Saturday, March 31, 2012

100 Things

Okay.  Here's 100 things about me that you really need to know. I'm mainly doing this for my new readers.  I LOVE getting new readers! It feels like being at the coffee shop with some new friends who are getting to be really good friends!

Here goes:

1.  I have green eyes. 
2.  I stopped coloring my hair about 7 years ago.
3.  Nexxus Therrape Shampoo is my absolute fave.
4.  I'd like to be a women's retreat/conference speaker someday.
5.  Nobody on either side of our families has ever had twins.  Just me.
6.  I think I'm fat. I'd like to lose 50 lbs.  Yes, in this life!
7.  I hate the 4th of July.  Deeply.
8.  My favorite season is Autumn.
9.  I'm very allergic to Christmas trees. But I love them.
10. I used to despise Christmas.  Until last year.
11.  I've never ridden a roller coaster in my life.
12.  I love to eat out at sit-down restaurants.
13.  The last time I wore a bikini was when I was 5 years old.
14.  I don't shave my legs that much. 
15.  I hate having my feet touched in any fashion.
16.  I love to edit stories and things.
17.  I love peaches.
18.  I like to travel.
19.  I have relatives in Illinois that I've never met.
20.  I don't really need dessert. I don't have a sweet tooth.
21.  I'll always be a recovering glutton.
22.  I haven't worn make up for 4 months.
23.  I used to wear bi-focals.
24.  I've never been on a Ferris Wheel.
25.  I'm terrified of escalators.
26.  I used to be a housekeeper at a local hotel. I loved it.
27.  I've never skinny dipped.
28.  I've never had braces.
29.  I've had one filling in a baby tooth that fell out a few weeks later!
30.  I'm scared to death of childbirth.
31.  I love my CA king-sized bed.
32.  I love my chiropractor.  She's wonderful.
33.  I'd love to have twins again, or even triplets.  I'm not crazy.
34.  I was the world's worst babysitter.
35.  I love Post-it Super Sticky notes.
36.  My favorite animal is a giraffe.
37.  Avocadoes would be on my menu for every meal, every day.
38.  Inconsistency is one of my biggest struggles.
39.  This is my 12th year of homeschooling.
40.  My husband and I haven't gone away alone together since 1996.
41.  I'm not sure what my love language is: I think it's all of them.
42.  Facebook does not tempt me anymore.
43.  I'm lactose intolerant.
44.  Self-esteem is another of my struggles.
45.  Humor is something that doesn't come naturally to me.  At all.
46.  Thunder storms scare me.  Still.
47.  The only instrument I can play is my voice.
48.  I haven't worn jeans or pants in about 10 years.
49.  The scent of warm ocean air is one of my favorite smells.  Ever.
50.  I grew up 3 miles away from a Southern California beach.
51.  Night time is not my best time.
52.  I'm a morning person.
53.  I can't sleep past 7:00, even if you paid me.
54.  I've never worn high heels.  I don't desire to.
55.  I had never seen snow until I was 13 years old.
56.   Snow skiing looks like torture to me. 
57.  I'd like to take up jogging.
58.  John Williams' "Hymn to the Fallen" is one of my fave music pieces.
59.  I've watched the Anne of Green Gables movies like 1500 times.
60.  This is fun!
61.  I don't wear a watch.
62.  Jewelry is not my favorite thing. I hardly have any.
63.  My family tells me that I'm an excellent cook.
64.  I've never been a picky eater.
65.  I didn't get my driver's license till I was 20. 
66.  I'm painfully modest.
67.  People always wonder if I'm perfect or Supermom. HA!
68.  I'm a good swimmer.
69.  Westerns aren't my favorite movies.
70.  We haven't had cable TV or regular TV in almost 13 years. 
71.  I wonder if another boy baby is in our future?
72.  I've started a secret stash of baby boy clothes in my closet.
73.  My last pregnancy was very, very difficult.
74.  Selfishness is something I'm trying to get rid of.
75.  I'm very easily overwhelmed.
76.  I'm not a risk-taker.
77.  Regis and Kathie Lee used to be one of my fave shows.
78.  I've never flown a kite.
79.  My feet and legs are always freezing.
80.  I love trendy sweaters and cardigans.
81.  I love cute hand-me-downs. For myself!
82.  I wish I had some make up.  I love looking nice all the time.
83.  Grocery shopping is one of my fave things to do.
84.  I think we're almost done here.
85.  I love good chocolate. 
86.  Strawberries are my favorite fruit.
87.  Japanese maples are my favorite trees.  Love them.
88.  Doctors consider me a high risk pregnancy. Boo.
89.  I had chicken pox when I was 16.  For over a month.  Ick.
90.  My husband dumped me twice before we were married.
91.  I've loved my husband since I was 15.
92.  Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.  For real!
93.  I sometimes miss California.  And the weather.
94.  Hang in there!
95.  I will never be a vegetarian.  I love sirloin steak and chicken!
96.  Macadamia nuts and water chestnuts are not my faves.
97.  I've been gluten/wheat free since 2006.
98.  I can't read music to save my life.  Bummer.
99.  I don't like root beer.
100.  I think my husband is still sexy.  He's IT for me!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I hope I didn't get all of your expectations up and trick you into thinking you were going to be reading a great and informative post about the perfect Spring Cleaning schedule!Because you know what? Just between you and me.....

