December 19, 2013

The gift of not having to be perfect...

I received the following from a good friend, one whom I have known for many years but only recently reconnected with. As working moms, we struggle with many of the same issues and celebrate the same successes. And when she asked me if her thoughts could be shared with my blog readers I was humbled and thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.

Thank you, Cristina. May your words be as much of a blessing to my readers as they were to me.

Today I read an article about killing off supermom. Although I have heard all the stories before about how moms just can’t be perfect followed by an explanation of the author’s own imperfections, I find myself still thinking that it simply is not okay to have downfalls. I have grown up in a society that says, “If you stop improving yourself you have given up on a quality filled life for you and those around you.” This is also a truly good community who has taught me to never judge anyone for anything, accept yourself for who you are…but never stop trying to make yourself better. For some reason, that last part is just enough to say, “You will never be off the hook, lady.” I like to think I portray perfection. The things I do seem commendable. The work I have done in the past seems it might be admirable to someone. My husband and kids are beautiful and smart and funny. The food that I make tastes good. And the house that I keep is always clean.
This is the view of me that I like to think people are seeing. Until…..I find myself gossiping with someone I don’t really know about someone else I don’t really know and later think that was totally unnecessary and wonder when my words are going to come back to haunt me. Until I get a new project at work that I never done before, and I am internally psychotic about it because it may be the reveal of this woman who Googles and YouTubes everything because I, myself, don’t know as much as it seems I know. Until my kids that are beautiful and smart and funny have chocolate covered faces at church, can’t for the life of them tell me why the Wii remote is chewed on (and we don’t have any animals in the house), and are screaming and running through the isles at the store. Until my husband tells me he misses me when I have been home for hours in our little house and haven’t seen him at all. Until I try to empty the dishwasher while I am cooking and something gets burned or broken. Until a friend stops by unannounced and sees that the dishes are piled high in my sink, the cobwebs are dangling from the corners, the garbage has trumped my air freshener, and I have a leaning tower of mail waiting to fall over on top of my microwave.
Again, I turn inward and turn all of these imperfections into more, needed “self-improvements.” I blame myself…every time…maybe if I wasn’t so busy googling a fancy synonym for a word on my resume I would have noticed my kids had climbed on the kitchen counters and eaten all the chocolate chips. Maybe if I had been paying attention to what time it was I could have gotten everyone to bed early and done more cleaning. Maybe if I hadn’t been playing with my kids for too long I could have been a better employee, which today equals continuing to work from home after the workday has ended. Maybe if I did a better job at work I would make more money, which in turn would result in me opening the pile of mail I have on my microwave because I would have the money to pay the bills I am avoiding.
The list goes on and on. It’s a game I am convinced nearly every woman plays with herself daily. And by the end of the day we resolve that we have lost, that we will never win so why play the game, and that we will never be enough. Yet, sleep is the magic medicine that makes us wake up and think, “Today is the day I will prove my perfection yet again!” The incentive to be better, for me, really lies in my surroundings. What do I see daily? I see people who are beautiful, people who are self-assured, people who are unbelievably clean, and even many people who claim to be imperfect. I too claim that title of imperfection but secretly hope that someone else thinks I am just being modest. I reach for perfection because I want my husband to be proud of his family, his wife, his home, and his kids.
I reach for perfection because I have a God who is perfect in every way and deserves a better servant than what I am being. In the end, however, what is the objective of perfection? Personal glory, bragging rights, and a moment of overinflated self-satisfaction? At the end of the day do I want to be glorified for perfection? No! I want to be commended on a job well done because I worked hard and had some self-inflicted hurdles to jump over along the way. Do I want bragging rights? No. I believe the Bible is right when it says in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” And finally, is the overinflated self-satisfaction really that gratifying when I know that the only things that have been done right have been because I was lucky that nothing went wrong?
I will probably never stop wanting to be perfect. It is human nature to want to be the best. I will resign that I am not perfect or the best. I will preach to my children that life is not about getting everything right. And I will accept that the desire itself to be perfect is more selfish than anything else.

