Monday, September 1, 2014

The Tale of 3 Backpacks

….and 5 different schools! It’s Labor Day and the eve of a brand new schedule for our little family. Life continues to chug on for Blane teaching at the middle school and coaching at the high school and P & C are enjoying their new adventures with 5th and 2nd grade. The final pieces to our school puzzle go into place tomorrow morning.

I will be working outside of the home for the first time in 11 years. I am starting a new position at a local school as the Christian Education teacher for 2 year olds – 5th graders. This new position is a blog in itself. In fact, there are mounds of lesson plans that I should be writing right now; however, blogging seems to be the best way to procrastinate at this moment.

Then there’s the little one. Berkley begins a whole new adventure tomorrow outside the comfort of home…PRESCHOOL!

I can hardly believe it! So cliché to say it, but where on earth did the time go? And is it even possible? Somewhere I blinked and the moment had already passed.

Today is like sitting at the top of a rollercoaster waiting for it to drop. There is no more climbing, no clicking of the track waiting to reach the top. It’s so quiet up here and almost empty feeling while we sit and wait to begin the big drop. It’s the beginning of a whole new adventure with new friends, new memories, new skills, new blog material (especially from the mouth of a preschooler), new highs, and even new lows.

I’m not sure how the dance of 3 backpacks and 5 schools is played out. I am guessing there will be some missteps and some spins that we especially like and want to do again. I pray there is a pause button for the parts that go too fast and maybe even a fast forward for the moments we would rather not do again.

My fortune cookie last night said, “May you leave a gift where ever you go”. My prayer is that our backpacks are filled with gifts to give others while making space for all the gifts we are going encounter along the way!

To a new adventure!


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Very Familiar Unfamiliar School Year

It’s the familiar screeching of your alarm clock that always seems to come too early. It’s the familiar feel of loading the lunch boxes while jockeying for position at the coffee maker. It’s the familiar morning ritual of gathering the hair supplies to braid her hair just like she has been planning for days. It’s the unfamiliar way she roughly grabs the brush out of my hand only to tell me she wants to be independent and do it herself.

It’s the familiar drive and dip in the road that I seem to hit every single time. It’s the familiar and eerie quiet ride to school while everyone ponders through their nervous thoughts. It’s the unfamiliar when I decide to keep my mouth shut and not break the painful silence with last minute pieces of advice.

It’s the familiar sounds of friends greeting each other after a long and yet ever so short summer break. It’s the familiar looks of angst and rolling of the eyes when you ask to take their picture outside of school because after all, “someone might see us”. It’s the familiar faces of moms you swore to yourself you would get to know when you first started Kindergarten 5 years ago and have yet to say hi to. It’s the familiar feeling of wondering what time do these moms get up to look that put together and since when are yoga pants, a baseball cap, and big sunglasses not stylish at morning drop off? It’s the unfamiliar way that my 2nd child has asked me to keep a safe distance and not walk with him.

It’s the familiar 5th grade girl who can barely contain her excitement over her safety patrol belt and would absolutely die if she knew I was sneaking her picture from across the way while on duty. It’s the familiar little boy whose dimple and blue eyes peek out from his glasses with all the confidence in the world letting you know he’s gonna rock 2nd grade! It’s the familiar little sister on my hip who can’t quite understand why her playmates aren’t coming home with us. It’s the unfamiliar world stopping moment when my oldest decided to hug me in public before I walked off.

It’s the familiar sound of the school bell and the squeals of excitement as they quickly run to their rooms. It’s the familiar one more look over the shoulder before heading out of sight to make sure you’re still there that didn’t come this year. It’s the familiar heart beating hard as you hold back the inevitable tears that you thought would stop coming after Kindergarten.  It’s the unfamiliar when you are able to make it to car before they fall.

