Sunday, December 27, 2009


Okay, now everyone with me, take a deep breath -'s over! :D Christmas festivities came to a close tonight with the celebration in Walnut Grove. It's been a wonderful Christmas season. Quite out of the ordinary, all around. Let me give you a little run down of the last week...
We started out on the 20th with Kelly's folks and brother's group. It was a quiet and peaceful evening. The kids of course opened their presents, and we adults enjoyed watching them play and share together. We usually spend Christmas Eve with the Quinn's, but Tiffany was scheduled for induction on the 23rd. We wanted her to enjoy the night, and not make the kids wait till after the baby got here.
I went to get my nieces, Molly and Emmalea, Tuesday night. They were going to stay with us while Mommy and Daddy went to get the baby from the hospital. ;) It's the first time I've kept Emma Lou, and she did great. She and Caleb are very close, but fight pretty good at times. They both like to be in charge! Mommy delivered HAILEY ANNE QUINN Wednesday evening, and came home late Christmas Eve. We had had a very busy week by this point, and Kelly made the decision that we were staying home for the evening - bypassing the Christmas Eve Service at Evergreen. I was very disappointed, but ended up having a great night with just Kelly and the kids. We had Santa arrive a little earlier this year with our family gift, and we played our new Wii on our new big screen tv all evening! YAY!! We ended the night with the Christmas story from Luke, and tucked the kids in so Santa would be able to bring the rest of their things. I know, lucky ducks, right? Two deliveries from Santa in one night?!? Well, there are perks when HoHo is your uncle! ;D
Christmas morning dawned earlier than it ever had in our children's lives. Kelly and I made the mistake this year of commenting on the fact that our kids always slept in on Christmas morning. We told them we could remember waking our parents up before the sun came up and beg to start opening presents. Well, they thought it sounded great, and they were on our bed at 5 AM!! (Stupid, stupid, stupid Mom and Dad!!) I got up with them and let them open their stockings. We couldn't get Kelly up for that round, so I begged off and went back to bed. They had plenty of new things to play with, and they let me go back to sleep till about 8. We then all got up and had a great time opening and giving gifts.
We did not get to see my extended Craker side this year, only the second time in my entire life that that has happened. I thought I would be sad, and I was - a little. However, the day turned out to be great. My parents and sister Ariel and her clan came out to play the Wii at our house, and it was a lot of fun. We laughed till we hurt! Even Paige and Caleb got in on the action - hysterical!! If you ever need a good laugh, put two toddlers on a Wii balance board and listen to all the adults and kids yell, "Left! Left! No, your other left!!" I should remind you that Paige is 3 and Caleb is 1 - they barely know their body parts, let alone their left from right! LOL!
Yesterday, we celebrated with Kelly's mom's family in Branson. Nearly everyone was in attendance, so it was quite a group. Even my 3 day old niece, HAILEY ANNE, made her debut, making the Hartzell clan number 39! We met Kelly's cousin Stacey's boyfriend Kyle for the first time, and I don't THINK we scared him off...we'll just have to wait and see! :) My M-I-L and her siblings offered to watch all their grandkids so us cousins could go out and have some fun. We went out for a while, but ended up at Matt and Angel's house to play cards and catch up in a quieter environment. It's so fun to see how this group has changed. Some of the cousins weren't even in their teens when I came into the family. Now they are grown men and women with their own lives, starting families and serving our country. I'm so blessed to have this family. We joke, we fight, we love each other fiercely. As Kyle said last night as a newcomer - "You guys are tight." He has no idea, yet!
Mom and Dad/Meemaw and Papa's house was today. Gma and Gpa (my mom's parents) were there, as well as us 3 sisters and our families. All except my beautiful nieces Allison and Madison, who are in Idaho with their Dad. They are always missed. It was a great day, and we started making plans for New Year's Eve - can you believe it's only 4 more days till 2010? I am in amazement at how fast this year has gone.
It's been great, but I'm pooped. I'm ready to join Santa to "settle in for a long winter's nap". Merry Christmas, everyone! May God bless you in the new year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Addition...

