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A year of Blessing

It is New Year’s Eve, not quite 9:00, and I have already been in my pajamas for more hours that I care to admit.  I feel old and boring, and I am not even ashamed of it.  We are coming to the end of a perfect Christmas and it seems fitting to reflect on the past year.

What a year it has been.  In January, I felt very clearly, that two words were to define my coming year: THANKFULNESS and TRUST.

Thankfulness was not totally unknown to me.  I have, for many years, felt overwhelmed by the “goodness” (for lack of a better word) in my life- namely my family.  I absolutely have a terrible attitude sometimes, I am often tired, I am easily overwhelmed.  But I do not take for granted what has been given to me.  However, this year I made a point of being deliberately thankful, more often.  And sharing my thanks with people.

Trust was a much harder one for me.  I do not like to trust.  I like to plan and arrange and have all my ducks in a row…. and I like to take care of things myself- and see them through to the end- so that I know things are done properly.  Some people might call me a bit of a control freak.  🙂  But I tried to take a bit of a step back and learn to trust.

So many wonderful things have happened for our family this year.  If I had to sum up the year in two words, they would be BLESSINGS… and BASEBALL (you had to see that coming!)

Lots has happened aside from baseball.  Renea got a full-time job in her chosen profession and moved out.  She is all grown up and it is weird.  But we are so proud of her and excited for her future.  Dean got to go to Africa and ready a children’s choir for their Canadian tour.  We had an awesome summer holiday on the island.  Our school-aged children all got PHENOMENAL teachers this year and are doing so well.  (Sam’s return to school has been incredible).  I am sure there is so much more that I am forgetting, but I am old and tired, remember? Cut me a little slack!

I have already shared about how incredible baseball has been for our family.  (Sarah and Danny might disagree a teeny tiny bit… they aren’t as into spending hours and hours at the ballpark).  I used to say that school broke my Sammy, and if I was being dramatic, I would say that baseball saved his life.  It was incredible to watch the transformation of our son on that field- and even more incredible to watch him take his newfound confidence with him off the field.  It was wonderful for Joshie too.  He learned new skills and made new friends, and had a blast.  I was slightly overwhelmed by the schedule when we first joined in the spring.  I even said we were never doing this again- especially when Dean went to African for 3 weeks in the middle of the season.  But then we accidentally signed up for summer ball… and the fall ball.  And then Dean mentioned that he might like to coach next season, and I somehow ended up on the CMBA board, so…. I guess we found a good thing- and we are looking forward to doing it again!  (And Danny can hardly wait to be on a team this time too.  Sarah has no interest!)

And incredible blessings…. we have always been blessed.  We have always been cared for.  But I have felt so incredibly blessed this year, especially in the area of finances.  Before Danny began school, I was adamant that I was not going to start working just because all my babies were growing up.  I still wanted to be fully available to my children.  Money has always been tight for us, but that was something we were willing to continue dealing with.  I would be lying to say that money (or lack there of) hasn’t kept me awake many nights, but I really trusted that God would make it work.

And then 2 crazy thing happened.  I somehow found a job as a night nanny for the sweetest little baby.  I work night time hours, so in theory, my kids should not even know I am gone.  I get to do all my mom jobs at home, tuck everyone into bed and then go to “work”, which is actually just snuggling and taking care of the most precious little love bug.  And I am home before everyone wakes up.

The second crazy thing…. it was suggested I apply to my kids’ school as an EA, and they hired me.  I am just on call this year, and hope to get a permanent position for next year, but it has been incredible!  I love the job so much.  I get to work with children, which is sort of my thing (and working in high school wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be).  I drive my kids to school, and I drive them home!  In the hours in between, I get to work at the school and sometimes I even have lunch dates with my children.  I cannot imagine a more perfect scenario.

I cannot chalk either of these jobs up to anything other than God’s guidance and blessing for our family.  I do not say that lightly.  I feel so overwhelmed by His goodness.

So, as I crawl into bed at an embarrassingly early hour on this New Year’s Eve, I am so thankful for the year that has gone by and so excited for the one that is coming.  44650946_10155579171692511_9035429885799038976_o

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Still my Sammy

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To my Precious Sammy,

It seems unbelievable to me that 11 years have passed since you joined our family, yet here we are! I have always been so proud of you, but you have blown me away this past year with your courage!

