Saturday, August 2, 2014

43 and Counting...

It is that time of year. 

My birthday.

My 43rd birthday.

I have actually started losing count. To figure out how old I am, I have to subtract my birth year from the current one.

But if my kids ask, I am 29.

Anyway, every year I write a post about my blessings for the year.  So this year, I am going to share 43 things I am thankful no particular order.

43 Blessings
43.  Sushi...which I can only eat with chopsticks.  Just doesn't feel right using a fork.
42.  My "blanket"...a certain blanket that stays on our bed.  It is just the right weight for me. I often use it at night when I am chilling on the computer or when I need a nap.
41.  Speaking of naps, afternoon naps. I LOVE my afternoon naps.  Even better when the pup is curled up next to me.
40.  Reading glasses.  I hate that I need them but glad they are there when I do!
39.  Working out with my co-workers...even though I am usually really sore the next day.  Will that ever stop?
38.  Reconnecting with friends from earlier parts of my life.
37.  An ice cold Coke at the end of a long day.
36.  Sunsets.  The colors across the sky are truly God's handiwork.
35.  Finding cash unexpectedly (that I probably stashed away in a "safe" place only to forget about it).
34.  Finding "love" notes around our house from child 4.  That child can make me cry and has a few times but also brings a lot of joy to our lives.
33.  Getting an area of the house organized and cleaned up/out.
32.  A hike in the woods on a beautiful fall day.  Especially if it leads to a waterfall.
31. A rainbow in the sky on a cloudy day.
30.  My chilled dark chocolate with sea salt caramel squares...I eat one each day.  Good for the heart. :)
29.  Jeans and a Razorback shirt, my favorite outfit.
28.  Reading the comics each day.
27.  The servant's heart of child 3...she loves to be a helper around the house (as long as it is her idea :).
26.  My pedicured toes in the warm sand, the smell of salt water, sea gulls flying overhead.  Oh how I love the beach!
25.  Parmesan cheese.  I will eat it with almost anything.  Or just by itself.
24.  A fuzzy dog curled up on my feet as I type this.  She is such an example of devotion, complete devotion, to me. 
23.  Walks around the neighborhood after dark with the Hubs and the pup on a starry night.
22.  A new book to read (and the time to read it!).
21.  HGTV...pretty much the only TV I watch. 
20.  My crockpot which certainly makes our lives a little better and helps me with dinner. Often.
19.  My quiet times...times alone with His word and prayer. 
18.  Our second floor. Didn't appreciate it as much in January when we were without heat but SOOOO love it now.  It has honestly changed our lives.
17.  White lilies and magnolia blossoms...not really together. But they both make my heart happy.
16.  A hot shower after a long workout.
15.  Shrimp. Cooked any way. Cooked all ways.  Even better when I don't have to be the one to clean it. :)
14.  Shopping with Child 2, our favorite "together" activity. She makes me laugh.
13.  My iPod eclectic mix. Each song has a meaning, a memory.
12.  My Fitbit which keeps up with my steps so I don't have to.
11.  My job.  One of the few places I ever feel like a "rock star". Every day.
10.  The dependability of child 1...I can always count on him.
9.  Warm Vanilla Sugar bath gel.
8.  New Sharpies.
7.  A full tank of gas. Especially if I didn't have to pump it.
6.  The colors of fall in the Ozarks.
5.  Hearing from former students.  Always makes my heart smile.
4.  Heated seats on a cold day.
3.  Supermoons and meteor showers. I love the world our God created!
2.  Floating on the Buffalo (even when I tip over).
1.  You!  Thank you for being my friend.  I am blessed.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Still Around...

We are still around.  We just finished a two week vacation and I am trying to catch up on our family blog. 

Hope your summer is going well!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Summer Bucket List

I have been kind of slow to develop a summer bucket list this year. I didn't seem to have any trouble writing a "to do" list though!  The funny thing is I have already done a couple things on my list which apparently I have stored away mentally...

So here is my list in no particular order.  I have titled it "Eat, Love, Pray".  Each item could fit in in one of those categories... :)


  • Eat food from a food truck. 
  • Have breakfast with Child 1 at Kolaches.  He would LOVE it.
  • Have breakfast or lunch with the hubs at Rick's Bakery.
  • Eat dessert whenever I want with NO guilt.
  • Make homemade ice cream.  (I am considering getting an ice cream maker)
  • Eat a pizza from Giordanos.
  • Try cooking 5 new recipes this summer.
  • Try at least 5 new shaved ice flavors.

