Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Tis the Season

My children will be performing 3 songs tonight.

Jingle Bells in "Cat"

Deck the Halls (what are the words again?)

Jingle Bells in English

Notice how none of them can stand still longer than 1 minute.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Justin at the Austin Fire Academy

Swift water rescue was part of their training.

Justin is relaxing with Team Leader Watson.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paper towers

We recently discovered the neatest blog called Think!

The author gives challenges, and then you submit your pictures and they will be posted with your solutions. Check it out! This week we built paper towers out of an old catalog. You can see my kids' pictures with their towers on Think!

Here are some extra pictures of the aftermath of our tower building. If you want to see the tower pics, go to the link above.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Zilker Park with Nana and Paw Paw Jim

What a fun day! We rode the train and played at the awesome playground. At one point, we lost Joanna, and then it wasn't so fun anymore and we decided to go home.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Suburban vs. Utility Pole

What do you think the outcome would be? I should have taken a picture. The pole smoked my Suburban. Would you believe that I never even saw the pole? It was in the middle of a parking lot. Kind of a dumb place for a utility pole. I must have hit it going 25 mph. Did you know airbags are packed in a powder that smells hideous. My children were scared enough after the crash, but then the billowing smoke from the airbags sent the screaming for the doors. Poor babies. Several of them have seat belt marks. Otherwise we are all fine.

Now I am driving a nice mini-van that is costing me about $25 a day. Fun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Literary Adventure

Okay, so, I used to read. Tons. Mostly fiction, but once I became a parent I switched to non-fiction. (If I read fiction, I ignore everything and everyone until I finish the book.) But I haven't read anything new in ages. Oh sure, I've dug out my old copies of Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. In the last 6 months I think I've read the Ann of Green Gables series, most of Austen's novels, and Little Men. Last year I think I read the Harry Potter series at least 3 times, maybe more. I want to read something new. I have lots of books that I haven't read yet, both fiction and non-fiction. The fiction is mostly classics, but I have no desire to read them because they are full of anti-god or anti-social thinking. 19th century American lit is not exactly known for it's uplifting themes.

I went to the library Saturday and browsed the shelves. I had 20 minutes before they closed and it was very hard to pick out the 5 books that I did. A Beverly Lewis novel, a Thoene novel, a dairy-free cookbook, a history book about Alexander the Great, and What Your 4th Grader Needs to Know.

I'd like to start reading 1 book a week. I finished the Lewis novel, The Preacher's Daughter. It was okay. The story was good, but the writing was not that great. We need more modern Jane Austens. I flipped through the 4th grader book and was disappointed. It was less of a checklist and more of a lesson plan. Not what I was expecting. The cookbook looked good. I might find a gem or two in it to add to my repertoire.

I'd love some suggestions for good books. Any genre. Although I won't read fiction if it doesn't reflect Christian morality.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Organizational Tips

First of all, I am not nearly as organized as I could be or should be. But someone asked me to share some tips, so here goes.

1. Throw or give away everything you are not using. Be brutal. Sentimentality is a huge hinderance to a well-organized home. Can't part with Little Sally's paper turkey at Thanksgiving? Give it to Grandma and let her deal with it. Unless you're like me, then just trash it.

2. Keep things in logical, not traditional, places. For example, at one time I kept my children's clothes about 10 feet away from the washer and dryer. I was blessed with a house that allowed me to bath them, cloth them, and put their clothes in the laundry hamper right next to the washer/dryer all in a space of a few feet. It meant that I kept my kids clothes in the spare bedroom/office rather than in their rooms upstairs. So what? Think out of the box.

3. Books - If you have kids and books, you know it can be a pain to teach them to put the books back on the shelf correctly. I put my kids books in plastic dishpans so they can flip through them. It's easier for the kids to put the books away and it's easier for them to see their choices.

4. Have a place for everything. If something doesn't have a place, find it a place or get rid of it.

That's the extent of my organizational expertise. Hope it helps you. If you have any tips of your own that may benefit my poorly run home, feel free to educate me.

