Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer fun!

Our girl party!  I know you can't really see, but we used my Grandma Johnson's china.  The girls were so excited! 

The Merchant cousins at the splash pad for Honey Rae's second birthday.  I love Hudson's smile!  =)

A birthday kiss.  How sweet is that?  Who knows what Kylie is doing...

Kylie lost her first tooth! 

Can you believe he's NINE???

Trying out the ripstick for the first time.  He's practically an expert now. 

The king of pancake makers.  =)

This pic cracks me up!  I think it's the combination of Truitt and Kylie's faces...  =)

A little excited...

A bow!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Who knew?

You know what I learned yesterday?
According to a Feb. 2008 government study, an average family of four spends between $570.20 and $1,113.80 on groceries.  Every month.
Don't believe me??
Look here
Adding in my two extra children means I should be spending from $185.60 to $347.90 more than that for a grand total of:

$755.80 to $1,461.70

On food!
And that was more than four years ago!
Does even the "thrifty plan" end of that range seem extravagant to anyone else???
I so do not spend that much money on groceries every month. 
If I budgeted that much, we would eat really well. 
And do nothing else. 
We wouldn't be able to afford to buy gas to drive to the grocery store to buy our steak and lobster.  (If we liked lobster...)
So much for googling what a normal grocery budget is for a family of six...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So I don't forget...

Yesterday Ava swallowed a marble.  Not a little one.  One of those big flat ones. 
Ouch.  It hurt going down.  She cried.
But she didn't choke on it!  Praise God!
Today, she bent over and found her ankle bone.  Rubbed it a while.  Walked up to daddy and said, "Look daddy!  I found the marble!"

I just love this child.  =)

By faith

We seem to be in the middle of what I fear will be a yearly crisis around here. 
The dreaded school bill has arrived.  And every year it is much more than we can afford to pay - even with a discount.  So we go through the budget the Dave Ramsey way, trying to be wise, allocating money for unforeseen expenses and not just barely scraping by with food and rent and gas money.
Apparently we cannot afford Christian school unless we barely scrape by with food and rent and gas money.
We learn this every year, and PANIC! 
Our kids loved NC last year.  We loved the teachers, the schedule, the other parents and kids.  For our family, it seems to be a great fit.  So we try to balance godly wisdom in managing what God has given us with faith. 
And faith is scary.  A little panic inducing for a slight (?) control-freak like me.

And this particular issue is really scary for a person who would make a good legalist.  You see, I like lines because then I can be careful not to cross them.  Something in my nature screams for the "right" answer.
Like God booming from the clouds, "If you send your kids to public school, they'll end up thinking the world was created by aliens from another planet!  So obviously you shouldn't send them there."
Or, "If you homeschool your kids, they'll be social rejects and live in your home til they're 40! So please don't pick that option."
Or, "If you send your kids to Christian school they'll be so sheltered, they'll be too scared of the world to impact it for Christ! Try again."
These are all fear-inducing thoughts that rattle through my brain.

What if??? 

What if I make the wrong choice and screw up my kids forever?
So I start searching for the "right" choice.  The perfect answer for my kids and my family in this place and time.  And do you know what I get?

No lines.

No right.

No wrong.

Just a bunch of grey.

There are benefits and drawbacks to every option.
But I've learned something.  Every option involves faith.

If we send our kids to NC, we step into a path trusting that God will provide the resources to pay for it and all the other things necessary to provide for our family and allow us to be generous.

If we send our kids to public school, we step into a path trusting God to guard our children's hearts from the deceit and enticements of the world.

If we homeschool our kids, we step into a path trusting God to give us energy and patience to nurture four energetic kids with few breaks.

Then this morning I read Numbers 13 and 14.  Honestly, I was not happy to see that Numbers came after Leviticus.  Leviticus was bloody and depressing, but the first part of Numbers is just an endless list of unpronounceable names.
Imagine my surprise when I got to chapter 13 and found something not only interesting and useful but convicting.

The Israelites have walked through the wilderness to the edge of the land God has promised to give them.  Moses sends in 12 spies, and 10 of them come running out, eyes wide with fear.  They induce panic in the people.
"They people of the land are GIANTS!
They have HUGE walls!
We'll NEVER win a single battle against them!
We'll all be killed!
We'll all starve!
We'll never have a home!"
Their imaginations ran wild, visualizing all the terrible things that would happen to them.  Those of you who know me know I would never do this...  Imagine something terrible happening???  no... =)
Meanwhile Joshua and Caleb saw the same land and came back confident.  The land was not smaller, the people not weaker, but their God was greater.  They begged the Israelites to make a decision based on the character and strength of God - not on their fear. 
The people of Israel did not listen, and God was so angry He was ready to kill them all and start over with just Moses.  In a stunning scene, Moses pleads to God to remember His promise to Israel and spare them, and God relents.  He lets them live, but of the people over 20 years old, only Joshua and Caleb will ever see the Promised Land. 
Here's one of my favorite verses.  Bet you can't guess why.  =)
"But my servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it."  Numbers 14:24
It's a great story and you should read it.  Go Here. 

