Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dear Sandy Hook Families,

If I could share my heart, here is what I would say. 

Dear Sandy Hook Families,

One moment changes everything.  My story is not your story. And yet it is.  Tragic stories happen to other people, not to people like us. One moment. Double murder of my loved ones. 16 years ago.   So began a journey I never asked for and didn't want to take. And when I hear heart-ripping, horrific stories like yours, my heart can go back to that pain in an instant.  I wish I could take away your pain. I really, really wish I could.  You will cry even after you think you could not possibly cry any more. You will ask 'why' more times that imaginable. You will be he who committed this horrific act, at his family, at society, and even at God. You will wonder how you can go on. You will hold a million unrecognizable pieces of your shattered heart and wonder if it's even possible to be reassembled.

But let me tell you this. It is possible and it does happen. You WILL heal.  Oh, your life will never ever be the same again. Ever. It's reality.  But never, ever, give up the journey of healing.  It is worth taking.  Because despite the fact that I grieve deeply for you, your tragedy has made me realize how wholly my heart has healed.  The joy I presently know in my life - deep joy - is more than I ever imagined possible in those deep dark moments at the beginning of my tragic journey.  Your journey will look much different than mine, but, with hope, I believe you too will one day heal, even if it takes more than a decade.

I offer you this present comfort, there IS a Heavenly Father who loves you deeply, who grieves deeply with close your eyes and crawl up on His lap often. Feel Him wrap his arms around you, hold you, and as he rocks you back and forth, hear him whisper in your ear, 'shhh, shhh, I've got you, I've got you.' And rest right there in the protection of His arms.  And this, Romans 8:26, "The Spirit (of God) helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  So when you have no words, when the pain is too overwhelming, just take comfort in knowing that His Spirit is interceding on your behalf.  And the prayers of a nation, as well as, the prayers of those who are closest too you, are interceding on your behalf too. May you know that God is near. So very near.

I hope on your journey will you be overwhelmed by love and transformed by the power of grace. I trust that your pain will assist you in seeing all the beauty that is everywhere around us.  And I hope one day when you hear of another painful tragedy in the news, that while your heart is breaking immensely for them, you will not only just believe in hope for them, you will also know the reality of hope - joy, once again.

My deepest sympathies, from my heart, to yours...


Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Morning

Because in light of yesterday's tragic events, I am reminded that all we really have are moments...

Daughter waking up early just past 6:30. Me whispering in her ear, "Good, extra snuggle time for me!" Her smiling back, and snuggling up with me on the couch (I'd already been awake since 4:00ish). Glow of the Christmas tree lights reflecting off the walls. Daughter's stillness next to me, except for her beating heart that I can feel against me. Dog snuggled in close by my feet. Her and I giggling over dog's snoring.  Night giving way to twilight, slowing bringing light to our room. Watching silhouetted squirrels playing early morning chase in mighty oak trees. A few silhouetted leaves still hanging onto branches. Whispered conversations sprinkled here and there...about school and Christmas. Silently, I pray for the 20 families who lost sweet children yesterday, as I kiss the top of my daughter's head. Thankful there is a God who heals the brokenness of this world. Thankful that although my heart has known deep tragedy, at this moment I know deep joy.  

Thanks, Sarah, for waking up early today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

To Make the Grinch Grin...

Grinch iphone wallpaperSo...I was subbing at Sarah's school this morning and her teacher pulled me aside and had me read her recent writing assignment.  And it absolutely made my day!! There are so many times I wonder if I'm doing anything right as a mom.  If anything I'm teaching them is sinking in.  And then I get glimpses on days like today that encourage me, that yes, perhaps I am!  

She wrote:
To make the Grinch grin, I would tell him the true meaning of Christmas. I would tell him that it is Jesus' birthday, and we give and get presents to remember the greatest gift of all. I would also play fun games with him. So he does not get mad, I would let him win each time. That is how I would make the Grinch grin. 
Isn't that just precious! I LOVE her heart!! Truth, kindness, and action.

So, how would you make the Grinch grin?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dreamland vs. Now-Land

Excuse me if this blog post is a bit of a's just me, waking up, with thoughts that kept me awake last night, just trying to sort everything out in my heart...

I feel like I'm sitting on a boat, about to set sail for new land...lets just call it Dreamland, where my dreams become reality. Where I am brave enough to leave the comforts in Now-land, in order to pursue the dreams God has placed in my heart.  I mean, He placed them there, right? So I really should not ignore these dreams, right?  We are suppose to change and grow, right? I can't always live in Now-land, because then I would never have the foresight to prepare my children for adulthood, nor plan for retirement one day, nor make provisions for if (gasp) Mike might make it to Heaven before me. (This last one is heavy on my heart right now, as a co-worker of Mike's just lost his wife to a heart-attack yesterday. I.can't.even.imagine.) If I always stay in Now-land, then perhaps I might miss the opportunity for God to use me to be an encouragement to others.

