There is always something to be thankful for.

Life is too short to make a big deal out of everything.  Do your best and God will take care of the rest.

The greatest is love. 

You are much more than the number on a scale or the tag size on an article of clothing.  Lisa Jo Baker said so.  (So.Much.More.)

The truest thing about you is who God says you are.  I am redeemed, forgiven, not condemned, and beloved.

Giving your life in service and sacrifice to your family is not a waste.

Your children each have their own free will, their own soul in need of salvation, and you are not the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Their decisions are not a reflection of your failure (see Adam & Eve).

As much as you love and want the best for your children, God loves them more.

Every day is a gift.

 

 

I never knew that a bolt could teach me something about my husband Rod.  The man I’ve spent over half my life with.  The simple truth of our life together is that we’ve been through a lot.  We’ve  spent more of our life fixing what was broken than I ever dreamed we would.  I’ve been his helpmeet through every bit of life.  He’s more like his grandpa “Papa” Sloan than I ever knew.  Papa lived through tough times, with Mama Chloe right by his side.  Papa could fix anything, he was stubborn and deeply devoted to his family.  Rod is his Papa “made over”.

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Rod’s Maternal Grandparents,
Edwin and Chloe Sloan.

Along with the excellent qualities mentioned above, Papa was always looking for a good deal.  We once watched Papa negotiate a car deal for a Yugo with some yuppie sales person in Edmond.  I’m not sure that salesperson made a penny off that deal, but I am sure he never forgot selling a car to Mr. Edwin Sloan. Papa was all about the hunt and if he had his mind set on something, he wouldn’t give up till he had it.  It might take six months to find just the right thing, but he was willing to wait.  Rod is the exact same way.  This made car shopping for our teenagers a very long ordeal.  Hours were spent on Craigslist, and several trips were made to look at vehicles that didn’t result in a purchase.  All of this to preface the story about the bolt…

We had finally purchased cars for our teenagers.  Our daughter had her heart set on a Honda CRV, and we looked long and hard until finding one.  We had it three weeks when she broke down on the highway.  Our fears were confirmed that it was the timing belt.  This usually means a new engine if it breaks at highway speeds.  We (along with our daughter) were devastated.  Two days after her car breaks down, our son’s Nissan Sentra burns up the clutch.  Two teenagers, three work schedules and one car.  I was one stressed momma.  We managed to make schedules work with one car while Rod ordered parts and began reading up on making the repairs.  Because of ease of repair, and the fact that we would have to work on the Honda before determining if it needed a new engine, the Nissan was fixed first.  It meant removing the front wheels, the drive shaft, and removing the transmission to replace the clutch.  It was terribly messy work, so much grease and dirt.  In 100 degree temperatures.  We were not looking forward to fixing vehicle number two.

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Fixing the Honda meant removing the front wheel, something with the power steering, taking off the engine cover, (a bunch of other mechanical stuff) and busting the crankshaft bolt to replace the timing belt and water pump.  Once these were replaced, we could see if the engine would turn over and then go from there.  All this work to not even know if the car was going to run.  It was hard to get excited about.  Rod tore into the car and reached the point of taking off the crankshaft bolt.  There is another terribly long story about this homemade tool that he spent hours reading about, basically some plumbing parts to wedge into the crankshaft to hold it steady while the interior bolt is removed, but that will be for another blog…  So, I go out to help him with the bolt.  This involves the homemade tool, a trampoline pole (used as leverage), and did I mention that it’s 100 degrees?  We start trying to break the bolt.  Our son comes out to help, we work for a half an hour and a friend stops by to visit.  I fix lunch, our son goes to work and we get back on the bolt.  Did I mention I’m in a skirt and flip flops?  It’s 100 degrees…  I’m pushing on this 6 ft trampoline pole while Rod is under the car.  We do this for over an hour.  Sweat running down the back of my legs, Rod on the hot gravel driveway.  Kids running outside every 10 minutes to tattle on one another, it is not pretty.  None of it.  I’m frazzled, Rod is up and down out from under the car, at least three dozen times.  I’m getting frustrated – tempers are short, I’m upset that we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.  The homemade tool is adjusted several times and we continue trying to break the bolt.  Rod is determined.  I am not.  I’m supposed to go bra shopping with a 12 year old girl.  Said girl keeps coming outside with a pout to see when we’re going to Target.  When is he going to give up???  This redneck hillbilly homemade tool is not going to work…

After over an hour, I leave  to go bra shopping.  I’m at Target for 15 minutes and I get this text:

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This is THE bolt.

