Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not Ready

I should know better.  I really should.  Here I am coming up on my third field trip to Mackinac with the fourth graders and once again, I will be toting along my laptop and work.
I should have stopped accepting new work last Wednesday-ish.  But I didn't.  I kept on accepting it.  I should have known better.
Why, oh why do I think I can work like five people when there is just one of me?  I could be up all night.
But I won't.  I'm putting myself to bed.  I work better after some sleep.
I'll be making good decisions here.
Tonight I am thankful that I get to go on the field trip to Mackinac!  I am thankful that I am trying to learn to prioritize here and I'll be going to bed.  And I am thankful that I have one more day to prepare before we leave!  I am so not ready!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Scouts

Last May or June I sat down and sewed a bunch of patches on to the girls' Girl Scout vests.  I had tried super glue and hot glue.  The hot glue worked ok for a little while, but not for super long.  The super glue sucked.  I still need to try gorilla glue.  Sadly, a few patches have been lost when the hot glue wore off.
Well, last year when I got the vests all caught up, it was right before the end of the year celebration.  I was feeling quite accomplished.  Until we came home from the end of the year celebration and the girls had all sorts of new patches to be put on.  And Grace had bridged up to Junior, so she got a whole new vest, with lots of patches to be put on.  My aching fingers just couldn't bear the thought of any more sewing on of patches; so I put it all in our "scout drawer" and forgot about it.
There have been a few times during the year when Gracie should have worn her vest.  And I didn't let her because it was empty.  Elaina could get away with wearing hers because it had last year's patches on it.
I've know that I'd been putting this off too long.  It caught up with me this morning.  Both girls were in the Memorial Day parade with the Girl Scouts.  So I spent two hours this morning sewing on patches.  I had such poor planning and organization with this, that I delivered the last vest this morning, while the parade had already started moving thru town.  Fortunately the Girl Scout parade was not at the front of the  parade, and I got there before they hit the main street.
Tonight I am thankful for being caught up on patch sewing!  This will only last one week.  Next Monday is the end of the year ceremony for the girls.  Hopefully I won't wait so long next year to sew on the new patches!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Surprise!!!!

I am so excited for tomorrow!  On June 1st a very special woman turns 90 years old.  And tomorrow, a bunch of us are gathering to have a surprise birthday party for her!
My uncle is flying in from Alaska!  My cousins are flying in on her birthday!  Cousins, aunts, and uncles will be driving hours to come and celebrate this wonderful woman who has blessed our lives with love.
It is interesting to watch a woman age with grace and optimism.  There is so much in our culture that points to age as something horrible, instead of something to be celebrated.  I know people in their 40's who talk down about themselves because of their age.  I know people in their 50's who talk like they are in their final days.  I know people in their 60's who believe the end is near.  I know people in their 70's who look at everything they no longer have and live in regret.  And I know this 89 year old woman who sees each day and each moment as a blessing!
I've gotten to chat with her a bit more since she moved in with my parents.  And just listening to her talk is inspiring.  We were talking about her hip and she was just telling me how it was.  It wasn't quite complaining, but it was obvious that she was frustrated.  And she stopped herself.  She just flat out stopped.  And she said, "but I can walk."  She looked up towards the heavens and said "thank you!".
Every life has bad stuff.  Every life has good stuff.  And if you want to know the secret to turning 90 years old and being happy . . . she is beyond happy, she is joyful!  If you want to know the secret to a joyful, happy, and blessed life - then this woman has it.  She is grateful.  She is grateful for all the good in life.  She knows the bad is there.  She talks about it sometimes.  But she never stays there.  She never fixes herself on it.  She always turns back to the good, and she feels blessed.  And she is!  And she blesses others.
Tonight I am thankful for a very, very special birthday party tomorrow!  I can't wait!  :)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Skills

When I was a kid we had this one cake book.  I don't think it was even a book, maybe a booklet.  And it was so exciting at birthday time to look thru the book an pick which cake we wanted mom to make for us.  I don't remember exactly when she stopped doing that.  I'm guessing we probably told her that she didn't have to once we got older.  Because I imagine that she would still do one if I asked.
Well, when I had kids, I wanted to carry on the tradition.  I will admit that my first cakes were a lot more creative.  I made train once with the help of the Internet and a LOT of extras to the cake.
I don't have a cake book.  I did buy one once, but it just wasn't the same as the cake book from my childhood.  So I let the kids pick what they would like and then I get a veto right if it is too difficult.  And every year we end up with something special for everyone.
Now I will be the first to admit that my cakes are not professional!  I have never taken a cake decorating class, nor do I intend to.  I read a few ideas online and went with it.  But I have, on occasion, been asked to do cakes for people we know.
Today I did one for my father in law.  We did not fill the cake up with candles . . . although that would have been funny!  Well, to us at least :)
Tonight I am thankful for the creative cakes from when I was a kid!  Those have led to much inspiration and many smiles over the years!!
Well . . I was going to put up a picture, but my computer is moody tonight . . .

