Sunday, August 2, 2015

44 and Counting...

Yes, I realize my summer is almost over and I didn't post ONE time. How is that possible?

I do have some things to share. Soon.

But today is my "big" day.


Another birthday.

And that means I have to continue my birthday tradition of sharing some of the blessings in my life I am so very thankful for. Since this year I am 44 (I had to subtract years to figure that out), here are 44 gratitudes. In no particular order.  And please don't count to see how many items are food-related... :)

44.  Reading the paper as I eat breakfast.
43.  New workout wear/attire.  It is an addiction.
42.  Slow dancing with my husband. A VERY rare treat.
41.  Sweet words from my students (both present and past).
40.  Walking along the beach with the waves splashing my bare feet.
39.  The majestic colors of the sunset.
38.  Shopping with Child 2. She makes me laugh.
37.  An ice cold Coke. Preferably from McDonald's.
36.  Afternoon naps with the little pup curled up next to me.
35.  My praise and worship songs on my ipod.
34.  My Fitbit. (I am on number 4...HIGHLY recommend the 2 year warranty)  Especially when it vibrates, meaning I have reached 10, 000 steps.
33.  Bacon and cheese bunsters on a Saturday morning.
32.  Sundays. A day of worship, then a day of rest.
31.  Reading a good book or doing a jigsaw puzzle. They both make me happy.
30.  A rainbow across the gray sky.
29.  An empty sink.  Another rare treat.
28.  The imagination of my 8 year old.
27.  Weekly date nights with my husband.
26.  The "volcano" roll. (A sushi roll).
25.  Magnolia blossoms on my little magnolia tree (a gift from my sweetie last year on my birthday).
24.  Watching cousins swim together while my sister, Mom, and I chat.
23.  My reading glasses. I don't like needing them but I am glad I have them.
22. A successful surgery for my husband.
21.  Encouraging texts and e-mails from friends on hard days.
20.  The heated seats in my van.  Especially in the winter.
19.  The beautiful colors of fall.
18.  A hike in the woods (even better if a waterfall is involved).
17.  The dependability of child 1. 
16.  Cheese pizza.  From Chicago is even better.
15.  My Macbook. Even if the Internet is a bit slow sometimes.
14.  Springtime when the world comes back to life.
13.  The Psalms. I have been "living" in them this challenging summer!
12.  Not having to set my alarm clock in the summer and on the weekends.
11.  Dancing around my bedroom as I blast music from my i-pod.
10.  Seafood. Cooked just about any way.
9.  A fun night of badminton.
8.  Memories of special times with my grandparents.
7.  A new box of markers for school.
6.  Warm vanilla sugar soap/bath gel from Bath and Bodyworks.
5.  Deep discussions with child 3.
4.  Organizing and decluttering. I love to do it. I just don't get to very often.
3.  Our Bible Fellowship class. A place where we can openly share our struggles and our praises, pray together, learn together. 
2.  Pedicured toes. Especially with a little artwork on my big toe.
1.  And last but not least, you. Only those who truly love me would read this far down. Or read this at all. :) 

More later,

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Are You There God? It's Me...


As a child I read all of the time. It was rare for me not to have a book in my hand.  Yes, I was a nerd. And I am okay with that.

I still am, and I am okay with that too. The only thing that keeps me from having a book in my hand all of the time is this whole real life thing. I tend to forget about it when i am reading which doesn't fare well for my family or house. :)

One of my favorite authors was Judy Blume.

She had a book called Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

I loved the book but apparently I also loved the title.

When I am in a hard situation and I am calling out to God, that is the first thing that comes to mind every time.

By the way, I always say it in my mind with a "reet" on the end instead of "ret" because I think it flows better that way.

Anywho, I find myself saying this a lot recently.  Or at least thinking it because if I went around and said it, some might find that a bit odd.

We are having a more challenging time in life. It is the end of school.  Life is busy.  We are experiencing some "growing pains" with one of our kiddos. We have some bills rolling in that seem a bit overwhelming.  And though I love vacationing, we set our vacation plans before those bills started rolling in so now we are kind of "stuck" with going because otherwise we are out all of that money. 

So lately I find myself standing in the hot shower, letting the water run down my back, as I cry out.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

I know deep in my heart, He is there. But sometimes I feel so alone. I feel like I am calling out and nobody is listening.

Some days I want that personal answer. I want a neon sign saying "Go this way".  "Do that."  I want some stranger to walk up and say, "Hey, I don't know you but God told me to let you know things will be okay."  I would love to open the mail and find a check for just the right amount for a bill that came due that day.

 I know it happens.

I read about it.

But it doesn't seem to happen to me.

So I despair.

And yet each nigh (well, most nights), when I sit down to write in my gratitude journal, I am reminded.

He is there.

Maybe not in the obvious ways.

But He is there.

Here are just a few of the "gratitudes" I have recorded in the past few weeks...

  • an article that reminds me we are not alone
  • friends who offer counsel
  • someone who listens and offers help
  • watching God use the trials of life to help others
  • opportunities to become a better mom
  • friends who defend my family (and love on me in the process)
  • small victories
  • the opportunity to cry with a friend
  • friends who listen and offer support
  • an opportunity to talk to another adoptive mom
  • an e-mail of encouragement from someone I was trying to encourage
  • friends who strengthen me in the Word
  • a hospital bill paid (and the HSA to cover it)
  • an encouraging e-mail
  • laughter after a tantrum
  • time spent with a friend being "real"
  • an e-mail of prayer from a friend
  • a lower grocery bill this week
  • a good day
  • a belated Mother's Day note from a child
  • a child's good day
  • resting in the Psalms
  • the freedom of a budget
  • listening to a child's giggles as we play badminton
Are they the kind of answers that we all rush to post?  Will they give people chills to hear?  Would any of them be considered miracles?


But I have been reminded over and over that though the times are still tough (and show no sign of letting up for a while), He is there.  And He shows me each day.

It isn't necessarily the out and out answer for all of our ills and troubles.

But He is there.




I just need to take time to notice.

More to come,

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Fantasies...

I struggle with Mother's Day.

I mean, isn't every mother's dream just to have a little recognition that you are the best thing that ever happened to your children?

Or is that just me?

It isn't that I expect diamonds or fancy meals or huge bouquets of flowers.  Or teary speeches about the impact I have made in my kids' lives.

It is just that I want a fun day. A day of peace. A day of love.

Let me explain.

Fantasy Mother's Day:
I wake up to find my husband standing there with bags packed.  We kiss our four well-behaved children on the cheek, wave good-bye, then drive to the airport where the private jet is waiting to whisk us away to the beach. My husband has packed a brand new dress that looks amazing on me.  We dine on fresh seafood right there on the beach, watching the sun set.

Can you hear it? The waves crashing against the sand?  The call of sea gulls in the distance?


The Wishful Thinking Mother's Day:
I wake up, feeling refreshed. Not because a child woke me up. Or the dog demanded to eat at 6 a.m. I wake up just because I am rested.

I am greeted with Mother's Day greetings and a bouquet of spring flowers.

Then my family brings me breakfast in bed.  (Just to be fair, that has happened before)

My children all walk in, presentable for church. We don't have to ask anyone to change into something more appropriate.  And the kids sweetly get along.  All the way to church.

After church, we come home, change our clothes, and head out on a hike.  All of us. Not one person reminds us that they don't understand the point of being in the woods.  We just go and truly enjoy one another.  Oh, and since this is wishful thinking, I get some amazing pictures. Not one person complains that I am taking yet another picture.

