Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Misphah and Shen. He named it Ebenezar, saying , "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Hi, checking in. We're all doing great good well we survived another Christmas! hehe. Have family in town until the first and just spending less time on technology, and more time sleeping and talking; I look forward to catching up on blogs, Christmas and the fun!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nightly Kitchen Clean-up

Typical nightly routine around here, Steve and Justin were at karate.
Christmas stuff to come... enjoy.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy Birthday Steve!
Wow can you believe we've been together for the last 16 birthdays you've had? Even crazier, I've known you over the last 21.
It's been fun hasn't it. We've celebrated small, like tonight at Chick-fil-A because it's a fundraiser for the boys upcoming trip! We've celebrated BIG- at the beach house for 8 days...
In the early years I never put our tree up until after this day had past, now it's up and your B-day present is the first one opened near it.
You are an amazing husband. You stepped up to the plate when many others would have turned their back. You put up with my late night talks, early morning rants and well, jut put up with me. You are all I could have asked for in a husband and more, you are my greatest advocate and support; you know what to say when and you show me the love of Christ daily. I am so thankful for you.

You are an incredible father. A kid when you had one you blow me away with your fathering skills. You are not only my best friend but best friends and confidants to our boys. Vaughan itches to spend time with his dad and Justin still runs to the door when you walk in it. You've sat on many a sidelines, in many a karate classes, you've dressed up in costumes because you know it was a good time with your boys, and girl. You faithfully drive a bunch of crazy, crazy kids, and adults, around in a trailer for Halloween every year and you never say a peep when we order pizza to feed a half dozen kids who have somehow made it into your house. You have sacrificed for us and we are grateful.
You are patient and loving, kind and generous. You share. That one took a little but you've learned and we know what a sacrifice it can be at times. You wake up early and humble yourself for your family. You go for Sunday drives and request guitar solos at bedtime. You are not afraid to try something new, and something else new, and then again something else new...
You are one of the best listeners I know and truly a great friend.

Thank you for being you. For being a great example for our boys. For being the only one who can make the dog say "I love you". Thank you for loving the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength. Thank you for those "other" things I thank you for... We love you.
Michelle, Vaughan, Justin and Fluff

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day With the 33oC Girls

This afternoon 2 of the girls from my small group came over to bake cupcakes and cookies. They were hesitant at first, one doesn't consider herself crafty in the kitchen and the other likes to bake but the decorating puzzled her.
We had a good time, here are the pics to prove it!
Decorating our cupcakes (and please check out the string of lights that have gone out on the tree in the background):

What would cookie baking be without these yummy treats?

The three of us hanging our "ornaments" on the tree. Thanks to FC for this great pic idea!
Have I mentioned how much fun these girls are?
Well they are!
Missed you J.F. and O.L.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Raising Independence

One of the hardest parts for me in having teenagers in the independence factor.

I know it's the goal of parenting, at least one of our goals, to raise children who grow to be independent adults, or in an effort not to rush it, young adults.

But it hurts.

If you know me then you know I've been saying for these last few years that childbirth is the easy part. They fool you. Young children are like little bands of rebels I just know it. They plan in the womb through some strange sort of ESP on how they can rule the world one home, one parent, one heart at a time.

So surviving those years is tough, I remember them in crystal clear, blurred vision.
Getting my children to clean up,
sit up,
shape up,
eat good,
get dressed,
play nice,
don't bite,
all those things took every bit out of me on most days; but nothing could have prepared me for hormones and independence.

Oh yes, hormones.

Hormones can take a loving child and in 2 seconds flat turn them into something out of a sci-fi flick. Hormones can cause someone to enter the room and someone different leave it.

What was fine and fun this morning is now stupid and dumb.

Oh yes, in our house hormones have put nice, high quality vocab into my sons brain: stupid and dumb. When bizaro-kid enters the scene he's usually singing his "This is stupid and dumb" theme song.

