Content Amidst the Chaos

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You know you are a large family when… June 23, 2011

Filed under: You know you are a large family when... — jps23 @ 10:51 pm

you check out your rear view mirror or walk out of a restaurant and see someone counting the stick people on the family sticker on your rear windshield.

It makes us giggle every time, but sometimes it is down right awkward to walk out to someone hanging out at the rear of your vehicle.  Tonight, Adam and I went out on a date with the baby in tow.  I met Adam near the bank for dinner and a movie.  We parked side by side in our vans, which both have family stickers on the back (  The “mini” van has our family when there were six kids (never added Joseph or Thomas) and the “many” van has the seven kids, with no Isaac added yet.  We walk out of the restaurant to a woman who actually sat two tables away from us inside.  She keeps counting, and as we walk up, she asks us about our family.  She is fascinated and makes a little more small talk and heads off on her way.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve caught someone in the rear view mirror, counting our little people as we sit at a red light, stop sign, or drive thru.  Once upon a time, that sort of thing bothered me because I was afraid of what folks would actually say to me.  However, we have been met with so much genuine kindness by people that we now see it as a laughable moment.


“Daddy” June 19, 2011

Filed under: Superman — jps23 @ 7:26 pm

I have a precious Dad.  He embraced fatherhood with loving arms and a sacrificial spirit.  He was a truck driver, which was something he always knew he wanted to do, and while that meant occasional lay-offs and less acknowledgement than a corporate job (by some people), I always admired the fact that my dad followed his heart and did something he loved.  Not to mention, it’s a pretty vital job, if you think about it.  Much of what you buy is shipped by a truck driver at some point.  When Ashley and I were little, we shared a shirt with a picture of a little girl sitting on a toy tractor trailer truck that said, “My Daddy’s a Truck-Drivin’ Man!”  I loved that shirt, and I would have worn it even today, if it still fit.  I share that so that his sacrifice makes sense.  He had to bid on shifts, and he always bid around our schedules.  When we were in high school, we were all three involved in some type of extra-curricular activities.  Actually, it started in junior high for Dale and middle school for Ashley and me.  He went to everything he possibly could attend.  Football games to watch our half-time shows, softball games, chorus and band concerts, and drama productions.  I will never forget Honor’s Night of my senior year.  I had received an invitation to attend, meaning I would be receiving an award of some sort.  Dad was sick, so I told him to just stay home and not bother coming, since it was probably just an English award or some other special recognition for good grades.  I was a decent student, making honor roll most of the time, but I was far from being the top of my class.  I graduated with some smart folks.  Low and behold, I was selected for a special scholarship that my high school offers.  Now, I had applied, but remember, I graduated with some really smart folks.  I never thought I’d get chosen for it.  I called Dad on the way home, and he was so disappointed to know that I had received the scholarship and that he wasn’t there to see it.  That’s just the kind of dad he was to us.  He would also leave us notes the night before a big day, like auditions for honor band and All-State, if he was going to be at work by the time we woke up the next morning.  I’ve even kept some of them.  I am so blessed to be able to call him “Daddy”.

So for me, when I envisioned being married one day, it was definitely going to be to a man who would be a good dad.  Now you can’t know this for sure ahead of time, but you can usually get a pretty good idea.  Adam and I began dating when I was 15 years old.  Now, we didn’t go on an “official” date until the weekend AFTER my 16th birthday.  That was a rule that my parents were sticking to, no matter how much they liked Adam!  However, he was already my boyfriend at that point.  I remember a very distinct conversation with him, while sitting on the steps between our high school and the neighboring middle school, where we both said we wanted a lot of kids one day.  Our magic number was four.  I guess you could say that we just took our magic numbers and added them together, since we currently have eight children!  Adam’s brother was almost eight years younger than him, making him 8 years old when Adam and I started dating (though he towers over BOTH of us, now), and he also had very young cousins.  I had seen him with kids and could tell that he loved them like I did.  I knew even then that he was going to be a great dad.

