Monday, December 26, 2011

i cant believe it's over

wow!! did christmas fly by or what? it seems like it to me. but then again, i'm older & every year flies by at light speed now. it seems to me that i just had levi, esther, asher & abigail all at the same time. that elizabeth should still enjoy wearing dresses on a daily basis & playing with dolls & that rachel should be the chatty little girl who constantly asked questions....oh wait...she still is very chatty!
i find it hard to believe that asher will be 5 in just 14 days. that rachel will be 17 in february...did i really just type that 17...can you hear me saying that in disbelief? when did she grow up? 17. that's insane. i dont feel old....that's not the problem...i just cant believe my first sweet rachel (who is still sweet)...just has grown up so fast. i will never forget mr. bobby hartman telling me that i would blink & she would be grown. he was right. i blinked. and i really tried not to. one reason we homeschool - is a purely selfish one. i want my kids with me. i dont want to miss a thing with them. i dont want to share them with other people (well most days - but when they are being wild & unruly i will share them with the strangers at walmart if they would take them so i could get a nap!) and i realize that as much as i try to not miss anything...i am. it's unfortunate & unintended, but unavoidable. i am trying to not take any of them for granted. trying to choose the important battles. trying to laugh & make memories with them. trying to enjoy them...all of them. i am trying to build relationships with them so that even as they grow - grow up &  move out into their own lives - that our relationships will be ones that are alive and enjoyable to each of us. i want to be a vital part of their lives so that i dont have to miss a thing.

this christmas we did something a little different. we saved milk jugs & put luminaries in them and had them line our drive way on christmas eve & christmas day. all of us got out & worked on them. we filled them with sand, put little lights in them, lit them & ooohhhed & ahhhhhed over them when it got dark & they were glowing so prettily in the night. (i dont have a picture of them glowing in the night).
here are a few shots of us outside setting them up.
i have no clue who was taking pictures. these are very random & even blurry...but it was fun & the kids all had a good time outside...even if it was a bit nippy. between the dogs & the was fun. that's why i wanted to do time, doing something special (to us anyway) and different, that had us all working together and having fun. even levi was outside in his push car enjoying the outside. asher pushed him around all over the yard. esther filled the jugs up with the sand. she did an excellent job & was completely diligent until all 36 were filled. elizabeth made sure the candle wicks were standing up so they would light easily. rachel helped set each jug in place. abigail helped put the actual tea light down inside the jug. clay got the measuring tape & actually measured between each jug down the driveway so they would be more even & wouldnt look just half heartedly thrown out in the driveway. as you can see i was trying to light them or something. this would be one of my favorite things we did this christmas. the other thing that we did that i enjoyed was we went to a little baptist church on Christmas Day (our church cancelled services) and we all fit on one pew - we filled it up...and clay was on one end & i was on the other. all of the kids were between us. we sang "Hark The Herald Angels Sing". that was probably my favorite moment of Christmas.

we had just finished. she was hamming it up for whoever was taking pictures! she can be such a pleasant child. and she has an amazing ability to see what needs to be done for a 2 1/2 year old and do it ....if she feels like it. for instance, if there is trash on the floor & she sees it...she will pick it up & put it in the trash. i dont have children who do that usually. the others will step over the trash about 100 times before i scream at them to pick it up & throw it away & they will say "oh i didnt see it." right...even a blind man could see it! but not esther....she has that inate ability to take initiative to do what needs to be done.

and for the record, i love christmas. it is my favorite time of the year. i love making my children happy. i enjoy baking. i love the music. i love the decorations. people are so good to one another.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, words by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn
(3rd verse is my favorite!)

Hark the herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

late night/early morning

it's 3:47AM and i am wide awake. i had to put ribbons on about ....well not about, but exactly 103 christmas ornaments. those ornaments with the glitter & paint in them that i showed you in an earlier post...well they are finished - as finished as they are getting this year - & will be off to clay's work tomorrow*ahem*today to hand out to his employees. i love them. they are so random & they are all different (the ornaments, not the employees - even tho they are all random & different also....and i like the ones i know!)
so i did that & now i'm just not sleepy. and really what's the point? it's almost 4AM. i guess i could get 2 hours of sleep. i have to wrap presents today & put abigail & esther's dollhouse together. i'm done baking.
on saturday i have to get the food for Sunday started...the dressing, gravy, potato salad, deviled eggs...chill the cranberry sauce, make sure the turkey is ready to warm (we get a honey baked turkey breast that is plenty for us - we also have ham). i know i'm forgetting something but i will remember soon enough..maybe it's sweet potatoes. oh well. it doesnt matter.

