Welcome to our blog!! Thanks for checking out our journey with 7 crazy kids, including one named Spencer who has achondroplasia, the most commom form of dwarfism. Here you'll find my personal ramblings on raising a child with a physical disability, thoughts on motherhood and faith.

Join us in the chaos if you dare.....

**You can also follow me on my money saving blog-Nine on a Nickel. Join in the money saving fun at www.nineonanickel.blogspot.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nineonanickel

Monday, March 25, 2013

Authentic Motherhood and Sufficient Grace

I realize often what a hot mess of a Christian I am. There are days I feel like a complete failure. I look at the seven little faces that I mother and wonder how I can teach them anything when I often feel like a dropout  student myself. When I slip and say something I shouldn't; when I tell them to be kind, yet I'm quick to anger, when I tell them to have faith and then I doubt. Sometimes I feel like I mother by "do as I say, not as I do." Those are the days the Devil says to me, "you are not enough."

Motherhood is by far the toughest job out there. There is no Employee Manual to refer to, (for Pete's sake they just let us walk out of the hospital with human being!), no Human Resource Department to voice complaints. You won't get the opportunity to park in the "Employee of the Month" spot. Heck, you may not even get to park in your own garage if your teenager keeps forgetting to take out the trash. And we all feel the eyes of the critics out there. Like a societal Siskel and Ebert, critiquing our parenting abilities. Let's be honest, being a mama is hard and being a Christian mama is probably even harder. Yep, I just said that. It's harder because we know that one day we will give account for the children God gave us. We want to do right by God and by our kids.

I won't lie, I feel the pressure. I want so much for my kids. I want so much to please God and for my kids to please God. One day after I had totally not measured up to where I wanted to be/should have been/could have been as a mom and as a wife. I felt like I'd sort of hit rock bottom. It was then when Christ softly whispered to me, "my grace is sufficient."

Sufficient? Sufficient to mother 7 different kids and all their individual needs, all while falling short myself? Yep, sufficient enough for that. The cool (and scary) thing about kids is that they can smell a phony a mile away. They will call you out on your lack on integrity faster than instant oats. But your kids aren't expecting you to be perfect, they are expecting you to be authentic.

Authentic in how you live your life. They expect you to try every day to live what you say, even if you fall short. They expect you to apologize when you mess up. The expect you to expect THEM to walk the walk and talk the talk when you are living authentically yourself.

Authenticity isn't about measuring up to an unattainable bar of perfection. Which is a good thing, because I'm a weak and sinful person. I'm glad my Savior said, "my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9) When I'm covered in his grace and mercy, his love and kindness I am enough. Maybe I'm even the most "enough" when I'm at my weakest.

So, mama when you're feeling like you don't measure up, like you are not enough, remember that the Savior you fully trust in to take away your sins, is also the Savior that will cover you in his grace and mold you and make you in the mother he desires. Open up his word and let him fill you. His grace and mercy is enough. Through Him, YOU are enough.

Hang in there, your "Employee of the Month" parking spot is just around the corner....

Thursday, February 28, 2013

If You Love Something, Set It Free

What I'm about to share with you is nothing new. The Bible even tells us "there is nothing new under the sun." But a thought profoundly struck me today. People, Christian and not, often get angry at what God "allows." The evils and hurts of this world often are more than we can sometimes stomach.

The truth is, God has given us a free will. We can choose to seek Him and His ways or not. Sometimes when people choose the "not", it manifests itself in ugly ways. I've often contemplated why God gave us a choice to love Him or not, to follow Him or not, to obey Him or not.

Being a parent has opened my eyes in countless ways to how God must see us, must love us as our Heavenly Father. When I discipline my children and it hurts both me and them, I know how God must feel when he corrects us. When I see my child in pain from a shot, but know it's for their better good, I know how God must feel when he allows us to go through a painful life experience for our better good.

And today the concept of free will really took hold. My two year old daughter is a smart, witty and trying little girl, but her spirit and spunk is something I love so much about her. Yet, she is using every ounce of patience I have some days! I've often looked at people who had very obedient kids. Not just good kids, but almost robotic kids. Honestly, it made me more okay with the fact that I have strong willed kids! Here's why:

I don't want to just beat my kids into submission until there is no longer any semblance left of their beautiful, God-given traits. I don't want a child who tells me they love me because they've been told to or does nice things for me just because it's their duty. I want a child who has a choice, a free will.

