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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Camp Jeffries or Peanut's Playhouse?

I am on a new mission!  To write daily about the goings on in our house. 

Today was yet another snow day.  Blah.  I have given up on any thoughts of playing outdoors, building snowmen, having snowball fights, laying on the ground and making snow angels...you get the picture.  All it meant to me today was I couldn't get one single thing done on my to do list and I had to ask for one more extension on a side job I've been trying to get done.  Sigh. 

However, on a lighter note, I actually had a couple of things planned for the kids to make the day pass a little easier!  First, we made chocolate covered bananas.  Yummmm...




So, I was a little nervous about how this was going to work.  Or not work.  I could type up the boring details, or just show off the pictures!!







Yay!!  The chocolate covered bananas were a hit and there was way less mess than I was anticipating.  It was a fun snack we will be repeating, for sure.

Moving on...after all our snacking, we needed some exercise!  The kids have told me many times how much they love to do exercises.  We have tried finding videos on YouTube, but they are super cheesy and we all lose interest really fast.  So, anyway, we held a little gymnastics class.  Pictures, of course...   (guess who got a new camera this weekend??)










As you can see, headstands and somersaults were the main focus.  Conner is quite good at cartwheels, but I didn't capture any of those moments!  I have saved two pictures for the last...

First, Conner kept flipping too fast for me to catch him in a cool headstand, but then I actually got it and I think this is a great picture!!

How fun?!?  Love that Zoe is laying on the floor.  That girl got worn out from all the upside-down-ness. 

Now, for the finale.  Henry was cracking me up.  It is hard enough to try to describe to someone HOW to do a headstand.  Now, make that "someone" a 3-year old with hearing problems (genetic from his dad...I believe that call it "selective hearing"? HA)...well, I was trying.  He was trying.  It was very sweet.  Finally, I got him to put his head on the ground and I said, "Yes!  Now put your legs up in the air!"  Here is what happened...


Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

We had a great day.  Here's to a great tomorrow...another. snow. day. Sigh.

Talk soon!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some New Things

I have had a busy few days...maybe even weeks!  I have been doing a lot of praying about my life as a stay at home mom.  I have come to the realization that I truly haven't embraced my "role" over the past year and a half.  It breaks my heart to think I have wasted so much time longing for things to be different!  However, I guess it's better to realize late than never.  So, I have decided I am going to truly live in the moment with my kids.  Be there with them fully, rather than just physically and mentally dreaming of what else I could do with my life.  The industry I came out of is not going to change no matter if I am working in it or not, so why would I waste time trying to figure out a way to get back in when it would really make NO difference?  Staying home with my children is a way to make a difference in at least four lives and countless others they will go on to influence!  Instead of brainstorming different jobs I could try to land, I have been thinking of new ways to "teach" my children.  I have never claimed to be any sort of teacher...I find it very difficult to understand why everyone can't just do the things I can.  If I show you how to do something once, I don't comprehend the fact I may have to show you again.  It's a flaw, for sure.  With this in mind, I tried to think "outside the box".  Using things we do everyday already as the base for repetition which can lead to learning...here's a couple things I have come up with.

1.  I have made menus with pictures and words describing options the kids have.  I have a breakfast, snack, lunch, and drink menus.  Each one has a picture of the option with the words printed below it.  I made these Friday night and began with the kids Saturday morning.  It has gone very well so far!  I read the words to the kids and they, of course, recognized the pictures.  My plan is to have out the one they are allowed to choose from.  The breakfast one will come out first thing in the morning, obviously, but I would like to ONLY have the snack menu out throughout the day.  When it comes close to lunch time, they can choose from the lunch menu, then switch back to the snack menu.  I feel like I am accomplishing many different things with this technique.  For one, the kids get to SEE all of their options before choosing.  Some days I have asked the kids what they want for breakfast and received a few answers.  When I make the bowl of cereal for one and then turn around and make eggs for another, cereal chooser inevitably will change his mind to eggs!  This way, they are seeing all of the options and can make their choices based on the human stomach/mind connection.  Or whatever.  I realize there are moms out there who make one thing and the kids need to eat it, but this is what works for us.  I don't mind making four different dishes...if it keeps them from crying!  I do get annoyed, however, when I make something and it doesn't get eaten.  Mainly because then I find myself eating it.  Ha!  This is also teaching them to read!  Taking the guess work out of my grocery shopping is another benefit.  I can just use these as a basis for items I always want to keep in the house.  Breakfast menu has 5 options, snack has 6 options, lunch has 5 options, and the drink menu has 4.  This brings me to my next idea...