After enjoying nature, we come home for a delicious meal that is NOT prepared by me.  I get to just sit, enjoy my ice cold Coca-Cola, and eat.  Then my children jump up to eagerly clear off the table and clean off.

We finish the night with snow cones on the back patio.

And I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face.

Now, the Reality Mother's Day:
The dog wakes me up to tell me she is hungry. An hour earlier than any other day.  Our youngest child pops in the room with a made up reason for being up early.

Finally I drag myself out of bed only to hear children complaining that it is Sunday and I didn't make a thing for breakfast. Gasp.

We get ready for church, sending at least one child back to try again on their outfit.  Then we head to church, arguing in the background.

After church, I will try to nap.  The arguing of children will keep me awake.

Sometime during the day, with a little prompting, the kids will say "Happy Mother's Day".  One will give me a card she made at school. The other will forget that he ever made something or will have left it at school; I may or may not ever see it.  One child will promise to buy me something the next time I take him to Sonic or the snow cone place. And one child will search her room for something to wrap and give me.  

Somehow we will have dinner.

And then the day will be over.

And I will avoid Facebook all day so I don't have to see how perfect everyone else's day was.

The truth is, some of my Mother's Days have been "perfect" (including a couple where Mark took the kids somewhere else and let me stay at home alone as well as one weekend away to one of my favorite hiking spots in Arkansas).  And some have been less than stellar (having "I hate you!" thrown at me by at least two children and then last year when we were still waiting for the results of Mark's MRI).

I have read some good posts recently about Mother's Day.  I have struggled with that desire for the  "wishful thinking Mother's Day" (and the disappointment that will always follow).  And I have come to realize something.

It isn't the gifts. Or the breakfast in bed.  Or the ideal day to post on Facebook to show everyone how loved I am.

It really boils down to needing reassurance.  Knowing that I am not botching this motherhood gig.  Wanting to not feel like a failure.

Because I do.

I feel like it every single day.

Every night as I sink into my bed, the many ways I have failed run through my head. Over and over. Like they are stuck on repeat.

Sometimes my kids tell me.  Unashamedly.  Other times I can see it on their faces.  But more often than that, I just know.

So maybe what I really want for Mother's Day is peace.  Freedom from those thoughts.  A sense of accomplishment rather than failure.  And the promise that one day, I may get this right. Maybe.


Friday, April 17, 2015

TBH Thursday

I typically do "Thankful Thursday".

And I know I could. If I dug REALLY deep down.

But the truth is, it has been a hard day.  A hard week. 

And I would honestly just rather not today.

I am still thankful for some things.

I am just having trouble feeling it right now.

So instead, today I am going to do a TBH Thursday.

In the day and age of "text talk" (especially among teens), I have learned a few things.  One being that TBH means "To be honest..."

So here are some things I am going to be honest about.

  • TBH:  This is one of the most challenging times in my life.  Financial surprises, medical concerns, and parenting challenges seem to knock me down. A lot.  And sometimes I don't feel like getting back up.
  • TBH:  I sometimes spend extra time in the shower just letting the hot water run over my head while I drown out the yucky stuff of life.
  • TBH:  I also sometimes escape by going to the grocery store. I don't even always go right in. Sometimes I just sit in my car and chill by myself for a bit.
  • TBH:  I go to bed every single night feeling like a failure as a parent.
  • TBH:  Parenting teenagers isn't all that bad. In fact, at times it is kind of fun.
  • TBH:  The highlight of my week every week is my date night (usually just dinner and maybe an errand) with my husband. It is a time we can talk uninterrupted and just enjoy one another.
  • TBH:  Sometimes I wish this parenting gig were easier.  I want so much to take a long trip with the Hubs but honestly, with four kids (including some challenges), not many people are lining up to keep them for us...
  • TBH:  I love my job. I am not the best teacher in the world but I love what I do. Almost all of the time.
  • TBH:  As I get older, I keep expecting to "grow" thicker skin. I haven't yet.  When I walk into a room and the already hushed conversation comes to an end upon my arrival, my heart hurts and I spend hours trying to figure out what I did wrong.
  • TBH:  My eyes are failing me.  Small print is impossible for me to read without reading glasses.  This hurts my feelings a bit for some reason.
  • TBH:  My sister is living right where she should be. It is the best place for her family.  But I miss her. Like crazy.  And I wish she lived here.
  • TBH:  I don't really have "best" friends. I have friends in different places who meet different needs. And my husband and family are my very closest friends.  But I don't really have a "BFF". And though I don't have the energy or time to really have one, there are times I wish I did so I could share some of my struggles freely.
  • TBH: I have come to love Sundays. They are my "days of rest". And I really make every priority to treat them that way. I won't do dishes or laundry on that day or go to the grocery store. I do cook but only if I want to. :)
  • TBH:  My lunch break is over and I must head back to school. I will share more later...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wait For It...The Rest of the Story

Right after I finished yesterday's blog post about Mark's surgery, I looked up to see a dear friend of mine walking in.  Holly and I taught together MANY years ago in Little Rock.  She had been watching my posts on Facebook and came to sit with me.  There is a lot more to the story about why it was so special for her to come but I won't share that for now.  I will just say that her being there was a huge blessing; we were able to talk on and off for the next couple of hours. It was a good distraction for me.

I can't say that I was overly nervous or worrying the whole time. I honestly was so tired I didn't have much energy to be anything.

However, one thing kept me a little on edge.

Since we sat in the waiting room for so long (we were the last family to leave), I started to figure out how the whole thing worked. The phone at the front desk would ring, the receptionist/hostess would answer, then she would call out information to the waiting families.

After we had been waiting for about 40 minutes, we had our first call.  Surgery had started.

Then an hour and a half or so later, we had another call.  "Cloud?  They are working on him; he is doing fine."

A while later the phone rang again. I found myself holding my breath every time it did (though at that point there were still other waiting families).  "Cloud?  They are still working on him; he is doing fine."

I learned from watching the others that after the appropriate time, the doctor would walk in. Some doctors took family to the family room (which I was sitting next to) to share surgery news.  Others would just meet with the family in the waiting room.

So after the 2 1/2 hours I had been told the surgery would take, I expected the doctor to walk through the door.

But he didn't.

And more time passed.

I still wasn't really nervous (again, thankful for Holly and small talk).  But I was ready to see that doctor.

Then the phone rang again.  Except this time,  the hostess said, "Cloud?  Phone." 

I will not lie. My heart stopped for a minute. Or two. Or three. 

I had not seen one other family go to the phone.

It took all I had to say, "Hello?"

"Just wanted to let you know that we are closing him up.  It was a hemangioma like we thought. He is doing fine."

Big deep breaths.

I know I was shaking. And starting to cry. (You know, happy tears.)

So then I waited for the doctor to walk through the door again. They were closing him up which is when the other doctors usually walked in.  So I waited.

And waited. And waited.

Then the phone rang again.

And again, I was called over to the phone.

I was pretty much on edge by that point.

I even asked the hostess if this was normal.  She only smiled.


"Hi, just wanted you to know that he is fine and the doctor will be out to talk to you."

I turned around to tell my in-laws, but they were gone.

While I had been on the phone, they were ushered into the family room. Then I was too.

I was feeling pretty good since I had just had the phone call, but then we waited some more.

And waited.  And waited.

