Adventures of The Thundering Herd: Have/Have Not Challenge Weekly Update

Welcome to the weekly Have/Have Not Challenge update.  I’m a few days late but it has been quite the week.  Not much time to sit and write.  And there is much to write.

After my last update I began receiving texts from my sister.  Lots of questions about how the challenge works.  I think she was intrigued.  She wanted in on the action.  Wanted to add her own challenge. We put our heads together and came up with a fun idea for the next two weeks.  

I cannot wait to share the details with you all.  But first…the winner for this week was 
Team B: The girls!  Yay!  The girls worked hard and accomplished the title of Haves for the week! The boys did not lose by a large margin.  Because the oldest child forgot to make his bed one morning, it cost his teams points which ultimately led to their loss.  The boys have handled the loss like champs and done their chores with no major complaints.  So proud and impressed with my children.  

Sisters ❤

So on to the newest part of the challenge.  For the next two weeks, on top of earning team points to win the title Have, the kiddos are earning individual points toward prizes.  Aunt Jen and Uncle T.J.  went shopping and purchased 10 lbs worth of gifts to reward these kiddos for their hard work.  There are four different levels.  With each level, the value of the prize increases.  They have until Christmas Eve to complete chores and earn points.  On Christmas Day, we will video chat with Aunt Jen and Uncle T.J. and they will award each child their prizes.  Sounds like fun right??? There’s more.  

My clever sister came up with more activities for the kids to complete as a way to earn bonus points.  Fun things they can do on their own and others they can do as a team.  Last night we had a video call with Aunt Jen, who lives here.  (Thank goodness for technology that allows us to communicate ❤ )

She explained the rules and answered all questions. And there were many questions. But before we could even finish the call, the younger three were off and working.  

Let me share her creative bonus activity ideas:

  • 100 points if for one WHOLE DAY every time your mom says anything that requires a response, you end the sentence with “….gracious mother, queen of my life” (for example:  “Bretton, did you clean your room today?” “Why yes I did gracious mother, queen of my life”.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Miss one time and you have to try another day.  You can only do this ONCE.  Also, one time will be recorded and posted to Facebook so I can enjoy.
  • 75 points for a handwritten christmas card to aunt jen and uncle TJ that has to be delivered by 12/25 (YEAH!!) (bonus 5 points if chloe gets one too) – ONE TIME ONLY.
  • 50 points if you write and perform a Christmas skit or song.  Must be recorded and put on Facebook for me to see.  At least 2 minutes long.  ONE TIME ONLY.  You can do this by yourself or with another sibling or parent or friend.  If you can somehow put Star Wars in it and it makes sense – I’ll give you an additional 10 points.  An additional 5 points per person who joins in your skit (up to 20 additional points).
  • 25 bonus points for making your siblings bed for them.  They will get their 50 points and you will your 50 + an additional 25.  You can only do this TWICE in the 2 week period.
  • 10 bonus points for writing your mother a christmas poem.  At least 4 sentences.  It will be posted to Facebook.  ONE TIME ONLY.
  • 5 bonus points for drawing a Christmas picture to post to Facebook.  You can do this TWICE.
  • 5 bonus points for miscellaneous actions, behavior, anything your mother deems worthy.  She can dole these out at any time in any increment of 5.  BUT BEWARE – she can dock points for bad behavior as well.  
  • additional bonus points can be rewarded to any challenge for extra effort or creativity!

So here we go.  It has begun.  The first Christmas pictures were created last night by both girls and my eleven year old son wrote three Christmas poems.  Later there was singing coming from upstairs as they have begun writing the lyrics to what will be their Christmas song.  Cannot wait to hear the finished product. And this morning, my thirteen year old decided she would attempt the “gracious mother, queen of my life” challenge. The laughter already created by this challenge is priceless.

