Thursday, June 30, 2011

thrifty thursday

Never order pop when you eat out. They charge you a fortune and water is better for you anyway! {If you really "need" the pop, get it at the gas station on the way home . . . 44 oz. for 59 cents. Can't beat that.}

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

numbers

We're home! It feels so good to be home again. There really is "no place like home"!

I now present you with our road trip 2011 in numbers ::

  • gallons of gas used :: 247.8 gallons {at an average of $3.49/gallon that equals about $865 in gas -- WAY cheaper than flying 8 people to Florida and then renting a monster-sized van once we got there!}
  • time logged in the van since we left :: 81 hours 39 minutes
  • number of days away from home :: 15 days
  • number of nights spent sleeping in a hotel :: 4 nights
  • number of nights spent sleeping {or NOT sleeping} in the van :: 2 nights {while driving through the night}
  • number of nights spent sleeping in our rental house in Florida :: 7 nights
  • number of nights spent in a house en-route :: 1 night {with Kirby's grandma at her daughter's house in Indiana}
  • number of different state license plates spotted along the way :: 44 states {we never saw Colorado, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, Hawaii, Washington DC or New Hampshire -- we did, however, see a few Canadian plates, but we didn't have a handy dandy game thing to keep track of those}
  • audio books listened to as a family :: 3 books
  • days spent at a Walt Disney World theme park :: 6 days
  • number of fireworks shows watched in Florida :: 2
  • pairs of mouse ears purchased :: 6 pair
  • number of fights between kids during the van trip involving hitting, kicking, pinching, yelling or hair-pulling :: too many to count
  • loads of laundry done since returning home 12 hours ago :: 3 loads {with more to come and quite a few done in Florida as well}
  • miles logged since we left home on June 14th :: 4,016.1 miles
  • length of time our trip will stay alive through stories, pictures, jars of sand, thoughts and memories :: forever {at least that is the hope}
After nearly 2 years of saving, dreaming and planning, our big summer Disney vacation is already over. It really was a great trip and I'm so thankful that we could do it. {Many, many, many people helped to make it possible for us to go in one way or another.} I really do think the kids {most of them anyway} will remember it forever. But, it's so very good to be back home!

Monday, June 27, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on a wonderful, amazing blog that I read each day.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1473. a great week with great friends
1474. cooperative kiddos {for the most part}
1475. surviving the crazy heat and humidity
1476. lots of fun
1477. wonder and joy on the face of my kids
1478. safe travels {all through the night with bad storms too!}
1479. a beautiful white sand beach
1480. playing the A to Z game in the van to pass time . . . and winning!
1481. my family

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

Friday, June 24, 2011

flashback friday

ok, do you know who this messy {but still happy} eater is?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

thrifty thursday

Ok, this week's Thrifty Thursday is going to be about one of my favorite new discoveries that I happened up this spring. I read this idea somewhere online (sorry, I can't remember where) and thought to myself "Why on earth didn't I think of this a decade ago?" But alas, better late than never. So, let me introduce you to "Late Night Date Swap"::

Do you know how expensive babysitters are these days? It's incredible! And if you have 6 kids it's all the more expensive. This is why we only have a paid babysitter a few times a year, otherwise we rely on family and just generally don't go out on "dates" all that often. Until a couple months ago, that is.

We have friends who live a half a dozen houses down the block from us. They have 3 kids very similar in ages to our kiddos number 3, 4 and 5. Here is where the magic comes in for us :: it doesn't matter if one family has more kids than the other! Whoo hoo. I always disliked date swapping for this very reason. It always seemed so unfair. Who really wants to trade babysitting with the 6-kid family? Not to many people, I don't think! So with the late night version of date swap it doesn't matter because the kids are asleep (or at least in their rooms) the entire time. It works best if you do it with someone close to you geographically who can get to your house in a minute or two -- because the timing can sometimes be a little iffy -- but if that won't work for you, you could still pull it off.