Not only was I right, but he has simply surpassed my expectations.  As we were sitting at Addison’s dance recital just last weekend, I noticed the way he would giggle at dances done by classes that didn’t even include our daughter.  I commented on it, and he said that it reminded him of when Addison was that small, which I even struggle to remember!  As I type, he is sitting on the couch with our newest addition, loving on him and giving him some extra attention.  He does so much for this family.  Aside from maintaining a full-time job which provides income and medical care for all of us, he also has picked up teaching a few classes at the college right down the street.  He comes home and willingly prepares dinner most nights (which was difficult for me to do when pregnant because of my extreme olfactory sensitivities), or if we don’t have a dinner plan already, he’ll pick up something on the way home.  He gives great credit to me in my daily tasks of caring for the kids and doing what little I can around the house and gives me a little break from those tasks on the weekends by taking on some of them himself.  His money that he earns is our money.  He does not feel the need to “get away” through other activities that do not include us.  As a matter of fact, I have struggled to get him to just take some time for himself so that he can exercise or work out.  He changes diapers, does bath time, and reads bedtime stories without complaint.  He has even put a pony tail or two in our girls’ hair!  He is simply an amazing father who enjoys being with his kids and taking care of this family.  Most importantly, he seeks to honor God in this role of being a daddy.  He wants to guide our kids with loving discipline.  He wants to help them understand the promises and the commands within the Word.  He also desires to be the right example to our boys AND our girls.  I am so blessed to be able to call him my husband, and equally grateful that my kids get to call him “Daddy”.


Mommy, I’m transforming! June 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 10:21 am

I went to pull my Bible out of the Bible basket after dinner.  I have asked Adam numerous times to lead a time of devotion for our family, and he really wants to, but we’ve had a hard time just doing it.  Should we use a curriculum?  Should it have a craft or interactive time?  So many questions about doing it the right way just overwhelmed us and kept us from getting started.  BUT WE NEED IT.  So, I pulled out the Bible with no clue as to what scripture I would go over, and he said, “When you finish, I have something I’d like to read”  I told him I had no clue what I was going to read, so please just go ahead.  He chose Romans 12:2- Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

His reason for choosing this verse was because of some sassiness with have experienced with a certain daughter after she spends some time watching the Disney channel at the grandparents’ houses.  Now, I am not saying that Disney or t.v. is evil, but I do feel like they depict a certain image of and for tweens that is inappropriate.  The whole, “I can back talk my parent and be sassy and still get my way.”  Even if the said teen gets it resolved and figured out in the end, making the right choice, my kids are still seeing the negative behavior modeled.  Now, my child chooses to emulate it sometimes, knowing it is wrong, but until they are more firm in their understanding of what God expects of them, which is what we also expect of them, I don’t like to expose them to things they aren’t prepared to handle.  Now, I am also not blaming the grandparents because I honestly didn’t think it was that harmful for them to watch certain shows every once in a while.  But it never fails.  When they watch those shows, they try out what they see in them.  Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.  We have to guard our hearts and minds, and since we have been placed in charge of these children, we have to make sure that they know how to do that before we put them in the place to actually do it.  You wouldn’t send a soldier to the front line with no training.  And it’s a war.  Do not be deceived.  The enemy wants the hearts of our children as much as he wants ours.

So, back to the story.  We discussed this verse with our kids.  And we asked Coleman what ‘transform’ means by relating it to the Transformers.  “What do the Transformers do?”  “They change from a robot to a car.”  Because we are a large family, we tend to raise our hands for a turn to talk at the table, and the little ones like to say, “Ohh, ohh, ohh!” as they thrust their hand in the air as high as they possibly can.  Joseph did this repeatedly, and when called on, he simply said, “The robot turns into a car?  Huh?”  By discussing something relevant with the boys, we helped the verse make sense for them and kept their attention.  Then we added moves another night because it’s easier for kids to learn things when they are moving.  Their sensory receptors in the joints are activated, making their brains more receptive to the information.  As a matter of fact, I had to picture the moves to help me remember the very first words of the verse to type in this note!  The other thing we have done is make sure to discuss their behavior and choices with the key words “transform” and “conform”.  Example: “Coleman, is that a conforming behavior or transformed behavior?” or “Coleman, that is awesome!  You are really acting like a transformed person!”  This morning, he was being amazingly sweet and sharing cars with his brothers, and I complimented him with a simple “You are being so sweet!” to which he replied, “Mommy, I’m being transformed!”

