Monday, August 31, 2009

Beautiful You

Please click the following link to my sweet Michelle's blog. I am so very proud of her and her journey and her latest blog entry really struck a chord.

We are His workmanship and are beautiful to our Creator God just as we are. I love you Michelle and you have been an inspiration to all. Your courage brings me strength.

Michelle's Blog

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Several of you are bloggers and to you I say one thing,

BLOG already!!

I really enjoy reading your updates and getting an inside track on what's up in your life and what your interests are. The problem is very few of you who have blogs actually write on them. I consistently check and recheck to see if there's new information and some are months old and others are at least weeks old.

Your fans are waiting. Throw us a bone would ya?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dance Dance

Waterdeep is one of my very favorite Christian groups and they are now Enter The Worship Circle and this is their song Dance Dance. We've had so many sad/stressful things in our lives as of late this song reminds me that God is good even when we are sad, tired, and worn. I cry out to you Lord and You make my soul dance.

Lord, I cried out, I cried out to You

You answered me in Your mercy

You`re anger was fleeting

And now I will dance in your favor all my life

Let my heart sing for you

And not remain silent

Let my heart sing for you

Turn my weeping into a dance

So dance, dance my soul

There`s no reason for you to weep

So dance, dance my soul, Make music to your King

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seeing Clearly

-Tanner has an eye appointment on Thursday. Apparently the little guy has picked up the worst of his parents gene pool. I'm praying that he'll be fortunate enough to get my complexion verses his daddy's. The mouth gear and assumed glasses will be enough.

-When it comes to picking out the glasses do I let me unique little boy with a flair for the unusual pick out his own?

-We've done 4 days of school and today will complete our first week. My life as I know it is about to change. Until this year our school days could easily be wrapped up in a couple hours. A beka like most schooling works up to the full day over the course of a couple weeks. Yesterday was still a partial day (all of the many books aren't in play yet) and it took 4 1/2 hours. Once Brennan and Tanner are doing all subjects and reading and memorization etc we'll easily be working for 6 hours. This seems obvious to all you out there that have your kids at school for 8 hours a day or more but I've been spoiled up to this point (Kindergarten only takes about 45 minutes!). We lived and goofed off and did school on the side. Now we'll be doing school the bulk of our day and anything else will have to be pushed off until we're all done. It's not bad or evil :) just different.

-Brennan, Tanner, and Elijah spent last night at the Dilley's. Cale's birthday was this week and Natasha surprised him with a sleep over with our boys. They were all so excited. Since the older kids had plans I called my Mom and had Graham stay with her so he wouldn't be wandering around the house all day saying, "Where's my boys?" He loves his older brothers. It seems Brennan is his favorite as of late. If Brennan is not in sight he'll ask, "Mommy, where's my Brennan? I want him."

-I've been walking this week with my sweet quiet Jess T. We walk for a hour each morning and it's been a real eye opener for me. I'm out of shape and jiggly. I'm thankful for the exercise and so is Sophie. I've been taking her along and she's obnoxious (surprised?) but it's good for her and she's less crazy the rest of the day if she's walked.

-Yesterday we had not one, but two solicitors. One wanted to remove my spots and the other desperately wanted me to buy beef out of the back of his truck. Sounds perfectly safe. I'm seriously considering a "no soliciting" sign for our front porch. It's a little unnerving to have a strange man acting overly familiar and pushy when I'm at home with the kids alone.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hearty Chili

As a Weight Watcher I find I have a few staples that I know are delicious and filling. This is one of my all time favorites and my mom is hooked as well.

I hadn't had it in a year or more and she reintroduced me to it. Soup isn't typically August fair but I have to say this is delish with all the wonderful fresh produce out there. It does freeze great if you want to make a big pot now and enjoy it later.

The absolute best part is that it's completely free on Core (all filling foods), and is only 1pt per cup on points. Filling and low in points, that's heaven!!!