2.  I will be cutting out shapes from the boxes/bags of items I buy regularly.  These things will all be in uniform shapes to create "flash cards" we will take to the grocery store and whichever child is with me, will be able to match the cards with the products we need!  I am quite tired of having to distract the kids with food while we go through the store.  Also, sometimes I will let them get their own cart and then just have to weed through the things at the checkout to make sure nothing slips by that wasn't actually on the list.  It will get the kids involved with their own tasks, and, hopefully, keep them from being distracted by cookies and candies they feel they MUST have! 

As I said, these are just a couple of things I have thought of so far.  I have a dear friend who is going to come over and help us in a couple of weeks to build a garden and begin planting some veggies and herbs.  I do not have a green thumb (more like black!), so I stressed to her the importance of very hardy plants!  I will be teaching the kids "cooking" on a weekly basis.  I plan to frequent the zoo lots once the weather starts cooperating, and I even have an idea to start a monthly storytime here at our house!  We have set up some play dates with some new friends and those have been going very well. 

I feel really good about the role God has placed me in.  A good friend reminded me today how I used to say, "I could NEVER stay home with all my kids!"  Be careful when you challenge God with things you don't think you can do.  It hasn't been a completely smooth road to get to this place, but I'm very happy today and I think I may just have parts of this mom thing figured out.  Do note, I said "parts"...probably should have even made the font smaller.  I know I have a longer road ahead with the twists and turns of childhood leading into tweenhood and then teenage years?  OMG.  I think I'll just stick with thinking about today and maybe a little about tomorrow.  Next week can wait. 

Talk soon!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life!

Last night I took the boys to the church for free hot dogs and a viewing of the Veggie Tales movie, It's a Meaningful Life.  SO cute.  Of course, the kids liked the cartoon and the funny parts - boys throwing snowballs, a football player (cucumber) getting tackled - but I really enjoyed the message!  It's amazing how much life can bog you down and the simplest lessons you have learned time and time again just somehow get misplaced in the chaos.  How can I thank God every single morning and every single night for the life He has blessed me with...then turn around and be frustrated during the day that things aren't different?  The human brain is amazing.  Amazingly dumb.  Ha, ha!

So, I've been thinking about my life and my blessings and what sort of plans I had when I was younger.  I never had a "dream" of my life going one way or the other.  I remember telling my mom, "I will never have kids."  (I have four)  I remember thinking I would never get married.  (Going on 6 years now)  I always was a believer and a prayer, but I never thought I would be active within one church. 

I remember when I received the official word that I had failed the eighth grade.  At the time, I was very concerned with being "cool" and uncaring about it, but I couldn't help remember all the kids I had made fun of in elementary and middle school when they failed a grade or were held back.  Unfortunately, I was able to attend summer school and move on to my freshman year without having to ever face the truth.  I say unfortunately because the summer school I went to was considerably easier than the magnet school I had been accepted to and I actually was able to "pass" by grading other students' papers and assisting the teachers.  Let's be honest - at the time, I (and my parents) would NOT have stood for that not being an option, but I can also say that in retrospect I never felt bad about failing that grade. 

A year or two ago, I had a thought of a book I would like to write.  For those who know me, I come up with book ideas on a pretty regular basis.  This one, though, has stuck in my head and I may even get an outline written at some point!  Anyway, the gist is two stories going alongside each other.  Every other chapter being written in one or the other story line.  The story would be my life as it has happened since meeting Shaun (my husband), and the alternate being what would have happened had we not met that night.  I have been told to rent the movie "Sliding Doors".  I have changed my thought of the ending several times.  Not to mention the thoughts of the events in the story that wasn't! 

