Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009




It’s hard to believe that 2009 is coming to an end. We hear everyone give us the advice to enjoy our kids today because we will blink and they will be grown and out of the house. Although that may not yet be the case, we are beginning to see how very fast they grow. This past year has been little more than a blur.


Nikelle is 7-years-old now and we are coming to the realization that we are no longer just teaching her basic life skills. Rather, with the questions she now raises, we realize that we have reached the point in life where we have the responsibility to equip her to make decisions for herself. Being in the second grade, we can no longer pretend that we can protect her from everything that comes her way. It’s a daunting reality and we are learning the importance of prayer. At the same time, she is only 7 and she enjoys the simple things in life. She loves to write stories and plays and we are often beckoned to come watch a performance she has planned where she dances or sings. Our silly Nike has such a creative little mind to where she can be so wrapped up in her own little world that we don’t even know how to respond. Grandma Carlson gifted her with the American Girl doll, Felicity, this year for her birthday and thus began the craze. (Last year it was Webkinz which still continues.) Nikelle is an incredible big sister. She is always using the dry erase board and chalkboard to give Jaycie school lessons and runs to her baby sister whenever she is needed. She has even begun to get Andelise out of the crib at times!


Jaycie started preschool this year. Although we were a bit nervous as to how she would handle the situation, we were hopeful that preschool would help her come out of her shell a bit. If you have met our Jay Jay, chances are that she has led you to believe she is a mute. For some reason, our 4-year-old simply cannot handle crowds. It’s been a growing experience to say the least. We went from having crafts sent home untouched for her to complete on her own to her writing her own name very legibly on her completed work at school now. Jaycie started attending AWANA with her big sister this year. She was slightly disappointed that she wouldn’t be attending Sparks with her big sister but is now enjoying being in Cubbies. With Jaycie’s social anxiety, we are thankful Tristi has been able to assist with the little ones. We cherish the way Jay will now want to pray at dinnertime as she recites one of the Bible verses she learned at club: “Give thanks to the Lord… who made the great lights… sun… moon and stars...” (Psalm 136:3,7) Jaycie enjoys doing most everything her big sister does and carefully protects her toys from her little sister. Jaycie can be found putting together puzzles or using her imagination as she plays with Barbies.


Andelise is a 1-year-old on the go. This little tornado seems to be a magnet for trouble! Ande has been walking since she turned 10-months-old and quickly graduated to climbing onto stairs, chairs and tables. She looks up to her sisters and tells us all sorts of stories we simply cannot understand much of. One word she speaks very clearly is “no” and we often refer to her as “a little bully” because she is determined to get what she wants. Our Ande loves to dance and play dress-up with her big sisters and thoroughly enjoys decking herself out in the bling! Ande Randy will often walk up to Nikelle when she is upset asking to be held for comfort. The other day, when Jaycie arrived home from preschool, Ande walked right up to her, said her name, and reached out her arms for a hug. It can be quite heart-warming to see our girls get along. Their Daddy is constantly reminding them how they are one another’s best friends and we hope they truly embrace this later in life.


We thank God that Rod is still employed by UGN in Tinley Park. Despite the difficult economy and lay-offs over the past year, he was able to keep his job and we have been able to continue to enjoy life without too much alteration. The highlight of this past year for Rod was joining the Lincoln-Way Marching Band for an alumni performance. We were so pleased that our older girls were able to watch him participate in one of his favorite pastimes. Although it was raining non-stop, God was kind enough to “make a drizzle instead” (Nikelle‘s words). There was even a pleasant surprise to see a picture of him playing his saxophone in the newspaper. (Rod would like to make it known that autographs will be available for $5 each and a Christmas special of $2.99.)


Tristi continues to be able to stay at home with the kids for which we continue to be so grateful. Although she has yet to quite figure out how to balance life while raising three kids, she remembers that there is much joy despite the way life attempts to swallow it up in the daily grind. She is doing her best to work running back into her routine (when the kids actually allow her to keep to a routine). Most of her day is spent investing in relationships which she wouldn’t trade for much of anything.


Our emotions continue to pull at our hearts as we learn to live this life without our dads. Any given day can have a moment sneak up on us playing games with our hearts and yet we know that we have so very much to be thankful for. Our life is filled with blessings from cherished memories to watching our three healthy little girls grow. We are constantly reminded that in thankfulness, we find joy.


We are looking forward to an intentional 2010 where we fight against busyness and focus in on what matters. We desire to intentionally add rest to our lives while we are intentional in our relationships with God and one another. We are thankful for each one of you and pray 2010 draws you closer to the very reason for this season - Jesus.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fit Him In (Mom Connection Cookie Exchange 2009)

FIT HIM IN

The decorations need to go up
There are presents still to buy
More gifts are waiting to be wrapped
And the bows each need to be tied
Pictures need to be taken
Letters wait for me to share
Envelopes still need to be addressed
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

The Christmas story should be read
The advent wreath is lit
The Christmas play we must attend
And the school party I’ll attempt to fit
Thank you gifts for teachers
Christmas classics we long to see
Menus wait to be planned
Emotions of Christmases past grab me

There are church services to attend
Extended family I wish to see
Parties need coordinating
I hear of a family who is in need
My mind continues to mull over my list
Another good cause begs me to share
Cookies are in need of baking
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

Weekly responsibilities still beckon
Work, school, homework and such
Math facts, reading, stories to write
There’s just so very much
The kids all still need bathing
Their little bellies still need to be fed
There are diapers that are in need of changing
And that Christmas story still needs to be read
The house is in need of a vacuum
Dishes mount up and I begin not to care
Laundry is still not done
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

The dog is asking to go out
The ground has a coating of snow
My children will be begging to play
In the yard they will want to go
My husband’s eyes have that twinkle
I need to fit in some time with my friends
Exercise is in the back of my mind
Will these demands on me never end?

I should probably wash the windows
And the carpet, hallway, and kitchen floor
I still need to wrap presents and bake cookies
And yet everyone is asking me for more
People are pulling from every which way
Responsibilities are too much to bear
I go to bed praying, I can’t do it alone
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

I wake up in the morning to the cry of my child
And thank God when she goes back to sleep
I remember I can’t get through the day without Jesus
I open my Bible with the prayer journal I keep

The Book of Luke tells me of the way
Christ Jesus came to earth
My heart is filled as I read the story
Of the angels announcing our Savior’s birth
The inn was too full for the gift
that came to Bethlehem that night
There was hustle and bustle from the census
As the shepherds out in the fields were filled with holy fright
I wonder if I would have missed it
if I were there back then
Would I have been too concerned with responsibilities
Or watching and waiting as the shepherds had been?

I need to be intentional
if I’m going to include Jesus in my day
I need to remember that Christmas is Jesus
And take the time to spend listening to Him and pray
Many of these things on my task list are a good and necessary part
It’s just none of them do quite as much as hiding God’s Word deep inside my heart

I must not forget about Jesus
as I go from here to there
I must remember it’s all about Jesus
and find ways to fit Him in everywhere.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family Dinner

Dinner is always a battle. It never fails - someone does not want to eat what I have cooked. Last night was no exception. After preparing dinner with a toddler on my leg screaming at me to hold her (she does this every night until I get her fed), I finally got her into her chair with some food. She arched her back and stiffened her body and continued screaming. Now that just made me feel all warm and fuzzy for a family meal! (hear the sarcastic tone please)

We decided to just put her to bed early and began finishing our meal with the older girls. We were informing the girls that they would not receive any dessert, candy, snacks, etc. unless they finished everything they were given. (This is now standard practice because after they refuse to eat they think we should provide them something else for their hungry bodies.)

Nikelle well aware of this share her thoughts. "Instead of saying, 'I don't like this', I am thinking 'Be content with what you have because God has said never will I leave you never will I forsake you."

