Saturday, October 30, 2010


Today a beautiful woman and fellow mother of five, just like me, joined the angels in Heaven. Her suffering from cancer is over. She is completely whole and completely healed. Yet, her death leaves a grieving husband, grieving children, and grieving parents, siblings, and friends. She was a fighter until the very end. I would have given up, but she did not. It is hard to talk about worldly things at a time like this.
I prayed for God's mercy today. He was merciful in taking her and not allowing her to suffer more. I just can't imagine the void that will be felt at her home or how one simple daddy can raise 5 children. Thankfully God is bigger than all of that. He is bigger than my thoughts and worries. He is with her children and her husband. HE KNOWS BEST and HE IS GOOD. All the time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Will Pray for Rain

They caught my eye many moons ago. Their lavender color beckoned me to make them mine. I watched as others fell prey to their allure and charm, yet I resisted. I wanted them, but I had to resist. They could not be mine. They were a want, not a need. I need to focus on needs. While others danced in the rain in them at camp on Opening Day, I trudged around in my 1980s Duck boots that have nary a scratch on them. I was determined to be practical, yet the desire was still there. We were reunited time and time again at Nordstrom as new colors appeared. They courted me, too, but not like the lavish lavender. Oh, how they called my name!
A dear friend showed up one day in gorgeous shiny black ones. I made her turn around and even took her picture. She looked fabulous. They made the outfit. On my birthday, she brought me a gift. Imagine my surprise when I opened it! The name "HUNTER" shouted from the outside of the box. Oh, it couldn't be! It really couldn't be! Yes! As I excitedly opened the box, a touch of lavender caught my eye. I couldn't believe it!!! They would be mine!!!! And, honey, if the shoe fits, WEAR IT!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Tip!

My friend, Julia, is a gourmet cook.... and she makes everything look easy! Her favorite kitchen staple is Maldon Sea Salt. She keeps it in the cutest egg right by her stove top so that she can sprinkle some whenever it is needed. Maldon salt is sold in a box and can be found at Williams-Sonoma, Sur-la-table, and specialty grocers. Maldon Sea Salt hails from England, where it was founded in 1882. The Maldon Salt Crystal Company still draws the salt from seawater using traditional long-handled rakes. They do not add artificial additives so it has a pure and clean flavor. Due to its purity, you can use less and it is very flavorful. I can't wait to get buy a box for Mama Henley!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Share the LOVE!

Our Bug's class is having a Fairy Tale day in a few weeks. It is going to be so much fun! We are looking for fairy-tale themed food ideas. Do you have any great ideas of what we should make? Come on, share the love with Mama Henley!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh baby, baby, baby, baby Oh....

Mama Henley's house is many things, but it is not boring! Sadly I spent the triplets' first years beating myself up because I could not keep a perfect house. My friends were able to, but it just did not happen at my house. I put so much time and energy into trying to keep the house perfect until I realized that my house was not meant to be perfect. Its imperfections bring many blessings. For example, a friend recently said, "I hope you'll take this as a compliment, but I study beauty, and I think your house is really beautiful. But what I really like is that everything is not perfect. You can see your family's priorities." Through my years as a mother, I have evaluated my priorities many times. One summer I realized that keeping the children at home while I tried to clean the house was fruitless. Of course I can empty the dishwasher or run a load of laundry or even vacuum a room, but doing this for hours on end is not fair to the children. That summer I created Camp Mama Henley and we had great outings instead of being penned inside so that I could make everything perfect.
The above picture personifies life at Mama Henley's house. Our children are so creative. I love that about them. However, every where I turn are little "projects". Sometimes I lose my patience. Other times, I pray for God's grace to APPRECIATE the way their little minds are working. Recently I walked in our family room and saw paper spread out everywhere. "What in the world?", I asked. As I examined the room more closely, I realized that our Bug had made 20 pumpkins on paper and found 20 orange markers and 20 black crayons to go with the pumpkins. She had made a class craft for her invisible pupils. I let her leave it out overnight so that she could play again the next day. I had to let go of my need to have the room be aesthetically perfect and let her enjoy what she had created.
Our pastor has been so inspired by the Holy Spirit lately! His sermons have really pricked my heart. We've learned a lot about discontent, which is a sin I certainly have struggled with through the years. In fact, it was discontent that led me to clean house instead of enjoying my children on those summer days. Anyway, he pointed out that the reason we love magazines so much is because the images are PERFECT. Stylists take days or even weeks to assemble the rooms perfectly. There are no children or dogs to make a mess. There is not even a piece of paper out of place. The images are wonderful, but so often, we close that magazine and then sin against our family members by screaming at them for leaving a mess here or there. That really struck me. It is SO TRUE. I do it all of the time. Do you struggle with this?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fat Friday!

