The Long Week

So, it’s been a long week (and a long time since I posted).  What started out as a somewhat normal week has ended up being absolutely crazy and far out of our normal.  Monday night our house flooded due to a clogged toilet that we didn’t notice for a while.  Kids were in bed and my husband and I were watching a movie.  Not sure if a kid woke up and went to the bathroom and flushed and it was clogged then or if the sewer backed up or if the toilet is just old and needing replaced.  Either way, it ran for an hour or more before we noticed.  Headed to bed to discover a flooded hallway and the toilet looking like a fountain.  Spent 3 hours cleaning up as much as we could and also called our insurance to get that set up because of how much water there was left in the carpet and padding even after our meager attempt to remove it.

The water removal company showed up Tuesday at 6:30 to assess things and get started on the removal steps.  So much water was still removed and they took out quite a bit of carpet.  It was necessary to spray a sporicide to kill germs and such and so we have been displaced in a hotel for a few days.

It’s amazing how much damage water can do.  Carpet and padding, drywall & the wood panels, and the trim work all got damaged in pretty much every room.  The only rooms spared were our kitchen, dining and laundry areas.

But among the chaos and destruction there is a blessing.  We had been talking about replacing the carpet in a couple of years because several of us deal with allergies/asthma and other respiratory issues and we knew the carpet needed to be replaced.  The how just wasn’t what we thought it would be.  But that’s ok.  It’s working out for the best.  Every room will have new flooring and it will be better for us.

Other notable thing that happened was a broken finger on one of our boys.  A little too much rough housing apparently.  Thank goodness for splints, & Cool Azul Pain Cream.  Life is always an adventure at our house.

If there is one thing we’ve tried to teach our kids, it’s that sometimes you gotta roll with it.  It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it.  When I saw the amount of water in our flooring (all the way up to my ankles) I looked at my husband and almost lost it.  But he put his hand on my arm, steadied me and said “It will be ok, lets just clean up what we can.”  Thank God for that man!  I don’t know if I would have been able to continue in a calm manner if he hadn’t said anything to me.  I am truly blessed to have him as my husband.

So now we have about 2-3 weeks till everything is completed.  I’m just thankful that it wasn’t worse, that it happened before we went to bed and not after (we have kids who wake up in the middle of the night), thankful that we got up as much water as we could, given the circumstances, and thankful that we are all ok.  God is good.  He always provides.

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The Long Break

So I came back to my blog because a friend was talking about starting up her own blog and I wanted to share mine with her.  It has been over a year since I last posted.  A lot has happened.  We moved…again!  But this time it was a local move because we were able to do something that we had never done before.  We bought a house!  Fifteen years and 4 kids later and we now have a home of our own!IMG_0413

It was a grueling search and you really don’t realize just how much paperwork you are going to have to fill out when you apply for a mortgage and then sign at closing!  But it was an awesome experience last year.

We have also been able to find a church home too and are plugging in more this year.  Two of our boys have the privilege to be able to go to the camp gatherings for their age group.  They are SO excited!  It has been rough for them since we moved and they are still opening up to their group and trying to make friends.

Our oldest son is going to be in high school this year.  I am SO not ready for that.  Thankfully, I am not alone on this journey.  There are many of my friends who are homeschooling their children through high school and I can always call my mom, who homeschooled my sister and I through high school.  Also, just one of the tools in my arsenal is a 4-year planner from The Well Planned Day.  It helps you plan out the high school years.  This is something that I am looking forward to using with him.  He is currently working on writing a book.  He loves to read and play minecraft when his studies are done.

Our second son will be entering the 4th grade and has expressed his desire to get back in to Karate or Tae-kwon-do.  We had to stop TKD when we moved from Pennsylvania 2 years ago and it is something he really enjoyed and misses.  Hopefully we can get him back into that program.

Our third son will be working on a modified kindergarten/1st grade.  Our suspicions were confirmed that he had some sensory issues and he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.  So now we have several days where we go to Occupational and Speech therapy.  His occupational therapist has integrated music therapy in his sessions which has helped him a lot.  My goal is to get a listening system for us at home, but since it is considered an alternative therapy, insurance doesn’t cover it.  This is frustrating because having him use it just a couple more times a week would solidify the benefits he receives at OT during the week.

