan Hines).

We were home at a decent time and caught the tail end of A Christmas Story again. Gotta love the marathons on TBN or USA network. N now has Flick's cry for help perfected.

So I guess today will be a nice winding down day (I cannot say quiet, remember.....double bass pedal and new cymbals).....but.....I won't lie...I am tempted to hit Target and grab some after Christmas clearance stuff.....but I fear I will get caught up in the long lines and craziness......

and I still want to hang onto the spirit of Christmas for just a little bit longer.


Three Things This *GLORIOUS* Thursday.......

1. Happy
2. Birthday
3. Jesus!!!

Merry Christmas!

Popping on to wish everyone a wonderful Merry CHRISTmas!

Heading out to grab some last minute ingredients for tonight (I took requests on everyone's favorite treat.....not so sure how a sour cream spinach dip is going to mix with hot fudge sundaes).....and then we plan on watching a few movies for a quiet Christmas Eve together. I still have a couple of presents to wrap, hoping the kids stay out a teeny bit longer sledding. I also am finishing up a few last minute tie dye shirts for friends I will be seeing over the next few days......

Oh, if you are looking for a last minute easy gift idea.......these are super easy to make up and definitely are a one size fits all gift!

All you need is M & M's, a little baggie with some ribbon to make it pretty and print out this great poem to attach to it. We got this idea from Danielle's Place.

These special little candies,
Come in colors bright and fun.
There’s more than color to be found;
A story of God’s Son.

The M’s turn into W’s,
If you turn them upside down.
A few more turns and E and 3’s
Are waiting to be found.

M is for the manger,
Where Mary laid her precious boy.
Little did the world know,
This baby would bring great joy.

The W is for the Wise men,
Who followed a bright star.
The star revealed a king was born,
They came but, oh, so far.

Bethlehem they found Him,
Just as they had been told.
3 is for the gifts they brought;
Frankincense, myrrh and gold

W is also for their worship,
As they bowed before their King,
Salvation is the promise given,
There’s nothing we can bring.

Faith alone is how we come
He died to set us free.
E is for eternity,
God’s gift to you and me.

I hope everyone has a safe joyous CHRISTmas........

Remember to celebrate the most important thing this year.........

God loved us so much, He sent His only Son!!!!!!


ps. I am still following through on my Three Things This Thursday commitment......I am just cheating and have an auto-drafted short but sweet post lined up. :)

preach it Linus!

Just watched one of our favorite Christmas shows, A Charlie Brown Christmas......for the third time in about a week. I am guessing, based on my age, I have seen it about 167 times (and that is a conservative number, don't even think about any age jokes or I will have to whack you with my cane.....hmmmm, but that would not be very Christian-like.....especially at this time of year.)

Our Peanuts Christmas set is also included in the Top 10 things to grab in case of a fire.

My question tonight is.......am I beyond a "sap" because I still get weepy during this scene......every time I watch it?

mary, joseph and baby cheesus

N has been wanting to get out in this snow and build snowmen.......but we didn't get good "snowman" snow with this last storm. Instead, we are stuck with that icy hard as a rock crap. You New Englanders know the stuff.....if you weigh more than 75 pounds and attempt to drudge through it.....you better be wearing some tall sturdy boots. Not that I would be stupid enough to go out in my fuzzy crocs to get the mail....... and happen to have my ankles feel like they were sliced up with a dull knife.....no, I wouldn't be that dumb.

I do love pics of snowmen.....they just make me smile for some reason. I don't have one from this winter yet, so I will share what N created a few years ago......I thought it was a family of snowmen that represent herself, Josh and me (note the dready hair)......and was quickly corrected that is was Mary, Joseph and Baby Cheesus.

So I encourage you, if you have snow.....and it is good "snowman snow".....take the time to go out and make one. Feel the wonder of being a kid again......Or maybe grab a sled and take a trip or two down a hill.....if you make it without busting your hip or pulling a groin muscle (again, not that this has ever happened to me as I am still as flexible and agile as I was in my youth.....*cough cough*).....or perhaps when you are feeling the unneeded stress of the holidays, go out, get a little crazy and make a snow angel. Seriously.....you will feel the stress melt away (or maybe break off is a better term)
BTW, E and I suggested that more than a few people at Walmart last night needed to "make a snow angel" with their scornful faces and negative comments and complaints throughout the aisles. Come on people.....it's Christmas!

So yes.....there is no better time to lighten up......and celebrate Christmas for what it is truly about. Forget about what you don't have, and think about what you *do* have. Thank God for what He has done for you this year. Keep your Christmas music turned up loud, make lasting memories with your family and friends....and most importantly.....celebrate the birth of Jesus!!

Joy to the World.........The Lord has come........Let earth receive her King!!!


Prince of Peace

"For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."
~Isaiah 9:6

WOW.....I just love that. Something about "Prince of Peace" just offers such comfort to me. Last night at church, during worship.....I really felt an amazing sense of peace come over me.....followed by great thanksgiving for all that God has done for me this year....and in my whole life in general.

The pastor talked about how being in the Glory of the Lord is feeling/knowing that God truly loves you....personally. Like the feeling that you are His favorite.......sometimes it is hard for people to feel that way when we have trials and disappointments. But this powerful reminder stirred up something in me and I look forward to my commitment to follow Him and what He has planned for my life. I will continue to tell others of how awesome it is to be walking with God right by your side....and knowing/trusting that no matter what is going on "in this upside down world".....you can always have peace and comfort when Jesus is in your heart. I pray that His Glory shines through me and draws others to Him.

I have this card hanging on my wall and I just love it. It says.......