Wall Street Blues

Does anyone else just get totally nauseated looking at their 401K balance? Or is it just me? I am so glad I believe in God right now because I'd be totally worried about the financial situation if it wasn't for my belief that God will take care of me. And he will...retirement fund or not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One Month Down....

Five more to go. Life as a fire-fighter cadet's wife is not easy. Especially since I do the bills. They pay these guys NOTHING. I had to just close Microsoft Money. There's just no way I can balance the budget. It's been a long time since my bugdet looked like this:


Sigh. I don't want to steal from the house fund. I really don't. At least we haven't had to run the A/C in two days. It's been so nice outside. Praise God for blessing us with cool weather.

I should quit complaining. It could be much, much worse. We could have NO money at all. It's a luxury to be able to choose between going without something and using money in savings to get it. I just need to quit doing the bills. If I don't look at the balance sheets, I can't get bummed, right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Finally, a break

Justin is getting a bit of a break this week. He's off Wednesday and Friday. Yipee! We might see about going to the Dinoland Exhibit at Zilker Park. We were supposed to go last Friday, but Ike got it cancelled. We went to Zilker Park today and played on the playscape after Cub Scouts. We walked down by the water and Joanna slipped on the rocks and fell in. Not fun. But she whined about it much less than I expected. Ethan had the most fun, I think. He kicked and screamed in my arms all the way to the car. I wish I had pics to share, but alas, no camera.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Park Day Pictures

We spent the morning having a "Park Day" with fellow homeschoolers in Hutto.

Here's Jordan on the jungle gym.
Joanna, wearing a frilly dress purchased yesterday at Goodwill for $4, collecting seeds.
Emma displaying the seed pod, now empty after Joanna's purge.
Lacy's mugging for the camera waiting for some other girls her age to arrive. One did eventually.
Jordan sharing grapes with Emmalise. His food detection radar was on high alert.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Our real estate agent just called and our buyers are closing today. They are preparing to have their utilies on Friday. We are going to be getting our closing papers FedEx-ed tomorrow. Then we sign and notarize and it's done. This has been insanely fast. Like less than 30 days. We are making $5K more than we anticipated on the sale of our house. I don't see how anyone could doubt that God wanted us to be here in Austin.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Keepers of the Home

Keepers of the Home is a great program for Christian girls with emphasis on crafts, nature, recreations, and home-making skills. It's sort of the Christian alternative to Girl Scouts. Lacy and Joanna went today and made their own personal bags to carry their keepers books and materials in. Then Lacy made a prayer journal and worked on memorizing scripture, while Joanna colored as neatly as she could in a new coloring book.

Joanna's comment: "Mommy, I don't think I want to go to Keeper's again because everybody was talking all at once instead of one at a time and it was too loud!"

Lacy's comment: "Mom, I can't believe that the one person I met was born in the same month of the same year and her favorite animal is horses, just like me!"

Mommy's comment: "When I figure out all the exits for these silly freeways, I'll be much happier, and possibly even on time."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Please Comment!

The more comments I get, the more incentive I will have to keep this blog updated with news and pictures. So please comment every time you visit if possible. You can just say Hi! Thanks!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another blessing!!

God is showering them upon me this month! All glory, honor, and praise go to my Lord Jesus and Him alone. He is awesome, mighty, and just so GOOD to me.

Sunday, we went to church at the closest Baptist church to us. Justin and I picked a Sunday School class to go to that seemed to fit us according their descriptions. In this Sunday School class, I met three other homeschoolers. They had children that matched the ages/genders of my children. Two of them offered me their phone numbers without my asking. I talked to both of them on the phone this week, and they told me they are trying to start a homeschool group around Hutto. They have about 10 moms interested. They met tonight, and I was able to join them. Get this.....out of the 7 moms there, only 1 didn't use Sonlight (that's the name of the curriculum I use for those of you who aren't in the know). Three are using Core 2 (that's the level) just like me. They are all Christians, and they were extremely nice and friendly.

Anyway, it seemed almost too good to be true to find a small group of homeschoolers that were still new enough to each other that I wasn't this totally new person trying to fit into a group of old friends. Only 1 person there was known to everyone before the meeting. I am excited about the possibilities. The beautiful mommy running it this year is super-organized and wants to plan seasonal parties, 1 field trip per month, a weekly park day and 1 mom's meeting per month. She lives a block over from me.

