Friday, November 26, 2010

Sock it to Lottie, Take Two

Last year the Kidztown staff at our church wanted to be sure that we were intentional about using the Lottie Moon Christmas emphasis time as an opportunity to teach the kiddos about international missions and challenge them to give out of their own abundance to be sure that others had a chance to hear the gospel. We used the name "Sock it to Lottie" and encouraged the kids to save money between Thanksgiving and Christmas to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. The kids blew us away by more than doubling our goal of $1700 to bring in $3500.
This year, the kids have been challenged again, this time with a tougher goal of $3500. Once again they'll get the chance to slime Pastor Ryan, and we even have a few extra surprises in mind too.
Our own kids decided last year that they were going to make a few crafts to sell in Nana's garage during our large family feast. I am a good Southern Baptist girl who was raised to believe fundraising for the church was a no no, but I knew Ryan's aunts, uncles, and cousins would not be offended. So while I didn't encourage it, I did give them the okay. It was such a roaring success, that they decided to do it again and yesterday they opened up shop as soon as they had finished their yeast rolls and taters.
They were very excited to collect $62.75 cents for Lottie Moon and they're hoping that it will go a long way toward insuring that missionaries can go and daddy gets slimed!

Abby and Lizzy ready for business.

My favorite of their craftings. Ryan and Abby made these adorable tissue holders that Abby found on Martha Stewart's website.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Make lemonade!

The "new" antique juicer

Lily gives it a go!

Abby flexes her juicing muscles.

Cousin Christopher takes his turn.


My mother-in-law has a thing for juicers. She has owned lots of them through the years, though I've never once enjoyed a glass of fresh squeezed juice at her house. Until today. She just received a really cool 1940 Juice King juicer as a gift and I was totally charmed by it as it sat on her counter. It is adorable and would look perfect in some Country Living vintage kitchen shoot. I am a sucker for kitchen goods, especially old ones.

