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Preview: embracing chaos

embracing chaos

adventures in motherhood and life in general

Updated: 2018-03-06T13:40:25.953-05:00


change is on the horizon


So a few months ago, I was thirsty for change. 
Change is coming and our wide open summer just got a whole lot shorter.
The biggest of all changes, I got a full time job!
This is bittersweet.
Sweet because it means more income, no more night classes and benefits.
It is bitter because it means no more volunteering at the kids school, Mondays with Jeff, and days home alone to clean, organize, relax.
So after 8 years I am going back to work full time, kind of excited, kind of nervous, kind of sad, kind of happy.
So this new job cuts two weeks off of my summer, I have to attend New Teacher Orientation and Teacher workdays.
I also have to attend an AP conference so that is another week off of summer, this means I will be working all of August.  I decided to take a graduate plant class being offered so I can get that out of the way so that takes a bit out of 3 more weeks of the summer, so I am now left with the month of July.
I like to be busy and since school has ended I have been a little lost without my regular routine so it is good, but it is hard too.
This is the kids last week of school and my last week of freedom, my last week I will ever be home alone.
Life is definitely going to be busy in the future, but it is what we all need.

feeling a little lost


I feel a little lost right now, well really lost.
I have no idea what direction to go.
I don't even what to pray for, what to ask for, what to hope for.
I am empty, lost, blank.

I wish I had a magic eight ball right now. 
Wait, let me rephrase, I wish I had a magic eight ball that would be able to answer my questions truthfully not just randomly like how the eight ball works.

Or maybe I would just like a message in the clouds, you know a billboard with a definite message.

Better yet, a map, or a timeline that could give me some insight for the journey ahead.  A way to show me that here is where things change, here is where you should go, some kind of direction.  It would sure be nice to know if I was on the right path and not wandering in the wilderness.

I have no idea what to do.
I am ready to go back to work full time, or at least I think I am.

I am ready for change, but what am I suppose to do?
Maybe this is where I am suppose to be for a bit longer and I shouldn't follow the first path I come to.

I applied for a job a few months ago, I didn't get it, didn't even get interviewed, I was a little disappointed, but I was a little intimidated by the job if I am honest.

I just applied for another job this week.  I made a list of the pros and cons and the pros out weigh the cons, but I don't know if I really want this job either.  My finances would like it, but would I love it? 

I applied for another job today, one that I applied for last year and also didn't get nor did I get an interview.  I don't think I have a chance since I don't have a doctorate, but what the heck, what if this is what I am suppose to do?  But then again, maybe it isn't.  This job is the job that I really wanted a year ago, heck the job I wanted five years ago, the job I would really like, but I don't want to be disappointed so I am trying to hold it at arm's length away.  Then again, maybe this job isn't as great at I think it is, maybe it is a case of the green grass.

I have a job in my head that I would really like to do, but as of right now it doesn't exist.  I would love to be a science educator, write and create curriculum, work at a nature center type of place, a job that I saw an ad for when I was 9 months pregnant with Lance and never seen again unfortunately.  Well actually there are a lot of jobs I think I would love, an event planner, a caterer, a microbiologist, a gardener, but how do I know what to pursue or even how to begin down those paths.

I just don't know what to do, what to want, what to hope for, what to pray for.
I want a job that I love, not dread going to every morning. 
I want to do what is best for my family, what will allow me to be there for my kids.
I want something different than what is happening now.
I don't want to get my hopes up and get crushed again. 
I especially don't want to be stuck doing something I hate, that is no way to live.

I just want a little glimpse of the future.
Am I to stay, continue doing what I am doing and business at our store will continue to improve and I won't have to go back to work full time ever? (highly unlikely)
Am I to work full time at a high school like I did before the kids?
Am I to work full time in a totally different capacity?  middle school? at a grocery store?
Do I apply for a job in the school system that I use to work for even though the school maybe 30 minutes away and I really don't want to commute?

I feel like I am just wandering and don't know what direction to go and I hate it.
I am wandering in the wilderness and don't know which direction to take and it is hard.