Watching the movie last night and remembering God has a plan and his plan is better than I could ever dream, has been my happy thought today.  There is snow on the ground and it's freezing outside and we are looking at yet another day cooped up together.  I am sick of watching the same movies, sick of playing with the same toys, sick of all the whining and complaining and fighting.  However, the better way of looking at this would be - the sun is shining on all of the lovely snow outside!  We have tons of toys to play with!  We have a playroom in this new house!  We have plenty of food to snack all day while we watch silly movies!  We will all be together and enjoying each other's company.  Fighting (that isn't truly caused by anger and a desire to hurt) indicates a level of intimacy you can only reach with your family.  Complaining and whining occurs because my kids know I will love them forever no matter what and they can truly voice their feelings without fear of being hurt or punished.  These are all natural, human ways of expressing frustration and sleepiness...I am happy to have normal, human children!

We are going to have a good day. 

Talk soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ah. Dieting...well, sort of.

Remember not that long ago when I set "goals" and one of those was to lose weight?  Yeah.  BOOOOO.  I hate dieting.  I love to work out, but have yet to figure out the logistics of finding time to get to the gym - or the actual desire when the time is found. 

The past several days I have been getting sick and I am trying to figure out why.  After talking with a friend yesterday, I am beginning to think I may have developed an intolerance for dairy products.  Yet another BOOOOOO.  I love cheese.  Love it, love it, love it.  It's so yummy, I can snack on it all day and never get sick of it.  Cheese makes my world go round.  I would DIE if I really can't eat cheese anymore.  DIE.  So, starting last night, I cut out dairy.  I figured I might as well try to shape up the other things I eat while I'm killing myself.  So, today was day one of truly trying to be smart about everything that goes into my mouth.  I stayed out of the kitchen as much as possible, even if the kids were eating.  I would make them their plates and then head to the play room or clean the bedrooms or just sit on the couch.  After breakfast was all done and I had cleaned up the kitchen, I did "exercises" with the kids.  It was totally cute.  We did some laps around the house, jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, arm rolls...it was a good time!  As was to be expected, the kids tried to take it too far and kind of ruined the good time after about 20 minutes, but I still felt good about getting up and moving.  I even managed to keep the tv off all morning!  We had a dance party in the playroom, and ate a nice lunch together.  The twins took a great nap, and Zoe at least attempted one. 

So, I made a rice/chicken/tomatoes/green beans dish this evening that was a big hit with everyone!  It was very healthy and everyone ate their fill...even without any cheese.  I did sprinkle some Parmesan on the dairy eaters' plates...not as much as usual, but I didn't want everyone having to go cold turkey. 

I feel fine.  I'm not really super hungry.  I only got sick twice today and it was pretty significantly less than the past week has been, so maybe I'm on to something?

Super tired, but that's probably just a little detox.  Ha, ha.

Talk soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011, Welcome!

I'm not making resolutions this year.  I will, instead, make some goals.  Serious goals.  Goals I intend to hold myself accountable for and REACH!

1.  LOSE WEIGHT.  A lot of weight.  I don't own a scale and don't plan to buy one.  Let's just say I would like for NONE of my current wardrobe to fit me by the summer.  Or, at the latest, when Conner starts school in the fall!  This will all-encompass the goal of regular walks around the neighborhood, playing with the kids, 8 glasses of water a day, less food intake, etc.

2.  TAKE BETTER CARE OF MYSELF.  This includes a strict washing my face/brushing my teeth routine.  I know this may seem silly and basic, but I truly forget myself quite often.  I need to tweeze my eyebrows regularly, get my hair cut when it needs it, keep my nails trimmed.  You know those things that are second nature?  Yep, I'm on it this year.

3.  Save money for our anniversary.  We WILL journey back to Vegas this year.  I am going to do as much "side work" as possible and save every dime I can to purchase the trip.  I would love to purchase in time for Shaun's birthday in July...if that's even possible for a November trip?  Anyway, at least have most or all of the money saved by then.