I'm so grateful that my time every Wednesday taking her to AWANA is coming to fruition!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A new "BFF"

So, Nikelle came home from school today having done her homework on the bus. Not more than 5 minutes after getting into the door, the phone rang with a number I did not recognize. For some reason, I decided to answer the phone anyway. It was a friend calling for Nikelle. Nikelle took the phone and talked for a short while. When she hung up she informed me that her friend, David, was hungry and he would call her back in a minute after he ate.

Being the responsible parent that I am, I began my inquiry as to who David was. My daughter went on to inform me of her new "BFF" that she just made the other day. My question was, "you just met him yesterday and he's your new BFF"? Silly question from Nikelle's tone. "No, I didn't just meet him yesterday."

"Is he in your class?"
"Yes."
"Does he sit at your table?"
"Not any more. He used to sit at my table but now he sits at a different table."
"What do you like about him?"
"He plays with me at recess."
"What do you play?"
"We play dog... Xander plays too..."

Now it all started falling into place a bit. I know Xander. He's a good kid. By association, David probably is as well. Nikelle enjoys playing with kids that want to use their imaginations. I'm glad she's found a couple of them who are willing to join in on her choice of fun.

David called back a couple of other times and I did my darnedest to listen in. For a little while, they even played "dog" on the phone. That was interesting. I put a time limit on her call and when he called back for the purpose of getting her address to write a letter, I tried to control the time of that conversation as well.

My mind naturally fast forwarded to the future. There will be boys calling and she won't be so willing to have the conversation in the living room where I am in earshot. It's only going to get harder. And to think I was feeling a bit nervous just because I didn't know what kind of influence this 7-year-old boy is having on my daughter. Yikes! God help us. Sincerely. God help us.

Any advice?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An emotional day

Today was an emotional day from start to finish. That's why I suppose it hit the heartstrings when Jaycie said what she said. We were on our way home from AWANA when Nikelle and her friend started talking about Christmas which led to Jesus' birth which brought conversation about Jesus dying on the cross for us which naturally led to his resurrection. We mentioned how Jesus proved he was God by raising from the dead. How everyone else stays dead when they die. This is when Jaycie chimed in.

Jaycie: "But Grandpa and Papa will come back when it snows."
Me: "No, Jay. They won't. Grandpa and Papa are in Heaven with Jesus."
Jaycie: "Then who will play Santa at Grams' house?"
Me: "That's a nice memory we have of Papa, Jay. We'll just have to see who else can be Santa."

It just made me cry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Incompatibility

My husband and I have decided that we are totally incompatible. When we really think about it, we wonder what it was that actually brought us together. The world would have told us that we wouldn't make it. Actually, many people didn't think it was a good idea for us to get married. After all, I was only 18.

So, what is it that has kept us together? I mean really... he is the total definition of a geek (and proud of it). (For Rod's birthday I had a lapse of judgment and bought him his long-coveted velcro shoes. It's not bad enough that he's seven years older than me. Now he reminds me of his grandpa!) I may not be Ms. Popularity, but I was able to at least hang with the popular crowd at times. He enjoys the history channel and science fiction. I enjoy a good romance and a lot of reality. Rod is a task-oriented person. He has to be intentional to think about the relationships involved. I am relationship oriented. If there is a relationship to focus on, the task on hand can wait. Give Rod a quiet evening at home and he'll thrive. Give me a group of friends to have quality time with and my tank is full. He could stay up all night while I'm an early to bed early to rise person. So, why exactly are we together?

Here's one thing I know. When I was dating Rod, I remember that we could talk about anything for long periods of time. We had fun doing whatever it was that we were doing. Rod is so light-hearted that he knows how to enjoy the moment. And it's always good clean fun. Of course, now he attempts to have fun and I just give him an evil glare. And if he really pushes it, watch out - there's a schedule to be kept and someone has to be the responsible one (that would be me).

The main thing that attracted me to Rod and still makes my heart overflow with love for him after all these years is that He is a man who loves God and desires to live his life according to God's rules. He puts God first. I'm second on the list and the girls follow in line. He also knows people are important and steps out of his comfort zone to form relationships. I have never known a man to desire to live for God more. I am totally turned on by this man who's heart is after God.

My husband and I are a good team. He knows me and loves me despite my flaws, he encourages to be myself and become more of the person God desires me to be. He and I are in agreement on the big things and we are one when it comes to raising the kids. Where he has flaws, I have strengths. Where I am lacking, he completes me. We fill each others gaps.

There's history built over 13 plus years that can never be traded in. I love that he is willing to work through our problems. He doesn't pretend they don't exist and in the beginning of our marriage when I was overly selfish and immature, he loved me despite it all and begged to God for the change we desperately needed.

There is so much I could say about my husband but it all ends in this: God gave me a gift and I am forever grateful. I could have never dreamed life would be what it is today simply because I married this man.

Lord, thank you for my husband. Thank you for the life we share together and the three little girls you've created from the two of us. Thank you for the love you've built between us. I am so anxious to see what the future holds for us. Bless him for desiring to follow you. Thank you for knowing what I needed long before I ever did.

Rod, I love you and thank God for you constantly!

Thankful for the pain

When Rod and I were away for our marriage conference, we decided to take advantage of the time to ourselves and do a little shopping. I know that the world has been pushing Christmas ahead of Thanksgiving for quite some time now. Because of that, I have trained myself to just ignore the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. What I was not prepared for was the Christmas music in so many stores and what that would do to my heart.

There were a couple of times where we had to leave the specific store we were in because my heart could not take the twisting feeling the music left me with. The holidays hold such special memories for me. My dad took time to make them special and I suppose that I connect my dad with the holidays so much because that was were he really, intentionally, made time for our family. Although he was identified as a family man, he worked long, hard hours to provide for us. Christmas was different. I suppose that's why my heart has yet to figure out the holidays without him.

I found myself in tears numerous times throughout the conference we attended. At one point, the speaker spoke of a gift his daughter had given him. It was a picture of herself as a toddler where she wrote him a letter. This sounded exactly like something I would have given to my dad for one simple reason: It would have made him cry. That was always my sign of a good gift. His tears were thanks for me.

At the end of the conference, we were to renew our vows to one another. Looking into Rod's eyes, I was already teared up. All the talk of weddings had me remembering my own and the very dear memories I hold so dear from the part my dad played in it. I did my best to renew my vows but I simply could not get out the words "in sickness and in health" through my tears. (Rod says he's in trouble should he get sick. And really, it's better than in our actual wedding ceremony when I never repeated the words where I take him to be my wedded husband. The preacher had given Rod two words at a time to repeat and expected me just to repeat the entire paragraph! That's all besides the point.)

I've come to a conclusion on my feelings for the loss of my dad. No, that doesn't mean I'm done hurting. It simply means that I'm choosing to be grateful that my dad's life is one to be missed. Many people don't leave an impact on those they've left behind. I'm thankful my dad did.

Thank you, Lord, for the pain in my heart because I lost someone I loved who loved me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful intentions

There have been seasons of my life where I felt I pursued a lot of friendships. I would make phone calls, send letters, and find other ways to show my friends how much I desired their friendships. Oftentimes, I would be left frustrated that my pursuits were not acknowledged and I would assume that this meant that my friends did not desire the level of friendship I was interested in.

Today, I'm on the other end. I have a good amount of friends that are intentional in our friendship. They are the ones who place the phone call to me. I often find e-mails in my inbox just to let me know something specific and expressing thanks. Yesterday I received a card in the snail mail just letting me know my friend cared.

I'm frustrated with myself that I don't take the time for these little expressions anymore. I am constantly thinking about the fact that I should pick up the phone and arrange a get together. There are many many letters that I've written in my mind but never took the time to actually express to my friends through a letter or e-mail.

Lord, thank you for intentional friends. Thank you for the grace they offer me when I don't seem to return their friendship. Thank you that they understand this is just a season of my life. I'm struggling to find the balance and their friendships are more uplifting than they can possibly know. Bless my friends, Lord. Thank you so much for each one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanks for smiles

Everyone has days where they just simply don't feel like smiling. Bad things happen in this life and it can be hard to find a reason to smile. I remember a few times when I was younger, someone would tell me to smile or to "turn that frown upside down". Like life would all of a sudden be better simply because I smile. Sometimes life downright hurts and smiling is not natural.

