Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back at My God Sized Dream

I began 2013 filled with excitement over being part of Holley Gerth's God Sized Dream Team (GSDT)! I had dreams (and still do!) that are deep in my heart!

But the reality is, this past year, this year of dreaming, has been met with a lot of rejection and a lot of dead ends.

  • Not getting the job I really wanted which would have allowed me to inspire families and young moms. 
  • My story not getting accepted to be part of a book. 
  • My pursuit of three various avenues for making and publishing apps all ended with dead ends. 
  • The volunteer opportunity I wanted to pursue not working out. 

And it would be easy for me to quit at this point and say, what's the point of dreaming? Nothing ever works out. (Sometimes I can be a bit pessimistic!)

But honestly, I'm still dreaming!

Because here's what I've discovered about dreams this past year -- they take me closer to the heart of God! Because in rejection, I am reminded that He has plans for me -- and this door is not working out because He has something better in store for me.

It's a quiet confidence that He loves me and wants the desires of my heart to become a reality. I'm not sure what that looks like, I can't see the big picture, but He can.

It's Faith -- it's knowing without seeing that the dreams in my heart will one day become reality. The dreams He placed in my heart, are for me, but they are also for others -- for others to also be drawn towards the heart of a father that loves them deeply.

So you see, anything that draws me (and others) closer to the heart of God is worth pursing...and is worth dreaming about!

Blossom Bunkhouse Today I'm linking up with a new website: www.godsizeddreams.com -- if you are dreaming dreams, this is definitely the place you need to 'hang out' at during this coming year! You will be inspired and encouraged! I 'met' the women who are writing for this website from Holley's GSDT this past year and they are some of the most amazing encouragers I've ever met! They've given me the courage to once again believe and seek out real-life relationships.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Big giant snowflakes, swirling, twirling, pouring down to earth right now. Transforming, quieting, changing the landscape out my bedroom window. You.are.a.GIFT.

I'm so thankful for the success of my etsy shop these past 6 weeks -- the income has been a blessing. And I LOVE making all these personalized, special Christmas gifts for others - it makes me smile thinking of them giving them to loved ones on Christmas morning.  But honestly, I'm no longer having fun. This hobby has become a full time job and it's taking away from my family, especially when I'm also still subbing so much.  I mean just yesterday I received orders for 24 more items I need to make!

But last night, this snow caused me to pause.  It gave me an excuse for some family time. I mean with school already cancelled last night for today, and with the special Live Sound of Music on TV, and a giant Christmas present from aunt and uncle sitting there ready to open -- well, how could I not?! The present was a new popcorn machine for the snack bar -- the girls were/are so excited! There is much talk of devouring several more batches of popcorn today! After sledding of course!

The truth is,  my house is not yet decorated for Christmas. I put the tree up this week, while my fall decorations were still filling our home. Nothing else is up. I still don't have the girl's annual stockings hung up yet.  They have been asking. It is a priority for today.  I love filling them with family activities and volunteer activities each day -- a reminder to pause during this busy season and focus on what it's all really about.

My heart has wanted to blog about so much -- about not getting the job I REALLY wanted and how I'm okay with that, of the joy in travelling this Thanksgiving and watching my nephew play at the state championship football game at Ford Field, of meeting up with family in Chicago, about Mel nominating me for leibster award, and so much more. But blogging (and writing for GSG), have not been happening lately with all these orders!

And what I grieve the most - is this, my heart has not yet quieted enough to remember that He is the reason for the season.  But the snow this morning, has begun a shift in my focus. And for this alone, I'm thankful. 

I may or may not get out Christmas cards this year, and I probably won't get up all my decorations this year, but I will celebrate the One who came to earth so long ago and continues to give us the gift of his unconditional love year after year. Jesus. I'm thankful He sent a snowfall my way this morning to remind me of His love for me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sarah's (A to Z) Christmas List

I have no idea where Sarah got the idea to do an A to Z Christmas list (he,he!), but I thought it was kinda a cute idea she had!  I just had to laugh at some of her ideas though...she really stretched her imagination to come up with some of these, and I just had to share them! (misspellings left as is)

H - Homemade Purse (I don't think she'd use it if I actually tried sewing her a purse!)
J - Jumpy Pogo Stick (as opposed to the kind that don't jump?)
M - Magenta colored gloves
Q - Quick Electric Scotter (I thought about getting her the slow scooter, I'm glad she clarified!)
T - Tight Skirt (okay, this one made me laugh out loud!) 
U - Unmanated picture of all the family (how in the world does she know what an un-matted picture is?)

How about these 'animals'?
D - Dog (at the top of her list, a real one!)
D - Dolphin Blanket
F - Fish with fish bowl
K - Kangaroo stuffed animal
O - Octipuss stuffed animal
R - Rabbit stuffed animal

Here's the food ones:
A - Andy's Gift Card (big surprise there!)
B - Bubble Gum
L - Lollypop

Then there's her sister who wants:

  • A Real Camera you can add lenses too
  • A Coach Purse
  • Tom's Shoes

(obviously, my frugal shopping skills have not rubbed off on her yet!) 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Truth (My lil' etsy shop)

Five Minute Friday It's been awhile since I've linked up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Fridays. Basic rule - Write for 5 minutes on one topic, then stop (today's topic: TRUTH).

