Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stephanie's Birthday Challenge

Dear Friends and Family,
This year of 2012, I am turning 12! As you know from years past, I like to share my birthday with others. We have collected pencil bags for the past two years and sent them over to India and Nepal. Many children have been blessed and made to feel worth so much with just this small gift.
This year, I have a different idea. I want you to be a part of it! It could change people’s lives. It could change your life. It will even change mine!
Twelve is a great number. I want you to take the challenge of giving 12 random acts of kindness away. You could do one a month, you could do all of them in one day, I am just asking that you do 12! I also want you to send me emails or post on the Challenge Facebook page of your experiences. They can be little or big, whatever comes your way and offers a chance to be kind. I have a goal of 100 people all doing 12 acts each. That would make it 1200 random acts of kindness in our world.
Would you consider this? If so, please join me on the Challenge FB page or email me at so I know who is taking part in this Birthday Kindness Challenge.
Thank you all for supporting me in this. I love this tradition I have started with my birthdays, and I hope you all want to help me celebrate being 12!

The Countdown

Whew, it is a few days away from Christmas and then before you know it, we will be watching the ball drop! I figured there are a few fun times to be shared.

Thanksgiving. Not the greatest day, but it made us rethink a few ideas of what is important. Treasures is what I have in my two girls, and I will not allow anyone to rob, steal or destroy them. I will not toss them as pearls before swine, and I will guard their hearts in Christ Jesus.

The weekend after our day of eating turkey, we headed to Orlando for the southeast regionals in cheer leading. We stayed in a hoopie-doo hotel and had a blast. Steph spent the day with the team, Steve got to watch some serious football and Liv and I shopped around Orlando and had a date night of sushi!

They won 4th place in their division, that meant no Nationals, but we were okay with that!

December was knocking at our door, so I got it all out, and those sweet girls put it all up! Yep, they decorated the entire house and tree. I only did the outside! It looks great and I loved passing the mantle along to them! I bet I will get the clean up and pack up job though!

We were quickly into the season, because our church put on the Christmas play the first weekend of Dec. It was not your typical Christmas play, it was about the Black and White God, because of Him, we have color in our lives!

School wrapped up for the semester with both of the girls just out doing themselves. Stephanie's teachers have run out of ways to brag on her. Steph keeps finding ideas to blow their socks off with her projects and she is diligent about her grades! She got a jump start on her spring semester and could finish as soon as Feb. Olivia has fallen in love with Harry Potter and as we read the books as a family, she has a new love for reading. She has finished a few books on her own and I am so proud of her. Science is her favorite and even though she puts Math last on the list, she is doing great!

We had another surprise this month... we went to see the winner of So You Think You Can Dance from this season on TV. She is the sister of our Worship leader! We even went back stage and met all of the top ten! We have pics and great memories to prove it! What fun! And how amazing is Eliana Girard!

This fall the girls have been enjoying a new hobby with their Dad! They went to a Ray's baseball game and recently a BUC'S game! It is fun to let them go and build these special moments with their Dad! It makes me so happy to see there confidence, self-esteem and love grow because of their deep relationship with him. It is something I always wanted for them especially because of not having it myself growing up!

We have been busy with the countdown, it has included ice cream, cookies for the neighbors, buying someone's food in drive-thru, even making gingerbread houses a new way!

The Lord continues to bless us and keep us.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flat on my back and a list

I have not been sick very often in my days of motherhood, but last week, the flu got me! Yep, I still got up and halfway did life, but since my girls are older and able to make great decisions on their own, I could take the day off after lunch and rest. It was rough. It took about six days to feel like a human being again.

Some of the highlights of the week were:

1. Stormie escaped, but because the Lord cares for His own, I could not rest when the girls were gone to cheer practice, and I got up and searched for him. He finally came running around the corner of the house, looking like he had just had fun hiding in the weeds, being free.