10 oz lean ground turkey breast (I use 93% lean ground beef, but the turkey is good too)
1 med onion diced
2 (28oz) cans of diced tomatoes
2 med zucchini diced
4 celery stalks diced
2 green peppers diced
2 med yellow squash diced
1 (15oz) can of red beans (any beans are fine, pick your fav)
2 (15oz) cans of beef broth
1 (1 1/4oz) pkg of chili seasoning

Brown meat with non stick cooking spray & onion.
Then just start dumping ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and allow to simmer until veggies are tender.

YUMM! Fall is just around the corner. This makes a ton and is delicious, ENJOY!

Dyson Vs Hoover

The boys and I are picking up the house before school and Elijah asked if he could sweep the living room. A year ago I picked up a Hoover Bagless Upright for the upstairs that has a telescoping handle. The handle allows the boys to adjust it to fit their height and makes sweeping for them much easier. Eli and I worked over the living room with the Hoover vac and this is what we recovered:

I decided to do a test much like the Kirby people do when they invade your home. I took my Dyson Absolute Animal over the same area briefly and came up with this (debris is on a standard paper towel):
Before you judge our nastiness I would like to say that with a family of 7, 2 dogs, and a cat I vacuum daily and this is standard fair for the living room, our main traffic area.

The Dyson picked up the same volume of yuck after it had already been vacuumed by the Hoover upright.

I would just like to say how thankful I am that my needle phobic husband did a study (where lots of needles were involved) at the Johnson County Clintrials to buy my pricey Dyson 2 years ago. I recognize that this is circumstantial evidence but I feel better about my babies crawling all over our carpet after the nasty has been extracted.

For those of you blessed to have a Dyson I highly recommend washing out the filter located here:

Otherwise your expensive machine will start giving you troubles and the suction that was so impressive at first will be a distant memory. I put mine through the gentle cycle on my washer once every 3 months and allow it to completely air dry (24 hours).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School Days, School Days

Isn't that a song?

We are in full swing! It's hard to imagine that I'll be able to keep things straight since there's at least 60lbs of books on my kitchen table.

I want to send out a huge thank you to Mrs. Jane D. who has generously handed down her Abeka books to our family. I've been actively storing her extras for years now and it's really starting to pay off. If I were to purchase the student and teacher's kits new from A beka it would run us $450 per child. Since Jane has given us so many odds and ends I figured that it saved us approx $200 for Brennan and $200 for Tanner. Thank you so much for showing your love for our family in this way! It has helped tremendously.

As I work towards organizing my small forest of paperwork I am in search of a program or something (if I knew what it was I wouldn't be looking for it :)) that would allow me to organize my curriculum books by lesson number.

I have 3-6 curriculum books per grade that each have different instructions for different subjects. Some start on lesson 1 others aren't introduced until lesson 15 or whenever. I find it very difficult to keep it all straight. There's reading schedules, spelling schedules, poetry schedules, seat work schedules, memory verse schedules all located in different places in different books.

I want a master curriculum for each grade that says in one place what is to be done on each day. I understand said book would be 8 inches thick but it would be so helpful verses the constant flipping of pages and frantic searches to see if I remembered to do everything for each child each day.

I have considered tearing apart my curriculum books and 3 hole punching them and organizing them myself but there are multiple lessons on a page and stuff on the back etc. So it's impossible with the materials I have.

Anyone out there understand my pain? Better than that do you have a solution? I was overwhelmed last year with 2 kids (can you imagine keeping 5 straight?) and found a book of Brennan's at the end of the year I forgot to introduce since it came in half way through the year. That was awesome. I ended up having him complete it over the summer. Surely there's a better way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jiggle Jiggle

Wow I am out of shape! I went walking with Ms. Jess yesterday and today and I'm feeling it. We walked for 40 minutes yesterday and a hour today.

It's quite a sight actually since I wear my 5 month old on my chest in her baby Bjorn. Sophie comes along and drags Sis and I for the first 15 minutes until she wears herself out and gives up.

I keep asking Jess, "Are you sore?" She just smiles. Apparently carrying Anneliese makes a huge difference (at least that's what I'm telling myself).

