Friday, September 30, 2011

Things that don't belong...

Can you guess what doesn't belong in this picture?

If you guessed that ugly lock box.....YOU'RE RIGHT!!!

And can you guess what doesn't belong in our yard?

If you guessed that ugly old "for sale" sign then YOU ARE RIGHT AGAIN!!!

It never feels real until you see that sign sitting in your yard.  And today I'll admit, there's a fine line between feeling hopeful and totally freaking out....

and I'm trying really hard not to cross it right now.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life goes on...

Despite the fact that my husband lost his job almost one week ago, the world is still spinning and life goes on!

I wanted to thank everyone again for voting.....we're in the homestretch now with only 4 days of voting left!  We've stayed in the top 3 this entire time, but I did panic a bit yesterday when I saw the 4th place blog seemed to be closing in ;D  It doesn't really matter at this point- we've made it to the top 25!  But after being in 3rd place for so long, it would be nice to finish 3rd!  Don't forget, you can vote once each day until October 3rd, and, as always, you can click on the button above to go vote for Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens!  Thanks again!

I also wanted to say a special thanks to everyone who has been sending me emails and tweets with offers of prayer and even jobs ;D  I just can't thank you all enough for your continued thoughts!  I was so blessed yesterday when my sweet, sweet neighbor (Courtney!) came by with a Starbucks gift card for me!  She knew I needed to de-stress and wanted me to go have some coffee and relax ;D  That touched me so much, and I can't imagine trying to get through this without the amazing people that God has placed in my life :D

And, as I said before, life goes on......

Saturday was Sophie's 4th cross country meet of the season!  It was a HUGE meet out in Lawrence at Kansas State University, and the whole gang went to cheer her on.  It's been held since the 1970's out at an old farm called Rim Rock Farm, and the course was challenging to say the least.

There were over 60 schools competing from states as far away as Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma!  This next shot is of the runners lined up for the varsity girls' race....

Caleb hung out on his daddy's shoulders to watch the start of the race!

Sophie started strong and stayed strong all the way.....

Over the rough terrain, across the old wooden bridge....

Past her fan club (that would be ME!) ;D

And up the of them fondly named "suicide hill!"

Just to give you an idea of the steep terrain she had to face, here's a shot of the boys coming back up the course after watching her cross the bridge!

And she did GREAT!!!!!  She finished 4th for her school and in the top 50 for the whole race!  I'm not sure of the exact number of runners, but it was in the hundreds!  Her time was 18:11....not bad for a first-timer!  The top scores were in the 16-minute range, so we were thrilled with her time!

Someone pinned her number on Caleb's back and off he went!

Here she is after the race with some of the runners from school....

And her brothers love stealing her snacks and water- that's the only reason they go ;D

I'm always amazed at the sea of tents that are set up by the schools- it's so funny to see the kids napping and hanging out under their school's tent as they wait for their event or relax when they're all done!
Of course, they end up being there for many hours, so it's nice that they have a place to relax!

One last shot of Sophie by the school flag....

It will be interesting to see what flag she's standing under one year from now......!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boys will be boys

If you run with the philosophy that boys will be boys....

then you simply understand that....

the harder they play....

the harder they fall ;D

This is Jacob 4 days after being hit in the eye with a rock shot from a slingshot!  He's looking much better today than he did on Sunday after our trip to the emergency room where he had to have an IV and be sedated so they could get a good look at this eye!  While the bruising is getting worse, I'm happy to say that his eyeball is looking a bit better today.  For the last 3 days the white part of his eye has been solid red and nasty looking, but today I can see more white.....progress, although he still has problems with it watering and tearing quite a bit!

On another note....I just checked the voting, and while we're still in 3rd place, the number 4 blog is coming up fast behind us!  I would love to finish in the top 3 since we've been there so long, and with only 6 days left to vote, I think we can do it!!!  If you haven't voted yet today, here's the link....

Just click the button above and go vote for Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens!  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Many thanks!