It works.  No fancy curriculum or cute, creative idea book necessary.  No craft.  No prep.  Just opening the Word of God and reading it.  They still wiggle, but if they are listening, then I don’t care.  We’ve experienced amazing results with the little boys and the bigger girls.  Don’t get hung up on doing it “right”.  Just do it.  Read the scriptures with your kids.  We got our inspiration here:


100 things June 6, 2011

Filed under: Superman — jps23 @ 10:30 pm

My friend Heidi just recently posted 100 things she loves about her husband, and they were so sweet, were I not in love with my own amazing husband, I just might have fallen in love with Scotty just reading her list.  She is truly blessed with an amazing husband, father to her kids, and man of God!  Those of you who know me now or knew me in high school know that I am equally blessed.  And if you know me from high school, you might just know Scotty and Heidi, since they are sweethearts from the same time and place that we are.  I think they even got married the same year we did!

My 100 reasons for loving MY man: (in no particular order, just as they come to mind)

  1. He has a realistic idea of what a woman’s body really looks like, and he loves mine just the way it is.  “What flabby belly?  Oh the one that is flabby because you bore my children?  Love it.”
  2. He hates to leave us each morning and is anxious to get home to us each night.
  3. He asked me to break up with my boyfriend while we were hanging out with friends at Starr Park in 1993 because he wanted to be my boyfriend.  Big move for him, since he was more of a shy kid.
  4. I love it when he says my name.
  5. He is so handsome to me.  Being drawn to the nerdy type paid off for me!
  6. He lets the kids help him build things.
  7. He will buy feminine products for me without blinking.
  8. He WANTED all of these babies, too.  As a matter of fact, he rallied for the last three!
  9. The only thing he loves more than the kids and me is God.
  10. He pays the bills and works hard, allowing me to stay home, but calls the money he earns “ours”.
  11. He acknowledges how hard my “job” is.
  12. He wants to homeschool our kids as much as I do, and he fights for it when I am tired and want to give up.
  13. He runs my baths when I ask him to, and sometimes when I don’t.
  14. He bathes the kids without complaint.
  15. He really makes an effort to make sure I have gas in both vans.  This was something my dad always did for my mom, and it was something I hoped to have done for me.
  16. He is brilliant!
  17. He has a beautiful voice and loves to sing.
  18. He loves to cook and is quite good at it.
  19. He gets up with the babies with me AND for me.
  20. He doesn’t play favorites with our kids.
  21. He says “I’m sorry” on the rare occasions it’s necessary.
  22. He is always ready for an adventure.
  23. He makes me laugh, a lot.
  24. He loves to learn new things.
  25. He loves my nuclear family like his own.
  26. He not only puts up with my craftiness and impulsiveness.  He loves that about me.
  27. He married me even though others said we were too young.
  28. He has a better eye for fashion than me, and he helps me out in that category.
  29. He NEVER complains about the mess in the house and values the time we spend with our kids more than he desires a pristine place to sit.  And he helps me manage it when he can.
  30. He knows how to do laundry and does it.
  31. He is patient.  V E R Y patient.
  32. He rarely meets someone who doesn’t like him.
  33. He is not an angry person.  He doesn’t ever lose his temper with me or the kids.
  34. He doesn’t mind the noise of children, ours or anyone else’s.
  35. He loves my nephews and nieces as fiercely as I do and calls them his.
  36. He respects others.
  37. He is a servant.
  38. He is compassionate.
  39. He is the kind of guy who sees something that needs to be done and does it.
  40. He’s athletic.  He only swam in high school, but he often says that if he had been more confident, he would have loved to have played basketball for a team.
  41. He can be REALLY romantic.
  42. He doesn’t give up on people.
  43. He loves to build things.
  44. He loves and serves my friends.
  45. He is not a judgmental person.
  46. He’s not afraid to point be back to reality when I need it (which is often), but he has a gentle way of doing it.
  47. We don’t argue much, but when we do, he doesn’t resort to name calling or harsh words.
  48. He admits mistakes.
  49. He celebrates others successes and victories.
  50. When we found out our first kid was a girl, he was thrilled.  With our second, who was a surprise, he reassured me that we would be fine.  When we were pregnant a third time and I thought he’d want a boy, he said, “I kinda like having girls.”  He’s such a great example of what to look for in a man for our girls.
  51. He was equally thrilled at having boys, but a little more nervous about being their example.  However, he is handling fatherhood to boys quite beautifully!
  52. He puts others before himself always.