Finally my father-in-law went to the front desk to make sure we were really supposed to be waiting in there.  The hostess said she would find out.

Shortly afterwards, the doctor and his team (he had two students with him) walked in.  He assured me it had gone well, that he was 99.9% it was a hemangioma (I don't think he is allowed to say 100% until there is a pathology report), and that the bone had fit nicely back in place (now held with titanium plates).  He told me what to expect for a while and then answered a whole lot of questions.  Then he was gone.

I walked back into the waiting room and said good-bye to Holly (who spent more than enough time in a waiting room with me!). 

Finally a nurse walked in and told me I could come back.  I took Mark's clothes with me and walked into the post-op area. 

When I walked in, Mark was sitting up but his eyes were closed (and of course, one was bandaged up). 

I walked over and touched him.  I got a half-smile. 

When he talked, he pretty much kept his eyes shut.

And he talked really lightly.

And when he talked, it didn't always make sense.

In fact, today we have relived some of the same conversations because he doesn't remember a word of what we talked about yesterday.

I did not get any fun videos that will go viral on youtube. In fact, I didn't get any fun videos at all. There were times he made funny comments but overall, he was just so groggy and a bit grouchy.

(One little funny though was when I told him that my friend Holly had come to the hospital.  He quickly told me that he didn't remember her being there at all.  I had to tell him that was because he was in surgery.  :)

I helped Mark get dressed (which was an experience) then listened to all of the instructions from the nurse.  The doctor stopped by to check Mark's eye movement (which was really good) and his vision (still fuzzy).  He reminded me of some of the instructions, then we were told we could get the car while they got the wheelchair.

Thankfully my father-in-law got my car for me so I could wait with Mark.  Except I had to wait for him first. 

And I waited.  And waited. 

Finally a hospital attendant asked me if I was the family of .....  I am still not sure what name she said. When I said Mark's name correctly, she nodded and told me that he was sick.  I rushed back in only to find that he needed to use the restroom before we left.  (He had been sick though earlier)  I escorted him into the bathroom because he was a bit unsteady.  While in there, his head started bleeding.  It was like a comedy of errors, me holding all of our stuff, his belt which he insisted he did NOT want to wear then, and his "barfbag" for the ride back to the hotel, while trying to clean up blood in a men's bathroom. I went back out to tell the attendant who just stared at me. I suggested they might want to get someone to clean up the bathroom.  She disappeared.  Then we waited again.

Finally my mother-in-law went to look for her (I really wanted to push the wheelchair out at that point but figured it was against policy plus I had full hands).  The attendant returned. I told her we were the gray/silver van.  When we got outside, she turned the opposite direction, looking for a red vehicle.

Finally we got Mark into the van. My in-laws had driven separately which turned out to be a good thing. They went to pick up prescriptions while I drove back to the hotel.

The drive back was an experience.

I should know how to drive in Little Rock but it has been 18 years since I lived there. 

And as luck would have it, there was construction.  Like come to a screeching halt construction.

Meanwhile, Mark (who usually drives) is trying to get me back to the hotel. But he was pretty out of it. He was also a bit whiny (which I understand). I couldn't get the temperature right. We kept hitting potholes which hurt.  He just wanted to be at the hotel.  (So did I!)

Finally we got there, somehow managed to get him up to our room, and I began the process of caring for the wound, doling out medicine, helping with clean up, fetching ice, etc.

In all, we had been gone for over 8 hours. 

It felt like 3 days to me.  To him, it felt like 2 hours.

Oh, by the way, I didn't sleep any better that night.  The hotel bed was not comfortable for me.  And my poor husband slept sitting up.  

Fast forward, we are home now.

Mark's appetite is back.

He can walk around fairly well (as long as he doesn't look down).

We kept his eye patched all day.

He is in minimal pain.

However, his eyelid is three times its normal size. And it is quite colorful.  He looks like he was in a brawl.

I am pretty sure he is counting down the hours until tomorrow when he can take a shower.

We still don't know about vision (his eye is too swollen right now). We know he can see (sometimes double) but will have to wait a few more days to find out for sure where he stands.

Now we will finish up spring break in "recovery" mode.

Then I may need a spring break to recover from this week. :)

Mark goes back next week for a follow up. I may or may not need to take him depending on his vision.  So I guess it isn't really the rest of the story. Just more of it...

More later,

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eye Love Him

I haven't done a good job posting lately.

And I definitely haven't done a good job posting since last spring when I shared the story of the tumor that had been discovered behind my husband's eye.

At that time, we were told to seek a specialist's opinion and keep an "eye" on it. 

Which we did.

Until the end of the year when we told it was probably best to get that tumor removed.  (Test revealed that it was affecting Mark's vision since it is resting next to the optic nerve)

And here I am.

In a waiting room.

 The doctor wanted to do this surgery in January.  It was a bit of a shock to us since we had just been told we would just watch and wait.  We asked to wait until March when things wouldn't be as crazy. I mean that in relative terms since our lives are always a bit crazy...
And suddenly it is March.

We drove over (Little Rock) yesterday since we had to be here bright and early this morning. I still don't know why we had to be so early because we just did a lot of waiting once we got here. I suppose it really doesn't matter anyway. I didn't sleep. I don't think I was nervous about the surgery as much as nervous about oversleeping. It is my spring break; I am not used to being up before the sun!

Mark's parents joined us here (mine are at home, manning my kid crew and pup).  We went out for a nice dinner last night.  Then we tried to sleep.

We arrived right on time, they did the pre-op assessments, and had him change. Then we waited. A lot. 

One thing I have learned is there is no privacy in those pre-op rooms.

Or cubbies.

Or whatever they are called.

We heard all kinds of stories and health issues while waiting.

I finally got to meet the surgeon (nice guy) and hear all of the risks and possibilities.  That is not fun.  The possibility of an overnight stay was not welcome news either. 

And though none of that was really fun, I can't help but be thankful.

Other than having babies and one very quick outpatient procedure for me, we really haven't dealt with medical issues.  Or hospital visits.

So this is new to us.

Like the "compression" socks he had to wear.  Or being asked over and over if he had dentures or any loose teeth.  Or meeting a whole team of people (who all asked if Mark takes medicine and when he last ate).  I am thankful that is new to us. 

Finally, we were told it was time.

I have done fine.  Stayed strong.  Smiled a lot.

Until they told me I had to leave.

Then I cried.  (Very thankful for the nurse who sweetly hugged me on my way out)

And now I am just waiting.  Holding my breath each time the phone rings.  And sending messages to our kids.

There are always risks, especially with anesthesia.  For some reason the 1 in 200,000 chance of death from anesthesia complications seemed a bit daunting.

And a chance of blindness.

Or double vision for the rest of his life.

Or that we are dealing with something different than we were told.

All real risks.

Though my heart aches and I will admit to being a bit fidgety, I also know I have a real God.

It doesn't mean things will go just like I want.

But no matter how they go, I have a real God who is here supporting me.  Supporting him.

One more hour to go...

 Oh, how "eye" love him.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Counting the Blessings...

I am really not planning on turning the blog into a "gratitude only" blog.  Nor do I want it to be a "post once a month" blog. Life has just been extra busy, extra tough, extra challenging. When I finally get a minute to st down, I seem to fall asleep. :)  Maybe with spring break coming up next week, I can catch up on reading and writing blogs...

