Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Free Money from the Government

Although I have not deeply researched why in the world the government is sending us more money, I want to know when I'm getting it... this is a great calculator to estimate how much you'll be getting & below is the link to a chart showing when you might get it.

We'll be spending our money on getting the air conditioning in our van fixed. What will you spend yours on? Vote in my poll on the right.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun Stuff for the Kitchen

I stumbled upon these super sweeeeeet dishtowels at Meijer this month!
Just love them! Almost don't even want to use them!

Present for my Mom's birthday

I found this 'ring holder' at T.J. Maxx on clearance, but it must have had something missing because it just didn't make sense how you could hang rings on it, but it sure worked out for photos of grandkids! My mom loved it & I was so happy it brought a smile to her face. How could it not with such adorable grandkids?!?!?!

Last Minute Ideas get me in trouble, but....

Thankfully I have great friends who come to my rescue in my time of need. When I got an idea about 30 hours before my mom's birthday to have a surprise party - there was no lack of support & enthusiasm about throwing something together. I could not have done it without the support & help & smiles given to me by the ladies in our church ward. Incredible!! Christy was so gracious to let us have the party in her home. She even let me come over at 9:00 the night before & she helped me decorate a few things. It was the only time I could sneak out without my mom suspecting something. She hovered all day long - it was hilarious trying to write e-mails & make phone calls to set things up. All the ladies that came brought a dish to share & everything was so good!! Amy made caramel corn that we all could not stop eating & she made fresh lumpia which my mom flipped over. Alma brought the quiche I so love & Christy's lemon poppyseed cake was delicious!! I was stuffed by the time it was over! Can you believe I have such great women in my life! They will even make birthday cakes for my mom with a last minute request! I love you ladies! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Why do I get offended?

Okay, apparently some of you don't agree with my feeling of offense or don't understand why I get offended at the comments I receive when people find out I have 5 kids. I even had a discussion about it with my dear friend & this is the reply I gave to her in an e-mail. I don't want all of you to agree with me, but I do want you to try your best to see where I am coming from. And I do love discussions, so I couldn't resist following up on this one.

"Okay, so, I go to the store with just the twins & people come over & say, "Oh how cute. How precious," blah, blah, blah & it's no big deal, but then they ask if they're my only ones & then I say, No & then it's almost automatic with some people that they say, "You look great to have 5 kids." Well, why didn't I look great to have twins, why did it change when they heard I had 5 kids? Why do I have to be judged on how I look based on how many kids I have? So the lady down the aisle from me that is dressed up in heels with her nails done & her hair so freshly clean & shiny, she couldn't possibly have 5 kids, right? She just doesn't have the look? But, me, I look great......for having 5 kids. This clearly shows that there is a stereotype or a certain image of how a woman with several kids should look & I feel it offensive that they have to say something like that to me because I have more than just a couple of kids. See, it's so hard for me to explain because I think it's so easy to see how it's offensive. I just don't know how to explain it any better. These people don't choose to say this because I only have twins, it only comes after they hear how many kids I have. They think they're giving me a compliment, but really they aren't. If they had said it over just the twins, maybe I wouldn't be so offended, but they don't. It's only after I blurt out that they're not my only kids. And when I just have the older 3, they say, "Oh, you have your hands full," not "Oh, you have your hands full, but I love the smile on your face. It looks like you're having so much fun!" It's negative, you can see it in the way they say it, in the face they make. Guess you'd have to experience it just as I do to understand. Because I haven't done anything to make myself look any better or put any more effort into taking care of myself since I've had 5 kids. I would do the same, look the same & act the same even if I had just one child. So, the comment I think is totally unnecessary & it is offensive to me. I'm not rude to them, I ALWAYS smile & say thank you & I don't get complain about it all the way home. I just let it go & forget about it. But, just once I needed to vent about it, so that I can stand it the next 30 times someone tells me the same thing. Because to me this is what I hear, "To have 5 kids you look great, but if you only had 1, well, we'd expect you to look better than that." Some mom out there with 5 or more kids, may need to hear this, but I don't like it. And when someone tells me I am blessed for having that many children, I whole heartedly accept that as a compliment, because I do from time to time wonder if that very person telling me this even has any children of their own & I hope that they do because it is a wonderful & magical thing."