Yet, here's why I can't pull anchor and sail away.  Part of my heart tells me that the only place to live life is in Now-land. I mean, we are never promised tomorrow. Healthy children get sick. and even die. Car accidents occur. Murders happen. Cancer exists. Heart-attacks happen. (Not trying to sound doom and gloom here. I just know that we live in a broken world.) So doesn't it make sense to make the most of today? To be an influence to those in my life today? Why should I focus on tomorrow? I have today to live. To fill up. To influence.  Part of my heart says that if my focus is on sailing towards Dream-land, then I will not be present in Now-land.

So here's where I'm stuck.  Is there a way I can live fully in Now-land while at the same time seeking Dreamland? Maybe Dreamland isn't that far away. Maybe, just maybe if I keep walking in Now-land, living today as fully as I can, then I will stumble upon a bridge...and just a few steps across that bridge is the place where my dreams do become reality.  Perhaps the bridge lets me live fully in today, and yet gives me the opportunity to skip on over to Dreamland. It's back and forth, something that I can do at the same time? Or maybe not.  It's just me pondering here. Wondering. Full of hope, yet full fear. Full of possibility, yet full of questions. Full of dreams, yet full of now. And thankful, I never walk this journey alone. (Thanks, God!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Glimpse into Our Home

Our house was full of laughter tonight and I wanted to pause and remember it! I was trying to post a video, but I'm not having the patience to get it from my phone to my computer tonight, so I will just capture it in words! (The rest of my family will be glad about the no video thing, I'm sure!) 

Tonight's laughter was brought to us courtesy of my friend Lori (who shared this advent activity with me), our church who played the hilarious video on Sunday (edited version, of course!) and Jimmy Kimmel.  If you like this video, he also has a part two, which I think is even funnier!

So here's how it went down, we drew names at dinner, and each of us had to find a present that the person would have a hard time finding three nice things to say about.  We wrapped them up pretty and exchanged them.

Sarah got hotdogs (from dad), Morgan got tuna fish (from mom), Mike got makeup (from Morgan) and I got...drumroll daughter's chewed up laffy taffy (from Sarah). We each had to come up with 3 nice things to say about our present.  We all laughed and laughed some more!  For the laffy taffy, I said, "I love the color yellow, I will think of you every time I look at it, and it smells so yummy!"

After that we let the girls watch the Jimmy Kimmel video (caution, some inappropriateness for kids), and we spent the next 30-40 minutes watching some of his other challenges -- we really liked the "Kids, I ate all your Halloween Candy ones." H.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. - (And some spoiled kids!)

ADDITIONALLY, I finally feel like I did something right.  You see, my 11 year has expressed more disapproval this year than approval for our family fun/togetherness ideas that I put in the stockings -- and while I know she's changing and growing up and our family traditions will change as she grows, it's just well, caught me by surprise this year. So when she was excited about this idea...well it made me smile! I vow to continue to find new and fun ways to connect with my girls as they grow in each and every season of life! And I will pause and capture the laughter in my heart every chance I get.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quietness (and 'Otherness')

I love my family. Giggly girls. Flirting husband. Clanging dishes around the dinner table. Arguing sisters (which I'm certain is really love in disguise.) Neighborhood girls hanging out.

BUT tonight, spur of the moment, Mike decided to take the girls into town to shop for my Christmas present! And I think my heart smiled a little bit a whole bunch at that news, because that means I don't have to worry about a dinner I didn't have planned, AND I get an evening of quiet at my home sweet home!!! woohoo! So right now, Daisy is snuggled up next to me and all I hear are the clicks of my keyboard.  I know my soul is one that NEEDS quiet. It's where I find replenishment. YET, in this season of my life, it is something that I usually don't make a priority.  HMMM, I wonder why that is.  I might have to ponder this more and remedy it.

So a few things in my world lately...

