Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 365: Last Day

Where can I even begin this post?

How about at the point I forgive myself for not being able to live up the the unrealistic expectations I sometimes place on myself.

No one noticed that I didn't actually post every single day in 2014, like I had mentioned I would do here, did they?

Don't worry, I've long ago forgiven myself, so you should do the same.
Not that I want to tell you what to do.

But it's my blog, so I guess I can at least ask you to just ignore my inadequacies.

Let's move on...

Tonight I will watch the ball drop.  Or maybe I won't.  I haven't decided yet.  The great thing about getting older is that the pressure of doing amazing things on special days has lost its charm.  Instead I want to do amazing things on ordinary days and leave the special days to the young people while I respectfully observe my 10:00 bedtime. 

Today, like anyone with a pulse living the Gregorian calendar, I was reflecting on my 2014. 

This year has been a big year - but I could pretty much say that about every year I've had since I turned 10.  Probably every year before as well.  That's the funny thing about years in our lives - they continuously change.  They continuously mold us into different people.  (I still don't really remember 2010, but I'm sure that's because it changed me so much.)

These years shape us.  In my case, this year has shaped me into a squishy blob of culinary contentment. (A nice way of saying "extra weight gain".)  But it has also shaped me into some semblance of the mother I want to be - the sister and daughter I want to be.  I like myself a lot more than I used to, and one can never complain about that.

So today I'm thankful for another year. 

Another year to be a mother to my three favorite boys on the planet.
Another year to work on being a sister that is understanding and forgiving.
Another year to strive to be a gracious and helpful daughter.
Another year to become a better teacher.
Another year to love my friends.
Another year to sleep, eat, and work alongside the only adult person I want to be around every single day.

And another few days to binge-watch Netflix.  I'm also thankful for that.

p.s. I can't wait to tell you all about my Christmas.  It was EPIC...(if "epic" to you means potty training and gaining 20 pounds in Christmas cookies and Buckeyes.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 348: Oy.

Birthday boy with birthday spoils

Someday you may show up at the movie theater without your kid on his birthday.

I'm not saying that you for sure will do this.  I'm just throwing out there that you may do it.

You may have a perfect birthday plan for him that you've been going over and over with him for three days in a row.  You may go over this plan with your husband, and you may blissfully go about your day thinking that everything is going to fall into place perfectly.

You may even be so on top of your game that you find a babysitter for your other two kids so that your middle son can have you and your husband all to himself.  You may drop him off at the church in the afternoon for a play date, promising that his dad will pick him up and that you'll see him at the movie theater - in anticipation of the movie he's been begging to see for weeks.

Once he's safely tucked away at the church with a handful of activities and his most favorite people, you may decide to do some Christmas shopping that you've been putting off.  You may or may not receive cryptic text messages from your husband about the evening plans, and you may or may not be annoyed that he seemingly wasn't listening when you made the plans.

At around 4:00 you may arrive at the movie theater and buy three tickets for Big Hero 6, along with a giant popcorn for all of you to share.  You may eat 1/3 of it while you're waiting for the other two to arrive.

Finally you may see your husband walk up, and when he opens the door to the theater, you ask him where Liam is.  He may look at you with a confused stare, followed by glances around his feet like your son is just hiding underfoot like a cat.

You may panic.
You may start crying.
You may realize that one of you was supposed to pick him up half an hour ago and that it will take at least that to get back to the church.

You may get in the car and with shaky hands, try to find a phone number that will connect you to the adults on the other end.  You may say things like, "I can't believe we forgot our son ON HIS BIRTHDAY!"

Eventually you would probably get there, only to realize that no one is panicked and people have words of grace and stories of their own.  You would probably apologize endlessly.

You may realize once you're back in the car, and headed to another theater that everything is going to be okay.  You would probably decide that another $25 is okay to spend on a movie you already have tickets to, all things considered, but you would definitely chow down on the popcorn in the car to save buying another one.

Your son will probably spend all evening saying things like, "Thank you for letting me stay longer with Mrs. Kim and Mr. Mark.  I got to stay there the LONGEST!"  You may feel like you got away with this one.

Then three days later your son, out of nowhere, may ask you, "Why did you and Dad forget to pick me up on my birthday?"

Today I am thankful for gracious adults that take such good care of my children, especially when I'm not always on top of my game.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 342: Liam

Dear 5 Year Old, Full of Sass, Liam,

Today you turn 5, and it is a day that has been anticipated and planned and dreamed about for many weeks.  Perhaps it is the first birthday you'll remember as an adult, and look back on with fond memories. 
But probably not, because you never forget anything.

My life is so much fuller with you in it.  Full of cuddling (your favorite thing to do), music, dancing, laughter, and even arguments.

You are a firecracker in this big dull world, and I hope your light never goes out.  I hope you never stop questioning things (although you could stop questioning EVERYTHING. I. DO. for awhile and that would be nice).  I hope you never stop trying to make people laugh.  I hope you never stop dancing and singing without abandon.  I hope you are always proud to be yourself.

This early morning there is a new teepee and tap shoes waiting for you under the Christmas lights you so eagerly hung.  I can't wait for you to open them.  Because you live life in a constant state of excitement, I love living it with you.

Today I am thankful you are in my life.

I'll love you forever little luchóg.
Your mom.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 338: Guest

Today I was lucky enough to serve as a guest blogger over at one of my new favorite shops.  Bushbaby is a fantastic store that sells new and used childre's clothing, along with many fairtrade goods. 

First, check out their blog (and my guest post) here.  Second, travel around their website a bit to see everything they have to offer.

I am thankful for this shop and everything it stands for.  You must check it out sometime! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 335: Off

Channeling my inner Mennonite Woman by making school kits this winter.

I remember this about the last time I had a full time teaching job - the pure joy one feels when multiple days off in a row lie ahead of you.  And now with my boys getting a bit older, the days off are more about relaxing, getting things done, and having fun than they are about surviving.  The great days of vacation have once again redeemed their glory.

I'm trying to get up the energy to decorate for Christmas this year.  Usually my family has barely cleaned up the Thanksgiving dishes and I'm pulling out ornaments without abandon.  But for some reason I'm hesitating this year.

I did pull out the tree from the basement - and then collapsed in a heap.  Which isn't as impressive as it sounds considering our tree is only as big as me.

Or maybe that is impressive - I can't decide.

Today I am thankful for days off of work, and that I have a job where I truly feel like I'm "of".

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 334: The Season of "Boy"

The season where they start to realize just how cool you are....that season.

So yesterday was amazing and satisfying.  I successfully stuffed my face full of good food and sat around all day.

I am always tempted to travel over the holidays.  For one, visiting family that lives far away from me is the only way I get to see my family.  With each of my brothers in a different state, and my parents still tucked away in God's country (O-H!......) (don't worry, I heard you yell it), it is usually impossible to see them without some bit of traveling.  This Thanksgiving we made the decision to stay around here and were lucky to have all of Dustin's family around for the day. There was go-kart riding, and birthday partying, and pie consuming, and game playing...but that wasn't even my favorite part.

It was afterwards friends.

Because when we came home yesterday Dustin sat down with a book, and I started sewing Liam's birthday present (more to come!) - of course thinking that we would only have about 20 minutes before we were called away.

Friends, here is the amazing part....we weren't called away.  OUR KIDS PLAYED TOGETHER.  FOR HOURS.

