Saturday, March 31, 2007

The first days of spring

Here are the kids enjoying the first warm mornings signally that spring is really here! Tea on the deck.

Raspberry Zinger Tea. Mmmm-mmmm.

When they came back in, their rear ends were covered with pollen. Yep, spring is here all right!

The Kings come for a visit

We had to keep Kody in the basement or on the deck while all of the painting was going on. He always had to be right in the middle of all the action. However, black labrador hairs and paint really don't go well together.

Here are all our cute kids, in order by age: Gretchen, Konner, Kade, Kylie, Kathleen, Kurt, Keva (directly behind Kurt), Kristofer, Gretchen, Karl and Keri Lynn.

Before . . .

During . . . (Please note the grunge along the walls from dirty hands that is about to be painted over!)
And AFTER! Yippee! We're done! We are the Queens of the World! Ginny and I.

The girls picked the moms some beautiful wild flowers that we thought really went well with the lime green paint.

Kathleen and Gretchen made a picnic lunch out on the driveway. A good time was had by all.

Here's another angle of the line-up. This time Kurt is blocked by Kathleen, but you can see Keva. I especially love Keva's face in this picture. She is grinning from ear to ear. She's probably thinking of the brown paint she scooped into her mouth with a paint brush right as we were beginning the hallway. I had to call Poison Control, but fortunately, latex paint is not majorly harmful. I was told to give her milk and something to eat and expect a little upset stomach and/or diarrhea.

This is Ginny at work on Friday, when we finished painting the kitchen. We used nearly every drop of the first gallon and still only used about a quarter of the second gallon. That paint was good stuff.

Say "Cheese", Ginny!

The older boys played Monopoly Here and Now.

Pageant Times

The Kings left about an hour ago. Keith left with the four kids to the second night of the Easter Pageant. And Kade and Konner left to go play at a friends' house. That leaves me, Keva and Kody. It's so nice and QUIET! I think I like it! I'm going to have to go turn down the air conditioning. All of those bodies out of the house are making the house too cold right now!

On the "electric lime" pant color, Keith made me laugh out loud yesterday when he told me, "Okay, now, don't get excited, but when I stand over here and look at it from this angle, with the white cabinets, I kind of like the paint color."

I was so very pleased.

Ginny and I then asked him what his ideas were for the hallway that we wanted to paint while she was still with us to help paint. She could buy one more gallon of paint with the budget she and Kerry had set aside as our housewarming gift. One more gallon. One or two hallways! A whole lot of fingerprints and dirt cover-up!

After much consideration, Keith decided on blue in the family room to go with the palette I'd decided on for the living room and dining room. It wasn't my first choice, but it certainly wasn't my last choice either. From there, we decided on brown for the hallway. So last night, on the way to the Pageant, Ginny and I picked up the paint. And today, before she left, we finished the hallway coming from the garage into the family room. It looks beautiful. I think I may use the same brown, or I should say "Sensational Sand", in the foyer to blend the red in the dining room and the yellow in the living room.

I'm dying to paint the rest of the house, but we have to save up for more paint! So, progress will slow for a while, as I get back to other responsibilities in my life that I've avoided all week like laundry and school!

Last night's Easter Pageant went really well. I cried when the kids came running down the aisle yelling, "Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!" And I cried as Jesus healed the blind man, the woman who touched the hem of his garment, the dead girl, the crippled boy . . . It was just such a beautiful presentation of the gospel.

The ones involved in the Pageant came home with their stage make-up plastered on their faces. Keith batted his eyelashes and said, "Is it me or is it Maybeline?" Kylie wanted to keep hers on so they wouldn't have to put it on all over again the next night. Everyone was full of funny stories and adrenaline.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Keith and I will join the kids in a walk around the town square carrying palms in celebration of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem. The Easter Pageant participants will be in costume at this time and then we'll all go back to see the Sunday morning Pageant. What an exciting time of year!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Kings and Easter Pageant

Things are hopping around here.

The Kings arrived on Tuesday night. Ginny and I started painting the breakfast area and kitchen the very next morning. Keith and the Big Four (Keri Lynn, Kristofer, Kathleen and Kylie) have been entrenched in Easter Pageant rehearsals this whole week. Keva was sick, got better, got sent to school, got picked up from school, stayed home two more days, and is now back to school finally truly recovered!

Whew! I'm tired!

The most fun part of the week so far has been the painting. I was worried that the color might be too intense for anyone but me, but Ginny loves it. Half of the kids love it, too. The other half agree with Keith that the color is too intense. However, I have begged the negative thinkers to trust me, that it's all just part of The Master Plan. But for now, the painted areas do look like a massacre of highlight markers. Any time the word "electric" is in a paint color name may be the time to use caution! I, however, tend to be more of an impetuous person. : )

Anyway, Ginny had been wanting to get us a house warming present ever since we moved in, but I couldn't decide what to get with the money she was offering, Painting is her cup of tea, having beautifully painted every square inch of her home, so I knew I was in good hands when I suggested that maybe she give us PAINT as a housewarming gift. That's just the kind of gift that warms up a house and turns it into a home. She jumped at the opportunity, to both buy and help paint the eating area, and I've had a hard time wrenching the paint roller away from her to take a turn at the walls!

So, thank you, Ginny, for the gift of paint. Kade gave the ultimate compliment when he came in for breakfast this morning, "This feels like HOME!" And I agree. It looks beautiful. And I especially like that all of the grime and fingerprints is covered up by the paint. Yay!

