I Actually Do Need a Tribe

This is the lovely Amy and Tegann. They were our friends in California, we were beyond excited to visit with them recently!

Right when you move is always at the exact moment that you’ve finally made close friends. In California, we were lucky enough to have a whole group of them.

A Good Tribe Makes Life Happier

My California neighborhood crew

It took a year, though. That first year I knew very few other people. It’s hard when you’re new!

I saw an article headline written by a mom with no tribe. I didn’t read it, so I’m not sure how she felt about that, but I am always happier when I DO have a tribe of friends.

No, actually, I’d go so far as to say I NEED a tribe of friends. It brings me happiness and encouragement. People need people. We do. Yes, I spend almost all of my time with my family, but we aren’t meant to be isolated families of people. I always carve out time to go hang with other ladies too.

When I’m hanging out with a group of gals, I laugh so hard my sides split. And I am known for my loud cackle.

Alan’s mom and her sisters hold us all in awe. Three sisters. It’s like the ultimate tribe. They text, they call, they travel together, and they support and tease each other through life.

Just today, I was at my friend Brooke’s house, thinking how much more I smile when I’m visiting with her or any of my friends or my mom, just a friend who accepts you for who you are.

It takes me over a year to develop a tribe of friends with each place, and I don’t have one here yet. My friend Brooke and I were just talking today about how lonely that is.

I need to get pro-active about that and put together a supper club…any takers??

A Good Tribe Makes Life Happier

My friend Amy, from my Virginia tribe (how I miss them!), came and visited us in California.

 

If I hadn’t missed so many MOPS meetings, I would be calling that my tribe already. I love MOPS and the ladies there, but sometimes I don’t make it because of JD or because I have work to do.

At this stage of life, we don’t have ‘time’ to pour into friendships

and that’s why we have to be extra understanding and forgiving of our friends. Everybody’s busy.

However, I think the mommy years are years when we need friends just as much as ever. I would say more than ever, but I actually can’t think of a single stage of life when we don’t desperately need a support group.

Some people find that group at church or at the playground. I seem to usually find them in my neighborhood, thought that isn’t the case here.

I’ve been blessed to belong to several AMAZING tribes of friends over the years. I just had a different group for each place that I lived. Eventually, I will have one here too. These things take time.

A year from now, I won’t be tribe-less anymore. By then, I’ll just be heart-broken to leave. How do I know? Well, I always have before, so I can be optimistic, and I’m hoping for the best and trying to remember to be friendly and speak to people. Ha! It’s hard for an introvert sometimes, but we need people too.

 

What about you? Do you have a group of pals that make you laugh ’til you cry? It’s not a tribe unless it’s both fun and supportive.

 

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It’s been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home.

It's been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home.

Daniel had his first week of tee-ball. Alan didn’t sign up to coach this year, not even to assistant coach, but he went out there today and helped anyway. And you know what happened? Alan came home so refreshed and happy. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Alan says that Daniel will actually be one of the oldest, most experienced players on his team this year. Yayyyyy, Daniel!!!

Meanwhile, you know what annoys me? Pop culture.

Why? Because it has reached my children, at least one of them, and he has started saying “Dang, Daniel!” all the time. Insert me, looking like an annoyed vulture.

Now some of you have no idea WHAT I’m talking about because you don’t know anything about pop culture. Well, allow me to shrink your brain by catching you up. There was this video that went viral in 2016, originally on Snapchat, of these high school kids saying “D***, Daniel,” over and over again.

And go figure, the video-maker’s name is Josh. So of course, someone told him about it. So now he says, “Dang Daniel” all the time. He’s not allowed to say the original version. Of course, Daniel doesn’t get it at all. Only I get it.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the Ellen clip to explain.)

Speaking of my big boys, I thought this was hilarious. We spent last week hanging out at DaddyO and Nonna’s house r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g. It was wonderful. Check out the amazing amounts of sleep I accomplished, according to my Fitbit. I was so proud. (By the way, I noticed Amazon has the Fibit Charge II $20 off right now.)

Yep! Proud of myself

I wanted to find a funny movie we could enjoy with the boys. I found Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II!!!!!  I talked up how uproariously we would all laugh at this movie.