Count on it: That's the kind of party the angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God ~Luke 15:10 (The Message)

oh, and speaking of parties........today is my sweet E's birthday.
We brought him home on Christmas Day in a stocking 11 years ago....he was a little peanut weighing only 4+ pounds....but we couldn't have asked for any bigger better gift in our lives.

Ezra in the Bible was a great teacher/priest. ("this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him."~Ezra 7:6)

And I will have to say that our E has taught us (and many others) a spirit of Christ with his compassion and …wisdom. He is so wise beyond his years...and I know he is destined to do great things in this world.

Happy Birthday E!!! Here he is all groggy this morning with his separated by 5 years twin sister.....

Peace and love

Winter Wonderland

Woke up to more snow! We just got about a foot from Friday night into Saturday......now there is another few more inches headed our way.....I just love it!

Our Christmas service was postponed until tonight due to the weather.....I really hope it lets up so that it doesn't get cancelled completely........I really am looking forward to celebrating.

Speaking of celebrating......we had G's birthday yesterday and E's tomorrow.........we were supposed to go to New York City tomorrow and see Rockefeller Center/Time Square and all the cool places, but we decided the with the weather, it would probably turn into the trip from H-E- double hockey sticks (as E says).

You see......"big city" and Josh are not so good of a match to begin with. He reluctantly agreed to taking us after I basically guilted him into being a Grinch and having no sense of adventure (*note...challenging a man's risk taking can work to your favor most of the time)

....but thinking about the traffic and congestion, toss in the anxiety of being in NYC at this time of year.....and sprinkle it with another pending storm......hmmmmmmm, I think we made a good decision to cancel. I would hate to have to lance that bulging vein that appears on his forehead when these kind of situations arise.

So this morning......I used the challenge Jedi mindtrick again.....and Josh took Ez and N out sledding. I am looking out the window as I type and it is pretty much white-out conditions. So I will def. let him know that he gets *The Most Adventurist and Risk Taking Dad of the Year* award when he gets back.....and thaws out. I expect them back soon......usually the actual sledding time is only a fraction of the time needed to get the kids dressed and prepared. So I am calculating about 17 minutes of "fun" as opposed to the 45 minutes it took to find matching gloves and boots.

so yes....the snow looks magical to me.....I hope you have a magical day today too! :)

I will leave you with this cute video that I think has a magical feel to it...... I found yesterday when I was checking on the latest updates for the lineup of Soulfest 09 (yes, I am already thinking about next summer) I am pretty sure that Sixpence None the Richer is playing there too. (you will need to pause my music player)

prayer request

I received this tonight and wanted to ask again for your prayers. We know from Matthew 18:20 that "where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them"

A friend of ours is very close with Michael Sweet from the Christian band Stryper. Michael's wife Kyle has been battling cancer for a long time. I just got this email from Lili so I wanted to help spread the word that Kyle needs our prayers again.

Message to the prayer warriors: Not sure what is happening tomorrow.
Disease has turned around with a vengeance. Last week tumor marker had jumped from 420 to 2300, which means the cancer has become immune to the chemo that was working so well three weeks ago. I've been in a lot of pain and the increased disease is physically visible. I will meet with my oncologist tomorrow and hopefully she has something else we can try.
Boston is due to get hit with a major snow storm tomorrow so that could be a big problem. This monster is aggressive and I sense we need to attack it ASAP. Bless you all. You are saints standing in the gap for those who can't fight alone. I feel your prayers covering myself, Michael, Ellena and Mike. Bless you, bless you, and bless you!


I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world
~John 16:33

Thanks so much....

Good clean fun!

So last night, I headed over to Lili's and we made soap......lots of soap. I know......you are probably imagining a peaceful scene with two best friends, crafting by the wood stove with Bing Crosby playing in the background. (actually, I am totally digging this WOW Christmas CD this year....loving my contemporary Christian artists......sorry Bing).

Anyway, back to this Hallmark moment that you might be envisioning. Children in matching pajamas coloring Christmas cards by the tree.....sipping hot chocolate with peppermint stick stirrers.

*insert that needle scraping over a record to a screeching halt sound*

Now envision this:
We had over a dozen kids coming in and out of the kitchen at the same time.....some much louder than others......some wanting to "help"....others just poking their noses and fingers in our creations. The younger kids wanted to add their own coloring and scents in their attempt to help with a batch.....so please forgive me if your handmade present leaves your skin a nice shade of purple or you break out in a rash.

There was the periodic interruptions when random kids busted in with their cry for justice regarding a turn with a video game or the use of the computer. We also had at least one expected injury due to the wresting smack down that was going on in the next room over. (Did I mention that 85% of our children are boys?) But still that did not stop our progress as the lump/bruise was nothing that a few kisses and a little sympathy didn't take care of.

The microwave was being used in an alternating system of melting the soap......heating up soup....back to melting the soap......now reheat that slice of pizza, but be aware that it isn't extra spices on your slice, it is probably some leftover lavender seeds.

No matter what.....we still had a blast. It's funny how the chaos is the norm when we get together although I'll be honest.....we did need to keep reciting this Scripture throughout the night (Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him ~Psalm 127:3)...but you know, I don't think I would be able to enjoy myself if it were any other way.

So a couple more fun stuff to report:

Today......NO SCHOOL!......although there is not a flake of snow on the ground.....schools were starting to cancel last night due to the impending storm coming. I refuse to say Noreaster, the term used for big North Eastern snowstorms. It is pronounced "nor-easta" and it make me cringe for some reason. All I can imagine is everyone scrambling to get eggs, bread and milk in a frenzy.....is French toast the popular storm comfort food.....but how are you supposed to make it if we lose power? I never understand why batteries and candles are not mentioned as the first necessities.....I dunno.....but either way....woot! We got to sleep in this morning (for me, it was 6:35!)

