Sunday, July 23, 2017

Runner on Hold

Being fit, healthy, or physically sound is on many people's to do list. Sadly most of the time that's where it stays. Making the time commitment to accomplishing this is not easy. It does mean forgoing other thing you would probably rather be doing. Personally I am not a model of health but I try. My muscles are happy when they get to move and giddy when they go beyond their limits.


Truth be told, I hate running. I decided to try it because other forms of exercise weren't giving me the results I desired. Whether 30 minutes or 2 hours, running is a full body workout. My body is awkward and clumsy so my form is poor, but a work in progress. I grew up playing team sports and
relying on support and encouragement from teammates. Running is independent. You are out there pounding the pavement for you. No one else can cross the finish line for you when running. There is no scoreboard except the personal ones we create. It's so different to be in my own head. Admittedly, many days I have stopped running and just walked my mileage. Not proud of it (hey, it's still exercise), but proof that in individual sports one is responsible for one's successes and failures.

With 2 small kids, I fit in exercise when I can. I mix up what I do out of necessity. A trip to the park can mean pull ups, push ups, etc. A game of twister can substitute for yoga...just be creative!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Simple Life


I have a hard time stomaching the nightly news. Murder, terrorism, sex crimes, theft, wildfires, floods, tornados...I just turn it off. I am not uninformed, don't misunderstand. I just want my small children to know what the world could be, before they learn what it truly is. 




All I want is the simple life, too much to ask??

Making bread, growing food, recycling waste, sewing, just the basics that's all I ask. These things are not hard to do. These tasks do however require turning off the xbox, ipad, or tv and going outside. It is so sad that many kids don't even go outside without prompting. My kids are outside kids, and I personally intend to keep it that way. We have built them a sandbox, great grass area, refinished our deck, put up a trampoline, gotten chickens to follow around, ride bikes, and make almost daily walks to local parks.

Kids and a Tree by j4p4nI currently have taken on summer babysitting for extra income. The little girl (age5) is so sweet and kind. We had a conversation the other day about when her dad will have days off work. She also knew his payday was coming up and that he had to pay his child support. This broke my heart. I sat her down and told her that was an adult thing to worry about. This is not an isolated case. Kids understand the world so much more than we give them credit for.

I know every household is run different and situations change, but let kids be kids while they can. Life goes too quick to put them into the throws of the real world any sooner than they have to. I am not telling you how to parent; I am simply observing that these kids are so impacted by the world and hold and protect them as long as you can.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Let's get chickens!

Dillon agreed to my latest project... LET'S GET CHICKENS!

He also agreed that it would be a low to no budget project. I gladly accepted that and began to search out ideas, materials, and inspiration for building a chicken coop. One might say that I take after my dad, a man that has "potential" piles all around his house for his projects. I don't have piles, but I have a project so I knew just who to go see.

We went to a local business that gives away their used pallets and got a trailer load. After hours of disassembling them by hand, there was much useable lumber ready to construct the coop. About a week later we had walls, a floor and eventually a roof. A generous uncle gave me some buckets for nesting boxes and a trip or two to my dad's piles provided handles, latches, and tin. A visit to (my newly discovered no budget crafter's store) the hazardous waste facility provided stain, crack filler, and metal paint.

So now that I have bored you with our version of building a chicken coop, let me make my point. When telling people about our undertaking we got mostly negative comments, "they sell them for a couple hundred dollars", "that's going to take forever", "really!?!?!", and so on. To those comments I pose a question, when was the last time you made something with your hands? Yes, we saved money, but there is a certain pride and passion that comes with creating something from nothing that is important too. Another life lesson we hope to pass on to our kids.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy. Easy would have been whipping out the credit card at the hardware store and loading one in the truck. So many people go this route, good for them. The memories of Dillon and the kids and I putting the time into this project together are worth more. When your husband goes golfing and all he can talk about is "that silly old coop", you know it has been worth the time and effort.

Be it making Homemade bread, a quilt, or a rickety ol' chicken coop, it still means more when made by hand.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Staying at Home


Many people have asked me why I write and do a blog. I tend to be a socially awkward introvert who has plenty to say, but it just wouldn’t come out right if I spoke it. I stay at home with little kids, so my adult conversation skills are a little weak right now. (I know many can relate).


My best thoughts seem to come to me in the shower, driving, and the moment my body goes into sleep mode for the night. If I remember them, they make great topics. My kids are also great subjects and constantly keep me entertained. The joy and honor of being with them as a stay at home parent is getting to see their character and personality grow and change (pretty much daily). Don’t take it personally if you both work… every family situation is different, I get it. I can only speak from my personal experiences.

