Friday, December 30, 2011

Family Time Friday- a Repost- Yule Logs!

This is a repost from last year, but worth repeating!  We'll be doing these logs with the kids again this year :)

Back in December of 2008 we started a new tradition for our New Year's Eve festivities. And, it continues to be a tradition that I cherish and we'll definitely do it again this year. We set up the chocolate fountain. created "Yule Logs" with our wishes for the coming year.... Ok, we set up the fountain too LOL  ;)  But, let me tell you about these logs!!

First, we took some strips of leftover wrapping paper and wrote all of our wishes for the coming year on them.  Then we crammed them into toilet paper rolls.  We wrote our name on our "log" and sealed the ends closed with candle wax.

 Then we put the logs all into the fireplace.  Here's Grego putting his log in...  Wow, he's grown up a lot in 2 years!!!

 Then we lit the fire and let our logs burn!  I was hoping the different wrapping papers would make colorful flames, but that didn't happen.  Oh well, still cool and a fun way to ring in the New Year!

I Know you wanted to see the Chocolate Fountain- here's my dad ringing in the New Year :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Forward to 2012- Resolutions Post

Many people think resolutions are dumb, that they are fun to make, but check them in say, February and they’re long forgotten.  I’ve never thought that way at all.  I think resolutions are what you make of them.  If you take them seriously they can have an impact on your life.  If you don’t, then yes, they are dumb.  I think the turning over of the calendar to a new year is a gift to each of us.  Just like the gift of Salvation- you only need to accept the gift.  If the calendar turns for you year after year after year and nothing ever changes, well, you have no one to blame but yourself. 

For me, the calendar turning is a time to reflect on the previous year and look towards the next to determine what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change and what needs to be different.  Change is part of life.  We are all changing every moment.  The question is, is that positive change, or negative change?

As I look over my resolutions from last year, I am pleasantly surprised!  I have accomplished almost everything on my list from last year Smile.   

In the area of Finances we can check off all but “accumulate no additional debt”.  We did accumulate an additional debt of a little under $1,000 for police lights and one piece of the kids’ curriculum.  With the pay cut we had, I’d say this is pretty good!In the area of children, most of these were progressive, or continual goals, but we made some progress on them, and the big one of finalize the adoptions happened! In the area of Marriage there is still the problem with the socks…..  And we didn’t renew our vows because we had so much going on with the babies around our anniversary…. Friends and Family will have a lot of the same goals this year, I need some work on priorities.  Home Management will be a main focus for 2012….  pretty much the same goals LOL….  but I will say my Spiritual growth has been huge this year.  So, as you can see, your resolutions are what you make of them.  I can say I have done a lot to improve myself and my life over the past year.  I don’t do it just for me, I do it for my kids and my husband.  I want to be the best I can for them.  I want to set a good example for my kids.  I want to instill to them the importance of continual self improvement.  I hope I’m doing that.

So, here are my goals for 2012:


  • Pay off all debt except the house
  • Refinance the mortgage to be a 15 year mortgage
  • Create and Maintain a Christmas Club Account
  • Continue Menu Planning, with the goal of reducing the grocery bills
  • Create and maintain sinking funds for various projects around the house and car


  • Finish teaching Auston to drive, feel safe with him driving (is that possible?)
  • Potty Train William
  • Help Gregory to be more secure in himself
  • Help all the children (but specifically the older boys) find some of their gifts and develop them
  • Maintain the kids school schedules and keep up with their work
  • Find a MDO program for the babies to go to
  • Try not to “sweat the small stuff”
  • Maintain the therapy schedule for the babies, and ensure they get what they need from that standpoint
  • Get William’s belly button fixed and circumcision done


  • Make sure he has clean socks LOL
  • Continue regular date nights
  • Spend some time away from the house for our anniversary (we never got to do this last year, hoping to do it this year)
  • Revel in the newness of every day- even after 16 years together I still find out new things about my husband Smile
  • Believe in him always
  • Surprise him
  • Remember always that he is a gift Smile

Friends and Family:

  • Do more anonymous giving and acts of service this year.  (If you haven’t done anything like this you should!  It’s is a blast!)
  • Send out Birthday and Occasion cards
  • Continue with the progress I’ve made so far with my mother by exchanging cards, and try to focus on the positive.

