Thursday, September 29, 2011

In All My Spare Time...

Sorry to have been AWOL from the blog. Sigh...

It's all the free time I have now.

It's funny how it never materialized.
At. All.

Now that the kids are in school and they know I won't have tag-a-longs, they are quick to ask me to run errands for them.

So now I spend all day in the car.
Every. Day.

Well, at least it seems like it!

So I get nothing done.
It's frustrating.

If you have emailed me and I haven't written back, please do not be mad. I will get back to you.
I will.
It's just that writing emails while driving is generally frowned upon.

The coming weeks don't look much more promising for extra time to blog or email, however.

God has been keeping me extra busy lately with a little side job.
So fun! I love it!
And so time consuming.
Also not possible to do while driving.

Speaking of photography....

Looking for an early Christmas present? The Doors Of Israel photo is FINALLY available in size 16x24. That is currently the only size available for order, but more will be coming soon! The reason for that is because each size has to be completely redone from scratch. It isn't possible to just resize the entire image. Soooo.... It takes hours of work to make each one but I plan to work on an 11x14 size soon.

I ordered one to preview and it looks great! The colors are a bit richer than the sample below, so the sample doesn't do it justice. The final print has a larger amount of black edging on the sides and a tad bit more on the top. I can't wait to get it framed and on the wall. I just might have to do a Doors of New England to hang next to it.... Hmmmm.......

A large portion of the proceeds will go to Morning Star Foundation to help take care of the sweet babies who live there. Because of the cost of printing and the fact that this is a fundraiser for them, we ask for a minimum donation of $65 + $4 shipping (total $69) for this print. If you would like to give more, 100% of every dollar over $69 will be donated to Morning Star.

If you would like to order a Doors of Israel print in size 16x24, please leave a comment with your contact information or email me and let me know. I will send you an invoice via Pay-Pal and as soon as I receive your payment, I will order your print for you.

Also...if you order more than one print, you only need to pay once for shipping.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's go to the fair!

Saturday there was a fair in our area. Whee! Let's go! Even the teen went along.

It was amusing to see the ticket booth with "ATM money tree" signage. As usual, the fair rides were ridiculously expensive, so the little kids only got to ride one ride. They were fine with it and had fun watching each other pick their favorite ride to try.
'Pass out the tickets, Dad!"

I am kicking myself for not buying this sign!

"Tina, you fat lard, come get some dinner." -Napoleon Dynamite
{Sorry. I couldn't resist. I love that movie.}

Poor SaraGrace was not tall enough to ride any of the big kid rides. She is just so tiny. She is too old to want to ride the kiddie rides, so she chose not to ride at all. She was disappointed but handled it really well. She got to have a treat instead. Daddy took her to pick one out.

A good time was had by all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Braces, and first day of school pics

*** is the last day to bid on the beautiful baby quilt! The bids are up to $155! Hooray! You have until 6PM Eastern Time tonight to place your bid. Click HERE to read the post about the quilt, baby Michael, and bidding.***

This was a big week for Jillian. She got her braces! She has been wearing a retainer to pull some of her molars back but it wasn't working all that well. So, this week she had two teeth pulled (ouch) and braces put on.
She wasn't really THAT pale after getting her braces. It was just the crummy lighting in our backyard at the time.

And as are a few back-to-school photos. These were taken after school and not on the actual first day.
It was pouring rain the first three days of school, which makes it pretty impossible to take outdoor photos. :)
Certain kids were um...not cooperative...aka: CRYING about getting a photo, so first shot was of their shoes. Not everyone needed new shoes, but most of them did.

Tears gone...all the little kids want a photo with big sister.

Time for shots of everyone's backpacks.

Some passed the time by lying on the ground, but at least they were willing to smile for mom.

These two like having photos taken together. :)

Close-up shoe shots.

Then when you are all done with the individual shots, you can go to and use their FREE collages to make a little memento of their first day of school.

Like this:
Easy, peasy. I made this in a few minutes. Print it out and voila...stick in the baby book!