With that said, there are ups & downs to the stay at home parent life. You get to participate in the little moments; first words, baby dancing, laughs & giggles, spit up, bumps & bruises that need kissed, etc. Some days it feels that all of these things are great…as long as we stay in our little bubble at home. When we venture to the public, everyone has an opinion and advice. I generally shrug it off and humor the little ol’ ladies who have teething hacks from 1962.

Many people appreciate but don’t realize the amount of work that goes into the job of stay at home parent. The parent part is commonly understood, but the stay at home part is overlooked. Not only is every aspect of parenting in the job, but running a household is also. The term Homemaker is often used and with good reason. Being able to stay at home gives an opportunity to make a house a home. All those special little touches. I have often heard moms say, “If only we could trade jobs for a day, they would understand what it is I do all day long.” I can totally understand.

When we had our first child and I started staying at home, I dove in and immersed myself wholly into our child. In doing this I had a feeling that I had lost myself. Could have been a bit of postpartum depression, but who knows for sure. I had the greatest love and joy for that baby but when she would sleep I wasn’t sure what to do with me…. That was the point when Dillon and I talked and decided that here and there I needed a craft project, book to read, new recipe to try or to go for a walk; something I could do that I enjoyed, to keep me from going bat-crap-crazy.

When doing housework, I tend to think of other countries or the old days. Take doing dishes for example. We have dishwashers. We did not have to haul the water, make a fire to heat it, and then scrub and dry the dishes by hand. Vacuuming is another great example. Be glad to have carpet to clean. Some huts in Africa have dirt floors. Imagine life without a washing machine. Having to use a scrub board down at the river, every once in a while, to wash clothes.

Moral of the story is simply be thankful. Weather it’s the 3rd poopy diaper before noon, the mountain of laundry staring you down, or the first cup of coffee in the morning…be thankful.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Death


I don’t think it is easy to process no matter how it happens. Car wreck, murder, suicide, freak accident….it all happens everyday and has somehow become ‘normal’. Birth, life, death. That’s how it works and all in God’s time and according to His purpose. Some of us are gifted more time on earth than others and that’s hard to accept sometimes. We are emotionally connected humans that have feelings, thoughts and wishes.

I went into my senior year of high school dealing with the loss of my only sister. Many of you know this. I was taking my ASVAB military entrance test the day of her car wreck. Many of you don’t know that. My life has changed since that day. God had a plan for her and it was time to call her home; it has taken many years to understand this. Flip side is that God has a plan for those that are left behind too. I went and retook the test and was offered many positions within the military. I declined. God had other plans for me.

My grandma and I were very close. She was one of my best friends growing up. When she fell ill after back surgery a few years ago, I visited her often. Her illness grew worse and on my last visit she couldn’t talk. I did the talking and held her hand. She kept pushing my hand away and I took it to mean that she didn’t want me to see her like that and she knew the end was near. Family called the next day and asked if I wanted to come say goodbye and I told them I already did. My heart knew she was at peace.

Suicide has touched our family a couple times in recent history also. Please know that there is always someone who will listen. There are anonymous hotlines, local agencies, and good friends that care. It is always a blessing to get a simple text, ‘praying for you today’ or a random delivery of flowers or a 5 minute just stopped in to say Hi and help fold laundry visit.

This is an odd topic to write about but necessary. God has a plan for all of us and He will call us home in His timing. Enjoy the time and gifts you are given. Know that things happen for a reason, even if we never get to know why this side of heaven. Have faith.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Major Dis


My credentials are not extensive, flashy, or impressive. I have worked a variety of jobs, held a few management positions and have a college degree. Since having our 4 year old I have stayed at home and not been in the active workforce. Now that you know a little more about me, let me tell you a cautionary tale…

Dillon and I were house shopping (again, we seem to move a lot). He was during the busy time at work, so I volunteered to take on the task of calling around to get mortgage quotes. Yes, you can shop around for mortgages, who knew? I started with the lady we had used in the past. I sent her an email requesting the pertinent information to what I was seeking. She said she’d get back to me, so I made more inquiries to other places and added it all to my list.

Well, after about a week of email correspondence and short answers to my questions, I was starting to get frustrated with our go-to lady we had used in the past. Meanwhile, Dillon emailed her on a question he had. She replied to him, answered his question, sent him the answers to my questions and additional info that would have been helpful in response to my inquiries. I might have overreacted a bit, but I was @#$%^*!!!! (quite upset)!! After trying and trying with her for a week, I get a few one line responses. Dillon sent her one question and she wrote him a book.