I put Keva on the bus so very early this morning. It was hard to get up after too many late nights this week, but she is at last feeling better. The antibiotics are doing their good work. If there is any indication as to the brightness of the paint color, then Keva's reaction might be very telling. She stood behind the barricade we had set up to paint and she watched avidly and giggled and laughed and tried to touch. At least Keva likes the work!

Tonight, the Easter Pageant participants go to the church for one last rehearsal before the weekend's three performances. This will be a full dress rehearsal. It's been fun to see them all at work and to see the kids enjoying the opportunity to be part of this important presentation. I cry every time I see the kids running down the aisles to the front of the church to meet Jesus. I cry through the songs. I cry for the joy of the meaning of God's ultimate love for us.

I was telling the kids last night that it's a good thing I don't have the time needed to be part of the choir in the Pageant because I'd be bawling through the whole thing. They all nodded sagely, knowing this to be completely true. In fact, I think most of them were secretly relieved that I wouldn't be participating except to be taxi service.

The Highlighter Massacre

Here's Ginny putting on the first application of paint. We both held our breath . . .
Here's the room all bland and white. I scrubbed the floor boards, dusted the tops of the window sills, scrubbed off Kody hair that has attached itself to a jam splatter . . .

The next morning, I woke up to these beautiful colors in the breakfast area. Love it, love it, and LOVE IT! Everyone needs to come to my house and ooh and ahh in front of Keith so that he'll be convinced that it's not a terrible thing to have bright colors in a main living area!

On Wednesday, we painted the breakfast room and the bar. Today we are tackling the kitchen.

Here's what we've done from another angle. Doesn't it look crisp and cheery!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Laundry Decree

I'm jumping off the nearest cliff.

I didn't realize that it had been so long since the kids had really cleaned their rooms. We found innumerable piles of dirty laundry to add to my usual piles. So much so, that I found it hard to find a place to stand in the laundry room to sort it all out.

So I've decreed the following:

No one in our household is allowed to wear any clean clothes for the next two weeks, or at least until I get this Mount Everest of Laundry done. If they can't stand wearing the clothes that they have on their person any longer, then they can just go NAKED!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

21 pounds down!

Poor Keva had a huge splinter across the top of her palm. I noticed it early yesterday morning while getting her ready for school and promptly told Keith about it as he was getting ready to go to work. He then got right to work on it with his ensemble pieces of tweezers, exacto blades, needles and antiseptic.

Keith has always been very good at getting splinters out of little and big hands. He is very thorough. His thoroughness has to be one of his best qualities. I, on the other hand, tend to fly by the seat of my pants. I'm a perfectionist, but if it's not coming out right, I would just rather not do it at all. So our character traits USUALLY compliment each other.

Like with splinters.

I go run and hide. Keith attacks.

What was so interesting to me this time as he worked on Keva's splinter was that Kylie, of all people, stood over the proceedings with blatant interest. I sat on the couch reading the paper and pretending like nothing was happening while Kylie handed Keith instruments like they were on some kind of surgical team. Nurse or even doctor was the first thing that came to mind. Kylie was not at all squeamish. Interesting.

Today, since Keva stayed home with a light case of something, I slept in. I was very bad. I didn't even get out of bed until nearly noon. I only slept until about 8:30 and then made the mistake of "reading just a little bit." And suddenly, Kathleen is knocking at my door and coming in with a hangdog look, "Mommy, you really need to get up! Kristofer is teaching the little kids how to play RISK! Please, he's driving me crazy!"

Kathleen is known for her drama.

So I did eventually get up. First thing I did was weigh myself. I am now 21 pounds down. I've lost another TWO POUNDS! Ring the victory bells, everybody!

I think what I'm most excited about is that I know I can continue the way I'm going as a standard lifestyle change. Like deciding to get up at 6:30 instead of 6:35. Something that needs to be done and then gets done instead of put off for another day. For me, the changes have been relatively simple. I do not eat nearly as much at meals as I used to eat. And, I walk four or five times a week for an hour.

Now the thing is that I'm used to losing weight dramatically, 20 to 30 pounds in a month for about three months, if that. Then, I fall of the wagon, so to speak. I get tired of depriving myself, of constantly feeling hungry and of constantly planning and counting my calories. I still count calories, but at a much lower intensity. I don't write anything down. I just do it. Like the Nike commercial. So it occurred to me a week or two ago that I could actually just lose a pound or two a week and keep at it over the long haul instead. This is how all the diet gurus tell you to lose weight anyway, but -- those of you who diet may notice -- NONE of the diets are set up for you to lose just a pound or two at a time. They're all geared for quick weight loss.

I also thought about how much I love to hear people say, "Wow, Jackie, you've lost a lot of weight!" It's the drama queen in me. (Kathleen gets it from somewhere.) I love to be noticed. I'm a shy girl with exhibitionist tendencies. : ) But, I don't get that as I lose weight slowly unless people see me who haven't seen me in a while. However, another epiphany came in all its majesty. I don't NEED people to tell me how much weight I've lost. I know how much weight I've lost and I know how much better I feel. I'm not going to have a cheering squad all around me as I prepare meals every day. It's just me, eating what I'm supposed to eat and going out for my walks.

That being said, it is now nearly 4:00 and time for my walk!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The hungry minions

I made the batter and Kathleen poured the pancakes out on the griddle.
Another round.
One hungry brother.
Another hungry sister.
And another hungry brother. The rest hadn't ventured out of bed yet.
I also made a delicious egg casserole. I got the recipe from a friend at church. The bottom of the dish is layered with refrigerator crescents, then you scramble some eggs, mix in sausage, cheese and Italian herbs. Bake until firm. Very delicious.
The hungry minions were full . . . for a while.

