Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Going to Miss This

I'm going to miss kiddie rides one day.

The kids have so much fun riding around at the fair.

However, I am not going to miss squeezing into a kiddie ride and then struggling to get the tickets out of my back pocket.

By the way, did you notice that my little guy was in two different cars? We only rode once.

Yep, right after I got the tickets out of my pocket, he decided he needed to be in the car I was in with his sister. He was tired and about to cry throughout the entire train ride. So, I gracefully switched cars.

Now that you are laughing, here are a few pictures with me smiling.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Flashback: Rub-a-dub-dub

The pictures I found today aren't that old. They were taken in June of 2006. I have to share them because they are some of my favorite pictures of my tough little man. I forgot how much baby fat he had! He was such a little chub.

He was a messy eater (still is). He ate and I took him right to the kitchen sink. I couldn't help it - I took a bazillion pictures of him. Here's a handful of the pictures.

I'm linking up with Alicia today at
More Than Words. Join in the fun with her Friday Flashback meme.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #102

An anonymous commenter commented today on my last post that they were disappointed that there wasn't a Thanks Tank today. It's still Thursday! I spend my day focusing on thankfulness on Thursdays. Sometimes I post early and sometimes I post late. There's no set post time. The only guarantee you get is that I am spending my day taking note of the goodness in my life.

That said- two more things to say before I get to my list.
1) For those of you looking for my Thanks Tank today- thank you- you made me smile. I was surprised by the anonymous commenter. I also had a facebook note from my sister and a call from my husband wondering if I was going to post a Thanks Tank. Thank you for looking forward to my thankful thoughts.

2) It is hard to focus on thankfulness when you have a sick child. My energy is gone. If you will, say a quick prayer for my little guy. He's been sick for a week. He's the only one that has been sick even though we have probably all shared germs. Really -my daughter should be sick. She grabbed his otter pop and sucked up some delicious Popsicle. Beyond that, he grabbed her pacifier popped it in his mouth and then put it back in hers all in about 5 seconds. So... we took him to the doctor yesterday. They did blood work but didn't find anything alarming. He threw up again tonight. He's been in a lot of pain -stomach pain. He's my tough guy. He's been having a hard time. The following picture is of him this afternoon. Before you think I'm terrible, please know that I had to tell him not to smile when I took out the camera.

As I write this list, I am cultivating my thankful thoughts. Here are some of the ways my Thanks Tank is being filled:

1. Company: We had friends visit us this past weekend. It was refreshing to be with good friends. We talked and laughed until the wee hours of the night.

2. My husband's friend: It makes me happy to see my husband spend time with a good friend. I am also thankful for this friend that traveled and brought a trailer full of tools so he could work on a home improvement project with my husband.

3. Colored Pictures: I received several coloring book pages in the mail today from my niece and nephew. They were colored for me and my husband. I am thankful for those sweet hands that colored for me. It brought a smile to my face.

4. MOPS: I spent some time this week putting together a slide show of pictures from last year's MOPS group. Many of the pictures made me smile. I am thankful for all the fun we had last year and I am looking forward to the coming year.

5. Grace: I was reminded this week that I need grace. I am weak. I struggle with impatience and irritability. I am glad that God gives me grace and that his Grace is sufficient for me. ("My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 1 Cor. 12:9)

6. Honesty:I was asked for feedback this week and I gave honest feedback. I hesitated. I thought about sugar coating my concerns. I didn't. I felt good about being truthful. I was encouraged when I was thanked for my honesty.

7. Friends: Didn't I already say this one? Yep. I am thankful for our friends that came to visit us. They are a blessing to me. (You are reading this, I know you are.)

8. The Moon: The moon is bright tonight. It's beautiful. I am thankful for peaceful nights. My day was long and I love the peaceful, quiet night.

9. My Dishwasher: I am thankful for my dishwasher- yes, yes I am. But, what I am really thankful for tonight is my husband. He came home from a late meeting (just after I got the kids in bed) and agreed to clean the kitchen.