out and about just without the car


This week the fast for the 7 experiment is waste.  It is hard to focus on waste and being "green" in just one week.  It is also hard when you already incorporate simple earth friendly practices in your normal routine such as recycling.  I have plans to make a worm compost bin, but haven't had a chance yet, but I still wanted to do something meaningful in these first couple of days so we decided to not drive anywhere today.  There were many temptations to hop in the car and go somewhere, but we didn't.  Neither car left the driveway today, heck neither car was even turned on.  Even though our cars never went anywhere, we didn't stay at home all day.  We went to church, the grocery store, the park, and 7-11 for Slurpee's, all on our bicycles.  We estimated that we rode about 6 miles today, that doesn't seem far, but my body feels like we rode 16.  Fortunately it was a gorgeous day and the perfect day to get out on a bike, I just wish our city was a little flatter without so many hills, I probably could go farther and longer.  No matter what, we did it, and realized it isn't that hard, even when you are out of shape like I am. 
This afternoon while riding, Jeff and I realized how our house is in a great location, we can ride our bicycles to the swimming pool, the grocery store, our favorite pizza place, a nice restaurant, a deli/gourmet food store, the post office, a Mexican restaurant, several churches, the kids' school, my mom's house, a park, and to the trail system that can get us a lot of other places (though there is a HUGE hill returning from the trails and the kids haven't tried that yet).  We left off quite a few other places like Walgreens, Starbucks, another grocery store, a shopping center, and more restaurants because we hadn't ventured to the next shopping center over with the kids on bikes.  I realized how good we have it, some people that live out in the surrounding counties don't have anywhere they can walk or ride to or no where safe because the main roads are all highways. 
Today was really good and fun and I hope that this spring and summer we can do a lot more riding and get more and more people doing the same, it is good for your body, good for the environment,  and good for your wallet. 
I joke and say that I am slowly becoming a hippie, but it is true, I really do feel like I am being called to live my life differently, simpler and "greener."  I have a lot of resistance, but the pull is there, I am little scared, but curious of what the future holds, what does this simple life look like for us?  Is this the change I have been yearning for?  Who knows, but today was good, it was nice to ride around and get exercise and make the world a better place.

media fast


This past week for the 7 fast, it was media.  I didn't completely cut out all media, especially when I was sick in bed, but I did cut out twitter, facebook, instagram, most Internet, tv, and iPhone games and apps.  I thought it was going to be really hard, but it wasn't.  I read a lot of books, granted they were chick lit, but I read 1 book in a little over one day, if I could keep up this pace I would have my huge stack read in no time.
Most importantly I learned that social media is NOT good for me.  I am a curious person, I like to know everything about everything.  I also hate feeling like I am missing out or NOT knowing something that everyone else does.  I hate being the last to know something.  My fear of missing out on something or everyone knowing something that I don't has lead me to be a bit of a social media addict.  I feel like I should be constantly checking in, in fears that I am missing something, it didn't help that Facebook noticed I hadn't been on and would send me daily emails trying to tell me all that I was missing.  Ahhhh, they know my weakness!  Other than the tempting e-mail staying away wasn't that hard. 
I also realized that social media especially Facebook isn't always good for me because I fall victim to comparison.  I have a tendency to compare myself to others and easily believe that other grass is a whole lot greener than mine.  This is quite silly, I know, but I can't stop.  People, for the most part, put there best side of them out there on social media, their well crafted, best self, not always there true self and comparing my life with someone's best spin is like comparing apples to oranges and yes silly.  In order for me to be happier and more content, I need to live my life not in comparison to others and this is a whole lot easier away from social media, especially Facebook. 
So I am standing at a crossroads, do I shut down the account or do I just strictly limit it? 
I love being able to easily communicate and share photos with friends and family across the country, but I need to stay away.  I should probably continue to reduce my friends down, but it is hard.  I feel like Facebook, in a way is like opening Pandora's box.  Right now I am trying to stay away as much as possible, it just isn't good and yes I am missing out, but I am also learning that sometimes that isn't a bad thing.

When the Cypress Whispers a book review


I was given a copy of the new book When the Cypress Whispers to read and share.  When I first began the book, I thought it seemed very predictable, but the book took several twists and turns and ended up totally differently than how I expected it to go and that definitely makes a book a good read.  I was also very impressed how the story seamlessly moves through different time periods in the main character, Daphne's life, as well her grandmother's life on the small Greek island, Erikousa, during World War II.  I love historical fiction, learning a little bit of history while enjoying a good story, especially stories from World War II, and this story includes how the community sheltered a Jewish family from the Nazis.  I also loved the relationship between Daphne and her grandmother, it was very believable and definitely reminds me of times spent with my grandmother as a child, unfortunately for me, not one a beautiful Greek island.
Being able to blend, modern times, World War II, and greek mythology into one book seems impossible, but it worked and it made the story seem more magical and yet real all at the same time. The author Yvette Manessis Corporon successfully describes the magical Greek island, a place we would love to be a part of, where everyone knows everyone and there is real community, something that we sometimes lack in the modern world.  There was really a lot to this book, Greek mythology, World War II invasion of the Nazis, family traditions and heritage, as well as finding your voice and passion through the chaos of these modern times.  We all yearn for a simpler time or life and that desire makes When the Cypress Whispers such an enjoyable read.
I can honestly say, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this story, but there was so much to appreciate and learn and remember.  It is hard to fully explain everything that makes this book magical and enjoyable without giving away too much of the storyline.   This is a great read for anyone who wants to little bit of escapism or remember the importance of tradition and heritage in these modern chaotic times.