It all started with baseball.  You decided you wanted to play, and you went for it.  We signed you up for Spring Ball and while you were a little nervous on the first day, you did not even hesitate to hop out of the van to go join your team.  You worked so hard, you listened to everything your coaches told you, you practiced, you played…. you had fun!  It was incredible for us to watch you out on the field with your team mates, laughing and talking and smiling.  And the look on your face when you made a good hit, or got someone out, or made it home…. victorious!  And then you played Summer Ball…. and then Fall Ball… Baseball was definitely a highlight of our year.

You were brave and tried new things- and you conquered fears that you did not even want to face.  School was a HUGE things for us this year.  You really did not want to leave the comfort of home, even though you admit it was boring to be here while everyone else was in school all day.  You were terrified. You had stomachaches all summer long.  But on the first day of school, you got dressed in your uniform and held your head high.  I won’t ever forget the look on your face as you entered your class- equal parts terrified and determined.  I also will never ever forget the smile on your face as you came out of your classroom on that first day…. and that whole first week.  I won’t forget about how you talked nonstop every car ride home, as you told me about your amazing teacher and your great new friends and the FUN math and writing you had to do in class.  I will never, ever forget about how you told me, just the other night, that you are glad you went back to school because you love it there.

You have been so courageous and strong.  But you remain my sweet, gentle Sammy Boy.  You would prefer if I dropped you off a block away from school so that nobody sees you with your mom, but in the safety of our home, you still love to snuggle with me.  You love to lay with me and tell me about your day.  You love to play and talk with Danny and Sarah.  You and Josh are still best buddies.  You and Renea could talk for hours.  If Daddy asks if anybody wants to go along, you always offer, even before you know where you are going.

You love to draw and write comics.  You devour every book you can get your hands on.

You would live on carbs alone if I would let you.  Your room is a pig pen.  You come home in muddy pants every single day from school because football is also a new hobby.  Youth Group is the highlight of your week.

In this past year, you have gone from a timid, shy, scared little boy to a brave, bold young man who loves to be with his friends and have fun.  Somehow in this transformation, you have managed to stay sweet and caring and sensitive.  My heart explodes with pride.

I cannot wait to see what you get up to in this next year.  Watching your grow definitely takes away the sting of my babies growing up.

Happy 11th Birthday, my Sammy Boy.  I love you to the moon and back.  Forever.

Love,

Mom

xoxo

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Sarah

 

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My Sweet Princess,

 

You are 7 today, how can it be? Time sure flies- it must be because we are having so much fun!  I’m can’t be sad about how fast you are growing up though, because you just keep getting more and more wonderful! I cannot believe you are so old, but I love that you still let yourself be little.  This morning, you came into my room and asked if you could have a snuggle to start your birthday.  You cuddled in close and stroked my hair and told me you love me.

You are such a treasure.  A few months ago, you broke my heart a little when you told me that it seems like I don’t have time for you. You are in every beat of my heart, but I do know that I get busy with my check lists and sometimes forget to sit down and just be with you.  I still fail a lot of the time, but you are gracious with me, and I am trying to remember to savor the moments with you.  You love it when I read to you, and you love it when I listen to you read to me.  You draw and color and cut and create all the time.  My night table is piled high with notes and pictures from you.  I want you to know that I treasure every single one.  I treasure every single “I love you” and every single snuggle.

As much as you love to sit and do quiet girly things, you also love to play loud and hard with the boys! You love to climb trees and ride your bike.  You love dogs and horses, and babies, equally.  You love to swim, and you conquered your first roller coaster this summer.   You love adventure!

You still love your bling- the more shine and glitter the better.  You love to paint your nails (and mine) and your dream outing is to go for High Tea!

My sweet girl, my heart explodes with love for you.  I hope you never lose your zest for life, or your love for others.  I cannot wait to celebrate you today!

I love you for ever and ever.

Love,

Mama

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4 ingredient muffins

I’ve been awfully posty lately! It must be all the free time I now have!! (Haha, I have had a total of 3 hours (minus driving time) to myself so far, so I haven’t gotten bored yet.)

Anyway, I have shared before that Sarah has some food restrictions.  We have tried bringing said foods back into her life, and the result was not pretty.