But since I have just a few extra moments of energy left, I thought I would catch up on some of gratitudes for the past few weeks.  Trust me, I will only share a small portion.

I am grateful for...
  • watching my former students (now first graders) perform in their Dr. Seuss program
  • a cold Coke after a long day
  • reading a Bible verse at just the right time
  • a husband who goes to the grocery store for me in the snow
  • the legacy of my grandparents
  • dancing freely around my bedroom to my favorite songs
  • afternoon naps
  • the friendship of co-workers
  • a peanut butter chocolate shake made by Child 2
  • seat warmers in my van
  • watching Child 4 crack open eggs for dinner
  • waking up with the dog stretched out next to me
  • a snow-covered lawn
  • late breakfasts
  • new recipes
  • the prayers of friends for my children (and me)
  • a snow day with my husband
  • yoga pants
  • Scripture cards
  • sunshine
  • the Psalms
  • a day in the woods
  • a butterfly
  • a partial rainbow in the sky
  • waterfalls
  • large icicles hanging next to a waterfall
  • large boulders
  • a new friend
  • an encouraging e-mail
  • reminders of God in the hard times
  • a surprise cupcake from my love
  • Chocolate peanut butter ice cream (Haagen Dazs)
  • late night shopping with my children
  • time to talk to my mom (rare)
  • snacks in the lounge
  • watching birds play in a puddle
  • the messages on our new message board (at home)
  • the gift of Google maps
  • friends who take pictures for me when I can't be there
  • a surprise McDonald's Coke from a co-worker/friend
  • three days of peace
  • mercy and grace
  • bunnies hopping across the lawn
  • the sound of tree frogs
  • the opportunity to serve others
  • a friend who truly understands
  • beauty from ashes
  • lobster tails dipped in butter
  • new devotion books
  • the sweet spirit of a child
  • renewed friendships
  • parents with generous hearts
  • cooking time with child 3
  • a work out in a light rain
  • the trees budding
  • a husband who gets up early to fill my car up when my gas light is on
So...what are you grateful for today?


Sunday, March 1, 2015

More Gratitudes...

Oh, goodness. I have not shared any gratitudes for 2 and a half weeks.  I have written down approximately 75 in that amount of time.  Don't worry...I won't share them all. I will just share some highlights. :)
  • picking Marley up from the Doggy Hotel on a recent trip
  • room service
  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • getting lost in a good book
  • a toddler's crooked grin
  • watching cousins hang out together
  • a Valentine Prezi from my husband
  • freshly fallen snow
  • staying in pj's all day on a snow day
  • birds singing outside the window during my quiet time
  • the sound of ice melting off of the roof
  • a child's fervent prayer for salvation
  • a newly painted bathroom at school
  • story time with my students
  • hugs from sweet students after snow days
  • a daughter who steps in to help
  • a tear-faced apology
  • seeing my students all grown up
  • a God who loves me and is there in the hard times
  • a family night out for pizza
  • a teacher who goes above and beyond
  • a puffy coat on a cold day
  • a stranger that lets me (and my car) in during busy traffic
  • a friend who thinks of me and brings me a treat 
  • shakes and popcorn night
  • my daughter getting up and going to church even when feeling exhausted
  • a warm pup curled up at my feet on a cold day
  • an unclogged toilet
  • baked potato soup in a bread bowl
  • watching snow drift across the street as I drive
  • an empty Goodwill box
  • looking through old pictures of my kids
  • working out right after school
  • blueberry pancakes
  • glimpses of the sun on a cloudy day
  • a clean sink
  • child 4's creativity with his Legos
  • a happy dog when I come home from work
  • a love note on the mirror from my husband
  • dinner out with a friend
  • watching the eagle cam
What are you grateful for today?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Do I Love Thee?

Yes, I am still gratituding (most days). I am sure I will have plenty to share on Thursday. That being said, last week was a tough week. I can only hope this one will be better.  Please.  Pretty please?

So I have written several posts this past week. In my head.  Like "The Life of a Teacher". "Omaha Fun".  "Down and Out in Ozark Hills".  "Poster Child for Adoption". Yes. All of those.

But I settled on this one when one of my children, yet again, asked, "Do you really love me?"

So this is written to my children and husband.

Some tongue in cheek.

Some truth.

How Do I Love Thee?

Let Me Count Thy Ways...

  • Even after a full day of watching volleyball games, I still go to the grocery store to buy food to cook for you all week.
  • I clean the sink out any chance I have, just because I know you like it that way.
  • I get the smallest shake with the leftover ice cream on shake night.
  • I listen to endless dialogues about Star Wars characters.  Or at least I pretend to...
  • I stay up until midnight cleaning, preparing food, etc.  Then I am up early in the morning to start the day, pack lunches, etc.  And I usually end up with about 10 minutes to get myself ready for the day.
  • I am the last one to sit down to eat our pancake/bacon dinner. While you all are eating, I was at the griddle, flipping pancakes. And my bacon is cold by the time I sat down (to an empty table).
  • I went to a volleyball tournament. On Valentine's Day.
  • In fact, I spend many good hiking days watching volleyball games. Inside.
  • I get up early on Sunday mornings (when I really would rather sleep) to make breakfast for everyone.
  • I share my prized pistachios with you.
  • I sit next to you with sports blaring on the t.v. just to spend time with you.
  • I sit through countless music programs, choir concerts, school presentations, etc.
  • I reach out to your teachers (without you ever knowing) when I know you are struggling or hurt or treated unfairly (or so you think).
  • I watch you do the same trick on the trampoline thirty million times, oohing and ahhing every time.
  • I note the things you notice or like or mention for possible future gift ideas.
  • I huddle in the cold to watch you play soccer or baseball.
  • I don't read books often because I know I will get lost in that world and forget about you.
  • I go to Target late at night for that list minute friend birthday gift or a wardrobe crisis.
  • I go to school earlier than I wish each day because you signed up for early morning activities.
  • I leave school early each day though I know I could work there for hours (at night and on the weekend).
  • I search for Coke bottles with your name on them.
  • I sit through cartoons for Popcorn/Shake night.
  • I spend a lot of time wrapping all those birthday gifts that will be open in 3 minutes.
  • I stay up at night, holding your sick body, wishing I could take any and all illness away.
  • I take family vacations instead of the extensive travel I would like to do.
  • I read books, I pray, I talk to friends, all to find out how to be a better mom (and wife).
I know there are many more but I must head to bed.

How do you show love for your family?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thankful Thursday Thoughts...

It was a long week. I really hoped to share some other thoughts this week but I should have known it was too ambitious a dream.  We had parent/teacher conferences this week (which means staying about 10 hours after hours then coming home to do home stuff throughout the week).  It was a challenging week as a parent.  It was a tiring week as a teacher (kids get a bit rowdy for Valentine's Day parties...).  But somehow I made it through.

And even in the midst of all the stress (and there was lots), I found some things for my gratitude journal...

