Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday Money Bible Re-Do!

(For my Granny... what I did with my birthday money this year!)

My Bible was falling apart.
Everything after Hebrews was pretty much loose leaf.

This one is sentimental to me because my husband gave it to me the year we got married.
Up until then I had a paperback bible I used in school, but never a grown-up leather Bible.

This is funny because:
A. He used our last name
B. He wrote NOTHING else! 
My bullet-point husband... I love him!

So... I read on this website about this guy making a "Blank Bible" which was pretty cool... 
but since this is one of two that I routinely carry around and I wasn't planning on purchasing a new Bible to chop up...
I decided to do a Chrissy-version of the same thing.

I got over the voice shouting "HERETIC!!" in my head.
I mean, come on. 
It's not like I'm adding a C.S. Lewis book in there and calling it the inspired word of God.

I finished pulling the Bible off of the glue on the spine...
and measured.
Since I have these thumb-cheater-tabs on the side, I decided I needed to make the paper a bit smaller in width than the actual Bible.
This was a VERY difficult decision, but I figured with the curves on the edges AND the recessed tabs... this was my best bet. And I will not obsess about it. Much. 
See? If the paper was at the edge - the pointy part sticks out
 past the circular edges. Not okay.

Third step... I took my paper measurements to Kinkos and asked the Hipster guy to cut 200 pieces of paper to the measurements I had figured out at home. This took 2 hours... so we went to Chik-fil-a. 
Came back, paid for the paper chopping service (around $8) and I went out to the car and sat there listening to VeggieTales sing-along songs and inserting 3 pages between each book of the Bible (unless it was a one-chapter or one/two page book... then I did one page. 
Nothing personal, Obadiah... I just presumed I wouldn't take more/longer notes than you used in your whole book.)

Then I took the book back inside Kinko's and debated with the Kinko experts about how to bind the thing. I removed the extra stack at the front and back and it was still too fat for a spiral binding (which is what I was hoping for). 
They had a hard-back book type binding... but then it wouldn't lay flat.
(the whole point of doing this was to add pages for notes - hard to do with a very stiff binding.)
They suggested breaking it into two volumes... but I just couldn't do that... I mean, I'm carrying this to church and Bible study. I don't want two volumes. I want one. Dadgummit.
So we went to comb binding. I could put my extra pages back inside and still comb-bind it... 
and they swore to me it wouldn't tear the pages and if the comb became stretched out or started making me think I was about to have 800 pages of scripture blowing around the church parking lot, I could bring it back in and replace the comb for around $2. Fine. Comb Binding it is.
 Another $8 later...

Ultimately, I'm really happy with it!! I would have loved a big fat spiral more...
but since that's the Loch Ness Monster of the office supply world, I figure this is the best I can do with what I have. 
I took it to  Small Group last night and I LOVED how it would lay flat in my lap so I could read out of our study materials and not lose my place! 
*I have yet to write in my new note-taking space... because I am going to go get special pens today! 

Happy Birthday to ME!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Picture Pages

(There are a BUNCH of photos at the end... read on, dear friends!)

When I was a kid (a lot of years ago... clearly)...
Bill Cosby did "Picture Pages" on TV.
You could beg/plead/cry/whine/stomp/remind your parents to call the special phone number and order your OWN set of Picture Pages with the special marker, so that you could play along with Bill Cosby at home.
I doubt I had the official Picture Pages at my house.
(reminder: your child's life will not be permanently altered if you do not give in to every item on their ever-changing wish list.
I'm fine.
I believe I only have mild long-term trauma from my lack of Picture Pages and Mortimer marker.)

I still remember the song... and I can picture Bill standing there, talking to us all about drawing the picture together. This is only slightly higher up on my Bill Cosby memories than Pudding Pops. (ahhh, pudding pops... I loved them so much. I loved the sheet of ice on the sides and especially the swirl ones since no one else liked those and I could have them all!)

Because I know you can't stand it... here ya go: Picture Pages with Bill Cosby on YouTube
Click... watch... enjoy.

Clearly, I survived my lack of Mortimer The Marker in my childhood experience.
I do remember freaking out one Christmas because whatever I had asked my grandparents for had been given to me, and my sister got a Cabbage Patch doll... which, obviously, was the more awesome choice of the two items... and I know they went out and got me a Cabbage Patch doll also.
(*insert "spoiled brat" comment by my sister HERE*)

My kids have gone without a lot of the THINGS that their friends have over the years.
Frankly, I'm certain their lives are no less meaningful because I never bought them Heeley's or a Blizzard machine... or whatever toy they are selling on TV this month.

People are always asking me how we afford having such a big family.
I usually give them my line about "children aren't expensive - lifestyles are."... but frankly, I want to roll my eyes and say "do you think we live like everyone else around us??"
We aren't going out to lunch after church each Sunday.
We aren't sending our kids to school with laptops or iPads.
We don't buy 10 pairs of new shoes for each kid every time their feet grow .5 inch.
Our yard looks like CRAP.
We don't hire yard people or house cleaners or a laundry fairy (*sob*)...
and we don't throw birthday parties with clowns and ponies and limo rides.
Sure... we like to lavish "things" on our children just like the rest of you...
but we have to be very choosy and thrifty with our lavishing. (thrifty lavishing?)
I have a mental list of some items the kids like individually.
One loves a certain type of dried fruit bar...
one loves those special water drinks.
Another likes mini-wheats cereal...
and another likes anything neon yellow.
When I can fit those things into the budget, I get them.

