Birthday Party x 3

Today, we had our annual 3 girl birthday party for the girls who have birthdays in September and October (Amie, Christine, and AnnaBeth). It was really good. Jeremy’s parents and his brother from St Louis came up yesterday and spent the night. My aunt, uncle, and 2 cousins came today. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, and chicken cooked on the grill with chips and fresh fruit. After a little bit of talking, we got out the desserts… chocolate cheesecake mousse pie (also known as my “Chocolaholic’s No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake“), chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, and some strawberry jello. The pie was the first to go and only one and a half jello servings were eaten. The cupcakes were a hit with my little ones. They liked them. I had chocolate icing with an animal cracker on top. No, I didn’t take pictures. Not a single picture. My camera batteries died and I couldn’t find where I put the extra batteries. We had three others taking pictures sometimes during the day, so I hope I can get some pictures from them. The kids really seemed to enjoy the day. Well, except for when Noelle erupted in big crocodile tears when she realized that she wasn’t getting a present. Also, Jeremy’s parents were able to bring up the kids’ bicycles that we had left down at their house when we moved up here and hadn’t been able to bring up yet. They had wanted to bring the kids’ swing set that is at their house (from the time that we lived there), but weren’t able to. Oh well, it will come up here eventually.

After the party and everyone had left, the pastor’s wife from our church came and took the three girls out for some treat shopping. I relaxed a bit while they were gone and then started some pizzas for dinner.

Now, we are getting the kids into bed. I hope they sleep well tonight because I am totally exhausted. After cleaning and baking yesterday and then doing everything today, I am just ready to rest and have my sore feet rubbed. (hint, hint to my dear husband)

Late Friday Felicities

Sorry, Dana. I was busy baking all day yesterday and hardly on the computer at all.

Here are my good things for this week.

1. Got a lot of desserts done… chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, strawberry jello, and my very own recipe that I call Chocolate Cheesecake mousse pie.

2. Have visitors come last night and talked a while and having more come today.

3. Noelle learned some phonics this week.

4. AnnaBeth is enjoying doing her math workbook.

5. Library cards! Finally got them for here and was able to get books this week.

6. I have a clean house.

The best news this week though was: Emily’s scan showed NO cancer!!!

I hope you all have a good Labor Day weekend and enjoy this next week. Remember that even when it feels like you have had a bad week, if you look for them, you can find the good that God gave you to help you through it all. Hugs and kisses from your children. A nice good piece of chocolate at the right time. A friend’s IM just to say “Hi”

These Last Three Weeks have Been a Huge Whirlwind

First, VBS and the tornado, then we started school here at the house, then Michelle came, and this week Sarah came to visit and Google had their family picnic.

Sarah was here from Monday to yesterday. On Tuesday, we checked out the local library, but I found that I didn’t have everything I needed to get a library card. AnnaBeth just cried to have to leave the library without a book. It was frustrating. On Wednesday, we went to a thrift shop that I’d heard about (I didn’t have any money, but Sarah was looking for somethings.) and I made up my mind that I will go back to that one. It is nicely arranged to be able to find things so much easier than most and the prices are really good. After that was church. I am music leader this Sunday, so I was directing the adult choir. It was a bit rough. Children’s choir was worse though… as I only had my children and when they are the only ones they don’t want to do anything since I practice everything I do with them at home even though I don’t do it with them. I am getting so frustrated. We have a few other kids in the church and their parents have said that they love what I do with the children’s choir and that they plan on bringing their kids, but they never do. For a while, we had three kids (not counting mine) and then two of them stopped coming and now the last kid started some sports thing that practices on Wednesdays, so he’s not able to come. Anyway, back to this week… Yesterday, Sarah left in lots of tears. She is going to Florida for college and won’t see us for a year or more, though she’ll be able to call. We took a train into Chicago and walked and walked and walked until we got to where the Google Family Picnic was being held. We found that we should have gotten off of the train at the previous train station.

