Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right? I love lemonade. It's so crisp and refreshing. It's my go to drink order around the house and in restaurants. When I was pregnant I even had the waitstaff bring me two at a time because I drank them so fast!

Well we've been dealt some real lemons lately. The most recent involves our house. We had a buyer who wanted a quick turnaround. We had a month to get out, so that he could get in. He was offering cash and didn't have a place to live in the meantime, so we did what we could to accommodate his request.

There wasn't anything on the market that suited us at that time, so we decided to look for a place to rent. We actually found what looked like a perfect deal: a 3 bedroom house across the street from Frances' best friend. The owner was headed out on a mission trip and wouldn't be back until April 2017. She even let us sign a 3-month lease so that we could get out quickly if we found another home.

We signed the lease and started moving stuff. It went slowly at first, mostly because Ken and I both have full time jobs and otherwise full schedules. I was loading up my van each evening and unloading it the next day on my lunch break. We set a date for the last weekend of September to rally the troops and get everything out. I called and cancelled all our utilities.

Then the buyer backed out.

I cried for about two days. I'm not entirely sure why he backed out, though it was within his legal rights. He says he was concerned about some things in the inspection report, but he never mentioned which things. I've seen the report and I don't see any deal breakers for an almost 70 year old house. My biggest problem is that he never allowed us the opportunity to remedy anything. We even offered a price break and there was still no conversation.

For the sake of my sanity and my well-being, I've forced myself to move on. I don't want him to have our house anyway! I want someone who will enjoy it and have as much love and life as we did there. In my eyes, there's nothing wrong with the house, it just doesn't fit us anymore.

We decided to carry on as planned. We picked up the truck, directed the volunteers and loaded up the truck (three times!) to get stuff out. 75% of our stuff is going into storage because the house we are renting is fully furnished. That actually made the move easier, since it all got delivered to one place and unloaded Tetris-style into the storage unit.

We've settled into life in a new home this week. There are lots of things to get used to; mainly not knowing where anything is! Thankfully, things have gone pretty well, and even though it's not Tuesday for a list of ten, and it's early for Thankful Thursday, I'm going to go ahead and make my list of ten things I'm feeling thankful for. I need some lemonade in my life right now.

1. We don't have a dishwasher, but Frances has offered to help out with the dishes while we're in this house. She actually argued with my mom after our first dinner there because she said she'd made a commitment and she was going to do it. I'm proud of the young lady she is becoming and I'm not nearly as worried about the teen years (which start in a week!) as I used to be.

2. We don't have a/c in this house either. It was never that big a deal for perpetually-cold me, but I was worried about Ken and the kids. Well, the weather has taken a nice turn and with the windows open, the house is quite pleasant.

3. The bedrooms are all together. It's been a long time since I could easily check on all three kids at bedtime. Frances being upstairs had thrown that off. It's also easier to wake them up and monitor them in the mornings. I like having all of us there together.

4. The basement is half-finished and where we've decided to put the TV. This is nice because we can go downstairs in the evenings and watch TV without worrying that we're keeping the kids up. It's nice to have the busy areas separated from the quiet areas.

5. It's employee evaluation time at work, and that might make some people worried, but this hasn't been a concern for me at all. Work has felt like my sanctuary with all the other upheaval that's going on. I like my job, I do it well, and I am recognized for that. And my position is flexible enough that if I need time off, it's very easy to take it.

6. Our new house has a nice flat yard and a driveway. Benjamin loves riding his bike or scooter up and down the driveway, and Henry has had a great time running around in the backyard. He's even noticed the kids behind us and their play structure. He's getting all the details before he goes over to introduce himself and test out the toys!

7. The neighborhood is nice too. As I mentioned, Frances' best friend lives across the street. She came over yesterday to see Frances' room and talk. We've met one other family that has a daughter Henry's age, and I'm sure that we'll be meeting other neighbors soon.

8. The neighborhood is also flat! Benjamin and Ken went on a walk/ride a few nights ago. Ben was able to ride his bike while Ken walked with him. There were no hills to contend with and the streets are wide enough to accommodate cars and pedestrians.

9. We've been sleeping with the windows open to enjoy the nice breeze at night. I've noticed how much quieter it is where we are now. We used to hear a lot of vehicle traffic, music, and conversation in our old neighborhood, but now there's much less of that. I"m pretty sure I even heard a cow one night!

10. There are boxes all over the place, I'm not sure where my stuff is (in the house, in storage, still at the old place, etc.), and we've still got lots of details to iron out; but the reality is I'm feeling much more settled now that I was a month ago. I'm not sure why. It's quite possible that it's just a defense mechanism. To be honest, I really don't want to examine it too closely. I'm feeling settled and that's enough for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Biggest Story #Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. It contains links for which I will receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase.

Life throws lots of twists and turns at you. Sometimes things go really well and sometimes things go not so well. In both kinds of situations, I rely on my faith to answer the questions I have about the whys and wherefores.

We were recently sent a CD/DVD combo to review and it was just the reminder I needed that there's a rhyme and reason behind all of life's twists and turns. It's all connected and all part of The Biggest Story.

The Animated Short Film: Featuring beautifully animated illustrations adapted from the book, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film is a joy for parents and kids as they see how all the classic stories in the Bible connect to the Bible’s main message about God's plan for His people.