Centuries before me women tried to be perfect. Centuries after me women will continue to try to be perfect. There will probably never be a point where we all just say, “The buck stops here!” We, as women, may never allow each other to say it and mean it. That said, stop for one moment and make some projections with me. At my funeral, my perfections may be discussed…my successes might be revealed. For less than one hour, my life will be summed up and I will shortly thereafter be covered in dirt in a perfect shiny casket. All that is written will be all that remains of my life as perfect as it should look on a piece of paper. But with a perfect lifelong resume I cannot make anyone else smile. The imperfections are what will make them remember; what will make them laugh. With a perfect home I will never look like the type of person who would have been compassionate toward those who can’t keep their house clean, which means I will not have been truly perfect.
If my children’s lives are perfect, they will never know the fun that it is to laugh about their mistakes, become addicted to a TV show, or enjoy an unhealthy family tradition of Sunday night chocolate pancakes and bacon followed by ice cream and brownies for dessert. The things that we do that are so imperfect are the things that make life interesting, cliché as that sounds. Perfection doesn’t get anyone’s attention, it gets to be expected. And at the pearly gates, all that I bring to God that I have done perfectly will be judged as useless because I left behind too many people who think that because I expected it of myself I expect it of them. By doing so they turn inward because they have seen me do it. They believe their own perfection will get them somewhere better when the truth is that turning outward, letting go, and living to serve other people is where the pride is. I quote this popular prayer today as a reminder to myself to be imperfect, in this world, in order to hold the hand of that perfect man in heaven whom I hope one day will tell me, “Well done…you weren’t perfect, but I didn’t want you to be.”
“My Father, I desire that the attitude of John the Baptist might be my own – that Jesus would increase even as I decrease. Give me an ever-larger picture of you so I might see myself with ever-increasing clarity and revel each day in your amazing grace. Keep foolish pride far from me, and give me the sense to humble myself in healthy ways that bring strength and joy to everyone around me. Remind me constantly, Lord, that you hold my life and breath and eternal future in your loving hands and that every good thing I have comes from you. Never let me forget that although without you I can do nothing, in Christ I can do all things. The difference is you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Tis the season...

I cut a lot of corners and often find myself trying to keep up with everyone else.
You know...

1. I struggle with meal planning.
2. I print and organize pictures about 3 times a year and consider it a miracle if my photo order covers only two seasons.
3. Sometimes I cry at work to relieve stress.
4. I take the elevator rather than huff and puff my way up three flights of stairs.
5. And because of number 4, and various other reasons, I still need to shed baby weight from my first and my second pregnancies.
6. My children probably watch too much TV.
7. Laundry is considered 'done' if it has made its way from the dryer to the corner of the dining room.
8. I clean the interior of our vehicles about every 18 months and consider that to be a good "regular cleaning schedule."
9. Sometimes I fill the cats' food bowl extra full so I don't have to feed them again for at least two days.
10. I dust only when we are having company...who have never been to our house before.

So, it really shouldn't be too surprising that I failed, again, at sending out Christmas cards this year.

I used to really enjoy writing a Christmas letter. In fact, I looked forward to the opportunity to write about the year and then address envelopes to all of our friends and loved ones.

A few months ago I thought about taking a nice family picture to use for Christmas cards, but the idea of hauling my oversized body and two unruly children out into the wilderness for a photo session kind of made me ill. For awhile I played with the idea of at least sending out a few cards but forgot to actually buy cards.

You know...I don't know. Maybe someday I'll get back into the spirit of the season and manage to get something out. I'm kind of tired of feeling guilty when I find cards and letters in the mail, knowing that nothing is leaving my mailbox that doesn't also include a payment stub.


Some day.

But, until then...just know that I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous new year! May we all enjoy this time and remember the true reason for the season...

which, by the way, really doesn't have anything to do with Christmas cards.

December 3, 2013


You know what is really hard to do? I mean, really difficult?
Something that I struggle with more than my weight or my screwed up sense that I should be able to get "it all" done (i.e. perfection)?


Actually, more specifically...not being in control.

It is hard to watch others make mistakes or bad choices when I know think that if they would just listen to me or let me take over, things would be so much better.

And how many times do I want to take the reigns on someone's thought process or actions and steer them from what I perceive to be total destruction or, um, stupidity?

Angie, stop, breathe....a few notes to yourself...

1. What makes me the expert? How do I know that with me in control "it' would be perfect? What, I've never made a mistake? ha! I think we all know that isn't true.

2. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to control someone's thoughts, feelings, actions or reactions.

3. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to control someone's thoughts, feelings, actions or reactions. (this isn't a typo; it deserves to be on this list more than once).

