Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Definition of Insanity

So all my guys were either at college or off on a hunting trip last week, so I had the house to myself. I watched some TV. I read a book.

And I cleaned.

I much prefer fall cleaning to spring cleaning, and I always want a clean house for the holidays, so I scrubbed and cleaned and mopped and polished and washed and ... well you get the idea. This past Monday afternoon I headed out of town to go pick up Joel at college for Thanksgiving. The happy hunters did not get home until Monday evening

When I left, the house was spotless. The kitchen sink and the dishwasher were both empty as was the washer and dryer. The carpets were vacuumed. The floors were polished. Even the light fixtures were clean. The house positively gleamed.

When I returned twenty-four hours later, the sink was full of dishes. Hunting gear was not scattered all over the house, but it was taking over my bedroom.

I could have gotten completely upset, but instead I remembered one rule that helps me focus on everything:

That really goes for kids or just guys in the house. I had to force myself to remember the positive side:

Keep my eye on the details:

And next time I get the urge to clean, I have to set some rules down:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Turkey Talk

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Does your family have a tradition of going around the table on Thanksgiving and saying what you're thankful for? That's great if you do, but it doesn't usually take that long. So, you finish going around the table and then what? You're silent. Why? That's because you have nothing to say so you stuff your faces with turkey and pumpkin pie. Well, that's what I plan on doing. Just kidding. I've decided today that I would share with you something I found to help with the awkwardness around the table. Here are some  topics to talk about at the Thanksgiving table.

Pheew, say that there times fast.

Gobble, Gobble, here we go!

1. Would you rather cook all of Thanksgiving dinner or clean up and do all of the dishes afterwards?

2. What is one thing you appreciate about someone at the table?

3. If you could have named yourself, what name would you have picked?

4. Would you rather eat Thanksgiving dinner with your family or three celebrities of your choice?

5. If you could eat one food for an entire year, what would it be?

6. Would you rather wash your hair in mashed potatoes or take a bath in gravy?

7. Pretend you just won a million dollars, what's the first thing you would buy?

8. Would you rather lead the Thanksgiving Day Parade or have dinner with the President in the White House?

9. Who is the funniest person at this table and why?

10. What is something you really love doing as a family?

Hopefully these will help you kickstart your table talk during your Thanksgiving Dinner! 

I would love to hear some of your answers to these questions. Do you have any family tradition or a favorite memory from Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 17, 2017


  What's with the hashtag you ask? Since we all know I love hashtags so much. Well I'll tell you. I was talking to a missionary friend of mine today and she told me how her a friend will text each other and start with "#deputationstory" and then share something funny or something that only someone else on deputaition would understand. So I thought I would borrow their hashtag and share some stories of my own. Here we go.

   When you've been in a different hotel room every night that week and you start to have trouble remembering which room number is yours.

    You slept in five different states in the span of one week.

     After a month of being away from home,  the cereal and French fries found on the floor of your mini van could feed starving children in Africa for a month.

      You forgot to empty the van trash can (yes, we have one. Don't judge)  at the last stop and now the van is starting to smell like that wet diaper and yesterday's BBQ sauce.

     Your Sunday evening is gonna be rough because you didn't get to take a nap. (I have never lived for a nap more in my life than I do now on Sunday afternoons. It's like coffee. You don't skip it or bad things happen)

     You play tetris every time you pack the van.

     Your kids think McDonald's is just where you're supposed to each lunch every day.

     You stayed in one place for more than a week, and it was weird to not have somewhere to be.

     You don't know what to do with your evening when you don't have church every night.

      You know the one northern restaurant to go to where you CAN find your sweet tea.

      You have way more of these stories than anyone wants to read in  one post.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's Yours Is Mine

So last week I told you how I was the proud owner of this wonderful new car. We got the car that Monday evening, and I greatly enjoyed driving it around town for the next three days. I had driven it less than fifty miles, and I hadn't even had to put gas in the tank yet when it happened.

My husband decided he needed to drive it.

Normally I don't have too many problems with Indiana wanting to drive my vehicle. He's a truck guy (that's his truck in the picture behind my new car), but he needed to go to a conference in Tennessee, and he decided my new car was the best vehicle for the trip.

Now in all fairness, his trip was one day down and one day back and my car would get 2.5 to 3 times better gas mileage compared to his truck. My tires were new, the car was in great shape and it could handle the 1000 miles better than his truck would.