2. Steve finished his 4th book, and it is published. It is a wonderful story. This is his first paid job, so it feels a little more real, but we are not giving up our Publix way of life, it is just a side job. Every little bit helps!

3. The weather has been amazing, I have been able to have the windows open for almost two weeks, and I am going to love that next electric bill.

4. The girls had a real life lesson in God's plan being bigger and better than anything we could imagine, because President Obama was elected to another term. We were able to discuss again our faith does not lie in the choices of man, but in the Creator of all men. We respect our leaders.

5. Steve took the girls on a double-feature drive in night. There are moments in my life when I can't even believe how blessed I am that my kids have him for a Dad. He is amazing. He might not do it like other Fathers, but he does it right.

6. Stephanie has officially finished her first semester of middle school. She aced it with straight A's. She is still enjoying FLVS, and loves her teachers.

7. We are finishing up book 2 of Harry Potter, and we are fans. Olivia was actually Harry Potter for Halloween. I have researched the story and after much thoughtfulness, we can see a correlation between Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort and the struggle of life as we know it; just as C.S.Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory to Christ and his redemptive story.

8. I love the ideas I get from Pinterest.

9. The holidays are right around the corner, and we are excited about spending time with family and friends, and especially Steve who is taking some time off of work to hang out with us and do some running around Florida!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Place!

Here are two videos from the girls' Pop Warner cheerleading competition in Brooksville, FL. Stephanie's team (Jr. Midget) and Olivia's team (Jr. Pee Wee) both won first place in their division!  Stephanie's team is going on to the Southeast Regional cheer competition in Orlando on Thanksgiving weekend.  We are so proud of both of them!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roy Tuttle, my Grandfather

Today I am feeling nostalgic over my grandfather. He is 93 and had some big changes in this 94th year that he has lived since June. He wrote a book and had it published. It has all of his adventures and stories wrapped up in the pages and there are even a few pages of pictures, and I am so proud of the book.

He has been my one constant male figure in my life.

 He has been bald for as long as I can remember. In the past few years he has even had me trim the few scragglers that sprout! My girls ask me why I say "he's so cute" often times once we have dropped him off, and all I can say is "well, he is!" He has shrunk a few inches over time, and he tells me that he is "Just tired." lately. He has had to have me start to accompany him to the doctor so that information gets relayed correctly. He finally gave up his truck back in June because he had had some fainting spells. He blessed Stephanie and Olivia with the money from the sale of the truck for their braces, and he takes the bus to Walmart for shopping and we pick him up weekly for church. Big changes.

Most days he likes his scheduled events. Ping Pong, water volleyball, yoga, but some days just the long walk down his hallway and down the elevators is too much. He has always been a man who liked a plan. When I moved in with them as a young teen, I knew it was a weekly trip to town, besides church! Meals were always on time and so was bedtime!

He likes telling stories, but always waits to be asked. He is a great listener and is very compassionate, but not like one nowadays would think. He is a survivor of The Great Depression, World War II, and believes in hard work. Handouts do not come often, and even allowance was earned through hard work. I got a job if I wanted a car or anything extra, but I was taken care of.

He has been an example of hard work, great plans, future dreams,and overcoming heartache, disappointment, but filled with endurance and prosperity. I remember when we built on a second story to the house when Todd and I moved in after my mother's death. He could have required more of us, but I think he wanted us to be kids even in our grief. He had traveled thousands of miles in his life in his adventures, and I think some of that was passed down to me! He has had dreams. Homesteading in Alaska, providing for his family so they were never in want, living in the Bahamas and finally settling in Florida. He lost his daughter when she was a young mother of four in her early thirties and became a "father" to two teenagers in his sixties. He has lost big investments in the financial world but has always overcome. And in the past six  years since my grandmother's passing I have gotten to see a man who understands the value of outwardly serving God. He had for all my life quietly served Him via my grandmother's efforts and passion.