But that's not what I wanted to write about because hormones can be ignored or looked over, as much as I want to slap the stupid right out of him I find it much more affective to keep my mouth shut and wait for bizaro-kid to leave and the son I birthed to return.

No, what is killing me is independence.

It wasn't all that long ago that children the age of my son were working full-time and preparing to purchase land and build their own home. In studying the Bible we see that the disciples were not much older than mere teenagers and they were found working full-time jobs. So with that said it shouldn't surprise me that my 15-year-old is so independent.

Take for example events in his day/week:
He wakes himself, feeds himself, dresses himself, drives himself to school (with a driver over 21, with a valid FL license sitting in the front passenger seat closest to the driver), completes his homework by himself, on the nights I work I have him prepare dinner, he washes dishes, does his own laundry. He calls his friends and sets up "play dates", he call his grandparents, did I mention he drives? He can walk himself to Wal-mart, the grocery store or fast food place. He applies for jobs, lends a helping hand and puts himself to bed at a decent hour.

When writing these I can't help but think I should be thrilled, reading back over all he does makes me think I should of had more children to maintain this place so i can sit back an eat more bon bons. I am thankful, really I am but each time I'm reminded of his independence a little piece of my heart is torn.

What happened to my baby?

What happened to my little on who would crawl up into my lap and we'd read together for hours. Or where did our park days go and our sandcastles at the beach.

Oh yes, the road to independence.

A good road.

A scary road.

A road he must travel down and I must stand by watching run next to him on the sidewalk, praying fervently the whole time.

See that's the best thing I can do for him. Pray. I can't make decisions for him or put him in the time out chair when he chooses poorly, spankings and early bedtime don't do any good on the road to independence, but prayer does.

So if you think of it today pray for the parents of teenagers you know. Pray as you feel lead but don't for one minute think that this independence their child has makes life easier for them.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sorry You Can't Come on Wednesdays

my group of 11th grade girls!
Wednesdays will never be the same!
I get my girl fix; I so wish you all could meet these
young women...
but then again I'm not ready to share them!
Thanks to the 11th Grade Girls of 33oC- you rock my week and make me smile and talk too much and eat too much and,


Monday, December 08, 2008

Photo to go with last post

This is the life... my own private DJ's and techies... they spoil me... love it!

What's an unexpected benefit of kids for you?

Reason 629

Reason 629 why having a teenager in the house rocks!

They can be your own personal DJ while you cook dinner.

I love it!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Random Pics

Even American cats are spoiled, drinking from the fish bowl...

Changes. Job applications...


Monday, December 01, 2008

He's driving...'s official, at 4:26pm today the state of Florida issued by child a driver's permit.

He then drove me all over town running my errands. To work, the bank, the grocery store, twice. I didn't bother to tell him it was rush hour. I didn't feel nervous, really I didn't, he's good driver.

My driving hours are about to be cut way down.
Keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

15th Birthday

Today my baby turned 15.

Dear Vaughan,

I love you. Today you turned 15, actually it was 24 minutes and 15 years ago that you were born. Wow, I can't believe it's been that long. You have been such a blessing in my life. I feel so privileged to have you for a son and to have spent the majority of your days with you.

It seems like yesterday you were learning to crawl, jumping in your Johnny Jump-up and climbing on everything, jumping off it and yelling, "Watch this Bubba!" I couldn't eat a bit of chocolate without you smelling it from the next room and still look to you when my chocolate stash has been compromised.

When I watch you with your friends I smile. You are a good friend, trustworthy and loyal. Your laughter makes me laugh and brings a sense of joy to my heart. You are the best big brother Justin could ask for, you are patient and loving, kind and generous, at times. You are the hardest worker I know and have helped me in more ways than you can ever imagine.

