Be.

I recently signed up for a daily email that gives me an advent word and an image to pray over and reflect upon each day. I thought it would help me take time, precious time, out of my too-busy days to be still and spend some time with my Father.

Today’s word just happened to be….BE. When I think of the word “be” I think of stillness. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Such powerful words! But how often are we still?

We live in a society of “do.” I live a life of “do!” I “do” from the minute I wake up until the minute I finally fall asleep! And it is exhausting. I want to get to a place of being. Where I am soaking in the presence of a mighty God who loves me. A place where I can stop worrying about all that I have to do, all I have to accomplish, all I have to “be” for those around me and just be still and know that God is in control. I can relinquish my control, my worries, my to-do list.

When you have a moment, reflect on the word “be.” What does it mean to you? How can you just be today. Before God? With others?

If you are interested in a daily advent email, here’s a link to the website where you can sign up. Just click on sign-up and enter your name and email and that’s it! You will receive an email from “SSJE,” which is “Saint John the Evangelist.” Join me in making this season a thoughtful one, instead of getting caught up in the to-do’s!

Thanksgiving 2016

I have to admit that I am glad Thanksgiving is over! I just wasn’t quite feeling up to all the craziness but ready or not, it came…..and went! All of my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews came into town so it was busy.

Sunday night, when everyone came in, they all came over to our house for pizza. It was a really nice time for us all to reconnect and briefly catch up in a relaxed atmosphere!

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Monday, we had a Ladies Lunch at a cute place called the Morgan House. Not all of the women in our family were able to come but it was still special!  We got someone to take our picture:) (the angle made everyone look weird! No, I am not pregnant….) And Monday night, my brother-in-law organized a Men’s/Boy’s night out at an OSU basketball game! It was a fun day for all.

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We got a last minute family photo on Thanksgiving! It’s so rare for all of us to be together that we need to take advantage of it. A good-looking crew!

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One of my sisters organized a pie-eating contest which was a big hit! It was actually super fun. We divided people into age categories. Everyone was cheering and chanting names! Zakkai, Sofia and Dylan’s group won the first round!

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The pre-teen/teen group was LAME! They showed typical teen effort….;)

We were even able to talk my older cousins (20s) into doing it and it was hilarious! Wish I had pictures of that…..One of my cousins ate 5 pieces of pie! (and the rest of us felt a little sick….)

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These little cuties spent as much time together as possible! They call each other the three little girl musketeers:)  It was so special to watch all of the cousins renew bonds and enjoy their time together.

I am totally ready for a break in socializing though! Holidays are exhausting….

Mama Breakdown.

I am feeling so discouraged tonight. It’s one of those days where I want to throw in the towel and send the kids to school where a teacher can do a much better job than me. Not to discourage anyone from homeschooling or anything but….it’s really hard!

I am mom and teacher combined 24/7 and it’s quite frankly, exhausting. I’m really tired. Yesterday, I actually shunned my Sunday afternoon nap in lieu of wandering around Kohl’s by myself for an hour. I just really needed some time not to be needed. Not to talk. Not to think about anything important. Not to focus on all the areas where I have messed up. Not to be anything but a random shopper, lost in the afternoon crowd.

I rarely get time to myself. I think I offended an acquaintance when I didn’t go to her baby shower last month because Ben was working a weekend sale and I would’ve had to bring all three kids with me and I just.couldn’t.do.it. They come with me everywhere!

We go to the bank together, the grocery store, my cleaning jobs, ballet, tae kwon do, drs appointments, car repair appointments, dentist appointments. Everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore them. I really do and if I write long enough, I’ll have to justify my negativity with all the great stuff I love about being a mom and homeschooling.

But this post isn’t about that. It’s about me being real and letting down my guard for 5 seconds to say that tonight I feel like a really bad mom and teacher. We had a tough morning, an ok afternoon and then when we had our family round-up meeting tonight, we had to rehash some stuff with the boys and we all walked away feeling “Ick.”

