My Dash

Today marks the first day of my freedom….for approximately 30 days to come.  Yesterday morning I submitted my final paper for MNGT 681 – Strategic and International Management, class number eight of 10 and the capstone of my MBA program.  The past seven weeks have been challenging to say the least.  30+ hours of course work, 40+ hours of “work” work, and of course, family.  I have been tired, stressed, stretched to my limit (and my very supportive, amazing, sweet husband has too).  But life keeps on going, even when you take on too much.  Life moves on, ready or not…as mine certainly did.

In the past seven weeks, we lost Jace’s most beloved pet hamster, Butterscotch.  On a rare night alone, my husband and I decided to go out for a little wine and dinner.  On our way home my husband mentioned he forgot that he had let our pet cat, Molly, inside the house.  You see, Molly was once an inside cat, but after my daughter’s cat allergies arose, and exasperated by Molly’s awful temperament and propensity to pee on our bed when she wasn’t pleased with us, Molly become an outside cat.   So, Phil had let Molly in for old time’s sake and forgot to put her out when we left for dinner.  Arriving home, I bolted for the restroom, which tends to happen after a few glasses of wine.  From upon the porcelain throne, I hear my husband mutter, “OH MY GODDDD.”  From the restroom I shouted, “What???!!” To which he returned, “It’s the worst possible thing you could imagine.”  There, left lovingly by my husband’s bedside as a sweet little gift, was Butterscotch, dead.  Molly was prancing around the house as though she was really something fantastic.  I’m not sure if it was the wine or the thought of telling Jace that Butterscotch was no more, but that night I sat in the kitchen and cried for a while.  Jace took it well, and much to my own amazement, in place of Butterscotch, we now have two hamsters, because little sister needed a hamster too.  Our family continues to grow, fuzzy as it may be, Phil, Melissa, Jace, Jera, Rusty (dog), Molly (cat), Oreo (hamster) and Angel (hamster) keep on moving forward.

In other news, my oldest son, Jace, turned nine years old this week.  As absolutely crazy as it seems that I can have a nine-year old (yes, that is half way to 18), in the same breath it seems so right.  When I look at my son today, I see a boy, not the baby and toddler that I used to see.  I see someone with his own thoughts and opinions, someone who is considerate and kind, someone who is quirky in the best way.  I see someone who is gaining an understanding of this world, both its beauty and its cruelty.  He isn’t the same tiny boy he used to be, which in moments makes me sad, but  also so proud.  I couldn’t be prouder of the young man he is growing into. Time keeps moving forward.

Now Christmas in the Hafele house has begun.  The tree is up, the presents are bought (mostly), the month is filled with Christmas-fun plans.  The elves are back….and they’ve multiplied.  We first began with Zart, the original Elf on the Shelf.  Then in year three, Zart went missing.  We then brought in Millie and Willie, one for Jace and one for Jera, of course.  Then in year four, Zart turned back up and we had Zart, Willie and Millie.  Ater my grandma passed away recently, the kids wanted Great-Grandma’s elves to remember her by, so three more elves came to live with us.  Today we have six, you read that right, SIX elves to stash around the house.  Thankfully, I let Jace in on the little secret this year, and he has had a blast helping us to hide the elves for Jera.  As much as I thought it would be sad to tell him the truth about the Elves on Shelf, he has genuinely enjoyed being the giver of joy this year.  Another sign of what a special boy he is.  And every once in a while, Zart hides somewhere special for Jace to find….just for old time’s sake.

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My next class begins January 8th, and I plan to enjoy each and every second until then.  And then, when I’m back to the 70+ hour work weeks, I will try to enjoy every moment then too.  I look back at the last seven weeks, look back over the past year and a half in the MBA Program, back at the last 10+ years of working full-time, at the past 15 years of my relationship with my husband…I think back to the time of my childhood, of my parents and all of the love we shared, to my siblings and cousins and all of the laughs…I look back and I’m in awe.  I’m in awe to be where I am today with so many blessings.  I’m in awe that so much time has passed and at times it feels like it’s only been an instant.  I’m brought back to my Pastor’s sermon from last week where she recited the poem “The Dash”….if you haven’t read it, the poem talks about how a headstone marks the date of birth and the date of death, but those dates really aren’t important at all.  What is important, what really matters is the ‘dash’.  What are we going to do with our dash?  How will we spend it?  I hope to make the most of my dash.  That is what I strive for every day.  I hope you do too.