We don't do Spring Cleaning around here!

And we're not fortunate enough to have Pledge and Tide and Simple Green and OxyClean sponsoring my blog and gifting me with free cleaning products and accessories for the rest of my natural born life!

Sorry to burst your bubble!

What I really want to talk about today is the Bible Study I'm doing with the ladies from my church.  We have different "circles", and the circle I chose to join is called the Mary Martha circle.  There were different circles that I could have joined, but I chose the Mary Martha circle because some dear friends at our new church invited me.  Each circle at my church has a different theme and each takes kitchen duties for a month to "host" our Coffee Hour after the late service. 

Anyway, this is the second study I've done with the group.  The first study was Beth Moore's Esther study.  It was amazing.  I didn't really know much about Beth Moore before this study. 

Hey, quit your snickering! I lead a sheltered life, alright??

Now then.

The new study we just started is called "Me, Myself and Lies" by Jennifer Rothschild.  Again, I had never heard of her prior to this study.  Apparently she's someone of some merit and has a ministry that I knew nothing about.

Let me tell you, she's annointed by God to teach women what they really need to learn! The study I'm doing is all about our "thought closet" and really being aware of our self-talk and ultimately, cleaning out our thought closets.

I have been loving this study. 

I have needed this study in a major way.  You see, I have spent the last 35 years living with "labels" stuck on myself that just are not true, and it has taken me 35 years to see that!!

Jennifer's study has been so revolutionary in my life the past two weeks.  I had NO idea about how destructive and damaging my thought life was, and what it had done to me over the course of so many, many years. 

Ladies, I am now ready to give my thought closet a major Spring Cleaning!!

It's been hard and good and humbling and revolting and eye-opening and impacting for me the past two weeks to realize that I've had wrong assumptions about God! I just had no idea.  Jennifer uses a massive amount of Scripture in her study, and it's something that I really love.  This week, she used the example of the master who gave each of his servants a different number of talents when he went away, and each of the servants did something different with their talents.  I learned that I was like the last servant who buried his talent,and then when the master came back and he had to show what he had done with his talent, he said to the master, "I knew you to be a hard, cruel master......" God opened my eyes to see that I had been harboring untrue and wrong assumptions about Him!

Another thing that has really set me back on my heels is to realize and learn about the Voice of Truth, which is really Jesus Christ speaking to me.  I was hearing many other "voices" every day, but I had NO idea that I needed to choose to listen to the Voice of Truth, which is what my Heavenly Father says about me and to me! Wow.  And I love the song by Casting Crowns called "The Voice of Truth".  It's one of my favorite songs!

The last thing that has impacted me deeply is that I am basically blaspheming God when I tear myself down and bite myself with my poisoning words that I say to myself and the untrue labels I wear that others have stuck on me.  They become my labels because I allowed them to stick! I'm basically questioning God's sovereignty when I say to Him that I'm worthless, stupid, ugly, blah blah BLAH......and that's why it is so important to listen when He talks about me in His word!

It's time for me to clean out the far reaches of my dusty, dirty, overcrowded thought closet so I can make room for the thoughts and words HE has for me! It's time I make a decision every day to tune my inner ear to His voice and not waver from listening to it.  He's given me the strength to do this so far.  And the interesting thing is, the more I clean out, the more He replaces the old junk with beautiful, radiant confidence and joy and the more I feel excited to think that I can now embrace fully what He has for me down this road! I can really begin to be who He wants me to be more effectively and more fully!

So, my question to you is this: What does YOUR "thought closet" look like? Is it time for a good Spring Cleaning in your closet??

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


*The A Beka readers are all sold. Thanks!*

Okay.  Let's talk about addictions, shall we??

Some are addicted to shoes. Some are addicted to Coke.  Some are addicted to chocolate.  I'm not.....but I do REALLY like chocolate....but that isn't what this post is about.....

What are YOU addicted to?

For me, it's shopping for clothes for my kids.  I'm so glad we don't have huge walk-in closets for any of the kids because the girls would definitely have way, way, WAAAAAY too many clothes!

