Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Honk if you're going to SOULFEST 2008!!!!!!!

See you there!!!
(I'll be back with many pics!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Polka Dot Girls.

I'm back. I'm back from my weekend away in Boston at the Women of Faith Conference. It really was an amazing time. It was a learning experience in SO many ways.

We had a group of 12 different women. Many different experiences, many different ages, many different personalities, and many different opinions. It was an opportunity to REALLY get to know people that I have actually "known" for a couple of years. I feel as though I learned a lot of new things about these particular ladies that I didn't know before. There is one thing that is for sure though...and something that was obvious before we even left. I was with eleven other women who truly LOVE the Lord.

Our adventure started off at 5:15am on Friday morning when we met and started packing ourselves into the van. Remember I mentioned that it was a learning experience? Here are some of the things that we learned on this trip.

Lesson #1~ A 15 passenger van DOESN'T fit more than 12 women and their luggage. Fortunately, we somehow managed to fit us all in...with Kat our fearless driver. There were some of us (ahem, ahem) who insisted on having a front seat because of motion sickness. It all ended up working out just fine. No barf-o-rama's in the van. The trip TO Boston was quite uneventful..with lots of chatter and laughter. It was a nice time.

Lesson #2~ Although it was a quite lovely group of ladies on this trip we learned quickly (and it was confirmed many times throughout the two days) that this particular group of ladies is directionally challenged. I mean, everyone knows that Boston is quite difficult to navigate...especially in a 15 passenger van. Lots of One Way streets and lack of street signs in general added to our confusion...

We have to give ourselves a bit of slack here, but we had some good laughs as we circled around and around "getting to know the area". haha It was at this point that our many differing opinions came into play. Kat did a wonderful job of taking suggestions without getting frustrated...or at least she was very good at hiding frustration if there was any! With the help of Kirsten's newly purchased Garmin GPS we finally made it to the parking garage. (Although, it was clear that the Garmin had something against Paula...we still haven't figured out just what she did to it to make it so angry at her).

Lesson #3~ We learned that Kat (our fearless driver) has a super-power! What is her super power you might ask? She has the wonderful ability to blow at red lights and turn them green. It worked every time!

Lesson #4~ Parking garages are not designed for large vehicles. Kat did an amazing job squeezing (and I mean squeezing) that van in some of the tightest little spots.

We were able to go to the pre-conference on Friday. We saw three amazing speakers who were extremely insightful and were hilarious at the very same time. It was a great start to the conference. We had fun listening and laughing with Patsy Clairmont, Anita Renfroe (you know, the William Tell Overture for Moms lady) and Jan Silvious. It is amazing to me the experiences and situations that these ladies have all come from. Although each with a different 'story' that many women can relate to...their message was one of God's INFINITE grace, something that EVERYONE can relate to. The lessons learned during this time would be hard for me to put into words.

As we headed back to check into our hotel to get ready for the start of the evening speakers and performers we continued in our learning experience.

We had a few of our prior learned lessons re-affirmed for us. Lesson number 2 and 4 were re-visited when we were trying to find the hotel and when we tried to squeeze into yet another parking garage. And yes, the Garmin still hated Paula at his point. We did, however, learn a few new lessons on our way..

Lesson #5~ I was quickly learning (and surprised by this) that the people of Boston were quite friendly, helpful and generally accepting of the many thousands of Women who have now invaded their city. There are many examples of this throughout our time there...people on the streets, in the subways, at the seemed that wherever we were we were being treated very nicely. I really wasn't expecting that.

Lesson #6~ We learned that it was much easier to pay the Valet guy to park our ginormous vehicle rather than drive circles around Boston and try to squeeze through any more parking garages.

Upon arriving to the Hotel we were able to play a nice, friendly game of Musical Beds. At first glance it appeared that Kirsten, Kat, Marie and I were going to be sharing a room...with one double bed and no room for cots. Fortunately, the other two hotel rooms were much larger so this didn't have to happen. It was a funny thought for a second though.

Lesson #7~Along with learning who gets car sick (ahem, ahem) we also learned who gets claustrophobic (ahem, ahem)...especially in over crowded elevators. It was ok. I got through it.

We ate at Legal Seafoods...we see the commercials for this place during every Celtics game. It really was an awesome place with amazing service and food.

