Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Mrs Barba"

Newcomer's Lunch at "Mrs Barba's" house is one of the girls favorite things. I have to be careful and not let them hear about it until Sunday morning. If I tell them too early, they get so excited and then go through the huge let-downs of it not being "today."

Sunday morning I told the girls we were having Newcomer's Lunch. J started jumping up and down saying, "We going to Mrs Barba's. Mrs Barba. Yeah C and M. We going to eat lunch at Mrs Barba's house!"

They absolutely love going to "Mrs Barba's" house. Could it be the fun of a new house? Could it be all the cool toys she has? Could it be the possiblity of chicken nuggets and fries for lunch with *gasp* ketchup?! (If they ever get nuggets from Mom, they are dry.) I know my little girls pretty well, and my guess is that the love is food related.

This Sunday the girls had hotdogs and cheetos for lunch. After finishing the first dog, C asked for another one. "Mrs Barba" asked what she wanted on her hotdog - mustard, ketchup, etc... C answered, "Just whatever you want to put on it. It will be great." My girls have learned that "Mrs Barba" is super cool, and she knows how to cook super great food. They love "Mrs Barba!"

They also love how "Mrs Barba" always has dessert. And it's okay if they have a hard time choosing from all the options she's prepared. They can have ice cream AND cheesecake. What's not to love about "Mrs Barba?!"

And I love that "Mrs Barba" can treat my little girls and even A. (I heard he had his fare share of cheesecake also.) I understand my role as Mom, and I'm on duty 24-7. For the sake of their well-being I can't "spoil" my little girls. But at the same time, I love watching them enjoy treats in life. And "Mrs Barba's" once a quarter lunch is a huge treat for me and the girls. They get to experience what I can't give them, and I get to enjoy watching them enjoy it so much.

That's why my girls love "Mrs Barba's" house so much. And knowing that it comes so rare makes it that much more special for all of us. And I love how the girls recognize that these special treats are that, a special treat. They don't whine and complain to me. They understand that the way Mom does things is the norm, and sometimes, on those rare occassions they'll get a taste of the finer things in life. Fun times with "Mrs Barba." These memories will stay with the girls forever.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fighting the Yuckies

So far our family has been blessed with good health. Andy and I rarely get sick. Andy has yet to have a Sunday when he had to miss due to illness. (That's 3 long years y'all. And good thing since he wears two sets of pants as worship leader and pastor!) I've had my share of misses caring for a newborn. I don't think I'll ever forget being released from the hospital, but having to tell the nursing staff I would leave just as soon as my ride got through preaching at church!

And the kids have never been on antibiotics. I can even count on one hand how many times I have given them over the counter medicine. We just don't get sick very often around here. And when we do, we try to fight it with our own bodies before turning to the drugs. My hope is that every time the kids kick a cold on their own, their immune systems (and bodies) are that much stronger and ready to attack the next germ infestation.

So when the bug comes our way, it's time to pull out the Manning tricks. These include lots of sleep, lots a fluids, and a soak in the tub with a popsicle. I'm not sure if I read it somewhere, or I just came up with this silly idea on my own, but it's a treasure that has yet to fail us.

If ever the kids are running a fever, they get to soak in the tub and eat popsicles. It's amazing how their fever has always gone down after this trick. Now granted, we've never experienced a severely high fever, just the low grade ones that indicate little bodies fighting off the yuckies.

Since the little cool front came through, we're fighting the runny noses. M woke up from nap the other day with a fever, so off to the tub we went. She had so much fun! I gave her an American Girl magazine (dolls, dolls, and more dolls) to look at. She soaked, read her magazine, and ate a popsicle. Within 30 minutes she said she felt better and was ready to get out and play with her sisters.

So the Manning tricks have worked for us once again. Thank you Lord for our health. We truly are so very blessed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturdays are super busy around here. It's Andy's biggest work day, so I've made it my biggest work day as well, to make sure I stay out of his hair.

So Saturday mornings are filled with doing laundry and cleaning house. It's the day I tackle the bathrooms - not a fun task, but it certainly keeps us busy.

And now there's something else to add to Saturday morning - Strawberry Shortcake!! I grew up loving her, and now the girls can enjoy her as well. She comes on local TV right about the time I am ready to mop the floors. She's a great diversion while I get some real work done.

So this morning the girls were playing when it came time to announce the start of the show in 5 minutes. C and M understood, but J got a little lost in the conversation.

Mom: Ok girls. Strawberry Shortcake begins in 5 minutes, so let's hurry and put all our toys away so we'll be ready to watch.