All these years, I've been able to indulge in cute girl clothes, because after all, I DO have 7 GIRLS and it has been soooo fun to shop for them, starting at the newborn stage!

Yes I do love to shop.  But I have a few secrets to how I am able to keep my girls looking well put together and cute....without spending a mint! Without breaking the bank!

I'll let you in on what I love and what works for us, okay?

Let me say that when it comes to my son, I do buy his clothes, but it is no longer easy to find second-hand things for him because he is extraordinarily tall and very skinny and he needs specially ordered jeans these days. I mean, the kid's jean measurement is 33/36!  And his shirts have to be a special fit.  I've found that Land's End is awesome for weird measurements and they have amazing customer service people.  I plan on spending some money on clothes for him for his birthday, and Land's End is the first place I'm shopping.  I can do it all online and the staff is wonderful if I need to call for any reason. Land's End clothes literally last for years because they are so well made and sturdy. Yes they are a bit pricey, but it's worth it to us since his clothes are really the only ones we buy brand new, and we have a friend who has a son that we pass Russell's stuff on to when Russell grows out of it.  And no, I did not get paid in any fashion for endorsing Land's End on my blog.....unfortunately!!

First off, I hardly ever buy NEW stuff.  The only things we buy new for our kids are undergarments (second-hand panties? GROSSSSSS) and typically, we do have to buy new shoes most of the time, because there are not that great of selections at my favorite places for the size of feet my girls have.  Typically the size of shoes my girls wear are too worn out at the places I frequent.  However, there are lots of times when we've been able to find beautiful shoes that are second-hand, but not usually. So, shoes and underthings are the only things we buy new.

Secondly, I'm a resale queen! There are a couple of really fabulous resale shops in our town.  One of them just opened about 6 months ago.  These shops are exlusive to our area, so they're small and there aren't that many employees.  One of my favorite shops is a place that I've been shopping for at least 15 years.  I actually worked there for a short time too. That was fun! I've made relationships with the gals at my favorite shops.  They've become friends.  They'll save something for me that they think I'll love, and they'll keep an eye out for something I need or that I'm looking for.  Plus, I can take things in and get credit for them! Then I can spend that credit just like cash, typically 50% cash to 50% trade, so, for example, if I spend $50.00, it really only costs me $25.00 because I used some of my credit.

Next, I'm very, very picky.  I'm fastidious and very careful about the clothing I put on my girls.  And, one of the many bonuses of shopping resale is that I can AFFORD to be picky.  I look for the exclusive brands.  I can purchase top-of-the-line brands that I otherwise can't afford.  I always buy good brands.  I usually stay away from chain-store brands, such as Faded Glory, which is Wal-Mart's brand, because the items are typically not well made with attention to details and good fabrics.  You could say I'm snooty.  But hey, when you are addicted to resale shopping like I am, you can afford to be!

One of the things that is very, very important to me is that the clothing I purchase is in good shape.  The two shops that I love in my town launder their items before putting them out on the racks. But sometimes I'll wash things again, just because. I never buy things that are stained or ripped or have missing buttons or holes.  My shops hardly ever put anything out that is damaged or stained anyway.  I do not like to have my girls walking around in junky looking clothes. So I avoid buying damaged things.

I also love to shop at Goodwill! We have a Goodwill in our town and I've gotten to know some of the employees there too.  I have to admit that it is getting harder to find good deals at the Goodwill because their prices are a bit too high for me.  And I traditionally don't find a lot of good clothes for my kids there since I do shop at resale shops for them.  But I do love a good Goodwill store and I like to go to Goodwill stores in different towns. 

I also hand down my girls' clothing to each sister.  This goes hand in hand with my next point, and that is that I take very good care of our clothes.  I never buy cheap detergents.  I always spray any stain with stain remover, and my favorite stain remover is OxyClean spray.  I use Kirkland brand Environmentally Friendly detergent.  This is a relatively new thing for me, because forEVER I used Tide.  I know that some of you make your own detergent and some of you use the cheapest brand you can get, but I'm satisfied with my detergent.  I love it.  But I will tell you that I have tried many, many detergents in the past.  Since I am passing clothes down from sister to sister, it is vitally important for those clothes to be as clean as possible and to stay bright and colorful and not look worn out or pilled up.  And this is why I choose to spend a bit more on my laundry needs.  We have traditionally been able to hand clothes down for about 5 or 6 years before they really start looking too worn.  We keep them in big plastic storage boxes on our garage shelves or up in our small attic.

I take the job of clothing my children very seriously! I love to dress my younger girls and buy things I think reflect their personalities and look good on them. 

