Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30


Ta-da! The last day in November. This has been a really good exercise for me. I have found myself thinking through the day about things I am thankful for and how blessed I am.

Today, on this last day of giving thanks (blogging about it anyways), I am thankful for a snow day.

We usually don't benefit from snow days because we're home anyways. No matter what the weather, we can get our school work done. But today was Wednesday and we had Pioneers, our homeschool co-op. But it was canceled! Suddenly we had an extra day at home in front of us.

And I started thinking about how we could do our normal school work and get ahead. But then I read some friends posts on facebook about playing in the snow and I remembered how exciting it was when I was a kid to have an unexpected break in the middle of the week. So I told the kids, "No school today." And their smiles lit up their faces.

They hurried to get their snow gear on and rushed outside. They came in to have hot chocolate at one point and I said, "Go ahead and play video games or watch tv if you want for awhile." And they were flabbergasted. That is not usually allowed until 3:30 around here, even on Saturday. And they happily played (okay, just a couple fights) until lunch and then they went back outside again.

And I enjoyed being a mom and not a teacher today. I cleaned and read and went outside with them and appreciated the snow. It was a beautiful day.

Day 29


Thankful for:

- my last physical therapy appointment! I am so grateful that they were able to correctly diagnose what was causing me pain and correct that and show me how to keep it from happening again but I'm also very glad to be done.

- coloring with my kids. All of us, sitting at the dining room table, with colored pencils and crayons spread out. I still haven't outgrown my love for coloring.

- a warm house that keeps us dry, especially when the weather is less than pleasant. Cold, rainy and windy - I'll just stay inside curled up with a book and take a nap. So thankful for those simple pleasures.

Day 28


Today I am thankful for a routine. I love having days off but it's only because of our regular routine that I can truly appreciate the break.

I'm thankful for a doctor who quickly diagnosed some stomach pains that Brendan has been having and had an answer and a solution. He has been having some recurring nausea and occasional vomiting for the past 6 months and this last weekend it was worse and he was not eating much at all. It was good to put a name to it - gastritis - and to know that it will most likely be better after a few weeks on a strong antacid.

I'm thankful I switched the kids from their pediatrician to our family doctor this summer. I have not regretted that decision at all. What used to take about 3 hours now takes 45 minutes and that has been huge to me. I still don't call the doctor unless necessary but I don't dread it like I used to.

Day 27


Thankful for:

- a calm day in the nursery. We have had some doozies so I do not take this lightly.

- getting to work in the nursery with good friends - lots of laughs and lots of help.

- the chance to get to know a young lady from church and talking for almost 2 hours about how to be a wise woman in God's eyes and also what kind of music we like. Could have easily talked longer. Very thankful for this opportunity.

- putting up our Christmas tree and decorations and watching the kids put up ornaments. I only moved a few, honest. Not only are they so pretty to look at, but it makes the season less stressful knowing that part is done and not having to find a time to do that. Now I'm in the mood for making Christmas cookies and snow and planning other fun events.

Day 26


Thank you, Lord, for:

- shopping for bargains with my mom and sister. I like to go shopping, I really like finding good deals and I love shopping with others! It was a good morning. :)

- watching a Christmas movie in the afternoon while occasionally drifting off to sleep.

- sleeping in my own bed. I sleep fine at my mom's house but I guess it just fits me better.

Day 25


- getting to see a movie with my sister and sister-in-law. The 3 of us have never gone out before and we had a lot of fun. I hope we get to do it more often.

- eating pretty much all day

- knowing I still have one more day with my family before saying good-bye

So thankful for all these blessings!

Day 24

Thursday - the actual day of Thanksgiving

So thankful today for:

- cousins that love to play together

- happy noises like laughter and squeals. Still can cause a headache but I will choose that over crying and fighting any day.

- children old enough to play on their own and can handle missing a nap. Also thankful they still like to take a nap on most days.

- spending quality time with Josh, my brother and his wife at 11:30 at night waiting to get into Target. I'm not a die-hard Black Friday shopper but I liked the idea of going late at night instead of early in the morning. I'm a night owl anyways! My brother, Tony, and his wife, Ashley, are night owls, too, so we kept Josh awake.