anyway, i was just going to post a few pictures of my favorite things from Christmas this year.
I really love these glitter animals. particularly the goats & the deer. call me crazy but i love them. we also have a big horse (the rump is in the picture with the goat) and some moose along with the rest of the forest!


and i bought this glass bottle at the thrift store & it struck me so i bought it. being a sound, proud Southerner i really should be ashamed & should have just bought the bottle to smash it to little pieces...but i has a picture of General Tecumsah Sherman....the very Sherman who ordered Hot Lanta burned oh so many years ago. i havent figured out what i am going to do with it for now it sits on my counter...waiting.

 White's Good Services (I think is their name)...sent with their Christmas card, a coloring picture page for any child a certain age to color, mail back to them & the best one would be picked & given a $25 Toys R Us gift card. Abigail was the only one in the age group that could turn a picture in so she did. Well we received an envelope back today from White's Good Services with what felt like a gift card in it. Abigail opened it & immediately got excited because they had returned her picture with a note on it. She didnt win first place, but she did win a $5 gift card to Skinny Dip Yogurt for her effort. I was so happy for her. The picture was of a family reading about Jesus.

so we know i cant post a blog hardly these days without a picture of flashy. i love this dog. he is the best dog in the world. he looks like he is smiling with his eyes in this picture.

here is elizabeth. she is so helpful with everything. she is growing so fast into a young woman. we have started letting her wear lightly tinted lipgloss. that made her very happy. we are taking baby steps.

Esther wallowing around, waiting on supper. Esther loves those yellow ankle high duck boots. they zip up & are easy on & off. She wore them all day....& yes, i purchased them at the thrift store, in excellent condition for very little money.

here is asher drinking my diet coke

here is rachel from her last week at Co-Op...she had to give a speech so she dressed up. such a beautiful young woman.

here are a few of levi, 1 brushing his teeth after he had smeared toothpaste all over himself, 1 looking out the window, which he can now walk to & 1 with Clay, hamming it up for the camera. levi has an uncanny knack for knowing that he is the baby, the center of attention, & he uses it to his full advantage. it's amazing to me that a 13 month old knows that, but he does! totally!

and these last 2 are of me. i didnt know that rachel had been taking pictures of me. the only reason i am posting them is because i can tell i'm losing weight. 17lbs down is a big deal! the 2nd one was of me giving rachel a scowl for taking my picture! it is what it is!  

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

because rachel said so

well things are pretty bad when rachel has to tell me to post a blog update! it has just been way busy around here. i feel like i'm drowning & i hate feeling this way around Christmas time. i want to enjoy this time of the year rather than rush through it.
the kids are so excited......i havent been able to put presents under the tree yet because i dont want to hear the whining for them & i dont trust asher, esther or levi not to rip the packages open - but i totally understand their excitement & anticipation.
i am going to start baking tomorrow - more than the 1 batch of brownies i have already made & the 2 batches of chocolate chip cookies we made. and i realized this year that the tollhouse chocolate chip cookies recipe that makes right at 4 dozen cookies from one batch are the best ever. those lasted barely a full 24 hours in our house.
i am going to make fudge, peppermint chocolate rolls, pumpkin rolls, brownies, cookies, special gummy many different things. i'm giving a lot of it as gifts along with my canned jams & salsa.

there isnt too much to really talk about or that i am allowed to put on here for the whole world to read.
levi is almost "really" walking. he is so proud of himself. that boy has us all enthralled with him.

i have one caution that i will share with you & then some pictures: if you are trying to lose weight (like i am - 17lbs down so far!! roughly 25lbs more to go!!) do not get anywhere near the white chocolate reese's cup christmas trees. they are sooooo good & so addicting! it's so bad for me that i had to throw them into the top of the cabinet where i cant reach them without getting a chair to stand on to get them back down! you have been warned!!

this is levi taking a bath. he loves taking a bath! i couldnt get him out. he played in there until he was shivering - as i drained the water before i let him play in the tub by himself.

Elizabeth thought it was funny to put one of Esther's dress-up wigs on Levi. As you can tell from the picture, Levi was not happy with the idea. Elizabeth had also put Asher's white church shirt & tie on Levi & she was calling him a doctor. I'm not sure how that all worked but it didnt last long as Levi did start to fuss to get the wig off.

Levi after church today. He is so cute in his raccoon hat & little Baby Gap Peacoat!!