Did you ever think that maybe God is the same? He wants us to CHOOSE to love him, honor him, give him good gifts and every part of ourselves, to willing love Him. When we tell God thank you, because we are truly thankful and not just because we are required to, it must be sweet music in His ears. A concept we know from raising our own children. Telling your child "say thank you" and them saying it, sure isn't the same as that sweet unprompted "thank you, mama!"

Sure free will and the resulting sin that God has allowed sometimes sucks eggs, but aren't you thankful He gave us a choice. So when the weight of sin and evil in this world seems to much to bear, tell God you are thankful for the choices He allows you to make and thankful that He gave you the choice to choose Him willing....

If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was. -Richard Bach

Monday, July 23, 2012

A little less talk, a lot more action

Hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a doozy of a blog post. I'm a little riled up and this blog may seem self serving, but it comes from a place of wanting no one else to go through the let down we've had. To say our family has been through the wringer would be a massive understatement. In the past couple of years we've had a child diagnosed with a severe physical disability and shortly after that diagnosis we almost lost him, my husband and I both lost our dads, my husband made a few job changes and was diagnosed with cancer, we had two babies and had heart condition scares with both, we've begun caring for my aging mother in law. Trust me the list goes on and some of the heartaches are far too personal to post. Oftentimes in circumstances such as these, peoples faith in God is shaken. For me my faith in God became rock solid, but my faith in people was shattered into oblivion. Now don't get me wrong, there are people who have come out of the woodwork and went out of there way to be there for us. Those people I could never thank enough. But there are those who have let us down when we need them most and it was like a knife to the heart. I'm writing this post, because I've talked to so many others who have been through much in their lives and the story is often the same as ours. The disappointment and hurt of those around them not being there when needed most, hurt them as much as it has for us. I'm going to be really blunt here. I believe there are a few "cop out" statements that people use. The first is "let me know if you need anything." Let's be honest, when is the last time someone called you up and said, "hey, remember you said if I ever need anything? Well, I need..." Seriously, 99.9% of people aren't going to tell you they need something, but 99.9% of people going through troublesome times need SOMETHING. SO, if you know someone is going through a hard time-just do something! Bring them a meal, babysit their kids, pick up the phone and call them, send them a note, give them a gift card or a bag of groceries and the list goes on. Do you know that when my dad passed NO ONE called me. Nope, no one. I got one sympathy card and my 90 year old aunt brought us a meal. That lack of caring hurt almost as much as my dad dying. Second, "cop out" phrase-"I'll pray for you." Yep, I just said that. Don't get me wrong. I believe in the power of prayer probably more than most, but it seems to be the Christian pass to not do a dang thing. Sure prayers are appreciated, but they aren't the most practical thing to offer. People seem to think that they've done their part by offering a word of prayer, but let's pull out a Bible verse here. "1 Cor 13:13-And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Charity in the Bible has often been defined as "love in action." So God says the "greatest" of these is charity or love in action. I have a feeling that he meant doing more than saying you'll pray for someone. People going through difficult times NEED people. Sure God is our rock, but even God needed people (that's is why he created them after all.) So, if you offer a word of prayer-great, but also offer something a little more tangible! Third, "cop out" and it's not a phrase, but an action. The Facebook cop-out. If you are a reasonably close friend or family member, sending your condolences on Facebook is NOT enough. Pick up the dern phone, stop by someone's house, something!! Facebook has changed the world and not for the better. We've become so impersonal and so inundated with information that we have become callous to the hurt right in front of us. People often get news out via Facebook, because it's a quick and easy way to inform the masses, but the return feedback needs to be more than a Facebook "comment." Let me wrap it up by saying, if you are not going through a difficult circumstances yourself surely you can find a little bit of yourself to give. (And oftentimes, the even those going through their own difficulties find a way to help others.) Be willing to go out of your way, be RELIABLE (the last thing someone in difficult times needs is you to create another problem for them), be a listening ear (don't tell someone about your car trouble when they just told you their spouse has cancer.) If you can't do something big, then do something little. Almost anyone can send a card in the mail, pick up a gallon of milk for a family who just spend there entire day (week/month) at the hospital or make a phone call and say "how are ya?" I'm writing this while my emotions are still raw and real in the midst of my husband's cancer ordeal. It is not meant to be a self-serving post, but a post that will hopefully open people's eyes to the hurting world around them and cause them to take action. Or as the song goes, "a little less talk and alot more action."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Live Like You Were Dying

Okay, so I didn't have a great title for this blog, so I stole the title of a Tim McGraw song. Have you ever read an obituary and thought to think what yours might say? Now, I know some people don't like to think about things they consider morbid, but a healthy dose of morbidity might just help us really live! (Think of someone who gets a terminal diagnosis of cancer or someone who's just lost a loved one. Death truly puts things in perspective.)

