Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Exciting News!!!!

Jason and I are humbled, excited, blessed, and expectant!!!! We have been praying for years for this and are so thankful to have been a part of the launch team.
 If you don't already have a church home and you live in the Pontiac area, check out what's coming to Pontiac Township High School Auditorium starting Sunday morning, Dec 16th, 11am...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MonkeyStory #605:

 In the van today the kids are all singing Away in a Manger at the top of their lungs and we have the music cranked up. All of a sudden Ellie yells: "Gabe look! is that a dead deer on the side of the road?!?!!?" Gabe doesn't miss a beat: "Nope Ellie! It's a dead donkey!" and keeps on singing...... :) made my day! love these kiddos :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Healing for Depression

A wise doctor once said,
"The best healing medicine for depression is this: Get up, get out of your house, and go serve other people. Stop focusing on yourself and just go help, do something for them, and love on others. Watch and see what happens.
The end result will be amazing."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The More I Seek You

The more i seek you,
the more i find you.

The more i find you,
the more I love you

I wanna sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath,
hear your heart beat

This love is so deep,
it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming

Saturday, November 24, 2012

All that is...

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, November 23, 2012

Life Decisions

Tonite {after the kids had all been tucked in} I was laying with Gabe and helping him read on all his school word posters on his wall.
It wasn't long before the girls snuck in and Ellie informed me that I needed to come to their room next and "do school" with them. I informed her very kindly that is was getting late and I would gladly do school with her tomorrow. She argued with me that it wasn't fair he got to do school at bedtime if the girls couldn't. I told her very firmly that was enough aruging and to go back to bed. Her bottom lip came out, she crossed her arms, starting stomping out of the room, stopped at the door, looked back at me and stated, "Well, I'm not happy with your decision Mommy!!" And left me with my mouth hanging open. I really don't feel very prepared for this "girl stuff"....growing up with 4 brothers on a farm was so very different than all this "pink princess barbie tea party-ish" shenanigans. We just might have to relocate the monkies and move to the country.....and gets some cows and pigs. Or send her on a hunting trip with Uncle Jake!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

MonkeyStory #604

After an amazing day of 2 family get togethers, lotsa great memories, and way too much food....I laid down with the girls per Ellie's request. We get all snuggled in..the girls on either side of me. Aubrie chatters away non stop like a jabberbox.....Ellie whispers in my ear: "Mommy she's a crazy girl!"
Aubrie instantly stops chattering, gets big eyes and whispers in my other ear: "Mommy Ellie is a crazy girl!!!" soon, it is a game. "Aubrie's a crazy girl!" "Ellie's a crazy girl." They finally start drifting off and coming down off their sugar high. I start drifting off as well but soon hear Ellie's tired voice: "Mommy? Can you leave now?? You are too big for my bed and you take up too much room and are taking all my covers." I turn to her and exclaim: "Hey little lady! You invited me to your sleepover party!" Ellie says indignantly with her bossypants voice" this was not a sleepover Mommy! I did not ask you to sleep on my floor with a sleepingbag. I asked you to lay with me!" Well fine then....I'll just go cuddle with PapaMonkey and have a couple more pumpkin muffins with my Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate caramel Bailey's hot toddy. We have some Bones to watch anyhows....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tonite's Checklist

7 piano lessons-check....
10 extra monkies running around our house playing today-check...
PapaMonkey sent off to band practice-check....
monkies fed a full course meal-check....
1 pasta salad made for tomorrow-check....
2 beer breads baking now-check....
Tastefully Simple Spinach dip made-check...
monkies sat down watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving-check...
line-up going in the oven now...
: pumpkin bread/pumpkin muffins/blueberry cobbler/cinnamon bread
Lonestar Christmas tunes cranked...check
Excited for 2 Thanksgiving get togethers tomorrow/1 get together friday/relaxing saturday/Elevate Church and launch team Thanksgiving on Sunday-check
getting ready to make craft turkies with monkies-check
Feeling super blessed tonite-check check check check :)

The Gospel

"The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.
This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling.
I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone.
I do not think more of myself nor less of myself.
Instead, I think of myself less."
- Tim Keller

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MonkeyStory #603

Heading to town with the kids today to Serendipity. Gabe says from the back seat: "Why we gotta go to this Serendumpily place !?!?!?"