I know people are always wanting to freeze time with their babies, and I get that.  I love cuddles and first words and all that.  But I think I love watching them grow up more.  I love the first time you can have pizza night on the couch - or the first time they come up with some elaborate imaginative scenario together.   I love with they can put their shoes on and tie them, and when  I can just say, "go put your coat on."  I love having conversations with them about right and wrong, and discussing what birthdays are really about.  I love hearing what their favorite things are, and when they work on legos for hours to create something unique and that works.  And I love when going out to eat starts to sound fun again, and when you take your almost-five-year-old to Noodles and Co. he yells above all of the patrons, "This is the BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WOOOORRRRLLLLDDD!"  How's that for a comment card?

So the mother's of toddlers and infants that are either scared of them growing up too fast, or seem bogged down from taking care of them - it gets even better.

Today I am thankful for this season of parenthood.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 333: Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning and I'm sitting here cuddled up on my couch in the dark with a cup of tea in the early hours of the morning trying to sum up the energy to write.  Someone reminded me recently that writing is so important to me, and I mustn't let a little thing like life get in the way of that.

It's been a difficult autumn.  Correction - it's been a difficult and beautiful and full and empty autumn.  I told my therapist last week that I stopped writing because I didn't want to be whiny all of the time - which lead her to give me a look like, "a ha!" and a short lecture about vulnerability.  To which I thought, "I'll show you vulnerability." and decided to put on my blog the words, I told my therapist.  How's that for vulnerability?

On Monday I had outpatient surgery for an incredibly embarrassing medical reason that I actually am not  willing to disclose on here (even in the face of vulnerability).  After all of the work, they found that there actually was nothing to operate on.  Basically, I got the anesthesia for free.  I guess I should be rejoicing in no news (which I am), rather than being embarrassed that I went to all that trouble.  I did get to lay around all day, which never ever ever happens - so it wasn't a total waste. 

Things I'm Thankful for on Thanksgiving.

My clean(ish) bill of health.  

Last night for the first time in over a year Miles crawled into bed with us.  I don't know if it was a bad dream or being cold, but without a word he crawled onto my side of the bed.  Of course I didn't sleep the rest of the night, but it felt good to have him there - next to me.  Needing me.


Healthy Family

Days off school

Nowhere to go

Guys, my raging child is raging less.  That is hard for me to write about, because (luckily for you) 80% of you don't really know what it means for a child to rage. Unluckily for me, and my child, I do.  And it's happening less.  And he's finding ways to calm himself down.  And for the first time in years I can gulp at the air and see dry land.  For the first time I don't believe this season may last a lifetime.  I'm thankful for hope.


Dreaming up schemes

My boys - I mean, look at them - amazing.


Yesterday we celebrated Liam's birthday.  That boy is turning 5.  I can't even believe it.  His new thing is tap dancing.  Must find tap shoes.  I'm thankful for spunk and uninhibited individuality.

Evenings on the couch with my husband, curled up in our big green blanket - whether it is spent watching Hulu, or reading, or on our separate laptops.  Feeling him there is good.  I'm thankful that I have him here everyday.

Pumpkin pie (which I hope without abandon that I get today)

Sweet potato casserole

Memories of Thanksgivings at Corrymeela - my favorite event of the year.


Today I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 323: Help

Saturday morning I accepted help that I didn't necessary need and it has been in my mind ever since.  2/3 of my boys were gone with their dad for the morning and so the youngest and I bundled up for a brisk walk in the cold.  We found ourselves at the local second hand store where I like to sometimes just browse the goods because I'm old and boring like that.

In the  midst of many unwanted and outdated items, I found one thing that I was pretty excited to show up at home with - an electric ice cream maker.  Since it was below the $5 limit for a debit card I hunted around for exactly $1.50 worth of treasures and then stood in line. 

It was a long line.  I guess a Saturday in November in a small town leaves little options for those of us who want to be out and about.  We all penciled "bargain shopping" on our morning agenda.

After waiting a good 10 minutes I was told that the debit card machine didn't work. 

At most I felt a little inconvenienced, but it really wasn't a big deal.  I wouldn't die if I didn't have an ice cream maker and the other things were just bonus.  I searched around in my wallet for 30 cents to pay for the little wrapping bow in my pile (the one thing I actually needed) while the woman behind the counter tried desperately to void the sale. 

Suddenly a hand reached across the cash register holding $6.  The woman behind me had heard everything and had just fished the money out of her purse for no reason other than to show kindness. 

I tried to refuse her gesture, but she insisted with such joy that I stopped.  I was more in shock than anything.  Over the last year there were times when $6 from a stranger would have sent me into tears of complete gratefulness.  There were times when a simple gesture like that would have changed the course of my week. 

But on Saturday it was unnecessary - but kind, and touching, and so thoughtful. 

So I let her give.  Part of me toiled with this American Midwest culture where we accept no help.  When offered a drink of water, we "pass" because we don't want to inconvenience anyone.  All my life I've watched adults refuse help because of not wanting to trouble their neighbor.  After being an adult on the other end of that - the one sometimes offering help; and after living in a country that always accepts that help - I'm starting to realize that sometimes the problem isn't the giver, but the receiver. 

Why can't we just be grateful and accepting of the offer we've been given?  Doesn't it make us feel good and wanted to be able to give something to another person that we've offered them? 

So with only a tiny bit of reluctance I let her help me.  I thanked her over and over again.  I thought all day about her kind gesture and how I can pass it on.  Maybe an ice cream party for my neighbors with my new ice cream maker?

Sometimes accepting a gift is more important than giving it.

Today I am thankful for that reminder.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 310: Apprentice

I spent a lot of last year trying to figure out what my title was.  I wasn't home enough to be a SAHM and I still can't spit out the word "kiddos", which seems to be mandatory for SAHM vocabulary.  I worked at a college, but for the first time in my adult life wasn't a teacher. 

I made my own cheese. 

That's how confused I was. 

Seriously.  There are people out there that make really good cheese - natural non-processed cheese, and I was grasping so violently for something to be an expert in, that I chose cheese. 

Those people are called cheese makers.  A cheese maker I am not.

The truth is that I most definitely wasn't an expert at parenting.  My role as a mother is so far from what I expected when I started this journey 7 years ago.  As I sat through various parent/teacher conferences, counseling appointments, and doctor's appointments I would shrink into my chair and feel like a failure at the one thing I was supposed to be doing at this season in my life.  Inevitably I felt the need to blurt out "I was a teacher for seven years!" at every single instance.

My desperation was embarrassing.  It was like I wanted everyone to know that I do know something other than this.  There was something else that I actually was almost an expert at.   It was imperative that they know this.  Life or death really.

But the beauty of all this is that I have learned despite my lack of expertise in parenting, I am actually a really good apprentice. I am an excellent listener and note-taker. I learn quickly from mistakes and adjust to changing tides. I will probably never be an expert, but I will enjoy the journey of learning.

Today I am thankful for patient instructors.

Day 307: One Day

One day you wake up from a haze of busyness and remember that you were once an artist and a writer.  You remember that you loved baking and there was a soothing quality to throwing together a meal that now escapes you.  You edit photo upon photo, but never for yourself.  Daily you talk about the importance of sketching, yet your sketchbook lies on the shelf unopened and untouched.


When you wake up you try to shake off the uneasiness and the cobwebs that have fogged your mind. Because of what life has handed you, you're not the mother you thought you'd be, or the artist, or the writer.  You haven't been unhappy or unfulfilled, but you wonder how you have survived this dryspell of your lifeNot only have you survived it, but you have cherished it.  Loved it.

Which makes you panic.  Are you no longer these things?  Will you never again experiment and build.  Create and dream of ideas?  Is that part just over?  Are you just content with surviving?

Do you care?

You do.