So, if all goes well, in about 12 hours or less, I will have a new niece or nephew! Yay! I have my beautiful nieces, Molly and Emmalea, here with us tonight, and I so enjoy them! They are precious girls, and I love having time with them. The six of them are having a great time having a campout in the living room and watching Diego, and jumping on the hide a bed - which, by the way, they aren't supposed to be doing! ;D But, hey, it's a sleepover, right?!?
How many of you had family get togethers that inevitably ended in sleepovers? I know our family had plenty. I'd pretend to fall asleep in my cousin Ryan's room, just hoping Mom would let me stay the night. I think just about every weekend was spent either at our house or theirs. Such great memories, and I want my kids to have those same kinds of memories with all of their cousins. I know I should have them in bed right now, but I am just enjoying their giggles and fun as much as they are!
Their lives are about to turn upside down - in a good way, of course. But nevertheless, it's going to be different. Every new addition changes the dynamic of a family. There are new schedules to manage, new needs to be met, and most of all, a new somebody to love and care for. They are spread farther apart than my first 3 are, and I managed fine. But my heart still goes out to Tiff right now. I know all you moms out there understand what I mean. I wouldn't change any of it now that I can look back on all of it, but it's still such a time of craziness that you sometimes feel like you are losing your mind. There will be times that the girls will feel left out, or pushed aside, and I truly feel that it's my job to give that extra hug, or take that extra trip to McDonald's with them, or have that extra sleepover night. It's a job I'm thrilled to have, because Tiff did it for me. And I know our family is closer for it.
I can't wait to hold the new little one!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No real subject. just need to vent. Sorry for the rant. Don't even bother reading this, it won't make sense to you. Well, maybe one of you will get it, but my apologies to the rest of you. I'm warning you now, to not waste your time, because it is truly nonsensical and just getting my frustrations out so I don't actually let words come out of my mouth that I will regret later...
please disregard all typos and such, because i'm not in the mood. I dont get why I have to - no wait. that is not how I want to start.
I don't know how to be the bigger person. I try. I really do. But every time my featheres get ruffled, I can only sit there for so long befor I start squawking. I know that's not going to make sense to most, but I just don't know how to get this off my chest in a decent way withough bfeeling bad later. I just want to hid in a hole and be an only child or an orphan or both. It's so hard to be a family member in this family sometimes. I feel like I'm so very different from them and they never understand my perspective. that I have to apologize forwho I am, and for who my kids are. Why???? Noone else have to apologize for who they are, or for who their children are. So why are mine picked out like this?/??? I don't feel like I favor my kids over the others. On the contrary, I feel like I look over MANY events so save one from the yelling from his parents.
I under stand my oldest so well. I don't always agree with his behavior, or approve of it. But I see myslef in him. He wantes everything to be fair, he wants to explain/justify his every move and every decision. When sometimes jus a simple apology will make everything better. It usually meands justice and fairness will be ignored, but at least peace would be restored for a (very) short time. I'm the same way. I want every minute detail accounted for, every step of the process noted, then we can get down to business. His "Yes, ma'am, but..." that gets him in trougble even with me me. His desire to explain his side comes across as back talk or disrespect, when I know it's not intended to be. I know this because I was exactly the same way. On the other hand, I know I should tell hime to respect whatever adult is getting on to hime by just aplolgizing, but his tendency to want fairness and justice is so like me, that I find it hard not to listen.
She basically said tonight that mine get away with everything and use hers as the fallguy. That they pick on him and bully him and get away with it. Really? So why does this not come up in other relationships? I don't have any of the people who are with them the MOST say anything remotely like this. And what's worse, when HE backed her up! Was I surprised? NO, not at all. Did it hurt? Heck, yeah, it did. If we could have a moment where he praised or complimented me or any of my kids, I think I would seriously have a heart attack. I flat out said, it didn't matter the situation, I'd be the bad one (or my kids would be) every time in his AND her mind.
I know a lot of the problem is the way we've let our kids play. DH is SUPER into roughousing and wrestling. It almost always ends up in tears. Do I approve? Of course not. Would I rather they play quietly and safely? Definitely. But I'm glad he plays with them at all, so I try not to complain too much. I know the boys get rowdy, and somebody usually ends up hurt. But if it's mine, I tell them to suck it up. If it's somebody else's, I look like the parent with the unruly kids. 9 times out of 10, though, it's one of mine hurt. So what do I do?
I sat them all down tonight at bedtime and talked to them about respect. Respect for adults and respect for your friends. It's not a good quality trait, and not very Christian to look at every situation and think about self-preservation first. About not having to justify yourself all the time and simply apologizing. I hope it sinks in. I am so not looking forward to the 28th now, though. I let her vent and hopefully she feels better. I for one don't. :(

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Couple's weekend

Aaaaaaaaah-mazing! That's all there is to say about it! This was the first time since we've become parents that we've gone away for the weekend. There's only been a few times that either of us have been away from all the kids at once. I think we've only had all four of them gone overnight one time. It was a long awaited getaway, and it didn't disappoint!
I can't tell you how great it was to get away with our best friends and just relax. We got to eat a nice dinner and take our time. We went to see one of my husband's musical icons in concert. We went back to the hotel and visited till 2 in the morning. We had uninterrupted adult time. He held the door open for me. He helped me into my coat. We held hands everywhere we went. It was a real live, genuine date night! I can't get the smile off my face! :D:D:D:D:D:D
We came home to our children who had missed us only a little, but had had a great weekend of their own with their grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousins. I don't think we'll do it again for a long time, but I think that's ok. We cherished our time together, but we cherish our family time, too. I know a lot of people work out of necessity, and others work for the break it gives them from their spouse/kids. And I have no problem with that. To each their own! But I know that for us, having me be able to stay at home and homeschool the kids and having Kelly work the shift he does is truly a blessing. There have been a lot of sacrifices in order to do it, but it's worth them all. It may not be the ideal situation for many families. But I have no doubt that it's an excellent fit for this family.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I was so blessed by my husband this weekend. He let me take off last night around 5:00 for Branson with some ladies to fellowship and go shopping. He was beyond gracious about it. He encouraged me to go, to stay as long as I liked, and to enjoy it thoroughly. Not only did he keep the 3 little ones - Connor slept over at a friend's house - he took all 4 of them to Chuck E Cheese's today. Not his favorite place in the world, I assure you! :D
It may not seem like a big deal to many, or even a big getaway to some of you. But to me it was enough. A time to collect myself, relax, converse with adults, take my time in a store, and just do something for myself. I love my children, and I love staying home with them and homeschooling them. Some people don't think it is necessary for me to do it, to leave my kids in order to appreciate them. ;) Some have even gone so far as trying to make me feel guilty for doing it. But I truly believe days like these make me a better wife and mommy.
I hadn't gone away overnight in over 2 years. I came home to 4 happy children, a not-too-terribly-messy house, and a loving husband that was very glad to see me. There were no tears, no complaints, just a cheerful homecoming and lots of snuggling!
It probably wasn't the best weekend to go. I missed a family gathering, and I have someone very upset over it. I came very close to cancelling my plans to please other people. In fact, I already had it in my mind that I wasn't going. Then in rode Prince Charming. Kelly "put his foot down" and told me I WAS going. He reminded me I needed this little break. That plans were made, and had been made for many weeks. He wasn't about to let me please someone else and give into others' demands and guilt trips as I've done so often in the past. He just wasn't going to allow it.
I love him so very much. Again, it may not seem like a big deal to many, but to me it was enough. Having him on my side, no matter who else is not, or what else is going on, I feel loved and protected. I am such a blessed woman.
Did I mention that he's taking me away next weekend, just the two of us? How lucky can I be? :D

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Christmas time, and I saw snow for a brief moment this afternoon. I always enjoy it more in fuzzy socks and with a mug of hot chocolate in front of the fire looking out the window. My Christmas tree is set to twinkling lights - my favorite setting. What a beautiful life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


You know how some people say their pasts have caught up with them? Or their sins have come to revisit them? How do you put it when someone else's past has come to revisit YOU?