It feels good to be sore again. I'm excited to see what the scale says after a week of moving more. I didn't realize just how sedentary I'd become since I broke my foot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Normal

-The kids start school here at home and I will be educating 3 kids vs 2! I'm eager simply because I'm stressing over it and I know it will be fine once we get started. The remainder of the kids books are scheduled to arrive tomorrow so Tuesday is our Monday and we'll have school on Saturday this week to get a full week in. That's a benefit of home schooling! I get to plan the schedule.

-Tomorrow morning I'm going to start walking with Jess T. We tried last week but due to the monsoon season and scheduling conflicts we didn't succeed even one day. Anneliese is 5 months old and I have yet to start back to any kind of exercise. I am so ready. I love being fit and my current state is far from it :)

-I'm hoping to pick up a used exercise bike on Craigslist at some point. I would love to run again some day but my foot is still pretty achy and I thought a bike would be great for rainy days or simply for cross training. I would love a membership to the Y (ohh how I miss it!) but it's just not in the budget.

-We have definitely settled into 5 kiddos and I really believe this school year will be great. Brennan is so capable and eager, Tanner is reading well and will be much easier, and Elijah is extremely ready. I'm super thankful for a long summer to prepare and now LET'S GET STARTED!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This is a story that begins in a Quick Trip (surprised?)...

My mom and I were out and about with the kids and Elijah needed to use the restroom. Since the 78th St QT was just around the corner I decided unselfishly to go directly there so my son could use the facilities. The pop I purchased was an ofter thought I swear.

Anyway, Eli was eager to head into the store with me while leaving his siblings in the car with my mom. He hopped and skipped along side of me. I told him to go ahead into the woman's restroom while I refilled my cup.

I feel the need to interject here. Eli is a strong confident boy but has a timid side. He likes to have me accompany him during basic tasks for back up. I encouraged him he would be fine since the fountain is located right by the restrooms.

He hesitantly went but returned immediately. "There's a loud noise coming from the bathroom, I'm scared," Eli says with a grin. He's unable to hold a straight face as of late regardless of the situation it's quite adorable. I went to the restroom and heard a noise of a water line that doesn't have enough pressure. It was a mild moan and I encouraged him it was nothing and to go ahead.

Trusting his mother he stepped into the restroom locked the door and within moments began to scream hysterically. Everyone in the store heard his cries for help. It was horrible. I ran to the door, desperately tried to open it but it was still locked. I began to panic due to his desperation and shrieking. I yelled out, "Open the door baby, open the door!!! I'm right here open the door!!!!"

I quickly realized I was standing in inches of water. I saw there was a faucet left on filling a mop bucket and it was quickly flooding the back of the store. I turned the faucet off and the door came flying open to the bathroom. My little boy was white with fear, shaking, and had tears streaming down his face. He immediately grabbed my body and squeezed my legs with all his might.

He was convinced he was about to meet his demise.

After Eli entered the bathroom the moaning from the water line became a loud shrieking noise and the walls began to rattle. Add to that the water from the mop bucket began to fill the floor of the bathroom.

I asked Eli,"Did the sounds scare you?"

Still panicked and crying he shouted,"Tanner said there is a monster that lives in toilets that comes up and eats you butt first!!! It's coming to eat me!" (as funny as that is keep in mind my 5 year old believed this with every fiber of his being).

Trying to calm him I said, "Eli, honey, that's just not true!"

He looked even more panicked and sick, he quickly retorted,"Tanner said you'd say that!!"

I'm going to start putting away money now for the therapy he will surely need later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's Time

My sweet little girl is going to have to move upstairs to her own room.

She's 5 months old and really can sleep through the night if she wanted to. She was sleeping 12 hours or more before we went on vacation and now she's struggling to get back to that.

The funny part is she's not necessarily waking up for nourishment. She just lays in her bassinet chatting, cooing, and moaning. She talks and talks for about 20 minutes and then drifts back off.

If I'm desperate for sleep I can nurse her briefly and then she crashes back out. I know that this is a bad habit to get into. Putting her upstairs with a monitor that I can turn down a touch would help.