Something new that has happened lately is that my two teenage girls, Hannah and Samantha, actually LIKE to go shopping with me and pick out their own clothes. It's so fun to go shopping with my two teenage girls. They have excellent taste and we have such a good time together picking things out and filling up our cart for next to nothing!!

I should say that in our family, all the ladies wear skirts, but that doesn't mean we wear ugly, frumpy skirts down to the floor....nor does it mean we wear miniskirts or skirts with slits up to the belly-button! There's a healthy balance between modesty and frumpiness, as there is between stylish and inappropriate.

So, these are a few things that we do to keep our family looking beautiful, stylish and put together each day.  I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into what makes our family work well!

Now, leave me a comment and tell me what works for YOU!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scrumpalicious Sunday

Yes, I know.

I claim to be such a great cook.  Wait.  Have you ever heard me say that??

The truth is, I love to cook.  Love it. 

But that isn't how it's always been.

For at least the first year of my marriage all I could cook was Hamburger Helper.  I did not know how to boil an egg or even make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Bacon? How do you cook that? Pancakes? I used Bisquick, and they turned out like warm wallpaper paste. I remember being totally bewildered trying to read a recipe.  Recipes in those days may as well have been just like trying to deciper a Japanese phonebook!!

Looking back, I really can't remember when I started to learn how to cook. 

Nowadays, I get a real dorky kind of thrill from creating my own recipes. 

So, here's a recipe for you.  And maybe I'll make Sundays my recipe day, if you guys want more recipes.  And oh yes, I use all kinds of real chef-y jargon, and real complicated technique, because I'm just an expert like that.  You know, snooty and all......yeah.  Right. Not really. 

Mexican Chicken Salad

2 cans chicken, or 2 cups leftover shredded chicken (this is what we use)
1 C mayonnaise
1 can chopped green chiles
3 TBSP chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1 C shredded cheddar
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed through a garlic press, or very finely chopped
1 TBSP Tabasco or Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 TBSP lemon juice (we use fresh squeezed, it just makes it so much better!)
1 TBSP lime juice (we fresh squeeze this too)

DIRECTIONS:  If you're using canned chicken,make sure you drain it off. Dump it in a medium sized bowl and smash it up. Now, this is just a dump recipe.  So, pour the lemon and lime juices over the chicken, toss it, and let it sit for a few minutes.  After about 10 minutes, dump everything else on the chicken.  Toss it all together and serve. That's IT!!  This is excellent on bread, topped with cheese and put in the toaster oven.  It's great on a bed of arugula and baby romaine.  It can be shaped into a ball and served with different kinds of crackers.  Or, it can be spread on a tortilla and wrapped.

Try this recipe and let me know if you like it!

Recipe created by Leanne Gilchrist.  Copyright 2010 by leeswords.  All rights reserved.   

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Linked!!!

Hey out there!!!

Guess what I did? I've never done something like this before, but hey, live dangerously once in a while, huh?

I read Kelly's Korner and she does Show Us Your Life Fridays where she chooses a topic and then allows us to link up to her blog to meet other moms in similar life situations and such, and today her topic was Moms of Large Families, and ummmm, hello, we have a LARGE family, so I linked up to her blog!!!! She gets like a million readers a DAY and she has like a trillion followers, so I threw caution to the wind and linked up!!!! Ha.

So go see!

Kelly's Korner

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For Sale

Does anyone out there use A Beka curriculum?

We actually have used the A Beka curriculum for our lower grades, starting with first grade.  We usually use the curriculum up until third grade, and then we branch out and pick and choose our curriculum from a variety of sources.

We have most of the A Beka readers from first through sixt grades.  They are sitting on my dining room table taking up space.  We no longer use them.

Would you like to buy them?

I'll list each of them here.  Sorry,  I don't have pictures, but I can tell you that they are very, very gently worn but still in fantastic condition.  We take very good care of our books here, since we are an avid reading family! Brand new, each reader is $11.40. I am asking $3.00 per book. I can do a special deal if you'd like to buy more than two. So, here they are, in order by grade:

First Grade Readers:
Kind and Brave
Tip Toes
Stepping Stones
Strong and True
The Bridge Book
Fun With Pets

Second Grade Readers:
Silver Sails
Story Tree
Paths of Gold
Hidden Treasure
All Kinds of Animals
Growing Up Where Jesus Lived
No Longer a Nobody
Sunshine Meadows
Treasure Chest

Third Grade Readers
Better Bridges (small dog-eared corner)
Paths to Adventure
Secrets in the Maple Tree
Worlds of Wonder
Pilgrim Boy
Pilgrim's Progress

Fourth Grade Readers
Trails to Explore
Adventures in Other Lands
Salute To Courage Reader and Teacher's Edition (I'll sell this for $10.00.  It retails for $22.00!!)
Saved at Sea
Liberty Tree
Flags Unfurled

Fifth Grade Readers
Beyond the Horizon
Message of the Mountain (the cover on this one is torn at the top and bottom)
Windows to the World

Sixth Grade Readers
Mountain Pathways (a bit dog-eared)
Adventure Lands
Adventures in Greatness

These are all of the A Beka Readers we have.  I do hope someone out there would like to buy them.  You can email me at with any questions or if you'd like to buy any of them! THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Dreams

Are any of out there dreamers? Are you goal-oriented?