4. And since we have established that I cannot control someone else I guess this leaves just one person who I can

5. Being in control of me includes controlling my anger, my tongue, the expectations that I set for myself (keep them realistic!) and the way I handle emotions.

6. Control is not synonymous with perfection.

7. Fish are friends, not food. Oops! How did that one get in there? Actually, if you put it back into context, I guess that pretty much sums up the very definition of a healthy dose of "a bit of education in the art of being in control."

8. Giving up control of someone or something will lighten my load and free up some of my time and energy. Well, that just sounds flat out refreshing.

9. Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

10. 2 Timothy 1:7  For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

November 25, 2013

Pancakes with grandma...

It has been several months since Rachel spent the night with Grandma Sue and Grandpa Nelson. She always looks forward to going to their house, but I think she especially likes it because they spoil her. Plus, she gets to play all by herself and does not have to share toys, or a grandparent, with her brother. Score.

Last weekend she got to spend the night and was overjoyed to learn that they would be making pancakes in the morning.

Making pancakes with grandma!
She was able to convince Grandma that she needed chocolate syrup
on her pancakes. I suspect that it really didn't take very
much convincing on her part.


My mom took these pictures of Rachel and Ryan.

Both are about 15-months old in the photo.
Both are in the same rocking chair.
Both are adorable little children.

Yep, they are obviously related.

November 11, 2013

Halloween (a bit late)...

This was the first year that Jake's schedule allowed him to take the kids trick-or-treating and after three stops we were pretty much done. It was fun but trick-or-treating takes on a whole different level of "interesting" when you live in the country and have two options:

1. Hit up your 2 or 3 neighbors for candy and call it good because you can only load and unload a costumed child so many times before you kind of give up and promise to buy them each a bag of M&Ms to make up for their tragic lack of candy.


2. Drive to a nearby town and visit the homes of mostly those whom you have never met, will probably never see again, and quite honestly feel a bit awkward talking to because they really don't know or care who you are. And watch other parents herd around their kids, wonder who they are but not really feel inclined to risk utter embarrassment by stopping to ask them.

So, three country stops worked just perfectly for us.

Rachel announced that she wanted to dress up as a super hero so I ordered this outfit for her online.

Sibling Picture Attempt #1
Ryan got whatever costume I could find that was cheap and fit him.
He was my little tiger. And the poor little guy got laughed at by all who saw him. Because he was just so stinkin' cute.

Sibling Picture Attempt #10

Sibling Picture Attempt #1,000
(so close...except that you can't see
what Rachel is wearing)

Sibling Picture Attempt #1,746,201

Sibling Picture Attempt #Last Try

Sibling Picture Attempt #OK, let's just try this ONE MORE TIME.
And, we're done.

The waterpark...

When I became a mother I very quickly learned that there are words to be said that I never imagined would ever requiring someone to say.

Things like....

"The speaker isn't broken. It just sounds funny because there is a hot dog in it."

"These diapers are amazing! Look how much poop they held!"

"He's throwing a fit because I wouldn't let him play in the kitty litter."

"Child, hold still. I can't tell if I'm actually clipping a nail or just cutting off dirt."

"Sunday night trash smells the worst- like dirty diapers and popcorn."

But today is a special day. Today I celebrate being able to say something that I have often felt that I would never get to say.

And after almost 18 long months here it is...

Over the weekend we took the kids to the waterpark to celebrate a giant accomplishment.
Rachel finally completed her potty training chart.

Rachel is potty trained.

Here she is...the star of the show.
At the waterpark!
It sounds a bit ironic to celebrate potty training
by going to a waterpark, right?
It was our last resort and it worked.
Something must have struck him as way awesome.
And to ensure that we started our weekend properly, the kids played in the leaves before we left for the hotel and waterpark. I may have had an ulterior motive (sleep in the car). But hey, they had fun.

Interesting side note, this weekend we discovered the magical phenomenon known as the "hotel suite"- one room for parents (with TV) and one for the children (with TV and kitchenette). Our lives are forever changed.

Ryan's first leaf-playing experience.
He was super excited.

I'm not even sure where Rachel got the idea to use her rake.
She's never seen us rake leaves
(or use an ironing board, for that matter)

Rachel raked the leaves and Ryan watched/threw them.