  • watching my daughter with her friends, all dressed for the semi-formal dance
  • pizza night- no cooking!
  • my camera
  • holding my husband's hand
  • sweet hugs from students as they leave for the day
  • my reading room
  • a drive through the Boston Mountains on a beautiful January day
  • watching my daughter play her game (volleyball) with passion
  • listening to the giggles of teenage girls in the backseat of my car
  • a gas station off the exit right after the gas light comes on
  • the breathtaking view of the University when we top the hill on I-49
  • an "I love you" from my youngest child before I leave
  • the smell of banana nut muffins drifting through the house
  • the big yellow moon in the sky
  • answered prayers during parent/teacher conferences
  • a husband who picks up the kids from school so I can do conferences
  • thinking about the beach
  • a Sonic drink surprise from a friend
  • sitting down after a very long day
  • comfortable shoes
  • new books from a book order
  • a quick evening snooze
  • a beautiful bright pink sunset at the end of a long week
  • Valentines from my sweet students
  • cooking dinner with my oldest child
  • finishing my last parent/teacher conference for the week
  • watching my students write
  • an understanding e-mail from a friend
So I have a few things to be thankful for.  What about you?


Friday, February 6, 2015


It was another busy week. (And next week will be even busier with parent-teacher conferences)  There were a lot of sad things this week (friends facing loss) that I could easily allow to consume me.  But even in the hard times, I must remember He is faithful.  There is much to be grateful for.

Things like...
  • a husband who fills my car up with gas
  • a chilled Ghirardelli dark chocolate square with sea salt caramel filling
  • a friend who checks in on me
  • a glass full of cold water
  • laughter among friends
  • getting seated at a restaurant much earlier than expected
  • an evening out with my family
  • a salted caramel cupcake
  • a handwritten thank you for a dear friend
  • Souper Bowl lunch with my colleagues
  • lesson plans turned in early
  • a cross country/track coach who encourages yet challenges my child
  • a fluffy dachshund blanket on a cold night
  • the weekend
  • a car that lets me in on the busy interstate
  • dress shopping with my daughter (and agreeing on a dress!)
  • baked potato soup in a bread bowl on a cold night
  • coming home to find my husband and youngest child watching Star Wars together
  • dress shoes on sale
  • a day of rest
  • Razorback red
  • watching the snow fall from the sky
  • Super Bowl Sunday with my family
  • watching my youngest speak loud and clear during his school performance
  • a happy half-birthday wish from my sister
  • friends who open up their hearts and homes to foster
  • safe travels
  • hitting 10,000 steps for the day
  • an organized pantry
  • former students who remember me
  • sharing parenting struggles with my sister
  • the brightness of a full moon
  • reading a testimony that glorifies God, even in the sadness
  • a sweet e-mail from the mother of a student
  • thirty minute faculty meetings
  • a good medical report for a good friend
  • group text messages (with my "team")
  • listening to my youngest read to me
  • snow covered bushes
  • cooking with my daughter
  • a warm house on a cold day
  • the prayers of our children

What are you grateful for this week?


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking Ahead...

Two posts in two days.  I am on a roll. :)

Here we are, the first month of 2015 is over.  All month long I have been posting goals for the year on Facebook. I thought it would be a good idea to share them all here, partially for me so I can remember what I am working on this year and partially for you to hold me accountable. Some are on-time goals while others are long-term. I know I won't do them perfectly (I have already missed or messed up some) but my hope is that I will continue to strive to do these things.  And when I fail (and I will), I will pick myself up and dust myself off and try again.

In 2015, I will try to...

  • treasure each day. Time is precious (and fleeting). I want to live without regret, live in the here and now (even the messy parts), and treasure the days given to me.
  • be strong enough to do real push-ups. (I am still working on this one. I can do a few but then have to switch back to "girlie" push-ups.)
  • get back to blogging regularly. (I am off to a good start; let's see if I can keep it up)
  • cut our weekly grocery bill in half. (I did fairly well in January. We will see if I can continue.)
  • spend 15 minutes a day organizing my classroom. (Some days I get to this, others I don't. But I will continue to work on it.)
  • make time for my family. (As in parents, sibling, grandmother)  Time is so stretched many days with the "busyness" of life but I MUST carve out time whether it is grabbing lunch with my mom or sending a text to my sister...
  • declutter/simplify/organize our house.  I am by decluttering 15 minutes a day thanks to declutter 365 (I have done well until this last week but should get back on track this week)
  • work out at least 200 minutes a week.
  • make time for my God every day. I am trying for mornings but on days like today when that doesn't happen, we meet in the afternoon/evening...
  • finish the common area upstairs. (Cheap but cute is the style I am going for...)
  • truly make Sunday a day of rest. I am still working on what that looks like for me, but so far, I have truly dedicated it to a day of rest for me. More on that later.
  • put my phone down more often. I can't totally disregard it but I have got to pay more attention to life than my screen!
  • keep a gratitude journal all year. (I have really enjoyed doing this and look forward to sitting down with my journal each night.  I also have found that I look at the world a little differently when I search for "gratitudes".)
  • walk 1250 miles this year.
  • simplify my life through decluttering. (I am taking a hard look at things as I organize each day, and if I don't need them now or some time in the future, they are out of here!)
  • listen. Really listen. To God, my husband, my kids, my friends, my students.
  • involve my kids more in the planning and cooking of meals. (Starting in February)
  • be more intentional in what I say and write.
  • get my garage cleaned out and organized!
  • take more pictures of everyday life (but not so many that I forget to LIVE that life...).
  • start saying thank you more often. Not just to friends and family but to servers, store clerks, teachers, kind strangers.
  • read more (for pleasure and for personal growth). I have a stack next to my bed, and I have four started right now with more to come. I just need to work on making time for it...
  • learn how to make flour tortillas.
  • declutter my e-mail inboxes (delete, unsubscribe, whatever is necessary).
  • learn how to make good biscuits.
  • start using a coupon or two. It isn't easy finding coupons for things we actually eat but there are some out there and I rarely ever use them!
  • stop driving back by my house to make sure I put the garage door down. Not ONE time has it not been down.
  • clean out our unused computer armoire to sell. (My husband will be SO happy when we actually do that...)
  • continue my weekly dates with my main man.
  • laugh more than I cry.
  • forgive. Others and myself. Because they are going to fail over and over. And much to my chagrin, so will I.
So, what are your goals, dreams, hopes for the year?


Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Week, Another Gratitude

I really do plan on getting back to Thankful Thursdays (rather than Thankful Fridays which just doesn't sound the same).  And I really DON'T plan on only posting once a week.  It was just a week. Not a bad week.  In fact, it was a fairly good week. Just a busy one.

I don't want to just skip over sharing some gratitudes for the week, so here we go...

  • Jamming to 80's music with my co-workers during our workout.
  • God's word-finding that right verse at just the right moment
  • Finding out one child was generous with a sibling (without prompting!)
  • Playing with playdough with my youngest child
  • Teachers who let me know when my child isn't feeling well or seems sad
  • Airplanes that safely bring my love home
  • Watching robins hop across the grass in search of food on a January afternoon
  • Friends who encourage my children
  • Hearing something good about my child from his teacher
  • The way Marley rolls onto her back for a tummy rub
  • Jean day!
  • My favorite pond at sunset as a horse slowly walks behind it
  • Finding an unopened bag of pistachios at the back of my pantry
  • A child who does his/her chores without complaint
  • The Lord's Supper
  • My Bible Fellowship class
  • Curling up with a good book
  • Friends who deliver packages for me
  • Walking laps with a good friend after school
  • A day of sunshine after a cloudy day
  • A trusty van with heated seats
  • Laying on my exercise mat under the bright blue sky with the warm sun shining on my face (in January!)
  • The funny things my kinderkids say
  • My new dolphin necklace from Guatemala
  • Beautiful flowers delivered to school
  • Time alone with my oldest as we drive to and from church on a Wednesday night
So, how about you? What are you grateful for this week?