Hats off to Aunt Jen and Uncle T.J. for contributing to our Have/Have Not Challenge and adding some more fun to the not so fun job of doing chores 🙂

Adventures of The Thundering Herd: Have/Have Not Challenge Update

It has been two weeks since we first embarked on our journey to change the face of chores in the Holden/Greene house.  It is with a huge smile and happy heart I am pleased to report the Have/Have Not Challenge is working. Truthfully I think it has been a success.  

In two weeks, we have not had one unmade bed or any dirty clothes thrown on the floor. Breakfast dishes have been placed into the dishwasher and backpacks put away.  For two straight weeks and counting, no one has missed an opportunity to earn points.

Now for the slight downside.  I did not take into account when creating this challenge the competitive nature of all five of my children.  I did not realize there would be such a desire to wear the weekly title of Haves.  I was not prepared for all the extra chores they would be begging to do in order to earn added bonus points to increase their score. They have actually been fighting over who will do the extra vacuuming.  There is fighting over who will clean THEIR bathroom.  Moments occur when the arguing becomes too much and the threatening of point reduction becomes a reality.  Yes you heard that correctly. They argue over who gets to do the chores.  What?  I know, right?  They are blowing my mind.  In fact they are calling dibs on chores days in advance.
So without further ado and with great pride I announce the winner of Week 1….Team A: The boys.  However they only won by fifteen points.  My top chore doers were the thirteen year old (girl) and the eleven year old (boy).  Both carried their teams and did extra chores adding bonus points for their team.  But the eleven year old earned more bonus points leading his team to victory.  The girls handled their defeat pretty well but once the announcement was made, the thirteen year old was in the kitchen doing additional chores to gain bonus points.  The real kicker was the sixteen year old.  Once I announced that the eleven year old would be awarded an additional reward for his hard work (carrying his team) doing bonus chores the previous week, the sixteen year old grabbed the vacuum and vacuumed the playroom and stairs.  He then called dibs on vacuuming for the rest of the week.  I AM IN SHOCK!  It’s like living in the Twilight Zone. 

So my friends, I would say our challenge is working.  Yes we’re only two weeks in but when the oldest child takes it seriously, the others tend to follow.  

To read more on the details of the Have/Have Not Challenge, visit
The Adventures of the Thundering Herd.

Adventures of the Thundering Herd: The competition begins!

When you have five kids, you have a home grown basketball team.  You also have a small army.  My father calls my crew the thundering herd.  I believe that title is an accurate description.  They are not a quiet bunch and you definitely know when they are in the room.

Compared to some we are not a huge family.  Larger families exist.  However for me, we are a big family.  We live in a cozy 1700 square foot town home.  Three boys in one bedroom, two girls in the other.  Their rooms are small.  But I would not change a thing. The laughs and wrestling we hear each night before bed warms my heart.  

One of my greatest joys is time spent together.  Each room has a purpose.  We cook in the kitchen together and sit down, almost daily, to dinner around the table as a family.  We retreat to the bonus room and pile in the recliners and on the couch to watch movies or play video games.  Each room allows us to do things together as a family.  It is my dream come true. What I often envisioned my life to be when I had kids.  

With that said, seven people living in 1700 square feet can get messy and crowded.  There is a lot of stuff.   Clutter is easily accumulated and it drives this momma mad.  Leaving me overwhelmed at times, it calls for constant cleaning and sorting.

In the past I have devised chore charts and punishments watching each fail.  Attempting to keep up with who does what and who is grounded from what becomes too much for the hubby and me to remember. They outnumber us.  However I developed a new system. A competition and this one just might take.

Thanks to Big Brother and their Have/Have Not competitions, I came up with my own.  Yes, there will be a losing team.  A group of children who will become the Have Nots for the week should they fail to complete the simple tasks and earn enough points.

I have come up with five simple tasks each team much complete during the week to gain points.  At the end of each week, points are tallied and the winning team will receive the Have rewards while the losing team will receive the Have Not rewards. I think it sounds fun.  A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.  Right? The idea of the Have Nots having to clear the dinner dishes of the Haves for the week is one the great many rewards! Wouldn’t you agree?

