Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vote For Harrison!!

I just entered Harrison in a contest at Gap!  Log on to and enter jodiandsons to vote for Harrison!  He could be the next baby boy Gap model and win a huge shopping spree!  Of course, I think he's the cutest kid in the contest already!

You can vote DAILY and the poor little boys aren't getting voted on like the girls are, of course.  So, from now until the end of October, put that site on your bookmarks and vote, vote, vote!!  Who couldn't love this face?!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grocery Challenge - Part 3

My grocery challenge in going pretty well, I think.  Last week was the hardest so far, because of the birthday party.  I did go a little over what I planned on spending, in part due to taking advantage of some sales on meat last Wednesday.  That, however, has made a big difference in our spending for this week.

So far this week, I've spent about $33 or so.  I spent $26 at Aldi stocking up on produce, milk and eggs.  I also spent $7 at Dillon's buying a few things I forgot at Aldi.  We have plenty of meat for the week as well as fruits and veggies, eggs and breakfast supplies.

I am leaving on Thursday evening to go to a retreat with our church.  Hopefully, the boys will not eat pizza too often while I'm gone. :)

Tuesday at the Widhalm's

Today we started our new homeschool co-op.  What a busy, busy day!  First of all, we are not used to getting up early anymore to be anywhere.  So, being across town by 8:30 a.m. was quite a challenge!  We made it, though.

Carter and Jackson both had a 3 hour class this morning where they were introduced to new topics that we will being memorizing.  Subjects include history, geography, science, math, grammar, latin, and fine arts.  While they were in class, I was teaching a class of about 10 kids ages 2-10.   We had lunch with the whole group and the kids had time to play before heading into the afternoon class with me.  Again, I was teaching this afternoon and my own kiddos joined me.  By 3:00 p.m. we were all pooped and headed out for Happy Hour at Sonic!

I think the co-op will be a good addition to our schedule, especially for Jackson.  He doesn't complain about homeschooling, but I know he misses his friends at The Summit.  He's asked a few times about going back there.  My heart is struggling, knowing that he is lonely at times, and trying to figure out what really is best for him.  He's never been in public school before and we are not in a district I would have chosen for him if I thought public school would have been an option.  We'll see what the next few months bring.  I'm hoping that participating in more activities will help him along.  Next week, we also start our PE class at Evangel two mornings a week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is Life Really Simple?

Yes and no.  Mostly no, I think, with a little yes sprinkled here and there.  Even things that you think are simple turn out not to be as simple as you think.

When I named this blog I was thinking of simplifying my life and getting organized.  Getting rid of clutter.  Selling stuff I didn't want or need.  Downsizing.  Organizing the pantry and grocery shopping.  Planning meals.  Growing some of our own produce.  Keeping better track of the kids and journaling as things happened.

Well, I can't say I have completely accomplished all of that list, but I have decided that my life is not simple, nor is it ever going to be.  That's ok.  God didn't promise me a simple life.  He did, though, promise life more abundantly if I live for Him.  The process of "simplifying" and downsizing has brought us to a place that we have a new realization for just what we really do and really don't need.

The truth is, we really don't need much.  That part is simple.

What our family has decided we need most is a life focused on what God created us for - to serve Him by serving others.  We want to be the hands of feet of Jesus in this life He has given us.  We have become passionate about those in our world who are helpless and need, so desperately, for someone to show them Jesus' love in action.

Matthew 10:38-39 says that we will find life when we lose our own.  Doug and I have made a decision to try to live that scripture out in our lives very intentionally on a daily basis.  I'm not sure how simple that will be.  Sometimes more so than others, I expect.  For that reason, I've created a new blog where I'm going to journal about what we're doing and how we are serving.

I'm excited about all that He has in store for our family!   I hope you join us on "Our Journey To Life".

I'm going to keep this blog going for now.  If keeping up with both is too much, then I'll just blog about everything over there.   We'll see.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Harrison!

Harrison at the park on his birthday

Saturday, the 5th, was Harrison's 2nd birthday.  I can't believe he's already 2.  Time goes by so quickly!  I'm so glad that I'm able to be home now with all the boys so that I can soak up their childhoods before they are gone.

Around noon on Saturday, Harrison's Nana (my mom) and Papa Jim (her husband) came over from their camping spot in Branson to spend the afternoon with us.  We loaded up our bikes and the trailer and headed to Nathaniel Greene/Close Memorial Park, which isn't far from our house.  It's a great park that has paved paths for walking or riding, a small playground and several beautiful gardens to explore.  There is a small lake with ducks to feed as well as a small creek that the boys love to "skip" rocks in.  We spent about three hours riding and playing before we headed home.  I took the camera, hoping to get some good pictures of the boys.  They weren't extremely cooperative.

Park Pictures

On Sunday, we had Nana and Papa Jim along with Aunt Katie (my sister) and AnnaJo (my niece), Papa Rod (my dad) and Uncle Terry (my younger brother).  We had a birthday lunch Sunday afternoon before we had birthday cake and opened presents.

I made his train cake and we blew up a few balloons for the kids to play with.   He loved his gifts which were a new scooter, a car hauler with cars to haul, a couple new shirts, his first "Build A Bear" monkey, and a bike trailer to ride in.  He had a great day with all his family here to spoil him and his favorite girl, "Jo", to play with.

Party Pics

Grocery Shopping Challenge - part 2

Well, although I whole heartedly want to be successful with this grocery shopping challenge, I failed to take into account that yesterday was my toddler's 2nd birthday.  Ouch.  The groceries I purchased last week sufficed for our family, but I hadn't thought about my parents and siblings coming for the holiday weekend for the birthday celebration.  Nor had I decided what to do about Harrison's party cake and/or decorations.