Friday, January 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday (Even Though It's Friday)

I had such good intentions of writing this post up last night. I really did.  I got to this page (the blank post) and pretty much fell asleep at the wheel. Or in this case, the computer. Hubby has been out of town the last couple of nights, so I have been the sole chauffeur, cook, disciplinarian, etc. on top of my daytime job.  I am wiped out. 

But even in my exhaustion, I have much to be grateful for.

Here are some highlights from my gratitude journal for this past week...
  • The bare trees silhouetted against the endless blue sky, not a cloud to be seen
  • Buds on the bare trees that remind me new life will come again
  • Walking around the track after school, enjoying the 50 degree temperatures (in January!), enjoying the solitude after a busy day
  • A stack of good books to read
  • Answered prayer
  • Fellowship with other Christian ladies
  • Turning my alarm off on a Saturday morning
  • Waking up next to my husband
  • A meal with my mom and my kids
  • My oldest child's sense of humor
  • Doing my quiet time with a chocolate/peanut butter shake in one hand while the stinky dog gnaws her elk bone next to me
  • Rocking a newborn baby as he sleeps
  • Reaching 10,000 steps in a day
  • Family game night
  • My husband's fingers brushing against mine
  • Pastel ribbons of light stretched across the sky as the sun rises
  • Walking in the sunshine with a friend
  • The American flag (and all it represents) silhouetted against the blue sky
  • The whole family gathered around the table for dinner
  • The brilliant colors of the sky as the sun sets
  • Watching birds soar in the sky
  • The soothing sound of our dishwasher cleaning our dirty dishes 
  • The glowing lights of a cross sign peeking through the brush alongside the highway
  • Finishing a puzzle with my daughter (even though we still can't find three pieces)
  • The shimmering sight of the frost against the earth in the early morning
  • A love note left by my sink, left by my husband before he went out of town
  • A bottle of white sand representing a promise
  • A mom who helps with the kids when my husband is gone
  • Finding out about a couple of random acts of kindness performed by some of our children (with no fanfare)
what are you grateful for this week?


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Family Goal, Week 3...

I know, I know, my last post was a bit lengthy.

There was just so much to say, so many thoughts buzzing around in my mind. 

The thought of that whole day still makes me smile and warms my heart.

Because I was so touched by different acts of kindness this past weekend we experienced, I decided to incorporate that into our family goal for the week.

This is what is hanging on our refrigerator currently.

Cloud Family Word for 2015:

Week 3 Rule:
We were blessed with a random act of kindness this weekend.  I am still smiling.  Make others smile this week with acts of kindness. Try to make at least one “random” (where they don’t know it is you) but do at least one kind act a day.  Be ready to share!

What I didn't realize was next week is a special week of kindness challenge at school. Our students (including two of my own kids) were given a list of ways to be kind to check off throughout the week to demonstrate kindness.

So I guess we are getting a head start. :) 

Oh, let me tell you that though I started the family goal to teach my own kids some life lessons, I do participate. And throughout the day, I try to remind myself of our goal to make sure I have something to share!

Yesterday the kids were off of school for MLK Jr. Day.  I did have school, but just meetings. And Hubs worked as usual. So we did all share a kind act at dinner, but it was all very minor since we were all pretty limited in who we saw for the day.  Tonight we shared again. I will not post what was shared because I am trying to show the kids that we don't do kind acts for compliments or glory.  But I will say that it was exciting and so touching to hear what everyone did today.  In fact, one brought me to tears.  I loved how excited everyone was to share too; I hope that those kind acts touch their hearts as much as they do the hearts of others.  I am already looking forward to tomorrow's share time!

More soon,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Finishing the Race

As I have mentioned before, our oldest child runs cross country.

He did NOT get that running gene from me.

At all.

I have been pushing myself to run around the school twice without dying.  And I am not there yet.

This kid actually likes running.

The other day I asked him how his afternoon was. He was happy. They had run 7 miles.

I will admit, it sounds like crazy talk.

At the same time, I am so glad he has found something he likes to do.

And I admire him for it.

The one thing he has always said though is that he will ONLY run cross country. He has never liked track.


Sometimes in cross country, they practice on the track.

And those are his least favorite days.

So imagine my surprise when he announced one night that he had track practice the next morning.

Say what???

Then a few days later, he announced he was NOT running track.  Ever.

Then a few days later, we again heard, "I have track practice in the morning."


Yes, we were too.

Apparently the cross country coach is also one of the track coaches.

And he has encouraged the cross country kids to run track to stay in shape.

And apparently, my runner child looks up to his coach.

So he agreed.


So fast forward to yesterday afternoon.

The first track meet.

Thankfully it was local and even better..inside.

Hubby and I had to tag team this weekend. Our oldest daughter had a volleyball tournament in Tulsa. Our younger volleyball player had two games here. And then we had this track meet. So he took the youngest child to the volleyball tournament in Tulsa, while I stayed here with the other two for their activities.

Before he left, Hubby said, "Just to warn you, track meets can be boring. There is a LOT of waiting around for events."

Well, our day was full yesterday. I made my weekly grocery store trip, put my refrigerated/frozen items away, then quickly headed to the youth center so child 3 could have her volleyball pictures.  Then we waited around for a little bit until it was time for her to play two matches.  After that, we returned home just in time to grab a little snack, pick up child 1, and get the pup in her crate.  Then we raced down the road to the University's indoor track.  (While the weather was quite nice for mid-January, a track meet outdoors would have been rather chilly)

Just getting to the track center was a huge feat for me. I did not go to the University, so I am not at all familiar with their campus. I had an idea where the track center was but would NOT have found it without my oldest child.  And parking at big events makes me break out in a sweat. Yes.  Seriously.  But somehow I managed. We parked (quite a ways away because there were 1600 participants present) and entered the facility.  Thankfully we spotted the coach almost immediately. He estimated that Child 1's first event would start in about 45 minutes.  We left our runner to get his bib number and warm up, then we found a place to sit.

This is where the fun begins.

No, not the actual track meet, though I enjoyed a lot of it too.

The fun "God happenings".  Little moments I looked back at later and thought, "Wow, that was such a God thing."

We just chose a place to sit where I felt like we would have a fairly good view.  I saw nobody I knew.

It turns out my son's high school group had their stuff there and they ended up sitting in that same section throughout the afternoon/evening.

So at this point, we were pretty fresh and eager to watch.  We really enjoyed the pole vaulting and hurdles.  Then the races started.

Did I mention there were 1600 participants?

We watched several races.  And time passed.

Finally, finally, finally, it was time for Child 1's first event...the 1 mile run.

Three hours after we got there.

My son's goal for himself was to not come in last.

And he didn't.

He didn't come in first either but that is okay.

Like I said, he isn't crazy about track.  Speed is not necessarily his strength.  Perseverance is.

At this point, my parents had arrived, then my dad had to leave to go watch a basketball game.

So my mom came to sit with us.

God happening #2.

I have been wanting to spend more time with her, and finally had that opportunity!

By now, I was understanding how the track world is.  It truly is a lot of waiting.  And I knew my son's second event was almost at the end.  We were all hungry, and child 3 was quite restless. Though the bleachers were nice, I was quite sore after a few hours.  And I had promised the kids Chick Fil A (a rare treat for us) for dinner.

I quickly looked up the closest CFA's hours. They closed at 10.

I did some quick math in my mind, realizing that we would probably be finishing child 1's last event at 10.