It's hard to imagine my tiny baby is already 5 months old and ready to go all the way upstairs. It seems so far to me :(

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who You Are Is More Important Than What You Do

Starting Sept 2 our Wednesday night family night will be offering "Parenting the Early Years." It's a bible study that has 6 videos and 6 lessons of practical parenting help for parents.

Our Wednesday night family night starts with dinner at 6 and class at 7. Please let me know if you have any questions!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Growing Boys!

Monday my 3 eldest will start school! Brennan 3rd grade, Tanner 2nd, and Elijah K.

The boys have hit a growth spurt and are blowing me away! Tanner had an orthodontist appointment this morning in the monsoon. I told him he needed a pair of jeans since it was so nasty out. He went and grabbed the new pair I bought him at the end of the season a few months ago. They are a size 8 and he couldn't get them past his knees. I went and grabbed a size 12 that I had stored and the fit him perfect around the waist, bottom, and thighs. They're a little long but holy cow! He's apparently grown significantly over the last couple months.

We went through a stage where Tanner was taller than Brennan but apparently Brennan's had a growth spurt of his own and is now slightly taller than his younger counterpart.

It's funny to me to have them stand back to back. Brennan is built just like me. He is long legged and has a short waist. Tanner however has a long waist and shorter legs just like Jared. Jared is 6'3" and I'm 5'7" and we have the same inseam.

After the ortho appointment I ran through McDonald's for the $1 menu. It used to be really cheap to feed the kids that way but now that they want 3 things each it's becoming a little pricey! I figure I'll have to take on a part time job as soon as Sis gets older just to help pay for groceries :) !!!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

1st Tights

I've been going through Anneliese's clothing and finding things she's outgrown, things I didn't know she had and the like. In the mix I found this dress and decided she just had to wear it to church today and with it her very first pair of tights.

I feel it necessary to mention that during lunch she absolutely destroyed said tights and outfit when her diaper was not able to contain it's...well...contents.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Little Shady

I'm In Love

In finishing up the kitchen I needed a couple things to really feel completed.

First of all we had friends over for lunch last week and I realized my dishes no longer match. They are blue and white pfaltzgraff dishes that I purchased on craigslist 5 years ago. After talking with my spouse I decided to check out craigslist again and sure enough there was a beautiful set of red, gold, and cream. I have a set of 12 beautiful dishes from Target. They are amazing and they only cost $40!!

Second is our dining room light fixture. Our globes faced down and we had one globe that would work it's way loose on a regular basis. During cards one night it dropped down and about hit a card player. That gave me a convenient excuse to rid ourselves of the hazard :) I spent a couple days watching craigslist and found the perfect chandelier.

Now, if I could just keep the kitchen clean for more than 5 minutes I would take some pics to share the new space with my blog friends :)

I'll work on that today.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Graham Knows

Clara looks beautiful, sweet, charming, and innocent but someone in the picture knows the truth :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BBQ Chicken

Yesterday we had our Fall kickoff for our Wednesday night church.

It was a lot of fun and I took a crock pot of BBQ chicken and it went over so well I thought I'd share the ridiculously simple recipe.

We are huge fans of home made BBQ meatballs and I've altered them a bit to make them core and I just thought I'd use the same altered sauce to make BBQ chicken so it would still be WW friendly.

I dumped a 3lb bag of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a large crock pot and then added the following:

2 cups ketchup
2 cups Splenda
2 TBS liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves minced
salt & pepper
3 TBS dried onion bits (fresh onion would be yummy I just didn't have any)

I cooked it on high for about 4 hours and it was tender but could have used a little longer I think. It shredded up easily and would be good on a sandwich or eat it in a pile! Either way it was yummy, completely core, and sugar free.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


After blogging about our vaca I went into blog remission.

-There has been utter chaos around our house the last few days and I'm hoping for a quiet day at home to catch up on house work.

-I want to send out a HUGE thank you to our Pappa who came and mowed last night. We so appreciate your servant attitude and you are so very appreciated. We love you dearly.

