About Me

My photo
Just another stay at home mom trying to do it all, save the world, and not run out of coffee.
My published articles: exm.nr/gkA1yp
Twitter: @CarolBruckmann

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The wheels on the van go round and round (the fourth weekend of Christmas)

Dad getting some pet therapy from his pup
The best part of Christmas was of course cryptically telling people that we had to change our Christmas plans because my dad was in rehab and just letting them wonder. (It was a hip replacement people - my parents are teetotalers!) Seriously it was probably a blessing for us to go to the mountains for Christmas Day because it is closer to Cincinnati (our next destination) and we weren't staying in a hotel this year because of having to bring my elderly dog. My dad's side of the family came up to be there for Christmas Day, and with all the kids it wasn't much less chaotic than being with all my cousins as usual. Santa knew to hit my parents' house and not go to my grands' - after all the guy is kind of a stalker.

What's Christmas without a little craziness, right?

Check out the rest of the Christmas Day pics by clicking here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Retooning Christmas

As a huge fan of the biblical story of Christmas I love this video! I have long said that the theology of most Christians comes more from plays and song than scriptures, and too few know what part of the Christmas story come from the gospels and what they actually saw on a Hallmark movie. I feel the tide changing in certain circles. This cartoon explains my feelings perfectly!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Just monkeying around


Thinking that I was so ahead of the game, I had almost all of the presents we needed for Ohio in Ohio and all the presents we needed for Christmas morning and my side of the family at my grandparents' house in Roxboro well in advance of Christmas. Of course, nothing in my life seems to ever go smoothly, so life threw me the curveball of needing to bring our elderly dog on our Christmas trip and my dad needing hip replacement surgery and being unable to travel at Christmas. After Jamie calmed me down from my mini breakdown when I realized there was no way we could get our suitcases and all the wrapped presents from Roxboro to Canton, a 4.5 hour trip, we continued to roll with the punches! We had a mini pre-Christmas with my grandparents and most of my aunts & uncles, loaded the car with a lovely Sasha sized space in the back, bungeed our suitcases to the roof, and prayed against rain! Everything worked out fine, and we had a fun few days with the grands. My maternal grandparents gave the kids some animal hooded bath towels, so Caitlyn put on this monkey show for her dad:

Elijah was eager to help my granddad open his gifts. He loves his 3 great grandparents!

My grandparents also gave the kids scooters. Caitlyn has wanted a "real" scooter for a while and picked it up right away.

And this is what our van looked like!

Growing in patience and teamwork is a great Christmas gift, right?

See more pics from the trip by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy (The third weekend of Christmas)

Our church collects money each holiday season for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The money helps support missions work overseas. Last year was Caitlyn's first year in Mission Friends, so she collected change from around our house to give. Currently she is able to earn up to 25 pennies a week if she is obedient. At the end of the week she gets to put whatever pennies are left into her piggy bank. So for the weeks she had her Lottie Moon bank I let her choose to put some pennies in it instead of her bank. I didn't pressure her or tell her how much to put in and was pleased that she would share anything. On Sunday I watched tearily from the choir as the children paraded in to dump all their change together. Caitlyn's few cents may have been the worldly equivalent of the widow's mite, but seeing her give cheerfully from her heart was one of the highlights of my Christmas season.

Sunday night my Mission Friends choir kids performed their poem and song to start off the night. They are amazing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kassy's graduation

Almost a decade ago I was asked to be a godmother by a single mom with a daughter I loved. Since then Kassy has been an extended part of our family. When I married Jamie he became her godfather, and the kids consider her a fun big sister. She has endured several emotional trials in her life and school career. I have seen others give up under similar circumstances, but Kassy persevered. We have been honored to encourage and help her along the way whenever we could. In turn her presence makes our lives better. Monday night was her high school graduation. On the same night they also conferred GED certificates. I was inspired by parents and grandparents receiving their degree after decades without one. I was touched by my children's good behavior and excitement over the ceremony. (Elijah loved clapping for everything.) But I thought my heart was going to burst when my sweet goddaughter walked across the stage in her cute albeit impractical shoes to receive her high school diploma.