As I pulled out my laptop at the end of our dinner last night, I began my presentation.  Met by the moans and sarcasm of teenagers the young ones embraced the idea of competing for rewards.  

As the house fell asleep to the grumblings of teenage angst last night we awoke to different attitudes. This morning beds were made, dishes were put into the dishwasher and the oldest asked if they would receive extra points for having their room already clean unlike the girls. HA! This just might work!

Large families are fun.  Sure we cannot buy all the latest gadgets for the kids or go on big vacations but I would not trade the laughter, adventures at home, and time spent together around the table for any amount of money.  God has blessed my life with insurmountable joy. And it hasn’t come from stuff.

My hubby asked me last night if I got this idea off of Pinterest.  My answer, NO.  This one was all me. Not saying another clever momma out there hasn’t developed their own system, but I came up with this one in the forty five minutes before I prepared dinner last night.  Click here to see my Google slide presentation.  Don’t think the kiddos were quite as impressed with my cleverness as I was 🙂  I’ll let you know how it all works out!

The photo shoot

Family photo shoot.  This is something I have wanted to do for a while but it was most definitely NOT in the budget.  The constant postings of others on good ole’ Facebook and their gorgeous photo shoots didn’t help the matter either.  That salt and wound kind of thing.  In fact seeing them typically left me feeling sad simply because I wanted something special of my kids and not just my pitiful little photo snaps taken on my lovely little EVO. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I have a camera to save those memories but I wanted something SPECIAL. Patience my impatient child is what God is typically having to whisper in my ear.

Several weeks ago, I received a text from a friend.  It was a text asking if she could photograph my family for her new and upcoming business.  I cried.  I was overwhelmed.  I was in awe of God once again.

A week later, we met in a gorgeous park and she began snapping pictures of my chaotic crew.  Believe it or not I think it went incredibly well.  When you have five kids you never know exactly how they are going to behave or whether they will cooperate. Especially when they range in age from 15 down to 6.  So now, I have pics of my kids and me with my hubby AND I’m quite happy about it!!

It is so cool to see God work and bless.  Sometimes waiting is hard but His timing is SO SO SO PERFECT!

So for anyone who is looking for an amazing photographer, look no further!!  I found one for you!

Visit her site and check out some of her work!  And then GIVE HER A CALL!!