-Tonight is our Fall Kickoff at church and the kids are giddy to go and reconnect with their buddies and play on some crazy water slides :)

-Everyone is gearing up for school and I'm in denial. We have about $500 worth of curriculum to buy in order to start the older two. For some reason I bought Elijah's last year so he's set. The kids' kits went up from around $160 each to $220!! Yikes! Add tax and shipping and you have $535. We were going to start on the 17th but we're going to wait a week so I can drive to Lawrence and purchase it directly from Abeka (they bring the materials to hotels on certain days for viewing). That saves shipping and hopefully the 10% sale on kits will still apply. Every little bit helps.

-As far as school itself I have some anxieties about schooling 3 and keeping everything straight. I struggled to stay organized last year with just 2. Their curriculum has so many elements it's hard to make sure they are doing all of it all the time and introducing the different books at the right time. It's hard to explain but trust me it's intimidating.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I'm still plugging away with my weight loss.

I was thrilled and some what shocked to have lost 2.8lbs over vacation. I stayed on plan Monday through Thursday but Thursday night through Sunday I had to eat what was at the reunion. I just tried to stick to smaller portions and it worked!

I have lost 50lbs! YAY! Anneliese is 4 1/2 months old and I still have a ways to go but I am super pleased with my progress.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Few More Random Pics

This is the group finishing up the hike. We sat in a clearing and ate sandwiches together at the end.
Bernie, the llama, and the kids.
We ate each meal under a shelter on the side of the barn. Pretty nice for outdoor dining!
The cousins searching out the kittens. The kitties played hard to get at first but by the end of the weekend they realized resistance was futile.
This beautiful image was amazing in person. This was on the trip between Alamosa and the ranch. The clouds looked as if they were pouring out the top of the mountain.

Reunion Activities Part 2

Graham and Craig riding around on Uncle Craig's 4-wheeler. Graham was being super cute and coy. He wuvs his Uncle Craig.
Aunt Bernie brought a llama over for the kids to scare ;) The kids really thought it was super neat. I'm not real sure what the llama thought of the whole thing.
Hannah Jean was my best helper. She really stepped in and made our visit so much easier. She change diapers, pushed Anneliese around in her stroller, checked on her while she was napping. Camping with 5 young children is definitely a trying experience but my sweet Hannah made it so much easier.
The boys favorite part of the reunion was the rope swing. The kids as a whole spend the bulk of their time flying through the barn.
That would be Elijah in mid swing.

Reunion Activities

The group went on a hike one afternoon. This is our Grandma Jean who took the hike better than someone half her age. We are so proud of her!
Aunt Bernie had games planned for the kids each morning and this is Daddy and Eli doing the three legged race and doing AWESOME :).

We had a hay ride around the property that the kids (and Grandma Anita) seemed to really enjoy.
Aunt Bernie had a gentleman come in and teach the kids how to rope a calf (see the head on the hay bail?). They loved it.
Richard, Anita, Craig, Sonya, Hannah, Grace and a few others went out on a 6 hour 4-wheeler trip. They went up the mountains and enjoyed God's creation from a bird's eye view. Jared and I thought it was an amazing opportunity and are so proud of Grandma for going! From what we heard she had a ball.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Clark Family Ranch/Reunion!

Jared's Uncle Dennis and Aunt Bernie's ranch near Westcliffe, Co.
This is the barn that housed most of our shinanigans. We ate, played, dance, sang, rested, chatted, and worshiped all right there in that barn (more info in another post).
This is Sean's view of the family. In cousin Becca's blog she noted that all this is because Ted fell in love with Jean. I love that!
This is the family's view of Sean. We felt he needed to be included :)


wednesday morning i was checking my email, facebook and such while sipping coffee.

unfortunately i dumped my coffee all over my keyboard. i rinsed it off and let it air dry but it seems my left shift key was the victim. i no longer can capitalize letters while typing like a normal human being. this will take some adjusting to so i apologize in the meantime ;0).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


