Friday, August 15, 2014

Together

What a summer! What a week! Wish I had captured more of summer in my blog, but obviously (hello, last entry June 17th!), I did not. From celebrating my nephew's graduation, to Morgan becoming a teen, to an amazing swim team season, to our incredible 17 day road trip on the East Coast, to the lazy days of doing crafts and hanging with my girls - it was good.

Road Trip 2014

And this week -- Sarah's half birthday (11 and a half!), Back to School (both girls in Middle School this year!), Our 20th Anniversary, 3 job interviews (what, oh what, do I want to 'do' with my life?!), and family pictures to capture the beauty of this season of our life.

Back to School, 6th & 8th Grade

On Tuesday I broke down sobbing. I mean sobbing for over an hour.  It was a good cry. I need those every now and then.  My heart has been full this week.

25 years ago, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song called "I will be here" - it's been 'our' song through our dating and marriage years.  And recently, well he wrote a new love song for his wife called 'Together' -- and listening to it again moved me to sobbing tears . You can listen here:


You see, there have been some really dark days in our marriage.  Of grieving, and giving each other space to grieve in their own way, two years into our marriage when Mike's mom and sister were murdered.  To my ongoing struggle with depression, which peaked as postpartum after Sarah was born and I would cry in the morning begging him not to leave for work. We've had our spats and disagreements about needs and wants, about intimacy and finances. We've been selfish. We've definitely had our moments in the past 20 years.

But what we know now in our marriage, in our lives, that we get to share with our beautiful daughters, is JOY! Love, happiness, blessings - these words describe this season of our lives.  And I couldn't be more grateful.  How did we get to this place?

I think Steven Curtis Chapman captures it in this song.

And if it wasn’t for God’s mercy and His grace
There’s no way we would be standing in this place
But because He has been faithful
Every step along the way
Here we are together

It's because God has been faithful, because He has shown us mercy and grace, that we have healed, we have worked through our deepest darkest days and our selfishness.  It's because of Him that we are in this beautiful season of joy...together!  

And for all the days yet to come, whether they bring more joy or more pain, we are thankful that we share it...together.
20 Years!! 
Acadia National Park, Maine (20th Anniversary Getaway)

ps -  if you need some encouragement, I have absolutely LOVED Steven Curtis Chapman's newest album, Glorious Unfolding.  His songs are authentic, real, yet full of hope and beauty. You won't be disappointed if you download it. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A to Z Summer *ART* Fun

Finally got our list finalized today for our A to Z Summer *ART* fun. Inspired of course by pinterest! :)

It was a beautiful morning to get started too with acrylic painting outside on the deck!

Our A to Z Summer *ART* Fun:

A Acrylic Painting
B Build Sculptures (clay)
C Cupcake Decorating
D Drawing Outside
E Etching Glass
F Furniture Decorating
G Groovy (tye dye) t-shirts (ombre)
H Homemade Sidewalk Chalk
I Illustrate (Shel Silverstien poems?)
J Jewelry Making
K Kindness Day (make art to give away)
L Look thru the Lens (forced photography)
M Messy Art
N Nature Art
O Origami
P Paper Mache
Q Quote Art
R Recycle Project
S Scrapbooking
T Thread & Needle Creation
U Upcycle Creation (with brown paper bags?)
V Vanish Point Drawings / Village Pottery
W Weaving
X Xplore Calligraphy and Font Making
Y Yummy Art
Z Zany Fun with book folding(?)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Growing Pains (in my momma heart!)

I'm still amazed at how fast these years are flying by.  These sweet, beautiful years, refuse to slow down.  In the last 24 hours, my momma heart has been filled with bittersweet tugs.

Yesterday I found Morgan crying in my bed.  Why? Because she was trying to finish reading The Outsiders, and the words on the page so moved and touched her, she couldn't stop crying to read the words to finish the story.  Oh how I love that words have penetrated her heart in this beautiful way.  


Today was my last lunch with Sarah at her school.  She has 1 and a half days of school left, and she will venture onto Middle School.  The problem with having my girls so close together is how each stage is full, then so quickly over. The days of elementary school are over for us.  And yes, my eyes fill with tears as I type this words.  They've been good years.  Not how I exactly pictured them, but good none the less.  And so very beautiful.

Last night Sarah mowed the entire front lawn by herself.  I'm amazed at how capable she is of these seemingly 'grownup' tasks.

Morgan's introverted self has struggled with middle school friendships this year (oh, how I can relate!). But she has excelled in academics.  The end of the year has brought much joy as we celebrate her being accepted in NJHS, and her teachers recommending her for algebra and advanced science next year.  She works so hard, and it's so nice to see others recognize her efforts.