Day 23


Thank you, Lord, for

- the smell of cranberry bread baking

- packing up to visit family for a long weekend

- one of my favorite restaurants finally coming to Jackson and getting to eat there - hello, Qdoba!

- finishing a week of school in 3 days, which means we can take off some days in the future just because

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 22


Today I am thankful for the gray skies and the drizzly rain. We finished school, the house was clean and I had time to read for a little bit and take a short nap. What could be better on a dreary day?

Also thankful for the chance to get out and do some shopping with a friend. I wasn't sure it was going to work and was prepared to shop by myself but it did work out and it was great to chat and bounce ideas off her and cross things off my shopping list.

Thankful to come home to sink full of clean dishes with the children all snuggled in bed.

Thankful for a holiday weekend soon approaching.

Day 21


Today I am thankful for a dear aunt who drove over 2 hours to walk through my house and offer some creative insight. My home is somewhat challenging. Our family fits but the lay-out is awkward and I wanted some ideas to make it look more appealing. We are hoping to list our house with a realtor this coming spring and I want to do whatever possible to draw in a buyer. My aunt is not a professional but I have seen her house and her work in my uncle's cabins up north and she is good at thinking outside the box. (This visit may have been the reason for my cleaning frenzy the previous day.)

She had so many ideas I could barely keep up with all of them. It was great to get a vision of how the house could look and how we could show off its advantages while downplaying the negatives. It was also great to know that we had a few months to work on those ideas. I am not excited about listing our house and having to keep it ready for showings. Not excited at all. But the thought of being able to buy a house with 2 bathrooms (3 would be preferred) and bedrooms that I can walk in without bumping my head on the ceiling overshadows any hesitations I have.

So thankful for those who can see things that I can't and who care enough to drive many hours to share this vision with me. Thank you, Aunt Linda!

Day 20


I got a bit behind but that's okay - I will persevere. I will finish this task that I have begun. Not that it's hard to think of things to be thankful for - I can do that just about any minute of the day. But to take time to write them down and post them on here - that is the part that isn't easy. And I'm realizing that's true in my relationship with God, too. I can spout of things that I'm thankful for with no problems. But to actually take time and talk to God about it? To say more than a quick second prayer but to really take time to reflect and read the Bible and ponder what He's all about? A constant struggle. The contenders for my attention are not my children or my husband, although I am happy to give them my attention. The things that get in the way are books that I'd rather read instead, shows and movies that I'd rather watch, a warm, comfy bed that I'd rather lay in with my eyes closed. (I have, at times, attempted to lay in bed and close my eyes to pray but that never works out. And yet, I keep trying. )

So, today I am thankful for a spurt of energy that involved moving several storage tubs out to the garage. Including one that had been sitting in our office for a couple months. I am so good at starting projects and so very bad at finishing them. But today I finished several. And it felt so good. I love walking through the house and not tripping over things. Rachel went down to the emptied out basement and exclaimed, "Thank you, mommy, for taking out the play kitchen so I could push my baby stroller down here!" And silly me thought she'd be upset about not having the play kitchen. I didn't know it was in her way.

Also thankful for a husband who gladly carried the storage tubs out to the garage after I nicely put them in a big pile in the basement for him. Sometimes we really work well together. I can go through the stuff in the house and decide if we're keeping it and where to put it and he can take care of the piles after I've gone through them.

It was not necessarily a relaxing Sunday and yet I felt much more relaxed that evening than the afternoons where I've had a two hour nap. Thankful for that peace.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 19


Today was not an easy day to feel thankful. It felt somewhat forced at first. I hate admitting that because I know I have so much to be thankful for. My day just did not go as I hoped it would. I am disappointed in myself for not getting things done. My to-do list seems very overwhelming right now. It's almost causing a bit of a panic attack when I think about all the things I need to get done and try to figure out when it will happen.