Happy holidays and a merry Christmas to all of my readers.  I pray that you are filled with the sacred spirit of this season and that your dash is everything that you were created to be.

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2, 4, 6, 8…Nah, 2.

This week was hell-ish. I began my eighth MBA course, Strategic and International Management. I had the stomach flu. And then my husband had the stomach flu. And then my daughter had an asthma flare that landed her home from school for two days. It’s the month following quarter-end, which involves all of the work-fun that one could conjure up. We had Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. My dishes were unwashed. My laundry is completely out of control. I was in tears at times from the amount of overwhelmed that was me. And I was absolutely, positively sure that I did not want any more kids. Totally sure.

You see, our son is turning nine next month. Our daughter is five. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and we had agreed that we don’t want to be having babies in our forties. We’ve hit this now or never moment. For a minute, we wanted more. If you have children, it’s impossible not to wonder who number three would be. Would they be reserved and laid back like our son? Or kind and dramatic like our daughter? Or would his little nugget be someone completely new and original? 

Then months went by. I finished another class and started my current class. Life went up and went down. We got good news and we got bad news. We had moments that we couldn’t take a single extra stress for fear of completely losing it. 

And I changed my mind. Because maybe things are exactly perfect the way they are. Other families never had choices. Children just came, one after another and there wasn’t a lot of time for thinking. But things were never like that for my husband and me. It was always a choice, and then we had to try to have a baby. It was fun, but it was also stressful and sad at times. 

I felt certain last week that it was time to move forward to the next stage of our lives. Then today as I was folding my mountains of laundry, Knocked Up was playing in the background. I watched Kathryn Heigl give fake birth and I cried. My heart squeeezed in my chest as I watched a comedy about becoming a parent. I hesitated. Can I really go the entire rest of my life and never have that experience again…the miracle of having a child?

Having my children, the actual grueling process of giving birth, is the absolute most amazing experience that I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve never felt stronger, more sure of myself, more comfortable in my own skin then when I was bringing my babies into the world. Can I really not ever feel that again? There are no words that can describe what those moments meant to me. Perfection comes close.

I still think two is the right answer for us, for our family, for who we are and what we want. I’m sure I’ll have other moments. Moments of mourning what might have been. 

I’m curious from my readers…when did you know you were done having children? Did you have moments of temporary insanity after you decided your baby-making days were done? I feel my common sense returning…in the form of needing to stop writing and get started with putting laundry away, putting away the groceries my hubby just brought through the door, getting bathtimes started, getting this supper thing done. 

Two is totally enough. Totally. 

But how can you help but reminisce about these moments…

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! 

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!

Priorities Heal Disappointment 

Can we talk just for a moment about priorities? Today is a day that I need to talk about this…about not only making choices about what is important but accepting the consequences of those choices. The logical part of my mind knows that when we realize our priorities, we inevitably miss out on something else (although that doesn’t ever stop me from trying to have it all). But when the inevitable opportunity cost is paid, when I reach my capacity in one form or another, it just about breaks my heart. Does anyone else struggle with this?

This weekend I made choices that ultimately led to a less than desirable grade on my exam today. I know I could have studied harder; I could have taken more time to prepare. I didn’t do anything wrong. I chose to catch up on rest. I chose to spend time with my husband and friends. I chose not to miss my son’s Boy Scout meeting or church with my children. While none of those choices were bad choices, those are the choices that led me to feel disappointment today.

This is my point. There is too much in this life. Too much to do, too many places to be, too many people to please. I come back to the fact that, not only do I have to have my priorities straight, I also have to be okay with the consequences of those priorities. 

I’m learning that our priorities not only can change throughout the stages of our lives, but that they should change. When we take on new responsibilities our priorities must shift. We must take inventory of our to-do’s and make decisions about what falls where. I’ve recently taken on the responsibility of earning my MBA and it’s radically changed my life (and the lives of those I love). Things that used to be important to me (exercise, rest, fun) have taken a backseat and I’ve reorganized my life to meet this goal. 

