Our Exciting Life;)

SHE..

a.k.a. Miss Adorable Ray of Sunshine!

gets eaten alive by mosquitos!

They think she is an extra-special tasty treat (which she is, of course) and she reacts so strongly, even to the point of blistering and scarring! Poor baby! It has been a miserably itchy summer for her!

 HE (Mr. Warring-with-staying-small-and-growing-up-all-at-the-same-time)

looks like he came out of a war zone every time he rides his bike! This is only one of the wounds on his body right now! Sheesh.

 SHEgoes wherever she pleases in her ballet costume, even to the park:) And quite frankly, it doesn’t bother me! She is only four once….

We saw this little beauty at the park the other day…

So beautiful!

I am taking full advantage of the fresh summer fruits to make delicious things like this!

Oh yes.

And HE (a.k.a. Mr.-Imagination-Central) has learned how to cook eggs (and so has his brother) and that’s all they want to eat! All day, every day! I need chickens!!

You can see that we are getting ready for school to start very, very soon! I am working so hard to organize this all!!!

We became officially official today!

And we really really need bookshelves!!!

And last but not least….WE are moving again! We are like the king and queen of moving, blech!  As in, in this will be our 10th move since we were married….12 1/2 years ago. We lived in one cute little condo in Ohio as newlyweds. Four months after our I do’s, we moved to Indiana for school and had a cozy apartment for 1 1/2 years. We left that sleazy landlord infested apartment for a teeny little duplex 6 months before we moved to Chicago. And that’s where Samuel was born. When he was 8 weeks old, we moved sigh-unseen to an apartment in Chicago, where our rent immediately doubled. (yea, Chicago). We traded in that apartment for a slightly larger one the floor above after Zakkai was born and there we stayed for a couple of years.
Then once the boys started getting into school, we had to navigate the muddy lottery Chicago school system and move to get into a school. We lasted one year in Ukranian Village, where Eliana was born (and where we braved our first blizzard!) before heading to the Western Suburbs so the boys could go to a good non-Chicago public school. And there we stayed for 3 years until our move back to Ohio and into my grandparent’s basement last summer. We roomed with them for 2 1/2 months before we found our current condo, where we’ll have been for one year at the end of this month. Whew!!! Anyone else tired??
 We are very much hoping and praying that this will be the last move before we can buy a home of our own in the next couple of years. But for now, this is a huge answer to prayer! Not only does it have a fenced-in backyard (oh yea!) and a porch swing (which they said we can paint a fun color!!) but it is a HOUSE (which we have never lived in!!) AND we will be saving over $300 per month from what we pay now. Can I get an Amen?!!
We have 7 weeks to pack up our much-reduced belongings (hooray!), get into a good school routine, start Fall baseball with S, start Awana back up, go camping and then we move!
Who ever said life is boring? Not me!

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August Fun!

Summer is rolling right along! It is pretty crazy how quickly July flew by and now school supply signs are up in every store. Speaking of school supplies…..we don’t have to go buy some huge crazy, specific list!! Somehow I have a really good stockpile of notebooks and pencils, folders and binders so I think we are pretty good. The supplies we will need will probably be more for science experiments and such:)

We went swimming last week…twice! The first time was at my friend’s in-law’s pool. It was nice to not have to share pool space with a bazillion other people! It was a mostly fun time (more on that in a sec….)

Swimming time wouldn’t be complete with out goggles and noodles!

S getting ready to dive….

Woo!

Big splash:)

They did NOT want to go home!

Eliana sitting on her towel eating lunch with her friend Olivia;) As I mentioned, we mostly had a great time. We haven’t been able to afford many swim lessons with the kids. Only a few sessions for the boys and none for Eliana. Samuel has grown in confidence since last summer with swimming but Zakkai has not.

When we first got there, we lathered on sunscreen and then I told the kids they had to wait with my friend while I ran into the bathroom before they could get in the pool. I came back out a couple minutes later to find Zakkai in the water at the edge of the pool, with my friend, still dressed in her cover-up, holding him from behind!

Apparently, he had reached over the edge of the deep end to get a pool noodle or something and fell in headfirst!! Samuel saw him a second later and yelled but no one heard him. Then Z was able to get out a scream for help and my friend dove in. He was very shaken up, as was I!

