Thursday, October 24, 2013

If You Give Me Cold Weather...

There are a set of books for children I absolutely love: "If you give a mouse a cookie, If you give a pig a pancake, If you give a moose a muffin" and maybe a few more. Anyways, this week the Lord has given us cold weather and I don't mean cool! I mean COLD from Canada air and it isn't the end of October yet.

Please don't get me wrong! I love cool, crisp weather and especially this time of year when the leaves are just starting to turn colors and football season is really getting good. But this week as the cool turned cold I began to do the things I do if you give me cold weather.

If you give me cold weather, I'm definitely going to be digging out thick sweaters! If you give me cold weather I'm going to be pulling on a sweatshirt and some sweatpants and be thrilled! If you give me cold weather, I'm cooking warm foods. And if you give me cold weather, in the morning I am looking for a heater and blanket to go with my cup of coffee and devotion.

This morning, Brian really went all out and I'll forever be grateful because he knew what I needed if you give me cold weather...

...yep a FIRE!!!

{I know at this very moment my dad is dying laughing and that my parents won't turn on the heat until I come home for Thanksgiving}.

Brian turned on our fireplace when he got up early to let the dogs out so it was all toasty and warm when I made it into my sitting place with my coffee and Bible at 5:45 this morning! And I have thanked the Lord a hundred times this week for cooler, colder weather and fall because I do just love it- all snuggled up and warm!

I have also cooked crock pot meals this week. Please be impressed because it was as fabulous as it sounds! I have been looking on Pintrest for a good potato soup recipe and finally combined two to kind of make my own. The whole family loved it, which if you know my family that is nothing short of a miracle. So, here is my recipe:

In your crock pot -
1 bag (32 oz) frozen Southern Style Hash Browns
1 can of less sodium chicken broth (you can use 2 if you want it soupy)
1 pint of half and half
lots of salt and pepper
onion powder (because we don't like onion chunks)
a spoon full of bacon grease

Cook on low for 6 hours then add 1 brick of cream cheese but not the reduced fat kind because it won't melt good. Let that melt (about an hour) then your soup is ready to eat! Top the soup with bacon, shredded cheese and a bit of sour cream. Taste even better the next day.

I also cooked a roast that we enjoy making into a sandwich:

In the crockpot-
1 roast
1 can of beef broth
1/2 cup Coke or Dr. Pepper
a few dashes of soy sauce
2 packages of dry Italian/Zesty Italian dressing on top of roast
Pepperoncini Peppers (however many you would like to add)
Sometimes I put some fresh garlic too

Cook on low all day. Shred the meat after it is cooked. Serve on toasted wheat hoagie buns with melted pepper jack cheese. Use the juice for a gravy! This is a great hot sandwich for a cold night.

So anyways, that is what I have been with the cold weather here. It is supposed to be 42 at kick off of our game tomorrow night so I am wearing lots of layers!! Koby's team is playing for the district championship and home field advantage in the playoffs so it will be a big night {and I will be a nervous mother}.

I'll hopefully be blogging with good news later this weekend!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Because I Need a Minute....

I think sometimes a mother just has to take a minute. When the kids were younger, my minute was needed after the boys had sharpied the brand new couch then each other in the span of the 45 seconds it took me to change a load of laundry. I needed it again when we were in Guam and Kamdyn had pinched three different kids at play group, leaving a good mark on one of them and an impression on every mom. {I told you she was a tough little girl!}

Those days wore this mama down, and a wise person told me that those days might keep me on my feet but the teenage years would keep me on my knees. This week, that saying came back to me as I realized yet again and over and over that I needed a minute.

It wasn't so much about something the kids did in their behavior. It was more because reality knocked me off my balance as I saw each of them achieving milestones and living life. And while my heart was full of joy, I think a piece of me also longed for those preK  stay at home days that are now a distant memory.

After celebrating Kamdyn's 15th birthday, I took her to get her permit mostly because she hounded Brian and I in a way that the boys never did! And after an hour and 20 minutes of chaos with the people at the DMV {seriously, it.wore.me.out!} this is what we came out with...

...and if you think she wasn't proud then clearly you aren't seeing the smile that is covering her face! And, I needed just a minute. This is our baby, the last one going through this whole "mom, what is the shoulder of the road?" and "how far back do you honk your horn?" routine of questioning that comes when studying for the permit test. I mean, there are questions on that test that I can not answer and I am a grown person, a driver for 20+ years! Yet, here we were taking a picture I have taken two other times, celebrating an achievement in her life that puts her one step closer to adulthood and puts me on my knees, praying for her safety and discernment as she wants to get behind the wheel.