Mama Henley never misses a chance for a good meal. One of my favorite clog-your-arteries places is Char Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina. I would venture to say that an extended visit to Raleigh is not complete without a stop at the Char Grill. They have been grilling fresh burgers since my Mama was dating in high school. In fact, one of my best friend's father took Mama to Char Grill on a date back in the day. Picture a 1950's style restaurant. The only difference is that now you get out of the car to place your order. The menu is filled with hamburgers, including their famous long rectangle burger, the Hamburger Steak Junior, french fries, onion rings, and fantastic shakes. YUM. I am getting hungry just thinking about it! A Carolina burger is served with slaw, chili, ketchup, and mustard. My favorite combo is cheese, ketchup, mustard, chili, and onions on the small hamburger. It is FANTASTIC!!! A Diet Pepsi with good pellet ice always compliments my favorite meal there!

Years ago we brought our dear friends, The Woods, to Raleigh on our way to the beach. Mr. Wood knows his food well, especially since he is an official judge at the STATE FAIR OF TEXAS. Being someone who loves culinary treats, Mr. Wood asked me if there was a special way to order his burger. Being a Southern belle, I felt I shouldn't tell him what to do, so I told him just to order whatever sounded good. To this day, we laugh every time DH and Mr. Wood tell the story. Mr. Wood claims that he was presented with a plain, non-exciting burger, while my burger was dripping with goodness. I don't think he's ever forgiven me for not recommending the chili and onions on a cheeseburger!

If you find yourself in the Great State of North Carolina, and you can stand to gain a pound or two, or you just love a good burger, try the Char Grill! And tell 'em Mama Henley sent you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whooping Cough Outbreak

Tragically 10 infants have lost their lives in California all due to a preventable disease. Whooping cough, or pertussis, has a vaccine that has been around for years. However, many parents are opting not to vaccinate their children. Many adults and older children are no longer covered by vaccines they took more than 5 years ago. This is the worst outbreak they've seen in 60 years. The article explains that young children are often infected by non-vaccinated adults... their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, nursery workers, teachers, etc. PLEASE call your doctor immediately and receive the vaccine if you haven't had it in more than 5 years or can't remember. You might save a sweet child's life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday's Tip... a day late!

Happy Wednesday! I feel like life is flying by, and I better grab and hold on to it! Whew! I'm sure you feel that way too. Some sweet friends are leaving on a trip to Europe, and it brought back memories of my first trip to Europe many years ago. During college, I studied French in Tours, France for a summer. I LOVED it! It was such an exciting time as I was really immersed in the language and met so many interesting people. I lived in the home of a beautiful woman named Nicole Demontiex. I can't believe her name just came to me! She was a divorced woman with a beautiful home that had plenty of room. During the summer, she housed students and during the year, she sailed around the world. She fed us breakfast and dinner each day, and I learned so much from the other students in her home.
Mercedes was from Spain and was the first person to kiss me on both cheeks and to kiss me every time I saw her! Yasou was from Japan and we corresponded for a while after France. Yasou was very smart and had a great time enjoying French wine! Nicholas was from Austria and Otto was from Sweden while Josephine hailed from England. There was another American at our home who refused to speak any English to us! It drove my friend, Rod, and I crazy because Richard made us call him the French pronunciation of "Ri-chard". Hilarious. I am amazed at the details that are coming to me now, but I know that many have been forgotten.
Nonetheless, that is where my Tuesday's Tip comes in to play! Of course I took pictures of EVERYTHING and made a cute photo album upon my return to the U.S.. However, the best thing I did was keep a journal. It wasn't just a journal filled with words. When I packed for my oversees trip, I packed a journal, plenty of pens, and a GLUE STICK. I not only wrote about life in Europe, but I glued postcards and notes and tickets and other things in my journal as I wrote. It is fascinating to go back and read it and to see the beautiful places I visited because they are RIGHT THERE glued in the book! So, as you travel, pack a glue stick with your journal and be sure to glue in postcards and other small mementos! You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Never Know What's Going Down at Mama Henley's House...