  • Being a substitute teacher in kindergarten LOTS, means I get lots of sweet pictures from kids.  Usually, I smile and thank them and compliment their work. I take their picture home and just toss them (I mean I can barely keep up with all my own girls work!) But I got one today that I think I will hang on my refrigerator for awhile. It says "I'm sorry for being goofy."  I've been in this class quite a bit this year.  You just know that this kid has a rough home life. I don't know all the details, but you see it in his eyes, feel it in his actions, experience it in responses. I just felt that I need to spend some time praying for him...and this picture will remind me to pause and do just that.  I wish all children had the opportunity to experience a childhood dreams are made of, but the reality is that many do not. 
  • Last night, we had a very special dinner guest.  After years of Darian watching my kids for long weekends, I finally get to return the favor! What joy it was to have a little one hanging at our house last night! We all enjoyed our 'Henry time' and hope we can do it again real soon! (Pretty Please, Darian!)
  • I have an amazing opportunity coming up!  Holley Gerth is an author of several books encouraging women ( She has started a 'God-sized Dream Team' - and I'm on it! The FB group was set up this week. 100 women, pursuing dreams, together. Not just any dreams, God-sized dreams. The FB group has a coffee-shop, sit-around-and talk kinda feel - I've so enjoyed what I've read on there in just the past couple of days! There are some amazing women on there, who I am looking forward to getting to know better over the next several months! Accountability. Friendship. Authenticity. Oh, it's gonna be good. 
  • I've been kinda quiet on my own blog lately because I've had some very time consuming articles I've written over at -- several giveaways for fun Christmas presents -- check it out if you haven't yet! I wrote the stocking stuffer article and the tween gift guide.  They were fun articles to write, but time consuming!  More giveaways coming too! :) 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Simmering Dreams

Yesterday, during a break, I scribbled this on a piece of paper.  A LOT has happened in the past few weeks that makes me feel alive with possibility. God, loving me, reminding me that He placed this dream in my heart. This past month this simple verse keeps repeating in my head, "Be still. And know that I am God."

Sometimes dreams simmer a long time. You put them on the back burner. Let the sit. And simmer. And simmer some more. You know it's not an accident that this dream was started. And yet you wonder, has the chef forgotten? Did he change his mind? You want to believe that he's waiting for the perfect time. But time passes slowly. very slowly. simmering. 

And then one day, without you even realizing it, the heats been turned up. Way up. You swell with possibility. You bubble with hope. And you worry about the intensity of the heat. Will it be too much? You worry, will the chef change his mind again? Will he set you on the back burner again - or is this your time? The time for your dream to stop simmering, to begin cooking, to become something more -- the main dish perhaps -- for others to find nourishment from? That is after-all why you want this dream to stop simmering, why you want it to become more that just a dream -- so others can benefit from this dream. Only the chef sees the bigger picture. Your dreams are but a glimpse into the feast he has in store! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Out of the Blue

So out of the blue, at bedtime tonight, Sarah says, "Mom, I'm glad you don't work all the time." Simple.Sweet.Honest.  And I'm reminded that any sacrifice I've made, and am making, financially, pales in comparison to the benefits it brings to our family.  There are some amazing moms who work full time, but she reminded me again tonight, that I made the choice to not work full time before I ever had kids and it's a choice I will always be thankful for! These years are flying by!

Here's the girls school pics from the past 6 years. Sarah, ages 4-9. Morgan, ages 6-11.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Unanimous!

So Mike walked out of the bathroom this morning and I rolled over and said, "I don't want to get up." He asked why and I said "Because I don't want to go say goodbye too you!"  So a couple minutes later I stumble out of bed (it is 6:10 on a Sunday morning!) and go wake Morgan up, and her first words are, "I don't want to get up!" So I ask her why and she says, "Because I don't want daddy to leave!"  So I do what any good mom does and promise her donuts if she gets up quickly and gets ready!  Then I wake up Sarah and she says, "I don't want to get up." So I ask her why and she responds, "I don't want daddy to go away!"   Again, I pull out my mom bribery and 15 minutes later we are on our way to get donuts and hot cocoa before dropping Mike off at the airport.  Unwillingly.  He's so good to us and we hope he has a great time at his training in Miami this week, but we are already counting down the hours til he's back home! 132 hours to go!

4th of July,flags,Old Glory,United States,US,patriotism,stars,stripes,blue,redThis morning, I couldn't help but think of my friend Lori, and her three kiddos, who will be saying goodbye to her husband and their daddy, as he's deployed at the end of December for a year. Our goodbye and parting seems so insignificant when I think of the sacrifice her family is making for the coming year.  Today I am thankful for all the veterans, and military wives  and military kids who make sacrifices all the time to give me the freedoms I enjoy here in the greatest country in the world! So thank you, veterans, and active military, on this Veteran's day, and everyday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Influence (EEEK!)

So, as I've mentioned before, I have the privilege of writing for The Good Stuff Guide (GSG) ( - and first, I just have to say,  if you don't follow the GSG via email, facebook, twitter, or in your RSS feed - you are missing out on some good stuff (ha! pun intended).

Well, Heidi, the brilliant mind behind the GSG, sent me the following stats yesterday.
According to - we are ranked  as the 813,000 website read in the world, and 132,000 in the United States. Apparently this is really good! And exciting.

So, she went on to say, the website gets approximately 30,000 unique users a month, for a total of 1.5 to 2.0 million hits a month!! Yes, this is where I went EEEEK!!! Did you read that. Million.  What?! That's crazy! There are 3 of us writing for the GSG right now. That is a whole lot of people reading what I write!  Which on the one hand makes me ecstatically giddy with happiness; and on the other hands makes me gasp with the enormity of it.