Okay, ready for real, non-Pinteresty, non-facebooky life? This morning, I was so frustrated with the boys’ attitudes over their speech class and assignment (an ongoing problem) that after 2 hours of trying to work with them, I left the room almost in tears, shut myself in my bedroom for 5 minutes, screamed once in my pillow, did 50 jumping jacks and 10 hard-core push-ups (I think I figured out the secret to good push-up! Stress!) and got down on my knees and asked God for help.

Then we took a break and ripped out the rest of the dead plants in the garden (also good for stress!) and I left the kids digging in the dirt while I went in to make lunch.

Mondays are tough. Monday is a very full day of getting back into routine, lots of school work, ballet and TKD. We get home at 7:45, eat dinner around 8pm and don’t get everyone in bed until after well after 9pm, which is late for a certain little kindergartner, I know.

I’m just so glad that tomorrow is a new day and that the Lord’s compassions and mercies are new each morning. I really need that.

 

Fall Camping!

We went on our annual fall camping trip with my parents a couple of weeks ago (finally!) after our many delays and we had a great time! We went to a state park we had never been before and while our campsites weren’t our very favorite, we scouted out several future sites because we loved the park so much!

Ben came straight from work and we were very proud to show him we had set everything up all by ourselves!  It took the boys and I a couple of tries to get that darn tent up! The boys are pros at setting up their own tent though:)

I was SO bad about taking pictures this time. My camera card is filled up and I’ve yet to empty it (a hundred million other things on the priority list!) and my phone has limited space, too.

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We got to the campground Thursday afternoon and spent most of it setting up our sites (which means making a “kitchen/eating area,” pitching tents, getting firewood and sticks, etc. Friday morning we took a walk on a trail that was so pretty! Here are Ben and the boys standing on a giant tree growing over water.

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Ben, being reflective:)

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For the boys, the absolute highlight of our camping trips are the fires and collecting walking sticks:) Here is my adorable Z-man carrying almost more sticks than he could handle! And unfortunately, my hands were too full to take pictures on Saturday when he was carrying sticks twice this long back to the campsite. He loved every second of it!

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Knowing how E reacts to bug bites, I did some research and bought these “really great” natural mosquito repellent bands to wear around our wrist and ankles. E was bitten with in an hour of being there and it started swelling immediately! I remained hopeful about these bands until Ben pointed out the mosquito hanging out 2 inches above the band on his wrist. Sigh. E ended up having a few bites that she reacted badly to and we had to continuously put cream on them. (Note to self: remember the calamine lotion next time!!!)

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My mom invited my sister and niece to drive up Friday morning so the two girlies painted rocks together and we went on a walk and they had the best time! Eliana can hold her own with her big bros but bring a little girl around and the princess in her comes out!

And speaking of the princess….she’s about to turn SIX on Thursday! Wait..what?! She has been anxiously counting down the days and has appropriately changed her favorite number from five to…six! I love the pure kid-joy of birthdays. (wish I still felt the same way!)

More to come soon!

 

 

Late Night Musings….

My life is so full and busy in this season that blogging seemed like a natural thing to put by the wayside but recently I find myself thinking about it more often and wondering if I have lost everyone in my remissness? (is that a word?!) I often think of my friends in IL and CO and my family in TX and other friends I have made along the way that are in various states and countries. I miss you all!

I miss the days of blogging and excitedly checking to see who checked and loving the comments and the feeling of “connecting,” however remotely, with people. So… who knows. Maybe you’ll be seeing more of me!

Please, leave a comment, email me, text me and let me know if you’re still reading and what you’d like to hear about!!