Also, I am taking my not-so-girly girl to get a very girly treat later this morning. We are getting her nails done for an early Christmas treat!
ETA: we went.....and here they are! She chose Christmas trees, snowflakes and bows. It's so fun to have a little girl to do these things....(and so foreign to me as I am not a girly girl myself)...but my heart was full watching her eyes and smile get wider and wider with each nail being decorated.

And here is a little fun freebie that someone told me about. Free Christmas Music for today at Oprah.com

Holiday Hits 2008 free download

But, I still recommend this WOW Christmas CD (I just noticed it is on sale right now too!) and I also am grabbing the Selah-Rose of Bethlehem CD today for a little gift from me to me.

And speaking of recommendations.......we read this book last night, Noel, that I absolutely love......it's an oldie but goodie if you can find a copy. It's one of those Little Golden Books.

OK, I am gonna jet.....I still have to pick up our family pics for the Christmas cards that I haven't even started to write out. Maybe I should just get Happy New Year cards instead?

I hope you have a fun Friday too~
peace and love,

Three Things This Thursday.......

So I am gonna try to commit to doing this every week. I thought it would be fun if others did it too. It's a great way to take five minutes (or for me, it takes alot more) and jot down three random things. It's also a great way to "meet" other bloggers/friends. Hey, maybe if you don't have a blog.....this is a great reason to start one! It's so easy to set up (here is how I got started)

Suggestions of 3 random things can be......but of course not limited too.....;)
  • good news
  • prayer requests
  • a great recipe
  • a new craft
  • money saving code/coupon
  • something that made you smile lately
  • "spam" for your own business
  • book and/or movie recommendations
  • book and/or movie flops
  • anything!
If you feel like joining in.......please post your blog link here to share! Think about all the great recipes, ideas, and smiles that can be passed along! :) You also can put this button/link on your blog so that we can can get more friends to join in. I am working on getting the code to show up for you to copy/paste.....email me if the code isn't working or your blog shuts down (kidding! I have no clue on this stuff....I torture Lyndsey for that).

here is the code for your blog:

Oh, and btw...... if you ever need any website, graphic, tech-y stuff done....check out her site DragonflyLily.com.......she is super sweet, super talented and awesome to work with! She did both of my business sites as well. :)

OK so my three things today are:

Easy peasy handmade ornaments.
These are simple crafts that you can do with your kids that make great keepsakes (remember, I am a sap when it comes to handmade ornaments) and gifts for family/teachers/etc. We made these yesterday at a homeschooling Holiday craft day....

  • Recycle old Christmas cards by cutting them into equal length strips, punch a hole at the top and bottom of each strip. Line them up and put one of those brass paper fasteners (you know the kind with the little bendable "wings") through the holes. Then start to gently separate/fan out the strips creating a round ornament.
  • Buy clear ornaments and fill them with that sparkly shredded paper or a few drops of paint and shake em up!
  • thread decorative beads on an 8" pipe cleaner, bend ends to keep beads secure......and shape into a candy cane.
  • we also made these sign language ornaments.......not sure if I think they are creepy or not.....but thought I would share. It is just one of those stretchy cheap gloves (3 pairs for a dollar at most Dollar Tree stores)......lightly stuffed with stuffing material (the real name escapes me, but you know what I mean).....and hot glued into your hand sign. We did the "I love you" and "peace" signs.
.....(and yes, I was tempted to do another hand signal for a few choice people this year......but this is pretty much a G/PG-13 rated blog and I didn't think it would go over too well with the homeschoolers)

The second thing I want to share it that we found out good news with Mical's surgery. Although it appears that it is a serious uncommon infection that requires many weeks of antibiotics/treatment....it is NOT the "C" word and we are so thankful to Jesus that he will be OK. Thanks so much for all your prayers!!! God is so faithful!

And lastly, my third thing.....I would like to ask why I committed to a "cookie swap"......In all my 40 plus years.....I would never imagine I would participate in such a "Suzie Homemaker" event.....but yes, I am becoming quite domesticated and I have two dozen peanut butter cookies in the oven right now. I still need to make four more by 9:30AM. Thank the Lord for Betty Crocker pouches......(and no scoffing.......no-one said that I had to make these from scratch!) And the question of the day is.......why do peanut butter cookies get that tic-tac-toe fork signature? Like what makes them so superior that they get their own "mark"?

OK.....I'll leave you with that......I am off to search the internet for a great peanut butter recipe to attach to the cookie tins. ;)

**join in and add your 3 Things This Thursday link**

Peace and love~

design on a dollar ninety nine

Yep, that is all it cost me to have fresh greens around the house this year. I usually spend a few bucks going to local nurseries and buying it already made......but needing to be more conservative, brought on another "blessing in disguise". I went out in my back woods, collected my own assortment of greens and pine cones and made my own. I don't go back there that much when the weather gets colder......but it was cool to see the deer tracks and other little critters' nests in the bare trees. So I gathered up a bunch of branches from random trees and headed back to the house as my fingers felt like they were going to crack off. When my fingers thawed out......I laid the pieces on the floor in like a chain pattern, alternating the different kinds of pine branches. All I needed was a package of florist wire from Michael's that I bought for $1.99 and wound it around. Then I found an old beat up red berry wreath that I was going to toss.....I pulled out the clusters of berries and wired them in with some pine cones to add some color.......and voila!