It's true beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are all connected. And whatever I do with my life - the choices I make and the actions I take - affects everyone I love. I know that my responsibility is not only to myself; it's also to my husband, my children, my family and friends. I also know that I have BEEN affected by many choices some family members have made, and that it sucks. I know, not the loveliest way to state the fact, but it is fact nonetheless.

I got home from church last night and my FIL told me I had had a visitor. I instantly tensed. Somehow before he even said it, I knew who had been there. I haven't seen this person in a long time. And from what I've heard from people who have seen this person, he's not who he used to be.

I was not sure whether I was disappointed or relieved that I missed seeing him. I can honestly say that at one time, he was the be-all and end-all for me. My favorite person, my rock. His approval and opinion meant the most to me in the world, and I loved him so very much. But situations, and people's choices that I had no power over, changed that. I was devastated when this person was not a part of my life any longer.

So now he shows up at my home. To see me. I called my sister today to talk to her. I needed her opinion on what to do. I know how to contact him, so do I? Needless to say, she is in the same predicament. He went to see her, too, at her work. She says he needs somebody to talk to and is reaching out for help, but she doesn't want to be that person. She encouraged me to contact him. But I still don't know what I want to do...I don't know if I'm strong enough to be that person for him. I have much more responsibility to other people in my life now, and I know all too well how choices affect even those who aren't directly involved. Most often the innocent.

I want to be the Christian example to this person, and to my children; but is it worth bringing this person in and chancing that something may hurt my kids? I am praying that the Lord will help me decide how to handle the situation and show me what He expects me to do. Again, not the loveliest way to say it, but this sucks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009



Whew! Okay, I'm better now. Sorry, it was a little overboard, but I had to do it. Now to explain my rant.

I went to dinner with my in-laws last night, and I agreed with what Pops had to say regarding this matter. We were talking about how so many kids in their 20's seem to have a sense of entitlement about them that is simply mind boggling. That they don't seem to want to strive for excellence, they just expect to be rewarded for mediocrity. I asked him why he thought that was, and he had many thoughts on the matter. :D

He and Nana both seemed to think a lot of it began when schools and sports started awarding participation trophies and completion certificates. As in, everyone who plays wins. Nobody keeps score. Everyone gets a ribbon for just being there. I was kind of unsure how I felt about it, thinking of my kids being so proud of their trophies/medals from soccer. But then I thought of how hard they worked in the game, and of the kids on their team who didn't put their best foot forward. Who didn't even want to play, but were probably made to. They got the same recognition my kids got. Is that completely fair?

There's a moment in the movie, "The Incredibles" when Helen tells Dash that everyone is special. His response: "That's just another way of saying that no one is." Something to ponder.

I really didn't get deep in the conversation, just dinner talk, nothing big. In fact, I didn't even think about it again until tonight at church. I'm in charge of putting together the kid's Christmas program this year. It was kind of a spur of the moment idea, which is pretty much how our children's pastor operates, Lord love him! :D He asked me if I'd take it on, and of course, I said sure. (Kelly hates this about me, and sometimes, I hate it, too!) Then I looked at a calendar and realized I had 5 weeks to find a program I liked, get it approved and teach it to the kids!! AAAAHHH!!!

Due to the time crunch, I assigned the speaking parts myself without holding auditions. Rian and I prayed about it and came up with some criteria on how I'd choose the kids. They had to be 8 years old; they had to be kids who are there on a consistent basis (meaning practically every Wednesday and Sunday); they had to have a good reputation with all of us who work with the children; and they had to be kids that I knew would be willing to put in the work and have their parents be willing to have them at all the practices. Not really hard criteria, but it did narrow the playing field significantly.

There were 4 parts in the book, but I revamped things to make 6. I wanted to use as many kids as I could. I also decided to make one song a girls ensemble (which I have decided to hold auditions for) to give a few more kids parts. I thought I was doing pretty good - till tonight.

Two of my girlfriends and I were talking about how the practice went tonight, and how cute the speaking parts were. One said I had casted the parts really well. I told her it was funny that when I was listening, I could actually see a couple of the kids being that character. We were laughing about it, and the other friend just kind of looked at me and said, "It sounds like you hand picked the speaking parts. That's not very nice." :( She then went on to say that there was going to be a real problem if her son didn't have SOMETHING to do in the program, that he would just be so upset.

I was pretty preturbed, but tried to handle it in a lighthearted manner. I told her, "Well, I know I'm going to have somebody mad at me before it's all over. It always ends up that way. But I have 5 weeks to get it together, and I did what I had to do to make it work. Besides, they all do have SOMETHING to do in the program - they are in the choir, and that's the most important thing in my opinion!"

She didn't seem to agree, so I just excused myself so I didn't have to discuss it any further. But the conversation I had with Pops and Nana came back to me in a rush. How many of us are setting our kids up for disappointment by making sure everything is always equal? Why should I have to bend over backwards to make sure everyone has a SPECIAL part? Isn't being part of the group, a part of the BODY, the important thing? We all have to work together for Christ, and I'm not always going to get the glory for the things I do. In fact, I SHOULDN'T get ANY of the glory - my Father should.

Why are we telling our kids they should have the best or most important things when we know that life will not always respond in kind? Sometimes there is a clear winner, so you know what that means - there will also be a clear loser. It's not fun, but it's true. It's how we handle the loss that proves our character. Being a team player and learning to share the spotlight are very important qualities that Christians should be striving for. It's fun to be the leader, to be the star sometimes. But it's not the ultimate reward. Christ tells us the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Shouldn't we be using these moments in our children's lives to point them to the cross?

I don't even know if this makes complete sense. All I know is that my kids will not always be the best at everything they try to do. Goodness knows I wasn't. But I don't want them to quit when they don't get what they want. I don't want them to expect to have everything handed to them just because they showed up. Hard work and a good reputation is something worth striving for in this world, and I have no problem rewarding those things.And I thoroughly believe in celebrating one's accomplishments and awarding excellence. So if it upsets some people, so be it. I think Jesus himself had people upset with him a few times, too...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



This school year has held many pleasant surprises and adventures so far. We are really enjoying our Early American History studies with Sonlight, and I'm thrilled to be doing more hands-on activities with the kiddos this year. I've decided to stop worrying about checking all the boxes and start chasing a few rabbit trails. Meaning, if something really piques somebody's interest, why not do a little more with that subject? It's been a great change of pace.