Levi standing in the middle of the floor and taking steps. Just a few here & there. It wont be long & he will be running. Such a precious little man!

ok, ignore the wrinkles under my eye. i took this picture of my eye & sent it to rachel's phone via text message & told her i was watching her. she said it was creepy! i thought it was funny.

we went to a friend's house on Wednesday & raked the pine straw up out of their yard. she is very nice to let us have it & we are blessed to have it as well. it helps in our garden in the summer - keeping the plants hydrated. i thought levi looked sweet sitting there in the grass. it was a beautiful day & it wasnt really that cold at all. we are going back the week after christmas.

this is rachel at our local thrift store trying on fur coats. she really wants one. they remind her of Narnia. if i can find one in good condition i will buy her one some day. the only issue is this particular one made her nose & eyes start to itch. she was so cute trying on that old fur coat. & they wanted $69 for it. that was a bit out of our price range for a fur coat with bare spots!

and here are the 4 wild ones in the bath tub last night. i know it seems a bit much to put 4 in the bath tub together but it can be easier & quicker. i do think abigail needs to start taking her own.....and asher wont be far behind. right now it is just so convenient to get it done quickly and they still love taking baths together. abigail hasnt hit that embarrassed stage yet but i do feel it's coming. these kids are so much fun. they love each other, they love their mom, dad & older sisters. they love Jesus, animals & chewing gum (except for levi who doesnt chew gum yet).  they are so special & sweet & i am madly in love with them all.
Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 5, 2011


well it's december & christmas time. i love christmas. i enjoy the baking & crafting that goes with it. i love the warm wishes. the kindness of strangers. i love that it's the time of the year where most people just really are more considerate of one another. (well...depending on the person i suppose) i love that it's a time of reflection & a time of hope that in the new year it's a restart or the hope of a better year. a new beginning of sorts.
i really am making a point in 2012 to be more purposeful. i am not making resolutions as I never keep those but i am striving to just be better in Christ.
i want to be more purposeful in my spending habits. keep & stick to our decided budget. stay disciplined. i get a anxious when i think about clothing all 6 of the kids. i get anxious when i think about our food bill or wanting a swimming pool or about the failing economy or thinking about my sister not having a job, or about trying to take a vacation with the family since we havent in years - since rachel was the only child! or when i think about what i will need for the new year of education curriculum for the kids, or rachel starting college in the fall of 2012 (dual enrollment). when that happens & i get anxious...i tend to spend money. it makes no sense i know. its my addiction i guess. it's emotional. and it's a problem.  so what my plan is, when i get anxious, is try to go to my crafting supplies & make use of them...make something. use what i have & make something instead of going out & buying something. when i get anxious about the kids clothes, take inventory & get a list of what they really need - not what we want for them. when i get anxious about their educational curriculum needs....take inventory of what i i have tons! many different years, many different books. go to the library. borrow from friends. also i am not carrying my debit card with me on a daily basis. i think that will help also.