For the past several years now, my desire to be a writer has been growing and growing.  Well, I guess if this many people are reading what I write, then maybe I am a writer. Oh, I still want to figure out a way to get paid for my writing, but for now I'm happy for the experience, the opportunity and exposure I have in writing for the Good Stuff Guide.

And because so many people read the GSG, we can now join this thing called HARO, which I'm quickly discovering is kinda a big thing in the publishing world. Major news like Fox, AP, Gannett, ABC, along with major magazines, use this resource to get ideas for articles and news stories.  In fact, today, I responded to one about marriage advice, and I heard back almost instantly from the writer of the article, thanking me for 'fantastic tips' and she said she'd let me know if she uses my ideas in a REDBOOK article! She may or may not, but just the possibility of being able to share my ideas/tips with such a large audience makes me smile.

And I'd be honest if I didn't say all this makes me slightly nervous! Words have such the potential to influence others - for good, for worse.  It is my continued to desire that the words I choose to share will strengthen families, encourage marriages, and inspire others on the journey!  And I'm glad the dreams God dreams for my life, surpass all my dreams!
Every girl should be told this.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Introverted Self and My Writing

I am by nature, an introvert.  I'll admit, at times I wish I was more of an extrovert, but I'm not. Most of the time, I am very comfortable being an introvert.  Most of the time.

The gift of the internet, of blogging, of facebook, is that it has given me a platform from which I can share more of my heart, the reality of my life, and the depth of my soul, in a bigger way than I ever dreamed possible.  And in being able to open up, to share, I've discovered, many others appreciate what I have to share. My perspectives. My ideas. God has used me to make others smile. To encourage. To inspire. I'm humbled. I'm encouraged. And it makes me smile in return.

I  love writing. I love putting my thoughts, perspectives, feelings, struggles into the written word. It's something that I can get lost in. It's a gift, really, that God has given me. I have always loved to write. Always.  I have a scrapbook from elementary that I was glancing through a few months ago and found notes written by teachers talking positively about my writing.  I don't remember them saying that to me. But I'm glad they took the time to write it, and my mom saved it into a scrapbook for me.

If I'm being completely honest, I would love to write for a larger audience. I would love for God to take my words, to lead them to a publisher, to put them in a book, and encourage others with them.  But this is where my introverted self gets in the way.  I think, "If I was more outgoing, it would be easier to approach publishers/literary agents with confidence." That task sounds too scary, too overwhelming.  It's putting myself out there more. It also means facing rejection. It's the fear of failure. I've created an entire pinterest board called: Motivation to Follow My Dreams.  It has some great sayings on there. Beautiful words. However, there's one problem: It's not motivating me.

But you know what has motivated me?!  Friends.  I have some dear friends that keep my dream on my radar. Friends who write to me from time to time and ask how my writing is going. Who offer suggestions and inspiration for publishing opportunities. Sometimes I think they believe in me more than I believe in myself.  Their depth of caring about my dreams touches me deeply. (excuse me while I pause to wipe away a tear of gratitude.) And to each of you, who know exactly who you are, thank you. I am grateful for you!

Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Heidi. A classmate from High School, who I don't even remember having one conversation with back then. However, who after connecting with me on facebook, and reading my blog, trusted me enough to give me the opportunity to write for a larger audience on the The Good Stuff Guide! I LOVE having this outlet to write!

Perhaps one day I might get paid for all this writing I do. And maybe not. For now I will be faithful to the process itself. I will keep taking steps forward towards publishing. I like this quote.

Have the courage
I want to become an author whose words help strengthen families, encourage marriages and inspire others on their journey.  "Lord, if this is not the dream you have for my life, give me a new one. Amen."

Monday, October 29, 2012


I know those on the East Coast are waking up to the early arrival winds of Hurricane Sandy, but here, it was almost a magical morning.  I'm not sure if you'd call it twilight or dawn.
twilight. the light from the sky between full night and sunrise or between sunset and full night produced by diffusion of sunlight through the atmosphere and its dust
dawn. to begin to grow light as the sun rises
Calm. Peaceful. The setting moon - large, bright and mesmerizing, as I drove Morgan to school.  The brightening, beginning colors of daybreak, framed with the wisps of clouds, as I drove back home.

No pictures to capture it, but I paused to appreciate the way the moment spoke to my soul. Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A-Maze-ing Weekend

Our weekend captured in words...with a few pics thrown in too!

Sipping Apple Cider slushies. Driving through countryside. Then driving through Mark Twain National Forest. Being captivated by this glorious Fall.  It may be one of the prettiest falls we've had since moving to Missouri. Replenishing my soul with God's beautiful, ever changing, creation.

Hiking at Roaring River State Park, definitely the most beautiful place within an hour drive of us!  Climbing Trees. Silliness (monkeys in trees). Leaves crunching under our feet.