  53. There isn’t anything around this house that he is unwilling to do.  He’s even tried to make a ponytail or two!
  54. He loves the outdoors.
  55. He led me to Georgia Southern University, where I met some amazing friends.
  56. He loves sports but not more than he loves time with us.
  57. He was my hero so many times when I forgot something I needed for a lesson plan.  He even dressed up as a lady bug for one of my literature classes in college!
  58. He’ll sleep on the couch just so he can be in the room with me when I am pregnant and sleeping in the recliner for comfort.  OR, he’ll move the recliner to the bedroom.
  59. He gives me space when I need it and avoids pushing my buttons.
  60. He gives me the final say on naming our babies.
  61. He will make and decorate a cake the night before a party when I am too tired from planning too much or procrastinating too much.
  62. He follows my lead on handling our kids’ special issues and respects my role as their mom and teacher.
  63. He braves restaurants and movie theaters with seven kids, when going out with three used to make him sweat!
  64. He lets me spend (too much) money on our family scrapbook.
  65. He is constantly seeking growth in his faith walk.
  66. He has stood up for me in situations where I needed someone to stand for me.
  67. He rubbed my feet on our wedding day without me even asking while we were sitting and waiting for our photographer to get something ready.  Thankfully, the photographer got a shot of it.
  68. He got up before sunrise five mornings a week to work at Chick-Fil-A to pay for my engagement ring, which he gave to me over pizza because I was so anxious and didn’t want to wait for him to plan and execute a proposal.
  69. Don’t laugh, but the boy looked GOOD in a band uniform!  I will never forget the butterflies in my stomach the first time I saw him after he left for college.  I went to see him at a marching competition where GSU did the exhibition, and he walked up in his uniform looking F-I-N-E, FINE!
  70. He looked even better in his swim team uniform.
  71. He understands women.
  72. He wore an Aladdin costume that I made for him in high school when we first got together, just to impress me.
  73. He was good at Chemistry, which gave me an excuse to invite him over in high school when I had a crush on him.  He was my tutor.  (I think I still got a C, but it wasn’t Chemistry that I was studying!)
  74. He knew my brother before he knew me and gave me a chance anyway.  (Just kidding, Dale!)  Dale told my mom that he thought I would marry Adam very early in our relationship.
  75. He’s got a protectiveness over my sister in him.  He doesn’t have a sister of his own.
  76. I love to watch him nap with our babies when they are newborns.
  77. He’s got nice shoulders.
  78. He was a great trumpet player back in the day.
  79. He is the reason I survived the emotional heartache of miscarriage.
  80. He grows his goatee for me because I like the way it looks and then shaves it for me because I don’t like the way it feels when I kiss him.
  81. He’s an amazing kisser!  Always has been.
  82. He’s the best listener, which I think is why people like him so much.
  83. He looks away from the t.v. when Victoria’s Secret commercials come on.
  84. He always asks me what I need.
  85. He doesn’t consider being home with his kids while I am away “babysitting”.
  86. He loves to read.
  87. He never, ever questions me when I say, “I need to leave the house for some quiet time tonight.”  He sends me on my way and doesn’t bug me about when I am coming back.
  88. He’s always liked my hair the way it was, never really showing a preference one way or the other.
  89. He gets me massages as a gift almost every pregnancy.
  90. He once surprised me for my birthday with an invitation he made himself to a night of celebrating me.  We went to see Josh Groban after eating at Veni, Vidi, Vici, and then spent the night in the Omni hotel overlooking Centennial Park.
  91. Our first Christmas as a couple in high school, his mom got me a cute little necklace.  He knew how much I loved the movie Aladdin and also bought me a musical genie that plays “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me”.  I still have it, though it has been broken a few times and no longer has the music box part of it.  That song choice couldn’t have been more right.
  92. I bought him a Superman shirt this year because to me, he makes Superman look weak.
  93. He will clip fingernails, change poops, and take out/put in the girls’ earrings.  He truly is an amazing daddy.
  94. He never forgets my birthday or our anniversary.
  95. As a matter of fact, mine and him mom’s birthdays are 10 days apart, the 2nd and the 12th, and he’s NEVER gotten them mixed up.
  96. He likes to play board games and card games, but isn’t that into video games.
  97. He’s a man of outstanding character and integrity.
  98. I like how he towers over my 5’3 frame with his 6′ frame.
  99. He can predict to the dollar what his total will be at the grocery store.  He did it to me on a recent trip to BJ’s when I didn’t even stick to the list.
  100. He loves me.