So, today we decided to put that juicer to use and make the best lemonade I have ever tasted. Honestly, Chick-Fil-A better watch out cause the Campbells have figured out the secret to some yummy lemonade. Not to mention, it was fun making it ourselves. So if I can just figure out how to sneak that juicer into my luggage, we may open one heck of a lemonade stand back at our house.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I have never struggled with infertility. In fact, by the time that I was 30 years old I had birthed 4 children after 4 healthy pregnancies. The fact that we adopted had nothing to do with wanting to grow our family and everything to do with wanting to obey God's mandate to care for orphans. Having a big family came pretty effortlessly to us and I know that I have been guilty of taking them for granted many, many times.
My heart has always been heavy for my friends who have had to struggle to have children. I can't imagine what it would be like to have empty arms and desperately want to fill them. Or to spend years pursuing treatment options or adoption possibilities to be able to become a mother. It is one of the things I'll never understand this side of heaven, why crack addicts who can't or won't care for their children are able to have them one after another while women who have dreamed their whole lives of becoming mothers must wait, year after year. Those are the times when I cling to verses like Isaiah 55:9 that assures us that God's ways are higher than our ways.
I know that God is good and that He is worthy of my trust. That is what I am clinging to now. Not to make light of infertility, but I have to say that the last few weeks have felt to me a bit like I imagine the wait for a baby would be. As I shared in this post I have dreamed of being a missionary since I was a little girl. I can not remember a time when I have heard a missions sermon, song, or Sunday School lesson when my spirit did not quicken or my eyes fill with tears because of my desire to tell the nations. I firmly believe that God has planted that desire there, just as he gives many women the desire to be mommies.
And now, just as I explained here we are waiting again. Quite honestly, I am struggling with a million different emotions. I am terrified that this is not going to happen. We got an e-mail yesterday letting us know that there is some re-evaluating of staffing needs happening with our company and it could be January before we hear anything about a job match. And then, quite honestly, there may not be one. This is hard for me to hear. We have until June 15th to get to the end of this process because of the ages of our children. That's not even 7 months away. After that, this opportunity goes away.
I struggle with anger. Wondering why God awakened this dream in us and prompted us to go through this process if we're only going to crash and burn after the hardest year of our life? Why did he prompt us to go public just a few days before we got this big fat stop sign? Why has He put this same burden on our children's hearts so that He could break them too? Why did He have to call us out of our comfort zone and put this passion for the nations in us if He wasn't going to make it happen? I'll be honest, these are all questions that I am wrestling with all the time.
Then there are the very practical questions that I have too. What do we buy our children for Christmas? If we're leaving the continent it's going to look very different than if we stay. Is this our last holiday in America for a few years or not? We need new pots and pans, but I don't want to buy new ones if we're not staying. Should we be aggressively trying to sell our house or not? If we do get a job match in January, we will need to get rid of it quickly, will we regret not pushing it during this waiting time? What if, after waiting and then getting a job match, it doesn't sell? Not to mention, there is all this stuff that fills this house that needs to go if we're going, but not necessarily if we're staying.
This, my friends, is what I am wrestling with. These questions, thoughts, and emotions are constantly flooding my mind. I know, I sound like a spoiled toddler who simply isn't getting my way. And I know, when it comes to things like pots and pans and stuff, I am. It's simply a matter of desiring to be in control and wanting things to go my way. But in many ways, it is more than that. You see, this dream has been a part of my "spiritual DNA" for as long as I can remember. For as long as I have known to collect my coins for Lottie Moon, I have dreamed of going. I can't imagine closing the door on this dream.
But, here is what I always come back to. God is not surprised by these delays. If budget cuts keep us from getting to go, my God still owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If peanut allergies prevent us from going, each of my children is still fearfully and wonderfully made. If our house doesn't sell, God still has plans to prosper and not to harm us. I know that I know that I know that God's way is perfect. I just have to remind myself that I know that.
I truly have to fight my desire to feel sorry for myself. I stepped down from my job at church because we thought it was time to begin getting ready. Our son didn't enroll in Upwards because we thought it was time to get ready. Our girls didn't participated in the Christmas recital this past weekend, because when it was time to commit to piano lessons in the fall, we thought we'd be in the packing phase.
Yet, I know that even in this "extra" waiting, I can choose to honor Him. In fact, yesterday the neighbors that we've been trying to serve and share with for the last 18 months agreed to go to church with us this weekend. They will need transportation and if I were still working at the church, this would not be an easy thing to provide. I have also had time to catch up on things that were overwhelming me before. I know that I have the power to choose from which angle I will view my circumstances. I want to take the high road in the midst of this unforeseen detour.
Lizzy asked me this weekend, in reference to our move, "So Mom, what's the plan?"
To which I responded in the only way I knew how, "Lizzy, for now the plan is to pray and wait, wait and pray, and trust that God is working it all together for good."
I would invite you to pray for us too as the Lord brings us to mind. We covet your prayers as we wait.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Okay, so everyone has their "things" that are offensive to them. Especially when it comes to the Christmas season. I get increasingly frustrated each year with the over the top consumerism of the season. I saw something the other day that absolutely disgusted me. I was in a TJ Maxx store looking for some odds and ends when I noticed a display of dishes on an endcap. The graphic on the plate was a woman in a bubble bath tub with cucumber on her eyes and a "spa" treatment sort of scene. Around the rim of the art were the words, "O Come Let Us Adore Me." Seriously!?! I wanted to vomit.

I don't know why I was surprised, but I was. And then I was saddened by the fact that there would actually be a market for something so blasphemous. I know, I'm sheltered. But my heart just ached for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who would read that and laugh and not realize that there is so much more to life than that. That there is joy and hope and purpose that comes from choosing to lay down your own desires and die to yourself and instead worship the only one who is worthy of our adoration.

I think that it is so hard to navigate the whole Christmas season in the midst of our American culture. Do we do Santa or not? Do we buy gifts or not? How much is enough? How much is too much? Yet each year I am thankful that God chooses to show me other ways that I can use this season to glorify Him and serve others and train my children to find their joy in service rather than stuff. It's a hard road to hoe and I feel confident that I often fail miserably, but I am so thankful for the lessons that I learn each year.