We then had more revisiting of lesson 2 when we tried to get back to the Garden. I don't think I will even go into detail about our experiences getting onto the T...but lets just say we all learned a bit that evening. We did manage to get all 12 of us on and off from the subway quite efficiently...this was after we figured out how to get a ticket...and nobody was left behind or sent to a different location. It worked out although we arrived back at the conference an hour or so late.

Again..amazing conference. We got to see Nicole C. Mullen (who I have seen many times before but continue to LOVE). More amazing speakers and worship.

During the downtime I couldn't help but wander around the Garden thinking about the Celtics..and everything that happened there during this season! The place was pretty wide open so I had some fun looking around at all the cool stuff.

Along with the many other things we learned about each other we also learned these fascinating little tid-bits...

Lesson #8~I now know where a few of the ladies "secret hiding places" are. ha ha ha

Lesson #9~We know who snores, who grinds their teeth...and who sleeps through anything (ahem, ahem).

Lesson #10~We know which ones of us cry when we are overtired.

Lesson #11~We know which ones of us get silly and giddy when we are overtired. I won't name any names...

Lesson #12~We learned who doesn't like their pictures being taken...

Lesson #13~We learned that the photographer (ahem, ahem) is sneaky and made everyone think she was taking a picture of herself in the mirror when in fact I was trying to get a picture of Penny:)

Lesson #14~We learned that Ann has a great sense of humor. She had everyone believing that there was some kind of animal outside the window. I caught everyone's expressions as they figure out that she was kidding.

In the meantime everyone stopped to have a shoe shine in the hotel..

Lesson #15~We quickly found out that Barbara can take us all in arm wrestling. Seriously people. She's STRONG! (I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my side before she even started trying)

Lesson #16~This is a lesson for the men, because I don't think that any of us were surprised that 24 women would be able to jump start a van. Some fellow CBCers (another Calvary Bible Church from Maine) had some van trouble and we were able to be a part of a "God wink" to them. We got them started no problem!

I think we all are in agreement that you can't NOT dance along with Nicole C. Mullen...

..and this was confirmed after Cindy bought the CD and we played it in the van on the way home...

Hands on the wheel Kat!

There were so many things learned throughout these two days. We got to share stories with each other and laugh with each other. Every single speaker had something for everyone..something that everyone could relate to. Even though I am fortunate to not have gone through many of the experiences shared this weekend there was still something to be learned from each and every person/speaker there.

No matter what. Gods INFINITE GRACE will get us through any situation that is brought to us...and this is something that I am reminding myself as I type this with my leg up and a bag of frozen strawberries on my knee. I don't know what happened but as I was walking to get a trash bag to clean out my car in preparation to pack it full of tenting equipment for me and my family at the Soulfest.. I "tweaked" my knee. Its the only way to explain it and its something that has been happening on and off all summer. This time was pretty bad though and I am really really having a hard time walking. I know for sure that it will get always does after a while, but in the meantime I am trying to get laundry done and my house ready to go away for four days.

I start to get stressed about I look around at all there is to do, and I think...I will do what I can, and let God take care of the rest. I know He will and I know I will be just fine. In the meantime, pray for me knee please:) It would be much easier to do what I have to do on a good knee. (Jan...I know you can relate!)

I am excited to head out with this same group of ladies on a follow-up trip that we are having in September. More about this trip to come....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The ring thing.

Ethan was recently asked to be the ring bearer in my BIL's wedding! I honestly thought he would be super excited about it from the beginning...but to my surprise, he was a bit nervous at the idea. We talked about it for a while and I was close to calling Joel to tell him that it might not work. (I definitely wouldn't want him to make a scene at the wedding).

...that was until my super mother powers set in. I can't believe it took me as long as it did but I suddenly remembered my power of bribery and I knew EXACTLY what it would take to bribe him into the situation.


Yes. I talked about Webkinz in this post and the phase is still here. Each kid has a couple of them and they certainly are treasured items. I told Ethan that if he was willing, sweet and happy and cooperative during the wedding that he would be able to pick out any webkin he wants. It was instant happiness.

He starts running around the house proclaiming that if he does "The ring thing" then he will get to pick a webkin. He has his eye on the webkinz tiger snake. We'll see.

