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!