So, there you have it. Hopefully you can see why I get offended now
& I could hope to be more positive about in the future, but I know I'll hear it for probably the next 18 years at least, so I might as well get used to it, right? Or I could just give in & not do my hair & makeup everyday, not shower everyday, not give a darn what I wear everyday & leave the shirt on that has the spit up stains on it & then maybe I wouldn't have to hear anything from people at all because they'd feel too sorry for me & just be quiet & look away. Yeah! Maybe that's the answer to all my problems! :) Love you guys for responding! Keep the comments coming!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Our Paris Album

Almost exactly a year ago I was so sick during pregnancy that I could do just about nothing, but when I did get up enough strength to do more than nothing, I planned a mini scrapbook album that would include all the photos from the whirlwind trip we made when Mark came back from his 15 month Iraq deployment. Our trip included Paris, Neuschwanstein Castle, Garmisch & Vienna. I FINALLY got all the Paris photos done and would like to share them with you. Just click the link below to watch a slideshow of the pages I put together. It felt fabulous to finally get back to scrapbooking.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

You Look Great to have 5 kids!

Do you have ANY, I mean, ANY idea how many times I have heard this phrase? First, someone sees the twins, "Oooohhhhh, how precious. Are they your first?" Mark grits his teeth, crosses his fingers that I'll keep quiet & say, "Yes & it's just wonderful." But, I CAN'T! I can't just stand there & lie & say they're my only two because I have earned the right to say I have 5 kids & gosh darnit I'm going to say it LOUD & say it PROUD. The reason he hates that I always have to divulge this information, because he knows what's coming next. The sighs, the gasps! the mouths dropping to the floor & then, "Oh! You look great to have had 5 kids!" or "God Bless You! How do you do it?" or his favorite, "You must really have your hands full."

I've got all kinds of lines up my sleeve for these comments, been doing it ever since I had 3 kids all 3 & under & a deployed husband, but the one I can't seem to let go is the one where they are amazed at how I look after having 5 kids. The next time someone says that I'm just going to have to speak up. I can't let it go any longer. My response: "So, just how am I supposed to look since I have 5 kids? Am I supposed to look haggard & tired & really overweight? Am I supposed to look like I haven't slept in days nor had the time to think about the clothes I was putting on this morning? Am I supposed to have spit up stains on my shirt & food on my face? Am I supposed to look like I haven't showered in days or even considered putting on deodorant? Just what is the image of a mother with 5 kids? Since you know so much, TELL ME! JUST TELL ME HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LOOK?" I'm angry at this point, just livid, and probably yelling which will lead them to see that the changes having 5 kids has made in me are all on the inside, not the out because then they'll think I'm a crazy lady who doesn't get enough sleep or has far too much on her plate with 5 kids, so they'll feel sorry for me & walk away having nothing else to say & they'll whisper & sigh & think, "That poor girl." Yes, girl, not woman, because people still think I'm not a day over 25, which makes the fact that I have 5 kids even more insane. And will I feel any better for having let it out on the next person who says that to me? No, I won't, because even though I have 5 kids & I don't get much sleep & I have a lot on my plate & my hands are full, so is my heart & my life is amazing & I make the time to take care of myself as well as my kids & I am a composed person with manners, so I will say, "Yes, I have 5 kids & I am so blessed. Thank you," and then I will walk away with a smile thinking, 'You did good. You held back. Next, please.'

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guilty Pleasures…Number One


Cellphone vs. Your Scriptures

My dear friend, Sybil, shared this cute little e-mail with me & I just had to pass it along.

I wonder ……….
What would happen if we treated our scriptures like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purse or pocket?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?

The giving it to kids as gifts in particular struck up a memory for me. When any of my Grandma Mary's grandchildren turned 8, she would give us a beautiful white set of scriptures with our name embossed on the front in gold. It was the most wonderful gift & I still have mine to this day! It's a little whiter now than it was yesterday because when I read this e-mail, it prompted me to go get it off the shelf & clean it off. Thank goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I had stopped using those scriptures when I got older because it seemed such a precious gift I didn't want to use it so much it started to wear down. I think the next time I have the opportunity to give my children a special gift, it will be this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Enriching Night

Last night I had the privilege of attending our church's monthly Enrichment night for members of the Relief Society of our church. This was truly an amazing night & very, very enriching to my life. For those of you who do not know what the Relief Society is, let me share something with you directly from the lds.org website.