The coolest part about Ethan being the Ring Bearer in Joel's wedding is that Joel was the Ring Bearer in our wedding ten years ago! In fact...I just so happen to have some pictures of that. (These are pictures of pictures because I don't have a scanner).

This is Joel and Micah.

I think it will be really neat to have Ethan be in Joel's wedding.

On a side note. The ten day forecast is looking pretty good for Soulfest!! As of right now NO rain at all on Thursday and Friday. Rain at the Soulfest is not fun.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm in an abbreviation mood. Actually, I wasn't aware that there was such thing as an "abbreviation mood" until just now..but then I realized that all of the things I am doing lately tend to become abbreviated.

Starting with VBS. Our church hosted VBS last week. Five nights of Power Lab fun. My kids loved it and have most definitely gone home with some very catchy phrases that have been helping us in every day life...

"Jesus gives us the power to be brave" happens to be one of the most used..probably along side of "Jesus gives us the power to help others". Oh, and don't forget the "AHA!!!!" part at the end. Even Owen has that down! The kids really took to heart the things that they learned that week. It was a wonderful week!

As the week came to an end Jessalyn proclaimed "I wish VBS lasted all summer" which I responded "Ha ha. You should go tell Cindy that". As much as all of the leaders would love to see it last all summer, I'm not sure that anyone in their right might has the endurance for that kind of venture. Jessalyn's second idea was to have a February Vacation Bible School. Not a bad idea really..although I told her that she could go ahead and start planning it. (Funny. Next thing I know she's gonna be hosting a pre-registration or something!)

So anyway. Because of the kids enthusiasm about VBS last week and because a dear friend mentioned the one happening at her church (right down the street) we went ahead and joined another VBS that started this morning at the Baptist Church. Jessalyn and Ethan were right into it..had no problems at all and left having had a wonderful time. Luke was a bit more difficult and had some separation issues. Regardless, it was fun and Jessalyn and Ethan will likely be back tomorrow..and the next day. We are official "VBS Hoppers".

The next abbreviation stands for something that I am starting to get really really excited about. It wasn't something that I signed myself up fact, someone else signed up for me. The Women of Faith Conference is in Boston this weekend..and I get to go!! I am leaving my kids (and husband) for TWO whole days...its gonna be so weird. We leave early early (early early early) Friday morning and will be back on Saturday evening at some point. Apparently, since someone else signed me up, it appears that I need more faith:) (kidding of course)

The fact that I am going to Women of Faith means that I am going to be missing my weekly (next abbreviation) PIMK. "Pulpit in my Kitchen". I can't really describe this and do it justice..but I'll do my best. Pulpit in my Kitchen is a book that was written for wives/mothers. A group of ladies (the mentors) got together and made this into a study for a group of about 10/12 women. Some are married, some have kids, some don't have kids, some aren't married...just a mish mosh off different personalities and situations. Its an amazing group of friends that I look forward to meeting with each week. We are served an incredible lunch, have a study of the book, do different crafty things (sewing, cross There are many aspects to this gathering that I can't explain..its one of those "you have to be there" type deals. This is the second group of this kind that I have had the pleasure to be involved in..the other was called "Apples of Gold". I am sad that this week I will miss our gathering..but I'm afraid I will be having my own kind of fun with a different group of ladies at the WOF Conference.

And last but not least...SF. What is SF?? The SOULFEST of course!!! This is coming up two weekends from now. Its our four day camping trip..with all the kids...watching concerts all day long...SO FUN! We are bringing a group of youth group kids and are camping with Shawn and his youth group. Karen and I have to get together soon and talk food..and then get to BJ's. Karole-Ann...any chance you can get over here early???? We've never done this without you!! Heath and Karole-Ann will be camping with us too so we are just super excited.

In the meantime we've been having a great time enjoying summer. We've had lots of outings with friends. Lots of dinners, movies...bbq's.

This is totally random..but is anyone else watching "Wipeout"? Oh my goodness. We are having a blast watching this show. SO funny.

I figured I couldn't post a post here without I just looked to see what I had for recent pictures and I had to laugh. These were the only two pictures I had on my camera...

This is Aaron. We had dessert the other night..chocolate pound cake (made by Kirsten). Aaron decided that it wasn't quite what he had in he added some hot fudge, coolwhip, and a left over chicken wing...(he's gonna love me for posting these pictures...ha ha ha)

He claims that it was delicious.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

X-Games.... we come!