It’s the familiar quiet ride home that makes it feel even lonelier. It’s the familiar pit in your stomach because this stage of your life seemed so far away and yet now, it’s your reality. It’s the familiar thought of wondering where the time went. It’s the familiar “did I” thoughts that haunt you for most of the morning. Did I soak up the moments enough, did I listen enough, did I teach them enough, did I make them feel special enough, did I take enough time letting them know just how incredible they are….which leads into the familiar “what if” questions that will probably plague my mind until pick up time rolls around this afternoon. It’s the familiar sound of moms with older children saying, “It gets easier”. It’s the unfamiliar burden of wondering when exactly does the “easier” begin.

It’s the familiar hopes and dreams I have for each one of them as they start a new school year. It’s the unfamiliar though that will make this ride even more of an adventure and help us to grow!

Here’s to a great 2014 – 2015 school year….let the fun begin!


Monday, April 21, 2014

10 Things I Want My 10 Year Old Daughter to Know

April 21, 2004. Parker Elizabeth is born and her new journey begins.
My husband knew a family several years ago around the time Parker was born with 4 amazing kids. Dumbfounded with how polite and mature these children were, my husband was drawn to ask the Dad what was their secret to having such great kids. The answer he gave my husband was branded into my mind the minute I heard it. “You need to teach your kids everything they need to know by the age of 10.” True or not, it became a constant record playing in the back of my mind and the mental ticking clock began.
After Parker’s 9th birthday last year, I began to feel the hour glass sand slipping even quicker. One year to go. Have I taught her what’s important? Does she grasp how important her faith is? What have I left out? When push comes to shove, what are the “nonnegotiable 10” that Parker needs to know? Hence a blog was born.
April 21, 2014. 10 Years Old & so grown up!
Parker Elizabeth, this is my love letter to you on your 10th birthday. To be who you are and the amazing, unique girl that God has created with a purpose. My spiritual light.
1.Your faith is your own. The baton is handed to you on this race of faith. And although we hold the baton together for a short time to make sure you have a good grip, Mommy and Daddy do eventually let go so you can take it and make it your own on this race. It is your Bible to read, your prayer time, your relationship, and your opportunity to live each and every day for God.
2. Confidence in yourself. You are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). Your long legs and love of dance and volleyball. Your secret curls underneath your hair that you wish no one would ever know about. The way you can spend hours reading and still beg for just one more chapter. Your beautiful voice that only your bedroom walls have the privilege to hear.
3. Puberty! All this body changing stuff is fortunately and unfortunately perfectly normal. And I know it’s difficult to navigate your way through it all and to know how to adjust to each and every step. But I need to let you in on a little secret. Although you may feel like you are the only odd ball having to go through this, I am confident that every other girl in your class is tumbling down the same path. I also want you to know that every time you scream my name from the bathroom, my heart stops for a brief moment wondering if this is the time it begins.
4. Boys. Ugh. I know you say they are gross. But believe me, one day there will be one that catches your eye and you will realize that maybe not all of them were as gross as you had originally thought. And for the record, that’s ok. We will giggle together over how he makes you laugh and we will even cry together on the nights when hearts are broken. But know confidently that God is already preparing your husband for you even now on this day as you read this letter. It's never too early to pray that he has a heart for Jesus.
This automatically leads me to my next thought.
5. Always, always, always be true to yourself and who God created you to be.  Let no boy, friend, or person make you feel the need to act, talk, or live any different than who you know you are meant to be. Protect your body and keep it for yourself. Your “likeability” comes from your character and not an action, an outfit or how much skin you show someone else. Your body is YOUR body and no one else. Don’t ever accept a comment or inappropriate touch. Let the chameleons be chameleons and let your true colors stand out amongst the rest, even if you stand alone, stand firm.
6.You are not me. Day after day it is as if I am reliving my own childhood through your eyes. I struggled then with how to make it all work and I struggle even now watching you go through similar situations. Many times I lack confidence to help you the way you may need to be helped. Although situations may be similar, I also need to recognize that my life is not your life. You are your own person, your own set of hopes, dreams, and goals. God has a plan set apart from your Daddy and I and one that I yearn more than ever to see each and every day play out.
7. Listen. I have no doubt that God has set you apart for a special purpose. You have taught me how to sit, soak up, and listen. He is speaking to you. Teachers and friends may think you are gazing off into space and not paying attention when I know without hesitation that you are soaking in every sound, conversation and moment around you with nothing left unturned. You can recount who was in a room, what they were wearing, where they were standing and the many conversations that were taking place as far back as your earliest years. Make sure you continue to create the space to listen to God and not allowing anyone to conform you to a different way of soaking up the world around you.
8. It’s ok to be wrong. I can appreciate your need to be the best at everything you do. Truth is you will get it wrong more times than you will get it right. One of the hardest things to learn is to not just recognize when you’ve made a mistake, but to figure out how to make it right. Much like ripping off a band aide, it’s painful at first. You’re worried someone may think different of you or be disappointed. But truth is, many times the worry involved in admitting we messed up is from ourselves and no one else. Admit when you have messed up, say sorry when you need to and move on to make it better next time.
9. Be the one. Be the one that speaks to the new student no one else will approach. Be the one to greet someone with a smile even when smiling is the last thing you want to do. Be the one that stands up for the child being picked on while at recess. Be the one that helps pick up the books that have fallen out of the students backpack, even if you don’t know them. Be the one to hold the door open for the person whose hands are overloaded. Be the one that offers a part of her lunch (even her favorite fun snack) when your classmate forgot their lunch at home. Be the one that can sit quiet and not feel the need to defend the truth even when kids make up lies about you. Be the one that is good to friends. Be the one that doesn’t say mean things to other girls just because it seems to be what the group is doing. Be the one for one other person.
10. I am doing my best. I may not get it right every day. There are plenty of opportunities missed, harsh words spoken and regrets of how I should’ve handled it differently. But please know that every day I consider it an incredible miracle to know that you call me Mommy and that God has entrusted someone like you into my care. I promise you one thing, I WILL ALWAYS try my best.