To wrap it up: this book was better than I expected.  I highly suggest this book if you enjoy historical fiction, especially World War II.  This book is about a woman, Daphne, who is caught between the past, tradition, and her Greek heritage and modern busy life in New York.  Yvette Manessis Corporon does an amazing job describing the tiny Greek island, Erikousa, a place we would all love to escape too, even if you don't care for feta cheese and olives. This book has a little something for everyone and a perfect summer beach read.

Note: I have not been paid for this review, this is my own thoughts on this book.

7 Fast- Day 3- Clothing- not a big deal


I must be doing this wrong, this isn't hard, not like the food fast and not like the media one will be, am I doing this wrong?
Maybe I should count shoes as 1 clothing item and not use the tunic.  
I don't have many clothes, I have a lot in comparison to someone from a third world country, but not as many as I have had in the past and as many as my mother has, I don't hold onto things, I guess living in a small space will do that to you.
So, this week hasn't been tough so far.
I guess being poor and living in a small space has its advantages.

7 Fast- clothing and possessions day 1


This week's fast is clothing and food.  It's not the greatest picture but above are the 7 articles of clothing that I am going to mix and match from for the next week.  Today I wore the khaki pants, the white shirt, and the navy sweatshirt.  So far, this isn't a big deal for me considering it the first day and haven't repeated anything yet, let's see how I feel come Monday after I have worn everything at least once.  This week we are doubling up the 7 study and besides clothing, we are giving away or setting aside 7 items a day to give away.  After talking with everyone last night I decided that I would start today off by choosing 7 items from my clothing that I like, but don't really wear and I could donate to a clothing closet in town.  So I have set aside 7 items of clothing that are one the nicer side, ones that I would normally yard sale of e-bay and I am going to donate them in hopes that someone who needs clothes for a professional job could use some nicer clothes.  Today also was the return to all my normal foods, sugar, bread, etc, I have been thinking about what I have been missing out all week and so far, my chick-fil-a breakfast that I had been looking forward to since Monday just wasn't all I had hoped for, it could have been that I was so hungry that I didn't stop and enjoy it, but it was a bit of a let down.  I think there is an application lesson in there: sometimes the things we think we want and don't have and might be envious about, really aren't that wonderful when we do get them. So week 2, so far, so good, but the real lessons are coming.

when a coating turns into 6 inches


This morning we they were calling for a coating to an inch of snow.
It started snowing about 6:30 am, my classes were cancelled, but the kids school wasn't, so we got up and ready for school.
When we left for school it was snowing.  I volunteering in the school library for an hour when I left school it was still snowing.  At noon, when the snow was suppose to be rain at this point it was still snowing and it was already close to 4 inches.  At one o'clock it was still snowing heavily so I went and picked the kids up early from school because our neighborhood wasn't bad, but my mom's neighborhood was and that is where the bus drops off the kids.  The kids came home and played for a bit and then we went outside to play.  At this point we had six inches of snow.  The weather people totally got this one wrong and no one saw this coming. 
Around 3pm, six inches on the ground

The snow was perfect for snowman making, here is our hopefully last snowman of the season

So we got an unexpected spring snowstorm.  6 inches, we saw a lot of snow this year, not really accumulating, one snow that was 8 or 9 inches and then this one.  Both snowstorms were late, I like my snow Christmas and mid-January, I like late February and March to be spring like. 

Six inches, we got two good snows this year, I am content and ready to move on to spring, for real now.



Happiness seems to be a theme for me this year and not just because "Happy" by Pharrell Williams is our favorite song.  Speaking of the song "happy" how can you not be happy when listening to and dancing to that song?

So as I have noted before, part of the stuff that I am working through is my comparison to others and always seeing what I don't have instead of what I do.  I can easily fall victim into the the trap of thinking that if we had a bigger house or if I had a full time job and more money that I would be happier.   Part of me knows that these things will not make me happy, but part of me believes it will because there are so many people who live this way and seem happy.

A couple of nights ago we began watching the documentary "Happy" on Netflix.  I was blown away at the scientific explanation on what makes us happy.  50% of our happiness is determined by our genes, some people are genetically happier than others and we all have a happiness setpoint.  40% of our happiness is something we can control through exercise, meditation, showing compassion, giving to others, and other activities that involve giving and being a part of a community, basically being the opposite of self absorbed.  That only leaves 10% of our happiness from our circumstances such as our job, our house, our health, and other material things.

Only 10%.

10%, I am blown away.  That is such a small component of our happiness, yet how many people, myself included try to live or believe that our circumstances determine 90% of our happiness?
Part of me knows that volunteering, loving others, showing compassion, giving to others, making the world a better place, etc is what truly makes us happy, yet I fall for the lie that it is stuff.  People with the big houses, good jobs, nice cars, all seem happy, but are they really?  According to this, they probably aren't, or they aren't based on their stuff, they are happy because of what they do outside of themselves.  The documentary also used the hedonic treadmill as an example of how material things will never bring increase happiness forever because a new material object will initially bring us happiness but there is always something nicer, newer, bigger, and we will return to our original setpoint of happiness over time.