The picnic was a ton of fun. We were about 10 minutes early and were the first ones there. All of the kids got blue backpacks and I got a green single strap backpack. The Emcee for the picnic got my kids playing games immediately. Since they were the first ones there, they got two prizes each right away. All the kids who came got a prize for every game they played. AnnaBeth didn’t play any games, so she only got the two prizes from the beginning. She and Noelle had so much fun playing in the bounce houses and on the big inflatable slide. Noelle danced to get a necklace and then played another game with me, so she got a few other things. James and Christine are extremely competitive, so they were in games the whole time, except for the time they let the character artist draw them. Amie joined in many games, but also enjoyed the inflatables with the younger girls. I have to say how proud I was of James. He used to get so upset if he didn’t win or had trouble with a game. Yesterday, I saw him just shrug his shoulders when he didn’t win musical chairs or had trouble catching the water balloons. He was having fun and I was happy to see him have fun and not try to always win. They had a “tattoo” artist there with his stencils and little spray paints. Christine never saw him, but the other kids each got something from him and I got a butterfly on my upper arm. The little girls didn’t want to sit long enough to let the character artist draw them, but the rest of us got those. I’ll have to see if I can get pictures of those. Lunch was delicious. We were there for three hours and none of us got to do everything. I don’t think any of us were able to play the little putt-putt golf they had set up. It was so busy. I did meet a lot of Jeremy’s co-workers and his boss and his boss’s boss. I found that his boss’s wife is pregnant, so I need to make her a rice heating pad. I met the first woman I made one for. She has a baby who is only a few months old and she was telling me how much she enjoyed hers. I got to hold her baby for a little while. That baby girl was so beautiful with her long, long eye lashes, a bit of dark hair, and chubby cheeks. She was tired and put one arm around my neck and nuzzled my neck. She was almost asleep on my shoulder when her mom came back and was talking. Baby heard mommy and just started a little cry, so I handed her back over. Baby had drooled on me and mommy was so apologetic. She didn’t know I had 5 kids and a little drool was nothing. Afterwards, we walked to the closer train station and headed back home for a bit of rest time. The kids didn’t rest too much, but Jeremy and I sure did. After dinner though, the kids got ready for bed and laid down. I didn’t hear a single complaint or argument. I think they were asleep before their heads even hit the pillows. This morning, they didn’t wake up until about 8 am. I usually have at least three of them awake by 7 am and the other two are awake a half hour later.

The next thing planned… A birthday party for the three girls who have birthdays in September and October: AnnaBeth, Christine, and Amie. We are having it on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. We have found that a good time to have a birthday party for them as it usually gives the nearby relatives a chance to come. We will miss having my sister and her family at our party, but they are awaiting the birth of the baby now. My sister’s belly is really low. I don’t think it will be much longer.

In the meantime, I think we’ll just have school and try and get into our school year routine.

One Friend has Left, Another is Coming

I wrote out a whole post yesterday afternoon and then Firefox closed and lost it. As it was time to go to evening church, I had to put off trying to re-write everything.

Michelle arrived on Wednesday night after we got home from church. I let Amie and James stay up a little later than normal as long as they helped me with the last minute cleaning that we had to do. Once she was here, they were sent to bed and I stayed up for a little while to talk.

On Thursday, after school and chores, we walked to McDonalds for lunch. On the way home, we stopped at Walgreens to pick up some school supplies that I had coupons for. After Jeremy went home, Michelle and I went to see “The Dark Knight“. It was my second time, but her first. Since I wasn’t quite as engrossed in all that was going on, I looked into the background to see if I could identify places I’ve been in Chicago. It was fun.

On Friday, after school, chores, and lunch, we went to the Family Christian Bookstore. The kids found some things they would like for their birthdays that are coming up, so I made a mental note of those things. This night, after Jeremy was home and after we’d had dinner, Michelle took me out for a very early birthday present. We went and got manicures and pedicures. I now have pretty dark purple nails on my hands and feet. We also went to Baker’s Square for some yummy french silk pie.

On Saturday, Michelle and I took the kids into Chicago for a lot of the day. First, we went to the Bean in Millennium Park and took a bunch of silly pictures. Then we walked a little bit until we found a McDonalds (was actually looking for something else since we’d had McDs a few days before, but couldn’t find another fast food restaurant.) After lunch, we went back to the park and the kids played in the water. Michelle and I had fun watching them and we just sat, talked, and watched the planes from the air show fly over every once in a while. We let the kids play for about an hour, but wanted them to dry off before we got back on the train, so we left the water part and went over to where they were having the Family Fun Festival. The kids made recycled paper and then put their heads together to design a windmill and test it to see if their design worked. (It did a bit.) Then we built with blocks and tested how well our buildings were made by pulling out blocks down near the foundation. Lastly, the kids went to where the band was playing and danced and danced. Before heading to the train station, we went up to the Chicago River and watched the boats a bit. Then, we got some drinks and the kids ate the snacks that I had packed for them while we rode the train home.