That's it for me tonight. I am TIIIIIIIIIIIIIRED.

P.S. We had company and a sick child and... well... I am a bit behind on some things. For those of you that won my contest, the prizes will be in the mail by Monday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: BBQ Meatballs

We are having BBQ Meatballs for dinner tonight. It's a family favorite.
I grabbed the recipe from another Army wife when my husband was in the Army. She brought me the meatballs while my husband was deployed. When my friend shared the recipe with me, my boys were finicky eaters. I enjoyed them for days. They were that good. (Those of you that know me know that I am not a big left-over fan.) Now all of my boys, plus my husband and my daughter, love the meatballs. I serve them over rice.

Grandma's BBQ Meatballs

1 1/2 -2 lbs ground turkey (or turkey/beef mixture) [I use half ground turkey/half ground beef]
2-3 cups bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup milk
4 T. minced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp sage
sliced onion

1. Mix all together
2. Shape into meatballs.
3. Place into greased pan w/slices of onion on top.
4. Pour BBQ sauce over all
5. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Barbeque Sauce
I double this recipe because we like extra sauce.

1/2 cup Ketchup
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp chili powder [I add a bit more]
1/2 tsp mustard
1 T. brown sugar
1 cup water.

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Play: Boys Versus Girls

It's been hot this summer. My kids love playing in the water to cool off.

Here's the difference between boys and girls during water play...

Girls look oh-so-cute when they take a drink from the sprinkler.

Boys... pretend they are peeing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Flashback: My Little Man

I'm quite busy today. I was out and about all morning - fun stuff like taking 2 kids for shots and then taking 4 kids to the grocery story. My kids were troopers and I managed a Starbucks out of the trip. Anyway, I have a lot to do this afternoon. I decided to grab an unmarked disc and grab a picture off of that disk for Friday Flashback. I am so indecisive usually. This is a big deal for me to stick to the plan and force myself to pick a picture off the disk no matter what. The disk was a precious find. It had pictures on it of my late grandmother and my oldest son. The pictures were all from August 2001 - exactly 8 years ago.

Eight years back seems like a lifetime ago when you look at pictures of your children and pictures of someone you love that has since died.

Here's a picture of my grandmother and my son in 2001.

Here's a picture of my "little man" - This is from the same disk but he is older. My guess is that this was taken in summer of 2002.

Here's a picture of my "little man" in 2009.

I'm linking up with Alicia today at
More Than Words. Join in the fun with her Friday Flashback meme.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #101

Each Thursday I make a list of my thankful thoughts. Most of you know that but if you are new to my blog due to my contest, I thought you might like an introduction to Thursday Thanks Tanks. I spend time throughout my day appreciating the little and big things in my life. My posted list gives you a glimpse of my thankful heart.

Here are a few things filling up my Thanks Tank this week:

1. Getting together with friends: It's refreshing to spend time with friends. On two different occasions this past week, we got together with families to celebrate the birthdays of friends.

2. Blackberries: My family has picked many, many blackberries this week. We just walk down the street and across a field. One night, we all went together. One morning it was just me and the kids. Then again that night my husband went out with the boys. I think we enjoy picking the blackberries as much as we enjoy eating them. Well, almost as much.

3. Prayer: I am thankful for the power of prayer. I am thankful that I can pour my heart out to God and that I can also offer little prayers of desperation.

4. Moments of silliness: I am thankful for those moments I share with my kids when we all end up with a case of the giggles.

5. Conviction: This week has been a week of conviction for me. I have recognized several areas that I need to improve on. I am open to change. I am thankful for moments of surrender.

6. Grace: What would my life be without grace? I am grateful for God's unfailing love, His grace, and the grace of my family.

7. Volunteers: Volunteers built this awesome reading bench at my kids school.

8. Books: I am enjoying visiting the library again. I picked up a book last Friday and finished it on Saturday. I got lost in the pages. It was refreshing. As I am writing this, my 3 boys are sitting around looking at books they picked up from the library today.