They figured out that it was also fun to throw the leaves
and let the wind catch them.
Which, interestingly enough, is also how we usually
"rake" our leaves. Yea for wind.

mid roll-in-the-pile, I believe

One more toss into the wind and then inside to finish packing

The post-weekend family time.

November 8, 2013

I went to Las Vegas, but not really...

I noticed the other day that our milk had an expiration date of November 18th and was like, "Geez....times certainly have changed. Milk didn't used to have an expiration date of over a month out."

And then I realized that the current date was, in fact, November 7th.

Holy cow, where did October go? Where did fall go? Where did summer go? Where did 2013 go?!

October was quite a month for us. Ryan had his surgery and for two weeks we were all miserable. At the end of the second week I packed my bags and hit the road for Las Vegas. Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite like that. Although I did go to Las Vegas it wasn't quite as exciting as most visits to that "lovely" city might be, and the entire time that I was gone I felt a huge load of guilt for leaving my husband at home to take care of the kids and fend for himself for five days.

However, to make up for it I spent all of my time listening to presentations and attending workshops that focused on employment law, the Affordable Care Act, and performance management (super exciting, by the way)...

While I did this...
(photo from the CUPA-HR Conference website)
While my good friend (and awesome travel companion) went out to see the world and posted pictures like this...
She saw this...
(Melissa's photo)

Thankfully, and to everyone's dismay, Ryan ended up sleeping like a champ while I was gone.

And eating. Holy cow that kid can eat. He must have discovered that he was missing out on lots of good food because now he's like a teeny tiny little tank, a tank with an empty pit for a stomach.

Praise God!

But, we aren't getting too excited just yet. We've seen this happen before. Once in awhile he slept really well for about two weeks and then fell apart again. We are, however, trying to be cautiously optimistic that we have finally turned a corner.

And Ryan has smiled through it all. What a little trooper that kid is.

I just love my little family.

Thanks Grandma Marcia for this picture.

October 21, 2013

Post-surgery update on Ryan

It has been 10 days since Ryan's tonsillectomy and I'm quite thankful that we were warned, several times, by the doctor that we will probably not notice any differences for at least two weeks. His warning kept our expectations low.

But, maybe, not low enough.

Here he is... all ready for surgery.

The last ten days have been downright difficult. The surgery itself went well but Ryan needed oxygen afterwards and it took longer than expected for him to wake up. After almost an hour in the recovery room the nurses finally asked me to come hold him. When I got back there my poor little boy was crying in the arms of a stranger and obviously in pain. I held him on my lap and sang as much as I could of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before I burst into tears myself and tried my best to calm him down.

By 8:00 that night Ryan had successfully ripped out his IV and when we left in the morning he had only drank about 5 ounces of fluid. I'm still surprised that they let us leave the hospital, but it was Saturday and they must have had beds to clean or something because they kept assuring us that he would be fine.
And.... we were back in the ER on Sunday for an IV and fluids due to dehydration.

Maybe this is why they let him go. He was a little bit crazy.

And just because the universe cannot ever seem to give the poor little guy a break, he was also teething this past week.

Between the pain from the surgery, the pain from teething and the refusal to eat anything but formula he really hasn't slept well all week. And when I say hasn't slept well I mean...we're back to waking up about once every hour or at least 4-6 times per night.

I cried at work today when someone asked me how Ryan is doing. Because I'm so tired.

And, I'm so tired of being so tired. For almost 15 months we have been sleep deprived and continue to average about 3-5 hours of sleep. Excuse me, 3-5 hours of mostly interrupted sleep.

Which is why I declare myself to be productive each time the house gets cleaned or a load of laundry gets done or a meal is made. Because there are a lot of days that we are still in survival mode.


All hope is not lost.

We are still holding onto that bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, by this time next week our dear little boy will finally be feeling better and sleeping better.

And if not?

I'll be in Las Vegas for a conference...and sleeping.

Perhaps prayers for my husband will be needed.

September 26, 2013

The fall update...

It makes me sad when I don't have time to write on my blog or post pictures of, well, anything. If I remember correctly I still haven't even had a chance to do anything with the pictures from Ryan's birthday party.

Maybe I can at least take a few minutes to do a quick run-down of the happenings in our lives lately.

