Monday, February 29, 2016

In Charge

I was sitting here finishing up a report repeating to myself, don't write again about work.  Don't write again about work.  Don't write again about work.  Oh well, I don't always listen to myself very well . .
So . . hmm . . Mother Nature is proving to make things difficult lately.  With the snow last week, I pushed some appointments back to Friday.  Appointment for the "W" word.  The my clients wanted reports in today since the appointments were pushed back.
I had plans over the weekend to try and get ahead a bit.  But the weekend was already pretty full.  And when it wasn't full, I was exhausted.
So I've been here, plugging away all day, doing that "W" word stuff.  I broke two nails on my keyboard today!  I ignored everything else.  Except for the laundry.  I did get quite a bit of germy bedding clean from my now on-the-mend family.
I woke up a little after 5 to get some things done while everyone slept . . this woke up the cat.  My trips from my office to the washer and dryer woke up the cat.  And now this evening, my increasingly louder tv reruns are disrupting the cat.
I am toying with the idea of making the cat in charge of my scheduling.  Check her out!  Apparently it is time for me to clock out for the day, as the cat has declared the rest of my papers off limits :)  Fortunately for her, I have now finished what I wanted to get done today.
Tonight I am thankful for getting everything done that I wanted done!  And I'm thankful for a kitty that knows when to call it quits better than I do! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Season

Many a person out there would subscribe to the thought that people are creatures of habit.  I have always seen myself as a person who could not commit to a habit.
I don't get up at the same time every day.  I don't go to bed at the same time every day.  I change my favorite food, song, color, etc. regularly.  I don't want the same thing to eat or drink every morning.
I've never bit my nails.  I can't keep the same hair length and be happy with it.  I'm a homebody until I want to go out driving all day.  I'm usually late, unless I'm way early.  I don't have a favorite route home.  I listen to country music, until I change the station to a variety of other stations.
Yeah . . consistency has never been my thing.
Then I became a mom.  Kids need consistency.  I fought it for awhile.  I mean, I kept the kids consistent with naps and all.  But I wasn't going to change.  I was going to stay me, floating around like the wind.
Then I started my own business.  Then the business got bigger.  Then I added more businesses.  Then the kids got older.  Then the kids got in to more activities.
Now my calendar app dings at me early Sunday mornings to get up and organize the week.  I go over the sales ad, make the meal plan, and grocery list.  With the beginning of a new month coming, I update the calendars.  There is my desktop calendar, the calendar in the kitchen, my calendar app for my work stuff, and the shared family calendar app - yes, we are both digital and on paper.  It is a little repetitive.  But all six people in this family have access to at least one calendar.  And I can keep everyone and everything straight.
Yesterday I was remembering when I was 20.  I was in my very own first house that I decorated how I wanted.  I worked 7 to 3, Monday thru Friday.  I went to school at night, finishing my degree.  But I walked down to the lake when I wanted.  I went and got take out when I wanted.  I spent my weekends doing whatever I wanted.
I think about where I am now.  This past week was rough.  I was slammed with work.  I had a sick family.  I wasn't feeling super wonderful myself (although I'm not complaining because I never got as sick as Sammy).
And I thought about where I'll be in 10 years.  In 10 years, my baby will be in his last year of high school.  My other three will be in college and beyond.  On our current plan, the house will be paid off.  I won't be taking on so much work.  I won't need to.  Our plan that we have right now will have led us to a good place of financial freedom with no loans and productive investments.  The calendar will be much less empty.  I won't need to be so organized then.  I won't need to try so hard to keep habits that keep the family running smoothly.  I'll be sleeping at night.  I won't be as frenzied or as stressed.
And I'll be missing this.  I'll be wishing I could step back in time to when 23 1/2 hours of every day are lived for someone else.  I'll smile when I think of how much this family needed me.  It won't be the same then though.  This person I've become for my family won't be there.  She'll have served her organized, hard-working purpose.  And I'll be a different version of me then.  A good version I'm sure, but still different.
Tonight I am thankful for perspective.  I'm thankful that when I get stressed or tired or missing the gypsy soul-ed person that I used to be; that I see that I have chosen to be the person that I am now.  My early Sunday morning organization habit is nothing that I have ever desired.  But I choose it now.  I choose it because this is what my family needs.  And this is what I need to to keep life running smoothly.  I'm thankful for the clarity to see that this is temporary.  This is a season.
It's easy to feel trapped sometimes.  It's easy to want to run.  Until I look at things differently.  Perspective is the key.  This week will be busy.  It will be busy because we are blessed.  Everyone is feeling healthier.  The kids are all healthy and whole and can keep up with school and activities and life.  My business is healthy and doing well.  The hubster and I are feeling better and ready to take on another week.  And I'm getting better at remembering several steps before I get to teared exhaustion to stop trying to do it all on my own.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fish