Throughout the world, sisters in the Relief Society work with priesthood holders to carry out the mission of the Church. They support one another as they:

Increase their testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate themselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on the earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple. Understand their divine destiny and strive for exaltation.

Nine women from our ward were asked to share their thoughts on one line of what we call the Relief Society Declaration. Each of these women are amazing in their own way & I was so lifted up spiritually, mentally, emotionally by each of their shared testimonies. These women were so willing to pour out their hearts & share a piece of their souls with us that I was so incredibly touched. I too was asked to share my thoughts in particular of Line 6: Love Life and Learning & even I learned something from myself by sharing with others.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost:
When you have a major, sometimes life changing decision to make, how do you handle the pressure of that decision all on your own? How do you handle knowing that the choice you make could not only effect you but your entire family, your entire future? I have faced many a daunting decision such as this & after hearing the sister's thoughts last night on this subject, I was reminded how blessed & privileged I am to have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost in my life. Because with his guidance I cannot go wrong in any of these most life changing decisions because I know that I was guided by a spiritual gift given to me by my Heavenly Father to help me along the way. Never forget the Holy Ghost is there to help you.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood:
There were two major points shared about this topic that impressed me; one I did not agree with and one that I did. First it was shared that it is very difficult to find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood in today's society. We are constantly pressured by the world around us to compete with the working woman, make more money for our families & compete with the male race in many, many roles. This I did not agree with. From what I can recall (and these days it's not very far back & it's not very much) I have NEVER felt this way about myself. I have never felt pressured to be anything than what I was born to be & what I later on chose to be. First to be born a Woman & second to become a Mother. I have always felt divinely chosen to help in raising God's children to experience the nobility of being the only being on this Earth that could give birth; that would have such impact on children's lives that it would shape who they are to become as adults; to give of myself so wholeheartedly with no regrets in a position & calling like no other – that of Mother. And as far as finding joy in being a woman.I could go on for days. But, just a tidbit – beauty, curves, hair, makeup, being a wife, being a mother, shopping, shoes, girl talk, flirting, womanly persuasion, just to name a few. I rejoice every day (okay, besides while I'm PMSing & while I'm pregnant or giving birth) that I am a Woman!! The second point that I did agree with: In all the wonderful & magnificent creations God made, he created the Earth & all its splendor, the animals for companionship and for sustaining life on Earth, he created a protector and a provider for his last & great creation, which was Woman. He truly saved the best for last.

Delight in service and good works: In no other organization in the world have I ever been served so much. Have I ever been overpowered with thoughtfulness, service and good works than in the organization of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. This organization embodies such amazing women all over the world who are willing to drop everything to help another sister in need, always smiling, always genuinely caring for that sister's life, for her very soul. It is truly amazing.