Friday, May 27, 2016

Chains

So . . I made a lady cry today.  Sadly, it's not the first time I've made someone cry.  And it most likely won't be the last.  Want to know what I did?  Do you?  You want to know how mean I can be, don't you?  I asked her if she happened to have a survey of her land.
Yep, that was it.  It sent her over the edge.
Ok, now the rest of the story:  This woman sounded irritated when I called to schedule her appraisal appointment.  She seemed annoyed and bothered when I was at her house.  And I thought that maybe she was just that kind of person.  Then when I found that her legal description contradicts itself and there was an issue that needed to be resolved; hopefully with a survey if there happened to be one available, she became irate and then started crying.  It was stress.
She started freaking out with the thought that her loan might not go thru.  There was a lot hinging on this loan it seems.  Well the woman ended up calling me back when she was calmed down and we discussed a game plan.
I spent the next many minutes after we hung up, driving and thinking back to where I used to be years ago.  Debt is such a trap, it's a huge lie, and such a scam.  I remember refinancing my house to consolidate debts because we had built up so much debt that it was beginning to crush us.  I remember the horrible, helpless feeling when jobs changed and income changed and the same bills were still there needing to be paid.  Seven years . . there were seven years of horrible money decisions.  We had moved in to a nice big, what was to be our family house, gotten pregnant, made different career decisions for the baby, and started charging plastic to keep living how we had been.  Credit line increase?  No problem.  Another credit card to transfer a balance?  Why not?  Consolidation loan?  Sure.  Seven years came crashing down one day.  It wasn't pretty.
It's been seven years since that seven year stretch ended.  A lot has happened.  A LOT!  And it's funny to look back and see how maybe we needed to crash to see what a better plan God had.  There are just times in life when a person can't accept a better plan within themselves.  We were there seven years ago.  Now we aren't.  With the fairly recent discovery of Dave Ramsey, we have even more hope.  We were headed in that direction slowly.  And reading Dave's books just make it all clear - all the simple truths that are there, but that we overlooked.
The Bible has a lot of things happen with seven years or seven days.  It's quite interesting.  And when I get to Heaven one day, I plan on asking God what's up with the number 7?  Maybe it's just his favorite?  :)  But we definitely had seven years of poor decisions and now seven years of finding a better way.
Tonight I am thankful that my family has a budget and a plan.  I'm thankful that we no longer live week to week.  I'm thankful that we are turning our family's legacy and that hopefully our children will never know that feeling of dread that comes when you open a bill that you can't pay.  And I pray for this woman and her family that they find a better way, that they find freedom from the chains of debt, and that can have peace.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dear and P.S.

Dear Summer,

  I doubted you.  I'm sorry.  When your friend Spring showed up so early this year, I was excited.  I was sure you were going to arrive soon too.
  But then Spring went away.  I looked for her.  I searched high and low.  I sent out laments to the skies wondering where she could have went.  She was just gone.  Just gone.
  She finally came back.  I think she was wrestling with that Winter fella.  It did seem that way, because there was so much back and forth.  Finally Spring won!  It was exciting!
  But after it took her so long to find her way back, I had even bigger doubts about you Summer.  I thought maybe Spring would just stay.  Maybe she was so victorious in her fight against Winter that she wouldn't let you in.  You two must get along well though, because it seems that she just stepped aside and let you in!
  Even at the first sights of you, I didn't truly believe that you would stay.  I kept out my sweatshirts and my fuzzy socks.  I knew I'd need them when you left me.  I was sure you'd leave me.  But now, I'm starting to believe.  I'm starting to have faith that you'll stay!  I know, I know, it will only be for a season.  But I'll enjoy our visit for as long as you'll let me!

Love,
Me

P.S.  Tonight I am thankful for this delightfully warm weather!!!  I've gotten hot the last two days.  Actually hot!  I almost forgot that could happen!  Hooray!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Paperclips and Silly Things

I have always loved stationary and office supplies.  Everybody's got their own thing, right?
I could spend hours in Office Max!  I love looking at sales ads for back to school supplies.  The line from You've got Mail, "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, if I knew your real name and address."  I love that line!
Of course there are some office supplies that are my favorites over others.  For instance, paper clips.  I like the jumbo size, coated paper clips.  Jumbo size, so I can be sure it holds my papers better.  And coated so it doesn't slip off my papers.  I clip and unclip a lot of papers over the course of a day, so I appreciate when they are secure.
Tonight I stopped in at Meijer's and went back to get some more paperclips.  I am running low!  Sadly, the shelf space was empty for them.  I was probably a little more bummed than I should have been about paper clips . . .
Then I turned the corner to check out the end cap of clearance items.  And I saw the cutest little binder on clearance!  It like a half sheet size.  Also on clearance were page protectors that fit the cute little binder!  As I continued on I found the papers that fit the cute little binder.
In my budget, I do plan for clearance and super sale spending.  And although these weren't the best clearance prices I've ever seen . . and although I really don't need the cute little binder and cute little binder supplies, they came home with me!
Tonight I am thankful for splurging sometimes on silly little things that are just things that I like and make my soul happy.  It doesn't have to make logical sense.  It is just the way I am!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Joy Thief