I wrote a few weeks ago about swimming lessons for the kiddos.  So I hope ya'll don't mind hearing more about it.
There are just some things that a parent really finds important for their children.  Swimming well is one of those things for me.  We started this learning to swim journey at least six years ago from what I can remember.  The older two had lessons then, while I entertained the younger two on the side of the pool.  But my boy with a negative percentage of body fat just could not stay warm enough.  When he cried because he was so upset about going in to the cold water, that was enough.
We waited a few years and tried again with everyone.  My youngest one loves the water.  He would run and jump right in.  But he couldn't swim . . . this was a problem.  He couldn't do group lessons because he just wouldn't stay on the side of the pool.
We tried two private instructors; one for the older two and one for the younger two.  That still was not enough specialized attention, as my youngest jumped in the pool again.  The instructor had to leave Gracie to snatch Cody out of the water.  Then he went back and grabbed Gracie out.  I was almost about to jump in with my street clothes.  It was not good.
So I tried to teach them myself for a summer.  I can barely swim myself.  I've never had lessons.  I've had to be pulled out the water twice as a kid.  I thought maybe I could do it anyway.  I couldn't.
I was calculating in my head today as I sat and watched them swim.  Over the years, we've spent well over $1000 in swimming lessons.  That's a lot!
Then I looked out in the pool.  I saw my oldest swimming better than I can do.  I saw her doing it almost effortlessly!  I saw my second youngest impressing her instructor swimming back and forth in the huge pool.  And I see my youngest almost getting it.  He's so close!  He can stay swimming.  Just not for very long. He's gonna get it soon.  Something is just gonna click and he'll be off.  My second oldest was home sick.  But last time he was there, he impressed me too.
It makes me so happy and so comforted knowing that these kids will all know how to swim strongly and correctly.  I know swimming isn't essential.  If you can't swim, just don't go near the water, right?  My own mom still can't swim.  But I really wanted this for the kids.  I want them to have no fear of the water, no trepidation that they might not be able to swim back out of they dive in to a lake.  I want them strong and confident in everything, including the water.
Tonight I am thankful to be able to watch the kids learn to swim well!  This has been quite the task.  But it's paying off!  They are getting it!  They are doing it!  And that is just such a comforting and reassuring thing!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Awards

I am a little on the cranky side.  I have been all day.  There was a time when I loved sleeping on the hard floor . . crazy, huh?  Well those days are behind me now.  Sleeping on my office floor was horrible last night.  I tossed and turned.  At least I did not wake up with the germs floating around my house, so I guess it was worth it.
The lack of sleep did not coincide with today being a catch-up day.  With all the snow the last few days, I pushed a bunch of appointments to today.  So I was out for 11 hours.  Eleven whole hours, just knowing that when I got home to my house of sickies . . that I wouldn't be done working.  I was correct.  I got home and the house is a disaster area.  I am putting on blinders and will not clean a thing tonight.  Well, maybe a few things.  And they wanted some homemade chicken and dumplings.  If it helps, I am ok making it.  Although I'd really rather just go to sleep.
While I was driving around, anticipating coming home to a mess, I just couldn't get myself too positive.  Just one of those funk moods, ya know.  I wasn't happy.  I didn't care to be happy.  I was just fine being cranky.  At one point, a business service that I pay for made me mad.  And it was actually a little therapeutic to call up and be less than polite.
When in one of these moods, it is hard to think about what to write in a thankful blog.  Fortunately, there was a commercial on the radio that inspired me.  So for your entertainment tonight, here are Jessie's Awards for the day!
Best Radio Commercial - goes to the Budweiser commercial about fracking.  I never thought that a beer commercial would read my mind so well.  But from the first time I heard about fracking, and how serious it is, I've wondered why someone would name it fracking!  It sounds like a word that an elementary student made up to say instead of a swear word.
Worst Plowed Roads - Cohoctah Township.  No other words necessary here . . . grrrr
Worst Driver - Semi driver passing in a no passing zone, going up a hill.  I came over the hill the other way and was almost squished.  P.S. Yes I swerved at you on purpose . . . idiot.  I wish my horn sounded ruder sometimes.
Best Two Wheel Drive pretending to be a Four Wheel Drive - my minivan.  Hooray for the baby blue beauty!
Longest Time Waiting Between Public Restrooms - Me.  I get an award because Gosh darn it, I deserve one sometimes!
Biggest Snowman Family - This would be the house I saw that had six, yes SIX full sized snowmen waving to the road.
Most Unique Snowman - This would be to the people that built their snowman around their mailbox and had the mailbox door be the snowman's mouth . . . pretty darn clever!
Silliest Girls - This would be my two girls who are in here now being fever free and cabin fever-ish from being locked up, resting for days.  They are a riot . . . :)
Best Audience - That's You!  :)
Tonight I am thankful for some humor to brighten my day because that seems to be just what I needed.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

100 Degrees

My house is infested.  It is very sad.  Infested with germs!!!  But I am putting up a good fight!
Timeline:
Monday night:  Sammy had dinner and was feeling fine.  Later in the night, the flu hit.  The diffuser was turned on with Thieves oil and has been on ever since.
Tuesday:  Sammy stayed home and rested.  He still had a temperature, but his tummy had settled down.
Wednesday:  Sammy stayed home with a fever still.  School got cancelled half-way thru and sent my kids home to be with their sicky brother.  A decree was issued that no one was to sit with Sammy!  The hubster did not listen as well as the children.  He sat with Sammy on the couch for hours last night.
Thursday:  Hubster came home from work later in the morning with the flu.  He was quarantined to the bedroom with his own diffuser.
Thursday evening:  All four children have temperatures around 100 degrees.  No one else has had tummy issues.  I have been applying Thieves oil to myself all day and was hanging in strong.  After shoveling the driveway (p.s. now on my list of things I can't do until my knee is healed), and getting some groceries I was feeling pretty bad.  I laid down for awhile and that didn't help.  Then I took a scalding hot bath with Epsom salts and I'm feeling better!
School is cancelled tomorrow so the hubster and kiddos can sit here and breathe in Thieves all day.  And hopefully no one else will toss their cookies.  I have a full day of appointments tomorrow.  So I will be sleeping here in my office tonight away from all major sources of germs.  I will cover myself in Thieves again before bed!
Tonight I am thankful for our recent discovery of essential oils and Epsom salts.  Nothing is 100%.  But if this were a year ago, the whole family would be fighting over the bathroom by now.  We'll keep fighting!  We'll keep fighting for sure!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