So far, the kids have been the most excited about the Native American crafts I have found for them. A couple craft kits, a few different library craft books, and we've travelled back in time! :) I posted a few pics on my Facebook page, and oh, the comments I received! People thought I'd been overrun by savages - and, I must admit, it looked like it! We've used the internet for a lot of things this year, too. I'm always a little wary about letting the kids look too much up; but with supervision, I've decided it's a most excellent tool. We looked up the buffalo hunt from "Dances With Wolves", which saved me a trip to the video store. I've found all sorts of cool pictures and articles that have related to different topics we've touched upon. All these things have just enhanced the experiences for us this year.

Right now, we are taking a short break from Sonlight and focusing on a unit study about the American Revolution. Day 2 through, and it is going great. We played a Jeapordy-type game to cover questions today and the prize was worth fighting for - Halloween candy! :D Connor and Chloe really stretched their minds and dug deep to answer some questions - Canon even got in on the action! I'm always surprised what these kids are learning, and at the ages they are learning it - and UNDERSTANDING it. I'm pretty certain that I didn't know what a constitutional monarchy was at 6, and I was a pretty sharp kid. But today we discussed George III and Parliament, and Chloe said it sounded like the same way the President and Congress worked together. Yep. Sharper than her momma. ;) One of the many reasons I'm thankful every day for the Lord letting us homeschool.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Life as we know it

Thursday evening, our community lost three Willard teenagers in a car accident, just footsteps away from my driveway. I knew that there had been an accident, Kelly had called to check on us. We were supposed to be heading to soccer practices and ju jit su at about the time of the wreck; but due to the rain, soccer practice had been cancelled. Connor and I were both feeling under the weather, so we had chosen to stay in for the night. I didn't know about the fatalities until later that night.

Their names were Abreana, Brady and Samantha. Two 16 year olds and one 15 year old. Heartbreaking. I didn't know any of them personally, but our church's youth pastor did. Many of our youth were close to them. It brings back memories of when one of my husband's best friends was killed one month before our wedding. It was terrible to lose Derrick, to watch Kaci (his fiance) grieve, and to watch Kelly mourn without being able to comfort him; but my mind cannot even wrap around the pain of losing a child.

Ree Drummond, a fellow blogger whom I just adore, posted that an old friend from her home town had lost a son in an accident Thursday night as well. She was talking about how disconnected she felt, not having seen the boy since he was tiny. She said that her prayers seemed useless, or ineffective, because she didn't even know HOW to pray in these situations. I agree with Ree, that somtimes prayer seems insignificant. But the fact of the matter is, they most definitely are NOT. Our Father feels the pain of these families, of those friends. He is acutely aware how much His children are suffering right now. However, He wants US to reach out to each other in times of need. Even more so, He wants us to reach out to Him. To lift our burdens to Him. That's all we as mortals can do, and it's all that is necessary. The power of prayer will never go unnoticed in the Kingdom.

As I was pulling onto 160 Friday and saw a police car sitting at the wreck site, my mind went in a million directions. Three children took their last breaths within sight of my back door while I was watching Disney Channel with my babies. How earth shaking that thought was. I started crying, and praying for those families. Immediately, I felt the Lord saying, "That's what I want from you, Ammy. Remember them. And pray for My children who are hurting." Without a doubt, I will. There have been friends and family members there every time I've pulled out of my driveway this weekend, leaving flowers, teddy bears and balloons. A small group was huddled in a circle Saturday morning in the ditch, praying. Our community is broken today. But with the Lord's help, and with each other's, we will heal. Rest in peace, Brady, Samantha and Abreana.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I love fall.
The smell of wood smoke,
the sound of crunching leaves
under my feet and the children squealing with delight. The sight of leaves turning color. The feel of the warm sun and the cool breezes. These are moments of bliss to me. And I've soaked up as much as I could this week of the wonderful fall weather we are having.

My girlfriend, Christy, and I took our kids to and apple orchard and a pumpkin patch on Wednesday. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We picked out some apples and got to pick our own pumpkins right from the patch - a first for even me. The hay mazes and all the decorations were a lot of fun. And the chrysanthemums were gorgeous.

Today, Kelly and I took the kids to FarmFest - one of our favorite family days of the year. The kids get to climb all over the farm equipment, get up close and personal with the animals, and bring home all sorts of fun and quirky handouts. (Seriously, what 8-year-old needs a tube of lubricating oil of his very own?? Apparently mine!)

These are the weeks that I live for. These two days weren't outrageous vacations or action-packed adventures. But they were heartwarming, memorable days that I will cherish, and I believe the kids will, too. Sometimes less really is more. Thank you, Lord, for fall.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little Mishap...

Why is it that you think you've taught your children proper behavior and safety tips, and then you realize they either didn't learn it or you didn't really teach it??

Canon decided to put scissors in his mouth tonight at church and cut his lip open. EEWWW!!! I don't do well with blood, and when they brought him to me there was a LOT of blood! I had to sit down and set him on my lap so I wouldn't retch. I was still nauseous, but better so I could hold him and the...bloody napkin. Ick, I don't even like to type about it!! :(

I know we have talked about it before, but sometimes you just assume they know things that maybe they don't. Some of the kids were coming up to see what happened. The older kids were asking him why he'd do that, saying "That wasn't very smart!"

Canon looked at me and said, "I'm smart, Mommy. I just don't always make smart choices." :O Think maybe he's heard that somewhere before?! LOL!!

Anyway, my dear friend Dr. Jason was there and checked him out. All was well, just said to apply pressure - no stitches needed, yay! The man is a lifesaver, don't know what I'd do without him! So after the color came back in my face and the bleeding had slowed down, I packed my kids up and headed home.

