Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

things I should have blogged about - hunger

It is almost becoming cliche' to say that Thanksgiving and Christmas should be about giving to others.

I believe it when I hear it, but am I really living it?  How many times has, "let's have a small Christmas this year," turned into another huge pile of presents around the tree?

P1040912Prior to Thanksgiving, our church planned to be an assembly site for Kids Against Hunger.  Not only did 400 people sign up to spend their Thanksgiving morning packaging food for hungry people, but our church also sent home samples of the food packs for families to "fast" from our American diets prior to turkey day.

One packet of food provides a nutritious meal for six people and only needs hot water to prepare it.  Before I served it for dinner, I wanted my kids to watch the videos on the Kids Against Hunger website so they could know WHY we were doing this and who the food really goes to.

And for them to peek out of their little American window and see how much of the world has very basic needs that are not met.

They all huddled around my computer to watch, but The Hunter quickly began walking away.  When I told him to get his butt back here come join us please, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I can't Mom.  It is just too sad."

I can't wait to take that boy out into the world someday soon.  I hope my 2006 trip to Russia was just the tip of a big family iceberg.

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The dinner was actually pretty comparable to what is normally served around here.

We liked it, so it wasn't much of a sacrifice to eat it.  But it was a great reminder and discussion starter for our family to think about others who are hungry, cold, or even lonely.

Our church is currently exploring a partnership with an organization working in Africa.  My friend Amy sent me this video of a little glimpse of what is waiting there.

Russia just opened my eyes and my heart.  I want them to stay open and focused on the needs of others.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ta-da!

Money is pretty tight around here (I'm sure pretty much anyone can relate). 

Our 12 year old furniture has taken a beating since our men have entered our family, so I decided to try to update the look of our living room a bit by refinishing our tables.

Thank goodness for my crafty friend Katie, who taught me via text message how this process should be done.  Busy moms have a hard time actually connecting live on the phone!

Before:

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An attempt to show how beat up the coffee table was:

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And after weeks of trial and error work and a big fat mess in the basement:

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Unfortunately, there is a matching armoire that needs to match the new look but I have no idea where I'll find the time!

Monday, November 30, 2009

things I should have blogged about - birthdays

Time flies by in my world surrounded by men. Two of my men had birthdays this fall.P1040766 Our Sauce turned SEVEN in September.

I can't believe that my surprise baby turned SEVEN!!!

This boy. Oh, this boy has a slice of my heart.

He has turned into such a caring and loving person. He has undying enthusiasm for sports and a magnetic smile that just draws people in.

He is so caring and loving with younger kids and babies. Our Sauce loves to snuggle and really loves to wrestle with his dad and brothers.

And that baby that was more difficult than my first, has turned into the easiest kid in my bunch. He has proven to me that kids will just go on changing season after season. I never would have guessed that he would wind up as my dream boy.

To celebrate his seventh birthday, we had a little bowling party. Sauce invited three of his favorite friends, plus his three brothers equals a party!

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Marin and Sauce are pen pals and great friends. I would like to get some legal documents in order for an arranged marriage, but My Beloved says we should let Sauce choose. Hmmm. I'll think about it.

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P1040856Then in October, our Rufus went and turned FIVE on us even though I canceled his birthday and told him he had to stay a four year-old forever.

Luckily, he has Aunt Louie wrapped around his pinkie finger and all he had to do is ask in his sweet little four year-old voice for her to come from Atlanta for his birthday.

Abracadabra. Like magic, Aunt Louie appears.P1040864

This boy has continued to prove tough as nails. He is working so hard to be one of the big boys, but still needs some tender, loving, little boy care.

I sometimes forget that he needs more sleep than his big brothers and allow him to wear himself out beyond repair.

He is one of the funniest kids in the bunch. This boy can recall movie quotes like nobody's business. He can also make up some knee-slappers of his own that have sent us all into fits of laughter.

I look forward to watching his personality blossom and feel truly blessed by having him as my boy.

