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”.

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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!

Have It All Together?

Do you ever feel crazy? Like full on, off your rocker, make me a strong drink, kind of nuts? I seriously surprise myself daily with the range of emotion I can get through in just one day. Being a human is so weird. Just saying.

Anyhow, today was an ordinary day in our household. I woke up, full of energy, feeling like I had plenty of time before our first “appointment” of the day. Wake the kids, find the elves, flip on the cartoons, make the chocolate milk, let the dog out to potty, feed the cat…look at the clock…begin to panic….listen to my husband snoring…begin to rage. 

I see a lot of women who seem to have it all together. They’re on time and they look disapprovingly at me as I sprint across the parking lot dragging my adorable and completely powerless preschooler behind me. Ha! If they only knew how I also snapped at her the entire last 15 minutes of the morning because she needed to brush her teeth, brush her hair, get her backpack, tie her shoes, get her coat, faster faster FASTER! I feel the mom-guilt pang my heart and I want to do better...to be better.

 The very best days of my life begin early. Getting out of bed on time, getting a workout in, waking up my children on time, being relaxed, being on time. I tend to run in spurts with this on-time thing. A couple of months of smooth sailing…followed by a couple of months of hectic chaos. For me, in those weeks of struggling its  so hard to remember how wonderful the day would be if I get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. AT 5:00 A.M.! My logic doesn’t serve me well when I’m snuggled under my blankets (again, husband snoring).

To survive, to love myself in these harder times, I have to find comfort in knowing that I’m doing the best I can. I tell myself that even those “got-it-all-together” moms, aren’t as perfect as they seem. 

I write this tonight because someone actually said to me this week “You’re always so put together.” What? Whaaaat? I looked behind me but no one was standing there…no, for sure, she was definitely referring to me. I have it all together??? I’m late. I’m messy. I’m uptight. I’m stressed. I get lazy, sad, angry, tired…crazy most days. But someone out there thinks I have it all together. This is a crazy life.


My point is that it’s okay. My husband and my kids are so loved. My home is still standing. My dog still loves me. And my cat likes me most of the time. Some moments, hours, days, I feel crazy. But really, I’m okay. I’m just living and sometimes that’s enough. When we feel crazy, maybe we just need to remember that someone out there thinks we’re doing a great job. And maybe, more importantly, we remember that those even closer to us, those we tuck in at night, those we open our eyes to morning after morning, those that mean the most, those people think we’re pretty fantastic. So maybe a little crazy is actually alright. Maybe crazy really is beautiful.

Turkey Day Everybody!

It’s finally here!!! Thanksgiving…my absolute FAVORITE day of the entire year. Thanksgiving beats out other holidays for so many reasons. 

First, no gifts….not one single present. I love that…a holiday where no one has to worry about money, where people aren’t focused on what they get or what they give, but instead of the time. Time, being present in the moment, enjoying those around us. That is the focus of this day. 

Second, come on now, the food! I’m a total glutton…so this is my day. The greenbean casserole is in the oven. The pumpkin caramel cheesecake is in the refrigerator. Yes, you heard that right…PUMPKIN. CARAMEL. CHEESECAKE. Exciting, I know. And before we eat, we pray. A prayer of Thanksgiving, my favorite moment of the whole wonderful day.

So on this day, I hope you can look into your heart and find deep gratitude for all of your blessings. Be thankful…thankfulness is a true gift and it allows us to see life in a totally different and amazing way. Be thankful today and everyday.

Today and everyday, I’m most thankful for:

  • My relationship with God through Jesus
  • My husband…my unbelievable, sweet, loving, funny, amazing husband
  • My children, for all their joy and innocence. The light that they bring to this world 
  • My family. My mom. My dad. My sister, brother-in-law. My brother. My mother-in-law and father-in-law. My sister-in-law. My nieces and nephews. My aunts and uncles. My cousins. For the memories we’ve made. For the memories yet to come. For always being there. For being such an awesome and joyous part of my life.
  • For my friends. For the ways they make me a better person. For the laughs. For the tears. For the special place they hold in my heart.
  • For my career. For the way my employer has helped me to grow professionally. For the opportunities I’ve been given. For the way they help me provide for my family.
  • My education. For the way it has opened my mind. For the way I’ve grown and continue to grow. For the future it provides for me and my family.
  • My home. To have a place that is comfort. A place that I am always happy to come home to.
  • For my pets. For the way they are always happy to see me. For the way they’re never put off by sweatpants or morning breath. For their enthusiasm. For their love.
  • For so many things. Too many to name. For all of the blessings I’ve been given. For the pain that’s help me grow. For the moments that have made me stronger. For everything.

I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings today. Eat. Talk. Nap. Eat again. Be thankful.

An Open Letter to my Children 2016

I am thinking tonight of all of the things that make my children so special to me. How some of those things are the same as they were a year ago…or two years ago. But some of the things have changed. Some of the little idiosyncicies that I cherished have slipped away as they have grown and I don’t even think of them anymore. And dare I say that I’ve even forgotten???

So tonight, in this world of crazy election chaos, violence and hatred, drought, famine, and all of the other hard, unbearable things this world throws at us, I’m going to take a minute just to tell my kids how much joy they bring me in the midst of the madness. Because if they’re not old enough to know it today, I hope someday they look back and read this and realize, they were made just for me, and I for them, to love and care for, nurture and grow together. 

