Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scenes from the last few days

When I stole candy from my daughter

Mother's Day with a great-grandmother!

I don't think this actually needs words

We're not good at selfies

With a squirrel

The dogs attack the cousins

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Random, in list form

1. Mother's Day was wonderful and very busy. We went to Sunday School and church, visited my parents, had lunch, went to Brett's baseball game and then went to my in-law's for dinner. The kids got to bed late and we were all a little tired this morning. Our full schedule is also why I missed my post yesterday. Forgive me?

2. We are at a painful point of trying to decide if we're going to put money into our "old" van or get a new (to us) car. The whole process makes me hate money and cars very much.

3. This is breaking my heart every. single. day. I can't really say much more, as she is sharing it more eloquently than I every could. Please pray for this family and for Ben.

4. I had a rather rough day today for stupid reasons. It took me until I was making dinner to get it together. It was definitely the kind of day that I needed to remember that I have much to be thankful for and should probably not be miserable.

5. My kids are so ready for summer. I just forced them to come inside and you'd think I asked them to electrocute themselves. Believe me, I want school to be over just as much as they do, but I was just about at the end of my rope during this particular exchange. Oh, kids....

6. Our schedule this week is maddening. There are meetings and games and classes filling every evening. I'm tired just thinking about it.

7. It's finally warm here. (Sorry Colorado! Seriously, snow?) I have announced to my family that NO ONE is allowed to complain about the heat (although it hasn't stopped them), as every single one complained about the cold and snow. You can't complain about it all. (I reserve all rights to complain about the heat, as I never once complain in winter.)

What's new with you?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day

So, it's not actually Mother's Day...but it's coming. There's often a lot of scrambling to make sure the mothers and mothers-in-law are happy. I've read a couple of blog posts about Mother's Day (here and here), which help to process expectations and the like. Sometimes it's hard to balance between wanting things for me and wanting things for others. David did ask me what I want and I said that I'd just like to have a nice weekend. Maybe we'll head to the gluten free bakery if we can fit it in around baseball games. We'll definitely have dinner with his parents and find time to visit with mine. But, I think I'd really like to just spend some time with my kids. I'd like them to know how loved they are. To that end, here are some short letters that I'd like to share with them...and I guess you.

Dear Oldest Daughter,
Oh my goodness, I can't believe I have a young girl approaching her mid-teens. You are such a beautiful girl, inside and out. You leave me in awe with your kindness and tenderness toward the little kids you encounter and I'm always so proud when I hear how polite and respectful you are to adults. I know how hard you work in school and hope you know that I recognize it. I know that studying doesn't come easy to you and yet you keep going back - that's a sign of great character!

I hope you know, too, that all of the emotions get easier. I can't promise that life will get easier (in fact, I can promise it won't!), but you'll find your way through it despite the awkwardness you feel now. You'll find the group of friends that can lift you up and love you through; friends that mix in with your siblings and love you more than you thought possible. Please remember - don't compare yourselves to anyone else. No one else is you...and no one can do your life just like you can.

Right now, I encourage you to keep praying and keep loving. Like we learn at church, Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, my little girl!

Dear Younger Daughter,
Here you are, "Bun Bun The Middle One." You never fail to make me laugh; a girl who knows exactly what I will find funny. You love to play games and snuggle and just spend time with me. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! You also try hard to keep the peace and balance between you and your siblings - such the peacemaker. Your fun and sparking personality is always a joy to be around.

I know that you like to rise to challenges and I hope that you'll always work for what you want. A job well-done is always worth the work! It's fun to watch you practice to improve the on the softball field and get so excited when you have a great report card to show. Just remember, when you fail to meet the bar you set...don't give up! You have an inner strength that you can rely on.

Just like your sister, I remind you to keep praying and keep loving. Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, baby girl!

Dear Son,
Oh, the baby! With your two older sisters and me, you certainly get your share of "mothering." I hope we're not spoiling you too much! You are so loving, though, that I think it's worth it. I love that you still love to sit close and hug me. Even though you're getting older and like to hang out with the guys, you're still willing to hang out and watch cooking shows with me.

You love to play baseball and that is something that I will never cease to enjoy watching you do. You get so excited and take it so seriously - it's contagious! You're learning to control your temper and frustrations and it's so much fun to watch. You're polite and loving and are such a wonderful young man. I look forward to seeing you learning to be a man of God.