Well today marks the First Birthday of my little etsy shop, CelebratingTheMoment so I'm kinda celebrating that today, and I thought I'd share a little bit of truth about this past year's adventure on etsy. So, here we go...

 START. The TRUTH is when I opened my etsy shop 1 year ago today, I really doubted if I'd get any sales. But guess what? I got a sale in the first week! So I kept making stuff and selling it.

TRUTH again, I thought my sales would stop after the Christmas season, but they did not. So I kept making stuff.

The TRUTH is that I LOVE selling my stuff on etsy. I got 2 messages from customers yesterday, that reminded me the TRUTH of why I like selling stuff (besides just a little bit of extra income, cause that's the TRUTH too!).
 One said, "I never know what to get for my dad -- this year I will have something special thanks to you!"
The other said, "it arrived safe and undamaged (to Scotland, I might add!) It is a gift for my sister, she is going to be delighted!
You see, giving others the opportunity to purchase little gifts that have meaning to them makes me smile! And with most items under $10, it's certainly easy for others to afford meaningful gifts.

Here are a few stats, for my shop:
  • In the past year I've had 114 orders. 
  • 473 people have 'Favorited' items.
  •  My most popular item is the Name Plate (I've sold 44 since listing this in August!). 
The TRUTH is that this is just a hobby, and I don't know how long it will last, but I've found joy in selling in my lil etsy shop this past year! END.

Oh, and for this weekend only, I'm celebrating my shop's first birthday with 20% off orders with code HAPPY1BIRTHDAY! (11/8-11/10)

Oh and my girls thought they should celebrate my shop's 1 year birthday by eating poptarts for breakfast! Hey, why not?! ;) #CelebratingTheMoments

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Random Thoughts

Writing down some of my random thoughts so that I don't lay awake thinking about them tonight! :)

Well, that 31 days of writing didn't go so well, huh? Oh well.  Life got busy, and I just missed a few days and well then, didn't feel like picking it back up.

Photo: Look! No more pool table!! Oh the plans I have for this space!!  Pool table light for sale if anyone interested. Retails for $589, make offer.Well, we got rid of our pool table... and look at all this beautiful space!!!  And do I have plans for this space!! :)

But first we asked the girls what they thought we should do with this space.  Their ideas included... cutting out the foundation and putting in an indoor pool.  Cutting out foundation and putting in a ground level trampoline.  They wanted to turn it into a gymnast area. Something about putting tunnels in and the TV on the ceiling...oh and my favorite... a fireman's pole from our living room down to the basement here!

Well obviously, none of that is happening! But in that corner there, I'm planning to upcycle some old pallets and build a 'snack bar' area with some bar stools, refrig... an area for entertaining, to grow with the girls as they enter into their teen years.  Also, there's talk of getting some hanging chairs to hang from the ceiling! I'm excited to see how this project comes together in the next few months. :)

And, my big interview today?! I was surprised at how peaceful, confident and excited I was about it.  That is not normal for me, I'm usually so nervous and worried.  I definitely felt all the prayers of all my dear friends and family praying for me!!

I felt the interview went well, and I had good answers for her questions.  I have to wait til the end of next week to see if I get called back for a second interview.  I dislike waiting. Sigh. I will have to keep busy!! Thankfully I have 3 full sub days ahead!

I know I would LOVE this job, and be really good at it -- it's a great match for my passions, my skills, and I would love to invest in this position.  But I also have this peace, that if this is meant to be, then God will work it all out. And if it's not the right thing for me, or this amazing organization, then I trust He will guide the right person to the job and me to the plans He has for me. I trust Him, and His heart for me.  Even if I don't get this job, I hope to keep volunteering weekly at this place...because it's an organization that has 'caught my heart!'

Lastly, my little etsy store has been doing awesome!! I've made as much in the last 6 weeks as I made the first 8 months of this year!! How crazy, fun, is that? I may never find our dining room table again, as it has been over taken with scrabble tiles.  If this pace keeps up, I will have to come up with a different place to make my scrabble items. :) At least it's a big table and we can still all crowd around it at one end for dinner!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Family Dinner

It's Day number 3 of #31days over at www.thenester.com.

I decided to focus on the little things I'm doing every day that make a difference in the lives of my girls. Even if the things themselves don't feel like much, over time, they add up to relationship, and create family togetherness, and shape character. 

Day 3: We eat family dinners around the table together.  In this society of go, go, go and do more, more, more -- I fight to keep dinner time sacred.

Oh we don't eat around the table every night together (just last night we ate in the car on the way to decorate the cubicle.) and often Friday nights you can find us eating pizza while watching a video (we just finished Back to the Future series!).

But not eating around the table is the exception rather than the norm.  

And our meals aren't gourmet by any means. This week it was sloppy joes, chinese takeout, and hot dogs. Don't judge. Cooking is not really my thing, and while we aren't super healthy eaters, we try to eat a balanced meal most nights with veggies/fruit thrown in.  Some weeks we eat better than others.  This week, not so much.

But that time around the table, it's sacred. It's connecting, laughing, sharing our days, discussing family matters, making plans together.  Most days it doesn't feel like much, but I know in my heart that this time shared is worth keeping a priority.