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I mean, SARAH is pretty, but how she felt was not.  So…. back to finding weird recipes to try to feed her, because she is often hungry!

Most of what I make that is Sarah- friendly is not loved by the rest of the family.  Except these amazingly easy muffins I just made.  So, as my gift to you this raining Sunday, I am sharing my secret recipe.  Ready?

Super Easy, But Still Delicious, Allergy-Friendly Muffins

1 cup quick oats

2 ripe bananas

1 teaspoon baking powder

Chocolate chips- however many you want.

2-3ish tablespoons brown sugar, if you want

Directions: In a food processor, grind the oats until they are flour like (I didn’t grind them that fine, it just gives the muffins more texture.)  Add chopped up banana and baking powder.  (If you want sugar, add it now) Give it a whirl in the food processor.  It will be quite wet and cakey-like when it is all mixed.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Portion into 24 mini muffin tins and bake until they are done.  (I made them as regular sized muffins but they were very hockey puckish.  They are better as minis for some reason).

That is it! I was going to take a picture of them all beautiful, but I went to find my phone to take a picture and when I came back, this is what was left.

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Everyone loved them, even Dean, who prides himself on not liking anything remotely healthy or weird.  So there, go make some muffins.

You are welcome.

 

 

 

Rejoicing

Because you had to listen to me cry about how nervous we all were about school…. and life is all about balance, I feel I would be doing you all a disservice if I did not tell you about the first day of school.

It was incredible.  We started this morning a little nervous, but put on our brave faces (and even smiled through it).

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And you know what? It was great!  All my kids got fabulous teachers, and everyone came home smiling.

There has been a lot of excitement and energy in our house this afternoon.

Last year, the verse that we focused on in Mama Orrell’s Academy Of Learning (MOAL as I like to call it) was Psalm 34:4, “I prayed to the Lord and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears”.

Indeed he did!  Looking forward to an awesome year!

xoxo

On the Eve of School

To my Precious Children,

My heart is in my throat as I type this.  I am trying to put on my brave face, because I know you often take cues from me.  Tomorrow is a big day, for all of you: the start of a new year of school!  This is a big year!  Kindergarten and the end of homeschooling…. you will all go to the same school together.  Two of you are so excited you can hardly sit still, one of you is so chill that it’s just another day in your life, and one of you is terrified.

We have spent so much time talking and planning, but nothing can quite prepare us adequately for that moment when we need to just take a deep breath and step into what frightens us most.

I am a fixer by nature, especially when it comes to you, my loves.  I want to protect and shelter you, I want to make things easier for you.  I would walk through fire for you.  But this is not something I can do in your place.  I read something the other day about kids needing to know where their people are.  That even if you have to go off and do something on your own, if you know where your people are, you will be okay because you know you have comfort to return to at the end.

So, my sweet, precious children, know that while you are in school, nervous and anxious, I will be as near by as I can, waiting and praying for you.  You carry my heart with you.  You can do this, I know you can.

I want to put this up in our home, and in your bedroom, and in your backpack, so you always know:

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Love,

Mom  xoxo

 

 

 

 

T

All of my kids will be in school in a week.

All of them.  You read that correctly.

That means my baby, sweet little Bubba, is going to Kindergarten (although only part time, because honestly I am not quite ready for this).  It also means my sweet, sweet Sammy is going back to school.  He is quite anxious about it and I am terribly nervous for him.  But even my sorrow over my baby growing up and my heartache for my big boy cannot overshadow the little bits of excitement when I think of what I might do with my time.

To be clear, I am not getting a real job, and Dean approves, because I plan to be a lady of leisure.

Things I will do to fill my free time include, but are not limited to:

-Regular baby snuggling (I have one lined up)

-Paint the play house

-Vacuum my van

-Sew

-Obsessively plan fake family vacations

-Drive my kids places

-Fret about money

-Shave my legs and blow dry my hair on the same day

-Clean out all my cupboards and closets

-Meal plan

-Make a spelling word/ home reading schedule and stick to it.  For September at least.

-Oh! Serve Pizza lunch at school

-Volunteer in my kids classrooms and go on every single field trip.

-Be well rested and cheerful always

 

This list is a work in progress!!