Picture Challenge 1/3 & 1/4

I promise I took my picture yesterday! I just didn’t get it posted because I blew a tire on the highway. It was epic. It was also dark and I was by myself. A beautiful friend was on the same highway and knew what happened so she pulled up behind me and stayed until my husband could get to me. She is awesome. My knight in shining armor arrived and changed my tire and showed me my very literally destroyed tire. I opted to go home after that and crash on the couch.

My 1/3 picture is of an animal. I could have gotten creative here, but instead I opted to take a picture of Sunny Day. Sunny is a chocolate lab who thinks we starve her. She is a 4 year old ball of energy and so loved. Her favorite thing to do is try to trick us into more food. She will try to convince the people who hadn’t fed her that she never ate. She will walk around with her bowl in her mouth and give us sad, sad eyes. She has managed a second breakfast once or twice. Sneaky pooch.
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My 1/4 picture is a favorite thing. That would be my coffee pot. I feel this needs no explanation, ha!

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How are y’all doing on your resolutions, goals, positive life changes? Let me know!
~Andrea

Circle

Today my task was to take a picture of a circle. The obvious choice being my wedding ring. Of course I picked that, but I also picked my grandmother’s ring. Her ring has the letter A on it. I am her only grandchild to share the same first initial so I got the ring and I cherish it. My grandmother and I were close. I called her ever Sunday. When she would go to Florida in the winter I would drive to see her (Florida is closer to me than where my family is from). This woman was amazing. She told me stories, gave me advice, would share some of her heartache. Through it all she was a tough as nails woman with grace and charm who took the tough times and learned from them. She was devoted and loving. I pray I am half as amazing as she was. I miss her terribly every single day of my life.

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My wedding ring….18 years. It seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. We have had amazing highs and devastating lows and through it all we have held to each other and our wedding rings symbolize that commitment. Marco is my best friend. He knows my worst secrets and my best attributes and he still loves me. He is a pretty amazing person. He is my comfort and my life.

~Andrea

Purple

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Purple. My favorite color is purple. Today Zen has been playing with his Play-Doh he got for Christmas. He has been creating and mixing all afternoon. It is so beautiful to watch him and participate in his imaginative play. I have “eaten” more ice cream today than I can count. He always gives me purple because “It your favorite, Mama!”
Thank goodness it isn’t real! His passion for play is beautiful and the fact he can be occupied for long periods is a blessing.

Shopping for a Family of 7

Have you ever wondered how larger families shop? I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I know that, for us, shopping less often by buying more at the time is far more convenient. It takes less time to meal plan, write lists, make sure our pantry and freezer inventory is up-to-date, and then do one large bi-monthly shopping trip than it does to shop once a week. It is also far more cost effective because we have less opportunity for impulse buys.

I had the amazing opportunity to write a guest-post for my good friend Kristin over at Couponing to Disney on how my latest shopping trip went.
I have gotten so much positive feedback. I am thrilled my experience is helping people save time and money!

I would love for you to check it out and I pray it can benefit you also: Andrea’s Bi-Monthly Shopping Trip to Aldi: Feeding a Family of 7 (via Couponing to Disney)

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A Visit to Bass Pro

My mom came to visit in November. There was so much I wanted to do with her and there is a lot we never got to. One thing we did do was go to Bass Pro in Springfield. She has been wanting to go for quite some time and I was thrilled we finally had the chance to get her there.

If you have never been to Bass Pro then you need to know it is more than just a store. It is a museum and wildlife zoo also. You can see alligators, numerous fish species, ducks, and turtles. You can watch a scuba diver feed fish. There is an ammunition museum. You can learn to fish. There are numerous educational opportunities including homeschool classes and the elite WOLF program. The WOLF program is open to fifth graders in Springfield who qualify and fill out an application. They are picked via lottery. It is really  neat program that many hope will expand. There is so much to do and it is getting bigger. They have been under construction for 6 years now. They closed Wonders of Wildlife the summer we moved to MO. It is slated to re-open in March 2015. I am super excited for the opening. Check out their website to learn more.

So I brought my mom to Bass Pro. She was in awe, as I knew she would be. It is massive and impressive. Here are some of my more favorite pictures from the outing.

C-Dog taking a rest in one of the many trees inside Bass Pro

C-Dog taking a rest in one of the many trees inside Bass Pro

If you do not like mounted animals than I would not recommend a trip to Bass Pro. We found the lion especially impressive.

If you do not like mounted animals than I would not recommend a trip to Bass Pro. We found the lion especially impressive.

Elf and C-Dog checking out the turtles

Elf and C-Dog checking out the turtles

And now for my favorite picture of the day…..

The bear is eating me!!!! No worries, this is me being silly and my mom happened to snap the picture just in time.

The bear is eating me!!!! No worries, this is me being silly and my mom happened to snap the picture just in time.

My very long and awesome summer

My totally amazing son wrote this

Musings of a Self-proclaimed Nerd

Sorry I have not been writing this summer but I had no internet access.

We used to live in Missouri but my Dad’s job moved use to Indiana about one year ago. After two months in Indiana my Dad got laid of. He started to work at a Sears Home Store. Fast forward about seven months and my dad got a chance to be the manager of a Sears Home Store in Missouri about a hour away from where we used to live. In May he went to Missouri to look for a house while we stayed in Indiana and packed all our stuff.

We left Indiana at the end of June. When we got to Missouri we stay at an awesome hotel called Grand Country Resort. It had an indoor and outdoor water park, a pool, an arcade, two golf courses, many shops, a restaurant, a candy store, bumper…

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200,000 Miles

My van hit 200,000 miles this summer. I knew it was coming and one day I looked down and it had passed. I had missed it. Nothing spectacular happened. No fireworks. No cheering. Thank the stars there was no disastrous breaking down. It was quite anticlimactic.