9. Fields: I love that we have a field near our house. My boys love to play there. They run around and pretend play. It warms my heart to watch the boys "be boys" running in and out of the overgrown grass.

That's it for me today. I am going to go read stories to my kids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prayers of Desperation and a need for Dedication

When I woke up this morning, I couldn't rub the tiredness out of my eyes. I could barely make out the numbers on the clock to see the time. It was later than it should have been. My husband was still asleep. I nudged him awake. He started getting ready for the day. My husband said he was okay because he didn't have to be in at his normal time. I realized that I was not prepared for my day. I asked my husband if he could run to the store to pick up a couple of things. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I wasn't. In retrospect it was a selfish move. My husband picked up the tempo, rushed out to the store and back. Right before he got back, I realized we were almost out of coffee. I felt 100% grumpy. I had my coffee. My sweet husband didn't even take any when he left. I still felt grumpy. My boys were busy with noise and bickering.

The day rolled on full speed ahead like a roller coaster car traveling on the down-side of the track. I was pulled back and forth between the kids and the needs of the day. At one point, I dropped a picture frame and the glass shattered. I muttered a shameless word in frustration. Then, I stopped - for a few seconds. I prayed "Lord help me. I don't know what I am doing."

I marched back to the beat of the off-tune music of my day. I kept right on pressing on with my attitude and frustration. Nothing was working out. It seemed I could not finish one task without hearing "Momma! Momma!" about 10 times. I was stretched thin as a rubber band pulled as tight as possible. I walked upstairs to grab an item for my 4 year old. At the very moment I walked by my sleeping daughter's room, I heard my son yelling, "Momma! Momma!" I grasped my hands together tightly, much like a child does at the dinner meal blessing. I stopped. Still as ever, I prayed, "Lord, help me. I cannot do this without you."

I walked down stairs. My tension was still present and very real. I helped my son get on his dress-up clothes. I grabbed my book and walked into my bedroom. I opened it. I read a few Psalms. My son called me again. He needed me to "come there". With a sigh, I told him he had to come to where I was. I tended to him. Then, I tended to my soul again.

These words- "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress" comforted me. These words- "He brought them out of the darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains" reminded me. These words -"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love" brought me home.

I think the reason I fail to pray sometimes is because I have not spent time reading my Bible. There is nothing wrong with prayers of desperation. I believe my prayers today were, in fact, effective. What keeps me from a deep connection to God throughout my day in prayer? It has to be me failing to read the Bible.

It's the same as me telling a friend that I want to get together with them but then never making time to do it. I have a sincere desire to get to know some of my friends better but I need to make the effort to dedicate time to those friends. To deepen a friendship, I have to invest in it. Spending time reading my Bible provides an avenue to draw closer to God when I talk to him.

I'm linked up with Ann at A Holy Experience.

Wednesday Winners

When I recognized that I was getting close to 100 Thanks Tanks posts, I wanted to do something to celebrate and to thank my blog readers. Thank you for entering the contest. I hope that you will keep visiting.

Here are the Winners of my Thursday Thanks Tank Contest:

1. Coffee - #61 - RLR of Mom’s Magic

2. Journal - #26 - Kristi of Word Up

3. “Good Deals” Notecard and pen - #248 – Mimi of Screaming Mimi

4. “Appreciation” Notcard and pen –#81 - Jill of Barnes Yard

5. Target - #209 - Randdmom of Keeping Up With the Barfields

6. Not So Fast - #6 - Jessica of The Great Northwest

7. It’s All Too Much – #125 - Missy of Are you there God? It’s Me.

8. “Hearing from Loved Ones” Notecard and pen – #196 - Kristin of Diapers, Dress up and Other Holy Things

9. “Praying for Others” Notecard and pen – #210 Beth E of Outnumbered Three-to-One

10. Coffee – #37 – Mimi of He and Me + 3


Winners, please send me an email with your mailing address so I can send you your prize.

If you are wondering how I worked this out (and I know a couple of you are), here's what I did. I set up a spreadsheet and entered in the names as people entered the contest. That simplified 2 things - 1) I started off by entering all of the comments from my previous 4 Thanks Tanks (#96-99) before the first commenter commented on the Contest post 2) It was simple to enter a name when someone commented that they were sent by someone.