Train up a child

Kristofer shows us all the work he and his Dad did.
Late night computer work.
"You see, Son, you put this thingy into the doo-hicky . . . "

My Mom is the Best!

As I got ready for Bible study this morning, I was cleaning out my bag and found . . . a tooth. Not my tooth, but definitely one of my kids' baby teeth. And I couldn't very well yell out, "Guess what I found in my bag!" and crush someone's Tooth Fairy dreams. So I quietly dropped it into the trash.

As I ran out the door -- late as usual -- Kathleen gave me a rolled up piece of paper and told me not to read it until I got into the car. This is what the paper said:

My Mom is the Best!

My Mom is the best.
Without a Mom there'd be no rest.
There'd be no east or west.
There'd be a mess.
That's how I know my Mom is the BEST!

Isn't that precious! This is why I'm so glad I have email and a blog to keep these kind of things for posterity.

When I got back from yet another wonderful Revelation lesson, Keva's teacher gave me a call shortly after lunch time to let me know that Keva was running a slight fever and was not eating. Her lunch was pork and beans -- a favorite -- so something's up with my girl. So I brought her home and she's resting. Hopefully she doesn't have Keith's "fun" from Saturday.

I'm vacillating between putting another load of laundry into the washing machine and taking a nap. I've been getting to bed after midnight all week, and it's starting to wear on me. Nap. Is. Winning.

Keith has been diligently working overtime this week as we try to creep back out of some financial crunch. All this week, he's come home and worked with Kristofer on putting together a computer. It warms this mother's heart to see the two heads bent together peering into the innards of a computer, talking about electronic machinations WAY over my head. They've continued working late into the night.

Kylie was sighing to me earlier today that she wished she could go to Hollywood. I guess she was thinking of the glamor of American Idol. We all watched last night, of course. I had to laugh out loud and told her that we could easily see the Hollywood sign from our old house. Did she not remember? But I guess living near the Hollywood sign and "going to Hollywood" are not quite the same thing.

My favorite singers on American Idol this week (for those of you who care!) are:

Melinda: Who wouldn't like her! She's adorable. I love the way her eyes sparkle. She feels every note of music and helps you feel it, too.

Blake: He sang his song with loads of emotion. I was impressed this week.

Chris Sligh: He seemed to understand this week's genre. I also got a big kick out of the signs out in the audience "Bringing Back Chubby!" and "'Fro Patrol!"

Who I didn't like:

LaKisha: But only this week. She usually hits it out of the park, but this time, her voice sounded weird in parts and the song itself, I felt, was boring.

Hailey: Inappropriate attire.

Who surprised me:

Sanjaya: I actually thought he did okay this time. He's still not even close to the same league as the others, but I predict he will definitely stick around for another week because of the teen girl vote.

On to other things.

Keith decided to help me feel better about running into the garage two times, and backed the van into it himself. He banged it back into place and it still runs on the track . . . barely.

Two more Polly Pockets met their demise in the gruesome jaws of Kody. This time, the Polly Pockets belonged to Kathleen. I could hear her keening from the other side of the house and just knew something terrible had happened. That dog LOVES to chew on those little plastic bodies. Kathleen, though, is a very good dog owner (and currently my favorite child). Kidding! I told her how proud I was of her that an hour later, she still thought to take Kody out for a potty break and then a walk, even after he'd done such a terrible thing. She did admit to me that she felt like belting him, but knew that she shouldn't.

Running out of time for a nap. Drat!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lord, please find me worthy

Whew! Thank you for praying for Alese. She is out of immediate danger. Blood clots in and around a lung and around her heart have cleared up. The doctors are proceeding with the original cancer treatment. For an update, go to her website

I was feeling generally subdued last night because of my concern for Alese. It brought a lot of questions to my heart about how I would deal with a similar situation should it occur in my own family. And make no mistake, at some time, for each of us, comes a point of life and death decision where our character comes shining through, for good or for bad! Lord, please find me worthy! Help me trust You more!

Keith took Friday off this last weekend, and Keva had school off for a teacher work day, as well. So we all took it easy these last three days. I'm finding it hard to get back into the groove!
Keith had some kind of flu bug on Saturday. He was supposed to teach Sunday School, but wisely stayed home recuperating.

Meanwhile, Kylie had a sleepover Friday night at one friend's house and then a sleepover on Saturday night at another friend's house. Kristofer and Kade also had a Lock-In on Friday at church, that Kade especially had been talking about non-stop for the last two weeks. So Saturday morning while Keith was puking in the bathroom, I was trying to figure out how in the world to prepare breakfast for a measly six people. It's always so weird to have kids missing, even for a short time.

I shouldn't have worried about cooking a smaller breakfast, because as soon as everyone was back home again, they were hungry. And though we lost Kylie the second night, we got Molly for a sleepover with Kathleen.

Because we were either generally lazy or not feeling great, the house will need a good scrub-down today. I'm missing my steam cleaner. I may try to see if I can get it to work today, however leaky it may be, just to see if I can get some of the dog smell out of the house. Kody has been very well behaved lately, but Labradors can just STINK! Especially if they get a little wet, like when they have to go out for a potty break in the rain. Urgh!

Meanwhile, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop with Keith's bug. So far, no one else has succumbed. I'm naturally an optimist, except when it comes to the flu. Then I am the world's biggest pessimist. I'm figuring that if it is something that is catchy, we should all be sick well into next week when we're 1) expecting the Kings to come for a visit and 2) are thoroughly entrenched in the Easter Pageant preparations.