On Sunday, we just had our regular Sunday routine, just with Michelle along with us. She left after lunch. We all had a rest time and then headed back to church for the evening Bible study. Our Pastor is starting a study in Judges, so we went over the authorship, history, and other important details about the book. Next week, we’ll discuss the first chapter. I look forward to this. I really enjoyed our study of Joshua this last year.

Today, the kids and I have concentrated on school and chores. I didn’t do as much laundry while Michelle was here since we weren’t at the house too often, so I have been doing a bit of catch-up in that respect. Sarah will be here sometime soon.

I have pictures up on Flickr.

I love being able to have a place where I can say, “Come on up! We’d love to have you visit.” Oh, and to my readers… “You are always welcome!”

Out of the Duldrums

The clean-up here in the neighborhood really helped me get out of the mood I was in a little bit ago. VBS helped, of course, with the worship of God and the fact that I was doing my favorite thing every night… singing, dancing, and teaching kids songs and dances. The thing that helped me the most was going around and talking to so many different people in the neighborhood and how we all worked together to get the mess cleaned up. It really brightened up my spirit.

This week, I am still doing well. I met the lady who lives at the end of our block. She is 3 doors down from us and has two girls… a 2 yr old and a baby. My kids have already fallen in love with the 2 yr old and love playing with her. I think she loves the attention my big kids give her.

ALSO, my best friend from St Louis is coming up to visit!! Woohoo! She is coming tonight and staying until Sunday. THEN, my best friend from where we lived in mid-Illinois is coming up next week. I’m so excited! You know what? I love having a place where I can tell people that they are welcome to come visit anytime that we are here.

Another thing that is happening next week is Google’s family picnic. It will be nice to meet some of Jeremy’s co-workers and family members.

So, if I don’t post for a while, you know that I am busy. (I have started school up a bit too, so we are getting back into that routine as well.)

Last Week, The Rest of the Week

I hear on the radio that there was a tornado that went through here on Monday night and that’s what caused all the mess. It hit us first and then three towns to the east of us in Indiana. Wow! I was glad that we had not been home at the time. I think it would have really freaked the kids out a bit more. The radio also informed me that Tuesday was going to be the hottest and most humid day so far this summer. I groaned at the thought of that since we had no A/C. When Amie went down to feed the cats, she found about an inch of water flooding our basement and since we had no electricity, the sump pump wasn’t working. The kids and I decide to go for a walk to see the damage around here. As we head out, the guy that lives two houses behind us came out and cut down the one branch that broke on our tree. It was barely hanging onto the tree and he was afraid one of the kids was going to pull on it and it come falling down on top of them. As we walked past his house, we stopped and helped him pull a bunch of branches out of his yard. He had a huge branch fall in his yard and he was cutting smaller branches off and taking them to the curb. We helped him by taking the branches after he cut them off. We took a few pieces home for firewood. Then we turned down past the houses beside us and stopped to pull branches out of another neighbor’s yard. Then we just walked around. We found that there was a car under a tree in one street. You could see the new temporary license plates on the back of the car. I thought how aggravated I’d be to buy a car and then have a tree fall on it before I’d had it a month. We stopped and prayed for that person and then added in everyone affected. It was sobering to walk around and see all the trees and stuff.

After coming home, we checked our food. The ice cream was soft, so the kids had a mid-morning snack. The little girls loved being able to have milk to drink when I usually make them have water between meals. I put a bunch of stuff from the fridge down into the top part of our freezer. (Down because we have the freezer on the bottom.) I couldn’t get everything down there though. I put the little girls into the bath to clean off and get a bit cooled off as well. The electric company came and cut the tree down from the power line next door in the late afternoon. I was able to light our gas stovetop with a lighter and we ate a few things from there for our lunch and dinner before heading to VBS. I sighed as I stepped into the lovely air conditioned church. It felt so wonderful. VBS went so smoothly that night. We talked about Jesus being the Messiah. I enjoyed the song we had for that day. For our Mission Rally at the end, we showed the Mission video from Monday as well as the one from Tuesday. The kids seemed to enjoy the videos.

That night we had another thunderstorm. All I thought was… “Oh great, the ground is already saturated and I hate to see our basement in the morning.”