Happy 10th birthday Parker Elizabeth. As hard as it may be, don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Your future IS exciting and full of wonder but YOUR TODAY is where God is hidden in each and every mundane event from car rides to school, bed time routines, and movie nights. Each moment is a memory and a time together and one I will forever be so grateful!
I love you!

2005, 1 Year Old

2006, 2 Years Old

2007, 3 Years Old

2008, 4 Years Old

2009, 5 Years Old

2010, 6 Years Old

2011, 7 Years Old

2012, 8 Years Old

2013, 9 Years Old

2014, 10 Years Old

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The New Year

I heard a statistic last night that said New Year’s resolutions last an average person until January 17th. So I was thinking, what if I beat the odds and wait to start my resolutions until the 18th? Sure, roll your eyes, I too had my bitter years of saying, “my resolution is to not have any more resolutions”. But why not? It’s a new year with a renewed since of hope, new opportunities, new adventures, new promises, and the unknown awaits us every single day.

We have a started a newer tradition in the last few years called year-end evaluations. At the end of any type of event, program, etc. that I am involved in, I like to take an “end evaluation”. I jot down a few notes while it’s still fresh like what worked really well or what went terribly south and should never be repeated. These notes allow me to look back the next time the event rolls around and improve upon it. I thought it might be fun to do the same with our little family.

The evaluation sheets include simple ideas, such as current grade, school, practice writing 2014, etc. It also includes questions like: what was your biggest accomplishment for the year? What would you have liked to accomplish but never got an opportunity to do so? What are your goals for next year?   Will it be a good year and why? The sheets are not set in stone and will slowly evolve as the kids get older. The best part is that it can be personalized for each family and what would make the most impact for your children.