I've always said God gave you to your father and I to raise us. We were so young and immature when you came into our lives, I'm still in awe that they let us take you home from the hospital. You were so frail and tiny in size but ever so big in heart and life. You took the NICU at Dartmouth by surprise when you began to make noises at 2 months premature and under 24 hours old; you stole my heart the second I saw your face. You have brought more love and joy to our lives than I ever could have imagined, you have in some strange way helped raise us and now look at you, entering your 16th year of life.

Thank you for being you.

I know I'm not always the greatest mom on the planet, I've yelled a few too many times, not given you 100% of me as I should and have lacked in my parenting skills I'm sure; forgive me for that, but know that your Father in heaven never yells and condemns, always give you 100% of Him and doesn't lack any good thing.

As I watched you sleep tonight my heart fluttered with excitement and shuttered with fear. I am so excited to see where your journey will take you and fearful of the bumps that will arise on the way. Part of me wants to go ahead of you, smooth things out, make the path easier, but I know it's the divets that will shape and form you. You will be shaped and formed into a wonderful, godly young man.

Listen to what everyone has to say and love everyone for where they are at. Dance. Eat well and steer away from caffeine. Recycle. Be kind to your brother and put others before yourself. Spend time everyday outside and read. Get plenty of sleep and drink orange juice often. Keep in touch with the people from your youth, the bond you share with them now will help carry you in the future. Smile. Don't take things personally and pause before you speak. Travel. Vote. Accept those who vote/think/believe differently than you, enjoy the freedom the two of you share. Love. Love more than anything else. Love your neighbor, your enemy, your God. Keep your eyes on heaven and your heart devoted to Christ, in the end His Word is all the advice you'll ever need.

I love you my little one and I look forward to doing life with you another day, another year, another 15.
With all my love,

15th party pics...


Big brother Branden.

The gang, the poor van- it's getting old, just look at the roof. It's been through a lot with you guys.

Your independence is growing.

With your Mimi. How lucky you are.

Now we enter the driving years....

BABE Event 2008

I didn't get a chance to write about he BABE Event I attended with about 15 of the girls from 33oC, at the beginning of November. The event was held locally and was not only a neat bonding time with the girls but also a time for them to hear about boys, dating and enjoying themselves and their friends.

BABE stands for Beautiful, Accepted, Blessed, Eternally Significant. Andrea Stephens is the women in charge and her heart for young girls really shines through. Andrea was a New York model and gives straight talk to the girls about make-up, fashion, self-image and boys, yes boys, this years theme was Boyland... some really great stuff! Everything from how differently a boys brain is from a girls brain- some science 101- to what we wear and how it speaks to boys.

Before the event begins there's the popular "beach balls in the audience".

Here is row #1 of our girls...row #2...
The neat thing about the event being local is that it's on a smaller scale and during the break Andrea is accessible. Here some of our girls"cornered" her to ask some more in depth questions about some things she said about boys, Andrea was so real with them and hearing them dig deeper really tugged on my heart.
Here's one of the girls I've known since we moved here 7 years ago with Andrea.
This is Tiffany, one of my 11th grade girls who came with me, Tiffany is a very sweet young lady who after having a high fever at the age of 2 years had to learn to walk and talk all over again. Life is challenging for Tiff but her love for life is something we can all learn from. She's a little immature and "different" for her age but her love of life is timeless. It is such a blessing that I get to have her as part of my life and such a wonderful thing to see her peers reach out and love her for who she is.
Two of our girls clapping together while we had a performance from a Nashville star, Jeni Varnadeau!
I've attended the BABE Event the last two years and both times Sierra Minot spoke. Sierra is the current Miss Florida and her personal stories touched the girls deeply. In a society where so much emphasis is placed on looks and dating it is a breath of fresh air to hear a real life beauty queen share how life without a boy is OK. Working with teenage girls for the past 4 years I see so many who attach their importance to a guy. Sierra shared how being single is a gift, she pulled out different things from a gift box to illustrate her point;
a picture frame and photo to show time with family and friends,
an apple for education,
and her crown represented extra activities, just a few of the gifts singleness can offer.What may seem so obvious to some of us is new news to many of these girls. Sierra truly rocked the house in her time on stage.

