Thursday, October 27, 2011

housecleaning 101

OMG! Ladies. There is a little vent thingy underneath your refrigerator can see it if you open the door and look down. get down on your knees and look a little closer...ewww!

So...we are officially homeless. Or, maybe non-homeowners is a better description. We signed papers tonight to sell our home...and are scheduled to close on the new home next week. That means for the next 7 days, we are transients...or renters...or whatever.

All crayons and marker and scissors and blue kool-aid are on lock-down. I will be policing closets and hallways to keep an eye out for wandering ink pens gone wild. We are living in someone else's home, and it's no longer okay to screw it up! Oh Lord. Work with me here.

Anyway, I thought tonight...since I had a little too much high-test coffee and chocolate after trick-or-treating with the kids, that I'd start cleaning places that don't see a lot of daylight. That's what led me to that little grate area at the bottom of the fridge. My heavens. That was enlightening. I also cleaned under and behind the stove and fridge. Wow. Let's just say, I'm going to put those areas on a little more "routine" schedule at the new place. I had no idea THAT much dust could accumulate in such a small area.

It feels good to have it checked off the list though, and am looking forward to a nervous/energetic/cleaning/boxing week or two ahead of us. How exciting! Not sure if it's residual caffeine or genuine giddiness...but I'm shaking as I type...wooohooooo!!

Thank you God for hangin' with me...getting me through...allowing this all to work out...we are truly blessed!

Have a great day everyone!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday baby girl!

Our little Anne is one already!
We celebrated with cake, of course. And gifts. All the kids love to dig through there treasures to give special gifts. Mary gave away her favorite bouncy's a big one, so there's no choking risk. And it says "princess." Anne is definitely the queen of the castle...and she knows it. How blessed I think our older kids are to grow up with little ones around. Everyone finds joy in babies. Truly....blessed.

Little John asked me for some aluminum foil before dinner tonight to create a masterpiece for the birthday girl...I gave him the end of the roll...and the cardboard tube as well and told him to "knock himself out" trying.

He knocked me out instead...with a a giant cardboard tube volcano on a tinfoil base...spewing with bendaroo "lava and flames." It was AWE-SOME! But it was the card attached that took my breath away...and melted me worse than the hot lava could have...

Translated, it reads: Our hearts (have) been erupted like a volcano for Anne's 1st Birthday.

Truly...blessed...and feelin' the love.

Happy First Birthday Anne Therese!

Friday, October 21, 2011

God Rocks, Bible Study, and a Weight-Lifting Challenge

Did ya'll notice?!
Here in our neck of the woods anyway, the sun is shining!

And God is sending out rainbows left and right. Because HE Rocks!

And people that hear his call, and allow themselves to be instruments in his plan...well, they rock too!

This might just be a long I'll apologize now...but please don't let it stop you from reading. Go ahead, go potty...grab a cup of'll want to be able to concentrate for this one. I'll wait...

Okay. So last night was my first ever bible study at good friend Stacie's house. She heard Him, and responded with a yes. Even though she probably spent the day cleaning, and showered for us, and made copies of our reflection for people like me who show up unprepared, and her wonderful hubs had to shush the kids and get them ready for bed while we took over her family room. She rocks!
There were only a handful of us, but as we reflected on this Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 22:34-40, The Great Commandment) I couldn't help but smile at the cool timing of it. We've been talking about it quite a bit in my second grade religion class, and I used it as the basis of a talk I shared in Ft. Loramie last month. Just cool how the Holy Spirit is clear in messages sometimes. And I wondered what I was missing that He keeps bringing it to my attention.
I haven't believed in coincidences in a long time.