My wreath is not so great.....I didn't have one of those styrofoam rings to keep it secure and coupled with the fact that it is in the direct line of fire of kids and a dog snout.....makes it acceptable, but nothing to rave about. But, it does look nice at night when I light the candles. Oh, those wrought iron pillars came from At Home America and they are awesome. You can group them within any seasonal wreath/arrangement......or leave them just clustered together and they really go with any decor. A good friend of mine became a representative recently, and did a show at my house a couple months ago. I didn't have to spend much money and I got some really nice things with their hostess specials/rewards. So if you ever want to purchase any of At Home's products.....please use this link!

And since I am snapping pics of my Christmas decor.......I cannot leave out my most precious set of all......my Nativity. Now I collect nativity sets, in fact......I think I have about 5, not including Nev's sets.....I have one cute wooden one that stays up all year. But this one means so much to me as I have been given a piece/collection throughout the past Christmases from Josh. I am very sentimental about this set and my ornaments. Most of them are handmade from the kids or have a date/meaning to them. I am not particular about many things (if you've been to my cluttered/unorganized home, you know).....but I do take the arranging of the ornaments to an unhealthy level. I have to bite my lip when the kids put them up. I try to encourage them to put them in the "right" spot.....and have to be convincing when I tell them they did a great job and thank them many times. I then proceed to distract them to do other things in another room......and frantically arrange them to where they are supposed to go. Because they do have a correct place, don't they? I mean, you can't have a sparkly Santa near a wooden angel, come on people!!! And then, when we take down the tree.......they are individually wrapped and are stored in an easily accessible spot in which they are included in our fire escape plan. Our children and pets are #1 and #2 on the list.....and they are #3.

So I thought I would share these things....being even more conservative this time of year is giving me the opportunity to get more creative.......spend more time outdoors......and doing extra inexpensive crafts at home (like making more ornaments).

I'd say that's a good great thing!


good people, bad choices......

So we were going over the story of Rahab the other night with our Jesse Tree devotion. This is another one of my favorite stories in The Book. It's just so "real" and relatable. I mean, we all have a past.......some more ugly than others. But we also see how God doesn't always pick the most righteous people to do His work......in fact........He's picked some of the least likely people. So I guess it shows us that sometimes we don't feel worthy for God to "choose" us based on our past.....but we are exactly who He needs. He can turn a harlot into a heroine.......surely He can use us as well.

So yeah, Rahab made some pretty bad choices in her life.....and to think that God used her in such a mighty way....We might ask/think......why? Out of all the people in Jericho, why on Earth would He choose such a woman??? I guess this is another testimony on to how God orchestrates everything and has it all go to His plan. Pretty sure He led these spies to her home......and it was the "right" time for her to have the opportunity to make a choice...will she protect these spies and have faith in their God.......or protect herself and warn the city? I believe this was the moment that Rahab had her fresh new start in life.....she reveals an understanding of Christ that seems impossible considering her past life of sin. Perhaps, being trapped by sin for so long, she was so ready to be freed from the captivity. Throughout Scripture, the poor and the less fortunate were drawn to Jesus......He even told the Pharisees that "the harlots and tax collectors will enter Heaven before you" in the Book of Matthew.

I read this on this site, thought it was pretty amazing:
From that time on, Rahab dwelt with the Israelites. She married a man from the tribe of Judah named Salmon and had a son whom they named Boaz. Boaz took a gentile bride from Moab named Ruth and they had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David who became King of Israel (Ruth 4:13-22). And 26 generations later, two distant cousins who were both descendants of King David (and therefore of Rahab and Salmon) married and became the earthly parents of our Lord Jesus. And so when you read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, you’ll find Rahab listed there (Matt 1:5).

Pretty cool, huh? :)

So yes.....I guess this story teaches us that even if we don't have the best track record in life, eh hem....like *me*.....God can use us. Maybe it's just to give that grouchy sales clerk a smile or encouraging word......or to pay for the person's coffee behind you in the drive thru as a random act of kindness.....or to be ready to tell others about Christ. He probably has already prepared their heart to receive The Good News even if they appear to be the least likely to be interested.

Oh, and one last thing and keeping it real (I know I talk about how blessed we are, but never want to come off as a "pokey cheeky we are are so wonderful"......no, we have dirt, we have issues......plenty!, we are far from perfect........ we just are doing the best we can with God's tools when problems come up in our lives)

so.......speaking of good people making bad choices......I'd like to say that G is a good example on this subject. For whatever idiotic reason, he decided to have his friend trim up his "chin strap" (yes, I am a mother of a son with a beard, yikes)....in Chemistry class. This idiotic decision landed him in the principal's office. This idiotic decision also earned him a nice punishment including Josh's instruction that the chin strap will be removed until further notice. G took great pride in his facial adornment......almost to a "Samson" level......so this was the perfect punishment. He also lost many other privileges for quite some time. Did I mention how I thought this was an idiotic move? I am pretty sure G realizes this now too......every time he looks in the mirror.

Maybe this is what he needed to have a fresh start himself....time to straighten up his act....(again).....and realize that fooling around, making bad choices gets him no-where fast. We told him the choice was his......(inserting the wide road~being the popular/ class clown, getting the laughs, etc vs. the narrow road ~focus on doing the Right thing lesson too).

The one thing he did do, that was not so idiotic, was calling Josh immediately after it all happened. We have always taught the kids about how the punishment would def. be less severe if they are honest and upfront. He could have certainly not even mentioned the incident as we probably would have never found out.....but I guess we have gotten a few good messages through to him these past years....as he readily confessed from the school's bathroom stall. I think that saved him from having his head shaved as well.