Sarah making up hiking games - who can find...biggest leaf, smallest leaf, longest leaf. Collecting the prettiest leaves we can find under the forest's canopy.

Picnicking along the river bank. Breathing in deeply fresh ozark air.

Spending Saturday morning helping paint rooms at Community Partnership. Love serving alongside other moms and daughters. Beautiful people giving up a Saturday morning to volunteer within our community,  invest in relationships with their daughters, and put compassion into action!
Mike finally got FOX to come thru our antenna - yay! - thus getting to finally watch the cardinals in the playoffs. This makes him happy.  (on the downside, now we've lost NBC. Got some more adjusting to do!)  Oh, and making three batches of Rolo's cookies and munching on them all weekend long.

Spending Sunday morning serving as a family at North Point Church.  I'm so thankful for the authentic, amazing people who lead, serve and attend at our church. Who are the hands and feet of Christ in our community.  I also love it when God speaks deeply into my soul some truths that it needs to hear.

Lastly, we went to a corn maze tonight with friends.  Kids running around, pretending to be 'lost'.  Then a hayride. Facepainting. Definitely fall fun. The only thing we still need to get is our pumpkins!

Oh and did I mention the entire weekend was sunny and in the 70s! You don't get a fall weekend more perfect than the one I just got to enjoy!

I love him!
and this beautiful life we share!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Short Poem

I saw this posted on FB this morning, and it was too beautiful to forget. So I'm putting it here, to remember.

Do not judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful…
And when something has enriched your life
And when its melody lingers on in your heart.
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?

~ Author unknown

Monday, October 8, 2012

Japanese Stroll Gardens

It's been quite cold since my parents arrived, but we enjoyed the sunshine today at the Japanese Stroll Gardens in Springfield. Such a peaceful, fun, tranquil, relaxing place!  I'm thankful both Mike and the girls had the day off too! Here are a few photos....

Then we rode our bikes for seven miles and filled up on Andy's Frozen Custard! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Welcome Back, Fall

Leaf.Since this past week it's actually been feeling a little bit like fall here, I've been thinking of all the things I love about Fall.  To me, Fall is...  longer hikes, preferably discovering new trails whenever possible. Longer bike rides in the evenings. Black Walnut Season (I have a love/hate relationship with this one.). Morning fires to take the chill of the air. Backyard campfires. Rekindling my love of hot cocoa. Pausing to notice the changing landscape around me. Camping (although I don't think this is happening this Fall and that makes me a tad bit sad!). Fresh apple cider. Eating apples. Eating them dipped in caramel. And baked up with sugar and cinnamon. With a scoop of ice cream on top.  Blue Jeans and sweatshirts. Mike enjoying football games. Inhaling, deeply, the crisp air. Windows open, letting the outside merge with the inside (loving this even more this fall since we installed our attic fan a few weeks ago!).  Getting lost in a corn maze. Finding the perfect pumpkins. Carving them. Planning for Halloween costumes. My parents semi-annual visit. Attending Fall Festivals (our favorite - Apple Butter Making Days in Mt. Vernon, MO). Note: Must get there early if you want to get the freshly made apple butter out of the kettles on the courthouse lawn. It's the contentment of being back in a routine. It's raking leaves. And jumping in them. It's discovering again the joy that each new season holds. Oh, Fall, it's good to have you back! (Even if it means I'm spending part of my Saturday picking up black walnuts!) 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mockingjay and Revolution

For some reason, I just wanted to type the ending to Mockingjay in my blog. I hope when my kids are older they will read this series. I admire the strength of Katniss. Although she must live with extreme pain from the choices of others, she finds a way to mingle in the joys and create a life that includes happiness too.
My children, who don't know they play on a graveyard. Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I'll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won't ever really go away.   
I'll tell them how I survive it. I'll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I'm afraid it could be taken away. That's when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I've seen someone do. It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more that twenty years. But there are much worse games to play. 
And I also have to say that I am really NOT a TV watcher. In general, I don't follow shows, I like very few sitcoms, and dislike most reality tv shows. And I'm okay with that. I followed ER for years...when we first moved to Missouri, two other couples moved there at the same time, and moved in next door and across the street, so we had a standing weekly ER meetup. Great memories.  Then I followed got kinda weird, but I still followed it til the end.  Now last week, along came Revolution. The show has captivated me - I find it intriguing to think about how much we have become dependent on technology and electricity and energy.  The world survived for centuries without these things - and yet I wonder, would we be able to survive in a world now without it? I think of all the things I'd have to give up, all the things I'd have to learn to do -- if the power went out around the whole world.