I love him. I often wonder what life will be without him. He is that rock that is a comfort in the storms of life. He loves and is so proud of having Steve as a grandson-in-law and he adores his greatgrands, Stephanie and Olivia to his core. He is not a perfect man, but who is? He is a brother to ten others, most gone already, but is still proud to be a sibling tosuch honorable people.

When I read Psalm 139:1-18 I imagine my dear grandfather reading it and finding such peace in his life, just as King David did..."all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Monday

House is decorated for Fall. Olivia and I love to decorate. Steph helps if there is a craft to do, so I try to cover both bases. Stormie (apparently thinks he is the other child) is not a fan of the changes. He has tipped over both arrangements and tries to swipe off the window clings or the banner hanging in the windows. We now have a spray bottle that helps with the command of "NO!"

The menu is planned for two weeks, laundry is getting done, girls are in charge of the floors today getting swept or vaccumed, and toilets and dishes are still on the agenda. This is lunch break and I have visions of bon-bons and TV for the remaining of my week after today. Let a girl dream. I know better, but I am going to pretend. I might even get a pedicure. aahhh.

Olivia cheered her last game on Saturday, and now has her eyes set on competition at the end of October. She has loved it and excited to start at a local gym to continue her training. She is really good. She was the best cart wheeler of her squad and it is so nice to see her confidence grow.

I will let  you know how the bon-bon session works out. Have a good week!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Fall

Today is the first Monday in October. Time for cooler weather (not here!) and beautiful decorations (done! Thanks Olivia) and pots of soup, with windows open (new screen door because of Stormie!) and lots of football!

Before I know it, 2012 will be coming to an end and I will look back at this year's blog and wonder what we did since I have been so irresponsible with it, but on the other hand, I will realize how busy we have been.

I printed a verse today for Stephanie, it was Psalm 139:16... it made me think of her when I read it.

 "All the days ordained to me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." 

She loved it. I had printed it on fancy paper a friend had given to the girls, and it just seemed to fit since we have been wandering into new territory of pre-teen world. Her "confident leader" self has taken a back seat to a "go with the crowd" temperament, I am pretty sure she is just trying this out. Many days she leaves me in awe at her talents and kindness, and so when I asked her if she wanted to hang this verse in her room, she beamed and said,"Yes!"

 It made those wheels of hers start churning... that is who she is... always. Contemplative. Reasoning. Thinking about her days being ordained. Now not every choice is right, but every choice is hers. I do love her determination.
I am reading two books right now, Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline. I read this when they were toddlers, but I have reopened it and am finding new ideas for these growing girls. I also am reading Five Conversations to have with your daughter, by Vicki Courtney. I love them both. Good good stuff.  Hard stuff, but necessary insight and wisdom.

Since Olivia seemed to be born with an aware sense of image, fashion and with-it-ness, I look for ways to prove to her that she is perfect just the way she is. I love that God gave me a brown-eyed girl after my blue one, it reminds me just how different they are. I remember Olivia asking me when she was so very young if I would love her even if she was ugly. Oh, I knew then this one was wired in a way that would take serious prayer,quality time, encouragement and keeping my cool! I remind her often of my love for her. I find ways to affirm her and plant seeds of confidence. I printed her a verse today reminding her of a dear and sought after quality. 

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

She loved it. Lit up the room in fact. She is a compassionate and tender-hearted girl. Words her hurt and sometimes she hurts with words, she knows their power. Recently she and I had many chances in a day to have heart talks and that day ended with her on my bed, crying and wondering how I grew up without a mother and yet I had learned how to be such a good one. 

All I could say was God's plans are greater than we can even imagine. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Go team go!

Pop Warner South Sumter Wolfpack is now in our house. The girls are offical cheerleaders and having a blast. There is always some stomping, clapping, chant or cheer happening around here. For a few weeks, the cheers were running nonstop in my head even when I was alone! erk! The girls are really good at it, and tenacious with their efforts.