It made me think about when we bought this vehicle. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t really that long ago in the grand scheme of life. A lot has happened since we bought this van so I decided to write about my life in 200,000 miles.

It all started in 2007 when I bought the van……

In 200,000 miles I was working in lactation for an inner city WIC office and doing hospital rounds. Mark was working at a very small account for his (now former) company.
In 200,000 miles I had 3 children.
In 200,000 miles my eldest was trekking through kindergarten and my baby daughter was allowed to go to work with me as a living example of how to breastfeed.
In 200,000 miles Mark took a transfer to a new state; moving our family halfway across the country.
In 200,000 miles I crossed the Mississippi River for the first time ever.

In 200,000 miles we made our home in the Midwest.
In 200,000 miles my eldest son started first grade.
In 200,000 the school nurse called to tell me my son’s head got cut open on the playground; he had to be stapled shut. This was our first “tragic” accident as parents.
In 200,000 miles I made it through my first tornado.

In 200,000 miles I discovered I was pregnant with baby #4!
In 200,000 miles I loaded up 3 kids and my very pregnant self and traveled to Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then New York again for a summer-long trip to see family and friends (some whom I hadn’t seen since graduating high school!) and watch my beautiful cousin get married while Mark worked.

In 200,000 miles we drove to Iowa in the August heat, went to the famous Iowa State Fair, and watched one of our favorite people get married to his gorgeous bride.

In 200,000 miles my eldest son had surgery. This was a very hard time for me, yet he took it in stride. Bless him.
In 200,000 miles my second son developed a golf ball sized lump in his neck and we waited in scared horror for the results.
In 200,000 miles we learned that we were lucky and our son didn’t have cancer but rather a spectacular infection that would stick with him for quite some time.

In 200,000 miles I made the extremely difficult and personal decision to homeschool my children.
In 200,000 miles I taught 2 children to read.
In 200,000 miles I learned things I never knew as I taught them to my children.

In 200,000 miles we made an autumn family trip to Indiana to see another beautiful cousin get married.
In 200,000 miles I suffered from extreme hypotension and had to be induced and after a very scary birth of a blue baby (cord wrapped 3X around the neck) we welcomed another beautiful baby girl into our family.

In 200,000 miles we heard the gut wrenching scream of a child falling and breaking their arm.
In 200,000 miles my eldest endured a second surgery for the same issue as previous and my mom flew to Missouri to be with us.
In 200,000 miles we drove to Florida and saw family and went to Sea World; our first real family vacation.
In 200,000 miles we traveled to Florida a second time in order to visit with my grandmother who was staying with her daughter for a spell; a trip I am so glad I made because it was the last time I would see her healthy.
In 200,000 miles I made weekly phone calls to my grandmother and learned so much about her I never knew beforehand.

In 200,000 miles Mark’s baby sister celebrated love and got married.
In 200,000 miles we made several trips to AL to visit my parents.
In 200,000 miles we sat helplessly watching difficult times hit friends and family and we prayed.
In 200,000 miles we rejoiced over the good things happening to friends and family and we praised God.

In 200,000 miles we said good bye to Mark’s grandmother, my Great Uncle L (who I thought would live forever), and many others whom we loved.
In 200,000 miles we watched friends and family joyously welcome new life into the world.
In 200,000 miles we walked beside and prayed for friends who took the journey of fostering. We have learned so much through this and them.

In 200,000 miles our parents (all 4 of them!) had various surgeries as we stood helplessly hundreds of miles away and simply prayed for the best for all of them.
In 200,000 miles we learned just how grateful we are for siblings.
In 200,000 miles our second son had surgery on his tongue and we praised God the lump wan’t cancer (what is it with him and weird lumps?).

In 200,000 miles I learned baby #5 was coming. This was an enormous shock.
In 200,000 miles my eldest daughter went to kindergarten at the public school but after 2 months dropped out because we moved to a different district (that was awful).
In 200,000 miles I homeschooled 3 kids.

In 200,000 miles I went through a deep depression and learned who my real friends and family are as I was surrounded by loving support.
In 200,000 miles I made new friends.
In 200,000 miles I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in a pool of water; a birth that was able to heal the trauma of my daughter’s not-so-smooth birth and the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy.

In 200,000 miles we learned the account Mark was at had to close its doors and we were going to be transferred to Indiana.
In 200,000 miles our eldest earned an academic scholarship to attend Space Camp!
In 200,000 miles we moved and were shocked to discover our east-coast hearts were actually in Missouri and that we wanted to go back.

In 200,000 miles Mark came home from work carrying a box….

In 200,000 miles Mark was unemployed for the first time ever.
In 200,000 miles we learned what poverty really is, that no one is immune, and that there are people who are selfless and help those in need.
In 200,000 miles we learned humility.
in 200,000 miles we learned judgement.

In 200,000 miles, with some help, I was able to fly to MA and make good on a promise to my grandmother. She met baby Zen and I said goodbye to the woman who had more influence in my life than I think she ever realized.

In 200,000 miles I drove to Ohio with 5 children and a dog to visit family.

In 200,000 miles both older boys broke a foot each.
In 200,000 miles my eldest called me while I was out and said, “I cut myself really badly.”
In 200,000 miles he got stitches (a first for our family).

In 200,000 miles we made the decision to move back to Missouri.
In 200,000 miles Mark found the job that would allow us to move home.
In 200,000 miles we learned that being homeless sucks but that we are lucky that we have friends and family to take us in while we transition.

In 200,000 miles we cried, we laughed, we loved, we were scared, we were optimistic, we were sick, healthy, tired, full of energy….
In 200,000 miles my love for my husband only grew and my respect for him deepened.
In 200,000 miles we lived life and made memories.

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Here is to another 200,000 miles.