I knew Keith was finally starting to feel better Sunday afternoon when he and Kristofer hauled up several boxes from the basement to put together a kids' computer. They pulled out box after box of electronic joy. It was like watching two kids in a candy store. They worked together on that computer well past midnight. Kristofer was completely attentive and interested while Keith droned on and on (at least to MY ears) about various parts, cables, fans, warranties, etc.

Before going to bed, I said to Kristofer, "Do you know what you're doing?" He was going to be putting some of the computer together himself the next day while Keith was at work.

"Oh no! But I'll give it a try!" he told me with glee.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pray for Alese

Please join me in praying for Alese Coco.

Our family has known of Alese's 5 1/2 year struggle with cancer through Journey of Faith and South Bay Faith Academy. I've been keeping tabs on her up and down battle with Hodgkin's Disease at her web site, and an earthly struggle may be coming to an end for this beautiful 23-year-old woman. Unless God decides otherwise, she may soon have the privilege of coming into God's very presence. Please pray for her and for her precious family. Pray that they will lean on the Father for every ounce of their strength. Pray that through Alese many will come to know the Master Creator. His perfect will be done.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

All Aboard!

Kathleen and Kylie haul a train of laundry from their room they have just finished excavating for clean-up. I about had a cow with this contribution to the laundry piles!

19 pounds down!

My diet and exercise regime is going okay, I guess. I'm down one more pound this week which is not exactly the WOW factor I was going for, but still, I think 19 pounds in six weeks isn't bad, really! I'm feeling better and looking better. I just have to step it up a little bit more. Earlier on, I thought perhaps I could lose it all by the end of summer, but now I'm thinking more realistically and more life-changingly (Is that a word?!)

I don't ever want to eat like a glutton again. I keep eating in smaller healthier amounts and I keep moving, I'll be healthier. Period.

The rain coming in today may jeopardize my walk.

We're on the way to the library in a few minutes and then, since it's payday, and because Keri Lynn is twisting my arm (OWWW, Owww-owww-oww!), we may go to El Charro's for lunch -- the whole lot of us. We deserve a break today! In celebration of my ONE pound. : ) Seriously, though, I'll be eating chips and salsa and about half of my lunch and saving the rest for tomorrow. (This is Grandma's input for restaurant eating: Eat half and take the rest home.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Beautiful Spring

And the trees keep blooming. Our little maple saplings in the front are starting to get their leaves again. I don't know if it's the dogwood trees, but there are these gorgeous trees that are just exploding in white. It looks like someone came around and sprayed them with that fake snow that is sprayed on Christmas trees. There are a few purple trees just starting to bloom, too. Don't you love my amazing knowledge of flora and fauna? Gag!

I've been taking antihistamine to fight a constant irritated throat as pollen season comes in at full throttle. That's the down side of spring. I'm going to have to get a little advice from my doctor, because I think the antihistamine is making my blood pressure go up. My blood pressure should be fine with weight going down and regular exercise, but it's not.

This afternoon, I came home from Bible study and just felt wiped out. I just stood in the kitchen and stared at the dishes that the kids had assiduously avoided. I finally decided to take a nap and, even though I had a dozen interruptions, I still managed to get some rest and felt 100 percent better afterward. I think I was just tired from that CURSED Daylight Savings Time. I love the extra daylight in the evenings, but I HATE getting up when it's pitch dark. It takes at least a month for my body to get used to the change. A Mama needs her rest!

Everyone in our family involved in the upcoming Easter Pageant now has their costumes. Kristofer was modeling his costume as part of the Wisemen's entourage. Kathleen and Kylie pop up in their costumes throughout the day, too. They are part of the group of children that come to Jesus. Two Sundays ago, everyone got magnetic-style stick-ons to put on our cars with the Easter Pageant information on it. The only problem is that we need to clean a little square spot on our van to put it on and haven't done that yet. Our car is a MESS right now. I'm embarrassed to drive around in it, let alone advertise the Easter Pageant with it. I guess I should make cleaning up the car a job for us to work on tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Backyard Trees in Winter

Here are the maples that we have yet to plant, mainly because the land toward the back of our lot has a lot of construction materials plowed under it. Most of these trees are still good, and maybe we'll be able to plant a few more before spring is in full bloom.

Kathleen plays Vanna, next to one of the five trees my Mom and Rich got for us on their last visit in November.
Here's our Christmas trees, well past its glory days, waiting to be carved up into delicious firewood. Keith especially likes pine wood for the fireplace because it spits and sparks with its pine resin.

Here is the row of maples that Kristofer planted over the course of several months. Some of them are just now starting to get their leaves and it looks like all of them are amazingly still alive!
Kathleen poses in front of one of Mom and Rich's trees. Behind her is another one that is just starting to bud! We think these are healthy, too, inspite of the huge rain and wind storm that came through the night they were planted.

This is a cherry blossom tree at the far corner of the property. It's grown taller since it's been planted! We're hoping for some nice shade from this one.

I took this picture from the very back of the property looking toward the back of our house. I rarely make a trek back there. Usually my perspective is from the safety of the deck. The kids play a lot in the back, though. They are constantly making forts with the fallen logs. As you can see, the landscaping still has a lot to be desired, but as the trees grow, so should more brush and grass. Little by little. We are blessed.