This year, we have decided to spend significantly less money on Christmas than we normally do. I'll be honest that the decision to do this was initially fueled by the fact that we thought we would be preparing to move out of the country at this point. However, even though all of that is in limbo, I am embracing the opportunity to keep it small. I am excited about looking for ways to serve others during the season rather than running around shopping and spending. My kids are also excited that we are going to be doing some handmade gifts and readily admit that they need nothing.

So, even though I don't look forward to the stores full of pink and purple christmas trees or the non stop commercials for toys and the lowest prices of the season, I do look forward to the season. I look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ and the family time that always comes during the holidays. I am excited about creating new memories with my children and embracing simplicity in the place of stuff. I am looking forward to singing Christmas carols, and this year, I think I will find even more meaning as I sing one of my very favorites... "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Zoo Day

Hey NC Homeschoolers! Did you know that you can get into the NC zoo for free? I did not know this until a few weeks ago, but it's true. All NC registered home schools can go once each year by making reservations a minimum of 2 weeks ahead. It just took a quick phone call and all of our school age children and one "staff" member got in free. This is one of the reasons we traveled there last week.
Another homeschool friend thought it would be a good way to celebrate her son's birthday and let me in on the free entry tip. So we joined two other families for a day at the zoo. The kids had a great time and we have talked about it every day since. Among our favorites of the day were the flamingos, the otters, and the sea lion.

The otter was very friendly and was definitely one of the favorites.

I personally enjoyed this sunning sea lion named Abby.

Lily was concerned about the flamingos with the broken legs. I'm not sure how we had missed that lesson, but we were able to clarify that detail.

The whole gang sitting on the egg sculptures.

The Campbell kiddos finishing off a fun day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Celebration

When our kids were really young we started the tradition of having Thanksgiving dinner at our house the weekend before the actual event. We did this because we always go to Ryan's parents house for the week of Thanksgiving and we look forward to it every year. But because there are so many people there, it is a great time of fellowship, but not so much a time of reflection and bonding for our own little family. We find that from the time we hit Pap and Nana's door in KY, we sort of go our separate ways, having fun all the while... which we love. However we wanted to also be sure that we had a time to sit down at a table and give thanks together.
Our little family Thanksgiving is always a time that I enjoy. We take the time to iron the tablecloth and prepare a nice meal just to celebrate together, something we rarely do. Since Grammy and Pa moved down a few years ago, we have enjoyed their company too.

Each year we do some sort of fun activities like these fun turkey cookies. In case you were wondering, it took 7, yes that's SEVEN stores to find that candy corn. Apparently, after Halloween stores do away with their candy corn. I guess it's not profitable to cater to the Thanksgiving holiday when you can fill up those aisles with inflatable Santas?!?

This year we each wrote a list of things we are thankful for and shared them together. It was funny to see how each of their lists reflect their individual personalities. For example one of our daughters who we call the "accessory queen" listed jewelry and nice clothes followed immediately by clean water. I guess it's all about balance.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

While in Cincy

Our summer trip to Cincinnati doubled as our vacation this year. Vacation means three things.
1. We ate. A lot. Not only were we on vacation, but we were in the land of my familiar favorites. So, we ate a ridiculous amount of food. Between the Larosa's pizza, Skyline Chili, Frisch's hot fudge cake, Graeter's Ice Cream, Husman potato chips, and the White Castles fish sandwiches, we were pure gluttons. I probably ate enough to cover three years worth of my old favorites.
My favorite meal was shared with two old friends. We spent the day at a swimming pool with two of my best friends from college, both of whom were bridesmaids in our wedding. After a day of swimming, we went to eat at one of the restaurants I miss the most, Frisch's. It's not that the food is that great, it's just a familiar standard of my past. We had a great day together and laughed and shared stories just like the old days.

Note to self: take photos before spending the day in the swimming pool. Here we have the natural look.

Three families, a gazillion kiddos and one more in the oven. Fun, fun, fun!