Are you into making lists and do you get those listed things done?

Do any of you have any dreams you'd like to accomplish in life?

For most, if not all, of my life I was never encouraged to dream and plan and strategize and accomplish.  I learned at an early age that laziness was much easier.  I was never taught to be a go-getter.  Man, that's hard to change! That kind of mindset is hard to turn around, especially in the middle of my life! I learned that crashing and burning on the way to a goal was very, very painful and nobody would be there to dust me off when I did fall.  It was me, myself and I and that was normal to me.

And then I met my husband. 

He's a massive visionary.  He's a revolutionary.  He's got tons of energy and he can't stand it when others don't! He isn't lazy or unmotivated or anything like that.  He's got dreams and goals and visions and plans, and he's determined to work toward them.

The thing is, most of his dreams and plans and goals include me.  Actually, integral parts of his dreams can only be accomplished if I come along and help.


Anyway, I've been reading posts lately detailing dreams and goals.  So, I thought I'd do the same thing.  Here are several of my secret dreams.....

I want to take a road trip from our home to Cape Cod.  I want to stop and visit all of our friends along the way.  I want to share the driving with my husband and my son, since I love to drive long distance and my husband hates to sit for long periods of time.  I'd actually like to travel all around the country.

I want to be fluent in French.  And Spanish.

I would like to have a tiny, gluten free bakery someday.  I'd love to have the money to be able to do that.  I love it when people's faces light up after tasting a creation of mine.

For my 20th anniversary, and my 40th birthday next year, which happen to fall just a few months away from each other,  I'd love to take a cruise to Alaska from Seattle.  Actually, I'd love to take a Gaither Homecoming cruise.  I feel sure I could never leave my kids for 10 days....

I'd love to have a beautiful, relaxing, pleasant looking bedroom.  I'd love to have matching bedroom furniture and a beautiful bed.  This would make me feel so much more relaxed and peaceful than the ramshackle room I have now.  But then I'd never want to leave it!

I'd love to make an album in the studio of my husband's orchestrations backing up my voice.  People have always told me I have a great voice and I'd like to do something with it.  I've secretly always known that I could do exactly what the big singers do.

I'd like to sing in front of a full orchestra in a beautiful gown.

I'd like to be a women's speaker at retreats or conventions.

I'd love to have multiples again.  And have both (or all) of them live.

We'd like to have another boy baby.

I want to learn how to play tennis and ping pong and badminton.  So I can compete against my kids!

I'm toying with becoming a doula.

If I was well off enough, I'd get a massage every week.

I'd like to pay off our house and our debts for my husband, in secret.

I think it would be fun to have a Food Network show.

And that's enough, for now!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Janie's Place

Monday I went up to Janie's Place.

Let me tell you a tiny bit of her story.

When I was in labor with her, my dear friend Shawna was with me.  She stayed with me and basically took care of me through it all.  Janie's labor and birth were such a strange and sad experience, and I remember how odd it was not to be hooked up to a fetal monitor during her labor.  It cemented in my heart the fact that she did not have a heartbeat and that I would have a baby who was not alive.  Shawna had gone through the same experience before me and she was a jewel, a gem, a Godsend.

Shawna had worked at the hospital prior to Jane's birth.  She knew people.  Little did I know how providential her friendship would be to us then.

Dave and I had never gone through such a terrible time before.  We had never even buried someone who was close to us, and so, we had no idea what to do after Janie was born.  We surely did not have thousands of dollars to buy a private plot for her and have a headstone engraved, and we didn't even know how to go about doing that either.

Enter Shawna.

Unbeknowst to us at the time, she had been instrumental in facilitating a program, in partnership with our hospital, that built a place for moms to bury their stillborn babies and have their names engraved on a beautiful headstone in the middle of a local, gorgeous cemetery.  The cost was very, very affordable for us.

We now had the small assurance, when Dave handed the tiny, still body of his daughter to the kind man outside our room, that we would have a place to remember her.

So, we went ahead and had a memorial service for Jane. Let me tell you, I will never forget seeing that tiny white casket there that day.  I had hoped after that day that I would never, ever have to stand in that place again....

