Sunday, June 27, 2010

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

587. safety during a couple nasty storms in our area
588. a VERY productive Saturday
589. visit with friends
590. purging!
591. a great sidewalk sale and some bargains
592. sunshine and a pool
593. getting one of our kiddos back after nearly a week away from home
594. peeking through the windows into our newly remodeled neighborhood library that opens in a few more days (we've missed it the past 16 months!!!)
595. the many "characters" in our lives
596. s'mores night at the Java Train
597. decent adjustment to the new bedroom set-up for all the kids (well, relatively speaking anyway)
598. de-cluttering!
599. a (short) Sunday afternoon nap
600. an organizational system that seems to be working
601. family time
602. tired kiddos at the end of the day
603. a good book . . . or two . . . read this week
604. the combination of good friends, a trampoline, a sprinker and snacks
605. chats with friends
606. friends who don't mind (and barely even notice) when you pick up your daughter 2 hours late from their daughter's birthday party
607. Half Price Books
608. nesting

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

holy experience

Friday, June 25, 2010

flashback friday

poor Lydia . . . maybe this explains some things!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

thankful thursday

We are so thankful that Anna is a part of our family! She is a really fun girl who seems to be "coming into herself" more and more each day lately. What a blessing she is to us {and to lots of other people as well, I think!}

Well, Anna is learning to count. If you ask her how old she is, she will say "two!". If you ask her any other question that she senses might be numeric, she answers "twenty two". {On a related note, if you ask her any question that she senses might involve color, she will answer "blue".} She is a silly girl.

On another semi-related note, I am completely over my "twos". At least for now. If that doesn't make sense to you, check out this post to catch yourself up! Hope fully "the twos" will stay a memory and not re-appear in my life again!

So, back to Anna . . . she sure is growing up. She gets a little bit more personality each day lately. Also, she is becoming quite fiesty! {which, I suppose, shouldn't surprise me, all things considered.} A couple of her latest tricks are that if any of her siblings say to her, "I love you, Anna!", she will reply with, "NO! I love _____________ {fill in the blank with the name of another sibling -- or sometimes a parent. But never the one who initially told her that she was loved. You get no reciprical love from that girl, that's for sure!} Then she gets a big grin on her face. This is extra funny, because I have been told numerous times about when I was probably her age and would say to my mom over and over again, "I love Mama, no. I love Daddy." Another case of like-mother-like-daughter, I guess. I do adore my mom {and my dad}, and haven't said that to her in over 30 years, so hopefully Anna will grow out of it too. Her next recent trick is that anything I ask her to do or suggest {for example, "Anna, stop hitting."} is met with the phrase, "No, you!" {"No, you stop!" "No, you go potty!", "No, you eat lunch" -- ok, thanks, I will!-- or just the plain old, two-year-old, "NO!"} Nice! I appreciate that so much! I'm not sure exactly where she picked that up. The other kids don't say "No, you." Oh well . . . this too shall pass . . . right?

So, here is a video clip from the other day {I apologize for the fact that it is sideways. I couldn't figure out how to flip it over! You can tip your head . . . or your monitor . . . or you can just watch it sideways. You'll still get the point} of Anna counting. Without fail, she counts like this::"two, one, tree, four, hive, six, sev-y, eight, nine, ten, elev-y, eight, nine, ten, elev-y, eight . . . " and on and on. Every time without fail. She gets caught in a nasty cycle where eight follows elev-y and she just can't break it. Also, she always starts counting at two. It is a very important number, you know!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

last day of school recap

Well, we've got more than a week of summer break under our belts and I thought I would re-cap our last day of school for the 2009-2010 school year. Overall, I think it was a good year for everyone, although not without some challenges!