Earlier this week Brendan got a large envelope in the mail from Alabama and several smaller ones. I knew when I sorted the mail and saw the envelope that I would need a minute. I called him into the kitchen and handed over the envelopes. In three seconds he had the big one open and here is what he brought me...

...a certificate of Admission to Alabama. He also had a letter of acceptance to the College of Engineering and information about housing and blah blah blah. Honestly, it got kind of blurry as my eyes filled with tears. This is what he has been working for, checking off his goals as he has done so many other times in his life and I needed a minute. I'm praying doors open for his ROTC scholarship and that he finds a good roommate and that there will be a church that he plugs into and that he eats at least two meals a day and on and on. The Lord probably thinks I am the only one to ever face sending their first born off the college what with all the time I am spending in prayer but I know it's best to just give it to God because there really won't be anything I can do once the time comes.

This week Brendan also led the National Honor Society induction ceremony because he is the president this year. And so there he stood, all dressed up and official and grown....

...and yep, I needed a minute. As a kid he used to wear Brian's hat or boots and on this day he wore his tie and shirt. And here we are in the blink of an eye, the Lord answering my prayers for a son who would be a leader with strong opinions and an independent mind.

In Koby's life, he has been the provider of quite a few minutes for me! With is live-big-or-go-home personality I never know what is just around the corner for him. This week, he did not disappoint! I snapped this picture at the pep rally....

...as he led the junior class and football boys in the chant for the spirit stick. That's him, big #25 laid back, cheering loud, always with a group of friends. He sees no color barrier, meets no stranger, wants everyone to get along and have fun and laugh. And then as I looked through my picture download this morning I also saw this picture....

...and there he is again! Big #25, setting up the play and rallying the team and I needed a minute. This child has no fear, gives you all his heart and is loyal to the end. And so he lined up again and again as his team took one big hit after another...

...and then made one big catch, being the spark the team needed for the only score of the night. This child who keeps that twinkle in his eye, who faces giants like he is one himself.

So this post is not so much about informing you or entertaining you, although even at best I don't know that I do that really. This morning this was just therapy for my heart and maybe one day, if the internet is still even relevant, my kids will stumble across this and know their mama loved them. Their parents were proud of the work God completed in them. And in the times when they might need a minute themselves, maybe they'll know they are not alone. It happens to us all!

I don't know what might be causing you to need a minute today, but God alone is your strength, provider and sustainer in the good times and in the bad. And, if you are on the other end of the parenting spectrum, enjoy the time at home - even the sharpied couch, crushed up goldfish, spilled koolaid on a cleanly mopped floor, fit throwing, child pinching days and know one day there may be quiet but peace will only come from time spent on your knees.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Celebration Time....

For the last two days we have been on Fall Break! Two days out of school and off work is something worth celebrating for sure but when you add two late night football games to the mix it makes a day off even more enticing.

Friday night Koby's team played in West Memphis, Arkansas. This was a 200 mile trip one way and we got home about 1:00 after playing a game that was hard fought. Our team struggled to find their way and came home with a loss, but our family was already looking forward to another big game on Saturday.

After serving in our local mission outreach Brian and the boys and I headed out to Oxford for the game between Ole Miss and our beloved Aggies.

Koby and I took a picture before we left for the game in some of our new Aggie apparel!
Then at the Aggie tailgate we found these guys and had our "yearly" picture made with them!
The thing you can't tell by the picture is that there are tons of Aggies behind us at the tailgate! We had so much fun seeing all the game clothes that Aggies were sporting - everything from black felt hats and Wranglers to bow ties and maroon khakis. It certainly kept us entertained!
We headed over to make an official visit to "The Grove", which is the tailgating spot to be for Ole Miss. It is a truly beautiful setting and the tailgate tents were decorated to the 9s. I honestly was so impressed! However, it was also muddy, crowded and flowing with short dresses and alcohol so I was thankful when Brian offered for us to go on into the stadium.
We got to see a really great game and we were thrilled when the Aggies came up with the win. I have tons more pictures and stories I could share about our experience but I hate to bore those of you who aren't Aggies. I have to say this real quick - we did stay after the game to see the players and Oh. My. Word. They were some proud boys! We said our hello to Johnny - through the security guards - and took our pictures with the players and began our walk to the car. Finally at 2:45 we made it home! And can I say that is why I was so glad to be on Fall Break!
So, Sunday we made it to church and the commissary (which is finally back open thanks to Washington) and then just laid around and rested! Monday morning we slept in and cooked a big, late breakfast. Brian and I went to see Captain Phillips and it was a great movie that I would tell any of you to go see! Then we just some time at home with the kids and dogs and laundry because that's what happens when you are gone all day on Saturday!
And today, we are celebrating a special day - Kamdyn's 15th birthday!
It is so hard to believe that she is already 15! It seems like just yesterday that we were holding this little bundle, wondering what we were going to do with a little girl. She was perfect and tiny and coming into a home with two little boys full of energy and tricks. Fifteen years later she is still our little girl but she is as tough as her brothers!
I had no idea what we were getting into when we brought her home. Her closet was full of pink and dresses and Barbies that I knew she would one day love as much as me. It was evident early on that God had indeed made her in His own special way, not exactly what I had ordered but so much better than I could've imagined! She loves sports and animals and reading her Bible. She will say hi to visitors, pick up a crying baby and serve others without noticing their skin color or language barrier. In her the Lord has given us such a special gift and in the blink of an eye time has flown by.
I remember watching her sleep in her cradle, dreaming about all the things we would do together! And today we spent the day shopping - at her stores, on her time because she likes to get what you need and go. Before going out for her birthday dinner I snapped this picture...
...and I realized the grains of sand are slipping through our hour glass. Our little girl is becoming a young lady! So today I have prayed she will always walk the way the Lord leads, love those He loves and impact His Kingdom with the gifts He created in her. I pray she knows the fullness of His love and that she stands strong in that. I have thanked Him for her over and over, the miracle that she is. And tonight, we celebrated her!
So, happy birthday sweet girl! Your father and I love you and thank God for the giving us the opportunity to be your parents!!
And that has been our Fall Break! It is hard to believe tomorrow is "hump day" already and these short weeks tend to be longer than a five day week most of the time once we go back to school. I hope to be more regular in blogging, which I know I have said a hundred times but I really do mean it!
Maybe you can also look for something to celebrate today....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homecoming 2013 and more...

