The World Would Sing

I’m not musically inclined. I can’t carry a note or play an instrument. But I am the person that hears a song everywhere she goes. Music has always touched a special place in my soul, and I tend to remember my life moment by moment…song by song.

A  newsline broke across my screen this afternoon, “Tom Petty Rushed to the Hospital Full Cardiac Arrest”.

As long I can remember, Tom Petty’s music has been the backdrop for so many moments in my life. A trip through one of his many albums and I travel back in time…

…to the girl I was at 14, having my heart broken for the first time

…to the girl at 16 rolling her windows down and hitting the open road with that growling guitar and unmistakable voice as my only passenger…

…to the women in her early 20s making questionable life choices but having SO MUCH FUN…

…to the young woman dancing around her kitchen with her toddler doing her best to teach her babe what real music is about…

…to the the woman who can be too serious, too stressed, too busy but can’t help but smile every single time a Tom Petty song comes across the radio and who quietly thanks God for the little unexpected gift…

Horrible, unspeakable things are happening in the world today. The tragedy in Las Vegas…there are no words. The illnesses we are all experiencing within our families and among our friends. The destruction from hurricanes, earthquakes and fires. I’m scared for the world I’m leaving behind for my children. 

In this life, music comforts me in my most difficult moments. Music has carried me through heartbreak, through betrayal, it has held be up as I learned to cope with death, and gave me solace after a miscarriage. There were good times too. Dancing, singing (off-tune), laughter. Tom Petty’s music has a way of helping his fans to transcend the heavy troubles of this world; he is a remarkable lyricist. A true poet.

Tonight my prayers are full….for those suffering in the world. Prayers of thanks for another evening with my sweet husband and children. I pray for Tom Petty and his family, for his fans. I give thanks for all of the times that his words brought me comfort, joy and excitement. 

He sings, “Yeah, the world would sing if I were king. Can I help it if I still dream time to time.” Tonight, Tom, the world sings with you.


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Some Days You Just Have to Say WHATEVER

Some days are better than others. Some days grind at your will to stay a sane, practical human being. Today has been a day (and by today, I mostly mean the last three hours of my life) that has made me want to throw my hands up in the air and say “WHATEVER”. You know what kind of “WHATEVER” I mean…for those of us that don’t use four letter words….”WHATEVER” tends to summarize the effect that this mom is D-O-N-E.

Tonight this is what I made for supper. We have switched to a vegetarian diet (nearly vegan when possible), and I put a lot of energy into trying to feed my family something healthy, fresh and delicious. Tonight’s meal was stuffed sweet potatoes…a mix between sweet and savory. It was good, really good. I know because I ate it. My family however reacted as though I had served them poison. “Sweet potatoes?! I HATE SWEET POTATOES!” they say. Who hates sweet potatoes??? Weirdos.
6000 – 3746 ….this is the math problem that brought not only my son, who was performing the work, to tears, but this piece of arthmitic also had my daughter crying. She can’t be in the vicinity of someone having a bad day and not one-up them. I waited through two melt downs as Jace resisted listening because he just needed to play after a long day at school. I stared at my daughter as she squealed in distress because her brother touched her with his toe. 

Tonight I wanted to say “WHATEVER”….don’t eat….go hungry….don’t learn….who needs subtraction. I wanted to run away (fast!). But I didn’t. We got through every grueling bite of sweet potato. I watched as Jace held his nose, tilted his head back, swallowed hard and then chased his putrid potato with his drink. 

Now I will get up and wash the dishes and I will scrape my husband’s full dinner into the trash (he consoled me for his refusal to eat the food I cooked by apologizing to me that he didn’t like my “yam thing”). 

I can’t help to think back to Sunday morning. I sat in church and listened to my Pastor say that we’re all created in God’s own image. She told us to look at the people sitting next to us and we are actually looking at God’s creation, His creation in His own image. I looked over and saw my children. In that moment I knew without a doubt that she was totally and completely right. These crazy, whiny, emotional, picky-eating children. These loving, caring, funny, sweet, little creations of God. 