2. We shopped. My favorite place to shop is the Cincinnati Gap distribution center. It is an amazing place to buy clothes, if you like to dig. And hey, I'm more than willing to dig when the end result is 25 cent swimsuits, 7 dollar Gap jeans for everyone, and all the toddler underwear I could possibly want for 25 cents a pair. So, we took not 1, but 2 trips to the outlet and spent a small percentage of the normal price for much of our fall wardrobe.

3. We wanted to do some vacationy things, like visit Kings Island which was a summer standard of my childhood. This is the place where I learned to love funnel cakes, roller coaters, and log flumes. I have more memories there than I could count and it was neat to share it with my kiddos. We opened and closed the park and had a great day.

When I was their age, the kiddie land was called Hannah Barbara Land and the characters were Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, and then later the Smurfs. Now it is the Peanuts.

Driving the cars.

The boy showed no fear of the 7 foot tall characters and expected everyone of them to acknowledge his presence.

Though the theme has changed, I have basically been riding this kiddy coaster for as long as I can remember. It's located directly across from the stand that sells the blue ice cream which was called "smurf berry" when I was a kid.

Another fun day on our trip was our day at the Creation Museum. This opened just after my parents moved down here, so we hadn't been before. It was really, really amazing and very well done. We had fun, but I have to say it was too crowded for my liking. By the time we left, it was clearing out. So, unlike most touristy places, I think the strategy is NOT to get there when it opens, but rather later in the day.

Isaac and Lily in the Garden of Eden.

The many, many dinosaurs were a big hit.

Abe enjoyed feeding the goats at the petting zoo part of the museum.

Ryan and I with our kiddos and my nephew Jacob, who I used to take on that same kiddy coaster at King's Island.

Normally, for our travels, I love going to new places, but it sure was a treasure to go back to visit some of my familiar family, friends, and places instead this year.

Still catching up!

My mother is one of eleven children. ELEVEN. Do you know what that means? I have cousins. Lots and lots of cousins. One of the things I miss most about living 9 hours from my hometown is that my kiddos don't have the chance to know my extended family like I wish they did. We had not been there since my parents moved here 3 years ago. So, I was excited this summer when we got the opportunity to go "home" for a few days.

The reason for our visit was the wedding of one of my cousins. This particular cousin is one that my children know and love because she, her mother, her sister, and their families comes to spend Easter with us each year. This has been our tradition every year for as long as I can remember. My kids think that Nadia and her new husband, Steve, hung the moon. So, we were honored that Ryan was able to perform their wedding ceremony in Cincinnati in August.

Sweet cousin Nadia and Uncle Jim

Sister of the Bride, Charity. The cousins gave a butterfly release as a gift to the bride and groom, one of the butterflies decided to hang out on Charity's bouquet. The kids had a great time chasing them after the ceremony.

One of the traditions in our family is that brides get a quilt made by the 7 sisters of my mom's family. This is Nadia's quilt.

Lily made the evening especially exciting because she chose to eat 2 peanut butter M&Ms off of the candy bar at the reception before anyone caught it. After a little (or not so little) allergic reaction, we got to spend part of the reception in an ambulance where she got a nice injection of antihistamines. That's us, always making those special memories. The funny thing is, she now refers to the dress she wore to the wedding as her "peanut dress."

Isaac and Lily cooling off outside the reception. Lily is wearing her "peanut dress" and if you look closely, you can see her ambulance band-aid on her arm.

All in all, it was a very fun evening and it was such a treat for me to see loved ones I had not seen in far too long. My kids made fast friends with the cousins who fall into their generation and had a great time dancing the night away.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Girls

I am posting these pictures for no other reason than that they make me smile. The girls went fabric shopping with Grandma at least 6 months ago to buy apron fabric. I wasn't with them and had totally forgotten about the apron project. Then one day a couple of weeks ago they came home from a visit to Grandma's very excited that their long anticipated aprons were almost finished.