I figured I would try as best I could to use what I had on hand and purchase as little as possible.  My mom and her husband came Saturday morning.  The rest of the crew showed up Saturday afternoon and evening.  My mom purchased most of the groceries for Saturday evening's meal in honor of my birthday, which was a few weeks ago.  That was a life/money-saver.  Thanks, Mom!!

Everyone was here Sunday and the menu for the day looked like this:

Breakfast - eggs and toast, juice and coffee
Late Lunch around 2:00 - grilled porkchops, baked potatoes, baked beans, salad
Dinner - leftover buffet

I did have to buy some groceries.  Here's what we got.  I didn't have a meal plan or a good list, so I tried to do it in my head while I went.  Not a good idea.  I got everything at Dillon's and purchased the Kroger brand when I could.  This is food for the weekend and next week.  I know I'll have to go back for milk, bread, eggs and butter at some point.

Milk - 2.59
1# hamburger - 1.53  (saved $1 w/Plus card)
Pork chops - 7.52 (buy 1 get 1 free, saved $6.92 w/card)
Pork loin - $7.44 (saved $3.74 w/card)
Ramen noodles - $1
Mac n cheese - 2 @ .39
Saltines - .88
Sour Cream - 1.16
Fruit loops - .99
Peas - .63
Elbow macaroni - .78
Baked beans - 1.59  (saved .06 w/card)
Crisco - 2.55
Grean beans - .63
Peanut butter - 1.29
Powdered sugar - 1.75
Mustard - .89  (saved .10 w/card)
Dried pinto beans - 2.19
Hotdog buns - .88
Hamburger buns - .88
Eggs - 1.59
Total w/tax - $41.06
I also made a last minute trip to Wal-Mart before the party for a few party things, Wilton food coloring and candy to finish decorating the cake.  That total was around $18
So, the total for the weekend and hopefully most of next week is right at $60.  Still not too bad, considering I've fed more than just our family and had a birthday party.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking The Challenge

Owlhaven has become one of my favorite blogs. Mary is taking the month of September to focus on spending as little as possible. Her family includes 9 adopted children from all over the world and she is going to try to spend only $75 each week for groceries. Of course, she's challenged the rest of us to step up and join her.

I've been trying to curtail the grocery budget for a while now, anyway, so I thought this might be fun. I've actually been doing pretty well the past few weeks, but I'm going to try to do even a little better for the next month.

Before we moved, I was in a habit of grocery shopping on Fridays, which I like. However, our routine is different now that we are in the new house and homeschooling. We've also taken on a different approach to budgeting, so the Friday thing just isn't going to work for now. That's ok.

We've decided to alot X amount of dollars per pay period for each of our expenditures, which includes groceries. We'll be paying with cash only. No debit cards. It's incredible the psychological effect cash has vs. the debit card, even though I know the "cash" is coming right out of my checking account when I use the card. I'm completely stingy with the greenbacks.

Doug got paid today, so I went grocery shopping for the week. Honestly, I wanted to spend less than $50. I didn't make it, but only overspent by about $8. That's still not bad and much better than what we've spent in the past. Here's what I got from Food 4 Less (I really hate the multi-store approach):

Not pictured: a gallon of milk

Gallon of milk - 2.78

Trix yogurt - 2.58 (I HATE this yogurt, but the kids go nuts for it. I'm thinking of making my own. We'll see.)

Coffee Creamer - 2.06 (I know I could live without it, but I really want to enjoy my new deck & need the creamer for the great coffee I'm going to have on these great mornings)

Honey Buns - 1.28 (Another splurge. Should've left these at the store)
Smart Chicken Breasts - 5.07 (Could've bought cheaper, but really would prefer organic. This is my compromise)

Cheerios - 2.68
Coffee - 2.98
Mushroom Soup - 1.24
Chicken broth - 2.87
Hot Dog Buns - .76
Apple Juice - 1.16
Green Beans - 2 @ .48
Sliced pineapple - .98
Alfredo Sauce - 2.98 (Jackson won't eat the red sauce.....what's a mom to do?)
Toilet paper - 4.78
Hot Dogs - .98 (Doug's choice for lunch. He doesn't seem to care about the nitrites...ugh)
Broccoli crowns - 4.11
Peaches - 2.21
Grapes - 2.12
Spinach - 1.98
Bag of onions - 1.38
Celery - .98
5# bulk carrots - 3.25
Baby carrots - 2.28 (Seems redundant, but the kids LOVE the baby carrots)
Raisins - 1.58


I went over the $50 goal, but considering I got a few extras I'm ok with that. I could've been under $50 if I'd left the coffee & creamer, yogurt, honey buns and made Jackson suffer with no alfredo. A few of these things will probably last into next week, so maybe I can make up for it then.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blogs For A Cause

As I've been reading several adoption blogs, I've come across several really cute ones designed by Blogs For A Cause. Nikki is offering a special for the month of September. You can read about it here.

I've been so inspired by young women like this who are dedicating their young lives to helping others! If I were without the responsibilities of my own kiddos, I would want to be like these gals. In fact, if I could figure out a way to do it now with my family, I would.

Check out what Katie is doing in Uganda here. Katie is amazing! She is only about 20 years old and has changed so many lives. She is the mother of 13 girls! 13!! And that's only what she does when she's home!

Sophie's story is incredible, too. It's here.

Renee is also in Uganda, feeding hundreds of people each week. One person - feeding hundreds. I want to be one person like that. Her blog is here.