Another chunk of my heart lives outside my body - gone!

The best part about turning five in our house is that Dad will finally take you hunting. You must be at least five years old to join the hunt.

And chew gum.

Watch out elk. There's another Sweeney out to get you.

Have I mentioned that the boys are taking archery lessons as well?

I might need another freezer in years to come.

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Happy birthdays all around. Now stop growing up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

so thankful

As I get older, I'm finding that I'm actively thankful year round for the charmed and very full life we live.

Thanksgiving just becomes a formal celebration of it all.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and my surrounding men.boys porch sepia

Sunday, November 22, 2009

jack of all trades

And a master of none.

That is going to be the most recent job title on my resume when I go back to work outside the home someday in the future.

In the past week I have:

  • Attempted to refinish our living room furniture via sandpaper and stain.  I solicited vague instructions through texting a friend I wish could come do the project for me I could see more and just dove into it. 
    We hosted Bible study at our house last night an I'm hoping the compliments weren't fake lies blowing smoke up my you-know-what anything but genuine.  I think it will make an improvement to our out of date living room at the very least.
  • Prepared meals, cleaned up messes, taught school and shuttled kids to activities.
  • Refused to accept lower than usual water pressure in our home and after a few days called the local water company to come check on our pipes. 
    After checking the meter at the street, they generously came down to our basement utility room and pointed deep into our disgusting crawl space to our "PRV" or pressure regulating valve. 
    Now, when we first moved in four years ago, I made a public declaration told my Beloved that I would N.E.V.E.R. be venturing into the dark, dirt filled crawl space for any reason under the sun.  Yet, somehow I still found myself crouching down in the dirt praying that dead people wouldn't pop up from the ground with various plumbing tools in one hand and a flashlight in the other to seek out the above-mentioned PRV and remedy our water pressure problem.
    The water guys asked, "Are you the mechanic in the family?"  I looked at my Beloved and laughed as I replied, "We don't have a mechanic in the family!"
  • Prepared meals, cleaned up messes, taught school and shuttled kids to activities.
  • Endured negotiations with Honda an un-named van manufacturer to get my SECOND new transmission installed under warranty after the first new one we paid $3600 for a mere three months ago started malfunctioning.
  • Prepared meals, cleaned up messes, taught school and shuttled kids to activities.
  • Fell behind on my "Mountain of Laundry Saturday Madness" when I took some time to chill with these girls.  It fills me up to connect with these women - and I came home feeling like I had done 1000 sit ups because my gut was sore from laughing so hard.  She may seem all sweet and innocent, but Ashley is the queen of sarcasm and one-liners.  OK, they all are just hilarious and I love them. 
    Beyond humor, they are full of wisdom and encourage me to be a better mother, wife, and friend.  They challenge me and inspire me and I wouldn't be the woman I am without them.
  • Prepared meals, cleaned up messes, taught school and shuttled kids to activities.
  • Endured and gritted my teeth when my Beloved's decision to get all the kids' ski gear out of the basement closets and set up for this season turned into pulling every blasted thing out of each closet, cabinet, and crevice of storage in the basement for "pruning."  Suddenly there was a pile as tall as me and just as wide of, "things to make decisions on." 
    I have no problem clearing out junk and giving away things we don't need, but when he holds up my junior high school yearbook and says, "Do you ever look at this?" I tend to object because although I may not take it out and admire my zitty brace-face, my grandchildren might want to.
    Don't erase my existence, man.
    An answer wasn't necessary when he suggested we put the bouncy seat in the give away pile.  The look on my face made him find a place for it in the back of the storage closet.
  • Prepared meals, cleaned up messes, taught school and shuttled kids to activities.
  • Realized that my stand alone freezer in the garage was not keeping our antelope meat completely frozen.  I procrastinated as much as I could, but then I got the appliance repair service out here to fix it so we didn't waste all that food.

These are just a few things off the top of my head, but I think I'm not alone in feeling like it is a daily challenge to keep all my plates spinning.