Tonight’s Thoughts:

  1. We had our annual fall camping trip planned for this weekend but we had to reschedule due to thunderstorms and lots of rain! The weather forecast grew progressively worse over the past few days. We were able to reschedule for next weekend but this is the third time Ben has had to reschedule his day off for this trip so we decided no matter if we have to call off or not next week, he keeps Friday off and we will find something FUN to do!
  2. Samuel had his first orthodonics appt. this morning. He is in need of a pallet expander but unfortunately, takes after his mama and still has 8 baby teeth to get out of the way til that happens! My boys are sooooooo slow to lose teeth. They’ve both lost 8, the top and bottom 4 and then they just…stop. Zakkai even lost his two front teeth and they didn’t come in for 8-9 months!
  3. No one else came down with Samuel’s awful illness, thank the Lord! We have been fighting off minor colds but nothing has become full blown so we are doing good!
  4. Eating Paleo/Gluten-free is for the birds. Sometimes I really regret that we headed down this path because we miss a lot of foods and gluten-free stuff is mostly yucky. And I have had to learn to bake all over again and nothing tastes the same!! But the honest truth is, (and I am reluctantly admitting this at the moment!) I am mostly glad. We feel better, we are healthier and we improved our eating habits so much. The boys and I are a wee bit on the skinny side and I am constantly plagued with what to do about that but everyone seems healthy so I try not to worry and just keep plugging along.
  5. Eliana is going to turn SIX in a few weeks. I can’t even really comprehend that…
  6. I am NOT loving the too-warm temperatures that took over our summer and have lingered into the fall. I want more and more of these open-the-window, wear-jeans-and-light-sweaters, and drink-tea kind of days. I want a real fall!! Today was 64 and SO rainy. That is my least favorite weather combo. Cold and rainy. You feel it down to your bones! The good new is….
  7. It’s soup season!!! I love my soups! And I can salvage most of my favorites even with the new eating so that is good! I made an AMAZING homemade tomato soup yesterday. It was so fresh and flavorful. I don’t even like tomato soup and I loved it!
  8. Our garden continues to rage out of control. I actually murdered my daughter’s cucumber plant last week. No joke. We had 20 cucumbers sitting on the counter; I sent 5 with Ben to work that day and picked 4 more in the garden and hit my cucumber limit! This was after weeks and weeks of too many cucumbers. We like cucumbers but you can’t freeze them unless you go through this pickling process that I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR!!! So I killed it. Totally ripped it out and stuffed it in a trash bag and buried it in the dumpster. And I don’t feel guilty!!! At least not too much…
  9. I picked 44 tomatoes yesterday. We have seriously gotten at least 300 tomatoes this year and those are just the regular size. Don’t get me started on the cherry tomatoes!!! I have made pasta sauce, tomato soup, canned diced/pureed tomatoes, canned salsa,  caprese salad and cucumber tomato salad, given gobs of tomatoes away…. and I still have so many on the counter!! And the fruit flies…Oy. The tomatoes are out.of.control.
  10. My sweet potato plant has taken over the garden. It has wound its way into Eliana’s garden and it is climbing up the fence and out of the garden! We should be able to harvest it soon, I think! That should be our last big crop. (I am ignoring the fact that we still have tons of green tomatoes preparing to over take the garden momentarily….

Okey dokey. Top 10 thoughts of the night and now I need to make myself go to bed, as much as I do not want to give up my moments of solitude and peace, because tomorrow is coming all too soon…..

I’m Alive!

It’s been in the back of my mind to blog for awhile but with the start of school, all of my brain cells have been occupied!

We are beginning week 5 of our second year of homeschooling. We are off to a much better start this year! Ben and I sat down together and came up with a good point reward/consequence system for the kids. We have “8 o’clock round-up” every night, which means we check what color the kids ended up on that day and dole out points accordingly. Then on Thursday nights we have a weekly family meeting to talk about how the week went and let us all air our thoughts, concerns, etc. The kids are earning weekly, monthly and quarterly rewards depending on their points!

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It has helped SO much to have this accountability. Samuel tends to struggle with not giving his best and this has been a good motivator for him~not only the points but having constant check-ins and accountability. They all are doing really well!