Picnik also has lots of additional ways to edit photos and make collages when you purchase their $25 a year subscription. Well worth the money if you want to do a little extra with your photos. I don't work for them--I just enjoy their product. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Belated 9-11 post

The Quilt Auction is off and running and our current high bid is $150!! Woohoo! Thank you so much for all who have participated. You still have time to bid--deadline is Friday at 6PM.

You may have noticed {or not} that I didn't post on 9-11. I had intended to but I got caught up in the moment and watched a lot of the coverage. I had forgotten how many of our kids had no idea what 9-11 was. I fielded a lot of questions from them. They were quite bewildered by it all.SaraGrace finally asked me, "But what did we ever do to them?"

Good question.

I had forgotten that both of the planes that hit the WT towers had originated from Boston.
We have now flown out of there. We pick people up from there.
It's so very close to home.

Our church had a special time of remembering and it was very powerful to watch the people around me. It was an event that impacted the entire country, but for those who live in the Boston area, it was so much more intense. They knew people who died that day. A lot of them had flown that flight on different days. It happened at THEIR airport. Taylor had a teacher who broke down in class on Friday because he lost five friends that awful day.

My mind drifted to the day my cousin told us he was going back to Iraq. It was the last time I would ever see him. He lost his life to a sniper on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. He left behind a wife and two young children. I remembered his funeral. The flags. The military presence. The sadness.

And Ryan...he is in the Army because of the feelings it invoked in him to watch what had happened to his country. His unit is scheduled to go to Afghanistan early next year and I watched the recap with a different feeling than I did when it happened. We sang, "I'm Proud to be an American," at church and when we got to the part that says, "And I'd stand up next to you to defend her still today," I got a lump in my throat.
Because I would rather stand up than have my baby boy stand up for me.
But stand up he is.
I am proud of him.
But I want him to come home.
Just like every other mother of a soldier.

But America...she stands for FREEDOM. And it's worth the fight. This country is so very special. Not perfect, but special. Let's not lose sight of that in our desire for comfort and security. This country is still the best that the world has to offer. Don't let anyone tell you differently. If you don't believe a bit.

As for us...others who came before have paid a far greater price so that we could live in freedom. Let's not take it for granted or squander what we have been given.

I end with these words excerpted from Ronald Reagan's "A Shining City on a Hill" speech...

{RE: Signing of the Declaration of Independence}
"Well, as I say, whether story or legend, the signing of the document that day in Independence Hall was miracle enough. Fifty-six men, a little band so unique -- we have never seen their like since -- pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Sixteen gave their lives, most gave their fortunes and all of them preserved their sacred honor. What manner of men were they? Certainly they were not an unwashed, revolutionary rebel, nor were then adventurers in a heroic mood. Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants and tradesmen, nine were farmers. They were men who would achieve security but valued freedom more.

And what price did they pay? John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. After more than a year of living almost as an animal in the forest and in caves, he returned to find his wife had died and his children had vanished. He never saw them again, his property was destroyed and he died of a broken heart -- but with no regret, only pride in the part he had played that day in Independence Hall. Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships -- they were sold to pay his debts. He died in rags. So it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston, and Middleton. Nelson, learning that Cornwallis was using his home for a headquarters, personally begged Washington to fire on him and destroy his home--he died bankrupt. It has never been reported that any of these men ever expressed bitterness or renounced their action as not worth the price. Fifty-six rank-and-file, ordinary citizens had founded a nation that grew from sea to shining sea, five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep -- all done without an area re-development plan, urban renewal or a rural legal assistance program.

You can call it mysticism if you want to, but I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sweet baby Michael needs our help!

Michael--yesterday in ICU

Sweet baby Michael normally resides with our friends, Bill and Lynsay, at Morning Star home in China. He was brought to them in very bad shape and desperately needed heart surgery. You can read his full story HERE.

After initially being told that the hospital would not attempt a surgery on such a sick infant, they relented and agreed to try. However, they said not to expect much.

In China, you must pay up front for surgery and hospitalizations. The expected cost was $15,000. Of course, Bill and Lynsay did not have that amount. However...God miraculously provided.

Michael had his surgery and was doing well but then took a turn for the worse. The bill is increasing daily as he struggles for life in ICU.