I am just over-awed with the way God is taking of every minute detail of my life. Ordering things so I won't be lonely and my children will find friends with common interests. The only thing lacking is trees. There are no trees here. It's worse than Corpus. The Bible says the Lord can move mountains, so I think He could probably put some mature trees up in my backyard. I think I will start praying for that. It would definitely be a miracle and a witness to His divine power.

The rest of the pictures from the Waterpark


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jedi Wars

The Tower

This is the 9 story tower that Justin has to climb at the academy. They carry hose while they climb. Ouch!

Update on our old house

We put our house on the market back in July before we even knew we were moving to Austin. Once we knew for sure that we were leaving, we dropped the price, and we had tons of showings. The people that made an offer needed financial assistance from the Ameridream program to be able to buy the house. That basically means that we pay their closing costs and down payment. The amounts we are paying are reflected in the higher sales price we asked for. So we are actually making just as much off the sale. We signed the contract last week with a closing date on or before Sept. 25.

Our agent called today and said that these people want to close as soon as possible. They are not even doing any inspections! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. If we can close before Sept. 16, I won't even have to make another mortgage payment. God is so good to us! I can't believe the house is going to sell so fast. Other houses in the area are taking 6 months to sell.

Keep us in your prayers! Hopefully everything goes very smoothly.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

RockNRiver Waterpark!

The zero entry pool was the perfect place to hang out and watch the kids.
Lacy loved the green slide because it was fast. Poor Jordan was about an inch too short to ride. Mom and Dad tried the slides too. Sorry, no pictures. ;)
Joanna loved tubing in the lazy river.
Ethan liked the river as well.
Jordan spent almost the whole time in the lazy river. He didn't ride in tubes, he just bounced along.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Whew! We made it!

We are now residents of Hutto, TX, the fastest growing city in America - according to the secretary at the insurance agency! It's northeast of Austin, almost directly east of Round Rock and north of Pflugerville. Our small town has a Home Depot and a Lowe's but no grocery store! Very odd. I am minutes from Starbucks, Walmart, HEB Plus, and loads of other shopping. It's nice and clean here, but very bland. Everything looks the same.

Last week we ended up sleeping in CC Thursday night and traveling up to Austin Friday morning. We went to Justin's uniform fitting, then the property management company to sign our lease and collect our keys. We got to our new home at about 4:30pm Friday. Everything went so smoothly that I found myself wondering why I had worried myself sick all week. We ate some dinner (we had skipped lunch), unloaded a few things, took showers, and raced to the AFD family night orientation. It wasn't very family friendly. Justin found out a little bit of what to expect the following Monday, and the family members had a chance to ask questions. The kids were restless and bored. We did get to tour the facility. We saw the weight room, the tower, the obstacle course, and the fire trucks. They are doing EMT training for the first 6 weeks and won't get to the firefighter training until October.

The academy itself is hard work. He's got four days under his belt and I heard him say it was officially harder than boot camp. He's not the worst in the class nor the best. Physically, it's very demanding. The schoolwork will start in earnest next week. I am thankful that Justin has already done the EMT training, so this will hopefully just be a refresher for him. He's going to do great. If he's the class valedictorian, he gets his pick of station.

I went to a homeschool meeting on Monday night. The people were nice and they had alot of things going on. They have a Keepers club for Lacy, but no cub scouts for Jordan. I will have to keep looking for a pack for him.

The kids and I went to Hutto Baptist Church on Wednesday morning to ask about their services and look around. I think we will go on Sunday and check it out. It reminds me of Annaville about 5 years ago. They don't have AWANAS though, so I will have to keep looking for a club. I wish I had a little more time to unpack and get my bearing before having to venture out, but everything starts the last week of August. I am very thankful we homeschool and I don't have to mess with school registration and supplies and all that.

Well, that's all I am going to say right now. If you think of something else I need to post, leave me a comment and I'll get to it. I hope to get some pictures up soon.

One last thing - A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who helped us move!!!!