I'm one of those quirky people who actually read the obituary section. It's always bittersweet to read a long, loving obit. Someone so amazing in life that the pain of their death is greater than normal. And then the sad obituaries where there really isn't much to be said. A life wasted, perhaps.

I read a great article one time that included a line that said something to this effect, "I don't want my obituary to read, 'she kept a clean stove.'" It made me laugh, but how true! It really hit home with a Type A/OCD personality like me!

When I kick the bucket, I want to have one humdinger of an obituary. You know something to the effect of, "Granny loved skydiving, made a mean chocolate cake and loved her family more than life itself."

I think we should all take the time to think what would be said of us at our funeral or in our obituary. Will our kids remember us running through the backyard sprinkler with them or were we too busy manicuring our lawns? Will our husband have memories of a wife who made him the best birthday dinners or a lady that was always at a PTA meeting? Will our children remember our smiling faces at their school play or that mom was at the office working late to pay for that shiny, new car?

As long as God gives me breath, I hope I can keep my priorities straight. It's a daily battle for most of us and definitely for me. I want to try to be part of everything I can for those I love. Babies being born, someone taking their last breathe, school plays, soccer games, you name it. May the "busyness" of life never get in the way of the truly important things. If my heart's going to give out may it be from laughing myself to death not stressing myself there.

If we truly live life and ingrain ourselves in the lives of others, we will leave a mark on this world that even death itself cannot erase. I hope I "live like I was dying."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Product Reviews and Tips

How many products do you use everyday? Probably more than you care to admit! I'm passionate about saving money, but also having products that work well. Sometimes cheaper is better and sometimes you are better off spending a little more on a product that gives better results. As you read on you will find tips for finding which product is best, stretching your dollar and a few product reviews!

Let's start with household products. I go through a lot of cleaning type products with a family as large as mine, so I don't want to spend a lot and I want products to do double duty whenever possible. First, let's start with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Seriously, this thing is a miracle worker! It works on practically everything-coffee and tea stains on the counter or in your mug, crayon and scuff marks on the wall, sinks, tubs, sneakers, even permanent marker and the list goes on! Because I use this product frequently I found that many stores carry an off brand. It still works great and is about half the cost. I also cut each eraser in half and they last much longer.

I also have a couple of laundry room favorites. (I do have to disclose that I am a "Purex Insider" and get free products to test.) I'm in love with Purex with Zout. It works on our toughest stains (and with six kids, baby I've got 'em!) It works as well as Tide and is considerably cheaper. It even takes grass stains out the first time! I also like the Purex Fabric Softener Crystals. A little goes a long way and the fragrance really lasts. Probably my best laundry room tip though is that most people use too much product. When I say "too much" I mean using what the manufacturer recommends. Detergent build up is hard on our clothes, so find out how little you can use for your water hardness (I find it's about a third of what's recommended) and use only that amount. One item you saved from a nasty stain is well worth the extra spent on a good detergent!

For all purpose cleaning I really like Murphy's Oil Soap. Walls, doors, wood furniture and floors, it does it all! I'm a minimalist when it comes to cleaning products. I need a few that work great and are multi-purpose. I don't have time to mess with 17 different cleaning products! I also use a blend of vinegar, water and a great smelling extract (I like Orange). Mix it in a spray bottle and voila a cheap and safe all purpose cleaner! Spray this in your toilet bowl, toss in some baking soda and again you have safe and inexpensive cleaner!

Some random household items I like are-Walmart brand drawstring trash bags. They are just as durable as the name brand and save you some dollars! I also like the off brand Swiffer pad refills. Way cheaper! We have hard water and I've found that Cascade Complete dishwasher tabs, although a little pricey, do the job and don't leave my dishes filmy! I'm loyal to Scott brand toilet paper. It goes on sale often and lasts forever. In this house we go through toilet paper like water and I don't want to change the roll every 5 minutes!