Material things don't bring us happiness.  Where have I heard that before?  Hmmm, the Bible maybe and probably other religious texts.

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 5:10 

side note:  if the word "vapor" is substituted for "meaningless" which is a better translation, the book of Ecclesiastes has a lot more meaning especially when you consider that vapor is fleeting.

There are many verses that mention how you can't love both material possession/money and God.  It makes sense.  God is love, and loving God is showing love to others and making the world a better place.  The science of happiness even supports the the Christian beliefs of piety and service, serving others is just as satisfying to our nervous system as other pleasures.  I know the truth, now if I can just live this way I probably can be a lot happier.

I love when faith and science support each other instead of contradict.

7 Fast- Day 4- Temptations everywhere


So I have survived Day 4 of the week food fast, I am halfway through.  Today was a day full of temptation, some were very hard not to given in and others pretty minor.  This morning it was hard having bacon and eggs without muffins or toast, but the real test came after church.  The kids got a hot chocolate and coffee cake treat at Starbucks, then at my mother's house everyone enjoyed pancakes, yet another food on my fasting list.  We got home and I put the finishing touches on the cake for the auction at cub scouts, the real temptation was the icing and cake pieces we cut off of the sides to make a perfect square, I did not give in.  The temptation of cake was followed up by the yeast rolls I made for the cub scout dinner.  The dinner was pretty bad, we were the last ones to get food and so it was slim pickings on most items, but plenty of bread, the one thing I didn't plan on eating.  There was also cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and even more cake.  It was hard to just stick with tiny bit of salad and pork and pass on all my favorites. 

 The amazing thing though was I didn't focus on what I didn't have, I focused on Thursday when I could resume my chocolate and bread.  I didn't feel like I was missing out and I am so thankful.  After the dinner, I came home and had a snack of granola and yogurt, it isn't my favorite, but I am trying to like it more.
My conclusions from today: I was content with my fast and my choices this week, today had some tough moments, I could have cheated and no one would know the difference, but I didn't and I am glad. I am thankful that I could focus on the positives and not on what everyone else had, it probably helped that I wasn't starving too.  So today was easier and I am halfway done.  I can't wait for Thursday morning, after class I am either going to Chick-fil-a or maybe a chocolate chip bagel from Panera, oh the choices, it is ridiculous. 

7 Fast- Day 3- Dealing with my junk


So today I broke it down and finally did a big grocery store trip to Walmart.  I hate going so I have been putting it off for a week now and today I finally just went.  As I was getting food for this week's menu and food that worked with my fast, all I could see was what I couldn't eat.  I have been so focused these last three days on all the things I can't eat, that I am totally overlooking the things I can eat.  A few of the women in the group are only eating 7 things all week, only 7 things and they are only using salt, pepper, and olive oil to make their food tasty.  It hit me in the dairy section, why am I whining about my 7 missing things, when I have hundreds of other options?
Tonight for dinner we are having turkey burgers, olive oil french fries, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese.  I am lamenting on my lack of bun and fries but I can still eat the beans, macaroni, and the burger itself.  Why is the lack of bun my main focus and not on the fact that I can eat a whole and filling meal, where some of my others friends are eating beans and rice or bland chicken for the third night. 
Focusing on what I don't have and not what I do is something that I am totally guilty of every single day.  I am not a glass full person when it comes to myself and my life, for you I totally am, but not for me.  I realized today that I look at the negatives in my life and do not always celebrate the positives and I don't know how to change that.  I don't know how I got so focused on the negatives and what I don't have especially in comparison to others. Comparison kills, I know that, yet I am stuck in a cycle and can't seem to break the habit. 
I want to be a glass half full kind of person and truly grateful, I am in some areas, but not in a lot of others.  The negatives or the things I lack seem so loud and blaring and the positives so quiet and minuscule.  I need to change, I just don't know how to start.

7 Fast- Day 2- overwhelmed


I made it through day 2.  Yesterday was a crazy day and thanks to some planning the night before and Jeff being awesome by making me bacon and eggs for breakfast the day flew by and I wasn't the total whiner I was Thursday.  I had bacon and eggs for breakfast, I missed my muffin or toast and glass of OJ, but it was a good start to the day.  By 11 though I was starving, didn't quite see that coming because I thought the all protein breakfast would keep me satisfied a bit longer.  So after lab I had my "lunchable" that I had bought at the grocery the night before.  An apple, raw almonds, a slice of cheddar cheese, and carrots.  I felt quite healthy and full of myself enjoying my very healthy lunch.  By 2:30, I was starving AGAIN so I had a bag of pretzels.  Two hours later I was starving again and had peanut butter crackers and due to a consignment sale I didn't get dinner, homemade chicken nuggets, strawberries and a tiny bit of vanilla yogurt until close to 8pm.

