Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heading to "Hotlanta!"

Hey from the road! We're somewhere in Illinois ....almost to the Tennessee border, on our way to Atlanta to look for a house & accept the job offer that finally came through :D

I'm posting from my phone,  so I'll keep this update short,  but I wanted to let everyone know that things are moving right along ....guess slow and steady DOES win the race! 

We have an offer on our house ....it's low, but we countered back & are now leaving it in God's hands.  I'm quite certain this entire experience is God's way of building my character .....not to mention teaching me incredible patience ;D And it's working!  Rarely do I feel anxious or nervous about our current state,  but more often I find I have a sense of excitement about the work that God is doing in our lives! He is good, His plans are good & I stand in awe of His ways :D

We have the whole gang with us & we're looking forward to 3 days of house hunting!?!? I'll take lots of pics & post them and you can help us pick our next home ;D

That's all for now!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here are some of the pictures from our Christmas Eve!

We spent the day finishing up Christmas baking.....

The kids did a great job decorating the cookies!

After church and dinner out, we opened our Christmas Eve gifts....

It's a new pair of jammies every year!

After our baths, we headed outside to throw down some homemade reindeer chow!  We want to be sure that Santa can find our house ;D

Then we tried to get a few pictures of some very wound up little boys before heading off to bed....

Most of the boys have dreadful head colds right now, so we lined them all up to hand out medicine!

Then we set out our Christmas cookies and milk for Santa....

And headed downstairs to bed!  The boys all wanted to sleep in the basement with the girls so they could all be together!  I snapped a couple of shots of the girls while we were down there!

And then everyone went wild!  Don't you wish you were here?!?!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Kansas Sleigh Ride

Ever since we bought a little wagon from a Missouri farmer, we've been trying to think of fun ways to use it!  We originally purchased it to use as a hay ride for our annual Halloween party, and it was a HUGE hit!  And now that we know we have an out-of-state move in our very near future and won't be able to take our prized wagon with us, we wanted to use it one last time.......

Sooooooo, we hooked up some lights and bells......

Made lots and lots of hot chocolate......

Gathered ALL of our spare blankets.....

Dressed the kids in REALLY warm clothes (this is my dad getting Caleb's snow pants on him).....

(And Jacob all bundled up!)

(Noah's ready!)

and headed out!

We spent almost an hour driving around the neighborhoods near us, singing Christmas carols,  enjoying the lights & shouting Merry Christmas to everyone we saw!  It was a great time and will always be a great memory :D


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas placemats

My parents arrived yesterday to spend the holidays with us, and we've had lots of kid-related activities going on since they pulled in the driveway.  Basketball games and Christmas shopping are filling our hours, and tomorrow night we head over to Missouri to see The Story Tour!

So, lots going on around here, but I wanted to take a minute to share a fun craft that the kids just finished!  I'm sure many of you have seen these before- they're super simple and a great keepsake you can use for years to come :D  They're Christmas placemats......

Each of our children now have one, and we keep them in our Christmas decorations and only use them for the holidays.  The kids love making them- it's a great way for them to be crafty and add they're own personal touch!

You start with a piece of poster board cut to a reasonable placemat size.  You can use colored or white.  You then take some of your old Christmas cards (hopefully you've saved them over the years!) and let the kids choose some to cut and add to the front of their mats.  You can use the whole card or cut pieces of them.  We like to use stickers too!

In the past, we've written the kids' names on the back to identify the placemats, but this time we wrote their names on the front with glitter glue!

The best thing about this craft is that there are so many different ways to do it....no ONE right way!  Just have fun with them and let the kids make something they will really love.  When you're all finished, you can laminate the boards so that they are waterproof and easy to clean.  We have used contact paper on ours in the past, but I wasn't able to find any at Wal-Mart today, so I'm going to check a craft store tomorrow (the laminating stuff can get pretty pricey).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homeschool help!

Ok....it's official!  We've decided to pull the boys out of school when the semester ends next week.  We know that if we move we will NOT be able to afford private school, and I refuse to return my boys to public school.  So, based on all of the information that we currently have, we made a decision to not start the boys back at their current school in January.  It makes sense to us to use Christmas break as a natural transition, and it will make it easier on the school too.  Even if we are here for a few more months, it will be easier to start homeschool now than in the middle of a semester!

The boys are excited..we'll see how long that lasts!  So the next big hurdle is curriculum.  Since we're starting mid-year, there's no way I'm going to try to piece things together, so I've decided to go with a complete curricula choice.  The best part about whatever we choose is that we're only stuck with it for the rest of this year if we don't like it.  I know that I can expect to have to experiment with different things and that each child may have their own preferences, so I'm trying not to get too hung up on my choices.  That said, I still want to get off to a good start and keep the kids happy!