For me always, God comes first, then my family, then my job. But now, after those absolutes, comes school. It comes before all other responsibilities, wants and needs. It is hard. It is hard to sacrifice and give up so much. But it is what I signed up for, and it is what I have to do.

Today I feel as though I let myself down. But I know I was not prepared because  I spent my afternoon with my son at his Boy Scout meeting. Because I spent the evening with my husband and best friend feeling like a real, actual person for the first time in weeks. Because I went to church and spent time there. Because I wanted to make it to my son’s basketball practice. These are the choices that led to less study time. While it is so disappointing to not meet my own expectations for school, I have to be okay with the choices I made. I have to be okay with the priorities that I set out for my life. I have no one to blame but myself and I have to learn to roll with the punches, knowing that I’ll find a way to make it work better the next time around.

I share this because we all have too much on our plates. We all have sacrifices and we all make choices. Sometimes the consequences of our choices hurt. Sometimes we are limited in our ability. But those moments of hurt are the moments when we have to look back at our priorities. Sometimes what we had because of those priorities…because of the choices our priorities led to (in my case a pie to the face by 4 Boy Scouts and my stinker of a daughter)….the gifts we were given in place of what we missed are actually worth what is sacrificed. 

I hope that makes sense. 

Sometimes coming to terms about what we can’t do is actually about knowing what we did do instead. At the end of the day, if we look back and can’t feel better after this type of review, maybe it’s time to look at our priorities and realign. When our priorities are in order, we know that what we’ve gained with our choice is so great, that we can be okay with what we’ve lost. Our priorities can actually heal our disappointments. That realization is an amazing gift for me. I hope it is for you too.

MBA – Day 1

I started my first class for my MBA today….Masters of Business Administration…Graduate Degree…it sounds so nice, so fancy. Right? I always thought I would get my Masters. It’s always been a part of my plan, at the back of my mind, tapping me on the shoulder, saying “hey you, busy wife, mom and employee, remember me??? We have work to do.” 

At four and seven, my kids are quickly becoming self-sufficient. The days of diapers and bottles are long gone. They can feed themselves, bathe themselves, dress themselves. So there’s no time like the present to put a little focus on me and my goals, right?


I vaguely recall what it was like to work on my Undergraduate Degree when Jace was a small child. I was working full time and commuting  to school at night. I remember spending weekends parked at the computer. I remember the late nights and early mornings. I remember missing the parties and gatherings because I had to study. So I should have known what was coming…how quickly we forget.

I had my first night of materials tonight. I completed my first assignment, hit the discussion board and began to study our first chapter. I worked on my course from 5:00 until I called it quits at 9:30. The material was fascinating and challenging and overwhelming. I felt parts of my mind come alive that I haven’t exercised in years. I focused only on the task at hand and I couldn’t have been more intrigued and excited. I’ve always been a real nerd for school….

Then I came home and found my whole sweet family asleep. I crawled into my kids’ bed and kissed their heads. They didn’t even stir. I ate and I lie restless now. 

It dawns on me…so this is what this is going to be like. This is what being in school is like. It is so strange that you can talk about a reality over and over again, but until you experience it, until you feel it, you don’t know. I’ve been away from my kids for exactly one night. So why I lie in bed, my heart squeezed tight, tears sliding down my cheeks, I have no idea. It must be the realization that there are going to be many nights like this. Nights that I don’t get to do their homework with them, hear their mealtime prayers, help them into their PJs, read them their bedtime stories. Those moments are my favorite moments in the world. Missing those moments truly breaks my heart.


So why? Why am I doing this to myself? Why is it so hard to be everything you want to be? The best mom, wife, daughter, friend, the brightest student, hardest working employee, the most loving Christian…why can’t we be all things to all people? Or better yet, why do we feel like we have to be? 

I’ve always wanted to get my MBA. I love to learn and grow and stretch myself beyond my limits. I certainly made things hard on myself choosing to start my family first and complete my education second. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I wouldn’t give up all that I have even if it hurts to do things my way at times.

My hope is that my children see what is possible. That my accomplishments mean more to them than my time away sacrifices. My hope is that when my kids have a goal or potential they do whatever it takes to reach it. I hope they see how important it is to never stop learning, growing, pushing yourself. I hope that they are proud of their mother. And I hope they know how very much I love them. 

So I have one night down. Approximately 917 nights to go. No sweat.