Saturday, June 14, 2014

What's This? A New Blog Post?!?

Well, hello there.  It's been a while.  Months to be exact.  Moving to the middle of nowhere the country has kind of done a number on me.  But, I've been thinking about this blog a lot lately.  I've missed it.  I have lots of stuff to share with you.  However, I think I'll ease back in with something easy today.

How's summer going?  This summer is a lot different for us than most.  Usually, summer for us means swimming, bowling, $1 movies at the local theater, and lots and lots of sleep overs with friends.  But, this summer, we're far away from all of our friends and usual hang outs.  So, we were exactly 8 hours into summer vacation when the kids started in with, "I'm bored!"  Anyone else??  And, I've had about all I can take of the television and video games.  I can almost hear it eating away at our brains.

So, I have started coming up with weekly challenges for the kids to complete.  What I love about this is they think they are just having fun.  But, in reality, they are reading, writing, measuring, analyzing, comparing...and all those other fancy things that teachers like Mark and I just love.  (Heaven help our poor kids that have not 1, but 2 teachers as parents!).

The first challenge was a bubble challenge, and it was really my kids' idea.  They were in the kitchen one day trying to make their own bubble solution.  They spent a couple of hours making a huge mess working on it.  So, I came up with this challenge for them to do.  And, I'm going to share it with you here.  Consider it a gift for still reading this blog after my little hiatus.  I hope you enjoy it.  I would love, love, love it if you would comment on how your kids like it...posting pictures would be even better.

So, if you'd like to check it out, click here to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and download it for free.

Hopefully, I'll have more challenges like this through the summer.  My kids have loved this one and want to do more.
Here are some pictures of the giant bubbles we made during our Summer Bubble Challenge.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A McAlister Family Update---In Pictures

 We are settling into life in the woods.  We are still homesick, but we are finding places for all of our stuff and finding our way around in the woods.  We started school as soon as we got here.  I wanted the kids to have something to do every day; especially since we don't know anyone yet. There's no one for the kids to play with besides me, so they needed something to do.  Here are a few pictures of our adventures so far.

Ella--first day of Kindergarten
Aidan---first day of 5th grade

Ella works on reviewing her letters

Aidan working on geography

Apparently, geography is funny
Homeschool PE---ride your bike down the hill to the pond
Recess when it's 102 degrees with 80% Humidity
Life Hack---If your dog ruins your slip and slide...just pour water on it with a pitcher
Making the Letter S with salt dough and cookie cutters
Or, as it is otherwise known...making a huge mess

Making a Salt Dough Map

Anna Loves the Porch Swing

Went inside to get a drink...came back out and found these 2 knuckleheads on the swing

She covered herself with a was 96 degrees

Aidan practicing on the piano---he's doing great.  I love that he's excited to learn :)

So---this, along with unpacking/cleaning/organizing is what we've been up to.  And now, my mother can stop calling and asking me when I'm going to take some pictures.  :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Three Things About Apathy

Apathy is:
*the absence of passion
*void of emotion

Apathy tells us:
*it doesn't matter
*someone else will do it
*it's not your concern
*out of sight, out of mind
*you can't help

Apathy allows:
*22,000 children under the age of 5 to die from preventable causes
*people to go uncared for, unloved, and unseen
*children to be orphans
*mothers to watch their babies suffer, unable to do anything to help them
*darkness to take hold

Will you allow apathy towards those in poverty to continue?  Or will you fight back?  Will you ignite a passion for those less fortunate?  Or will we continue to sit in our air conditioned homes, watching our cable TV, while playing on our smart phones and drinking our gourmet coffee while poverty takes the hopes and the dreams and the lives of children all over the world.  Have you thought about that?  We are watching television while children are dying.  How can we rest?  What can we do?  For $38 a month you can help one of these children.  For $38 a month you can provide them with medical care, schooling, food, hygiene training.  You can break the cycle of poverty for their family.  $38 a month!  I bet you waste that easily...I know we do.  What is it worth to save someone's life?  What would you give up?  Will you sponsor a child? 

Friday, September 6, 2013

God's Economy

I went to my grandmother's house today for the first time since she moved to a nursing home.  It was so weird to pull up there and know she wasn't there.  As soon as I rounded the curve and saw her mailbox I got a little choked up.  As I walked up to the front door, tears stung my was locked.  If she was there, it would have been open, and I would be able to see her through the screen, because she would be waiting for me.  We were looking through some of her things, reminiscing, and it was such an odd feeling.  These were her things, her jewelry, her pictures, her decorations...things she loved and chose for herself.  And now they sit. It reminded me of when my other grandmother was sick.  She was going to move in with us, so we had a garage sale to sell a lot of her stuff.  She made several hundred dollars.  I remember the sadness in her eyes as she counted up the total at the end of the sale.  "This is all my life's belongings are worth?" she said.  It was a sad realization, and one that stuck with I remembered again today.