The kids and I spent the whole morning outside as it seemed cooler out there with the breeze blowing. The storm hadn’t flooded our basement anymore, in fact, most of the water had drained, though the floors were all still very damp. I was able to get four big branches from the tree next door and strip them of smaller twigs and leaves so we can cut them into firewood later. About noon, one of the neighbors yelled out, “Hey Julie!!! We’ve got power!!” The kids started cheering and we went in to close the windows. It was still fairly warm in there, so I came back out for a little longer. The storm the night before had cooled down the temps and there was less humidity outside than in our house. I stayed in the shade most of the day while working on the branches. I enjoyed it. The kids were just happy to have the computer working again and watched a few episodes of “The Sarah Jane Adventures“. We had to fix some meat stuff that had gotten thawed out… about 12 hot dogs and 2 pork steaks. I had to throw a few things away, but not as many as I was afraid of since I’d put a bunch of the stuff into the freezer and the ground beef had stayed mostly frozen, so it kept the freezer cool.

VBS was awesome this day. It was the message of salvation using the ABC method. A = Admit to God you are a sinner (do wrong) and repent of them and ask forgiveness. B = Believe that Jesus is the son of God and that He died on the cross for us. C = Confess in Jesus as your Saviour and Lord. We had two confessions of faith that day. Considering that we are a small church and had only about 3-5 kids per class for 5 classes (except the preschool class, which had about 8 kids everyday), that was a good VBS. The kids loved the song of the day too, except one little boy in the preschool class who took offense at the fact that it started with the hula and he said that was only for girls. It was so cute. He did the rest of the movements, but stood with his arms crossed and a stubborn look during the hula part. The Mission Rally went off without a hitch. Coming home was still a bit frustrating as the humidity in our house was still so high that it made it a bit uncomfortable and hard to sleep.

Things seemed to be getting back to normal in our house. I got most of the stuff that got wet downstairs washed and Amie and Christine worked on cleaning and mopping up downstairs which really helped how it smelled down there. James and I worked on cleaning upstairs. We all got a lot done. I walked down to Walgreens to get bread and chips since we’d eaten almost everything in the house.

VBS was pretty good. The song for this day was my favorite, but the kids didn’t care for it because it was a slow song and they enjoyed the fast songs. I also had Noelle have an accident, so I had to leave one of my classes for a few minutes to take care of her. The teacher for that class just decided to go over the theme song with the kids during that time and then we did our song of the day when we got back. Noelle also left her class twice by telling her teacher that she was going to the bathroom and instead she came running upstairs to me. It made me a bit frustrated, but I got through the day okay. The mission video was about Hawaii and foreign students from Korea, Japan, and China that come for college there. It talked about a woman who served those students and helped them find housing and jobs and all and also shared Christ and the salvation message with them. One of the people who she helped lead to become a Christian talked about her experience and how that now she is trying to figure out how to share her faith with her family. Our Pastor’s wife is from South Korea and she talked about how she had to sneak around to go to church so she wouldn’t be disowned from her family until God gave her the courage to tell her parents. She told how hard it is to be a Christian in those countries. I always enjoy listening to her talk about her experiences in Korea. They are inspiring.

More cleaning and we went to Burger King for lunch. Jeremy worked from home that day. I did a ton of laundry. VBS was a little different today. We didn’t have our regular schedule of going to crafts and snacks and stuff. All the classes met for their lesson and then they came up all together to learn the song of the day. After that, we had the Mission Rally with parents joining us and adding in some experiences that people had during the week and what different people learned. It was an awesome day. You could tell that the teachers learned just as much as the kids did. We gave out the certificates for the classes. At the end, we all went down and had pizza and looked at the crafts that the kids did everyday. We all left exhausted, but with such a spiritual high.

Grocery shopping. We had to buy a lot more than normal because of the power outage. Once we got home, we rested. We were all so tired after the last week.

Woke up and had Amie yell up that the washing machine was flooding the basement and that it was not turning off. ARGH! The basement had finally dried out and I’d gotten the wet stuff washed. The girls had just put a bunch of clothes down there and all got soaked. James splashed through the water and turned off the washer. After church, Jeremy worked with the pipe, but when I turned it on again, it just came pouring out onto the floor. *sigh*

And that was our week. A lot of neighborhood clean-up is still going on around here. It is still not normal around here. The power has flickered a few times, but thankfully not gone completely out for long. I got the washing machine to stop leaking yesterday, but I have to fix it before EVERY load. Since I’m still getting caught up on laundry, I’m doing 4-6 loads a day… blankets, sheets, clothes, towels. Oh, time to go get another load in. I gotta go. I’ll talk to you all later.