It started yesterday.  And I let it get to me.
I had only been working with this particular company for maybe a month.  I should have done more background checking on them I suppose.  I have spent more time in the past year or so checking out potential clients - as I've encountered some crappy ones over the years.
Then this one.  *sigh*  Or maybe it isn't the whole company.  Maybe it is just the person I was speaking to.  He flashed his title in my face (which really wasn't impressive anyway, I could call myself the same title for my company if I was so inclined).  Anyway, then he starts fabricating facts and threatening me.  Oh, I do not like being threatened.  And I keep pretty darn good records.  So I sent some of those records and the correct facts to him and copied others the company.
Today there was more of the same.  And I should have just let it be.  I knew this man wasn't going to listen.  I provided facts and documents and he fabricated more facts and stated more unsupported accusations.  There are some people that just don't care what truth is.  I know this.  But I let my pride get in the way.  And I responded.
Then I did some heavy duty praying because I just felt unsettled.  I knew I should have just let it lie.  He wasn't interested in the truth.  I should have turned on my heel and left the drama in his lap.  But I didn't.  I felt like my children, who always want to have the last word.  And I am always saying to them, that there are many more important things than having the last word - like peace.  The peace I refer to with them isn't always the peace between the two arguing parties, sometimes it is just personal peace.  And that is a lesson I should have remembered today.
I have trouble forgiving myself for my imperfections at times.  It only takes a small amount of time in prayer and in God's peace to turn that around.  And I pray for peace.  I pray for peace a lot.  And peace comes.  Forgiveness comes.  Now I have to let this lay.  I don't want to pick it up again. Wouldn't it be easier if we could physically see when we mentally pick things up again.  Maybe it would be easier to stop?
Tonight I am thankful for a God who wants us to have peace and forgiveness and love.  I don't even want to think about what kind of anxious, contradictory, self-hating mess I would be without God.  He loves me when I don't love me.  He forgives me when I can't forgive me.  And he gives peace when I can't find it and probably don't deserve it.  He lifts me back up to the good places in life when I drag myself down.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Excited for Tomorrow!!

Sometimes I go back and forth between my two main businesses, as to which I like more.  As an appraiser, I like traveling around seeing the different houses out there.  And honestly, most of the time I love the solitude . . I'm a person who thrives in solitude.  As a broker, I get to be around people more - which is a blessing too!  And I love watching people's faces when they find THE house.  I like both sides of this profession :)
Tomorrow I will like the broker side better!  Tomorrow a friend gets to sign on his house.  I feel blessed to be able to be there with him.  He actually made it pretty easy on me.  It didn't take too long to find the right house for him.
Today I met some of his family members at the house and I loved seeing their reaction.  They felt it too.  That feeling . . . just that right-ness of the house for him.  It's time for him to have some good, big things happen in life.  And tomorrow will be one of those things!
Usually at a closing, I know exactly what I want to give as a new home gift.  This particular closing was right on par.  I knew what I wanted to get him for a little while now.  Annnnnd, I couldn't find it.  I've been running out of time.  Today I bought some pieces and I made it myself.  I hope he likes it!  I can't put it in the blog, because he could possibly see it here.  It is simple, yet hopefully warming.
Tonight I am excited about tomorrow!!  It will be a good day!  I can't wait!  I'll go thru my papers one more last time to make sure all the "t"s are crossed and all the "i"s are dotted!  Then in the morning, I'll probably go thru one more last time.  It'll all go smoothly :)  It'll be a good day!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hurting Myself

Some changes in life are instant.  Others take a long time.
The school year of 2015/2016 for me, has been a revelation of sorts.  Although I've had an inkling for awhile, the past 9 months have proved undoubtedly that I need to change my way of thinking concerning myself.  It is both humbling and relieving.
I have always known that if I push hard enough, that I can do anything I set my mind to.  And I am still unwaivering on that point.
But the price for all that pushing has been parts of myself.  I can no longer deny that the majority of my recent health troubles have been caused by none other than myself.  Yes, I can push and push and push.  I can get three weeks of work done in one week, while taking care of the kids, and being there for the hubby.  But it's not healthy to do so.  This may sound like common sense to most of you.  I guess for me, it was one of those things that I had to learn the hard way.
It's kind of funny how God brings about things at certain times.  I've been floundering, kind of, with coming up with a plan on how to change.  I know I need to.  I've tried a few different times, half-heartedly.  Then these things pop up in my life within weeks:  working with the doctor, although not confirmed quite yet, it appears my problems are more my adrenal glands, which are upsetting my thyroid.  Guess what adrenal glands need to stay healthy?  Rest, consistent healthy habits, and low stress.  I do think I handle stress well - although I'll admit there is a lot of stressful things in my life.  But I don't rest near enough.  And I am almost never consistent with healthy habits.  So, there's that.
This morning I was reading a site I love, Dashing Dish.  There was a blog post that I missed earlier this week, directed at women for women's bodies, about listening to your body and giving it what it needs.  I haven't done that like I should for years.  I'll listen to my body for maybe a few hours and feel I've done good.  But I know I'm fooling myself to think that a few hours of listening can undo days and weeks of ignoring my body, knowing that it can take on more.
This morning I also had some nice quiet time.  I was praying and thinking, and thinking and praying.  And it is clear to me some changes that I need to make both professionally and personally.  I love the Boundaries books. (If you haven't read them, I highly recommend it!)  But, I rarely practice boundaries with business.  Well, I do to an extent.  But not as far as protecting my well being and best interest.  This will change.
As for personally, I have seen the light on my involvement with many things.  Next year, I won't be the football coach for flag football.  I won't be a scout leader for Boy Scouts.  I will keep on cheerleading; but I may change some of my original plans with this.  And we are going to have some heart to heart talks with the kids about which activities they are doing because they are passionate, versus which activities they are doing just to do.
I really want to drive that home for the kids.  I don't want them to wake up one day and realize that they've worked themselves in to a state less than what they should be.  Working hard and pushing yourself is great, within reason.  And I have not been a good example of what "within reason" truly is.  But I will be.
Tonight I am thankful for continuing revelations about things I need to change to be better.  I am thankful that God is patient because seriously, the next thing to get my attention with all this should be a bolt of lightening!  But he is patient and kind and loving; and has been waiting for me to figure out what I have been doing.  I know that state.  I've been in that state watching my own children.  I know I'm not alone in fixing this.  And I'm sure it'll take me awhile . . . but it will be good.  And it will be worth it!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Perfect Fit