50 Minutes

I knew in the days coming up to today that today would be busy.  I had a lot of work due today.  And I really wanted to get some things done up ahead of time.
My body was not so cooperative.  I've been fighting off some sinus/cold thing.  And I feel like I've been losing.  But I know it could be worse, so I don't think I'm losing as bad as it feels.  I've been taking apple cider vinegar.  I've been diffusing thieves oil.  I've been putting peppermint oil on myself.  I've been doing everything that I can.  And I just have felt like my head hates me.
Thankfully today wasn't quite as bad, so I was able to get quite a bit of work done - though not all of it finished.  I'm pretty close though.  I've got 50 minutes until things are officially late.  I can finish this assignment in front of me before that time I believe.
So I've had this coming anyway.  These deadlines all hitting today, and not being able to think clear enough or stay awake enough to make today any easier.
Add to that a boy getting over the flu who had to stay home from school and is feeling well enough to want to chat, chat, chat.  Then add in school getting over early so three more children come home.  I had a talk with all of them.  I didn't care if chores got done today.  I didn't care if homework got done today.  All I wanted was for them to play quietly and nicely for the day so that I could try and concentrate.  I have to say that they all did pretty well!
So tonight I am thankful that I've still got about 50 more minutes left in today to see what I can get done.  I am thankful that my head was a little more clear today - although I'm pushing it now in hour 15.  And I am thankful that my kiddos were so understanding and quiet!  Back to work now!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tummy

Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine who had a sickey little girl.  The tummy flu is no fun when kidlets are too little to get to themselves to the bathroom.
I have cleaned up more flu symptoms over the years than I could count, or that I would care to count.  I will never forget the first round of flu that went thru the house when everyone made it to the bathroom and there was nothing for me to clean up!
Last night my Sam-bo started not feeling good.  As his poor tummy seemingly turned inside out, I did take a moment to be thankful that I did not have to clean anything up.  Several years ago Sammy would get hives from being too hot.  For whatever reason, those hives made a re-appearance last night with the fever and the other symptoms that go along with the flu.
Tonight I am thankful that my Sam-man was able to keep the benadryl down to make the hives go away.  I am thankful that he is feeling a little better today.  He is staying home tomorrow as well; although the boy with the 100 degree fever thinks that he should go climb a mountain since he can keep food down now . . .  I am also thankful that I've been diffusing Thieves oil for over 24 hours now and so far no one else is sick.  I may drench the children in thieves tomorrow as long as it keeps this from spreading!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why I Hit

Statistics are out there about women getting sexually assaulted.  There are all sorts of surveys that measure all sorts of stuff.  The numbers are sickening.  And I applaud groups working towards bringing awareness and education on this matter.  I do not believe that change is impossible.  I do believe that change takes a long time.
And in that long time that it would take, my daughters are growing; as are my sons.  So far in their lives I have noticed that the studies are correct.  Showing sex and violence on tv, in movies, and in song lyrics definitely has had an impact on today's youth.  My son is getting sickened listening to the boys in class.  And has come home asking me what all sorts of things are.  He is 11 and he asked me what 69 is.  I don't remember hearing that until high school.  My daughter is being groped in the hallway and having comments said to her that no boy or man should ever say to anyone.
We talk to the school.  And I greatly appreciate the school being willing to help.  Here is my personal experience though, parents need to get involved and there needs to be big repercussions here - more than the school can issue.
I will never forget the first time I was touched in appropriately.  I was 16.  I gave a "friend" a ride home from school.  He gave me a hug to thank me and reached his hand right on around.  I felt violated.  But I was speechless.  I didn't know what to do or say.  I went home and told my brother, as it was a friend of his too.  His comment to me was "What did you do?"  And the tone in his voice pissed me off.  What did I do?  WHAT DID I DO?  Why was this on me?  Why didn't he go beat this guy up?
Here's the truth of life.  You can't rely on anyone to save you.  And you are only a victim if you choose to stay a victim.  That was the one and only time that I did not hit someone for touching me.  Later on I put that guy in a headlock and only let up on his neck when he dropped down to his knees and was turning blue.  Although I would like to think that having a big discussion with this person could have persuaded him to change his ways; it wouldn't have.  He knew better.  I knew his family.  I knew how he was raised.  I don't know why he thought that was ok to do.  I do know that he never did it again to me.
I give my girls permission to hit in such circumstances also; with discretion of course.  But I won't have them be victims.  And if my boys ever touched a girl like that, I would expect them to be hit as well.  I pray that my boys never listen to the world more than they listen to their own conscious and their mother that such touching is not Ok . .ever!
It's a mentality that has to change.  I will never forget when I was working as a night manager at a   store.  I was 21, I think, and there was a boy working that night who was 16 or 17.  He grabbed my butt so I turned around and punched him in the stomach.  He doubled over and got mad.  He said to me, "I'm going to tell my mom that you hit me!"  Ok, first off . . seriously??  You grab my butt and you're going to tell your mom.  He was thinking he was going to get me in trouble because he was a minor and I hit him.  I told him, "Go ahead and tell her.  And I'll tell her what a pervert her son is, and why I hit you".
Ok, now I'm not saying violence is always the way to go in every situation.  But think about the last paragraph.  It was ok in this boy's mind to grab my butt, but not for him to have any repercussions from that?  How do you deal with that mentality?  He thinks it is fine because grabbing a butt is an every day thing, right?  No big deal, right?  Wrong!  Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
This has been bugging me for awhile now.  I would love to change the world for my children.  But I can't.  I can make them stronger though.  And I will change what I can of the world, one phone call at a time, one email at a time, and millions and millions of prayers.  I've got some bigger ideas for change that are growing in the back of my head . . big ideas . . . ideas to take on a generation.
Tonight I am thankful that the situation is not as bleak as it sometimes sits in my soul.  The world is not always pretty.  The big picture of life is not stuck in this world.  John 15:19 " . . you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world".  We are not alone.  So we are starting here, in this life, with these people, and trying to get thru to their level; while trying to preserve my babies' innocence.  It is a mountainous task.  Good thing God moves mountains!  (Matthew 17:20)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Something Better