I felt she disrespected me and because I was not a “professional”, we couldn’t communicate on the same level. Right, wrong, or otherwise we did not use her services this time around.

Have you ever had that feeling of being disrespected? For not being “on the same level”? I felt hurt, looked down upon, and frustrated. Maybe I took it to heart too much. I hope that writing this helps people to realize that everyone needs the same respect no matter their occupation. This isn’t a constant occurrence, people are generally good in this area. One bad apple and a chance to learn.  


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yard Sale


It is that time of year, spring cleaning. Cleaning the dirt and grime but also the things that have accumulated over the cold, wintry months. No room is exempt in our house!!

Closets, drawers, cabinets, chests, shelves… all of it has been gone through. It shouldn’t, but it continues to amaze me how much “stuff” we have. I like to think that we are a normal (haha) family that lives a moderately comfortable life. We are not the hoarders from the tv show, but there is excess. Americans are spoiled. We live for stuff, we work for stuff, and often we suffer for stuff. Why? Again, I ask why? Majority of people in this world are happy with only possessing the essentials to get through life.


This purging process has made me take a deeper search into our “stuff”. Recently, I have been looking into minimalism. We aren’t going to move into a tiny house and have 3 pair of underwear. What I am looking for is living with less to get more out of life. “Stuff” dings the pocketbook and creates stress. I want to diminish both.   

My kids are the type that are truly happy with the box the toy came in, rather than the toy itself. I want my kids to have imagination and play outside. I have significantly cleaned out their toys, clothes, and d├ęcor. Please don’t think that they are limited to a couple toys and are constantly bored. I have found that having less IS more. My kids have responded positively to having less. Their appreciation for what they do have has grown and I hope it keeps doing so. We draw, cut, glue, craft, read, and pretend more.

Dillon and I have purged about 1/3 of our clothing, shoes, accessories so far. The knick-nacks that would sit and collect dust…and that I’d have to spend time dusting have been sorted out also. Again, don’t think our walls are bare or keepsakes have been tossed, that is NOT the case. I am talking about that 1992 cardboard framed etched mirror that was won at the carnival at age 12, and the like. It has “lightened the load” literally and figuratively.

Having a yard sale is a bit of work, and you don’t usually make a whole lot of money. Flip side is that we get to use it as a teaching lesson for our kids. You don’t have to hold on to “stuff”. To sell, donate or pass on our “stuff” is a positive thing. I am constantly saying we cannot keep everything, so that the ties to “stuff” that society teaches can be broken.

You are in control of your “stuff” and the choices that are made with it. I can tell you, from personal experience, take a deep look into your things. There are several methods to purge, organize and clean out. Find what fits best for you and your family, you won’t regret it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Off for Repair


Today in church I was twisting my wedding ring around and I noticed something odd. It had a crack all the way through the band and the sodder on one side had broken loose. After all this does not surprise me, I never take it off (hence the turquoise paint stuck between a couple diamonds from 2 projects ago).

Admittedly I was sad by this because I knew it meant a trip to the mall jewelry store and a couple weeks without it. I feel naked without it (sorry, TMI). So, as a substitute I pulled my promise ring out of the box. It had been a while since I’d seen it, let alone wore it. Still fit my finger after 10+ years. My 4 year old asked what a promise ring was. I said that daddy gave it to me and promised to love me forever and ever. She then asked what my marriage ring was for then. I said that daddy promised to love us forever and ever.

Not only was I glad to have a substitute, but also to think of when Dillon gave it to me and the memories of when I used to wear it all the time. Sweet times of life that seem only like a dot in time now. I guess the whole “getting older” thing is making me more sentimental. Dillon and I have been best friends for what seems like forever (he’d insert ‘seems longer’ here). It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, but we committed to the good, the bad, and the ugly. I take my ring seriously as a daily symbol of that commitment.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Being a Preschool Mom


Image result for preschool mom clip art images
Show and tell, snack time, play dates, book fairs. It all sounds easy, right? Being a preschool mom is all that and literally a bag of chips (usually Cheetos). There are so many thoughts a mom has when taking her little one to preschool:
-Are they making friends?
-Do they play well with others?
-How much paint is acceptable to consume?
-Have they told any of our odd family tales to their teachers?
I could go on and on for days…. But it’s the thoughts that aren’t about the kids that I think of:
-She must go to exercise class after dropping her kid off
-She must go home and cook homemade organic vegan dinners
-She must actually shop her Pinterest boards, because damn she looks cute today.