On the last day there is an awards recognition for the 5th and 6th graders. Jacob was honored for being a bus patrol and playing in the band. The 2 littles weren't overly cooperative, so we didn't stay for the whole thing, but we did get to see Jacob get both his awards. Way to go, Buddy! Here he is proudly displaying his band certificate::
I was waiting outside the school for the kiddos to exit. I wasn't making them ride the bus home {they would each rather get home in almost any other fashion than the school bus, so I said I'd pick them up on the last day!}. I was chatting with some friends among all the moms {and a dad or two!} outside, when Lydia came out the doors with tears streaming down her little cheeks, eyes puffy and red. Without even knowing what was wrong I start crying too {surprise!} and she b-lines it toward me for a hug. I hug her and try to compose myself and then ask her what's wrong. She can't answer {poor thing is turning into me right before my eyes. This is probably not a surprise to my mom, since she's been telling me for quite some time how much LJ is like me. Really? I was that much of a . . . what shall we say? . . . challenge . . . as a kid? I'm so sorry, Mom! So sorry.} Anyway, finally I ask if she's just sad that the year is done and she nods her head and hugs me some more. Later on in the van, when she was completely composed she asked if I wanted to know why she was crying. I said yes and she said that her teacher gives compliments to all the kids on the last day and her compliment to Lydia was really nice and it made her cry. She told us that her compliment was that at the beginning of the year LJ didn't enjoy reading and didn't want to do it and by the end of 2nd grade she had really blossomed in her reading and was enjoying it and that was great. Plus, she told us that her teacher sprinkled them with magic {confetti} and turned them into 3rd graders. LJ has been carrying her "magic" around with her ever since. I keep finding it all over . . . which is very sweet. And also annoying! See, she can be a very sweet, sensitive girl!

The kids and their fabulous teachers::

Lydia and her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Kakaliouras::
{you might recognize her from this post. Yup, she taught 2nd grade to Rebekah last year!}

Lydia and her 3rd grade teacher, Miss Splett {a NWC grad!}::
Jacob and his 5th grade teacher, Mr. Hanson::
All 5 kiddos on the last day of school and the beginning of SUMMER! {Lydia can hardly contain her excitement, you'll notice! I blame the crying hangover. Those can be nasty!}
Also, the kids took my camera for a while during the half hour or so we were standing around chatting with other families after the official end of school and I have some really funny, crazy, pictures to show for it. Mostly taken by Joe, but with some help from his siblings too. Maybe I'll post them at some point, but it's a little bigger project than I intended for today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Unexpected blessings

We moved into our house just over 12 years ago.

We got a 30-year mortgage.

Rates dropped a couple years later, so we refinanced to a 20-year.

Then they dropped some more. Significantly enough that we went through the whole refinancing rigamaroll again. This time a 15-year.

I'm not even sure anymore exactly how many years we have left, but we'll be done before Jacob finishes high school.

We got our mortgage statement in the mail yesterday. {I love getting the mail anyway, you know. It's one of the highlights of my day. Yup, I know. I'm a geek!} I know our mortgage is our biggest bill, and it probably should bum me out to see it in my mailbox, but instead, I find it fun to get it each month.

I love to see how quickly our mortgage balance drops {the portion of our payment that goes to principle is about 2.5 times more than the portion that goes to interest!} each month. Well, today when it came it was extra fun!

And completely unexpected, which is always great!

When you add to that the fact that it was very well-timed {with 5 more days 'til payday, a measly little checking account balance and some stuff that needs to be paid this week} it equals a really big blessing.

You're not following, right? Mortgage statements don't usually come with money. Quite the opposite, in fact. Well, I'll explain: we got our annual escrow review statement in the envelope today. Usually this statement ends by telling us how they underestimated our escrow again and we owed them a lump sum of money {not usually TOO much, but still . . .} and that in the year to come our payment would have a slight increase. Today was the complete opposite {one of the very few perks to our country's economy possibly?}. We got a refund check for more than $250 for the overage of the balance in our escrow account, along with word that our payments would be roughly $70 less in the coming year. Praise God!! I plan to still pay the same amount I've been paying each month {which already was over the payment amount}, but now that extra $70 each month will chip away at that balance even quicker! I know enough to realize that if I lowered my payment by that $70 it wouldn't work out that we would have $70 extra a month of cushion in our budget anyway. It always finds a way to get absorbed. Does that happen to you too, or is it just us?

Anyway, that was my unexpected blessing for the day. Any unexpected blessings for you lately?