But it was MY new car.

My NEW car.


In the space of two days he and Matt would put twenty times more miles on the car than I had. Plus, the car was clean. It had no crumbs. No dirt. No trash. No clutter.

I knew it would not come back to me in the same pristine condition.

No offense to my son or my husband, but have you ever taken a car on a trip where it did not collect trash and debris? I knew there would be crushed straw wrappers, crumpled napkins, discarded candy wrappers and an assortment of other items in my car by the time the trip was done.

Not only that, but there would also be guy smells. You know what I mean. I've lived with enough of them to know they can and do have a distinct odor at times.

Taking my car made sense from a practical standpoint, but that did not mean I was happy with the decision. While they were gone I was stuck with the truck. A cool choice from my husband's point of view, but it already had a bunch of guy stuff and discarded papers and tools and boots and things in it. It already had a guy smell. It seemed incredibly unfair to me, especially when Matt started texting me pictures of crumbs on the seat of the car while they were traveling.

This was the state of the backseat when they returned. Just exactly as I thought. Actually, not quite as bad as I thought it would be, but still ...

I felt that it was only fair to leave something behind in Terry's truck. But what? It was already full of junk stuff. 

I thought about spraying it with perfume, but I knew better. Their trip was Friday and Saturday. This Monday Terry headed up north for hunting season. All his gear and equipment would have picked up the smell of the perfume and the deer would have spotted him coming a mile away. Spraying perfume was a little too drastic.
What I needed was something clearly feminine, but also easy to get rid of after the joke was over. Just not too easy. So I made a little trip to Claire's Saturday evening. Sunday morning, Terry found his truck a little more feminine.

I hung the purse from his rearview mirror, and then I decorated the steering wheel, dashboard and rearview mirror with stick-on earrings. He had hearts and strawberries and rainbows and assorted other feminine things all over his truck. I don't have a picture of it, but I also stretched a bright feather boa of orange, red and pink across the top of the backseat in the rear window.

He was not amused, but I thought it was a fair exchange.

What do you think?

Monday, November 13, 2017


Happy Monday!

Have you ever had a bunch of random things happen but the one thing that happened isn’t enough to make a full story? Well, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m sharing all things random that have been going on in a home full of little girls!

  • A recent conversation with Stella:
     Me- Stella, did you cut your hair?
     Stella- Um, yes.
     Me- Why on earth would you cut your hair?
     Stella- I was sweaty. 
  • There was a bad character on a TV show Stella was watching. I heard her say, “that lady is stupid.” Stella we don’t say stupid. “Okay, but she’s still that."
  • Dad, Can you make a itching machine? So we can itch where ever we want.
  • Matt to the girls: No tickling. We’re going van shopping and I want you to be happy. Just not that happy.
  • One night we were watching TV and Talia runs in from the kitchen and pokes me in the eye and shouts “MOM.” I wanted to be mad because it hurt but it was so funny we all just laughed.
  • Stella was practicing words with Olivia and “butt” happened to be one of them. Of course, Olivia would be able to say that one clear as day.
  • We recently were in the car on our way home, and the girls were being so loud. So my husband said, “okay, everyone do quiet dancing.” The girls loved it. It worked for a minute or so. 
  • Olivia talks about Uncle JoJo all the time. I’m starting to think JoJo is a universal word for everything.
  • My daughters built a scare machine so they could scare their baby sister. It’s called the Thousand to One. (See photo below)
  • Talia started calling all things prettiness!
  • I was tucking Talia in for bed and I told her, “Momma is tired.” She said, “then go to bed. If you’re hungry, go to the kitchen.” Thank you so much for your wisdom, Talia!

    Last, but certainly not least ...
  • One morning, I had told my husband that I had to go to the store that day but was leaving the girls with him. Later in the day he had taken a nap and then woke up because he heard the older girls in the bathroom. He quickly said, “Where’s Livy?” Stella casually said, “she’s in the living room dad, you don’t need to panic.” I was giggling to myself, because I heard all of this as I was cuddling Olivia.
And that pretty much sums it up. My life is never dull and always an adventure with these three. 

What is one of your favorite memories from when your child/children were little?

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Lemon

I've been struggling with some vehicle problems lately. For the past almost two years I've been driving a Dodge Journey and I have to say that it's not been the most favorite vehicle I've ever had.