Allison Carpenter Photography

After the two weeks notice…

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Flannery O’Connor

This quote describes me pretty well.  My poor husband lives with this reality. No matter how hard I try to communicate my thoughts verbally, they typically end up a muddled mess.  I usually end up having to write him a letter in order for my thoughts to make sense. 
I enjoy writing. I mainly write for me.  I write to make sense of the craziness in my head but I also write for those who want to read about what is happening in this crazy family.  I know that for many my struggles became your struggles over the past few years and left you praying over all the outrageous things taking place.  So many prayers were said and tears shed. I know I will never know how many but I am thankful for every one of them. I am also thankful for all those who walked with me even when I did not know you were there. It is important for me that you know your prayers were being heard. God was and is continuing to work.  So with all that said my writing serves as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness, His love and grace in the middle of heartache, darkness and pain and that His mercies are new every morning.  
Lately I have been thinking about my amazing and wonderful kids who drive me totally insane at times.  They have been to hell and back over the last couple of years and have learned a lot about God and seen Him work.  So all my thinking has led me to writing about them.  For those who knew us back in the day you know that financially we did well.  We had a lot of stuff, took many trips and bought pretty much whatever we wanted.  My kids never knew what it meant to be without the things they wanted. Boy has life changed. That is not our life any longer and their adjustment to this change has been quite incredible.
A couple of months ago I resigned from my job.  The sole purpose for my resignation…my kids.  Quitting my job was one of the hardest things for me.  I was good at what I did and had great potential to move up quickly.  I had found something where I could succeed and make a difference.  It was a hard choice to make but I knew it was the right one.  After everything my kids had been through, they were finally back home with their mom and they needed me.  Two of the five were flunking school. Their personalities had all but about disappeared.  The years of training them to love the Lord had pretty much been stripped away and so I took that GIANT step of faith and quit my job.  Meaning I lost my paycheck and my benefits so that I could focus on them.  I say that because the thought of losing those two things terrified me.  Let me make it completely clear to ALL who read this that financially we cannot afford for me not to work.  My husband works incredibly hard but trying to provide for ten people is a lot.  Without outside help financially we have put our feet in step with our words and stepped out in faith to trust God for His provision for our family.  My kids needed me and so now, I am left needing God to provide what we do not have when we need it. 
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 4:19
What does this look like for my kids? For my amazing kids who used to have it all it means that for now they cannot play sports, take music lessons, or dance classes because it is just not in the budget.  I cannot afford to put braces on teeth that need them nor can I buy them the clothes or shoes I know that they would love to have but they never complain.  They never ask.  Today I thought about the fact that I have a fifteen year old that trusts me to cut his hair.  I have had no training whatsoever but he trusts me enough to allow me to do it. I cut the hair of every person in this house including my own.  I do it and no one complains. It is crazy ridiculous to me.  How many teenagers would do that?
I am in awe of the way in which God continues to work. It amazes me to see how He is using our situation to bring our family closer.  It means more meals spent around the table.  It means movie nights spent at home together.  It means game nights and pool days.  It means vacations on a mountain in West Virginia enjoying the wild.  It is a totally different life.  It is a life filled with laughter along with love.  Yes there is still fighting among siblings.  It is not perfect.  It is definitely not all butterflies and roses. We still have our struggles and hang-ups but it’s a life now filled with God’s faithfulness and blessings.  We have been given a second chance to experience the God of the Universe and His unfathomable love all because of His grace and I am in awe of this new life I have been given every day! I am in awe of my God!
The bible is truth.  It is filled with God’s promises to His children.  This family has learned first hand that,
And we know that all things God works together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

Romans 8:28

Two Weeks Notice

I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan again. (If you have not read it, READ IT!)  My husband bought it for me quite some time ago and I absolutely loved it!  While sitting in carpool the other day I discovered I had it on my Kindle App (on my EVO) and started reading it again.  I am in awe of the way in which God works.  His timing is truly perfect.  I needed to hear those words of truth again.

Yesterday I gave my two weeks notice.  I gave up the fight and surrendered to what I knew God was placing on my heart.  I am now anxious.  I am not going to lie about it.  For a while now my husband and I have gone back and forth about me resigning.  He was confident, I was not.  I kept praying.  God kept answering.  I chose to ignore Him.

Here is what I do not understand about me. I have taken so many steps of faith throughout the past few years so why is this one so hard?  I have seen God do amazing things.  In 2011, God made it very clear that I was to trudge ahead in the battle for custody of my children without an attorney.  I heard Him clearly and knew what I had to do.  I fought against those who told me I was doing the wrong thing.  I held my ground and I trusted the Lord wholeheartedly.  I walked out of a court battle knowing I had done what I needed to do and given God complete control.  I had total faith even when I thought I had lost I knew He was in control. That battle was huge but I did not doubt His provision.  Not once.   Two years later, I am a walking billboard to the promises of a mighty God.  I know He takes care and provides for His children.  I am confident!  So why can I not trust Him with this small thing?  Why am I afraid to walk away from my small part time job?  Why do I think that somehow He will not provide?  I want to smack myself around a little.  Tell myself to wake up.  Remind myself that when we walk in obedience He blesses our obedience.   

As I read Crazy Love again I am reminded of how small I am in the grand scheme of things.  I am reminded yet again that my life is but a mere vapor.  That for what small amount of time I am here my only purpose is to serve and glorify God.  My life purpose is to glorify a Holy God.  I tossed that around in my head for a while.  How exactly do I do that?