You care about that and so much more now.  The problem isn't that there is an emptiness in your life, but that there is so much goodness and beautiful responsibility in your life that your bucket overflows.  Creating must become a priority for everyone, including the artist and non-artist.  10 years ago life was different, but not nearly as messy and gorgeous.  It was easy and boring.  It was also unpredictable and stressful.  There was endless time to be something amazing.

Be someone. Do something.

Make sure it's big.

Definitions change.  Defining yourself is no longer measured in what the outside sees.   Those are only glimpses into what you really are.

Today my classroom board filled with this quote: "Be thankful for what you are now, and KEEP FIGHTING for what you want to be tomorrow."

Today I am thankful for who I am today.

Different than I planned, but better in many ways.

And tomorrow holds great possibility.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 292: Fieldtrip

My job has been challenging in ways I wasn't prepared for this year.  A combination of people (adults) assuming I know things I don't know, combined with me thinking I should know things I don't know has made for feelings of inadequacy in many areas.  We aren't talking advanced color theory, or the pre-historic art develops people - we're talking "how in the heck do you make a color copy up in this joint  and what do you mean by 'verify your grades'."   When you're at a job for a long time you know things that you don't realize you know until you're in a new place with a new dynamic and a new way of doing things.
I ask too many questions.
I need too much clarity.
I'm annoying even to myself.

I often leave for the day wondering how I could so easily take two steps back from the place I left three years ago.  Trying to catch up with myself has proven to be difficult.  The root of everything feels raw and tender.  I'm not sure where I should be when.

The teenage brain?  A whole other rant.

But then today I had a glimpse of why I do this.

A simple fieldtrip, that took me only an hour to plan, but dazzled a handful of my students in ways I alone couldn't.  Their eyes sparkled and the inspiration was tangible.

Today I'm thankful for fellow artists that walk along this journey of inspiring our youth, and every once in awhile throw me a favor.  

Today reminded me how lucky I am to be here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Almost a month later...

I was reminded again recently that things have been silent on here.  I’m flattered that someone even noticed.  I could blame it on being really busy, but in truth, that’s not the reason I haven’t logged on to this blog for weeks. 
Here is the ugly honest truth friends…life has been sort of hard.  I can’t say what specifically has been hard.  There is no pinpointing where things feel inadequate or where I’ve failed as a mother/wife/sister/friend/teacher.  It’s impossible to trace this funk back to anything in particular.  Which is why I’ve decided to call it the Great Funk of 34.  (34 is my age for those of you confused by the reference.)
Warning: here I’m going to talk about myself in the second person – like I am expert on funks of all funks and know what in the world I’m saying...

Sometimes you reach a point in your life where things get really hard.  Tiny things get hard.  Things you have always loved get so dang hard.  You feel inadequate in areas of your life you never realized you were measuring.  Wounds dig a little deeper and you wonder if they were there all along, just hiding and waiting for you to stop paying attention. 
You walk through life feeling like everything is out of your control and what is the use anyways?  Nothing goes your way and everything that you were once confident in suddenly exhausts you.  Everyone and everything seems against you when really no one is.  It is imagined.  No one notices your funk, and you wonder with an aching heart why no one has noticed and no one has asked and no one has called you up to say, “Dude, what’s wrong?  Let’s meet for a glass of wine right this minute and you must tell me your heart.”  You wonder why that never happens no matter how sad you look back at yourself in the mirror.  Then you remember that you haven’t actually told anyone that you’re in a funk.  You are a big liar and faker and for some reason everyone believes you.  They believe that you’re okay.  They believe you when you say “everything’s going well.”  Maybe it’s because you smile when you say it. 
At church your pastor says exactly what you need to hear – that you need to share your soul with these people.  But what if your soul is gnarled up and sad and people are busy and you can tell they don’t have time to go there with you.
And then you start to wonder how many “everything’s going well”s you’ve missed because you haven’t stopped to look into their souls.  You wonder how many times God gave you a nudge that you ignored because you weren’t certain.  How many times did you miss the help you could have given? 
And with this thought you suddenly feel a tiny bit whole.  Like there is a purpose to all of this.  You need to be another person’s soul searcher, even if you don’t know who yet.  You are a voyager and all you need is the voyage.  It will come.

It will come.
That’s when you carry on.

Today I am thankful for people that inspire me simply by being alive.

and also for...

...moments of clarity in the Great Funk of 34.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 260: 2's

Last night the two older boys were at church activities and so we were home alone with Oliver.  I cherish these moments.  Even if I'm working away (last night we were madly trying to stain a bookshelf consisting of 20 SHELVES! before sunset) or cleaning up from a hectic evening of rushing around and shoving food at people, he is right there ready with some funny spectacular tidbit to share with me.

Last night he had on Liam's cheetah hat and was crawling around on the floor saying "I'm a cheetah." His first completely independent sentence. 

He makes me smile. 

My favorite age.

Today I am thankful for these moments shared.

Day 259: Sunrise

Lately I'm around to see the sunrise, but today I actually got to leave home early and saw it on my way to work.  It is hopeful, and lovely, and full of grace.

I need grace these days.

Today I am thankful for the sunrise.

A sure and beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 258: Questions

Last night was one of the easiest nights of parenting I've ever had. 

No, my kids weren't gone.  Although admittedly that would be easier. 

Something happened Sunday night in the midst of a full blown breakdown and tantrum.

I asked a question. 

And it must have been the right one. 

And for, at least for the time being, it changed something in our family wiring.

Today I am thankful for those times when I get a nudge from God and then make the choice to go with it.

Day 257: Wave

I live in the Midwest.  I admittedly (after many years of denial and trying to claw my way out) love it.  I am so Midwest it hurts sometimes. 

A friend of mine from the East Coast took a quiz one time that told him how "Midwest" he was.  He only scored around a 40% and at the end they told him he should practice waving at cars driving by more.  And it wouldn't hurt to smile.

It's true.  We wave at each other.  Especially when you're on a narrow country road and it's only the two of you.  You wave; otherwise you look like a stranger.

There are extremes of course - instances where even we Midwesterns are freaked out by the random kindness of people we don't know.

Which leads me to this...

I work at two different schools.  Everyday I park at one school and then walk a half a block and cross the street to the other school at a crosswalk with a very cheerful and friendly crossing guard.  She's lovely.

The very first day of school I had to walk past these two older people who were chatting on the sidewalk between the schools and waving at many of the cars that went by on a very busy street.  They had their bikes there and I figured they were old friends that had run into one another.  And knew A LOT of people that were driving by. 

Then I saw them the next day.

And the next. 

And I realized that they were waving at EVERY car that went by. 

They have been there everyday since.  Rain, sun, wind - they are out there waving joyfully at every car.  Most people (who probably drive this route daily) just as joyfully wave back.  Some people give half waves and nervously wonder if they should know these people.  Very few act like they don't see them. 

None of this discourages these two people of course. They are there to serve as the cheerleaders of the community - the junior high and high school students - the busy Moms and Dads - the young professionals trying to get to work on time.  They are simply a cheerful face that is happy to see all of them first thing in the morning.

This must be their ministry. 

What a creative way to give of yourself. 

Today I am thankful for these two and what they do for every car that passes by.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 256: Challenges

I know I've written about my church before and how grateful I am to have them.

I truly am. 

And I am grateful for the times I am surrounded with love, but also the times I am challenged. 

Today I got to feel both of these things.

Today I am thankful for my church community.

Day 255: Tiger

This morning I was watching cartoons with my boys and there were two episodes of Daniel Tiger on in a row.  It was only two days ago that my coworkers and I sat around the lunch table conversing over how his songs tended to stick in our heads - which can be pretty annoying.