Pray/Rest My Soul:
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Regular quiet times.
  • Let people know when they come to mind and I pray for them.
  • Thank God each day for someone in my life.
  • Rest/nap each day if I want to.
  • Get together with some other adoptive moms and share from the heart.
  • Read one book for fun, another for work.
  • Finish a beach puzzle I started a LONG time ago and didn't get far on...
  • Be in the moment.
  • Go whitewater rafting.
  • See a bear. In the wild.
  • Slow dance with my husband.
  •  Watch a meteor shower.
  • Take an amazing sunset picture.
  • Ride my bike on one trail (at least).
  • Simplify and organize.
  • Take a spontaneous trip.  Maybe. :)
  • Buy a fun pair of pj's.
  • See a waterfall or two or three...
  • Float the Buffalo with the family.
  • Vacation with my sister/her family.
  • Sleep in at least ONE day until 9.
  • Visit with friends from my past.
I am sure this list will be revised a time or two...

So what is on your summer bucket list?


Friday, June 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday...Happy Summer!

Sorry to be MIA.

Three words for you.

End. Of. School.

That means lots of late nights, little sleep, and little fun time on-line.

But even in the midst of all this craziness, and there is plenty, I have a lot to be thankful for...

Things like...

  • Summer!  Okay, it isn't officially summer until June 21st I think. But MY summer has started. I finished packing up my room last night. Woohoo!
  • My husband who came with me to the school four late nights in a row, serving as both a bodyguard (schools are spooky after hours :) and as a helper in the classroom.
  • A special award for one of my kiddos (and a husband who took video of it)
  • Air conditioning. Especially this week.
  • Magnolia blossoms. They make my heart happy.
  • Beautiful sunsets.
  • Baby birds.  We have four this year in our entryway outside our front door.  They make a mess but they are so cute!
  • Gift certificates for a pedicure
  • Notes of thanks from students' mommas
  • Finding out a friend is praying for us each time she passes our street
  • Sleep.  Maybe eventually I will catch up on it. :)
  • A flower delivery at my school on my last day from my husband.  
  • Chocolate.  'Nuff said.
  • Workouts. They are my stress relievers.
  • Rain.
  • No alarms to set, no lunches to make (at least in the wee hours of the morning), no homework to check.  
  • Sweet texts from co-workers
  • Good news about the pup (we had some worries about her back)
  • An upcoming trip with my sister and her family
  • Bunnies.  (I saw two of them playing the other day when I was running/walking the track)
  • Leftovers for lunch
  • Amazon.  Especially for moms who need quick gifts for their daughter's birthday but it is the last week of school...
  • Unexpected lunches with my husband
  • Sweet hugs from students
  • Good report cards
  • Afternoon naps on rainy days
And so many more things...

How about you?

What are you thankful for today?


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Waiting to Exhale...

I think I can finally share this story now...


On April 28 (a Monday), Mark had a CT scan done. He has a family history of pituitary gland tumors so we wanted to keep an eye on his pituitary gland. Kind of felt like a sitting duck in a way.  I honestly didn't think a whole lot about it. I mean, I prayed and thought about him during that time but this was "routine" in a sense.

That afternoon, he walked into the room and said, "I have a growth behind my right eye."  He had apparently just found out and was in a bit of shock himself.

At that moment, the world seemed to stop.

I was prepared to hear "pituitary gland".  Not this.

I kind of laugh about this now. We always have big plans on how to tell each other things (or at least I do) and then it never works out that way.  Like when I found out I was pregnant. There are so many neat ways to share that. Instead, after having some disappointment over negative tests, all those ideas went out the window. I just called him and blurted out, "It is positive!  We are having a baby!"  Same with the day our adoptions were finalized. Nothing like we had planned on.  Not that there is a good way to share news like that but it was just so typical for us. Blurted out...

At that point, I am pretty sure I stopped breathing.

An MRI was set.  For 8 days later. 8 days.  That felt like an eternity!  We had little information at that time which was not good for me. I immediately started googling "growth on optic nerve". There are a LOT of possibilities for that but not very many of them were desirable.

By the way, a FAQ was and is "Didn't he have any symptoms?" Well, yes, looking back, he did/does. But blurred vision, an occasional headache, etc, those things are just part of being our age. So we didn't put much thought into them.

Two days later (the 30th), Mark came to eat lunch with me at school.  About that time, I got a text from my mom to call her. My grandmother had died. Unexpectedly.

Honestly, the next two weeks were like a blur. Having a completed thought was almost impossible.