We started calling the place Janie's Place soon after she was buried there.  It is one of the most peaceful places on earth to me.  It sits on a high hill on the outskirts of our town and it is immaculately kept.  There is a chapel there too in which we had Janie's service, and it is gorgeous.  We feel fortunate and blessed to have a place like that in our town, so close to us.

We chose to bury Olivia there too, right next to her big sister.  And yes, I found myself again standing in that very same chapel, staring at an identical white casket.  And it was a very surreal experience this time, bringing Olivia's other half, her identical twin sister who was 10 days old at the time, to her funeral service.  It was happening again.....

But the place where my babies are is so incredibly peaceful.  When I went up there on Monday, as I drove up the winding lane toward Janie's Place, two young deer were grazing right there.  I drove very slowly and as I parked, they walked a couple of paces away, but they didn't run or flee.  They stayed there the whole time I was there, just quietly grazing on the lush, moist green grass.  I even walked closer to them, to another place where another family's twins are sleeping, and they didn't even bat an eye.

I love that place.  My husband's beloved maternal grandfather was laid to rest there 10 years ago this June.  So it's a pretty special place.

If any Mama is reading this post and is currently going through the heart-wrenching, soul scarring journey of giving birth to a stillborn baby, I would encourage you to check with your hospital and find out if they offer the same type of service.  It can be so calming to have a place in which to physically go to grieve your baby.  It can be so healing to have a tangible place as a memorial.

And I get a semblance of peace as I run my fingers along my baby girls' names, etched deeply in that stone.  The granite reflects the names etched so indelibely and so permanently on my heart.

Thank You Father for Janie's Place.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Okay, let's talk about hair.

With 7 girls in this house and with 5 of those girls having loads of thick, beautiful, unruly hair, you might guess that we have lots of clips, ponytail holders, headbands and the like in our bathroom.

Actually, we used to.

More accurately, we sometimes do.

But they disappear.

I cannot tell you how many times I have bought several packages of hair goodies on paydays.  Ponytail holders.  Claw clips of every size and color.  Barrettes.  Headbands. Flower clips.  Jeweled barrettes.  Plain combs.  You name it, I've bought it.  Multiple times.

And they've ALL disappeared.  I'm not exaggerating here folks.  It doesn't matter if there are 10 or 20 or even 50 of the squirrely little hair beauties, they've ALL, each and every one of them, DISAPPEARED!

No matter the method of storage, each and every clip and barrette and ponytail holder has gotten lost, never to be found again.  I'm constantly, constantly searching for things to hold my girls' hair! I'm constantly admonishing them and warning them and watching them and telling them to put them back when they're done with them or when they take them out of their hair at night, to no avail!

I've tried the ribbons mounted on the wall of the bathroom.  I've tried the bulletin board method.  I've tried the divided drawer organizer.  I've tried boxes.  I've tried baskets.....I think you get the picture.  I've even tried hiding the hair accessories, which I don't like to do because the girls like to do each other's hair and I want them to be able to find the things easily.  And besides, I don't want to be the Mean Mama whose children are not allowed to do anything or touch anything or have least, that's how I feel when I hide things from them.

I'm at my wit's end, people.

I've spent so much money in the past years on things to decorate and hold back hair! I also like to use things to beautify and hold back my own hair, but they're never there when I need them and whenever I ask the girls where they are, they always say "I don't know."

I'm not sure what to do about this mystifying problem.

I love tidy hair.  I love sleek and orderly hair.  And in my family, with all of this hair, if I don't take care of it, it's anything BUT orderly and sleek.  Most of the girls can do their own hair.  But they are ALWAYS losing the hair things!! And a girl can't have orderly, nice looking hair without the proper hair accessories.

This is just a glimpse of a portion of life with 7 girls under one roof all the time, every day, day in and day out.

If I was rich, I'd have a whole CLOSET full of hair accessories. 

And then I'd never have to worry about not having the right accessory at the right time.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


Ladies, it's really amazing to me how much I know about diapers.

It's mind-boggling how much I think about diapers.

It's shocking how many different brands of diapers I've tried.

It's exhausting to think of how many diapers we've gone through in our 17 years of raising children.

Let's face it: I'm picky.  I'm particular.  I'm a stickler.  I'm hard to impress.

When I evaluate a diaper, I evaluate the whole package, from the fit to the color to the smell to the softness to yes, even the picture on the diaper.

Over the years I've maybe liked the fit of one diaper but hated the way it felt.  With another diaper I've loved the way if felt but noticed it leaked all the time.  Still another time, I loved the absorbancy of a diaper but hated the pictures on it.  So you see, I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to diapers.