Monday, June 21, 2010

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

567. wonderful dads: like the one I've got and the one my kids have!
568. re-organizing
569. surviving the first week of all the kids home
570. celebrating with friends
571. bonfires on a beautiful night surrounded by great people
572. a day spent with some great friends we don't get to see too often . . . and the ability for it to seem like we were just together the other day
573. kids covered in dirt and smiles
574. gridlock {if not for some gridlocked traffic yesterday, I would have been in the middle of an intersection as a driver went speeding through a red light right as my van -- with our 3 girls in it -- would have been in the intersection had it not been for the nasty, backed up traffic! Praise God!}
575. people who notice . . . and care
576. amazing weather
577. fresh, line-dried sheets on all the beds
578. a little summer organization
579. crossing things off my to-do list
580. a {hopefully} calmer next couple days
581. a hubby who sings great and makes me cry
582. friendly neighbors
583. early morning lattes and reading the Sunday paper together with Kirbs
584. a cool, still, quiet morning
585. the longest day of the year
586. the official beginning of summer

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

holy experience

Thursday, June 17, 2010

thankful thursday

I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 9.1-2 {New Living Translation}

Monday, June 14, 2010

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

555. lightning lighting up the night sky bright as day
556. rolling thunder {although I don't completely enjoy the part about all my kids running scared into our bedroom at the first clap}
557. finishing a big project
558. some kidless time at home to get things done {see #557}
559. people who care about and invest in the lives of my kids
560. then ending of another great school year
561. friends
562. treats at the gas station
563. a fun family meeting to make up our summer list
564. kids playing Uno on a Saturday morning
565. {more} hand me downs
566. family walks in a beautiful night

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

holy experience

Saturday, June 12, 2010

end-of-year teacher gifts

since school is now done for another year, a couple weeks ago i started thinking about what i should do for thank you gifts for our kids' fabulous teachers this year. since i am a procrastinator, i didn't really get started until just a couple days ago. so, just in the nick of time, i finished putting them together. another year behind us, the time sure flies by . . .

i usually like to make something unique, useful and personal for those people who invest so much in the lives of our precious kiddos and this year i came up with this::
handmade laundry soap in fun {upcycled . . . or is it just recycled? reused maybe? i really don't know!} etched glass containers that read either "clean" or "wash" {and in one case both!} that i did here and there throughout much of tuesday this week {i etched the containers and made the laundry powder myself} and also some handmade soaps from the local blue heron soap company which i picked up at the farmer's market {i love the farmers market!} -- our family soap of choice is goat milk soap {we LOVE it}, but i wanted something local for our teachers. i attached cute little tags to each gift that say "have some good, clean fun this summer". {i was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that one. creativity with words is not usually my strong suit.}

i love gifts that are useful and consumable. and, for me, if it's unique and handmade that is even better! most of us don't need one more "thing" in our homes to clutter things up. right? and i figured most of the teachers were probably full-up on apple printed "#1 teacher" coffee mugs. i'm quite confident that each of the recipients who will be got these both bathes and does laundry, so hopefully they will find it useful . . . and all the more in the summer when so much time is spent outside. especially if you are a teacher and have the summer off!

so, that's what i've been working on . . . along with some shower invitations and a big order of wedding invitations that i hope to finish over the weekend and a baby gift and another wedding gift that i helped my mom to make . . . there's so much creating to be done! i love it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

flashback friday

in honor of the last day of school, here are "last day of school" pictures from 2008::
lj doesn't have a backpack on because she was a kindergartener 2 years ago and kindergarten always gets done a day earlier than the rest of the school, so she was already a day into her summer break!

gettin' on the bus for the last time for a while::
bring on the summer . . . they survived 3rd & 1st grade, respectively::
rebekah still wears those purple keens. either they were way too big in 2008 or her feet haven't grown much recently {although, trust me, they are plenty big anyway. a women's size 6} or those shoes are like the flour and oil the widow and her son had in I Kings 17 and she just never outgrows them. anyway . . . sorry about that tangent, i couldn't help myself!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

thankful thursday


Today I am thankful for summer. I'm looking forward to more time with the kiddos and having the time we have all together be more relaxed. We always make a list of things we would love to do over summer break. We tell the kiddos to dream big and we right all of it down. We don't promise we'll do it all, but we usually do the vast majority. Maybe I'll post our summer list after we make it in case it inspires you to try something fun and new as well!