But this morning I felt so lucky that there is a show out there teaching social skills.  Not reading or math...but simply how to be a better person.

When I stop and think about it, it is pretty amazing.

Today I am thankful for Daniel Tiger - or as it was known back in my day - Mister Rogers.

Day 254: Friday

Today I am simply thankful for Friday.

Tonight we had an impromptu get-together with our neighbors that included chili, pumpkin ice cream, and great conversation.  What a warm way to end this week, and the first crisp fall day of the year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 253: Words

Photo courtesy of the talented Katie Zeller

A friend of mine who tragically lost her mother a few years ago wrote these words when taking First-Day-of-School pictures:  

I could be all sentimental, but life has taught me not to be sad to see these days come, but to be thankful we get to be here to see them.

When I read those words they instantly changed my life and the way I look at it.  Since that day every step has been one I was lucky to travel with my children.  I'm not saying I don't want to rip my hair out once in awhile, and I still need time to myself, but in my mind it's not about that.  It's more about the idea that rather than wishing time would stand still, I can allow it to move forward with the freedom of gratefulness and joy.

A year ago I would have looked on with sadness as Miles did grown up things like climb the steps of the bus or walk into school by himself.  I would have cried great big crocodile tears when I packed up Oliver's crib for the very last time.  But those words... they changed everything.

I get to be here.  I get to hold their hands through it and teach them.  Show them.  I got to be there the first time he put on a brave face and walked into school by himself.  I saw him reach out for a friends hand and invite him to walk in together.  

I was a part of it.

Today I attended the funeral of a friend that oozed goodness.  Everything about her made me want to be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, fill-in-the-blank.  She raised two boys that look a lot more like men.  Although her job wasn't necessarily finished, I know she gave thanks for the bits she got to navigate with them. This includes the final things, like a wedding and moving into a college dorm. She got to teach them how to be young men.  How to walk, talk, and treat those around them.  I think it is pretty obvious that she did one heck of a job.  And I have no doubt that she relished in it.

Today reiterated for me how much I want to be here for all of it.  I don't know the plans that are laid out for me, but now I have the freedom of truly celebrating every milestone that I'm a part of.  I can no longer afford the sadness that comes with the regret of time moving forward.  I will no longer beg for time to slow down or stand still.  I want to see all of it.

I want to help them navigate everything I can.  I want to be there in the times of sadness and joy that come with getting older.

Every step in the right direction is worth an armful of gratitude. 

Today I am thankful for these words that came to me at the right time. 

Every once in awhile you read/hear/see something that changes the way you live.

Thank you Sara, for your words.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 252: Music

Today I am thankful for a good Pandora station to lighten my mood.  

This morning when I logged into Pandora after days of listening to touching, but slightly depressing stations like Milk Carton Kids and Floyd Vance, Pandora recommended I tune into 80's Pop Hits.

So I did. 

By the end of first hour my entire 8th grade class was belting out Journey and just like that I knew today was going to be a good one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 251: Rain

Today I am thankful for the sound of thunder and rain as it surrounds me and my coffee this early morning.
A summary of my week through my boys - masking myself from it, leaning into it, and eventually falling back in defeat.

I have been avoiding this entry for 10 days.

Actually, the first three days were just me traveling, and then simply being overwhelmed with life.  The next three days were a loss of a will due to some weird combination of sadness and anger and (if I'm honest) ugly resentment.

But the last four days - those have definitely been me avoiding this blog.

Last weekend I went to a beautiful wedding full of family I hadn't seen in many many moons.  I held new babies, got to know my very cool 16 year old cousin really well as we shared a backseat to and from distant lands, and even had time to meet a friend for coffee.  In the midst of it all I stayed with my long-lost roommate from the first time I went to Northern Ireland 14 years ago.  This is a person that knew me inside and out after four months of sharing a very colorful room in a house with one crazy woman and her even crazier cat.  That, my friends, creates lasting friendship.  It was this kind of friendship that was reignited through hours and hours of conversation on her couch.  Add some caramel popcorn, Coke, and Mexican food and you have a recipe for nostalgia.  All of it was perfect.

However, sometimes perfect weekends lead into not-so-perfect weeks.  You spend days playing "catch-up" - canning vegetables you've been avoiding, and going to soccer games even your kids aren't excited about anymore.  Weeks ago you had made plans before you realized this was the WORST WEEK EVER to make plans.  You find out about missed opportunities.  You hear about friends who seem to have moved on.  You barely see your kids and the guilt makes you crazy.  You love your job, but you regret working.  And then you hear that a friend - a friend you still had so much to learn from - takes a turn for the worse and is in ICU.

I've spent the week being inconveniently depressed.  That is a super unpopular thing to admit, but I also know I'm not the only one that goes through a "funk" now and again.  I can't be.

On a beautiful Sunday morning, during a lovely outdoor service we received news that our friend Jill had passed away because of cancer.  All along I've been hanging on to this hope and belief that she would make it through this.  Some of it is selfish of course - as a mother of two grown (and put together) boys and a faithful Sister in Christ, I knew there were things I could learn from her that I hadn't already by simple observation.  And so now I'm so sad to say goodbye.  And I'm sad for her boys, and her husband, and all of the people that loved her so fiercely.

But because of the life she led, I want to be a better person.  I want to be present.  I want to be engaged.  I want to give of myself as she did.

So I'm starting again here without fear or anxiety.  I'm not going to make-up the last 9 days I missed.  Those prayers of gratefulness did happen, but between God and me.  They were sparse, and desperate.  But they were there.  You'll just have to trust me.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 241: Old

Today I am riding in a car with my aunt and uncle and cousin to a city about 6 hours away.  We're all migrating there for another cousin's wedding and I am going stag.
No husband.  No children.


Actually, the whole weekend is so time-warpy.  First of all, I'm totally riding out in the back seat with my teenage cousin, who I think is super rad, but could totally be one of my students.  Then I am hanging out with a dear friend from my past that I haven't seen in AGES - my roommate from the first time I went to Northern Ireland.  And then, because I won't have a car, my parents are going to have to pick me up for the wedding - which they are probably just realizing as they read this.

It's like I'm 20 again.

But I'm excited.  The boys have other adventures planned in Michigan (because we NEVER go there), and I will miss them since this is my second weekend in a row without them (and my third weekend this month away from home).

Have a good weekend!

Today I am thankful for opportunities that surprise me. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 240: Student

Today after class I had a student stay after just a tiny bit after her friends left to share some encouraging words with me.  I sat at my desk amazed as an eighth grade girl gave me generous and genuine affirmation.  Her words were kind, and I could tell she was nervous saying them.

But she said them. 

I wonder if I would have had the courage to compliment even my very favorite teachers that way at any age during school.

Such a brave and gracious girl.

Today I am thankful for the lovely young people that will some day grow up to be lovely adults. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 239: Sleep

I woke up this morning very tired. 

I spent a good portion of last night lying in my bed awake and listening to the sounds of my family sleeping. 

I have never slept far from my children.  In every house we've lived in, I have been able to hear their breathing and rustling from my bed.  It hasn't been intentional, but simply the nature of the places we've called home. 

And last night as I was lying there with my eyes wide open thinking about everything that is going wrong and unfair outside of my four walls I was so thankful for the sounds of their sleeping.  For the deep sighs and coughs.  To have everyone in my family so close. 

Today I am thankful for that.

Day 238: First Year

Being a first year teacher is terrible.  Luckily, I'm not really a first-year teacher. In some ways I definitely feel like I am.  For example, I have to email my mentor at least once a day with operational questions like, "How do I recycle the massive amounts of cardboard in my room?" or "What is PAK?"  I also have to introduce myself to everyone and don't actually know anyone's names with enough confidence to actually call them by name yet. 