Today I was remembering my dad and caught up in the emotion of it. I went to get Andelise out of her bed and she greeted me with a big smile. As I was smiling back at her, I thought about the power of a simple smile. It may not solve all of life's problems but it can certainly take my mind off of myself and move me out of my pity party if just simply for the moment.

Thank you, Lord, for the power of a simple smile. Thank you that my joy is not based on my circumstances. And thank you for the smiles given to me by others.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. - Nehemiah 8:10

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. - Psalm 28:7

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just spent

I feel spent. Reality set back in almost immediately when we got home Sunday night. Crying kids. Snotty noses. Full calendar. Lack of sleep. I am thankful that God is strong. I feel like crawling into a hole sometimes.

"We are glad whenever we are weak but You are strong; our prayer is for Your perfection." - 2 Corinthians 13:9

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Weekend to Remember

This past weekend, Rod & I took advantage of my mom's Christmas gift to us (from last year). She had given us a gift certificate for a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conference. She also paid for our hotel. (If you should ever attend a conference, it works best staying at the hotel as well.) In addition to both of these, she came to our house and stayed with the girls and took care of the dog. One of the best gifts we have ever received, hands down.

We took advantage of our time together and left Friday morning. The conference was in Arlington Heights, so we spent Friday shopping at Woodfield mall. For dinner we went to The Cheesecake Factory, of course. Friday night was the beginning of the conference. Saturday and Sunday morning we were treated to a complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel (delicious too). The Sheraton also provided complimentary coffee, tea, water & pop for the breaks during the conference. We both agree it was the best marriage conference we've attended so far. (This is our third or fourth FamilyLife Weekend to Remember). Saturday night was left free for a required date night with your spouse and the conference ended Sunday around noon.

It's amazing how getting away from all the day-to-day responsibilities can allow you to focus on your marriage and think, in general. We both walked away with so much we want to apply to make our marriage thrive.

Thank you, Lord, for a weekend away from responsibilities which allowed Rod and I to reexamine our marriage. Help our marriage grow to be that reflection of our relationship with you which you desire. And thanks, Mom, for such a thoughtful and generous gift!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful for Ordinary Moments

Many mornings as Rod leaves for work, the girls will wave goodbye from the front window. I've been working on showing Ande how blowing kisses works. Before he walked out the door for work the other day, he blew Andelise a kiss. She took her hand, covered MY mouth and blew him a kiss. Too sweet.

The other night, Nikelle and I watched an American Girl movie, Chrissa. The movie is about bullying and now Nikelle is on a bullying crusade. She's even doing a family report (totally her own idea).

At Cubbies last night, Jaycie reached over and held my hand during the Bible story. I cannot tell you how much I cherished that moment. Simply because I could.

Jaycie wrote her own name on her craft last night as well. I told her the letters and she wrote them. Celebrate! It was just so cool to see her reach a milestone like that.

Last night on the way home from AWANA, I looked back at my girls to see a big smile on my baby while she kicked her legs because her big sister, Jaycie, was holding her hand. Store that one away.

Nikelle has a math facts quiz this morning. Considering the fact that I didn't work on her flashcards with her once yesterday while she was home for Veteran's Day, we did them before catching the bus. While we walked to the bus we were finishing them up. We had about five easy facts left to do as the bus pulled up. I told her to hurry (as though it were a game) and she answered them and smiled as she jumped onto the bus. I gave her the thumbs up as she pulled away.

Thank you, Lord, for ordinary moments. I often overlook cherishing these moments. Thank you for reminding me they won't last forever. I am so grateful for my girls. Thank you for blessing my life in abundance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009


Today is a day set aside to remember the sacrifices so many have and continue to make for our freedom. I am so very grateful for each and every man and woman who gives so I can live in peace and freedom.

I specifically think of Rod's cousin, Thomas, at this time. It's interesting how a personal connection to the war can put it more to the forefront of your mind. We can live day in and day out without ever thinking about the sacrifices others make for us. When it is personal, however, it is a little more difficult to ignore.

Today also reminds me of the sacrifice we so easily overlook of what Christ did on the cross. When we think of those who sacrifice for us, He is the ultimate example and the reason we have life to begin with. And yet, it's so easy to go from day to day without ever acknowledging this gift.

Lord, thank you for being our ultimate example of sacrifice. Thank you that you tell us that "greater love have no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friend". Thank you for each and every person who has sacrificed for my freedom. Help us to always remember them. To give thanks and to live a life worthy of the sacrifices made for us. Protect our soldiers. Here at home and overseas. In particular, Lord, bring Thomas home to us safely.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My stupidity

I sometimes plan a trip to the grocery store and cut out coupons only to find myself at check-out without the coupons. (It's a good day if I've remembered to bring my wallet in.)

I often leave my keys in my front door after I let myself in.

The other day I blew a stop sign in our neighborhood. (Actually, I stopped. It was just that I was already 1/2 way through the intersection.)

I invited one of Nikelle's friend's to an activity the other day. I was actually complimenting myself on what a wonderful mother I was because I remembered when Nikelle didn't. Nikelle was kind enough to remind me that the activity wasn't until the following week.

Nikelle wanted to order a t-shirt from school. I told her we would. I found the order form on the desk the other day with the due date having well passed. Ditto on her cookie orders for the school fundraiser. (Good thing I hadn't asked anyone else to place an order.)

I really believe I am losing my mind. Things I never had patience for in other people are happening to me all the time. Forgetting appointments, missing deadlines, just one stupid thing after the other.

I was really beating myself up over this the other day. I know they say women lose brain cells with the birth of each child but this is getting a bit ridiculous. I had always said that I didn't want to be one of those moms that had so many children she couldn't use her brain anymore. Hello! This is now my world. "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn't know what to do..." I pray Rod continues to be employed, or I will uncannily be able to relate to this lady!

The other day I identified what is really going on. It's not that I have too many children. It isn't even that my calendar is too full. The problem is that I asked God for it. I asked God and He answered my prayer. I read somewhere that Christians are supposed to be humble (probably the Bible). Now I know that asking for humility is a lot like asking for patience. God is simply making certain I know what humility is.

Thank you, Lord, for humility. I know I tend to be a proud person. When I am continually doing stupid things, it's a little difficult to be filled up with pride. Continue to humble me, Lord. It reminds me that I am not the one in control. I have no choice but to lean on you and that is a good place to be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Uncomfortable

I am officially uncomfortable in my comfy pants. I am well aware of the fact that I eat in response to almost any emotion. For some reason, I have yet to have my brain and mouth work together. I am fed up with feeling uncomfortable and that got me thinking this morning on the treadmill.

I am unhappy with the way I look and feel in the pants I am currently wearing. They are wearing out and I know I could look better and feel better about myself. My options are to start eating healthy and exercise so that I lose some weight and fit back into the wardrobe in my closet or purchase a wardrobe in a larger size. For me, purchasing even just one pair of pants that would allow me to feel better would be an invitation to continue my unhealthy eating habits. The other option HAS to happen. I HAVE to start eating healthy and exercising again. There is no other healthy way to lose weight.

This got me thinking about all the things that make me uncomfortable. Like the treadmill I was running on this morning. I'm not necessarily comfortable at this point in my exercise routine (probably because there is nothing routine about exercise in my life right now). At the same time, the discomfort I feel while I am exercising will help me shed these unwanted pounds. The end result will be a better body.

Then I started thinking about the many upcoming activities I have to attend and how some of them just make me downright squirmy with the discomfort I feel. It could be because I have to dress up and I'm not comfortable with that. Maybe it's just the people I'll be surrounded by who create discomfort for me. Whatever the reason, there are things in this life that make me uncomfortable. Usually I respond to this with avoidance or eating. This morning, I gave it to God. I prayed for each of the situations I could think of and asked Him to give me peace and prepare me for the moment.