After leaving Colorado Springs on Tuesday we headed for Alamosa, Co. Jared's Aunt Vicki, Uncle Ron, Cousin Becca and her husband Sean and their three girls, Plus Uncle Steve and Nicole all live in the general vicinity.
Sis on a turtle at the crocodile farm.
Tanner was the only child brave enough to hold the baby croc. He received a certificate of bravery. He's so proud.
Aunt Vicki and Uncle Ron have chickens and the boys loved them. Brennan was devastated at the idea he wouldn't get to collect the eggs before we left. Thankfully Uncle Ron was able to take him out one last time and they found 4.
The pitch fork you see in Uncle Ron's hands it probably the culprit. Graham was outside playing and ended up with a deep puncture wound in his right leg. It caused tons of drama as we called our pediatrician as well as the health department to see what to do. He was doing okay until we went up to the camp. It started to look really infected and after sending him through the prayer chain at church it cleared right up. Thank you Lord!
This is the Alamosa airport when Uncle Ron, Aunt Vicki and cousin Sean work. The kids love to visit and this time they left with a box full of walkie talkies. They apparently replaced theirs and let the boys have the old set. The kids LOVE them and act as if they won the lottery.

Thank you Ron and Vicki for your generosity. We love you dearly and so appreciate you taking in our family of 7 and allowing us a wonderful vacation full of relaxation and family. We can't wait to return!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Random Car Images

Cave of The Winds!

While in Colorado Springs we went to the Cave of the Winds. It is a beautiful cave and the kids thought it was AWESOME! The view was spectacular.
We were fortunate enough to have a very gifted tour guide who really seemed to love his job. The boys were wearing their camp shirts and he leaned in at one point and said to Brennan and Tanner, "Are you a Christian?" To which they replied, "Yes" and he said, "Me too!" (with a big grin).

This is where I purchased my first of 2 pink hoodies (YAY!) The gift shop was awesome and really affordable. We got each of the kids a keepsake and the average price was only $4. There was a large bear in the gift shop and our children are a little odd:

As you can imagine it's extremely difficult to capture the magnificence of this natural wonder but here's a beautiful image from inside:

The kids were warned multiple times not to touch anything because our natural oils are absorbed into the walls and such. Supposedly there's a $250,000 fine for altering the cave. There was one spot towards the end they were allowed to touch and they did so with glee:

We journeyed through the cave with great anxiety since there was a large sign that said fussing children and their families will be escorted out. I'm sure that's without a refund. Anneliese needed to eat part way through and Graham was in rare form. Luckily we made it through and the kids have a lasting memory of a fantastic part of God's creation.

Day One, God Created Colorado Springs

Our beautiful babies. They are sitting under a rock in the Garden of the Gods. The kids loved climbing all over and under the rocks. I would venture to say this was on their top 3 favorite things we did and it was free!
"He's got the whole world in his hands."
Brennan 8 (almost 9!), Tanner 7

In The Beginning

I feel that in order to accurately and completely blog our trip it's going to have to be in installments. My desire is not only to share our trip with you but also have it documented for our kids. We were gone for 8 days!! So, here is installment #1, In the beginning :)!
We started out Monday morning after a week of prep. The kids really did excellent on the trip. We honestly couldn't have dreamed for better. They were quiet, well behaved and didn't fight. Jared and I teased that they behaved better in the car shoulder to shoulder than they do at home! Thank you Lord! Anneliese did excellent. She didn't make a peep for the first 4 hours. That alone is notable since she tends to lose her mind on the way to Wal-Mart.
Just West 0f Salina we saw a ton of wind turbines. They were oddly beautiful.

We made it to Colorado Springs in 9 1/2 hours. We were super thrilled with our hotel. We stayed at the Drury Inn. It was exceptionally clean and extremely kid friendly. The pool was indoor out door and the kids LOVED it.

After we checked in we headed out to Red Robin to have a wonderful dinner with Carrie, Steve, Katie, and Audry. It was such a treat to eat a delicious dinner with our family at the foot of the mountains. Anneliese was a big hit and she received lots of kisses.