Brett and Kara Bennett - Kara watched Ethan while Brett did some majorly heavy lifting

Fawn Colburn - she watched all the rest of our kids

Matthew Gibson - Also did some majorly heavy lifting

Jim Curran - I think he packed half of my house for me!

my MOM - She packed the other half as well as helped UNpack it when we got here. She made us a nice meal before she left. She also got us boxes and tape and drove Justin's car up for us.

Justin's MOM - She took care of dinner for us the week before we moved while we were busy packing. She watched our kids, let us sleep at her house the night we moved, came up to the Family night orientation and ended up watching the kids outside so I could listen. She helped us unpack. She unpacked most of my kitchen, and did an excellent job of putting stuff away. I've hardly moved anything.

Stephanie and Anthony - They drove here Saturday and helped us unload and unpack everything.

Kathy Daly - the real estate agent who put up with Ethan's screams as we looked for a house and later our panicky calls as we waited for approval

I hope I am not forgetting anyone! We could not have moved so soon if it wasn't for everyone's help! Thank you so much! Y'all are the best!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shutting down the computer

I'm about to load it in the truck. We have the whole house almost packed, and we still do not have confirmation for our rental. The plan is to go up tonight, stay in a hotel, then camp out at the property management company until they give us the keys. I am relying totally on faith in God that everything will work out. The Lord will take care of us, and he will provide us with shelter. Pray for us as we journey north.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A good development

Justin called the Fire Department today to see if his uniform fitting could be postponed until Friday so that he wouldn't have to make a separate trip on Wednesday. The lady was very understanding and told him to plan for Friday and she would call him later and let him know what time. So PRAISE GOD he doesn't have to go out of town tomorrow! We'll be here packing if anyone wants to help!

The Wait is Agonizing!

We are still waiting to hear about the house in Hutto. If we don't get it we have several other possibilities. Hopefully, we'll know by noon whether they will consider us or not.

A couple came and looked at our house last night. This morning they are trying to obtain financing and make us an offer. This is exciting! Also, someone else is coming tomorrow morning at 10:00am to look.

Justin is almost finished with our garage apartment. The walls are painted, the bathroom sink, shower and toilet are all installed, and the kitchen cabinet is in place. He needs to finish installing the baseboards and put in the kitchen sink. Then I guess we'll clean the floor and hang the curtains. It should look pretty cute. We still need to paint one of the upstairs bedrooms. It's halfway done.

Yesterday we had our upstairs shower leaking through our kitchen ceiling. The plumbers repaired the leak yesterday, but we still need to fix the drywall where they had to cut through.

I've been packing and the kids have been watching WAY too much tv in the meantime. I can't wait for this to all be over.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Moving to Austin

As most of you know, we are moving to Austin since Justin has been accepted into Fire Cadet Academy 111 with the Austin Fire Department. We are looking ahead to many changes for our family. Moving is going to be the first major challenge. We haven't moved in 7 years. We've had 4 children since then. We have too much STUFF! It's amazing what you can accumulate.

Justin, Ethan, and I went this weekend to Austin to look at rental houses. We've applied for one ($70 non-refundable app fee-OUCH!) in Hutto, Tx which is about 15 minutes east of Round Rock. It's a nice area. The house was built in '02 and has no trees. Justin is happy because it's newer and has a big bathtub. I like the location and the price, but I am not too thrilled about the lack of trees. Hopefully we'll only have to rent for a year or two.

This week is going to be busy. Justin has to be in Austin on Wed. for a uniform fitting at 11am. On Friday night the Fire Dept is having a social event for the cadets and their families. This is optional, but we'd all like to go. Then on Saturday, Justin must attend orientation from 8-1pm. And we won't know if we've been approved for the house in Hutto until Tues. or Wed. We're hoping to move Friday. It's sure going to be a crazy week!

If we don't get the house (and we might not if they don't want to rent to a family with 5 kids), I don't know what will happen. Justin will have to go to Austin alone, possibly staying with members of the AFD who have offered to rent out rooms to the cadets.