For Jace, my son:

You are seven. You are in an awkward stage where you’re missing half your teeth and you haven’t grown as big or tall as most of your friends. Scary movies are your absolute favorite (I love that about you…they were my favorite too). You love steak…LOVE steak, and ice cream, Pringles, orange tic tacs. You discovered Steph Curry this year and fell in love with basketball. You also grew in leaps and bounds in your baseball skills. You are learning to read with confidence. You are also learning to speak with confidence, although it is difficult for you. You second guess yourself almost always but I’m always happy to stand behind you to give that gentle (or not so gentle) nudge. You have a quick wit and sharp sense of humor. Your laugh is maybe the cutest sound I’ve ever heard and I wish I could hear it all the time. You pick on your sister incessantly but you also cherish her when no one is looking. You tell me every day that I’m the “best mom ever.” But you really can’t understand yet that being your mom is my greatest blessing and just how much I love you. Thank you for being just the person you were meant to be and for filling my heart so full. 

For Jera, my daughter:


You are four. I sometimes think you’re a love gremlin, sent here to snatch up all of my hugs and kisses. You never seem to get enough, even stopping for a squeeze and a crawl into my lap several times throughout supper every single night (God, help me not take this for granted). You are, without a doubt, the most loving soul. You love Tom and Gerry but mistakenly refer to the cat as “Tomen” because you don’t realize the show is called “Tom AND Gerry”…not “Tomen Gerry”. That one makes me smile every single time. You’re scared of the dark, and spooky movies, and loud sounds…you’re actually a bit of a fraidy cat but I love that about you. You have such a big, outgoing personality and you will talk to anyone, anywhere. You’re never scared to make a new friend. We’re battling food allergies with you and you stop to ask if I’ll read the label before trying something new. That makes me proud of you. You are thoughtful in the most unexpected ways. You love bedtime stories and watching Netflix in the bathtub. You love wearing dresses. You insist on wearing winter boots in the dead heat of summer. You are too beautiful for words. Thank you for being a ray of light and hope for me. I love you with all of my heart.

Love always and forever,

Your mom 💕

For my readers:

Take the time to remember, to write down the things that make your heart swell. Life is so busy. There is so much negativity. Take the time to focus on what really matters. Be grateful. It truly is the little things. Don’t let them slip by and fade away.

Family Fodder

My family is big by any standards. My dad comes from a family of 12 and my mom comes from a family of 9. For the most part, each one of my aunts and uncles have 2-3 children and now my cousins and I continue on the legacy of what my grandparents started all of those years ago. This is nowhere close to all of us…if we were all in the same place at the same time, we’d need a much bigger photo!


Family…what an amazing and incredible blessing. Our very own modern day tribe. The very best friends I’ve had in my life, those I’ve grown up with, those I continue to grow old with, the ones from the beginning who will still be there in the end, they’re my family. My best memories are those made with my aunts, uncles and cousins. A bond made strong by shared laughs, countless sleepovers, hearty German meals together and the realization that there are other humans in this world that not only have shared many of my experiences, but also who are truly a part of who I am. Genetics are incredible and when I spend time with my cousins whom I don’t see nearly enough, I find myself feeling right at home. I know it’s more than the late night secrets shared 25 years ago that keep us close after all of this time. We are cut from the same cloth…how can we not be thankful for this gift of family?

I am in awe for the way we’re all connected in this experience of life. It makes me want to build the same thing for my children. How different my life would be if I didn’t have this safe place where I will always belong…family. I’ve made a good start, for my kids I mean. Although they spend most of their time arguing with one another at the moment (like most siblings do), they also love each other like crazy. And thankfully they also have cousins who are already their best friends. They keep secrets from us lame adults, they giggle over things we don’t understand, they spend endless hours playing games that they’ve designed and no one else gets….they know one another in a way someone outside of this circle will never understand. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful. 


So here are the experiences I hope for for my children with their God-given best friends, their cousins:

  1. Late night whispers and giggles together after I’ve tucked them in and demanded they go to sleep RIGHT NOW!
  2. The building of forts, the telling of stories, the dreams of modeling or becoming the next Steph Curry, the desire to take on the world together in adventure after adventure
  3. Excited secrets of first loves…first kisses…and the tender understanding needed from a true friend after their first heartbreak
  4. The passing on of the advice that I, as Mom, am not ready to give…it was a cousin who told me Santa wasn’t real, it was a cousin who showed me how to shave my legs and even passed on all of the feminine necessities when I reached that magical age of womanhood
  5. Days and nights of too much fun shared with the people that care enough to let them know when they’re out of line. And the knowledge that when they’ve stepped over that line, they’ll always have a friend that sees them for who they truly are, not for the mistakes they’ve made
  6. Celebrations of graduations, weddings, children and all of the other amazing gifts in life
  7. The shared decision one day down the road 25 years from now, when it’s easy to drift apart, that their friendship is so worth the effort…and the discovery that things between them are just as easy and joyful as when they were five.


Have you thought about those special people in your life? The ones who have always been there? Give thanks for the way they’ve shaped you as a person, thanks for all that you’ve shared, thanks to have someone in this world that just gets you. Don’t forget to make that extra effort. Go the extra mile. There are some things that time and distance will not change; the bond of family is one of those unchangables. Let’s never take that for granted. I read somewhere the other day “Find Your Tribe, Love Them Hard.” Some of us are lucky enough not to have to look too far. My tribe has always been there and they always will be. I give thanks for that every day.