So, then he was totally fine swimming with a pool noodle the rest of the time until about 20 minutes before we were going to leave, when he got to close to the slide down into the deep end (where the floor of the pool slides down) and he slid down and screamed  and totally panicked! My friend and I reached him at the same time and got him out and calmed down and then we practiced swimming with him the rest of the time. He didn’t want to go back in at first but we made him practice his strokes and he was improving by the end!

He was a mess the rest of the night. Teary and emotional. We put him to bed early but he came back down crying and needed another prayer and a long hug:(

We went swimming again this weekend with friends at the public pool and he did completely fine and had a fun time! We definitely need to work on his confidence so this doesn’t happen again!

I had a cleaning job the other day at my uncle’s parent’s house and they put out bubbles for the kiddos to play with. They were blowing some huge bubbles!!

Samuel’s first sunflower bloomed!

Eliana and cousin Evy playing my piano:)

Swinging at the park!

A day at the splashpad a couple weeks ago!

Water play outside on a day we were stuck at home!

Exhausted after a busy week and a family dinner on Friday night! 🙂

My amazing Vitamix!!! We throw all kind of things in there. This one looks like coconut milk, spinach, carrots, grapes, apples, strawberries, pineapple, flax seed and a little honey, etc.

And it turns into this!! It’s a different color every day:) So yummy!!

I am trying to find more ways to fight the on-going budget battle so I decided to make napkins so we can re-use them! It took awhile because we have been SO busy lately but I finally finished them last week! 15 napkins made out of some of Ben’s old dress shirts, an old pillowcase and some fat quarters:)

Have a great day!

A Fun Birthday Present!

 By “fun birthday present,” you may have assumed I was talking about my Vitamix (which is the most totally awesome machine ever!) but no, I am talking about another birthday present. Samuel’s birthday present!

Ben’s mom went in with us on a very fun birthday outing for Samuel! This past Sunday, we headed down to Cincinnati for the day to watch a Red’s game!! It was the first major league baseball game for Eliana and I to go to and the first Reds home game for the boys.

Within probably 15 minutes of the game starting, thunder started rumbling fiercely, followed by lightening. They quickly covered the field and asked all of us to take cover down by all the concessions, etc. So we huddled along with thousands of other people and watch the storm slowly move over the field, soaking it and then when it stopped, we went back to our (wet) seats and watched the fascinating process of the many workers uncovering the field. It was actually really fun to watch!

As you can see, all 3 of my guys had Reds shirts on:) We all inherited the Reds as our team because Ben loves them (although if you asked him this year, he would tell you they stink!)

Eliana and I don’t have Reds shirts, as you can see:) After the rain went away, the sun came out and it was SOOOO hot and humid! We were literally dripping in sweat and had to keep reapplying sunscreen through the afternoon.  I had to keep taking Eliana down where they had this humongous fan that blew mist out. There were crowds of people around it, trying to cool off!

We drank so much water, it wasn’t funny! The game was really exciting to watch and made all the more fun with the announcements, fun music ditties they play here and there and crowd shots. The cameras did silly things like the “smile cam” or the “kiss cam.” It was fun to watch! We were a little too high up to have the cameras make it to us, bummer.

One of the most fun things about the game was the home run that Suarez (a Reds player) got. They make a huge deal of home runs, shooting off fireworks, etc. It was awesome! Also, the relief pitcher, Chapman, who comes out for the last inning or two to finish the game threw his 500th strike which was the fastest record in MLB history. He was a fun pitcher to watch! We even got to see him throw a few 100 mph balls! (all the pics are on Ben’s phone though) Zakkai was so fascinated with watching the speeds of the balls so he was thrilled to see it reach 100! (and so was I, quite frankly:)

We lasted the whole game (11 innings!), only to have the Reds lose but it was still a blast and the kids all got certificates saying it was their first game and/or happy birthday. We were all hot and sweaty and exhausted by the time we left (it was almost a 5 1/2 hour game!) We got in bed late but happy and full of memories:)

Go Reds! (or as Ben says, those Stinking Reds!) haha.

Updates on the Thomas Clan!

I have to admit, I have been very tempted these past 2 weeks to just walk away from my blog forever and not come back. And yet, sigh, here I am again. I just can’t seem to completely stay away! I am just not sure at all the direction this blog should take, or if it’s worth the effort or if I should re-think what the purpose of this blog is for. I have to think about this!

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Pictures aren’t working as usual so you’ll have to excuse me for the wordiness!

