**Updated with new picture from today below**

Today I get to celebrate two of my favorite things...

Chick-Fil-A and Football.  :-)

Today, Chick-Fil-A is giving away their new chicken strips (which, by the way, are delicious, and my hubby and my new fav menu item) to anyone who visits their store wearing a football logo.  Check it out here for more details. 

You better believe that all 5 of us will be sporting our Steelers pride at Chick-Fil-A today when we stop for lunch on our way back from our annual Labor Day get together. 


Any other Chick-Fil-A lovin' football fans out there??

I hurt my toe this week.  Really Badly. As in, it's not a pretty picture, all black and blue and bleeding.  Gonna lose the nail.  See I told you it wasn't a pretty picture!

I realized this week how much I take that little toe for granted.  Until it started hurting, I didn't realize the impact one little phalange could have on the entire body.  (I also didn't realize how many times a day my feet are stepped on by my kids).

One little toe can inflict pain on my entire body.  It can make me limp.  It can send throbbing pain throughout my body.  It can make me cry. 

One teeny little toe

As I reflect on all the harm and discomfort one teeny little toe can cause to an entire body, I do not want to be like that toe.  One teeny little action, or word, or broken promise, can inflict deep and lasting pain in the life of another.  It can leave them limping along, throbbing in pain. 

I must be careful of the words I say and the attitude I portray to my family, for it can have a lasting impact.  I'm with my kids all day, every day.  As in early in the morning when I don't feel like getting out of bed, and in the middle of the day when I am yearning for some peace and quiet and at the end of the day when I'm fixing dinner while juggling 3 hungry kids and waiting for Daddy to come home.  My facial expression when my husband comes in the door can set the tone for the entire evening.  One little glance has the power to make him feel appreciated or on edge. 

As one part of the body of Christ and of the body of my family, I want to be intentional that my impact is positive.  I don't want to be noticed because of the pain I inflict.  Even small parts can have big impacts, positive or negative.    

Romans 12:4-5

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."


Weekend Thoughts:
My posts typically relate funny anecdotes about the happenings here at the circus. While my days are seldom “normal” enough to leave me without a “post worthy” moment, I use my last post of the week to highlight something a little more “thoughtful” and significant. If you had a thoughtful post from this last week, or choose to make a new one, please feel free to add a link in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

Here are the top 10 reasons why my family loves to go camping.

10. It's cheaper than a hotel

($20 a night versus $150 a night)A mother daughter moment

9. Smores!


8.  It ensures that the ground will get the water its been deprived of all summer long.

camping and WV 034

7. Beautiful views


6. Togetherness

camping and WV 048

(look how cozy our beds look in there...we almost always wake with at least one kiddo snuggled up next to us)

5. Dining al fresco


(some people pay big bucks to eat in the great outdoors)

4.  Everything tastes better when it's cooked over a fireIMG_6887 

(note the distance between my daughter's hot dog and the actual fire...not exactly cooked)

3.  Daddy does most of the cooking


2.  The kids can play freely and without worry of breaking things.

camping and WV 008

(lest you think we are horrid parents, this was NOT the fire pit we used for the campfire)

1.  You don't have to be clean 


(anytime one of us went to take a shower or clean up while camping, my son would say, "But Mom, when your camping you don't have to be clean!")


We went on a few camping trips this summer and made many priceless memories.  To read what other people did this summer, check out Kristen's Sizzling Summer Vacation Spectacle.

 Jessica has a fun carnival where she helps keep us bloggers real.  The deal is you gotta take pictures of the assignment as is, no tweaking for the cameras.  This week she wanted to see "how we roll"  as in what our vehicle looks like.

The funny thing about this is that when I saw the assignment I thought to myself, "how lucky for me I just cleaned the van out last week when we got back from camping."  Ha-ha funny thing is I forgot how much junk a van can accumulate in a week and a half! 

So, take a look inside my minivan.  I took these pictures today as we were heading out for some errands.  Meant to take them earlier this week so I could post this early today, but that's real life for ya...


We've got a 12 pack of diet coke for my hubby that I failed to bring in yesterday when I went shopping...also have baby doll, diaper bag and assorted books and toys to entertain the little ones.


You can see we put the oldest two in the back seats (here they are entertaining themselves with a Steelers car flag and my son is racing a match box car on his wooden gun)  We leave the other middle seat out of the van b/c it makes it much easier to get the kids in and out of their car seats.