Here's a glimpse of the spreadsheet:

I went to to generate the winning numbers. As a side note, I realized after I selected my 1st winner that I could have selected for the generator to select 10 winners all at once. I couldn't dream of not giving RLR her coffee so I kept going the with individual selections. I'll never know why I didn't just generate 9 numbers after that first number. I didn't even think of it. I guess I was having too much fun clicking for winners.
Here's my results from the number generator:

Again, thanks so much for entering. It was fun to have so many people comment and blog about my contest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mothering: My Surprised Heart

I had a stunning realization on Sunday. I had just gotten back from a nice bike ride and walked with my kids down to “the big hill” to pick blackberries. The blackberries aren’t on the big hill. They are in the bushes at the edge of the field. The boys love playing on the big hill and were thrilled for Momma to take them there after dinner. We picked a plastic container full of blackberries.
Back to my realization… I thought to myself, “I just love this.” I loved the family moment, the excitement of my kids, and picking the blackberries. It suddenly hit me that I was very, very happy- as a mom. I couldn't remember the last time I felt unsatisfied staying home with my children. What a smile that brought to my face!

I know many, many moms that long to be a stay-at-home mom. That was never the case for me. I fell into it. I had planned to back to work as soon as I could when my first son was born. I had childcare lined up. The glitch was that we were moving 4 months after my son was born. The move complicated my desire to return to work. How could I put my 6 week old through the adjustment of daycare when we would be moving a few months later and I didn't have any job prospects at our new location? I couldn't do it and I didn't. But, I did struggle.

I was torn. I felt insignificant. I struggled with feeling useful and intelligent. I knew I was intelligent, mind you. I just didn't think I was using my intelligence. I was not satisfied.

On Sunday night, I grabbed my computer and searched for an old Motherhood post. It described my internal struggle. Here's that post: Mothering: Thoughts from My Heart. It ends with this statement: "I just struggle with being content in this stay-at-home mom position."

I am not struggling with contentment as a stay-at-home mom anymore. 8 years of struggling and I am not struggling anymore. After years and years of a hurting heart, I am happy in my place in life. I was surprised at the realization. I was stunned.

For the last two days I have been thinking about what changed.

Two years ago we moved to a small town. We choose the town but I was not prepared for the change to smaller town living. It took me a while to adjust. I have embraced my town.

I am embracing a slower life style.

There aren't that many places to go. I'm at home more. Instead of running here and there, I focus on my family and my friends. I am outside more (at least in the summer). I love things such as bike rides, letting my kids play in the rain, watching the kids get excited about tadpoles from the creek, and picking berries with the kids. I've slowed down enough to enjoy little things.

I've slowed down enough to stop longing for more.

Another part of my change of heart has to do with a change in perspective. Somewhere along the way, I stopped comparing myself to others. I didn't recognize how much I was looking at what I perceived as success. I couldn't measure up to it. I don't struggle with that near as much. Slowing down changed my perspective. I don't long for the success of others. I savor moments of stillness looking at the stars, the contagious sound of laughter from my children, the huge grin on my son's face when he brings me a dandelion flower, and praying with my family. I appreciate the beauty around me.

I could write more. Maybe I will write more in another post. For now, I have to go. My 4 year old just told me this is the best day ever. I asked him why and he said "just because". So, I'm gonna get going. I have to finish my cheese grits and get ready to go to "the big hill". I told the boys we would go this morning. We don't need more blackberries. We just want to go have some fun.

I'll leave you with a picture of me from Sunday night enjoying my berries and ice cream.

(One more thing - I am reading Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast. It is encouraging and challenging me even more to slow down. I highly recommend it.)

Contest! Contest! Contest!

I'll be back to post later today (most likely) but I wanted to say -

Enter My Contest: Thanks Tank Contest

I'm giving away a couple great books (It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh and Not So Fast by Ann Kroeker). There are really cute notecards and pens. There is a cute journal. I am also giving away a $15 Target gift card. Let's not forget about the coffee... 2 $15 Starbucks giftcards.