Well time to blast....and hope your weekend is filled with peace and love during this busy Season!

advent conspiracy

.....please pause my music for this powerful message:

Three Things This Thursday.......

So today I def. have and will remember 3 things......I think I might try to do this every Thursday! :)

First and most important: Mical (and Lili/family) still needs to be lifted up in prayers.....He had the mass removed last night and is in alot of pain. The Good News is that it appears that the mass was more of a ball of infection behind his lymph node, rather than within......still waiting on results, but surgeons felt the procedure went well. Praise Jesus! Also, in the meantime, Jaklyn (Lili's oldest daughter) is going in for her scheduled surgery today as well....so she needs prayers for a safe surgery with a complete healthy recovery. They also found out that she needs to be seen by another specialist due to some concerning blood test result taken last week. I cannot imagine the strength it is taking for Lili to keep it all together right now, but I know she has God with her at all times and He is taking her through this.

**SMALL UPDATE** no specific news on Mical, other than he is doing pretty good. We went to visit him tonight at hospital and his spirits were def. up! They are hoping if all goes well, he will be coming home as soon as this weekend. I guess they don't wait for any cultures/biopsies to come back and he can be discharged soon. Still keeping him in prayer for benign results.
Poor Jaklyn hobbled in with Lili while we were there, after being discharged from her outpatient surgery today......they did make some discoveries with her surgery that should hopefully keep her pain-free in the future....God is GREAT!!!

Second thing: You know how they say that people wear off on each other as time goes by? Well this is definitely true. I have mentioned on how Josh and I are actually very opposite in many of our characteristics. (again, think Dharma and Greg)......well, he took a few much-needed days off from work, and is clearly showing signs of "Michelle-isms"......and he is not too happy about it.
Let's see.......He has misplaced his keys and wallet more than a few times and this is from Mr. Organization. You see, Josh is kinda like crazy-borderline OCD, for example...needing his dollar bills facing in the all the same direction. I bet if he could put the serial numbers in numeric order, he would.
Then, a few days ago......he was talking on his cell phone to me, and then stopped mid-sentence....then came back and told me that he actually was wondering where his phone was.....(yeah....no kidding). He has been extra klutzy and has lost total focus while trying to stay on task doing random jobs around the house.
I asked him how he liked being inside my head and how I live day to day......he told me it is like a prison sentence. On a happy note, he enjoyed this side of "Michelle" by staying in his lounge pants all day, homeschooling Nev while I subbed at the preschool and cooking for everyone everynight.

The third thing today is that my thrifty online friend Catherine suggested this site Swagbucks where you can earn Amazon gift cards and other prizes just by doing what you normally do on The Net.....searching, shopping, etc. I think she already got one $5 Amazon card, with another one on it's way. Here is the link/button if anyone wants to check it out:
Search & Win

OK, that wraps it up for me today.....hope this finds everyone smiling and well~

prayer request

Just popping on quick to ask a prayer request for my best friend Lili's son. Mical, 18, has had a painful lump under his arm for the past month. They have seen a few doctors/surgeons, ran many tests that have come back negative and/or inconclusive. He has been on two different rounds of antibiotics and so far nothing has helped. Initially, the surgeon suspected cat scratch disease for which they still are waiting for the results. (bloodwork was done last week). Being pro-active in that diagnosis, the surgeon put Mical back on the antibiotics again last week. Well as of last night, there still was no change (and no result of the bloodwork) so Lili took him to the hospital where he was admitted. They did a CAT scan and there definitely is a mass in his lymph node. The specialists are still leaning towards the initial cat scratch disease, but also had to give the worst case scenario as a possibility too (lymphoma). Please lift Mical up in your prayers that this is a treatable benign condition and a full recovery/healing. The last time I spoke to Lili (about an hour ago)......Mical was spiking a fever and they were trying to get it down. Please also keep Lili and David in your prayers, prayers for peace, strength and wisdom.

I will update as soon as I find out anything.

I know Father that You can do anything......... so I ask You to place Your Healing Hands on Mical and free him from his pain and affliction. May his healing be another testimony to Your amazing Grace and bring Glory to Your Name. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

fresh start

There is something about waking up to a fresh blanket of snow that brings new hope.......a fresh new start. Now toss in it happening on a Sunday morning.....I don't think it can get any better than that. This is what I saw out my bathroom window this morning.

I am definitely ready for a new start this week.....I want to put the stress and short-temperness behind me and declare that this week will be different and full of peace and happiness. I am heading out to church right now, and know that I will confirm this when I have a nice long talk with The Big Guy upstairs. I do talk to Him often and don't need church for that.......but somehow when the worship music is playing, and I have no other distractions.......I get my own personal time with Him. I am guessing He will be giving me a much-needed pep talk too, about my attitude lately.....something that I know I need.

Something that is so wonderful and funny about kids and snow.......N came busting in the room with the news of the snow. It really is only an inch or so, but in her eyes/mind.......this is snowman time. Not so sure if we are going to get a snowman out of this, maybe a snow squirrel or something for today.

Another funny thing.....She watched A Christmas Story with Josh the other night. Apparently, she not only was traumatized by the neighbor's dog ear being stuck in the door.......that kid's tongue sticking to flagpole made a lasting impression on her. So much so, that she was having major concerns this morning looking out the window at Strep and the gang while they perched on the fence. She was so distressed with the thought of their little chicken feet having the same fate. I had to assure her that it wouldn't happen, although after she mentioned it, I kinda thought she had a valid concern and double checked on them myself.