Our daughter will be doing pre-k/k activities, plus sitting in with our family classes during the day.  She loves to do what her brothers do during school and insists on “school time”.  She loves to dance and play with her dolls and all things girly.  That said, she also plays with her brothers and their toys.  From Lego’s to action figures, she is all about playing with them.  She rough houses with them and when they try to get her, she goes back full force!  She love them so much and they love her too.  I foresee an interesting time when she wants to go on a date.  Daddy is one thing, but she has 3 older brothers who are VERY protective of their baby sister.

This year is Darren’s and mine 15th Anniversary.  I’m not sure what we plan on doing to celebrate, but we want to do something for this year.  We have been blessed during our 15 years.  It has taken a lot of work too. Two job layoffs, 1 cross-country move, 1 local move (basically 2 moves happened in 1 year), 4 children and a lot of fun/crazy times.  Keeping God first has been the key to making it through every challenge brought our way.  I am thankful that God brought me a man who loved the Lord.

I am really looking forward to this year.  So many great things have happened and continue to happen for our family.  The past couple of years have been full of changes and challenges, but God has brought us through them all.  It may often seem like there is so much darkness around us, but without it we can’t see the light.

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My Grandy

Oh how the years go by.  17 years ago in August, my grandfather passed away.  He was 75 years young.  I remember the events that led up to his passing like it was yesterday.

But first let me tell you about my Grandy.  He was a teddy bear.  He was loving, kind, caring, would sing to us, had a servants heart and loved his family dearly.  I remember spending holidays, birthdays, summer breaks and who knows how many more occasions over the years at his and my grandmother’s house.  We were always spending time with them.  Of course the fact that they were only 2 hours away helped things.  Though it seemed like 2 hours was FOREVER to get there as a kid.

Grandy was an avid photographer.  He photographed EVERY single occasion.  Easter, birthdays, Christmas, births, and just enjoyed taking photo’s of our family.  I remember him setting the timer and it not always going off causing us to laugh and then he would go try to figure out what was going on and then the flash and camera would go off.  This resulted in more laughter from the family group.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Those were our memories.  He loved his family and wanted to capture that for himself.

He also loved birthday celebrations.  He and Grammy would show up and we would run to greet them.  We would have a family meal together and then enjoy cake, ice cream and presents.  And we would also get the “birthday spanking”.  This was a tradition where you got a tap on the bottom for each year you were alive.  All family members participated in this.  They would often skip numbers and do things like saying “One to grow on” or “One to get married on” to make the event last longer.  Of course this was only done by our family as they knew to only tap our bums.  Though occasionally my sister and I would get each other really good.  Sibling love!

Grandy and Grammy had a small garden in their back yard.  They grew green beans, blackberry vines, tomatoes, and several other vegetables.  My grandmother would can the green beans.  She would also make sweet pickles which I lovingly called “pillsies”.  She also made relish and strawberry jam.  My sister and I would go help them in the garden and also in the prep for canning.  We had so much fun with them.

Then in 1994, Grandy had a stroke.  It was so hard to see the man I had loved all my life be so frail, weak and vulnerable.  He went from the teddy bear to a shell of who he used to be.  Granted some of those changes were necessary due to dietary reasons and he lost a good deal of weight due to that, but it was hard for me to not see him as the big teddy bear I grew up with.  But at least we had him with us.

Fast-forward 3 years to 1997.  Grandy had another stroke, though I don’t remember this one being quite as severe.  But still not good.  While he was in the hospital the doctors found some swelling of his lymph nodes.  They did tests to determine what was going on and found that he had cancer.  So the doctors said he needed to have his lymph nodes removed and also a lung as it had spread to his right lung.  Off to surgery he went.  When he came out they told us he had to have his right lung and half of his left lung removed.  I had no clue you could survive on one lung.

Things seemed to be going well for his recovery.  I remember he had to do this breathing machine to see what his lung capacity and strength were.  I thought that was SO cool at the time.  So I went back with my family to our home.  Then we got the call that no one wants to hear.  He had caught pneumonia.  Pneumonia with only 1/2 a lung and recovery from surgery.  Things weren’t looking good.

I remember trying to go back to work at my job while knowing the fact that things were not good, but I wanted a distraction.  I had been at work maybe 30 minutes when my dad called and said that they were taking Grandy off of life-support.  I couldn’t work then.  It was too much.  So my dad came and picked me up and took me home so I could say goodbye to my grandfather.