So I am warned and encouraged.
God has a place for us.
It will require faith to make it happen.  God does not dream small, easy dreams for His children.
So I will sit at the feet of Jesus begging God for wisdom and then go where He leads.  Keeping my mind focused on the strength and character of God.  Ignoring the urge to panic. 

If only writing this insanely long blog post had helped me figure out which "Promised Land" our family is supposed to enter...  =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

That mom

So all of a sudden it has hit me that I am that mom. 

The mom who just bought the giant box of pretzels at Sam's marked "Great for food service and child care!" in giant letters above the boxes.  And on top of that, when looking at the sign, I actually thought, "Wow!  Food service and child care is a pretty accurate job description for me!"  Instead of, "Normal people don't buy this many pretzels just to feed their own children."

The mom who bought 30 pairs of little girl underwear and spent a very long time in Walmart attempting to buy three different styles, colors, and brands so I could tell them apart while folding clothes - without having to read every single tag.  I've actually started contemplating sewing different colored threads on their socks and writing with permanent marker on their underwear.  Two things my mom used to do that I thought was crazy.  After all, if I could tell my underwear and socks apart from my sisters', why couldn't she???  I now realize that she was very, very smart. 

The mom who keeps asking, "How many days is an acceptable number to leave the clean clothes in the laundry basket without folding them??"  I need a rule to follow.  Like: Three days is fine.  You're busy.  But four days, and you're just a lazy bum.

Happy, happy birthday! =)

So last night we decided to try the new Olive Garden in Grand Island.  Why???? 

My favorite 30 year old sister's birthday! 

I would also like to add that it's my favorite 30 year old brother Rob's birthday too.  But since he won't move to Nebraska to live next door to me forever we had to celebrate without him.  =(  Love you Rob!  

Anyway, the Olive Garden seems to be the only place people in GI are going right now, because it was PACKED.  We waited for over an hour for a table.  Well...I went to Sam's with Grandpa to buy groceries, and everyone else sat outside in the sun playing "throw the landscaping rocks at the side of the building" with my kids. 
By the time I got back, Becca was bored...And hungry!
Becca and the kids looking cute before supper.

Most of us.  There wasn't room to get Caleb and the girls in the pic too... 
Becca showing off her favorite birthday card from Kristi.

And blowing out the candle on her cake with Ava.
So happy birthday Becca! 
And in case you're interested in another blog post about Becca, here you go!  From Sept. 4, 2008.  Some beautiful pics.  I was reminded of this post last night while trying to get a decent picture of Becca - who likes to make funny faces at the camera instead of smiling...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Black Hills

 For my birthday this year, Caleb took me to the Black Hills for the weekend.  I'd never been there before, so I was excited to go!
I learned that there's pretty much nothing in north central/west Nebraska other than endless rolling hills and a few cows.  When I moved to Central City from Lincoln, I told people we were moving out pretty much to the middle of nowhere.  But I was wrong.  30 minutes from Walmart and Hy-Vee is nothing compared to 30 miles to your nearest neighbor! 
I didn't take any pics of that part of the trip...
We camped at Big Pine Campground just outside of Custer, SD.  It was the best camping place ever!  They had free wi-fi!  And the cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen at a campground.  And hot showers.  I was very impressed.  Caleb rolled his eyes at me because I was sitting outside my tent checking Facebook while he built a fire.  I'm not much into roughing it.  =)
To get out of the hot sun on Saturday afternoon, we took a tour of Jewel Cave.  I had never been in a cave before and was a little nervous...  But it was huge, so I was not claustrophobic at all.  It is a little creepy just because it's so barren.  It's amazing how God's creation speaks of His glory even 300 feet underground! 
We also drove along the two scenic, twisty roads.  That's where most of the pictures are from. 

Caleb dangling over the edge of a cliff...

We drove through there!

We thought this one looked like a castle.
My attempt at being artistic...  =)

We saw several tree stumps like this.  How on earth do they get all twisty???

 We went to Mount Rushmore for the evening lighting ceremony.  It's amazing to me that they can carve things out of a mountain like that!  And the ceremony was pretty neat. 

 We had a fun, relaxing weekend!  Next time we'll have to take the kids.  =)