Victory.

Two hours and one bolt says so much about the man I married.  He isn’t giving up.  Ever.  He is putting in the hard work.  When it’s hot, when he’s physically tired, when it means hard work just to do more work.  When his wife is unsure (ouch), he isn’t giving up.  I can’t believe how much that one task says about his character.  This story ends with the greatest victory and it is much more than one bolt.

The bolt removed, the new parts installed, we still don’t know if this work has been for nothing.  Rod gets the car put back together enough to turn the key and see if the engine turns over.  I stand in the driveway nervous about both of our reactions if it doesn’t.  Will I still see God’s blessings if the car needs a new engine?  Rod turns the key and the engine starts and runs.  We are so grateful.  Everything we had read and heard said that the engine would almost certainly need to be replaced.   Another half hour replacing things on the engine, he takes the car for a test drive and delivers it to our daughter who is thrilled to have her car running again.

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This was our view an hour after the car was finished.

I am blessed.  I married a man who fixes things.  He is confident in his ability to do just about anything, (although I draw the line at self-directed dental and medical work).  He loves his family deeply and has provided every need our family has had in the past 23 years.  He works hard and values the lessons learned in doing the job as much as the completed job.  Our life together in this fallen world will no doubt involve things breaking down.  There is no one I would rather fix things with.

I hope to have many more years of handing tools, pulling wires, carrying brush, scraping paint, and holding the ladder.

Dianne

I haven’t blogged for almost a year.  Terrible, although I know no one is hanging in front of their computer waiting for me to blog.  Heck, my own mom doesn’t even read it!!!   It’s not that there haven’t been blogworthy moments, it isn’t the excuse that I’m too busy, it probably has more to do with me being petrified of saying too much or not enough.  Something I’ve always struggled with – either giving waaaaay more information than is necessary, or not saying anything at all.  I’m a contradiction like that.

I’ve been examining my life lately.  Decisions I’ve made, things I love, things I miss, what I truly need in life.  Just probably normal stuff for someone my age.  I spend so much of my days taking care of my husband and family, that thinking of myself and my own wants and needs feels like quite an indulgence.  Reading good blogs has made me realize that I have something to share, and if it’s only for a few close friends or my immediate family, it is ok.  I am not blogging to become famous.  I am blogging for myself.  It is sweet to read through old posts and see what was happening in my life.  So what have I learned about myself?  Here are a few things:

I like coffee.  More than I care to admit.

I have a few irrational fears:  driving over bridges, being at the bank if it were to get robbed, and I sometimes worry that when I’m reading a library book I’m going to get bad germs from it.  I have a “no library books in the bathroom” rule, but don’t think anyone else does.

I can never go “home”.  For one, it doesn’t exist anymore and hasn’t since I was 13.  I plan to start writing some about my childhood, for my children to have someday.  Maybe I’ll share a post or two here.  Home for me now is what I’m creating for my children.  Hopefully they will have an appreciation for my efforts someday.  Usually when I think they don’t appreciate it is when I feel the urge to write about how differently my life was than theirs.

I like change, but not technological change.  I’m all for moving the furniture, re-arranging the kitchen cabinets to make them more functional, but mess with facebook or twitter or instagram, and I’m not happy.  Now that my favorite social media (Instagram – diannemarie68) has installed a video feature, I’m considering deleting everyone who posts a video.  🙂  Just kidding, although I’m not a watcher of videos.  Vine makes me dizzy and I find very few of them funny.  I fight to stay in control of my blog reading, instagram searching, facebook browsing, and screen time in general.  Facebook is no longer on my phone, and I am trying to take a sabbatical from social media one day a week.

I am tired of being a stuff manager.  With five kids there is a lot of stuff.  Add homeschooling to that, and a spouse who is sentimental about everything, it is a daunting task.  I am taking it one day, one cabinet, one closet, one drawer at a time.  It has taken the fun out of thrifting – I see things and I think “I don’t want to devote time and space to that”.  People not stuff has become my “mantra”.

The days truly are long, but the years are short.  My oldest turned 18 and graduated from high school.  My youngest starts school in the fall.  Now THAT will make your head spin.  I’m getting more gray hair by the second.  My kids are awesome and motherhood is my greatest accomplishment in life, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.  Especially for someone who fights perfectionism and doesn’t want her kids to carry the baggage she’s carried all these years.  My best advice is live in the moment.  Be thankful for everything – even the crappy stuff, and realize what truly matters in the light of eternity.  These are souls for Christ and His glory, not mine.