Father of the Bride Part II

We watched half of the first movie, and then Joshua proclaimed, “You said this was funny! I don’t think this is funny at all!” And then he disappeared upstairs.

What? Not funny? This stuff is HILARIOUS.  I guess there’s an age range for this humor. Remember this?

It's been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home.

It has been 7 months now since we moved in, and we are starting to feel settled. We’re using our GPS less and less, and the boys are asking to go back to California far less. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. It takes a year to fully adjust to a move.

I’d say it takes two years to actually get past surface-level relationships and put down roots. That’s the lonely thing about it. No one knows you well enough to relax, and you are still trying to figure out all the new people you’ve met.

I can learn their names easily, but sometimes it takes time to root out the kindred spirits from the high-maintenance ones.

It's been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home.

I feel like Alan and I did this ONE particular thing right that’s going to be the thing that makes life fun and frequent moving doable. These 4 boys. I can’t really say we gave them each other because God did that. If I had gotten to decide it myself, there would have been a Gracie and a Josie thrown in, and then our whole family dynamic would be different.

But this is better because this is what God gave us. I can’t imagine our lives without a single one of them. We have two sets of best buddies, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The younger ones are learning from the bigger ones things, for better and for worse, ha!, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They fill our hearts with so much joy.

And no matter where we move they all have each other, and Alan and I have each other and these boys.

Best of all, we’ve never grown too comfortable with any one place or house. There’s no confusion about where home is. Home is not a building that can be taken away. Home is right here, wherever we are. Home is us. So we are always home.

It's been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home. It's been 7 months since we flew south, but we are always home.

And now here they are, all telling me that Lego Batman movie premiered today, and they are just dying to know when I am going to take them to see it. Yeah…I might have promised them to take them to see that because Lego Batman is a serious obsession around here.

Maybe I can make it happen today……

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”…            –Jesus  (John 13:34-35)

 

Year-End Christmas Card Letter 2016

Merry Christmas from Monterey! (No, we aren’t actually in Monterey anymore. We took this in April. Man, that was a nice place.) We wanted to have a pretty beach family photo for our Christmas card. It didn’t work out.

Want a good laugh? It was INSANELY windy.

It was a year of big changes for us. I didn’t have any more babies, but we did move across the country, change schools, give up home-schooling, and we switched brands of paper towels…

Graduation day. John David kept saying, “I want cake. Can we have cake now? Where’s the cake?”

Alan got his engineering masters, which was exciting. So we said good-bye to the full-time student life and my beloved whales and sea otters and moved back down south to Georgia.

Alan took the older two boys on an action-packed road trip on his way.

 

As for me, I took my first part-time job since 2005, believe it or not, but I still get to work from home. I’m writing for MontereyPremier.com as well as for Stories of Our Boys. I’m ridiculously relieved to not be home-schooling anymore. I just can’t even tell you!

 

Joshua is still Mr. Basketball. He loves it so much. He also had his first zit this fall. Times they are a changin’. Next year he will officially be a middle-schooler. I think this is the part where it pays off that they are 4 male children instead of 4 female children. Yes!!

 

Caleb is patiently waiting for baseball season. He is also honing his art skills. He’s as friendly as ever, and despite having no close-proximity little boys his age to play with, he managed to find kids on the next streets over. They have formed a Nerf Club, and our house is quickly becoming Grand Central Pre-Teen Station again.

Daniel is a kindergartener now. I can’t believe it either, and you’ve never seen a more serious little conscientious student. When he walks quietly through the hall, he does it like a well-trained soldier, and it is adorable. He also told us the other night at the dinner table, “I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”  (Yes. We’ve been watching Elf.)

He said he made Bullseye into a pirate.

John David is 3 1/2 now. Markers are his favorite thing in the world. Instead of drawing all over himself as all of his brothers did, he draws all over his toys. We are so tired. It’s been 11 years of toddlers now. As in, there has always been at least one toddler/baby/pre-schooler in the house for 11 years. We just don’t even care about stuff like that anymore.

Draw on your toys? Sure. Here’s a marker. They are your toys.

Play in the water hose? Why stop him? He looks so happy.