But the really tough stuff - the stuff that makes teachers drop like flies after one or two years - that stuff I don't have to suffer though.

When I was a first year teacher I took myself way too seriously.  I demanded respect and took it personally when I didn't get it.  I didn't realize that when a student is mad at you about some ridiculous thing, it is best to just kill it with kindness, rather than try to make it up to them or get mad back.  I didn't know how to laugh at myself.  I especially didn't know how to laugh at myself in front of students. I didn't realize that asking them genuine questions about themselves was more important than having them sit through an entire art project.  I wanted to be cool and aloof.  Now I just want to be silly and kind.

Today I am thankful that I'm not really a first year teacher.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 237: Evening In

When we were living in Northern Ireland one thing I missed so so much was being able to come home from work and put on my stretchy pants, pour a glass or wine, and officially call it done.  Because of the nature of our job, we had to continuously go out after dinner to the volunteer house and socialize.  A glass of wine was out of the question if there was any chance at all that we may be going anywhere on site besides our house, and there were never really any "end" hours. 

These past few weeks have been hard on me.  I haven't actually spent an evening at home for a week now. 

But tonight that streak was broken, and here I sit - just having tucked the boys into bed for the first time really in much too long.  (I'm sure Dustin's glad I'm home too.)

Today I am thankful for an evening in.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 236: Parents

Tonight I sat through Meet the Teacher Night at my place of employment.  It was long and tiring, but more than anything it was inspiring.

People want their kids to take art.  They want their artistic kids to feel amazing because of their talents.  They want to foster this in them.


Tonight I am thankful for parents that support art.

Day 235: Friendships

I just had the best weekend.

I think I wrote before that I was dreading it - the driving, the being gone from home, the craziness of its timing.

But it was worth it.

These friends I have - are the very best friends in my life.  They know everything I have to offer, and every way I fall short.  And they still love me.

This weekend gave me energy and inspiration.

They gave me love.

I am thankful for this group of women and what they mean in my life.

Day 234: Couch

Today my friends and I did absolutely nothing.

That's not even an exaggeration.  We LITERALLY sat on the couch in our vacation house and talked for hours and hours.  About our kids, about our lives, about our relationships.  Pretty soon 4:00 rolled around and we realized we hadn't eaten lunch.  Then 5:30 rolled around and we realized we hadn't left the house.

We are all mothers that all-to-often are stretched thin beyond measure.

So this completely selfish day was glorious.  A gift.

Today I am thankful for endless conversation without the pressure of agenda.

Day 233: Weekend

Today is Friday and this coming weekend has been weighing on me like crazy this week.  I have spent the last two nights at work late for two separate reasons, am leaving to go up to Michigan by myself (to meet friends) and then will have to be at work late Monday night for Meet the Teacher night.  Guess what, I'm the teacher - which is never as much fun as being the parent in my experience.

So I woke up today with a heavy heart.  I leave in just a few minutes and I'm not looking forward to the long drive by myself.  BUT....

...when I picked my oldest son up from school today he was wearing a huge smile.  In fact, every day I've picked him up from school this week he has been wearing a huge smile.

A record friends.

Today I am thankful for a smiling boy at the end of a school day.  

I didn't know it could be so rare until I was in it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 231 and 232: Yesterday and Today

I am clearly writing this a day after Day 231.  Yesterday was Wednesday.  Yesterday was a hard day.
I wish I could just spew it all out here for all of you to read - mostly because I want you to feel sorry for me, and because I know I would be wrapped in love.  But the truth is that my reality right now is not just my own, but my family's.

When your reality doesn't fall into "normal" it is isolating and terrifying.  It is hard to imagine anyone empathizing without trying to fix.  It is hard to understand how someone couldn't be critical of the way you are handing it, because clearly if you were handling it the right way none of this would be happening.  It is hard to understand how people find the energy to do normal things without fear and dread coursing through their veins.  It is hard to see perfect First Day of School pictures and commentary on social media without it feeling like a swift kick to the stomach.  It is hard to believe that anyone would understand.  Luckily I have people who understand.

Really understand.

Like, "Dude, I'm living it" understand.

And those people are important enough to take up two days of my gratitude - because without them, days like this would be much harder than they already are.

Today I am thankful for those people.

And I promise tomorrow my gratitude is going to start taking a more positive spin.  Well, at least positive-ish.

Day 230: Eager

Starting this new job I had no idea where students would fall in wanting or not wanting art.  Luckily I have been so happy to see that they are so eager.  They are also challenging - but in all the right ways.  They crave art and want to learn more always.  They keep me on my toes.

Today I am thankful to be teaching students who are excited about art.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 229: Better

Today I am thankful that the morning went better than every day last week.

Except for that day last Monday when I didn't have to go anywhere and only had one child to take care of.  That day definitely still wins.

Remember summer?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 228: Treading water.

Yesterday I ended up getting a few things checked off my list, which was really important for my sanity.

Today I'm thankful for the ticking sound of items being checked off my "to-do" list. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 224 - 227: Catch-up

If only I could take a page from this guy's book...
Of course I'm planning catch-up again y'all.  You'll have to forgive me, because I DID start a new job, buy a car, host a book-club, send my oldest off to Kindergarten, freeze a gagillion pounds of vegetables for the winter, and perform two photo shoots. 

And if you think for even ONE HOT SECOND that I had my act together through it all, you obviously didn't see me yesterday morning, this morning, or any afternoon since Wednesday stomping around my house hyperventilating and wondering how I'm going to get more done that I need to.  And of course all while shouting orders at undeserving observers with facial expressions that oddly resemble a deer caught in headlights. It was not pretty.

I'm not pretty when I do that. 

Wait a second.... isn't this exactly what I tried to escape from when I picked up my family and moved away to another country three years ago? 

Oh my word...sing it.

I think I actually forgot how hard teaching is.  I actually thought I could just keep doing all of the things I was doing before, but now I could do it while working full-time. 

Yeah yeah...and you know what? Sign me up for another committee.  That sounds like a fabulous idea. 


That was me banging my head against the keyboard and realizing what an idiot I am.

So starting tomorrow I will learn the word "no". 

No I will not be Freshman Class Sponsor.
No I will not be room mother.
No I will not take that zuchinni off your hands.
No I will not sew you a Veggie Tale costume.

Okay, maybe I'll sew a costume...

But what to be thankful for.  Oh there was plenty...

Wednesday I was thankful for nice, polite, and eager students.
Thursday I was thankful for the fantastically brilliant group of women that make up my book club.
Friday I was thankful that I got to go out to dinner with old friends.
And today I'm thankful for a few days to reflect on how I can do it differently next week.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Now back to photo editing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 223: Friendly Faces

Last night I went to bed very sad.  I surprised myself by mourning my old job.  I thought about the predictable inservice I wouldn't sit through, and the dear friends that wouldn't be saving me seats.  Anxiety crept up inside of me as I thought about walking into this new auditorium with not a single friend, but a million empty seats that I had to choose from.  I felt sadness for the inside humor I would have shared with friends over Bloodborn Pathogens, and felt terrified about what I would do during the designated "lunch on your own" time when everyone else had friends to go out to eat with.
I missed my old job last night.

And this morning when I got up I decided it was going to be okay.  No one remembers who sat by themselves on their first day or ate lunch alone in their classroom while everyone else was out at Pizza Ranch.  I knew I'd be okay... albeit sad.