Hey ya'll! I hope the cooler (and almost cold) weather has made it to wherever you are! Here in our little part of the country we have been beyond blessed since about 12:30 Sunday afternoon, when the temperature began a drastic nosedive that has kept us in sweaters ever since! Seriously, after church we went to eat Mexican food and when we got back into the car the temp had dropped almost 10 degrees and it dropped another 3 or 4 just in the short drive home. By the way, give me a rainy and cold Sunday afternoon and I will flat tear up a good book followed by a short nap! I think the good Lord knew I truly needed a day of rest.

Last week was Homecoming at our school, which is probably one of my favorite weeks of the school year. The kids love dress up days and I really like the excitement homecoming brings, minus the fact that with each one I realize I am fast approaching my 20th class reunion and honestly that just sounds so old!

Anyways, this Homecoming week was special for lots of reasons. Mother came to visit, which is something the kids have been waiting for since school started. We enjoyed her being here to make the kids their favorite foods and cheer them on at their events and get to know their friends. And for the most part, I think we kept her entertained...

Kamdyn is on the Student Council at our school and she had to introduce the guest speaker for our Homecoming chapel Friday morning. There is nothing like going through 5 dresses the night before you need one for school but that might be best left to another post!

Koby's sweet girlfriend was the Homecoming Maid for her class. He was anxious to have his picture made with her after chapel was over!

Mother got to come back to school for the pep rally since Kamdyn would be performing! This is Kamdyn with one of her best friends.

One highlight of Homecoming was Ellie coming home! We were all so happy to see her and I am so thankful her whole family got to make the trip. She was able to hang out with us at home and at school. She got to catch up with her friends and her and Brendan took some senior pictures in the pre-cold front weather Saturday evening. It was great to have her here for a few days and we already miss having her around!

And in the heat of all the picture taking after the pep rally I was able to snap this quick picture of our kids. I didn't have to force anyone or make any threats - they just stood close and truly looked happy! These smiles are genuine so I am hopeful there will truly be a day where sibling rivalry will cease - or at least have a cease fire! In that moment that the camera lens snapped the picture I also realized for me there is no more homecoming where the three will be together so I have become even more dedicated to enjoying every moment this season of raising teenagers continues to bring. I truly believe in the blink of an eye, it will be over.

Our team played an amazing homecoming game, shutting out the other team 28-0! Following the game the team stayed on the field to watch the fireworks finale, which was a treat for everyone. There is nothing like the feeling of a win on homecoming and some little part of me wanted to stand and hold my number one while singing the BHS Alma Mater. It's kind of funny the things that stick with you over the years!
So, we survived homecoming and all the dress up days, events and special guests that it brought. We are doing our best to get through these next few days because Fall Break is coming our way next Monday and Tuesday.
Brendan is wrapping up his ROTC scholarship application, breathing a sigh of relief after the ACT scores came out this week. Basketball practice has started for him and Kamdyn and she is finishing up her last week of therapy on her knee. Koby's team plays away this Friday night and we are looking forward to the Aggies playing at Ole Miss this weekend!
I hope all is well where you are and that you are settling into this season of fall and all that it brings! Talk to you soon....