I have been completely overwhelmed with the emails that have flooded my inbox over the last couple of days!!!!  I wanted to just take a minute to thank everyone so VERY much for your thoughts, prayers and even job offers ;D  We would love to live in every state that has been offered up (and there have been many!), but we have to go where there's a job that my husband is qualified for!

In all honesty, while we are certainly feeling a bit frazzled with real estate agents and trying to sort out the job situation, we are not fearful.  We know that this is all God's plan, and He is in control.  I'm not gonna lie.....I was full of fear and panic on Friday, but it quickly subsided and I'm resolute to let God lead us where He wants us to go.  I simply pray every day that God open the doors for us and show us the way.  No fear.

If you are praying for us, I would like to ask especially for prayers for our children.  This transition will be the hardest on them, and it's always tough for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My biggest concern is the school situation.  Emily is a senior, and I'm not sure of her options at this point.  Sophie, who is a sophomore, will have a much bigger challenge than anyone as she is very involved in sports, and it's tough to go to a new school and step into those programs.  My other concern is that private school is no longer going to be an option for the boys as it's incredibly expensive in the areas we're looking (Nashville & Dallas)....about $30,000/year for the 3 boys!  I'm already researching homeschool options again, and am completely open to that path, but it's very overwhelming and I would appreciate prayers in this area!

We listed the house yesterday, and our hope is to get is sold and have a job lined up by Christmas as that is the best time to transition the kids.  Of course, we all know that this is God's plan, and our hopes may not be the best path ;D

Thanks again so much for everything!  I feel so blessed to have this blog as a resource, with fellow blogging buddies all over the country, and I will keep everyone updated as much as possible!

Monday, September 26, 2011


On Friday, my husband went to work, just like every other day.  By 10am that morning, he learned he no longer had a job....his position had been eliminated....the company was downsizing.

We've seen it happen on t.v. and in the movies, we've even seen it happen to friends and colleagues...

but it's never happened to US.

On Friday, I went through periods of sobbing, followed by stretches of panic and then calm, only to start all over again.  My husband had us both up at 4am Saturday- he couldn't sleep and, thanks to him, neither could I!  We sat in our home office and worked on our computers.....he was looking for jobs, I was looking for houses.

Saturday was Sophie's cross country meet.  It was weird.  We are in a new stage of reality, and yet things continue as though nothing has happened.

Sunday our real estate agent came over.  We're using the same agent that helped us buy our house almost 4.5 years ago, and we're thankful to have her.  She's a very positive and focused person, and we need that right now.

Today started like any other Monday.  I dropped the kids off at school, and my husband headed in to work.....but this time it was to clean out his office.

He talked to human resources.  There will be compensation.  He's been a vice president of sales with this company for 3 years, recruited by them from his job as a district manager with Pfizer.  We thought it was an opportunity to grow when we left Pfizer....leaving behind a pension and 10 years of service.  We thought we would be opening new doors to better things.....being downsized wasn't one of them.

We have little hope of finding a job in the Kansas City area, and honestly, at this point, have little desire to remain here.  The cost of living is high, and we are ready to move on.  The original plan when we left Pfizer 3 years ago was to get on with this company and eventually end up at the headquarters in Nashville, TN.  There is still a possibility that we may find a job within this current company in Nashville, and that is one of our options.

We are also looking at Texas (the Dallas area) as we've lived there several times and love the area.

My husband plans to go to Nashville tomorrow.  He already had a sales meeting planned there this week, and he is going to go as planned.  It's an opportunity to look for jobs within the company and network.

We hope to move around Christmas.  We plan to list the house this week.  We want as little disruption to the kids as possible, but unfortunately, it's Emily's senior year.

Lots of questions.....few answers.

God knows.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Toy storage

Hey, we're STILL in 3rd place for Top 25 Big Family Blogs!!!  Thanks so much for all your votes....I know it's getting old ;D  If you haven't voted today, the link is above!!!  Just click and then scroll down to the third place to vote for Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens :D

Toy storage......every mom's worst nightmare!  Unless of course you're insanely rich and can afford to purchase all the amazing storage units that Pottery Barn has to offer ;D

And seeing as how we're not only NOT rich, but we also have more than the average amount of children, toy sorting and storage has become a part-time job for me.  Although I've perfected my technique, it's still a challenge to stay on top of it all as the kids grow and change "passions," have birthdays, or Christmas rolls around.