Just a little tip: tomorrow, just in case you've forgotten to do it, remind your kids not to chew on scissors - even safety scissors!!! :D

Saturday, September 19, 2009


One of my cousins is having a hard time right now. She just lost an uncle, and she got to reminiscing about how much easier childhood was than adulthood. I agree, it was easier. But I refuse to believe it was better. In fact, there are a lot of things in my childhood that I would just as rather forget - it was not always even easy. But nevertheless, I love my family and have wonderful memories growing up with a bevy of ornery, fun loving cousins. Here are just a few that came to me while reading her last blog post.

Playing on the haybales in the field across from my Aunt Trudi's house. The spinning top at Grandma and Grandpas that had drawings of ten little Indians on it. Playing in my Aunt Trudi's makeup drawer (my mom never had as much makeup as Aunt Trudi!). Laughing at my Uncle Jim when he got out of the shower, before he'd combed his hair in place!!! Being the littlest and getting away with a lot. Being included in games like Ghosts in the Graveyard without aunts and uncles forcing the big cousins to let me play. My cousin Kelly carrying me anywhere I wanted to go, at the drop of a hat, probably up to the time I was 10 or 11. My cousin Missy combing my hair - for hours, it seemed. Dancing in the living rooms at either of our houses. Watching horse races and building card houses with my Grandpa.

I know for some that it's hard to grow up, but I love my life now. I was blessed to have lots of family get togethers in my childhood, and I greatly miss having these people in my adult life on a regular basis. In fact, I always felt like I had 4 sisters and a brother growing up, but maybe I'm the only one who feels that way. I feel like I tried so hard to preserve some of these relationships and include some people in my adult life for so long, and nobody else was interested. Now, after accepting the fact that we have separate adult lives, I get people upset with me for not including them in things.

I've come to realize I can't make everybody happy. I took me the first 18 years of my life to accept that fact, and I often still have relapses of trying to please everyone. I love reminiscing and sharing fun stories. But I wouldn't go back. No, not even if I could. I am in the best season of my life, as far as I'm concerned. I have an incredible husband who loves me and our children fiercely. I have four wonderful kids that are true gifts from my Heavenly Father. I have surrounded myself with friends who love the Lord and love me. I'm happy to be where I am. I can be thankful of my past without despair because I have hope in the future.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Eight years and 24 hours ago, I way sitting up in bed nursing my 4-day-old infant. For some odd reason, Kelly had gotten up and turned the tv on in our bedroom before heading out to the living room. He was off for the week to settle our new little one into our family and home. I wasn't paying much attention. It was on the Today Show, I think, not exactly sure. I was just sitting there counting toes and fingers and cooing softly when everything in my small, safe little world changed.

There was a lot of commotion and noise coming from the tv. I looked up, curious but not worried, and couldn't believe what I was seeing.


"Yeah, babe?"

"Are you watching this?"

"No, I'm shaving. What is it?"

"I think a plane just hit one of the Twin Towers in New York."

"Whoa!! Really?! That's gonna be a mess. I wonder what happened to the pilot?" As we sat there watching the coverage and surmising a heart attack or seizure, the next plane hit.

I screeched. We immediately knew this was no accident. Kelly ran for the phone to call my then brother-in-law, Jim and sister, Ange, who were military. He dialed and threw the phone at me.

"Ange, what is going on?? Have you been notified yet??"

Still half asleep, she mumbled, "Huh? what are you talking about?"

I told her to turn her tv on, Jim would be getting a call soon, I was sure of it. She did so and started yelling for Jim to get in there and watch with her. We were both crying by now, Connor in my arms and my nieces a thousand miles away snuggled in bed with their mama. While we were on the phone, the base went into lockdown. This was not 10 minutes after the 2nd plane had hit. Jim was in full action mode by this point. She had to get off the phone. I was terrified to sever the connection, not knowing when I'd get to talk to her again.

Ariel arrived pretty soon after. She was coming to help me with Connor, but we decided we had to get out of the house. I had had no intention of leaving my house, having just gotten home from the hospital less than 2 days ago. But I couldn't just sit there, either.

We headed to town. We got off I-44 and traffic was atrocious. We didn't understand the implications of what was going on. Cars were everywhere, 20 deep, in line for fuel. When we got into Wal Mart, people were stockpiling worse than they had for Y2K. I was more scared than ever. Ariel took me home pretty quickly.

It was Casey's birthday. That evening, Phoebe brought his birthday cake over to our house and we sat in my living room eating cake and watching coverage. I was so upset. And scared. And angry.

I just kept looking at Connor. I kept thinking, What have we done? What kind of world have we brought this innocent child into? How will I ever keep him safe?

I have never had such an earthshaking experience in my life. I almost regretted having him. Not because I didn't love him. Exactly the opposite. I loved him so very much that I couldn't bear the thought of him living here in this fallen world where evil seemed to be winning and gaining ground every day. My faith was being tested beyond anything I could imagine.

Every parent will remember those first few weeks of parenthood. The feelings of love, of uncertainty, wondering if you'll be able to do everything - or anything - right, the sleeplessness, and on and on. Now imagine all that on top of all this. Postpartum depression doesn't even begin to describe what I was going through.

Connor had his days and nights mixed up within a few days. I would be up at 2am, 3am, 4:30am. We didn't have cable. But we had TBN! Now, for those of you who know me, don't judge me! I will tell you now that it was a shock to me, but am nonetheless thankful for it. Benny Hinn was on every time I turned that tv on!

And it was not the Benny Hinn that I was familiar with, the one I would have typically turned off. He wasn't jumping around yelling. He wasn't hitting people in the head to heal them, and there weren't dozens wailing in the aisles. He was sitting in a chair and reading the me. He was addressing my fears. He was calming my spirit. I truly believe that my Father was using this man and speaking through him. I was desperate to hear the Lord tell me it was going to be fine. That Connor would be fine. That I would be fine. That America would be fine. I needed that more than anything else, and He did that.