Anyways, after the meeting Stacie and I chatted a bit about the house, and the upcoming move, and about decorating kind of stuff. (She's a genious at interior design and I love her ideas.) I vented a little about my dryer situation, and how I just needed to find a temporary fix...3 weeks or so till we get beyond the "closing." And then we can breathe about spending again. We have always lived on a pretty tight (maybe non-existent)budget(guess you can't budget what you don't have)...and the idea of one person sitting behind a desk looking at your bank account with a microscope (and finding little there) is terrifying. Even though we've worked it out on paper a million different ways, and know it will work out just's a scary thing to me. Nonetheless. I told her that I'd prayed and had given the dryer issue up to God. He was going to take care of it in his own good way...even if that meant he wasn't going to do a thing. Whatever. I crossed that worry off my list. But the practical side of me had to figure out a solution to drying clothes for at least the next 3 weeks.
The idea came to my head to contact a rent-a-center. So I called first thing today. They really do rent stuff?! No way. And cheap enough that it seemed just the perfect solution to buy us a few weeks. Till we could "breathe" again anyways...and then figure out how to purchase something. You know, after the microscope process.
Thank you God! See I knew he'd work it out for me. He just bought me 3 weeks! Wooohoooo!!! this is where God started laughing again...and said "Just hold your horses there missy, that's not all." Cause, I did mention God Rocks, right?! Right.

(I know I've talked about His providence before, and how even a hand-me-down pair of jeans in just the right size can be an answer to a prayer! I'm tellin you...He's creative and clever in the ways he makes our needs met!)

Anyway, I picked up the phone to celebrate with my mom that I'd come up with a temporary solution...and the doorbell is ringing. So I hang up, and answer (half-dressed-boogery nose baby Anne on my hip.) You ready for this? Someone heard God's little whisper...maybe someone who already gets the "Love your neighbor thing" WAY better than me...shows up and hands over a check for the cost of a new washer and dryer! One big fat check. And a smile. And a hug. And I tried to say no...because that's a kind of charity/generosity/love that I can't repay, and probably don't deserve. And yet. How do you say no, when in your heart you recognize this is God at work. This is God's hand. And I'd expect that if this person is able to share this kindness with me, nearly a stranger, she's probably generous in all areas of her life. She says yes to God. And she rocks too!
She can't possibly know what a tremendous weight that's she's lifted. No more worries about dryers and even less dread about the closing process. Even though I don't need to worry about that either. I just do.

And so I'm thinking all day today about how I can be God's hands. Who's weight can I lift? If I can't pay this back, how should I pay it forward. And I think...among other things, like prayer,-- my words here can help to be God's hand. And I'm thinking that maybe while I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to be doing for someone else...I can encourage you all to a "Weight-Lifting Challenge."
I ask you each to reflect on this Sunday's gospel. And to pray. But don't stop there. Hear what it is that the Holy Spirit is asking of you, and find a way to lift someone's burden. Perhaps it's a smile, perhaps its a visit, a meal, help with some work that needs done, an offer to babysit, sharing some gently used clothing, or winter coats or whatever. Maybe it's something more...whatever is within your capabilies. God has a plan...and you and I are part of it. Help me to help someone else. To pay it forward. To be the Living Body of Christ present here on earth.

Thank you, and God bless you,and Praise God!

1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it

Thursday, October 20, 2011

turning over a new leaf.

I prayed in the shower this morning...that God would give me the strength to get through these next couple weeks. Then I backtracked. I don't really need the strength. I'm pretty tough. What I asked instead was that he'd help me keep perspective. To help me remain (or more honestly) become joyful about all the nutty stuff I'm juggling for now. I want my family to know how much I LOVE my job. And how excited I am that John and I are able to provide this new, bigger home for them. We are so grateful. I want them to know how giddy I feel about it...and reflect that joy on the outside as we go about the practical chores/tasks to make it all happen. Really...perspective and joy. Too much to ask?

God is so cool.

It's just like him to give me feedback. To let me know he's listening, and to show me in the simplest of ways, that perspective is what we really need. And that we have so much to be joyful about!

(I'll mention here that our clothes dryer situation has gotten worse...the replacement part came in and unfortunately won't be a simple fix. It's JUNK. Waiting to here back from God where we're gonna squeeze that into the budget...but I've handed it over, and I'm not worrying. Seriously. Oh, and we're passing a little fever/stomach bug around the house now. know, when it's POURING!)