I wonder, do you think our society would have stronger families, stronger marriages, if the family dinner time was kept a priority in every family? Something to think about.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mike's Cubicle Meets 3 Girls

Day 2 of #31 Days over at www.thenester.com.  Writing for 31 Days on one topic: Interacting with My Girls (it's the little every day things!)

Day 2: We accomplish projects together. After all, we are a family, and we share things as a family.  Mike's work is doing a cubicle decorating contest this month, so tonight the girls and I went up with him and decorated his cubicle.  The girls pinned each and everyone of those leaves to the leaf pile at the bottom (150 of them!)!

All the pictures are each and every Halloween we've been able to share with them!! 12 fun, fun years!

Aren't they so cute! :) 

The above pictures is of the girls attempting to recreate old Halloween pictures they thought were funny...this was all their idea and I love their silliness! How'd they do? 

 I love that they love completing projects with us and are laughing and smiling at the end!  Family togetherness, there's nothing as sweet! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Day Challenge

There's this "31 Day Challenge" going on this month over at The Nester's place (It's BIG and looks FUN, check it out!). I've been going back and forth on whether or not I should just go for it! So, I'm writing this first post and plan to just go for it!  

I've decided that I want to do it because...

  1. I haven't been blogging very much. Hardly been writing at all.  Perhaps a focused topic for 31 days with give me the accountability I need to get motivated again. 
  2. I think it will provide me with a good opportunity to refocus some of my energy and attention in this area I feel like I've been becoming a bit 'lazy' and 'comfortable' in.  
So the topic I want to focus on this month is: Investing in my Girls. (They are currently 10 and 12 years old.)

You see, I know my days with them are numbered. I even have their 18th birthday in my countdown app. A reminder to me that yes, my days with them will not last forever.  And yet sometimes in the day to day of living, I forget that the little things I choose to do (or not do) make a difference.  Parenting is about all those little choices in the everyday-ness of living. 

This isn't about me doing things right. Ask my girls, I do a gazillion things wrong.  I'm trying to figure out this mothering thing. Many people tell me I'm a good mom. Some days I believe that. Some days I don't. But it's not about what everyone else thinks.  Several months ago I won a copy of Jill Savage's book, No More Perfect Moms. I still haven't read it, but I plan to finally read that book this month too. 

So tonight, as I reflect, what actions did I actually do today that invested into my girls? 

Today, it is this: I took time and played a game with them.  Here's the deal...

This evening, after working all day, then going the grocery store, I wanted to just lay on the couch and catch up on facebook, but I could tell the girls were bored.  So, I offered to play a game with them.  They chose Scrabble Slam.  We played 4-5 rounds of it.  (sidenote: we got this game 2 years ago and we had to 'take it easy' on them then.  Now, they are hard to beat when I'm trying my hardest!)

Playing games with my girls is fun, besides it builds relationships...interacting together, competing, laughing (at dad's word 'fart'). 

We don't play games every day, but we do try to keep these favorites nearby, so we can play often... Scrabble, Scrabble Slam, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Jr., Who-what-Where, and Banagrams

What games do you play together as a family? 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pinspired Fun

Tonight I invited a few friends over and we made this pinterest inspired wreath for Fall.  It was such a fun time, indulging in pinterest snacks, creating this beautiful wreath, and chatting about life with sweet friends! Already looking forward to next month! :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Perfectly Perfect Weird Kids

My kids are weird. And I love them and all their weirdness.

I also must say, that after getting these 3 texted pictures (while leaving them in the car for 5 minutes) to run into the store the other day, I'm certain they must get their weirdness from their dad. Certain of it. ;) I promised them I wouldn't put the actual pictures on instagram nor facebook.  They didn't mention my blog so I thought about putting them here, but I'm still trying to keep on my 12 year old's good side, so here's all I can post: 

They make me smile. Always. I love sharing life with these totally awesome people.  But let me just share their 'weirdness'.

MORGAN: For two weeks now she's been trying to figure out how she can get out of going to school tomorrow.  This morning, she acknowledged that she is waking up tomorrow for school, so I'm hopeful she will actually go to school. However, I'm still not convinced I won't get a call from the nurse at the beginning of 6th period tomorrow informing me my daughter has a stomach ulcer and I need to take her to the ER immediately!   

So why does she not want to go to school, you ask? It's the SCHOOL PEP RALLY!

And apparently at some pep rallies they call students up to compete in some silly games (sounds horrible, I know!) and she is SCARED TO DEATH they are going to call her and she will embarrass herself (by fainting, she says) in front of the whole school! On a serious note, I do feel bad that she has so many anxieties.  But I think I may have the only kid in the entire school who is begging not to go to school because of a pep rally! (And so okay, maybe I had similar fears in MS! Did I ever beg my mom to stay home?)

SARAH: About three weeks ago she informed me she wanted to be a COW for Halloween. Yes, a cow. No, we don't live on a farm. No, she has never mentioned having a love of cows before.  In fact, I don't even remember cows even being the topic of any conversation in the past year.  But in the last 3 weeks, she has NOT changed her mind.  She's determined she's being a COW and that we are making the costume, from scratch. Ummm,yay!

