Sunday, April 29, 2012


Even when I'm having a hard time, I'm always able to look at my two sugar babies, Bennett and Jasper, and see the light and bright spots of my life.  They bring me so much joy and fun, and I am so thankful to be their mommy.  This is a post dedicated solely to them - long overdue, if you ask me! :) - just silly little things they do, and things they are up to right now.

1. Bennett calls moths "mops."  We have a lot of them here, and they are drawn to our porch lights like...well, like moths to a flame.  Each time Bennett watches them he recites facts and descriptions about the "mops" he sees, in his most serious, grown up voice.  I adore the mispronounced words of little kids.

2. Jasper's hair is out of control.  It is flame red, and curly-wavy.  I know if I put product in it, it would curl up gorgeously, like his daddy's did when he was little.  But I am L-A-Z-Y when it comes to that kind of stuff (good thing I don't have any little girls - poor things would look bedraggled, tangled, and bow-less).  We cut Bennett's the other day because his little face looks so handsome with short hair, but the girls begged us to let Jasper's grow a little longer, so we're trying it.  It makes me giggle, and we get comments and stares everywhere we go.  My mom told me a hilarious story today about his red hair and just how used he is to getting comments about it.  Apparently a lady said, "Well hello!  Aren't you the cutest thing!"  And Jasper's response was, "Yes.  I have hair."  HA!  Pretty sure he meant, "Yes, everyone tells me I'm cute because of my red hair." Funny boy.

3. Chewing gum is all the rage at our house.  We go through packs and packs of the stuff with the teenagers, but even my boys love the stuff.  Jasper learned how to chew gum at two years old (no, he never swallowed it - he has always chewed it like you're supposed to).  Unfortunately, it recently took me about a week to realize that when Bennett was done with his piece, he was taking it out and sticking it to the seat in front of him in our 15-passenger van.  When Jasper sucked all the flavor out of his piece, he was simply opening his mouth and letting it fall onto the floor, where it proceeded to get ground into the carpet (again, in the van).  We spent a long while one afternoon picking gum out of the upholstery and firmed up some ground rules for proper gum-chewing etiquette.  Like using a trash can.  Brilliant.

4. I mentioned a while ago that we got a dog.  He's a little Yorkie with the sweetest, most laid-back spirit, and Bennett ADORES him.  They are pals and play together all day long.  This has been fabulous and has almost made the poop clean up in the backyard worth it, especially since Bennett agitates the dog now instead of his younger brother :).  P.S. Still planning on posting pictures of said dog.  His name is Jetson.

5. I am SOOOO excited about next year for me and for both of my boys.  Bennett is going to kindergarten at the school where Michael teaches.  I would take the time to be sad and mourn his absence, but I know he is ready to be in school with friends and learn things at a faster pace, and that helps me be okay with it emotionally.  Of course, I'll probably be a hot mess on his first day, eating my easy-breezy words :).  Jasper will go to a little pre-school two days a week for the first time ever.  This is going to be SO good for him - he's a mama's boy all the way and hasn't had nearly as much socialization as Bennett had at his age.  He also doesn't like learning skills and information from me like he does from others.  He wants to play with me, not be taught by me, so I think having an actual teacher will benefit him greatly.  I confess, I'm also pretty stoked about the extra time this mama will have to get things done and to get the rest I need.  That is one thing still sorely lacking.

6. Day before yesterday Bennett and I played the card game "War," then "Candy Land" and then "Twister."  I was thinking to myself, How in the world did you grow old enough to play normal games and interact with me like a fifteen-year-old instead of a five-year-old??  He is growing up so fast.  The other day I almost cried because he barely fits in my lap at all, and even when I try to hold him close to me, his legs and arms dangle all the way down to the floor and he's SO. HEAVY.  Along with this, we've played a game called "Sack-a-Potatoes" on the way to rest time for a couple of years now, where I sling him over my shoulder and kind of throw him around on his way to his bed, half chanting-half singing "Ohhhhh, sack-a-potatoes, sack-a-potatoes, OHHHHHH sack-a-potatoes, sack-a-potatoes!"  It makes him burst into giggling fits, and sometimes he laughs so hard, he gets the hiccups, but now he's getting so big, I seriously worry that I'm going to hurt myself trying to pick him up.