And joy.

As Rose and I were carrying in trash cans from the curb today, God smiled down on us. It was cold and rainy, and we were greet Annie at the back door waiting for us. But just as she started in ahead of me, I noticed the coolest little thing. The mess of soggy leaves covering ev.ery.thing outside...patio, table, chairs, potting bench...ev.ery.thing. They had the coolest little collection of rain beads on them. The coolest. Tiny little beads...perfect round spheres...of water drops in all sizes covering the leaves. Rose and I stopped a couple minutes to pick, and poke and flick. We were mesmerized by the little drops. Reminded me of the drops of mercury we used to play with as kids when the thermometer broke (before we knew we could all die from it or grow a third arm, or something?!)

Yes. God is pretty awesome. Taking the time to let little ol' me know that if we're paying attention, change our perspective, stop dwelling on the chaos for one minute...He's always there. In the details.
God is in the details.
Little miracles waiting for us to notice. And I swear I could hear him laugh out loud today. He has a great laugh~reinforces that whole "The joy of the Lord is my strength" notion. Hearing him laugh makes me want to work that much harder to please him.

It made me think too, that each time someone asks me how I "handle" having 11 kids. I may have a new response...that God is in the details...each and every little miracle.

Feeling incredibly blessed and grateful for all my chaos today...knowing His hand is guiding me through it all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"...And the view I love the most,
Is my front porch looking in." ~Lonestar

So to get beyond the stinky weather...I'll tell you about what's been going on inside.

Our youngest pumpkin is trying to walk. Anne's been cruising around furniture for awhile now. Suddenly that's not enough, as she attempts to brave walking on her own. She's taken 2 or 3 steps unassisted a handful of times now. I love holding her little hand in mine and walking laps around the kitchen. Sometimes she's so full of herself, head high--nose in the air, she can't help but fall down giggling. Too cute. And growing too fast. Can't believe she's turning one next week already!

And our oldest...well, I failed to mention that she broke her thumb last week when she toppled out of the swing in our backyard. Without any fanfare. No witnesses, barely any sympathy. Poor thing. We brushed it off for a couple days as "just badly bruised/sprained" but took her in for an x-ray, and found it to be broken. Fortunately she didn't need it "set" or require any surgery. I took her to Dayton for a cast, and will recheck after 3 weeks. She inspires me with the way she gets along so well. She's still managing to practice guitar and flute (despite her casted "hitch-hiker" thumb and forearm.) She hasn't stopped helping brush and style little sisters' hair. Her quiet perserverance and strength is humbling. And so not me. She must get that from her dad's side...a lot like her grandma I think...she get's her "grace" from me.

Frank started packing up his things the other day in preparation for the move. He asked for one box. I checked in later after he was done working. There I found only four items...his green stuffed lizard, stuffed Mickey Mouse, baseball cap, and a snuggly blanket. The most treasured items for this little 5 year old. Makes me want to squeeze him some more.
The girls in this house didn't pack quite so lightly. (I'll have to sort through their boxes later.)

For now, I'm being paged back to the kitchen table, where the kids at home are crafting their way through another rainy fall day. Papers, stencils, scissors, crayons, glue sticks. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

without looking out my window...