I’m standing to the side of the room in my oatmeal slathered t-shirt, jeans with fresh boogers on them and my hair in a ponytail that could rival a bird’s nest. This is real life. My thoughts, sadly, are what society is pushing them to be. Do I like thinking this way, no. Is it important to have standards in life, yes.

Society has created a version of Mom that no one, and I mean no one on God’s green earth can live up to. Several may make the attempt but only to fail miserably. My kids are healthy, happy and full of life. Those things are what matter as mom.

Admit it, we have all survived on Raman noodles and Vienna sausages a time or two. Our kids have had an extra morning cartoon because mom’s coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. You cancelled that playdate simply because you just didn’t want to go. We can all relate, we can all make judgements, but we all are in the same boat. Why not just admit it and be ok with not being perfect.

Ok, so maybe my afore mentioned appearance description was a little exaggerated, but truth be told, it is closer to the truth than a magazine cover. I like to think that life is to be lived and if a freezer pizza is on the menu for dinner, that’s ok. If the only exercise you get in today is vacuuming, congrats. And I am glad that dreams are free, because shopping my Pinterest boards is not something my bank account would allow.

Yes, preschool moms only want the best for their children but they should want the best for each other also. Let’s cut out the judgmental thinking and critical analysis’. We are who God made us to be, and to be called mom is pretty special. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Buyerarchy

Use what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, make, buy...how many of us follow this in order?

Typically, today, many people go straight to the top without a second thought. The convenience of Amazons one-click buy and Wal-Mart's 2-day shipping has made it like an express way to the top. Many millennials have been dabbling with making what they need/want thanks to the growing popularity of Pinterest and related sites, blogs and on-line tutorials.

Thrifting, my personal favorite, is an adventurous treasure hunt. Yes you come across a lot of crap. But the times that I have found those diamonds in the rough have made it worth it! Swapping is a bit more challenging. To have the same tastes, styles, and sizes can be difficult. When you do find a swapper match, the barter/trade process can be fun.

Borrowing a shovel is easier than a dress, I get it. I love to ask friends and family to borrow things like party supplies, books, tools, etc. Most people don't mind being asked and returning the favor is great etiquette. Getting creative and using what you have is always a first go to for me. Look around your house and rearrange....it can make a space look totally different. Adding a sweater or different necklace can transform an outfit.

Rushing to buy needs to slow down. I personally struggle with this. Buying ahead a season, passing around kids clothes, shopping yard sales, adding lace or sewing on a patch...all ideas to start at the bottom and SLOWLY work up as needed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Adulting is Hard


Admit it, there are times when parenting is hard and doing this adult thing is for the birds. The kids have clothes on(mostly) and Cheetos are acceptable for breakfast, right? I mean 5am is super early and those bill things need to be paid?? Yes, this season of life is one that we might be tempted to muddle through, but don’t let the little moments pass you by.

In the grand scheme of the few years we are given on this earth, these years are special. We get to shape another human; their character, their personality, their soul. That person is a gift from God that doesn’t come with an instruction book but, God gives us tools and if we just leave them in our tool belt, the potential our children rise to could quite possibly suffer.

Whether a parent in the working world or a stay at home extraordinaire, you can be that PTA mom, take that art class, go to those soccer games, talk to other parents…explore the little opportunities in front of you and new, exciting doors might open. Being a grown up is full of responsibility and schedules. Getting caught up in busyness is easy to do. Filling our time in the right way is key.

I understand, Family time gets pushed by the wayside and is replaced with this lesson and that sleepover. As a parent, I am guilty of overscheduling. I have found that our family functions better as a whole and is genuinely happier when we are together. A huge solution to a lot of busyness is just saying NO. Finding that magical balance isn’t easy, (let me know if you ever do find it). As adults, we may not be just down the hall from mom and dad to ask advice, but ask a trusted friend, read a book on the subject, see what Grandmas take is; options are out there for help with this adulting thing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grandma's Rolling Pin

Today there is a gadget for this and a hack for that. Many times things that are simple... so simple, are made complicated for no other reason than to make a buck. A slicer, dicer, blender, shredder... another something to put in the cabinet or cram in a drawer.

My most cherished gadget is my rolling pin. I'm not talking about the one that we got as a wedding gift. When my Gram passed, one of the things I requested was her rolling pin. The wooden roller and red handles are in so many of my childhood memories. The number of cookies and loaves of bread that were produced by this gadget cannot be tallied, but the memories are priceless. To hold a piece of family history that was used with such love, care and intent is an honor.