I've mentioned on here before that I am a recovering pack rat.  I would never say hoarder, because I really am not that bad.  I have made great advances in recent years on breaking emotional attachments to "stuff" though.
With my pack rat history and having four children, I am very good at walking around with blinders on.  This is a sad fact however.  It helps a lot with my sanity to block out the clutter growth in the house or the dust on the . . well on anything.  Unfortunately, the blinders come off when someone stops in or when the kids want to have someone over.  Then I freak out a little!  Oh crap!  Had I really let the house get this bad?!?
I do like it when the house is clean.  I get downright mad at the thought that I should constantly clean it though.  Of the six people in this house, I am the self-proclaimed, neatest person here.  It most likely is very much the truth.  No one is two years old anymore.  There is no need for the mess they create.  And even when they were two, they had to pick up their toys.
Our latest attempt at kids doing chores is doing pretty well.  They don't get all the details of their cleaning done.  But, I'll tell ya though, I am much more willing to clean the details they missed if they are doing something . . anything!  So we're on a good track I think.
One room that they mess up but are not allowed to clean is my office.  My office is pretty much the headquarters of the house.  Sadly, when no one knows where something belongs, it comes to my office because mom always knows what to do with things.  So my office becomes cluttered very easily.  I am looking at moving my office to a new room in the house very soon, so I've kind of been trying to box up some things to be ready to move.
In the meantime though, I still need to keep organization.  I have gotten very good at the level of organization that I need to bring to daily life over the past many years.  My older ways of organization become ineffective the more the kids grow and get in to things; and the more my ideas and business objectives grow and branch out.
Last year I made a leap from paper trays to a six slot cardboard, sectioned organizer.  That worked great; except that it was made out of cardboard and I am breaking it already . .after only a year.
Today I was quite delighted to spend $4.99 at my local Goodwill for a 24 slot organizer!!  I am so excited!  I know it may not sound like a big deal.  But right now, it has found a place on my shelf and has 20 of the 24 slots labeled and helping to organize life for me!
Tonight I am thankful for organizing and details.  Next on the list is to continue to minimize the amount of "stuff" in this house; my office included.  The kids kept coming in today while I made room for my new organizer.  I let them see me archive some things and throw out some other things.  I've mislead them a bit about hanging on to things just in case.  I've got better things to show them and I'm working on it.  We'll organize.  We'll minimize.  We'll get cleaning down to a minimum because there will be less stuff.  We'll stay on track (for the most part anyway.  I'm sure there'll be hiccups now and then.)  And we'll enjoy living life instead of cleaning up after it!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

With Love

Today I realized that I never followed up on Valentine's Day here.
Most years I don't want much.  This year I wanted a new punching bag.  I mentioned about three weeks before Valentine's Day that I wanted a punching bag.  I mentioned about two weeks before Valentine's Day that I wanted a punching bag.
Sometime around a week or so before Valentine's Day, the hubster asked, so what do you really want for Valentine's Day?  Ah men  . .  I told him I was serious!  I want a new punching bag.  Mine is so old.  The weight has settled to the bottom and the rips are getting to be too much.
After a few little bumps, the hubster did come home with a punching bag for Valentine's Day!  It got hung up this week.  And it is getting broke in nicely!
My old punching bag was a Christmas gift from the hubster back when we were dating.  I've recommended to several couples over the years that a very practical gift for the lady of the house may just be a punching bag.  It is a good work out to hit that thing until you're arms are jello.  Also, it helps let off steam when the gentleman of the house is just a little too "Urgh"!  "Urgh" is my best definition!  Like when you know you're frustrated with him; you know your words aren't getting thru;  you know you have some other words that you really shouldn't say anyway; and you know you aren't going to solve anything until you both calm down.  Some times just getting away and breathing is good.  And sometimes putting on some gloves and punching a big heavy bag is even better!
Tonight I am thankful for my Valentine's punching bag!  The hubster was shaking his head when he brought it in the house for me.  But it's what I wanted, and it was perfect!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Different is Good!

A few weeks ago I wrote about Red Raspberry Leaves.  I also ended up adding Vitex to my regimen.  Vitex is also known as a chaste tree.  It's been about three weeks, I think.
Whose seen Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?  At the end when it finally he gets to February 3rd, he has the line "Anything different is good!".
Well that's where I am at right now with the red raspberry leaves and the Vitex.  I don't know what it is doing.  But my body is acting different.  And right now anything different is good!  It has been years of issues for me.  Years, many years of the same issues - but just getting worse.  And now there are some things happening that are different.  I'm excited.
So while this update is incomplete because changes do take time; I am even more hopeful that I may be normal again one day!
Tonight I am thankful for natural cures!  Those several websites I found weeks ago filled with women who have experienced wonderful, healthy changes was inspiring.  And now seeing changes in me is even more inspiring!  I'm not back yet, but things are different.  And anything different is good!  :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Clean Interior

I knew this week would be rough.  I've been doing alright with scheduling lately.  Yesterday I would have said I was doing pretty darn good at scheduling.  But tonight my daughter arrived at her Girl Scout meeting when it was ending . . so I can't really feel too cocky about my scheduling practices yet.
Honestly, I'm never expecting perfection here.  Schedules just aren't a natural thing for me.  So I'm sure I'll always make mistakes.  After realizing the Girl Scout meeting snafu tonight, I looked at the calendar and the time was written correctly there.  If I can't read it correctly, then scheduling really does no good!
Anyway, yes, so this week was going to be shorter on time to get work done.  Monday had the kids off school.  Tuesday has a meeting over an hour away.  Wednesday had my last physical therapy appointment . . insurance has declared me healed . . . that must be some crystal ball they have there!  So that brings us to today, Thursday.  I crammed a lot in to the calendar for today because it was my first full day of the week to devote to working.  Of course I've been working all week.  But I can't schedule multiple house appointments on days with other appointments, it just doesn't work logistically.
Last night I was prepared for a day to devote to work.  I was starting to feel like a horse at the gate waiting for a clearing in undisturbed time to get some things done!  And then last night my little Cody got sick.  He actually felt a bit better by morning, which was good.  Because then I had to make the call . . bring him with me and risk my car's interior.  Or cancel appointments and really piss people off.  Seriously, people don't take it well when they've arranged their day to meet an appraiser at their house.
I deemed him good enough to ride along and hopefully nap a bit.  We packed a change of clothes (just in case), crackers, Big Doggy, and some coloring supplies and we were off.  Quite fortunately, he was ok!  Hooray!!  And it was nice to have a junior ride along with me.  It's funny how nostalgic that can be for me with my job.  But I started this job to be able to stay home with the kids.  And they have been with me with this job every step.  They're here when I'm researching and typing.  They've been with me lots out to houses.  The time spent with them doing this job makes this job that much more special to me.  They are the heart of Gold Star Appraisals, and they don't even realize just how much!
Tonight I am thankful that Cody is feeling better!  I'm thankful that he was doing better this morning and my car is still in tact!  And I'm thankful once more for God leading me to this job 11 years ago.  It's kind of funny because on Tuesday I was in Plymouth and I drove by the first place I took my classes towards my license.  It was this Elk's lodge.  The woman teaching the classes belonged to the Elk's and taught classes out of it.  It's really a rather drab looking building.  But it makes me smile whenever I happen to be out that way.  That's where I took that first step and started learning something new for this blessed job that lets me be here when my family needs me!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Old & Fluffy