Love life and learning:
This was my topic, so I could share quite a bit about how I feel about it, mostly because at this time in my life it is a lesson I have had to learn over and over again. How to take the good with the bad & love them both. I love tears, I love crying because how else could we release so much of the good or bad that we feel? Can you imagine not having that outlet to let someone know how much you care, to let someone know how happy you are, to show your anger or hurt, to show your joy or love? It would be terrible & I joke with my husband when I am just down & out & crying my eyes out that crying really is the safest thing for me to do! Isn't it?? That is why I love our ability to cry. But, just as much I love our ability to laugh. My husband is one of the funniest people I know, one of the main reasons I love him so much, because he can make me laugh at the drop of a hat. Anytime, over anything, even in my worst moods, he can bring a smile to my face & a huge amount of laughter into my life. He too helps me to LOVE LIFE! Some of you may know that I do not have a college degree & some of you may even know that I knowingly & willingly flunked out of my first semester at college, never to return, never to try again. But, what I did do, was learn from my life experiences. I didn't do well. In fact, I lived by myself poorly, to the point where my parents had to use that store of unconditional love they have for me to rescue me from my mistakes & show me the right path again. BUT! In doing this & learning the hard way I gained many lessons I could not have, had I not lived it for myself. In this knowledge I hope to teach my children how to be strong & resourceful, how to choose good over evil & how to better their lives where I did not with my own. I may not be able to teach them algebra or chemistry, but I can teach them about life. And as a sister shared with me afterward, my time of learning is not yet over because even she at the tender age of 51, graduated nursing school & has not yet stopped learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness:
This was my mom's topic to share her thoughts on and even before she got up there, my mind was swarmed with all the lessons she taught me as a young girl about standing for truth and righteousness. As my mother and my friend, she has instilled in me a firm belief in the power of standing strong for what you believe in. I cannot thank her enough for these lessons. I have seen many a friend falter in the fight against evil. I have seen many a friend falter in giving up precious things for things less precious. But, I have also seen many a friend fight for the right. Fight for truth & stand strong in righteousness. My mother has always been an amazing example of standing strong for what she believes in & I am forever grateful to her for passing it along to me.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple:
Understand their divine destiny and strive for exaltation: This was another wonderful topic, shared by my new friend, Christy. I was so impressed with her thoughts on how crucial it was to her life the example her parents set for her in making the temple such an important and constant part of their lives. To the point that she strove as a young girl to be a major part of the temple built in her hometown. She had been shown the wonders of the temple and wanted to know more herself and as she grew to know more she found a desire in her that would hold steadfast to the point where she made her dream come true. Her dream of being sealed in that very temple, to the one man she chose to spend time and all eternity with when that time came. In her sharing this, I was reminded how important is it to me to be that example to my children.

I thank my Heavenly Father for passing along to Joseph Smith the knowledge & authority to create this great Relief Society and for sending me to a family that love His Gospel and taught it to their children so that we too could become a part of this great & marvelous work. And I thank all the sisters last night who took of their time and of their hearts to share with others their testimony of these things we strive for as women and as members of the Relief Society.

If you trusted Romney, trust his advice.

A great deal of people in my circle of family & friends were quite disappointed when Romney dropped out of the race. Later that week I bought a Newsweek magazine that featured an article about John McCain. I had read lots of information about Romney and felt good about his bid for presidency based on the person and politician he was, not merely on the fact he shared the same religious preference as me. So, when my favorite candidate was no longer an option, it was time to start learning about the other candidates. I won't go into what I learned about John McCain or how I feel about him because that could get lengthy & if you are interested, there are plenty of publications out there you can trust in finding your own information about the candidate you might vote for. But, I wanted to share this article I read this morning where Mit Romney shares his advice & opinions on John McCain against Clinton or Obama. And I feel if you trusted Romney before to be president, you can also trust his words, advice, experience & opinions on the candidate we should take a serious look at.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

10 Years Ago, I Said Yes…

To the 20 year old man,

Who bought me a new dress,

And took me to dinner at Juliette's in Memphis,

And asked me that same night to be his wife.

15 Years Ago this April, I fell head over heels…

For a 17 year old boy,

With red hair,

Named Mark Keel,

Who lived in Union City,

Just 15 minutes from my town,

Who broke up with his girlfriend,

Just to ask me to his prom,

And later told me he loved me,

While swinging on the wooden swing in his yard.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Apparently, I’ve been TAGGED!

10 years ago:

  • I was engaged to my high school sweetheart
  • I never ever thought I would have 5 kids – EVER!!
  • I was a lot smarter & my memory sure was more helpful
  • I was skinnier
  • I didn't know the joy of scrapbooking & card making!

5 Things on my To Do List:

  • List Ebay auctions of baby clothes
  • SCRAPBOOK!!!!!
  • Don't forget this month's birthdays
  • Workout
  • Deliver the last of the Girl Scout cookies

5 Snacks I enjoy:

  • Strawberries & whip cream
  • Kettle Corn popcorn
  • A really yummy moist piece of bread with butter on it
  • Candy
  • Tortilla chips with fresh salsa

5 Places I have lived:

  • Tempe, Arizona
  • Fulton, Kentucky
  • Holland, MI
  • Fort Stewart, GA
  • Butzbach, Germany

What would I do if I was suddenly a billionaire:

  • This is a hypothetical question I don't touch. It's just not nice to think about how it would be if I had that much money. I have to try so hard just to be happy with what money we do have!!