Way to go Kassy! We know you are going to succeed in college and beyond. The world and our lives are a better place because of you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fragile Worship

Is your focus on the voice
from the microphone or the
voice of the King of Kings?
Sunday night was amazing. The handbells played, the youth choir sang, and the adult choir cantata went off with very few hiccups. Hearts were blessed, and we give all the glory to God. At such times we all wear black, walk in and stand just so, and minimize distractions. Soloist and readers are humble. We want the focus to be on God, not on us. And these things are all good and for the glory of God. But there was great concern among many that  a choir member would leave in the middle of the performance. I get why that would be bad. When Elijah was a baby I didn't even sing in the choir our of concern that my pager would go off, and I would have to slink out of the exit. I understand that Satan could use such a distraction to pull someone's heart away from a spiritual moment. But the fact that it becomes such a big deal for people has gotten under my spiritual skin and causes me to want to ask others the question I have asked myself:

Why is your worship of God so fragile that it can be destroyed by such trivial things?

If I am truly worshiping then although my focus may shift to the mother ushering her child out the back door, I will immediately refocus rather than wonder why they can't remember to "go potty" before the service. I won't be annoyed by the person texting (who is possibly using a Bible app) or whose cell phone rings or who never sings or smiles or that family who always walks in late for the service. My focus will be heavenward to praise and inward to seek His will for me. Too often we find people at which we can roll our eyes and think "there they go again" rather than looking at all that needs to change within our own hearts. Let's worship the King of Kings with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and it wouldn't hurt to love everyone in the sanctuary as we love ourselves.

The second weekend of Christmas

One of my church responsibilities is planning the preschool Happy Birthday Jesus party. This year no Saturdays were available so we moved it to the Bible Study hour, making it super easy on me. Basically my job was to walk around looking as if I had done something while the Sunday School teachers did all the work. The children were adorable in the dress up room, sang their hearts out in the music room, and made a cute Baby Jesus necklace in the craft room. (Jamie was adamant that Elijah had made a necklace for me and not for himself.) I attempted to tell the story of Jesus' birth to the whole group using the kids' Veggie Tale nativity set, but between the little ones wanting to grab the pieces and Elijah wanting to grab me it was mostly a fiasco.

Caitlyn was in demand that afternoon as Daddy wanted her to help decorate our porch, my mom wanted her to help make Christmas cookies, and I had two advent crafts to complete. You can imagine that she enjoyed the attention.

Months of preparation culminated in a grand cantata Sunday night. The youth choir sang, handbells played, and the orchestra and adult choir shared the message of Jesus from our hearts. Jamie did a great job playing trumpet! It was so special to have my parents and other friends able to come worship with us that night!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Heavy Metal Mom

To say I lost it yesterday would be the understatement of the year. Having gone to bed super late the night before because of choir practice, Caitlyn was exhibiting every bit of her 5 year old strong willedness. She vacillated between screaming and the silent treatment of acting as though she couldn't hear a word I said. I kept checking for earbuds and an IPod hidden beneath those golden tresses. I inconstantly jumped from taking pennies from her obedience cup, forcing a nap (which didn't take place), sending her to her room, yelling, and even smacking her bottom once. When we said prayers last night the kids and I had a confession time. I confessed my yelling and the smack (which to my chagrin Caitlyn said she thought had been funny) and prayed to do better today.

So this morning when Caitlyn started in with the whiny-screamy-fussiness I had a sudden stroke of genius. I looked at Elijah and said, "Get out your air guitar! Caitlyn's a hard rocker!" We started screaming things heavy metal style while playing our air and nose guitars. Miraculously it snapped her out of her funk all three times! Elijah's amazing air guitar ability was probably the key, but maybe I can handle being a mom after all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I couldn't make this stuff up

Heard around our house this week:

When asked to make an animal sound, Elijah will intentionally make a different animal sound for comedic effect - class clown! He also says "good" and nods his head in an effort to get out of trouble and convince us of his (sometimes false) sincerity in striving to "be good."

Caitlyn: Mom, I know who I'm going to marry when I grow up - Elijah! But don't worry, you can live with us!

Caitlyn: (Responding to the Christmas song Have you seen that child?) Oh no I haven't seen that child. Where did you put that child?

Caitlyn: (Playing with her Lego men) This is the way we go to prison, go to prison, go to prison. This is the way we go to prison, early in the morning. (Later I heard her singing "President Obaaaaama" in her room. I can only hope the Lego men received a last minute pardon.)

Caitlyn often has me tell her stories while we go potty in public places. Last Friday I was making up a story about a child who learned not to be greedy at Christmas and was leading to what the real meaning of Christmas is. Caitlyn said "Oh! Oh! I know the best gift of Christmas! It's about Baby Jesus!" (My heart swelled with joy and pride.) "Jesus got the BEST Christmas gifts - Gold and Jewels!" (Maybe we still need to do some work here....)

