Life is but a puzzle we try to put together…

Piece 1: You Are Here

The new year brings a refreshing new start. It’s like a beautiful blank piece of paper with endless possibilities. For our church that new start comes in the form of a ‘restart.’ We discussed the idea of hitting the ‘restart’ button which included a dialogue about figuring out where you are. It was a pretty vivid visual for me. If I am hiking somewhere and wanna find the top of the mountain I first need look at a map. I need to find where I want to go, where I am and THEN I can determine the best route to take. If I have no idea where I am or cannot find that lovely ‘you are here’ pin then how can I possibly navigate myself to where I want to go? Apply this to your faith journey. If you don’t know where you are how can you find the path? So, we all took this survey asking us various questions to help us take a personal inventory on where we are and help locate ourselves if you will. For me it was like a splash of cold water on my face that was much needed. I was sort of stuck but didn’t realize it. I also didn’t really want to face the fact that I wasn’t opening the Bible enough.

Next came excuses. I never read anymore. As a mom of 8 I am on the go from the minute either a child or my alarm goes of until the kids go to bed. And then some. I have tried to read during the day. Forced myself to sit down at 1pm every day and try to read. Yup, that ended with a nap of sorts which isn’t helpful for anyone in my home. I tried reading before bed, same thing. I decided I needed to change the bucket. Rather than find time to read I found the time to be read to. I opened up the YouTube app on my iphone and searched “dramatic reading of the Bible.” So for the past 4-5 weeks I have been listening to the Bible every day. I just put my phone in my pocket and go about my daily chores listening when I can and pausing when things pop up. I cleaned the kitchen while listening to Genesis, folded laundry to listening to Leviticus, and even listen in the car with the kids. I listen when I can a little each day with no pressure to go faster than I can handle. It’s been interesting to be reminded we are all human, we make mistakes and families are messy-even biblical families. I am enjoying this method of ‘opening’ the Bible daily.

Piece 2: A Word and a Dream

As a mom of little ones I don’t usually get a lot of sleep. Even when I do get a nice bout of sleep it’s usually light sleep and I wake easily. I don’t remember dreams often and sometimes wonder if I even have time for dreams with such little sleep. So when I recently woke up with not memory of a dream, it was VERY vivid and even strange. We were in our van with my husband was driving and the kids in the back. We were navigating road and road filled with twists, turns and crazy construction. At one point I recall looking at my husband thinking “Thank goodness he’s driving because I couldn’t do this!” You see at that moment we were driving straight up a ridiculously steep hill that was filled with construction and we couldn’t see the other side of the slope. I was terrified we wouldn’t make it but he floored and up we went.

I woke up at that moment with the word “Logos” as if it was written on my forehead. At first I thought maybe I was just wrong and it was Legos…after all so many of my boys play Legos. I let it sit for a bit and couldn’t kick Logos. I didn’t know what the word meant and just felt I had to look it up. At that moment the day started and I figured I would look it up later. While in the van with my family I was reminded of the dream and told my husband all about it. He smiled and asked me if I wanted to know what “Logos” means. He said, “it’s Greek for the word.”

Putting the Pieces Together

I am not one to always understand my dreams, I certainly don’t understand all of the Bible but I did feel that this was God’s way of telling me to continue to listen to the Bible and trust in the path is has laid out for me. As a type A control freak letting go isn’t my strong suit but somehow He seems to find subtle ways to remind me to keep on keeping on. It’s was certainly a nice feeling to have a couple pieces put together. 🙂

If you are looking for a nice audio version of The Bible I also like The Story which is available in a variety of places but I have enjoyed it on youtube here: https://youtu.be/MBc9CCi9XGU


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Holiday Gift Ideas

As you may have noticed by my previous post Bitty Birthday Bash I am a big fan of the company Minted. I love that the artists are independent and from all over the globe. I also love that their products are high quality and can be customized! How cool is that?? When the Minted catalog comes in the mail my daughter and I look at it as closely as any other magazine because there is always something new and interesting with so many talented designers.

If you are anything like me you are getting your shopping lists organized and scouring the internet for ideas. What do you get for those family members who have everything? And oh my word, some of those DIY pinterest ideas while cute aren’t for everyone. So if you are in need a gifts for grandparents, Godparents, or your spouse I have a great idea for you-a silhouette art print!

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Seriously, aren’t they the cutest?? They seem to capture something really unique that your standard photo just can’t. I have silhouette prints of my kids on my wall and just love them. I get compliments on them when guests arrive as they are hung by the front door. What a unique and personalized gift for loved ones on your list! It’s as simple as uploading a photo of your child, pet or loved one and let Minted do all of the work.   Screen shot 2015-12-03 at 3.51.15 AM Screen shot 2015-12-02 at 4.52.53 PM There are so many choices too; foil-pressed, letter-pressed, or printed (with a plethora of colors to pick from). And the best part, Minted extended their cyber monday deals so you can get 25% off!   If you are in the mood for deals those extended cyber monday deals also include 20% off their holiday cards. Screen shot 2015-12-02 at 5.17.56 PMScreen shot 2015-12-02 at 5.18.22 PMScreen shot 2015-12-02 at 5.19.42 PM You can customize your card and they have a price point for every budget. Oh, and if that isn’t amazing enough, they do receipt address printing FOR FREE!! Sounds like angels singing right? 😉 As you get your shopping lists together or search Pinterest for what to get your family and friends this holiday season I encourage you to check out Minted’s custom silhouette art prints. I’d love your feedback. Let me me know your thoughts on the silhouette prints, other holiday gift ideas you have or what your get those hard to shop for loved ones.