Sarah's Night at the Museum.
Pocahontas.
"Sisters" 

We have 5 summers left with Morgan and 7 with Sarah.  You better believe we will fill them with as much happiness and memories as we can!  Can't wait for our 3500 mile road trip this summer!! (DC, Philly, Boston, Maine, and Hershey!)

Sarah's first 5K! 5.31.14
"Fierce"

Swim Team Practice has begun again!
Mike and I get beautiful sunsets to enjoy while they swim! 
Here are a few more of my thoughts on these fleeting years. http://www.thegoodstuffguide.com/years-flying-by/

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dreamin' of Another Website

I'm feeling inspired lately. I want to start a website, two actually. So... I've been praying and thinking and trying to decide if either, or both, should be pursued at this time in my life.  So part of this post is me thinking aloud, and part of this is me writing them down so I don't forget them, in case I want to pick them up at a later date. And I'd love any insight/input from those of you who read my words and inspire me! Thank you and big ((hugs)) in advance!!

A Mom's Toolbox
'cuz kids don't come with manuals

This would be a website with practical tools for parents to use every day in the journey of parenting.  I'd like it to be a place where I can reference my book(s)*, offer printables from my etsy shop, bring over some of my ideas from www.thegoodstuffguide.com,and hopefully one day include links to the apps I'd love to create.  I see categories which include resources for young kids, school age, teens, college-age, and marriage too.   I think I could have a lot of fun with the 'toolbox' theme - I like the practicality of it.

A Mosaic Heart
a place to heal when life shatters your heart into a million unrecognizable pieces

I see this as a place to include resources for people who are healing from those really hard places in life. Because when life shatters your heart into a million unrecognizable pieces, it's good to know you are not alone and there are others who have been there, who have struggled, and who are asking really *hard* questions. To be encouraged by others who have found joy after tragedy - those who found a new mosaic heart during the journey of healing.  I have a file of resources I collected on my journey of healing and I'd love to share them and give others hope too!

*On a side note, I actually published my first book (A to Z Summer Fun) at the end of March!! I even got to do a live radio interview about it on KSBJ out of Houston (nation's largest christian radio station) a couple of weeks ago -- I was thrilled when they contacted me out of the blue to share my ideas for families. What an awesome experience (even if my introverted self was super nervous to be on a live station for 40 minutes!).  It was an experience that I will long remember. It felt like a giant hug from God. And I love it when I feel his hugs on earth!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Been Awhile

Thought I'd just stop in and jot down a few thoughts since it's been a LONG while since I've paused and recorded the ever-fleeting moments of my life.

Like last night I'm putting Morgan to bed, trying to process with her why she doesn't want to go to youth group, and I almost lost it when I find these words spilling out of my mouth, "Well in just one year, you will be one of those high schoolers." What?! Did I really just say that?! No.I.Did.Not. Can't be.  It just can't be.  Somebody please find a way to slow down time. TODAY. I'll spend top dollar for it. #sigh

We are running a 5K in 2 weeks.  I have not ran in over a year.  This is not going to be pretty.  I've had a hard time breathing this spring, lots of coughing, almost impossible to run.  Sarah is doing running club at school and wanted to do a 5K, so we signed up. I'm sure with all the girls swimming, they will do just fine. I guess we will just meet them at the finish line. :)

Mother's day weekend we skipped our annual camping trip - it was calling for rain - and headed for KC instead.  My favorite part of the weekend? Laughing so hard we couldn't even catch our breath as we are all trying to fall asleep in the hotel room. This went on for over a half an hour. It was so good to just laugh at total silliness.  The girls would ask questions like "Why is a cucumber called a cucumber?" And Mike would sound all scientific and give a totally silly response. It was one of those "had to be there" -- but boy, it was just the perfect gift for this momma!!

Here are a couple photos of our time in KC:



And one of my favorite photos: 4 Generations (2001)



Monday, March 24, 2014

At the Crossroads of Aging

So last month I turned 40, and as I write this, I will be going to my first mammogram this afternoon. Ugh. To say I’ve been contemplating life, aging, and all things related, is an understatement.

I find myself standing at a crossroads in the road, unable to turn back because the bridge behind me is washed out, but not sure which path to toward the future.  Both paths will get me there – is one better than the other?

The one path is marked “Grow Old Gracefully”.  The other path holds a sign, “Look Youthful Longer.” So here I stand, weighing in on options.

I’ll be honest, my heart is leaning towards “Grow Old Gracefully” path.  This path embraces a late summer landscape that is alive with beauty and life.   I’ve always believed in this saying, “Never regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”


Aren’t these baby wrinkles signs that I’ve been able to live life fully? A souvenir to remind me that I’ve had the privilege of laughing often, of gaining wisdom through the trials? Aren’t they a reminder that my days here on earth are numbered and I should embrace each and every one?   A memento that I am lucky to have lived so many days already?  