Tonight's blog may seem incidental.  But, here I go anyway.
I've always been a hat person.  Usually a baseball hat.  Usually backwards.  It drives the hubster crazy.  ;)  But I've always like my hats like that, way before I met him.  So I wear them how I like.
I had my most favorite hat for years.  I bought it at a Miranda Lambert concert.  I like the way it looked.  It fit perfect.  It was great.  Then it got dirty.  One of my darling children tried to wash and dry it for me in the machines.  And it shrank.  I've been kind of in a hat disarray state since that incident.  I have other hats.  I just didn't have other hats that I liked and that fit me as well as that hat.
Today I had to stop at Hobby Lobby to get some weights for some derby cars for the boys.  I was walking by an aisle and a hat caught my eye.  I picked it up . . . I liked it!  I tried it on . . . Perfect!!  And under $5 on sale!  Wonderful!
Tonight I am thankful for a new (soon to be favorite) hat!  I won't let this one go in the dryer!  There will be a family meeting tomorrow to address this :)


Friday, May 20, 2016

Not Stuck

Well, I gave this week my all.  I really did.
Several days working way too many hours.  Nights without enough sleep - yes, even after my resolve to do better.  Deadlines missed with clients.  Bedtimes missed with kids.  Dinner?  Um, I think everyone ate this week.
I don't know.
I won't be defeated though.  Turning this mess around will take work.
Things will get easier, and harder in three weeks when school is out.  But I won't wait until then.  I'll keep trying.
I'm going to work a little more this weekend.  I'm going to take advantage of these two days to try and give myself a head start for next week.  Because I didn't do that last weekend, and I spent all week scrambling.
In the past I would consider myself a bit of a failure at this point.  But I won't.  It's funny now with the Dave Ramsey stuff we've been thru; I kind of keep going back to that.  When we first made a budget that actually worked, it took months.  It really did.  It took awhile of watching what we were actually doing.  And then it took some trial and error to see what we could do better and how we could ration things to be enough.  It's the same thing now, but with time and schedules.
Tonight I am thankful for resolve that I am not stuck in this rut.  I will break out!  One way or another!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Side Business

Last year we started Summer Dreams for the hubster while he was working at his last job.  It's been a nice little side business.
The great thing about printing our own t-shirts and other things is that there are so many avenues to take with this.  We've had some awesome customers!  We've learned some things.
And tonight, we're using this business to help one of our other endeavours.  The DCAA Cheerleaders along with the Varsity Cheerleaders are holding a gymnastic clinic tomorrow (still taking girls if anyone is interested!).  It is less than 24 hours away and we are up making t-shirts.  :)  That is so great!
Having one less thing to worry about is a wonderful thing.  I didn't have to have designs done weeks ago.  I didn't have to try and guess how many we needed before talking to interested people.  I get the luxury of waiting until the night before and making these babies up in the comfort of my own home!
Tonight I am thankful for having Ron's Summer Dreams business here at the house.  It has been a neat resource to be able to pull from!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Slow Down