I am SO blessed by an AMAZING, INCREDIBLE God!! I truly believe that He expects me to use it for His good, to bless others. Doug and I have both changed so much over the past year. We are so very different than we were even such a short time ago. We both believe that God has a purpose and plan for our marriage and for our family. It is our intention to live our lives differently than we ever have. I hope that will be evident to you as the days and weeks pass.

I am more excited about my God and my life than I have ever been and I am anxiously waiting and praying to see where He leads. I'm preparing for an adventure and I can't wait! Stay tuned!

Homeschool and Silver Dollar City

A few pics from SDC. I thought Harrison was looking at where the water came up out of the ground. Upon closer investigation, I found he was getting a drink!!

We took a trip to Silver Dollar City again with some friends this week and had a GREAT time! This is the perfect time of year to go, since everyone else has gone back to school. We rode almost all the rides and never had to wait. The weather was beautiful, too. It couldn't have been better.

We are enjoying homeschool and one of the biggest benefits to is that we are no longer tied down to someone else's schedule. We are enjoying a slower pace in life. We are able to do the extra things we want without being rushed in the evenings and on weekends trying to cram it all in.

It's also really neat to see how the little ones are already anxious to do what their big brother is doing. They both usually choose to sit at the table with Jackson and color or do their own "school work". If they aren't sitting up at the table, they are just below us in the floor playing with puzzles, blocks, K'Nex, looking at books, etc. They participate in activities that are appropriate, such as free reading and read aloud time. It's nothing much different than differentiated teaching in a classroom.

Jackson is doing a great job with his schoolwork. He is usually finished with language arts, math and reading long before lunch time. This gives us the rest of the day to do whatever we want. We haven't officially started science or social studies yet, but I'm positive we'll still be finished before noon even with those subjects added.

Because we have our afternoons free, we have plenty of time to get together with other kids for lots of activities and play time. Here is what a typical day looks like.

7:30 - 8:00 - Morning Jobs
Everyone wakes up and kids begin their Morning Jobs. Jackson and Carter have checklists under a wipe-off sleeve. They check off their jobs as they are finished with a dry erase marker. This includes eating breakfast and loading their dishes into the dishwasher.

8:30ish - Language Arts & Math
Breakfast is finished. Jackson stays at the table and begins writing in his journal. He also completes his handwriting practice and takes a spelling test (Sequential Spelling) each day. He completes a math lesson and a Shurley Grammar lesson.

10:00ish -Free time
He has several choices of activities he can do during this time. He has to do each of the activities once before he can repeat any activity. I actually have a chart that has the entire day scheduled into 30-minute blocks. He has several blocks of free time in the afternoon. Forcing him to use all his choices before doing one a second time keeps him from positioning himself in front of the TV or Wii all afternoon. He is allowed to watch PBS cartoons and play Wii, but must incorporate the other choices into the schedule as well.

10:30ish - Reading
He has one book each week that he practices for fluency. We are also reading a chapter book together called How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. He is a great decoder, so we are focusing on comprehension and fluency. If we have something else to do, we put reading off until the afternoon or early evening. As we get into science and social studies, we'll be incorporating lots on non-fiction, content related reading as well.

11:15ish - FINISHED!!

Our extra activities include:
  • Book Club at the Library Center, which meets every other Monday afternoon
  • CMA music class each Friday afternoon
  • Art class each Wednesday at the Springfield Art Museum
  • Classical Conversations from 9 - 3 every Tuesday
  • Royal Rangers on Wednesday evenings at Parkcrest Assembly of God
  • Children's Church on Sunday mornings and evenings
  • Junior Bible Quiz on Sunday afternoons
  • Regular trips to the YMCA to play
  • Anything else that comes up we want to do!
We are so blessed to have this opportunity! I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Training Wheels For Carter!

Carter finally took off without his training wheels this morning! He's been riding really well for a long time. I tried to get him to take them off several months ago, but he was completely freaked out and wouldn't even really try. This morning, I left him with a friend while I went to an appointment. When I got back, an hour later, he was riding her kid's bike in her drive with no training wheels. He was SO proud! He said God was really proud of him, too!

We promptly went right home and took the training wheels off his own bike and he is already a pro!

The boys are growing and changing so fast. I adore them so much and have enjoyed them more than I ever thought possible. Being their mom and watching them grow is the very best part of my life. They are SO much fun!

Jackson Lost His Last Front Tooth!

Jackson lost his last front tooth over this past weekend. We were in West Plains when the big event took place. He lost the other one on top about a week ago after he got kicked in the face while we were swimming in the pool. That was a little dramatic, but he recovered and has a great story to tell. After that one came out, he started wiggling the other one. Once he realizes they are loose, he's pretty determined to get it out. The very first tooth he lost came out in just one afternoon!

He doesn't look completely toothless because the permanent teeth are already coming in. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if they would ever fall out or not. He's just starting second grade and most kids have lost their front teeth by now.

Braces, and maybe even more difficult dental work, are definately in his future. Unfortunately, it looks like he got some bad dental genes. He's missing a couple permanent teeth, which is going to mean some sort of reconstruction of current baby teeth or constructing new ones to implant where the permanent ones should be. And, the ones he has are already crowded. We'll deal with that later, though.

For now, he is happy to have blessed the tooth fairy with another gem for her collection.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I found this story on another blog I follow, Owlhaven. Praise and worship is such an important part of my life. I can't imagine life without music. This little girl, Gracyn Denbesten, has an amazing voice and an amazing testimony.

She was 9, I think, when she got sick and needed a heart transplant. You can read about her at her Caring Bridge site or at This video is of Gracyn and Kari Jobe singing one of my favorite praise and worship songs, Healer.