I ate lunch at school with her last week and brought up the topic of Halloween at the lunch table, and even when her friends looked at her weird that she wanted to be a COW, she was still happy with her choice!!   Then when I searched for cute 'tween costumes online to try and give her some other ideas, she was steadfast in her decision to be a cow!

I am certain she will be the cutest 10-year-old to ever dress up like a cow! Okay, maybe she will be the only 10-year-old ever to dress up like a cow, but she will be so cute, I'm certain next year her friends will be dressing up like cows too -- she'll probably convince them to be an entire herd! :) Now if you excuse me, I do have to go order a headband with cow ears (because I'm not going to try and make that part!).

I know I'm a day late, but linking up with Cyrstal Stine: Behind the Scenes!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Applying for Jobs: Humor

Today I applied for another social work position. I had to write why I thought I was the best person for the position on the application.  I wrote two different statements. Guess which one I submitted?

I am the perfect candidate for this position because my husband said so. And it’s two blocks from his work, so I could eat lunch with him every day.  And when it comes to housing experience, this is our third house, and our 9th place of residence, so I have lots of experience in that area, as well. 

I am the perfect candidate for this position because I am passionate about connecting others to resources that will improve the quality of their lives.  I truly believe that helping others secure safe housing is a huge step to help them move out of poverty.  I am a person committed to excellence and give my absolute best, not only for causes I feel passionate about, but also so I can live a life I feel proud of.  Additionally, I have a gentler spirit which allows me to be a person who is approachable and easy to work with, as well as allows me to be a great listener. By listening to the needs of individuals and of the organization I am better able to advocate on their behalf and provide effective services. 

Yes, obviously B, but I had to have a little fun with A, because all these applications can get tedious at times. :) Still excited to see what the future brings! 

Oh, I also applied for a writing opportunity too...I'm really excited about that possibility! :) #lifeisgood 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rewind: Instagram Smiles

Here are a few of my instagram (and instaframe) photos from the past 10 days. All these things have made me smile! #lifeisgood

Back to school - 5th and 7th Grade!!

A little pinterest-inspired humor in the Baker House: 

Beauty on my morning walk! 
#Godsbeautyiseverywhere #suburbia

Free tickets to the Springfield Cardinal's game! With the Stinson's! Love them and this lil guy! #popcorn

And I made these fun dry-erase message boards for my etsy shop! (link in top right-hand column.) I just LOVE how they turned out!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Fall 1991 - First Started Dating
(glad now my sister was photo-snapping crazy!)

19 #hashtags for our #19thAnniversary
(or #19things that help our #marriage be #HappilyEverAfter)
  1. #laughtogether
  2. #spendtimetogether
  3. #trynewthingstogether
  4. #flirtoften 
  5. #forgiveeasily
  6. #shareresponsibilities
  7. #touchoften
  8. #gotobedatsametime
  9. #livedebtfree #exceptmortgage
  10. #smalltalk
  11. #havemargininourlives #notalwaysbusy 
  12. #annualgetaways
  13. #doprojectstogether
  14. #findwaystofallinloveoverandoveragain
  15. #keepGodinthecenter
  16. #bowchickawowwow 
  17. #complimenteachother
  18. #makeeyecontactdaily
  19. #smileateachother 
July 2013 - A Day on the River
Anniversary Weekend Getaway
A few of our favorite things!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Girls' Weekend Getaway

We just got back from an anniversary getaway weekend (it was wonderful!!).  

The list below is why I never worry about my girls when we go away for the weekend.  You see Darian spoils them. Loves on them.  Makes them feel like the most important kids anywhere.  They had all this A to Z fun in the past 48 hours...

Andy's (of course)
Baseball with Henry
Duct Tape Crafts
Eat at Arby's
Fun with Fondant
Go to Farm Park & Feed the Ducks
Hole in One Mini Golf
I want Sonic
Jump into the Pool
Krispy Kreme
Lick the Bowl
Morgan makes Mickey Mouse waffles
New car - Darian's - yeah!!
Oodles of Toodles (lots of Mickey)
Pineapple Whip
Quite a show (TV)
Read Little Blue Truck
Snuggle with Henry
Towel Crafts
Up to Late watching TV
Video store (Nanny McPhee Returns)
Way too much TV
Xtra sleep - Girls watch Henry
Yuck - change dirty diapers
Zip down the slide!

On the way home I asked the girls their 3 favorite things, to which they responded, "Henry, Henry and um, Henry!" :) 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Lonely

Linking up today for Five Minute Friday with Lisa Jo Baker

Today's topic: Lonely. 

Directions: Write for only 5 minutes and stop. Here we go! 

I love summertime.  When my girls laughter fills my home. (More arguing too.  It's part of growing.)  More time spent with my girls. More instilling values into them.  More creative messes. I love just having them home, and around, even if sometimes they are watching TV or playing with friends.  They fill my life with joy.

And next week school starts again. 5th and 7th graders, already!! I'm already worried about some of the loneliness that will creep in on the days I don't get called in to sub.  I know I have stuff I need to do, or should do.  I just like my family, home.

I think this is part of the reason I want to get a full time job -- something to do during the day. A place to be every day, relationships to connect with.  I think it would help me feel less lonely here during the day.

And yet, I know how blessed I am to have Mike, Morgan and Sarah sharing this journey with me, making it so sweet, and filling it so full.  I'm glad that when they are gone, I miss them. I miss their presence.  Lonely reminds me of the fullness and joy of relationship with them!