I have been through so much yet every step of the way I have seen God make way.  In every choice to step out on faith and follow Him, He has blessed my obedience. Has it always happened the moment I wanted it to happen? NONot even close.  Instead, I have learned patience but most importantly, I have learned how to trust Him.  He has promised me His provision and He has followed through every time in His time.   Here is where I now ask myself do I continue to live each day worried about everything? In doing so how will my worrying bring any type of glory to God?  Philippians4:4-7 reminds me that I am to be anxious about nothing but to rejoice in the Lord always.  Not just when things are good but when things are just downright crappy as well.  No matter what is happening I AM TO REJOICE!  This is not a debatable thing.  This is what scripture tells me to do.   In 1 John4:18, I read that there is no fear in love.  That perfect love casts out fear and in knowing that God’s love for me is perfect then I have NO right whatsoever to be fearful. WHY? Because HE LOVES ME! 

So to wrap it all up I turn to truth.  Yesterday after giving my letter to my manager, I noticed I had a voicemail from my husband.  As I took a moment to listen, my heart found a moment of peace.  His voicemail told me to turn to Numbers 23:19 (which happened to be the verse he was praying for me that day from the wedding gift he gave to me).  As I pulled up the Bible app on my phone, I read

“God isn’t a mere man. He can’t lie.  He isn’t a human being.  He doesn’t change his mind. He speaks, and then He acts.  He makes a promise and then He keeps it.”

God knew on June 17, 2013 I would hand over my resignation letter.  He knows my fears.  He knows my heart.  God knew that on December 1, 2012 my husband would hand me a calendar filled with scriptures that he committed to praying over me throughout the first year of our marriage.  God knew that on that day (yesterday) I would need that verse as a reminder of who He is in my life.  HE is MY PROVIDER.  He is unlike those in my life who have repeatedly broken promises.  HE is God.  He cannot lie.  When He makes a promise, He is true to His word.  As I let that sink in and I meditate on the truth of who HE is, I am left confident that stepping out on faith and trusting His word is truly a way in which I can bring glory to Him.  Now I am going to take a step back, grab hold of His hand and let Him lead me once again.  I am now eager to see where this journey is going to take me with the great hope of bringing Him glory along the way.

California here we come…

I am a little behind in posting these pictures but Matthew and I took our first trip together back in December.  Last September on my birthday I received a phone call from my sister informing me that she was flying me and Matthew out to LA for a visit.  It was quite the birthday gift and for the next couple of months we eagerly awaited our trip to CA.  Let me just say…we had a blast! It was amazing to get away but even  more fun spending time with my sister and TJ.  We are incredibly thankful for the trip and the time spent together!   
Our last day in LA we had lunch with long time friend Charlie!
He introduced me to food trucks!
We sat on the curb and had lunch together!

Before our delicious lunch, Charlie drove us through the Universal lot.
Pretty cool having friends with such special connections 🙂
On this trip to LA I paid my first visit to Pinks.
In case you cannot tell from this pic, it’s a hot dog place.

This happened to be Jen’s first visit as well.

Matthew and I shared a chili and cole slaw dog.
I thought it was fabulous.

Jen and TJ shared a cheese dog.
It was smothered in liquid cheese.

Waiting in line for our first taste of Pinks.

We paid a visit to Big Boy AKA Shoneys. 


If anyone has followed any of my blogs at one time or another you have read from my previous CA visits that I think Burbank CA has the best Krispy Kreme doughnuts EVER!  Well on this trip I got to share my love of Burbank Krispy Kreme with my love.  He thought they were pretty amazing too! However, TJ does NOT share my love for these doughnuts.  He prefers…wait for it….Dunkin Doughnuts.  UGH
Jen seemed happy with her doughnut selection

Matthew really didn’t care about the doughnuts.
He was just happy to be with me :-p
Yeah right 🙂

I was in heaven!  These are my favorite doughnuts!
All kinds of happiness!!