Monday, June 27, 2011

Caught and Catching Up!

 Andrew lost his second bottom tooth this week. He put his tooth in the tooth pillow and stuck it under his big pillow. As I was playing the tooth fairy, he woke up! His eyes got huge and he said, "Mom, you're freaking me out!" I told him that I was just checking to see if the Tooth Fairy had come. He went back to bed and in the morning came out. He had told Marcus was had happened. Marcus said that the Tooth Fairy can take on the shape of mom. Oh my, now he is telling everyone that his Mom is the Tooth Fairy, but still believes IN the Tooth Fairy! Hope he doesn't blow it for other kids!

The weather is starting to get a bit warmer. We have enjoyed sitting with the kids out on the swing. I love to see Steve sitting with his kids and talking with them. We have a wonderful view of the Klickitat Mountains from our backyard. The sky is vast and beautiful as well. Summer is finally here and we are making the most of it!

 OK, I know this isn't the most flattering picture of me, but I just have to show you the brilliant idea that my husband came up with. We kept losing our remotes and it was costing us money, not to mention it was highly annoying! He got a piece of Styrofoam and cut out the shapes of our remotes. Being a MAN, he duct-taped them on to it. We have never lost our remotes since! Yes, you will have to undo it when you need to change the batteries, but it is worth the hassle!
 I walked into the house the other day, and saw Lily in the shoebox/bench seat totally buried in shoes! I assumed someone did it to her, when Jessica said, "Nope, she got in there and covered herself with them." Weird! I just didn't want anyone to shut the thing, so I made her get out. The kid is like her mama, she loves shoes!!!
The other day, I decided to load up the four-wheeler and take the kids out to my parent's ranch to play. It was the first time I've ever done anything like that myself. I had Steve show me how to hitch up the trailer (again) and then drove it out there. Dad has three, 4-Wheelers, so we got to ride together while I gave the other kids rides. It was so much fun. The scenery and wildflowers out there are just breathtaking. Jess took this picture of the wild lupine. I loaded up the 4-wheeler and backed it all the way down my driveway myself. It was a milestone for me. I want to be comfortable doing things like that without Steve's help.

The summer is starting to get busy, a few weekends ago, we put on a 25th anniversary party for Dad and Diana. Is was crazy the week before, but my sis, SIL, and I pulled it off, with the help of many other people. The vow renewal was a blessing to watch and a wonderful testimony to their grandchildren. The reception afterwards was simple, yet delightful!

This last weekend I was able to get away with two very good friends! We call ourselves the "Three Musketeers". Catherine, Margaret and I are different ages and stages of life. Our ages range from 65-36! But God is the glue in our relationship. We are brutal accountability partners and delight in the fact that we get to call each other to the carpet! But we also know that we could be next. We don't let each other get away with anything. It is a real blessing and God has allowed the fruit of refinement to come out of these relationships. So what did we do for two days? Talk, eat, sleep, talk, eat, make a few cards, take a drive, sleep, talk, eat! I feel very "full"! It was wonderful to really get caught up with each other and ask for wisdom and break out in a praise song, if we were fairly bursting with joy! Oh, I love these ladies! A special thank you to my MIL, Ethel. She came and watched the kids for the first night because Steve was working. I think she had a lot of fun with them and they loved having Nana come up.

One of the things that came out of this mini-retreat is that I have decided to take a full summer break. I have homeschooled all year around in the past. I'm going to see how this goes. I feel that not only do the kids need a break, but I do as well. It might really help my stress level go down if I can stop being so serious all the time and just have FUN with my children. This way too, I can get a bunch of extra projects done around the place and take them on picnics and museums and such. The kids and I are really excited about it. I have decided to keep a half an hour of required reading time every weekday. It will keep us going on that, and it will hopefully be a fun and relaxing time in the morning or afternoon. I don't want them to lose any reading skills over the summer.

This week will be very different. Dad and Diana are keeping the three older children in Dufur while they run them back and forth to basketball camp. I am really going to focus on the three little ones and try to do some fun things with them. They love to "work" beside mama. We have lots of raspberries and peas to pick right now.