Kari Jobe is an amazing artist and has lots of incredible worship music available.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


These aren't our first tomatoes from the garden, but I think they are the largest we've had. This is the plate I put on the dinner table this evening. The orange was my favorite. It's an heirloom variety that I started from seed, called Orange Oxheart. It is one of the best tomatoes I've ever had, I think. It was almost completely "meat" with very few seeds compared to other varieties and sweet flavor. The red one is also an heirloom, Cherokee Purple. I purchased seeds from Baker Seed Company in Mansfield, MO.

The tomatoes have all done well, with the exception of a short infestation of tomato horn worms. They were disgusting and almost destroyed two of the four plants. I was diligent about checking them daily - sometimes more than once a day, to pull worms off and remove any egg sacs I found. I also used DM. I'm not sure what is was that actually worked, or if they just went away. Thankfully, though, the plants survived and we've been enjoying tomatoes for a few weeks now. I'm going to miss them when they are gone.

I'm already looking forward to next year's growing season. Since we've moved, we are going to have to do quite alot of work in the backyard to get it ready for planting. It will be fun to see how it progresses.

Quote of the Week

I love good quotes. They inspire me. I'm going to try to blog one every week or so that I really like. I found this one on another blog this evening.

"Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning and is coming back tomorrow."
- Martin Luther

Saturday, August 15, 2009

TOMS Shoes - YouTube - TOMS and Podo

We are so blessed! Don't be surprised if you get a pair of TOMS shoes for your next present from me. When you buy one pair, you are really purchasing two. One pair for you and another for someone in need. Love it.

The hardest part is trying to decide which pair to buy!

TOMS Shoes - YouTube - TOMS and Podo

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Family Fun Blog

Hey, I just found this blog called Frugal Family Fun Blog and think I'm going to like it alot. Thought you might like it, too. She's doing a giveaway for some eco-friendly cleaning products, which I'd love to try. I'll let you know if I win!

Along the frugal line of thinking, I think I'd really like to try sewing. I don't have a machine and honestly, I'm not even sure what I'd make. It just looks like fun and I've seen some stuff that is so darn cute. I would like to maybe make some curtains and put the kids' names on their walls somehow. Don't know, though. Like I said, I don't have a machine. I think I'll start checking Craigs List. Maybe I could get a good deal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

House Pictures

View of dining area from living room.

Living room. The door to the left goes out onto the covered deck. There is a window to the right of the fireplace and the ceilings are vaulted.

The kitchen. There is a large pantry just to the left, which separates the kitchen from the living room. There is also a door to the garage and the laundry to the left.

This is the playhouse in the backyard. We're going to put the slide in so that the boys can will slide off their deck.
The back of the house from the ground behind the pool. The yard is really sloped, which will be a project in the years to come.

The entryway. The frog isn't there any more, it belonged to the previous owner. We may re-do the pond/fountain and will add some colorful flowers next summer. The boys want fish. Not too sure about that yet.

The entryway and stairwell from the living room.
We still have a lot of things on the "To Do" list, but nothing is so important that it has to be done right away. We have already built a fence around the small deck that is attached to the pool. I do need to paint a bathroom and have plans of painting the boys' room and a wall in the kitchen. That will all get worked in as we can get it done, since school is starting.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Harrison and his great-grandma, Treva Hammond, when he was just home from the hospital.

Papa Rod with Carter and Harrison. Carter was 2 1/2 and Harrison was just a few months old. Carter had used a permanent marker and put "make-up" on.

Nana and Carter "camping" in her bedroom - and Sadee, too, of course. Carter has his favorite, the firetruck blankey. They're laying on a quilt that my great-grandma, Anne Tannehill, made.

Jackson and Doug's dad, Papa Lee.

I just read an article on another blog (here) about grandparents. It made me think of my own grandparents and my parents, who are now grandparenting my own sons. My sons and I are all very blessed.

I've been so blessed with wonderful grandparents of my own, that I adore and miss very much. They are such an important part of my life and who I have become. If I had a wish or two to be granted, one would definately be to have them back so they could see me now and meet their great- and great-great grandsons. I am fortunate to have one grandmother with me still, which I am so thankful for. I have great childhood memories of all of them. I can't imagine growing up without them.

Now, my sons are enjoying those same types of things with my parents. Because we live in different towns now, they have opportunities to spend days at a time with them, which is such a grand adventure for the boys. I know they are making memories they will treasure forever.

This past week, Jackson and Carter spent four nights with my mom and her husband, Jim. Nana and Papa Jim took them camping in St. James two nights. Some of the highlights were Carter falling off a merry-go-round, which he deemed "awesome". Jackson rode his bike into the river, where it got a good washing. Oh.. and at the end of one day, when Carter's legs were hurting (which they often do...that's another story), he came to Nana crying and said, "They hurt so bad that if you don't do something, I'm going to have to hop on one leg tomorrow." Well, I'm not sure Carter will remember that, but I don't think Nana is going to forget anytime soon.

Toward the end of last month, we spent a week in West Plains. The kids had a great time at Papa Rod's house riding four-wheelers and doing things that they can only do with Papa. Great-Grandma Hammond played catch with them in the shade under the walnut tree behind her store. They rode Uncle Homer's tractor and played in the loft of his barn.

We are so blessed. I can't imagine not having this family. I didn't ask for my place in this family and this time. I didn't earn them. God put me here, and I am so thankful. It's unfathomable to me, that there are people in this nation and all over the world who have no one. James 1:27 (NIV) says this:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I hope that one day, God will look at my life and deem that my religion was pure. I am so blessed.

