When did this happen?

Do you ever have those moments in your life when you are doing something and you think “how in the world did I get HERE”?  Here at this exact moment in your life when you have four kids and your putting one on the bus in the early morning, hoping and praying he has a good day and listens well.   Or when you are walking back to your house, looking at your neighbors well-kept yards and flowers, with a little pep in your step, so that you can go wake up the brother and sisters to get them going for the day only to do it all over again and put them on another bus and praying for them as the big orange rectangle takes them away.  And you think to yourself, how did I get HERE, at this exact moment, with four kiddos, a cat, a dog and a house in the suberb?

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It’s these kind of days that when you are in the thick of it, you just want them to be over, for the weekend to hurry up and get here so that you can grab an extra hour of sleep before you start the day filled with soccer games, football games, a birthday party squeezed in and then dinner.  When three kiddos all yelling “mom!!!” and fighting each other or needing a band-aid and a kiss, or upset about what a friend said to hurt their feelings, that make you want to lock yourself in the laundry room to give a good cry (true story) before you come back out to face them all again.

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It’s the kind of days when your neighbor’s daughter who is 22, comes home to visit, from where she moved after college to Kansas, and you think, I remember when we had those parents over for a cookout and she stood in our garage singing Brittany Spears when she was 10!  It’s when you look at her and think it’s gone, in the blink of the eye, all those years are gone and HERE is where you are.  Moving through life, taking all these little daily moments for granted and HERE is where life has brought you.  To the days where the kiddos still need you to talk openly and excitedly about their first crush on a girl in their class, to want you to still kiss their boo-boos away and who still need a 3rd drink of water before falling to sleep.  It’s HERE where you fall into bed at night utterly exhausted from the day, thinking that you would love to look at the new magazine that came in the mail today but you are just too tired.  It’s HERE where God has put you exactly where you supposed to be at this exact moment in your life, no matter how many times you think that you can’t do one more day by yourself while the hubby is at work, no matter how many tears are shed thinking that you are failing as a mother and the feeling guilty over the yelling that just happened, God has his hand tucked safely in yours and is watching over you.  He’s got this.  He’s got this.

How about S’More?!

Caden_FireI went to a girl scout leader meeting about a month ago and they had a S’More Bar (best thing ever!) in lieu of desserts and I was in awe — what a great idea!  They also had a take-home handout which listed all the different types of s’mores that you can make and so below are all those yummy combinations but unfortunately, I cannot take credit for creating these — although I hope to take the credit for trying all of them this summer!

I had never even imagined anything outside of the good ol’ backyard fire s’more but sure enough, ready for the challenge, I made a few that night at the meeting and OMGoodness, were they good!  If you are like our family and are willing to fire up the logs in the backyard just for the purpose of making s’mores (this is Caden in the picture, our lover in the family of all things S’More) or, if you have a camping trip planned this summer, make sure to bring along a few more goodies than normal!

Do these not sound absolutely delicious!?

Elvis S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Banana Slices & Peanut Butter

Cinnamon Toast S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow & White Chocolate

Mint Chocolate S’More
Chocolate Wafers, Toasted Marshmallow and a Peppermint Patty

Caramel Apple S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Apple Slices & a Caramel-Filled Chocolate

Nutty Banana S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Reese’s Cup & Sliced Banana

Strawberry & Chocolate S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Slices

Cinnamon & Caramel S’More
Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Caramel-Filled Chocolate

Padding Bear S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Orange Marmalade & Dark Chocolate

Strawberries & Coconut S’More
Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow, Strawberries & White Chocolate

PB&J S’More
Graham Crackers, Strawberry Toasted Marshmallow, Peanut Butter & Strawberries

 

Father’s Day HUGE card!

Because Mother’s Day falls during the school year, I am always the bearer of cute gifts made in the classroom.  Dad’s out there tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to homemade crafts for Father’s Day because it falls after the school year is out for the summer unfortunately and so this leaves us moms to our own devices!  I searched the internet high and low for something that the kiddos can make Kevin (aka Dad) for Father’s Day. But a few days ago, lo and behold, an email was delivered right to my inbox of a very creative card to make!

I follow a blog called Sidetracked Sarah over here and she wrote a post about a “candy” card that she and her kiddos made for their father.  I had to copy follow her idea as I knew it was perfect for hubby as he has a huge sweet tooth and I knew it was simply enough that all my children, ages 3-10, could participate in.