1. Jake studied for almost 8 years, spent countless hours completing his classroom trainings and prayed for a teaching job. I, on the other hand, fell into a faculty position and I'm now an instructor for a course that all incoming first-year and transfer students are required to take.... so over 6,000 students. Aside from the fact that it is an online class, I don't get paid a single dime for being the "instructor", and never step foot into a classroom it is pretty much the same as all other teaching positions. Maybe? I don't really know that for sure since I haven't actually taught anything before. hmmm...oh well. Next.

2. I have been invited to be a guest speaker in a class next week. I'm so excited and nervous and honored. What if the students don't think I'm cool? What if I forget my notes and have nothing to say? What if my zipper is open? What know what? That pretty much covers all of my fears. So, here's to me. May I add value to the class and keep everyone awake.

3. We found out yesterday that Ryan will need to have his tonsils removed because they are causing sleep apnea and making it difficult for him to eat. Normally that isn't a huge deal but since he is so young he will have to stay overnight in the hospital. I'm a wreck just thinking about it. I feel just awful that we can't explain what is going to happen or how crappy he is going to feel afterwards. The surgery is scheduled for October 11th so prayers for us that day will be appreciated.

4. Rachel has chosen to be, "Just a little bit potty trained," as she puts it. We are going CRAZY trying to explain to her that she needs to be all the way potty trained. We have pretty much tried everything we can think of...except Dora stickers and a trip to the water park. And so, we bought a Dora potty chart and each star sticker brings her closer to a big sticker and once she gets all of her big stickers we have promised to take her to the water park. Yesterday we actually had some success. Jake seems to think we're on the right track but I still have my doubts. I'll believe it when the water hits my ankles.

5. It is officially Fall! Hooray! I just love this time of year. The weather has been perfect and a few weeks ago I got all of my fall flowers planted. The trees are just starting to turn colors, combines are in the fields (the sight almost always makes me cry...I'm so proud of my dad), pumpkin everything is available for consumption, and football is well underway. What a perfect time of year. Don't you think?

6. Last week I had a fabulous girls night out with two old friends.  And, I do mean FAB-u-LOUS. We laughed. We cried. We talked business. We drank wine and enjoyed a wonderful meal under the setting sun. Why don't we do that more often? I do not have a good answer for that. Except time...time just gets away from us.

So, that's the update as of today.
We'll see how tomorrow looks, tomorrow...

August 26, 2013

We are still learning...

Something odd happened today.
Classes started and not a single person in my house attended one.

This won't happen again until about 2035.

I went to work, the kids went to daycare, and Jake went to work... at school.

It seems as though our lives have taken a turn for the next step. You know, the one where the kids go to school and the parents go to work.

In other news, Ryan got his first haircut yesterday. Actually, it was more of a hair trim since I have no desire to actually cut his hair for fear that those adorable little curls of his will cease to exist. But, even I have my limits to cuteness when mullets begin to appear and eyes disappear behind bangs.

And now he looks just as cute as ever. Seriously, when you look at him you have no idea that he has horrible sleep patterns and cannot eat solid foods. Oh yeah, have I mentioned that? He can't eat anything but baby food and formula. Everything else makes him gag.

I mentioned this to one of his doctors a few weeks ago and she immediately checked his tonsils. Apparently they are huge, and apparently large tonsils in children can cause sleep apnea and make it difficult for them to eat. And so, we added Pediatric ENT (ear, nose and throat) to his growing list of doctors. For those who have lost count, Ryan has a primary care doctor, a neonatologist, a dermatologist, an allergist, an ophthalmologist and now a otolaryngologist.

In a few weeks his new doctor will complete a more thorough exam and, hopefully, decide on a plan, that works (that's the catch, it really needs to actually help).

Also, did you know that they have formula for toddlers? Me neither.

Isn't it amazing what all you can learn...without having one single person in your family attend a class?

Here's to the start of another school year.

August 5, 2013

Happy birthday Ryan...

He's One! Can you even believe it?!

One year ago today, at 10:50 PM tonight to be exact, our little Ryan Edward was born.

In just 12 short months he went from this...

to this...


We had his birthday party this past weekend (pictures to come) and I'm pretty sure it was the best first birthday party Ever. I mean... we had a hayride and fireworks and perfect weather. How could it get any better?

Plus, we held Ryan's baby dedication at church and that made the weekend even more special.

It has been a tough year for all of us but we love our Bubby and look forward to what this little guy has in store for us next.