The First Weekend of Christmas

Don't worry... it's marker.
Although I complete most of my shopping before Thanksgiving I do not do anything "Christmasy" until the advent of Advent. The first weekend of December certainly got the ball rolling! Friday Caitlyn and I went to a hilarious production of Junie B in Jingle Bells Batman Smells. On the way back we witnessed the wedding of some friends and brought their daughter home for a sleepover. I knew we had a crazy Saturday planned since I needed to make six lasagnas for the Youth Christmas party, but Santa and Mrs. Claus were in Harrisburg that night. (We go every year  to the tree lighting with our neighbors to both avoid the mall and maintain Santa continuity through the years.) Just before we needed to leave, Elijah came up the stairs looking like this --->

I knew those marks were a bit too uniform to be self-inflicted and marched right downstairs to confront the girls. Caitlyn confessed immediately with the self defense or "But it was fun, and he liked it!" Now, I am not personally a fan of making a big deal out of the naughty or nice list, Elves on the Shelf, and things of that ilk. I have tried to emphasize that we do good for the sake of doing good and to glorify God. But I was so annoyed that my child would look like he'd been in a knife fight at his Santa pictures that I said, "You'll have to tell Santa what you did! He already knows anyway." Caitlyn replied with trepidation, "Is he going to put me on... the naughty list?" With a shake of my head I replied through pursed lips, "I don't know, Caitlyn... I just don't know."

In the end after scrubbing Elijah's face, the long wait in line, petting several dogs, and listening to Christmas carols I decided to not traumatize my child with a forced Santa interrogation. I let her hug on Santa and Mrs. Claus, eat kettle corn, and ride the horse drawn carriage. Afterwards we enjoyed a local church's "Walk Through Bethlehem" which culminated in a nativity scene.

I should have made her confess to the Baby Jesus.

Click here for more December pics.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Bruckmann Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Ohio involved Caitlyn making her first sweet potato casserole (until Granny's decades old hand mixer started spinning out of control as if possessed), Elijah's first brussel sprout, the first annual Bruckmann play (come over, I have the video), Caitlyn and her cousin Bryson working on their monkey ring skills, and a trip to the Creation Museum courtesy of Jamie's aunt. It was amazing to see creation and science from the perspective of a biblical worldview, and I was impressed at the solid science they had backing things up. You should go!
The costumes and production of the play were amazing thanks to Granny!

Yes, I was totally calm while my kids held this snake... until Elijah was about to bite it!

You can see more pics from the weekend by clicking here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

September Flashback - Melinda comes to town (An apple a day does not keep the doctor away)

My kids and I are rarely sick, but just before Melinda & Clara arrived my husband introduced a malicious super bug from his high school into our house. One by one we succumbed to the power of the virus, even sending it back to Texas on the plane with the Piercefields. Being the strong willed women that we are, we were determined to muddle through the infirmary vacation and make the most of it. So we relished in bumming around the house while feeding the children enough honey to fulfill Winnie the Pooh's letter to Santa.

In order to at least experience a small taste of North Carolina as well as breathe a bit of fresh air, we traveled west to Hendersonville - apple capital of the world. As luck would have it one of the apples available to pick that day was of the Jonagold variety -  Melinda's favorite. The kids had a blast running around picking up pesticide laden apples and munching them for free sampling nature's bounty. Grandad's Apples also had a cute country store, some photo ops, and an area to feed a goat and a llama through a fenced in area oddly decorated with dinosaur statues. Elijah to this point had not been much of a talker, but the whole say he walked around saying "ABBLE! ABBLE!" Since then we haven't had a moment of silence.

Since Melinda is a super shopper and I despise shopping, we hit the mall so she could force me to shop for some things my kids needed and pick out some cute shoes for Clara. On the way to the car Elijah twisted away from Melinda's hands and tore up his face. We got him calmed down and pressed on. People at the mall said super helpful things to me like, "Stop hitting that baby!" Despite the mockery we successfully spent our husband's hard earned cash, and the kids had a blast playing in the free play area.

We were so sad to send the girls back to Texas, but we knew her family would come get her if I didn't! And now it all works out because Melinda is now preggo with baby #2, but she needs your prayers because she is very sick with hyperemesis.