I will have time this week to prepare more for our Voice of the Martyr's themed VBS which is coming up in July. The persecuted church is one of my passions, so I am delighted that we will be teaching our kids to have courage in the face of physical, but more importantly psychological persecution. I will have them write over a hundred letters to prisoners around the world, and we will learn how to pray for their needs. We even have a man in our church build up an actual jail cell and an underground church meeting place! The kids are really going to get to feel and experience just a taste of what it might be like.
On a sad note, please pray for our pastor. Pastor Steve ( our senior pastor) is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. They probably calling hospice this week. Pray for Marilyn, his wife, and Jamie and Jared who are his children. Our church will be taking on an interim pastor July 5th to help us with our grieving and to also help us transition. This is a very difficult time for all. Pray that they can keep his pain under control and that he will not suffer. He is the godliest of men and we all know where he is going, but we love him so much that it hurts knowing that he is in pain. Thank you!
I have so much to look forward to this summer. I am living a blessed life and am so grateful to God for friends, family, health and the Body of Christ.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mother/Daughter Trip

I took Jessica to Pendleton a few weekends back for a mother/daughter trip. Since it was just the two of us, I was able to do some things that I normally wouldn't be able to do if I had had all the kiddos. The first thing we did was stop by the side of the freeway and get a picture of the "Pioneer Girl". Someone saw the discoloration of this rock as a pioneer girl with a little bonnet. There is always a basket of flowers in front of her. It really is precious!
After going out for Thai food, she said she wanted to go to the children's museum. I couldn't believe how relaxing it was with just one kid to watch! We had fun as she pretended to make me pizza in her little restaurant.

Here I am ordering from the "menu".

Mom and Larry made her birthday very special. She got many more gifts, but her favorite by far, was this jewelry stand for her necklaces and bracelets!

We even were able to go see a saddle bronc competition for "Cattle Baron's Weekend".

It was so good for us to have some positive interaction. She is very different when her brothers and sister are not around. I don't think I had to discipline her once. I think when she is all grown up that we are going to be good friends. In the meantime, I keep telling myself that I am her parent, not her friend. Friendship is the end-goal.

Thank you, Steve for watching the rest of the kids so that we could have this weekend together. I really do appreciate it!
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Late Spring Flowers

My irises and chives are in full bloom. Lots of purple around here.

Strawberries are still looks great! Bought some non-toxic slug bait so hoping for the best. That is the bad thing about using straw around my beds. It seems like the slugs love it!
Aren't these lovely?

There was one day where it was warm enough to bring out the slip and slide. The kids had a ball!
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Introducing...My Fathers

Being that it is Father's Day, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to the men in my life who have helped shape me into the person I am.

This is my dad, Russ. This man works harder than anyone I've ever known.  He is also the toughest person I know. Everyday, this man pushes through pain to get the job done. He is a hay-farmer/cattle rancher/horse trainer/horse-shoer.  His body has taken a beating over his 58 years of living. He has been in severe motorcycle accidents and has fought with horses to train and shoe them. This man taught me to not be afraid of a little work. Even when I was growing up, we were very good friends. Even now, we can be brutally honest with each other and still be OK. I have always treasured that in our relationship.

Growing up, the one thing that I remember is even though he would mess up and sometimes yell or even say a swear word or two, he would always come back and apologize. I try to remember that when I am parenting my children. Children are very forgiving, as was I. I knew my dad was human and that he made mistakes. But he showed me how important it was to restore the relationship by saying sorry. He had to swallow a lot of pride to do that.
 He is very good with his grandchildren and they in turn LOVE their Papa Russ. He is teaching them to ride horses, drive tractors and help out at the ranch.

This is my step dad, Larry. Larry came into my life when I as 16. My twin, Jackie and I were immediately loved and accepted by this man. Honestly, he was easy to love because he treated (and still does) my mom like a queen. Larry is a romantic at heart and knows how to treat a lady. You will NEVER meet a man who romances his wife like this man. He is creative and extremely thoughtful.

When I think of Larry, I think of him being an overcomer.  He grew up a Navy brat and started drinking and using drugs at a very early age. After decades of this behavior, he finally sought help. Afterwards, he became an awesome drug and alcohol counselor. He is a living, breathing testimony of God's mercy, forgiveness and grace! He has such a heart for addicts to be free from their addictions!

Since Larry never had any children of his own, he has really enjoyed every stage of grandparenting. He has been able to experience babies, toddlers, and now tween-agers. He is a very good grandpa and is very protective of his granddaughters. He is going to be the one with the shotgun. No one is going to be good enough for them! LOL! It is very sweet.