 Jr. Pee Wees
 Jr. Midgets

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Big Changes

Stephanie and Olivia have started a new year of school.

Olivia was bound and determined to go to public school this year because a few of our closest friends had made that decision. She told me things like, "You are holding me back", "You give me good grades and I do not deserve them, I need a taste of the real world", "I can get up that early and go to bed early, I promise."... after a heart to heart, I found that she really was just sad about losing her quality time with her besties. She also had convinced herself that she needed all the extra work that comes in a regular classroom of test taking hints and practices, because she just knew she would fail if she sat down to the FCAT. So, of course as most of you know, we had us some serious laying on the bed counseling time. We both shared our hearts and shed a few tears and then we went and bought school clothes, school supplies ( the glittery notebooks and neon gel pins) and made our plans for 4th grade! She is blazing through her subjects. She has grown leaps and bounds in her confidence. Math is her favorite, she loves having a teaching session on the computer and writing her work, compared to a worksheet! Reading has been a burr in her saddle... always in the shadow of her sister the "book-devourer"... but I think she found her place. She was given a goal of three books and within two weeks she has completed them! She is begging me to take her to the library later today! She is sure happy to still be at home, and she knows we always have her best in mind.

Stephanie has been thrilled since she knew she was going to participate in Florida Virtual School this year. She was willing to make the change from it being all of my assignments to being under the care of someone else. Because of completing two years of fifth grade to get her into her age appropriate grade, she had gotten bored and a little lazy in her work. She was still an A student, but tired of the "way" we did school. Now, after two weeks of online school, she has gotten used to the system and is even more proud of her A's. She spent quite a bit of time in the world of Fantasy with the Rick Riordain series this summer, so she was ready for some realistic fiction... so much so that she lost her Kindle after sneaking under the covers until almost midnight the other night reading. Yes, that was a hard punishment to give out, but she is a sleeper-inner... and that was not helping. I think her other favorite of school is her new devotional which includes a craft with each week! She is serious about her crafts!

Tonight piano lessons resume and then in September we will be adding a few other things to our school calendar on a weekly basis... How blessed we are to have this life.

The other big change going on around here is Cheerleading for Pop Warner. Their group is called Wolfpack. Many evenings a week they are out learning chants, cheers, jumps and even dances. They have their uniform and this Saturday is their first game. They are in different squads, so that is double games on Saturday. They are so cute flipping around the house, pushing back the couch day after day to have room to practice. It is so nice to see them loving it! Thanks Grandparents and Grandmama for helping out with that expense!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God girls

It has been a busy summer full of fun and adventure. Here are quite a few pictures of 2012. This is one of the girls favorite singers, Jamie Grace, from album One song at a time, track 6, God girl. Times and memories are not few with friends and family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day

Today I found myself realizing I had not thought of my own mother on Mother's Day, and I immediately was ill with myself. I conjured up ideas of my future of when my girls might forget me....and then gently, I realized that with my mother having been gone for 33 years and my maternal grandmother gone for 6 years, I hold the torch high in their honor daily.

 My brother texted me and complemented me on my parenting, but still gave top ranks to our own mother... memories are very strong. Sometimes, we strengthen them with hope and a skewed perception of "how we remember it". My girls are already doing this with their own childhood. I hear them tell stories and I think, "where was I?" I have no memory of that.

I look around at so many friends and family and think how large this task is of being a mother. I am knee deep in it and there are days I am sure my two would order a new one if it were possible. But, we are stuck with each other. It is a good thing. That glimpse in the rear view mirror that speaks louder than any spoken sound. That begging many nights after teeth are brushed to just snuggle for a few minutes... the disciplining and discipling that go with this title... I just keep going, hoping that my efforts are blessed and multiplied.

Flowers, good food, a nap, presents and a day on the calendar to promote this love, it is cherished and I am grateful. And today's gifts of an organized plastic ware cabinet, a math paper finished without a whine, towels folded, a laugh that echoed through the house and girlish that is a mother's day!