The special verse that was read on Sunday pretty much sums it up for us.

1 Samuel 1:27-28
New International Version (NIV)
27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

July 31, 2013


I like to try to keep this blog pretty light and fluffy but once in a while I feel myself led to write something a bit more, um, not so light and fluffy.

I guess that's part of the joy of being the boss of your own blog.

This week I'm meeting with a Health and Wellness Counselor because, quite frankly, I don't feel healthy or wellness...y. It really isn't a secret that I have struggled with my weight pretty much my entire life and now that I'm post-baby x 2 my struggles have rocketed me right over to the "plus" sized section at The Dress Barn. ugh.

It's not that I don't know how to eat right or exercise. That's easy. You know, eat lots of fruits and veggies (for goodness sake I even have a garden!), limit your fat and salt and carb and calorie intake (so, basically, try REALLY hard to make those veggies taste just as good as chips and ice cream),exercise for at least X minutes X times per week, and drink plenty of water.

The hard part is finding the time to exercise and the energy to make healthy meal choices. Several of my friends, who are also moms, are beautiful thin women who eat like birds, walk or attend exercise classes regularly, and still find time to be the super moms that they strive to be. Meanwhile, I'm trying my best to fit into the largest pants I can find in my closet or figure out what photo angle well show the least number of chins.

I keep telling myself that I need to walk over my lunch breaks (which I can't seem to ever find the time to take), plan healthy meals (that the rest of my family will actually eat), or try to sneak in some exercise during our evening or morning routine.

The problem is that I have excuses:
1. I'm not going to get up at 5:00 to exercise if I have been up for most of the night with a child.... for the last 12 months.

2. We often don't get home until close to 6:00 and by the time we finish eating we have just enough time to play with the kids for a bit before we put them to bed. Often times after we put them to bed it is then time to fold laundry, finish the dishes, pay bills, etc. and by the time I'm done for the evening it is close  to 10:00. Who wants to exercise at 10:00 at night?

3. Who has time to plan or cook a healthy meal when there are 4 different people in your family who would rather eat 4 different things?

And, I know what you're going to say...why don't you get in your exercise with the kids? Well, we try to go for walks and run around outside but you cannot honestly tell me that is the same as a 45-minute jog because it isn't. And besides, I really can't base my exercise schedule on the willingness of a 3-year-old to be loaded up for a walk.

In any case, regardless of everything else, I cannot continue to function in the body I am currently using. It is just too big. And it is so hard to see where I want to be (everyone else) and where I'm currently at (my worst nightmare).

I have never been this big for this long with absolutely no end in sight and that really frightens me. It frightens me because I don't want this to be my new norm, I don't want this to be "okay for now" anymore. I don't want to feel winded and uncomfortable anymore.

I want to feel energetic and healthy.
I want to look forward to chasing my kids.
I want to wear my old clothes again.
I want to look as good as my friends.

I don't need to be some ridiculously small size; I just want to be healthy.

So, I'm not really sure what is next. But I can tell you this...
I'm done with this whole being fat thing...
and so are my pants.

July 29, 2013

Happy Blogiversary (again)...

I find it hard to believe that on July 27th I celebrated the 3-year anniversary of my blog.

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Some days I write, some days I don't.
Some weeks I write, some weeks I don't.

But, regardless of the number of entries, the regularity of my writing, and the herd of followers (or lack thereof), this blog continues to be a creative outlet for me and a way to collect my thoughts, keep track of my memories, and voice my concerns.

It has also become a way to vent my anger and frustrations.
But, really, I just like having it around. It makes me smile.
Most of the time.

So, let us take a stroll down memory lane and review some of the highlights (and low lights) of July 2012-July 2013.

I was in the hospital for almost a week:
This is not the vacation I had in mind

Ryan Edward was Born...
Ryan Edward

And was in the NICU for 2 weeks:
Ryan in pictures

And thus began our struggles:
Mother knows best
To my son's doctors

But, we had some good times too:
The great pumpkin
For the first time ever
An afternoon in the park
The church bells are ringing
Lunch with Rachel
The Summer 2013 visit
Driving us crazy

There were huge accomplishments this year:
Jake's graduation
The PHR test
Do the math
A phone call to grandpa

And then there was this:
The old and the new
The definition of insane

And this:
And we're back

But to sum most of it up:
Give thanks

So, here's to another year.
May it bring plenty of joy and lots of sleep.