So, if you call me Monday at 9pm - I won't answer - I'm snuggled on the couch with Mike, the dog and lost in another world on Revolution!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Things

Just wanted to list a few of the happy things from my week -

Morgan knew I'd been waiting (like, forever!) for Mockingjay, so I could finish the Hunger Games series, (ridiculously long wait at public library), so she checked it out from her school library for me to read! (so sweet!) And last night, I finished it. And I loved it. I didn't love the Twlight series, so I wasn't expecting to love this series. I did. A lot. The epilogue moved me in a way I was not anticipating. It's rare that an end of a book can touch me deeply.

Sarah begged me to let her mop the floor - seriously begged - so lucky me, my floor got mopped!

The girls most recent favorite game. It's been fun to play with them in the evenings. #monopoly
Monopoly was my favorite game when I was the girls age. They have been really into it lately, so I've been playing it with them in the evenings, and it's been lots of fun to play again after all these years.

Yesterday was a perfect day to welcome in Fall at Silver Dollar City's Harvest Festival.  We were there when the park opened and when it closed. There were virtually no lines. Got to ride in the front and back easily of any roller coaster we wanted to. The girls were excited that we finally let them pick out a bucket full of taffy flavors, so they snacked on that all day.  We also got fudge, blommin' onion, skillet meals...yum!! We normally don't spoil our taste buds at Silver Dollar City like this, so it was a real treat! And I got a shirt that says "Livin' the Lucky Life!" - I couldn't agree more!

The Good Stuff Guide - This is the other website that I get the privilege of writing for! I love having another outlet to write articles and share ideas on! And she sent me an email this past week - she hadn't checked the stats in quite awhile and the site is getting 25,000 to 32,000 unique hits every month!! yay!! (I guess to be considered a successful website they want to see at least 10,000 unique hits.) I admit, this has made me smile, more than once. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

When I'm Less of a Mom than I Want to Be

On the sidebar of my blog, it says, "I live in the gap between the mom I want to be and the mom I really am."   You see there is this perfect mom that I picture - one who is patient, who doesn't yell, who always knows the right answer, the right thing to do.  I know it's unrealistic. I know I can never be perfect. I even know that attempting perfection is not healthy.  But you see I really don't want my brokenness to transfer to my kids. Those things I don't like about myself, the things I'm working on, I don't want to instill in them.  Is that so bad?

Then there is the mom I really am.  The one who yells. The one who is less than patient. The one who doesn't know what to do half the time.

And here I am tonight, in the gap between the two, trying to find middle ground.  Here's today's incident.

I had several moms and daughters over today (part of a new group I started of moms/daughters serving together once a month in our community). Today we were making cookies to take to police/fire stations to say 'thanks for serving our community.'  Sarah is busy decorating cookies, then I turn around and find she has decided to NOT frost her cookies, no, she decided to frost her hands...and throw in a bunch of sprinkles, and mix them in, and then proceed to cover both sides of her hands!!!!  Seriously, is she two and half? Because I thought she was nine and a half! At two and half I would have gasped, raised my voice in a crazy sounding 'no', then proceeded to explain to her that 'no, we frost the cookies, like this, not our hands.'  But to my 9.5 year old? All I can yell is this "What were you thinking? What in the world made you think this would be ok? I can't believe you have done this! Seriously, Sarah?! Wash your hands now!"  Oh, I zapped the joy right out of the room.  Sigh.  She knows better. Yet she chooses different. And I'll admit, I found it embarrassing (both her actions, and then my response).

So tonight, I try to think, how can I respond different next time? What should my response have been? And you know what? about how to do this different next time  - ask her nicely to stop, eye rolling, laughing, know what. I don't have an answer.  Do you?  I'd love your perspective.

And here I am at the end of the day, trying to give myself grace. Why do I always find it the hardest to extend grace to myself? I did read "Jesus Calling" devotional tonight, written as if Jesus is speaking to you, and I read, " Gaze into My eyes, and you will see no condemnation, only Love and delight in the one I see." And I am once again captivated by God's grace for me. Even when I don't deserve it, he extends Love and delight to me. I am trying to rest in that truth as I straddle this gap of motherhood.

Friday, September 7, 2012

We Still Bleed Green

I probably should bleed gold or something, since I graduated from Mizzou. But really, we bleed green in our home.  Go Spartans! Mike attended Michigan State...he moved there the week after he asked me out on our first date.  Then, when we got married 3 years later we moved into Married Housing on campus. Oh those sweet days of riding our bikes all over campus, of the dollar skates at the ice rink, of walking to Quality Dairy for Frozen Icees. And we were too poor to actually attend any home football games, but if we sat out on our deck, we could hear the roar of the crowd.  It was fun to listen to the radio those days, the announcers would say things like "the sun just peeked through the coulds" or "the crowd is going wild" - and we could see/hear all those things. Oh, and the joy of trying to leave/return to our apartment during games...pretty much a nightmare! And I worked three different part-time jobs on campus. It was my first time away from home. Our first apartment. I was 'living on love'.   In reality we had so little then, but we were so happy! (still are, just have more 'stuff' now and much more room than our tiny 1 bedroom apt)