Monday, April 30, 2012

No April showers, but ....

There was plenty of other events to keep us busy during the month. 
Olivia turned 9. We celebrated our sweet young lady. She is such a joy to have in our family. She has talents that are growing and increasing. She is a great ball player and a huge help to me around the house. She is finishing third grade with good grades and looking forward to a summer in the pool! I love how she is sensitive to the Lord's leading and will speak up when she feels injustice. Her fashion sense keeps all of us on our toes too! 

 With friends at the Springs and Uncle Aaron the great watermelon slicer!
 Easter morning was celebrated around here with candy, but it did not over shadow the truth of our Lord's resurrection.
 Beautiful girls, inside and out!
 Our annual pic with Grandpa. He is soon to be 93 and we love to catch him on the holidays for a picture. Plus the girls like to see how they are catching up to him in height!
 Celebrating Olivia's birthday at the park with friends from Co-op.
 She had her best plays on short stop this year. She is quite the serious player!
 Our lefty must make the pitchers a little nervous, because most of her times up to bat she gets walked.
 This is Stormie. He joined our family this month. He is a wild man in the evenings . He thinks if I am in the kitchen he needs a treat. He loves to  play with the girls, and loves to hide in Stephanie's bedroom!
 This girl never stops reading. She has a book usually within a short distance of her. This was during her sister's game.
 Stephanie plays right or center most of the time. She can bat either right or left handed, but I think she likes to cheer in the dugout the best!
 This girl has a stance that means business and can hit a ball with some gusto!
 The girls had friends over recently and they had an OBLECK war. It is still on the back porch floor!
 The kids worship band lead in the adult service the other day. Out of the mud was the song and both the girls have great voices. It was nice to have Dad on the guitar too!
 Our last field trip was to DeLeon Springs near Deland. The kids got in the cold water, but not me! Oh no ma'am!
 These girls are growing up into beauties. Boys beware!
We have had the chance to have Finn, my nephew over a few times this month. He is hilarious and is a stinker!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Olivia's narrative writing

(Spelling and Grammar were left as she wrote it)

The week that changed my life
They were terribly mad. People were so angry. Nicademus said anyone that claimed he was the Son of God would be crucifyed! I was at the olive garden when Roman soldgers came. They shoved me out of the way to get to a man named Jesus. He was on his kness talking in this launge I did not understand. I watched the soldgers take the poor man away. When they took him I followed them. I grabed my donkey and casually followed them.
We walked into Jerusalum. My mother took me up on a mountain in Jerusalem. It is called Golgath. It makes me feel like this man is going to get crucifyed. I thought maybe this man in not inasinte (innocent). I went back home and woke up at the crack of done and went back to the top of Golgatha. There was screming and crying……
It was Jesus. He had shed his blood. He was wearing a crown of thorns, crying. He said I love all of you. I am dieing for you, he said in a weak voice. In that moment I started to weap and said I love you. I believe in you and thank you for dieing for me.
That’s not the end of the story for a nine year old girl in Jeruslem. Three days later I was there with Mary when the angel came and said Jesus is alive! It hit me. JESUS IS ALIVE! I said it again in a rejoycing voice.

By Olivia Porvaznik

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Swimming with Mana & Tease

Steve used his first vacation day of the year cashing in on our vouchers we bought back in December as a family Christmas gift. It was to go swimming with the manatees out on Crystal River. We went way back in 2006 as a school group, but Steve missed it. So, we went out in search again for the manatees...we were worried since it was such a warm winter. The girls put on their wetsuits and we all got settled on the pontoon boat (which I loved) and off we went, our captain was a hoot too!

After an hour, this is all we saw except a turtle or two and hundreds of birds. We were getting hot and a little more worried.... but we were making the best of it. This gator is really only about 3ft. long.

From that point on though, Olivia was our watchman for critters. Steph sat on the front of the boat, eyes peeled.