C and M: Oh yes! Hurry hurry hurry! It's coming on!!

J: Oh yes Mom! I will eat that strawberry cake! (jumping up and down)

Mom: No sweetheart. It's not something to eat. It's a show about a little girl named Strawberry Shortcake. We're going to watch it on tv.

J: Well, Ma. What we gonna eat, then?

Mom: We're not eating anything until lunchtime, honey.

J: But I wanted to eat some of that strawberry cake!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ice Cream!

We ended Family Fun Day the best way possible - ICE CREAM for DINNER! Oh me, oh my!

A family outing to TCBY attacks the pocketbook, so it is celebrated in moderation. (No really, the last time we went A was a newborn - even too young to participate in the soft serve delicacy.)

It had been a muggy, rainy day, and Andy really wanted to treat his girls to something special. (Actually we were watching a movie during naptime that showed a little girl super excited about a frozen treat, and he said he wanted to see his girls smile like that.)

So for dinner, we ate ice cream. It was so much fun! The girls had chocolate soft serve with colored sprinkles. Andy shared his chocolate soft serve with A. And I shared my hot fudge sundae, complete with mixed nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry with Andy. (Yeah, I know how to do ice cream. I don't play around.) Thank goodness for Family Fun Day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun to be a people

So the girls were rewarded for cleaning up the playroom super fast. They were so excited to sit on the couch and watch PBS. A new show was on, that I have yet to watch so I sat down with them. It's a cartoon. (Not my favorite - real, live children is much more appropriate for them to watch.) But it was a preschool class learning about the sense of touch and did, at times, have live snippets of animals and such.

For example, there was a song about snakes with lots of video of snakes crawling around. (Be proud of me! I sat there and watched it not showing any sign of fear of snakes! You can call me an idiot, but that's huge for me.)

The song said, "It's fun to be a snake. It's fun to be a snake." To which my precious M replied, "That's silly. It's not fun to be an animal. It's fun to be a people." She calls it straight, y'all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clean Up

The girls are responsible for picking up their things in the playroom and on the back patio. They have to clean up three times every day - before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If they happen to play in the playroom after dinner, it adds a fourth cleaning.

It gets pretty messy during the mornings, since that is their longest time to play. So when it's getting close to lunch time, I always make sure to give them plenty of time to get everything all nice and tidy again. There's always more than enough time, but if they linger and play some more, they may not get it done before the kitchen closes. (Consequences are pretty severe around here. It's just another way we are teaching the kids to "listen and obey, do it right away.") BUT, if they happen to get it clean with extra time left over, I reward them with PBS.

This morning the playroom was filthy! I think every toy was out, and they know they are allowed to get only one toy from the closet at a time. I was really thinking they weren't going to be able to get it all done, and I was dreading a big ordeal complete with whines and tears lasting all day long. (A huge mess like this is overwhelming for small children. Just think of the feeling we have before tackling cleaning when the whole house is a mess. Where do I begin?! Multiply that by 100 for our precious children.)

But they did an amazing job! Not only did they get it all done, but they did it with excellence! They even asked for cleaning wipes for their tables and chairs! And M told me she crawled around on the floor, picking up small pieces of trash (paper). I truly was amazed at their performance this morning. I was shocked when they came to tell me it was all clean. They did such a great job.

And they found such pleasure in completing the task. I wish I could have captured their smiles as I went to inspect their work. They were giddy with excitement - thrilled to have been faced with such a big task and gotten it all done. Their little faces were glowing with pride. I love watching my little girls succeed in life.

Way to go C, M and J!! You girls are growing up to be such fine little ladies. I'm so very proud of you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Tiger Fan

My sweet hubby recently approached me with what he calls a great money saving idea.
He said, "Hey hon. I just thought of a great way for us to save $190.00. You know, tonight, we could go to the LSU game and spend about $200 after tickets, gas, food, etc... Or we could stay home, and buy the Internet coverage for $10. I know it's not the same as being at the game, but it would save us $190. That might be our best option."
Ha Ha. He knows LSU isn't on the budget, but his creativity in the approach is amazing. He's such a cutie. It looks like we'll be watching the LSU game on the computer. What fun!
UPDATE: Big bummer. What Andy thought he could pay to watch the game was actually what he could pay to listen to the game. I've got a pretty bummed husband to cheer up. :( Good thing I already know the winning game plan - lots of yummy food.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cooler weather

Yeah! We're not sweating quite as much as normal!

The girls are so excited about this little cool front that has moved into the area. We went outside early this morning, when the breeze was making it a little too cool for summer dresses. We had to pull out sweaters, and the girls were thrilled!