When I got home, we received a phone call from the hospital.  It was my mom (who had stayed with my grandmother) letting my sister and I know that it was time for us to say goodbye.  But what do you say to someone you love who will no longer be part of your life?  To a someone who has been there for you, loved you, cared for you, sang songs to you, laughed at the cartoons on TV with you?  What do you say?  I don’t remember who suggested it or if I thought of it on my own, but my sister and I wound up singing to Grandy.  We sang the song he would sing to us, “You are my Sunshine”.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Singing that song brought back every time he had ever held us and sang to us.  He loved his family and we loved him.  This was the best way we could show it to him right now.  As we finished, we each said goodbye to him, knowing it was the last time he would ever hear our voice.

Shortly after midnight that night, my mom called my dad to let him know Grandy had gone on to be with the Lord.  I remember standing outside the door of their bedroom as he talked to my mom to calm her.  When he was done, I asked him if Grandy was gone and he said yes.  I told my dad good night and went to my room and cried myself to sleep.  It was a hard night for all of us.  I can’t even imagine how hard it was for her.

We laid him to rest next to my sister, Anna, in the cemetery near my grandparents house.  It was a very sad time for our family.

But I remember all the good times we had.  The fair, all holidays, birthdays, just because times, Grandy and myself hiding under the desk from the horses, him singing to me and my sister, the hugs, love, compassion that came from him.  He was a great man and is truly missed.

Today he would have been 92 years old.  I still miss him 17 years later.  He had such an impact in my life and on my family.  He will always be remembered.

Christmas Memories

I remember being about 5 years old.  We were at my grandparents house.  It was Christmas time and we were always there as a family.  My Uncle Tony & Aunt Patti would come and so would Uncle Richard (he was almost always late).  One Christmas I remember wanting some Rainbow Brite items.  The Rainbow House, Starlight, books and a few other things.

My sister and I slept in the end bedroom on the full size bed and my parents on the fold-out couch in the living room.  It was SO hard to go to sleep that night.

We never really did the Santa thing but my grandparents always put gifts underneath the tree from Santa.  Even though we didn’t do that tradition, we were always thrilled by the magic of Christmas.

I woke up early Christmas morning.  I was probably 5 as I stealthily snuck into the living room.  There was a door that was kept closed during sleeping hours.  It was fairly easy to open without much noise.

Crawling on the floor toward the mantle in front of the fireplace was a challenge due to navigating around the sofa bed.  But I did it.

On the mantle was Rainbow Brite, Red Butler, Starbrite, the Rainbow House and accessories, books and who knows what else I had asked for to go with Rainbow.

That was one of my most favorite shows.  The movie came out and I went with my mom and sister to see Rainbow Brite defeat the Star Stealer.

Seeing those toys was such a treat.  I quickly went back to the bedroom and told my sister of what I had seen.  Her toys were there too, but I really don’t remember what she received for Christmas.

We were FINALLY told we could come out of the bedroom.  I am fairly certain my dad read to us the Christmas Story before breakfast.  After breakfast we would watch cartoons and Macys parade.  We would be waiting for Uncle Tony, Aunt Patti and Uncle Richard to arrive.  Once the Parade was over we would sit by the big window or look at the presents on the mantle area.

I think we might have gotten to open one before everyone got there.  That way it kind of kept us contained.  Probably a wise decision.

So the anticipation is pretty high by the time Christmas Dinner is supposed to be served.  Waiting for aunts and uncles can get kind of nerve wracking for 2 little girls.  But we waited.  Thankfully we had wonderful parents and grandparents who could help us occupy our time.  Setting the table, cleaning up, food prep (what little kids could do anyways) and cartoons with Grandy were our favorite things to do.

When everyone arrived Grandy would say the blessing and we would all eat.  After dinner came the presents.  Oh I remember tearing through the gifts.  But we had to pass each person a gift first.  This made the process be a bit longer.

Then we would go to my grandparents church in Johnson City.  I loved going there.  It was a beautiful church.  The high ceilings, lights, candles, and decorations for the birth of Christ.  I remember it so well.  At the end of the service we would sing Silent Night and light our candles.  Yes, I was 5 and I held my candle.  Played with the wax too.

After church we went back to my grandparents house and had a small meal (if we were hungry) then we packed up our things and travelled the 2 hours back to Gatlinburg.