My Gram and I were close; I was her favorite (everyone knows it) and to put my hands where hers were so many times takes me back. In a way it takes me forward too. The little eyes that watch me intently are creating new memories. As mom, I can delicately shape these times to be real life lessons.

I know each person reading this has that one thing in their life that touches that place in your soul. It is hard to explain, but it's there. Sometimes it'll bring a tear or a little snicker. I like to think of that feeling as a smile from heaven. I hope that you can find yours with peace and happiness.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Who was this St. Patrick guy?


Image result for St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Clip Art
He was born in Britain (not Ireland, SHOCKER!) in the late 300s AD. His name at birth was Maewyn Succat, but he didn’t care for that so later in life he was known as Patricius. He had several aliases during his life: Magonus, Succetus, and Cothirthiacus. But Patrick just seemed to fit best.



Calpurnius, his father, was a deacon in the early Christian church, but Patrick wasn’t much of a believer himself. At age 16, he was captured by Irish pirates and enslaved for 6 years as a shepherd. That was when he chose to convert to Christianity. During this time of servitude, Patrick learned the Irish language and culture before making an attempt to escape back to Britain. Patrick wasn’t good at escaping sadly, because he was captured again. This time by the French. While he was held in France, he learned about monasticism before he was sent home to Britain.


He continued to study Christianity and claimed he had a vision that told him to bring Christianity to the Irish people, who were mostly pagan and druidic at the time. When Patrick and his preaching ways were not welcomed back in Ireland, he had to leave and land on some little islands off the coast. He began to gain followers there, and he eventually moved to the mainland to spread Christianity across Ireland for many years. During this time, Patrick baptized thousands of people (some say 100,000), ordained new church leaders, converted the sons of kings in the region, and helped in the formation of 300+ churches.



A popular legend tells of Patrick banishing all the snakes from Ireland, but there were never actually any snakes there to begin with. Silly, I know. It is also said that Patrick popularized the shamrock; he used it to teach the concept of the Holy Trinity. Patrick’s use of the shamrock may have helped him win a great deal of favor with the Irish.



St. Paddy’s Day started as a “Feast Day” that always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, March 17, 461 AD.  to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. In the early 18th century, Irish immigrants brought the tradition over to America, and it was here that it started to become the symbol of Irish heritage and culture that he is today. As it happens, St. Paddy’s Day is so popular, it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.
Image result for St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Clip ArtWondering why wearing green is part of St. Patrick’s Day tradition? Irish soldiers, during the Irish Rebellion, wore green as they fought off the British in their trademark red. Until then, the color associated with St. Patrick and Feast Day was blue. Wearing green became a part of pop culture and is now commonplace to wear your best greens mid-March.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finding One's Purpose


We all have a calling in life. When I went looking for mine, I thought this would be easy. My thinking was that it would just magically appear in front of me and be in black and white, spelling out, “You were made to be……”.

No such luck! I started searching, looking for signs, reading books on the topic, skimming articles and still no result…no black and white answer appeared. My brain was having a hard time processing the fact that Google could not answer my question. Finally, I sought out wise counsel from a seasoned lady at church. I went on and on explaining my search for purpose and a label to my calling. Missionary, teacher, chef, writer, …. How does a person know when they have found the perfect fit?

She said, “God speaks and we need to BE STILL to hear Him.”. A great reminder that you and I can learn so much more about ourselves, others, and the world if you just shut your mouth and listen. I needed to hear this. My searching was creating too much noise and I wasn’t listening to God.

So, once I started listening... and I mean REALLY listening, it started to appear. Foggy at first, but I began to see it. When the noise around me became less, it became more. The laughter, the smiles, the Cheeto dust smeared on the wall, the boo-boos, and the stories.
Mom. That's it.

My purpose in this season of my life is to be Mom. These 3 simple letters hold so much purpose and power. Sadly, this calling is so often over looked just like I had passed over it. The everyday tasks became second nature like breathing. I was not appreciating the significance of the little things. Once I was able to BE STILL, I understood. The fog lifted. This was the it that I had been searching for. As seasons change, this purpose might also and that’s ok.

In today’s world, if you want to know something, access to find it is at your fingertips. Except this. Finding one’s purpose can’t be found by asking Google or following the latest trends. It is a personal search within. It’s not easy to put a label on, but the feeling of contentment in your soul will let you know when you have found it.