Lastly, exercise and clean eating is good for me.  Eating crap makes me feel like crap.  I still have days I don’t want to work out, but I know when I miss a workout, I’m going to feel it.  I’ve been consistent for a few months now.  If I ever get my eating and exercise in sync, I’m gonna be awesome.  I’m 25 lbs. lighter than this time last summer, and I have a personal goal of losing 25 more.  I’m so much more than a number on the scale, but I know to be the best “me” I can be, I need to be healthy and stay active.  My four year old deserves it, and I desire it!

Well, dinner and a quick errand call.

D

(Or:  My Most Blog-worthy moment of Summer 2012)
My family is different.  We are what I like to call “above average”.  With five kids, you live life a little differently than most.  We eat at home a lot, we shop at thrift stores most of the time, and we vacation differently than most people.   Our family vacation of choice is a small cabin in Northeastern Iowa and 26 hours in the van in the course of 10 days.  This story is what happens on the return leg of that trip…

We had been driving for 5 hours and were trying to make a 10pm deadline at a campground in Missouri.  The first two hours of the trip included our camp counselor Jani who we gave a ride to an exit off of the interstate so she could go home for the weekend.  We had all been on our best behavior with a guest in the car.  (Jennifer, you will understand this I’m sure…)  Des Moines was our destination for a stop at Sam’s Club for our dinner.  (Again Jennifer…)  We got our pizza, hot dogs and a salad along with 32 ounce sodas for everyone.  After eating, Rod leaves with the teenagers to walk around Sam’s for a minute before getting back into the van.   I had Luke duty and Luke decides he needs the bathroom for the second time during our Sam’s stop.  (For those of you without a three year old boy, this means one thing – #2 in a public bathroom.)  I tell him to start walking to the bathroom and notice that he’s holding both the front and the back – take a moment to gather that visual…  This bathroom is 100 yards from the snack bar.  Rod sees this scene playing out from 50 feet away and starts towards the front of the store.  Luke makes it (literally) without incident and we head to the van.   Rod scoops him up on his back and we walk out.  I’m carrying cups and the older kids are 20 yards ahead of us in the parking lot.  Rod gets a crazy-eyed look on his face and says to me:  “Where’s Luke?!”  I look over at him (with a 40lb. kid on his back, arms wrapped around his neck, and Luke’s feet dangling at his knees) and laughingly say: “Seriously?!”   This is when Rod goes out of his mind and starts yelling at the oldest across the parking lot:  “GRANT – WHERE”S LUKE?!!!!”  My oldest four kids look back and don’t know whether their dad is kidding or if he has truly lost his mind.  I’m doubling over in laughter, and it’s at that point that he realizes Luke is on his back…  We are all punch-drunk from lack of sleep, being road weary and knowing that we still have about 8 hours of driving before making it home.  We laughed for about three miles, and “Where’s Luke” has become a punch line in our family.  We were ten minutes late for our campground deadline and got the last hotel room in Kansas City on the weekend of the Little League World Series, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Have a great Thursday friends.

Dianne

Lemon meringue pie

Rod’s favorite – this was a beauty with four inch meringue!

Coconut cream pie

Cooling and waiting for the cream…

Chocolate cream pie

Cooling and waiting for the cream…

Let me just start by saying I LOVE SPRING BREAK!  No pressure, no schedule, not as many activities, it has been fun.  My girls have piano today, and karate hasn’t been cancelled this week, so we have a few things on our to do list, but we’re going at a much slower pace this week.  My two oldest are on a mission trip, and the three littles and I have tried to find some fun things to do this week.

Monday was spent bailing buckets of water out of our basement.  We got some much needed spring rain, and since our major drought last year, every time it rains, water comes in our basement storage room.  We’ve had occasional water downstairs before, but usually only after three consecutive days of rain.  Most things downstairs are stored on chrome racks or in rubbermaid storage totes and safe from damage.   Using the shop vac to suck up water is always exciting because we’re pretty sure the plug ins in the basement aren’t grounded.  This is on the project list, and now that the basement is getting moved to priority status, we’ll get it done sooner. I spent the whole day Monday working downstairs, so I rented a movie and a wii game from redbox and the kids were pretty happy.  Just remembered that I didn’t return it last night, so I’m out another night’s rental.  Oh well, it was still less than the cost of one movie admission, and kept the kids happy while I carried buckets up the stairs and out the door.