4.  Pampered Chef monthly parties at my house, hosted by me.  I need to stay "active" as a consultant until Conner goes off to school and I see about affording more daycare for the other three.  I truly love the products and I know I can do it (be a consultant), so I want to stay active while I figure the other parts of my life out.  $150 a month in sales is all I need...SO doable!

5.  Stay in touch with family.  I intend to send out birthday cards and keep track via Facebook with some, posting videos and pictures of the kids.  This requires a book of stamps to be kept at home, daily checking of Facebook, and actually creating videos and pictures of the kids! 

I am sure I have so many more, but my cute daughter is being super sweet and silly right now, so I need to go. 

Talk soon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

What defines you?  What defines me?  Who am I?  I know I am mother to four crazy cool children, wife to a very sweet husband, daughter to my fabulous parents, and sister to my witty and charming sibling...but beyond that?  Is there something that is just mine?  Just me?  Here is what I know about myself.

The Good:  I can type fast and accurately.  I can be very organized, I love when things are straight and in alphabetical order.  I love to write.  I love to read.  I can laugh long and hard and have even found myself at times thinking I just may pass out and die from a case of the giggles!  I love people.  I feel like I can find the good in almost anyone.  I am quite chatty, but I do feel I can be a good listener.  I have a quick mind, I am good in a crunch.  I have always known that I do just about everything in life at a very fast pace.  I love to work out once I get going.  I have recently completely accepted the Christian life and LOVE it!

The Bad:  I bite my nails.  I chew my lip and cheek.  I smoked for about 10 years (sort of off and on).  I love to drink to excess when I have no responsbilities (yeah, it's been a while).  I can get angry pretty easily.  I like to yell.  Frustration causes me to throw things.  I can be flippant or aloof about things sometimes when others are seriously feeling stressed.  I am forgetful - way more now than ever before!  I can be lazy.  I gossip.  I judge people rather quickly.  I can hold a grudge...ooh, boy, can I hold a grudge! 

The Ugly:  I have slept with friends' boyfriends.  I have cheated on my own boyfriends.  I have been raped.  I have had an abortion.  I have driven drunk many, many times.  One of those times resulted in the death of a homeless (also drunk) man.  I completed 28 days in rehab, and 127 days in a correctional facility.  I have driven drunk even after that incident.  *I do have to say not many times and definitely not AS drunk.  Still doesn't make it right, but I feel like I have to defend myself a little?*

This is my list.  Maybe not all-inclusive, but it's what has come to mind this evening.  I feel like God has put me through all of these experiences - from The Good, Bad, AND Ugly - for a reason.  Maybe even for lots of reasons.  I have most recently begun praying for Him to guide me to a person or persons whom I could help.  Maybe someone out there thinks they will never be able to have a "normal" life?  Maybe there is a woman who just feels like she will never find someone to love her with all of her "flaws"?  Maybe it's someone I don't even think I could help in any way?  All of the above, even? 

I still don't feel like any of these things is what defines the REAL Audrey.  I know I could make an amazing difference and I could glorify God and truly show the world (or one person) how amazing His grace is and how wonderful life can be no matter what you have experienced or done in the past.  The past is past.  The future is unknown, but what you make of the present is what, I believe, defines you.

What am I doing today?

Today I am a mother to four beautiful, silly, wild children.  Three boys with the endurance of an entire track team and the energy of a rugby team; One little girl who has stolen my heart and melts me every time she smiles.  I am the wife of a wonderful husband who has his flaws, of course, but is still the sexiest man I know.  He is handy around the house, can fix (or rig) anything, and puts up with my every mood and whim.  I am friend to some of the most amazing women I have ever known.  Women who I haven't known long, but have watched me grow in my faith over the past year and truly seen me mature in ways nobody else has ever witnessed.  I am daughter to my parents who are still together after almost 32 years of marriage, still frustrated over each others faults, and still in awe of each other's strengths.  I am sister to the funniest, most outgoing girl I have ever met.  She loves to learn, loves to laugh, and loves to be silly.  There is a man out there who will be blessed enough one day to call her his wife and I cannot wait to meet him.