Samuel is 11 and in 6th grade this year. His new favorite subjects are science and History (we are doing Ancient History this year.) He was the first to reach a “Red day” status, which is the highest color they can get! He is a big reader these days and devoured some big series this summer like “Harry Potter.” He is really fast when he runs and is now only 4 inches shorter than me! He isn’t quite sure what he wants to do someday but there is plenty of time!

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Zakkai is 9 1/2 and in 4th grade. He is eager to learn and flies through his work with little to no problems. I have to make him stop and ask for help because he would just keep on going:) He is loving science, math and history this year! He is obsessed with cars (obsessed) and can take you make/model and often the year of cars we pass, especially sports cars! He hopes to own a Ford Mustang or an Acura NSX someday:) He also plans to open a mechanic shop!

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Eliana is 5 1/2 and in Kindergarten!! She said that she is excited to be in Kindy this year because it means she gets to work harder:) She is finding the work pretty easy so I am working to keep her challenged! She also has better handwriting than the boys already. Is that a girl thing??? She is reading like a champ, loves to play for hours and is CRAZY about her stuffed animals. She usually bring one with her everywhere:) She is really loving and sweet!

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We scaled back on a couple extracurricular activities to make sure our school year gets underway well first. We aren’t doing Awana this year, much to E’s disappointment but it is a bit of a relief to have one less thing to rush off to for now. We will see what we can add in at a later point. We took a break from Tae Kwon Do for the summer but started back again last month and Zakkai just got his Blue One belt! That’s a blue with a black stripe for those of us who aren’t up and up on our TKD lingo:) (Z had to correct me!) He is feeling really good about this accomplishment!

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Eliana started her ballet/tap class again, which is a bit longer this year. She loves it and still dreams of being a Prima Ballerina someday! She is also over-the-moon happy that her class leotard color is purple:)

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Samuel isn’t doing a sport at the moment now that baseball is over but we are looking into that. Both boys are in a Speech class for school. It’s all about building confidence in public speaking and writing speeches, etc. To say they were not excited about it would be an understatement but I think it will be really good for them! They had their first class a couple weeks ago and reluctantly admitted that it was “okay.”

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Samuel got very sick with a stomach virus last Tuesday. He was fine when we were out and then we got home at dinnertime and he went downhill fast. He had horrible vomiting and diarrhea for 17 hours. He woke up Wednesday with these red blood-shot eyes and a fever and once he stopped vomiting around lunchtime, he slept ALL day or just laid in bed with these super-sick, vacant staring eyes. It was really sad. I called his drs office but decided to wait to get him in and the nurse gave me things to watch out for.

By Thursday, he started vomiting again and still had continued diarrhea and his fever was 102.4 all day. He looked horrible. I got him into the drs that afternoon and he was so weak, I had to help him walk. The dr weighed him and he’d lost 5 lbs in 2 days. Just walked to the scale made him vomit again right there in the office. It was awful! The dr prescribed him Zofran and said the next step was the ER if he didn’t start drinking more and got any worse. I got him the meds and gave him his first dose at 4:30pm. He was sick as soon as we got home but then fell asleep immediately.

During making dinner, I kept going up and checking on him and trying to make him take a tiny sip of some special water I made him with water, honey, lemon and salt. When I brought E and Z in to put them to bed, Samuel was acting very strangely and couldn’t speak intelligibly and didn’t know where he was. I woke up Ben immediately (he was really tired that night!) and said I needed to take Samuel to the hospital. He had to carry Samuel to the car, he was so weak and sick:( It was just heartbreaking. I was shaking, I was so scared!