The Audio Book: This audio book of The Biggest Story—written and narrated also by the best-selling author Kevin DeYoung—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, husband to Trisha, and father to seven children.
 This set contains beautiful illustrations and imagery as well as a story that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. You can order the DVD or CD on

Or you can enter to win a copy for yourself, by entering the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Grandparents' Brag Book

Did you know yesterday was Grandparents Day? I actually didn't know specifically when it was and now I feel bad because my parents were in town and we didn't even get them a card! I even had a project ready to celebrate Grandparents Day and to fit with the #BlogWithFriends monthly theme of Grandparents.

I've heard that being a grandparent is more fun that being a parent. You can play and have fun and spoil the grandkids and then give them back when they get tired, cranky, or dirty! That's not completely true in my experience. My mom does a great job of keeping the kids clean, well-fed, and happy.

Most of the grandparents I know love to take pictures of their grands. My mom has several albums of my kids' pictures, and she's made some for the kids to keep after their adventures with her. Today I have a project for a cute brag book you can make and fill with pictures and quotes for your favorite Grandma!

You will need:
  • Five sheets of colored scrapbook paper (12x12). Use any colors you wish, but at least two should be the same for the covers.
  • Stiff cardboard (think cereal boxes)
  • Coordinating Ribbon
  • Hot glue
  • Glue stick
  • Pictures
First cut two squares of the cardboard into 6x6 squares. Cover each square with paper and secure with hot glue. Your seams on the inside won't show, so don't worry about lining things up perfectly.

Next take each of the three remaining squares and fold it horizontally, vertically, and diagonally; unfolding after each fold.

Open the paper and push the diagonal folds inside towards each other. The top and bottom of each square should be un-creased.

Slide the top of one into the bottom of another and glue them together with your glue stick. Do the same with the third. Let the glue dry and then open it up. It should unfold out, accordion style.

Next cut your ribbon into two pieces 12-14" long. Place each ribbon on the inside of each cover and secure with hot glue. Now glue the covers to the outsides of the book and let dry.

Now you can open and close your book easily, and tie it shut when not in use for bragging about the grandkids!

Want to see some other posts celebrating grandparents? Check these out!

Karen has Grilled Lobster Crab Rolls.
Dawn has some spicy fried chicken.
Minette has an orange cake recipe.
Sarah has the Story of Them.
Lydia has some tips for getting ready to care for your aging parents.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What do Bullies Know Anyway??

Sometimes I like to dive right into a story and tell it from the inside out. Other times, things flow out of my fingers with a definite beginning, middle, and end. Today, however, I'm not sure where to start. I have a secret subject swap topic in front of me. When Karen assigned it, I felt like I knew exactly what to do with it. I probably should have started writing right then, but of course I didn't.

Part of my pause is because I haven't actually written anything in a long time. Life has had too much going on. I also haven't read anything from my blogging friends in a while. I hate feeling disconnected from that part of my world, but other parts (like moving) are taking precedence right now.

The other reason I hesitate is that I hate telling this story. Any part of it. I hate that this story exists in our family and in the world.

What am I talking out? Here. This is where I'll start:
Your “Secret Subject” is: How do you handle it when your child is being bullied -- and the bully's mom is doing nothing about it? It was submitted by:
Frances has been bullied and picked on quite a lot. At one point, I had thought it stopped, but it actually turned out that she had stopped telling me about it. That was worse than the actual bullying: the fact that she had gotten so used to it that it didn't seem noteworthy anymore.

In trying to be objective about the situation, I can see a lot of reasons why my daughter would be the butt of someone else's jokes and comments:

  • She doesn't wear the latest designer fashions. In fact, most of her clothes are hand-me-downs or from the second-hand store. She also likes to make some...shall we say...unique combinations out of them. She wears skirts with pants, stripes with plaid, and colors that make her happy, but might not compliment each other.
  • She hangs with the less-than-cool crowd. Currently, her friends include an autistic boy who needs help understanding social cues in the classroom (Frances sticks close by and whispers clues in his ear), a girl from Iraq who speaks very little English and needs help navigating middle school society, and a kid with anger issues who frequently blows up in class.
  • She's smart and enjoys learning about complicated things. She does well in school and grasps concepts fairly quickly. She enjoys analyzing things and talking about how pieces fit together. She thinks knowledge is fun.
Being objective is good. It can give you some clarity in an otherwise murky situation. It's hard to be objective about your own children though. Everyone thinks their kids are the smartest, best behaved, best looking ones around, right?  If I take a look at those same characteristics of my daughter through a mother's eyes, this is what I see:
  • My darling, you are unique and creative. You have a flair for originality. You like to surround yourself with what makes you happy. You take what life gives you and make the best of it.
  • Sweetheart, you see people with your heart. You can look beyond the surface of a person and see their true worth inside them. You know how to reach out and connect with lots of different people.
  • Love, brains will take you much farther in life than beauty. And you know where true beauty lies anyway. Keep learning; keep questioning, keep trying to figure out how things work.
Ultimately, Frances has stopped telling me about a lot of the comments she's gotten, because she's mostly stopped caring. She has learned an inner strength that will be quite useful through the rest of middle school and beyond. She hasn't quite found her niche yet, but she will.

So how do I handle it when my daughter gets bullied? I help to build her up so that she knows what's really important. And people who disagree? Don't need 'em!

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
Not That Sarah Michelle
The Bergham Chronicles
Spatulas on Parade
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
The Lieber Family Blog
Confessions of a part time working mom
Southern Belle Charm
Never Ever Give Up Hope
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