So Day 2 wasn't the total disaster that Day 1 was.  There were lots of temptations to cheat, but I stuck with the fast and glad to make it through another day.  I really don't like to think so much about food and what I should or should not eat.  I also realized when I was eating my lunch that I could easily become prideful on the "healthy" and "whole" foods that I was consuming and potentially look down at others who don't make "good choices."  I firmly believe everything in moderation and give me any food and I can tell you how it is bad for you, we live in an imperfect world, everything can kill you and I try not to get obsessed.

Day 2 conclusions:
I still believe that I am a spoiled brat when it comes to food and I am really appreciate of all the options that we have.  Think about it, the options are ridiculous, even crackers, say butter crackers: you have the name branded Ritz, you have the store brand, then there are the whole grain, the no salt, the reduced fat, the roasted vegetable, the garlic butter, the honey butter, there's even bacon flavored.
Is bacon flavored for real?

We have over 10 different options of Ritz crackers! Crackers people! I don't even want to think about how many crackers become stale and get thrown out especially when 7.1 billion people are undernourished and would love our stale crackers.  I feel drawn to make a difference, but I am not sure what that looks like and how little me can make a difference.  I don't necessarily want to move to a third world country and eat rice and beans for the rest of my life.  I also want to make a difference in this country where 1 in 6 people go hungry and who knows how many additional people are getting by but not always making the best food options because a lot of times an apple cost more than a bag of chips.  The food situation in the world and in our country is overwhelming and I feel silly lamenting this morning that due to the 7 fast I am not having pancakes. 

7 Food Fast- Day 1- I am a spoiled brat


So during this season of Lent I am doing a Bible/book study on Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  I read the book last spring, absolutely loved it, tried a few fasts, possessions and spending (no Target for a month!) and jumped at the opportunity to really experience the lessons in the book with others.  What was I thinking?????

So the first week was introduction.  This week is food.  The ideal would be only eating 7 items for a week, but I have young kids, a limited budget and little time and would not be able to make 2 separate dinners each night, so I decided to eliminate 7 items from my diet for a week.  I chose 7 items that I love/ eat regularly and even though I am only 2 meals and 1 snack in, I am hating this.

The 7 items I have eliminated:
- eating out, no restaurant food (not too hard usually)
- chocolate (there goes my chocolate/almond morning granola bar)
- dessert (oh how I crave something sweet)
- bread (my favorite, I love bread, the challenging one)
- sweet breakfast/bakery items (muffins and pancakes)
- french fries (do tater tots count?)
- anything to drink other than water (i.e. the occasional soda that I can crave when I cut out chocolate)

So I am 2 meals down, 19 more meals to go.  I am already grumpy and craving all the things that are on my list.  I am regretting my meal planning because the meals I planned before I knew I was going to fast includes all my favorites.  Not only am I regretting the food choices, I haven't made a real shopping trip in over a week so our food stash is low and the options are sparse especially when you get rid of the regulars i.e. bread.  No rolls, no bread for sandwiches, no bun for hot dogs or turkey burgers, no fun. 

So here I am whining and complaining and missing certain foods.  Wow! What a small little world I live in.  I am cutting out these foods for 1 week.  1 week!  That is 1.92% of a year.  Say if I live to be 80 years old (4,160 weeks), my fasting from my favorites would only be 0.02% of my life, that isn't even half a point!  What a spoiled brat I am.

There are some people who never get to eat fresh out-of-the-oven homemade chocolate chip cookies or a loaf of french bread.  I have a tendency to compare myself to others, well actually to the haves, not the have- nots, and so my life seems lacking, yet it really isn't.  Even with my elimination, I will have plenty of food to eat and next week I can go back to my chocolate and bread, but some people in the world's poorest countries would take my simplest, 7 free foods any week.

I also have to admit that I am amazed at how I went from eating when hungry to obsessed about food overnight.  I didn't think I would be.  I am not a foodie.  I am not constantly thinking about food, when I am hungry, I eat, usually what sounds good and don't really give it much thought.  Yes, I am someone who can forget to eat, food is not usually a weakness for me, or so I thought.  Maybe food is a bigger deal and I just didn't realize it because I always had what I wanted.  I have never been without food.  I don't know what it is like to go hungry, yes we have struggled to pay bills, but we have never gone hungry and even with my eliminated food choices, I will not go hungry.  

So today I have realized that I am rich, not necessarily by American standards, but compared to most of the world, I got it good.