I won the battle of the vehicle negotiations!  So today I had to get a ride to go pick it up since we weren't doing the trade in deal.
I was quite fortunate to get a ride with a very special man.  I was actually thinking yesterday (when he was rearranging his day to take me today), that he is the only man in my life who has never let me down.  He has put me before himself at every opportunity.  Beyond giving me faith in myself, he gave me the belief that I deserved good things.  There is a difference in believing that you can do great things and believing that you deserve great things . . he gave both to me - an invaluable gift in life.
So it was no surprise that he was more than willing to help me out today.  I felt a little bad asking because the location and the distance weren't really his thing.  But he didn't care.  And off we went.  I was so excited!!!!
He didn't speed.  In fact he drove under the speed limit for awhile.  I was politely sitting there wondering what happened to the man who taught me to drive with the race car imitation driving skills?  Another car made him mad, he floored it and went around.  When he calmed down, he slowed back down.  I was in a hurry to get to the new car!!!  I was getting so frustrated!!!
Then I realized.  He slowed down because he wanted it to take longer.  He wanted it to take longer because he wanted more time with me.  Work has been so busy.  Kids' schedules have been so busy.  We haven't had as much time to talk.  And he missed me.
I stopped being frustrated.  The car wasn't going anywhere.  It was just sitting there waiting for me.  A car ride only lasts from point A to point B, there was no harm in making that journey just a few minutes longer.
Tonight I am thankful for slowing down, even at least for a few minutes in a car.  It is easy to get busy.  It is easy to focus on the things pressing for attention.  But it can be easy to slow down too.  Moments talking on a slower drive mean much more than that amount of time sitting at a desk typing reports!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Memories of Tulips

When I was in elementary school the music teacher taught us a song about tulips in Holland.  I remember sitting in the class learning it.
I tried to sing that song to the kids last week on Friday when we took our fun Holland Trip.  I couldn't quite remember all the words though.  I told the kids that they should ask the music teacher!  They forgot.  Silly kids.
Today I saw her . . yup, same lady that taught me the song just a few years ago.  I asked her if she remembered it, and she started singing it :)  She couldn't remember all the words either.  But she said she knows what book the song is in.  So she's going to look it up and let me know.
The thing that is even more heartwarming than two people remembering a song of years gone by would be the look on her face when I asked about the song.  It was more than just fondness of a song; it was the look of a teacher who got a reminder that their life's work made an impact.  I always loved music class when I was a kid.  I always felt welcome there.  And I always felt wanted there.  The music brought the class together different than anywhere else in school.  Music is a slightly other language that everyone speaks.
Tonight I am thankful for a song about Tulips in Holland.  And I am thankful for many more memories that I have in a classroom at the end of the hall with a wonderful woman whom all my children have been blessed to make memories with also.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Kind of Adult-ish

Last night's blog highlighted some adult-ish things that I'm not too great at.  So let's flip it for tonight, shall we?!?
One adult-ish thing that I pretty good at is car purchasing.  So last year, a red-light-running driver took out my poor Sally, the Saturn.  With a sad heart and an insurance payment, we went looking and found Frita, the Freestyle.
I was very excited about Frita.  I thought with her third row, we would have a second option for family driving.  Frita rides too low to the ground for my car-sick riding daughter.  So Frita is really only used for short trips with kids or my work driving.
We found out this past winter that Frita is not a snow loving vehicle.  She drove horribly in the snow.  I was very thankful for a winter without a ton of snow because for my job, I drive to a lot of places that haven't been plowed.  I only got stuck in Frita a few times.  I knew Frita would not be with us by next winter - her practicality for our driving needs was dwindling fast.  (P.S., we are selling Frita private party if anyone is interested in the ole' gal!).
So, I've been researching.  I needed to go back to all wheel drive, like Sally the Saturn was.  But I wanted much better gas mileage.  I need to stick with a larger-than-regular-car ground clearance, as the bigger distance tends to help my car-sick riding daughter.
I made my mind up awhile ago about what I wanted.  And I've been checking online here and there. Yesterday I found the car.  Except I didn't like the price.  I talked to the guy today and got the price knocked down a little.  I drove the car tonight and loved it!  But I'm still negotiating.
So here is where I have totally (kind of) nailed this buying a car thing - you have to be willing to walk away.  I do it awesomely when it is for a vehicle for the hubby.  But it's different when it is the car that meets all the criteria I've set, AND looks cute.  I did it though.  I walked out tonight.  I said I'd call tomorrow.  And I will.
Driving home, I decided what would be a fair deal for me.  I learned a little bit more about the car tonight.  And I learned more about how long the dealership has had the car.  So I plan to bring these items up as I negotiate tomorrow.  Bottom line though, I won't buy the car if I'm not comfortable with all the numbers.  Yes, Yes, this feels very adult-ish.  There was a time not too long ago that I just would have signed next to the "X" because I liked the car; and on a piece of papers, numbers are just numbers, right?  Nope, we've got a budget.  And we're sticking to it.
Tonight I am thankful that there are some adult-ish things that I can handle!  Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will be driving the vehicle to be called "Blueberry".   If not though, I'll just be keeping an eye out for the next deal that fits all our criteria!
P.S. Blueberry will be named for her color, not her model name like Frita and Sally :)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Suck At This