Tuesday was great!  The weather cleared up, we didn’t have any water overnight, and the kids and I went to see the Lorax.  We caught a matinee at Tinseltown, and got home by lunch.  That was nice.  Rod took off early from work, and while we were waiting for him to get home, I worked some in the kitchen, and Sophia and I climbed up into the treehouse to play a game of Sorry.  It was rather fun to do, even though I was out of my comfort zone.  Since Luke was born, I have some balance issues (c-section I’m sure), and I don’t really like to go up there.  I did it because it would make a memory with her, and the older my kids get, the more I realize that I must be intentional about doing just that.   When daddy got home, everyone wanted to go to the library, so we spent a little over an hour there and the kids were so happy.  For a big family of readers, the library is about the best place in the world.  My 10yod says her library card is her best possession in the whole world.  Makes a mom happy.

After the library, we went out to dinner.  Gyro’s were the fare, and we enjoyed it very much.  I’ve had two nights off from cooking dinner, and that hour that I would usually spend cooking, has been spent just enjoying my children.  We are planning to hit the special tonight at Chelino’s, so no cooking for me tonight either.  I’m sure by the time tomorrow rolls around, I’ll be ready to cook for my family again, and five pounds heavier!

The Lorax was cute.  I see more than my fair share of kids movies and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  I had another home-school mom mention that it had a tree-hugger mentality, but most kid movies have an agenda these days, and I knew the original story had a save the earth theme in the seventies.  I know most people don’t see environmentalist and Christian as labels that go together, but here’s my thoughts:  If I believe that God created this earth, (and I do), and I believe that the Bible teaches that we should be good stewards of all of God’s gifts, (and I do), why would this be a problem?  For me, it’s a no-brainer.  What I do have an issue with, is the hypocrisy that some environmentalists have – save the whales, but abort babies?   Doesn’t drinking Coke in the first place probably hurt the polar bears more than drinking Coke to save the polar bears?  I’m just thinking that the production of all those chemicals, and the fuel consumed in producing said product and shipping it to thousands of locations across the country, not to mention the production of plastic bottles and styrofoam cups and trash left behind from people who are to busy driving and texting to find a trash can???? Ok, I’ll calm down now.  I loved the Lorax.  The trees were beautiful, the animals were cute, and a movie with Betty White, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, and Zac Efron? How can you lose?  Plant a seed, It’s an act of worship anyways because it’s  God’s design and brings him glory.

D

Yesterday was not a good day.  It actually started innocently enough Sunday night when the pot of coffee I made at 8pm and thought was decaf wasn’t.  I didn’t sleep at all Sunday night into Monday.  The time change messes me up enough as it is without the added help of caffeine.  Monday morning I was awake at 6:10 to workout before sending my husband off to work.  Thankful for the ability to workout at home.  Thankful that my husband has a great job and I can stay home.  None of my children wanted to wake up yesterday.  I think it was 9:00am before the last one was out of bed.  This makes me a grumpy mom.  Thankful for a few extra minutes of alone time.  Thankful that I have a house full of children that I see as blessings directly from the heart of God.

My family reads a lot of books from the library and we have a membership at a library in a nearby town besides our own metropolitan library system.  We had some books due from the out of town library that couldn’t be found.  Spent a good hour turning my daughters’ bedroom upside down looking for three books that seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.  Searched the car, under beds, under sofas, in my daughter’s sleeping nook, and in my bedroom.  Thankful that my family loves books and loves the library.  Thankful that my home has beds, books, and is full of things that are useful and beautiful, that my daughters room got a needed cleaning.  Thankful for a wonderful library system, and additional borrowing privileges at another library.

After our search turned up nothing, I started making phone calls to our neighborhood library.  Found out that books returned to a metro library that do not belong in their system are sent to the main branch downtown and then mailed to the source library.  After being transferred to several different people, I found the answers I needed.  Yes, the three missing books were downtown waiting to be mailed.  I had a doctor’s appointment after lunch, but decided I would just go downtown and pick up the books to return them on Wednesday.  Thankful for helpful library employees, and for found books.