There is just something about Luke. You can see it in his eyes and his body language. I have this bad feeling that he is going to be one of those "Extreme" gamers, pushing himself to all of the limits. I think this has been apparent since his early days...

This is Luke at not quite nine months old...

Now that he is three his recent way of pushing the limits is the fact that he won't ride his bike without his "changing wheels" (Training Wheels). I still don't quite dare to let him go without me running behind him because he tends to get distracted...but I don't have to hold on to him! He can do it all by himself. He's funny about the elbow/knee pads though...he wants them on and for the most part does that by himself too. The knee pads are great because it saves on those annoying scrapes that you get from the pedals of the bike.

This along with his skate board are another part of what gives me my gray hair.

Notice Owen in the corner..yuckin' it up while beating my van with a golf club...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Organization 101

Since becoming a parent it seems that I have always been striving to find ways to be organized. With four kids relatively close in age, life can get a bit crazy...and on the days when I feel unorganized I tend to get stressed and when I get stressed I get "stress cramps" and when I have "stress cramps" I become unmotivated and when I get unmotivated things get more out of control and the pattern continues until I'm downright grumpy....and lets face it, thats not good for anyone. With a generally crazy lifestyle I have found that trying to keep things organized is the key to keeping my own sanity...that, and writing in this blog of course.

I don't claim to be the most organized person...but at the same time I know I'm not the least organized person either. I'm thinking of Last Comic Standing here. Picturing myself inside the "organized booth" claiming "I know I'm more organized than...". No really. I don't do that. I'm kidding. Anyway..

It has taken me 7 years (my years of parenthood) to get to the level of organization that I am at now...and I will likely have it all figured out just in time for my kids to go college. Its ok though..because I think this type of thing is always changing anyway depending on needs and stages.

I sometimes laugh at my tactics of organizing though. For some reason I think that putting all of the wooden puzzles (we have MANY) inside a tote that none of the kids can open and hiding that tote in a place where the kids can't find it is "organizing". There is nothing worse than 4 kids digging into a box of puzzles when I'm not aware.

Another one of my tactics is throwing things out. We have three rubbermaid bin type things that have three drawers each for all the small toys. Ideally these bins are sorted in the following categories...plastic cars (usually bigger ones), matchbox cars, superheroes and transformers, legos, Justice League guys, sharks/dinosaurs, misc. action figures, misc. toys and Nintendo 64 stuff. I go through these bins fairly regularly and I literally throw toys out. When they start to get too full I get rid of stuff.

Stuff like Mc. D's toys tend to pile up..and most often its three of the same exact toy (since they all get they same one in their kids meal). I let them play for a while and more often than not I will throw them out. Sometimes we get decent toys from Mc. D's..stuff thats worth keeping, but its more common to get some sort of hard plastic junk that does nothing but makes obnoxious noises. They don't even notice when these toys disappear.

These bins are the only place where small toys (the ones that make the most mess) are found and I try to keep the amount of these types of toys confined to the amount of bins that I have.

I then have a bucket for balls. Yes, we are a family that actually encourages playing with balls in the house. We have a large tote FULL of all kinds of balls and this is probably one of the most played with bunch of toys that we have. Its easy to clean up because it becomes a shooting practice for me while I shoot balls back into the tote. Its actually fun:)

All of the above items are kept in the computer room/kids playroom. We have one small box type thing that we keep in the living room...along with some books because Owen loves to read books with us in there. The rest of the books are on a bookshelf upstairs in our reading corner for reading books before to a chest full of dress up stuff that typically stays upstairs as well.

We have a cool cabinet thing in the dining room that conceals games. Unfortunately, its not quite big enough for all of our games so there is a very unorganized pile of games on top of my computer desk. (next post..."areas that are NOT organized in my life" ha ha). Most of the games are in this cabinet though...along with a drawer for art supplies and craft supplies.

The boys don't have a great deal of toys in their room. There are some trucks (the big kind) and they each get a small basket of small toys beside their beds for little toys they can play with in their while they are trying to fall asleep. Otherwise there simply isn't room for anything because its wall to wall beds, dressers, crib and changing table!