And on the other side of the van we have the baby (see her sad little skinned knee)  Note the happy meal box (can't throw it away b/c it has Star Wards on it) and I believe we have some spare clothes lying down there.

IMG_4355 IMG_4354

Moving to the front seat... I was getting ready to take a meal to someone from my MOPS group and also had a lunch packed for the kids to eat at a play date this morning (see them sitting on the passenger seat)?  On the floor we have a lighter (b/c we went to a cookout the other night) the Sunday paper, a map, some books, MOPS fliers for me to drop off at the library and a roll of paper towels (this was very handy last week when my baby got car sick)


And my trunk needs to be emptied out before our weekend away tomorrow.  I have some paper products to return to church from our MOPS cookout on Sunday and several huge bags of clothes that my friend passed down for me to use for the girls (I am SO excited about this, we should be set for awhile now)! 


Last but not least, the back side... I told you I was a serious Chick-Fil-A fan... how many moms do you know with an Eat More Chicken sticker on the back of their minivan?  Yea, I am hard core!

 IMG_4358 IMG_4359

And finally my friends and family will be happy to note that I got around to adding the last fish to our minivan.  About two weeks before my baby girl was born I went out to get "Jesus Fish" for the back of the van.  I thought it would be cute to get one for each member of the family.  Well, I didn't want to put the baby's on till after she was born, then after she was born I was a bit busy what with nursing and changing diapers and chasing around the toddlers.  Then I misplaced the fish.  Then I had to actually wash the van (which I gave up on and instead my husband cleaned the back side a few weeks ago when he gave his car the once every 3 year wash) (I kid not)!  After many, many jokes from friends, "So, which two kids do you love?"  "What's the baby have to do to get a fish?" and several inquiries from my MIL... today, as I was preparing my real life post, I finally added the last fish.


So, those are my wheels.  Not as clean and organized as I'd like, but very, very real.

Remember back in high school when you were positive that you were going to stay BFF with your group of girl friends?  You were positive you were going to marry your high school sweetheart... When I was in high school my friends and I dreamed of growing up, getting married, and living in the same neighborhood.

While that dream didn't exactly pan out, our friendship has remained strong.  And 5 of the 6 of us actually went on and married our high school boyfriends.  Still working on the neighborhood though.

Cabin2002 In the mean time we've set aside Labor Day Weekend as a time when we get together with our families for a weekend of fun.  It started in 2002 as the 6 of us and our husbands.  We all had such a great time that we thought we should do it again, and thus a tradition was born.  Labor Day weekend seemed perfect b/c  it is a guaranteed 3 day weekend for all of us and it isn't a holiday filled with family obligations. 

6 years and 13 (thirteen!!!) children later, we are all looking forward to another weekend together beginning tomorrow.  

While we've changed locations, some things are constant.

  • Late nights talking
  • Settlers (Board Game)
  • Guys Poker Nights
  • a trip to a local ice cream shop

Yea for Tradition!

  • playtime at a local park
  • torturing our kids with group portraits

 2005 scrapbook173Trying to pose 7 kids under 2 is not easy


While it isn't exactly a relaxing get away with 12 adults and 13 children (each 4 or under) all staying under the same roof.  It's truly refreshing.  There's no set schedule.  We sit around talk, play games, hold kids and have fun.  We divide up the meals so each family prepares a different meal for everyone and we all bring snacks and drinks to share.

gotta love the chaos There's something truly rare about this group of friends.  We've known each other for over 15 years.  And while our conversations have changed from "how will I know which way to tilt my head when I get my first kiss"  to "does is hurt as bad to nurse the second time around", there's something special about a friendship that has the memories of the past while still being in the present.  While we have some great memories that we enjoy laughing about, we have more than that.  We are friends in the present.  We talk about our roles as wives and mothers.  While we don't' all see eye to eye on everything, we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other.  I always leave our times together thinking, "there's a reason why we've been friends for so long."


I know we are the lucky ones and I am so very thankful.The Whole Gang


Each year I keep saying I want to make a scrapbook of our weekend get together's, in the mean time I'm posting this on Kristen's Sincerely Fro' Me to You Carnival.

Yesterday my son called for me to, "Come quick Mom and look, she's so cute!"

... I think he's got a good eye, don't you?


For More Wordless Wednesdays, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Despite the fact that I lack a green thumb and raise suicidal plants, I still attempted a garden this summer with my kids.  Some may call me a hopeless optimist, to others I am just naive.  But, my oldest two children were particularly excited about this new venture and I didn't want to let them down.