Keep praying, keep going to church. Keep learning how to treat those around you. Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, baby!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Draft

Father, son and a dog...watching the draft. I promise their eyes don't always glow
I met my husband 20 years ago this summer. He has watched the NFL draft ever year that I can remember.  I remember when it switched from an entire weekend affair to the extended thing it is now. I remember how disappointed he was that he couldn't spend a whole weekend watching men make team decisions. 

One year,  I decided to try and watch with him. He loved it so much that I couldn't help but try to learn about it. That year, they did a human interest story on one of the young men that was supposed to be among the first picks. This is how I ended up really liking Payton Manning. He was so impressive on that show - not only a great football player, but volunteered and showed wonderful character. I was hooked and have loved him ever since!

We're watching the draft again this year. My son asked if he could skip his normal 30 minutes of reading time to see as much of it as he can. He and his father (and a friend, who we're watching for a little bit) are so into it - it's hysterical. They're discussing who they think will be next and why it wouldn't or wouldn't be a good choice. I have zero idea how boys know all of this stuff, but forget how I like the dishwasher loaded.

Our back room just erupted because a player from the University at Buffalo got drafted 5th. They all watched him play and can't wait to watch him the NFL. There is apparently some disappointment that it's with Oakland, but I suppose we can't have everything. It's really fun to have our hometown represented in the big leagues!

I have to say that I've always enjoyed college sports more than professional, with the possible exception of baseball. However, with a husband and son who love football this much, it's hard not to get into it just a little bit.

Do you watch any sports on TV? (I grew up watching baseball, football and golf. After getting married, it was more of the same.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm not running anywhere

In February 2013, I completed my first half marathon. I was in Disney with my sisters and my mother. My sisters waited for me in the parking lot, sleeping, while I hobbled through 13.1 miles. I cried at the end, hugging them, telling them it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Then, the next day...I decided I should really do another one because I knew I could do better.

I really didn't train well for that. I did some stuff, but it was half-hearted at best. In the summer of 2013, I trained with a friend and really worked hard. (It needs to be mentioned that I'm slow. And, when I say slow, I mean S.L.O.W. I finished the Princess Half in 3:30 or so.) She and I did our long runs and trained like the best of them. It was pouring rain on the September day I tackled my next half - and we beat my previous time my over 30 minutes! 

So. A friend had come in from Michigan to do that second race with me. She convinced me to sign up for an April 2014 half in her hometown. I agreed. I ran pretty consistently until Thanksgiving, when I did the Turkey Trot (5 mile race). Then? I ATE AND ATE AND ATE. I ate all of the things. I think I ate Christmas. (I'm up about 15 - 20 pounds!)

Guess what? April came. I did the half...and I think I nearly collapsed. 13.1 miles is far when you don't train. I mean, it's far when you DO train. I finished in about 3:30 again, this time just 20 or so people from the end.  Then, two days later? I SIGNED UP FOR ANOTHER RACE ON MAY 25! I'm not entirely sure what is wrong with me.

I'm not training as well as I should. I'm definitely doing a run/walk thing, as there's no way I could just run the whole thing. Oh dear. I think know I have issues. Even funnier? The Michigan friend is lobbying for me to do my first (only?) full marathon in September. The time cut off is 7 hours.  I think I could do that. And, it would be right before my 40th birthday. And then...I will probably fall over and lose all of my toenails. 

Do you ever want to do things even though you don't do them properly? Do you think I'm insane?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happiness in pictures

fun snack
scripture on my phone

flowers from the husband - and playing with effects on my phone

new bracelet - and way too close pic of my arm hair

sparkly toes

sparkly cupcakes

morning coffee

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Belize - part 5

Our overall experience in Belize was unbelievable. I knew it would be...awesome, I guess...but I didn't really understand how or why. Our group had some issues with the organization that handled the trip for our church, but even that didn't stop us from witnessing such wonderful works of our Christian faith.

We noticed that we didn't see many men at all. We're not sure if that's because they are out all night? Are they working all of the time? We saw many mothers. We also saw so many children who just showed up at church, with no parent at all. They would hang outside the gate for a long time, just waiting for the chance to be let in.

There was one boy that we saw in the early morning, after a group of us went for a walk. He is 15 and was carrying a machete. We asked what he was going and he said he was just returning home from work, which was assumed was in the sugar cane fields. 15 with a machete! Oh how I wanted him to be holding a baseball bat, instead, on his way to a before-school practice.