I've always loved animals.  It really doesn't matter what animal it is.  I used to catch frogs, snakes, stray cats, butterflies, chickens, caterpillars, injured birds, stray dogs.  It really didn't matter.  If it came near me, it would be my friend.
I have always been a little more partial to the fluffy animals.  When we took in Jackson, the alpaca, his fluffiness was extreme!  He hadn't had a good haircut in quite awhile and he was like 20 stuffed animals rolled in to one.
He was sassy.  And he was the protector of the barnyard.  He wasn't too fond of the chickens, after a few of them decided his back would make a good roost last winter.  The goats were his babies.  And even with his general wariness of chicken feet, he still protected the chickens as well.
When we had a vet come out last year, he said Jackie was pretty old.  Of course it's hard to know for sure.  He was a hand-me-down animal.  We got him from a family who got him from a family, who got from a family, etc.  No one really knew where or when he started.
So with his unstable history, I am glad that we got to give him a good last home.  He felt at home here.  He loved the other animals.  He loved the kids.  He tolerated me ;)  I entered "his" barnyard a bit too much for his liking.  But he allowed it.  And when I grabbed his big, long neck and gave him a hug, he let me.
He was fine today.  I went out and saw him when I got home this afternoon.  I've been checking in on the animals a little extra after Roo died last week.  Roo was another one that came to us old.  I liked Roo, but I could never get quite as fond of him . . . he was an intact male goat . . they tend to pee on everything and everybody.
So, when I went out this afternoon, everyone was doing just fine.  They all came up to the fence.  I pet their heads.  When we got back home from guitar, Jackie was laying on the ground.  This wasn't uncommon, he laid down regularly.  His head was up, and he was looking around.  I rolled down the window and yelled "hello" to him.  He twitched his ear at me and kept looking around.
When we found him tonight, it looks like he just curled up his long neck and head for a nap; and didn't wake back up.  The other goats were standing around him crying.  That made it harder.  Susie, especially will have a hard time with this.  She was the last baby goat, so she was still his baby.  He liked to take care of the babies.  Bella, the one who I thought didn't get along with him the most, tried to follow him out when we removed him.  :(
Tonight, thru my tears, I will be thankful for our time with our older animals.  I am thankful for having the chance to have Jackson the alpaca.  I am thankful for Roo the goat too.  I am thankful for everyone still alive.  We've only got a handful of older animals at this point.  I hope they hang in there for awhile.  I don't think the hearts in this house could stand to lose anyone else anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Car

On Tuesdays the girls both have activities for a bit.  So the boys and I hang out.  There really isn't time to run home and do anything worthwhile.  Instead we hang out in the car.
We munch on snacks.  We take turns playing Candy Crush.  We look at Pokemon cards.  And we take silly selfies :)  There are occasional fits thrown . . but the boys promise me candy and then I calm down.  Oh wait, maybe it is the boys who sometimes have issues.  But yes, then I threaten to take away their snacks (sometimes candy) and then they calm down.
It's just something little.  It's just about 20 to 25 minutes once a week when we hang out in the car.  But it's one of those little somethings that will be a memory that makes them smile one day.
Tonight I am thankful for Tuesdays in the car chillin' with my boys :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Non-Presidential

I will be the first to admit that my family did not really spend today thinking about presidents.  I'm sure whoever thought about creating President's Day had good intentions.  Honestly though, history class at school goes over the presidents much better than I could.
I did take this opportunity with the kids home to bribe them.  If my children could get their chores done while I got my work done, we could go to open swim at the pool.  There were a few rough moments, but they did get done!
So we went off to the pool.  I was a little nervous honestly.  And I can now report that my knee does not like swimming either.  Pffft!  Stupid knee!
The kids had lots of fun!  I think we need to head to the pool more often.  We got pretty lucky today.  There were only a handful of people there.
And of course it is good exercise.  I even had one kiddo fall asleep on the way home!
Tonight I am thankful for President's Day, even if we didn't do anything presidential.  I'm thankful for a day with the kiddos home to play and have fun!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

8pm Shopping

Some days I watch my kids and my heart just lights up.
There are days when they fight like touching another person's stuffed animal is a crime punishable by capital punishment.  There are days when they seem oblivious to each other.  There are times when they talk with each other.  There are times when they help each other.  There are moments when they work together.  There are moments when they sabotage each other.  There are moments when they show their love for each other so spontaneously and so unprompted that it makes me melt.
And then there are days like today when they are just goofy with each other and have fun.  These days are nice.  I love when they are goofy with each other.  I love that they can enjoy each other's company and laugh together!  They will remember the goofiness for their lives.  I pray they hold on to this and stay friends forever.
And tonight I am thankful that on this Valentine's Day, my heart smiled just walking thru a grocery store at night, watching my girls be my goofy girls and laugh together!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hider