We have been super busy this summer and this is the first week in over a month that we have been able to have a couple of days to just breathe. Yesterday, all we did was go over to my mom’s to give her animals some TLC (she’s out of town for a week and my stepdad works all day) and the boys poop-scooped for a little moolah. Wow, so exciting! Woo!

Today is quiet, too and I am thankful. As much as we loved having family in town, it is tiring to go go go everyday. Not to mention that we totally blew our budget on all the extra little ice cream trips and fun little things that go along with visiting family and holidays! Ouch.

We celebrated a couple of bdays last week. Our Samuel turned TEN last Monday! He is growing up so fast. His interests are changing, his attitude is varying day by day, he’s shooting up as fast as his sunflower plant outside, he is torn between growing up and staying a little kid! He even got kind of sad on the night of his birthday and said he didn’t want to be 10! But that is totally my mini-me right there. I didn’t want to grow up either. I was so sure I was going to live at home forever:) He’s a fun kid though. He gets more subtle humor now, which is fun and he has been so good about sharing what he thinks about/worries about; usually right at bedtime. We love that he thinks about things seriously and really wants to do the right thing and love God.

We had a Magic Mountain party for Samuel the Friday before his bday with his cousins, Mr Z and two friends from school. Magic Mountain is a fun place with an arcade, go karts, laser tag, bumper boats, etc. Everyone seemed to have a really great time! The only thing Samuel didn’t like was that he wasn’t quite tall enough for Go Karts so he had to ride the Rookie Karts and got stuck with the slowest one! Bummer. Other than that, he had a great time.

On Wednesday, I turned…older. I admit I wasn’t in a very good mood all day. For a number of reasons. I just woke up not excited at all and feeling a wee bit grouchy. But by the end of the day, I was feeling good! Ben got friends and family together and they all went in on a Vitamix for me and (all Ben’s idea!) we had a smoothie party that night. I was nervous because we don’t have a great place for entertaining because it’s very small and closed in downstairs and the parking situation is yuck but it all worked out! We crammed in 21 people (including us!) and cranked out smoothies and milkshakes all night! We made at least 6 kinds, I think. It was SO so fun. It was funny though because everyone was like, “Yeah, bring on more smoothies!” and then all at once, everyone reached their limit and were just done:)

Can I just say, that I could totally be a Vitamix Spokeswoman?? I ADORE my Vitamix!! I have had my eye on one forever, it seems. I just can’t even believe the night and day difference between it and my old blender. The blender worked decently for the past 5 years for us but it never mixed smoothies really well (you know, hunks of ice left in it and floating pieces of spinach….not exactly conducive for yumminess!) The Vitamix is freaking awesome! The consistency is absolutely amazing and I can’t believe what we can put in there and have it taste awesome! We put in fresh fruit, veggies, frozen fruits, ice, etc and wow. Everyday, wow! It makes so much and blends it to perfection and I just love that we are getting more fruits and veggies in our bodies than ever.

Our whole family is rocking’ the smoothie love every day. No one can get enough! I really can’t say enough about it and how much everyone should have one:) Okay, ad over now! (Can I get Vitamix to hire me???)
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Let’s see, other news….we are on the brink of making some really big decisions and oh, it’s a bit stressful! I guess I just need to get used to the fact that life is stressful as an adult and there aren’t going to be many times where things come easily or run peacefully. Not for our life anyways! We are trying to be at peace with the fact that for some reason, God has the Thomas family on the slow track. (i.e. Sllllloooooowwwwww.)

Nothing comes easily to us, as it seems to for most of the people we know. Jobs, houses, settledness, etc. Now, I know that those are external things and that we are learning some invaluable spiritual lessons, things we are passing on to our children. And I am truly thankful for that. I don’t want everything handed to me on a platter!

However….if I am really honest (which you know I like to be!), I would say that it would be nice to not have to struggle so hard to make ends meet or to have this giant school debt breathing down our necks or to be able to easily put our kids in sports or preschool or whatnot or to have a little home of our own so that we don’t have to throw away our hard-earned money anymore.