Our 7 year old, Bug, was riding home with one of my friends this afternoon after a delightful time with her friend. As they were driving down our street, my friend asked Bug which house is ours. Buggy pointed to our house, to which my friend replied, "What happened to all of your trees?"
Bug replied flatly, "Our neighbor cut them all down without our permission and half of them are ours. NOW we can't go outside NAKED."
Great. My secret is out. Where do children get these things?! Now my friend thinks we're exhibitionists at Mama Henley's house! Hilarious!
For those who are horrified and have already started calling the police, Buggy went on to explain that sometimes they take off their dripping bathing suits outside before coming inside after a swim, and now they're scared to do it in case the neighbor sees. There. Clarification!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meal Planning

Feeding a family of seven is not for the weak at heart (or for those who can't take the heat!)! Believe me, I am well-versed in figuring out ways to feed our family affordably, easily, and creatively. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don't. Each week I try to write a general meal plan. I usually just jot my ideas for dinner on my calendar on the individual days of the week. Sometimes I stick to the plan perfectly, and other weeks things change and we eat grilled cheese sandwiches or frozen leftovers in place of whatever item was planned.
I try to keep ground beef and boneless skinless chicken on hand in the fridge or freezer so that I can easily make a meal. With my couponing, I seem to always have plenty of boxes of rice and canned veggies to complete a meal as needed. I am well-stocked and can always make something, even when I am not inspired.
This week the children have enjoyed dinner. On Monday night, I made spaghetti. I brown my meat with onion and add spices like oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion salt, parsley and salt and pepper. Per my friend Rachel's suggestion, I sometimes add carrots or mushrooms or green pepper if I have them on hand. I loved her idea of adding carrots... what an easy way to add a vegetable! Most weeks I prepare my ground beef and then add tomato sauce and a prepared sauce like Ragu or Prego or Classico. I buy these items on BOGO weeks (buy one get one) with my coupons and then store them in the garage. Spaghetti is often found on BOGO and I prefer angel hair pasta, so I always have that on hand as well.
Tuesday night I grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts that I marinated in a raspberry vinaigrette dressing and some extra balsamic vinaigrette. The raspberry vinaigrette had neared its expiration, so I dumped it in a bowl with the chicken. It gave it a nice flavor! While the chicken cooked, I cooked some great yellow rice by Vigo and some black beans straight out of the can. I brought Publix fresh salsa and Wholly Guacamole to the table for those who wanted to doctor their meal. DH put the salsa over his chicken and DS (Dear Son) and I put guac and salsa on top and mixed the chicken, rice, and beans together. Some of the girls used ketchup with their chicken, and that was fine since they did eat. That's a big one!
Tonight I made roast beef, veggies, and mashed potatoes. My man is happy with me today! The children gobbled up the roast beef. I made it like my Mama makes it. I bought a chuck roast on sale and had it in our freezer. I thawed it and put it in my All Clad roasting pan that I bought with my birthday money last year. LOVE it. I had put tin foil on the bottom of the pan first. I opened a can of cream of mushroom and a can of cream of celery since I didn't have 2 cream of mushrooms. I poured them over the meat. I added a can of green peas, a chopped onion, and chopped carrots. I wish I had added more carrots. I poured 4 cans of water in there and added more as the meat cooked. I then sprinkled Lipton's onion soup mix over the top. I covered it in tin foil and put it on convection bake at 320*F for at least 5 hours. The meat was still partially frozen. I have to say, it was SLAP YOUR MAMA GOOD! Everyone was happy and there were no leftovers! A first!
Tomorrow night I am helping host an art show, so dinner will be cheap, fast, and easy. Just don't call me that! I don't love processed meat, but we may have pigs in a blanket. Don't shoot me for being honest! A girl in a hurry is a girl in a hurry. Friday night we hope to join our Small Group, in which case we'll break bread with them and I'll just bring a side dish.
How do you plan your weekly meals?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Do Y'All Do It?

Well, I guess you could misinterpret my title, so I'll just take that risk. I love organization. I thrive when I am most organized. I love for everything to have a place and to be in it. However, God has a sense of humor. He sent us triplets. Then He sent us two more little loves. I would not trade our 5 blessings for ANYTHING and I do mean ANYTHING. I adore our children and my husband. I am so thankful for them. However, I lost the battle when the triplets were born. I just couldn't keep things perfect (not that I had ever done so perfectly).
Paper takes over my house. I save recipes, slips of paper with addresses on it, special cards or letters, notes from the children, and bills. I am the CFO of our family, so I pay (or sometimes forget to pay) all of our bills. I love to write letters so I enjoy fun paper. I grew up with parents who were smart and saved their money for big things. They taught me how to find another use for things. Many hours are spent purging each week, but it's never enough. I've collected more than 10 bags of giveaway items in recent months, but we still need more closet space. I've thrown away collections of snail shells, little itty bitty pencils and pieces of paper, and broken toys. I've taken all of the old t-shirts out of my closet and tried to keep only what I will truly wear. New file folders and filing systems have been implemented. Evenings are spent tidying drawers and closets, putting away clean clothes, and throwing away old receipts. Yet it's never enough. If I open a drawer and it's messy, I stop everything and clean it out and re-organize it. I love to clean. The housekeeper is me. If I'm helping a child in the bath, I'll clean the sink and toilet or put away laundry. In other words, I really do spend my time wisely. But the paper haunts me. How do you do it? Please share some ideas with Mama Henley!