Wear pajamas all day? Well, they are cozy. I get it.

****************

Best events from 2016:

And read the story of Caleb’s salvation if you haven’t. Caleb chooses Jesus.

-Caleb got baptized.

Alan, Joshua, and Caleb went to the Grand Canyon (That’s a link you can click on to read the whole story.)

-Joshua earned the TNT Clubber of the Year Trophy, a hard-earned award that he got for memorizing a book and a half worth of AWANA verses.

Happiest day of John David’s life. He tried so hard to get that car door to open.

-We went to Disney World WITH our good friends Sean, Amy, Xavier, and Zoe!!

-The boys started a new school, and they are all happy there.

-Daniel learned how to swim and jump off the diving board.

Monterey, photo by Aunt Janet

We do miss Monterey: the people, the waves, and the weather! But we are loving being closer to family too.

If Uncle Keith could take all our pictures, maybe our smiles would always be this genuine! Thank you, Keith!

So, you know, all’s well that ends well, right? Happy New Year, y’all! May God bless all of you. Thank you for reading!

 

Numbers 6:24-26

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Merry Christmas!! 

 

 

Making Do and Yard Sale-ing: How we send our kids to private school

making-do-and-yard-sale-ing: how we pay for 3 kid in private school

Our family is living on a budget for the first time…..since 8 years ago when we read that Dave Ramsey book.

This year was a huge change. We went from paying about $3,000/year in school tuitions to Classical Conversations and preschool to paying about $15,000/year total in private school tuitions. That’s two full school tuitions plus a partial one for my kindergartener, who has a partial scholarship. It was a big jump. We realized we were going to have to make major changes in how we live to pay for all of this.

I want to share what we are doing to make this work:

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#1. We down-sized our house.

We went from a 5-bedroom home in luxurious Monterey, California to a 3-bedroom home in Georgia. The difference is so vast, but I’ve actually enjoyed this change! No more stairs to go up and down. Hmmm Maybe that’s why I’ve gained weight….Plus, our new house still comfortably fits us. It has everything we need, and it came with a way better backyard, so this was not a hardship. This was a win. We only lost about 500 square feet. We ditched a room or two worth of furniture, and all is well.

We do have four kids in a 3-bedroom house, but only one of them complained, and I think it’s good for them.

#2. I took on a part-time writing gig with MontereyPremier.com in September, and I resumed product reviews and sponsored posts here on Stories of Our Boys.

Every little bit helps, and I’m still spoiled because I’m working from home. I still get to be with my three-year-old all day long. I can still cook dinner by 12 pm, and I’m able to pick up the boys from school every day. The only hitch is that I literally get paid by how much I work, so if I spend my day jumping on the trampoline with JD, baking, and sweeping, I don’t actually make any money at all. Ha….yeah, that happens a lot..

#3. We cut the bi-weekly cleaning lady, the gym, the pest control service, and the lawn care service.

Yes, we would like to have ALL of those services, but they are a luxury, not a necessity.

#4. We are “making do” with things that we’d like to replace, and saving up money to replace them later, rather than spending all we have or taking on a car payment.

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My minivan? It’s a 2007. One of the doors has taken on a mind of its own, so you now have to do these special maneuvers to get it to close, and if you do it wrong it will go “Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding!” Only it won’t start all that dinging until AFTER the car is driving, so then you have to find a place to pull over and shut that door to save your sanity. Also, the defroster is having issues. I guess that’s what paper towels are for.

The minivan is paid for, and the engine runs perfectly. Just don’t stand in the trunk putting away groceries too long because it will randomly start to close the trunk door on your head. Nice little adrenaline rush as you quickly remove all body parts and small children out of the way!!!

However, we are thankful that we have two cars that run. That van has never broken down, and it has 4 good tires. We’ll make do another year.

My mattress? 

It’s 14 years old, and my hips were starting to hate, hate, hate my flattened out old mattress. It wasn’t giving much anymore. Soooo…we bought a $25 quilted mattress cover. That didn’t help much. Then we bought a $15 egg crate and put that on top of the quilted mattress cover, and we’re good again! That’ll buy us another year, I’m hoping.

Our sofa?