So whether you woke up today to a fresh blanket of snow.....a beautiful sunny day.....or even rain.....I hope you enjoyed a day of peace, rest and a renewal of your spirit.


If you have two coats....give away one

So the other night, we read about Abram and how he obeyed God's command and had to take a pretty unpleasant trip across the desert. I think that story can hit home to many of us sometimes. Sometimes we just don't feel like doing "the right thing".....sometimes we flat out refuse. I know I am totally guilty of this....but I also know that God promises us that we will be rewarded when we do what He asks us to do. It may not be a financial blessing or even a direct answer to the things/situations we pray for....but we should trust that He knows what we need, when we need it.

So last week, my pastor talked about how Jesus told the Pharisees that they should host a feast and not invite all their peers, leaders and "higher up" friends. These people could always repay them for their efforts. No, they should invite the cripple, lame and poor.....people who could never repay them for the feast.......but their reward would come in other ways. Not so sure that the Pharisees listened.....but this concept def. intrigued me. It's true.....we often go the extra mile in gift giving for people, who let's face it......don't really need "stuff", ykwim? I mean, it's nice to get someone a present for Christmas, but sometimes we really start going overboard with wracking our brain to buy a gift for that "person who has everything" or "is hard to buy for". And quite frankly......most of the time, that person really isn't super impressed or ends up returning it. It's so much easier to just pick out anything (not really putting any thought or effort) for people who aren't really as close to us, and we do it just to follow through on a tradition or obligation.

He also talked about how Jesus told people that if they had two coats, give away one. So if we try to work this into "our" day.....this would probably mean, if you have 6-8 coats......give away at least 2-3. I mean, how many coats do we really need? He also talked about how when we give to the poor.....we are really giving to Jesus. So not to pick that old '80s-style fringed leather coat that is crammed in the back of your closet and pass it along to the needy (yes, I was an 80s girl and had a fantastic fringed coat.....along with a rocking pair of spandex! *shudder*......and a little fyi.....I don't think that style will ever come back.....so it's time to let go, dude).

Would we pick out something that isn't even suitable for us, and give it to Jesus?? No, we should pick out our two favorite coats.....keep the #2 choice, and pass on the #1. Jesus (a.k.a. the poor) deserves our best.

So trying to apply this lesson in our house......I suggested to N that we should go through her toys and pick out a few of her favorites and give them away. So she came to me with the rattiest of her My Little Pony collection. These were the ones who had about four strands of fiber left on their manes and tails. I looked her in the eyes and asked her if these were truly her favorites. She got all teary eyed, looked towards the wall and the convo went like something like this:

N: yes, mom.....they are! I love these so much!

Me: (obviously not very convinced): are you sure?

N: yes, I love these so much! (still looking at the wall)

Me: So if I asked you to give a special toy to Jesus, this is what you think He deserves?

N: well, no. (looking down and lip starting to quiver)

Me: remember, when I told you that you should feel lucky enough that you have so many nice things to choose from to give to someone who might not have any. You surely can find a much nicer Pony for them. Pretend you are giving it to Jesus.

N: (still reluctant, but feeling as convicted as a six year old can get) OK

She returns with one of her newest Ponies and hands it to me.....she didn't have a spirit of happiness surrounding her that I was hoping for. But being realistic in this situation, I was thankful that she didn't have a white knuckle grasp on it when handing it to me. I did hear her make a comment as she was walking away about how Jesus probably doesn't even play with My Little Ponies anyway.

So then Josh came home this morning after running out for a coffee and mentioned how the Marine Corps was doing a collection this morning for *new* toys at the State Police station. He asked if I had anything we could give. I instantly thought about the financial crunch we are in, and said no. Funny how God can poke you in the memory bank and remind me of the 2 Webkinz I scored at a sidewalk sale this past summer. I stashed them away for friends' children, but then thought about the Pharisee reference. My friends kids are far from underprivileged and I could still go out and get them something else.

Then it dawned on me. Perfect time for another "lesson" for N too. (see, I am always multi-tasking and taking advantage of what life presents me!)

I wanted her to see the "giving brings reward" in a six year old level of comprehension. Not sure if what I did was the best way.....but I never claim to not screw up from time to time.

So I called her into my room, and explained that I had two new Webkinz in this bag. Her eyes lit up like saucers...."for me????" she giggled with excitement. "No......but one will be for you and I am going to let you choose which one can go to *the sick kids*" (that is what she refers to any charity).
I told her that she could have the Webkinz now, but she would not be able to log on the computer and do all the stuff these kids do with online "pets" until Christmas. (btw, I wish I was the genius who thought about taking a $1.99 stuffed animal, assigning a "code" to it, create a very simple program/website and turn around and sell them at $14.99 a pop. unreal.) She surprised me and agreed to all the terms laid out. I reminded her about how when you give a little.....you recieve too. And how because she was willing to give someone something that she would have wanted to keep....she would be blessed with her own reward. Again, not so sure if that was the healthiest way to reiterate that lesson, but it's what I went with.
She did innocently have a good question as we handed it to the Marines......."if those kids are so poor that they live in boxes (we had talked about homeless families as well).....how are they going to have a computer and internet? Maybe we should buy them a computer too"

I told her I would have to think about that one......;)

Well I hope this finds you well......maybe this weekend would be a great time to go through closets and make up a bag for your local shelter. (*remember no spandex) I bet they would even appreciate some of your extra Christmas decorations to brighten up their temporary living space. We don't always know what happened in their lives to bring them where they are.....and it's not our place to ask (judge). It's our place to just do what is right. We are promised to receive great blessings in ways we cannot even imagine.....

peace and love~

Three Things This Thursday.......