Discomfort is a funny thing. We don't want to feel it but it can drive us to better things - healthy eating, better body, and a relationship with God.

Thank you, Lord, for the discomfort in my life. Being uncomfortable causes me to evaluate things. Help me as I work through the discomfort and make me more like You.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thanks in parenting November 8th

We don't get much more beautiful than the weather God gave us today!

Nikelle's school had scheduled a fall walk for this afternoon and I had the privilege of taking her. It was a short walk to the library which was followed up by listening to some stories. The outing ended with a scavenger hunt for the kids. Everyone who completed the hunt received a prize. The normal junk prizes or a certificate for a free shake at Steak 'n Shake. I, of course, attempted to encourage Nikelle to go for the shake. However, she was insistent on choosing the plastic vampire teeth. There was no hesitation in making her choice despite my effort - until we left the library.

As we were walking back to the van with some friends, Nikelle informed me that she wanted a different prize. Normally I would not have gone for this. She made her choice and we left. Today, in particular, it was out of the question! Those plastic teeth had already been in her mouth. She reasoned that she would just wash them. Needless to say, I had one very unhappy 7-year-old.

Nikelle ran up ahead and my friend encouraged her daughters to catch up with Nikelle. My normally pokey daughter was able to rummage up some speed today to keep running ahead of her friends every time they would catch up with her. Enough was enough! I caught up with her and had a discussion which resulted in a very heartless apology and a lame goodbye.

As we got into the van, I was really at a loss for how to impress upon my daughter why I was so disheartened by the situation. I already had her writing a list of 20 things she was grateful for once we got home but I just didn't have any ideas as to how I could drive home my point further.

Pulling out of the parking lot, Nikelle noticed her friends rolling down the hill. She begged for me to go back so she could play with them. I received the lovely gift of tears and sobbing the entire way home. There was even a dramatic production of overexaggeration with how "I'll never get to play there again", "I'll never have anymore fun", and "God gives me second chances".

I could continue with the story but it really isn't necessary. Today I am thankful for natural consequences. The fact that Nikelle missed out on playing with her friends was the natural consequence to her choice to be ungrateful and crabby.

Thank you, Lord, for natural consequences. Thank you that when I really don't know how to be a parent, you are always at work. Fill each of us in this house with gratitude, Lord. We have so very much. And thank you that Nikelle's list of 20 things she was thankful for was stretched to 22.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thankful for these moments 11-7-09

Yesterday we spent some time attempting to teach Nikelle how to ride her bike. I have a feeling that this is going to be a long process. I went up and down our street with her one time and was overly frustrated right off the bat. Rod did much better on his turn with her. How exactly does one person teach another how to balance? I really don't have any idea. I just gave her the best instructions I could and attempted to encourage her. Prayed and breathed.

This morning we had a family picture taken and then spent some time walking around the mall. Pictures went well. I was fairly pleased and it was just nice to spend the time together as a family.

Zing Zang Zoom! was this afternoon as we experienced The Greatest Show on Earth. We bought circus tickets for Jaycie's birthday for our family to enjoy. My mom stayed at the house with the baby. It was so fun to watch the girls enjoy the Circus and just spend time with them where we weren't outnumbered.

Thank you, God, for family moments. I often overlook them and forget to be intentional about scheduling them in. There are few greater joys in life than the moments I share with my husband and my girls.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thanks for investing in my child 11-6-09

Today was parent/teacher conferences. Nikelle's teacher made a point of commenting on what a sweet and caring kid my daughter is. She also had a specific story to share about the fact that Nikelle overcame a fear by petting an alligator during the cold-blooded animals unit and how impressed she was. Jaycie's teacher encouraged me that for our "3-year-old friends", Jaycie is really taking those steps to grow into the stage she should be at. I am so grateful for the people who invest in my children's lives every day/week. From their school teachers to the nursery workers at church.

Thank you, Lord, for each and every person who plays a part in my children's lives. Thank you for the time and energy they give. Most importantly, thank you for showing me that they care about my kids personally.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Overabundance of Thanks November 5th

The amount of laundry in this house is insane! I will spend the entire day just putting a new load in the washer, switching it to the dryer, folding the clothes and starting the process over and over again. Not to mention the fact that I still actually have to put the clothes away at some point so that we are not rummaging for clothes in the laundry baskets every morning. Yesterday as I was putting clothes away, I was once again overwhelmed with the amount of clothing we have for each girl. No wonder the laundry is never ending!

The dishes continually pile up. I will work hard to keep the kitchen clean and allow myself to relax because of it. I can honestly feel the tension leave my neck and shoulders and as I sit to enjoy my clean kitchen. That's when I realize there are dishes all over the counters again! How exactly does this happen?

It's easy to get frustrated with the amount of housework I face each day. There are always messes to pick up. I will find myself focusing on cleaning one room, happy the kids are playing nicely in another. Once I feel that satisfied feeling of a job well done, it is quickly deflated by finding the girls and realizing the hurricane has hit! I get to clean up after the kids numerous times every day.

It's difficult to remember that there are many people out there longing for warm enough clothes for the season. There is the population who longs for a nutritious meal not caring what it is served on. And there are many people who cry to God just to have one child to call their own. I need to remember that I am truly blessed.

Thank you, Lord, for an overabundance of everything. Thank you that we are not in need or even in want. Thank you that you have surrounded us with so many people who shower us with gifts. Thank you for so many clothes it doesn't matter if I skip out on doing laundry for the week. Thank you that we have ample food to eat and the dishes to eat them off of. Thank you for the blessing of three little girls to take care of, even when I am losing my mind. Thank you, Lord, that I really have no idea what it is like to be in need or in want. I am truly grateful for all of your blessings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thankful for my parents 11-4-09


The girls are asking me how many more days until Christmas. More than ever, I just want them to enjoy today. If we jump to Christmas we miss so much. Thanksgiving is overlooked. And yet, that honestly isn’t even my biggest problem with the question they raise.

I was dreading the start of November this year. I suppose it is partly because I am not allowed the distraction of a newborn this year. This year, the holidays are just creating heartache within me. The holidays make me think of my dad. I miss him terribly. His absence is always evident in my life. Starting with the harvest, however, there has just been a blaring reminder that he is gone.

So, what do I do with this gloomy cloud that hangs over my head? Can I just pretend everything is hunky dory? Can I choose to just ignore them? I’d probably just crawl back into bed and stay there if I didn‘t have three little girls relying on me. Rather than allow depression to take over my life, I have to find things to be thankful for. Gratitude can carry my heart a long way.

I am so blessed to have been given parents who raised me to know God at an early age. My parents gave me many childhood memories that I am able to cherish and recall with fondness. Family was a priority to my parents. And I can point out many scenarios which remind me that my parents not only loved God, they loved one another. I am grateful that I was raised with protection and innocence. I was taught a strong work ethic. I was taught that this world is not all there is. I am able to look much further than the here and now. At the same time, I was taught to enjoy the day we are given. My parents taught me so much. Most of all, how very much God loves me, how very much I was (am) loved and how important it is to love in return.

Thank you, Mom, for raising me to love God. Thank you, God, for a mom and dad who I can give thanks for. And Lord, let my dad know I’m thankful for him, too. I miss him, in particular, this time of year.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thankful for the Sunshine 11/3/09

It seems so easy to get down and discouraged these days. There is a lot we could be negative about. So many people are sick. There is trouble all over the world. That's why November is a great month! We are reminded to give thanks. Something we should do every day but especially in November. We have an abundance to be thankful for!!

Lord, thank you so much for the sunshine. I really enjoy the rain and cloudy days as well. The sunshine these past two days has really lifted my spirit. Thank you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2nd Thankful for




I love the beautiful colors of Autumn. As I look at the colorful leaves in the trees and on the ground, it reminds me that the earth is God’s canvas. I am simply amazed at the beauty God places all around us. From my beautiful little girls to the numerous colors of the changing season. I am in awe over our Creator.

Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty all around me. Thank you for giving us so much to be in awe of.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giving Thanks - November 1st

This morning, my baby girl decided that she no longer will sit in the baby seat for the bath tub. With each day, she is deciding that she wants a little more freedom. My baby isn't a baby anymore.

For Jaycie's birthday this past month, my mom bought her a book entitled "Llama Llama misses Momma". It's a story about a little llama who goes to school and doesn't want to play because he misses his momma. Bottom line is that Llama Llama can love his Momma and school, too. After we read the book to Jaycie, she responded, "I don't miss you."

I watched out the window the other day as Nikelle got home from school. She exited the bus and stood at the corner waving to her friends until the bus pulled away. Then she turned toward the house and began to walk home. Prior to this moment, the bus had come early and I wasn't out there to meet her. She simply walked down the street by herself and let herself in with the garage code. Since then, she has informed me that she likes to get off the bus by herself unless it is raining.

When did my girls grow up so fast?

This morning I was reading through an old prayer journal of mine where I asked God for a memory that would last a lifetime. It was the Reindeer Run in December of 2006 that my dad ran with me. In that moment, I had no idea that two short months later, my dad would be diagnosed with cancer that took his life.

Thank you, Lord, for memories. Thank you that as my girls grow up as quickly as I blink, I can cherish moments in my heart from the past. Thank you that although my dad may no longer be here with me on this earth, you allowed me moments to treasure for a lifetime.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't cry over a broken egg

"If I buy a dozen eggs and I break one, I clean the broken egg up and get on with my day. I don't break the 11 other eggs!"

This quote was in my weekly e-mail from Weight Watchers. To say things have gotten out-of-control in my life is an understatement. Especially when it comes to what I put into my mouth.

Most days, I start out with a healthy breakfast and some days will even make it to lunch. Even on the days I make it through dinner, by the time I head for bed, I have completely blown any healthy eating for the day. In my mind, if I eat something unhealthy, it's a free-for-all the rest of the day (sometimes week).

This phrase is a good mental image for when those thoughts enter my mind. I wouldn't even think about breaking the other 11 eggs just because one broke. Time to keep that in mind when I feel like throwing out the rest of my day or week because of one unhealthy food choice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My thoughts for Jaycie's 4th Birthday


Our Jaycie turned 4-years-old this past weekend. It’s really quite crazy how much can change in 4 short years. To be honest, I was in shock when God gave us Jaycie. Jaycie is just a little too much like me. Rod was traveling. My grandpa died. My dad got cancer. Rod’s dad had cancer. Our dads died. I had another baby.

Breathe.

Our little girl has always known what she does and does not want. And she expresses it. Her fears and insecurities come out in a way that leave me frustrated. She whines and screams for no apparent reason which leave me wanting to do nothing but get away. Until recently...

My mom accompanied myself and the two little girls on a visit to the zoo where we met my cousin and her family for the day. Jaycie started in pretty early with her whining and yelling. I was determined to enjoy the day. Thank God for mom. I just handed Jaycie to my mom as I pretended I couldn’t hear and showed the animals to the baby. This is when I overheard my mom talking to Jaycie. “The bears cannot come out by us, Jaycie. Look at their home. See how they put that big hole between us and the bears? They cannot get out.” I later asked my mom if Jaycie told her she was scared that the bears would get out. She hadn't. My mom just decided that there had to be a reason behind Jaycie’s irrational screams and identified Jaycie‘s fear.

I do not have any patience or understanding for my yelling child. And it is fairly common knowledge that I am of the mindset that people need to communicate with one another. My daughter was simply not doing that. I shake my head as I think about it now. Who really expects a baby or toddler to sit down and say, “Mom, we need to talk. I don’t enjoy going to the zoo because I am afraid that the animals will come out and attack us. Do you think there is some way we could find something else to do for entertainment?” I mean, seriously?

I have been nothing short of irritated with my daughter because she will not talk to people. For that matter, she won’t even give them eye contact! And it’s not just "don't knows". It’s family and friends that she sees fairly often. Recently, a friend enlightened me with some outside perspective. “She physically cannot bring herself to talk to people in public, Tristi. She just can’t do it.” Although I still have a hard time accepting this, what I did hear was that my expectations are way too lofty.

What God is teaching me through my family and friends is that my problems with Jaycie are not because of Jaycie. My problems with Jaycie are all right here. I am the problem. Thankfully, it's not too late to change.

There have always been things I have thoroughly enjoyed about Jaycie. I have always and will always love her. Her smile has always been able to light up my life. I am continually thanking God for her. And yet, I realize that there is so much more to her to love and enjoy. If I will simply invest the time in her!

With a little investment of time and a bit of patience on my part, Jaycie is beginning to come out of her shell. I cannot help but wonder if she wouldn’t have blossomed sooner if I had simply had a little patience. If I would have taken the time to stop and attempt to place myself in her shoes for just a moment. It would have been very helpful if I had just worked a little harder to understand the bigger picture rather than get caught up on everything that overwhelmed me. I cannot change the past. I can, however, change the future. And I have already started.

Jaycie is full of life. When I take the time to notice, I see her being kind to her baby sister. I see the way she looks up to her big sister and wants to imitate so much of what she does. When I take the time, I see how she lights up because I take 5 minutes to read a book to her or complete a puzzle. When I stop for the moment, I can see how she fills up with joy from spending one-on-one time with her daddy. In the quiet moments, I can cherish memories in my heart and I see how a little encouragement takes her such a long way.

To Jaycie on your 4th Birthday...

I will let you down. Daddy will let you down. Every person here on earth will let you down. Don't find your identity in your family or friends. Although I love you thoroughly, don't search for your acceptance in Daddy and I. There is only One who does not change. One who is consistently loving you unconditionally. I pray that you come to know how very much God loves you. I pray that I can love you in the way He commands me to. And when I let you down, Jay, please forgive me. I screw up all the time. And I'm sorry. I love you imperfectly. I'm thankful that God's perfect love is there for you. And I will continue to pray that He teaches me to love you better. Because Jaycie, I do love you more than words could ever express.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

I will honestly pray the morning of a weigh-in that I will have lost weight. Or at least stay the same. Even just remaining in the weight range where I don't have to pay would thrill me these days. I will seriously eat whatever I very well please for weeks on end only to get on the scale praying for some kind of results I'll be happy with.

Thinking about this particular prayer that I throw up makes the lyrics to the song at the beginning of My Best Friend's Wedding play through my mind - "wishing and hoping and thinking and praying". Maybe dreaming is more like it. I cannot even squeeze into the size pants I was fitting into just a couple months ago. And the damage I've created on the scale is not going to be turned around without some serious work.

This has me thinking about life in general. For example, I want my marriage to be bliss. I want the romance Hollywood portrays (in the movies, not real life) - that passionate love. I want the happily ever after offered to me in the fairy tales. But we live in the real world. Reality is that there are many days my husband and I may not even like each other. Irritations build up. Responsibilities take over. The calendar overwhelms. Life takes all our energy. Still, that doesn't change the fact that I want true love. So why have I done absolutely nothing to help me in pursuit of this goal? Months on end without spending any quality alone time together. Choosing my children, friends, family and other commitments before my time with him. Just pretending like all the problems will magically go away. And then I wonder. Why don't we "feel" love towards each other?

This applies to other relationships as well. Time spent together is scarce. And God forbid we should actually talk about something of value! After all, aren't there always at least three topics we are supposed to avoid in conversations? I want quality friendships and relationships with my family members. I want people to rally around me in times of trouble and share my moments of joy. And yet there is no investment made in that direction. If we won't be real with each other, how is there going to be any depth to my relationships?

And we can't leave God out of the equation. He waits patiently for us to become aware of all the love He offers us. The fact that He created us should be our first hint as to the amount of love He has for us. He pours blessing upon blessing on us and we just want to complain about every problem we can find. Not to mention how quick we forget about the tremendous sacrifice that was made for us when Jesus came from Heaven to earth to die for us. Think about it: We damage our relationship with God through sin and He offers us forgiveness, a second chance and even builds the bridge! How many relationships out there that we vie for offer us that?