Well….we’ve only had it for 3 years, but it got ripped in a few places with the move. I don’t even know how because it was all wrapped and padded. I have no idea why we didn’t put in a claim on it while we had the chance, but we didn’t, so now we are stuck with a sofa that’s all hurt looking and sad.

It’s on my list to get replaced first, but not until Christmas is taken care of. Here’s hoping for a new sofa in January or February!

#5. My favorite part: Yard Sale-ing!!!

You might recall that my parents had a house fire this year, so when we moved down here I started going to yard sales with my folks. It is so addictive!!!

Here’s a list of some of my amazing finds:

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I brought this bench home seriously muddy, but I spent an hour scrubbing it down, and it’s lookin’ good!

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My fall porch–Time to re-decorate again! Oh, and that ‘Welcome’ pumpkin door sign? It was only $15 at Big Lots.

-2 benches for $10 each

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$1 wall art. I love this, and I sometimes remember to pray before I hit the sales that I will find things we need at good prices.

 

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$1

 

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Look how pretty!!! Excuse the background. If I cleaned up all these photos, I’d never finish a blog post!

-Large Coach bag in PERFECT condition–for only $25!!!

-5 pairs of boys size 14 blue jeans for $2 a pair! Wow!

ladies shirts $1/shirt

-yoga pants $1

jdbaby

-Mom got a computer chair for $5!

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-Sunglasses $1

-Baseball themed ceiling fan for half of what you’d pay in the store–I can’t remember how much! But it’s in one of the bedrooms at my parents’ new house now!

-Countless costumes, toys, books, and games

This is my new hobby. I’m all about it. Now I do realize that many people are into the Facebook yard sales now, the perpetual bargain fares. But have you noticed how over-priced they are? I can rarely save much over what I’d pay retail on those sites. Yard sales are still my favorite.

Thrift stores can be good too. I recently bought a nice set of shelves for only $15, plus a bag of AR books, all at Goodwill.

I love Aldi.

I love Aldi.

#6. Buying groceries at Aldi

I’m not a coupon-er, so I have to find the absolute most affordable place to go grocery shopping. Aldi is the cheapest store near me. The commissary is usually a great deal too, if you are military. But the best way to find out what place has the most affordable food is to shop a different store each week and make a comparison chart. When we lived in Texas, I was surprised to realize that Walmart actually was the cheapest, even better than the commissary!

I hope I’ve given you some ideas here for ways to stretch your budget. We are constantly looking for more ideas! Please share in the comments or email if you have more ideas for how you save money! How do you “make do” and find discounts?

Speaking of discounts….don’t forget to enter my gratitude giveaway….

parentinghack

Just log in via FB or email, and choose 1 or 2 options! Good luck!!!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The 4 Month Moving Update: Peanut Festival, Trampoline Time, and Turnips

the morning after Black Friday funnies

John David is a multi-talented child. He can unroll a TP roll, pee, and weigh himself all at once.

The Morning After…..Black Friday

I have a Black Friday hangover today. Not the kind you get from alcohol. The kind you get from spending one day driving and eating and the next day shopping too much and driving.

I slept until 8am this morning because I literally could not wake up before that. Beat. I am so beat.

We went shopping on Friday and spent like crazy. I actually told my mom–as in I actually SAID, “It’s okay, though. This is Black Friday, so the money we spend today is like not real money.”

I was sort of kidding, but not really. Presents have to be purchased, right?

But it is real money. Oh, but it is.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, y’all. Beautiful. We forced all of our children to wear shirts with collars, and then we forgot to even take pictures. (It’s like we’re just being mean on purpose. *evil laugh*)

Collared shirts aside, everyone had a wonderful time. The food was top-notch too. We got to spend Thanksgiving with my family. That was extra important to me this year because it’s been a tough year for them. We all went over to my parents’ new house and looked around. The flooring is in. The walls are almost completely painted. The landscaping is even done. All they are lacking is a few appliances and pantry shelves. So exciting!!!!

We have no idea what day they will get to move in. That depends on insurance and inspections and such, so we wait. I’m leaving my suitcase packed, on alert to go help move!!!