I'm a good hider.  I do awesome at Hide n' Seek!  And that's really about the only time that skill comes in handy . . .
Somewhere in this house is a necklace with a guitar that my son absolutely LOVED!  I bought it for him in secret for Christmas . . 3 years ago now.  I hid it so he didn't found it.  It is in one awesome hiding place!
Last year in March I found boxes of Valentines on clearance for 10 cents a box.  I couldn't believe it!  I bought at least 8 boxes so that the kids could have choices this year.  And I hadn't even spent a dollar!  I put then somewhere around the box of Valentines decorations.  I have searched three attics, one office, and one bedroom.  I could not find them.  We went to the store and had to pay around $3 per box instead.  I know, I know.  It's only $12 for four kids.  BUT, it's the point that somewhere in this house is at least 8 boxes of Valentines already bought and paid for at a big discount!!!!
In January I saw the perfect gift for the hubster.  I bought it.  I kept it in a brown paper bag in the closet in my office.  I did not lose that.  At a later time I bought him a card and chocolate.  For whatever brilliant reason, I did not put that in the paper bag.  I searched for about 25 minutes this evening to try and find the card and candy.  I am happy to report that I DID FIND IT!!  Hooray!!!
So, my new plan for hiding things around the house is that I am going to create a log for myself on my computer, password protected of course, that will tell me where I put things.  I could be upset here.  But I'd like to focus on the fact that I am such an excellent hider!  Maybe one day I'll be a good finder.  Maybe . . .  someday . . .
Tonight I am thankful that I at least found the card and candy I had bought for the hubster!  I was starting to panic a little!  Now we'll see what kind of a hider the hubster is . . . I've been dropping not-at-all-subtle hints for the past three weeks that I would really like a new punching bag for Valentine's Day :)  I really have enough jewelry.  I can use a punching bag even with my knee being moody.  And my old punching bag is ripping out.  Nothing says love like more gym equipment!!!  :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Party Day

Ah Valentine's Parties, you have provided my children with enough sugar to keep them buzzing until sometime next week.  I tried to help the children.  I really did.  I ate a Twix bar and a 3 Musketeers, and one other, though it's kind of a chocolate, sugary blur right now.
Here's what I love about the kids' parties, they are all different.  One class had stations.  One class had a taco bar, and one class had Valentine's bingo.  My middle school-er is thinking this is all a bit unfair, as she did not get candy or a party.  Fortunately the other three did share some candy with her :)
The best part of the parties today was being able to surprise the kiddos with a surprise visit from Uncle Bill!  The looks on their faces was great when they saw him!
Tonight I am thankful for being able to attend kiddo Valentine's parties today.  It is great to be able to be see them having fun with their friends.  And it was great to see them today with their Valentine's uncle surprise!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

That Mom

I will admit it, I am that mom.  I make coaches cringe.  I have walked out on to baseball fields, soccer fields, football fields, and now a basketball court.
I don't do this with the intention of disrupting practices or games.  And I do apologize for disruptions.  But, here's the thing . . . I don't care where my child is when they are being obnoxiously rude or naughty, I will stop them.  I'm not ridiculous about this.  I don't do it right at first.  I try to catch their eye from the sideline.  Sometimes I wait and talk to them afterwards about their unacceptable behavior.
I know I probably make other parents roll their eyes and whisper.  Seriously though, I don't care.  There's a good chance I'll create that kind of reaction anyway just by being myself and my modestly censored self.
Tonight I walked out, not once, but twice on to the basketball court.  The hubster took him to practice last week and I heard about some bad behavior that night.  So we had a talk about how to behave in practice tonight.  And it wasn't happening.  Being rude and disruptive when the coach was talking was not acceptable.  I motioned a few times from the sidelines to my pushing-the-limits son.  And he
laughed to himself like he was going to get away with it.  The boy should know by now, that just fuels my fire.  He was good for a little bit after my first visit on the court.  Then he started up again right at the end.  So I walked out again.  Ugh!  After that, he did behave himself for the rest of practice.
I see I'll be taking him to the rest of his practices for the season.
So to all my childrens' coaches to whom I have disrupted things, please forgive me.  But I can guarantee you that it is making my child a better person.  And I can guarantee you that facing mom is going to be a much more effective consequence than sitting on a bench or running a lap.  We're a little old school like that.
Tonight I am thankful for the lack of caring of an audience when my children need me to be a mom.  The kids hear the same thing from me whether it's just the two of us at home, or if they are in a busy store, or at a sporting event, or if we are at the doctor's office, or any other place we may be.  It is just themselves and me and the expectations for behavior are always the same.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Choice

Today has been rough.
Some days are just like that, I suppose.
Negative things just keep piling up.
And I just keep trying to find the silver lining.
It's always there.
The silver lining is always there if you look hard enough.
Sometimes it is buried, or diagonally located on the opposite end once removed.
But it is there.
So tonight I choose to be thankful for the good things and the silver linings of today.
And today I've made this decision over and over again.
And when I wanted to give up on today, I looked again for the good.
The good is always there, if you want to find it enough.
Yes, tonight I am thankful for having a choice on how to handle any situation in life - good or bad.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Love of a Boy

I have been very blessed to have both of my boys be Momma's boys.  They like to shoot guns and all that other boy stuff too.  But at the end of the day, they want Momma.  They both love their Momma something fierce!
Tonight I had plans.  So the hubster loaded up all the children to go to E's dance practice.  While she was dancing, the rest of the crew went shopping.  My littlest boy spent his own hard earned money to buy me a cute stuffed animal and a necklace from the quarter machine for Valentine's Day.  He came home, wrapped them in a paper lunch sack, wrote To Mom From Cody, and left it on my desk for me to find when I came home.  :)
Tonight I am thankful for my big hearted boy and his thoughtful gift :)  No gift is necessary of course.  And he knows that.  But he wanted to give me a special Valentine anyway.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday-ist Monday