This is my Father-In-Love, Vern. He is really Steve's stepfather, but raised Steve from the age of five. He is another one of those men that did what it takes to provide for his family. Vern was raised in severe poverty in Arkansas. After graduating high school he he joined the Air Force and did some travelling. Vern has owned several motels, Dunkin' Donuts, coffee shops, and even a house-cleaning business. Steve said he worked like a dog for years. He is now retired and is happily playing golf and travelling. He was a pilot for years and owned several different types of small aircraft.

I have known Vern for 17 1/2 years. Steve's parents immediately welcomed me into their family. I don't think I have ever been mad at this man! EVER... Isn't that amazing? I always hear these horror stories about in-laws. I can't relate at all. I am sooo incredibly blessed. We have vacationed together and can chat on the phone for an hour. He is a wonderful grandpa and enjoys spending time with our children, as well (even though he is terrified of changing a poopy diaper!). We have had a few health scares over the past few years. Praise God things have turned out all right, it has made us appreciate and treasure him even more.

And here is my hubby, a father of six! I so appreciate the sacrifices that he makes for us on a daily basis. He has enabled my dreams of being a wife and a mother to come true. Steve is a very intelligent man who does his job extremely well. He is an excellent Lt. and a wonderful paramedic as well.

Happy Father's Day! I pray that you will all continue to grow into the men that God would have you be. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. Continue to seek and find the calling God has on your life to further His Kingdom.

Thank for loving and accepting me for who I am. It means so much to me.

LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Redwoods Vacation Part Five: Ocean World

 The kids had fun "surfing" on this surfboard. Ocean World was OK. The price was expensive and there wasn't much there. The highlights were petting sharks and watching the seal show.
 They kind of had a pirate theme going on. I love the look that Steve is giving him!
 Andrew's face is priceless.
 Andrew liked the tide pool table. He had no fear picking up starfish.
 All the kids except the two little ones petted the sharks. I wouldn't do it. I hate touching fish of any kind. The kids said that their skin felt like sandpaper. The skin is made of tiny little teeth!
 They didn't want you to pet their head, just the bodies. Also, no grabbing and holding on. Duh! LOL!

 Marcus looking the part!
The seals were absolutely adorable. Their trainer was very funny and they did some really cool tricks. He was really good about explaining things to us and we learned a ton about these fascinating creatures. I continue to be amazed at the diversity of God's creations. He is so amazing!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Redwoods Vacation: Part Four (Trees of Mystery)

Trees of Mystery was very expensive (cost us $70) to get in. Josh is now 12, so he is considered an adult now (go figure!). It was worth it though. We spent several hours wandering beautiful trails and oohing and aahing over God's handiwork. When we first arrived, the kids gravitated immediately to Paul and his big blue ox. It took awhile to realize that he was talking to us. It was really cool! They had set up microphones somewhere and he could hear every word we were saying. Then he would respond to the kids. They had crazy questions and he wanted to know if we were on a field trip since we had so many kids. It was really funny! I loved it when he told Jacob to listen to his mom and get in the picture.
This was the Cathedral Trees. It was six or seven trees that had started growing together in this beautiful formation. People get married here all the time.
Steve doing a little preaching!
The tram ride was included. We convinced everyone to go on except Josh. He would have none of it. Jessica and Hannah were not happy about this part.
Mary didn't mind! I love her scrunchy smile!
When I met Steve up at the top, Marcus was almost ready to have an anxiety attack. He hated the tram. He was freezing and sick to his stomach. He wanted to walk back down, but that was impossible. So he came down with me that time.
Here he is praying and trying not to puke.
You will have to click on this picture to read it. It was really cute!
This is the Candelabra Trees. The three trees were growing out of the one. Stunning!!!
Paul was really excited to show us some elk. We got pretty close to them too. Everything is so green and beautiful there. Rachel kept saying it was her favorite place on earth. I can see why...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mothers, Give Each Other Grace

Dear Mothers,

“Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”-Matthew 7:1-2

I have found this verse has come true in my life.

How many times have I judged parents by their child’s behavior? Truthfully, more than I can count. I have self-righteously torn others down in order to build myself up. Maybe not out loud, but in my own mind. God knows that my motives have not always been pure.