Monday, June 7, 2010

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

540. being able to bless others
541. a kiddo old enough {and enthusiastic to boot!} to mow the lawn
542. a church family that is supportive and encouraging
543. gratitude
544. clean clothes
545. enough food
546. online shopping
547. helpful salespeople at the store
548. thoughtful friends
549. DQ
550. a quiet week
551. a husband who does SO much!
552. the fun of the farmer's market
553. swimming outdoors {yeah for summer!}
554. laying in bed at night listening to the rain

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

holy experience

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This 'n that

Here's a few new things going on around here::
  • My friend christened our van "The Stoll Haul". Pretty cute, huh? Maybe that will be enough of a hint that people will stop mispronouncing our name so that it insinuates that I take things that don't belong to me . . . I guess that means I'd rather have my name bring people mental images of a stinky, smallish section of a barn that needs to be mucked out! {no, our van doesn't actually say "stoll haul" on the side . . . you can do amazing things with photo editing!}
  • Rebekah fell off the monkey bars at school on Thursday. I got the call from the nurse {she's my buddy . . . we often have reason to chat on the phone . . . unfortunate as that often is!} while in Target with the two overtired and ready-for-a-nap "littles". We checked out, called the pediatrician's office on the way to pick her up to tell them that we were headed their direction. We, then, spent nearly 2 hours at the clinic getting x-rays and finding out that Rebekah potentially chipped the bone in her elbow. We don't know for sure because they didn't intentionally x-ray her elbow . . . she was complaining of pain in her forearm, so they x-rayed that, but got her elbow in the picture as well {bonus!}. The forearm looked beautiful, but -- unfortunately -- there seemed to be something "floating" in her elbow that looked suspicious. The sent the x-rays to Gillette specialty hospital downtown {where Lydia had cranial-facial surgery when she was 7 months old . . . sounds like a big deal huh? I wanted you to think that. Actually they just removed a dermoid cyst that she had near her temple. It was all over in half and hour and she went home hardly knowing what had happened . . . I can still picture what she wore home from the hospital. But, I digress!} and they thought it looked ok, but couldn't be sure because it wasn't really a great image of the elbow itself. They sent us home with her arm wrapped and in a sling with instructions for complete immobility of the arm and to "lay low" for 4 or 5 days. Then if it hasn't gotten better or feels worse we have to have it re-x-rayed. I really have no idea what you would do to fix a floating little bone chip on the tip of your elbow anyway . . . I can't image it would be a very straight-forward fix! Sleeping comfortably is a challenge {especially when she is plagued with sleep issues anyway!}, but apart from that she seems to be feeling pretty good and the pain is under control. What a trooper!
  • Kirb is home again {he got home Thursday night} after being in Fargo as a workshop speaker at a conference he was attending with some co-workers. Some crisis always comes up when he's out of town, so I guess the whole arm/elbow thing shouldn't have been too much of a surprise. But, we're thrilled to have him home with us safe and sound.
  • Lydia will be 8 tomorrow . . . yikes, I'm not at all sure how that happened!

Friday, June 4, 2010

flashback friday

6 years ago this week::

with our friends the Elliotts in Idaho

Somehow, even though I can't believe it's true, Rachel just graduated from high school {and we're THRILLED that she'll be coming back "home" to Minnesota at the end of the summer to attend NWC!}. We've known her since she was born. Spent many an evening babysitting her {and her fabulous brother, David -- who has grown up into a golf superstar!}. She was in our wedding. Then, when she was about Lydia's age her parents did the unthinkable and moved her to the other side of the country. We found it in our hearts to forgive them, though, and are still friends! We love you guys!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Incentive & motivation::

Incentive and motivation are both things that I think are good, and that I need. I'm not always a good self-starter. I get stuff done, but I often procrastinate and put off and don't actually get around to things until I really, really need to!

So, I've decided our entire family could benefit from a little of this two-some {incentive and motivation, that is!} to get our summer started on the right track! So today I am thankful for a little incentive and some motivation to get us movin'.

The kid's get super excited about summer reading programs. Even the one . . . or two . . . or three . . . or four . . . or five who might not be overly enthusiastic about reading the rest of the year are ready to go when you start handing them charts for the various summer reading programs around here. Traditionally we do the summer reading programs at Half Price Books, Barnes and Noble and the public library. Free books, gift certificates, state fair admission tickets, Culver's custard . . . who wouldn't love that kind of incentive? {I wish they had reading charts for adults too! I'd be all over it.} One year we even did a summer reading thing at Ikea and got a free bookcase out of the deal! Anyway, we are thankful, around here, for the many great summer reading programs the kids can take part in!