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little cocky right now.  See, Monday tried to give me one of it's Monday-ist Mondays that it could muster up on short notice.  I think short notice because Monday would have been watching the Super Bowl last night too, right?
Well I stayed up and watched the Super Bowl.  And in my late night exhausted state, I mis-calculated what time I needed to wake up this morning.  So I was rushing.  So the kids were rushing.  So the kids got a little cranky.  So I got a little cranky.
But we all managed to get where we needed to be.  My first house of the day had two very friendly kitties in it.  One almost squeezed out the door . . but I caught it!  Ha!  No call to a listing agent to inform their homeowner that I lost a family pet.
The second house of the day was just creepy.  I go in to hundreds of vacant houses per year.  In the past 11 years, only a handful had a creepy aura.  Second house of today made the list.  And now I'm checking past new records.  Usually when I get that creepy feeling, there's been something bad that happened there.  I won't get in to all that though.
The third of the house today seemed alright.  I went thru the inside.  I was measuring the outside.  I rounded the corner to the back of the house and a very upset German Shepherd came charging at me.  I used my clipboard as a shield and talked nicely to the dog.  He calmed right down fortunately.  And then we went and found his neglectful owner.  I should have thrown him in my car, he looked half-starved.
On my way home a big blue truck came about an inch from taking out the driver's side of my car.  I had some angels watching out for me though and I was able to get out of the way.  I don't need another car accident any time soon.  The last one still has me flinching occasionally at big intersections.  I've thought about just driving the big van everywhere.  Then if someone hits me, I'd always be ok :)  Well, unless the other vehicle was a semi . . or a tractor . . that'd be about it.
And now, here it is, almost 8pm.  I've been holed up in my office finishing today's work.  I obviously thought I was going to get more done over the weekend when I planned today.  But, I am now finished.  So take that Monday!  Ha!  You couldn't ruin my day, I'm feeling victorious!  And I'm going to go enjoy my family for a few minutes before they go to sleep!
Tonight I am thankful for not letting Monday get me down!  Ha!  Can't wait for tomorrow.  Me and Tuesday are friends . . I think ;)  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Unencumbered

It has become a tradition in this house that Super Bowl Sunday, my girls and I visit the Women's Expo in Lansing.  This year we were by ourselves.  Next year, we are hoping for our usual family crew to be up and able to attend as well!  
We had a good time!  Afterwards we had to come home and rest since we are all still getting over this mega cold that just doesn't want to leave.  We had to be rested up for our Super Bowl festivities!  This is the first year in many that the hubster gets to watch the whole game.  He's been very excited planning the evening.
With all the good things today to write about, I keep coming back to thinking about sticking with our Dave Ramsey plan.  The hubster and I had a budget meeting this morning.  We tweaked a few things.  Things always need re-tweaking as we go along here.  Things will always need re-tweaking.  And that's ok.  This journey can be long.  We've got some big goals.  And the best part is that these goals seem more and more real as we go along here.  We keep making strides closer and closer to our goals.  Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back.  But that is still progress.
I keep reading other peoples' Dave Ramsey stories.  Normal, every day people who are unencumbered by debt and prepared for the future.  It's exciting.  And inspiring.  
At the Women's Expo today I was stopped by a financial planning representative.  I told her how we are doing the Dave Ramsey plan and finishing step 2.  The woman got a big smile on her face!  She said to hang on to her information because we'd need her soon.  That's an awesome feeling!  To have a stranger hear just a few words and believe that our future is bright . . that's amazing!
So tonight I am thankful for a great family day!  And I am thankful for a great family future by adding some good, practical, common sense plans in to action brought to us by Dave Ramsey.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Not Feminist

I don't consider myself a feminist.  I consider myself an equal.  I consider myself equal to you, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, and any other person that you may know.  My attitude of comfortableness sometimes makes people uncomfortable.  But over the years I've decided that says more about the other person than it does about me.
I was raised with my brother.  And we were treated equal.  I was thinking about it this morning and I really only remember 2 specific times that my mom treated us different.  One makes sense now.  And the other was the only disagreement I've had with her where I think I won.  I'm really not sure.  But she dropped it.
I raise my children as equals.  The boys work in the barn.  The girls work in the barn.  The girls learn to sew up their broken toys.  The boys learn to sew up their broken toys.  The boys work on cars.  The girls work on cars.  The girls make dinner.  The boys make dinner.  Although boys and girls are fundamentally different, they are capable and should have expectations to the same standard.
So this morning when I was scrolling on a mom's group page on facebook, I couldn't shake the little picture of two boys in tuxedos that read "Raise your son to be the man of his wife's dreams".  That pissed me off.  Can you imagine the outrage if someone had put girls in the picture and written "Raise your daughter to be the woman of her husband's dreams"?  That would have landed national news.
I have much higher expectations from my boys than to grow up and try to fit a preconceived mold that a woman has for him - any woman, especially the one that he falls in love with.  My highest hope is that my boys fall in love with a woman who appreciates them for everything they are and loves them in spite of things that they are not.  Because they won't be perfect.  They will be gentlemen and they will know chivalry because it is kind and it is respectful.  But they won't be raised to be a hero to a woman or to "save" a woman.  Because any woman worth having won't be looking for those things.
Now take that last paragraph and switch the male and female rolls.  Because I'm raising my women to grow up and be themselves also.  They don't need to grow up and try to fit a preconceived mold that a man has for them - any man, especially the one that she falls in love with.  My highest hope is that my girls fall in love with a man who appreciates them for everything they are and loves them in spite of the things that they are not.  Because they won't be perfect.  They will be ladies because it is kind and it is respectful.  But they won't be raised to look for a hero or to look for a man to "tame".  Because any man worth having won't be looking for those things.
So to the woman who thought she was clever making that little sign and passing it along the internet, I don't at all regret to inform you that my sons will not be raised to be the man of your girl's dreams.  They will be themselves - and that will be more than good enough.  And may I humbly suggest that you go talk to your girl before she grows up and let her know that people are flawed and that dreaming of a her ideal man is far beneath what her goals for herself should be in life.
This morning I am thankful for not being raised to chase fairy tales, but to chase goals.  I am thankful for not being raised to look for a man to complete me, but to believe in myself whether single or taken.  And I am thankful for the chance to raise my children the same way.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sew Saturdays