We cried a lot. I worried a lot. We prayed a lot.  I found myself searching for comfort in the Scriptures.  We were also blessed by so many sweet prayers and notes of encouragement during that time. We tried to be normal but it was not a normal time.

I looked at life through a different lens.

And still do.

That is more for a post for another time.

The following Tuesday, May 6, we buried my grandmother.

I won't lie. I found myself wondering if I would be doing that again soon with my own husband.

The next day, May 7, Mark went in for the MRI.

I did not go with him.

I was in a workshop.

And there was nothing I could do. I couldn't be in the room with him.  I knew he wouldn't get results right then.

All I could do was pray.

A lot.

And try to ignore that feeling in the pit of my stomach.  The one that had become permanent at that point.

Unbeknownst to me, Mark announced the MRI on Facebook that morning. I had no idea. We had only told limited people at that time.

The outpouring of love and prayers was overwhelming. A good overwhelming but overwhelming at the same time.

During this time, tears came easily.  I could be laughing one minute, crying the next. And I often was.

One moment that brought me to tears? When our youngest child (who had overheard a conversation incorrectly) asked if Daddy was going to die and if so, who would practice baseball with him.

Another time I was cooking in the kitchen, singing praise songs at the top of my lungs. Suddenly I was on the floor crying, the dog right by my side.  It was like being on a roller coaster ride. A ride I wanted to get off of.

We had gotten CT results so quickly, I just figured it would be the same with MRI results.

I had my phone with me all of the time. Checked messages constantly. My phone battery ran down to empty more those two weeks than normal in a whole year for me.

The one and only time we somewhat relaxed was the weekend (Mother's Day weekend) because we knew there wouldn't be a phone call over the weekend.  But the thoughts were still there. The questions. The worries.

We didn't try to speculate on what the "no answers" meant.  I didn't take it as good news or bad news. Just no news.

Which was hard.

Very hard.

One thing I learned is that I can completely trust in God. I do. I really do. And I knew no matter the outcome, God would be there.  But I also learned that I am very human. And that knot in the pit of my stomach was very real and NOT a reflection of my faith or state of relationship with Him. Just part of being a human, a human who loves her husband very much.

Mark did call that Friday to ask for results.

Nobody called him back.

Mother's Day weekend was very surreal.

We tried to be normal...hiking, lunch out.

But life was not normal. And likely never will be again.

The next week I found myself more and more jittery.  More and more consumed with "What is going on???"

I tried really hard to NOT push Mark to get answers.

It was and still is HIS condition.  Not mine. I have to let him handle things his way.

On Wednesday he called again to ask for results. One week later.  Suddenly that 8 days we had waited for the MRI didn't seem like an eternity. This one week did.

As some point, the doctor's office called and he missed the call.

Gotta love phone tag.  With a doctor's office. 

He called back.

And finally he got to talk to a person.

And the "results"?

"You need to see an ophthalmologist."

That is all.

Nothing more.

Some people immediately said, "Well, they didn't say oncologist so that is encouraging."

But at that time, nothing was really encouraging.

We still had no answers.

On Thursday, May 15, Mark took matters into his own hands and called the ophthalmologist's office himself instead of waiting to be called. 

And somehow they had an opening.

That day.

I scrambled to find a substitute, a VERY rare thing for me.

And a few hours later found myself sitting in the eye doctor's waiting room with him, my husband, my love.

Finally his name was called.

At that point, I was pretty sure I was going to throw up.

My anxiety level was at an all time high.

We walked into the office. The nurse started looking through Mark's records.

She asked, "Have you seen the copy of this report?"

I was about in tears by this time, telling her we had heard or seen NOTHING.

She handed it to us.

Well, it made no sense. Medical jargon is not my specialty.

The eye doctor came in.

We have known him for a long time (on a professional level); our kids go to him regularly.

He did a few tests and looked over the report.

I was a basketcase by this point.

Then he said it, "This is a cavernous hemangioma. It is NOT something serious."

In fact, he said it a few times.

I think my face gave it all away.

And then it happened.

I exhaled.  I didn't realize it but I had been...

waiting to exhale.

And I finally did.

And cried.

A lot.

And still am.

Breathe in, breathe out.

More soon,

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday!

It is another Thankful Thursday.

And today I have a lot to be thankful for.

Well, every day I do.

Some days I just see it more clearly than others.

Our biggest thanks?

Two words.

Cavernous Hemangioma.

I have been practicing how to spell that.