Most of our Christmases consisted of this tradition.  We did visit my dads parents in Florida one Christmas.  I got my first sketch pad and drawing tools on that holiday.  I remember drawing all the way home.  That was another of my favorite visits to family.

I want to be sure to carry on the tradition of being with family during the holidays.  We tend to not travel over Christmas (weather is unpredictable), but have on occasion.  We love to have family over for a big Christmas dinner.  Typically there are around 11 of us at our house.  It’s an awesome time of family and fun.

At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole – {REVIEW}

 photo Franklin_Deal-300x451_zpsb3f59745.jpgAt Home in the Dogwood Mudhole is a three-part series of books.  It is written by Franklin Sanders from At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole.  The books were actually written as newsletters to Franklin’s subscribers.  Gathered, these newsletters make up 3 volumes.  Each spanning several years.
 
The first volume is the one that myself and many others in the TOS Review Crew were given to read and review.
 
When I first looked through the website for this book, I wasn’t really sure what to think.  I didn’t know how a collection of newsletters would really sit as a whole book for me.  The books I typically read are action/adventure, mystery, thriller and even schoolbooks.  More of the fiction than non-fiction. 
  
But I think I felt drawn to the book because it is based in my home state of Tennessee.  And to be quiet honest I didn’t know that there was a place called Dogwood Mudhole in the great state!  So that really got me intrigued. 
 

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I was pleasantly surprised as I started to read this.  Franklin and his family were the typical family.  But yet they felt unsatisfied in the everyday humdrum of life as they knew it.  Seeking to get back to their roots they journey to find the place that they can call “home.”  Home was somewhere in Middle Tennessee and they wanted to be there before Y2K. 
 
Who knew what would happen back then.  Would the computers fail and send us back to a pre-technology era?  Or would all be ok?  Well, rather than rely on others, this family chose to learn to become self-sufficient again.  Going back to what is really a very lost art form and one that may eventually die out if people like the Sanders don’t appear.
 
Along their journey to finding their forever home you get a glimpse into their lives.  It’s almost like they become an extension of your family.  There were so many times that I found myself laughing aloud at the things that were happening.  Like their dogs.  The Thousand dollar dog is a great short story in and of itself.  Then the ordeal with the IRS, moving, and everything in between.  It’s just real.  Real life, real people, real situations. 
 
There is so much history in this book as well.  Several of the family members like to do war reenactments.  They love to dive into their family history which in turn shares Tennessee history.  Things that I didn’t know and that aren’t being taught so much in the history books today are shared as Franklin takes his family on journeys through the Tennessee Valley.  I really was surprised to find out so much about the state I lived in for 20 years.  What a treat to have that information in this book. 
 
Something else that Franklin shares are places you definitely want to visit.  From restaurants to bed and breakfasts, to different memorials, cemeteries, historical houses all mentioned in this book.  He even gives contact information so that if you are in the area you can call these places to see if they have tour availability.
 
To me, it felt like I was listening to stories being told by my father.  The family learning how to farm, raise animals (which they keep bringing more of back to their house) are just the beginning in this book.  This book has had me laughing, crying, excited, and just overall happy.  They share their struggles of everyday life as they work to become more like their ancestors.  From farm life, personal struggles, to just the everyday things. 
I really didn’t want it to end, but now the second volume is available!  (11/15/2013)  I will definitely be ordering a copy as I really enjoyed the stories shared by Franklin.  It was really awesome to just see someone be so authentic in their life.

To purchase At Home in the Dogwood Mudhole: Nothing that Eats click here.  It is $22.95 for a 400+ page soft-cover book.  It is geared towards adults but I found myself sharing some of the funny parts with my kids.  I do believe that a teenager could read it and it not be a problem.

 

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Blogging through the Alphabet – I is for Inconceivable!

**post contains affiliate links**

Alright, alright!  I admit it.  I am a fan of the movie The Princess Bride.  The story captured my attention.  I loved the romance, the swashbuckling, mystery, and the characters. 

It was a favorite movie for my family.  One that we would pull out and put in the VHS player and enjoy on any given evening. 