My friends, I'm here to tell you today that I think I've found my dream diaper.

Yes, you read that right.

Last payday I was browsing sale ads when I saw a coupon for Huggies Little Movers. I had really liked Huggies Snug and Dry previously but was sick to death of staring at masculine pictures of Mickey Mouse all day long (GAG!)  Upon wandering around at Target I noticed that Little Movers were on sale! And it was a ridiculously good sale too.  And let me tell you, I'm pretty familiar with diaper prices! I keep myself informed.  Anyway, the sale was on a large box (96 diapers) and so, I took the plunge.  I grabbed a box and what did I see? Another coupon on the side of the box! It was way better than the store coupon, so I peeled it off and marched to the check stand. I payed for the box of diapers and left the store.

I already knew I actually liked the pictures on the diapers.  They were cute pastels of Pooh and Tigger, and they weren't masculine or manly.  I mean, I have girl babies and I do NOT want them to be looking like boy babies in their diapers! I remember when Russell and Hannah were babies and how they had specifically BOY and GIRL diapers! I looooved those! I loved not having to guess which was which.  I guess the gender-neutral diapers is a symptom of the de-genderizing of our society, but I digress.......

So I got the diapers home and I bet you would believe me when I said I was really excited about trying them out! Yes, I'm a stay at home mom and yes, I do get excited about new diapers and new hair clips and new sippy cups! I grabbed Pennie and carried her to the changing table, even though she didn't need her diaper changed.  Hey, I wanted to try them out right away! I I took one out of the box and was initially skeptical when I saw how thin they were.  HOW would this paper-thin diaper stand up to extra wetness and, shall we say, "other things"?

Well, let's make a long story short, shall we? I love the diapers.  I mean it.  They meet every point of my strenuous criteria for diapers.  They're cute.  They're soft.  They're long.  They don't sag.  They hug her legs.  They're really, really absorbant.  They keep her dry.  They don't have any fragrance in them but they don't stink when she does her business.  They don't give her a rash.  They aren't the cheapest diapers out there, running about 29 cents a diaper, but if I'm constantly changing diapers because they don't absorb a lot, then the cheap ones aren't cheap in the long run either, and cost of diapers has never been an issue with me.

I think I've found my new favorite.

And no, Huggies did NOT pay me to do this post.  And why not!!!???

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life Girl

Very soon we have another gal having a birthday in our house.  And that gal's birthday is in three days!

Friday, Sofia Elisabeth will turn 6 years old.

We sometimes call her our Life Girl.  Let me explain a bit:

Sofia was our first pregnancy after Janie Rose went to be with Jesus.  I waited for two and a half years to try again.  The reason I say *I* waited is because my husband did not want to wait to try again to get pregnant.  He wanted to try again right away.  And I was just too broken to hand my fertility back to the Lord after taking it from Him when our Jane left us.  So my husband was gracious enough to let me wait.  Even though he wanted another baby so badly, he didn't pressure me or berate me.  I was grateful......

It took me two and a half years to even have an inkling of wanting to have another baby.  It terrified me deeply to think of having another baby and I was hideously tormented to think that God might take another one of our babies home to Him......

And then came the day when I was just comfortable enough with the idea of having a baby again.....and we saw two pink lines on the stick!

Fear and doubt gripped me tightly and it was the hardest pregnancy I have ever had, emotionally.  It was a breeze, physically.  I was watched like a hawk by my doctors. 

The day she was born was one of the sweetest and most victorious days of my entire life.  Through Sofia, God brought my heart back to life.  He showed me that I was capable again of loving without reservation.  He allowed her to bring back to life what was dead and old and He painted new colors in my world where all of the color had faded to gray. 

I loved Sofia with a desperate sort of abandon as soon as she was in my arms.  I gave everything I had to her.

And she didn't die.

She has graced our lives with so much Life and sparkle and joy and laughing and wild and silly music!

Six years of never really thinking of being without her forever.  Six beautiful years of her filling her place in our family!

I'm thankful to God.  Deeply.  I now know that with Sofia, my love didn't kill her.  I loved her enough to get her here.  There was nothing I did to end her life, praise God.  That's good to know.

And even as I fight those voices that tell me that the new death that came when Olivia flew was my fault, Sofia still fills my heart.  God still teaches me through her.

Happy 6th birthday, Life Girl!

Friday, March 2, 2012


Guess what I did?

I started my own business!

Let me explain.

To help you understand better, let me give you a bit of history.