Quote of the Day

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.

- William D. Tammeus

Friday, August 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home

What a week! I am still tired and trying to recover from all the loading, unloading, unpacking and organizing. We've been in the new house a week now and we are very happy with our purchase. I still have a lot of organizing to do, although I think most everything is unpacked now.

As far as the house goes, it is the nicest home we've had. It's about 3500 sq. ft. of living space. The basement is finished, which is a huge blessing. My office, homeschool space, play area, family room, bathroom #3 and a huge storage room are all in the basement. The main level is pretty standard - 3 bedroom and 2 bathrooms. The living room is large and open to the dining area, which is off the kitchen. I have tons of cabinets and counter space, which I love. There is a huge pantry with room for our dry goods, cookbooks and small appliances. I even have a few cabinets that are still empty after everything has been put away. There is extra storage space all over the house, which is great. The only thing I don't like is that my washer and dryer are in a closet off the kitchen.

The back yard is pretty sloped, which isn't great, but the kids don't care. It has a nice above-ground pool they are pretty focused on. There is a playhouse, too, with a deck and some neat hiding places. There are three decks on the back of the house, which is nice and will hopefully be put to use for lots of BBQs and family gatherings.

There is still a ton of decorating to do. Since our basement is finished and so big, we put most of our "old" stuff down there. That means there are empty spaces upstairs that need to be filled. That's ok, though, I don't mind shopping! :) It will get finished over time and will be a fun treasure hunt.

My camera battery charger and card reader slipped through my fingers during the move. I've located the charger, but my card reader ended up at my Dad's house in West Plains. I'll post pictures of the house when I get the reader back, which will hopefully be over the weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Message from James River Assembly!

This is a great message from the pastor at JRA, John Lindell. He systematically preaches through books of the Bible and he is on James now. This message is from a week or so ago and comes from James 1:27.

James River Assembly • Messages

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Is This For Real? Praise God, Yes!

Truthfully, I wasn't sure if anyone except my very few followers was really reading this blog or not until a few days ago. I figured it didn't really matter, though, since the process of writing it has been rewarding and therapeutic for me. After a visit with a wonderful friend and a conversation with my sister, I realized that there are readers who aren't "followers" and a few of you are wondering what in the world has happened in the past few months and if this stuff I'm writing about my marriage and family is real or not.

1st - I want to thank all of you (you know who you are) who have been so supportive of me - my whole life, really - but specifically over the past year. I'm so blessed! Blessed with wonderful family and a ton of friends who, even if we are absent from each other for a time, are part of my life in such an important way. Thank you so much for being who you are in my life. I believe with all of my heart that God put each of you in my life for a reason, and I am so very blessed and thankful. The last year has been hard, but I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with the Lord and just how much He loves me and my family.

2nd - Yes, all I've posted is true. I know that many of you were surprised a year ago when I left Doug. And, you are surprised now, that we have decided to stay together. Honestly, I'm just as surprised as you are. This is not where I thought I would be 8 or 9 months ago. I'm shocked at how God has moved and changed us. If you knew all the details, you would be amazed, too.

Now, I'm not saying that it's all "peachy" and things are perfect. That wouldn't be true. However, I truly am amazed at how God has answered prayers. Specifically. All the details. Not every single little whiney thing I've asked, but He has provided provision, peace, and guidance at every turn. Because of that, I have more peace than I may have ever had about my life, my relationship with Him, my marriage and my family. This really is all in the palm of God's hands, and that's enough for me.

3rd - Believe it or not, Doug and I are right where God wants us to be right now. I believe with all my heart that even in my leaving, I was following God's plan. I was scared when I left, but left knowing I was doing what God wanted me to do at that time. I know what the Bible says about divorce and I never felt peaceful about it, but I also didn't feel peaceful about our life together. I constantly prayed that He would intervene SOMEHOW and make it right...make it what He wanted this life to be, or that He would change me and my heart so I could be at peace with the life I had. He did a little of both. The relationship is different. I am different.

4th - One of the miracles I mentioned before is that God spoke. Here's what happened. I was in a new church, having felt led to leave the church I was already involved in (with praise and worship, no less, which wasn't easy to leave). The very first Sunday morning I was there, there was a message in tongues. Sidenote: If you haven't experienced that or don't believe in it, that's ok. I understand the reservation. I, however, have had a very positive and rewarding experience and believe that this in one way God speaks to His people.

So, the interpretation was something to this effect, "I will take care of you, if you will let me. You don't need anyone except me. I love you. You are my child and I will take care of you, but you have to let me." At that point, it was very affirming to what my spirit was leaning toward, but my intellect was very scared of....letting go and letting God take care of it.

That night, in a prayer service at the same church, I was praying and felt the "whispers" of the Holy Spirit. I've only one other time in my life felt that God spoke directly to me, but He did that night. He told me that if I would obey Him, he would bless my family and give me the desires of my heart. The key about that, is that He also began to change the desires of my heart and to put things back into perspective....His perspective.

He also made it very clear to me that my marriage was about more than just Doug & I and the family we have now. He has a purpose and a plan for our marriage and our family. We have a job to do for His kingdom that will make a difference in eternity. This is bigger than my happiness or Doug's or even the boys'. It's about giving our lives to Christ and following wherever He leads. I pray with all my heart that my boys will see, someday, that the most important thing they can do is lay down their selfish desires and do what God calls them to do. I want to do that in my own life, so that they will see the rewards. After all, we all know that we teach by modeling the behavior we want them to learn.