I got him to the ER and Ben’s mom came to sit with me and to help be Samuel’s champion:) I had to ask the security guard’s help to get S out of the car and into a wheelchair. He just stared off into space with those red eyes, looking awful. They finally got him back and it seemed like forever before they got him hooked up to an I.V. and gave him some more anti-nausea meds. He had the absolute best nurses. The nurse/phlebotomist who put in the i.v. port and drew blood was truly amazing. He had the best bedside manner and was incredibly gentle with Samuel. They gave him 2 bags of fluid and after the first one, which they put on a very fast drip, he started to look better quickly. His color looked better, his fever went down, heart rate went down, blood pressure up, etc. He was still really out of it and had a hard time answering questions and responding.

After a few hours, the dr said he needed to respond, get up and walk, drink juice, etc or she would have to admit him to Children’s. Thank the Lord, he cooperated and they were able to get apple juice in him and he took a short walk. We got home around 12:30am and I gave him more Zofran because he was nauseous again. He fell asleep right away but was up within an hour and was horribly sick all over the bathroom. It took a long time to get him and everything all cleaned up and disinfected. I finally got him in bed but was up every hour or so checking on him and trying to get him to take a sip of liquid. He was so out of it when I tried to get him up that he was making no sense and I couldn’t get him to sit up. I was so worried and my imagination was running wild. I spent the night pretty much checking on him, praying and worrying!

I felt HORRIBLE when I woke up. We totally spent the day in jammies with me like a zombie. Samuel was SO weak and slept most of the day. His fever climbed through the day and we got him in bed early.

The good news is he has been fever-free since Saturday morning! He is skinny and weak and still has occasional diarrhea and an unexpected vomiting episode before bed last night which discouraged us a lot but he slept really well. He sleeps so long and deeply which I know his body needs. He was able to hold down tea, some chia seed pudding and a few crackers this morning. We are hoping to get his appetite increasing soon so he can get his strength back and put some weight on! This definitely ranks as his worst sickness:( Eliana and Zakkai have just been a wreck worrying about him. E came in the kitchen on Wednesday and said, “I wish I was sick instead of Samuel.” Such a tender heart!

And I’ll leave you with some pictures of our beautiful Fur Child:) Ornery and sweet!

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Taking over my computer so I couldn’t do work!:)
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Love those beautiful aqua eyes!
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Squeezing himself in a too-small box:)

 

Summertime!

How’s your summer going?

A seemingly innocent question frequently asked when you run into people or catch up after awhile. I don’t know about you but I’ve been asked that several times in the past few weeks and to be honest, I immediately feel this pressure to say something wild and crazy, exciting and adventurous. As if that is what is expected.

But the truth? Our family is not wild, crazy, exciting or adventurous! Maybe we used to be a little more but these days we are very low-key. Homebodies, if you will. We have no money for excited, exotic vacations. I have no desire to post the latest, most-excited pictures of our adventures on Facebook just so I can get a bunch of “likes” to make me feel better. (although, who doesn’t feel good about all the “likes?!”)

Our summertime is going well. It isn’t exciting. It isn’t very adventurous. It isn’t up-to-standard. But it’s us. 

We have been swimming several times at a friend’s pool. We have been having playdates at parks or people’s houses. We have celebrated a couple of birthdays. We went camping for one night the weekend after Samuel’s birthday (just our family!) We make a day trip to Dayton to meet some friends at a museum and spent a day at COSI with them this weekend. We occasionally go to different farmer’s markets on the weekend together. We catch up with family and friends via FaceTime or phone calls. The kids are doing VBS this week.

We also have days where we “hide out.” We don’t answer the phone. We just stay home and read, play legos, organize messy spaces, watch a movie or play Wii. We play our new favorite board game “Survive” as a family. We putter around in our garden and get a thrill every time we discover a new giant zucchini or some ripe tomatoes! We grill out sometimes. I am practicing my new Paleo baking skills so I can feed my family occasional treats:) Ben and I have even gotten to go on a date this summer, thanks to Grandma!

I want to learn not to feel that pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s, not materially speaking but even in what we “do.” I just want to be us and be okay with that.

So, if you ask me what we’re up to this summer…..we’re just hanging out and being “the Thomas’s.” And that’ okay with us:)