This April we planted a row of peas, a row of green beans, a row of pumpkins, two tomato plants, and two pepper plants.  

At first we had several pea plants sprout up.  I didn't know you had to stake them though, so they eventually withered away.  I had two green bean plants pop up, and I got a whopping total of 2 green beans (and a whole lot of weeds).  

Later we had pumpkin plants pop up and even produce nice yellow blooms.  I really held them out as the promised plant, the ones destined to bring forth great produce.  I imagined the golden pumpkins sitting on my stoop all in a row this fall.

They failed to germinate and the blooms eventually withered leaving me with green leaves and dead blooms. 

IMG_7320 But, my tomato plants have not let me down.  We've had about 7 or 8 tomatoes so far this summer.  Today we went to check to see if we had any more red ones and we had the mother load waiting for us!  Check out our tomato harvest!!  And we have at least as many more on the vine waiting to turn red!

While we didn't exactly raise enough to live off of the land this fall, at least our grand experiment wasn't a dismal failure.  We got something pretty for our efforts, and it might be just enough to motivate us to try this again next year. 

For more tackles, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sorry for not posting a post race synopsis yesterday, in the words of my dear sister in law, I was "too tired."

IMG_7187 The race was a blast!  The weather was gorgeous and the views were beautiful.  My favorite was running down Main Street in Annapolis looking down at the harbor.  It was incredible!   The first 5 miles I felt great.  I kept up a steady conversation with Karen and at each mile marker would scream out with glee. 

IMG_7200I was really impressed with the support from the people of Annapolis.  People would stand at their driveways with hoses to mist you, music blaring to inspire you, and some even offered drinks, and high fives.  Our favorite was the people that handed out orange slices.  These people were so gracious and kind to offer such encouragement to 5000 strangers, it blew me away.    Of course the best sight I saw on the run was my dear family cheering us on!  They were there at the start, shortly after mile 1 and 3, and were there at the finish as well.  They totally brought a smile to my face. 

I will tell you that from mile 5-7 I was struggling.  I ran, but there was much less enthusiasm.  However, after mile 8, I felt like I got a second wind.  I was exhilarated as I was running farther than I had ever run before and I was also super psyched because I knew we were going to do it.  The race regulations said that at mile 8 they would have you stop if you were running at slower than a 12 minute mile pace.  I was nervous about this as I did not train all summer to not be able to complete the race.  Plus, I wanted to get the jacket which was the finisher's premium, and you didn't get it unless you finished the race.   Once we passed mile 8 and knew we were at a fast enough pace, I got goose bumps.  We were doing it!!  We were going to finish the race.  I told Karen, "This is literally a dream come true."  I was thrilled!!

20080824 Annapolis 10 Miler 6x4 - 7 As we came to the finish, which was at the top of a hill (not so nice race committee) I saw the clock at just under 2 hours.  I so wanted to finish in under two hours, we pushed each other along and Karen, my Dad in law, and I finished in just under the 2 hour mark.   My good friends  J&J finished about 10 minutes ahead of us.  They were at the finish line cheering us over!  It was so fun to run with a group, spurring each other on with encouragement and support! 

20080824 Annapolis 10 Miler 6x4 - 5 After we finished I remembered that technically we didn't cross the starting line until 6 minutes after the start (there were 5000 people there so when the horn blasted it still took awhile before we all got across the line)  so actually our finishing time was 1 hour and 53 minutes and 44 seconds!  We did it!!!!


IMG_7230This morning, I am quite sore, but really, very excited.  When the summer began the farthest I had ever run was a 5K and that was  in October of 2006.  I hadn't done any running since then.   Now, I have plans of running with a local running club on week day mornings as a regular part of my schedule and I've already registered for a 1/2 Marathon in Baltimore this fall.    I am incredibly thankful for my wonderfully supportive hubby and children without whom this would not even be possible.  They give me cool drinks and loud cheers each time I return from a run.  Scott willingly adjusts his work schedule to accommodate my running and happily takes care of the children so I can train.  I honestly couldn't have done this without them. 

IMG_7159 We had a big "carbolicious" dinner tonight to get ready for the Annapolis 10 Mile Run tomorrow morning.... my sis in law, my father in law, my two good friends, and I are all running 10 miles tomorrow at 7:45am. 


Wish us luck!!!