First Day of Last Week, Monday

We got to the church at a little after 5:30 for the first day of VBS which started at 6:00. Everything went well. A few of the groups got a little off schedule, but it was okay. The last 20 minutes were for Mission Rally, where all of the groups gathered in the sanctuary together. We sang the Theme song on the way in, had an opening prayer, and had the pledges to the flags and the Bible. Then we did the VBS Motto and Bible verse, sang the song for the day, and had our Mission video for the day. After the video, we had a closing prayer and VBS was done. Well, that’s the way it was supposed to go. On Monday, we got all the way to the Bible verse before the tornado sirens went off. As I was already up there getting ready to lead the kids in the song of the day, I just told them to quietly line up and we’d head downstairs. The kids went downstairs nice and orderly. The younger ones wanted to go into the nursery down there, but there are windows in that room, so we just lined the hallway down there. A few kids started whimpering a bit. Amie was among them as she gets scared with the really strong weather. I just reminded them that Jesus was with us and that He loves us and started a song time. We sang “Jesus Loves Me”, “Zacchieus”, “This Little Light of Mine”, and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. About that time, we were told that the tornado warning had passed, but the thunderstorm was still raging so we let the kids play in the nursery until it settled enough. Parents had joined us downstairs at the beginning. Finally, about 9:15 or so, the storm had settled enough to let the kids go. We got the church all closed up and we left about 9:30.

That was just the beginning of our adventure. As we were driving home, we saw a few branches down here and there at first, but they were bigger and more abundant the closer to home we traveled. Our church is north of the highway and our house is south of the highway (for reference at the moment). As we crossed the bridge over the highway, we came upon quite a sight. The electricity was out and many flashing lights, blue, red, white, and yellow seemed to be everywhere. We saw trees downed all over the roads. A car had accidently driven over one of them and some of the citizens of the community were directing traffic away. We had to take quite a zig zag route home as so many roads were blocked by trees. We finally made it home and saw the tree between our neighbor’s house and the house on the other side of them had fallen. It looked like it had fallen on our neighbor’s house. As Jeremy slowed down to park in our driveway, I jumped out to check on our neighbor. I found that other than having her back door blocked, the tree hadn’t knocked any of her house in or even broken a window and than she was fine. Then I went to the house behind us since I knew that the lady there has back problems and is unable to get out and has two disabled sons living with her. She said they were fine, though one of her sons was extremely irritated that they didn’t have electricity and that his schedule had been interrupted. The guy on the other side of her was hooking her sump pump up to a generator to make sure her basement didn’t flood.

As I headed home, I smelled smoke and found that Jeremy and the kids were downstairs by the fireplace warming up a bit before heading to bed. We were all a bit cold from getting a little wet. After Jeremy told the kids a “Little Ol’ Man” story, we sent them to bed. Jeremy and I sat by the fire for a bit longer while it died down and then we headed to bed as well.

Stay Tuned for More Posts… I plan on telling you the rest of the week tomorrow.

Oh Wow! What a Week!

At the moment, I don’t have time to really post. I have been extremely busy, but circumstances around here have really helped my disposition. I’m feeling so much better now than I was in the post a little while back. I will update you all as soon as possible. In the meantime, pray for our washing machine. Something isn’t working right and we just can’t afford a new one (or even the ones on Craig’s list that are big enough for our family.) We also can’t afford to do our washing at a laundry mat. Can you imagine how much it would be to do enough laundry for 7 people? Yikes!

Tonight is Day 1

The four kids who helped me with the VBS songs in church yesterday did a good job. Christine was nervous because she didn’t feel like she knew the movements very well, but she did fine.

I have my schedule and will be teaching the song of the day to the different classes of kids. There are five different classes of kids, so I’ll be getting my exercise. We have the assembly at the end of VBS, so we’ll do the theme song and the song of the day during that. I bet I’ll be ready to fall into bed every night this week.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, Jeremy has the 7-8th graders. He’s more comfortable with adults, but he’ll do fine with these kids too. He is running the assembly tonight and on Thursday since our Pastor has classes to teach at a Christian college those nights.

Anyway, pray for all of us who are teaching that we may have the knowledge that is needed to teach the children what they require to have a good relationship with Jesus and pray for the students that their hearts will be prepared and open to the messages we have for them each night. I’ll let you all know how it goes.