BabyMonkey gets in between sobs......she exclaims: "I call MeeMee!!!!" (my mom) too precious :)

BabyMonkey gets in the way of the mob leaving the basketball game tonite at the club. Somehow she falls down and starts sobbing while a guy apologizes profusely (and ran into him later at the grocery store and he still felt awful) and says in between sobs very loudly: "THAT GUY GOT MY BOOT!!!"

Ellie informed me also today that her teeth were "waked up" today. (they had cavities filled on Monday)

I finally got some new comfy shoes for winter after wearing my cowboy boots consistantly on the colder days. Gabe looks at my feet with outright disgust, huge eyes, a horrified look on his face and says: "WHAAAAAT ARE YOU WEARING MOM???" I think it's safe to say he's a countryboy :)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Muddy Shoes

The truth the end of the day when it's all said and done...I don't necessarily like them all. I do however find, the older I get, I realize, I love a little bit quicker.

 I look at their shoes and try to visualize what muddy roads they have walked and why they are where they are today. I find if I stop talking more and just listen to what their hearts are saying...or trying to say...that everyone has a story.

We don't always have pretty stories...sometimes our stories are very ,very dirty and messy. And then...all of a sudden you realize...we arn't so different after all. We just all wear different shoes. At some point or other, we all walk muddy paths.We all stumble and fall down in this life. Not one of us is better than the next.

 So today....look at their shoes...and then look at yours. Who's shoes are really muddier?

My Defense

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Smiles

Baptisms......always a happy amazing time....God is so so good! He is faithful and steady...even when we are not.
What a great way to start the week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Perfect Start to a weekend....

 FamilyFunDay + Reindeer Ranch adventures + crazy amazing warm Friday Fun weather +
 tons of sunshine + giggling monkeys + Chocolate chip scones + wild blueberry scones + Pumpkin Latte + catching up with old friends + hanging out with family + pizza + cake decorating + tickle wars + kitchen table conversations + Bailey's caramel chocolate silk bedtime toddy + datenight on the couch = perfect start to a fun-filled weekend ahead!!!!!!
And a happy happy birthday to our beautiful Ellie Joy who turned 5 today. It's hard to believe that sweet round adorable squishable little butterball baby is now a beautiful long haired amazing and brilliant little chick. The one who is a great big helper, has the greatest laugh, and the biggest heart....God knew what He was doing when He gave us her. He knew we would need 1 monkey that was more laid back in between the 2 craziest ones :) This sweet gal brings peaceful balance to a day that starts with Monkey G playing "tricks" that he thinks are oh so the same day that ends with BabyMonkey dumping her pretzel sticks into a urine sample hat to smearing diaper ointment all over the drums and then covering herself in a container of white lotion as well as the sheets on the bed. Yes...we need to hire a security guard...for BabyMonkey alone.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be in It...Not of it....

Thought provoking....heart searching.....Be in it....not of it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Morning in the Life of the Monkies...

1- BabyMonkey tried to clean the toilet and filled it full of Kleenexes.

2- Ellie picked and started watching a movie she wasn't supposed to.

3- All monkies had a tea party.....the tea party ended with BabyMonkey's angry high pitched screaming. Big brother had poured the teapot full of water on her head....for reasons that still havn't been discovered.

4-The Gabester then has to write lines as he chose to lie about pouring water on her head.
When he's done, he comes to me, holds up his hand, makes it go limp, points to it and says with much drama:" Ooooooohhhhhhh hand is burned out from writing sooooooooooo many lines!!!!!" 8 lines people......remember when life was that simple?!?!?! I would like to write lines too, they will say: "Dear PapaMonkey, I've taken a vacation to a warm exotic beach. No idea when I shall return. Enjoy your time with our beautiful, amazing, smart, talented, energtic and fun children! Love, MamaMonkey

5- Ellie tries to cut and chop up an almond roll.....along with the countertop..... with a very very very sharp knife.