They were made by God in His own image just for me. They’re all mine. Every day. On the good days. On the not-so-good days. Every single day they are my gift. So I’ll get up and do my dishes, we’ll read bedtime stories, I’ll tuck them in and I’ll be thankful. I’ll be thankful that I didn’t say “WHATEVER”. I’ll remember that they need me to guide them. They are my responsibility, but even more than that, they are my gift. I am incredibly and bountifully blessed. And instead of saying “WHATEVER”, I’ll say “Whatever He asks of me.” That’s the trade. My children are a gift and it’s not supposed to be easy. So even on the bad days, I’ll do whatever I’m called to do….because I get to be called “Mom”.

An Open Letter to My Children 2017

Wow…what a year we have had.  It has been one year since I wrote the original An Open Letter to my Children 2016 and we’ve seen great joy and unbelievable hardships.  We’ve succeeded and failed….we’ve grown together.  I find myself in a new year (that isn’t so new anymore…already) with an eight- and five-year old, and again, I don’t know where the time went.  I try earnestly to tell my children exactly what they mean to me, exactly how I feel, every single day.  But I know these words fall flat on their tiny little ears, because there is no way they can yet understand the joy of being a parent.  Someday when they have children of their own, they will truly know.  Until then, I will continue to write to them, so when they gain perspective, they can look back and remember who they were at this point in time, who they were in the world and who they were to me.

To Jace:

Jace, you are eight years old today.  What an amazing eight-year old you are!  You are growing into yourself more and more every day.  You are learning what you love, what you don’t, and how to maneuver everything in between.  I was having a bad day last week.  I was struggling completing a school assignment and you noticed.  You didn’t have to notice, but you did.  That is who you are…you see people.   I had to leave the house to complete my assignment and dreaded coming home to dinner dishes.  I walked into the kitchen and there you were….standing in the center, wash rag in your hand.  The dishes were washed, dried and put away.  The counter tops were cleaned.  You did it all by yourself without anyone asking.  In that moment, you shined.  The kindness in your heart radiated.  You brought me joy….immense joy that I have a son who is so caring, kind, dedicated and hardworking.  You make me so proud.  Over the past year, you have changed in some ways but you’re still the same in others.  Scary movies are still your favorite.  You still love steak although I’m trying my best to convert you to a vegetarian.  The look on your face when I mention the word “cabbage” is priceless but you eat everything I cook.  You’re figuring out friendship.  Girls still get on your last nerve (thank God).  You love baseball…LOVE BASEBALL.  You won the baseball tourney this year and you were so happy.  You love to swim and run.  You have started speaking for yourself with more confidence.  You have your own style and opinions.  You went to Disney this year and loved all of the thrill rides, always questing the fastest and most exhilarating experience possible.  You love dirt bikes and classic cars.  You don’t love to read but you do it to appease me.  You helped me build and plant our garden this year, and you loved every moment of it.  You just a cool kid.  The best.  You’re a great friend.  You’re an awesome son.  Thank you for all of the love, joy and beauty you brought into my life over the last year.

To Jera:

Oh Jera, child, you are a tornado.  You leave a path behind you, and you are memorable in the most beautiful way.  We can never (and I mean NEVER) see your bedroom floor.  You leave a path in the bathroom…in the living room…on the front porch…you are constant movement and thinking.  You have fallen in love with art this year.  You have three or four drawings waiting for me each day that I pick you up from the sitter.  You love to draw our family and on each drawing you write “To Mom, Jera”.  You love music, and your dad and I smile when we hear your little voice carrying through the house from your bedroom as you play, from the bathroom as you bathe, and even from the toilet…you sing ALL the time.  You love Trolls and Moana.   We took you to Disney this summer and you refused to ride a single ride because you are afraid of anything fast, dark or high.  ‘It’s a Small World’ was a thrill ride for you. You love animals of all kinds.  You have a special tenderness with animals, and I see something special in the way you handle them.  You are incredibly smart, and I cannot wait to see what Kindergarten brings for you.  You love your family and don’t like to be away from us for any length of time…which should also make Kindergarten interesting.  You still give the best hugs….and kisses.  You are the most loving child.  You love tea parties and playing with your various little dolls.  You love using your imagination.  Your favorite food is beans, which makes me laugh.  You have gotten into the habit of whining when things don’t go your way…and I am anxiously awaiting for that phase to end.  You have started using the word “literally” in nearly every sentence, and when I hear it fall out of my mouth as well, I know where it comes from and it makes me smile.  You are kind. You are so beautiful, on the inside and outside.  You have so much energy and potential.  Everyday with you is an adventure.  Thank you for keeping life interesting.  For always being ready with the unexpected.  For keeping me on my toes.  Thank you for your love.