one thing i will say is this: clay & i have never been on the same page when it comes to our money in regards to how we look at saving & spending. how we look at budgeting & what it takes to care for a family of 8. but we are finally on the same page. granted we still dont look at things the same, but we are at a place where everything is out on the table. where there are no secrets or no hidden credit cards (yep i have had those). i will even be completely honest here.... (to Clay's dismay)...we are completely debt free - COMPLETELY!!! we want to call up Dave Ramsey & hear him play mel gibson's "FREEEEEEDDDOOOOOMMMMMMM!" for us. we just havent done it. so we are at a place where we are working together. clay is getting a better understanding of what it cost to clothe, fed & educate the family.  (he has for years just turned his checks over to me & i did everything) i am also back to using coupons, shopping deals, taking better inventory of what we have & differentiating between need & want. granted clay would still say that i can be excessive & i would still say that he can be cheap...but at least we are being honest about it & talking about it.
i do have going for me that i LOVE shopping at the thrift store - one particular one - CHKD on Battlefied Blvd. they have the very best clothes, purses,! they had a kate spade bag - very cute - in there the other day for $4. it was in excellent condition. i almost bought it & thought to sell it on ebay but i then thought, well i have no clue if it's a i left it. they also had a emille m huge purse/bag that i loved for $8...and it was not a fake for sure....but i left it because $8 was out of my price range. but what i did get was 2 pair of nice fleece pants from Old Navy for Abigail, 2 jumpers from Gymboree for Levi, 2 body hugging shirts for Asher (i'm not sure what they are called, but they feel like a silkie nylon type material that keeps the sweat off of the body, but also keeps the warmth in)...he hates to wear undershirts - the long sleeved t's under his short sleeved shirts...but these are supposedly "cool" to i got them & he is wearing the red one as i type under his ironman costume! I also got elizabeth a new pair of "notw" converse like shoes. i was able to get Levi a very nice talking tonka truck to add to his christmas since he probably has the smallest amount - which isnt a big deal as he wont care. i was able to get abigail a needed fashionable jacket from Target & rachel a new pair of "lounge" type pants. they are kind of like yoga pants. oh & i was able to get asher a pair of cargo pants in off white from the children's place. i paid maybe $35. oh & i got esther a dress & a shirt from the children's place. all cute, fashionable, still in style, barely worn....and best of all -  cheap. now could they have done without all of these things. oh yes. BUT these things add to their wardrobes, will be passed down & around through siblings & friends - most likely, definitely used & i hardly paid $2 an item for quality clothing!! i buy most of my girls pants/jeans at this thrift store & lately our shoes. they always have mudboots & snow boots there. mudboots are ridiculous - how much they cost! but not here! always a bargin. they always have nice shoes. i got a pair of nine west leather boots there for $13. i was able to get elizabeth 2 pair of leather knee boots there for $13. that's where their converse shoes come from also or vans....always they have them there. i know i got carried away, off topic a bit...but anyway...i am trying.
i think the best way i will be able to do better in 2012 is by the fact that Clay & I are on the same page with our money - for the first time in our married life - in the whole 18 1/2 years. do we still disagree. yes! for sure!!! do we make compromise & strive for unity & agreement in our finances - more than ever before. and the reality is...i'm not trying to do better for myself (even tho that is ok)....i really want to set a better example for my children. i dont want them to have my money issues because i didnt teach them well. also, i really dont want clay to drop dead of a heart attack because of the stress (and he has tons) of providing for the family. he does very well & there is more than enough. by handling it well, shows him that i appreciate his provision. and i believe that clay is trying to be realistic in his expectations, based on today's economy & what things cost, and get away from the mindset of "when i was coming up" - because if any of you know how he came up....well he was pretty much on his own financially at 14 years old and it was not pretty. he learned discipline & about being frugal in a very negative a very unbalanced manner. but again, he is trying to be realistic. by trying, well he fails...but he keeps reseting & trying again. so together we will strive to have a better budgeted 2012!!

i really, really, REALLY want to be a person that strives for what is right for myself & my children - based on God's standard PERIOD!!! no one else's standard. and based on the convictions i have - no one else's. i want to walk out my convictions, in Christ, with hopefully, an attitude of humilty and not one that cast judgement. i dont want to come across as a judgmental person. i know that in the last 8 years i have learned until i have walked in a person's shoes, i have no understanding of who they truly are or why they do & say the things they do. i know that i have been a judgmental person...but i know that i know that i know i am not - in my heart of hearts - i am not anymore. i have learned in a very hurtful way that it is hard to shake the person you were - even with those closest to you, as they dont always see or want to see the different you. they refuse to see you as you are now & still see you as you were. everything they hear or see from you is through the old filter. not the new one.
i wonder why it is that when we do things in our family, for our family, make decisions for our family, that other people take it as judgement on them or their families?
and i want to go into 2012 trying not to care that some people still see me as the "old wendy" -  no matter who those people are, realizing that they have to bear the responsibility of their judgement & i mine. i need to just try to be the best wendy i can be in Christ & do what i am suppose to "in light of God's standard".

anyway, back to christmas.....our tree.....very ecclectic - wouldnt you say? very random!! i have kids...what can i say? i think the tree is pretty considering... i like it because i like my children. i like that levi feels free to pick off an ornament or two & holds them. i like that the others choose once a day the candy cane they want to eat off of the tree & are delighted! i like that they all have ornaments of their very own. i like the memories we have of making most of the ornaments that hang on the tree. i like that i didnt put one single ornament on the tree this year....the children did it...all of them. i'm not kidding. i put the tree up & spread the branches off. they decorated it - with my supervision of course. and then clay put the star on it & moved it back into the designated corner. again i will say "i like it!"

and then there is our poor rachel. she had all 4 of her wisdom teeth cut out last thursday. here she is with her swollen little face!! (she does know i put this picture on here & she was ok with it.)
thankfully she is feeling better. still swollen & even bruised on her little face, but minimal pain!!