Daylight Savings Time

This view looks down a pretty pathway behind our row of houses. Our back property line follows pretty much along this row. I'll post a picture a few months from now with the trees clothed in their spring selection.
Keith prepares to move the rope up a tree for a tire swing. Some of the neighbor kids came to help. Pictured from left to right: Keith, Kristofer, Kathleen, Kade, Kylie, Mac, Dominic, and Konner.

Here's Keith dangling from the end of a 20 foot ladder. I quickly took a picture and then busied myself with work inside the house until he was back down again. It makes me nervous to see him up there. Kristofer is helping steady the bottom of the ladder.

Have I expressed to you all lately how very much I detest Daylight Savings! I spent most of last night dreaming about waking up too late to get Keva on the bus. Then, when the alarm went off in what felt like the dead of night, I was exhausted. I got Keva dressed and as I went to open her door and take her to the family room, she collapsed right back into her bed. She doesn't like Daylight Savings Time either. Boo to DST! And BOO to Congress for deciding to move it up three weeks. A pox on them!

Nevertheless, spring is in the air here in Georgia. The trees are starting to bloom. Daffodils are sprouting up in cheerful little groups. Temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. And with my throat already raw from allergies, I've been popping a combination of antihistamine and Tylenol in an effort to feel normal and enjoy the beauty.

On Saturday, Keith tried to put a tire swing up in our trees in the backyard. I took some pictures of him dangling off the 20 foot ladder, which incidentally, didn't even come halfway up the tree at the point that he wanted to tie the rope. As it turns out, the rope wasn't as strong as he'd thought, so the idea was abandoned until 1) he can find a rope strong enough and 2) he can find another block of time to try to kill himself.

This morning, we joined some neighbors in welcoming home a young man fresh from Iraq. He's here for just a few short weeks and then returns for another six month stint. He wore his fatigues. My boys asked questions about the kind of gun he carried. We were all suitably impressed, but mostly thankful, for the gift of protection he gives us through his military service. He's engaged and expects to be married upon his arrival home in October. God bless you, Joe!

I looked up at him, as I shook his hand, and thought about how short of a time it will be, God willing, when I look up at my own boys. Kristofer is shooting up like a weed right now. He's been stronger than me for several years already, and my brave bug killer. What kind of men will my boys be? It wasn't too long ago that I would have laughed out loud at the thought of any of them being men! It couldn't possibly be so. I guess my own age is catching up on me!

Speaking of AGE, I'd like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Alice! (How's that for a segue, Alice?) However, I'd like to say that my mother-in-law is one of the youngest people I know! Never have I known someone so happy to join me in a shopping expedition! Nor anyone else who could model shoes in quite the way that Alice can! She's got the cutest dainty feet ever! And she looks up to three wonderful sons as I hope to look up to mine someday. What a thrill that must be to see them out in the world, each loving the Lord and their wives as they should. Happy birthday, Alice!

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Blue Convertible

A bouquet of our most beautiful weeds, presented by Kathleen, Kylie and Annie. Aren't they precious! Spring time is in the air. The trees are starting to bud. Daffodils are coming up. Keri Lynn says daffodils make her feel CHEERY!
Keri Lynn writing her book.
She does not like to have her pictured taken.
Kade proudly displays his collection of basketball shorts. If it's not too cold (and sometimes when it IS too cold) he wears a pair of basketball shorts EVERY day.
Konner, wearing his orphan clothes. That kid has a knack for finding the smallest clothes with the most stains and rips.

It's weird to think about the kids getting older, but it's happening. In fact, I feel my age every time I turn around. The only time I feel remotely younger is when I look at little Konner's face. Perhaps that is why the youngest child of a family is usually so spoiled. Mom trying desperately to hold on to her youth!

We got back from the library yesterday and kids disappeared left and right to read their library treasures. Kristofer has discovered the Redwall series. He got the first couple of books on CD and listened raptly. Kathleen found book three of a series she's been reading on the shelves. We'd requested this book months ago, but the last patron who'd checked it out had never returned it. So they bought a new one but neglected to tell us when it came in. Kathleen was so thrilled to get it that she didn't want it mixing with any of the other books. She just held on to it herself all the way home. I got the first of the Mark of the Lion series finally, but am hesitating to start it until I get the second book in my hot little hands. Keri Lynn had her usual pile of books as well, but she's been in a writing mood lately, scribbling away at her story all week this week. She was so involved at one point that she looked up from her work as I was setting lunch on the table to tell me that she felt like crying after writing about a touching reunion. Good grief, she's a lot like me.

I went around for years during junior high and high school with a stack of papers that was my book. Great visions of bestseller turned blockbuster movie. Starring some of my favorite TV crushes. Richard Hatch. Sean Cassidy. Sigh! Maybe that bestseller is still in my future!

Speaking of crushes, word is out that Kristofer has a crush on a girl at church. It finally happened. He has finally quit making gagging noises every time someone mentions love or kissing or marriage. He and Keri Lynn were sitting in the truck waiting for Keith to take them home on Wednesday night, when Keri Lynn observed her brother watching a girl walk out of the Warehouse (where the youth meet) and down the street. He watched her with craned neck until she was out of sight, while Keri Lynn burst into streams of laughter. She told him she wouldn't spill the beans, but she did give him a nice big sister talk about boys and girls and dating which I'M SURE he appreciated!

In a space of about five minutes yesterday, I took two calls from moms in the neighborhood asking for Keri Lynn to babysit. She babysat yesterday for a new family and she's due to babysit again tonight. If she builds up her clientele just a little more, she won't need a part-time job to get that car she so desperately wants. That kid is loaded!