I'm currently looking at A Beka Academy (the videos) and Switched on Schoolhouse (computer-based learning).  The reviews are good, and I know that the Duggar Family is currently using Switched on Schoolhouse, so that gives me some confidence in the program.  I know that Josh (7th grade and has ADHD) and Noah (3rd grade) prefer to learn with something that's a little more exciting than me sitting there trying to teach them out of a book.  We figured THAT out last fall when we tried homeschool and ended up with lots and lots of tears.....most of them mine ;D  So we definitely need some sort of online program.  I'm having a hard time finding online demos of the Switched on Schoolhouse, so I'm not able to completely commit to it yet.  I found great examples of the A Beka videos, and we like the fact that the child watches an actual teacher teaching an actual class, but the videos are really dated, and I'm also unsure as to how the child's portion of the work is completed.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions or have actually used either of these programs I would LOVE, LOVE any advice you might have :D

On another note, we decided to take the bull by the horns and start making some decisions about what WE want to do instead of waiting on (what feels like) the world to call us back with answers.  So, in addition to pulling the boys out of school, we just finished planning a house-hunting trip to Atlanta for the week between Christmas and New Year's.  We decided that we have nothing better to do, and the company that wants to hire my husband has offered to pay for gas and hotel to get the whole gang down there for a few days....so we're going!  

Nice to finally have some plans! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

State of Affairs

My husband just got off the phone with a real estate agent from Atlanta.  She called him because the company that he hopes to work for in Atlanta contacted her and asked her to call him.  She wanted to know when we could come out and start house-hunting.  He tried to explain to her that we don't even have a job offer from them at this point so it's a little hard for us to even think about looking at houses until we get something nailed down, to which she replied that they are DEFINITELY going to offer him the job....they're VERY excited to have him work for them.

Welcome to my daily life.

It's so chock-full of thumbs up and thumbs down, of highs and lows, of good news and bad, that I can't even remember what a normal day is like anymore.

And this call from the agent today is just one example of the weird things that keep happening!  I've tried to refrain from posting daily about all the stuff that's going on, in hopes to spare all who read here from the insanity, but I continue to receive emails and tweets from readers asking for updates, so I'll do my best!

Currently, we are still waiting on an offer for the job in Atlanta, and that's where we THINK we want to be, so I'll start there.  I posted almost two weeks ago about receiving a call from the company in Atlanta and having them tell us that they plan to give us an offer after they finish interviewing the remaining candidates.  We had hoped that would be happening last week, but then last Thursday we got another call saying that they still had not finished interviewing due to scheduling conflicts.  They were desperately hoping that we could be patient for just a short time more and begged my husband for the second time not to take any other job offers without first talking to them.  While we are certain that a job offer is forthcoming, we are still unsure as to what the financial details will be.  The initial interview revealed that the job has a significantly lower salary than where we currently are.

Obviously, a job is a job, and we will take anything that puts food on the table at this point, but because there is relocation involved and the sale of our house in a very bad housing market, we have to be careful with how low we go.  Sacrificing and downsizing can only get us so far if we lose all our equity on our house, have to pay for our own move, end up with a much lower base salary and have a much more limited bonus potential.  Without going into all of our personal finances, suffice it to say that, while we can certainly scrimp more than we currently do, we also have many, MANY children heading to college in the near future!

So, while there's little doubt that we could be moving to Atlanta, the question has now become do we WANT to move to Atlanta.

Some have asked about the job in New Hampshire.  My husband had completed his 3rd round of interviews and was expecting an offer when another really strange thing happened.  I'm not going to go into all of the details, but it turned out that he uncovered some really troubling things during his interview which he pointed out to top management at a later time (having to do with the job he was interviewing for and it's core purpose).  After considering his revelation, the CEO's decided not to move forward with hiring anyone until they have ironed out some issues.  They were incredibly thankful to my husband for bringing so many things to light, and were incredibly apologetic for the chaos.  We decided we had probably narrowly escaped a very bad situation and were happy to walk away.


Since we have no firm feelings about the Atlanta job, my husband continues to interview and look for other positions.  He is quickly moving up on the short list for another job that would involve living in Chicago, New York, or Boston (our choice) and then traveling to the other two territories.  It's a BIG job.  But it comes with BIG pay.  We're expecting about 25% travel.  Don't like that.  In fact, that's one of the main reasons we left Montana.  Quality of life is just too important to our family, and having my husband gone so much is too hard on us.  We'd much prefer to be rich in family, not in our wallets!

So, while we had hoped to have some answers by Christmas, and were even planning a house-hunting trip to Atlanta sometime next week, we are now left in limbo, unsure as to how long we'll be stuck here. And even if everything ends up working out with Atlanta and we do accept an offer, we still have to sell our house!

That brings me to the weird thing that happened with our house.

A couple of weekends ago, we had a family that was from Atlanta look at our house.  Not only that, but they have 7 kids.  Not only that, but they're from the EXACT area north of Atlanta that we've been looking at living!  Not only that, but they already live here, just sold their own house in Atlanta, and they love our house!!!  Unfortunately (because it wouldn't be "our life" if it was EASY), the sale on their house is being held up due to issues with their appraisal.  So, until they are certain their house will be able to sell, they don't want to make an offer on our house.