Health and Fitness:

  • Renew my commitment to Weight Watchers and stick to the new 2012 plan
  • Exercise 3-5 times a week at minimum on a regular basis
  • Start running
  • Participate in at least 3 organized events- 5K’s etc
  • Eat more fruits and veggies
  • Lose at least 25 pounds again this year (for a total of 50 pounds since joining WW again)
  • Maintain my reduction to one cup of caffeinated coffee per day, supplementing with other non-caffeinated drinks and teas

Home Management:

  • Build a room in the garage for the boys
  • Stain the deck
  • Replace remaining facia
  • Replace Carpet with other flooring
  • Replace furniture (from the thrift store) I do have two small children still after all….
  • Plant Flowers
  • Improve the landscaping around the house
  • Replace the window that Gregory broke on Christmas Winking smile
  • Maintain a cleaning schedule so as not to get overwhelmed by the house
  • Train my family to HELP with said cleaning schedule.


  • Continue to do Bible Study lessons consistently
  • Trust God when it doesn’t seem right
  • Believe that God is in control.  Always.
  • Chose the activities I’m involved in with the church so I don’t feel burnt out or resentful
  • Tithe Consistently

Other Personal Goals:

  • Clear out my schedule a little
  • Schedule time for myself, time for things like bubble baths WITHOUT interruption, pedicures, massages. 
  • Remember that taking care of myself helps me to feel renewed and therefore makes me a better mom and wife
  • Learn to better delegate, and trust other people to handle tasks
  • Learn to not get upset when the tasks are not done how I would have done them
  • Read at least 12 books this year.  I’m so excited to have my new Kindle and actually think I can do this.
  • Create a relaxation ritual for myself
  • Craft more

Seems like a lot, but really, is it?  There are, after all, 365 day in which to achieve these goals Smile

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011- A Recap!


It’s that time….  Time to start thinking about resolutions again…  but before looking forward, it’s always a good idea to examine from where we came…..

I’ve done this for a few years now…  Here are the recaps for 2010, 2009, and 2008 if you’re interested….  It’s fun to look back and see what I had to say about those years and how much our lives have changed since then!

So, in 2011 we had many exciting things happen,  here’s my recap:


January began with the anticipation of finalizing our adoptions.  We had just finalized other aspects in court at the end of December, so now we were looking forward to having the CPS chapter of our lives over with.  Shea turned 2 in January, and became even more active and busy than she was before.  People say of their children, “They’re 2 going on 20”…  Well….  Shea actually IS “2 going on 20”.  She’s going to rule the world some day.  Does this give you a bit of a picture of “Shea Speed”?



In February our daughter by heart, Heather, came to stay with us for a little while, before finding out she was pregnant.  She then decided to move in with her sister.  We continued on with the many CPS and ECI visits on our adoption journey.  It seemed that our schedule was only getting more and more full…..


In March Michael was asked to be on the Discovery Team for the church.  Discovery is a spiritual retreat the church puts on every year designed to help you grow deeper in your faith.  It was a big, big commitment, but when Discovery took place in April I think we could all agree it was life changing for the team as well as the pilgrims.  I’m so glad he got to do this.  We also got word from the County that Michael’s department was going to face a major budget cut, including lay offs and pay cuts.  Michael was able to keep his job, but he was reduced to 32 hours a week (resulting in a 20% pay cut), and his schedule was changed.  It was quite frightening knowing our budget was already stretched, and that once the babies were adopted we’d no long receive foster money either, resulting in an even deeper cut.  But, we took the news by hitting our knees in prayer, and, I’m proud to say we made it through.  It wasn’t until December that his pay was reinstated, but God provided for us every step of the way.  Also in March Auston found out that he was elected to the Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts, which was quite an honor.



In April Auston and Gregory attended a Teen Pact Class in Austin, for which they needed a suit…  They look sharp, huh?


Also in April I was helping Michelle out by watching her kids, here they are in front of the cross on Easter at the church.  It was a bit of an adjustment to have 6 children instead of 4 in tow many days, but I wouldn’t trade the time I got to spend with them, and they with each other.  I knew I couldn’t do it for long, so I just tried to enjoy them while I had them until Michelle found another babysitter.  Winking smile


In May, Gregory graduated from the Encourager Homeschool Enrichment Program, and turned 12, and was elected Senior Patrol Leader of the troop, Auston completed his Ordeal for the completion of is election into the Order of the Arrow, and was elected Assistant Senior Patrol Leader for the troop, and Calley graduated from Midland Lee High School with HIGH honors.  It was a very very busy month! 