Last year, after our 'baby blanket and pillow' fundraiser for Morning Star, a friend sent me a beautiful baby quilt to auction off. {Thank you, Anne Devlin!} I have been hanging onto it until God led me to offer it and I believe that time is NOW! help with baby Michael's expenses, I will auction off the quilt this week. I am starting the bids at $50 and the bidding will end on Friday, Sept. 15 at 6:00PM. To bid, please leave a comment letting me know what your bid is. If you do not want to bid publicly, I will allow you to bid privately but you need to leave a comment with your email address so that I can contact you.
I will try to keep the comment section updated so that you know what the bidding is up to.

I know this may not be a huge chunk of change in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit will help. Also, if you prefer, you can go directly to the Morning Star blog and donate.

Do you know an expectant or new mom, or a new baby who would love to have this quilt? How awesome to be able to give a gift like this, knowing that not only will it wrap a new baby, but help a baby on the other side of the world to fight for life! As a new mom, I know I would have been very touched to receive a gift like this.

The quilt is in shades of rose, mint green and brown.

One of the squares has a beautifully embroidered Chinese symbol for 'Love.'

Another view...

Close-up of the beautiful stitching

Let the bidding begin! Let's rally around a tiny orphan who needs our help!

And please pray for a miracle for tiny Michael.
Fight, little man, fight!

Friday, September 09, 2011

After all that...

It seems that my gym-teacher career is already over.


Yes. I went into the school to discuss the position and my starting date, and found that the principal had forgotten that I had volunteered for the position.
She had already found someone else.
So I am replaced.

And I had that cool whistle just waiting to be used.

And I came clean with ya'll unnecessarily about my overly-competitive spirit.


Just pretend you never read any of that stuff, okay?

PS: Just to clarify....I was chaperone at a high school/college age camp. The girl I pushed was bigger than me. Wouldn't want you to think I would push a small child into a snow bank. I do have some self-control.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

For all of you naysayers...

...and scoffers....about my budding career as a gym teacher.

I'll have you know that I DO know my way around a gym.
And I may have given some of you the wrong impression over the years about exercising.

It's true that I am quite lax in that department.
It's also true that now and then, I get on an exercise kick that lasts about three days.

But it's also true that I used to play sports.
I loved them.
I even followed all the wretched 'professional' Detroit teams in our state. Especially the Tigers.
My brother and I knew all the batting averages of our favorite players and ERA's of the pitchers.
If you don't know what ERA'll have to Google it.
I'm not bitter about the fact that I followed the Tigers every year while they battled it out with Cleveland for last place in their division but two years after I got married and moved too far away to listen to any of the games on the radio, they won the stinkin' World Series.

Well anyway....I had to quit playing sports.
You know why?
Because I'm too competitive.
It's a curse.
If you are a teen and playing with the youth group, you can be competitive. Why? Because there are lots of boys and they are competitive too. And I didn't mind ticking off the boys if I stole the ball from them. But the girls? They take it personally.

I like having friends.
Girl friends don't steal the ball from each other.
So I don't play sports.

The last time I played anything was hockey.
It was my first time playing hockey and it was at a winter camp where I was supposed to be a chaperone.
We divided the teams into Canadians vs. Americans.
Bad idea.
Very bad idea.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big ol' American nerd.
I wear red,white and blue on the 4th.
I dress my kids the same.
I am deeply patriotic and it's so perfect that God's choice for our first born's birthday was the 4th of July.

So anyway....
Our team was losing. It was to be expected.
The Canadian team actually wore hockey skates.
The American team didn't even know white, female hockey skates existed.
We wore figure skates.
And we didn't have much of a clue how to play hockey.
Just get the puck. Put it in the net.
And we had seen a few hockey highlights on the news to know that you could 'check' people into the boards.
And we all knew the "Miracle on Ice" story of the American Olympic team. This was our big chance to beat the Canadians at their own sport and create our own little miracle right there at camp Barakel.
{Delusions of grandeur are no stranger to me, apparently.}

Well...we had no boards at this location but we did have snowdrifts along the edges of the rink.
I wanted the puck.
It was in front of a girl. I was behind her.
I wanted the puck.
I am sad to say that all reason completely left me and I pushed her into the snow bank.
I got the puck.
I put it in the net.
I also put myself into the net. But no one said I had to do it gracefully.