Hey that title could be a catchy thing to commit too......not so sure I would have three things to really talk about that would be interesting though.

For today, I do happen to have three things :)

First off......we have fertility back at our home!!!!!!!!!! No, not me.....although that is nice to think/dream about.....yesterday I went to check on Strep and the gang's water situation.....and I found this! Yes........our very first egg! It actually is very small.....so cute in it's own little first egg way. I am so proud of my girls..it's like a chicken's right of passage into motherhood.
Strep was not too happy when I went to reach in and take it out. He probably was upset that I was taking "his" child....I guess he has a point in some weird polygamist kinda way. You see, he's got four three wives (we lost Marley, named for her black furry dreads, last week to who knows what.....we are thinking a fox). He actually tried to peck my leg....I told him that I was sorry, but he better get used to it. I've been waiting on these since the summer! Let the omelets begin!

The second thing is that if you don't own the children's book, The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.....I totally recommend it for this time of year. I am going to be reading it today at our homeschooling class ......if I can pull it off without crying (remember, the weepy sap factor I possess). It's on sale at ChristianBook.com this week too. We were supposed to have a sign language lesson to wrap up The Five Senses, but the mama who was going to come by and teach had to reschedule. So I figured I'd put together a Bible lesson and craft instead. I am going to attempt to make these with the kids too.....again, we need to factor in the lack of craftiness factor). It's another cool craft from Danielle's Place. Not so sure I am going to be able to pull this off with 7-8 kids, with the age range of 5-7.....but I am willing to try. Today seems like we can go outside to collect the twigs and stuff.....so that will let them get some energy out too. We have the hay from the barn....so really, all I need is some fast drying glue ....and three extra sets of hands. I know using a glue gun would be a better idea, but let's just leave it at the fact that me and glue guns are not a very good pair.

Oh, and the third thing.......oh crap.......can you believe this? I cannot remember the third thing. I guess I will have to come back and edit this post....yeah, my mind just went blank...for once ;)

I normally do not post two times in one day.....but this deserves it. I just received this email that Josh wrote and it's too good not to share. You can see he has the same twisted sense of humor as I do.

Last night around 11pm I hear some banging around through the floor like someone was trying to break in the house. Not to worry, we have a 100lb Rottie that will surely devour any intruder that dare come into our home.

As I looked around the floor for him to see if he was already one step ahead of me in finding the source of this disturbance, I found him devouring something, the space where his testicles used to be.

I tried to tell him that from the amount of time he been spending licking his private area, whatever he was attempting to do was either long gone or permanently attached and to stop it before he had a seizure. I mean, who can lick @ something that long before you realize, hey, this isnt working?

SO, I quietly walk through the house, peering through some windows as I make the rounds to find an intruder when I start to hear a noise and some low deep voice talking.

The noise I hear is a slow paced almost wave sound, very repetitive,,,,,,wooosh,,,,,,wooosh,,,,,,I turn down the hallway and start walking towards my oldest son Gs room and sort of lean my ear towards his door. The noise is coming from his room and turns out to be his wave/sleep machine, but I still hear a repetitive deep voice, monotone, under-breath talking.

I knock on his door and open it and ask him if he is awake and if he heard any banging or noises. He said yes, that he accidentally dropped some shoes in the dark and kicked them against the wall.

I nod a few head bobbles and peer over @ his phone and see that it is on his night stand andon and ask him if he was still on the phone this late @ night. I heard talking in here and I thought I told you to go to bed early, you need rest, I dont want you talking on the phone all night,,,, you get the picture.

He said that he wasnt talking and I kind of cut him off and we both were talking @ once, and I was like,hey, no excuses, go to bed, and I heard the wordpraying in there. I asked him w/a puzzled look on my face,what did you say?.

He said, I wasnt talking w/ my girlfriend dad, I was saying my prayers before I went to sleep.

I felt about 1 foot tall.

I quickly rebounded and joked and said,Oh,,,,,wow,,,,um,,,,,uh,,,,was I on your prayer list he, he? He said,yes, but you are on the bottom of the list right now, ha-ha.

I said that I loved him very much and went to bed.

It kinda hit me this morning that when I was his age @ 16 years old, (long time ago,,,) I was not counting my blessings before I went to bed at night, farthest thing from it.

I was counting different things, like the amount of money I sneaked out of my father’s pants pockets when he wasnt looking, or the amount of cigarettes I had left in the pack hidden in my dresser drawer; I was a different type of 16 yr old.

One that I am not proud off at all, but know that because the glory of God and His ultimate forgiveness and guidance, He has given me another chance, (well, 4 chances really w/ 4 kids, geesh!), to turn out some good hearted, believing, loving, and caring children into this world. God knows we can use them right now.

After all, they are His children first, and mine to hold onto for as long as He lets me. I eventually need to turn them free and back to Him someday. When it is time for me to go Home, I dont want to have a face to face w/ Him someday for atimeout or anything b/c I was irresponsible w/ His kids. That Timeout could last a while inGod Years! Geesh!

Anyway, thanks for listening, (as if you had a choice),,,,Love you- daddy

Thanks Babe....we *are* truly blessed. :)

Attn: Connecticut, Rhode Island and surrounding areas.....

.......the roads are now safe to travel again. :)

Yes, I finally got my glasses last night. Can I tell you how nice it is to see words on signs instead of fuzzy cotton ball symbols? So here I am.....I am not sure how good they look on me, but I think at least I look pretty smart. Well, that is what E told me..... he picked out the frames. Excuse the frizzy hair and the just-woke-up look.......I have frizzy hair and I did just wake up.