5 Jobs I have had:

  • Coldwell Banker Realty receptionist
  • Paralegal
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Hallmark store cashier
  • Real Estate assistant

5 Things you Didn't Know about me:

  • As a child, I wanted to grow up & marry a long haired Indian riding a spotted horse
  • I LOVE Pippi Longstocking!
  • I hate to wear shorts
  • I don't know how to drive stick shift
  • I have been proposed to 4 times

WHEW! That's it. Hope you enjoyed it because it took a lot of thought & brain power.

More self reflection…

"Experience is what you get, when you don't get what you want."

Other little lessons I've learned in my mere 31 years of life….

  1. Apologize properly.
    1. Say 'I'm Sorry'.
    2. Say, 'It was my fault.'
    3. Say, 'What can I do to make it up to you?'
  2. Manners are so very important. If you need to brush up on them, check out an Emily Post book at your local library.
  3. There is nothing more important in this world than your family.
  4. The unexpected always happens when you're least expecting it.
  5. Not everyone thinks exactly the way I do.
  6. Birthdays need to be celebrated every year in some small way.
  7. Laughter really is contagious.
  8. Housework really does wait for you.
  9. Being a mother really is the best job in the world.
  10. You've got to LOVE YOURSELF before you really know what it is to feel love from someone else.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Self Reflection

Just like the new year, springtime brings about a new reason to self reflect. It brings to mind the things I want to accomplish once the weather gets warmer. It brings to mind the happiness I feel at being outside & being with my family. It brings to mind the fun mom I want to be so that when my kids want to throw the Frisbee, jump on the trampoline or play freeze tag, I am there for them to do that. Springtime is like new birth for a lot of things.I heard birds chirping outside my window this morning, that means baby birds will be along soon as well. I killed mosquitoes last night while outside. Not something I want to have stick around, but just part of the process of warmer weather unfortunately. I saw blooms around our yard for flowers that will soon bring big smiles with their colors & beauty. I felt the wind, but a warmer wind, not that bitter wind that accompanies cold winter days. And today, there are already predictions of more snow on the way. The weather is just so crazy these days, how confusing for things such as momma birds readying themselves for babies or blooms that feel the warmth & want to rise to it only to find it will soon be cold again & they can't retreat. I'm sure there's a lot of really good analogies in all of this, but right now, my brain just hurts too much to make this post philosophical, hahaha. But, you get what I mean, right??

Thrift Fever

I have a sickness & it's called 'I can't pay retail'. I just can't. I am addicted to shopping thrift stores, consignment shops & clearance racks. My mom & I went to Target the other day & the only thing I did was walk through the back of the aisles to check out the clearance. It's almost the only reason I go in the store & the mall, oh gosh, I don't even see the first part of the store. I head straight to the back where I can see Clearance boldly displayed & start sifting through the goods. And if there's a good sale, we're talking 75% off or Buy One, Get One Half Off or Buy One, Get One Free, I am one of the first to be there. It pays off & I think it's really rather fun trying to find the best deal that I can & I simply love all the treasures I find at discounted prices. Proof of this came to me this past Sunday when I received several compliments on my outfit & when I started to analyze it, I realized every single bit of it was off a clearance rack or from a thrift shop, so I just had to share. Mark made me pose like a dork because he said he gave it more attitude. I'm surprised I wasn't cracking up in the photo. He's such a goof.

Okay, so the rundown of my outfit...

The shirt: A target find for $1.74. I didn't have a single thing that would go with it until I found

The dress: It is dry clean only unfortunately, BUT I knew this shirt would go great with it & it was part of the Hospice Thrift Shop $5.00 a bag sale, so with the entire bag of stuff I got, I can't even tell you how much this dress was, but way less than even $1.00.

The shoes: Goodwill for $3.00, the suede flower on them is really, really cute.

The belt: Payless Shoes for $3.00. This belt is my new best friend. It actually helps to show that I still do have a waist, even after 5 kids.

The necklace: Goodwill for $0.50.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

We may not be rich, but we can still play fancy

I am a fan of Martha Stewart. I love her crisp ideas & clean look. I love the simplicity of her organization & decor. So, sometimes I try, I try to emulate her look, her ideas, to make myself feel a little more refined, a little more fancy. So, tonight I set the table for breakfast in the morning. I put together a baked French toast dish which I will cook in the morning & the table will already be set for a very fancy meal, even if we are still in our pajamas & slippers, hahaha.