So, should I try to hide, or erase, or eliminate these beautiful baby wrinkles, because our culture embraces ‘youth’ more than ‘aging’? 

I admit, I look in the mirror, and sometimes I frown when I see these baby wrinkles; I mean, how did they get there so fast on my face? I’m not sure I like them at times, but I do believe they hold a secret beauty, a contentment that is to be embraced. I’m trying to discover that, even as I’m researching anti-aging products from my laptop.

The other night, laying on the couch, I look up at my husband and ask, “Are you looking at my gray hair?” To which he responds, “NO, your gray hairs! (emphasizing the ‘s’!)   Ha,ha. Oh, the honesty.

Yes, I’ve been styling my hair differently lately, trying to pull the top hair over the gray hair underneath.  In my 40 years, I have never colored my hair.  My blond-ness does well to camouflage the changing color, but should I color my hair now? 

Will it make me feel younger, live happier, if I take the “Look Youthful Longer” path? The path that appears full of springtime flowers? But, if I walk that path and pause to sniff the flowers, will I discover their beauty is only on the surface? Are they just silk flowers planted in the soil to give the illusion of beauty? Should I pretend it’s spring, when really it’s the end of summer? Shouldn’t I embrace the beauty that the end of summer holds?  

Shouldn’t I just smile because yesterday when I walked out the house, my husband ‘revved’ the car motor when he saw me?  Then, when I opened the car door (everyone was waiting on me, and he totally should have been upset because I was making him late) simply smiles and says to our girls “mom revs my engine!”?!  Oh, the happiness -- he still calls me as ‘smokin’ hot,’ with my baby wrinkles and graying hair!  

Is there a third path I’m missing? Can I somehow have both? I mean when the end of summer comes, I try to hang onto it a little longer, I’ll cover my flowers to keep them from getting frostbite.  I take longer walks, and simply stop and lift my face heavenward letting my skin soak up the last of summer’s golden rays. 

I don’t know what this coming year looks like.  I imagine before the year is up, there is a good chance I will have bought some anti-aging creams and got my first highlights.  It’s not that I think those things are necessarily ‘bad’ – like I said, I’m just standing at the crossroads, contemplating.  Are you too? What is your take on this?

 Are you further down the path, how did you make the choice?


 Do you have a favorite quote on aging?

An increasing number of people, including gerontologists, biologists, engineers and futurists, believe ageing is a disease, and one that can be cured. One of those people is Oxford biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, a leader of the anti-ageing movement, who believes we can rejuvenate the body by repairing cellular and molecular damage - and that a person has already been born who will live to 1,000.

Don't try to stretch a season into a lifetime! Know when to let go and move on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

I must admit that this morning I was a tiny bit sad that my girls didn't care about leprechauns or leprechaun traps or green milk or green glitter.  They are growing up. Those days are gone.

I keep repeating the lyrics to Alan Jackson's song, Remember When, "We won't be sad, we'll be glad, for all the life we've had and we'll remember when."

Those days were fun, and I LOVED them.  But now we have to create new memories!

Tonight I am making traditional Irish Soda Bread.  I mean my friend MaryKate O'Malley shared her grandma's authentic recipe - so I definitely MUST try it, right? I'm not sure if my girls will eat it or not - it does have raisins.  Maybe this will make them love raisins again! :)

Here's the recipe if you want to try it too: http://www.thegoodstuffguide.com/nanas-irish-soda-bread/ 

I am also going to make Shepherd's Pie for the first time tonight! :) We'll see how this goes! :)

I decided to do some research about Saint Patrick, because honestly, I know nothing about him!  Here's a few things I discovered (which I'm sure most of my catholic friends already know!)...

  • March 17th is his date of death
  • He is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland
  • His color was blue, not green
  • St. Patrick was English, not Irish
  • St. Patrick was sold into Slavery 
  • He used the shamrock to teach about the trinity - father, son, holy spirit
  • There are no snakes in Ireland (although he was not the one to drive them out).
  • More Irish descendants in America than in Ireland. 
  • Irish immigrants were once treated as poorly as African Americans, and organized St. Patrick's Day as a time of unified political support 
  • Ireland is an island (how did I NOT know this?! #embarrassing) Been a few years since I've studied geography or looked at a map of Europe! 
I'm planning to share these facts at dinner tonight, thought it would make a fun conversation.  