For starters, it had a very bad stale cigarette odor when we first got it. I bought febreeze car fresheners to clip to the air vents. I febreezed the seats. I left the windows down at every opportunity. Following an online suggestion, I even kept some coffee grounds under the seat to absorb odors. In the end, Time healed all wounds ... and odors.

Once I could draw a deep breath in vehicle, I thought things would get better. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I noticed that the temperature gauge started climbing. The longer the vehicle was in one spot while running--say, at a stoplight or in a drive through--the higher the temperature would climb. When I had the oil changed, the technician told me that I was very low on coolant, but that he couldn't spot any leaks so he topped off the tank and sent me on my way. 

It became second nature for me to set the computer screen to the temperature gauge as opposed to the speedometer or mileage screens. I also took to carrying jugs of coolant with me, and eventually it got so bad that I was adding more coolant to the tank every other day or so. We finally were able to get someone to replace a faulty thermometer and then the vehicle finally started running smoothly.

Except for the grinding noise.

We had the brakes replaced shortly after we bought the Journey. What the mechanic did NOT replace, though, was the brake pads. They were metal on metal and the squealing and grinding was quite alarming.

When we got the brake pads replaced, I finally was able to relax and enjoy my vehicle. Until the day it decided to quit on me.

While I was driving it.

In traffic.

On the expressway.

I had just merged onto I-94 and was keeping up with traffic when everything suddenly stopped. I turned on my hazard lights and steered to the shoulder (on a bridge, I might add) and called my husband. While I was waiting for him, I turned everything off and then started the car again. It started right up and drove with no problems. 

When I got home, Hubby looked over the vehicle and could find nothing wrong. I decided that perhaps it was a fluke, but then it happened again the next day. I was about to turn into our driveway when the car quit and everything shut down. The power steering went too, and I almost hit a tree as I tried to steer the dead car into the driveway. Once again it started up with no further problems.

The vehicle continued to die once or twice a day. We researched it online and found out that it had happened to quite a few owners. When they took the vehicle in, the mechanics were unable to recreate the problem, and were, therefore, unable to fix it.

Isn't that reassuring. We pretty much parked the car, taking it only on short trips nearby, and began sharing a vehicle. We both knew that couldn't last for long and we started looking for something that might work better. After a week of searching and test driving more vehicles than I care to count, I am pleased to announce that I am now the proud owner of a Kia Optima. 

For a long time I've preferred an SUV to a car, but to tell you the truth, I'm so glad to have a vehicle I don't have to worry about, I really don't care. I think my new ride looks pretty sweet.

So tell me, what kind of vehicle do you drive? Do you like it?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One Hundredth Post - What Were We Thinking?!?!?!

Today we're celebrating because this is the 100th post of Laughing Out Loud in the Ministry. Since this is a special occasion, we decided to do a three-way conversation on the blog today. We spent almost  a full ten minutes or so trying to decided what topic to cover for such an important post. We finally decided to discuss the expectations we had with blogging versus what the actual reality is. As we discussed the topic, we also talked about changing the schedule of who posts on what day. We'll pick up in the middle of that conversation.

Kylee:  Ok. So, Mom will post this Friday, I'll have Monday, Mom will have next Wednesday and Steph on Fridays. Does that work?

Stephanie:  Works for me.

Kylee:  Mom, did you die? We haven't heard from you in two hours!

Stephanie:  She's dead.

Kylee:  I'm sending an ambulance! Should I have them use sirens or would that draw too much attention?

Jill:  Sorry. I was at the gym and then in the shower. I think we should switch days; going back to the original line up is fine; I'll post this Friday and then next Wednesday and 100 of anything is too much for one blog post. Am I all caught up now? Oh, and if I'm going anywhere in an ambulance, there should be lights and sirens. I want the whole experience.


Jill:  So ... no relief that I'm alive? Okay then.

Kylee:  Sorry, I was talking to 911 ... wait, it was Jimmy Johns. Did you know they were freaky fast? Much faster than the ambulance. Just kidding, but now Jimmy Johns sounds good.  BTW, I'm glad you're not dead.

Jill:  Next time I have a medical emergency, I'll call Jimmy Johns instead of an ambulance. I'll get to the hospital faster, and I won't have to eat hospital food.

Kylee:  Win, win!

Kylee:  So what are some expectations you've had of the blog versus realities of the blog?

Jill:  I expected it to be a lot easier blogging with three people than it was when I was doing it on my own. The reality is that I still struggle with posting on time and coming up with topics once a week. I'm beginning to wonder how I ever came up with 3-5 posts per week. What about you?