June… Oh June….  In June our family was finalized.  We are now officially Shea and William’s forever family and they ours.  June holds a major importance in our lives now.  It was an incredible way to start the summer Smile


We could not believe how many people came out to our adoption to celebrate our family.  It was amazing to see that these people love our children as much as we do and were just as happy for us.  Really.  Words can’t describe how much it meant to us to have everyone there.  It made the day what it was supposed to be.  About community and love.  And sharing that love.

Taking our oath before the judge


Seriously.  Do you see how many people were there to support us?  Could we be any luckier?  Even the judge was taken a back by the volume of people….

We are sooooo blessed….


It was a good day Smile

Also in June, Semalee’s Oma, Lois Cook passed away.  She is dearly missed.



In July Semalee went to Boy Scout Summer Camp with the boys again.  This year we headed back to Oklahoma, to Camp Hale.  It was an eventful trip, to say the least, complete with a broken down trailer and 3 out of 4 of the adults getting the flu the last night there and driving home sick…..  Blech….  Again I say, if they say I wasn’t a good mom, they need to read these recaps….  Winking smile  We also had a party to celebrate the adoptions, and had a special service at our church.  It was strange to realize that at that service the adoptions felt so much more real to us then they did in court.  We are so blessed by our church family as well. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Michael and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.  Weird to think after all this time I still love him with everything in me, and even weirder that he still loves me Smile




In August Auston spent 2 weeks at Camp Eagle as part of the service team.  It was sooooo weird to have him gone for that long.  And when he came back he was quite different.  My boy is growing up so fast.  The rest of us just tried to relax as best as we could, and started preparing for the school year.  Auston is doing 10th grade and Gregory is doing a majority of work from 8th grade…



Mikey turned 40 in September…  FORTY….  Man he’s old~!!!!  Winking smile  I did not make this cake, my friend Terri did, and she did a great job.  We spent September getting ready for Terri’s wedding and settling into school for the year.  I made the wedding cake for Terri and Jeff’s wedding.  While I was happy with how it turned out, I’m not interested in making another wedding cake…… ever……


Michael was spoiled with a birthday MONTH instead of just one lousy day Winking smile


And in a blink it was October.  Our daughter by heart gave birth to our Granddaughter by heart, Makinzee just a few days before Auston turned 15.  Auston got his learner’s permit, and I am scared to death of the big 1-6 and him driving BY HIMSELF…..  Winking smile


I also went to Women of Faith in San Antonio with my very dear friend Gwenn.  It was a wonderful experience, one we hope to repeat annually Smile


Michael was able to go to St. Louis for an Affected Coworker’s retreat with COPS in November.  He was really glad he went.  Smile  And, Semalee turned 37, and William turned two Smile  We shared a birthday party with Zeny, who turned 3 a few days after William’s birthday.  I made a Dora and Diego cake for their birthday….



And, before we knew it we were in December.  It was to be our first Christmas knowing that we had these babies forever.  Much anticipation preceded the event Smile  We’d all done some growing since last year, and we were all breathing a little easier.  Shea got over her fear of Santa, for which we were so grateful for, since we had tickets to ride the Polar Express!  We cut down our tree at our favorite tree farm, and maintained as much of our traditions as possible amidst our crazy busy schedule.  Christmas day brought a visit from Heather and Makinzee, and some much needed rest.





As we look forward to 2012, we have so much to be thankful for this year.  Yes…. soooo much to be thankful for.  I can’t even imagine how 2012 could top 2011….  but with Michael and Auston planning a mission trip to Sri Lanka there’s some potential Winking smile


From our family to yours, we hope your year has been wonderful as well!  May God bless you in 2012!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Monday 12/26

Well it’s Monday again!  Time to plan the week.  Normally on Menu Monday I go through my weight loss goals etc…  But starting this week I’ll be moving that to Wednesday….  I weigh on Mondays, so it only makes sense to move it, so I can blog more about where I am NOW instead of last week….  I’ll tell you, though, this week ain’t going to be pretty. Sad smile

Anyway, here’s the menu:

Monday:  Ham and Potato Soup

Tuesday:  Date Night, Kids eat Mac and Cheese and Pizza

WednesdaySlow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff, Green Beans

Thursday:  Eating Out- Spending some good quality family time Smile

Friday:  Homemade pizzas on biscuit dough

Saturday:  (New Year’s Eve)  Pinwheels, Chips and Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Awesome Ham Salad, Fruit Salad, Trifle, Chocolate Fountain

Sunday:  (New Year’s Day)  Black Eyed Peas, Corn Bread, Collard Greens Smile