The girl was not happy with me for pushing her face into the snow.
I was not very happy with myself for being so mean.
But I knew if the opportunity presented itself, I would do it again.

So I don't play sports anymore.
Because I can't seem to control myself.

I play with my kids now and that is okay because I have no need to win.
It's the need to win that seems to be the problem for me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Their First Day

It was raining this morning so we didn't get any good pictures. I will retake some when the weather is better--which might be a few days from now.

Everyone hopped out of bed and got dressed. They were so excited. The 'triplets' were a little nervous, but mostly just excited. Jake and Kate were worried about leaving mommy home all by herself. I assured them I would be fine.
I left out the possibility of me Snoopy-dancing.

Dressed and ready with their new backpacks.
Jake isn't even wearing his pants backwards.

The middle kids--now old pros at the first day of school.

My big girls--they look so grown up. Wah.
I'm sure some will notice all the paper towel rolls they are holding.
Required at school. Not sure why only one per class. I just followed instructions.

We had a few morning mishaps.
Like a brand new gallon of milk getting dropped and having the bottom burst. That was fun.
And a little kid wearing a backpack managed to knock the head off of my Chinese soldier.

Oh well...there is glue.

Pretty soon they all piled into the van. Jake climbed in and then back out...ran back to me and said, "I will miss you, Mommy." Awwww....
Then they drove off with Jeff.
And the house got very, very quiet.
It was weird.
Even the dog was confused.
I'm not sure I like it but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

I took myself to Panera for lunch. It's quite a step up from Burger King.
Just sayin.'
I had a quick stop to make at Target, where the check-out girl recognized me and said, "No kids today?"
We then commiserated about how we miss our kids when they are at school.

Jake gets picked up 30 minutes before the other kids so it was just he and I for a little while. He had a great day. Soon the other kids were done and came piling out to the van. Thankfully, everyone had a wonderful day and chattered happily all the way home.

Next week I will start my new career at their school as the gym teacher. Wheeee! It helps pay their tuition. Gym is at the end of the day, so I will head there around 1PM.
I have a whistle.
I'm looking forward to using it.
A lot.
Oh the authority it will give me.
Stop snickering and don't be jealous.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Labor Day and Back to....

The kids were begging to go the local apple orchard on Monday, which we thought was a good idea.
It is September after all.
Sadly, there will be no pick-your-own at this orchard this year due to tropical storm Irene. Apparently so many apples were knocked off the trees that they don't have enough left to pick.

So we just ate some. The ones in this barrel were free samples. Yum....

One of the kids wanted to know if I made this corn.
I know I'm not a great cook, but my corn does not look like this.

A kind lady offered to take this pic. Too bad it's so blurry. little man has the most sparkly eyes.

After we bought the apples, they wanted to play on the rock wall. This isn't a good angle to see it, but there is a rock wall there that is about a foot high.

Follow the leader...

Let's race!

Where do I put my apple when I'm done?

Another forced-by-mamarazzi group shot

My man. I love him.

Giving the kids a few pointers about pumping water 'back in the day.'

And this is where you tie your horse.

We could have really used one of these last week.

And now we bid a sad farewell to summer. Why can't winter fly by as fast?

Tonight, these were lined up again in the kitchen.

Taylor started school today but everyone else starts tomorrow.
That's right.
All nine of them.

No one is staying home with mom tomorrow.
The three little kids are starting school tomorrow as well, and they are VERY excited.

I've been trying not to think about it. My babies are going off to school.
But I was sad.

Until today.
It was raining. They were fighting. And hormonal. And grouchy. More tears were shed in the first 45 minutes of the day than were shed all last month.

And then I started to be less sad about them going to school.
A lot less sad.

And maybe even a tiny bit happy.

But I'm sure when the house falls silent except for the sound of the dog licking places that shouldn't be licked, I will miss the kids very much.

Yes. I'm sure I will.