Before we left that night (I had invited Doug to come, which was another miracle in itself), a lady who had never met us before stopped us and said, "I don't know what your circumstances are, but I feel led to tell you that God wants you two to look at each other with new eyes of love. He loves you and wants you to know that you can look at each other differently than you have before."

5th - Hang on, and watch what God is going to do. I am excited about what's happened, because God has shown Himself so vividly. I know He is working and moving in our lives and I'm so anxious to see what is coming next. It's fun to be in the middle of where He wants you to be! It's truly miraculous and better than I could've ever hoped for. I do believe that Doug and I have work to do for Christ. We both, after much prayer, believe that it involves children. I'm not sure exactly how or where or when, but that's ok. It will happen when it's time and just how He wants it to be. We are reading and praying and learning about the orphans of the world. There is no shortage of scripture that says we are to take care of the orphans and widows. You'll be seeing more about what I'm learning in the days and weeks to come. I've just finished reading a couple books that were terrific. I'd recommend them anyone. Scared by Tom Davis and Adopted For Life by Russell Moore.
Please continue to keep Doug & I in your prayers. We are closing on the new house Wednesday morning. Most everything is packed and ready. I'll post pictures as soon as the camera and equipment are unpacked and set up.

Verse For The Day: Jeremiah 29:11 ...I know the plans I have for you. ..plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Sentiments - Miracles & Moving

I'm taking a break from packing and cleaning, thinking back over the events of the past year. God is truly amazing! I knew that miracles can happen, because I'd seen them in other people's lives. Now, I know they happen because I've seen them in my own.

I'm packing our things so that our family (Doug, me and the kids) can move into our new house in a week or so. A year ago, I was unpacking our things (me and the kids) here in this house, which belongs to a friend of mine, trying to sort out whether I had a family or not. It's obviously a very long story that I won't get to the details of now. There are tremendous blessings in the details, though, which I intend to share later as the time seems right.

Suffice it to say, that I have been blessed over the past year to see God truly work miracles in our lives. I'm excited about what our future holds now, which is so much different than what I was feeling a year ago. God is so good and so faithful! I'm amazed.

I do want to share the details one day, in hopes that they will be a blessing for someone and hopefully a blessing to God by giving Him the glory for each thing. Here's a short, simple list. I'm hoping the list will help me remember and keep me focused.

  • After being home with the kids for several years, I HAPPEN UPON a job, which means I have to move from West Plains to Springfield (100 miles away +/-).
  • A home for the kids and I to live in COMES TO US. Our neighbors are wonderful and so loving toward the kids and me.
  • Doug moves to Springfield a few weeks later because of a PROMOTION.
  • I find a wonderful church home in Republic Assembly and get ASKED to help with Praise & Worship.
  • I start teaching and FIND a wonderful friend, who has just been through a divorce.
  • I file for divorce, which leads to much CONVERSATION between Doug & I.
  • A friend comes to visit for a few days, when a lot of my "issues" are REVEALED.
  • I am LED to quit one small group and join another, where I hear about National Institute of Marriage.
  • Court date draws near (4 days away) and I GIVE Doug 40 days to "do something". (No, I hadn't seen the Fireproof movie)
  • He MAKES RESERVATIONS for a 4-day intensive at NIM and makes arrangements for kids.
  • 5 couples from across the nation and Canada MEET in Branson, MO, and share their lives.
  • I'm LED to try a new church, closer to our neighborhood where God SPEAKS the first day I'm there.
  • God SPEAKS again, in the 2nd service, which I've INVITED Doug to come to, also.
  • We STEP OUT in faith and choose to commit to our family staying together, whatever that looks like as we walk "through the wilderness".
So, today, I am packing again and wondering what the next year will hold. I'm certain that God is working and that as we obey Him, our family will be blessed. It's exciting to be excited again about life and the future. I'm amazed by God's goodness and faithfulness when I'm so lost and uncertain.

I'll post pictures of the new house when we get there. It's getting hectic here as boxes are piling up. I'm sure the computer will be packed at some point, so it may be a while before I post again.

This verse was a blessing to me this morning:

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garden Lessons #1

This year was my very first gardening experience. I've never even been able to grow a house plant successfully, so I tried to keep my expectations low in an effort to avoid disappointment. I discovered, thought, that the garden has been so rewarding even though we've struggled and even failed with a few things.

We are getting ready to move, so I thought that before we tore the garden up for the summer, I'd jot down a few things I want to remember when we replant at the new house.

  • Start seeds much earlier next year. Use newspaper to make potting cups and begin in early spring.
  • Six inches of soil wasn't enough. All my plants grew, but they are root-bound. I have beautiful green plants but don't feel like they are yielding as much produce as they should. Not sure if this is the reason or not, but I'll plant deeper next season.
  • I like the square foot design and will do the raised bed system again.
  • I need one whole square for zucchini and squash.
  • I like the tomatoes in buckets. Next year add more draining holes and place buckets on casters so they are easy to move.
  • Horn worms are disgusting and they will devour tomatoes and peppers...quickly!
  • The DE (ditamaceous earth) worked to prevent other pests. I used it about once a week. If it wasn't the DE, then I just got lucky. Other than the hornworms, I've had no other pest problems.
  • Start composting.

Food & Fun Friday

I realized this morning as I was catching up on my blog list and finding great new ones, that I had forgotten my Food & Fun Friday post. I have a good excuse, though. We definately had a fun Friday, as we were going full-speed from the time we opened our eyes.

We had great friends from out of town spend the night Thursday night. Carter had gone camping with his Nana in Branson, after we spent the afternoon in Silver Dollar City with said friends. So, Friday morning we woke with company, but minus Carter. When the friends left mid-morning, the remaining boys and I headed back to Branson to reclaim our Carter.