Being the overthetopneatfreak very Type-A personality that I am, I don't put up with much when it comes to toy clutter, although I have relaxed to a degree....these days, I actually allow the kids to play with the toys they get out before insisting that they be put away again ;D  And the best way to avoid too much clutter, is to not let it get out of control in the first place.

For us, the most important part of being organized with our toys, is to be careful with what we bring into the house in the first place.  This goes for Happy Meal toys as well as the "fun" purchases that the kids make with their own allowance!  We also strive to choose the things that we buy for the kids' birthdays or Christmas with careful thought and consideration.  For example, we know that board games always look so cool, but often tend to be too complicated to play and end up in broken pieces all over the house if they're even played with in the first place!

 In more recent years, not only have we pared down on the amount of toys that we buy, but we have also tried to purchase things that can be used outdoors, eliminating some of the need for storage in the house....although the garage, much to my husband's chagrin, is pretty much bursting at the seams as well!

We are fortunate to have a small playroom on our main level, under the back staircase....

It's a great size and allows us to store lots of toys in bins that I purchased at Target, as well as an old bookshelf that we didn't need anymore.  The important thing here is that everything has it's place!  Each bin is carefully organized so that it's easy to put things away and find them again.  Unfortunately, I'm about the ONLY one who understands how things are put away, so I usually have to be a part of the cleaning process, but I could probably remedy that if I wanted to by using labels with pictures on each bin so that the kids would know which toys to place in which bin (I'm just too lazy to do it!).

Other than the toys in the playroom, we have minimal toys on the main level.  I always use baskets to hold baby toys- I like the way they look and it's easy to just toss everything back in!

I like to use baskets for book storage as well.  Here are the books that Caleb has in his room...

And this is the rest of the room....

Once again, I try to avoid clutter and keep things put away.  The majority of our toddler toys are in the playroom, so we only have one basket of toys in Caleb's room right now.  I'm sort of at the point where I've not only seen every toy known to man, but I've probably already purchased them at one time or another as well!  I pretty much know what's junk and what will last!  So when we buy new toys, we try to get things that we don't already have.  I also try to avoid buying things that are "new and improved."  So many of the new toys are almost exactly the same as the ones we have from 18 years ago, with a few minor changes!

For Matthew & Jacob's room, I did spend a bit more money and purchase a set of stacking shelves with bins to store most of their toys.....

My philosophy, if it's full, we don't need anymore ;D  And honestly, they really don't have much more than what you see in the bins.

Noah loved trains when he was little, and we purchased lots of Thomas stuff for him.  I love having collections and hobbies that are easy to add to and then make great hand-me-down toys!  Jacob has taken after Noah in his love for trains, so we have the old train table set up in their room as well.

They do have a few larger toys that don't fit in the bins, but I don't want sitting out, and they are stored in the closet...

That's it for their room!

Josh & Noah have even less....they're more into small expensive electronic items!  The biggest issue we have with their room is books!  I have collected so many books over the years, and they're the one thing that I just can't part with!  Each one has so much meaning for me as I remember certain children sitting in my lap and listening to me as I read with them, that I just can't bare to sort through them!  And those darn cheap Scholastic book orders that always come home from school.....they kill me!  I always want the kiddos to have at least one book to bring home- such a special thing!

Here's a very small portion of our books...

Our other issue is stuffed animals....ugh!  This is Noah's basket, but the girls are even worse!  Another thing that I'm MUCH more careful about purchasing these days ;D  I used to get them for every holiday, birthday, etc, but I really try to avoid them anymore!  There was a period of about two years when we literally lived at Build-a-Bear Workshop :D

Josh & Noah are about ready for a room make-over.....they're growing up, but for now, this is how their room looks!