And, we wouldn't want the adults to miss out on the benefit of a little motivation and incentive, so once again {this'll be our second year} Kirb and I signed up for the "Lazyman Triathlon" at the Y. It's an entire Ironman Triathlon, but instead of doing it all in one day, {like the crazy ambitious, in seriously amazing shape people with insane amounts of energy and endurance . . . and who I also must add, often poop their pants as they go} you get 6 weeks to finish {and I promise not to poop my pants!}. So between the 1st of June and the 15th of July we have to {each} swim 2.5 miles, bike 112 miles and run {walk, more likely, in my case} 26.2 miles. I, for one, need a little incentive so I thought it would be fun to sign up again. This whole summer pregnancy thing might make me pretty lazy {and not at all in the "lazyman" kind of way!} over the summer without the goal of finishing}. Plus, I'm kind of a "responsible" type, so if I said I would do it then, by george, I'm gonna get it done. Plus, when we successfully complete our goals we get a t-shirt {and they are much cuter than the ones from 2009 . . . although they didn't come in maternity sizes, so I might not be able to wear mine right away after I earn it.} I'll update once in a while and let you know how we're doing. I'm excited!

So, we're thankful for a help help to get our butts in gear and start our summers off on the right track! How great is that?

introducing . . .

Stoll kiddo #6
We had an ultrasound yesterday morning and got to "meet" our new little person. Since I'm so old {over 35}, I had a really involved, level II ultrasound where they measured every conceivable thing on his or her {we didn't want to know . . . we're into surprises!} little body. Our busy little one weighs about 14 ounces {nearly a whole pound} and measures nearly a week ahead of my due date {not surprising, since I have big babies}. They had to come back to lots of the measurements because this little one wasn't in the mood to hold still much, which makes measuring stuff pretty challenging. Eventually, they got them all but one . . . the length of the bone in the nose. I imagine that one isn't the most important, but you learn new things everyday and just maybe, it is! For instance, did you know that having only 2 bones {rather than 3} in your pinkie finger is a marker for Downs? I didn't . . . until yesterday. On both hands our little bugger has 3 bones in the pinkie finger, so that's good. I could tell you all the other interesting things I learned, but I'll save you from my non-professional explanations and just tell you that everything looked wonderful and healthy. Praise God. I wasn't nervous at all going into it, but it always feels good to come out feeling that much more confidant that everything is going smoothly and is on track. Sometime in October the guessing will be over and we'll know "boy or girl" and have met our little person. We're so excited!

I really can't make heads or tails {wait, scratch that . . . we didn't see any tails on there at all, I'm confident of that!} of much on an ultrasound without help. Those people who do them amaze me. Really, that's a liver? It looks like a little sepia-colored smudge to me. I guess I'll take your word for it. Anyway, if you can make much out of these pictures, have at it! The ones above are both {rather creepy, if you ask me} straight-on shots of the face. Looks so skeletal. Our tech used the word "cute", which I'm sure he or she will be {at least in my, maternal, opinion!} . . . but I wasn't quite seeing it in those pictures! The pictures below are labeled, but the top one is a picture of the nose and upper lip {free of any clefts!}, the middle one is a profile {that one even I can figure out} and the bottom one is a foot {I can figure that one out all on my own too!}

The baby waved at us {friendly little bugger already!} and we had a game of peek-a-boo going for a while there when trying to get a good look at the little face. It's good to know that #6 will be walking in the well-trod footsteps of his or her older siblings by being uncooperative.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in -- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139.1-18
Praise God!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a great reminder

This is one of my very favorite things to read every morning. I look forward to her {usually short} encouraging words each and every day. I found Ann's words today to be especially encouraging. Take a minute or two {that's really all you need} and read it yourself here. And while you're at it, bookmark this wonderful place so you can benefit from its encouragement and words of wisdom every day too! Isn't she wonderful? {Oh, have I mentioned that she is also a mother of 6! I think that's part of what makes her so great.}