Time was running out, and so we stopped at a water hole and everyone got in the cold spring fed water. We saw a huge snook and after a while we loaded up and headed back.... then right around the corner, literally...

...this is who showed up. Mana and Tease...yep, that is what we named them. They swam for a while, looking for a channel to go down and settle for an afternoon snack.

Once the boat stopped and everyone got their gear, it was swimming time. It was AMAZING! They were so sweet and huge. Everyone got to touch/pet her. The girls loved it! So did Steve.

Steve was the last one to get out of the water. Another one of the reasons our captain was so great is that our tour went an hour over, just so we could get to have this memory. Super great. We used Native Vacations as our tour guides. Check them out...super reasonable if you buy the tours through Groupon!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fossiling on Peace River

Three mommas, six kids (14-7) and a slow moving, low river equals a day of exploring. We went south about an hour out of Lakeland, and found a spot along the Peace River. We got out with all of our gear which included colanders! Yep...they are great for washing away the sediment and leaving fossil behind. "We" is going to be used to explain our days events, but I was not a part of the "we". Because if you look in the first picture right above the head of the boy with the black shirt on, it is a very large gator slide. I was gator patrol for the day. And I oohhed and ahhed at the sharks teeth found, little as they were. It was still cool that in the middle of Florida, in fresh water, you can find sharks teeth. Yeah, it is pretty crazy! We found stingray teeth too. What a great day, and we saw NO gators!

I was watching for eyes popping up out of the algae and grass!

This was just three of the many we recovered.

Olivia had a hard time since she slid down moments after arriving and sprained her wrist. It was pretty painful. For everyone.

This was the mud spot choice of the day.

I loved all the Cypress trees that lined the river.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More friends and water!

Faith and her kids were here for a few days and we had to hit the beach...and a few other places. This was part two of spring break. We went over to Pine Island and even a cloudy day ended up great. We saw critters... horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, and birds! When I told Olivia that the creature she was holding was a distant relative to the roach, she gagged! ha!

Watching the tide come in was an amazing sight.... the wonders of His great hand!

What an optical illusion. Stephanie looks ten feet tall!

This was her sand art!

Time with friends and hay!

Last days of winter of 2012... sunny and hot! Windy too! Alma and Chloe were here from NC and so we made our spring break stretch over a longer period of time and mixed in a few days of school...we are winding down anyway, so we called it a day of PE! HA! Seriously, the kids went and jumped hay bales for hours. I know, that is real close to serious redneck fun and even hillbilly entertainment to some...but they loved it. I became especially exciting when they all(7) piled up on the golf cart with Olivia driving (what?...yes, that is my response too!) and they ran into the dumpster on the nursery property! It bent the steel bar across the front that protects the engine area ... and apparently turned the dumpster a full 90 degrees. She lost her license. No one was hurt. We were picking splinters out of shins and hands, elbows and feet for days! But it was so much fun!

Good family fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's play ball!

Our family has joined the ranks of Spring Ball. Softball and all the fixings fill our trunk, fill up our calendar and fill up our competitive sports tanks! The girls play on separate teams because of their ages. Olivia's team is called "Wildwood Auto Repair and Wrecker Service"... this is a mouthful when one is trying to cheer, so we just yell, "GO BLUE!" or their number! Olivia can crack a good one when she puts her muscle behind it, and she can get around those bases!

Stephanie is the shortest and youngest on her team. That alone is new territory for us. She likes playing, but finds the others a little intimidating. She has surprised the coach and made it home both times she's been on base. Figuring out what the coach is yelling is half the battle! It is fast pitch...which usually means it is all over the place! It is going to be a good season!

Serious practice before the game with her Dad.

Well, not the shortest, but the newest out of all these girls.

Olivia on the other hand is the oldest and most experienced with one season of baseball from the fall... lots of errors, strikes and overthrows will be observed this season...but lots of cheering too!