Happy Holiday Shopping!

Grocery Shopping for a large family

With such a large family it takes a lot of planning and preparation to feed everyone. I never thought I could get behind a meal planning calendar but for budget’s sake it needed to be done. I had the kids sit down with me and plan a 2 week rotating calendar. We do this in the fall for a winter meals and again in the spring for summer meals. If I or the kids decide a particular meal isn’t working we just change it.
I have the menu on a clip board in the pantry to whomever has the kitchen for their chore that month can get out the ingredients and possibly prep. Under the menu I have the recipes for those meals clipped as well.

imageBelow that clipboard hangs another one. This is the special ‘shopping’ clipboard that has a lovely spreadsheet clipped into it. (Yea, there are probably a few post-it’s on there too so I don’t forget to add things) The spreadsheet includes items we typically buy in alphabetical order as well as a separate list of what I call the ‘target’ items (toothpaste, diapers, etc.). I don’t buy all of those things at Target (after all we are talking cheap) but that seems to sum up the contents of the list for our family budgeting purposes. As we run out of things we can simply mark it on the spreadsheet or add it to the bottom. So each month when we go shopping (yes, it’s a monthly trip) I bring along a clipboard with the items needed highlighted in yellow and as they get tossed into the carts (yup, we require at least 2 carts) I can cross them off with a blue marker.

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I am a BIG FAN of Aldi although most folks think we shop at Sam’s Club or Cosco. The reality is those stores are great for some items but the vast majority of the grocery items are cheaper at Aldi and I can get the family in and out quicker because it’s a smaller store. (They carry all but a couple items on my list it’s just that they don’t carry a bunch of different brands of the same product) What works best for us is bringing 2-3 quarters for carts, 6 laundry baskets and a baby carrier. I can do all the shopping on my own if I put the little one on my back and the toddler in a cart and have one of the older kiddos push the second cart. The Kids are great at helping put items in the cart and have gotten accustomed to how this operation works. We discuss our budget with them and how that whole process works in hopes that they will be fiscally responsible adults. They have fun trying to estimate the cost at the register.

We purchase most of our groceries at Aldi, a few at Walmart and Sam’s club. I try to get most ‘Target’ budget items at the Dollar Store or Walmart. I also LOVE the thrift stores. I have a big selection of thrift stores to shop at and love that I can find treasures at a great price and the little ones can always find a toy of $1 or less.

After pushing 2 or 3 full carts out to the suburban the real fun begins ;). Those laundry baskets I referred to early come into play. I load the groceries up into the baskets in a manner which my hubby calls “Tetrus” but really I just put the cold stuff in 2 baskets, heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter stuff on top with one basket reserved for chips, breads, etc. This process can be a quick one depending upon the weather and how the kids are behaving. On one occasion I did have a lady sit and watch me load the whole thing because she said she didn’t believe I could fit it all in. (I kinda enjoyed I proving her wrong .)

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When we get home those baskets then get unloaded one at a time placed in a super cool wagon and wheeled up into the kitchen. To get up into the house through the service door I use a ramp my hubby made for the kids to ride their bikes over but it works just fine for my needs. I can get the whole suburban unloaded fairly quickly this way and the organization helps so I can get the cold stuff put away and take my time getting the rest put away.

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I’d love ideas from other large families. How do you do it? Any tips for me?

Birth Photography

My youngest is 16 months now but I am still catching up on scrapbooking his first year. I have a tone of photos and as I look through them it’s almost overwhelming. I have a few favorites on my phone, ipad, framed, etc. but none of them hold a candle to the ones taken on the day he came into the world. THOSE are the photos I still have on my phone, framed by my bed, and in the nursery. THOSE are the photos I look at almost daily. Birth photos? Daily? Sounds crazy right? Maybe…But I assure you they are ah-mazing! (Here are a few to share via the phenomenal RedBird Hills Photography) When I first heard about the concept of birth photography I was like, “What the heck!?!? Why would I want another person I don’t really know in there watching the crazy, unfiltered me in labor??? Who in their right mind would want to see photos of THAT?” So I did want anyone would do I read up on it and checked out some birth photography websites. I was very impressed by Redbird Hills photography. I read a snippet of a birth story and I looked at photos of 3 strangers bringing their babies into the world and was bawling my eyes out! What she captured with those photos wasn’t just rated G, it was beautiful. I knew right then, I HAD to do this!! As luck would have it I have the bestest hubby in the whole-wide world. He knew I wanted this and despite the cost he booked Redbird Hills. What a guy! She was amazing. She intuitiely knew when to give us privacy but yet was able to capture the whole birth story from laboring to the baby meeting his big sister and brothers. The way we looked at one another, the emotions on our faces when we first saw our baby, seeing the baby so fresh, us bonding and the big kids reactions to the baby-precious memories.

It was also fan-stinkin’-tastic to NOT have to rely on my husband to take photos whilst trying to be there for me through the whole process. He was able to focus on helping me through labor and birth.

I don’t take out the video and watch it but I do look at the birth photos regularly. They remind me of what a miracle birth is, how much love my honey and I have for one another, and how amazing a newborn is. I was skeptical of birth photography when I first learned of it and couldn’t fathom this as a trending thing but I am so glad I checked it out. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was worth every penny. If you are even thinking about it I encourage you to check it out.