Hey Pumpkin!

I just LOVE fall.... the crisp, cool air, the smells of cinnamon and apples and pumpkins, and the fun fall produce. The pumpkin signifies fall and harvest. Their pretty orange color brightens front porches and tables along with gourds, squash, and mums. Oh Happiness!
The little pumpkins have so many wonderful uses. Some of them are pie pumpkins and they are best for yes, making pies! Others can be hollowed out to serve delicious dips in at a fall gathering. My friend, Frances, once served the BEST artichoke dip in a pumpkin. She cut off the top and it adorned the plate along with delicious crackers. Those who are super gourmet can make their own leaf-shaped crackers like my sister-in-law does. Fantastic! You hollow out the pumpkin and put the dip in its place.

Small pumpkins can also be used for decorative pieces or as hollowed out candle holders.
Larger pumpkins can be hollowed out and filled with a large glass bowl and then they become an ice bucket that chills bottled beverages!
Have fun this fall with some pumpkins! Happy Fall, y'all!

Monday, October 11, 2010

All I'm Gettin' for Christmas...

All I'm Gettin' for Christmas is 2 newly-improved sets of teeth! Yes, folks, that's right. Two of our precious triplets are sporting new braces. Thankfully it's just a partial set on each of them, but STILL. Let's just say that I'm hoping one of these five munchkins really wants to study dentistry!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Where we were last Saturday....

We spent a lovely day on the boat with dear friends! Dolphins surrounded our boat and we enjoyed our own private show! Amazing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Words from the Backseat....

As you have already surmised, our Hurricane is a little MESS with a capital M! As we were driving in the car, her brother was apparently bothering her. I hear her little voice say, "No one talk to me; I am PRAYING!" It was hilarious and we all had to giggle. She knew no one could argue with a girl who is busy praying!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday's Tip!

Better late than never... it's STILL Tuesday for 36 more minutes! My friend, Nancy, throws fabulous parties. She is always so creative in her table decorations. Everything is always absolutely perfect with no detail left unturned, much like the pirate party our friend, R, just threw. They both have a gift. Nancy is full of great party ideas and is also a great decorator. It's really not fair that she has so much talent.
Well, Nancy shared an idea with me that inspired this Tuesday's Tip. Sometimes we are planning big events like a party, luncheon, or Progressive Dinner, and there is just no way that we can leave every detail to be completed on the day of the event. Something must be accomplished in advance. We often sit and think, "If only I could set the table early, then I wouldn't have to worry on the day of the party!" Well, ladies, we CAN! Nancy sets her table early in the week and then drapes a clean sheet across the dishes so that no dust lands on the plates or in the glasses. Incredible idea! Of course you will need to not have plans to use your dining room in the days prior to your event, but I just love this idea! Happy Fall, Y'ALL!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Ahoy there, maties!
WATCH OUT! The pirates are on the loose and they just had the best 4th birthday bash ever!!!!! Our friends here had quite a bash for their little pirate who just turned 4! What a party! They literally thought of everything. This amazing ship's mast greeted us on their beautiful dock that sits right on the bay.

I love how our sweet friend greeted us!!! What a WENCH!

Those who misbehaved had to walk the plank. I'm so glad I was on my best behavior! Everything was better than the best magazine or party planner's delight.

Look at this food! Cannonballs were a big hit.

Has your peanut butter and honey ever been this cute? "Walk the Plank" peanut butter and honey!

How precious are these clam sandwiches?!

R & K are ready for Gasparilla!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Our Hurricane is full of life and love. She can be quite fiesty, but she can also be the sweetest little girl in the world. We've been working with her diligently lately to help her learn to listen and obey. It is not easy and I often want to give up.
Our family is also working on learning the Children's Catechism. It is a little book of questions and answers that help a child learn what he or she believes and why. An example is:
1. Q: Who made you?
A: God.
2. Q: What else did God make?
A: God made all things.

On Sunday, we were driving to church along the prettiest street in Tampa. It is right on the Bay so bikers and walkers love it. The walkway was filled with bikers, strollers, skaters, and walkers. It is still quite hot here and several of the men were not wearing their shirts. First, there were squeals of, "Ooooo..... that man is not wearing his shirt!" Then, our Hurricane responded matter-of-factly, "God made all the boobs". We couldn't help but laugh! Yes, Hurricane, I guess He did.