Even if you have already entered, tell everyone you know!

You can email, facebook, tweet, call your mom - anything. Tell everyone to comment that you sent them here and then you get an EXTRA ENTRY in the contest for each comment.

Spread the word.

You have until 10 p.m. PT tonight!

Here's the contest link again: Thanks Tank Contest

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Stumper

I was out with kids at an event and there were snacks on a table. It was just a small affair and we were just dropping by. The snacks included a box of cheez-its, a bag of trail mix laden with nuts, including peanuts, and a bag of miniature chocolate candy bars.

A man says, "Help yourself to the snacks. The kids can have any of it."

I said, "Oh, no, that's okay. My son's allergic to peanuts so I'm gonna keep them away from the food."

Man: "Oh, well, there are candy bars. They can have those. Chocolate and... Snickers!"

He smiled proudly like he was offerring my kids a wonderful treat.

Maybe he doesn't eat Snickers and he doesn't realize they are made with peanuts. Or, maybe they are his favorite candy bar and he just wasn't thinking. He didn't catch the confused look I gave him.

It was a reminder that some people hear peanut allergy and think "no peanuts" but don't clue in to the fact that it also meants "no products that contain peanuts". Honestly, it is hard for me to understand how someone can't get that. I try to remind myself that while I have been aware of food allergies for 5 years, other people have zero experience with food allergies.

Luckily my kids didn't get upset about not getting any food.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An Original Recipe

Last night I made biscuits. I love warm homemade biscuits with melted butter and a little bit of honey. They just melt in your mouth.

My grandmother makes the best biscuits. I grew up adoring going to her house for many reasons just one of which was her amazing breakfasts that included biscuits made from scratch.

Sometime before I got married (and then again after I got married), I got her to show me how to make her biscuits. The most difficult part- adding a little flour and little milk until the dough felt just right. She tried to measure out the ingredients just for me. A dash of this equals about 1/4 teaspoon and a handful of this equals around 1/2 cup. She did her best to show me and I did my best to imitate.

My imitation biscuits were not good.

They didn't turn out right no matter what I did. They were flat or dry or didn't have the right taste. Still, I wanted biscuits. I wanted to master making them from scratch.

I turned to a cookbook and found a recipe for biscuits. The recipe calls for many of the same ingredients as my grandmother's biscuits. These biscuits were a breeze to make and tasted delightful.

I was thinking about all of this last night when I made my biscuits. You see, my biscuits are not my grandmother's delicious biscuits but they are good.

As I was kneeding the dough, began to think about myself and how hard I work to be who I am.

I was reminded that I often try hard to imitate someone I look up to. I look at other people and want to be like them. I can take the steps that I see someone else taking. I can adopt the same attitude someone else has. I can try to absorb the knowledge someone else has.

However, I cannot be them.

I may have the same ideals and beliefs as someone else but that does not mean that I was meant to turn out the same. There is no cookie cutter that will yield excellence.

I have my own strengths and weaknesses. I have my own personality. I have my own unique perspective on life. To excel, I have to stop comparing myself to others.

I may not be as good as I think others are. But, I am good.

When my focus is right, when I find direction through prayer and reading my Bible, I will excel the way I am supposed to.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #100 - Thanks Tank Contest

I'm celebrating 100 weeks of Thursday Thanks Tanks. If you haven't read how my Thursday Thanks Tanks started, visit this post: Without Fear: Telling my Story of Thankfulness

Before I share my 100th Thanks Tank, I have to say I am very thankful for my husband. Without his encouragement and his sweet gifts of a few gift cards just for this contest, this contest wouldn't be all that it is.

Here's what I am thankful for this week.

1. Coffee
This will buy several wonderful lattes (or Vivanno smoothies- Those are delicious!)

2. Journaling My Thankfulness
This journal has a place to list 5 things you are thankful for everyday. There is also a sweet pen.