Sorry, I didn't mean to detour down memory lane so far.  Really, this post was to brag about our new wall/room.  When the basement flooded last month, we had to knock a whole in the drywall which required the need to repaint the room. The room (in our basement) was this boring flat brown color, and it's the girls playroom and has no windows.  So, we were at Lowes trying to pick out paint colors, I was leaning towards yellows and blues (bright colors to brighten the room!) but then I realized those were Michigan colors, and so right there it came to me - we needed a State Room! So four days later, here is the big reveal -

After we got home, I remembered my sister had painted a huge Blue M on my nephew's wall - so being inspired by her, I set out to find a way to paint this giant 4 foot Spartan S on our wall!! It turned out so good! We even figured out a way to make nice straight lines on a textured wall using this technique I found on pinterest! I also like our alternating stripe at the top, just adds a bit of fun to the plain white walls.  It's a perfect playroom now - it makes me happy to go in there, even though there are no windows. And when the girls out grow the room in just a couple of's still a perfect room for us! 

And one more project I made a couple of weeks ago....
It's actually made out of TP rolls.  Who knew they could be so pretty with a bit of cutting, glue and spray paint!?! I hung it in the girls' bathroom. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Floatin' in Missouri

I grew up in Michigan. Where we floated lakes. In Missouri you float on rivers. And they are beautiful. And peaceful. And serene. And fun. (You just have to ignore the crazies that are also on the river!)

Mike and I floated many years ago before kids, but the river was high and we got sucked into a bit of an undertow/pile up and it kinda freaked me out.  We've floated a few more times in the past few years, once with friends, and a couple of times by ourselves. Well when some dear friends from Jeff City invited us to tag along with some of their other friends, we decided it was time to take the girls!

Then Hurricane Isaac came. And we had to abandon camping Friday and Saturday night, and floating Saturday...but we decided to do a day trip and float the Niangua on Sunday!  We had a great time! The girls loved it! We loved it! We've always floated in canoes. But this time, we rented rafts. They were fun, and much easier with the girls. (ie, translates, I can still sit there and do nothing but float and soak in the beauty and laughter around me and let Mike steer us down the rivers - canoes would have required me actually doing some work since we would of needed two of them!)   The day started out cloudy and overcast - it was kinda refreshing change of pace with the summer heat we've had, but we were all glad when the sun busted through the clouds after lunchtime! Here are a few pictures of our very fun (almost) 7 hours on the river....

Floating -

Our lunchtime stop - craw dad hunting, dam building...

 And back at the campsite for dinner (a few were brave to camp in the rain!) - building fairy houses -

For part of the year, these girls stair step to be 11,10, 9, and 8 years old.
Their friendship has  been stronger than a move and easily rekindles
every time we are able to reconnect!  
 Oh, all this beauty and all this fun is only 1 hr and 10 minutes from our home! Must.Go.Back. Every year. At least once.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On the Lighter Side

Just a few lighter moments in our home lately -
  • Morgan decided to do the laundry this past weekend...on her own, unprompted! umm, yay, me! Then I discover, that she's discovered, if she does the laundry, she usually finds some loose change - so she gets paid for doing the laundry!  Sooo....I might just have to leave a few coins in my pocket, on purpose, to encourage her love of this chore! :) I can be nice like that. 
  • We finally decided to take the girls on a float trip. This Saturday! yay! Well, except for now, Isaac is going to be visiting this Saturday! So, you can thank us for helping to put a dent in this drought, as Isaac drenches us in two days of downpour! I'm so glad for the rain! 
  • We've had a houseguest this past week. And Sarah has fallen in love. He makes her giggle all the time, she serenades him with his own songs, and she hasn't even complained about cleaning up after him! Now all she has to do is convince her dad to get one of her own. I wish you well, Sweetheart! 
Someone is excited about our houseguest for the next week! #guineapig #9yearoldhappiness @shelvis2

Monday, August 27, 2012

Journey to Heaven

Last night my grandma journeyed to Heaven.  This is how I remember my grandma in the morning - in her housecoat - waking up slowly -

RIP Grandma

These pictures were from a trip I took to see them - either in '92 or '93. They lived way down in Corpus Christi, TX and we lived way up in Michigan - so this was only my 2nd or 3rd trip to TX. 

My grandparents. 1993

My grandparents moved to TX when I was only two, so our visits were few and far between over the years. But I always knew my grandma loved me. She thought I was special. All of her grandkids were special to her. 