It's amazing really. How we wish and hope. How we long for better and yet are unwilling to do anything about it. I am never going to lose this last 10-15 pounds until I actually start taking some action towards achieving my goal. I can't possibly experience true love with my husband when we never take the time to put one another as the priority. Meaningful relationships don't happen without being a bit vulnerable and investing the time. And it is impossible to know God when we refuse to acknowledge the numerous ways He pours out His love on us or take the opportunity to seize the pathways He extends for us to come to Him.

Maybe it's time for a little less wishing and hoping. And time for a lot more thinking and praying - along with a lot of action.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chameleon

Chameleon
You blend with your surroundings
Chameleon
No one knows where you come from
Chameleon
You change with every situation
Compromising dedication


These lyrics by Petra have been on my mind recently because I am tired of the chameleon game. Oh, we all do it to some extent. When we're at home, we may feel uninhibited. At church, we think we are expected to put on an act. With one group of friends our words are loose. With our family, we feel the need to bite our tongues so as not to offend. It's never-ending the way we change who we are for the people we are with.

Honestly, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the expectations people put on me and the fact that I actually strive to live up to them. I'm done playing games with people in my life who pretend to be one way when they're around me and then they go off with someone else acting a completely different way. What is it exactly that makes us think we need to be someone other than ourselves ALL the time?

Realistically, I'm certain it has something to do with acceptance. We all want to belong. We all long to be loved. We want people to love us for who we are. And yet, how can we expect this when we are unwilling to be authentic? Could it be that we just don't know who we are? We're so busy trying to please everyone that we have no idea where to begin when it comes to being real? I mean, really, what would that even look like?

I am so incredibly grateful that I my identity is established in God. That is so freeing! I can be God's child at home, with friends, at church, running errands, in the business world, with extended family and at my daughters' schools. I can be myself because I am a child of God and that does not change!

As a Child of God, I have a filter to examine my life through. I don't need for everyone to accept and love me. I don't need the approval of my parents, siblings, friends, or anyone else. All I need is God's acceptance. And I am so grateful that I have that unconditionally. He knew me before I was born. He loved me enough to send Jesus to die for me before I even heard about His love for me.

As I struggle through this life, I can live securely in my identity: a Child of God. I'm tired of not really knowing people. I'm tired of feeling their lack of desire to know me. I am going to start investing more time in the one relationship I don't have to beg for. And maybe, just maybe, all my relationships will be stronger because of this one at the center.

And what does the Lord require of [me]? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. - Micah 6:8

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sorting it out

I wish I could sort out my thoughts. I feel a bit like Mel Gibson’s character in a scene on “What Women Want”. The gist of the storyline is that Mel Gibson is able to hear women’s thoughts. It is overwhelming to him. At one point, he is walking around the city attempting to figure out what is going on. He can hear the thoughts of the bell women in front of the hotel. He can hear the thoughts of a little female dog as well. Then he is in a park when an entire group of women are running in the opposite direction he is walking on the path. He holds his ears as this entire pack of women’s thoughts attempt to invade his mind.

I don’t know what other’s are thinking (even though I like to think I do), but I feel a lot this character in that moment. I want to hold my ears tighter hoping to block out all the thoughts attempting to invade my mind. There are just too many and it’s exhausting me. My schedule. My friends. My family. My desires. My faults. It goes on and on. I simply cannot stop the voices in my head. (I know. I know. Entirely different issue.)

I think it’s why I can talk myself into getting on the treadmill. Those 30 minutes allow me time to talk to God and work through the multitude of thoughts disrupting my life. I can give many of my problems to God and take a few minutes to focus in on my day. No noise from kids. No T.V. Only the noises from the treadmill (and if I’m on top of things, the washer and dryer as well).

At church, we’ve been doing a series on “Crazy Busy”. I can identify with the latest way to combat this crazy busy lifestyle. That is to Shut if Off. I used to think I was one that needed background noise. Now, what I am realizing more than ever, is that all that noise drives me insane. That’s why I thrive early in the morning when everything is quiet. I can think straight. As soon as one of my little ones are up, that moment is over. I can no longer think straight because someone is always making demands of me.

I’m going to attempt to continue to take time each day in quiet. It is so beneficial. I might get used to it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Actions speak louder than words

Relationships and all that they offer have made a huge impact on who I am today. I am one who thrives on relationships. I want nothing more than to spend time with friends. I am constantly checking my e-mail. I rarely resist the urge to answer a phone call. Facebook is one of my many addictions.

Facebook allows me to reconnect with many of these past relationships from so many different seasons of my life. These connections leave me in a whirlwind of thoughts. Thoughts about chapters of my life I thought I had closed. Moments I thought I had put behind me. Relationships I had worked so hard to come to accept had just grown apart. I enjoy catching up. Seeing where people are in life today is something that intrigues me. And yet Facebook takes me out of the comfort zone I had created. I want to believe myself when I say I've put the past behind me. But have I? Really?

These reconnections have given me a lot to think about. Conversations have occurred that have left me examining my life. Do I simply talk the talk? Being brought up in a home where I was taught how to pray, read and memorize the Bible and brought to church every week, it's easy for me to say the right thing. Right v. wrong is pretty clear in my mind. Still, I'm left wondering... do I walk the walk?

#1 - LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. When I love someone, I want to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. I want to know them and I want them to know me. I think about them day in and day out. I want them involved in every aspect of my life. I want them to know my family and my friends. I want to be able to tell them all the little details of my life and feel somewhat empty until I do. So am I really loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength if my day does not include Him? If I am not inviting Him to share life with me?

#2 - LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Do I put others needs on the list anywhere near where I place my own? Can I look away when someone in my life is hurting? Can I make excuses for being too busy when people around me are in need of help? Am I able to be consumed with myself when the Bible clearly tells me that a Christ-follower will live as Jesus did?

These are the two greatest commandments and the rest of the law is summed up in them. If I am loving God and loving others, I am living as Jesus did. And yet, am I? Am I doing this? Truly loving God and loving others?

People around me are making me aware of how much lip service I give for a life I don't live. [sigh] I believe what I'm saying. I don't think of myself as a hypocrite. And yet, I don't make God my priority. I can go through most days without taking the time to talk to or listen to the Lord my God. How can I then say that I love Him?

I just excuse it away with being too busy. And as for loving others? I too easily write off not helping them to a life that is just too full.

Actions speak louder than words. Actions speak louder than words.

"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." - 1 John 2:3-6

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hot topics and Love

Stay-at-home or go to work? Bottlefeed or breasfeed? Cry it out or console? To spank or not to spank? These are the questions.

I have friends that are stay-at-home moms. I also have friends who make a living outside of the home. Some of my friends visit with a bottle in hand while others don't need to worry about that item in their diaper bag. Some run to console. Some let their kids cry it out. And to be totally honest, spanking is rarely a topic of conversation although it can still be a hot topic.

As I gave some unsolicited parenting advice on my friend's facebook page, I thought about how dedicated we can become to a "cause" that is really nothing more than a matter of personal choice. I read others' comments and thought about my own. Seriously, why do we feel the need to choose sides? Why can't we just accept the fact that people parent differently? It doesn't make one mom neglectful because they choose to allow their baby to "cry it out" any more than another mom is lazy because they choose to stay-at-home full time.

There are some issues we may disagree on. Can we agree on this, however? People are more important. Good relationships take work, tough conversations and a lot of grace. Let's be willing to disagree with love. It's so easy to get caught up in a "cause".

I'm hopeful that I will remember to be intentional in valuing the relationship more than the topic as I encounter the inevitable differences in opinion.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Facing the Day

Our pastor shared this video with us at church the other day. It really fits my life (not that my mom talks a lot). I do NOT manage my time wisely. Sure, I think about the best way to accomlish everything that needs to be done. I just never seem to actually rise up to the task.