We spend so much time and money on "stuff." We work crazy hours...hours spent away from our buy stuff.  And then we work more to pay for the insurance to protect our stuff.  And then we get bigger stuff.  It consumes so much of our life...our time, our energy.  But in the end that stuff is either going to the dump, or getting sold off in a garage sale.  Sure, some things may be handed down to family...but most of it is trash or someone else's second hand treasure.  It's meaningless.

In our culture, we value hard work and striving to be the best.  I value those things too, but lately, I feel like we're all being duped.  We're spending our lives climbing ladders and accumulating stuff.  For what?  Has the American Dream been a smoke screen all along to cause us to waste our lives in meaningless pursuits?  It's not making us happy.  It's not making us healthy.  It's making us slaves...slaves to our stuff.

September is Blog Month for Compassion.  I love to use my little piece of cyber space to hopefully promote a little change.  Our first assignment for blog month is to write what we would say to our childhood self.  I've been thinking long and hard about it this week.  What is the one thing I would say to my childhood self---or to my children---or to my sponsored child?  If they were going to hear one thing, what would I want it to be?  After today, I think it would be this:

The only things that will truly last are the things you do for Eternity's sake.

Everything else is temporary and today and gone tomorrow.  What matters is not what you deposit in your bank account but what you deposit into the hearts of others.  Spend yourself in loving others.  Wear yourself out loving others.  Love God with all you have.  Expend every ounce of energy loving your family and those around you.  I know you have to work; we all have to eat, and hard work is a good thing.  But work as if you're working for the Lord.  Moms, love on your children like their very souls depend on it.  Make your laundry and the dishes a sacrifice of love for them.  Show love, live grace, forgive radically, love people.  Everything else is just a distraction.  Then you will be rich...not just in this life, but for all of eternity.  Work with unwavering focus at loving people.  The house, the cars, television, smart phones---all secondary.  They should all be tools that you use to love people better.  It's okay to have these things, as long as they are dedicated to the purpose of loving people.  Then, you will get to the end of your life, and the stuff won't matter, because you will be leaving a legacy of love and changed hearts, and healing and grace...which is so much more valuable than a few hundred dollars worth of stuff.

If this is resonating with you at all, can I encourage you to do one small thing to shift your focus from "stuff" to "people?"  Sponsor a child through Compassion.  What I love about this, is not only do you send money that pays for a child's food, schooling, medication, and other necessities, you write letters and build relationships with these children.  You encourage them to do well in school, to take care of themselves, to come to a personal relationship with Christ.  It is amazing what so few American dollars can do for these precious children in poverty.  Not only will you be affecting eternity for the child that you sponsor, but you and your family will be changed as well.  That's God's economy.  You invest a little and he pays outrageous dividends.  I never thought I could love a child half way across the world that I've never met.  But I do.  I love him as part of our own family.  He is constantly in my thoughts and prayers. Sponsoring one child is not going to change the world...but it can change one child's world.  And in so doing, you'll be surprised how it will change yours too.  
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"
Matthew 16:24-26

Join Me for Blog Month

Monday, September 2, 2013

We've Moved...

...we managed to get everything moved this weekend.  Now, the unpacking starts.  It is overwhelming to say the least.  Aidan is doing well with it all, surprisingly.  I thought it would be the hardest on him since he is the oldest.  I think sometimes he's just acting tough because he knows I'm sad.  Ella keeps asking about home and when we're going back.  That's hard.
I don't have the words to process it all right I'll just leave you with this.  Enjoy.  :)

SpongeBob SquarePants: "Texas Music Video"
Get More: SpongeBob SquarePants Episodes,SpongeBob SquarePants,SpongeBob SquarePants Games

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Things I've Heard (And Seen) Lately...the Moving Edition

So, things have been really crazy around here lately.  But, there have been some very funny moments.  Here are some of my favorites related to a move.

Mark: (trying to explain stepping out on faith to Aidan)  It's like stepping off a cliff and knowing that God is going to catch you (or something along these lines...I can't remember the exact analogy, but it was about a cliff).
Aidan:  Why don't you just turn around and walk away from the cliff?  (duh)

Mark:  So what do you think about moving?
Aidan:  Well, part of me thinks it could be really bad.  And, the other part of me agrees with the first part.

Aidan:  (while driving through a small town near where we are going to live)  Wow, this town is what they call a "fixer-upper."

This one has nothing to do with moving, but is still funny:
Ella:  Are the Veggie Tales real?
Me:  No, it's a cartoon.
Ella:  Well, who's singing then?
Me:  It's just people pretending to be vegetables.
Ella:  That's really weird.

We've had many misadventures while trying to rent our house.  And they all seem to involve the restroom.

For starters, we had potential renters show up an hour early!  I should have told them to come back, but we really want to get our house rented, so I said it was fine.  I had 6 kids here and we had just gotten back from swimming, so it was a little hectic.  I rushed all the kids to the car so we could get out of here quickly.  In doing this, I forgot Anna's diaper bag.  When we got to our friends house, she was in desperate need of a diaper.  "What's the worst that could happen?" someone said.  I took her soaking wet diaper off, wrapped her in a towel and headed home...surely she could make it home without incident, right?  Wrong.  She pooped.  And it was the worst poo you can imagine...of all the times to have diarrhea.  Seriously.  All over her, all over the car seat...but surprisingly very little on the towel.  You're welcome for that visual.