But that wasn't how it went.  Of course I felt awkward 70% of the day, and didn't really know how things worked, or where the printer was, or how to find things like my mailbox. 

But none of that really mattered because people were friendly.  They introduced themselves to me.  They encouraged me.  They went out of their way to make me feel welcome. 

AND I got two invitations to lunch. 

It makes me wonder if in my past job I was as kind and generous and friendly to first-time teachers as these people have been to me.

Today I am thankful for people who stretch to make others feel welcome.

I may have just learned something very valuable from them today.

Day 222: Only

On this beautiful Monday I got to do something so unique and so wonderful that my gratitude is in full effect.  I got to lesson plan.

Just kidding.  I mean, I did get to lesson plan, and the only reason I could do that is because I only had one child.  FOR THE WHOLE DAY.  AND NIGHT.  And tomorrow too. 

I think being a parent of any number of children is scary and hard.  I mean, I assume it is because everyone says so, but I was only a parent of one for approximately eight months, and I was so shell-shocked that I don't actually remember. 

What I can tell you is that when you are used to three under the age of six, having just one little two-year-old seems easy peesy.  ESPECIALLY if it is a two-year-old that never gets to do things on his own without his brothers. 


Today and the next few days my parents have generously offered to keep my oldest boys in Ohio while I get ready for the start of school (something I've been conveniently putting off) and relish in this baby boy for a tiny bit more before he is going to the babysitter full-time. 

It's been pretty much amazing.

Today I am thankful for some one-on-one time with my youngest, and some extra time to get things done.  

My house is still a mess, but at least I have an idea of what the week holds.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 221: Celebration

This has been a weekend of celebrations.  Yesterday was my Mom's surprise 60th birthday party that I wrote about, and then in the evening we celebrated my little boy turning 2.  My baby. 

Today I celebrated a dear dear DEAR friend from my high school (and current) days who is expecting her first baby - a little boy.  This afternoon I got to celebrate a cousin who is getting married in just a few short weeks. 

Celebrate.  So many reasons to celebrate.  Sometimes we (I) take it for granted that there is so much good in our lives that we are able to have celebrations.  There are people in the world that go through these same events without the gift of a gathering.

Lucky.  We are so lucky.

Today I am thankful for celebrations.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 220: Surprise

This afternoon I got to do something really fantastic - I got to (with the help of others) throw my Mom a surprise 60th birthday party that was truly a surprise.  I got to see her showered with love by her friends from different areas of her life.  Today, in Ohio, she shined.  And unfortunately, I took close to no pictures.  (Photographer fail for sure.)  The rest of our day was filled with things like naps, barbeques, and a certain little boy opening presents.

And today I am thankful that I got to surprise her.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 219: Ollie

Dear Oliver,

Happy birthday little boy.  I can't believe I've only known you 2 years, because to me you've been a part of my soul for eternity.

I am thankful for...
...your open-mouthed smile, because it lights up your face and makes you instantly the most beautiful person in the room.
...the way you come out of your bedroom with your blankie to your face like you're halfway hiding from the day.
...the way you chant my name like a cheer every time I come home after being gone.  Reunions are your gift my boy."Mommy! Mommy!  Mommy!"
...when you jump, because it is filled with joy.
...when you run after your brothers roaring, because you are so full of imagination already.
...your wily ways - you are a cunning one dear boy.
...your perseverance.
...your laughter.
...your first words.
...when you say "Iam!" for Liam. you drop everything to dance to Rhianna.

Today I am thankful for you, little boy.

You are fierce, funny, and clever.  People can see it the minute they meet you.
This world was waiting for you Oliver.

I love you forever,
Your Mama.

Day 218: Questions

We live in an outstandingly conservative town/area.  People that know me from other areas of my life sometimes wonder out loud what I'm doing in such a place and we laugh together about things like how I don't have to wait in line during "The Primaries" or how I can't possibly fit into such a place. I think many of my friends have added up experiences from their past and the media to come up with the equation that conservative = intolerance. But the truth is quite the opposite in this tiny place. 

Almost everyday on social media I read about friends that have adopted children, like my oldest, and are asked outstandingly inappropriate questions, or overhear statements that make their skin crawl. 

I hear nothing. 

That doesn't mean it doesn't happen here.  It just means that people are sensitive enough not to ask or say things to me in front of my Korean American son.  Which in itself is pretty amazing when he is still one of the only Korean Americans I've encountered in my small town.  (I didn't say it was perfect.) 

Today I am thankful for the sensitivity of people in our lives.

I don't mind questions.  I just don't want them to make my six year old question himself or the validity of our family.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 217: Perfect Timing

Today was one of those days where things were some weird mixture between laid-back and messy and intense all at once.  I still don't quite understand what happened this morning.  Let's just say I was REALLY looking forward to naptime.  (Let's be honest - I'm always REALLY looking forward to naptime.)

It was around 3:00 when all three of my kids were awake and somehow climbing out of bed like naptime was for suckers - which is against my rule that EVERYONE MUST STAY IN BED UNTIL I HAVE HAD ENOUGH TIME TO RECOVER. (which usually translates to no less than 2.5 hours on a good day)

Around 3:10 I relinquished all control over the situation by stomping around my house furiously, trying to get the list of things I hadn't yet accomplished done when I swung open my door to find this sitting in my entryway...

(this is where the angels start singing)

Today I am thankful for surprises.
And the little brother and sister-in-law elves that think to send them.
I'm still trying to figure out what I did to deserve such a sweet package.  While you try to figure it out I'm going to enjoy my third super fancy ice cream flavored chocolate of the night with a glass of wine.  


Day 216: Excited

Tonight I was invited to a formal dinner at my new place of employment where they introduced all of the new teachers and we met the Board of Education and additional Administration.

I'm starting a job at a school that essential has had a dying art program for years.  This may be discouraging for some people, but it is honestly the only reason I applied for the job in the first place.   I find this incredibly exciting.  It may be a long hard road, but I am excited to get in there and to see what these students are craving from an art program.

But that is not what I'm thankful for tonight.

Tonight I'm thankful for the adults in the community that are demanding a thriving art program from their school district.

In the age of cut-backs and lack of funding - where art is one of the first things to go - it is amazing to me that I've walked into a job where everyone I meet is EXCITED that I'm there.  Or that someone is there at all.  They are also excited to see what their students will create.  It's not just the parents, but the administrators and Board Members.  I've got some big people to please.

In some ways it is a lot of pressure to be sitting here knowing that they have placed all of their eggs in my basket.  This is either the beginning or the end.

But here's the thing...with all of us, everyone, this is going to work.  People want this.  I'm just the vehicle.

And that is exciting.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day 215: Afternoon

This morning didn't seem to go well.  It was hot, I had to haul a bajillion reems of art paper to my new art room from the old art room.  The person I was supposed to meet at my old job came an hour late.  I was still tired from a three hour photoshoot with twins I did yesterday.  And then at around noon I realized that I didn't have to stay and work in a hot classroom. 

I still have the option to leave when I want.

So at noon I called it quits.  I packed it all in and headed home with my boys for naptime.  As I write this two of the three of them are sweetly dreaming in their rooms and I'm planning out the beginning of my school year.

Today I am thankful for the last week of summer.

Day 214: Inspiring

Do you know those people that inspire you just by sitting next to you and being in your presence? 

Today I am thankful that I do.

Day 213: Saturday

Saturdays are amazing - especially when you have absolutely no agenda - which pretty much never happens.

Today I am thankful for a Saturday just like that.