Recently, a mother who did not know me very well, grossly misjudged me as a parent. She concluded I didn’t discipline my children because of some bad behavior that she saw from one of my children. She chose to cut off any relationship with our family. I cannot tell you the pain my children and I experienced through this severing. I examined my parenting, critiquing myself from all angles. Believe me, I am my worst critic. I struggled against feelings of hopelessness and defeat. I came to the conclusion that I cannot control every situation and every action my child takes. I try giving them privileges. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t and trust is broken, I pull back on the reins and try to discipline with love and wisdom.

I did not choose to have a strong-willed child. God chose me. He has entrusted me with a special gift. I can be downright humiliated sometimes by my child’s lack of self-control in public, especially when he doesn’t get his way. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t disciplined for it. People who take the time to get to know me, truly know that my heart is to raise godly offspring.

I keep asking myself, “Where’s the grace?”. Now, when I see a mother struggling with the behavior of her child, instead of condemning her and judging her mothering, I’m going to assume that she is doing everything she can. I’m going to first pray for her, and then I’m going to do something about it. I can choose to come alongside her, loving and encouraging her to stay strong. Perhaps I could even take the child off of her hands for a few hours to give her an emotional break.

Through this experience, I realized I had just a taste of what it was like for Jesus to be misjudged. Only Jesus was insulted, spat upon, and betrayed by his own countrymen. The same people who welcomed him into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week, were the same people who shouted, “Crucify him!”, by Friday.

We, women can be just as fickle. Instead of “crucifying” those around us, let us love them enough to spend time with them and truly see how they interact with their children. After you have built a relationship with her and you see a real problem, especially where sin is involved (rage, verbal abuse, sarcasm, permissiveness, ect), then you might have an opportunity to lovingly exhort her IF she asks for your advice. Be careful though, check your motives! Remember what goes around comes around.

I think most of the Christian mothers out there are doing the best they can do. We are all muddling through this thing called parenting. We are all wanting to raise our children to be responsible, God-fearing adults. We’re going to make some mistakes. And yes, we are going to be misjudged.

No matter how much you pour yourself into your children, teaching them the principles of the Bible, they can still exercise their freewill and walk away from it all. It boils down to the choices THEY make. If we have given them that Biblical foundation, they will know the way home. I am reminded of the Prodigal Son. What a perfect image of God’s grace.

Let us extend that kind of grace to each other. Don’t just write them off if you see a problem. Endure with them patiently. They may desperately need the encouragement you have to offer.

“And we urge you, brothers (sisters), warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

From One Mom to Another,

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Andrew Lost His First Tooth!

I have never seen a child more excited about losing a tooth! He has been watching Jessica and Marcus raking in all this money from the Tooth Fairy. When his first tooth began loosening, he really worked on it. It was hanging by a thread when I asked him if he wanted me to pull it. He said yes, so I did! He kept laughing and giggling. It was so cute and so Andrew!

It bled a lot for barely being in there.

He kept checking himself out in the mirror.

And this is Miss Lily's new occupation. Find a marker and quickly write all over yourself, then come to mama and say "sorry".  Praise the Lord this was a wet/erase marker and not a Sharpie.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Redwoods Vacation Part Three: Drive Through a Tree W/ 12 Passenger Van!

 It sounded fun. It looked great. But oh, the reality of trying to take a 12 passenger van through a tree!
 As I was driving in, I kept thinking, "Why isn't Steve doing this?" Because he is the smart one, that's why!
 We folded in the mirrors, but I still had to wiggle side to side to get through without scraping. If our van would have been an inch bigger, I don't think I would have made it.
 Steve and Paul were in front of me while I desperately tried not to panic. Every time I would move one way, the mirror was going to scrape, so I had to quickly move the other way. They said I was over-correcting. All, I knew was I was committed and I just needed to get out of there!
At this point, I stopped and tried not to pull my hair out! Too many chiefs and only one Indian! I couldn't keep up with what they wanted me to do. Steve was yelling at me to turn this way, and I was yelling back telling him "I can't"!

Somehow I managed and God got me out of that tree without any damage! When I saw Rachel, she was laughing hysterically and said it was the highlight of her vacation. I think I made two other couple's vacations as well. Everyone was watching and it was so embarrassing. Now it's funny, but at the time it was NOT! LOL! I can't believe I paid $5 to experience sheer panic!

I think I need a T-Shirt that says, "I Survived the Tour Through the Tree".
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