When we got home, the Realtor had locked our new kittens (that's a whole other story) out of the bathroom where their litter box was.  So, guess what I got to clean up.  More poop.

So, I decided to take the kittens to Arkansas so Mark could take care of them for a bit.  While we were gone, we had a showing and the Realtor let our outside cat in the house...and left her in...all weekend.  With no litter box, food or water.  So, guess what I got to clean up?  I'm really glad she was okay.  I'm not sure how much longer she could have made it without water.  :(

And one final incident...we were getting ready for a showing this week.  I noticed that the kids had left some clothes on the bathroom floor, so I asked them to put them in the hamper.  When I walked by again, they were gone.  So, naturally, I assumed the kids had picked them up.  When we got home that afternoon, I went into the kids' bathroom and guess what I found in the toilet.  Yep, the kids' clothes, a couple of diapers and 3 bath toys.  Have I mentioned that Anna has developed a fascination with toilets lately?  I hope the potential renters enjoyed that little spectacle.  And I hope the big kids learn to pick up their clothes when asked...or else they're going in the potty.

So that's been our life lately...2 more days and NO MORE showings to get ready for...alone...with 3 kids and a half dozen pets.  Hopefully, I can make it.

And one more funny thing...would you care to guess what both Aidan and Ella have been worried about lately?  Leaving friends?  Leaving church?  Leaving family...yes, but the main worry they've been talking about the last few days?  They are worried that Santa won't be able to find them in the woods.  It IS in the middle of nowhere...and there are lots of trees.  We'll have to get a spot light for Santa.

Have a good LONG weekend...and if you don't have anything to do, I know some people that could use help moving.  :)

Ella fishing in the pond

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Wow, much has happened since I last updated here.  For starters, the thing that has been consuming my life this summer is we are moving.  Ugh.  I think I've hesitated to put that into writing...I haven't even made it Facebook official yet.  It seems so real to write it down.  We are moving in 4 days.  I guess there's not much avoiding it any longer.  Everything I own is packed into boxes and I'm sitting in an almost empty house.  We're really moving.

Another reason I've hesitated to write this here, is that it's not really an exciting move for me.  Mark has taken a job that he loves.  I am excited for him.  But I am also sad.  Sad to be leaving whole family lives here--parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  I LOVE living close to my family.  I love the kids being close to my family. I love that my kids can play and have sleep overs with their cousins.  I love that we get to have lunch with my grandparents a couple of times a month.

 I'm also sad to be leaving friends that feel like family.  I have been seriously blessed by some amazing friendships here.  I don't know how people, especially stay-at-home mom type people, make it without friends. And we've been through a lot together...I was thinking the other day that our little life group at church has really been through it.  We've had members that have had miscarriages, lost children, lost spouses, lost jobs, been through divorce, struggled with their faith.  And we've shared the joys of new babies, healing, new jobs, and on and on...I've created some precious bonds with the people here.

I'm sad to leave my home.  I love this house.  It's not the greatest house; it's not special in anyway.  But, we have lots of memories here.  We've put lots of work into making this house our home, and I will miss it.  I will miss museums and the zoo.  We have museum and zoo memberships and we go several times a month.  We are taking a lot of special memories with us when we go.  I'm sad to leave all of my "stuff."  We will be staying in Mark's parents' house, at least for a while, so most of my stuff will go to storage.  I know it's silly to be attached to stuff, but I am.  It makes me feel at home.  Plus, I really like to decorate and make things just the way I like them, so it will be a challenge.

So, on Saturday, we will be packing up and leaving to move to the woods.  Seriously.  The woods...30 minutes from a grocery store.  Not another house in sight.  I love being in the woods...the smell, the peace and quiet, the solitude...but living there?  I feel a little claustrophobic just thinking about it.  Y'all pray for me.   And pray for our kids.  They are sad.  Watching them leave the family and friends that they love is even harder than my own leaving.

So, please keep us in your thoughts on Saturday.  It is bittersweet.  Mark has been gone since the end of July.  So, I've been here...keeping the house clean for showing with potential renters, packing, and caring for our 3 kids by myself for the better part of a month and I am tired.  So, for that reason, I am anxious for Saturday to get here.  But, Saturday is when I have to doesn't seem real yet.  Pray that we make friends quickly and settle in easily.  Pray that we find a church that we love quickly.  Pray that I am able to feel at home and relax.  Pray that someone rents our house pronto!

Sorry for the bummer of a blog update...but that's where I am now.  Now that all the sad is out can anticipate all the good with friendships, new experiences, etc.

To end on a happy note, some pictures of where we're moving.  It really is pretty.
The Cabin that is on the property

The View from the back porch