Satan had gotten a foothold in those first few days of turmoil and emotion. But I could feel my faith being renewed as I sat there and reached for my bible. I had let my fears take over, and my faith to take a back seat. I hadn't been seeking answers, really. And I know there were no good answers to be found here on earth. But my Father had the answers. He would heal our land. And He still will.

I trust God with all that I have and with all that I am. I am so very proud of my country. The United States may not be perfect, but it is in fact the greatest nation in the world. I believe that we can raise up a generation of Americans who fear God and honor their country. And remember those who sacrificed for them. I am so thankful for the military and service men and women that I know, and for those that I don't know. Volunteers, medical professionals, military, misssionaries, government officials: I pray for all of them, and I am teaching my children to do so, also.

I want them to always remember. I will always remember.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School days

So week 4 of the school year is officially under way. After a 3 day weekend and a full day of co op, I was terrified that today would be a disaster. Not so - actually, not even close! It was rainy and gray outside, a perfect day to hide under the covers. Well, we did just that. Every book we are in the middle of right now, we took to my bed. Four children, five pillows, six books and one very cramped mama snuggled in and enjoyed some excellent literature. We stayed that way for over an hour. Awesome! We couldn't stay there all day, but it was nice while it lasted. :D

I'm pleased with how the year is going. I will admit, I was pretty anxious about this school year, more so than in the past. I didn't know how I would possibly balance all 3 kids' workloads AND keep a very busy toddler occupied. I didn't see how I could even hope to keep up with housework - not that I've ever been good at that, but still! Amazingly enough, we're doing well. Sure, the floor needs mopped. Yes, there are still a few grumbles and even a few tears every once in a while. But for the most part, we are balancing it all pretty well.

Canon is the one who is shocking me daily. I honestly didn't intend to do a full kindergarten curriculum with him this year. I figured he'd protest having to sit and do deskwork, and I didn't expect him to really be interested in learning to read yet. Boy, am I glad to say he has proved me wrong! He's a machine! Every new thing I introduce him to, he loves. He is excited to learn, and he wants more! He always asks to do another page, even when I told him only one was necessary. The only thing he balks at is coloring - go figure! :D

Chloe and Connor are doing great, too. Connor had a little setback with one of his language arts workbooks (which I didn't realize was listed as a 4th grade workbook - oops!), but we're working through that. One thing I was hoping for this year was for him to set aside a quiet time for bible reading on his own. Let's just say we are still working on it! He's really enjoying math this year, multiplication is going well. He has mastered the 0's, 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's. Pretty good for 3 weeks, I thought. And of course he is dying to have some science projects - I promised I wouldn't put those off like I did last year. ;P

Chloe is just a great student. As long as I can keep her focused, she is wonderful. She would much rather take her notebook and go write songs and poems all day, but she does get down to work when I insist on it. I'm trying hard to encourage the writing she loves to do, but it's so very hard for me not to critique! Her phonetic spelling is just glaring at me when I read her songs, and I'm biting my tongue for all I'm worth so I don't start making corrections immediately. She loves to write, and made me feel bad this summer when she made me promise not to "grade" her poem before she would let me read it! :D

All in all, off to a good start. Keep us in your prayers, and I'll keep you posted! Blessings!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Connor's birthday

Eight years ago tonight, I held my hopes, dreams and future in my very tired arms. But I didn't sleep. Not for hours. I just held my newborn son, Robert Connor Quinn, and felt a peace and joy that I couldn't even imagine 24 hours earlier.

Kelly and I had tried for 3 years to have a baby. When we finally stopped trying and started trusting God's timing, He blessed us with this boy. This amazing, beautiful boy. The firstborn is unlike any other child. Not your favorite, of course not. But there is no feeling like holding your first baby. Watching his first step. Hearing his first words. Seeing his first wide-eyed wonders. It's like holding your heart in your hands.

I can't believe he is 8 today. He is ornery, feisty, sarcastic, challenging. He is also loving, curious, cuddly, sensitive. Growing and changing everyday, and in way too much of a hurry to do so. But he is also desperate to stay a little boy close to Mama's side. I watch him and see some of my best qualities in him. And also some of my worst. I look at him and see his father, and my father. So many amazing things rolled into one irreplaceable child, who I know the Lord has such a special plan for.

Happy birthday, my love, my boy, my firstborn.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Anniversary

We were surrounded by our family and closest friends. People from our former lives as individuals, whom we had invited to witness our future as a couple. God was truly present as we joined our hearts and lives together. I was a girl of 19 about to take on one of the biggest roles one can ever take on. I was becoming a wife.

No one can prepare you for what is to come as two people come together to make a home. We were raised so very differently, and there were a lot of moments when we weren't sure what we'd gotten ourselves into! We both only had siblings of the same gender, so didn't even have that to go by. The first few months were interesting, to say the least!

I've heard tell the first year of a marriage is the hardest, and I can honestly say that for the most part, it was true from our vantage point. We've had some hard things to deal with over the years, but the first year was the biggest struggle. We both had a lot of growing up to do and a lot to learn about one another. But, however hard that first year was, I can still look back at it with love and happiness. We loved our tiny, one room apartment. I loved having friends over to "our" place. I can remember many nights of laughter in that living room! I also remember conversations about what we saw for our future and other memories we made there, like our very first Christmas.

Twelve years doesn't seem like much in the grand scheme of things, I know. But for us, it's a milestone. There was never a doubt in our minds that we'd make it, but we've seen many friends devastated by divorce. We thank God for His protective hand every day, and we ask him to sustain us. We did not only commit to one another, we committed to our Lord. Love is a verb as much as a feeling. You have to work at it. I don't ever want to take it for granted that we'll be married for 70 years and then sit on my laurels expecting it to happen. I want that, more than anything. But as for most things in my life that I've wanted, I'm willing to work hard for it. And so is he.

So here's to our 12th anniversary. I love him more today - crashed on our couch snoring lightly - than I did the night he took my hand and heart and said "I do."

I still do.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Canon Andrew's "Birth"day

I had to run into the Dollar General tonight, and when I got back, my baby's world had totally changed. Ever have a moment like that? You turn around and something totally life altering has occurred under your very nose? Well that's what happened tonight with Canon.