Simply keeping the house from looking like a tornado hit it, and making meals and cleaning up the aftermath, as well as getting the kids where they need to go is a lot.  But adding extra projects like furniture staining and water pressure repairs can really throw the balance off.

And imbalance is hard to manage.

Multi-tasking becomes a stay-at-home mom's middle FIRST name.  My days are so full and any extra request for my time, effort, or attention can sometimes be overwhelming.

I wind up feeling like I'm not really good at any one thing.

Can anyone relate?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

she's the best

I live in the mountains in Utah.  I love it here.

We lack some things here: high taxes, rush hour traffic, crooks obscenely corrupt politicians, city lights, and a congested airport to name just a few.

I don't miss any of those.  I grew up in the Chicago area and thought seeing a handful of stars in the sky was a "wow" clear night.

(can you hear me chuckle?)

I didn't pay the bills when I lived by the windy city, but now that I do pay my own way, I compare our property and sales taxes to Illinois residents' and think, "ouch."

We do lack one thing here that I miss, well two things.

Bears and Cubs.

OK, well we have the real thing out here in the Rockies, but I'm talking NFL and MLB.

The other thing I really miss?  Family.

I got an unexpected package in the mail yesterday.  It wasn't for my kids or my hubby - just me.  I saw it was from my sister Amy - I had no idea what she could be sending me.

My birthday was two months ago and Christmas is still almost two months away (thank God, I'm not ready!).

P1040902 This little gem was folded up tightly in a padded envelope with a post-it note on the tag:P1040899

Aren't sisters the best?

I was having a moment of joyful appreciation of my relationship with Amy and went to show my Beloved what she had sent me.  He misunderstood me a bit (what? a man, misunderstanding a woman??) when I was exclaiming how great sisterhood is.

"So, you wish you had a daughter, is that what you're telling me?" he interjected.

"No, but if you're offering, I'll take you up on it," I replied with a smile and
a wink.

He quickly exited the room quietly laughing and shaking his head.

I'll take that as a firm NO.

Monday, November 2, 2009

a year

Today marks a year since the life changing accident that took our friends' baby from this earth.

There hasn't been a day in the past year that I haven't thought about it.

To remember Major in a tangible way, I have watched his tribute video a handful of times. I have thought a lot about the song that was chosen.

It is titled, "After the Last Tear Falls."

I have thought about the fact that there is always a last tear that falls. There will someday be a last tear that Major's family cries for him.

There is sure to come a time when memories of him trigger sweet memories, but enough tears have fallen.

"After the last year that's just too hard, there is love." This year has been just that for our friends and it has been painful to watch.

I have wrestled with the obvious "why" question. Why such a tragic accident? Why to such a great family? Why not someone else?

Why not me?

I don't have complete answers. But I do know this: Major's accident does not change who God is.

And the Bible tells us that He is both loving and sovereign.

These are two characteristics that I struggle to understand how they can co-exist in a situation like this. How could our loving God who has all power and all sovereignty allow this to happen?

Then I remember Jesus. The perfect example of a loving God who loved us so much that He sent His very own son to die an undeserved and brutal death so that we may have eternal life with a holy God.

"The tears that have fallen were caught in the palms of the giver of love and the lover of all."

So, I also remember as Darcy herself told me one day. We have the perspective like ants in an ant hill, and do not see from the viewpoint of the one who stands above looking at a much broader view.

Only, the difference is we are not ants. The One who stands above us created us with a plan for our eternity.

And He loves us with "oceans and oceans of love."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

you would think that by now i would have it all figured out

But I don't.

I took notes on my Blackberry yesterday because I had one ridiculous chaotic incident after another.

Let me start by saying that this house is big on discipline. In fact, my side of the family often refers to our home as "boot camp" and my nieces often get threatened with having to come here for a period of time, "to straighten things out."

Hmmm. I don't know if that is a compliment or not.

Let me just explain myself here. In our defense, discipline is a necessary priority or CHAOS WOULD REIGN!!!