So, this is how it goes :: if it's our date night we put all our kids to bed (or put them in their rooms and threaten them within an inch of their life to not come out under any circumstances short of near death!) and then call up our friends down the block and tell them we're ready to go. Two minutes later our babysitter shows up ready to go to "work". We go out and have a good time while our friend reads a book, takes a nap on our (very comfy! -- so she says) couch, watches TV or anything else that she wants to do. See, it's a win-win because you (as the babysitter) have lost the ability to "get stuff done" after putting your kids to bed. You can't do your laundry. You can't clean your bathroom. You can't pay the bills. You really have an excuse to take it easy and take the night off. So the couple on the date is having a great night and the parent who is "babysitting" won't complain much either. The only "loser" in late night date swap is the spouse stuck at home who does still have the ability to clean or pay bills or whatever (although that's not much different than it would be if it was a non-date swap night, right?)

So there you have it. Late night date swap. Find a family and start your own. It really is wonderful! The only catch is that we are not at all used to going out late at night. The post-9 o'clock scene is a totally different one than we are used to :: we have to find new (open late) places to eat and new places to explore, but it's been well worth it! Now that summer is here we can take a late night stroll around the late or something too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

and the winner is . . .

There weren't too many entries, so the odds were good. Thanks to random.org, we have a winner in our DaySpring encouragement giveaway. And the winner is :: Amy! Congratulations.

I found it funny that the winning number generated was 3 which is dead center when there are 5 numbers to pick from. I suppose others might not have even noticed that, but I'm a numbers girl, so I did. Anyhoo, congrats Amy! I'll email you your prize :: a random jumble of letters and numbers that magically is equivalent to $20. How fun is that?

Monday, June 20, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on a wonderful, amazing blog that I read each day.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1464. safety
1465. Chick-fil-A
1466. a read-aloud favorite before bed with the girls
1467. prayers
1468. swimming
1469. friends
1470. peeking in at sweaty, sleeping kiddos
1471. my wonderful father and the wonderful father of our 6 kiddos {not to mention all the other great dad's that I know}
1472. quiet time in the morning and taking time to start the day reading the Bible

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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

encouragement

UPDATE :: The giveaway is done and the comments are now closed. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Amy {I wouldn't press your luck and buy a lottery ticket or anything . . . those odds aren't quite as good as these were!}


Encouragement. It's a theme in my life. A favorite of mine. I love to be encouraged and I really love to encourage others. One of my very favorite verses is I Thessalonians 5.11.



Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (I Thess. 5.11)

There are many different ways you can encourage those around you. Many are free. Some may cost a bit, monetarily, but I have found it is almost always money well spent! A unexpected phone call. A note in the mail. A kind word. Surprising someone with a few of the cookies you just baked. A little gift out of the blue. Letting someone know you were thinking about them. Sharing a memory that you have of someone. Making something just for them. Remembering important days in their life.

I recently received this plaque from DaySpring and I love the verse that it highlights. Who wouldn't be encouraged by that reminder? Plus it is adorable. It will make for a great daily reminder hanging in our girls bedroom. I want them to know and take to heart that the Lord will strengthen them and help them to be able to do things that they could not do otherwise.


DaySpring's theme for June
is "Encouragement is a powerful thing". How true that is! Dayspring has many small {and big} things available in their online store that would be a great choice when you want an uplifting, encouraging gift or card for someone special. From jewelry to cards to home decor. From books to artwork to blank journals.

DaySpring has generously sponsored a giveaway for my blog readers. How fun is that? The prize is a $20 credit to their online store (the winner will be responsible for paying shipping). So, for a chance to win, let me know your favorite way to encourage those around you and I'll draw a random winner from all entries on Wednesday the 22nd. So enter soon!