These are my "positions" on a daily basis, but I still struggle quite regularly with the burning question of WHO. AM. I?  Without any of these people in my life...would I still love to cook if I wasn't preparing food for my family?  Would I still love to talk if I didn't have great friends there listening?  Would I still love to rearrange furniture and watch movies if it wasn't in my Home with my sweet kids and husband?  OR  Would I be going out every night drinking at the bar?  Would I be super career driven and working long, long hours?  Would I still be traveling every 6 weeks to a new city, making new "disposable" friends every month?

I prefer my life now.  There is no doubt about that.  I am happy to be who I am to my friends a family, I just feel like God wants more from me.  I feel like I missing the boat somewhere that I could be out there shouting from the rooftops how good He is!  I feel like there are opportunities left and right I am allowing to pass me by!  I have all sorts of excuses, but I hear God loud and clear that it is time to drop the excuses and dive in.  What's the worst that can happen?  I worry that I will break down crying if I have to tell my whole story.  I worry that someone will take something the wrong way and stop listening.  I worry that I will offend someone, or be asked a question about the gospel or Bible that I can't answer! 

Shut up, right?  Just do it.  God will catch me if I fall and everything will work out JUST the way it is supposed to...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gospel Transformation: Lesson 5

I was going to just quickly look over my Bible Study lesson for this week, and the first question really moved me to do more than just answer it to myself.

What was your relationship with your father like growing up?  If you did not have a father growing up, substitute your mother or guardian.

Not have a father?  I can't imagine.  I love my father.  I think the world of him.  Since getting married and starting a family I have discovered ways he may have been difficult for my mom, but I have always only had stars in my eyes when it came to my dad.  He is the smartest man I know.  I can ask him a question about nearly ANYTHING and he has an answer.  I feel like growing up he was tough.  He never "scared" me, but I hated to disapoint him.  I absolutely LOVED to tell him good news.  I loved to brag to him when I got good grades, scored well on a test, just about anything good in school.  It made me fill with joy when I was able to tell him something impressive I did while playing sports.  I longed to please him all the time.  His laugh has always made me happy.  He and I shared a love of reading while I was growing up, and I could just sit in a room with him and read for hours.  I still remember him teaching me to ride a bike.  In the church parking lot behind our house, I had a red bicycle and he kept telling me that I wasn't even using my training wheels, so why don't we just take them off?  We did and I remember being so nervous, but fully trusting that he would never let me get hurt.  When I was a freshman in high school we moved to a bigger house and we had a basketball goal in the driveway.  I wanted so badly to be good at basketball because I knew dad really liked watching the games.  We would shoot hoops outside and he was always better than me, but nothing made me hold my head as high as when he would compliment one of my shots.  I always felt like my dad was completely honest with me...maybe sometimes to a fault.  His praise made my day.  Negative words would crush me so hard.  I do have memories of him being angry and I recall just thinking, thinking, thinking about what I could do to make him happy again.  My dad wasn't perfect...nobody's perfect.  My dad was the most perfect dad for me.  His honesty and bluntness has made me who I am today, and it has given me an appreciation for the truth and people who tell it.  Now that I am older (and wiser?), I can appreciate his humor.  I enjoy talking to him, talking at him, talking with him.  Just hanging out with my dad is a good day for me.  I miss him like crazy. 

This is supposed to be indicative of the way I view my heavenly father.  Yeah, I'm good with that. 

My book says, "A good father provides a picture of what God is like."  At my church, on Father's Day, we have a guest pastor who is very adamant about the importance of a good father in the home.  I had that.  I still do.  My father loves me with every ounce of his heart and he shows it.  His sometimes strict, often relaxed, always honest way of dealing with me has brought me up to be the person I am proud to be today.  I know I married a man with a lot of similarities to my own dad, and I am happy to say I wouldn't have it any other way.