6- BabyMonkey thinks it's funny to stand right outside the bathroom door when Big Brother does his business and pretends like she's a puppy. She barks and barks and barks and barks and barks.......interrupting the Gabester's important business and making him mad. No, we really don't need a yappy dog at our house...we already have 3 monkies who are so talented that make it seem as though we already one.

7- BabyMonkey tries to give her stuffed kitty a bath with 2 big cups of water on the rocking chair.....yes...the rocking chair that was just cleaned professionaly.

8- The Gabester argues with me that the picture of the PRUNE is actually a CLAM.......because people, come on: when you see the word PRUNE....if you sound it out, it says CLAM!!!!! right??

9- Ellie flies thru all her schoolwork, does 10 extra pages, and yells: "I'm on a roll!!!!!!!" Gabe....the child who hates schoolwork and is still on page 1 of his work.....stomps his foot, pouts and says, "Why can't I be on a roll too???" Good question kiddo....good question.....

10- BabyMonkey who has been put on a strict diet with no dairy, wheat, or gluten.....while I'm upstairs doing laundry.... she sneaks in fridge and grabs herself a bowl of cottage cheese and scarfs it down before I can get there. :(  I think she's on a mission......{how many gray hairs can I give MamaMonkey before she turns 30?? }

11- I now have positions open for a monkey nanny for each child. Supermom on vacation today.....The pay will be fantastical as well as amazing benefits!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MonkeyStory #602

Gabe and I on our lunchdate today:
Gabe: "Mommy, I want you to take me to the car place and get a real life car."
Me: "Oh really?"
Gabe: "Yeah! Just take me there and I'll pick out my favorite car and they can
keep it for me at the fixer upper place until I'm old enough to drive it!"
Me: "Well how will you get the car?"
Gabe {with a confused look}: "They will just give it to me!"
Me: "Oh right! Actually no! you have to give them money before you can have a car."
Gabe: "well I have a dollar I can give them."
Me: "It takes lotsa dollars my dear."
Gabe: "Well how will I ever get my favorite car then????!!!"
And so began monkeylesson #2,987....we start our chore chart for pennies tomorrow :)
And guess who's excited?!?!? Yup.....he can't wait to wake up and start his chore list.....and this Mama is pretty stinkin' excited too :) Merry Christmas to me :)

Tonite, tucking the girls in......{and then tucking them back in for the 20th time because they keep thinking it's ok to have 30 second dance parties every 10 the the bathroom...on the Gabe's room.} I was getting pretty frustrated....I may have been using my mean MamaMonkey voice at that point.....and then before I know what has happened {I was bending over by the bed and giving them one last kiss after the threatening IF YOU DON'T STAY IN BED YOU WILL BE GROUNDED FROM THE COMPUTER AND MOVIES TOMORROW!} BabyMonkey hops up on my back in a split second, grabs my shirt, and says, "Giddyup horsey!"then leans down and gets close to my face and gives me that "melt my heart onery grin" with another "go horsey!!!" I freeze and just look at Ellie in disbelief. I mean, I had just got done being mean mom, they had been in tears and she's playing horsey with me now?!?!!? Ellie busts into uncontrollable giggles and the fearless little monkey strips me of my tough mama act. I gave up after that....PapaMonkey's got the next shift :) I have hot chocolate and pumpkin cake with frosting, white christmas lights, warm blankets, and a good book awaiting me!


"We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent & dissatisfaction." ~H.A. Ironside

Monday, November 12, 2012

MonkeyStory #601

Gabe Phrases today:
Walking into the bathroom: "It stinks like a quail in here!!!" Hmm, guess we know what that smell is!

{Trying to sound out the word: cake}" Caaaaaaaaaaack. Cack? I've never heard of a cack Mommy, have you??? Me laughing so hard...."Um, try using another sound for that 'a'.
Gabe:" Oh, cake! Well I do know what a cake is!"

He had a cavity filled today and when he got home he informed me "his teeth were asleep."

Tonite, tucking him in: "Mommy, I love you to the Milky Way and back." Me: "Wow, that's alot! But I love you to Pluto and back 50 million times!" Gabe with a huge frown: "That is no fair Mommy!" A pause......."Well fine then Mommy, I just love you to the moon and then to the school and then to the zoo and back!!!!"