3. Good Deals
I love it when I find a good deal. These notecards and the pen were bargains.

4. Appreciation
Words of encouragement from a friend. Thank you's from my family. These simple things make a difference in my day. I like cute cards like this for expressing my appreciation to others.

5. My Husband's Job
My husband works at a Target Distribution Center. I am thankful for everything he does and for his company. This $15 gift card will buy some wonderful things.

6. Slowing Down
I am focusing on slowing down, taking it easy, enjoying my family and the little things in life. I just got my copy of Not So Fast by Ann Kroeker. It looks wonderful.
By the way, I won a copy! Thank you to everyone that hopped over to the Name the Boy (on the cover of the book) Contest. His name is now Henry. She is going to refer to him as Henry in her talks and reference me and my blog. Isn't that fun?!
I highly recommend getting this book.

7. Decluttering
I am constantly working on simplifying and the book It's All Too Much helps me recognize I have way more than I need. This is a fantastic book.

8. Hearing from loved ones
It warms my heart to get a surprise call or card from someone I love. These cards (and pen) are so cute.

9. Praying for Others
I enjoy praying for others. I believe my prayers are effective even if the person doesn't know I am praying. I find that others are encouraged when I drop them a note to share they are on my mind and in my prayers.

10. More Coffee
I am not sure I ever drink my fill. You can get some delicious drinks with this.

The Contest

I am giving away each of the things that I am thankful for (except my husband- he's mine). There will be 10 winners!

Contest Entries

- One entry for a comment telling me something you are thankful for

- One entry for a comment telling me that you follow my blog

- One entry when you blog about the contest on your blog and then leave me a comment about that

- Endless extra entries for each person that comes to my blog and says that you sent them (either from your blog post, an email, or facebook msg - anything). For you to get a comment for it, another person has to comment they came because of you.

Also (in an effort to thank my current readers and commenters), everyone that commented on the last 4 Thursday Thanks Tanks gets entries for those comments.

Contest Deadline

The contest ends on Tuesday, Aug 18 at 10 p.m. Pacific Time


Winners will be announced on Winner Wednesday (oh yes, you love that title, don't you?) on Wednesday August 19th.

Remember - Take time to be thankful, you will be better off for it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not-So Wordless Wednesday: Let's Play

Don't I look like I am having fun?! The morning after the backyard campout we had a family water fight. There I am in all my glory - in my pajamas - having a blast.

You will have a blast with my contest that starts tomorrow. Come back tomorrow and we will play!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Without Fear: Telling my Story of Thankfulness

This Thursday I am posting my 100th Thankful Thursday post. To celebrate, I'm having a contest. Be sure to stop by.

Let me tell you the story of how my Thursday Thanks Tank posts started.

On Oct 19, 2005, my husband deployed to Iraq for a year. I was afraid. I was scared he would be hurt or killed.

Here's an excerpt from a journal entry that I wrote the morning that he left.

"It seems impossible to feel as deeply as I do. Watching Seth deploy was the hardest thing I have done. It was heart crushing. My soul is weeping tonight...
I feel so sad and empty. There is no way to explain it."

Here's an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote six days after he left on Oct 25, 2005.

"I am concerned about Jonathan. He is really worrying about Seth. Tonight he was talking about how he didn't want Daddy to get hurt. And he described how he could duck bullets. That was almost too much for me. We have been praying together for Daddy. Tonight David put his arms around me and gave me a hug. hen, he just sort of hung on. He said, "I miss Dada." I don't know what he understands but he misses Daddy. Earlier he said, "Momma ets go home." I told him we were home. (He has never said that before when we were at our house before.) Then, he said, "Dada a wreck" (which is Daddy Iraq). I think he was trying to say he wants Daddy home. It is so hard. It is just hard."

My fear overwhelmed me at times.

I decided to claim 2 Timothy 1:7 as my verse for the year.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Four months into my husband's deployment, I started my blog. I explained the reason for my blog here: The Weight of Constant Activity

About the same time, I began reading Christian blogs.