Day 212: Freak Accidents

Tonight Liam fell off of the grocery cart at Costco.  He wasn't in the cart, and I'm not even really sure how it happened, but it sounded awful.  There was a lot of high-pitched screaming for some (many) minutes, and about an hour of whimpering afterwards, but he was fine - no concussion, no symptoms, nothing. 

I realize it really could have been worse.  I realize that freak accidents happen around the world every day.  Things that should not break children, do.

Today I am thankful that we were not the victims of freak accidents. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 211: Date

Tonight I had a special date night with my oldest son.  It included school shopping, his choice of restaurant, and ice cream.  It was such a sweet and special time.  I cherish the rare moments when I get one-on-one time with my son.  And after living a year with so little, I am also thankful that we can afford to do special things like that every once in a great while.

Today I am thankful for a special evening alone with my little boy; my oldest boy.

Day 210 - Over halfway

I am notorious for losing gumption halfway through a project.  Usually it's around the time the room is halfway painted with the second coat of red paint, or the set for the Renaissance Fair needs about three more days work.  I like to call myself an ideas person.  Because, heaven help us, do I have a lot of ideas.  I also am a self-proclaimed starter.  If you give me an idea, I'll find a way to make it happen.  Just don't expect me to stick around for the finish.

Guys....this is hard. 

I have seriously entertained the idea of quitting at least 13 times.  I have not had a single day where I have had a hard time being grateful.  Rather, I've had a billion days where I've had a hard time sitting down at a computer to type out things that I would sometimes rather just think through thoroughly in my head. 

There are days when the last thing I want to do is sit down at my computer and make myself write.

There are also days when I have so much to be thankful for that I feel guilty when so many people in the world have so little peace, love, or companionship.

Today I am thankful that this project is half over.  

Day 209: Insurance

Tonight after a long long LONG day of sitting through orientation I brought home a packet of papers with the intention to pour over them with a cup of tea in my hand and my semi-cooperative husband sitting next to me pretending to listen to everything I said. 

We had some big decisions to make - like, INSURANCE DECISIONS.

dun dun duunnnnnnnnnn.

But as we sifted through the papers and wrote numbers onto paper that only sort of made sense to us, I realized how lucky we were.  Here we were trying to decide between two very good insurance plans - plans provided to us by our employers.  That's a pretty good problem to have.

Today I am thankful for good insurance.

Day 208: Scared

I have exactly two weeks and one day until I step into a classroom.  Whenever someone asks me about starting a new job I always, ALWAYS use the phrase, "I'm really excited" with some combination of smiling and nodding. 

It never occurred to me until today that I'm a liar. 

When I think about things like walking around a classroom full of working students while music plays in the background, or teaching two-point perspective for the first time - I'm genuinely excited. 

(and there's always a "but")

When I think about not being there to pick up or drop off my kids at preschool and Kindergarten I get an emotion that is so weird and so specific that the closest second I can think of is sadness.  When I think about not being there when the school calls to pick someone up because of sickness or behavior (which happens in our house), it makes my stomach hurt.  When I imagine someone else putting my youngest down for a nap and being there when he wakes up, my eyes well up tears that are laced with jealousy and guilt. 

I am so weak. 

I am excited, but today as I sat in orientation and counted down the days until school starts I wanted to lay my head on the table in front of me and let go into big pathetic sobs. 

I know I can do this.  I just have moments where I don't feel ready.

(and remember how I always said there's a "but")

I am ready.  When I look past the guilt and jealousy and sadness I can see that they are all artificial.  I will miss my boys, but I will have more to give them in the times we are together. 

I will miss naptime and carefree schedules, but we won't be stressed with the same financial difficulties we had before. 

I will miss morning tantrums and afternoon meltdowns....oh wait, no I won't miss those at all.

(see, there are benefits)

So tonight I am going to dinner with my girlfriends and instead of mourning the summer that has passed, I'm going to choose to embrace the start of the school year that I get to help them conquer. 

Today I am thankful for friends that can empathize with a soon-to-be full-time working mom.

Like everything else I've ever encountered in is not for the weak of heart.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 207: Home Sweet HOme

Here we are, back home again after a wonderful trip to see my family. 

Tomorrow I start work at a new job and I am excited, apprehensive, and just a touch nervous. 

But I think it will be good.

Today I am thankful for a restful evening before my first day back at work.

Day 206: Relaxing

Don't ask me how my days got out of order down there.... that's going to beyond bug me.

Today was all about relaxing.  Relaxed meals. Relaxed naptimes.  Relaxed beach-going. 


Today I am thankful for a relaxed day.

Day 205: Afternoon

This afternoon I got to spend time in a beautiful town with my Mom, Sister-in-law, and an impromptu visit from a dear college friend.  The weather was perfect, and it was a fantastic time.

Today I am thankful for a relaxing afternoon with wonderful women.

Day 203: Family

Today my family arrived at the Lake House safe and sound.  I am so excited to have them here and so excited to share this week with them.  I only wish my older brother could join us as well, but I know that such things are not always possible.

And I'm okay with that.

Today I am thankful for this meeting space that is filled with my family.

Filled with just enough laughter, too much food, and the perfect amount of laughter.

Day 204: Beach

Okay.  I know you all know that I love the beach. 

Blah. Blah. Blah.

If you hate hearing about it by now, then I don't blame you.

However, today I am thankful for the beach that served as a playground for my boys and their cousin.

I loved watching them play and run and laugh together.  X mimicking Miles, Oliver mimicking X, and Liam somewhere in between serving as the comic relief.

Day 202: Vacation

Okay... hang tight, because I'm about to perform a post dump up in here. 

Once again our family was lucky enough to go up to the Lake Michigan for the majority of a week and the beautiful thing about our vacation location is that there is no internet.  So I've been collection grateful posts for you all this entire week. 

Read em' and weep friends.

Day 202...

Today, after a long day of playdates and naptimes and piano practice and just general surviving we decided to leave 18 hours early for vacation. 

So we threw our suitcases into the hatchback and stuffed three little boys into the backseat of our tiny car with some waterbottles and various snacks.  One last stop at the library and we were on the road.

Today I am thankful for happy travelers.  

I haven't always been blessed with compliant co-pilots, so I definitely know the other side all too well. 

Which is probably what makes me so darn thankful for what we have right now. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 201: Impromptu

Tonight at the last minute we went with some friends to a special place with woods and water and had an impromptu hotdog and s'more dinner.  The weather was perfect.  The kids all were busy exercising their incredible imaginations.  And the conversation was fun and light.

Today I am thankful for last minute plans.

Rarely do we have a free weekend where something like this can just fall into place.  But when it does, I am thankful.

Day 200: Day Away

Today I got to spend an entire day with a dear friend in a very cool city.  We ate and drank all day with small breaks for window shopping.  It was magical.

Today I am thankful for a special day with a friend.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 199: Entertainment.

Today I woke up with a list of things I needed to get done, and a list of things we had to do as a collective unit (like, go to the dentist).  

I didn't want to fall into the trap of frantically reminding everyone that "we have a lot to do" all morning.  So while I was deciding what to just put on the back burner for the day something magical happened. 

A truck full of men and women pulled up with chainsaws and started cutting down the dead tree in our front yard. 

Presto!  Free hour-long entertainment. 

It was the best.  I almost felt like I should go out and thank them for putting up with my sons' questions and comments like, "Guys, are you cutting down the wrong tree?" (They weren't.)

Today I am thankful for the gift of an hour.

Day 198: New

Tonight while the older children were off singing songs about Jesus and consuming more sugar at Bible School, Oliver and I had a rare chance to go for a walk alone.  I have a pretty standard route around town.  We are lucky enough to have a paved wooded trail near our home, and it is where I automatically go whenever I get my tennis shoes on.  Tonight as the sun set and the town began to come alive with evening buzz, I decided to go a different route.  For the last three days I've discovered completely new areas of our town - each area being uniquely cool and exquisite.