In the midst of this day that caused me to feel not-so-great, we had our family pictures taken by a friend from church, Wendi, who is part of Ordinary Miracles Photography. I saw some of the photos tonight and love them. I really looked at my kids and saw them for who they are. I like who they are. They are not perfect, I know that very well, and I love them in spite of their imperfections but I also like them. I am thankful for these photos, these captured moments. I will remember, when I look at Brendan's picture, how I thought it almost looked like a senior picture and how that feels too close for comfort some days. Tori's picture will remind me of how comfortable she is in her own skin - and I hope that lasts, although I fear the days of self-criticism will be here before too long. I will remember, when I see Rachel's shy smile, that this was the age when she was very attached to me and would run to give me a hug after each shot. (Is it okay that I hope she outgrows this? It'd be kind of awkward if she didn't.) And Owen's impish smile will remind me that this was the night we saw his model potential. He was so funny -he'd be running all over or climbing up stairs and as soon as he saw the camera on him, he'd stop and position his body just so and smile.

Sometimes the thankfulness might not come naturally and it might feel forced but I think it's okay to force it. I think that forcing it once in awhile will eventually create a habit of thankfulness. That is my hope anyways.

So much to be thankful for. (And I'll post those pics as soon as I get the cd.)

Day 18


It's Friday - need I say more? Yay for Fridays! This Friday, I am thankful for our small group. We just started meeting a couple months ago with two other couples. It's not always easy to find times to meet and we've only met 5 times so far but I have really appreciated those evenings. It's been good to read the Bible together and try to figure out what it means to follow God. It's been good to laugh together and share what has been going on in our lives. It's been good for this introvert to be able to share what I think. Definitely thankful for our small group!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17


Sometimes it's good to just have a day at home. Just to focus on our school work and house work. Today was a day like that. And it was lovely. There were snowflakes lightly falling outside and the kids were really focused on their work. I'm thankful for a day when things go smoothly. When lessons are finished and housework is accomplished and there is still time for a break in the middle of the day. So, so thankful for today.

Day 16


Thankful for a husband who makes popcorn just about every night and the chance to sit and enjoy it while the kids are sleeping! I love savoring the snack and drinking a cold mountain dew, knowing all my responsibilities for the day are done. It's a really great way to end a busy day. And a not-so-busy day. We love our popcorn around here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15


Today, I am grateful for my 4 beautiful children. Brendan is working on an assignment for his art class at Pioneers and needed pictures of our family. I found a tub of pictures from a few years ago that I had printed to put in scrapbooks (so far behind on these, I don't even want to think about it) and Tori, Brendan and I sat on my bed and looked through them. Rachel and Owen were about 1 1/2 and at such a cute age. Brendan and Tori were 6 and 8 and looked so much more childlike. I am thankful for the memories I captured on film and at the same time, a little saddened to see how much has changed in what feels like such a short time. I'm thankful that my kids like spending time with their family and I pray that it will stay that way.

Day 14


Today, I'm thankful for the chance to run! I have taken about a month off due to some hip pain. I've been seeing a physical therapist and then last week met with a sports trainer. He could see that my form was not great and was causing the problems so I met with him again today to work on that. It was not easy -lots of little things to remember - but it was so good to breathe hard and feel my leg muscles working again. I have been given the green light to start running on my own after one more session with him. So thankful for that.

Day 13

This Sunday, I'm thankful for:

- a day of sleeping in. Much appreciated after staying up way too late two nights in a row.

- a fairly uneventful trip home. I accidentally started heading back into town, thanks to my unreliable Garmin, but after a timely call from my sister, I turned back around and headed the right direction.

- a warm greeting when I arrived home. Lots of hugs and squeezes.

- hearing stories about the fun they had with their dad. I love hearing that.

Day 12

Thankful this Saturday for:

- hearing a great speaker who shared some important truths. Truths that really sunk in. Truths about attitude and how I can choose everyday how I will respond to my circumstances. Truths about lies that I choose to believe and how I can recognize those and choose to not believe those anymore.

- coffee and creamer. Sometimes it's the little things. :)

- a shopping trip and then another movie with my sister. I love spending time with her.

Day 11


I am thankful for a 3 hour road trip by myself. I love driving by myself - the chance to sing as loud as I want and listen to whatever I want to with no interruptions.

I'm thankful for a fun night with my sister. Going to a women's conference at her church for a couple hours and then staying up late and talking and watching a favorite movie together.