I got back in the truck and Connor said, "Mom, Canon just asked Jesus into his heart."

So calmly. Just like that. As if he said, "Mom, Canon would like a drink of water."

I just turned around and looked at all of them. They all had big, goofy grins on their little faces. I stared blankly for a second and then said the most articulate thing I could think of:


"Yep," Connor proudly said. "I helped him. But, I'm not sure if I did it all right, so you may want to do it with him again - you know, just in case I missed something."
Missed something??? Hmmm, like waiting for Mommy to return from her 2 minute run into the store?? Something like that?? :D
I told Canon to come up and talk to me for a second. I asked what brought this about. He said, "I thought it was a good day to do it."
Well, how do you argue with that logic? Like I even wanted to, really. He's been asking so many questions lately of Kelly and me. Every time he's done asking questions, we've asked him if he wants to ask Jesus into his heart. And every time, he has said "Not today. But someday I will."
Connor may have missed a few points, but he did a pretty darn good job leading his baby brother in his prayer. Just to lay their minds at ease, however, we prayed again, together. Wow.
Have any of you had this experience? To lead your little ones to salvation? It's so amazing. And humbling. There are days when I feel like I'm totally messing this job of mine up. How could the Lord possibly entrust me with these awesome little kiddos? Other days when I think he's testing me beyond my bounds of sanity (J/K, kind of :D). Then there are days like this. A day that alters eternity for one little boy - MY little boy. And I was there to witness it, to take part in it. I can't imagine any moment being more precious. I am so very thankful to my God.
Isaiah 11:6

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Days

Oh, I just love summer. I love to swim. I love to sail. I love to play in the sprinkler. I also love to read a book in my air conditioned home on 95 degree days - who's with me?!?

We have had a great summer. Nothing huge since the South Dakota trip; Chloe's birthday and sleepover, yard sale with mom and my sisters, swimming lessons, VBS and a weekend of camping and sailing for the 4th of July. But it's been a great summer.

We decided to trim down on extras this summer, and just veg. I love that word - veg. Actually, I don't think it's really a word. It definitely doesn't look like a complete word, but oh, well, I love to say it anyway. (And I'm usually a stickler for correct grammar! :P) We've done the summer reading program through our local library. The kids get these great rewards like free corn dogs from Sonic, a free book from CPO, and other awesome deals. It's the simple things they are appreciating this summer, and I'm learning right along with them that simple is good. I'm almost dreading the end of summer when we get into the usual rigamarole of school, co-op, sports and what all else I have the insane desire to cram into our calendar. Kelly is always telling me to cut something out, but am I the only one out there who is afraid of depriving my kids of any and every opportunity available to them?? I will be honest when I say that I feel like I'm under a microscope sometimes; that people who "love" me are inspecting and dissecting everything Kelly and I do for our kids. I don't regret our decision to have me stay at home with the kids and to homeschool them. But I do want to show people that we are why do I sometimes feel like I need someone to throw me a life preserver?

I've been a follower of Jesus since I was very young. He's my comfort, my Rock, my Savior. The lover of my soul, my Living Water. I know He is the only one I need to please. I need to remember these lazy days of summer in a couple of months and remember that it is for HIS glory that I do what I do. It is for HIS approval why I live how I live. And it is for HIS reward that I am working, not this world's.

I haven't decided when we'll start on school this fall. We are already having co-op meetings, and they are getting me excited about the year ahead. But I still have a lot of summer to share with my kiddos, and I intend to soak it up! Do the same with your family. Love!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Grandparents

There is a place I used to go often that is so very important to my family. Our grandparents lived there. My dad was raised there. I have spent countless summers there - Camp Wakonda in Racine, MO. This place is important to many people because of the love and friendships formed there. That is one reason I love it so much. I have also truly felt the Lord's presence by the stream, in the tabernacle, and even in my cabin during bedtime devotions. But what else makes it so special for me is that I feel my Grandma and Grandpa there, too. A piece of our family's history is etched in the soil, hovers in the air so pungent that it's almost tangible. I know how very much it meant to them; and since I was a little girl, it's meant so very much to me because of them.

My cousin April is blessed to have a book of poems of my grandmother's. She sent this to me today and made me reminisce about how I used to spend the summers of my youth. I love to see the perspective of Grandma, observing her husband and all he did in the place he loved so much.








This poems makes me smile. I can see Grandpa taking over the archery class ~ hear him telling the little boy to "be good", helping a homesick little girl.... can't you? *sigh* i do miss them. thought you would enjoy. love ya.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hollywood - GRRR!!!

Okay, so one of the biggest things my kiddos have been looking forward to all summer - aside from our vacation to SD, swimming lessons and VBS - is going to see the new Transformers movie. I admit, I really liked the first one and have looked forward to this sequel nearly as much as they have. Well, now some of our friends have seen it, and I checked Focus on the Family's review, and I'm having second thoughts on taking them.
Why does Hollywood do this to us? The kids see advertisements of the safe parts all summer long. The toys are literally clogging the local Wal Mart aisles. But now, come to find out, they shouldn't have gotten away with the PG-13 rating - it should have been more like R! Sexual content abounding, violence (but I expected that) and cursing seem second nature to these characters. Why do they take a child's play thing and warp it into this?? Don't they understand that a family can enjoy a movie without seeing college kids have sex? Yes, even appreciate it NOT being in a FAMILY movie?? Hollywood, GRRRR!!!!!
I am very upset about this. Connor has talked nonstop about seeing Transformers. I want to make the right decision, but am afraid I'll be "outranked" by Daddy - who, btw, has been excited to see it, as well.
How are we supposed to protect our children when we innocently step foot into a theater expecting a family movie and get this garbage? Do we walk out? But what's the point? Hollywood already has our money, thus believe that their movie is well done and well liked. They get our money, then think that's their go ahead to make more trash and file it under family movie. It's infuriating to me.
Think back to the last few years. How many movies have you gone to see with or rented for your kids? Now how many of those slipped in a shock factor moment? I honestly can't think of any movies who haven't snuck in adult content into a family film except for The Chronicles of Narnia. And if I had to sit down and dissect it, I'd probably find something there, too. After all, we know Disney is not what it used to be.
I still don't know what I'll do about this. Like I said, I get outranked by Daddy sometimes. But I don't see why Hollywood should keep getting away with this. It's we who are responsible for our children's minds. God entrusts us to protect them and preserve their innocence. So why do we keep giving in? I don't know. I know I do all too often, and then regret it later. And this time I'll be doing it with my eyes wide open.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Technology, Schmechnology!!