But....(because there's always a BUT when it comes to us)

.......there may be another buyer for our house.

Our agent got a call the other day from a family that looked at our house over Thanksgiving and was asking some follow-up questions about it.  Our agent sounded positive about the conversation, so once again, our hopes are up......

up, down, up, down, up........down?

The worst part about all of this, of course, is the kids' schedules.  I met with Emily's counselor yesterday, and we came up with a plan for her to finish up her senior year online, and we plan to come back from wherever so that she can graduate with her class, but it's still really tough on her. Allie had to take next semester off from school since we don't know where we'll end up, and we didn't want to pay for classes and then leave mid-semester.  Then there's Sophie, who is on the high school basketball team and who loves to play lacrosse in the spring.  Even if the transition academically isn't too tough, it's all the activities that become the issue.  As far as the boys go, I am planning to homeschool them when we move, so that's a whole new ballgame in addition to all the stresses of moving to a new place.  But that's for another post!  I'm still researching curriculum (in my spare time!) and am open to suggestions!

While I don't have all the answers, there's one thing that I know for sure.....things are changing.  It's incredible to think that we're going into this Christmas vacation without knowing anything, but by the time it's over, we could be preparing to move instead of returning to school.

At least it's not boring around here ;D

Meeting baby Jesus!

A couple of weekends ago, we went to a Christmas celebration at our church.  There were lots of crafts and games to play for the kids, but Caleb was still a little young for most of the activities.  In an attempt to keep Caleb from screaming bloody murder causing a commotion, Zack took him out of the craft area to try to engage him in something a little more on his level.  It wasn't until later that I found out they had actually gone to meet baby Jesus and even have their picture taken with him!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


A Wii game is being played on my t.v.

A child sits on my couch



and Josh are working on computers

Caleb is on the stairs

The start of a collection of Christmas cards we've received so far is on my front door

My grocery list for today's trip to the store sits on my computer

My crockpot is turned on and is filled with lasagna for tonight's dinner

There are towels waiting to be washed on my laundry room floor

A yummy soap sits on the kitchen sink counter

A German advent calendar filled with chocolate sits on top of my refrigerator

A candle burns on my kitchen counter

An elf sits on my wreath

A child plays on my floor

A University of Montana sweatshirt is on my second-oldest child

Chris Tomlin is on my Ipod

God is on my mind.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas 2011 home decorations

I was planning to hook up with Kelly's Korner for SUYL Christmas decorations, but I just checked and it turns out that she's actually got that on the schedule for next week......oops!  Guess I'll link back to this next week ;D

Anyway, I was going to wait until tomorrow to put this post up, but then we got a call for a house showing tomorrow at 11am, so I guess I'll be spending the morning cleaning!  Needless to say, trying to sell your house during the holiday season is far from ideal :/

In fact, I'm desperately trying to finish a batch of cookies that I have to have done for a cookie exchange tomorrow night as I type up this post since I can't do it tomorrow....multi-tasking at it's best!  And of course our schedule tonight is crazy with basketball practice for some, rehearsal for others, and a Christmas concert for more!!

So, without further ado, here are my decorations for the holidays *yes, I did decorate much to the deep chagrin of my real estate agent I'm sure!

Caleb was having a complete fit that I went outside!

The formal dining room

The chandelier above the dining table....if you look closely, you can see the Elf on the Shelf hiding in the garland :D

The front entryway...

I have garland EVERYWHERE I can stuff it :D

The stockings on the stairs.....all 10 of them are up there!

The formal living room....

If you're wondering, the answer is YES, I do have a terrible time keeping the boys away from those candles ;D

We have a fresh tree in our formal living room this year that we found at a tree farm an hour away!  In hindsight, we probably could have gotten a very nice tree from the local grocery store, but I do love this one and it was worth the hours of travel and the gas it took to drive two cars all that way!

The mantle in the hearth room....

When I decorate for the holidays, I like to replace things in the house with holiday deco, so I end up with lots of my non-seasonal stuff in the storage room.  The picture below is replacing another picture I normally have over the mantle.

And here's the room I like to call our sunroom....

The Christmas quilt on the couch was made by my mom!

I have a basket of Fisher Price Christmas toys for the boys and we get it out each season- they love it!

We also have a wooden nativity set the kids can play with....

And finally, a basket of Christmas books that we only bring out over the holidays....

Here's the area in the hearth room where I keep my computer....

I have some fun little cookie-cutter decorations hanging from the knobs on the cupboards....

I always have these bottles on the counter, but they usually have dried flowers in them....

Our kitchen table is adorned with a red table cloth and the chandelier is covered in garland....

The kitchen jars have been replaced by several Santas.....

Here's the window above the kitchen sink....

As you can see, I like to decorate with a country Christmas theme :D

Hope you enjoyed the tour!


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