I can assure you, it's really "pouring" here. It started to trickle about a month ago, when we signed a contract to sell our house. A nice sweet mist of a rain that filled us with excitement...oh, we all grabbed our umbrellas and golashes and danced! Singing in the rain, for sure!
And then the boxes were being dropped off, and deadlines were being set, and home inspections, and home repairs, and the fear that our kids are going to "break" someone else's home as we continue to live in it. Had to take our boots off, and park the umbrellas in the tub to dry...playtime was over. Now we watch from the it continues to rain.
Oh, and the dryer broke...6 months after warranty. (crack of thunder/shot of lightening.) We're making due for a few weeks until the part comes in...still raining...the ducks are loving this!
And there are estimates to obtain...from insurance, to work at the new place...many phone calls and meetings...getting tired of dashing in and out of the rain.
Appraisals, and title searches, and "amounts your expected to pay," and many other businessy things that go with the blessings of a new home. The storms are keeping me up at night. And needless to say, I'm finding it hard to stay "present" for much...including this blog.
On top of everything going on...a good friend invited me to her bible study. She knows better than anyone that I've got NO TIME for it And that's exactly why, I think, that she invited me anyway. Because, in the middle of this crazy storm, she's reminding me to focus and be present for the One who is going to carry me through it all. Thank you good friend for reminding me of that. This is such a temporary stage in our lives. A beautifully wonderful be able to purchase and make this new home "our" home. God is so good. And in all the pitching/sorting/boxing/donating/cleaning/organizing/hanging clothes on the line again/scheduling/money shifting/praying/exhaustion...I can be certain that God is leading me. If I listen, and let him.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength" ~Nehemiah 8:10

May my days, my actions, my reactions be pleasing to the Lord that he gives me the strength to get through this crazy storm.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Duck (Tape) for Dinner?!

John and Annie and I are usually the last to leave the dinner table. It's a few minutes of converation time we enjoy, as we continue to toss little Anne a crumb or two from someone's plate. Tonight was no different, except as we lingered a little longer than the rest, Lucy passed through and proceeded to stick a 6 inch strip of duck tape to the top of Annie's head. Just like that. No fuss...just stuck duck tape on her head.
And then she tried to pull it off.
Except it was stuck to Anne's fluffy blonde locks...and it wouldn't budge.
Uh, oh.
Poor Lucy recognized immediately that she'd done something very wrong...and as John and I just stared like deer in headlights...Lucy began to slowly pucker, and tear up, and soon sobbed for what she'd just done.
Anne was oblivious as she continued to munch on potatoes and warm apples.
But Lucy was sorry....very sorry...
And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry for the sad little Lucy, wishing she could take it all back.
Too sweet...
and OMG! So honery! Who sticks duck tape in hair?!
Luckily it pulled off fairly easily with only minimal hair loss...and a few yelps from little Anne...who was bothered for only a moment...and then resumed munching.

Seriously? Duck tape?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

retreat info.

I'm working on adding tabs at the top of the blog...added a new one "Hear here" where I've included information on the upcoming women's retreat at Maria Stein with a link beneath the picture for registration information on the Spiritual Center's website. (thanks for asking about it.) Go around. I may try to add new tabs for all sorts of things now that I seem to have it figured out.

***oh, and just to be very clear...I'm so grateful for your excitement/anticipation of this event...but really I can take no credit for any of it...some really incredible women have been working/brainstorming this for years, and I'm humbled to have been asked to have some small part in it. Lets help bring their beautiful plans to fruition and STORM the place;) Go on now, check it out and register...

this little light of mine...

Okay, so for some reason, I find it embarrasing to tell people that I'm going to be speaking out in public. And yet...sharing stories about this crazy God-given life of mine is exactly what I feel called to do. But (I tell myself) what if I invite you, and you think it stinks, or I bomb? Fear of failing, or worse, fear of looking like an idiot, I think is a little trick the devil plays on us...keeps us from doing what we're told. He dangles the "idiot" card in front of me all the time, and sometimes it's worked. I've said before (and haven't taken my own advice), it's time to move beyond the fear and take a leap of faith...and invite you all in, one step closer to the real me...the one who has to blow her nose in front of crowd of forty sometimes...(thanks for the stockpile of tissues ladies, I still have plenty!) and let you know where we can meet up and figure out, together, how to keep God at the heart of our day-to-day.