We've changed over to low flow shower and faucet heads. Don't let the "low flow" fool you. The water still comes out just fine, the only difference you'll notice is on your water bill! Another money saving change we've made is to energy efficient lightbulbs. I suggest doing this gradually because they are more expensive than traditional bulbs, but you will notice a savings on your electric bill sure to make you happy. A random product like-kitchen shears!! I use them for EVERYTHING! They are great for cutting up little ones food, cutting meat and even cutting pizza! Works better than a pizza cutter! I bought a cheap pair at the Dollar Tree for a buck and they are still going strong!

My favorite products to try are beauty products. I'm definitely a girls' girl and love beauty products. I really like the Suave Professionals line of hair care. From shampoo to conditioner to styling aids, they've got it covered! It's a line of salon quality products starting at around $1.50! I have a lot of hair products in my cupboard and shower and probably 80% is the Professionals line. It's so inexpensive that I don't mind my 3 preteen girls using "my" hair stuff! One to try is the Dry Shampoo Spray. It's great for mornings you don't have time to wash your hair. I'm the type that wants to wash her hair everyday and this even lets someone like me skip a day and feel happy with the results! I also like the heat protector spray and the Sleek line. The Suave mens line is great too and smells nice!

Flat iron addicts-heads up! I really wanted a Chi, but didn't want the Chi price tag. So, I was so happy to stumble across a Good Housekeeping article on flat irons. The pricey Chi was beat out by the $40 Remington Frizz Therapy flat iron. You better believe I picked one up at that price! I'm happy to say it does a marvelous job! And at $40, who can complain? Seriously, if you need a flat iron look up the reviews online for this baby! As a compliment to the flat iron, I really like Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Flat Iron Spray (that's a mouthful of a name, huh?) It's about $6 at an big box or drugstore and it adds great shine and all day straightening power. And the smell is heavenly!

For shaving I use the cheapest conditioner I can find. Yep, hair conditioner. It's inexpensive and leaves your skin silky smooth!I've recently started using Colgate Optic White toothpaste and have seen great results (even though I've used whitening toothpaste for years). It's priced around $3 and you can most always find a coupon for an extra discount.I've also found that the store brand knock off of most facial products like lotions and cleansers works just as well and are often half the price.

For the diehards out there-I use an at home glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy) facial peel. I purchased mine through Amazon and use a brand called Skin Laboratory Gylcolic/35 Gel Peel. It's about $20 and the results are unbelievably smooth skin. It minimizes wrinkles, improves acne and discoloration and a list of other facial issues. I've never had a salon peel done, so I can't compare, but I love the results this product gives. I really think this is a product every woman should try. It's pretty amazing. It's a powerful product though and you must do a patch test first.

I've fallen in love with face primer. (I'm currently using Revlon brand.) Put it on after your moisturizer and before your makeup for a flawless, long lasting finish. I also like Revlon Photo Ready concealer (a must for a girl with hereditary dark circles and 6 kids) and L'Oreal Infallible foundation. Both provide long lasting, great coverage. There are so many great options out there, so play around with "drugstore" brands and ditch the pricey department store makeup counters.

Don't be afraid to try new beauty products! Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid all have a no-risk return policy. If you try a product and don't like it for any reason, just return it with your receipt! It's really that simple and it allows you to test out a product without the fear of being stuck with it!

I don't use a lot of baby products, but I have a couple I stick with. For me it's Luvs diapers, hands down. For about $16 bucks you get around 100 diapers (if you buy the box). They're virtually leak proof and a killer deal at that price. I also like most store brand wipes. Usually Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle's, etc. store brands are safe bets. The really cheap kind aren't a deal in my opinion, because they are so thin you end up using two instead of one. Definitely a case where cheaper isn't cheaper!

I'm going to wrap it up with a few basic tips. If you are a name brand junkie, stop! Many off brands are produced by your favorite name brand. It's okay to have a few name brand favorites though (I'm a Jif loyalist!), but don't be a name brand snob. This can really add up at the grocery store! I buy almost storebrand everything! I love to cook and I'm pretty picky and still I'm happy with the products, so no excuses!!