I am going to give you a glimpse of my afternoon yesterday. One afternoon people, not even a full day.

Keep that in mind.

And be warned.

Our morning of school was pretty uneventful, in fact, it went a little smoother than normal because we had a birthday party to look forward to in the afternoon.

And the party involved "scales and tails." Enough said.

To start off the excitement, I sent my men ahead of me to load themselves into the van, only to find an intense argument over a pen and a pad of paper between my two eldest.

It quickly resolved when I offered to just forget the entire outing.

Of course, I had not been out of the house since the invite arrived was not prepared for the party and needed to stop at a toy store to get a present for our sweet little friend.

As we walked into the toy store, the boys instantly gravitated to the costume display and picked out the $30+ costumes that they want for Halloween.

Oh perfect. Let me just load those in the cart for you.

As soon as I tore them away, Rufus went r.u.n.n.i.n.g. down the main isle literally screaming the list of what his brothers should come and look at.

Note to self, we need to work on self control.

Because I couldn't string him up by his toenails I didn't want to continue on this path, I corralled the troops for another set of threats a behavior pow-wow.

Fast forward - we've picked our present and were at the cashier. Mostly, the boys stayed nearby, but as I'm pushing the cart toward the door, I notice Sauce one little man was chewing on something.

After a short deposition, I find out that he FOUND a Skittle on another cashier counter.

And despite the flu season descending down on the human race, he decided to eat it.

Oh yummy.

Next, we drove the 20+ minutes while I hollered from the driver's seat asked the boys to please stop farting the ABC's with their armpits.

And dear Lord, please don't do it at the birthday party.

There was a smack from a hand to an eye and plenty of crying and blaming and not taking responsibility for a bad choice.

Then there was the pleasant discovery that Rufus decided to spend his free time in the van by tearing up paper into miniscule, itty bitty pieces which he did NOT feel the need to confine to a neat pile.

My beloved wonders why my van is such a mess all the time. Hmmmm.

The party was a great time. I think the fact that there was a hired entertainer to show the children snakes, spiders, lizards, and turtles kept my children from thinking they needed to provide the potty talk.

Nothing's cooler than reptiles pooping on themselves.

We dashed through the drive thru for a quick dinner and then went straight to basketball practice for The Hunter and Sauce.

Where I then had to take Rufus and Squirt to the bathroom about 624 times (did I mention I finished potty training?). One trip involved a man-sized poop so big that the industrial strength toilet couldn't flush it down the first time.

I know, TMI. But seriously?

We topped that off by going home for a reunion with Daddy, jammies, stories, and bedtime.

And later checked up on the ruckus coming from from the big boys' bedroom.

Only to find that there was a farting contest going on - and not with the armpits. We promptly opened a window for fear of a random spark and explosion.

So, see. Imagine if we felt discipline was optional.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

an extra set of hands and a lot of extra love

My little Rufus has someone wrapped around his tiny little finger.

My Aunt Mary Lou, who we affectionately call "Aunt Louie" is just magic around little ones.  All it takes for her to visit us from Atlanta is for Rufus to say, "Aunt Wooooie, will you come for my birf-day?"

Abracadabra, ala-kazam, Aunt Louie is here for a weekend visit.

I love it.

In the past, she has been a help by happily tagging along with whatever little men activities we have going on.  She is a great help and so generous to us.

This year, since she arrived in the heart of our fall colors, we brought her on the chairlift and went to the top of Park City Mountain Resort for a little walk.

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Grasshoppers galore were one of the highlights of our mountaintop walk.

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The good news is we have TWO fall birthdays, so she was here last month and will be back next week.

I am We are so excited.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

date night

While my hunters were hunting this fall, I took the opportunity to use some free tickets offered by our community soccer program to take my Sauce on a little date night.

I have been quite neglectful thus far in my parenting career to take time for one-on-one date nights with my boys.  It is definitely something that I've discovered is worth moving up my priority list.