Note :: the FTC says that I need to tell you that this post is sponsored by DaySpring. They gave me the plaque free of charge to review and are also supplying the $20 prize. All thoughts expressed and the opinions stated are my own. So there you have it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

flashback friday

a mighty cute little leprechaun
St. Patty's Day 2003

Thursday, June 16, 2011

thrifty thursday :: summer entertainment

Need some good, cheap ways to entertain your kids over the summer? Well then I've got a post for you. Here are a few ideas of fun things you can do with the kids that won't break the bank.
  • $1 movies for kids at Carmike Theaters or Regal Cinemas on select mornings each week
  • kids bowl free {but you do have to pay for the shoe rental} at bowling alleys in many states over the summer
  • Go to storytime at your local library {they often have book clubs for older kids too -- our library does}
  • Target supported free days at many museums all over the country {in our area you can go free to the Children's Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Walker Art Center on a specific day each month.}
  • Don't forget about the reciprocal benefit that comes with many memberships {zoos, museums, historical societies} check any memberships that you might have a see if you can get in free at any other places.
  • Many local parks {which are free} have splash pads and wading pools where you can beat the summer heat.
  • Have a friend who belongs to the Y {or other fitness center}? Most places offer guest passes, see if you can tag along on a trip to the outdoor pool.
Have a fun {inexpensive} summer with your family!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

verse 12

Time for verse #12, that means that this verse is our halfway point in our year of memorizing scripture. Wow, that went quickly! Rebekah and I are taking part in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge this year. We decided it's just easier if we work on the same verse. This time time around we're working on::
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.{Hebrews 11.6 NIV}

If you want to join us in memorizing 24 verses in 2011, that's great! You can "register" the fact that you are taking part in it on Beth's blog. That's where you can log your verses each month and just generally be encouraged by all the other people resolving to do something so beneficial along with you. Blessings on you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

excitement

there was some excitement at our house this week.
we're in uncharted territory around here now::

Monday, June 13, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on a wonderful, amazing blog that I read each day.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1450. girlfriends
1451. surviving the heat wave {record-breaking heat and broken AC}
1452. Joey -- our family entertainer!
1453. another school year in the books
1454. the wonderful friends that my kids h ave -- what a blessing!
1455. summer
1456. the kindness of a stranger
1457. my village mates {as in "it takes a village} I have so, so many wonderful, top-notch people in my "village" and I am so very thankful for them!
1458. kindergarten graduation
1459. eight months of Sara
1460. being in good company with other teary moms {see #1458}
1461. the beginning of the summer sleepover season {we've already had 3 and school just got out on Friday}
1462. wonderful, wonderful worship and teaching and time spent worshiping with friends at their home church
1463. vacation planning

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


Saturday, June 11, 2011

eight

Little Miss Sara is 8 months old already::

Friday, June 10, 2011

kindness

Tonight as I was driving to pick up Lydia from my grandma's place I witnessed a wonderful kindness.

I was waiting at a stoplight and needed to make a left turn. The road I was turning onto is an absolute mess. It is under construction and will be for a mighty long time as they prepare it for the Central Corridor Light Rail. The street being in the state that it is makes driving on it a nightmare, but even worse than that is if you find yourself a pedestrian in the area and want to, let's say, cross the street.

So as it sit at the stoplight, I notice a motorcycle parked (but still with its headlight on) off to the side of the street -- clearly not a place it should be parked -- right there in the middle of a construction zone. I found it odd, but didn't think much of it. I also noticed a blind (I assume, due to the red-tipped cane) older woman holding the arm of a younger man (her son, maybe, I thought). They were both smiling and, obviously, sharing in a conversation.

The light turned green. The pair crossed the street. I yielded to the traffic coming straight. As I was just about clear to turn, I noticed out of the corner of my eye the man (probably in his 30's or 40's) run back across the street toward where he'd just come from. Weird, I thought to myself. He then proceeded to jump astride the oddly parked motorcycle (after putting on the helmet resting on the seat) and take off.

The reality of the situation hit me. I was moved to have witnesses this act of kindness and compassion from a stranger to a person in need. Not many people would have done that, I don't think. I was glad the woman had help to cross the street, in its dangerous, precarious state of disarray . . . but when I realized that that "help" came in the form of a stranger willing to stop his bike, hop off, park it where it risked getting hit and lend a hand, I wondered if I would have done the same. Would I have even noticed her there and realized her need for help? Or would I have been to caught up in my own world? Did she actually need the help even? I imagine not. She probably would have managed just fine. She might very well walk this same route often. Maybe even daily. I'm sure she would have made it safely across. But what an encouragement I imagine it was to her to know that someone noticed her situation. That someone cared. That someone was willing to take the time to lend a helping hand -- and share some smiles and small talk.