The other day as I was faced with another unending to-do list, I picked up a book entitled "Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight" by Karen Scalf Linnamen. In the book, she talks about procrastination. Now, I've never really thought I was one to procrastinate - until now. Karen talks about the real reason why I avoid all of my surmounting projects. It's not that I don't want to complete anything, I simply don't want to deal with all the feelings that go along with it.

For example, after gathering groceries at the store yesterday, the cashier feels the need to state the obvious to me (with a smile, of course). "It looks like you were out of just about everything." Well, duh! I put off grocery shopping until the very last possible moment (like when I realize I have only two diapers left for the baby) because I always spend too much money. It doesn't matter how much planning I do, I cannot figure out how to save money like so many frugal moms out there (my sister). It is downright frustrating and I feel like a huge failure. Therefore, I don't go grocery shopping until I absolutely have to.

I avoid dishes and laundry because I hate feeling overwhelmed and the lack of accomplishment that goes along with these neverending chores. I never seem to be able to complete either one because we are always eating and wearing clothes!

As for exercising, I've put that off, too. I injured myself when I was training for the full marathon two years ago. While I have taken the step forward to attend physical therapy and work towards some healing, I quit running. I kept telling the therapist that I just didn't have time to work it in to my schedule. Although there is a tidbit of truth in that statement, I think the main reason I didn't want to tie up my running shoes was because I did not want to face the discouragement involved in feeling the pain in my leg and foot again.

I could go on and on with examples - like eating right. In my head (and all of its bizzare thoughts), it is easier to just eat junk all day and know I am going to get fat and be unhealthy than it is to actually eat healthy and go to way in at Weight Watchers only to be met with a surprising number that leaves me $12 poorer.

All in all, what this author had to say in her book impacted me. I need to face the emotions rather than avoid the tasks. I have used my unraveling, unreliable treadmill twice this week. I've pulled out a food journal every day (not that I've eaten healthy but at least the thought is there). And today, I have clean counters and laundry going. Not to mention I've released endorphins from accomplishing some tasks that leave me feeling energized (which is exactly what this book said would happen).

All in all, it's better to face my feelings and work through them. Putting them off is leaving me unhappy, unhealthy and potentially without any underwear! (I know, TMI but it fit the sentence.)

Now that I have some clean clothes, I will actually go take a shower and pick up my daughter from the bus stop. Hey, better late than never.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My preschooler


Jaycie started preschool last week. She had picked out her own backpack when we purchased school supplies for Nikelle. Jaycie attends Our Savior Lutheran Preschool just a short distance away from us. I love that I can walk her to school on days with nice weather.

Although she doesn't look very excited here, she was thrilled to go to preschool with her friend, Emily. Jaycie even told me today that seeing Emily at preschool was her "high" for the day. Her low was some little boy named Charlie who missed his Daddy at preschool.
I'm never in agreement with women who just can't imagine what they would do with themselves if they were stay-at-home moms. My to-do list is so never-ending that I don't even bother to write it down most days. Today I actually got on my unreliable treadmill and did some walk/run intervals for a half hour. It felt wonderful to actually do some exercise again!


Jaycie was very willing to sit and hold her baby sister, Andelise, while we waited for the classroom to open.


Jaycie chose her outfit to wear to school with the matching bandana.



At the end of class, the kids wait patiently for the teacher to call their name for them to go to their parent. Jaycie greeted me with a big smile and a huge monkey hug when I picked her up. She thoroughly enjoys going to school. The next morning she woke up asking if she was going to school that day. I'm so grateful that preschool is an exciting experience for her and not one where I have to drag her each time.

She also started Cubbies in AWANA with her cousin, Elena. She is excited to be doing this, too. No one would ever know how excited Jaycie is to be growing up. She pretends to be a little mute when she is in groups. I'm just thankful we've progressed to not yelling and screaming as I leave her.

It's hard to believe almost 4 years have passed since God gave Jaycie to us. Boy does time fly!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ande is One!





Our baby girl turned one-year-old last week. On one hand, I can't believe she is one already. On the other hand, she has been walking around for two months already. So it really is no great surprise that a year has gone by.

I've said that I wanted to treasure every moment of her first year. Easier said than done. That first year always seems to be in a bit of a fog. I'm glad I had more pictures than I thought I had so we could reminisce.

Andelise is our go-getter. She attempts everything without fear. She's known to climb on tables and chairs, climb up the slides, and attempt to walk on water (she thinks she can just walk right off the side of the pool and into the water without any help). She is good with her hands and seems to be very mechanically minded.

Recently, she has begun walking up to me while I am on the computer and pushes the keyboard in while she reaches up to be held. She is known to push her sisters out of her way when she wants to get to something. And she even left a nice abrasion of teeth marks on her sister's side out of frustration while we were on vacation.

Overall, though, Andelise's smile can light up a room. When Rod gets home from work, she tries to jump out of my arms toward him while doing her little laugh/cry until he takes her. She does the same laugh/cry in anticipation of her juice cup.

She will pick up a baby doll and pat its back and hug the toy tightly. Her little hands can't resist petting her blonde-headed friend who is five months younger. She likes to just be held after she wakes up. It's still amazing to me the ways this little one can warm our hearts.

When she is screaming in the van, we can often soothe her by playing music. And at home, she will turn on the CD player and wiggle her little bottom up and down to the music. She loves to dance and one of the dearest sounds to my ears these days is that of her babbling.

The hardest part for me in her turning one has hit me a few times in the last couple of weeks. As we watched the DVD I made of compiled pictures from her first year... While enjoying the company of our godson's family as they took generational pictures... and at "the farm" this weekend.

Andelise, Rod and Pup joined me for a walk while we were at the farm. Ande squirmed to get down as we reached our destination. There, in the quiet, all the while hearing the family play just down the street by the ponds, I watched as my baby got down and touched the stone.

I read the familiar words through eyes blurred with tears. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 4:17" I couldn't hold back the tears as I watched my baby at the grave of a man she will never know in person.

These are the only tears in my baby's growth. It still physically hurts that she will never personally know her Papa or her Grandpa. These relationships are missing. And for me, I feel the void.

Although I long to keep the memories alive of those who have gone before us, I know in my heart there is only one death that is of the utmost importance to share. It is that of the one who did not remain in the grave. As long as our girls know Jesus as their personal Forgiver and Leader, they will have the only relationship they really need to carry them through this life.

The words to the song "Because He Lives" still hold so true. "How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy (s)he gives. But greater still, the calm assurance. This child can face uncertain days because [Christ] lives."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Out-of-control

We're back to the school year now. I was looking forward to getting back onto a schedule for many reasons. For one, I just felt like I was going a little bit crazy over the summer running the kids here, there and everywhere. The main reason I was looking forward to having a regular schedule again is that it really helps me maintain my weight loss. I eat healthier when I can plan my day out. When I'm home, it's just easier to get a healthy meal prepared and make healthier choices. What I wasn't anticipating so early in the school year was the start of the shared coughs, runny noses, sore throats, etc. It was day #3 of school and I already had to keep Nikelle home from school.

I always find it difficult making the decision of whether or not to send my daughter to school. If someone could just give me some clear guidelines, I could make the decision easier. Obviously, if she has a fever, I keep her home. A fever, however, is not the only contagious bug out there. When she is wiping her nose all day long, coughing and sneezing, I think it's probably best to not share those germs with others. In the back of my mind, I think, well someone else must have sent their child to school with the same symptoms and that is where she picked it up. Still, I did the responsible thing and chose to keep her home.

All day long, I would reassess the situation. How's she feeling? Is she coughing? How much is she blowing her nose? Did I hear her sneeze? I am continually second-guessing my decision as to whether or not she should be home from school. After all, perfect attendance is something the schools reward. If they're missing school, they're missing time for learning, right? I finally came to the conclusion that I was teaching her to take care of herself and be considerate of others by keeping her home from school that day.

The next day, she seemed much improved. As we were getting ready to go to the bus stop, I had every intention to cancel the doctor appointment I had scheduled that day for her. That's when I noticed the baby's runny nose and middle one's cough. I made the decision in that moment to allow Nikelle to go to school but pick her up and take all three of them to visit the doctor.