Kylee:  In the beginning I thought, "this shouldn't be too hard". And then I wrote my first blog and realized I should retake an English class.

Jill:  I'm beginning to think Steph is dead now.

Kylee:  Let me call Jimmy ... er, I mean, the ambulance!

Jill:  She's probably driving. She gets less motion sickness that way. Maybe she should dictate her answers to Zack and he can text them.

Kylee:  Steph, ya dead mon? (Jama├»cain accent)

Stephanie:  Sorry, Sorry. Not dead, just driving ... Although it was through NYC and I felt like I was about to die. Now we're stopped in New Jersey to go to the bathroom, and I won't be able to text long because this is a scary place to be stopped.

Kylee:  Lock the doors. And grab some coffee while ya theya. Get it? That was my jersey accent.

Jill:  What's with all the accents, Kylee?  And Steph, you're just going to have to dictate your answers to Zack so he can text them for you.

Stephanie:  Nice Jersey accent. Zack's driving now.

Kylee:  Thanks. It's not real easy to do over text. So what are some expectations you've had of the blog versus realities of the blog?

Stephanie:  My expectation vs. reality was that I thought blogging with y'all would be really easy because every time we talk we end up laughing a lot. Then I realized that, when it came to writing, the kind of the things we end up laughing about may not be so funny to other people. And now I'm really hungry btw. Jimmy Johns sounds good.

Jill:  Sometimes we end up laughing at stuff that would be inappropriate to share with the World Wide Web.

Stephanie:  Should we admit that? Although, when you have four teenage/young adult males around, I think that tends to happen.

Kylee:  Sometimes I feel really good about a blog that I write and I think it may get quite a few views, but then I look at it and it's got, like, 33 views!

Stephanie:  I know, right? The ones that I think are the funniest are the ones that have no views and no comments.

Jill:  Same here. I also thought we'd have a lot of people comment and participate, but sometimes it feels like pulling teeth to get people to say something. I have noticed that we get the most views and/or comments when we write about the guys.

Stephanie:  And our kids. We get a lot of views with adorable pictures. Not always comments, though.

Kylee:  No comments is the worst!

Stephanie:  Well if we have a hard time coming up with stuff to say, they probably do too.

Jill:  LOL is not hard to say. Or type.

Stephanie:  They probably feel like that's not enough to comment.

Kylee:  Maybe they have to decide if they want to lol or not?

Jill:  What about smiling slightly or politely. Otherwise you feel like ... *crickets*

Stephanie:  I have to say that my husband's expectation was that our only readers would be, like, Kylee's family, my in-laws, and a couple of people from our church in Madison. So when I told him we had between 200 and 300 views, he was shocked. Kind of sad to say he didn't have a lot of faith in us. How do you smile slightly or politely in a comment?

Jill:  Zack obviously does not understand the power of social media. Also, sad to say, I don't think any of our husbands ever read what we have to say.

Stephanie:  Zack reads mine ... but only because I make him. Correction. I make him proof it before I post it.

Kylee:  Matt reads mine to proof too. Well, up until the last few anyway.

Jill:  Dad said he reads them sometimes. But then he also said it's been awhile.

Stephanie:  As he's proofing, Zack usually asks me, "what grades did you get in high school?" Apparently my grammar isn't great either.

Kylee:  Matt told me I should take an English course at the beginning. He did say I'm getting better. I'm going to say it's just because I was rusty since I hadn't been in school for awhile and the only writing I did was texting.

Stephanie:  Good answer. We'll go with that for both of us.

Kylee:  My expectation for the next 100 posts would be to start making money ... but in reality, maybe just have a guest writer.

Stephanie:  My expectation is that I'll remember my day every time. Reality ... probably not.

So there you have a few of the things we had in mind when we started, and then the realities we actually faced. We've made it through 100 posts, and hopefully we make it through hundreds more. We'll occasionally do group posts, another contest in the spring, and a little game for the month of December to help us all get in a Christmas mood. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with us. We really appreciate it, and we do hope we've occasionally brightened your day.

Now about those comments ... if you're having trouble thinking of things to say (and really, who isn't?) here's a few suggestions:

LOL; HaHa; too funny; cute; I like it; that was dumb; you are so silly; I agree; I don't get it; huh?

Feel free to use any or all of the above, but keep those comments coming!