I was also excited to hear Sierra share about her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Another taboo in many circles of society today is Christianity and the name of Jesus Christ, Sierra's boldness and openness in this area made me smile. My prayer is that each of the girls who heard her speak would feel the pull Jesus has on their heart and would listen to it.

Our time at the BABE Event 2008 is over but our relationships are continuing on, we plan to meet as a group and watch not only the Miss America pageant on January 24th but also the 4 Fridays before when the reality show of the Miss's is shown on TLC.

Here I am with Sierra, check out her blog and those of you in Florida I encourage you to follow her as she makes her way to the Miss America pageant.
Darn it, I knew I should have worn make-up...
It was another great evening with my girls and also an encouragement to see and hear what the girls learned that they can apply to their lives. It's tough being a young lady in today's society, tough decisions need to be made and for many they don't have anyone saying you are beautiful just as you are, you are wonderfully made, this event does just that.
Thanks Andrea, Sierra and Jeni.
I'm looking forward to next year!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, that is until the next one comes, then that one is my favorite! I like the traditions that come with holidays, getting together and eating lots of yummy food, cooking and cleaning up, laughing and watching movies. The holidays can be bitter-sweet for me as they have morphed over the years. New England walks with hats and my side of the family, western breezes blowing over the plains of Oklahoma at tables with military and friends from afar, southern, sunny days with a combo of Steve's family, my family and friends who seem like family.

No matter where we're at one thing remains the same: Thanksgiving is a vacation taste of what's to come in December. When the boys were in elementary school we took the whole month of December off from home school, now it's more like 2.5 weeks, but long enough to sleep in and relax.
Here are the boys and I jumping for joy on Wednesday morning!

Then of course since are convinced that we're superheroes, we had to strike our Superhero pose.
No matter where we are at Thanksgiving morning has been the same for me over the last 10 years, I wake up and by 9am need to start making the family Spanokopita recipe.

We had such a good time visiting and eating I didn't even think to pull the camera out, when I remembered here are the pics I got. The dinner table: it can seat 25, this year 15.

It was cool enough by Florida standards to have a campfire

Table decor consisted of these turkeys I got from Martha, each feather had a different Thanksgiving trivia question with the answer on the back.

A few weeks back we made these turkeys with the home school group. These are Justin's, with a pomegranate turkey I made from Martha Stewart.My turkeys.We also all wrote on leaves things we were thankful for to hang on our Garland of Gratitude.
Like I said I forgot to pull out the camera, so here are the only pics of my aunt and uncle, cousin and grandmother having dessert.

Luckily I remembered to snap this picture of my brother-in-law and his girlfriend before they headed off, taking Vaughan with them.
My guys...

I can't believe another Thanksgiving has come and gone, I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people who love me in spite of me to surround myself with over these holidays! It's a good time to really reflect on what matters, what needs to stay, what needs to go and when to say no to food!
Happy Thanks

Friday, November 28, 2008

Need help with Curtains

Here's the fabric I waited 5 years to find for my curtains in my living room.

Now I need to figure out how I will hang them? This could take another 5 years. For now they are clothes-pinned up to my matchstick blinds.
I'm thinking of getting some bamboo shoots and haning them somehow on those. My challenge is that I have 2 windows, one is normal size, the other over 10 feet wide!

Accepting suggestions and ideas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We're hosting Thanksgiving this year; expecting 16-20 people with more friends joining later in the day for dessert. Above is picture of Justin making turkey decorations with our home school group this past week. We have had the privilege of gathering with the same group or over 5 years now. This journey is so much more amazing with them.

I am thankful for:
my family, Stephan, Vaughan and Justin, plus the animals: Fluff, Babies, Toby, Gigi and Jimmy, plus all the strays we feed,
extended family, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews
my friends, new and old,
the freedom of being born at this longitude and latitude, the freedom to home school, to vote, express my beliefs and gather to worship where and when I want.