Fast forward a bit. It was 2007 and through a series of clicks, I ended up on a blog called: Without Fear

My husband was home but I was still struggling with fear. When you dwell in fear for so long, it is hard to get rid of it.

The words on that blog encouraged my heart. They spoke to the dark places that had formed during my husband's deployment.

The blog claimed Isaiah 41:10"
"Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Pam, the author of Without Fear (this is her current blog site) had a weekly exercise called Thursday Thanks Tanks. I read her thankful thoughts and they touched me.

I realized focusing on being thankful kept me from worrying about things I could not control- namely, the future.

So, on June, 14, 2007, I wrote Thursday Thanks Tank #1.

Little did I know, my weekly Thanks Tank would help me become more thankful everyday. I had no idea how much it would impact my life.

Although I have been blogging almost daily lately, my blogging used to be more sporadic. My Thankful Thursdays have been the one thing I cannot stand to miss. I write them for me. I spend the day being thankful. I often make a large list of small things and then post a handful of items. I always spend time thanking God for what he has given me.

It is accurate to say that Thursday Thanks Tanks have changed me.

Pam and I are now more than just blog friends. We are facebook friends and we exchange Christmas cards, too. I am not sure I have had a chance to explain to her (until now) just how thankful I am for her and her Thursday Thanks Tanks. With the words of her blog, she began something that made a difference.

That's how my Thursday Thanks Tanks started.

I am better off because I take time to be thankful.

Camping Lessons Learned

I went camping this past weekend with my family. It was our first camping trip as a family of six. We had an amazing time. The weather was perfect. The kids played well and enjoyed the outdoors. We had a great campsite. It was one of my favorite weekends of the summer.

Here are a couple pictures from inside Cove Palisades State Park, which is where our campground was located.

We had fun. We also learned a lot about camping with a family of six.

Camping lessons learned from the family:

Husband: Next time- Bring Extra Everything.
8 year-old: Getting car-sick is not fun.
5 year-old: You can swim faster in a lake if you take your sandals off.
4 year-old: If you cook marsmallows too long, they get burned.
20 month-old: (She didn't say this, exactly, not in words anyway.) I don't need to wait for someone to roast marshmallows. They are good right out of the bag.

Here are some of my camping lessons learned:

Don't put the child that tends to get car-sick in the middle of the back seat when you are driving on winding mountain roads.

When your child throws up all over your car on the way to the campsite, the scent will not go away while you are camping.

When your husband packs most everything for the trip because you were really busy the few days before the trip, be happy but don't take his word on the fact that he packed your shampoo. You might just end up with a small bottle of conditioner instead of shampoo.

[EDIT: Don't beat yourself up too much for not mentioning the shampoo mishap on the first morning of the campout. When you let your husband read your post prior to posting it and he smiles and tells you he took the time to put your shampoo in another bottle (an unmarked bottle that you wouldn't have suspected held shampoo), don't be frustrated you used baby head-to-toe body wash to wash your hair.]

When your husband looks at the lake and suggests that the kids will only last 20 minutes, don't wonder if he is right. Don't doubt your knowledge of how much kids enjoy dirt, rocks, sand, and water. Do be kind enough not to give your husband too hard of a time about suggesting they would be bored.

When you are at the lake looking at treasures (rocks, sticks, etc), don't pick up that mysterious item that your husband throws to you because he's sure the boys will think it's cool. It might be a piece of chewing gum with little rocks stuck to it. (Can I just say -Ew!)

Next time remember that if 2 of the 3 boys get up in the night to go to the bathroom, we should take the 3rd (and youngest boy) to the bathroom. Thankfully, we had enough (not extra but enough) bedding and clothes to get by after the accident.

Don't spend any time wondering if the trip is a good idea, even if you and your husband decide on the trip on Monday before you leave on Friday. Even if you have little to no time to do any of the planning or packing, go with a great attitude. Even if there are little mishaps, camping as a family is fun.

Seeing all three of your boys fall asleep by a campfire will warm your heart and make the campfire feel magical.