We were driving somewhere when all of the boys in the car launched into a discussion about cars. Kristofer asked Konner what kind of car he'd like to buy, while I thought to myself, "How could my baby ever have a particular car in mind! He's too young!"

Konner: (Says with quick decisiveness) I want a blue convertible! (Mom having trouble with her baby knowing what blue is, let alone a convertible -- sad, I know!)

Kade: I think, (big momentous pause) maybe a Ferrari.

Kristofer: A Ferrari is, like, two million dollars, Kade ! (disgust in his voice about Kade's materialism).

Me: Are you sure, Sweetie? That sounds like a lot. (But really, I have no idea how much a Ferrari is, but I'm guessing NOT in the millions.)

Kristofer: I don't know, maybe 200K. But I want a sports car! I want a little car. (I'm thinking maybe a 15-passenger van isn't his idea of a cool car.)

Today, we'll be going to the Homeschool Park day. The two kids that are Keri Lynn and Kristofer's age are supposed to be there again. I was so impressed particularly with Caitlyn, the girl. She had a beautiful smile and a sweet disposition that I thought would be a perfect fit for Keri Lynn. Please pray for this friendship to blossom!

There's another girl that will be moving into our neighborhood soon that might be a good friend for Keri Lynn as well. The new youth pastor and his family have contracted for a house here in the development, too, and they have a daughter a year younger than Keri Lynn. You might remember that I mentioned that our senior pastor and his family should be moving down the road some time in May. They have a son that's Kristofer's age. They've hit it off very well.
When Brian, the youth pastor, candidated for the position, he told the youth group and parents about the crazy practical jokes his youth group had played on him. So I mentioned to the kids, when I heard they would be moving to our development, that supplies for practical jokes could be stored in our basement! Keri Lynn was aghast, "Mom, what if he thinks I had anything to do with it!" And I said, "Look at your innocent face! It's PERFECT!"

So if any of you have any ideas for great non-destructive practical jokes??? I was thinking of one that Kent did in college. Something about little Dixie cups filled with water, was it? Lining every square inch of the professor's office. That's just classic.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Memories, like the corner of my mind . . .

It finally happened. I was looking at Keri Lynn and thinking, "I wonder if she's taller than me yet."

So we stood heel to heel and Keith compared our heights. . . guess what! . . . She's taller. It's really weird to have a child to look up to. My prayer is that I'll continue to look up to her in other ways as well. She is indeed growing up into a beautiful young woman by the grace of God. I love her so much.

Last week we began the big job of going through moving boxes that have been laying neglected in the basement. Many have been boxed up for over two years when I started packing for our move! And it sure has been fun to unpack.

Kristofer sighed contentedly on Friday, "I finally feel like we're settling in!" He's a homebody like his Daddy, and likes to have familiar things around him. He also is highly sentimental. He's the first one to bring out old family videos. He likes to talk about funny family stories.

So far, we've brought out framed pictures, linens, dress-up clothes, kids' clothes. The little boys have fought each night about who will get to wear a certain pair of pajamas. They're footie pajamas, cut off at the ankle, and for some reason they both think they are the coolest PJs ever! We also unpacked our lighthouse fountain. It gurgles happily on some shelving in the family room.

So, today, after our usual clean-up, we brought up two more boxes. The first box was a cinch -- old school books that went on a shelf for future use.

However, the second much bigger box was a different story. It was stuffed with pictures and memorabilia, mostly mine, dated from high school and beyond. Let it never be said that a mother has any dignity. I heard all of the comments that we women love to here:

"Wow, Mom, you sure used to be pretty!"

"Look how skinny you were!"

"I would NEVER have worn THAT outfit! What were you thinking!" (This from Kathleen, the fashion diva.)

"Who's THAT?!" said in disgust about the guy standing with me in my prom picture.

"I LOVE this picture," says Kylie of one of my pictures taken when I was about her age. She wanted to take it and keep it in her room.

"Here's one to show Keri Lynn," this one of me in braces, "So she can see that she wasn't THAT ugly with braces!"

The continued theme of crooked teeth, "Wow! Your teeth WERE just like mine!" This from Kathleen, who's got the crookedest teeth in the country.

"I love your long hair in this one, Mom. Too bad it's so thin now. Maybe you can wear a wig."
I'm not kidding. I'm not making any of this up! I wish I could remember it all because comments were flying right and left.

And then, there were the cards and letters that Keith and I exchanged while were dating and newly married, all BEFORE kids, when there was time to do such frivolous things! The kids were all digging into the box and going through everything!

I quickly made an announcement, "THESE are private! Not for young eyes! If you see a letter, let me have it PLEASE!" as I silently prayed that I had not written anything too salacious.

I was frankly pretty surprised myself at just how many cards and letters there were. I did most of the writing, Keith not being a novelist like me. But Keith did send a good share of cards and flowers, and he did save the stuff I gave him. I noticed, upon reading a great deal of them today, that I might have sounded a trifle needy! Good grief! We must have been in love, I guess. : )

Kathleen, being highly romantic right now, sighed and handed them over as she sorted. Kristofer, I'm pretty sure, was taking mental notes from the contents of the cards he managed to sneak peaks at. He said, "When I grow up, I think I'll write letters to MY girlfriend!" He's just now starting to admit that he likes a particular girl. He won't say who, being a wise brother of nosy sisters and mother, but at least he's not gagging every time he sees or hears of anything romantic. He's another one who will be taller than me in no time at all.