You can see more fruity pics by clicking here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fabulous pictures

My 2nd/3nd cousin-in-law took these amazing pictures at the family Thanksgiving gathering.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

September Flashback - Melinda comes to town (The International Festival & Dan Nicolas Park)

On Saturday we hit the International Festival at UNCC. It's a great place to experience new cultures and try their food. I was surprised how many people were eating Chinese and Mexican rather than being adventurous! The kids loved the Chinese dragon and all the cultural costumes. Caitlyn's favorite part again this year was the dancing. She decided that she wants to move to India because she loved their music best. Wouldn't it be neat if she ended up being a missionary there? (My friend Becky's husband is Indian, so we went out to eat Indian food with them another day, and Becky gave Caitlyn some cool ankle bells!)

My parents, niece, and nephew came down to see Melinda and Clara, so we all went to Dan Nicolas Park in Salisbury. The park is amazing and has a train, carousel, gem mining, paddle boats, a petting zoo, mini golf, and a nature center as well as several playgrounds. I am PETRIFIED of having my children on things like paddle boats. I am positive that someone is going to almost drown and I'll have to save them. Jamie and Caitlyn paddled our boat while I sat on the back and tried my best to keep Elijah from wiggling his way to certain death. Thankfully we all pulled through and headed for a real NC BBQ experience in Lexington, NC to celebrate my dad's birthday.

You can see more pictures by clicking here (same link as last blog).

September Flashback - Melinda comes to town (Monkey Joe's)

I was so excited that my BFF Melinda and her sweet daughter Clara flew up from Texas to visit. It's probably the last time they can fly up because Clara is going to be two next year and also will become a BIG SISTER! The day after they came I was still watching a boy around Elijah's age, so we thought we would go to Monkey Joe's to get some energy out. I didn't realize that Clara had never even been in a bounce house, so she was overwhelmed at first. With some encouragement from her mom and Caitlyn she eventually warmed up to the place.

One great thing about Elijah is that he doesn't need quarters to enjoy video games yet!

Needless to say, our house was not much quieter than Monkey Joe's!

You can check out more pics by clicking here:

September Flashback -The UC/UT game

Jamie's parents treated the whole family to a trip to Oak Haven Resorts in Pigeon Forge along with tickets to the UC/UT football game. We had stayed there once before on a trip to Carson Newman's homecoming and really love the place. The cabins are spacious and have a pool table as well as a retro video game table that was the hot spot of the house. Of course Alice and I cooked some amazing food, and we decided it would be easier with the kids to tailgate at the cabin. The only problem was that our cabin had a sewage issue, so the first night was pretty stinky before we got it fixed! Saturday morning we hiked the cave trail - a pretty steep trail that involved a lot of hand holding.

Then it was off to Neyland Stadium. I had warned the kids that some people might say mean things and that no matter what we had to be kind Christians, but I need not have worried. The UT fans were so kind! Of course it didn't hurt that UT blew us out. But we started off the game by going ahead first, and the marching band and the tribute to the armed forces were something that even the Cinci fans enjoyed.

And just because he is so cute when he walks - a video of Elijah racing with the other kids at Cracker Barrel while we waited for our table:


You can check out other pictures from the weekend by clicking here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

September Flashback - the party

For the second year we had a joint birthday party for the kids to accommodate our out of town family (and make it easier on me). Caitlyn was set on a helicopter cake for her and an airplane cake for Elijah. Thankfully my friend Jennifer helped me out and made the cupcakes and cake for us. We surprised the kids the night before with a bounce house, which was much cheaper to buy than rent.


It seemed like a great idea to party in the backyard again until a terrible storm blew in the night before. The backyard was a mudpit, but we got most of the branches picked up and some games set up before the company arrived. With a firm rule of only coming inside for emergencies we had to think fast to decide how to squish over 50 people on our deck for cake, ice cream, and other junk. When the time came to sing Caitlyn hijacked Elijah's cake and insisted that her candle be put on it too. When I saw how muddy my deck was after the party I new it was totally worth moving everything to the great outdoors. I just felt bad for all the parents literally hosing off their kids before going home!

On Caitlyn's real birthday she woke up to a My Little Pony playhouse with several individually wrapped ponies. She was super excited, and so was Elijah.

Caitlyn had really wanted to have a party at Chuck E. Cheese, but that was a bit pricey. So my family went for lunch there on her real birthday. Thanks to my husband's great bargain skills I was able to hand out tokens like beads at a Mardi Gras Parade. The kids even climbed on stage to join Chuck E's show!