But I am super glad that I have the sweetest beagle ever, that helps fill those lonely hours.  She snuggles good! I love having her around.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013


It makes a tear slip out of the corner of my eye.

It whispers in my ear, attempting to convince me, "you aren't good enough."

It makes me text Mike, "Dumb is... dreaming dreams."

To which he responds, "Dumb is...not dreaming dreams." And so okay, maybe I agree with him.

You see this week I wanted to be celebrating. Celebrating having my story selected to be included in a crowd-published book releasing next week.  Celebrating being chosen and hired back into social work profession, at a job that seemed perfectly designed for me.

Rejection... Fitting quote for whatever. Be it a person, job, college, Etc
But guess what? My story wasn't chosen. And they hired someone who had more experience for my 'perfect' position. And although I'm flattered they liked me enough to forward my resume to human resources with a recommendation for consideration in future openings, in the end, it's still rejection.

And, it hurts. Even though I don't want it to have influence over me, it does.

"Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." - Dr. Steve Maraboli #quotes
However, in the midst of this, I'm trying to remind myself of truth. I'm trying to keep a clear perspective. I'm trying to think big picture, eternally.

I do believe God has put these dreams in my heart, for a reason.

I do believe that He has given me gifts, talents, abilities, passions and compassion, for today, and for tomorrow.

I believe He is writing the story of my life. And when I face rejection, I can trust, that even though I don't know what the future holds, I do know who holds the future.

It's my job to keep trusting. To persevere. To get up one more time and try again. To take a risk. To put myself out there. Even if it's hard.

Last week, laying awake in the middle of the night, asking God, "Is life going to get crazy? If I take a full-time job, will life just be insane?"  and somewhere, caught between awake and asleep, I heard these words whispered into my soul, "Life is about to get even more beautiful."  That is the voice I'm trusting through this rejection. This process of growing. This journey of living.

My life is quite beautiful already, so I'm excited to see what 'even more' awaits!

I love this. It's good encouragement for those fighting to succeed and overcoming adversity. Only you can determine your potential.  Don't give your critics power over your future.
(I would also add to this list, Dr. Suess was rejected 27 times before having his writing published.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Job Interview Morning

This morning, I'm thankful for...

  • a husband who kisses me goodbye in the morning and says with a smile, "Knock, 'em dead today!"
  • girls sleeping in from their all night read-a-thon (still wondering how long they made it!)
  • that I actually got a good night's sleep last night
  • a warm shower to wake up
  • homemade zucchini bread for breakfast
  • pay day (and Mike's amazing job for the past 17 years that provides for us!!) 
  • two more etsy orders to ship out today! 
  • remembering that I am not defined by my career, but by who I am in Christ, by how well I love. 
  • the dreams that God has placed in my heart, that I can keep pursuing, - to write, to encourage...
  • Hope. Thinking about opportunity this job offers for me to love kids and to coordinate resources that bring them hope, growth, and healing. 
  • Opportunity today for me to decide if this is the right 'next chapter' to open in my life, and for them to decide if I'm the right person for the position. 
  • waking up, another day to smile and enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's Camp Week!

This was the picture we snapped Sunday afternoon just before we drove away and left these two adorables at camp til Friday!! They look happy, don't they?

Well if you notice, sweet Sarah (in the pink) has her arm around her big sister.  I think this is her way of comforting her big sis.  Her big sis is super nervous in new and unknown situations. (Kinda like her momma!) I'm not actually sure she smiled for the half hour from when we got there until we were leaving. I'm actually surprised she smiled for this picture. She has a beautiful smile, so I'm glad she did!  And well Sarah, if you know her, she's always smiling her beautiful grin!

But even though she was nervous, timid, I know this will be a good experience for her.  I'm certain she will relax sometime on Monday, and have a great week at camp! (I mean how can you not with a pool, lake, float trips on river, cave exploring, horseback riding, crafts, a snack bar, chapel time and umm, no parents!) But it makes my momma heart ache for her wishing I could make it somehow easier for her in the beginning.

On the flip side, yes, I am doing a happy dance this week...you see, while I love them like crazy, and I spend tons of time with them, this momma needed a break!! A break from questions, from arguing, from whining, from intense attitudes, from setting boundaries, from reminding them to pick up, to do chores, to be kind, to treat others the way they want to be treated.

I love that my summers mean more time with them. Time for togetherness, time for completing our fun A to Z list. But, but emotionally these girls can wear me out! I know I need to take more breaks. We all need breaks from each other. I'm thankful we have one this week!!

I'm linking up with Crystal Stine and others today at her Behind the Scenes Tuesday Linkups...


Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We're edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves  (or so some might think!) when - in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It's because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner. 

"Behind the Scenes" is a fun link up where we show those photos - but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Couch Rebels

Five years ago, I wrote my memoir.  It's a story I wrote for my girls. It's part of their family history. It's a story of how tragedy changed and shaped my life, and thus theirs.  