Probably my most favorite tip is to always, always, always reserach before making a bigger purchase. I'm cheap, so when I say bigger I'm talking $20 or more. Take a vacuum cleaner purchase, for example. Go online find the ones you like with whatever options you are looking for. Then see which model gets the best reviews for the lowest price. This can save you considerable amounts of money. Many, many, many times the more expensive products are the ones people have the most problems with. Usually that middle of the road brand will be your best bet. Cheap doesn't always save you money in the long run and the pricey brand isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

I hope you find the product reviews helpful and the tips useful. If you have a question about a particular product, I may be able to help. My whole idea is to be frugal, which in my mind is living BETTER for less!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The grass is always greener on the other side....

There are days when this stay at home mom dreams of being a career girl. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, love my life, yada, yada, yada. But after a day of wiping butts, whining kids and spit up stained clothes, a girl starts to fantasize. I think what it would be like to get up in the morning and get ready to go to "the office." It even sounds cool. I'd put on my tailored power suit, pumps, jewelry, the whole bit. I'd drop the kids off, turn off Veggie Tales and put on some jamming tunes as I cruised into Starbucks for a Giant-Grande-Mocha-Frappe-Latte or whatever it is that they charge a pretty penny for. I'd pull up to work in my fancy car and strut into my comfy office building and do....stuff. I don't know what kind of stuff I'd do, but it wouldn't have anything to do with poop, that's a fact jack. I'd eat lunch out at a place that didn't sell Happy Meals and I'd even pick up take out for dinner. Man, that'd be the life! Or would it?

Now you see, for every stay at home mom like me dreaming about "the other side", there's a mom sitting in an office wishing for what I've got. She'd give her right arm to trade in her Italian pumps for Nikes and the power suit for sweats. A Happy Meal with her kid would beat that overpriced gourmet stuff any day. She'd trade in her perfume for the smell of spit up.

I think we all sometimes fall into the trap of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. We stay at home moms can especially get worn down when the other life seems so glam. So what that getting dressed up means waiting for the rare date with my hubby or that the only time I hit a Starbucks is well, never. I'm going to slip out of my imaginary Italian shoes and stick my feet in the grass, on MY side of the fence and realize that it feels pretty good. And you know what? I'll gladly munch on a Happy Meal any day!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This side of things...

After an emotionally draining day yesterday with Spencer that included two different ER's and a whole lot of prayer, I posted a Facebook status about how I believe in prayer. At the end of this lengthy status I said, "I'm thankful for a God who hears and although doesn't always answer the way we'd choose, always, always cares...." I included that last bit for those that might feel negatively about prayer. People who don't believe in God or have been turned off from prayer because God didn't answer them the way they wanted or the way they thought he should have.

The thought of God always caring for us really got me to thinking how our relationship with Him is much like our relationship with our own children. Now, maybe you don't have children, but you are, of course, someone's child. As an adult now you can see things more clearer and realize that your parents did things in your best interest. So, I think we can all relate to this analogy. I think how often I do something in the best interest of my children that they don't understand. They think I'm mean or bossy. How many times have I said something and finished it with, "just because I said so!" Children in their tiny, naive minds can't understand why we as parents sometimes do the things we do. Why we say "no" or push them to do something they don't want. We see the big picture that they just can't see right now. We do it because we love them. Isn't God just the same? We can't not even fathom how much He loves us. As much as we love our children, He loves us even more. He wants what's best for us always, but we can't always see how that works out on this side of earth.

My husband uses the best illustration for this. Have you ever seen someone doing needlepoint? To sit across from them it looks horrible, to be honest. You see the messy, seemingly pointless backside. It's not pretty and it certainly doesn't look them it's going to turn out they way you'd want. But the crafter sees the beautiful side, how each seemingly sloppy stitch works together and when you turn it around it's a masterpiece. Our lives are much the same. We see the backside of things. It's messy, it seems it couldn't possibly turn out to be anything good and we question what the "crafter" could possibly be doing. But God in His infinite wisdom sees the beautiful, finished side. How each prayer, answered in His way, works to the good of the finished work. Oftentimes, God allows us to see the finished work, how it all worked out, but sometimes it seems to be a mystery. I guess that's what faith is all about. Trusting in God and that He has a beautiful plan for each of our lives. If we can close our eyes and forget the messy side that we often see, He may just allow us to see a glimpse of the masterpiece He has in store.