Sauce has been ga-ga about sports from the time he could sit on his own.  His first word was "ball" and he has always been a little star in athletics.  It was a no brainer to take him to youth night at the Salt Lake Real (pronounced "Ray-Al") professional soccer game.

I pawned off the littlest men for the evening and Sauce and I went on our adventure.  I was pretty impressed that although some of his friends from his soccer team were there sitting around us goofing around and really not paying attention to the game, Sauce was captivated.

He watched and cheered as if we were watching the Chicago Bears out on the field.  The visiting opponents were the Chicago Fire soccer team, so I was torn as to who to cheer for.

Before the game:P1040733

All the youth soccer teams go to go out on the field for the National Anthem.  See my sauce in the lower left corner of the big screen???

My soccer star:P1040739

My handsome date:P1040740 

About a week later, Sauce brought up to me that he considered our date one of the best nights of his life.

I'm smitten!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

if nowhere had a middle, this would be it

I have quite a bit of backtracking to do this fall.  I've blogged about homeschooling, but probably neglected to say how worn out and unmotivated I am as a result of it.

My house is a mess and all I want to do at the end of a day is curl up on the couch with my remote control in one hand, a glass of wine in the other, and get affectionate with my DVR.

Needless to say, blogging fell a bit down the priority list, but I do feel quite accomplished that my men have clean undies.

Anyhoo, about a month ago, my in-laws, who have chosen the names "Hunca Munca and Pop Pop" came for a long weekend visit from the great state of Pennsylvania.

For some time now, Hunca Munca has been pushing to go on a certain adventure.

P1040692An adventure digging up rocks.  She has an affinity toward rocks and all sorts of things that live and grow and pretty much just sit in the ground.

We live in the green, treed mountains, but there are portions of our state that are dry, barren desert.

120 miles away, to be exact.

And she wanted to take my men there.

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What's a geode, you ask?  Go here to find out.

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Luckily for me, this wasn't a trip that our little Squirt would enjoy.  So, I got the pleasure of staying home with him for the day (essentially by myself when you consider his nap).

The day, although long, was profitable in terms of geodes.  I think The Hunter counted 148 in their two full buckets that they brought home.

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As an added bonus, they stopped to see an original United States Pony Express station.  Which was also in the middle of nowhere.

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They all came home ten hours later, dirty, exhausted, and full of stories
to tell. 

Now, what to do with the 148 geodes????

Friday, September 25, 2009

have i mentioned it is hunting season?

On the very morning my beloved and I were leaving for our trip to Ireland this past spring, the very first words he said to me when he awoke were:

"I drew a mountain goat tag!"

What?  No, "Darling, I can't wait to go on this once-in-a-lifetime vacation with you!"

His focus was completely on this once-in-a-lifetime tag for a mountain goat that he received an email about late the night before.  You see, Utah has a lottery system for the hunters who would like to hunt some of the more rare big game such as moose, bison, big horn sheep, and mountain goats.

These are true once in a lifetime tags, for each hunter can only pull the tag once.  Unless, say, perhaps, that said hunter puts a wife's son's name in the lottery at a later date!

So, after a successful deer hunt and an intermittent and often revisited 102_1724pursuit of an elk, the day of the big goat hunt arrived and my husband and eldest son were off to the mountain tops where these placid white goats dwell.

And a quick look from me that shouts, "Really?  You're going hunting again?"


My Beloved often reminds me that we are raising men, and not girls.  So, the "man time" that these hunting trips provides just can't be replicated by all the time and attention in the world from Mom.

Exhibit A:

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So these goats were given the first name "mountain" for a reason.  Check out where my men went to find them.

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And at the end of four long days of stalking these herds of billy goats,
TA-DA!!:

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You can see above that my man is elated and looks ten years younger than his age.  His little hunting buddy, however, is exhausted and can't muster a smile.  Only a "number one" for that once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

He wasn't flipping us off.

Anyone have any yummy goat stew recipes out there?  Kenyon will make room of his office wall for this guy in a few months, but he will be in our tummies in just a couple of weeks.

About Me

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Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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