Before filling out the new evaluations this year, we sat down and read through the previous years. It was fun to see what everyone hoped to accomplish and if they did and it’s also a fun way to keep track of the many adventures and blessings along the way. I plan on tucking them all safely away in a binder to pull out every year  - or at least that’s what I’ve been saying the last 3 years and that’s why they’ve been paper clipped together in my “mommy to do to basket” on the kitchen counter. Who knows, this may be the year that it happens or more realistically, they may spend another year in the same spot.

My resolutions for this year included many repeats from past years, such as the old trusty standby….lose weight. I also included: complete more races, run 500 miles throughout the course of the year, find a permanent church home for our family, blog more, soak up the last several months with  Berkley before she starts preschool next Fall, buy new underwear (let’s just say it’s been awhile), and of course…pay off my library fines. The first day of the New Year also included dusting off the old resume and sprucing it up a bit (the last time I did that may have been the last time I bought new underwear). I am sure the last one excites Blane the most. Hmmm, I mean the idea of a J-O-B that is, not the new underwear…or well, maybe it’s the underwear too. Either way, if there was ever an emergency brake in life, this may be the time that I would pull it. Parker will be turning double digits and starting her last year of elementary school and Cooper will be diving into new sports and 2nd grade. Time to slow down and soak up the life and the images zooming past us on high speed right now.

A new year also marks closing the back cover of my favorite devotional and flipping it back to the beginning and starting again. If you do not have a good daily devotional, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. My pages are tattered and worn and the satin ribbon attached for the bookmark has been chewed and slobbered by each child in this house, but it truly is my favorite. It’s as if God knows exactly what I need to hear each morning and it is uncanny that the scriptures meet me exactly where I am at in each struggle and celebration. And for those that don’t feel like they can give one more minute of their day, the devotions are short and cover one small page so it can be done while brushing your teeth or even in between the shouts across the house threatening that this is the last time you will ask them to get dressed for school. However you need to get it done, you do it. But let me warn you, the readings may be short, but you will quickly find yourself lost in opening up the Bible and reading through the additional scriptures provided looking for more.

One last quick thought as I can hear 2 of the 3 stirring in bed and my coffee is getting cold. A portion of yesterday’s devotion has been ringing in my ear:

COME TO ME with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed,
a close walk with Me is a life of continual newness.
Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year.
Instead, seek my face with an open mind, knowing that your journey
with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
January 1st, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

 A toast to a new year… adventures…clean library accounts…and new underwear.


If anyone has the gift of websites and/or blogging, I would love to pull on your ear for a while about updating and sprucing up this blog. Certainty not one of my gifts but ready for an update of sorts so I can continue documenting the many adventures along the way. I am happy to pay for your expertise on a “remember my husband is a school teacher salary” or exchange your expertise for baked good and vinyl galore! J



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Eve Peace

There is something so sweet, so simple, and so quiet about Christmas Eve night. Once the church services have ended, new jammies have been opened and the family settles down for their “long winter nap”, there is a quiet that seems to stretch so far and wide and it’s as if the whole world settles down into a quiet space. It’s unlike any other night I have ever experienced. The stores are closed, no more opportunities to find the “perfect gift”, school programs and Christmas letters have all come to a close, and no more rushing around with baking or wrapping presents. It is the calm before the morning storm of opening up presents and playing with new toys. It is a moment right there in the midst of everything that hushes even the most hurried heart. It is the Christmas Eve peace.

Now rewind to today, 6 days and counting and I am feeling anything but peace. It was just one of those days. You know, the kind that makes you want to rock in a corner and eat all of the chocolate chips you have set aside for your holiday baking.

In an attempt to fulfill my dream of making my life a musical, I decided it would be more fun to tell you about my day in a song. Set to the tune of I Wish You A Merry Christmas.

I woke up to find our 2 bikes stolen
and even the ba-by seat is gone
oh what was I e-ven think-ing
when I didn’t put them in the garage.

 Next it was time to g-o to Cooper’s class party
and the tea-cher said to bring the ba-by
got to- the front office and they wouldn’t let us in
how sad he will be.