Week #1-ish of trying to have a more balanced schedule has proved a very undeniable truth . . I suck at this!
This is seriously going to take a lot more work that I was thinking to actually fix my problem.  It sounds so very simple, sleep 8 hours, work, relax with family, take kids to various practices and lessons, and sleep again.  Seriously, it shouldn't be difficult.
I'm classifying last week as a week of observation.  Because to truly fix a problem, one has to be able to identify the parts of the problem.  The biggest issues for me seem to be that I am both a morning and a night person; that I apparently do not know how to truly relax anymore; and that yes, I take on too much work.
So after my week of observation, I have made the following resolves:  1)  I will attempt to start keeping an 8ish bedtime.  This will be very rough.  But, between the two options, getting up early is just much more productive.  Once school is out, I could shift this a little since the kids will sleep in longer then.  There is just something about those morning hours when I have some rest and the house is quiet, I get a lot done during that time.  2)   I resolve to try and take more baths or sneak out for more bike rides.  Relaxing, for me, involves quiet.  So I am going to try and carve out at least 10 minutes, to start, of seeking quiet outside.  And when I can, I will add in the baths and bike rides.  3) I am torn on this one.  I'm just not ready to turn down work.  But I am working on streamlining more processes.  And I resolve to quote more appropriate times for my work, so that I'm not killing myself to meet deadlines.
I can already predict that I will not master this all in one week.  But I will try.
Tonight I am thankful for time to try and fix what I have messed up.  I will never be a master at scheduling.  But with some work and dedication, I hope to have it all at least manageable!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

An End

Soccer season has come to an end now.  The girls had a great time.  The parents had frostbite.  Seriously, it was cold out there today!
It is great to watch when the girls gain confidence in their skills.  My daughter included of course.
Last night my daughter was saying that she did not want to play today.  She knew it would be cold.  We told her the field would be wet.  She's still getting over this cold.  She just wasn't too excited.
Then this morning, she got excited.  She got her stuff on about an hour early.  They were posing for pictures this morning - so that always makes things fun.  And she even got to use one of mom's new water bottles.  She was pumped!
The girls won the game!  That is always a bonus!  And they had a great time - which is the most important part!
Tonight I am thankful that another soccer season has come and gone with a great time had by the players, the coaches, and the fans.
Here is the back of my daughter's pants from running in the wet field today!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Rock

My kids rock so much!  Here's why:
First of all I just couldn't get enough work done up to leave first thing this morning, like we originally planned.  They didn't complain.
When I finally was done, we loaded up in the van and were off for about a two hour drive.  They got along pretty well the entire way!
At Holland, they enjoyed it all.  I wondered, as we drove out there, if they would think it wasn't worth the drive just to see a windmill and flowers.  But they loved it!
On the two hour drive home, they were laughing and joking with each other until they got wore out and rode in quiet contentment.  They all said they want to go back again!!
Tonight I was just too excited to take them to the movies, like we had discussed.  This cold is kicking my butt.  I drugged myself up before our trip and wore off sometime driving back.  But they were ok that I was tired and couldn't go.  No one whined.  No one complained.  It was great!
Tonight I am thankful for a wonderful time with the kiddos today!  Our secret plans were well worth the wait!  I enjoy them all so much!  And especially on a day like today!
P.S.  Even the carousal lady was having a good day and let me ride . . despite what the sign to the left in the picture says!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Secret Plans

I've been planning a special trip for about two weeks.  Well, it actually has been a whisper of a plan for years.  I've wanted to take the kids somewhere for several years.  But spring sports always seem to mess up the ability to go on a weekend.  And there is only a brief period every year when this trip would be in all its glory.
About two weeks ago I looked at the calendar and picked the 13th.  It was the end of MStep testing at school, with all the tests done.  There were no ball games, no field trips, no doctor's appointments, nothing out of the ordinary.  So I have made the decision to let the kids have a day off of school and we are going on an adventure!
Now here's the kicker.  I am fighting off some kind of sickly-ness.  It seems like anytime there is a big special something planned, one of the six of us gets sick.  Gracie brought this home from school about 2 or 3 days ago.  I've doubled up on my elderberry pills.  I'm rubbing Thieves oil on myself.  I have a cup of tea here.  All I need is a little extra sleep . . . that won't happen because I have to work extra to be able to run away tomorrow.
So I have altered tomorrow's plans.  We were going to get up early and take off.  Now we are going to get up once mom gets herself out of bed.  And we will be off!  No time limits on anything tomorrow!  If we are back home in time, and we have any energy left, we may even go see a movie.  It will be a relaxing day of fun!!!
Sorry though, I am not going to divulge our plans until tomorrow's blog!  A few people know, and whomever the kids have told at school.  And that's it.  We are being fairly low key and just skipping town!  I can't wait!  I've been looking forward to this for awhile!
Tonight I am excited for tomorrow!  We are going to have fun and relax and just enjoy tomorrow!  :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Education