The story begins with young boy (Fred Savage) is sick in bed, playing a video game.  This game by todays standards would be considered very archaic.  But there are those of us who remember playing those games!  (yes I know that makes us seem older)

The grandfather of the young boy arrives and tells him that he is there to read him a book.  And that is what he used to do since video games (or probably even TV for that matter) weren’t around when he was a boy.  You have to use your imagination for books.  So grandfather starts to read the story to a very leery Fred Savage.  He isn’t sure about this whole book thing. 

And that’s the beginning of the story.  It has all the talking points too.  Drama, mystery, intrigue, romance, giants, R.O.U.S.’ (Google this one), revenge, plot twists and enough to keep you glued to your TV for the 90 minutes it runs.

It is definitely family friendly though there can be some tense scenes and it does show some sword fighting between 2 characters.  One death results.  If you haven’t seen this film and you have young ones (5 & under) in your house, it may not be for you.  But I suggest watching it and making your own decision. 

Honestly I think my kids have seen animated shows more violent than this and they are labeled “kids programming”. 

Anyway, one of the big things that we love is one of the characters use of big words to seem smarter than everyone else.  His main big word is “Inconceivable.”  So now fast-forward a couple of decades and I am still using that word.  Turns out that this character was using the word correctly most of the time, even though he did get told that probably wasn’t using it right due to not knowing what the word means. 

Of course, since I was being homeschooled at the time this movie was released, I had to get my dictionary to find out the true meaning of it.  Yeah, that’s a way to incorporate school work.  😉  My mom was creative! 

Well, this is one of my more off the normal homeschooling posts.  There might be more due to the letters of the alphabet coming up.  Till next time!

Family Camp

Growing up, our family vacations consisted of going to visit family in Tennessee or Florida (if we made it that far).  I also was able to go on several youth trips with our church.  My biggest vacation was the trip to Israel in 1999.  I was 18 and had just graduated high school.  That was an awesome trip!

So earlier this year a good friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in being the Children’s Director.  I let her know that I would want to pray on it and also talk to my husband to see if he could get the time off.  All of which worked out. 

If you were to ask me if I would enjoy a week with out air conditioning, minimal electronic devices and the potential risk of sighting spiders, I would have probably said no.  But after a week of seeing our kids play outside, make new friends, experience new things, new changes I wouldn’t change that we went for anything.

We shared a 1-room cabin with a small toilet area.  It was maybe 600 sq. ft. but all we needed for our family.  I actually enjoyed the simplicity of it all.  Everyone sleeping in one room and the kids actually got along pretty well in such close quarters. 

We walked from our cabin to the cafeteria and showers (all in the same building) and also walked to any of the class locations and church time.

The day began with a wake-up bell, then prayer time at the tabernacle area.  Breakfast was next then a small break and the morning gathering and dismissal to classes.  Lunch, free time again, then afternoon activities.  Small break, then dinner, small break and then Evening Service. 

Cordelia decided this was the week to go through separation anxiety and so I didn’t really get to participate in many of the evening Service.  😦  I was kind of bummed about that.  I really wanted to hear what Pastor Jay had to say.  Even with growing up in church, I still find it like another home.  One of the safest places for me to be.

After the evening service there was a schedule event (family movie, kids movie, bonfire and such) planned.  Sometimes we made it, sometimes not.  The kids were getting run ragged every day just by playing.  They even got blisters on their toes from the sandals.  Their poor feet were just not used to wearing shoes all the time.  So, I ran home and picked up their tennis shoes and socks.  That made things so much better.

I was grateful for one of the services that I was at least able to attend the worship portion.  The worship leader, Jason, did one of the songs from Petra. 


I remember singing this song as a young child and teen.  Music has always been a way for me to worship the Lord.  I love being able to express my love for Him through song.  He gave me my voice, so I should use it to praise and worship Him.  I was so grateful to be able to attend that service. 

The kids in my class really enjoyed the Armor Of God activities we did.  They were fairly good at participating as well.  I tried my hardest to relate to them by sharing stories from my past that applied to the piece of armor we were learning about that day.  I think today that children may think we don’t know the things that they go through on a daily basis.  I don’t have to be a best friend, but I think it is important to let them know we were there once.  It may have been a while back but it definitely happened.

I loved being able to see the kids I was teaching on the camp grounds and say hi and they would say hi back.  It got to the point where they were saying hi to me first.  They were such blessings to me that week.  I just pray that the seeds planted take root and help these young children grow. 

We were so blessed to be able to be there and I would definitely do it again in a heart beat.