Sunday, November 11, 2012


"While we are grateful to all the brave men and officers...we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty God, who gives us victory."
--Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Things that made me smile today:

 1-Open windows on a Saturday in November while drinking some amazing Dunkin' Donuts French Vanilla coffee.
2-Basketball season has started in our house....Gabe loves having Daddy as a coach...they were too cute heading out the door together this morning to practice :)
3- Cuddles with the girls while the boys were gone
4- Sunshine
5- Teaching piano lessons...I get the best kids in the whole world!
6- Watching the monkies get super excited to call and sing Happy Birthday to our beautiful friend/monkey nanny.... Leah Metz :) we just love her so so much!
7- Fairbury Shopping......i'll always love the small town happies :)
8- Taking the monkies out to the field....give me a gravel road, a John Deere, a nice sunny day.....and it's a little piece of amazingness on this side of Heaven
9- Reeses Pieces Chocolate Cheesecake by the beautiful baker Sarah Aaron.....yum
10- Monicals with my family tonite....when Isaac Steidinger comes to town for the's a big and important event :)
11- Having an extra monkey tonite for a sleepover....although it's 10 pm and the boys just came down. Evidently Gabe woke up Gage to tell him he's bored....Gage wasn't so happy about that FYI....i'm gonna just go have another piece of that cheesecake :)
****Happy Weekend!!!*******

Friday, November 9, 2012

Monkey Story #600

Overheard tonite while the kids were playing house:
Ellie: Gabe, can you babysitt my puppy for a little bit?
Gabe: "I guuuuuuessssss soooooooo......." (not excited)
Ellie: "I promise it won't be very long. Just watch him good."
Gabe: "ok"
A litte while later:
Ellie: "Gabe Strough! Where's my puppy??"
Gabe: "Im not really sure."
Ellie: "I told you to watch him good! I knew you would lose him! I just knew it!
You don't ever get to babysitt my puppy again! You lost him??? I can't believe it...this is ridiculous!"
She stomps off with her hands on her hips and her nose pointed in the air.
Gabe turns to me with a huge smile and "that look" in his eye.....
"Hahahahha......look Mom! I'm sitting on them! I just hid them from her....I'm such a tricky babysitter!!!!!! hahahahahah"
{tricky monkies and bossypant monkies unite at our house tonite}

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things that made me smile today:

1- A cute little piano student after playing a song for the first
time: "Aye aye aye.....that song was so exhausting!!!"
2- PapaMonkey helping out around the hubby ever!
3- White Christmas lights + fall decor + Hazelnut coffee +  chocolate chip cookie bars warm outa the oven = perfectness for a dreary day
4- BabyMonkey putting her hands on both my cheeks, giving me a big kiss and saying "I love you Mommy" without me saying it first....oh melt my heart.
5- Big Steidinger family get together....I'm not gonna lie...the Steidingers really really know how to cook and bake and I will forever thank the good Lord for that :)
6- Ellie writing words without any help....not even quite 5 years old and doing schoolwork of most 1st graders
7- Gabe tonite when tucking him in: "Mommy, I just really need to go lay down on the couch tonite." Me: "why?" Gabe: "Well i just need to stretch my legs....they can grow better on the couch than if I sleep in my bed tonite!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Book

"Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle

What you think you can’t handle — might actually be God handing you a gift.

In Christ, thanksgiving is more than a holiday –
In Christ, thanksgiving is all of our days."

Read more at:

A letter to BabyMonkey:

 Dear Aubrie Grace:
I will forever love you for keeping our life a fast paced never ending crazy fun adventure. Thank you that your smiles never run out. We love your energetic personality and strong will {that we are sure will take you far someday} :)
Thank you, BabyMonkey also, for choosing to be Miss Independant by taking off your diaper FULL OF yourself up
 with 100 wipes.....
leaving them spread out all over your bedroom floor....
and dumping your poo particles in 3 nice neat piles all over your nice brand new carpet.
Thank you for choosing your bedroom and not the carpets in the house that had just been professionly cleaned. I am very confident that Wenger Carpet Cleaning will be happy to get our business again in the same 2 weeks. Because I'm sure it's very normal that he gets calls weekly to come clean recliners that have jars of babyfood poured inside the remote holder in the armrest. Just like I'm sure it's normal he gets calls for monkey poo shenanigans often too :)
We love you BabyMonkey and we wouldn't trade you for any other little blonde haired blue eyed girl in the whole world!
Just remember time PapaMonkey and I come around the corner and find treasures you have left us and we may or may not raise our voices just a tad bit! 
With all my heart....MamaMonkey