I've sung along to these lyrics dozens of times as I drove along in my minivan.  But when I was running last week and this song came through my headphones, they hit me unlike any other time.  God loves me, Crystal, more than the sun and the stars.   As I listened to the words, I just imagined my Creator singing them to me and I was overwhelmed that He would chose to love me, wretched sinner that I am.  I encourage you to read these lyrics, and listen to the words and imagine your Creator singing them just to you.  He loves you that much, you know and more.

Take a look at the mountain
Stretching a mile high
Take a look at the ocean
Far as your eye can see
And think of Me
Take a look at the desert
Do you feel like a grain of sand?
I am with you wherever
Where you go is where I am
And I’m always thinking of you
Take a look around you
I’m spelling it out one by one
I love you more than the sun
And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are Mine and you shine for Me too
I love you yesterday and today
And tomorrow I’ll say it again and again
I love you more

Just a face in the city
Just a tear on a crowded street
But you are one in a million
And you belong to Me
And I want you to know
I’m not letting go
Even when you come undone


Shine for Me
Shine for Me
Shine on, shine on
Shine for Me
I love you more than the sun
And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are Mine and you shine for Me too
I love you yesterday and today
And tomorrow I’ll say it again and again
I love you more



One more thing that got me was this line, "I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine You are Mine and you shine for Me too" 

God created the stars to shine, and he created me for that purpose too.  My purpose for being is to glorify God, that is why He made me.  Am I fulfilling that purpose each day? 

This is what I am pondering this week.  I hope you too will be moved by the love of our Father and will take time to contemplate wether you are living your life each and every day in a way that shines for Him and brings Him glory.


Weekend Thoughts:
My posts typically relate funny anecdotes about the happenings here at the circus. While my days are seldom “normal” enough to leave me without a “post worthy” moment, I use my last post of the week to highlight something a little more “thoughtful” and significant. If you had a thoughtful post from this last week, or choose to make a new one, please feel free to add a link in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

  My son was so excited about the favor we brought home from my friend's wedding a few weeks ago.  They gave out old fashioned root beer in bottles with a home made label.  It was his first soda and he was so excited to drink "kid beer" as he called it. 





    I think he liked the idea of it more than the actual taste.  He actually drank most of it the next day when it was flat.  My favorite part was watching his facial expressions as he drank it. 

**Warning, those of you that did not appreciate my poop post last week, may not enjoy this one either.  Sorry for the graphic footage.  My past week has truly illustrated the less glamorous side of motherhood. **


Our trip to Steelers training camp last week was one of the most eventful family car trips we've had in a long while.  It was supposed to take 4 hrs to get to Latrobe, instead 6 hrs after we left we finally pulled into our camping space. 

We hit stop and go traffic about an hour and a half into our trip.  Turns out our 13 month old gets car sick.  Yes, she literally lost her lunch all over herself as we sat in traffic.  Thankfully, the paper towels happened to be within reach and I was able to sop her up. 

An hour later, we hit construction and thus more stop and go traffic.  I thought she had lost her lunch the first time, but it appeared she saved quite a bit for her next round of retching.  Poor thing was a smelly mess!  IMG_6831

We stopped as soon as we could and my husband took the older two kids inside for food while I cleaned up our poor baby. After a few disgruntled looks, I realized that parking right directly in front of the entrance wasn't the best idea.  Some people don't enjoy looking at this right before eating.   I brought her in to him and was shocked to discover they were STILL in line waiting to order their food.  So, I handed him the baby and went to do my best at cleaning up her car seat.   25 minutes later I came in to find them still in line, having already ordered but still waiting for our food (beware of the McDonalds in Breezewood). 

One hour later we were back on the road and thankfully, we had no more traffic or car sickness the rest of the weekend.  We make care trips quite frequently and this is the first time we have dealt with car sickness.  I truly, truly hope this is not a sign of things to come. 

This is one picture that will never see the inside of a scrapbook.  It's a picture that had I not been a blogger I would never have even taken.  But, since my poor baby has a blogger for a mommy, she gets pictures of her covered in poop and vomit posted on the world wide web for all to see.  For more pictures that no one should ever have taken of themselves, check out We Are THAT Family.


Click here for more Wordless Wednesdays.