I'm thankful for a husband who never, not once, has made me feel guilty for leaving him with the kids and doesn't try to keep it even.

I'm thankful for the break of a weekend and the routine during the week.

Day 10

Thursday - I'm thankful for Owen and his love for the drums.
Oh, how I love to listen to him play the drums.
I love to go down to the basement and get an impromptu concert from him while I do laundry.
I love watching drummers on you tube with him and then hearing him play bits and pieces of their set.
I love how he disappears down there when we have company over and just starts playing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9

Day 9 - Wednesday

Today the list seems long.

~peeks of sunshine among strong gusts of wind.

~watching leaves falling and swirling down the street.

~the smell of chicken teriyaki, rice and broccoli cooking for supper.

~the kids I work with on Wednesday nights at Awana. Even if their parents just drop them off for a date night, I'm still thankful they are there. This has taken me a few years to get this attitude. I love singing the kid songs, listening to the Bible stories and hearing the simple truths over and over, and working with them on their verses. I like calming down the rambunctious ones and getting the shy ones to feel more comfortable.

~a pantry and refrigerator full of food and nothing planned for tomorrow. Maybe some baking? Maybe some organizing? Definitely some reading.

~ a slower paced day for school work. Much needed and much appreciated after a busy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Days 7 and 8

I'm just going to start jumping right in - no explanation needed anymore.

Day 7 - Monday
I'm thankful for
- library day. Last year, our trips to the library were sporadic. This year, I decided to make Monday our library day. Every Monday after lunch, we head to the library. Now we can check out things that are due by the next week without worrying too much about making sure they get returned. As long as we don't forget to take them back. :) The kids like knowing they can get new books every week, too.
-family movie night. We rented Nanny McPhee from the library and enjoyed watching it together with popcorn and some Halloween candy. While we were eating supper, the kids asked if they could watch it and at first I was going to say no because I had gotten it for this weekend but then I realized we had nothing going on so why not?

Day 8 - Tuesday
I'm thankful for
-Rachel's laugh. She got the giggles during supper and I started laughing, just watching her laugh.
- Tori's sense of humor. She snickered at something Brendan said and then imitated him perfectly. We all laughed for several minutes - which I think is what started Rachel's giggle-fest. I love laughing with my family.

Days 4,5, and 6

I think this would be more meaningful if I thought of things to be thankful for on the actual day. It's usually easier to look back and see what you have to be thankful but it's harder when you're in the middle of a long day.

At any rate, here are just a few of my blessings from last week:
Day 4 - Friday
I'm thankful for
- finishing another week of school with the kids! I enjoy so many things about homeschooling but it still feels like a struggle sometimes to get the work done.
- Our children's pastor and his wife and the activities they do for our kids. Brendan and Josh went to a party Friday night so the other 3 kids and I had a movie night.

Day 5 - Saturday
I'm thankful for
- a husband who does the yard work without complaining.
- a son who willingly helps him.
- a neighbor who lets us use his riding lawn mower with a leaf bagger attachment.
- a sunny Saturday perfect for getting leaves picked up.

Day 6 - Sunday
I'm thankful for
- a Sunday School class with young people who like to laugh and learn.
- getting projects done around the house. Have you seen the cubicals at Target with the fabric bins? Love them! I keep thinking of uses for them all over the house. Josh is getting very good at putting these together.

Almost caught up! Just two more to go.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jumping on the bandwagon

Many people I know are doing this thing where they come up with something to be thankful for every day this month. I resisted at first, because I get this attitude about things like this. Not that I didn't think this was a good exercise, but if I feel like everyone is doing something, I tend to not want to do that. Yes, there are exceptions, glaringly obvious ones, like certain movies I get interested in, but if we start to analyze my behavior, we'll be here all night.

So, back to the point - writing down something every day that you're thankful for. I'm about a week late but I decided tonight it would be good for me to do this. I am having trouble, at times, remembering how truly blessed I am and tonight, while I was reading what some others wrote about being thankful, I felt a strong urge to do this. I decided to do 2 or 3 days at a time until I catch up.