You can check out more pics from the birthday festivities by clicking here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Audrey's birthday

My grandparents have always been an inspiration to me. So it was a blessing to make a spur of the moment trip up for my Grandma's birthday party. Caitlyn had soccer, but Elijah and I loved seeing family and celebrating the life of such an amazing woman. (And yes, he's trying to sneak frosting while his Great Grandmother poses with her children.) She had a wonderful smile during her party, even though she is dealing with so much pain and inability to walk. We love her!


You can click here to see pictures from three other November birthday parties and a trip to the park.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flashback - August 2011 Part 2

The week after we returned from Missouri Elijah turned 2. Since the kids' birthdays are close together but our families are far away, we combine their birthdays into one super party. Nevertheless we try to make the actual "birth" day special. As usual Elijah woke up and rushed to find me. As a result he totally missed the train and car city his Daddy and I had meticulously constructed the night before in his room. (Best $10 consignment sale purchase ever!) Caitlyn gave him a microphone (so she wouldn't have to share hers anymore) and a plastic dinosaur that he proceeded to chew in appreciation.

Caitlyn and Jamie began soccer season - Jamie as "Coach" and Caitlyn as "player least interested in soccer". When the preschool choir performed a couple of their songs at the end of the summer her dance moves were great, but the kids didn't really sing. I misplaced the cd, but I still thought they would be louder. When I asked her why they were singing so softly she replied, "Well you were singing quietly!" Point taken.

We also made a super quick trip to Ohio for Granny's 70th birthday luau. We survived the trip up thanks to 5 Hour Energy and a Blockbuster kiosk rental of Barbie: A Fairy Secret, a movie I hope to never see or hear again! The luau food was fantastic, and the one man band was super entertaining! Jamie's parents and their friends still know how to party! We adore our Granny who is more fun at 70 than a lot of grannys are at 30!

You can see all the August pics by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I've stopped making excuses for why we are always late or things. Honestly saying things like, "I was actually running ahead of schedule until I went downstairs to get my shoes, and Elijah dumped the corn meal on the floor and started licking it up with the dogs" is only getting me odd looks.

Flashback - August 2011 Part 1

August began with a swim at the Duncan's community pool, much easier with Daddy there to help our non-swimmers play in the water. I attended a Classical Conversations practicum, basically a crash course to the intense home schooling we're doing, then off we went to Missouri. Elijah's favorite part of the trip was the curtains in our first hotel room.

We made a two day drive of it, stopping at a rest area, a marina, and a state park to hunt for letterboxes.

We stayed at a great time share with Jamie's family. We stayed in one timeshare and the rest of them stayed in the other. Caitlyn and Elijah basically had their own apartment, and since we really played it up they actually slept in there and left us alone! (Maybe I should build an apartment for them in the garage so I can get some sleep at night.) Elijah adores his baby cousin and getting to be the big kid for once!

On my birthday my wish was to go on a trail at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area to find five letterboxes. Caitlyn and Jamie accompanied me as well as his mom, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. It was a gorgeous hike, and we found all five well carved insect stamps.

Our immediate family hit Silver Dollar City one evening so that we could get in free the next day on our passes. One afternoon was enough for Elijah and me, so Jamie and Caitlyn went back with his family the next day while I worked in peace and Elijah napped. We took a Duck tour of the city, and Caitlyn got to drive in the water. Later she graduated to driving a go-cart by herself!

But it's always the cheap and free things that are the most enjoyable, and the kids loved feeding the fish at the trout farm more than the pricey Duck ride. I was of course excited when we sat on the SOUTH side at the Dixie Stampede and all my northern in-laws helped cheer our side to a victory. On the last day we rented a boat, but Elijah totally flipped out anytime anyone would get into the water. Mostly I just held him and tried to keep him asleep, but the pictures make it seem like all was peaceful! On the way home we letterboxed at the home and grave of Laura Ingalls Wilder and ate at a famous Missouri restaurant (Sonic).

We stopped for Sunday lunch with my family, and Elijah showed off his great baseball arm with Grandmama Marsha.

On our first day home Caitlyn and I had our first day of school. I'm teaching one of the 8 & 9 year old classes to offset our cost and help me learn the material. Caitlyn knocked them dead with her introduction speech.

You can see the other pics from the beginning of August by clicking here.

Shalom Seekers