And ophthalmologist. 

Today we went to the ophthalmologist on the recommendation of the MRI specialist.

He pronounced that my husband has a cavernous hemangioma.  It was probably always present though it has grown a little in recent months. And it should be treatable.

I cried.

A little.

Okay, a lot.

You know what?

Even if we had heard different words, I would still have things to be thankful for.

But we didn't.

And I am so thankful for the words we did hear.

Other things I am thankful for?
  • An opening in the day so the Hubs could get into the ophthalmologist today.  After waiting for over a week for results, we were so grateful to get some answers.
  • Our ophthalmologist who has a sense of humor
  • Encouraging texts and messages throughout the week
  • A teacher who understands the anxiety of one little boy (who senses things going on even if he doesn't fully understand them) and knows how to comfort him
  • Rain. Lots of rain.  And 8 o'clock baseball games that are canceled due to the rain. :)
  • Lunch with Moms. Because I ended up taking off the afternoon so I could go to the appointment, I was able to enjoy Lunch with Moms with the two younger kids (it is really hard to do when I am teaching).
  • A furry dog who loves on me when I am scared or sad
  • A protective daughter who may not say much but carefully guards me when I am stressed
  • A husband who stops at a specialty foods store on his way home from out of town so we can have some things we need
  • A Mother's Day hike to a beautiful waterfall
  • Getting to watch a robin splash in the puddles this week and having a child who was just as mesmerized as I was
  • Watching a groundhog pop up out of the ground on our hike
  • Butterflies
  • Life cycles (we are watching caterpillars change to butterflies at school)
  • Administrators who genuinely care
  • An almost clean garage
  • Cooler weather while we get some a/c issues straightened out
  • Scriptures of hope, comfort, and love
  • Friends of Child 1 who encourage him
  • Watching Child 3 cross the finish line at her 5K
  • A reunion with my graduating seniors...always a joy to see my kids grown up
  • The gift of texts (and texts that come at just the right time with just the right message)
  • A new perspective
  • A faculty that comes together for our teachers in times of trials
  • A sense of humor
  • Chocolate
  • Coke. Lots of coke.  That is one of the few things I have been able to "stomach" the past two weeks
  • "Couch time" with the Hubs (usually curling up next to him while we watch Shark Tank or home improvement shows)
  • A flower for Mother's Day (and it is still alive)
  • Stars
  • The source of all hope...God.
What are you thankful for this week?


Friday, May 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It has been a tough couple of weeks.  As I mentioned last week, my grandmother passed away.  Just two days before that, my husband found out that he has a mass growing behind one of his eyes.  He had an MRI yesterday; we are currently waiting for results. Throw in little things like whiny children, a mom recovering from surgery, a leak in our garage, etc...well, it has just been a heavy load.


And this is a BIG But...

There are still things to be thankful for.

Even in the midst of trials.

And tribulations.

Some things I am thankful for today are...
  • unexpected time with family when they came in for Grandma's burial.  It was not the reason we wanted for gathering but I treasure those family times.  They just go too quickly.
  • Mark's CT scan last week. The whole reason we know about this growth on his optic nerve is that we scheduled the CT scan based upon some family history.  Looking back, we now see some "symptoms" (like blurred vision in that eye, a visual change, etc) but we had just attributed a lot of that to our age...
  • my dear high school friend Melissa who showed up at my Grandma's visitation (unexpectedly). Not only did she just hug my neck but she also gave me a ring of Scripture cards.  Very blessed.
  • Prayers and encouragement from many.  We had told some people what was going on but Mark felt like he needed to share the day of the MRI scan...on Facebook.  We have been overwhelmed with the responses.  So many praying for us.
  • our God. He is good. All of the time. And tomorrow if we get bad news, He will still be good (even if it is hard for me to feel that for a while).
  • no regrets.  I will admit I have some regrets with my grandmother. I let the busyness of life keep me from talking to her as much as I should have.  At the same time, as I face uncertainty with my future with my husband, I have no regrets.  Not that we have had a perfect relationship. But I can say that he knows I love him. I try to show him daily. 
  • time.  We are treasuring time.  And even if the results are better than I hope, I don't want to lose that.  A couple weeks ago, I deleted Facebook from my phone. I still get on there (via computer) but I am more and more putting my phone to the side and just enjoying the moment.  (I was actually doing that before this but this has just confirmed my resolve)
  • the furry dog that knows when I need some extra love.
  • Child 2 for making me a milkshake the other night that just hit the spot. Food has been a problem for me recently...I want it but then it doesn't settle well with me.  That milkshake hit the spot.
  • Child 4's teacher who has given him extra love and hugs the past week. He is scared. He knows something is going on.  It is heartbreaking.  But she is taking care of him.
  • A friend who has "been there" and sends me just the right words, who listens without judgment, who understands where I am.
  • A principal who has supported me and helped me with an issue the past week when I didn't feel strong enough to do it myself.
  • Sleep. Well, it is kind of evading me at the moment. But I have had some rest in the past few days. And when I do, it helps me face the day.
  • Teacher appreciation week
  • listening to my girls sing praise songs.
  • my husband.  I love him.  Forever and always.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Forever Young