So what is it that brought me to this post you ask?? One of the areas of serious disorganization in my house has been the area of shoes. I had yet to find a good way for us to contain all of our shoes because we don't have a 'mudroom' or anything like that. There just really isn't a good place for shoes and we tend to have a ton of them. In the past we have just lined them up...stacked really.. along the wall as you enter the house. Everyone has at least one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals..and then there is Jessalyn who has a different pair of shoes for each outfit. She actually has a tote under her bed full of shoes and we try to keep most of them in there...but they tend to migrate downstairs and reside in the shoe pile most of the time.

This weekend while Josh was cleaning and organizing the garage (I was so happy with this project..its so nice to have a husband again!) we found a storage rack thing that my friend Melody gave to us a few years ago. Josh had the wonderful suggestion to use it for shoes! (He's so smart:) ) Jessalyn's project this morning was to organize this and so far the kids are all excited to have their own bins for their own stuff! I am aware that this novelty will wear off...but for now its working! The primary colors aren't necessarily my favorite (for the space that they are in) but it isn't a big enough deal for me to paint them all either!

This along with something I did at the beginning of the spring (and of course my mitten tree in the winter!) will make our entries and exits from the house a much more pleasant experience...

Our hat hooks. Four identical hats wasn't really the smartest choice I ever made...Josh, Ethan, Luke and Owen have identical Red Sox hats and Jessalyn has a very similar one although the "B" on her hat is pink. Fortunately my hat is bright pink..and it says San Diego on it...makes my life easy.

These are my strides towards ultimate organization. Do you have any interesting ways of organizing your life??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Super Nanny? Nanny 911?

Josh will be on his way home today and hopefully this will be his last trip away for this particular job! Yeah! It has been a looooong few months with him gone every other week. Lets just say that this week being his last week away is great because I'm not sure I could handle another one. Seriously, there have been moments (many of them) here at my house when our family resembled one of those families featured on the Super Nanny. I'm serious. By the end of the night I am tired of discipline..and I think the kids know it. It just gets hard to stay consistent when I'm doing it alone. I am excited to have Josh back so that we can get back some of the structure in this house and I think that alone will solve most of the boys issues.

In the meantime we have been having lots of fun:) We went away for the weekend over the 4th of July with friends. That was a wonderfully relaxing weekend..which made it hard to get back to reality with Josh gone for the week. It was a beautiful weekend, the weather was perfect.

We played wiffle ball, volleyball, cross stitched, carpet ball...all kinds of exciting (haha) stuff. We went to Bretton Woods for the fireworks and had a nice time. We got to go to Chutters on Saturday afternoon and had fun shopping at the candy story with the longest candy counter in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records!). Sunday we headed home and on the way we stopped at Polly's Pancake Parlor. The best breakfast place ever.

On Monday Josh headed out for Maine so Kirsten and I brought Jessalyn, Ethan and Luke to Story Land! That was a very fun and tiring day. All of them are tall enough to go on every ride and they all loved them. The Polar Coaster and the Bamboo Chute (log flume ride) were the favorites. They also love the Turtle Twirl (tilt a whirl)...but Kirsten and I don't plan to ride that one ever again. They all were great about all the walking and waiting in lines..although the lines really weren't that bad. Luke fell asleep in his carseat before we even got out of the driveway though!

On the Log Flume ride they have a camera placed in just the right spot to take a picture as you are feeling your stomach in your throat as you let out a big scream. At the end you can go view the picture and purchase it if you want. Our first picture wasn't that great. For whatever reason, we couldn't see Luke at all (and I promise he didn't fly out!). We were determined to get a good picture so we just had to go on the ride again. The kids were excited about this. On the second time around we rearranged our seating and was able to get a funny that we actually purchased. I think my favorite look is the one on Ethan's face!

Last night Jessalyn lost yet another tooth! She's down seven now...although six of them have fully grown back in. She was excited and wanted to know the truth about the tooth I told her. I think she knew anyway. Yesterday morning she made pancakes completely by herself..while I washed the dishes! She's getting SO big!

There are tons more pictures of our weekend at Harbinger and of Story Land if you follow the following links...

Story Land


On a sad note..we lost a softball game last night. It was a hard one to take since we haven't lost a game since before LAST season. I think we were up to about 20 games in a row or something and last night we lost:( In the meantime I tweaked my knee..which seems to be happening alot lately for some reason. Oh well...we had fun playing anyway.