One particular young lady stole many of our heart's. She came to our VBS program with her new-born son (only a few weeks old) and her two toddler's, in addition to her several siblings. Her mother was ill, we learned, so she was caring for everyone. And...she turned 20 while we were there. 20! What responsibility she had. We never did see the father of her children or her father.

We heard so many stories like these. We did our best, in the short time we were there, to spread love and acceptance to all. I took the address of one particular boy the same age as my son. I'm writing to him, in hopes that he will know that he does matter and his choices matter. We can't save everyone all at once, but maybe we can save one at a time.

There were certainly funny times, too. We all complained about the rooster who started every morning around 2...until 11:30. I think he had his hours mixed up. There was the visiting woman's cell phone that went off forever while she just napped away. There were pranks and teenagers and all other manner of fun. This was a way for us to deal with the poverty was saw all around us, knowing it was only temporary for us.

I had a hard time going back to work. It just seemed like I should be doing something more important than digital marketing. There are times that I still wonder if there is something else I could be doing. But, God is good and is with me. I know I'm just where I should be right now.

Monday, May 5, 2014

About being yourself

I apologize in advance, as many of you may have already seen this picture of my daughter on other social media platforms. (I really do believe in having different content on each platform, but sometimes things are just too good to pass up.)

This picture is of my daughter, Meghan. (She is named for the lead character in this series, one of my favorites in middle and high school.) She has such a fun personality. She's very confident (most of the time) and loves to have fun. She asked if she could do this for her brother's baseball game, knowing that she'd have to shower after her own softball practice later in the day. How could I say no?

(I totally wish I could've figured out how to spray her hair like this and do a french braid. But, I'm not sure the colors would've looked right in the braid itself?)

This is my older daughter, Amelia. (She is named for her great-grandmother.) She was beyond thrilled to have found this flower-crown while shopping last night. She is so into fashion and loves creating her own style. She sketches and cuts and puts things together in ways that continue to amaze me.

These pictures make me beyond happy. They show a uniqueness and happiness that we should all possess. When was the last time we wore an outfit that we loved, even if we weren't sure what others would think? Are you willing to do your hair in a way that you'd like, even if your close friends don't?

Oh, how I wish I had the confidence of my girls. I pray that they keep it. It's one thing to want other's opinions, but it's great to not worry about what they are!  I will encourage my daughters to keep up this wonderful self-confidence. Let them know that they are pre-approved (affiliate link) and don't need anyone else's ok to live how they want to live and look how they want to look.

How about you? Do you struggle with the need for validation from others?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

In Belize - part 4

Sunday morning started with a great breakfast of beans, eggs, fresh goat cheese and fresh tortillas. (I purposely ate gluten on this trip. I wasn't sure if it would be a good decision or not, but I didn't want to make any part of this experience about me.) Oh my goodness breakfast was so good! I seriously could do a post about the food by itself! I'm pretty sure that everyone I traveled with was sick of hearing how much I loved everything.

At home we're used to Sunday School and church happening on Sunday mornings, which a church service option on Saturday evening, as well. At this church, they played music in the sanctuary for about 30 minutes, which let area families know that it was time for Sunday School. Children arrived from what seemed like thin air! Once the music was done, we all split up into age groups for class. (There were a small amount of adults, as well.) About an hour later we all met back in the sanctuary so the different classes could show what they learned.  Afterward, the people slowly filed out and went home. Church would happen in the evening, after dinner.

I would say the biggest difference between a church service at our church versus what we encountered there was the music. (This is other than the language, of course.) The service was about 2 hours and about 90 minutes of it was just singing. There was a woman who who led the congregation. She was very involved in the service, but she didn't necessarily have a great voice. I feel like that wouldn't fly here at home, but no one seemed to care that night. They really just worshipped.

There was a bible study on Wednesday evening, which was the next church activity we participated in. This felt more like a sermon to me than what we would call bible study. Their pastor, Pastor Joe, stood at the pulpit and read from the bible and provided interpretation. We had an interpreter for this evening, which was very helpful. Pastor Joe definitely got excited and into it! This whole study lasted an hour and a half!

On Thursday evening, the church did a going-away service for us. It seemed very similar to the Sunday evening service, although they did say a special thank you for us. It was a lovely send off and remains ingrained in my brain. I think some of that may be because a little girl waved me to the front of the church and hopped into my lap. A few minutes later she was asleep on my chest! It had been years since I had felt that :-) Her older sister sat close to me and counted little lizards for me that were crawling across the back wall of the church. It was beautiful.

(I tried to make this post mostly about the church. I will make a sincere attempt to have my last installment be the last one. I make no promises, though!)