Last night I had the privelige of speaking with a group of 35-40 women (thankfully, most of whom carry kleenex) at New Bremen Coffee Co. & Books. It was a wonderful evening of DELICIOUS food & great company. I had the opportunity to share a bit about myself and what I do here (or attempt to do) on the blog, and also talked about the "juggling acts" we women try to perform to keep the household running smoothly. Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome, and warm & fuzzy. And thanks to Shelly (who runs an awesome little shop there) for organizing last nights "Evening of Inspiration." I left feeling truly inspired! (oh, and also felt a twinge of baby fever thanks to that snuggly little bundle of pink in the back...oh so tiny, precious miracle. Does that feeling ever go away? Oi vey)

Anyhow...after speaking with a women's group in Burketsville a couple years back, I was invited to be a speaker for a women's mini-retreat at Maria Stein Retreat Center. That plan is now coming to fruition. And I'm inviting each and every one of you to share with me in that event. It's a real leap of faith for me to ask this of you...I'm usually the one being asked, and then I hide quietly till I'm on...hoping that I don't look like an idiot. Well guess what? I might look like an idiot...but that's okay. The title of the evening's event suits me (and the fact that I might fail) quite well...Hope you can join me on November 4th for an evening exploring our calling to be the "Perfectly Imperfect Woman." (and stay thru the 5th to enjoy all that is being offered!)

Looks to be an amazing way to kick off the advent season...I know it's difficult to read. Just e-mail me or contact me via comments and I'll e-mail you a better copy if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

bright starts.

It's not even 10am yet.

6 kids breakfasted and off to Mass and school.
5 more...well...we've done much!

We've had several rounds of breakfast, showered, washed a load of sheets (which will be out on the line soon), set up a train in the basement, completed our first course on Warrior Ninja training--homeschool style (that's gonna hurt later,) rescued Annie from a near miss with a ping-pong ball (who the heck plays ping-pong around here?!) recovered pajamas stuck on the ceiling fan (no one knows how that happened), finished a pot of coffee (thanks to Grandma who stopped by after mass), talked with a phone solicitor and are now officially a Nielson family! Woooohoooooooo!
Who needs the lotto?! We've got it all baby!

...and it's not even 10am yet.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just another manic monday...

(Oh, woe. Wish it was Sunday. Oh, woe. Cause that's my funday. ~the Bangles, circa 1986)

Nope, It's monday.
As if I need to state that.
I guess, when I say "It's monday" you can all read into kitchen cupboard is buried, there's not enough coffee in the world, laundry is backed up into next week, and we're all a little...tired. You can also read, it's hard getting dressed, I need a shower but I'm too lazy to take one, I feel like baking, but won't muster up the energy for it, probably because I also know that I'm missing at least one key ingredient to ANYTHING I'd want to make. It always feels like we're out of everything (interesting) to eat on Monday's too.

Oh, and it's Monday after the ' just multiply everything I just wrote to the Nth degree (times infinity.)

Except, the sun's shining. That makes it all a little better.

Oh, and there was a dude here from the bank, doing an appraisal. So that motivated me to get things spiffied up just a bit. That's good. Good to be motivated, and good to remember that we're moving soon...and when I think about the new house, I get a little giddy. It's very exciting!

And then I get to smiling about what a fun weekend we just had. It was COLD! But that didn't keep us from enjoying it all. There was family time...dancing and singing at the gazebo, and running our first "family" fun run. (All 13 of us participated in the 1 mile fun run Sunday. I pushed Annie in the stroller...and she beat me. Darnit!) And more dancing, and parade watching, and more singing. And we had some adult time too...dancing and singing, and chatting with friends we don't see often enough. Oh, and drinking a bit of draft beer from milk jugs...just crazy!

It was all quite enjoyable. Makes me feel very blessed, indeed. But...tired. And so we're not doing much today...but recovering. And by that I mean...letting the washer/dryer do all the work, while I save the folding for tomorrow. And enjoying the swingset outside, and the wagon, and building with blocks, and playing board games. And just letting it be Monday.

Ein Prosit! (Cheers!) to a quiet, blessed Monday all!