It has been a rough couple of weeks.

So much going on, many things that very few people really know or understand. My heart is aching.

Today I was about to eat lunch when I glanced at my phone. I had a message.

 A message to call my mom.

 My heart sank.

My mom and I do talk but rarely during the school day.

And very rarely with her initiating it (because she knows how hectic my days are).

Honestly I didn't know what to think. She is recovering from surgery so I was just thinking maybe there was some sort of setback.

What I wasn't expecting was "I have some very sad news. Your Grandma R died..."

Um, what???

How can that be?

She was my "young grandma."

My dad's mom.

She never was one of those "textbook" grandmas.

Even when I was a teenager, she was still working.  Still running all over town to visit family and friends.  She had brown hair and very few wrinkles.  At least not that I saw.

I never saw her knit.  Not one time.

Grandma R was up on all of the entertainment news.  She watched tv shows and listened to mainstream music.

Many of my memories of her involve those trips to Michigan.

As soon as we got there, she took us grocery shopping. She bought us sugary cereals (which we didn't eat at home).  She bought us orange soda and later Mountain Dew (she loved her Pepsi).  She bought us (by us, I mean my sister and me) cheese balls, you know the fluorescent orange balls of fluff with no nutritional value.

At night, we would curl up on that guest bed with our orange soda and orange cheese balls.  And we would watch St. Elsewhere.

The funny thing is I don't drink or eat those things any more. But I still think of those days when I see them.

I was probably barely a teen when she let me try to drive her car. First time behind the wheel.  If she was scared, she never showed it.

When I was in my mid-teens and had a boyfriend, she would try to get me to eat green vegetables in exchange for some time to call him back home.

And one of her favorites of all time was the Peanut Buster Parfait at DQ.  We had those a time or two or three when we visited.

Later, when I was older, she actually moved to Arkansas. (with my Grandfather)

No matter how old I was, she welcomed me with open arms and a Mountain Dew when I visited.

When I got married, she was there.

And as often as she could, she came to each child's birthday party.

And even when my grandfather passed away, she was sad but she just kept going.

Every birthday, a card would arrive. Early.  With her handwriting.  I always knew her handwriting.

Grandma loved her family, Pepsi, elephants, and dolls.

Life was not always easy for her.  She lost both her mother and her husband (my grandfather) in my lifetime.

And I know in recent years she didn't feel her best.

For the first time, she wasn't running around, working, staying busy.

But to me she was still my "young grandma".

And now, she will forever be...

Miss you, Grandma.  

Hanging out with a young Child 2...she delighted in her grandkids and her greatgrandkids...
My grandmother with my grandfather...I miss them both
She loved all of our kids, "homegrown" or not.
And maybe even the great grand-dog
Hanging out at the Naturals game on a June evening
My dad with his mom

My grandmother with my sister at my wedding

Friday, April 18, 2014

T.T. (Thankful Thursday)

I am not really sure how I ended up on hiatus. It wasn't intentional. In fact, I have started (and stopped) numerous posts.  I guess I just needed a break. 

But I am back.

Ready or not.

And I figure the best way to come back is with a Thankful Thursday. I am doing this post in spite of the fact that it has been a very difficult week. I don't really want to say why.  Emotionally, it has just been tough.

But there is still a lot to be thankful for.