Well, I had a few friends who were submitting stories to this book project...
Couch Rebels; Because Stories Like These Aren't Told by Potatoes

What is the book about?
"Couch rebels are people who have been outside their comfort zones (whether voluntary or involuntary) and have allowed those experiences to change their lives. While the rest of society is imitating potatoes, couch rebels are learning, growing, and experiencing the incredible things life has to offer." 
If your story gets enough votes, and the editors like your story, then you will get published in the book (set to release next month!)! They give 50% of profits to a good cause, this time it's going to provide clean water for 45,000 people and to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

If my story is selected, I will get to share 20% of the profits with all the other authors! Added bonus!

So, I woke up at 4am in the morning Saturday, couldn't sleep, so I condensed my memoir into 900 words and submitted it. I almost didn't submit it -- fear of rejection, fear of being vulnerable, but I did!  I'd love for you to take a few moments and read it and vote for my story: A Mosaic Heart

Note, you know your vote has gone through when the vote icon changes from orange to grey. :)

Oh, and as long as your there, you should read my friend Mel's story too: A Moment of Love.

Friday, July 12, 2013

In the Middle of our A to Z Summer Fun

So we are deep in the middle of our A to Z Summer Fun List! This is our 4th year doing this in the summertime and we have a lot of fun with it!

I think P Day is one of my favorites every year. It's the one that's always the same: Pizza Picnic at the Park with Pop. We thought rain might spoil our day this week, but alas, it did not! Glad Mike works next door to Jordan Valley Park...just a pretty, replenishing park in the middle of the city! And the girls can play in the fountains too!

I did something new for O Day this year, and wasn't exactly sure what we'd do, but I kinda made it up as the day went along and it was really fun.  I called it Outer Space Day.  First, I found a new flower on my walk at the park in the morning, and guess what? It's called a Moon Flower...how perfect for Outer Space Day! Isn't it gorgeous?!

Then we tried our hand at making moon sand and moon dough.  Neither of them really turned out...but the girls spent a good hour just making a mess and having a great time! They even threw in volcano making! 

I had planned to get a space movie from the library -- Apollo 13 or Space Camp, but I had forgot to do this ahead of time.  Netflix had a Magic Schoolbus Space cartoon and surprisingly the girls were all over it! (Don't tell, but they've been watching Magic Schoolbus episodes all week now!)

We ended the day by spreading a blanket in the yard and watching the stars come out.  I LOVE the APP Star Walk.  It shows you which stars and planets you are looking at in the sky! Very fun.

I'm also looking forward to our Q Day which is next!! :)

Here's this year's A to Z list.

Arts & Crafts – Village Pottery
Bikes! Blog Entries!
Cozumel Scrapbooking
Daisy’s Day (homemade dog treats, extra walk, fetch)
Eat Chinese Lunch with Dad
Friendship Day (make fondant to play with?)
Games! Play board games together.
Hugs & Hope Day (bring Happiness to others)
Ice Cream Day (make homemade)
Jumping Day (Jump into pool, long jump)
Kitchen Fun
Lickity Split Day (make banana splits)
Memory Lane Day with Mom (watch family movies, look thru scrapbooks)
OuterSpace - Stay up late to look at stars, watch outerspace movie
Pizza at the Park with Pop
Quiet Day (visit Japanese Stroll Gardens – write/draw/read)
Race Day (funny races)
Sewing Project Day (pillows? Cross stitch?)
Take Tacos to Dad
Up, Up and Away (watch Mary Poppins & make/fly own kites)
Vote Day – Take a family vote on what we get to go do today
Water Day
X Marks the Spot Treasure Hunt
Yikes Day! Only 1 Day left – Let’s make this day a surprise!
Zoo Day (with Casellas?!)

#sweetsummertime #dontslipaway #makingmemories #enjoyingthejourney

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Drive-In Movies

crystalstine.meHere's a  "Behind the Scenes" Tuesday Linkup, over at Crystal Stine's blog.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We're edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves  (or so some might think!) when - in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It's because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner. 

"Behind the Scenes" is a fun link up where we show those photos - but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it. 

Just 20 minutes south of us is a Drive-In theater, and at only $7 a ticket, and always a double feature, it's a great deal. So, last week we decided to have a family night watching Monster's University, followed by The Lone Ranger. 

It's a tad crazy...you have to get in line early -- we got there at 6:40, gates open at 7:00 and the movie doesn't begin until 9:15 when the darkness overtakes the sky.  

See how cute they are waiting for the movies to begin? Soon, all four of us will be snuggled up in there together. (Thankfully we were experiencing below average temps in July! lower 80s is much better than upper 90s)

And I had this brilliant idea to bring our ice cream ball --  we hadn't used it yet this year and I thought it was the perfect thing to do while we wait. 

psst: More about ice cream making fun to appear on Thursday on the Good Stuff Guide

Looks fun, right? It was.  Except see that cutie on the right in the above picture? She didn't get to actually eat any of the ice cream.  And it kinda broke my momma heart. And kinda ruined a little bit of the fun memory I was trying to create.  

But you see consequences, are consequences. And sometimes being a parent means enforcing the consequences. Even if it's breaking your heart in the process.

You see she only ate poptarts for breakfast. And didn't drink her milk. 

She only ate cheez-its, cookies, half string cheese, and a few pieces of trail mix for lunch. Ignored her apples.

She did get a small milk-shake in the afternoon, after they took a core out of her finger at the dermatologist. 