On the bright side, we had a couple come and look at our house today. The woman came first and brought her husband back later in the afternoon. They loved the house. They said they would be in contact with an agent this week. Please keep us in your prayers. Selling this house quickly would be a huge blessing. It would give us financial peace. Justin salary will be dramatically lower over the next few months and paying for our house in Corpus on top of our bills in Austin is going to be rough. Praise God that aside from the house, Justin is debt-free. Our financial situation 3 years ago wouldn't have allowed him to take this job in Austin.

Okay, that's all for now. I will try to keep everyone updated daily this week, as I know things will be progressing quickly. Love to everyone! Keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Joanna Turns Five!

These are the pictures from Joanna's birthday party on Monday, June 9, 2008. She invited 4 of her closest friends to swim and play and have cake.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy 31st Birthday to Me!

I just had the best birthday! First Justin had a mother's necklace made for me with the birthstones of all my children.

Then, he and the kids baked me my very own birthday cake. They frosted it together while keeping me out of the kitchen. They did an awesome job!

They are all singing Happy Birthday to me. Didn't they do a great job on the cake?

I enjoyed their efforts immensely!
Justin's taking me out to eat tonight.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recent Events

Lacy and her daddy went to a Father-Daughter banquet this month. Lacy was glowing in her new dress as she walked on the arm of her daddy. What a special night for them! With five children sometimes Justin and I have a hard time giving them one-on-one attention. They each have special abilities and interests that make them precious to us. Lacy loves people. She loves being the center of attention. She loves to talk. Having one parent's focus totally on her for a day or evening makes so much difference in her general mood and outlook. I need to remember to give her some one-on-one time when she's getting cranky or difficult.

The cousins! Here's a picture of all the Slusher cousins. We got everyone but Ethan! Aren't they cute? I don't know how Grammy's couch will hold them all when they are teenagers!

Jordan's smiling at his Cub Scout ceremony, and for good reason! He's just crossed over from a Tiger Cub to a Wolf Cub! Way to go! He was so excited to get his yellow neckerchief and wolf slide as well as new book and hat. We even got him some new socks! He's all set for a new year of Cub Scouts!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Father Daughter Dinner

They left for the Father-Daughter Dinner tonight. I know Justin must be exhausted, but he wanted to go. I volunteered to take her instead, but he was clear that it was a Father-Daughter dinner. Lacy looked snazzy in a new swishy magenta dress. She insisted on wearing a sweater with it because it was backless! I didn't realize it would be so revealing at the store. It amazes me that they even sell clothing like that for 8 year olds.

I'll try to post a picture of them. A professional photographer is supposed to be there to take pictures, kind of like at a prom. I do hope Justin tries to have fun. Or at least fakes it. ;)

Busy Weekend

Our weekend is SO full. Friday night Jordan crossed over from Tiger Cubs to Wolf Cubs! Justin brought him home and he was yelling, "I'm a Wolf! I'm a Wolf!" He was so excited to show off his new yellow neckerchief.

Now today we were invited to THREE parties! Yow! I don't think we are attending any of them though. The Terilli's are visiting from Houston and Lacy and Daddy have a Father-Daughter Banquet to attend this evening. I hope Justin is up to going. He's been so tired from working non-stop. (no days off in about 2 weeks!)

Sunday, Lacy has her second piano recital. I think she's going to do beautifully. Then AWANA awards night is in the evening, but again, I don't know if we can do it.

Something about being at home and having my family and house in "order" is soothing and peaceful for me. I can't stand being on-the-go constantly! Now, some of you reading this might think, "what's the big deal?" Well, this is me. I know my limitations! I'm already longing for Monday when we can stay at home all day. I suppose this makes me a homebody. I can live with that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Late Friday evening

Today was another day when I was reminded that I am slowly losing my intellect. I used to pride myself on my vigorous mind. Pride goes before the.....what's that word? Ah yes, my fall from pride today went like this:

a phone call to my mother

me: Hi mom! How's your day going? Hey, I was just wondering when Jim (my step-dad) and Blair (my step-sister) are supposed to get here today?

mom: What? You thought they were coming today? They are coming next Friday!

me: uhhh

So my kids are all excited to see Aunt Blair, and their aging mother has the day wrong. DOH!