The good news is that while some of the things we face are tough and quite honestly, discouraging, we aren’t knocked down and devastated. We are just really trying to take things one day at a time and trust God to care for us and guide us in this great unknown journey of ours. A favorite verse(s) that I read yesterday:

Lamentations 3:21-25
“21 But this I call to mind,
    and <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20376B" data-link="(B)”>therefore I have hope:

22 <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20377C" data-link="(C)”>The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-ESV-20377a" data-link="[a]”>[a]
    <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20377D" data-link="(D)”>his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20378E" data-link="(E)”>every morning;
    <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20378F" data-link="(F)”>great is your faithfulness.
24 <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20379G" data-link="(G)”>“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20379H" data-link="(H)”>“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-20380I" data-link="(I)”>wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.”

Cousins!

 It has been a BUSY couple of weeks for us and it’s not stopping anytime soon! We had fun last Friday with the kiddos cousins from Ben’s side of the family. We got to see Inside Out” with them and Ben’s mom and we loved it!! (go see it!) Afterwards we ate pizza and played games. We love family time!

This week 2 of the kiddos Colorado cousins (my side of the fam) are in town. They are staying with my mom until tomorrow when they move over to our house! Wow, can we say 3 1/2 day long slumber party??? (I am already tired!!)

I have been doing cleaning jobs and then going to pick up my nephews to give my mom a break and let the cousins hang out. Yesterday we went swimming!

The boys are having an absolute blast together!

This was during rest time so they migrated to the splash pad part to stay wet while they were waiting:)

Eliana just jumps right in with all these boys! You can definitely tell she has brothers;)

Um, yes, the boys were being…boys!

Double floaties! She couldn’t decide which one to use;) She had SO much fun swimming with me while the boys were off playing together! I wish I could’ve gotten pictures while in the water. The boys were having jumping contest and the smiles on their faces made me so happy!


Getting dumped on!

Today after my cleaning, I picked the boys up and we all went to the Anthony Thomas factory for a tour! Turns out, it’s really close to where we live. Who knew?

Dylan being sweet for his mom:)

Samuel decided to copy Dylan for Father’s Day!

 Goofy Jackson!

Posing with the 235 pound Buckeye!! It only costs $3500…..

Eliana found a chocolate cross and wanted me to take a pic:) No pictures were allowed on the tour but we all enjoyed it! It takes about 20-25 minutes and you learn about how the company started, how chocolate is made and get to watch the workers and machines from above! Very cool. And you get treated with a free Buckeye;) (not a 200 lb one though!)

Afterwards, I attempted to wear them out at my mom’s with the slip n’ slide.

So thankful for sunshine!!

Eliana slips very easily!

Wipeout!

My kiddos stuck with it quite a bit longer than their cousins until I had to make them call it quits so we could clean up and go home. Eliana was SO exhausted tonight from all the fun and sun so she got to sleep early. The boys are tired, too, but a bit wound up from all the cousin fun!

Now I have to clean my own house and get ready for a house full of BOYS! Ah!

First Week of Summer!

 We survived our first week of summer…and actually had some fun, too! The kiddos had to come with me on a few cleaning jobs the first part of this week but they were mostly good sports about it and I tried to balance it out with fun stuff.

Bright and early Wednesday morning, we went strawberry picking! We broke the silence of the clearly serious strawberry pickers with our happy chatter and exclamations over the beautiful red strawberries we found!

And the kiddos all got to try one. Have to make sure they’re good!

Samuel’s strawberry blends in!

My niece ate more strawberries than she put in the box:)

Zakkai made it a goal to find the biggest strawberries he could!

                  Gosh, aren’t they beautiful??! They blow store strawberries out of the water!

Had to do something with the 11 pounds of strawberries! I made some Strawberry Honey Chia Seed Jam with a lot of it and made this absolutely delicious strawberry pie and some strawberry lemon muffins today! The rest I froze for smoothies:)

Then after strawberry picking we met one of my best friends and her girls at a splash park!

Braving the chilly weather;) It was in the mid-60s but none of the kiddos cared! They stripped down and ran into the water. They were a little chilly but stayed active so they had fun!

The boys getting dumped on by a bucket of water:)
 We stayed there for a few hours, eating lunch, playing in the water and on the playground next to it. Then on our way out, the kids wanted to stand on the park amphitheater stage and put on a little show:) Eliana just twirled and had so much fun. I love her serious face!

Chilly!!

Yesterday, I packed up a picnic lunch and we hung out at the park for awhile, after running a few errands. It was a beautiful day! Look how big she’s getting!

She loves to climb!