Love,

Your mom

If you haven’t, take a moment to reflect on your family today.  Write it down.  It will be gone tomorrow, and the moments you think you’ll always remember will fade away into new, exciting growth and development.  Live in the moment.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  Focus on your family.  Love too much today.  Happy Sunday!

Just Say No

Good, great and beautiful Sunday morning! I love mornings in general, but Sunday mornings? There is just something about those precious few peaceful hours that makes all the world right.

Life continues to be absolutely crazy. A week ago, I finished my fifth MBA course marking my half way point in the program. Then Monday, I rolled right into my sixth class with Computer Information Systems…no rest for the wicked they say. I’ve taken on some new professional challenges, determined to continue growing and move forward with my skill set and work experience. 

We’ve had golf camp, art camp, VBS, baseball and Cub Scouts. After a sedentary year of adjusting to being back in school, I’ve started running again with my sister (see the photo below…I made her run in the rain and then take a makeup free picture 😲…she thinks I’m trying to kill her but she’ll thank me later!). And finally, I’ve started reading again (for fun!). I’ve decided to go back through the classics that I “cliff noted” my way through in high school and to try to actually appreciate them this time. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (absolutely fantastic) and am now reading To Kill a Mockingbird.


I feel a shift within myself. There are no more hours in the day today than there were a year ago. But today I feel more productive and happier and thankful for the energy to do all of the things I’m passionate for. This change, these happy moments with my children, with my husband, in my career, in my schoolwork, they haven’t been without a cost.

I have learned little by little to start saying no. Let me clue you in to the fact that I hate saying no. I want to do it all. Be involved, support all good causes, be a strong leader in my community, church and work… But in order to be happy, in order to be content, in order to be the Christian, wife, and mom that I am designed to be, I have learned that I have to pick and choose where I am spending my time very wisely. 

Sometimes the no’s are obvious and sometimes they’re painfully difficult. Some of my no’s were easier than I imagined. I say no to TV today. I say no to social media. The truth is that I  have better places to spend my time, and when I’m focused on television or social media, I losing time on something I find more precious. You may be reading this blog via a Facebook link thinking “what a hypocrite, ” but let me tell you that these are not hard no’s. If my day is done, and my husband has settled into bed to watch a good murder mystery, you better believe I am by his side. If my child has done something adorable (as children often do), I will make a post on Facebook to share with my friends and family. But gone are the days of spending an afternoon on a Netflix binge or blindly scrolling through a Facebook feed while sitting with my family. I’ve turned off all notifications to my cell phone and try to leave my phone put away any time that I know my focus should be on my family, work and/or school. So of all my no’s, this was an easy one. This no has brought me many moments of great joy and peace.

However, there have been other no’s that hurt my heart. I had to resign from some volunteer work; volunteer work that I know is important, that is vital even. But I saw myself swimming…drowning in commitments that I could not follow through. My joy in life was slipping. I was missing out on too many tuck-ins with my kids, too many opportunities to grow mentally, emotionally and/or physically. Right now, at this point in my life, I have to make difficult choices. I am happier today for the no’s I’ve forced myself to say. I am a better wife and mom. I can feel God’s joy in my heart because I am taking moments to just sit in his peace. I can share that joy with my family and friends. That is my number one responsibility in this life. 


When was the last time you had a moment to sit in God’s peace and love? Are you making quiet time to just be? It’s difficult. It’s one of the hardest things in life for me. I also believe it’s one of the most important. Saying no isn’t always easy, but the rewards are exponential. Make today a joyous day. Say no to the things that aren’t on your priority list (and if you don’t have a priority list, make one). Say yes instead, to the things that bring you peace and joy. Here is a list of my “insteads” since I’ve started to say no: a walk with my kids, a bike ride, a run, planting a garden, reading a great book, listening to my favorite podcast, dancing with my children, coloring a page with my daughter, washing my dishes, sitting on the front porch with my husband…the list will continue to grow. I am so thankful. I’m wishing you the best of days over this holiday weekend. Happy 4th of July from my family to yours! 