Did I mention how hungry we were? I had eaten breakfast then a quick snack mid-afternoon. No lunch.

While there were concessions, I had resisted them because I really thought we would be done around 8, ready to eat our Chick Fil A.

What to do, what to do.

My son's second event (the 3000 meter run which is basically a 2 miles run) was finally coming up.  But I knew he was in the third heat, cutting it really close with the restaurant's closing time.

And that is where the God happening #3 occurred.

I watched as the second heat prepared to run and realized my son was in the group. They had decided to combine the second and third heat.

The gun went off, and the runners started.

I knew from the first lap that my runner was spent. He was exhausted (LONG day) and hungry. He just couldn't get his momentum up at that point.

But you know what?

We all just cheered him on.

It warmed my heart up to hear his teammates cheering for him no matter where he was in line.

And finally he finished.

That is when God happening #4 occurred.

As my son left the track, I saw another kid run over and shake his hand.

I asked him later who it was.

"A random stranger, someone from another school, who congratulated me for finishing."

Warmed my heart. Big time.

At this point, my restless girl and I ran to our car (mostly, I had to stop to catch my breath a few times because as I have mentioned, I am NOT a runner) then pulled up to get my mom and worn out runner.

We hurried to Chick Fil A, arriving fifteen minutes before they closed.

We placed our order, then drove to the window to pick up the food.

God happening #5.

"The people in front of you paid for your order, a kind of Pay It Forward thing..."

I almost started crying.

Our order was 31 dollars.

I so wish whoever it was could know how they warmed my heart. Many times over.

We went on home, worn out but grateful for the day.  It was extra special because my mom came home with us to eat, a rare treat.  Child 1 was quite entertaining in his exhaustion.  Lots of laughing and devouring of food.

This morning in church, I mentioned the track meet in relation to life.

We run this race, exhausted and sometimes in pain.  But we keep our eye on the finish line.  Heaven.  And finishing the race is worth it.

My Sunday School teacher pointed out that Paul never said that winning was the goal.

Our goal is to finish the race.

Which is exactly what my son did.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Thank you, God, for the reminders of the good You have created.  For restoring my faith.  And for encouraging me in this race of life.

More later,

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Gratitude Journal Begins...

One of the goals I have this year is to read more, both for pleasure and for growth (of myself). 

For whatever reason, I found several books all at the same time I want to read. So I broke one of my own rules and started reading them all.  I typically only read one at a time.

One book is called The Best Yes.

Another book is called Live Well, Spend Less.

And the third book is called One Thousand Gifts.

So far I am enjoying all three, though I have a feeling there will be some growing pains (for me) as I read more of them.

Anyway, in the book One Thousand Gifts, the author keeps a gratitude journal.

I started thinking about how I love my Thankful Thursdays.

And then I realized a gratitude journal was just what I wanted to do to.

Partly because I do have so much to be grateful for.

And partly because I need to be reminded of what I have to be grateful for.

Because I sometimes struggle.

With discontentment.

Maybe not sometimes.

Maybe a lot of times.


Here is a sampling of what I have added to my gratitude journal thus far (and is my Thankful Thursday post as well):
  • Fun notepads (a Christmas gift from Child 3) to use for a gratitude journal
  • A clear and organized kitchen counter
  • Fuzzy warm slippers on my feet on a cold night
  • Reading glasses that magnify the words on a page
  • Pressing the snooze button for just a few more minutes of rest
  • Outside recess
  • Sushi dates with my husband
  • The quiet of the house when I am the first one awake
  • My new Wow Hits CD
  • Journaling with my daughter to learn more about who she is
  • A sweet memory text from my sister out of the blue
  • The look of complete adoration of Marley's face as she waits for me to pet her
  • Melted butter on a warm roll
  • The sweet spirit of forgiveness
  • A gift of medicine samples from the doctor

What are you grateful for this week?


Monday, January 12, 2015

Family Goal Week 2

I just started reading a book yesterday called One Thousand Gifts.

I had heard others rave about it so I took the plunge.

And I started reading.

And reading.

And reading.

I am only partway through and have enjoyed every word. Even the convicting ones.

The book is all about gratitude.  Even in the tough times.

If you have read any of my Thankful Thursdays, I am pretty big on this topic anyway.

But the book has stirred a new passion in me for gratitude.

Which inspired our family goal for this week (all centered around our family word "considerate").

Week 2 Rule:
It is considerate to use manners. When you do, you are thinking of others. This week’s goal is to say thank you daily, whether it is for small things (someone sharing a pencil, someone opening the door for you) or for big things (someone being your friend, someone listening to you when you are upset).  Make sure to say thank you to two people each day this week.  Be prepared to share each night.

Knowing I have to share every night sure does inspire/motivate me!  Out of my crew, only one child could only think of one "thanks" for the day on our first day of sharing. Everyone else had at least two people they had thanked and could share why they thanked them.

So I want to challenge you.

Make a point to say "thanks" tomorrow.

Today I said thanks for little things (like someone letting me make a copy of a paper I needed) and for big things (like e-mailing one child's coach to say thanks for pushing my child to do his/her best).  

Not only is it considerate.  

It also shows gratitude.

And, really...can't the world use a little more of that?

Thanks for reading today!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day of Rest

Each day on Facebook for the month of January, I am naming a "goal" for 2015. I don't like using the word "resolution" but I guess they are...resolutions to improve myself.

Today's goal for the year?

To truly keep Sunday as a Day of Rest.

Last year in our Sunday School, we went through the Ten Commandments. Of course, one of the commandments is to keep the Sabbath Day holy.

I have read that a hundred times. A thousand times. 

But have I ever truly thought about what that meant?

I talked to some others in our class about what that means to them.

I have read opinions on it.

I have prayed about it.

And I still don't really know.

But I do know that it is a goal for me.

Even if I am not sure what it looks like.

So yesterday (Saturday), instead of being the lazy bum I can tend to be, I got up. I went to school for a bit. I ran to the grocery store. I worked on lesson plans (a typical Sunday event).  I did some cleaning/organizing.  I was pretty tired by the time I fell into bed last night.

Today I have been to church.  Read part of a book I have wanted to read. Gone out to lunch with my crew. Enjoyed a nap.  Watched a movie with the little ones (half wasn't my favorite movie). We typically have family game night but a couple family members had places to be, so we went for the movie instead.  And now I am just chillaxin', preparing for the week with a little rest.

I have not done any household chores (the dishes are stacking up in the sink).  I have a stack of report cards to tend to...they will wait for tomorrow.  And I haven't run errands.

And I have enjoyed every minute.

I am not sure what future "days of rest" will involve (other than hopefully hiking when the weather warms up a bit).

But I am going to spend the year trying to figure it out!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Thankful Thursday 2015

If you knew the kind of week I was having, you might be surprised that I am writing a Thankful Thursday post. :)

I am kind of surprised myself.

But, no matter what, there ARE some things to be thankful for this week.

