Reaching for a Goal

I am one that sets goals carefully.   I am a firm believer in setting goals that can be achieved, and once set, it is very important to reach the goal.    It is a huge sense of accomplishment upon completion, not to mention makes a huge deposit into your self-integrity account.  

Last year was our first year sponsoring with Compassion.   It was a year of learning the ropes so to speak.   We learned how the letter writing system worked....  how long it actually takes to get a letter back and forth.    We learned the significance of those letters and how much it means not only to us, but to the children we sponsor.   It was fun to get the answers to the questions we had asked even though it took a good four to six months.   We learned how to give birthday and Christmas gifts.   And this is where the goal comes in.  

Not knowing what the Christmas gift program looked like, we gave a small amount of money for Christmas.   With that money our little girl in Honduras was able to buy a new outfit and her mother was able to buy shoes as well.   It opened our eyes to the fact that we can be helping these families as well as the children.    Our little girl in Kenya just wrote to us saying that with the birthday money, she received a mattress, a school bag, and a mosquito net.   A mattress!    Some of these children don't even have a bed to sleep on. 

In April we set a goal for this year's Christmas budget for the Compassion kids.  We have set a pretty big goal, and I am hopeful and having faith that we can make it.   My mom had a brilliant idea to collect money from the pop cans and save that money in a jar to put towards the gifts.   What a great idea!   If you know my family, we consume a large amount of pop.  

The kids are on board with the idea and help out with the recycling of the cans. 

We even have coupons that we use to get the maximum bang for our buck. 

 With the start of the pop can money and the jar sitting out, we have watched the money fill up the jar as the summer has progressed.  The great thing is, not only is pop money going into the jar, but the spare change from pockets, coins found on the ground, and the kids put a little of their allowance money in the jar.  

Periodically so we don't loose focus, we pull the money out of the jar and count it.   This is always a fun time as we get to see how pop can money and pocket change add up, and also how close we are getting to our goal.  

With the money in the jar and the savings that Mark and I are working on, we are well on our way to our goal.   My heart becomes so happy when I think of the money that we are going to send to our sponsored children.   I wish I could be there when they get the money, to see what they will do with it.   Of course we should hear from Compassion what the families were able to do with the money, I am just so grateful that God is providing so we can help these families. 


Really?? Already?

I had the same feeling last October when I walked through the doors of Hobby Lobby and saw their displays of Christmas decorations.   "Really??   Already?"   The exact same feelings returned on July 10th when perusing the ads in the Saturday paper.   "Really?? Already?"   The school supplies were in the weekly ads.   The kids had not been out of school a month yet, and already the retailers were pushing the school supplies. 

Not ready to even process the kids going back to school, we still have two months of summer left, I put the paper in the recycle and didn't want to think about it again.   However, my tactics did not work.   The supplies being in the paper, they are also in the stores.   The kids have seen them and they are wanting them.   For three weeks, I held back telling them no. 

They asked again today, so I tried a new tactic.   I bought the school supplies.   Everything on the lists is now purchased, labeled, and in their backpacks hanging on the hooks in anticipation of September.    Maybe now I don't have to hear about the school supplies for the last month of summer.

Not that I can blame them.  I remember the excitement of the notebooks that had not been written in.   The pencils with erasers perfectly shaped and unused.   I loved sorting through the supplies wondering what each notebook would contain in May and what the upcoming year would bring.   I totally get it.

As a parent, September is now a bitter-sweet time for me.   I love that the kids are excited and get to see their friends again.   Their minds will be challenged and they (and I) will learn new things throughout the year.   There is a routine that happens so everyone knows what to expect and when it will happen.    These are the blessings of September.

In September I miss the kids.   I really do love having them with me each and every day.   The schedule and routine of summer is much more laid back and we can take off for a day if we want, or have a pajama day just because, we don't have to wait for the snow storms.   I enjoy the absence of the spelling lists and math homework despite how good it is for the kids. 

September, the excitement of friends and new things. 
September, the time when the daylight is still long, but the summer is over. 


Pix's Sister

We have the wonderful privilege of Pix's sister MaeBell staying with us for the week/weekend.   She came last night and Pix was so excited to get to see his sister, not that it has been that long.   They both got haircuts yesterday afternoon and saw each other.   But he loves MaeBell and he gets so excited when she comes to play.  