  • our house renovation being completed! (A few weeks now)
  • having the girls is so much quieter and peaceful around here. I am not saying they don't argue but at least when they do, they can retreat to their own rooms. :)
  • my van. It has been a week of running kids around. I may not love driving a minivan but I am thankful it gets me where I need to go.
  • "gentle" reminders from God 
  • our "trainer" for G-Fit (my exercise twice a week). He has the patience of a saint to work with us old out of shape teachers. :)
  • e-mails from former students sharing their successes.
  • hugs from students (both past and present)
  • a sweet e-mail from your child's teacher telling you about something good your child did...
  • our birthday boy! (Happy birthday, Child 4!)
  • our local Christian radio station
  • Pup's new haircut
  • getting to see my mom earlier this had been a while
  • calling my mom for parenting advice. Even if she doesn't have any to offer, she listens.
  • a little time alone to converse with child 1 on one of the "driving around" days...such a neat kid.
  • a husband who is willing to go out for pizza when I just don't have enough "oomph" to cook
  • a husband (same one :) who fills my car up with gas when my gas light comes on
  • sweet words from sweet friends
  • prayer
  • watching child 3 find a new passion
  • text messages from child 2
  • taxes done and paid for
  • hubby's flexible schedule so he can help attend to a sick child
  • a full pantry and fridge
  • green, green, everywhere (on the trees, on the ground...SO ready for a real spring)
  • shopping time with the kiddos
  • hearing my kinderkids read and watching them write
  • seeing the blood moon. Wow. That was amazing.
  • grocery shopping with my main man
  • my bed.  Which is where I am headed right now. :)
What are you thankful for this week?


Sunday, March 2, 2014

The B-I-B-L-E

That is the song that keeps going through my mind...

The B-I-B-L-E,
Yes, that's the Book for me.
I stand alone
On the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E.

Why, you ask?

Because that is what we are doing.

Standing on the Word of God.

Well, kind of.

We did this in our first house.

Except we didn't have children at that time. Well, one was in utero, but he didn't participate.

What am I talking about?


We chose and wrote verses (specific to that room)  on the floor before the new flooring went down.

I am guessing unless the current homeowner of that house has done any foundation work, our words are still there.

So I wanted to do it again.

We have a lot of exposed floor, both upstairs (that still sounds strange to say!) and down.

We are getting close to the new flooring stage.

It was time.

And today was a perfect day to do it. No church.  Sleet. Thundersleet, no less.

So we grabbed some Sharpies (and then swiftly changed to pencils and ink pens because Sharpies don't work well in thick dust) and our Bibles (whether the actual book or an on-line version) and got to work.

This time was a much different experience compared to last time.

For one thing, there were six of us writing, not two.

Child 4 chose mainly verses in Exodus, particularly the 10 Commandments. That was what he knew the most. :)

Child 3 chose several verses from "Revolutions". :) (Her word, not mine)

Child 2 chose favorite verses.

And Child 1 was a little more like Hubby and me. Choosing specific verses for each room.

Would you like to wager a guess as to which of my verses goes with which room? The choices are living room, office, landing, common area, bathroom, Child 2's bedroom, and Child 4's bedroom...

Forgive the writing. It really was a challenge writing on dusty floor.  It was also a challenge staying clean while doing that. I was wearing a fuzzy red robe. BIG mistake. :)

I should interject that there is nothing magical about what we did.  We don't think special blessings will be bestowed upon us for doing this. Nor do we think the words will just magically "be absorbed" into our children through osmosis.

This was just for us. A focus. Being intentional. Thinking about the purpose of each room.  Thinking about our God and His commands. And in some ways, offering a prayer for our children as they grow.

More soon,

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Coming Soon...

A real blog post.

I promise.

I have been dealing with the "gunk/junk" that comes with winter. And renovating your house.

You know...coughing, sneezing, gasping for air.

Fun stuff.

But I hope to be back by week's end.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Thankful Thursday is Back!

I have had a Thankful Thursday post brewing for a little while.  Except then it wasn't Thursday (Thankful Monday didn't sound right).  And then I wasn't so thankful. Now, here we are. Back to Thursday. And today I am thankful.  Mostly. :)