I finally got all pictures and cards and memorabilia safely repacked in plastic boxes and stored safely in my closet. I would really like to go through and put them in albums. There are some precious memories in there. I realized then that when it came to putting things in albums, I didn't start doing that until we actually had children. We've got wedding and honeymoon pictures in albums, but not much more, and even those need to be redone to a keep the pictures in better condition.

I'll do that in my SPARE time. HA!

Anyway, now that I've typed on and on, I'm going to type some more with my DIET UPDATE, because it's Monday, and that's what I do on Mondays!

First of all, I would like to thank you all for bearing with me in yet another diet endeavor. I've kind of elected all of you as my Diet Coaches and Accountability Partners. Thank you!

I would like to report one more pound lost. That makes a total of 17 pounds. I was hoping for more than one pound since last week, but it was not to be. I am, though, feeling much better with the daily walks. The days are so beautiful right now as we head into spring. I think, though, that I'll need to watch my calories a little more carefully for the pounds to come off faster. At least I'm still going down! My wedding ring is starting to feel looser and I'm wearing clothes one size down! Of course, as yet, I've got a bit of the mushroom effect going with my jeans . . .

In my quest to think more like a thin person, I have another question to put out to all you skinny people out there who may still be reading this far down! What do you do about food cravings? Do you even GET food cravings? What if the cravings are really bad? Like for instance . . . . a hamburger, fries and a coke -- with something sweet at the end -- that usually adds up all together to about 2000 calories in one sitting? This is probably my biggest threat to losing weight. My gluttony when it comes to my favorite food. Hamburger, fries and a coke. Yum. All right, you skinny people, what do you do? Do you succumb and thin eat really lightly for a while? Do you only eat a little bit of the food you crave and then you're fine? Do you ignore the craving all together?

Okay, I guess I'll wrap it up now since the kids really need to get to bed.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The finished projects

Here's the baby afghan!
The edging up close
And the little hat. I have no idea if the hat will fit properly. I modified the instructions to make a smaller version of the adult hat. I hope it works for little Mary Joy.

"And in the morning, we'll make WAFFLES!"

This week, we started unpacking the neglected boxes down in the basement. Kristofer brings up one box at a time. So far, we've unpacked much needed towels, extra linens, extra clothes (some of them too small!), a water fountain, and two waffle makers!
I have to note here that I distinctly dislike making waffles because we've only got two single waffle makers. If there were just a few of us, that would be one thing, but making waffles one at a time for six or seven hungry kids is not a fun thing. However, Kathleen was wanting terribly to try, so here she is learning domestic needful things.
The first waffle maker worked out fine, but we had a little trouble with the other one. It decided to stick badly. Perhaps we didn't let it preheat enough, but how to clean a waffle maker? Can't soak it!

Stormy Days

Yesterday was one of those weird days where things aren't quite right but I didn't really care. I felt like reading, or watching TV or just napping for the day.

I took the kids to the library in the morning, as planned, to avoid the bad weather coming our way. Then, because I was in a lazy mood, we went to Wendy's for lunch. I know that the kids are getting bigger, because they don't all beg, pledge their eternal allegiance, or even whimper for a kid's meal. No! They want fresceta sandwiches, burgers with bacon, 350-piece chicken pieces. Only three wanted kid's meals, but even those three weren't full afterward. There was not an extra french fry in sight! Gone are the days of scarfing down my kids' leftover french fries. (Which I guess is a good thing.) They are starting to ask for MINE! So, for all seven of us (Keva was at school and Keith at work), it cost -- gulp -- $27! I needed a equity line of credit. Then, because they weren't quite full, we got $7 worth of frosties after that. $34 for lunch. That's horrible. We could have gone to a restaurant for what that cost. I felt like hiding my head in shame as we left, but we did get three bobble-head toys that, when we got home, Kody promptly got to work on chewing into little itty-bitty bits.

Then, we just kind of sat around and read. The rain came down and we all took our places. Keri Lynn and I claimed the two recliners in the living room. Kristofer was upstairs in his room. Then, Keri Lynn and Kathleen moved on to a book on tape, while the little kids. We definitely covered our Language Arts for the day, but not much of anything else.

Then, later in the afternoon, looking at my watch in surprise, I ran out the door with a list of errands that I needed to get done before dinner, the most important one being to pick up our Olan Mills pictures that we had ordered after getting our church directory picture done (or as they say here in the south -- our picture made. Keva was a little cross-eyes and I was squinting, but everyone else looked just fine. In fact, I was a little taken aback by the fact that the kids looked so BIG! Everyone is growing up! The last picture we had done professionally, the little boys were three and four. What a difference a few years make. Pudgy cheeks diminishing. Long angular bodies with teeth that desperately need braces emerging!

And because I just "didn't have time!" (HA!) to make dinner, I dropped by Little Ceasar's to get some of those wonderful $5 pizzas. Pizza has got to be one of life's greatest inventions. Not because I necessarily enjoy eating pizza. I do, but hamburgers and fries are always my first choice for take-out. But because pizza takes so little clean-up. The kids don't even use plates usually -- just paper towels (the "fancy" plates). Keith throws the pizza boxes in the fireplace and we have eat pizza by firelight! No fuss, no muss. What more could a family ask for on a stormy night.

Pretty much the whole state of Georgia was on tornado watch last night. No trips to the basement. We didn't go into tornado warning, that I know of anyway, because we turned the TV off at 10:00 last night, but -- all in all -- the weather was pretty mild compared to other storms we've had. The ground is nice and soggy and the weather remains warm. We're supposed to be in the 60s today. Warm air + cold air = tornadoes. It's really not unlike California "earthquake weather." After a big storm, I'd always wonder if we'd get an earthquake soon because of the rain water soaking and shifting the ground. Still, if there are no tornado watches up today, I'm going on my walk.