When I came home from a friend's house last night the puppies were still playing hard and had kept Mark and the kids busy.  So I played some ball with the puppies, one of their favorite activities and we brought out the bones.   By 11:00, all of us were tired, so we called it a night. 

This morning both puppies were up and ready to play, but the energy and urgency of the playing has decreased which is good news for the people in the house!  


The Cruise

For the tenth year in a row, the streets are blocked, people sitting on the curbs and in lawn chairs are waiting, music is playing, the anticipation builds.   A fire engine approaches, and it begins.   They keep coming one after another after another until the parking lot is full, the streets are lined, and they still come.  1450 riders for one cause.

The House that Love built, The Ronald McDonald House.   1450 riders riding to help the children and families that stay at the Ronald McDonald House.   It brings tears to my eyes to know that these riders have spent time to gather money, spend 140 miles on their bike today, all for the children who are sick with illnesses that at times can rob them of their right to a carefree childhood.

Our family looks forward to going each year to greet the riders as they come into town after a long day on the bikes.   Each year we talk about someday.   Someday we will buy a bike and ride in the ride...  I don't know if the someday will ever come that we will ride, but for now, we will greet the riders as they come in and cheer them on as they continue to do great things for young people and their families.


Family Time

Today we were lucky enough to see all of our nieces and nephew.  The kids enjoy playing with their cousins so much.  The excitement lasted the entire day as we woke up early in order to meet my sister in the cities to pick up my niece.   She came home with us, had lunch, and played hard.   It was a great day, and very relaxing. 

This evening we went to Mark's parents' house and visited with the rest of our family and had a birthday party.   The kids were able to play in the pool, open presents, eat cake, and blow bubbled.  

It was a fun family day. 


A Quiet Day

Today was a quiet day at our house.   It just kind of worked out that way.   I had some work to do today and the kids spent most of their day listening to book on CD.

Harry Potter fever has hit our house again.   This time, it is the kids.  They listened to the entire first book yesterday, while completing the second book today.  When taking a break from listening to the books, there are different spells and charms being practiced and much talk about the "events" at Hogwarts.  I remember how captivated I was by these books as an adult, it is fun to see the stories through E and Addy's eyes.  

When I peek in on them while they are listening to the stories, I find them playing games.  Yesterday's game of choice was Mancala.   Today's game, Checkers.

I love how for the most part today the kids got along and they were enjoying each other.  Watching them spend time together and enjoying each others' company, bring so much joy as I pray they will grow up to be best friends. 

Tonight we made another batch of potato salad.   I think I have mentioned it before, but I love potato salad in the summer.   It is one of the first dishes I think of when the summer meal planning comes around.   The kids helped peel potatoes again, which always makes the process go faster. 

While the potatoes were cooking, we played Uno together.   First up was Uno Spin.

The concentration that is involved.

Hoping for a win.

Next, another version of Uno, "Uno Spit Out Cards"  also known as Uno Attack.

Addy and I came away as winners tonight, but I think we all had fun.

Cuddling on the couch reading bedtime stories was a perfect way to end our quiet day.


Our weekend

Taking time tonight to reflect on our weekend.   It was a busy weekend, but a GREAT weekend.   Mark came home early on Friday which is always a treat and starts the weekend out right in my opinion.   We have had two great meals off the grill,  made some new friends, and spent today relaxing.    

Some weekends are better than others, and this was one of the weekends that was just perfect, you couldn't have asked for it to be any better. 


Spring Cleaning in July

My goal is to do a thorough cleaning every spring and ever fall.   Typically in spring it naturally happens because I am tired of being indoors and I love opening the house and "airing" it out after many months of breathing what feels like recycled air.   Something happened this spring however, and my spring cleaning did not happen until this past week. 

The past two days have been filled with cleaning and moving furniture.   I love to move furniture because it forces me to clean in places I don't normally clean when I am in a hurry.   It also gives me new things to look at without spending money, a trick I learned from my mom.  So, our family room and living room are now rearranged. 

Joining in the spirit, the kids wanted their rooms rearranged.   Very supportive of this idea,  it meant that dressers had to be cleared off, under beds mucked out, and the dreaded project of sorting through what is worth keeping and what is not. 

Unfortunately I didn't take before and after pictures of each room.   The kids loved sleeping in their "new" beds last night, and Pix, he is really liking the new arrangement as his job of family guardian is so much easier now that there is a couch in front of the window.   He doesn't have to balance on the arm of the couch to watch the street.   :) 




Pool Fun

The kids are in their second week of swimming camp.   I was skeptical during the first week about how much could be learned in four half hour sessions.   On the second day of the first week, I saw this....