Just some food for thought.

you can have it all, it is such a lie


Life is a series of choices, but really trade-offs is more like it. We can't have it all. It is a lie to think we can.You can't have it both ways.And here I sit at a crossroads, there are two ways, I can't have them both.  I am tired of being where I am in life.  Now that Lily is in Kindergarten I am ready to go back to working full time.  I have applied for a job and may apply for others, but I don't know if this is what I should be doing.  My current part time job is a lot of work for little money and no benefits.  I feel like I am working for nothing, oh wait I am.   Since both kids are in school full time, working full time makes sense now. I am tired of being "poor."  I am tired of living on the edge of financial ruin.  We don't have any of margin, I know, it happens when you own a business and at the mercy of everyone else. I realize that working full time would be giving up stuff, time I spend volunteering at my kids' school and seeing my kids during the school day.  They love having me there and I know there will be a time when they won't want to see me, so I am grateful to be there now when it matters.  I enjoying having lunch with them and their friends, being story reader, teaching lessons on plants, and being there when crisis hits.  I was at the school and stayed with Lily and her class when there was a bomb threat and they were outside in the cold for over 30 minutes and then on a bus for an hour.  Even though I complain about it, I love that I can be in charge of costumes for the 2nd grade play, I love creating stuff like that.  I love being a part of their school life which couldn't happen if I was teaching full time or working anywhere full time.So there it is, the choice, the trade-off.I can work full time and have more financial freedom or I can continue to make sacrifices and be there for my kids at school.I can't have it both ways.I can't have it all. But the truth is, the choices are stuff or relationships? What really matters more money or being with my kids?It is hard to not get wrapped up in stuff and remember what is really important.I have been called to love God and love people.  I can do that working full time, but I can also do it with the kids in my children's school and that maybe that is what I should be focused on and doing since I am loving my kids and their peers.  And if I am really honest here, loving students that aren't mine that I have to see everyday are a lot easier.I need to remember that I am not pursuing stuff, but relationships and time and that is what really matters and hopefully in the grand scheme of things, that will matter more than the size of my house or bank account.It is so easy to get focused on the things that don't matter instead of what really does, people, or in my case, kids.  So many people have the Bible verse Matthew 6:19-20 memorized, but how many people really live that out?19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.We are to live our lives loving others, not acquiring stuff, though the world is constantly telling us the opposite.  Even the church with the prosperity gospel seems to be preaching that we need more and bigger and better.  Life is about love and people and community, not stuff and not money.  I have this tension in my life between materialism and relationships/time/serving.  I want bigger and better, but I feel called to give more.  Someone once said[...]

the calendar says March


but the weather says January.
So we had a snowstorm or a wanna be snowstorm on Monday.
The polar vortex returned with two inches of snow and temperatures in the teens.  It came one day after a day in the sixties.  My respiratory system is killing me, sore throat in the morning, a cough all day, occasional sinus headache, ick.  I am tired to feeling bad.  I am tired of sweaters and winter jackets.  I am so ready for spring. I am ready for flowers and green grass.
I am tired of hibernating.
I am so ready for change.
Something new.
Something different.
and not just a change in the weather.
Today is the Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. 
The start of something changing I hope. 
I am ready for change, for new birth, for new life. 
I am so ready.

a week of warmth


So this past week has felt more like March than February and it has been wonderful.  Unfortunately nine inches of snow leaves lots of soupy soil that has made playing outside very limited. It is also a little strange to see piles of snow when we are walking around with just long sleeve shirts.  We have taken several walks on the trail, played on the playground, climbed trees, played in the tree house, and anything else that keeps us outside because unfortunately cold weather is returning this week.  I can't wait for spring to come, March is almost here, the end of winter is in sight, thank goodness.  This has been a long, cold winter and I hate my house in the winter.  It feels so small in the winter.  In the winter, I fantasize about bigger houses and I have a hard time being content with ours.  I love our house, we have been here for almost 10 years.  It is very little, but it has a great yard, it is in a great neighborhood, it has a lot of natural light, we have worked so hard in and out and I would hate to leave it.   I have quite a few friends who have recently moved to larger homes and part of me is envious, but part of me is not, because I really love our house, it is small, but I haven't come across another house that I would give up this one for yet.  I guess I just need to add on to this one that way I can get a new and bigger house but keep what I love about this one.  One day, just like one day it will be summer again.

snow, glorious snow


Of course the weather people were predicting 12-14 inches, maybe 18 inches, but we are happy with our 10 inches of snow.
I can't believe it, it actually snowed and it came down.
we took a walk last night to enjoy the quiet snow covered streets

So it started snowing yesterday afternoon and snowed all night.  Then around noon it started to snow or something frozen and continued all afternoon though I don't think it really added that much more.
So the kids didn't have school yesterday because of impending weather.
The kids didn't have school today since none of the roads had really been plowed this morning and because the roads are still in bad shape, only the primary roads are kind of clear, they are off tomorrow too.
ready for sledding