So, what am I thankful for today?
  • Heat.  Definitely.  We got our heat back early last week.  We are enjoying every minute. It is still not fully functioning (and we are dreading the gas bill) but it is so wonderful to be warm once again.
  • A prayer. A simple but life-changing prayer from a child of ours.
  • Heated seats. Oh, how I love my heated seats.
  • Safety this morning. The roads were icier than I thought (as we returned to school after three snow days this week). I did a little slipping and sliding but managed to stay mostly on the road.
  • A sweet friendship for one of our kiddos.
  • A full pantry and fridge on snow days.
  • Progress with the house.
  • Sweet notes from dear friends.
  • Vacation possibilities.
  • Sunshine. Even on extremely cold days.
  • A good workout.
  • Deodorant. (See above :)
  • A fuzzy dog who warms my toes when she falls asleep at my feet.
  • My job. Today I was a little late to school due to an appointment.  This was after three snow days following the weekend.  The kids all yelled, "Mrs. Cloud is here!" and jumped up to give me hugs. Like it had been 2 years rather than 5 days. I love them. 
  • My kids' teachers. They are incredibly patient, incredibly loving, incredibly understanding.
  • Warm blankets and fuzzy socks.
  • God. I am thankful for God in my life. A God who loves me in spite of myself. A God who invites me to cast all of my cares (and lately that feels like a lot) at His feet.
  • Accomplishments for the kids.
  • Renovation shows. They entertain us to no ends. And make us realize how fortunate we are.
  • The MANY workers who are working on our house. They have all been so nice and have worked hard.  
  • A fitness challenge that keeps me moving on days I would rather not...
  • Pistachios. A handful a day does my heart good.  Or at least my taste buds.
  • Snow. If you know me at all, that seems like a crazy thing for me to be thankful for since I dislike winter and winter weather immensely.  And I still do. But I am not totally cold-hearted. :) I do see the beauty in snow falling from the sky.  And the white blanket on the ground. Especially now that I have heat.  I just wish it didn't interfere with my school year so much. 
  • My husband. I love watching him with our kids. He is an amazing father. He meets the kids where they are and teaches me a lot about raising our kids in the way they are bent.
  • My co-workers.
  • Lotion. Especially this time of year.
  • My washer/dryer. Which are working overtime this week.
How about you?
What are you thankful for this year?


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Moving On Up...

Still kicking over here.

It has been a crazy time with the house, with the family, with life...

 I hope to get on here and truly write.

But it won't be tonight. I am fighting to stay awake. But I do want to update. And an easy update is a photo update. So, here is our progress as we move on up with our renovation.

January 15

We have "floor"!
 January 18...

We have walls!  Well, wall frames anyway.

Here is a bedroom.
 And another one...

And a bathroom
A corner of the "common area"

And a cute little dog exploring the scraps. She loves exploring up there.

We also came home to find our hallway entrance had changed which altered the door to what is now the girls' room and soon will be child 4's room.  Apparently this kind of stuff isn't as easy as just knocking a hole in the ceiling and building upstairs. All of that affects the downstairs too. 

January 21...

A hole cut in the roof.  And the framing of a future "dormer" window.

 We also came home that day to find a large hole in our hallway. Apparently the plumber had been working on tying the plumbing from downstairs to the plumbing for upstairs. A little sledgehammering was involved.
 Here is the window from the inside.  Unfortunately for us, about this time, the beautiful January weather we have had turned ugly and cold.  Nothing like a hole in the roof to add to the already "no heat" cold we were dealing with.  That plastic is nice but it doesn't keep out all of the cold.
 Oh, and a bathtub. Not in place yet but it is there and ready.
January 22.

The hallway hole (this is DOWNSTAIRS) is now fixed. Unfortunately my chore for the evening was to keep little feet out of the wet cement.

 And I managed for the most part. Except somehow (and I still don't know how) this little furry pup slipped past me and got one pawprint in.  I would love to have seen how she did it. I had it barricaded!
 Upstairs, the bath/shower was now in place.
 And the window area is more framed out. I think this was the night that we had FIERCE winds.  We woke up the next morning (still no heat) to find that the house was freezing. It was 39 degrees in the kitchen. I could see my breath as I made breakfast. We ended up eating curled up by the heater in our bedroom which was hovering around 50.
 This is in the common area. It started off to be a closet but we have since decided it will make a great seating area for the girls and their friends. So we are going to build it all the way down.

January 23.

And we have windows!  Woohoo!  Windows make a HUGE difference in house temperature, even without heat.  We just love the transformation on the back of our house.  (From the front, you would never know anything was going on except for the huge dumpster and port-a-potty in my driveway.
 Here is a window from the inside. We were very pleased with how it turned out. Really opens up the room.

We came home last Friday to find roofers. Our new windows are now "roofed".
 And the framing is mostly done. Here is a view of the common area. It isn't huge but it is more than we have right now. On the left side you can see the platform we plan on extending for a seating area.  The dark part in the back is the actual part of the attic we actually use. That is a door to get to it.  I am excited about that.
 Here is a view of Child 2's room.  That is her closet to the left.
 A view of the bathroom. It is actually larger than the one they have to all share downstairs.
 Here is one silly boy playing with ducts.
 Here is Child 3's room. Her closet is over to the side but you can't see it. It isn't quite as big as the other room's closet but we are going to add a little to it to help make that up.
 A look up to the common area from the landing...
 A look up to the landing from our front entrance.
 Here is the remainder of child 4's room. It will now be a small office.
 And here is the view from our living room.  To the left is the landing for the stairs. Under that is our storage closet.  Even the little part under the bottom steps will be storage. Woohoo!  To the right we will have some built in cabinets to hold our t.v.
That about catches me up on the progress thus far.  Sadly, since the framing is done, the fun stuff is also done. We won't see as many of the major changes now except for drywall.