Am I Raising A Cheapskate???

My household has been rolling through some changes. As time moves forward, as I spend more time in the workforce, as we buy nicer cars, clothes and homes, I’ve truly come to realize the value of a dollar. I have never been and am not naturally frugal, and unfortunately probably wouldn’t even qualify as frugal today (although I’m trying!). However, my goals and concerns are changing. 

Everyone likes nice things, but I must say those nice things just aren’t as important to me anymore. As I grow and make realizations about money and budgeting, I try to share this cost-conscious mind-set with my children. 

My daughter is five and, for her, “money ain’t a thing.” (Hope you enjoy that Jay-Z reference…I’m a child of the 00’s 😏). She was excitedly talking about the next enormous, ridiculous thing she wanted…it’s hard to recall if it was a horse, helicopter, or mansion. She thinks big. What I do remember very vividly is my son looking at her skeptically and saying, “Do you know how much that costs?!”

 

That was a moment for me. Is it okay that my eight-year-old is thinking about the cost of something instead of dreaming of the biggest and best? I wasn’t sure if I should be proud or a little sad. There are times I wish we didn’t have to worry about budgets and discounts. Times I wish we were in a position to give our children everything they want.

 

But in that moment, and as I reflect now, I choose to be proud. I talk candidly with both my children about money, about spending money and saving money. They earn money for “work” they do. When they choose to spend, I make them put an equal amount of cash into their savings accounts. I’ve even had them begin to choose between big birthday parties or big birthday presents, we don’t do both. I want them to realize the value of not only the tangible things in life, but also the value of experiences. 

My kids don’t suffer for much. We’re extremely fortunate in the fact that they don’t always have what they want, but they do have what they need. I don’t take that lightly and am very grateful for that. I also talk with my kids about this fact. There are people, there are even children, who do not have what they need. We are fortunate to live the life we do.


Today, as I continue to learn about how to make the most of this life, financially and otherwise, I will continue to talk to my children in an honest and frank way about the important money choices we make. I’m interested to hear from my readers if this is something you work on with your kids. What have you found that works? Do you talk about money with your children? 

Also, let’s talk budgets and savings!!!  What works for your family? My family has recently gone sans-satellite and cable and switched to streaming tv only (saving $70 every month). We’ve read and studied Dave Ramsey and are fans of the cash envelope system.  Where else can we improve? I’d love to hear all of your money-saving tips and tricks!

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday!

MIA Thanks to an MBA

I’m not sure what I thought getting my MBA would be like. Whatever I thought, I’m certain in this moment that the reality of working toward my graduate degree, while working full time and being a mom and wife, Cub Scout leader and Sunday school teacher…is actually much, MUCH worse than I imagined.

I wore Betty Boop Christmas socks to work today. In public. Sure did. My son wore the same pair of pants to school two days this week, unwashed. (Don’t tell him…he doesn’t know.) I’m fairly certain I hear my son coughing down the hall right now, but I would have no idea if he’s sick because I literally haven’t seen him in four days. There are dirty dishes on my counter. 

Today I worked 9 hours. I studied and did my homework for an hour while on my lunch break. I studied for two and a half hours after work….and then took a three hour quiz. I came home with everyone asleep, ate dinner alone, took a shower and now I lie here, exhausted but entirely unable to sleep. My mind is still racing, thinking about alpha and standard deviations and variances. Ugh. 


And this is an ordinary day these days. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Five more weeks of Statistics 601 and then one summer session and then…finally, a summer break. I’m thinking baseball, beaches and camping. Sun on my skin. My children’s voices in my ear and their hands in mine. I’m thinking of my husband’s handsome face and seeing him with his eyes open and conscious…that’ll be nice. 

I don’t share to complain. This is my choice, my privilege. My hope is that this work will benefit my family. That my children will learn what grit and determination look like. That I will grow in knowledge and capabilities. That I will learn exactly what I’m made of. This journey is difficult and I truly couldn’t be doing it on my own. My husband, parents, in-laws…without them, an MBA would be impossible for me. 