Got a text from insi-de the classroom
Said si-blings are al-ready in here
So I marched back into the of-fice
And still, got, denied.

Cried my wh-ole way out to my car
Thought, wow, how can this get a-ny worse
Be careful wh-at you wish for
As it’s only 11o’cock.
Baby refu-ses to sleep
Work calls are going unanswered
My house is a—di-saster
Why can’t I get a break

Time to distract the crying baby
She wants my k-eys to play with
At this point I am desperate
And she can have whatever she wants

It’s not until I try to take big sister
To d-ance to disco-ver
That those keys have come-- up missing
Oh boy- What is next?

Luckily the dance stu-dio
Is not far fr-om our hou-se
Enjoyed a n-ice walk in the
Beautiful weather instead.

 Had a large dose of cho-colate popcorn
Thank you Bec-ca f-or the hook up
Got a second wind and de-ci-ded
To look for the keys

Little did we kno-w that--
Keys can hide so well- in my home
Check the gar-bage even the toi-let
Finally heard the jingle in daddy’s dirty clothes.
 Warmed up the old left-over pizza
Then prayed for this day to be over
Lord please forgive my colorful language
And my poor attitude!

 When it’s set to a song, it really doesn’t sound as bad. I desperately need a Christmas Eve peace….right here…right now. In the midst of the madness. Quiet my spirit and help me refocus on you Lord!  

For now though, I sit and nurse a crying baby…maybe she would like some keys to distract her. Come on Christmas Eve peace, I am ready for your warm roasting!




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is Age Really Just a Number?

Hitting the pavement again but this time with some new kicks. Happy  Birthday to me!
We were watching some home videos this weekend of Christmas pasts. It was only 7 years ago, but there were 2 details that I haven’t been able to shake.

1. I looked so young! What happened in the last 9 years since having children that has aged me so much?

2. In the video, both my husband and I can be overheard saying how chaotic the morning was going. This was before all 5 grandchildren and it was just 2 young ones and 1 one newborn. For all accounts, I thought it was quiet and calm compared to the couch jumping, squealing, and screaming Christmas mornings we now embrace. Blane even zooms the camera in at one point to me rubbing my forehead saying through gritted teeth, “Can we please just turn off the video!” I laugh at that young mom now. She had no idea what real chaos would look like in a matter of years. Now fast forward….

Happy Birthday to Me…

I woke up this morning to my 6 year old kissing me on the forehead saying, “Happy Birthday Mommy. You are the best Mommy in the whole world”. It was magical, my heart swelled like the Grinch to 2x its size. I laid there thinking about maybe I hadn’t been such a bad mommy after all and what an amazing boy he was and what a great man he will one day be. Then my 9 year old daughter walks into the bedroom and kisses my forehead and says, “Happy Birthday Mommy”. My heart swells even more. Cooper then pulls her aside and a lot of heated whispering begins to take place back and forth between the two. It ended with a remark from Parker, “Oh and you’re the best Mommy ever”. Cooper proceeds to tell me that Daddy told them to tell me that but Parker had forgot. I could feel the air slowly being released from the balloon as my heart fizzled back down to size. I tried to justify that at least they were obedient and followed their Daddy’s instructions.

37. 37? 37!

I am questioning how that happened! I am now at an age that I can remember my mom being the same age. I asked her last night, “What were you doing 37 years ago today?” I was anticipating this heart felt moment of “ah, I remember when” but instead she responded, “I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning”.