Day 1 - Tuesday
I'm thankful for
- a physical therapist who could correctly diagnose my hip pain and get me on the road to recovery.
- an evening at home with my family.
- a son who works really hard to get caught up with school work that he missed while we were on vacation.

Day 2 - Wednesday
I'm thankful for
- a group of homeschoolers who created a co-op to give homeschool kids some new experiences and to help homeschool parents. I love going to Pioneers once a week and hear about all the interesting things my kids are doing there.
- being able to stay home with my kids every other day of the week. I love Wednesdays but they make me love the rest of the days even more.

Day 3 - Thursday
- the chance to get out with good friends who listen to my long, ridiculous, stories that really have no point and still love me. They make me laugh. They encourage me and help me be the best me possible. They give honest feedback and ask hard questions. And, they work hard to make time to see me. That feeds my soul in an incredible way.

Sometimes it's a really good thing to join the crowd every once in awhile.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Girl and Her Pony

Tori with Penelope

For several years now, Tori has talked about wanting to learn to ride a horse. We talked about it but weren't exactly sure what to do to get started. What if she didn't like it? How much would we have to buy at the beginning? When would we have time? She was in dance or gymnastics (both one year) and also playing basketball, Brendan was playing football, basketball and baseball, Josh was teaching a class one night a week at the community college, and I needed some time away once in awhile. So we put it off.

Then, last spring a friend emailed me about a homeschool horseback riding club that one of the stables in Jackson was offering. The owner was a homeschool mom and wanted to give kids a 6-week introduction to horseback riding. It was 2 hours in the afternoons for 6 weeks and they would ride for an hour every other week and then do activities and learn the basics of horses and how to care for them for the other hour. It sounded perfect. There was nothing to buy - all equipment could be borrowed. The rate was extremely reasonable. The only catch was, we were really busy during spring. I called anyways. The club was booked already but there was a waiting list and possibly a fall club - were we interested? Yes, yes, yes!

Tori started on Tuesday, September 20th. She went into the barn to learn about horses for an hour while I waited in the van. Then she came outside with a big grin on her face, leading a pony named Penelope. I sent Josh a text saying, "I think we're in trouble." She loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Her 6-week club is now over but her riding lessons are not. She will be continuing lessons at Stepping Stones farm. I'm thankful we had the opportunity to "try them out" first before making a huge commitment and also thankful Tori found something she loves to do.

Happy Halloween!

Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, Butterfly, Football Player

After a wardrobe malfunction (tights that refused to stay up), the Butterfly morphed into a Pirate. And the Pirate complained much less than the Butterfly and all were happy with this transformation. Raggedy Andy had fun but felt a little silly at times and decided that next year, he would be a Football Player. Costumes courtesy of Grandma Judy - except the Football Player.

Meal update

I have mixed reactions about the freezer meal system. There were some that we really enjoyed - the herbed chicken, the chicken nuggets, and the french baked potatoes. There were other meals that have yet to be eaten because they just don't appeal to me - the black bean dinner, mexican chicken lasagna and country captain (chicken with tomatoes and raisins). Then there were some that were okay but not anything I'd make again - the playoff burgers, sopa de maize, and roast. And there was also a meal that was quite time consuming for being a freezer meal - the poppy beef. There were two packages that had to be thawed - the beef mixture and the sauce mixture. Then you had to cook pasta, mix with the sauce, spread the beef in a casserole dish, put the pasta and sauce on top and bake for 30 min! And then I didn't care for it all that much.

I have bought a couple more freezer meal cookbooks and I think it's something I still want to do but definitely not the way I did it this time. I will pick meals that sound really good or ones we've already tried and put together my own list. More work, yes, but my freezer will be less scary to me. :) I think 14 meals is a good amount for a month for us. I also enjoy having bags of cooked chicken and ground beef in the freezer so it's easy to put together tacos, sloppy joes, enchiladas, quesadillas or many other casserole dishes. That also gives me freedom to pick something that sounds good or try something new once in awhile.

I'm hoping to use up a couple more of the leftover freezer meals this week but really not sure when I will have the courage to have the black beans or country captain. I guess as long as I have lots of side dishes, it should be okay, right?