I'll probably buy some green juice for dinner (why, oh why, don't they make ecto-cooler Hi-C anymore -- I LOVED that stuff!) and some mint ice-cream -- because I think my girls will still LOVE those green things! :) 

One day I'd love to explore the Ireland countryside...maybe I'd even kiss the Blarney Stone (although it kinda sounds gross!)! :) 

Kylemore Abbey - 10 Places to visit in Ireland: http://www.ytravelblog.com/10-places-to-visit-in-ireland-with-kids/

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sometimes a Mom must be Brave

The news this past week has been horrific.  A well-liked, seemingly normal, junior high football coach physically grabs a 10 year old stranger walking to her friends house off the street, throws her in his truck (with witnesses nearby), drives 5 minutes away to his house, shoots her in the back of the head and stuffs her in a plastic tub, cleans up the mess and leaves -- and then returns to find police waiting for him. No fight from him.  All within a matter of 3 hours.  Bizzare. Horrific. Tragic. Terrifying.

Oh and did I mention this is just 15 minutes from our house?

This has invaded my deepest fears, wrecking me. I've lost sleep this week. I've been waking up from nightmares. One night I was actually laying on the cold bathroom floor with that horrible taste of 'being about ready to vomit' in my mouth, moaning. My fears have been intense.  And ugly.

As a mom of a 11 and 12 year old who frequently walk 1-2 blocks between two friends' houses (who are also 10 and 11) - My momma heart has held so much.

Obviously, I have told my girls about this -- not the details, we've kept the news off -- I feel a need to 'protect' them from too much info. We've reviewed safety and emphasized more than once why we insist they always walk with someone else when they are walking somewhere.

But the hardest thing I did this week -- was to let them go again.  We let them walk over to their friends houses still.  We've let them enjoy these springlike days playing in our backyard.  We've let the wait outside for the bus still.

Because here's the thing I know.  I can NOT let fear and evil rule our lives. We fight fear with bravery.  I must show them, teach them, that trust, and beauty, and love, and goodness are more powerful in this world.  Yes, we take precautions, -- but we don't let evil win.

On a side note, I've thought again about the Hunger Games series this week, and I think that's why I LOVE the end of The Hunger Games series so much.  Shes chooses bravery over fear. She choose to find goodness in the world instead of focusing on the evil. So much wisdom there. 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gifts from the Heart

Just wanted to capture a few of the sweet moments from yesterday. The girls had the day off school and I enjoyed spending my 40th birthday with them. Donuts with dad. Shopping at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Dinner at home (because eating out on Valentines Day is crazy!). Game of Scrabble.  I also asked them for gifts from the heart, not from the store this year.  Simply precious.


Morgan made me this made-from-scratch Hershey's chocolate cake.
She even put a surprise inside - it had a cookie layer too!
I'm glad she likes being a 'Baker'! ;) 

Sarah painted me this picture.
Her first attempt with her new 'fancy' water colors.
She also gave me coupons to make 40 dinners!!
And then she told me "I hope you are ready to eat 40 spaghetti dinners!"
Think we'll be expanding her cooking experiences. ;)
I'd say the first page of this new decade makes me excited to keep reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A New Decade

I'm still not sure how 40 got here so fast. I always thought 40 was old, but I don't feel old! :)

Part of me wants to reminisce about the past - to celebrate all the joy, tears, adventures, love, goofiness, disappointments, and happiness my life has held up to this point.

Part of me wants to grieve what the next decade will bring - more wrinkles, more gray hair, a metabolism that continues to slow down, my sweet girls becoming adults and spreading their wings (that one is bittersweet).

But I am reminded to cherish this day. To celebrate the now.  Today is the gift we must unwrap and fully live. Some days I live more fully than other days. Some days I am more giving and less selfish. Some days I love more deeply than others.

I hope with each day of life I am blessed to breathe that I remember to pause and celebrate Him who gives me life; and, that my heart breaks for the things that break His heart; and, that I love extravagantly the way He does.

This past week has been a beautiful week of celebrating.  Here's pausing to capture some of it...

  • A sister who spent 4 days celebrating with me -- relaxing, spa time, Lady Antebellum
  • An (early) birthday dinner with my parents and sister
  • The girls (and Mike) filling our home with black balloons and streamers when I returned
  • Neighbor across the street throwing us a little birthday party
  • Friend mailing me a handmade / heartmade gift (a knit cowl)
  • Sweet heartfelt birthday cards
  • A precious, hand written note from my mom to start my day
  • Early morning snuggles with Sarah
  • Listening to Morgan busy in kitchen at 6:30am working on my masterpiece of a birthday cake. (Darn, I have to stay in bed til she finishes!) 
  • Mike making me laugh before he left for work this morning 
And it's only 7am! So much happiness in this day. Thankful for this first day of a new decade!