 I was sold on the week of classes.  So I signed the kids up for a second week of swim camp which is going on now.   Wanting some additional practice time for the kids, we headed out to a friend's pool to practice.  Of course, when at a pool, you can't practice the whole time!   :)


Cleaning Day

Today was not the normal cleaning day.   We cleaned the outside of the house today.   The siding and the shutters.   Weird?   Maybe so, but I feel so much better now that it is done.

When grilling on the deck, right by the house, the siding has turned black.   I thought it was going bad and that it would have to be replaced someday.   My dad said that all that was needed was to clean the siding.   Easy enough, I can do that, (of course with the help of Mark, I can do that).

Before jumping to any conclusions about my being obsessive about cleaning, let me tell you this is the beginning of a bigger project.   I am on a mission to give our house a face lift.   The gray siding will be the base obviously, and we build from there.   We are still in the researching stage, so I don't want to give all of the details away, but stay tuned as I am hoping this project is able to proceed this summer.

Anyway, we gathered all of our cleaning supplies and started what I thought would be an all afternoon project.

Everyone was very excited to help.   I love it when the kids join in on the projects and we work together as a family.

Mark was a trooper and cleaned most of the house due to the height of the house and because that is just who he is.   He will do pretty much anything I ask him to do.   What a great guy!

We were all got wet and dirty from the project.

However, things moved along more quickly than I had anticipated, so with a few supplies, a couple of hours, and a lot of elbow grease, we have a finished project for today.


Does It Get Any Better?

Summer.   You will hear many times over how much I love summer.    The sun shining in the bright blue sky, green grass, warmer temps.   These are just a few of the reasons.   Today being Friday brings around another reason I love summer.  

Grilling.  We grill for two or three nights in a row, and I love it.   Mark has been working on his grilling techniques over the past few years, and if I can brag about his grilling for a minute, let me tell you, he is getting really good at it.   A couple of years ago he moved from the gas grill to a charcoal grill, a change I was not excited about and did not totally understand at the time.   In those three years, Mark has worked on his grilling skills, read cookbooks, and practiced.   He is pulling some amazing meats off the grill now, and I am enjoying every time he cooks.

Tonight we are having BBQ chicken.   We had it a couple of weeks ago because I had some chicken in the fridge that needed to be used up and a half bottle of BBQ sauce, so why not.   I am here to tell you that he pulled off some of the most amazing chicken I have ever had!   It was moist and the BBQ sauce was thick and not charred around the edges.   It was as if we had gone to a BBQ joint and we were eating their house special.   I cannot wait for dinner tonight.

The chicken is only part of the meal.   Summer means fresh fruit.   I could eat fresh fruit for every meal and never get tired of it.    Right now the berries and melons are amazing, and when you mix them all together in a fresh fruit salad, it just doesn't get any better than that.



Today we worked on letters to our Compassion children. I try to write to all of the kids, we have two that we sponsor and 4 that we correspond with, twice a month. I don't always make the twice a month goal, but I figure if that is my focus, I tend to hit it more often than not.

Compassion stresses how important each letter is to the children. I have even heard it said that our letters are sometimes more important than the monthly sponsorship fee that we pay. People who have been able to visit their child say the most frequent question they get asked by other children at the centers is "Why doesn't my sponsor write to me?" I can imagine how it feels for them to receive a letter. The excitement over getting mail. I know how excited I get when there is something in mail for me besides a bill. I will admit, I am the first to run to the mailbox each day to see if a letter from Honduras, Indonesia, India, Kenya, or Mexico is in our mailbox. The kids have given up trying to beat me to it. I can imagine the disappointment a child must feel when week after week their name is not called because there are no letters for them. The same disappointment (probably magnified) I feel each day that I go to the mailbox and there are no envelopes that say "A Letter From Your Sponsored Child" on the outside.

So today, we sat down and worked on our letters for our Compassion children. I try to have the kids help on a somewhat regular basis. I don't make it a required once a month deal. This is a commitment that Mark and I have made, but I am glad that the kids are on board with it. They both grabbed some paper, pencils, and crayons and went to work creating artwork.

I love the thought they put into the pictures.

I love how they help each other out.

I love that it is something we can do together.