We ended up going back to Silver Dollar City with Nana. We spent the entire afternoon riding and eating (which completes the Food & Fun theme for the day - lol) before we headed back to Nana's camper. Doug drove down after he was off work and played a round of putt putt with the kids after dinner.

However, our plans to reclaim Carter were blundered when both older boys wanted to camp instead of come home with mom and dad. So, Harrison came home with us and we will hopefully reclaim Jackson and Carter this afternoon. I'm thinking that after today, Nana will see to it that I have my sons back.

So, we had a Friday full of fun and lots of good food!

The menu plan for next week looks very similar to last week's plan. Because Doug showed up at the beginning of last week with several steaks that I wasn't planning on, we grilled those and ate leftovers a few times. Most of the groceries I bought for last week are still in the fridge or pantry. I'll just have to restock the milk, bread, eggs and butter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Widhalm Mission Statement

I've seen over the past several months, several bloggers (sorry I didn't keep track of blogs to give credit to) with family mission statements. I thought this was a great idea. A mission statement helps define your purpose and those things you wish to be intentional about achieving. I love the idea of having a family mission statement to give that clarity to our family lives as well. Our statement is very general and we'll be writing down more specific goals within each area in the days ahead.

We are getting ready to move into a different home and I would like to come up with a way to incorporate our mission statement or some of the scripture references into the decor somehow. We'll see what happens with that after the boxes are unpacked. If you have any ideas, let me know!

The Widhalm Family Mission Statement

We believe that our purpose as a family is to lead a quiet life as we follow Christ, take care of our family and serve others. We will accomplish this by:

  • valuing the Bible and our relationship with Christ as our guiding principals
  • making our home a place of love, service, and growth
  • interacting with each other in a spirit of love and forgiveness
  • being diligent in our effort to serve others

Scripture References:

1 Thess 4:11 & 12 ...and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

Romans 15:5-6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galations 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.

Matthew 18:21-22 The Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

"I'm a good cooker, Mommy!"

This is Carter and his first culinary masterpiece!

Yesterday, Jackson and Carter were playing at our neighbor's house. I went over to check on them and while I was there, Carter came home. I assumed he came in to dry off or potty or maybe watch cartoons. I stayed at the neighbor's for maybe 15 more minutes or so.

When I came in the back door, I found him sitting on his knees at the table with one of my mixing bowls in front of him. He was so proud of himself! He pointed excitedly at his bowl and shouted, "I'm a good cooker, Mommy!" He went on to explain how he had poured the milk and the cereal all by himself and didn't spill anything.

It was so hilarious because he had used a good-sized mixing bowl, a huge serving spoon, and I'm positive there was at least a quart of milk in the bowl. The cereal box was empty and in the trash. The spoon was so big, he could hardly get it in his mouth! When the cereal was all but eaten, he asked if he could have more milk! LOL I couldn't help but take a couple of pictures.

He really does love to help me in the kitchen and he was just so pleased with his accomplishments. Carter is so precious. He's full of life and energy! Nothing he does comes as a surprise to anyone.

He, I think, is going to be the artistic one who is laid back and adds a little flare to whatever he does. Carter makes our home colorful and brings the excitement along. I love him beyond words and I'm so proud of the little person he is.

Blackberrries & Rice

I know, you were thinking this was going to be a post about a wonderful new recipe I found. Sorry. However, this information could save you a few bucks, so read on!

My Blackberry found its way into the backyard the day before yesterday. I'm sure it got there by way of Harrison, my beautiful toddler whose picture I posted in the post just prior to this one. He's a great little guy and already has a fascination with electronics. lol

Apparently, he carried it into the yard and dropped it. I had no idea as I was going on about my mommy business. That particular day, we were mostly inside because we were being blessed with intermitant thunder storms. Yes, that's it. There were storms and my Blackberry was in the yard, unbeknownst to me.

Long story short, I found it in the early part of the evening when I was out taking a look at my garden. I was not a happy camper. This is my only phone, as we had the land line disconnected last summer. It was only six months old. I just got it in December, when I signed up for my new plan with Sprint. I did buy the protection plan when I got it, but should have known that water damage is not covered.

While I was sulking, a friend of mine walked in the back door. She told me to take the cover off and put it in a bag of rice. So, I did. I figured I didn't have anything to lose. I left it there overnight.

The next morning, it worked!! The condensation under the screen was gone and it powered up just fine. At first, not all the keys and functions worked. I could only dial calls by actually typing in the numbers and I could receive calls. It took about an hour or so, but eventually everything returned to normal!! Yea!

Now, I have no idea how long it will last, but for now it's working like nothing ever happened. So, if you have a water issue with your cell phone, give the rice a try!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby Faces

Harrison - 22 months

With nothing but his BGs on! "Cheese!"

With nothin' on at all! In the tub with cousin, AnnaJo Hill.
(Ebony and ivory?? LOL)

Harrison is such a blessing! He's healthy and happy, most of the time anyway. He's definately the baby of the family and he knows how to get things done! He LOVES his older brothers and wants to do everything they do. Aunt Kate nicknamed him "Dozer" for a good reason! We love him so much and can't imagine life without him.

Downsizing Gifts

Last Christmas, we decided to make some changes in our gift giving and receiving strategies. As part of our effort to downsize and reduce clutter and "stuff" in general, we asked our family members NOT to give our kiddos the standard gifts. Up until this past year, the kids have gotten tons of cool things, mostly toys and clothes. Don't get me wrong, we were very grateful and thankful for the gifts we received, which mostly came from loving family members.