The Moving Update: 4 Month Mark

We’re adjusting. I tried to take on too many blog projects but couldn’t juggle them all. As it turns out, being a stay at home mom is still a full-time job. Therefore, I’m keeping my blog expectations low for a little longer. However, I am enjoying writing for Monterey Premier on the side. I’m lucky to get one article turned in per week, but every little bit helps. That’s been a blessing.

Alan took over laundry duty, which may be the most exciting this that has ever happened to me. He has always helped with laundry. Don’t get me wrong there, but now he is in charge of laundry. Fully!

Let’s pause to throw a party and whoop and holler with delight!!!!!

The boys are doing well. They still like their new school. Basketball season has begun for Joshua, but it’s a middle school team, so I’m not feeling too hot about that. I’d rather have him on a 5th grade team, but we’ll see how it goes.

Daniel is taking wrestling lessons, believe it or not.

We’ve all been up to a little bit of adventuring mischief. Here are a few photos of the fun, for those of you who do not follow us on Instagram:

The Morning After......Black Friday

Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia

The Morning After......Black Friday

Fall in Georgia

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Daniel lost a tooth. This was a BIG DEAL, but he insisted on keeping it in his pocket, so then he literally lost the tooth. We had to write the tooth fairy a note. Daniel said he doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy because his brother told him that she’s not real, but it was still important to Dan to leave a note……So I guess he really does still sort of believe.

Don’t worry. He did indeed get a dollar, a quarter, and a penny.

On a completely unrelated note, look what I found under my desk:

 

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John David and his black marker strike again.

 

The Morning After......Black Friday

Fun times with Mom

JD and I spent HOURS of November on our trampoline. And no, it did not result in any weight loss. Once your hips swell up with arthritis, I actually have no idea how to shrink that. Thoughts, suggestions, anyone???

I’ve had to squash my vanity and just exercise for the fun of it.

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This face of pure joy. I need to hang this picture everywhere.

 

The Morning After......Black Friday

These were such a life saver for us. Thank you notes that you just fill in the blanks. Best parenting hack ever.

Want some? My friend has an Etsy shop where you can score your own. See more here: lilmissgratitude.com.

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This Snoopy that I bought Daniel for Christmas last year is still making us smile this year, especially JD.

The Morning After......Black Friday

I got these awesome turnips WITH roots from my brother. I thought I could substitute bacon for pork chops and it would still be as good. Wrong. Pork chop required for prime yummy-ness.

The Morning After......Black Friday

Turnip greens with roots: a delightful Southern treat

 

The Morning After......Black Friday

Yard sale-ing!!! I have literally saved about $1,000 by yard sale shopping this fall, and I have had so much fun in the process. These sunglasses were $1.00! Say what you want. I super-like them.

The Morning After......Black Friday

Why I love Big Lots

The Morning After......Black Friday

I literally spent one day rolling in fall leaves on the trampoline with J.D. It was glorious…..until the hay fever result came rolling in that night. Ha! Still worth it!

The Morning After......Black Friday

Reveling in the fall leaves (and the pollen—achoo!)

The Morning After......Black Friday

We went to the Peanut Festival, just the two of us!

We ate funnel cake, we rode 4 rides, and then we got so nauseous we gave the rest of our tickets away to some kids and left. Haha! So much fun though!

The Morning After......Black Friday

My favorite ride as a kid. It was fun, but this is the ride that did us in.

The Morning After......Black Friday

My other favorite ride: The Swings!

The Morning After......Black Friday

I was so pumped to share my childhood stompin’ grounds with Alan. We’ve been married 14 years, and this was the FIRST time he’d ever gotten to go to the Peanut Festival.

The Morning After......Black Friday

Cotton and mums

4 month moving update

John David got tired of the 6 pumpkins on our porch, so he tossed ALL of them into this bush.

4 month moving update

I love Caleb’s drawing so much I can’t stop sharing them.

4 month moving update

Another new Lula Roe top!

4 month moving update

Alan’s seriously creepy Halloween costume

4 month moving update

And last but not least, I found 20 DOLLARS in my jeans from last year. Wahoo!!! What should I buy first!!???

 

“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”   –Isaiah 46:4

 

Come back on Cyber Monday!!!!!!! I have a giveaway planned!!!!!!!

 

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