It calls for get this, 21 candy bars!  We headed out to the local Wal-Mart with our list, where the kiddos decided to be on the worst best behavior, and we ended up having to substitute a few candy bars for others we found but we managed to get 90% of them.  Some were king size, some were normal, others were in the “candy” aisle instead of up by the checkout and so we spent a little bit of time gathering everything. Isabella decided on the bright lime green board because it was “bright”!  When we checked out, I think the older lady was wondering what the heck was going on, because of course, in buying all this candy, we each then had to pick up one for ourselves to have a treat in the car!  But she never asked and she continued to scan the candy without missing a beat.

I printed all the words out in big type and we merely taped on each of the candy bars. We weren’t able to make ALL the  candy bars fit and so we had to just eat the few that didn’t make it — you know, to hide the evidence from dad that anything was being made!

Here’s the end result!  We were so happy with it and the kids were so excited to give it to him!

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Here’s how Sidetracked Sarah instructed us to do it:

Dear Daddy, We were going to get you a Whopping (Whoppers) (100 Grand) for Father’s Day, but the money slipped through our (Butterfingers).  We had (Zero) (Extra) (Whatchamakalits) to sell and it was not (Payday).  We thought about taking you to get a ([kit]Kat) or out for (Hot Talmales), but we know you would not like that.  We did not think an (Orbit) around the (Milky Way) or a trip to New (York) would work, so (Crunch) this card as we wish you (Mounds) of ([Almond] Joy).  We hope you don’t (Rolo)ver and get sick.  If you do, we will try not to (Snicker).   You are  a (Lifesaver).  We (Skor)ed getting you for a dad.  We love you to ([Reese’s] Pieces). Love,

Your (Nerds).

Here’s a list of the candy, just in case you want to copy this exactly:

  • Whoppers
  • 100 Grand
  • Butterfinger
  • Zero
  • Extra Gum
  • Whatchamakalit
  • Payday
  • Kit Kat
  • Hot Tamales
  • Orbit
  • Milky Way
  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Crunch
  • Mounds
  • Almond Joy
  • Rolos
  • Snickers
  • Lifesavers
  • Skor
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Nerds

I think this card could be made into almost any occasion to use it for a gift — who doesn’t love receiving candy!  Have fun!

Thankful Tuesday!

This year, especially, I am thankful for some much.  It’s been a long year with so many ups and downs but it looks as though my family and I will be ending the year on a good note.  For today’s post, I give you 24 things that I am thankful for…one for each day leading up to and the day of Thanksgiving.  Some serious, some silly.  These are in no particular order…just typing as I think of them.

1. My in-laws.  What a blessing they have been to Kevin and I and the kids throughout the years and especially in the past two years as we dealt with Kevin’s layoff, etc.  I am truly thankful that I enjoy being with my in-laws and enjoy their company.

2. My sister.  She is my best friend, my voice-of-reason.  It’s weird for us not to communicate somehow, someway each day.  She too, has just been a huge blessing and influence in my life and I am so thankful that we have kept our “sisterly” bond all these years.

3. My husband.  He is the calm one between the two of us when life gets hairy.  I appreciate this quality about him although sometimes I secretly wish he would stress out with me to make me feel normal!  ha!

4. My kiddos.  I was telling a neighbor this morning that sometimes I wake up and think “wow, I have kids”!  Having children is the hardest, most enjoyable thing anyone can do but wow, what an adventure they provide!

5. My dad.  I don’t see him as much as I would like but I love my dad.

6. Extended family such as Aunts and Uncles that love you and support you just as much as if they were your own mom and dad.  My brother-in-law for his willingness to help us with car problems or fix things around the house!

7. Our church.  Our church is just so alive and I really enjoy getting refreshed and energized when I go each Sunday. Church to me is like taking your car to the gas station…a place to get refueled for the week.

8. Eddie, our dog.  He is so sweet and loving and sometimes, you just need someone to put their head on you and show you that they appreciate you; no matter what…he does that.

9. Good neighbors.  Truly, I love our neighbors.  A good portion of us on the street have lived next to each other for over think we all have the general feeling that we would help any one of us out if we needed it and I love being able to walk down the street and see everyone out and say hello.

10. A job.  And one that I actually enjoy.  I have a good work/life balance in my position and in having four kiddos and a hubby that works evenings; it’s what I need.  My boss is just a really good person to work for and I just really can say I enjoy it.