There are many wonderful people in this world and I always love it when I come across one of them!

flashback friday

Today is the last day of school. That means we now have a middle schooler in the house {not to mention a 5th grader and a 4th grader and a 1st grader and a preschooler and a super speedy crawler}! Here is a look at the school kiddos on their first day . . . can't believe how quickly that flew by {once again!} we hadn't even met our precious little Sara yet::

Everybody's hair was SO short!
I didn't include any pictures with me in them because I was ENORMOUS! Holy cow {pun intended!} it's ridiculous!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

thrifty thursday

Did you {local people, anyway} know that SA takes any gas coupons? Yup, they do. Plus, on Tuesday they'll double them. I had a {pretty rare} 12 cents off per gallon coupon and used it on Tuesday for a savings of $4.80 {they limit you to 20 gallons, although that doesn't fill up my monster gas tank!}. I'm pretty sure I can think of quite a few other things I'd rather do with close to $5 than put it in my gas tank . . . unless you're speaking figuratively, that is!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

introducing::

Little orphan Annie Anna::



A month ago her hair was straight, now all of a sudden she's inherited the "Beka hair". How about that? 2 curly girls at our house. {We got the last of her straight ends cut off yesterday and now the whole mess is full of curls!}

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

joy

"Mom, take a picture of me with my middle name!"
This child, of all of them, has given me quite the run for my money over the years, but what a true joy she has become . . . and is still becoming. It has been far from easy, but oh so worthwhile mothering this spirited girlie. I am so thankful for her!

Many days {most, I suppose, if I'm being honest} any joy that I've got was a choice. It doesn't come naturally much of the time. But each day I can choose joy. We can choose joy. Today, choose joy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

nine

How can it have possibly been 9 years already?
Happy 9th Birthday to my precious Lydia.
We loved you then {even though we were sure you were going to be a boy}::
and we love you so much more {3287 days worth} now::

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here on a wonderful, amazing blog that I read each day.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1428. dinner with friends
1429. a good, sweaty workout
1430. the return of clothesline weather
1431. good book recommendations
1432. elementary school variety shows {note that they don't call it a "talent show". there is a reason for that! . . . bless their little hearts!}
1433. test results that explain quite a bit . . . and hope of some possible solutions or at least help
1434. a morning at the park with friends::

1435. a perfect evening to sit on the sidelines watching soccer
1436. field trips involving ice cream
1437. first swim of the summer in the outdoor pool
1438. vacation planning and prep
1439. generous friends!
1440. my family::
1441. surviving 7 weeks of Boot Camp
1442. a GLORIOUS weekend!
1443. a baby standing up supported by exceptionally cute, super chubby thighs
1444. late night date swap
1445. crafting up a storm
1446. the beauty of creation::
would you like to join the applause with me?
1447. antibiotics
1448. singing kindergarteners::
1449. 9 years of Lydia!

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


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

flashback friday

rebekah :: 22 months {pre-curls}
we call this the "Sleepy Pendoodle" look
{after the book by the same name}

Thursday, June 2, 2011

thrifty thursday

Get a clothesline!
Or string some rope between two trees. You save energy, you save money, your clothes smell fabulous and it's a pretty decent arm workout!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

verse 11

Yikes, it's June! Time for verse #11 already. Rebekah and I are taking part in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge this year. We decided it's just easier if we work on the same verse. This time it was my turn to pick it::
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. {Psalm 9.10 NIV}
If you want to join us in memorizing 24 verses in 2011, that's great! You can "register" the fact that you are taking part in it on Beth's blog. That's where you can log your verses each month and just generally be encouraged by all the other people resolving to do something so beneficial along with you. Blessings on you!