July 10, 2013

Over the river and through the woods...

I would guess that about 75% of the trips we take to my parents' house begin with me singing, "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go..." Except that, I have my own words for the song.

Over the creek and through the dust to
grandma and grandpa's house we go;
Daddy knows the way to drive the car...

And then Rachel usually tells me to stop singing before I can go any further. But, that's okay because they only live a mile away so by that point we're about ready to pull in their lane anyway.

Rachel loves to go to grandpa and grandma's house. She asks me almost every day if she can see grandpa or go to grandma's house or ride in grandpa's old truck. And it warms my heart to now also watch Ryan bounce in excitement when he sees his beloved grandparents.

A few weeks ago Rachel got to help grandma make cupcakes.
I feel like the sugar intake wasn't really monitored by Grandma;
I guess that's not part of her job description.

Might as well stop to eat another one before putting on the sprinkles.

The kids have a love/hate relationship with
Grandpa's dog, Milo.
He loves them; they hate him...
unless he's at a safe distance.

July 9, 2013

The definition of insane…

So, I'm about to go insane.
No, not the "axe murderer" insane; more like the "I'm about to give up" insane.
I'm about to throw in the towel and tell the universe that it has won.
I'm done.
I can't fight anymore.

Fight what? You might ask.
Potty Training...

First, the potty training.
Rachel is a smart little gal and it never once occurred to me that we would have this much trouble getting her potty trained. It seems as though we have made little progress since last July (when we first began this journey) and she has regressed so much that for two days now we have thrown our hands in the air and made her wear pull-ups again. She claims to hate wearing the "diaper" but has done pretty much nothing beyond complaining about it and, of course, pooping in it.

We have tried everything we can think of and after 12 months of struggling with this whole process I am convinced that Rachel will be sporting a Dora in Kindergarten.

And then there is my other child.
The one who doesn't sleep. Ever.
He has his decent nights and once in a while Ryan even has a good night but for the most part he too has regressed back to where he was 9 months ago. For those who might not be familiar with that particular sleep routine it goes something like this... sleep for 30 minutes, wake up, cry for 20-40 minutes, and repeat until about 5:00 in the morning.

I have gotten a whopping 3 hours of sleep over the past two nights (combined). And the most frustrating part is that this "stage" isn't a stage at all. It is the norm in our house and has been since last August.

If ever there is a time that I question my ability to be a good parent, it is now.
I keep thinking about the future and what it must hold. Eventually we will look back on this time, right? But, we cannot look back if we don't move forward.

And we haven't moved forward all stinkin' year long.

Here it comes....
I can feel it...


July 2, 2013

Driving us crazy...

When I was about 10 years old I bought my first wallet. I really didn't need a wallet at that time in my life but I remember exactly why I bought it- because it came with novelty cards, one of which was a "license to drive" people crazy. I thought it was absolutely hysterical and carried it with me wherever I went.

If I ever find that card I will make two copies of it, one for each of my children. Because sometimes they just drive me crazy.

And other times, they just, um, drive...

Rachel's first attempt at driving. If I remember correctly,
she pretty much ended up in a pine tree.

Ryan thinks he is pretty cute.
I think he's right.

Going nowhere fast.

This last picture has nothing to do with wallets or driving or licenses but I just couldn't resist adding it.

Rachel is hanging out with her boy cousins.
Rachel insisted on putting her shorts on by herself.
And so...
Rachel is refilling a water gun with her pants on backwards while wearing Jake and the Neverland Pirates shoes with cute socks. Oh yeah, and she's shirtless.

This has graduation party picture written all over it.

Thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law for supplying these pictures! Every family needs a nurse and a photographer and fortunately, she is both.

June 27, 2013

This is the stuff...

The first time that I heard this song on the radio I laughed out loud because I was, like, 100 percent positive that I had actually been the person who wrote the lyrics. And now, for some reason, the words seem to be constantly running through my mind, especially when I'm around my children.

So when Rachel runs through the muddy garden with her white sandals on or if Ryan smashes his fingers into his dirty diaper... I try to remind myself that I am blessed and that, "This is the stuff" that God is using to remind me of this.

At least I hope that is the case.

Why else would God allow such annoying little things to happen, right?

I'll add that to my growing list of Gate Questions- you know, the questions I'll ask at the pearly gates...