They ended up being adorable and what makes them even more fun is that their vintage cut matches up perfectly with the history era we're studying in the next little bit. This was a happy accident, but the kids are always role playing whatever we're studying, so this is one more prop we can add to the costume arsenal. Lily even wore hers for Halloween and carried a mixing bowl for candy collecting purposes. We're grateful for such a talented and generous Grammie!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday Weekend

This past weekend was my birthday and I am finally beginning to understand why my mother never loved birthdays. They're just not as fun as the years roll by. Plus, when you are the "party planner" in the family, your own birthday can be a bit anti-climactic.

I did have a nice weekend though. Ryan and I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the beach and I did not cook at all, that alone was a gift. The most strenuous thing I did during the 48 hours we were gone was walk on the beach and decide which toppings I wanted on my half of the pizza. That is a good weekend!

I came home Saturday night and my sweet children had worked to prepare a party for me. My oldest confessed that she had wanted to throw a real party with friends but unfortunately, my mom wasn't sure how to work that sort of magic in 48 hours. So, after coaxing them past the disappointment, my mom convinced them that I would enjoy a family party just as much. They put lots of thought into little details and pooled their money and collaborated with Grandma to make it special. They had set the table complete with flowers and had purchased a cake for me. They made sausage balls and pizza dip (I guess they think since this is what I make for their parties, it must be my favorite party food too, right?!?) They had even purchased cute little cans of Coke, knowing it's my favorite beverage. It was very sweet and they were very proud to offer the gifts.

The birthday table.

My cake, complete with number candles, just in case I have forgotten how rapidly I'm approaching 40. The kids were tickled when we realized that daddy could use them in a few weeks for his birthday and then next year we can reverse them and use them for Pa's birthday. What a good value! Abby was quick to point out that the package says they have a 2 minute burn time, so we each get 40 seconds of flame before we have to blow them out. Too funny!

This picture is horrid, but it makes me laugh. We could not catch that expression on Lizzy's face again in a million years.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Abe turns 3! (well a month ago he did)

In early October, we celebrated Abe's 3rd birthday. I'll confess that Abe's birthday weekend is extra special because Ryan's parents always get their fall break that weekend and come for a visit. They were here the weekend of his first birthday and that was the weekend we were given his referral. So we saw his picture for the first time the day before his first birthday. We can't help reflect on that amazing event when we celebrate his birthday.

This year, we did all things Thomas. He is totally fascinated by Thomas and his friends, which is fine with me as the trains are one of the only things that he will do independently. Still. Yes, I know...maddening! So, we're thankful for Thomas and even more thankful for Abe.

Happy Birthday Abe!

Ready to dig in!

Yes, he is still young enough to think cups can qualify as a birthday gift. That won't last much longer!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lizzy's 10th Birthday

I need to do a few selfish posts. They are selfish because they are old news and even if they would have interested you weeks ago when they were fresh, probably not so much now. But, I want to blog about them for my own recording purposes. One thing about having 5 kids, they notice things like the fact that 3 of the 5 of them got their birthday pictures on the blog and the other 2 didn't. So, for the sake of my good mommy status, here goes...

In September, we celebrated Lizzy's birthday. We ended up having a sleepover with an owl theme. We were in a place of chaos at that point as we were in our most stressful part of the application paperwork, I seriously thought about bribing Lizzy to forget a party. However, the only sleepover we had ever hosted was for Abby's 10th and I had promised Lizzy for the last two years that she could have a slumber party when she turned 10. I explained to her that we could have one, but it would have to be low key. Lizzy was gracious and accepted a limited guest list and a pretty unstructured evening with a sunny disposition. Here are some pics of our celebration:

The party table. Once again, my husband used his creativity to make a fun centerpiece. Of course, then we had to find a place for Lizzy to keep it for the next few weeks. I finally had to make Lizzy part with her birthday branch.

The cake.
Wait, is that a Yankee votive on the cake? Why yes, yes it is. Somebody forgot to buy the cake candles.
Delighted over a new necklace.

Some of the highlights of the evening included a 3 course mystery menu at dinner and making owl hair clips. The girls also hunted for "prey" in the backyard, just like owls do. They had a fun time hunting candy by flashlight. We are so thankful for Lizzy and the cheerful attitude and spunk she brings to our house!