7. Jasper is the funniest, quirkiest little boy.  He loves to lay down on his side to play with his trains and his cars, and makes them say the funniest things.  His favorite game to play with me is where he is one car and I'm the other, and we talk to each other, tell each other what to do, and argue...thinking this comes from his interactions with Bennett :).  He also likes to turn his toes in and walk crooked on purpose to make people laugh or until they say, "What's wrong with your feet?!"  He smiles really big and exaggerates the crooked walk even more when someone comments on it.

8. When the boys pray, Bennett prays for each of the members of our family around the table, for protection at night against scary dreams, for a baby sister (NOT our doing, all him), and for any prayer request he becomes aware of through listening to others' conversations, such as people who are sick, selling our house (a couple of months ago), etc.  Jasper thanks God for most anything he can think of, including our family and the food we eat, but ALWAYS for tractors, dump trucks, trains, and cars.

9. Their favorite games to play are "Dust Bunny," (I make weird noises and walk weird, acting like the Dust Bunny and chase them around, trying to knock them down and tickle them - usually played with Mimi), flashlight hide 'n seek, where we turn all of the lights off in the house after it gets dark and everyone has a flashlight to play with.  You hide until you're found.  The first one found is "it" for the next round.  Bennett especially loves to play this when the sisters all play, too.  They also love to play tag and "Monster," where I am also usually the one doing the chasing.

10. Jasper's favorite thing to say to me now is, "I love you!"  When I say, "I love you, too, Jasper," he says, "I love you super, cooper, duper, stooper!"  And then I say, "I love you to the moon and back."  And then he says, "I love you to the moon and back, too!"  We go round and round thinking of bigger and better ways that we love each other.  It's one of my favorite things of all time with my little red head.

Thank you, Lord, for my boys, and for the reminder that You are the Giver of all good things!  I am blessed to have them, blessed to be with them every day, blessed to be a mommy.  When things are painful or hard all around me, this is the truth and a comfort that knows no bounds.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I know I'm horrifically behind with my blog posts.  Jasper and K's birthdays were a month ago and I still haven't written anything about either one.  The boys' shared room is completely finished and I'm in love with it, and I still haven't posted pictures.  I have tons of other pictures to post about what we've been up to lately...but I'm stuck in a never-ending cycle of either not having time to blog, or having extra time and not wanting to spend the precious minutes with my eyes glued to a computer (like now).  Another big deterrent is how heavy life is here.  There is always something big, dramatic, and emotionally draining happening here, and I like to keep it real, so it's hard to write chipper, upbeat little posts when I'm mucking around in the trenches.  So pretty much a perfect line-up of life circumstances has to happen to bring me back around to blogging each time.

Even now, I am wiped.  I am feeling very much alone, very much a failure, and very much discouraged right now - have been for about a week.  Since moving here, my list of friends has been shaved down to a handful, which is okay because time-wise I'm not sure I can manage more, but it hurts to know you were given up automatically once your life circumstances changed.  I am very alone in the scope of the emotional toll this job takes, as well.  God has blessed me with growing friendships with the other house moms out here, but we are all so busy that we have to be very intentional about making time to get together.  The failure feeling comes from the "spinning my wheels" feeling I get when dealing with our middle school girls.  We are up to our elbows in training these girls - proper routines at bedtime, good hygiene, taking good care of personal items, respect for others' feelings and property, accomplishing tasks in a timely fashion, how to act like a lady in public, table manners, etc...all things they have never been taught before coming here.  It's cyclical and draining.  I really don't want to come here to complain - once again just trying to be honest and show all sides of what we are doing here.  Sometimes I want to pull my hair out and eat it.  Holy Moly.  And I am discouraged because of something personal and very painful that happened a couple of weeks ago that I won't discuss in detail here, but suffice it to say, it still hurts, it's still pulling at me, and I just can't seem to let go.  Please pray for me, and for our big, crazy family.

Next week is our relief week, so hopefully I will have some extra, extra time to catch up on some really great posts I had planned.  And hopefully I'll feel more like myself by then, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


We loaded up our whole crew (two adults and seven kiddos) in our 15-passenger van and headed to Searcy, AR to see Harding's Spring Sing and celebrate Easter with Michael's parents.