She didn't live an easy life - I know that I don't know the half of it. But sometime during her life she met Jesus. And she loved Him. And she found peace there at the cross. And today I am so thankful that she is no longer in pain.  She is in a better place with no more tears and no more suffering. I am happy for her, even as I miss her.  She spent the last decade of her life living with Alzheimers. Both my grandmas suffered from Alzheimers at the end of their journeys. It's dark side steals the loved one from us before their physical journey on earth ends. 

My grandma loved to go bowling. And she was good at it. One of my favorite memories is her teaching me the bowling technique with pillows in her living room.  If I close my eyes, I can still go back that day. She also loved to collect cruets. I'm glad I have one of hers (on the left). 

Cruets from grsndma

When Sarah turned one, and I turned 30, we met my grandparents (and aunt and uncle) halfway between TX and MO - here are a couple of photos from then - 

And my Grandma with her five children - this was the last time I saw her. Family Reunion, 2005.

These years of saying goodbye to grandparents who have always been a part of our lives is hard. I will hold onto all the sweet memories in my heart. 

Grandma, I'm glad you are finally at peace. I love you, always. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Next Chapter

Well I was brave, I let Morgan get out of the car and head into the middle school building this morning! I wish I could have carried all her nervous-ness with me and gifted her with confidence as she stepped out of the car this morning. I'm looking forward to hearing all about her day when she gets off the bus at 3 today!

Then I hurried back home and got Sarah out the door for the bus. It's gonna be a crazy schedule this year with two different start times, but I'm sure we'll get into a routine soon enough!

Oh, and we got to start the first day of school with NO running water in the house! Fun times!! :)  Thankfully Mike stayed home this morning to help with all this craziness! And hopefully we will have running water again before the end of today...after they dig up our front yard, that is.

Anyway, here are my 4th and 6th Graders for the 2012-2013 school year (you can click on the picture to see it bigger.)

And at the bus stop this morning...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bittersweet Summer's End

BittersweetThroughout the years, I often feel like 'bittersweet' is the prefect word to describe motherhood. Oh the sweetness of these years, of this journey, is a joy I would not trade for anything...and yet in living it, there's always a tad of 'bitterness' knowing that it's temporary/fleeting - that I'm working myself slowly out of a job.  These precious years are numbered, which both inspires me and pains me as I attempt to live these motherhood years so fully. 

I feel the end of summer and the beginning of the school year is wrapped up in this word, bittersweet, so perfectly. The dictonary defines it as both both pleasant and painful or regretful. That is how I feel. Totally.

In so many ways, I could not have asked for a more perfect summer. We travelled, we tried new things, we laughed, we played, we relaxed and we had a great time.  But honestly, the days I cherish the most in my heart, are the simple ordinary days of our summer. Like today. Of them sleeping in, then watching some Wizards of Waverly Place in their pjs. Of them making pancakes for breakfast (and fighting throughout the process). Of us taking Mike lunch at work, then spending the afternoon painting their nails with 'tiger colors' for the first day of school. Of them playing with their friends in the basement, (Super Mario was a summertime favorite this year). Of family dinner around the table. These are the days I cherish and beg my brain to commit to memory so that I can pull them out and wrap up in them at a future date.

Tiger nails

Sarah had her open house tonight. And we already know she has a fabulously, fun teacher this year. You see, we got lucky again, as she was Morgan's teacher two years ago! ! After open house, we finally took the girls to the 'tropical sno' stand that opened this summer in the parking lot of the local grocery store. They'd been asking all summer to go (I think they'd finally given up hope!). It was the perfect conclusion to a beautiful summer.
And thus concludes a perfect summer.
And tomorrow morning...a new chapter unfolds...and as I wrote on facebook earlier this week...Ready or not, the page is turning, as we venture out to middle school this morning to pick up a class schedule. As I reluctantly turn this page, I do so with hope and anticipation that the values we've placed within her will be her strength and her guide in these transition years to come. And I'm definitely covering her in prayer!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Anniversary via Instagram

So, tomorrow Mike and I have been married for 18 years. I'm still crazy about him. And he's still crazy about me. And really, marriage doesn't get much better than that!  Darian & Beau kept the girls for the Mike and I had a quiet relaxing weekend to ourselves! Need I say more?!

We tried three new (to us) resturaunts in town this weekend - Tasia, Nonna's, and Brair's. (LOVED them ALL!) We rarely eat out, except for Wendy's and Pizza, so this was a real treat! :) We also caught a double feature at the drive-in, went for a walk, stumbled upon a car show downtown, and visited Japanese Stroll Gardens. It was definitely a perfectly beautiful weekend celebrating our love.

Here are some pictures via Instagram...

Sweet kids of ours. But I'm still glad I'm not spending this anniversary weekend with them.
A Message from our Sweet Girls on our Chalkboard wall.

Anniv weekend
Relaxing in the Hammock

Happiness in a vase

So glad I said "I do" 18 years ago. #happilyeverafter
And here we are 18 years after "I do"