IMG_7023 My hubby and I are huge Pittsburgh Steelers fans.  I was born a Steelers fan.  My husband's allegiance was born in college when he began faithfully watching the home team in Western, PA.  There's no way to distinguish who is more devoted now, we are both hard core.   Living in Ravens territory is tough.  We watch every game televised here, head to Glory Days for big games that aren't televised, make a few treks to my parents house in PA, read the play by plays online, listen on the radio.... whatever we can to follow our team.  We've even had my parents record games and mail them to us to watch mid week. 

This year we went camping with my parents in Latrobe, Pa so we could attend Steelers Training Camp at St Vincents College.  

While I am sure the kids would have been just as excited to watch a high school game, Scott and I were both completely star struck. 


"Look, right there, that's Ben"

"He just threw it to Santonio Holmes."


"Son, that guy right there holds the record for the longest run in Super Bowl history!"


"Look, it's Heinz, there goes Heinz!"


"I found Polamalu... he's sitting in the back there."

"Holmes waved at me... I got a wave!"

We sounded like little kids as we stood on the field a mere 10 feet from IMG_6950Super Bowl superstars.   We kept poking each other and snapping pictures and smiling and cheering.  It's our second time going and we both are eager to return again. It was worth the long drive, the car sick baby, the traffic...  It was awesome to see players that we see on TV up close and personal.   It was fun to watch them joking around on the field with each other, to see them run drills, even watching them ride by in golf carts was a thrill (both Heinz Ward and Troy Polamalu rode right in front of us, literally 5 feet a way).  See what I mean by star struck? 

I know they are just people.  I know some of you may have no idea who any of these players are.  You might be rolling your eyes at my obsession asking why I care about a bunch of guys who get paid millions of dollars to throw a football and tackle each other.  To me it is more than a game.  IMG_7038 It's a bond I've had with my Dad for as long as I can remember.  It's a weekly date night with my hubby as we snuggle on the couch and watch the team play.  It's something to talk about that doesn't involve planning, house work, the kids... something entirely different.  And it is fun... really fun to watch them throw the Hail Mary pass down the field, to see them knock the ball right out of the guys hands, to watch them run it down the field for a touch down.

We're ready for some football!! 

I don't like heights.  Never have, but my trip to Mexico definitely didn't help.

When I was pregnant with my son I developed an irrational fear of driving.  I was driving over a bridge one day and felt light headed, which triggered a complete panic attack.  After that I had trouble driving the 5 miles to work each day.  My dear husband and sympathetic friends taxied me around for a few months.  Eventually I got over it, with the exception of that bridge.  Took several months before I'd drive over it again.  Eventually I got to the point where I could drive over the bridge, but 5 years later if there is any sign of traffic I'll drive 20 minutes out of my way to avoid sitting on the bridge.  Seems my fear of heights is couple with a bit of claustrophobia.  What I fear is being stuck on the bridge with no where to go.

The fear hasn't inhibited me too much.   I drive over the bridge several times a week.  I've even driven over the Bay Bridge (4.5 miles long) a few times.  Of course every time I have had my good friends praying for me and several times I have called a friend to chat with on my cell phone as I cross the bridge.  If I am not the one driving, I'm typically fine.

trafficThis was really put to the test last week.  One of my best friends was getting married on the Eastern Shore.   She called that morning to let us know there had been a fatal accident on the bridge and the east bound bridge was closed for the day.  We left 3.5 hours before the wedding.   We sat in this as it took 2 hours to go 10 miles.  I was literally sitting, not moving at all, at the apex of the bridge.   See the writing on the side of the bridge?  I took this picture to prove that we weren't moving At.All. Remember my fear?  Of heights?  Of bridges?  Of being stuck on bridges?  Here they all were in one big incident...stuck at the top of the bridge in the middle of the bay, not moving at all.

yup we are not moving at all

I am happy to say I didn't freak out.  I thanked my husband a million times for driving.  I am fairly certain I'd' have freaked out if I was .  I did get a little crazy when he took that top picture in his side mirror.  "Put your hands back on the wheel!  I'm freaking out here!"  (even though we weren't actually moving... I still for some reason spazzed just a few times)

But, we made it!  We were actually there 30 minutes before the wedding started and due to the historic accident, they postponed the wedding an additional 30 minutes to allow for more guests to arrive.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a truly fun reception.

I'm so thankful I didn't let my fears keep me from this special event.   Fear can do that, I know from first hand experience.  It can paralyze you.  I am so thankful that God has gotten me past that fear to the point that when I heard about the traffic, my first thought was, "how early do we have to leave", not "there is no way I can sit on that bridge".  God is so good!