I should say we are off, I do have classes on Thursdays and Fridays.
So we played out in the snow today. We went sledding, we tried to build a snowman, we tried making snow angels, snow forts, etc, the snow wasn't the best for snow creating, but we did what we could with what we had.  I wasn't really in a go outside and be cold and wet, but I managed to stay out for an hour this morning and a really long time late this afternoon.
we saw a bit of blue sky for 30 minutes before the sun went down

So we got our snow, I am now ready for spring.  Bring on the warm temperatures, which we are suppose to get next week!  Wahoo!  I am done with winter and ready for Spring!

crying over a book


I don't usually cry while reading books, heck I don't usually cry during movies. I am not usually a crier, yet The Fault in Our Stars had me practically sobbing. I knew when I started it, it was sad/depressing.  I assumed that someone was going to die and I tried to prepare myself.  I assumed that it was going to be cheesy like Nicholas Spark's A Walk To Remember. I was determined to get sucked in.Yet I fell, hook, line and sinker.Hours later, I am still in a bit of a shock.I need to find a new book to get into, something to get my mind off of this one. The crazy this is, I can't explain why this book has stuck with me.Is it because I have thought about death and seen someone die a slow, painful death.  I understand about the "Best Day," because I have seen it and experienced and understand what a gift it is?Is it because I am trying to figure out what is next in my life and I trying to figure out how to make an impact in this life, that I don't want my life to be for nothing?Is it because I am a sucker for stories of true love?What is it that has resonated so much with me?When I read, especially fiction I don't underline or make notes, yet I was tempted because there were some lines that I just didn't want to forget, to let go of:“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green “You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.” The Fault In Our Stars by John Green“the world wasn't made for us, we were made for the world” The Fault In Our Stars by John Green“My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They’re made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It is a civil war with a predetermined winner”The Fault In Our Stars by John Green(me the biologist understands this so well how the body rebels against itself so to speak)“The real heroes anyway aren't the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn't actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn't get smallpox.”  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green(I absolutely love this quote, it is so true, it is such a reminder to be in the moment and not stuck in the past or worrying about the future)“There's no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (you never know when life is going to completely turn upside down)and the spoiler quote of all times:  “The only person I really wanted to talk to about Augustus Water's death with was Augustus Waters.” The Fault In Our Stars by John GreenFor some reason, that line was the line in the book where I completely lost it.  Though I have never lost a boyfriend/husband/best friend, I could fully imagine that feeling and how hard that would be.  After we lost Charles there have been things that have happened and my first reaction was, I can't wait to tell Charles about this and then I would realize I couldn't.   I haven't ever lost someone I have loved romantically but I have lost several people who meant a whole lot to me and my world fell apart a little when they were gone.  I saw how death can slowly take someone away, yo[...]

a quiet day


Today was the first Wednesday in weeks that the kids went to school, Jeff went to work, and I have no where to go.  It was nice.  I changed the sheets on all of the beds and picked up the house.  I did 6 loads of laundry and got them put away.  I got the pork chops for dinner marinaded.  I got bills for the month organized.  I worked on my lecture notes for tomorrow.  I put on some music really loud and enjoyed the cleaned up living room.  I sat down and read my current book and didn't feel guilty just sitting down and reading.  Today was kind of a lonely, but it was the quiet day I needed.  When I was 16 I never would think that I would get enjoyment out of cleaning and organizing, but I love taking chaos and bringing order to the world, even though it only lasts for an afternoon.   Today was uneventful, boring, but good.

A battle


There's a battle, unplug or plug in.  I want to step away for awhile from social media, at least Facebook and Twitter, I have been sucked into it too much, time to let go.  I dont want to leave Pinterest, all my recipes are there, and tomorrow I want to  bake bread.  I need to find balance and figure out what that looks like.  Do I go big or just little baby steps? iPhones and iPads are the best devices and the worst,  I get sucked in.  I need a vacation,  a place where it is easy to be in the moment and not a device. 

A taste of spring


It was a warm and beautiful day, beautiful or February (there is still ice hanging around).  I was nice to have a day outside after being trapped inside for weeks, especially since the rest of the week is suppose tone rainy and cold.  Today we decided to remove the training wheels off of Lily's bike.  I was not looking forward to helping her to ride her bike without training wheels because it was kind if a struggle with Lance, but after an hour she was riding around on her own, she was amazing!  I am so proud of my girl.  I am looking forward to being able to mountain bike with her and not have to go as slow, those training wheels really slow you down.  My girl is growing up so fast, I am going to blink and she will be a teenager before I know it.  We enjoyed our day outside and look forward to spring and summer and hope we will get more warm days soon.