Sometimes it's something bigger... like our annual trip to Beech Bend Park in Kentucky.
When we decided to make this an annual trip on Labor Day, we had a normal sized family that fit into a standard mini-van. Now?? Well... we pack lunch, beg everyone around us for their BOGO coupon from the school fundraiser book... and hope we can figure out the entrance price with our budget.

We get memberships to places... that's our family-fun day. The zoo, the aquarium, other local fun places... the membership for a year is way cheaper than one day's entrance for us... and it gives us something to do that's basically free for the rest of the year!

Of course I'd love to buy our kid the iWhatever they want for their birthday. Of course I'd like to throw the 11th birthday party of the century for all her friends. Those things don't change just because your family size outstretches your ability to purchase anything on a whim.

you know what else I know?
Those kids who DID get the special Mortimer Marker and all the Picture Pages books...
all that stuff is long gone.
And their memories of that stuff... are memories of sitting in front of a TV screen and "playing" with a 2D person.

Our kids' memories may be less "spendy"...
but they will be full of PEOPLE not things.
Yes... that's our SON in the bottom center. Crazy kid...

I'm told all these tiny braids are a great fine motor activity. Ouch.

Assembly line

Building with Dad.

Hiding in plain sight

Just before bed... her last night of being 6 years old!

Crazy Bus

Aquarium... before the day-of-fun.

We scare people.

Pretty girls!

You can touch the scary fish... if you'd like to.

Fish whisperer.

Sweet boys

Posing by the Penguins

Carousel at Beech Bend Park

I promise they were having fun...

My little Vikings

This is the happiest 3 year old I know!

 Sorry, Bill.
Even eating Pudding Pops WHILE doing Picture Pages couldn't top these kinds of memories.
(but maybe if I had a Mortimer Marker too.) 
(no, not even with a Mortimer Marker.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just stuff...

It's late. I should be sleeping.
My children will begin to wake up in 5 hours and 25 minutes.
But who's counting?

However, as is the case a lot of nights... I can't sleep.
My favorite person travels for work and when he's gone I hear things that aren't there, work myself through my worst-case-scenario-survival-plans (Fire Alarm going off at 2am. Exits on the 1st floor are blocked. How will you and 12 children escape? Answer... shimmy down basketball pole in the back yard, or use children as a human ladder, or call 9-1-1 and wait. Or, attempt all of the above.) or read until I fall asleep mid-paragraph.

I was just thinking tonight about how I never would have imagined my life looking like this.
I saw that cute picture of all the kids lined up youngest to oldest on the top of my blog page and I thought "wow, I remember looking at blogs of families with a bunch of kids like this and thinking... that is one STRANGE group of people!"
Just keeping it real, yo.
And now, here I am... with a dozen children.
When I was 15 I told my mom I was NEVER having children.
Clearly, I do not have the gift of prophesy.

People keep giving us stuff. 
Bags of really nice clothing, shoes, fun little extras like costumes for play...
a big fish tank for my oldest's scary snake (he's too big for his current home... shiver)...
some fun craft things that someone thought our kids might enjoy (and no evil glitter!)...
a desk for one of my kids' bedrooms...
a previously used, but still very cool, desktop computer...
school supplies...
I mean, really. Sometimes we look at the numbers and wonder how in the world it's all going to work out... and then we are able to provide things for our children that we never thought we could, because someone dropped if off on our porch!

We are super conspicuous.
Yeah, I know... I should be used to this...
but sometimes I forget.
I forget how we look different to a lot of people.
I forget that we don't "match".
But then I notice people staring... and frankly, I don't know if they are staring at my awesome rain boots (they are bright blue and lovely)... or because we have so many kids tagging along at whatever event... or because a gorgeous Ethiopian baby girl in a tutu just called me "MOMMY!!"
Or, maybe they aren't looking at us and I'm just becoming paranoid.

My Babycakes business has been doing really well! I'm very excited about this because my goal was once to just have some spending money, then it became our adoption fundraiser, then it became the birthdays/holidays fund... and now I'm hoping to actually pay some bills out of that money! I can't believe something I wasn't even sure I wanted to sell... a hair and body product I invented for my kids... could now actually be helping us financially! It's such a blessing to me that people re-order and tell their friends about Babycakes!!

I have a few really sweet women in my life who "get" me. They listen to me tell my stories, tell me their stories, laugh with me about my movie and tv show references, and make me laugh with their random Friends quotations. They text me something to make me laugh, commiserate about homework assignments, and let me be part of their lives. I'm so thankful to have a few friends like this who will meet for coffee after the kids go to bed and help me feel like a human again!

I think that's about all for now... sorry for the random pile of thoughts... more cohesive blog post another day!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Check out my new cubbies!

My husband built these for the hallway by the laundry area! Aren't
they FABULOUS?!! Everyone gets their own color towel, a cup with their
own toothpaste and toothbrush inside. I put the boys' combs in their
cubbies and the two oldest girls have a brush and other hair things in
their cubbies.
Someday when I have unused/overflowing creative juices I plan to put a
photo of each kiddo over their cubby!
I just love these! Thanks, honey!!
("cubby"... it's a weird word.)