To be honest, I was a wee bit stressed about the trip, thinking it would be SO MUCH work for me, and that I would have to start a new week at home 110% exhausted afterwards. What I wasn't counting on is how helpful our girls were throughout the trip (especially during the six hour drive there and back), and how thankful they were to be there and get to experience everything.

We split Bennett and Jasper up on different benches, which turned out to be a genius idea, because the girls ended up keeping them entertained and distracted, and since they weren't sitting next to each other, they couldn't bug each other at all :). Hats off to Kat and Jennifer especially, because they each spent six hours both ways reading books, handing out snacks, taking silly pictures on the iPad, singing songs, playing puppets, and watching movies with the boys. This Mama hardly had to lift a finger! Seriously. I read the entire last two Hunger Games books in those two trips. I can't remember the last time I got to read so much in one sitting!

While we were in Searcy, we toured the Harding campus, did a little shopping at the Harding Store, showed the girls around town and told them all of our goofy dating stories, played at a local park, went to a $1 jewelry store, attended Spring Sing for the Saturday matinee (which was FABULOUS this year!), visited with Nanna and Papa, ate at a yummy Chinese buffet, took the girls to see the $2 showing of The Vow, had a big breakfast and an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning before church, and then ended our trip by attending the church Michael went to when he was growing up and where we went together while dating at Harding.

It was such a good trip and we made lots of fun memories together. Next time I'll know better than to worry so much, and I'll be better prepared to have a fantastic time :).

Here's our Easter Sunday picture. I have pics of the kids in the van and some random stuff from the trip, too, that I'll hopefully get around to posting once they are uploaded to our computer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm finding out that there are times when you do actually have to let go of something or someone, whether you are ready to or not. There are times when you just can't fix what's broken, and just about the only thing you can do is hand the situation over to God and let Him take over completely. Ideally, this is what happens all the time anyway, but when your heart and your emotions are attached, it's so hard to get out of the way and let the Spirit move, amen?

One of our girls left a couple of weeks ago, and because of this, as well as several things that needed to happen, our house is a much more peaceful place, where voices are heard more often, time is distributed more equally, and rest is actually received. It's like we are living in a different house, and I am oh-so-thankful.

I feel like I am able to pay attention and really hear the rest of the kids in our house, because all of my time and energy isn't being drained away by any one person, and this feels awesome. But along with the improvements in our home, time for reflection and conviction on my part has come.

The longer I am here doing this, the more I know how truly, completely inadequate I am to be doing it. I love having a big family, I love being a part of this work, but there are times when my patience wears too thin, or my fuse runs too short, or I just want five minutes alone, but can't get it. There are times when I don't want to get up and make breakfast for eight kids, or make dinner for nine people, and times when I think "If I just had two more hours in a day!" I really am not smart enough, wise enough, strong enough or faithful enough to do this by myself. I am so glad God called us here, because otherwise I would be a big, fat mess trying to make it all work myself. I am thankful beyond words that the Lord has given me a husband who is a rock. He anchors me, keeps my head on straight, and keeps my eyes looking ahead when I'm tempted to crumble under the weight of what we are doing here. God has equipped him to hold me up, and God Himself holds me close and fills me with purpose.

One of my biggest struggles right now is trying to hear God's voice in the midst of the madness. I've become convicted that I really need quiet time with Him, and it's looking like that means getting up an hour earlier each morning. I feel Him tugging at me about this, and I know it's what God wants, because He knows it's what is best for me. So that's what I'm working on. Taking walks early in the morning, praying, reading and studying the Word, when it's just me and my Lord. I'm tired anyway, so why not be tired and filled up with the Spirit as well? :) And from past experience, I've found that God brings extra stores of rest when I take the time I need with Him. So in the midst of letting go, moving forward, and pressing on, this is my new goal. A quiet time that is actually quiet. Will wonders never cease? :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


These past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. They challenged me emotionally and spiritually in ways I haven't experienced in years. Several of my closest friends knew this, and I have never been more thankful for the support system I have in these wonderful people. I received texts, emails and messages of encouragement to keep me going. Then on the most difficult, stressful day of last week, one of my dear friends, Kristen, sent me flowers! They absolutely made my day. So here's a heart felt thank you to all of the friends and family who have cheered us on and helped keep us strong!