I love the cooler weather, but I'm also reminded how it doubles (or even triples) the laundry load. Soon little dresses and flip flops will be exchanged for sweat and socks. I have a love - hate relationship with winter. Good thing I'm not in charge.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Crowded tub

I think we may need a bigger tub soon. We're getting a little crowded.

One of the girls favorite activities is taking a bath. Sometimes it's bubbles, sometimes alphabet letters that stick on the sides of the tub, and sometimes just cups. But one thing that's become a big part of bathtime is touching noses to the bottom of the tub.

My little fish, J, started the fun. The other day when Andy was giving the girls a bath, J went under to touch her nose to the bottom of the tub. Andy waited for her to resurface ... and waited, and waited. Finally he called out, "J! Come up!" She came up smiling.

So that's our new little game. Who can touch their nose to the bottom of the tub and leave it there for a little while? Woo Hoo, sounds fun! A little scary, huh? I'm just hoping the instinctive need for oxygen doesn't fail us.
And as far as the "crowd" goes, A will be thrown into the mix pretty soon, making the crowd impossible. So I'm thinking we'll be moving to two baths. One for C and M, and one for J and A. Good thing is that C and M can take a bath all by themselves! My girls are growing up too fast!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Little mommies

It seems we live by systems around here. Everything is done in a specific order for specific tasks. It comes from me being too anal, but it's really helped teach the girls how to care for themselves. Since they have learned the routines, I don't have to keep reminding them of what do and when to do it. It works for us.

This morning as the girls were finishing getting dressed, I overheard a conversation. All three were putting on their shoes in preparation for going outside to play. C and M know that after they put on their shoes, they have to go to the potty. Even if they think they don't need to, our rule is you have to try before you go outside. So C and M rushed off to potty while J was finishing her shoes. C and M were waiting in the living room when J appeared and said, "All done! Let's go!"

The following is what was overheard from around the corner.

C: No J. You have to go potty first.

J: But I don't want to go potty, C.

M: Uh, well you'll have to go to the playroom to play then. Because noone can go outside until they go potty.

J: But I don't need to potty, M.

C: It doesn't matter, J. You have to try to make some tee tee come out.

J: Augh. Ok C and M. I will try to potty now. (Then from bathroom) Tada! I did it!

C and M: Way to go J! Now we can all go outside and play!

J: Let's go!

Wow! It's great to have a house full of mommies. I've heard from other moms of large families that the hard work of training one pays off big time as it trickles down. I'm beginning to reap the benefits of my work with C and M. They love their little sister J, and do an excellent job of taking care of her - most of the time. :) We certainly have our fair share of cat fight moments.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mirror Fun

A loves the mirror, and now that he's standing up, we've been having lots of fun. I think he may be confused and actually think his reflection is another person looking at him. It's so much fun to watch him interact with his reflection.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Painting with our bottoms

So I'm a little embarrassed. The other day I had a couple girlfriends over. One is getting married soon, and we were excited to tackle the task of preparing and addressing wedding invitations.

I wanted to make sure to keep my girls out of our way, so I prepared a fun painting activity for them in the backyard. They love painting and were so excited!
All was going well, until one of my girlfriends looked out the window and began laughing hysterically. What was she laughing at?
Well, M and J had pulled their swimsuits to their ankles, and were rubbing their bottoms on their posterboards. One of my girlfriends yelled, "They are making butt prints!" It was so cute to watch them. They were covered in paint, but that's why I put them in their swimsuits to paint. They can go wild without me freaking out.
It's just a little embarrassing when people ask, "Is this normal behavior for them?" Yep. I'm afraid so. The backyard is their domain, and I try to do very little to interfere. I limit the rules in the backyard to their safety and respect of property. My goal is to create a safe environment that allows true free play for them. It's the only place where they are allowed to go wild and do what their little hearts desire.

So there's no landscaping, no flower pots, nothing hand's off. The backyard is my sanity. Toddler freedom may lead to naked girls painting with their bottoms, but what could more fun than that?!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Boys are weird

