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.

June 11, 2013

Give thanks...

It has been quite sometime since I last made a list. I think I feel one coming on...

Things I Am (currently) Thankful For
(A Good Reminder)

1. Our beautiful backyard
I cannot get over how much I love the plot of land that our home sits on. The flowers and green grass and rolling hills, and even the cows that live in the pasture that surrounds us.... I love it all. I am so very thankful that my children have access to the same fresh air and blue sky that I grew up with.

2. Worship Team
Sometimes I leave practice wondering why on earth God ever led me to this group. They are all so talented and musical... and then there is me. I sing. And that is pretty much it. But, I have also felt extremely blessed and humbled and refreshed and I look forward to every opportunity that I get to sing with them. I just hope that the listeners feel the same way!

3. Anything related to school, it being over, or how it has finally led to gainful employment for my husband. And that is that.

4. My Parents
I think that these people make this list just about every time that I make it. But, the truth is that we cannot tell them enough just how much we appreciate everything they do for us. I'm not sure that anyone else quite understands just how things have been for us over the past several years and they have stepped in to help and support us more often than we can possibly count.

5. Elastic
Where would pants be without elastic? Where would humanity be without elastic? Where would my stomach be without elastic?

6. Time for Walks
So, since elastic cannot solve all of my problems, and probably is actually an enabler, I am also thankful for beautiful evenings that lend an opportunity for me to go on a walk. I used to go on really long walks, sometimes for over an hour. Then, I had kids. But, last night after we put Ryan to bed I looked outside, saw the open road, laced up my walking shoes and headed for the great unknown (aka the road that runs past my house). It was fabulous! I really hope that I can do it again... every night. I'm tired of being fat and disgusting and unhealthy and overly stressed. Hopefully a nice summer evening walk will become part of my new evening routine.

7. My Family
Even though my children, and sometimes my husband, drive me nuts I cannot believe how extremely blessed I am to have them. I'm not sure how I ended up with such a good looking, smart bunch of people but for some reason God thought that I belonged with them and therefore bestowed them with my presence.

8. Telephones
I'm thankful that phones have not been completely overtaken by computers and I'm thankful that we can still use them to call our loved ones so that we can keep in touch with actual conversations and not just short sentences typed onto a screen.

9. Laughter.
Laughter. Where would I be without it?

10. Grace and Forgiveness
I am thankful for the grace and forgiveness that I have not only received from God but from those around me. Yes, God changed my life when he changed me (there's a huge story behind this but it will be a loooooong time before, if ever, I share it) but without grace and forgiveness I would be a wreck. My life would be a wreck. Grace and forgiveness will never run dry...and for that, I am thankful.

June 3, 2013

The PHR test...

This past weekend was a pretty big deal for me.

Back in February I wrote this post about how I was hoping to sit for the PHR exam. I'm sure you were all holding your breath, waiting with great anticipation at what would happen next. I just know you were.

PHR stands for Professional in Human Resources. It is a certification that basically means you know more than you will ever need to know about everything from motivational theories, training techniques and organizational/strategic development to employment law, employee and labor relations and compensation and benefits.

I have been studying for this test since February and was pushing pretty hard these last few weeks to get in enough study time. Between Jake's graduation, child stuff, and work craziness it was almost impossible to find what I felt to be an appropriate amount of study time.

All of this studying has taught me something about myself. I'm old. Way to old to be studying anyway. My brain shut down and my eyes watered every time I pulled out my study materials. Plus, the whole lack of sleep thing has pretty much diminished my ability to remember anything, let alone apply new knowledge to a test question.

About three weeks ago I really started to panic. I struggled with doubt and was angry at myself for thinking that I could do this. I kept asking myself, "What ever possessed me to do this?!" and "What was I thinking, I can't do this!"

I tried to keep this a secret from my co-workers because, well, I wasn't sure what I would do if I actually failed the test. How would I ever be able to face anyone? I can't even remember the last time I failed at something this big.

Going into the test on Saturday morning I felt sick and extremely anxious. I took dozens of practice tests while studying and hadn't passed a single one. Nothing makes you feel more unprepared than a string of failures. Plus, I had nothing to fall back on. There isn't a consolation prize for failure.

I was given four hours to complete the test and at three hours and thirty minutes I finally got to the last question. It was an online test so once I answered the last question the "submit" button popped up. I sat and looked at that stupid button FOREVER. Finally, I promised myself that I would review only a few of the questions and hit the submit button at the 15-minute mark.

Then, I took a deep breath....and pushed the button.

And waited.....

With my eyes closed.

When I finally peeked at the screen I wanted to scream. Apparently someone thought putting a post-test questionnaire at that point was appropriate.

What a stupid idea.

So, I answered the questions and then waited...again.

And then I cried. Because my hard work and crazy ideas had finally paid off.

And now I have three little letters behind my name... PHR.

Some people might think that "pride cometh before a fall" but let me just tell you...
I'm so very proud of myself. And that's okay.

I did this. Me. I came up with this silly notion to do something for my own personal fulfillment, followed through with it and reaped the rewards of my hard work.

Thank  you, God!