Have a great day.......I am declaring that I will have one......even though I have that old song "I can see clearly now" stuck in my head.

Peace and love

Everybody stumbles.....

.....and yesterday was a wipeout for me.

As much as I know that Christmas is all about the birth of our Savior, it's hard not to be at least concerned about having some presents under the tree for the kids.

My wipeout was about money.....or the lack of right now. You see, the choice to stay home to homeschool and be home with the kids is just that.....our choice (and freedom that I am thankful for). Another choice we had to make was making our life more simple to be able to do so. Over the past years, we have stripped alot of "things" that we didn't really didn't own......they owned us. They owned us in the sense that we seemed to have the desire to just buy things when we wanted them, not needed them, ykwim? We were not living this luxurious life.....but we had some toys, we ate out whenever we felt like it....and browsing/spending was something that I treated myself to whenever I felt the urge. We didn't live beyond our means, but we certainly didn't live on a budget.

So fast forward the past few years.....our income basically got slashed about 40% after the birth of N and deciding that I was going to be staying home. (I used to work late nights, so I was home during the day, but completely hagged out). So think about your monthly income and whack 40% off of it.....yeah, it stings. And it forces you to look around and see what you really could do without. At first it seemed like a choke hold ......but as we started to peel off the excess....it was actually a breath of fresh air. The "stuff" we thought we needed......really was just a want. And being able to be home at night....doing normal "home at night" things was so worth it. No more parenting-on-the-phone during work breaks......no more feeling like I a was hit by a Mack truck while I was making breakfast. Even though we had less.......I felt like I had so much more.

So that is good.......and it works on our day-to-day living. We have some weeks where we still barely squeak by. As I have mentioned before........God is the ultimate accountant and finds a way to crunch the numbers. Even when we shouldn't make it with the numbers on paper.......we do. For example, yesterday I cashed my check from the subbing job I did a couple of weeks ago at the preschool.......it was a whopping $23.55......went to Target to pick up a few things for the kids' lunches.......total was $22.45. no kidding.

But with Christmas rapidly approaching.....and Josh not getting a Christmas bonus.......we are facing the ultimate test in being a witness for God to "WALK THE WALK, NOT TALK THE TALK".......and yes, I failed yesterday. You see.....Josh has gotten a bonus every year that we used (and relied on) for our Christmas shopping. Being creatures of habit, of course we depend on that little extra reward for his hard work all year. I don't know if we took it for granted as we always felt blessed by it, but looking back.....I guess expecting (relying on) it each year is sort of taking it for granted. So this year, when we really really could use it (as I am sure the majority of our country)....we are faced with the fact that there isn't one to use.

So yeah....we have the resources for a little bit of money with 0% interest for three months.....and we are going to have to make it really stretch. I hate the fact that we have to use a credit card but what are we supposed to do? The kids already know that it is going to be a lean Christmas and say they understand......but who doesn't want to disappoint their kids?

I guess the "human" side of me caved into the stress/disappointment and got really down yesterday. I started beating myself up for not pursuing a more substantial paying job scenario (working one night at the salon and subbing once in awhile at the preschool is far from a steady, sufficient income.....you read how much my check was for).....I started looking back (instead of looking UP) at everything I should have/could have done and got sucked into a very negative mindset. I was snappy at the kids......Josh and I got into a spat where distance did not make the heart grow fonder.....it was just a total drag. Even our Jesse Tree nightly devotional wasn't so spiritually uplifting as I hoped.

One thing that stuck in my mind.......was one of Josh's more positive comments about the finances.....he said that the pressure we are feeling about buying gifts at this time of year.....is what many people feel about paying their mortgage, electric bill, heat and food.....all year long. I think God was speaking through him for that particular moment, with a "GET OVER IT, Michelle" kinda tone. At the time, I was still angry at Josh so I didn't even agree with him......I actually was hanging on to my own pity party. Even as he was talking to me, my ugly spirit felt some satisfaction that I didn't tell him he had something stuck in his tooth all afternoon (and secretly hoped others saw it too)

So the day went on......we spoke only when necessary. He went out to get the tree with E (who I may add, picked the perfect size this year!) and things started to calm down a bit.....I made sure that I apologized, kissed and hugged him before bed because I was taught to never go to bed angry. I told him that we'd figure it out.....we always do.

Before I fell asleep, I was thinking about what our pastor said last weekend in regards to the greediness that Christmas shopping can bring. He was talking about the tragedy of that poor Walmart worker who was trampled to death opening the doors on Black Friday. How people just wanted their "stuff" and didn't care about anything (even someone's life!) in order to get what they wanted.....so sad. :( He also referenced on how in Africa, the way to catch a monkey is to dig a small hole in the ground and put peanuts in it. The monkey will put his hand in to get the peanuts, but when he has them in his grip, his fist will not allow him to pull his hand out. He will not let go of the peanuts and struggles to get his hand free. He does not realize that it is because he wants something so badly......that he is putting himself in danger. So it is easy to catch him as his stubbornness fails him. I do not want to be gripping on the "peanuts" in life and miss out on enjoying this Season.
(*I must have fallen asleep thinking about that monkey, as I had a very weird dream about a monkey biting me......the pepper jack cheese I ate before bed also might have played a factor in the weirdness)

So yes......I stumbled.....but I am thankful that God granted me a new day to pick myself up and try again. I may not be able to change my circumstances.....but I can change my mindset. I will focus on looking UP and not down.


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