My babies have always enjoyed sitting at my feet while I cook dinner. It's been a challenge to keep them entertained while not stepping on them. I've come to heavily rely on big spoons. They have been a favorite at this household.
But I've noticed a big difference between the way the girls would play with them, and how A chooses to play with them. The girls would chew on them, mimic my stirring, and wave them in the air like a magic wand.
A beats on things. He loves loud noises! He'll throw the spoon, laugh as it hits the floor with a big BANG, then race off to grab it only to beat it on the floor some more, all the while screeching at the top of his lungs. Yeah - think savage Indian in the jungle on the attack. Boys are weird.
It's amazing how different boys and girls are. We truly are created differently. And to be honest, this is new ground for me. The loud noises invade my calm, peaceful environment. It's hard for me to see how he could find this activity entertaining. I'm ready to pull my hair out, gasping and cringing every time the spoon hits the floor, and he's having the time of his life.
Then Andy will come to the rescue, grab his boy, and join in on the screeching. It's just one of those things I'll never understand. I just have to accept that fact that boys are weird. And I love my weird boys!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Truck won't Start

I'm so proud of us! Andy and I are learning lots as we're getting older and doing life together. The other day we loaded up the kids, ready to head out on a big adventure. We had prepared on paper exactly what we wanted to do to prepare our home and family for hurricanes, and we were off to make the necessary purchases.

Okay - all kids loaded up and secured into their carseats? Check.

Mom got all the lists and agenda for the afternoon? Check.

Dad got a soda to sip on to ease the pain of this outing? Check.

Truck starting? No check.

Again, truck starting? Nada, nothing, zilcho.

Andy and I just look at each other and smile. It's just another one of those ordeals. It's so inconvenient we just have to smile.

So we pop the hood, not even knowing where to begin. Andy jiggles some wires, beats on a few parts while I try again to start the truck. Nothing still.

About a month ago we were having similar problems, so we replaced the stripped spark plugs and haven't had any problems since. Surely, surely it's not the same problem again? But we decide to check it out, since we really don't know anything else to do. What do we find?! A severely corroded spark plug.

Hey, I may not be much worth when it comes to fixing a vehicle, but cleaning is my specialty. Andy was a little scared to let me work on this bad boy of a part, but I was up to the challenge and it was actually really fun. Lots of fizzing and bubbling - oohhh, something only a housewife whose primary duty is keeping things (toilet seats, floors, bottoms, etc...) clean can find fun.

So with a newly cleaned spark plug (and connectors - whatever they are called) we are good until the the next no start.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Peek-A-Boo Man

A's high chair is positioned right around a little wall from my desk. Many mornings he will sit and eat while I work on my computer. It's lots of fun as each of us leans around the corner to peek on the other. He's so much fun to play with! I'm amazed if any of my "real" work gets done around here. Good thing much of my work involves playing with the kids.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Talker

Funny thing about M. She likes to talk ... alot. And most of the time, she's not talking to communicate. She just likes to talk, and does it frequently.

She sits directly behind me in the truck, and I really enjoy listening to her express her inner thoughts. Sometimes she really cracks me up -- so much so that I'll burst out in laughter, really freaking out Andy who didn't hear her comments. M can be really silly. But sometimes she says things that make me stop and think, questioning her young age of 3.

Last night we had a couple errands to run. I was leaning back, relaxing, (I don't have to count heads when they are all locked into carseats) when I overheard M say, "If you want to see the world, just drive around."

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm excited!

Have I mentioned that I love my church?! Every week I get to be a part of something huge. Every week I get to play a vital role in people coming to Christ. Do you know that 3 people gave their lives to Christ this past Sunday at Church Acadiana?! Do you understand how big that is? Do you realize that eternity has forever changed for these 3 people? Do you comprehend the impact this decision will have on their families, their friends, their coworkers? This is so huge folks!!

I'll never get tired of hearing of even 1 coming to Christ. Heaven throws a party, and I feel like eating cake and icecream too.

What can be more exciting than seeing God change lives? What can be more exciting than being a part of the move of God? What can be more exciting than serving in the local church?

I'm willing (and excited) to do whatever it takes to help people come to Christ. If that means waking up well before the crack of dawn to prepare my family to leave the house by 7:30am, to transform a movie theater into a toddler zone, and to finally wipe tears, snot, and poo from toddlers, I'm all for it!!

Actually, I've found I can't sleep in on Sundays even if I wanted to. It's the most exciting day of my week. And what's even more special is that it's the girls favorite day of the week as well.

This Sunday the girls woke up and found me in the kitchen preparing their breakfast. Andy was in his office "preaching" to the walls. (Do you know how many times he goes through his sermon week in and week out?! If this house ain't "saved" yet, we've got problems.) But the girls heard him preaching and M said, "Mom, can I go tell my preacher good morning?" And before I could respond she added, "I call him my preacher because that's what he does. He preaches to lots of people at church on Sundays. He likes telling people about God."

How precious is that? C has already informed us that she wants her husband to be a preacher.