However, we were accumulating way too much stuff, including clothes. So, as Christmas approached last year, we asked our family to give our kids experiences instead of toys or clothes. I gave them a list of possibilities I thought we might enjoy as a family. We were given season passes for everyone to Silver Dollar City and a membership to the Dickerson Park Zoo.
We have thoroughly enjoyed both and are still using our passes to create wonderful family memories.

For their birthdays, Carter and Jackson were both given a Mad Science Camp. Jackson chose "Rockets and Robots". His camp was last week and he loved every minute. He was able to learn about robots the first part of the week and then about rockets the last part. He even got to build a model rocket and bring it home. He doesn't want to launch it yet, so we are keeping it safe for now. He's already talking about which science camp he would like to go to next.

Carter's ecology camp started this morning. He learned about what dirt is made of, and they started a seed sprouting experiment. He was happy to get to go to class where Jackson was last week.

Thank you so much, Aunt Kaye, for the great birthday gifts!

Here is Jackson with his rocket.

I love this and I think most of our family is happy to be contributing to the kids' list of experiences instead of putting money in toys that get lost and broken in a few days or weeks. It's a much better use of their resources and our time. Since we are officially homeschooling now, we'll be counting these experiences toward our schooling hours when it's applicable, also.

Things on our list of possibilities include: show tickets (special performances, plays, concerts, etc.), passes to fun places (zoo, pool, theme park, museums, etc.), summer camps and fun classes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Laundry Downsizing

The one thing I have done recently that has truly made our daily lives more simple is downsizing. I started with the clothes, because I felt completely overwhelmed with laundry.

With three kiddos and two adults it seemed as though the laundry was always in a huge pile somewhere. In fact, there were multiple piles of clothes in all stages of the laundry process. Usually at least one pile of dirty, loads in the washer and dryer, clothes waiting to be folded and the folded ones which hadn't been put away. All these clothes laying in piles and we still had clean clothes to wear!

I decided that we just had too much. Most of it came as hand-me-downs that were in good shape or friends getting ready for garage sales. It was in good condition and a good buy, so I bought! Even though it was a good price, it was still too much.

I went through everything and kept only 5-6 play outfits for each child and 4 dressier outfits per child as well. They basically have a play outfit for each day of the week and a nice outfit for church. They can wear the dress outfits once a month to church and also for other outings that require them.

I also got rid of a bunch of towels. Each family member now has two bath towels. One to use and one to be in the laundry. We use them for a couple days before they go into the laundry, also, which helps out. At one point in time, there were so many towels that I had a load to do almost every day.

It has been such a blessing! The laundry is so much more manageable. I can now do all of our laundry - even if most everything is dirty - in just 4 loads or so. This is a great improvement!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grocery Shopping Success!

Well, I did it! I'm really excited that I set out with a very specific plan and accomplished my goal. the kids behavior in the store was a little less than desirable, but the bill was well under budget. The grand total was $40.66. This includes three meals a day for a week plus snacks and a couple extras that weren't on my list. Yea!

I did go to two different stores, but I still completed the entire trip and made it back home in about an hour.

At the bread store I got:

Syrup - 1.89
100% whole wheat bread - 1.00
Whole wheat English muffins - .75
French bread - 1.00

Bread Store Total = $4.81

At Aldi I got:

Boneless-skinless chicken breasts - 5.49
Bag of carrots - .99
2 cucumbers - .98
Apple juice - 1.39
Blueberries - .99
2 pkg broccoli crowns - 1.98
3# bag of apples - 2.99
Red seedless grapes - 2.98
Bing cherries - 1.49
Instant mashed potatoes - .87
Cereal - 1.69
Salmon - 3.99
Milk - 2.22
Kitchen trash bags - 6.29

Aldi Total = $35.85

I have to say that it was a little difficult to stick to the list. I added a few things because I forgot to put them on the list. I feel really good about it. A week of meals for under $50 is great for us!

Food & Fun Friday

Most of the blogs I've been reading regarding grocery shopping do their planning and shopping on Mondays at the beginning of the week. That doesn't work so well for me. I want a stocked fridge for the weekend, which is when I like to cook for friends or just have special meals for us. Monday is the beginning of our homeschool week and I want to be disciplined enough to get right to the school schedule without worrying about the menu or groceries. So, I've designated Friday as our menu planning and shopping day. I'm calling it 'Food & Fun Friday' because I hope to be able to shop in the morning and do something fun with the kids in the afternoon. We'll see how it goes.

Today we are not going to worry about the fun activity because we've been very busy all week and everyone here just needs a rest. The activities will be more applicable when our homeschool schedule officially begins.

My grocery project over the next two weeks is to use up everything I possibly can from the pantry. We are moving at the end of the month and I don't want to pack and move food if I don't have to.

Here's the meal plan for the next week.

1. B - rice
L - PB& J
D - spaghetti w/zucchini from the garden and garlic bread

2. B - pancakes and eggs
L - beef roast w/carrots and mashed potatoes
D - leftovers

3. B - Oatmeal
L - Baked chicken w/zucchini and rice
D - Ramen noodles

4. B - Malt O Meal
L - Carrots & Apples w/peanut butter
D - Smothered burgers w/mashed potatoes & broccoli

5. B - Eggs & cereal
L - Ramen noodles
D - Salmon & grilled veggies

6. B - Rice
L - Grilled cheese & apples
D - Leftovers

7. B - Oatmeal
L - PB & J
D - Chicken strips and tater tots

Snacks: grapes, bananas, home-made Kool-Aid popsicles

I'm headed out to shop now. I'm hoping to spend less than $50. I'll let you know how it goes.