Things like...
  • Heat!  Because, baby, it is cold out there!
  • supportive administrators
  • my workouts with co-workers after school. I get to work out a lot of stress.  And the workouts (or maybe it is my workout companions)  provide some laughter in my life.
  • butter. It makes everything taste better.
  • thank you notes/messages.
  • the beach. 
  • journaling with my daughter.
  • quiet times.
  • a hot shower.
  • my kids' teachers.
  • watching child 4 snuggle with his dad. 
  • watching a movie with my two older children.
  • new pajamas (especially with dachshunds on them)
  • baked potato soup on a cold day (even better in a warm bread bowl)
  • ibuprofen.
  • prayers of friends.
  • organized kitchen drawers.
  • music as I fall asleep.
  • a beautiful moon in the sky.
  • colorful sunrises; it is like the sky is painted just for me!
  • my trusty van (with its heated seats).
  • my new Wow Hits CD, all my favorite songs of last year in one place.
  • Marley pup. It is like having my own personal heater.
  • dinner dates with the Hubs.
  • sunshine. After the dreary month we had in December, I treasure the sunshine.
  • dehydrated pears. Yum!
  • clean clothes.
  • medicine samples from the doctor, an incredible blessing.
  • life.  No matter how challenging it is.
What are you thankful for this week?


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our Family Word

Yes, three posts in one week.  I know, I know, I am shocked myself. It is my goal to blog more this year though I can't promise it will be quite this frequently once school starts back this week.

I mentioned the other day that we each have a "word" for 2015.  This year I decided we would also adopt a family word.  This word has been on my heart and mind for some time. To make sure we really focus on our word, our family "rule" (we have a weekly goal/rule) will focus on this word throughout the year.

Our word?


What is being considerate?

Showing awareness or regard for another's feelings.

Or in my words, "thinking of others first".

I worry that in today's world, we have lost sight of being considerate.

The other day I had a car nearly run into me at a three way stop. I was 3/4 of the way through the intersection when the other driver decided to go. I am guessing someone was on the phone or not paying attention because I was clearly in the intersection. The best part? The person honked at me.  Really?

Or go to a restaurant. Just watch the conversations going on. Or at least partial ones. One person is talking. Another has their eyes glued to their phone.

Or spend a little time on Facebook. Watch the pictures of "get togethers" or "parties".  The same pictures that some kids (and grown ups) are going to see knowing they were never invited.

I cringe when I read online reviews or commentary or comments to news posts.  I think it has become too easy to become an "anonymous" voice throwing criticism and personal opinion around. I believe we forget that there is a person behind the story, a real person with feelings. 

I can't change the world.

But I can hopefully bring awareness to my family (and myself).

Thus our family word.

So here is what our first rule of the year is (posted on the fridge and referred to often) as it pertains to our word...

Cloud Family Word for 2015:

Week 1 Rule:
You are NOT the only person who lives in this house. Clean up after yourselves when you make your food, when you eat, when you leave a room.  If you use the last of a food, do NOT leave the empty box/wrapper.  If you spill something, clean it up.  Think about the other people in our house.  Leave rooms as nice or nicer when you leave them.

I don't expect this will happen overnight. In fact, I have already had to remind at least two children about cleaning up their areas after they ate dinner.  But hopefully just by focusing on it this week, I will plant a seed.  And maybe, just maybe, one day the seed will grow.



Friday, January 2, 2015

The Word for the Year...

A couple years ago I heard something about adopting a "word" for the year. I never really had done that though I often got to the end of the year and thought, "Oh, ____ pretty much sums up this year..."

Last year I decided to go for it.

In fact, I didn't just choose a word for me, I carefully chose one for each of the kids.  I wrote them a letter detailing the highlights of the year before then sharing what I hoped they would focus on for the year.

I will just say they all made strides with their words, some more than others. :)

As for me, I kind of had a word but I didn't make much stride with it.

Well, here it is. A new year.  Time for new words.

Last night I typed up letters for the kids and left them at their breakfast spot to find this morning.

The words this year (in no particular order):  Kindness.  Pride (which sounds funny but it is taking pride in their role as God's child).  Self-Control. Determination.

All day long I pondered what my own word would be.

I have to admit.

It wasn't easy.

Not that I am perfect.

Oh, no.

Far from that.

More like there are so many areas to choose from.

I wrestled with words like contentment (big struggle).  Rest (much needed). Forgiveness (also much needed). Joy (much needed after last year). Balance.

But none seemed to be just the right fit.

Then last night it came to me.

Or maybe I just heard it.


I need to listen.

Listen to God. I am always pouring out my prayer requests to Him. But I am NOT good about being still and listening.

Listen to my heart.

Listen to the Word.

Listen to wise and godly friends.

Listen to my family. As in putting electronics and phones and even chores to the side to just listen.

So, there it is.

My word.

We will see how I do...

What is your word for the year?


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014, The Year of...

Happy New Year!

How can it possibly be 2015? 

As I celebrate the new year (and I am celebrating...I was ready for 2014 to be OVER), I can't help but reflect a bit.

What was 2014 to me?

It was...

The year of snow and some of the coldest temperatures we have ever had.  That led to a freezing house (2-3 weeks of no heat), lots of snow days, and ultimately, the shortest summer break ever.

 Why no heat? It was also The Year of the Remodel.  We had many people ask us why we started in January.  Well, in a typical year, January is cold but not freezing cold.  Of course, who knew this wouldn't be a typical year?
 It was also The Year of the Supermoon. I had never in my life heard of a supermoon until 2014.  I still don't exactly know why we have supermoons (and we had more than one this year) but it was fun to photograph.
 It was The Year of the Tumor.  This picture was taken when we were trying to distract our hearts and minds from the anxiety of NO news (about a 2 week period), waiting to find out what kind of tumor Mark had behind his eye.  This time period was one of the hardest times in my whole life.  Not only were we dealing with uncertainty, my paternal grandmother passed away (fairly unexpectedly) and my mom had surgery.  The whole time period is like a blur to me and still makes me cry when I reflect on it.  (I guess that this coming year is The Year of Surgery; it is tentatively scheduled for March.)
 It was The Year of Milestone Birthdays for 3 out of 4 children.  Lauren turned 13, Maria turned 10, and Hunter (at the end of the year) turned 16.
 It was The Year of Colorado. We spend almost two weeks in Colorado. One of those weeks was our first "joint" vacation with my sister and her family.  I could write a whole blog posts on "The Year of..." just based on our vacation (year of snow in June, year of hiking to a glacial lake, year of ziplining and whitewater rafting, etc.).
 It was also The Year of Reconnecting. I was able to reconnect with a couple of dear friends this year, one being Audrey (pictured below), a dear friend from college.  I also later was able to reconnect with my dear friend Brandi as we watched volleyball games together.
 It was The Year of the Mouse. Eek!  If you know me at all, you know that mice strike fear in my heart. And for whatever reason, we had three of these critters (all caught and released away from our house) in our house. 
 It was The Year of Chauffeuring.  At one point, Maria was playing volleyball...
 Hunter was running cross country...
 Lauren was playing volleyball...
 and Hunter was also playing soccer. 
Of course, there was also school (3 different schools), church, and other activities.  Our days were rather busy. My head is still spinning.

It was (sadly) The Year I Did Not Go to the Beach.  It was NOT for lack of trying.

The Year of Challenges.

The Year of Jigsaw Puzzles.

The Year of Working Out.

The Year of 1000 Miles.  (Walked or run according to my Fitbit)

The Year of Change.

The Year of a Blogging Rest.  I never really intended for it to be. It just kind of happened. I guess because all of the above happened.

But (thankfully) 2014 is gone.

And the new year is upon us.

I don't have "resolutions" necessarily. But I have goals.

And blogging again is one of them.

So check back soon!  (I will likely update my personal blog more than this one; just ask for an invite if you would like one)

And happy New Year to you!