I love that my family makes Sunday (and evangelism) such a big deal, because it is big. Eternity lies on the balance for so many in Acadiana. Lord, help us remember the big picture. Help us to be as passionate for lost souls as you are.

Can I get an amen?! A preacher's wife deserves 'em too at times, huh? :)


For roughly 3 months out of the year (for the past four years!) we go through a window craze. I don't even try to keep them clean. My top priority is to keep little hands from pulling the blinds down.

One of my favorite daily tasks is opening the blinds. I love welcoming the warm sun into our home. It brightens the room, and brightens my mood. And I suppose my love for windows has been passed to my children.

My newest cruiser has just discovered windows. So now when I open the blinds, I get to pull them about halfway up, just out of reach of little hands. It's an addition to my morning routine that I've come to truly enjoy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


We hear it all the time.
"Are all those your children? How many are you going to have? Don't you know what causes that? How can you afford having so many? When are you going to stop?" (My favorite answer for the last question comes from Andy - When are we going to stop? As soon as we have an ugly one.)
But all the questions can be quite discouraging. We understand we're bucking popular wisdom - and even church culture. Believe you me, we understand the demands of a large family much more than you. You just get to see glimpses from the outside and imagine how tough it must be. We live it day in and day out. But the joy that comes from following God's plan surpasses any luxury car, dream vacation, or regular trips to the spa. We can't imagine doing life any other way.
But we'll be the first to admit that it is demanding. God never promised that choosing His way, surrendering to His plan was going to be easy. I've always said that the easy life is eternity in heaven. Right now I'm called to work, and work hard.
And because of this calling to do things different, to not follow the status quo, to put God in charge of our family size, we face lots of criticism. So any time Andy runs across an article or website showcasing another couple walking in our shoes, he passes it my way. Here's a little excerpt from the article I read this morning.

In 1997 in an article titled "A Call to Arms," Barbara Curtis wrote:

Still, I wonder what the church would look like today if we were influenced less by the culture which sees children as invaders - who will rob us of our freedom, status, beauty, wealth, and sanity - and influenced more by Scripture, which steadfastly affirms children as God's reward, as in Psalm 127:

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children are a reward from Him
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

She went on to explain how her heart would ache when she faced similar questions -- ache for the children in earshot, ache for the missed opportunities, and finally ache for the misunderstanding of how it all must sound to God - who certainly never got the memo that children were a burden.
Andy and I remain firm in our own questioning: "Lord, how many children do You desire for our family?" We feel much more comfortable taking such a weighty matter to the One who knows better than we know ourselves, who just might have some ideas of His own.
It's a wild ride, and we're loving every minute of it. There's nothing better than riding God's motorcycle, sitting directly behind Him, arms stretched forward, wrapped around His waist.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

No place like home

After our trip to Alexandria, we rushed home for a couple days only to repack our bags and head to Nana's in DeRidder. We were really looking forward to spending some time with my brother, his wife, and my new baby nephew who were also heading for Nana's. But Hurricane Gustav didn't cooperate. The weekend was far from what any of us had planned.
We ended up leaving DeRidder, heading for Lafayette on Saturday afternoon, still not 100% sure what our plans were. After getting home and watching the news, we realized we needed to pack once again and get the heck out of dodge!

So we left Lafayette at 9:30 Saturday night (way past my bedtime already). We drove through the night and finally arrived in Dallas at 6:30 Sunday morning. It was the toughest driving I've ever had to do. Andy and I started the journey by trading the driving duty every couple of hours. By the end, the most either of us could take at the wheel was 30 minutes! We were beyond pooped and no amount of caffeine was holding up our eyelids. But we were safe - out of the path of danger.

And we were welcomed with open arms by my aunt and uncle. (I'll have to share all our Dallas fun in another post.) I thank God for my relatives opening their home (and lives) to my crazy, demanding family of six. We stayed with them through Thursday.

Soon after we arrived, I was feeling really homesick and couldn't figure out why. I was thinking, "What's the big deal? Snap out of Lydia. We've only been here a couple of days." It was then that I realized I had spent almost two full weeks away from my home. I was tired of pulling my drawers from a suitcase rather than an actual drawer. I wanted my bed, my towels, my house, knowing all well that what I had in Dallas was much nicer than anything I had at home.

But we all know, there's no place like home, and I wanted to click my heels and magically be home.

It wasn't magic, but we've made our way back home, and boy does it feel good. After the first night of sleep, Andy and I both woke up saying we had never slept better. My pillow was covered with drool - one indicator of a good night's sleep for me. There's just something about home, and I am so glad to be back in mine.