As it shows in my facebook profile, I have a Bachelor's of Business Leadership degree.  Is this degree necessary for my job in reality?  Absolutely not.  Although it does help with some of it.  And I'm still glad that I have it.  But to those who say that a degree is essential . . . well, I don't agree for the majority of careers.  I will always value some things higher, like work ethic and common sense.  Anyway . . . when I was 17, all I knew about college were the things the guidance counselor talked about and what I saw on tv.  Now that I have some bearing on it.  I thought I would mention some things that I wish someone had told me; things that I intend on telling my children.
I haven't actually checked, but to my knowledge, all degrees require certain, standard classes.  Basic reading or math at a community college will have basically the same information as the same class at a four year university.  The college loan that I am still paying on is all from my first year at a four year university, where I took only a few specialized classes, but was required to live in the dorm and have a meal plan that I rarely used.  In this house, we have already started encouraging our children to plan on spending the first year or two at the community college and then transferring on if they choose.
My freshman year of college, I had two scholarships.  One academic scholarship and one from a writing contest I had won.  I should have applied for every scholarship that I saw!!!  I didn't realize how many scholarships were out there.  Filling out applications for scholarships should have been my second job!  Someone is going to get that money given to them for college, it could have been me!!
Some colleges have ways to get credit for life experiences.  I worked since I was 13 years old.  I had a lot of experience.  The college I graduated from had an excellent program where a student could submit proof and narrative to show how life experience had taught them to master the syllabus for certain classes.  I also tested out and passed a few other classes.  Those were some great and efficient ways to earn credits towards my degree!!
Different colleges have different programs.  I entered in to an accelerated program that took a semester off my college time.  It could have taken two semesters off, but I was one or two classes short of the pre-requisites.  I was ecstatic to save any time and any $$$; as my first year of student loans had set me on a quest to get the degree as cheaply and quickly as possible!
This last point isn't to cut down any instructors.  I just have to mention that little disclaimer.  But I found some of my most real world education at evening classes.  Several of these instructors were people who worked in the fields during the day and taught classes in the evening.  Text books are great sources of information.  But when the instructor can say, "Today this came in handy for me because . . . ", it just brings it all to a different level.
So the span of my college education was three and a half years over three different colleges.  One semester was paid for in cash after I got engaged and moved back home for awhile with a full time job.  And yet, I'm still paying on the loans from the first year . . . that loan will not make it to the end of this year!  But my degree says one college on it.  That's all any one's degree will say.  It doesn't matter how you got there.  Just as long as you graduate, you get the degree.
Lastly, the biggest seeming myth is that college was the end of formal education.  Since being a middle school student, I had heard of teachers needing continuing education.  Guess what.  They aren't the only ones.  There are many, many, many professions that require annual education.  The licenses that I have both required additional formal education to obtain regularly.  And the next license on my radar requires a slightly obscene amount of formal education.
Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to go to college.  It was such a big part of my high school dreams.  And I've worked my butt off both at school and at jobs to pay for school.  But I am very thankful for the opportunity.  There are some who don't get to go.  I am also thankful for the continuation of education throughout life.  It is always good to learn something new!  And some day, I will fulfill another point on my life to-do list and take a welding class.  I decided I wanted to learn to weld about 18 years ago, and I fully intend to learn some day when I can take the class and not feel guilty about being there.  I have a feeling I will not be naturally good at it . . . so I may need a few classes!  I'm sure I'll get it, eventually.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

All Day

Most days when I drive for hours and hours, it is my time.  I drive for hours with no radio, just enjoying the silence and thinking my own, uninterrupted thoughts. 
Every once in awhile my thoughts go the wrong direction.  Today was one of those days.  I drove for hours and kept thinking about those who have hurt me, those who have let me down, and those who have left my life.  I tried to turn those thoughts around.  I tried to remember how those things have made me stronger.  I hate playing the victim.  I won't be the victim.  Life happens and people get better.
So my thoughts went in waves that ended in an acceptable place.  But my emotions were ran dry by the end of my day.  Exhausted, I took myself down to my basement gym.  A little exercise bike, a little elliptical, and a whole lot of punching bag had me feeling better. There is just something about letting a day's frustration out one hit at a time.  Feels very therapeutic!
Tonight I am thankful for my punching bag!  I know this is not the first blog about that silly bag.  But sometimes when thoughts and emotions can't end the day on a good note, the perfect physical exertion can do what the others could not.








Monday, May 9, 2016

Basement

When we bought this house almost four years ago, I was so excited about furniture!  We were finally buying our first set of living room furniture from a store.  Everything up until that point had been hand me downs or second hand.
Now don't get me wrong, I love hand em downs.  And I love second hand stuff!  But it was just a good feeling to walk around the furniture store and pick what I wanted.  Well, ok, honestly it wasn't exactly what I wanted.  But it has the features that the hubster wanted.  And it looked like it would hide stains from the kids well.  So it was a good pick.
I think it was about two years in before things started going wrong.  First one of the sides of the couch wouldn't recline.  Then the springs started poking people.  I would blame it all on the kids jumping on the couch when they thought I wasn't looking.  But even the love seat, which was claimed by the dogs, was breaking.  And you can't tell me that the dogs climbing up and down on a love seat could really do a lot of damage.
*sigh*
I was lamenting my situation to my mom.  And she offered me the furniture from her basement; which had previously been in my Grandma M's basement.  Now, I had to sell the idea to my hubster (who isn't quite a retro-style guy)  This furniture has some big positive points!  1) It has wood everywhere.  If a kid jumps on the furniture and bonks themselves, it may deter them from continuing.  Notice I wrote "may deter" not necessarily "will deter"  2) The cushions have zippers and the covers can come off for when I need to clean them!  3) Again, the wood, easier to clean!  and 4) this is not the most comfy of furniture as far as laz-y-boys and stuff are compared.  This is a huge positive to me!  Uncomfy furniture encourages a lesser amount of couch potatoes in the house!  Hooray!
Tonight I am thankful for our free basement furniture!!!  And just look how perfect it goes in my living room :)  Almost like it was made to be here with us!