I'm thankful for the music I am listening to,
thankful for forgiveness extended to me for no good reason,
grace given,
mercy received.

I'm thankful that my house will be filled with noise, love and laughter tomorrow. Thankful to gather with family I don't see but once a year and the feeling like we were just together yesterday.

I'm thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ.
Have a great day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Took Me a Long While to Solve It, Wanna Try?

Having homeschooled my oldest son from kindergarten through 8th grade you can imagine what a change it was when he shipped off to public school each and every morning this fall.

Since I still homeschool my youngest and I still am in the local homeschool circles, I find the questions about our decision to be a reoccurring event.

To keep it basic we have always felt as though the boys would go to public high school; just as we felt called to home school, we also felt called to not homeschool high school. It's been our personal decision and we have not regretted it. OK, so I wish he were still home with me every day but I also wish he were still 2 years old and snuggly in my lap.

I thought I post one of the coolest things he's gotten to experience at public school. It comes from the engineering department. The above picture is a puzzle block he designed and then built.

Pretty cool isn't it.

My son's a genius.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Was It Really 2 Weeks Ago?

So here we are,the 40 or so bloggers who gathered together at the Fickle Pickle to met face-to-face. It was somewhat weird, but mostly a bunch of fun! For the most part I think we all had a common thread of reading Heather and or Carlos' blogs. Personally I've expanded my blog world friends and have perhaps picked up a few readers as well.

Of course after I got home I realized we had some good food but no pickles?? What's up with that?


Thursday, November 20, 2008

46 pages left...

*update: I finished it! 90 hours, 498 pages... now the first chapter in book 2 is at the end of this one... review to come soon

I promised myself I'd clean my bathroom today.
I read for 1.5 hours this morning then decided to clean the bathroom and reward myself with lunch and the rest of the book. See previous post.
Good read.
Highly recommend it.
Thinking of the midnight show with Jessica then the 1pm with Erica?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'll be gone most of the week.

I'm trying to read this entire book, all 498 pages, by Friday.
Why Friday?
That's when the movie comes out and I'm going with Erica, who let me borrow her book.
In my small group of 7 11th grade girls every single one of them loves this book and it's series. I mean love it! I've never had anything like this. Usually there's one girl who doesn't fall suit with the others. At the library: over 200 people on the waiting list.
Good thing I hang with book readers. I traded a coke and 2 candy bars for the book.
125 pages a day!

See you Friday or Saturday.
PS Big news from my picky eater, he now eats beef stroganoff AND tried a sweet jalapeno jelly! There's hope Life with Three, hang in there...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Endeavor's Night Launch

Another reason I enjoy living near the east coast beach in Florida, I get to drive 3 miles and watch the space shuttle take off.

Night launches are my favorite. It's a long video, 5 1/2 minutes, but the first 2 1/2 are probably the best. Right before 2 minutes you can see both the shuttle and the almost full moon, shortly after that the shuttle is hard to see although live we could see it and we could see the full tanks (I htik I caleed them boosters in the video) drop. It's at 2 1/2 minutes that we finally hear the sound from take-off.

Enjoy. Only 9 left.


Friday, November 14, 2008


Today is Steve's last day at the glass company, a week and a half before we originally planned, but I'm good- that makes him officially 100% self-employed;
anytime I don't have to cook or make food I'm thrilled, so when I dropped some videos/books off at Amanda's she surprised me with lunch!

What was a surprise you got this week?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Legos Are Hands Down the Best Toy Investment- Ever!

Every time I view the memory card on the camera I can watch a movie. The boys love to create stop animation movies using their Legos. Literally hundreds of pictures fill our card and I thought I'd share a brief moment in movie making history.
This appears to be the end of some sort of meeting with Darth Vader.
Scroll down quickly to get a fell for it.

Thanks for watching...


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