I was out for hours today.  But I forgot to pick up a pattern.  So tonight I made a run to get one.
My daughter is taking sewing lessons from my mom.  Grandma is there too.  I told E that she is around well over 100 years of experience during her sewing lessons!
I can sew Halloween costumes and fix holes in things.  That is about it for me.  I don't have the patience to perfect stitches and make pretty things.
My mom sewed my wedding dress.  Her grandma sewed wedding dresses professionally.  I have to skim the owner's manual to give myself refreshers before I use the sewing machine regularly ;)  It must not be genetic!
My daughter will be a great sewer.  She has the patience for it and the passion for fashion :)  She has several drawings of her own ideas.  And she can't wait to learn to make them all!
Tonight I am thankful for sewing lessons with E & Grandma!  What great memories they are making!  And what great skills that are being passed down!  :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Au Naturel

I've really been pleased so far with my walk with essential oils.  My kids have been the least sick this year then they have ever been.  I know it's been a mild winter, but still!
Almost every day I've been diffusing Thieves and Peppermint.  The last five or six days I haven't been diffusing.  And low and behold, Gracie brought home a head cold.
Earlier in the week, my sinuses were acting up.  I was downing the apple cider vinegar and using peppermint and they started getting better.  Now I've got Gracie's head cold.  But you can bet your bottom dollar that I've got some good oils diffusing today!
And I must say, that this cold is not nearly as bad as colds usually are.  The oils have to be the difference!  Right at this moment I am filling the bathtub to go soak in an Epsom salts detox bath.  And tonight I'll be breathing in some oils while I sleep.  I expect this thing to be over with lightening fast!  Gracie is sitting by the diffuser right now and I don't hear even a sniffle.
Tonight I am thankful for learning more and more about natural ways to be healthy and to get healthier faster.  I can't report back yet on the raspberry leaves from last week's blog.  There just hasn't been enough time.  But I'll be sure to let ya'll know!  :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cloud 9

I have to share a proud parenting moment here, so please bear with me!
My daughter is in the middle of middle school crush land.  We had some big talks after a broken heart last year about where middle school crushes really should land on importance meter of life.  She actually used her first heart break in a very positive way, I thought.  We talked about how bad she felt and how much she hurt . . and was that really worth it?  Was it worth it to invest that much of herself and that much of her feelings and her thoughts in to something that she knew would be temporary?
We've talked off and on about how she needs time herself to be herself and to learn more and more about who she wants to be.  I told her how I remember having crushes on boys on middle school - and lots of times the crush died down after I actually talked to the person.  It's exciting to feel attraction and in middle school it's all new, so it's extra exciting.  I get that!  But a crush should never take priority over her self worth, her values, her morals, and her boundaries.  I was very proud a few months ago when she was talking about a boy she liked and she said, "but, whatever, I'll probably like someone else next week!".  I was very impressed about how she recognized these "crush" feelings.
Well today, the girl just floored me.  She totally did!  There is a dance coming up.  There is someone she is interested in going to the dance with, and he knows this.  He told her friend that he wants to ask someone else to the dance first and if she says no, then he'd go with my daughter.  And my daughter, MY daughter said, if that was the case then she would not go with him.  She said she won't be any body's second choice!  Oh I am still on Mommy Cloud 9!!  That's my girl!!
Tonight I am thankful that she's listening.  She's getting it.  She's valuing herself.  And she can stand up to someone that she likes and say no because she won't lower her standards for herself!  Keep it up baby girl!  Don't let this go!  This is so very important!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Little Slow

When I was a young teenager I remember first feeling weird.  That is just the best description I had at the time.  Like sometimes after a breakfast of pancakes and syrup . . a couple hours later and I didn't feel right.  I'd get a little light headed.  My stomach didn't sit right.  Sometimes I'd get a little feverish feeling almost.  I always just kind of assumed that it was something I ate.  It didn't happen all the time, so it had to have been the food, right?  I don't know if I even really told anyone about it.  Most of the time I'd have a snack and it was better.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned about low blood sugar.  Over the years I've learned more about it.  I've learned the best way to tackle this thing is to not let it be a problem. Breakfast is a huge key to this.  A low carb, low sugar breakfast works best . . which sucks because I love pancakes, waffles, bagels, Cheerios, muffins, etc.
Two years ago my daughter started having some issues at school.  Every day, around the same time every day she would have to go to the office to lay down.  It took me a few weeks to figure out that she was having the same issues that I used to have.  We've worked on her breakfast choices and her eating habits.  And she's gotten a lot better at handling this!
For awhile now my older daughter has talked about headaches and being dizzy at school.  It didn't dawn on me at first.  Yesterday she went to the office and the ladies thought she might be getting the flu.  Her face was pale, she had a minor fever, her tummy didn't feel good.  But no, she didn't have the flu.  I finally put two and two together today.  She is also experiencing the same thing.
So we spent the drive to the orthodontist and back today discussing how to eat differently.
Tonight I'm thankful for realizing what is going on with my daughters and with myself.  It would have been nicer for all of us if I realized things a bit quicker.  But, better late than never!  And here's to eggs and bacon for breakfast!  Hip, hip, Hooray!

Monday, February 1, 2016

First

Today was the hubster's first day at his new job!  All went well!  Hooray!
And . . . that's it :)  Tonight I am thankful that the first day at the new job went well.  I think this will be a wonderful place for him to work for many years to come! :)