Speaking of walks, earlier this week, while I was on my usual trek into Phase 2 of our development, I came across a very loud, vicious, frothing-at-the-mouth barking dog, tethered tenuously at the front lawn of a new neighbor. If it hadn't been tethered, I would have run back the other way, but -- as it was -- I walked on, trying to be calm and not scared, because (you know, or so I've been told) dogs can sense your fear. I gave it no eye contact. Tried to remember to look in control. Channeled Cesar Milan! Tried not to remember when I was bitten as a young child by just such a vicious dog. Heard an old woman call powerlessly from the house's front door for the dog to be quiet. Wondering, all the while, that if the dog did manage to come loose and come after me, should I run, stand straight and tall and act unafraid (ha!), scream . . . Meanwhile, the dog was literally choking itself to try to get out of its tether. I walked on, continuing my walk to the bottom of the hill and back up past the same house.

I saw a construction worker at the house at the corner and debated with myself for a few minutes whether or not I should ask him to walk with me past the dog! I finally decided that my Spanish was not good enough and, even if it was, I'd feel terribly foolish being such a wimp. Still, in all honesty, as I walked up the hill, if I'd seen the dog still out on the lawn, I would have gone back to the worker anyway and asked for help! Tether or no tether! That dog had really scared me. Fortunately, the woman must have been able to lure the dog back into the house. Maybe she had a t-bone steak that it ripped to shreds. I don't know.

Later that night, I told Keith about the vicious dog and asked him what I should do if that dog or any dog came on the attack. He said comforting things like to not let the dog take me down because vicious dogs like that go for the jugular. He told me to never show a dog fear. (Note to people talking to those with dog phobias -- this is not helpful!) Then, Keith wisely suggested that I go back to the house and talk to the dog's owner and explain about how scared I had been walking by their dog and find out if the dog was dangerous. Ahhh, now that was a good idea.

So that's what I did the next day. Only I didn't go alone. I asked Kristofer to protect me from the mean vicious dog. He said in his sweetest totally relaxed voice, "Of course I'll help you, Mom!" He asked what kind of dog it was and if it was very big. I told him it was HUGE, probably a rottweiler or a pit bull, all slathering teeth, ready to eat me.

The dog wasn't out front this time, when we rang the doorbell and the same old woman answered the door, but didn't open it all the way. The dog was starting to bark. She didn't know who were were yet, so talked to us from the screen at the front room of the house. Bailey, the much-smaller-than-remembered, boxer barked and made a fuss, but by the end of the conversation was licking us both through the screen and wagging her cute stubby tail. Apparently, she's not bred to eat wayward pedestrians, but she does bark at anyone daring to come close to her territory. The woman, the grandmother who lives with her son and family, watches the toddler while the parents are at work, and she never leaves the dog out without being tethered. Of course, when we left, after a very nice conversation, I looked at the tether and saw that it was straining out of the ground. Not exactly comforting, but I'm no longer afraid for my life! If Baily does get loose, I think I'll be okay!


Thursday, March 01, 2007


The weatherman definitely has a serious job here in Georgia. No Johnny Mountain glamor job here. I get my first weather report from Keva's bus driver. Sometimes, she gives me a traffic report, too, so that Keith can avoid bad freeway happenings. Today, Kelly told me that there's a serious thunderstorm coming in by the afternoon. Already, as I put Keva on the bus, the skies were ominously dark. And sure enough, when I turned on The Weather Channel, I pretty much surmised that I was NOT going on a walk today.

We'll be going to the library this morning instead of after lunch to avoid the weather. We're going to throw off the library staff completely, marching in there so early, but I guess they'll manage.

Yesterday was the usual busy Wednesday with a twist. I went to Joy's baby shower after Bible study with FINISHED baby blanket in hand.

I finished the last row of the edging that morning, looked at my watch and decided that I had just enough time to make a little matching cap. (I always work well under pressure -- Idiot that I am!) Anyway, I factored in hair/make-up, gathering up everything, last minute instructions to the kids, etc. to the last minute. Kathleen made a cute card for the blanket and picked out a gift bag. Keri Lynn took pictures of the finished project and folded it into the bag. In fact, I was quite pleased with myself, until I tried to plug in my hair dryer, while standing in the bathroom sopping wet, mousse all over my hair and failed electrical outlets in bathroom and bedroom. Finally, two hair dryers later, I was drying my hair out in the kitchen, watching that precious time tick away. I hate to be late!

I managed to get to Bible study just in time anyway. And the shower was a lot of fun. Shannon made a delicious chicken salad that we ate with crescents. Delectable treats to dip in chocolate. Those cute little square cakes -- what are they called? It was all delicious. Joy opened up presents after we ate, and I've never seen so many adorable monogrammed little girl clothes and accessories in all my life! She loved my blanket and I loved making it. It is a great joy to make something for a little one coming into the world.

Keith has been working overtime all week this week. We need the money, but I sure do miss him. When he's gone, I'm the one who goes around "battening down the hatches" at night. Was the garage door closed? All lights off and doors locked? Lately, it's been an extra challenge. Keva's decided that she likes to flip her light back on after she's been put to bed. I had been going back in, telling her sternly to get back to bed and turning her lights off again. It's hopeless. The minute I've left the room, she's gotten up and turned her light on again. I've now been trained to wait until she's asleep. After a while, when I know she's truly fallen asleep, I go in and turn off her light and all is peaceful again.