We have heat (as of tonight!).  Not very efficient yet because they aren't all the way done with it. But heat nonetheless.

And the work continues...

More soon,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

Here is a house update along with a few things I have learned this past week.

January 12, 2014:  Child 2 looking at her new digs...
January 13, 2014:  We came home to find a "landing" for our stairs (which includes storage underneath).
Every night we pop upstairs to check out the progress.  This night it wasn't so obvious upstairs (very obvious downstairs), except for...
this. This is looking down at the "floor" upstairs. They are beginning to run wires!  Because of that, we had a night of NO lights (and very little power). But this is still another step to the finish line!
One other change we found was our coat closet was demolished. Because of the position of the stairwell, we will have to shorten our coat closet. And that is okay.  Other than the entire contents of my closet were on my bed.  We are running out of places to distribute displaced items...
January 14, 2014  We came home to find STAIRS!  No more skinny ladder in the garage to climb. We have stairs!  And we have light now!  Well, most rooms. Still without power in much of the house. But it is wonderful to have lights again...
Which leads me to this post.

I have learned a BUNCH of things through this whole week of renovation experience (only three or so more months to go... :).

So I thought I would share a few with you.

  • Expect the worst.  I would say "Hope for the best" but really, I will just stop with "expect the worst". I am not saying this has been horrible. I just realize I was terribly naive. I really thought this would involve Child 4's room and then the attic. I didn't ever dream that the living room would be confined to half of what it is normally. Or that we would be without power for a while (heat I expected). Or that I would find dust and insulation in every room of the house...
  • Keep life normal.  As normal as possible.  I come in daily and sweep the floor (as much as is possible). I try to straighten up the main rooms though it isn't easy since so many things are out of place. I am cooking, assigning chores, doing laundry, etc, as usual.  Yes, Child 4 is sleeping on a mattress in his brother's room.  He is reduced to one dresser. His toys are scattered here and there. But as much as I can, I am trying to keep it "normal" for him.  And for everyone else.
  • Expect dust. LOTS of dust.  Layers of dust.  I wasn't really prepared for that. Yes, I would have covered the furniture had I known. But I didn't.  One sweet child said, "You really need to dust, Mom."  I just laughed.  
  • Make the most of it.  We had no lights in our house yesterday. None. We had a few lamps/extension cords but we also have to use those for heaters since we have no heat.  So we ate dinner by candlelight.  
  • Laugh often.  It will keep you from crying.
  • Adjust your expectations.  Not every plan or want is going to happen. And usually there is a good reason why (like support walls...apparently they keep the house from falling in so any hope of removing them is dashed).
  • Let it go.  Ironically, this is a favorite song from the movie Frozen.  I am learning to let it go.  "It" meaning all sorts of things.  I am learning to let go the fact that my house looks like it was hit by a tornado. I am learning to let go of the fact that workers will be on your doorstep at 7 a.m.  Learn to let go when you come home and find out that your power is off.
  • Talk. Talk to your husband. Talk to your builder.  Explain why you need your power in the kitchen (that was an easy fix) or why you want your arch doorway to stay.  You may not get everything you want but some wishes might be granted.  Open lines of communication are essential to keep from having a breakdown. :)
  •  Compliment. Be thankful.  One worker brings me my newspaper in the mornings.  I came home one day to find the electrician working like crazy to restore some of our power.  Thank them.  And let the builder know.
  • Throw aside pride. Yes, I have a large trash dumpster in my driveway.  And a port-a-potty.  They are needed for the job. It isn't how I want the front of my house to look but it is temporary and needed.
  • Know that unless someone has been through this, they will NEVER fathom what your life is like.  I count it as a win if we get to school on time each day somewhat with matching clothes on.  One morning we were in a child's room with a candle trying to find an outfit to wear. Life is different. But unless someone has been there, they will have NO idea.  
  • Keep the end in mind.  We are living in chaos right now but it is for a reason.  And that is what helps me get through every day!
More to come,