All 3 kiddos loved this climbing thing (whatever it’s called!) and spent a long time trying to master it;)

Samuel was so determined to figure out how to get around it.

He worked for so long but finally had to give up. Maybe next time!

Eliana, thoroughly enjoying her peanut butter and homemade jelly sandwich:)

Silly girl!

Then last night, we got to go on a date!! My mom came to pick up the kids and we headed out on our first date since Feb! It was much needed time, especially with all the busyness these days. We had a really good time. We went to our new favorite restaurant “Amul India” where we practically groaned with pleasure while we ate. Seriously. Amazing food.

Then we picked out a new paint-by-number to start! We so loved doing the one last spring and finally got a frame for it to hang it up! We spent the last part of our date getting ice cream and taking a long walk in the park until the thunderstorm started. It was refreshing (the date, not the storm!) and just what we needed!

A great first week of summer!

Pictures and Updates!

I have a few new updates for our situation (and prayer requests!) but first a few pictures of our summer fun:)

A few weeks ago, we went to the zoo with the boys’ cousins. It was our first trip to the Columbus Zoo; hot but fun! They had so much fun together!

The boys had their last soccer practice of the summer last week! It was a beautiful night, too. We had a lot of fun watching them all summer, except for the week we sat in the chilly rain to cheer them on;)

After the last practice, Ben’s mom (Grandma!) treated us all to ice cream at the local Dairy Queen wanna-be. It was a great night for ice cream!

Zakkai, if you can’t tell, had a very blue raspberry slushy! Either that or he’s really cold;)

Ah! He was very proud of that blue tongue!

Copying her brother:) She looks like a little orphan Annie with the dirt all over her face. She face-planted into the dirty mulch on the little playground while Samuel and Zakkai were playing soccer.

And a few days ago, we met some friends at a cute park to play.

It was really hot out in the sun so we were practically melting by the time we left!

Two of my cuties:)

And this past weekend, the kids and I drove to Dayton to meet with some of our old house group cronies! And by old, I mean long-time, not old! We went to the Cox Arboretum and had a lot of fun checking out their different gardens, the Butterfly house and even a maze! This was a really cool tree house tower that we climbed. Samuel is at the WAY top:)

Here is Zakkai in the maze.

Eliana and her friend A. were having fun running around until Eliana fell into a bush. Then all her tiredness came to the fore and she hung out in the stroller for awhile.

We went into the Butterfly House, which was sadly lacking butterflies but had lots of caterpillars! I pulled out my fun camera and snapped a couple of cool (I thought!) pictures. This was a really pretty green and black striped caterpillar. No idea what kind but pretty still!

And this big guy was hanging on having a little lunch:) Such cool little creatures!
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And for a few little updates on our situation for those who are interested:)

1. Ben now has 3 (count ’em THREE) part-time jobs! He works about 60 hours a week. One of them should become full-time soon and while the most least-likely job for my Dr. guy, has been an absolute blessing in the 8 days he has worked there so far. He gets rave-reviews from all of his co-workers and even led someone to the Lord yesterday! Wow. It is a really cool story! We don’t see him very much since he is working like a dog, which is really hard but we are so proud of him. His third part-time job (painting) will end in the next week or two and will ease his schedule and that will help.

2. We found a house that we, okay I, (because Ben couldn’t come see it) fell in love with and put in an application to rent it today. We should hear back probably tomorrow sometime if they will choose us or not. We SO need a place to live a soon as possible with school starting in the next 2 weeks. The house was falling apart from neglect when the owner of a local company bought it and completely gutted it and is re-doing it. Literally a brand-new house from the inside out! New dry wall, new roof, siding, floors, kitchen, etc. My mom and Samuel and I went to see it yesterday and it was so beautiful! Please, please pray that this works out and if not, for God to provide something else soon.

3. I got to talk to the principal of the local school yesterday (just in case we get to rent the house!) and she was absolutely wonderful to talk to. She was busy with meetings but took a good 45 minutes in between to call me and answer all of my questions. I felt a lot of peace, should our boys go there this year. But #2 has to happen before we can register them!

We feel like things are on the verge of coming together. It has been a struggle this summer and we have had some ups and downs but the past couple of weeks, have really felt God speaking to us about trusting in Him and waiting on His provision for us. He has given us a lot of peace right now, even in the midst of the unknowns and we are incredibly thankful!

Hopefully I will have more good news soon!