Five and a half years ago, when Sofia was a baby, I eliminated gluten from my diet.  Any type of gluten or wheat left my diet.  Breads, noodles, pizza, and everything like that.  Prior to this drastic decision, I noticed that I had been feeling really, REALLY lousy for many years and I just did NOT know why.  To make a long story short, I started to do some research and came up with a list of symptoms that perfectly matched mine, and they all pointed to celiac disease or at the very least, gluten sensitivity.  I bet all of you reading this know what celiac disease is, so I won't go into details about that, but I went on a very strict diet.....

And the difference in my health within just the first two weeks was remarkable.  Almost miraculous.  I kid you not.  I felt so much better within the first two weeks that I was able to start excercising, which is something I had never done.  In the first 5 weeks of my lifestyle change I lost 20 lbs.  You see, I was extremely overweight, to the tune of 220 lbs on my 5 foot 6 inch frame of small bones.  A size 18 was tight on me, and I was terrified.  I did NOT want to go up to a size 20.  Something had to give.  Enter my lifestyle change.  All told, in a year from the date of The Change, I had lost 80 lbs and was wearing a size 10.  But the most amazing thing to me was the way I felt.  I felt like a new person!!

Anyway, over the years I've tried many, many prepackaged gluten free items and found most of them to be severely lacking in flavor and texture.  How does eating a bowlful of sawdust sprinkled liberally with sand sound?? Not very appetizing, does it? So I have been on a quest.  Let me tell you about my quest.

Recently I decided to investigate different gluten free flours and prepackaged flour blends to bake my own things.  I bought a gluten free cook book and set to work.  The book gave a recipe for making your own flour blend, which, in the beginning, I found passable.  Okay.  Mediocre.  By this time I had gained enough confidence in baking and cooking gluten and wheat free to be able to start playing around on my own.  So I did. 

I created my own flour blends! I created a muffin/loaf mix and an all-purpose flour blend.

And I started making muffins.  Specifically muffins, at first.  I came up with some original recipes.  People started to sit up and take notice of my muffins.  And an idea bloomed slowly in my mind.

Why not make muffins for people? Why not offer muffins to those of us who have food allergies? What about making muffins for school parties? How about baby showers or bridal showers or business meetings?

And my business was born.

I knew my muffins were extraordinarily good.  In fact, the feedback I was getting was that my muffins were the best anyone had ever had.  Okay then.  Well then.....

I have a favorite coffee house in town.  You all know how much I adore my coffee drinks.  And I had established a warm and loving relationship with the gals at the coffee house too.  These gals were becoming close friends.  So one day I brought my Peanut Butter Muffins in to give to the owner and some of the gals.....and the rest, as they say, is history.

My favorite coffee house now sells my loaves.  And my brand new business card is there too.  It's terribly cute.  I came up with the template myself and then my oldest daughter Hannah designed it for me.  She rules.

I'm thinking about branching out a bit too, locally.  Heck, I'm even thinking about entering a few recipe contests!

My business is called The Muffin Mama.  The back of my business cards say "Gluten Free Organic Loaves and Muffins".  I use organic eggs, flours, organic evaporated cane juice (which is a natural sugar), organic baking cocoa and chocolate chips, and organic flavorings.  My muffins and loaves have no preservatives or artificial flavors.  I use aluminum-free baking powder.  And since I cook and bake exclusively gluten and wheat free in my home, there is no risk of cross-contamination. I mix up batches of my muffin mix and all-purpose mix in bulk and store them in large, air-tight containers.

The most important thing, however, is that I have dedecated my business to the Lord.  I have placed it in His hands and asked Him to do with it what HE wants to do. I am explicitly Christian and I run a Christian business and I recognize the fact that my baking and cooking talents come straight from our Father, Who is the giver of good gifts and Who gives without stinginess or selfishness.

I've heard that there is a need for my products out there.  Listen gals, Starbuck's doesn't even have gluten free pastries! I think, if you're going to be a forefunner for innovation, you need to be paying attention to customers and their needs and the comments you're getting and even their suggestions.  After all, a business should exist solely for the customer and making them happy, or else, what kind of business is it going to be?

I'm hearing that this will be a potential income producer for my family.  I think I want to take it all the way, as far as I can go.  I'd love to "get noticed" by a network and have my own cooking show.  Maybe a specialty bakery is in my future.  I know that I want to stay kind of small, and I know that I'm hoping one day to hire my girls to be a part of my business.  I will be copyrighting my mix recipes and all of my recipes and leaving them to my girls in my will.  I want it to stay in the family.

So this is just a small glimpse of what I've been busy with the past few months.  Everyone is excited for me.  I'm excited for me.  And scared.  And contemplative.  I wonder what my future holds.  Somebody recently asked me if I was ready for what may be in store for me.  Yikes and Yay at the same time!

That's enough.  I've got a loaf in the oven and I need to get it over to my gals.  Bye!