Have you ever been to a drastically different religious service than you're used to?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Insecurity and the Gym

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine convinced me to take a class at the gym. It was some sort of strengthening class that lasted for 60 minutes. I can't remember the name of it, but I think it should've been called, "75 creative ways to do squats and lunges for an hour." It was incredibly difficult and I felt very uncoordinated. We had an exercise ball, a stand for the ball, a mat and weights. It was recommended to have two different kinds of weights, but I figured I would start with one since I was a beginner.

I am sure that the two girls in the front corner, who looked like they were in their mid-twenties and were thinner than I was even back in 2nd grade, never noticed me. I'm sure the women behind me, who I never saw, weren't actually laughing at me the whole time. But you know what? I totally felt like they were. I saw myself in that mirror, about 20 pounds heavier than I was last summer, and I felt inadequate.

Between that class and today, I finished a half-marathon that I didn't train for. It was hard and I struggled. I finished, though, and felt strong. (I don't recommend dong a half-marathon without training. This was by far one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done.)

Tonight I went to a pilates class and suffered through the same insecurities as I did a few weeks ago. The whole time I felt convinced that everyone else was watching and knew I couldn't do it. On some level I certainly know that everyone else was more concerned about their own form than mine, but it's hard to remember that in the moment.

What I find sad and frustrating about my issues at the gym is that they represent a larger problem. I can't seem to stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I can't stop thinking I'd be worth more if I had smaller arms or a flat stomach...or a cleaner house or better clothes. You know - if I just had everything together and perfect.

Now, I know that everyone will say, "but you're so _______!" It's not even that I don't believe the things they're saying. You know what, though? It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter what anyone thinks - including myself!

I'm just starting a book that I think will help this. I'm really excited to read it and would love it if you read it, too. We could talk about it! What do you think? It's Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. (She blogs here. For Lent? She covered every mirror in her house. She didn't look at herself in a mirror - even when getting ready for things - for 40 days. She did it to crush her need for outside validation. I don't think I could do it!)

Somehow, we've got to stop worrying. We're already accepted and loved by Jesus. Isn't that all that matters? We just need to remember that and stop that nagging "but" that follows right after...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Blog Reading

I'm into several different blogs. I don't necessarily stick to one topic or anything. It's hard to say what I require from a blog to keep me coming back, but I think humor is a good part of it...although it's certainly not required. I think that reading a blog is much like being friends with someone. You can probably identify characteristics that you like in your friends and I'll bet that they don't all share the same (although there may be a theme).

Here is a list of blogs I read, in no particular order, with a little explanation of why I read it:

Hungry Runner Girl: This was the first running blog I came across. I believe I've been reading her for a couple of years, at least. She runs way farther and faster than I could dream of and eats more candy than I could ever dream of. Her daughter is pretty cute, too.

Meals and Miles: Another running blog. It has been at least a couple of years for this one, too. I was initially into it because of her running and because she managed to maintain many contract jobs to support herself. About a year ago she started a full time position, but I still enjoy reading about her life.

The Big Mama Blog: I only found this one a few months ago. To be honest, I'm not sure what her "topic" is. She writes about her life, her daughter, fashion, faith...all kinds of things. She's funny and entertaining.

It's Jenny Time: This is actual friend of mine and I love reading about her life. She takes great pictures and goes on fabulous trips. She has a pretty cool family, too!

KaylaAimee: Several years ago I came across this blog from my friend above. KaylaAimee had just given birth to their extremely premature baby girl. I spent many months praying for the family and am now so excited to read about the lovely little girl who survived under extraordinary circumstances.

The Pioneer Woman: My sister introduced Ree to me. (via the internet! I don't actually know her.) I can't explain it, but I just love reading about her farm and her family and her recipes. I have seen every episode of her show on Food Network and made many of her recipes.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring: I have all three of her cookbooks (affiliate link), too, and I can't tell you how she has saved my life. I need to be gluten free for my health and it can be difficult. There are certainly many more products on the market, even compared to a few years ago, but they are often pricey. I have pizza again in my house that my whole family eats. It's a miracle!

Runner Girl Eats: I have no idea how I found this one, but I think I've been reading her for about a year. I envy her workouts - and often the meals her husband makes! They were just recently married and I had fun reading about their wedding.

There are a few more blogs I read here and there, but these are the blogs I check pretty much every day.  Maybe I'll get some followers if I keep at it!

What blogs do you read every day?