Getting ready June 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 7:09 pm

I’m about to reveal the #1, hardest thing about being the mom to a big brood of small people.  Wait for it…here it comes…the #1 HARDEST part about my “job” is GETTING READY!!! 

Yep, that’s it.  Getting ready for what, you ask?  ANYTHING.  Getting ready to leave, getting ready for Christmas, getting ready to go on vacation (or a day trip, even), getting ready for a new baby, and just plain ol’ getting ready.  Don’t even get me started on getting ready for birthday parties.  There are so many people to coordinate, and no matter what you do ahead of time, you can never be ready enough.  You see, ten people generate a lot of stuff just for every day living.  And ten sets of hands (okay, really just nine, since Isaac can’t use his very well yet) move things to many different places, unless you have it under lock and key.  But if you have it under lock and key, then no one can access it but you (like the toilet lid locks we just installed to keep Thomas from playing in the potty water, which the “I barely make it to the toilet” preschoolers can’t operate-and toothbrushes, which you want in reach so they will use them, but not have in reach so they can scrub their feet with them).  Which means you get to be the person to do everything for everyone.  All.  The.  Time.  But I digress…

The problem is that the stuff you need is the stuff you use every day, and if you are using it, you can’t pack it, unless of course you have extras of everything.  We live in a pretty big house, and even though there may be room for doubles of everything, it creates so much clutter.  And did I mention that it might get moved?  For no reason, too.  Nothing is ever where it belongs, and I’ve containerized it, labeled it, and done everything short of locking it down!  It’s an inevitable fate in this house, in our vans, and in any other space we inhabit.  If I had a bag packed with baby stuff at the back door for the big day, it would get moved or buried.  If I pack my favorite book, what am I going to read when I have down time?  (I know, that doesn’t ever really happen, but I make time for it.  I’ll go crazy if i don’t.)  I wanted to be ready for the baby’s arrival, making it easier for anyone who came in to help with the kids.  So I went to BJ’s and stocked up on food and snacks, but they all got eaten between that trip and the big day.

The other part of this problem is that I am an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of girl.  I have to see things, but if they are out where I can see them, they are bound to get moved.  And most of the time, it is Adam that moves them, saying “I was putting it up so the kids wouldn’t move it/lose it/break it.”  Now, don’t take this as complaining.  It’s more of an annoyance than anything.  It isn’t a deal breaker to me, obviously, because we keep having more kids.  However, this is one of the reasons I feel a need for some space, at least.  I feel like I can’t get in front of, keep up, or even catch up with the daily tasks like these.  And it’s backing up.  You should see the clothes in my basement.  The school resources.  The craft supplies.  The outside chores.  The dust bunnies, which I could care less about if Coleman weren’t highly allergic to dust mites.  Add into those mundane, not-so-important things that aren’t urgent but still need to be attended to, the important things like shaping your child’s character and faith walk, being the wife that your husband deserves, and other relationships that God places into your life.  Some days feel hopeless.

However, I have learned that if I devote all my time and energy to getting ready, allowing the stress of it all to blind me to the event that is happening right now, I’m missing it.  It’s like that quote that says “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things (Robert Brault)”.  I don’t want to miss the right now.  The moment where I catch Thomas putting his Matchbox car in the swing next to Isaac.  The one where Coleman wants to cheer on Andrew and Joseph in the swimming pool.  The sweet talks the girls have with their daddy.  The ambitious plans of a creative girl who wants to start her own clothing line for girls who want to be stylish and modest.  The giggles between two sisters who share their age for two weeks out of the year.  And one of my favorites, the one where I catch him looking at me the way he did in the band room almost 20 years ago.  So I try not to focus too much on the getting ready and just embrace the “let’s go.”