So tonight, rather than complaining that my house is chaos, my laundry is undone, that I’m utterly drained….I will be thankful. Thankful for my family who are helping me to achieve my goals, thankful for my friends who encourage me every single day, thankful for the capacity and drive to learn. Thankful for technology and education. Thankful that tomorrow is a rare occasion that I get to curl up with my family and relax for our weekly Hafele Family Movie Night. Thankful for another day in this crazy world living this crazy life.

By the way, I’m down to only my fuzzy, penguin striped socks…so when you see me wearing them tomorrow, don’t judge me. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Enjoy the time you have with those that mean the most and don’t take a moment for granted!

Getting to Know Him

Valentines Day is quickly approaching and with it comes the high (or low…depending on your relationship!) expectations for the so-called holiday. This will be my 14th V-Day with my husband. This special day has me thinking about our relationship. I’m thinking of the ways he’s changed through the years. I love my husband; I’ve always been thankful for him and of course, I think he’s pretty spectacular. There were a few years in the beginning when I genuinely thought the man could do no wrong. I remember standing in my mother’s kitchen, butterflies in my stomach and stars in my eyes, telling my family that I couldn’t even imagine him ever being in a bad mood….he’s so funny and sweet. So…we’ve moved past that. I’ve certainly experienced all of his moods. And he’s experienced allllllllll of mine.

You see, we know each other now.

I know that he leaves his laundry on the side of the bed every single day instead of walking two feet to the laundry basket. I know that he drinks milk overnight and leaves his dirty cup on the nightstand when he heads out the next morning. I know he hates doing the dishes. I know he doesn’t fold laundry. I know he isn’t a morning person and until about 11:00 a.m. I’m on my own. I know crowds stress him out and he doesn’t enjoy social events like I do. I know he’ll never love running or exercising with me unless I learn to play basketball. I know he’s completely unable to finish an entire movie without losing interest or getting up to walk around. I know he’s going to stop my DVR recordings to watch a rerun of Family Guy. I know he will insist on turning to the game even though I have zero interest in sports of any kind. I know a lot about all of his weird and annoying habits. I know a lot about him.

There’s something amazing that happens in long relationships. You get to know each other. You realize that that perfect person you fell in love with is a product of your imagination, and behind that image that you’ve created is a real, imperfect human being. Here’s the amazing part. If you allow it…if you choose to not pick your partner apart for those idiosyncrasies, something amazing happens. You get to know the person you love…you get to know him in a way that no one else in this entire world will ever know him.

Today, I KNOW my husband. I’ve learned that he is a man who loves me, unconditionally, all the time, even when he doesn’t necessarily show it. He’s proved to me that in a good mood or bad, he’s still always going to be here by my side. I’ve learned that he’s someone who will make me a bubble bath, put on soft music and pour me a glass of wine when life becomes too much for me to bear. He will support me in all of my ventures whether it’s running a half marathon or my latest moment of insanity…deciding to get my masters degree. He will take time off work to stay with our sick kids so I can attend an important meeting. He will bring home surprises for our little ones just to see them smile. He will plant fake bugs in places I don’t expect them, just to see me jump (yes, I find this endearing…we were certainly made for each other). He will rub my back every single night, even if he lets out a sigh when I ask. He will make supper. He will tidy the house. He will take out the trash every single day of our lives and never ask me to do it…not once. He will surprise me with a home office space when he sees me struggling to concentrate on my studies in the chaos of our kitchen. He will take care of me. He will love our children. He will support our family. He will be my partner in this crazy life come hell or high water. He will accept me, love me, champion me, forgive me. He will overlook all of my flaws and see me for who I am…a woman who loves him very much.

He is the most perfect partner I could ask for in this life. Not perfect, but perfect for me. We have a choice in relationships. We can let the little things go. We can let them go so we can be given a chance to see the big things. When we allow the person we love to be just who they were made to be, a new world opens up. A world where  we don’t have to be perfect and neither does he. A world where love really is everything. Every day when I’m bending down to grab that pile of laundry by my husband’s bed side, instead of griping, I choose to be thankful. Thankful that he’s in my life and for all of the ways he makes every day wonderful.

I’m wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day this year. I hope it’s all that you expect, but more importantly, I hope you are loved and that you choose to love in return.