This is not where i saw myself 12 years ago when I was planning my wedding and graduating college.


But I love this little town.   Even when I try my hardest to find its faults (which it has...) I am overcome with this sense of belonging and quirkiness that combine to make it sort of sickeningly magical. 

I don't know if I'll always feel this way.  I'm not sure when the claustrophobia will set in.  But for now, I'm going to enjoy enjoying it.

Today I am thankful for the town I live in.

It's small.  It's in the middle of nowhere.  And it's mine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 197: Cool

Today and yesterday were the first days in month that I wasn't a sweaty mess from the moment I woke up.  EVERYTHING is easier when you don't have sweat dripping down your back of look like a crazy person every time you look in the mirror because your straight hair has suddenly turned curly and refuses to stay in a rubber band.

So today I'm thankful for a few days of cooler weather.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 196: Fresh

Today I am leaving to pick up our CSA share just like I do every Tuesday.  This year has been an adventure, and I've learned more about vegetables than I ever thought possible.  Having the convenience of fresh organic vegetables delivered practically to our doorstep every week has been so good, that I'm sure I'll do it for years to come. 

Today I am thankful for plenty of healthy food.

And as a bonus there is now a huge summer squash vine growing out of my compost pile.  Free food y'all.

Day 195: Summer Rain

It rained a lot in Northern Ireland, but it was never the lovely warm mid-day thunder-filled summer showers we get here.

Around 10:30 this morning I was out kneeling in my garden when I felt the wind change and a warm breeze turn cool.  It was like magic.  Liam and I raced to the clothes line to rescue our drying clothing as thunder filled the sky.  Just as we made it inside the skies opened. 


Today I am thankful for warm summer thunderstorms.

Day 194: VBS

This morning the boys had their little program at church in honor of their hard work last week during VBS.

I took approximately ZERO photos of it, so you'll just have to believe me when I say it was adorable.  What I mean is, all of the other kids were adorable that I could see.  Liam somehow managed to disappear into the back of the crowd and Miles hid behind his bandana the entire time.  (It was a western theme.)

Everyone else though - super cute.

Today I am thankful for the people who volunteer their time for Vacation Bible School.

I hope the memories my son's are gaining through these weeks will stay with them the way my Bible School weeks stayed with me. 

Day 193: Family Reunion

Today we spent all day with Dustin's extended family.  There was boating and fishing (LOTS of fishing) and hiking and delicious potlucks...

Today I am thankful for a full family reunion.

And the people who put all of the work into planning it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 192: Quiet

Today I am just thankful for another quiet day in my safe part of the world.

Nothing much is going on today, but usually that means that things are pretty easy.  I have so little to worry about in the grand scheme of things.  My life is sort of uneventful - in a good way. 

Today I am going to appreciate the quiet life I have here when so many are struggling for just a piece of the same.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 191: Trip

Right now my parents are gallivanting around Anchorage. 
I know, awful, right?

The lucky dogs are there celebrating 40 years of marriage doing something they've wanted to do for as long as I can remember.

Today I'm thankful that my parents are still adventurous.

It's inspiring in every way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 190: New Job

I got a new job.

I know, it's crazy, isn't it?  The truth is that an opportunity came along and it felt like God was all like, "jump on this lady" with his secretive making everything fall into place even when you aren't sure you want it to.

And I was all like, "Ummmmm, okay?" but was really really scared to actually do it.

And here I am - getting another classroom ready for another year - a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CLASSROOM in a different school - do any of you realize how weird that is?  It feels weird.

But right. 

It definitely feels right.  And it feels good to know that our financial security is going to jump up a notch and that paying off this crazy graduate education I pretended was free isn't going to be outside of the question. 

It also means that for the first time in three years I'm looking for childcare, and figuring out how to live with only one car (because that is important to us) and figuring out how to go back to wearing something besides yoga pants on days when I feel like I don't really want to get dressed.  Guys - it means getting dressed EVERY DAY.  I probably have to shower too. 

I haven't really thought this through.

But I am excited.  And nervous.  And busy getting a classroom in order that hasn't really seen any love for a really long time.  And I have a few really (only sort of) helpful little boys to help me.

Today I am thankful for a new adventure.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 189: Baseball

Last year we signed my oldest son up for soccer after a year of him KICKING A BALL CONSTANTLY.  We were fresh off that plane and all a little sad.  We all showed our sadness in different ways, but for some reason his mourning came in the form of refusing to play soccer. 

I'm not kidding or exaggerating when I tell you that all he wanted to do in Northern Ireland for our last 6 months there was to kick a ball with anyone who would join him.  And suddenly he didn't want to kick a ball - ever. 

This eventually led to us dropping out of soccer and calling it done.  We needed time to figure out who we were without Corrymeela and without the volunteers.  He needed the same. 

Fast forward 6 months to t-ball forms and giving organized sports another go. 

I'm so glad we did.  Miles had two amazing coaches with this endless well of patience for the players.  He loved the game and found such joy in the friends he made.

Today I am thankful for t-ball.

He did a great job.  I loved watching him have fun.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Days 181-188

Hey.  I know I've totally failed at this gratefulness blog and I totally understand if you want to write me off as a phony.  I promise you I have been grateful.  And I also promise you I've been feeling adequately guilty for being lame and not writing.

I've also been adequately busy stuffing my face full of delicious food and not caring at the same time.  It may all come around to bite me in some way.

I spent all last week stressing out because I wasn't anywhere near internet (which is totally awesome until you realize that you NEED THE INTERNET), and I just haven't felt like working very hard at finding a way to post.

I'm not having a hard time finding things to be thankful for - in fact my problem is that there is so much to be thankful for that I'm enjoying it and keep forgetting that I am supposed to be documenting it.  My big plan this last week was to write something down every day and then to post all of it when I got home today and was again attached to the outside world.

One look at my couch and my unpacked bags and...well you can only imagine my non-existent motivation to sit down in front of a computer and search by brain for things that happened on exact days.  Sometimes life is too much fun to bother with forced reflection.

Sometimes the sun is too warm on your forearms and the beach is too close to that perfect combination of breezy and warm, and your kids are having way too much fun jumping in waves and your books are much too good to put down.  And sometimes you end a pretty spectacular day too exhausted to do anything but fall into your bed with all of your clothes still on, and sand still in your hair and think, "Oh man this is real life and this is outstanding."  Sometimes you're too all of the above to want to write down just one thing to share with the world (or the three of you that decide this is worth reading).

So I missed 8 make up for it, here are 16 things I was thankful for this past week (2 for each day - because I like to punish myself like that).
  1. Lake Michigan - again.
  2. Family pictures
  3. College friends.
  4. Reunions with college friends shared in a backyard hogroast with coolers and citranella candles and a band and the whole shabang.
  5. Engagements.
  6. Weddings.
  7. Little boys that just can't find the will power to stay out of the lake.
  8. Forgiveness and understanding.
  9. Birthday cake.
  10. Laugh-out-loud books that make everyone around you think they are missing out on something amazing - because they are.
  11. Older cousins.
  12. Sweet baby girls that fall asleep on your chest while you sit outside on the porch swing.
  13. Brunch, conversation, delicious coffee, and pastries on a shady patio with friends. (Tree shady - not "bad part of town" shady.)
  14. Safe travels.
  15. Kisses goodnight.
  16. Gigantic servings of delicious pizza. 

Try and tell me you're having a better summer...I dare you. ;)