11. Technology.  Think about, I am able to drive down the interstate at 70 mph, carrying 4 children in the seats behind me, while they are playing their games on their hand-held DS and I’m talking to my sister on a phone that’s the size of a credit card.

12. Food and water.  I think about various countries around the world such as Africa, where children are still dying for lack of water, and I appreciate that even some nights if we have to eat only hot dogs and chips, other children would think that it’s a feast.  It’s all in your perspective of things.

13. A washer.  Sounds simple and stupid maybe but can you imagine having to do laundry for 6 people by hand?

14. Knowledge of knitting.  Again, maybe another silly one, but it seriously calms my nerves and soothes me in the evenings after I’ve had a long day with work and the kiddos.

15. Medications.  Samuel has ADHD and when he doesn’t take his medication, it’s a bumpy roller coaster ride.  But with them, he acts like any other normal 9 year old would and for that, I am thankful.  I know many people may scoff at this one but for our family situation, it’s the right choice.

16. Samuel’s sense of humor.  Samuel was blessed with a wonderful sense of mischievious and humor!  He can make me laugh out loud at times.

17. Caden’s sweetness.  Caden is my “cuddler” and loves to hug and be told that I love him.  I appreciate this and hopes he always keeps his loving nature about him.

18. Isabella’s sassiness!  Wow, she truly is something but it’s because of this, I know she’ll do fine in life.  She’s so confident in herself and I love that about her.

19. Evelyn’s age.  She’s at that age where everything is so new, learning new words, curious about everything but yet at the same time, still wants and needs her mama.  Love it.

20.  Seasons of weather.  I am thankful that we get to see God’s handiwork all throughout the year with the various seasons…the coloring of the trees in the fall, the uniqueness of each snowflake that falls in the winter, the beautiful spring flowers and then warmth of summer days,.

21.  Sunsets and sunrises.  Reminds me that YES, there are new days and chances to get another day right.

22.  My home.  I often envy those that have bigger, newer homes; ones with basements, one with big yards; those who have land out on a farm — but when I think about basic necessities and what’s important in life, I know that we are blessed in that we DO have a home that keeps us sheltered from the weather, keeps us warm and provides a place for us to be together each day.

23. Family Dinners such as those on Thanksgiving.  What a great thing to do, get together with all your family to catch up on news and laugh and have a good time.  We all should do it more often than just mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas.

24.  God’s unending love and mercy.

Rain, Rain, don’t go away!

This past weekend, we took the family over to the local splash park  (see picture below) where we let the kids play freely for a couple of hours running amidst all the water and squirt machines.  They had a blast and it was fun to watch them just playing with no other worries.  As I sat there, and saw them and numerous amounts of other children playing among all this water, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate we are.

As mine are literally running through water, others on the other side of the world are dying for it.  Many of you may or may not have seen the stories about the drought in Africa right now but they are having its worst drought in over 60 years.  It’s a wretched situation and you can read more about it here.

I watched a news story and they were interviewing a widowed woman who had been traveling for days with 5 children in hopes of better land, food and water. One of the young boys with her was one that she picked up along the way because his parents had literally died as they traveled and so she took him in as her own. I can’t even fathom the idea of leaving everything I own and setting out with my own four children, nevertheless taking in more, with hopes, not facts, that I’ll find food and water.  It made me ask myself if I could be strong enough to do the same as she did?  Could I?

My family, we are NOT wealthy.  Hubby is still not working, as he hasn’t been able to find an ample paying job right now to cover any type of daycare expenses and bring home a profit on over two years after being laid off.  Things are tight, VERY tight, as we literally live paycheck-to-paycheck, and there are some nights I look in the cupboard and think what am I going to fix these kids? But I somehow always manage to pull a meal together and our bellies are always full.  We are fortunate that we have a roof over our heads that keeps us cool during the summer and warm during the winter. I’m able to fill my watering can FULL of WATER, and think nothing of it, so that I may water the flowers on the porch to stay colorful so that our home has an inviting feel to it from the outside.

And so, it breaks my heart to see the images of the malnutritioned children, because of lack of water, and know that here in my poverished bit of the world, I can do nothing except pray for these individuals.  When I start feeling sorry for myself, letting thoughts creep into my head that we don’t have the newest phones, the trendiest clothes or a large home, I see and read a story like this one and it puts everything in to perspective for me — that I am truly blessed with abundance!  Compared to a great deal of people in this world, my cup is overflowing. I believe that prayer does have a copious amount of power to it and that God hears our cries for individuals in need.  It’s a simple step that can do so much.