Okay, so I love it when irony is combined with comedy. You know, like when a mother of a teenager is complaining about the child's driving skills and immediately rear ends someone! Or when somebody says she is irritated with her phone and wishes it would break so she could get a new one - and then someone steps on it!! (Both happened this week, by the way, but I won't tell on Dakotah's mommy! :D) The latter event happened to me.
I was lucky to have two people offer me phones so I wouldn't have to buy a brand new one - granted, Ariel wanted to SELL me hers, not give it to her in-need little sister! But, lo and behold, when I went to Radio Shack today, I was eligible for a free phone with a new contract! Since I have no intention of leaving my server, I figured, "What the hey!" and got a new Palm Centro! I was so excited. It has a keyboard and all sorts of neat little do-hickeys that I don't even know how to work! Fun Fun!!
Then I got it home and realized, this thing has SO MANY do-hickeys that I don't even know how to work! Not so fun fun anymore...
DO you know what a phone is for anymore?? Well, apparantly everything except scrubbing your toilet! I can get email, IMs, personal date calendar, Facebook, Media Player, Google, Telenav, etcetera, etcetera; I don't even know how to find my address book at this point!!
I truly thought about handing it to Connor and telling him to program, but then I'd just be more aggravated with myself when he actually COULD do it. So I figured I'd suffer in silence for a few more days until somebody OF AGE takes pity on me and does it for me. HINT HINT!! :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


If you don't know me well, you need to know how very important my family is to me. I have so many cousins, I don't know if I could name them all. Ok, so I know that I could, if you actually have an hour, but I doubt you really want me to do that. Sooo, anyways, I'm getting off subject (again, if you don't know me well, get used to that, too!). My family. They are uber important to me.
There are a few cousins that I was raised with in almost brother/sister relationships; as in, I was as comfortable in My Aunt Trudi's home as I was in my own (maybe more at times - I'm my Aunt Trudi's favorite, and I got away with a LOT over there :D) So basically, most of my life I felt like I was the youngest of 6, not 3. Missy, Jackie and Ryan played as much a role in forming me into the little terror I was as my sisters, Ange and Ariel, had!
Then there's my cousin April. I just love her. Over the last few years, she's become the yin to my yang - one of my best friends. We share every aspect of our lives with one another, and I never expected that. I am much younger (:D) than all of this group, and I was always the little tag along. But time changes those kinds of things, and the gap is narrowed every year...
April and her oldest daughter, Dakotah, came in for a visit this week. Impromptu, spur of the moment kind of thing, where they called Monday night and asked if we wanted some houseguests. We said bring it on, even the dog - and they did! I was thrilled!
We drove over to Jackie's house this afternoon to visit, and it was so much fun. It doesn't matter how old we get or how much time has gone by, we fall into our conversations as if we'd done it the day before. This was such a great feeling. Basically, because familial relationships have changed and evolved - even struggled - through the years due to circumstances totally out of our control. And I hate that. I mean, REALLY hate that! But today, all the walls were down, for the first time in about 4 years. I felt like I'd been taken back in time, to a happier time. Jackie was just Jackie. April and I were just ourselves. We laughed. We heckled each other. We hugged each other. We just were.

It was amazing.

I want more days like this one.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I can't believe my baby girl is going to be 6 years old in just a few hours. Where does the time go? It breaks my heart in some ways, but I also am so very proud of that child that it makes my head spin. She is intelligent, funny and talented. She is also kind, inquisitive and full of love. Every day is a new adventure to her, and it is such a priviledge to watch her explore and learn about the world around her. I am saddened when I think about how quickly she had to grow up and share me with Canon. She only got to be a baby for 14 months (and 5 of those she was colicky and unbearable!), and that time is hardly even a blip on my radar because I was just trying to survive through that season... I am ever so thankful that God doesn't let children remember those chaotic months of infancy! ;D She is looking forward to her lunch with the family and her sleepover and swim party with friends. I hope it is a memorable day for her - she deserves it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

South Dakota

We just took our first vacation as a family of 6. We drove to South Dakota to go to Kelly's cousin, Ryan's wedding and then do some sightseeing the days after. It was so amazing! God's handiwork never ceases to amaze me, and the handiwork of men was pretty cool, too! We enjoyed visiting the Lewis and Clark Exhibit, Mount Rushmore, Big Thunder Gold Mine, Mammoth Site, and driving through the badlands. The kids had so much fun - I don't think they even realized that they hadn't watched tv or used the internet in 6 days! Kelly and I didn't miss it either!
The trip home was an adventure in itself. We lost a wheel bearing and brakes on our brand new trailer 4 hours into the trip around 11 p.m. Even in that unforeseen event, we saw the protective hand of our Heavenly Father looking out for us. We smelled something burning while stopped for fuel. Kelly checked it out, and he decided we'd stay put for the night. When we got up the next morning, there was a Chevrolet dealership not 50 yards away! The Lord takes care of us, even when it's not how we expect Him to do it!


Hello there! And welcome to my blog. Here I'll show you a glimpse of my abundantly blessed life that I'm honored to share with the love of my life, Kelly; our 4 amazing children - Connor, Chloe, Canon and Caleb; and the lover of my soul, Jesus Christ. There is nothing more important to me than living for my Lord and raising up our children in the way they should go. We love to laugh, play and spend time together more than anything - and there's always room for friends! I am scattered, cluttered, and always in the middle of several projects at once; I wouldn't have it any other way. It's not always smooth sailing, but I guarantee you it is never dull!