The majority of their "toys" are stored in their closet.....mostly games and legos!

One of the other things I've learned over the years is to take the kids to the store and really give them a chance to check out toys that they might be interested in, long before birthdays or holidays.  I let them spend as long as I can stand some time carefully thinking about their choices as I talk through the pros and cons of certain toys with them!  I then keep a list of choices for each child in a notebook in my purse, so I have something to use when it comes time to shop.

Before each big holiday or birthday comes along, we always try to sort through our closets to make room for new things.  If we haven't played with it in the last 6 months, then we like to donate it to Goodwill.  If it's broken, then we throw it away.  If we've outgrown it, then we send it to the next-in-line ;D

And finally, to avoid having to give and get lots of gifts at Christmas, our kids do Secret Santas!  We put all their names in a hat, and they take turns drawing them out.  Then they only have to shop for one person and can get something that's a little bit nicer and won't be as likely to end up in the trash.  And to scale back even more, we only give each child one gift from us, in addition to the gift that comes from Santa and sits unwrapped under the tree on Christmas morning!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

He never looked back...

Yesterday, Matthew walked into school all by himself.....

He wasn't able to do it last year.  He'd tell me that he wanted to go in by himself, but then, when the time came, he couldn't bring himself to do it, so I would happily escort him from the car, down the sidewalk and up to the classroom door.  Since school started this year, he's mentioned several times that he was going to go into class by himself, but once again, he just couldn't bring himself to do it when the time came.

We've come a long way though!   I'll never forget the tears that would flow each day for the first few weeks of school last year.  As that gradually subsided, Matthew was more than happy to tell me goodbye, after a kiss and a hug and an "I love you" at the classroom door, but he just wasn't ready to make the transition to walk down that long pathway by himself until now.

And knowing how much courage it took for him to finally do it, I was even more impressed that he went all the way without ever turning to look back.  And it's probably a good thing he didn't.....

cuz he would have seen his momma crying like a baby ;D

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall is in the house!

Hey everyone....don't forget to vote!  There's a link above to keep Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens in the running for Top 25 Big Family Blogs, and you can vote once each day until October 3rd!  Thanks for your help :D

Fall is my favorite season....especially for decorating!  I have certain things that I put out specifically for fall, and then I also have things that I add in for Halloween.  And after Halloween is over, I even have a nice collection of turkeys to add to all my fall pumpkins in preparation for Thanksgiving ;D

Since my last several posts have been rather long, wordy and picture-less, I decided to do a post full of pictures with our fall decorations!  Enjoy!

We've only begun to decorate outside!  We still have pumpkins and hay bales and cornstalks to add!

I LOVE mums!  I always buy my big ones at Costco, and then add a few little ones from Walmart.

Here's some of the deco in the formal dining room....

The little spider in the above picture is one that Allie & Jacob created ;D

I always like to put out some fun decorations just for the kids, so we add a few scarecrows....

The ones that light up are always the BEST :D

Here's the front entry.  The garland is lighted and so are the pumpkins on the floor!

Every day, the boys go around and plug in all the things that light up.... it cracks me up :D

These cute little guys are Fisher Price people that I got when the girls were little....we've had them forever, but all the littles just love them :D  They make sounds when you push the button on the bottom....

One says Boo and one says ooooooo!

This little guy lights up too!

The next several pictures are from our formal living room is safe when it comes to decorating ;D

Hard to tell, but there are some Halloween miniatures in this next picture, along with a pumpkin or two...

The mantel in the formal living room....

This next guy is fun- he's stuffed and made of felt and sits on the floor in the hearth room....

And we have these little guys hanging on the upper kitchen cabinet knobs....

The mantel in the hearth room....

A closer look....

We like to keep holiday books put away, then they're more fun when we get them out each season!

The sunroom...

Mantel in the sunroom!

I love to add garland to the chandeliers!  This is the one in the kitchen, and I have some on the one in the formal dining room as well!

The kitchen counter...

The ledge above the sink!  

That's all for now!  Hope you enjoyed it!


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