And here are the lyrics:

This Is The Stuff
I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please 'cause I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed

This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
Might not be what I would choose
But this the stuff You use

45 in a 35 sirens and fines
While I'm running behind
Whoa ho ho

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess,
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
Might not be what I would choose
But this the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world
Whoa ho ho ho

Oooooh This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff
Someone save me
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
Might not be what I would choose
But this the stuff You use

Whoa whoa ho ho
This is the stuff You use.


June 19, 2013

The best part of waking up...

Most people like to wake up slowly. You know, we kind of open our eyes, look around, wonder what time it is, check the clock and maybe, just maybe, get the opportunity to lay there in silence before dragging our sorry selves out of bed to face the day.

I'm not any different from "most people"

Unfortunately I have yet to be lucky enough to wake up slowly and enjoy my morning. At least this week, anyway.

Ryan usually wakes me up with his screams at 4:30 AM and because the thought of having two children awake at that hour terrifies me, I "sprint" from my bed to remove him from the room that he shares with his sister before she too is suddenly awoken from her slumber.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of stomping on a piece of cat barf on my way down the stairs.
"Good Morning" indeed.

This morning I found an exploded diaper in my washing machine.
Never done it?
Look it up. It really isn't something you want to find at 5:00 in the morning.

By the time I got everything cleaned up I had 20 minutes left to get myself into a presentable and professional state for work. And, let me tell you, that wasn't easy. All of my clean underwear were in a basket in the dining room, my toothbrush fell into the trash and my shoes were hidden behind the dryer.

Oh the joys of mornings at our house.

This is why God created man....
To invent Starbucks.

June 17, 2013

The summer 2013 visit...

At least four times a year my family gets together for an extra long weekend of craziness and family bliss when my brother and his family come to visit. Usually, they come during each season so visits often have a few special events that are always associated with them.

In the spring, we always take a few trips to the barn to see the new lambs, enjoy an evening out with the siblings/spouses (sans children, of course), and go on at least one special outing together (like a museum or zoo or something).

In the summer, we always go swimming, eat lots of homemade ice cream (actually, ice cream is pretty much associated with each season, no matter how cold or hot it is), watch the kids ride co-carts and generally get covered in dust and dirt and sweat as they play outside, go on a hayride, light sparklers and fireworks and, again, go on at least one fun family outing to a park or wedding or parade or whatever happens to be the source of entertainment for the weekend.

In the fall, the kids always fight over who gets the next combine ride and since the weather is often a bit cooler, we almost always do some kind of craft project and, of course, spend a lot of time running around outside. I should clarify that often outside activities also include lawn chairs for the adults to park themselves in.

Winter corresponds with our family Christmas so there are presents to open and Christmas goodies to fatten ourselves on. Usually the siblings and spouses go out for a nice dinner as our gift to each other and there is almost always at least a little bit of time spent playing outside in between board games and construction of gingerbread houses.

I love that each visit is unique but also tied together with ongoing activities like special outings, sleepovers for some of the kids, books with the grandparents, good food and good conversations.

This past weekend was our "summer weekend" and, as expected, it was hot and busy and fun. We took the kids to the pool and the parade, went on a hayride, lit sparklers, took loooong naps, went on a picnic in the park, played outside, took our annual family picture (which seems to grow by at least one child every single year), and ate lots of good food. My brother and I also celebrated being one year older by attending our 15-year class reunion.

And with 10 grandchildren, 8 of whom are 8 and under, we didn't even need to take a trip to the zoo this year....instead, I think we could have charged the zoo to come see us!

And, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Waiting for candy at the parade.

The sirens are always too loud.

They took such a nice picture with daddy...

And this is what I got.

One more try

Ready to go on the hayride with grandpa

Believe it or not, this was the best family
picture we got all weekend.

A perfect night for a hayride

Poor little Ryan. It was his first hayride
and all he could do was fall asleep.

This is taken at the very edge of my parents' land.
Their farm is the one on the left.

I love the shadow in this one.
A tractor and a wagon full of family.

Abby is such a good sport;
not just anyone would allow themselves to be attacked
by a bunch of crazy little kids.

All ready for sparklers

Her first one!

Sure, chew on the box kid.
I'm sure it's fine.
(don't worry, it was empty)

I wanted a nice picture of these two.
At least Ryan was mature about it.