a month of meal planning


So with only one last minute rearranging for a birthday party, we pretty much stuck to our meal plan this month.  With the exceptions of the two birthday dinners out, we ate dinner at home this month 29 times and we didn't repeat any meals. I learned a lot this month of experimentation and planning:
1. It isn't that difficult to cook dinner when you don't feel like it when you already know what you are having and have the ingredients.
2. My grocery bill was a lot smaller since I was only buying what I knew we were having, not things we "might' need. I have read you should always shop the sales and coupon, but I have better luck just buying what we need.  I like to have food on reserve, but on months when I am trying to keep the spending down, this works better for me.
3. The kids are getting better at trying things before they decide they don't like it.
4. Meal planning for the month helps to keep things different and keeps me from making the same 10 meals on repeat. 
5. It is okay to be flexible and rearrange the week if necessary, I won't lose my momentum.
6. We eat a variety of foods and flavors when we cook at home instead of going out.
7. Setting a monthly plan and goal keeps me motivated and I look forward to the "easy" night off. 
8. Trying a new recipe and it being a total flop can be just as much fun as discovering a new one because we all have something to talk about at the dinner table and something to laugh about later.
9. The kids really enjoy on voting on new meals or side dishes.  They like having a voice on whether something gets repeated or hopefully forgotten.
10.We don't have to get stuck in a dinner rut, dinner can be fun again.

i got nothing


Wednesday was a snow day, just really without the snow and it was really cold which made for a really rough day.  My kids would love to just watch Netflix all day, but I won't let them, I make them, play with toys, yes I know I am horrible mother.  I also make them do school work on snow days, yes the crimes I have committed, at least according to my children.  It was a tough day because we lost our rhythm. We were in a good stay-at-home rhythm over Winter Break, but then the kids started back to school, well kind of. Due to cold days and kind of snow days they have had many 2 hour delay days. Yesterday was totally blah, it was cold, there was a little bit of snow, but not enough to play in it. It was just a cold, boring day.  We did go for a walk, but Lance complained the whole time and the cold headwind was brutal on the way home. I did get laundry done so something was accomplished. We did sing our hearts out to the songs from "Frozen" so we did have some fun, but overall it was just blah. 
Today was also a blah day too.  Thank goodness tomorrow is January 31st, I am ready for a new month, a fresh start, a month closer to spring.  Is it just me or is January the longest month ever? 
the only little snowball we could make with the dry and barely there snow

I wish I was in Virginia Beach about now


You know that it is a crappy winter when Virginia Beach and coastal North Carolina get over or suppose to get over 6 inches of snow. Virginia Beach is suppose to get 6-10 inches of snow.  Good grief, it has been at least 3 years since we have seen that kind of snow and we use to get snow every winter.  Now here in Central Virginia, we don't get lake effect snow like New England or Michigan, but we usually get a few good snowfalls in, this here. We have had 0.56 inches (though I think that was being generous) and now a coating. I guess more could be added tonight, but I am not holding my breath. We still have February and March to get through, but I would really like warm weather, this high in the 20's and lows in the teens and single digits is for the birds. I am sitting here in the my living room and I can feel the cold air seeping in from our side door even with the gas log fireplace going. I realize how spoiled we are, we have indoor plumbing and heat and replacement windows that have made a big difference. I can't imagine what winters were like during the 1910's and 1920's  especially in the Midwest. I don't think I could have survived. I recently finished the book, The Orphan Train  and in it the main character wakes up to frost on her cheeks because it is so cold in the house.  She describes the house she was living in, in Minnesota as being dark and extremely drafty due to the spaces between the boards and the lack of warm clothes and blankets. I can't imagine surviving the winter in Minnesota in a house that is so primitive or even having to go outside to use an outhouse during the cold winter. I don't even like going to my car, I could imagine having to use the bathroom outside.  So basically I shouldn't complain because I have it pretty darn good, probably better than most, but I get terribly grumpy when I am cold.

a case of the Mondays, but a good dinner to make up for it


Today I had the Monday blahs. My allergies have been bothering me so that contributed some to my lack of anything constructive.  I also threw a baby shower for a friend yesterday so after cleaning up the kitchen three times in one day and most of the house, I didn't feel like it today.  I got nothing done today.  Well I did finish reading Orange is the New Black, and it was very good, not at all the fluff I first thought it would be.  I love when books change my perspective on things.
I also did make our last new meal of January and I saved the best for last.  I had seen on Pinterest a blog post about grilling recipes and despite the fact we are in the middle of winter I wanted to try a grill recipe and I did.  Pork Chops on the grill, it was so good.  I also made homemade french fries which were delicious as well.  We don't eat beef, but this pork chop recipe reminded me a lot of a steak, but it wasn't chewy or heavy like how I remember steaks to be.  It has been, well let's see over 14 years since I have had a steak.  WOW! I didn't realized it had been that long.  I don't miss steak, but it is kind of fun to know how a recipe that is similar to one that I can prepare for my beef eating/steak loving family and friends. I used the steak seasoning recipe she has given, but because I was out of dill I used tarragon instead. I don't know how much it changed the flavoring, especially since my tarragon is old, but regardless it was good. So this month we have tried quite a few new recipes and thanks to Pinterest our meal database has grown this month.