It’s strange to get older. I am the “baby” of the family and at times the younger one in my group of friends; therefore, I get the comment so often, “but you’re so young” and then brushed off like I am still 15. I wonder at what age do you feel like you are “old enough”. And have I missed it?’
I always find myself caught in between the when do I grow up and the why is it going so fast? I stare at myself in the mirror and think, “how did this happen?” Wrinkles at my eyes from smiling and laughing is understandable and even welcomed most days as it shows me the fun we have had, the deep wrinkles on my forehead in between my eyes from giving the mommy look of disapproval one too many times is most likely unavoidable. But what I was not prepared for and not one girlfriend, sister or mom warned me about…the wrinkled cleavage. Yup, that’s right. I leaned into the mirror last night while brushing my teeth and I saw someone else’s reflection when I saw the wrinkled cleavage. There was no warning, no preparation and no words of encouragement at that time. Happy Birthday to me!
I suppose like most things, it’s all relative. You think you may be getting older but then you look back at pictures and think, “I was so young, if only I had realized”. Same goes with every other female voice in our heads fighting for attention like you’re fat, should you be going out in that outfit, bangs…really?, maybe it’s time to color the grays, you are looking so much older, and on and on and on. In reality though, when you look back at pictures, you realize just how wrong those voices were and you think, “if only I realized I wasn’t as heavy as I thought, old as I thought, chaotic as I thought and on and on and on”.
It is hard to see the forest through the trees when you set up camp right in the middle of it.
I am sure there are those reading my blog right now that are older and you may be shaking your head and possibly giggling that I am even contemplating this at 37. For all accounts, it’s still very young unless of course, you are in your 20s and reading this blog. I have been reminded this week that age is a gift that not many people are given. I watched as a friend said goodbye to her Dad unexpectedly this week and my heart aches for her more than ever.

The following video sums it up perfectly. How do we see ourselves? Chances are it’s nowhere near as wonderful, young, and vibrant as others see and experience us. Today I choose to quiet the voices in my head and remind myself that age is just a number and one day I will wish to come back to this time of simplicity and youth. I wonder if that young mom from the video of Christmas pasts realized just how good she had it at the time and I even wonder if this 37 year old mom realizes the same truth before it’s passes her by.

If you are anything like me, you may want to grab a tissue before you watch it!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Days 10-14: Coming Clean

Most times around my house there is a buzz in the air. It is rare to have a quiet moment without someone talking, singing, or the most frequently heard sound in recent weeks….the sound of fighting and yelling between my 2 oldest. Chances are pretty high that if it all goes quiet, something is wrong or someone is up to no good. Same can be said for my blog. It has been too quiet these last few days with no posting. It must mean I have been up to no good.

To say I have been nursing a holiday hangover, would be putting it mildly.  You know the drill, too much food, wine, and late night fun with family. Like most things in life, I take one step forward and 10 steps back. I managed to run the Thanksgiving Day race and it was GREAT! I don’t even remember the last time I ran 4 miles and it was a feeling like none other!

I rode that high all the way to the Thanksgiving table, which spilled right into the dessert table where I had my way with anything that wasn’t nailed down.

Somehow Thursdays race turned into Friday shopping which lead to Christmas decorating on Saturday, which lead to….um, I can’t even remember the rest of the excuses. I still stand firm on the idea that it takes 14 days to create a new habit, I wonder if that still applies when you skip days 10-14?
Regardless, I decided to give myself a little grace and move forward, tie on my shoes, and start again. I told myself I would not be my own obstacle, not today! I started on the treadmill and within a ½ mile I increased my speed and low and behold the small tear I noticed in the belt earlier, gave way to a much bigger tear and a loud deafening sound as it lifted, folded in half, and then broke through the frame of the treadmill. You might be surprised how fast you can jump off a treadmill when you have to. I’m happy to report that no injuries happened in the process; however, the same cannot be said for the poor treadmill. Another obstacle.
I decided to hit the pavement. Only 2 miles, but still 2 miles. Lord knows there were plenty excuses between here and there to not go for a run today, but I knew it was more than the run for me. It was knowing that I wasn’t going to be the one to set myself up for failure. I was not going to be the one who stood in my way or told myself I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t going to be my worst enemy or obstacle, because for me, it’s more than the run, its more than a race, it’s more than the smaller pants size. It’s freedom from that which tries to hold me back and keep me prisoner from all that God wants for my life. Giving it a voice, means it can no longer hold power over us…

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened
again by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1