For dinner, we had hot dogs. She refuses to eat hot dogs, so she always makes herself a sandwich, which is fine. But then she refused to eat her sandwich.  I warned her if she did not eat her sandwich, no snacks at the drive in, which included homemade icecream. 

Guess what, she didn't eat it. I told her she could put it in a sandwich bag and bring it along.  She forgot it. 

We told her she could spend her own money on something 'healthy' from snack bar.  They only had hot dogs and corn dogs. She said definitely no! 

So, in the end, no ice cream for her.  Sigh. Ugh.  

But she never wants to eat healthy. Ever. It's always a battle.  And I drew the line in the sand and we felt like we needed to stand behind it this time to hopefully teach her a bigger lesson.  But man, it hurt. 

(Oh, and I may or may not have let her at least lick the serving spoon. Is that bad? Is that good?)

And one more thing...shortly after we snapped the above photo...a storm rolled in. Glad we had an SUV to snuggle up in and not a pick-up truck, because the movie plays regardless of the weather. 

The girls and I made it through Monsters University, but we mostly slept (11pm-2am) through The Lone Ranger, but Mike said he enjoyed it. :) 

And one more tidbit...last time we went to the drive-in with the girls, two years ago...my same sweet daughter hid her hamburger (we grilled) in the car and pretended like she had eaten it.  Luckily we found it sooner than later! And also that same night, a storm rolled in then too!  

Maybe next time we go we'll have better luck with both the weather and the food! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Behind the Scenes

There's this fun little Tuesday link-up over at www.crystalstine.me that I've been wanting to join all summer, and while I'm a day late even today (we were traveling yesterday), I'm finally joining in.

crystalstine.meHere's the linkup: Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We're edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves  (or so some might think!) when - in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It's because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner. 

My biggest trouble is figuring out what one picture to choose. There are so many behind the scenes stories from my photos.  The stories only I know, unless I put the stories on my blog or fb page. I'm using a couple of photos today, because for me it's an entire 'behind the scenes' trip...

Photo: Cousin time! MO. MA. FL. NY. Camping and Cedar Point #missingafew ages 3-12

It started early spring, with an added line in a fb message to my SIL - 'sure going to miss seeing you this summer' -- and ended with a trip planned to Cedar Point with both my husband's brothers who live in WI and MA, then it happens a cousin is heading north from FL to NY, and another cousin from NY decides to join the fun too...we are ready to revisit the place of our childhood fun memories ... Cedar Point!!

And while we did have a good time, it wasn't the ideal trip we had imagined. And I guess most trips usually aren't, but this one had some biggies.  Like 3 days before our trip, my SIL's sister lost her long, brave battle with cancer. Our hearts still ache for them and their loss. And we really missed them being with us on the trip.

Then my other SIL and niece got sick on the trip out. Vomiting sick. Thankfully, a cabin was open, so they were able to be in a/c with a bathroom instead of 90 degree tent weather. They even attempted a few hours at Cedar Point, but it ended with my niece getting sick again. At least they were there to see us stuck at the top of the Gemini.

Which while I'm stuck on the top, and trying to remain calm, keep telling the kids, this will make a fun story later (thankfully it was only a 10 min stuck)...

Photo: Heres another pic from our adventure yesterday. Stuck at the top of the Gemini. #tryingtostaycalm #cedarpoint #rollercoaster #makesgoodstorylater
can you tell which one of my daughters is having fun stuck at the top? 

With so many miles between us, and busy lives, we cherish these little summer get-togethers of staying connected with family and letting the cousins have growing-up-together memories.  So if anyone wants to fund a do-over vacation for us, I'd certainly take you up on that offer! :)

Then there was my 12 year olds complete melt-down.  It started with 1.5 hour long wait, in the sun, to ride the Gateway, and just went downhill from there. Oh I was mad. I was yelling at her about her attitude. Threatening anything I could think of. I believe I was even stomping my feet walking. Ugh. Why does she have to ruin this day with her attitude? (As if my attitude is helping!)  Even her dad told her she was on her last straw and she would go back to the campground if she didn't change her attitude.  I'm happy to report, she did change and had a fun day after that, but oh, that half-hour was NOT fun.

But talking with Mike's cousin's wife, she said something like, I'm glad to know you yell too...because I think you have it all together when I see your stuff online.  Umm, no. I don't. I yell more than I want as a mom. I say the wrong things. I get sucked into their tantrums. And yes, as I'm discovering, even 12 year olds have tantrums. :)

Okay, even 39 year olds have melt-downs (like when I called my sister, trying not to cry because I had both phones, all the drinks, money...and was completely separated from Mike who had 5 kids by himself...and I could not find him anywhere and had no idea where to even look!).

But my conversation with her reminded me, that yes, sometimes it is important to share the behind-the-scenes of our beautiful, yet not-so-perfect lives!

And again, I'm reminded, that there is beauty, and happiness mingled with all of the not-so-good, and its those sweet times of laughing, connecting, togetherness that I will choose to remember... so thankful for family. always.
Photo: "I can see why it would be so easy to spit from up here." Oh Sarah, you gave me many smiles at Cedar Point and I enjoyed riding so many rides with you! #sweetheart
This always-smiling girl, made my heart smile a lot this day.
"I can see why it would be easy to spit from up here." ;) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Like a Museum.