Fed my children lunch and got ready for my dr’s appointment.  You know the one yearly that most women dread.  I have learned through the years of being pregnant and having babies and nursing babies that women’s bodies are something wonderful and they can do amazing things.  After seeing so many friends and family members experience infertility, I never want to take my “womanly” gifts for granted.  The hospital is just a few minutes away from my house, so I drive over and follow the line of cars into the parking garage.  Finally find a place to park and take the long walk through the concourse to the elevator and my doctor’s office.  Sign in and sit down with a magazine.  The receptionist calls me over and asks who I’m there to see (when I’ve written it on the check in sheet in front of her.)  I tell her and she says “Dr. N—- is on vacation.  Your appointment is re-scheduled for April 9th.  Would you like an appointment card for that?”  I tell her I had a card for the appointment I made a year ago and it didn’t help much.  I was pretty upset that I went through the trouble to get there and if I had missed the appointment, I would have been charged, but they are out  nothing for inconveniencing me.  Grrrrrrr.  Took my new appointment card and went back home.  I’m remembering that I had to reschedule a dentist appointment for my 8yo that I could have kept if I had known my OB appointment wasn’t that day.  Grrrrrrrr.  Thankful for modern medicine, the fact that I didn’t have to pay a babysitter for the appointment, that I am a woman, that fertility is a gift, my van in the parking garage got me there and back, and my appointment is rescheduled. Thankful that I held my tongue and didn’t say anything I would have had to apologize for.

Well, by this time, I’m very very sleepy.  I decide to take a short nap.  Fifteen minutes later, the phone rings and I’m wide awake.  Decide to just go downtown and get the books so I can be back before time for ballet and karate lessons start.  No kids opt to come with me, probably for the best since I’m not in a great mood and I haven’t driven on the new stretch of I-40 downtown yet.  I enjoy some needed alone time and drive on a beautiful stretch of road.  Driving into the heart of downtown, I realize that due to major renovations downtown, my decision to retrieve the books might have been a bad one.  It takes me fifteen minutes to find a parking place and it happens to be five blocks from the library.  I plug the meter and start walking.  It’s 70 degrees and I have on a long sleeved shirt, jeans and clogs.  Not the greatest walking attire for this obstacle course.  I’m walking through gravel and torn up sidewalks, next to earth movers, and over and under construction barriers.  It was like a war zone.  I get to the right place and get the three missing books.  I make it back to the van and get back on the interstate.  Thankful for 70 degree days in March, that the trees were in full bloom and really beautiful, for new interstates and nice roads to drive on, for downtown undergoing a great renovation that will make our city an even better place to live, for being able to find my van again.  Thankful that I had an hour of alone time before the business of lessons and activities.

After the downtown trip, the rest of the day went pretty well, (except my 3yo messed up my computer and fell asleep on my leather couch and peed himself while I was gone).  Looking back, I realize how much this journey of finding joy and being thankful in all things has changed me.  A few years ago, I would have just been in a terrible mood all day, taken it out on anyone in my path, and never noticed anything like budding trees or the sweetness of sweaty baby necks when they wake up from a nap – because I was having a bad day.  Being able to find the joy in all things has made my already rich life even richer.

I have a tendency to go a bit overboard.  I credit that ability to the addictive personality that I got from my father.  As a child, I collected records/music, books, and pigs.  We always had a menagerie of animals, and I was very fond of my collection of childhood dishes at a very young age.  Things haven’t changed.  I still love music, books, and I have been collecting Pyrex for a few years now.  I have a strong weakness for vintage linens, and now I’m adding to the dish collection with Fiesta Ware.  It is not vintage, purchased new a couple of weeks ago, using money I got as a Christmas gift.  It makes me very happy to walk into my kitchen and see all the colors.  I purchased scarlet, tangerine, sunflower, lemongrass, shamrock, aqua, peacock, and cobalt.  I’m still planning to purchase the plum color, and possibly find a vintage pink set because I’m heavy on the blue/green end of things.  There’s something very nice about seeing it on the table, in the sink, and even in the dishwasher.  I figure if seeing a sink full of dishes can still make you smile, it must be good stuff.  The best part:  it goes with everything.  Looks great mixed up on the table, goes with my Pyrex serving pieces, and matches any color tablecloth I decide to use.

So, now I have more dishes than I need.  I’ve been trying to scale down, with seven of us here, we have more stuff than we need.  I’m still keeping a set of my white dishes so we can mix things up and have extra dishes for when company comes.  The extras will be packed away for my kids to use if they need when they move out.  I have several bags of things I’m planning to donate to charity, and will be adding to that in the days to come.  Fiesta isn’t something I find while thrifting (at least not very often), but I still plan to look for it!

I would love to do 40 Bags in 40 Days, but if I get off track, I get discouraged.  I think it’s a good thing to have a plan, but life has a way of taking over. I will just keep plodding through, and make slow progress, but it will be good to be able to see it.

Gifts list 3/6/12:  warm muffins from the oven; Luke’s curls; Sophia waking up early this morning and helping in the kitchen; friends coming next weekend; spring is around the corner; getting to see my mom last week; kids making memories with grandma.