Monday, November 5, 2012


  • Tonite I am so extremely thankful for these people.
  • Kulture Church Launch Team......we are so blessed.
  • And so excited what God has in store for us. To Him be all glory.
  •  Build Your Kingdom Here
  • In our hearts again
  • Increase in us we pray
  • Unveil why we're made
  • Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
  • Like wildfire in our very souls
  • Holy Spirit come invade us now
  • We are Your Church
  • We need Your power
  • In us
  • We seek Your kingdom first
  • We hunger and we thirst
  • Refuse to waste our lives
  • For You're our joy and prize
  • To see the captive hearts released
  • The hurt; the sick; the poor at peace
  • We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause
  • We are Your church
  • We pray revive
  • This Earth
  • Build Your kingdom here
  • Let the darkness fear
  • Show Your mighty hand
  • Heal our streets and land
  • Set Your church on fire
  • Win this nation back
  • Change the atmosphere
  • Build Your kingdom here
  • We pray
  • Unleash Your kingdom's power
  • Reaching the near and far
  • No force of hell can stop
  • Your beauty changing hearts
  • You made us for much more than this
  • Awake the kingdom seed in us
  • Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
  • We are Your church
  • We are the hope
  • On Earth

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    National Orphan Sunday

    Today is National Orphan Sunday.....
    would you consider praying or sending a financial gift to
    our sweet friends at Village of Hope?
    Go here:
    and here:
    Psalm 10:17-18
    “The helpless put their trust in You. You are the defender of orphans Lord, You know the hopes of the helpless. Surely You will listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.”

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Things that made me smile today:

     1- Pumpkin pie spice creamer in my coffee and getting invited to partake in the girl's tea party happening in our laundry room :)
    2- a lunch date with a beautiful friend
    3- Gabe's first hunting experience with Uncle
    Jake ....he was so adorably cute...they went out looking for deer and he came back proudly showing me clam shells they found :) PapaMonkey's ...
    reply with a funny look on his face: "What? we have clams in Illinois?!?!"
    4- Riding in the van and pointing to hayracks stacked high with hay bales in a field....telling Gabe how much fun I had doing that as a kid. His reply: "So you mean you used to be a farmer lady when you were little?!?!?!"
    5- The local nursing home's benefit supper.....the food gets better every year I think :) and the pie?? oh the pie.........
    6- Date night out with PapaMonkey and some awesome friends....great memories at Texas Roadhouse :)
    7- fun on the agenda for the rest of the weekend.....

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Monkey Bedtime Stories

    1- Gabe says: "How can you and Daddy do a hot date tomorrow night if it's not summertime?? It's so cold out! So it's not a hot date Mommy!" :)

    2-Gabe sitting in my lap on a kitchen chair: "Mommy let's go sit on the couch. It's alot more cuddly than this spot!"

    3-Ellie and Aubrie playing....I hear Ellie tell Aubrie in her "bossypants" voice: "You are NOT gonna be the Mommy Aubrie! You can't! You are only 2 years are NOT old enough to be a Mommy!" Ellie quick turns to me with a panicked look on her face, lowers her voice in a loud whisper, "She's only 2 years old, right Mommy????"

    4- BabyMonkey's Favorite Phrases for the past week:
    {No get clothes on Mommy! No eat lunch Mommy! No blue cup Mommy! No go on big potty Mommy! No eat supper Mommy! No take nap Mommy! No put coat on Mommy! No pick up toys Mommy! No drink water Mommy!No veggies Mommy! }
    Next Week's MonkeySchool Lessons: How we say: YES MOMMY! :)