Overheard at the Baker House in the last half-hour (I'm noticing a theme here):

Morgan: Sarah, can I borrow your flipflops for the trip, since mine broke?
Sarah: sure
Morgan: Thanks!
Sarah: If you can find them.

Sarah: Mom, I found an extra pair of goggles.
Me: Awesome, put them with the other pairs.
Sarah: Ummm, I don't know where the other pairs are. (sidenote: she just wore them last night at swim meet!)

This would be why I thought of her when I saw this saying:

Like a museum

so, we will keep working on organization...although some days it feels like a losing battle.  The problem: I am more committed to this process than she is! Anyone have any solutions?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bye, Bye 11...Hello Future

Today is Morgan's last day as an 11 year old! Three (short) years til she gets her driving permit. Yikes! Where or where are these precious year flying by to? 

Oh how often I wish there was a pause button for life, anyone with me?! 

Today, I had Morgan write a list of 11 things she'd still like to do in her lifetime. Here is her (precious) list...

  1. Visit Hollywood
  2. Go to Disney Land/World
  3. Visit all the states
  4. travel around the world
  5. become a marine biologist
  6. go to YellowStone (we still hope to take girls there in next few years!)
  7. Finish Collage (aka college ;))
  8. Get A PHONE!! (I like how this is the only one in caps)
  9. Go on a cruise for a month -- or two
  10. Live in Hawaii
  11. Become a Mom
Oh sweet daughter of mine, who is sunshine and brightness, I hope your dreams one day become reality! (or that God replaces them with even sweeter ones!!) Love you, til the day after forever! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

She Noticed Beauty.

This week my daughter gave me a gift. She didn't know she'd given me a gift. In fact when she said the words I'm still not sure if she meant them as "you're kinda weird" or "what is with you?" or simply as an observation.  I don't think she really meant it as a compliment, but maybe.

But to me, it was the highest compliment I could have received.

Here were her words to me, "Mom, you think everything is beautiful!" (at this particular moment I was noticing how the wind was blowing the neighbors tree and it was dancing in several shades of green.)

Is that how she really sees me? She really notices that I do look for the good? That I do search for the beauty? Does she really notice my focus on beautiful things in this world, even while I know the reality of pain and sickness and evil in this world?

And you know those silly exercises you sometimes get that say "What would you like written on your tombstone?" or "What would you like people to say at your funeral?"  Well this is it.  She put it into words for me.

Three words will suffice. "She noticed beauty." I like that.

A choice, everyday, to focus on the goodness and beauty. God gives it to us. Are our eyes open to it? Jesus didn't give his life so we could focus on the cross. He gave it so we could focus on the resurrection...on restored relationship with him. With happily ever after.

Her words are a testament to the healing that has happened in my life. Because there was a time I wondered if I ever would heal from the evil that shattered my heart. It's such a gift that my daughter who lives with me everyday, who sees me at my worse and at my best, can testify that I do seek beauty. (sidenote, Maybe this is why I loved Katniss at the end of Mockinjay.)

These honest words from Morgan have made my heart keep smiling for the past 48 hours. Oh my sweet children, you are a gift in so many ways.
Aurora Borealis- a bit of Heaven escaping :-)
Also, Is there any wonder my favorite pinterest board is Glimpses of Heaven?

#glimpsesofheaven #bethegood #believethereisgood #happilyeverafter #onelife #nopausebutton #focusonthepositive #smile

Monday, June 3, 2013

Arkan'sauce' or Arkan'saw' or 'Art'ansas?

We seriously live only an hour away from the Arkansas border. And since this summer marks 5 years since we moved here, we thought it was about time we took our girls to Arkansas! (Mike and I had been for a couple of getaways-- and I am falling in love with the rolling-hills, lush green landscape there!)

We visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It's free (thanks to Walmart!).

Here are some of our photos and some of my memories.

Millions of wildflowers lined the entire entrance way into the park. Literally millions. Taking my breath away. I so want to recreate this in my backyard. Beauty. My iphone camera fails the capture the true beauty of it.

Amazing Trails. Beautifully landscaped, among the rolling hills of Arkansas.  Hidden treasures to be discovered here and there. Stumps to jump on, statues, the crystal spring, and a picture frame in the middle of the woods. How fun is this?! Morgan lost a leg in the bottom photo! ha!

And beautiful art inside -- by famous americans - Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keefe, Andy Warhol, and many more. My favorite are the landscapes of the American countryside. And the girls had lots of fun playing 'bingo' by finding all the works of on their cards.

It was also family fun day.  Which included -- painting and drawing in the garden. Might be one of my favorite parts of the day.

And hula hooping. Can't believe I still knew how to do it. Glad I decided to join the fun.

And Mike insisted we all make and wear sunglasses for the day. Sarah's had a cool lanyard strap you can't see well.

And sailing sailboats in the pond.

We also really liked the listening station where they described a piece of famous art and you had to draw it. It was the one thing we went back to do a second time.

We will definitely go back sometime. It was a lot of fun and a great way to kick off the summer!  And today begins swim team practice, 2 hours a day for 4 days a week! Check out the 8am temperature this morning --

-- it was cold to get in the water, but they did it!