The doctor's visit went exactly as I had hoped. Nothing too serious. Nikelle was fine going back to school and I didn't have to purchase any new medication. I thanked the doctor, paid for the visit, got our stickers and began the drive back to school. My thoughts went something like this: Thank you, God, for healthy kids. I really cannot imagine life with children that have a chronic or terminal illness. And, sweet, we get back to school exactly at the time I had said we would return Nikelle. I love it when things go as planned.

I park the van, get the baby out of her car seat and hear my middle child whine, "I really have to go potty!" And, of course, she's dancing. Grrr. I do not want to have to ask at the office if my little one can use the bathroom. "Let's go then. Get your shoes on and get out of the van." Seriously, why is it that when a kid says 'I really have to go to the bathroom', they just stand there saying it over and over again rather than actually making some progress toward getting where they need to go? "I can't find my shoe!" she cries still doing the potty dance. Seriously, not like I had planned. Why take your shoes off because you are in the van? I could not find the shoe so I carried her to the sidewalk where she could walk.

As I followed her in, I could not believe what my life has become. I watched my 2nd grader run ahead of me. I was holding the doctor's note she needed to excuse her from recess and gym class. I just hoped the office didn't let her in until I caught up with her. I held the baby in my arm grabbing a tissue and fighting her to wipe her nose. I just shook my head as I watched my preschooler hobble on ahead of me with one shoe on and one shoe off needing to go to the bathroom.

When, oh when, did I allow my life to get so out-of-control? And yet, it's a good thing because God is changing me. And when God is involved in the change in my life, it's always a good thing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

[sigh]

I am drained this morning. A 9:00 bedtime should have prevented this, so I was somewhat uncertain as to why I felt so tired when I woke up.

That's when all the memories of my dreams came back to me. Normally, I'm able to shake off the feelings. I will simply tell myself that it wasn't real, it was just a dream. There is often something in my dream that is so far fetched it anchors me back in reality.

Last night, however, it was all too close to reality other than it being a little early for Christmas. It was Christmas without dad in my dream. At my parents' house, without dad. My sister, brothers, and their families were there. We played Christmas music. I even remember when I opened a CD case, the Gaithers, Heaven, was on top.

Gifts were exchanged in my dream. I had emotions where I had to tell myself not to get self-centered and proud (again, all too real). In this dream, my cousin called and asked if she and her parents could come over and make dinner with us. There was just so much that seemed like it was happening. Nothing a big deal, just ordinary life without my dad.

It's emotionally draining because I can't shake it off as a dream. He is gone from this world we still live in. [sigh] Sometimes I wonder if the pain in my heart will ever go away.

I learn each day how to live this new reality of my life. I am able to count my many blessings and know I am loved by God. My girls bring such joy to the heart and there is so much to invest in family and friends. Life is full. Life is good. It's just that life is altered and I can't change that.

I hate not being in control.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dutch Hollow Lake


The girls getting ready to swim at Dutch Hollow Lake.


Andelise did not like this suit one bit.


A family picture at the lake.

with Grandma, too.

And the most fun of all....burrying Daddy in the sand!
It was a wonderful weekend of lasting memories.













Camping in Wisconsin







Starting a campfire poses to be fairly tricky with wet wood and a wet fire pit.



The girls enjoy playing with the rocks as we pack up the van.


Nikelle does a good job of keeping her baby sister safe as I attempt to capture a picture that does not happen...

...because Andelise would rather find danger!

Alas, peace. Grandma pushed Ande around for a while a few times in order for Rod and I to accomplish something at the camp site.

More fun in Wisconsin







Our annual pictures in front of the tee pee by the trading post.








Our girls prior to the start of the LaValle parade.







Grandma and Nike show respect for our country and our veterans.


Grandma steps up to the job of making Jaycie feel safe as the engines and their sirens passed by.
Andelise caught on quickly to the candy part of the parade and enjoyed a dumdum lollipop.

She is still clutching some sweet tarts here at the end of the parade that she picked up at the beginning.


There are many sweet memories that brought tears to our eyes over the weekend but we are grateful for the many more we are still able to make.









Choosing joy amidst the rain

We went to the Dells for a little vacation. Our plan was to camp at Dutch Hollow Lake. Unfortunately, we drove up during a monsoon and decided it would be best to get a hotel room for the night. I have to admit that my initial response to all the rain was to grumble. It did not seem like it was going to be much fun to set up a tent and sleep in puddles of water all night long. I'm so glad I chose joy. It was so much nicer to choose to find a solution rather than just pout. This is not my nature to choose joy but I would certainly like to remember the benefits to embracing the change of plans.



Rather than fight the storms, we chose to spend the money for a hotel room where the kids could enjoy some playtime in the pool. We made the perfect choice for our family! Nothing too fancy but a little more than just a pool. There was a pool about 6" deep with a couple of slides. The girls loved it! Jaycie enjoyed some one-on-one time with her Daddy here.

Ande wanted to go up and down the slides. She's at the stage now where she wants to wander without being limited by holding onto our hands. Unfortunately, we know the potential end results of allowing her to roam free, so it was fairly exhausting to chase her around all weekend. (Thanks to my mom-in-law for all the times she took on the responsibility!) As we would walk up the slide, she would be saying "whee". We would get to the bottom with her only to have her pulling us to go up the slide again (when she wasn't attempting to climb back up the slide).


This was the bottom of the slide. Nikelle is enjoying the pictures where she can pretend she's being eaten! Wonder where the girls get the ideas to pose for pictures? (See picture of Rod above.)


The girls certainly enjoyed their time with Grandma. Although bittersweet being back at the Dells for the first time since Dad Carlson passed away, it was nice to watch Grandma playing with the girls. I even have pictures of her coming down the slide but I didn't think I'd embarrass her with those here on my blog!
Both of us agreed that the money spent at the hotel was well worth all the memories. Our decision was confirmed more when we awoke in the morning to thunder, lightening and down pouring rain!








Thursday, August 13, 2009

1 John 2:28 (New Century Version)

"Yes, my dear children, live in him so that when Christ comes back, we can be without fear and not be ashamed in his presence."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Little Prodigy (j/k)

So this is what I found yesterday when Jaycie called me over. I have since moved the table and chairs to the garage. I'm exhausted following this little one around!

To add to her accomplishments, she saw a picture of Rod a couple of days ago and pointed saying "Da Da". Then we pulled up to my sister's house where she heard the dog barking and she laughed and said, "Pup".

Prodigy child, I know! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The calling

I can hear my name being called. Funny thing is that the older girls are spending the night at my mom's, Rod is out with some guys from church and last I checked, the baby isn't saying "mama" yet. So, why is it that I hear my name and feel the urge to answer the calling?

There must be some kind of connection between the girls being in bed (naptime or bedtime) and the voices I hear. It never seems to fail and lately I have been running as fast as I can to answer...numerous times. Tonight, I am refusing to listen. I am hoping that if I sit and write for a while, the voices will go away.

So, who is calling my name? I hear it from the pantry, the fridge, the freezer. Good grief, the van is even calling my name to run to the grocery store or drive thru! The zucchini bread, cheese, cereal, Chex Mix, goldfish, sherbert, bread, corn dogs, frozen chocolate bars and anything else that happens to be in my house calls my name over and over again. Most of the time, I am all too willing to run to them. Maybe I'm looking for comfort. Possibly it's just become a habit. Seriously, why is it so difficult to break bad habits? And another thing, why is it that by eating too much food as well as junk food adds 5-10 pounds in no time and yet it takes forever to work it off again?

Have you ever been asked the question, "If there was one thing you could do and know there was no chance of failure, what would it be?" I've always had a difficult time coming up with an answer. I think I know it now. If there was one thing I could do while knowing there was no chance of failure, I would eat whatever I wanted and lose weight at the same time! That's my answer and I'm sticking too it. Too bad I don't truly live in a fantasy world where all my dreams could come true.