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Not Me

Mother's Day is never what I envision.  I picture myself waking undisturbed with sunshine thru the window and birds singing.  When the kids hear me wake, I am served breakfast in bed with a rose.  Then a day of family togetherness with no fighting, arguing, whining, or bad behavior would follow.  Maybe a picnic lunch in the warm sun for lunch.  And an evening at home filled with laughter and smiles would complete the day.
That has not happened once.  And I'll be honest, sometimes I get a little bit of an attitude that I don't get the day that I want - or even half the day that I want.  In all honesty, it probably is a little on the selfish side.  I want a day for just me.
So every Mother's Day I work to put on a smile as we rise early, get the kids and ourselves presentable, and head off for Mother's Day breakfast with my mom.  Here's what happens every time, I see her smile.  I see her eyes light up when she sees us.  I see the love.  And my plans for the perfect Mother's Day change.  Calling mom on Mother's Day just wouldn't be the same as seeing her in person.  This Mother's Day we were extra blessed to have her mother there too!  And both of them had that same truly happy look on their faces.  For lunch we dine with my mother in law.  And her face looks the same when she looks at my husband, her son.
By the end of every Mother's Day I usually feel just a little foolish for dreaming of a day all about me.  Honestly, if I ever got that dreamed of day, on Mother's Day, I wouldn't be happy.  Something would be missing.  And that would be Mom!
I see her face when it is time to go.  It is still a happy face, but with a little sad mixed in.  It is a reminder of how a loving mother always wants a little more time with her kids.  Then I look at my kids.  Even when they are fighting, arguing, whining, or having some bad behavior, there are here.  They are still little, but not as little as they used to be.  They won't be this little for long.  One day it'll be my turn on Mother's Day to be excited about seeing my grown-up babies for just one meal.  And I'll long for these Mother's Days when we are not sleeping in; when we are almost always rushing; and when noise rules our days.
Tonight I am thankful for the reminder that Mother's Day isn't about me.  Mother's Day is a day to be thankful for my absolutely wonderful, loving, caring, and selfless Mom, who continues to be the most honest and blessed example of what a mom should be!  Mother's Day is a day to be thankful for my children and to cherish the days with them in my care.  I feel like I should mention the hubster here too, because without him I never would have become a mother (although I joke since the kids look most like me, that I didn't really need his help)  he he he.  I am thankful for the hubster's support and faith in me as a mother and as a person.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Social

For those who know me well, this next statement is not a surprise.  I'm not very social.  I like to go out at certain times.  But really I like to stay home or go off on my own (well, with the kids . . . and sometimes the hubster too ;)  )
Making social engagements is not the easiest thing for me.  Keeping social engagements is even harder.  Even when I know it will be a good time.  It's just really still not my thing.
Tonight though, tonight we kept plans that have been postponed I think two, maybe three times over the past several months.  And we did have a wonderful time!
Tonight I am thankful for moments of being social :)  I still don't see it every becoming a trend with me.  But for tonight, it was good :)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Managing

I operate as if a key element in dealing with stress is to never look it right in the eyes.  I just keep pushing thru stressful times, not giving the stress any attention.
I looked back today, just to give myself some point of reference.  I thought I got insanely busy with work in March.  It looks like it actually started in February.
I talk very positively to myself.  I can do it.  I can do it.  Keep trying!  It's ok if this one's late; take the break you need; now back at it!  Go, Go, Go!  Bend, don't break.
I just keep looking ahead.  Eyes on the prize, right?  See the goal with a plan for the hurdles.  Until . . it's too much.  I don't like to admit I can't handle things.  But, that is part of being a responsible, grown-up, right?  Know your limits and have good people to turn to.
I really thought this would be the week that I got ahead.  But it wasn't.  It wasn't even close.  In fact, I've spent most of the week behind due dates.
Today, I've had a few break throughs about recent events.
#1) Although I've had some improvement, I really do still suck at scheduling.  I took a good look at my calendar and realized a flaw.   I do not account for any of my desk time or block off time for family time and sleeping.  I use the calendar for things outside the house . . which is better than before.  But, our calendar is filled up with things outside the house.  If I can't account for the other important times, than there is a problem.
So just like my recent Dave Ramsey budgeting lessons of telling money where to go instead of money just finding it's way out - I am putting up a renewed effort to get better at this scheduling thing and I'll be telling my time how to be used.  I hate, absolutely HATE the thought of having my time micro-managed.  But, I need to do it because I am not leaving enough time for my sanity.  So I need to take control here.
#2) I have two wonderful, smart, and talented ladies who work with me on my two different business ventures.  I have the wonderful, smart, and talented hubster who works with me on his business venture.  And I still do not ask for help enough.  I tack things on to my to-do list while people who are there that could help me, are there ready to help me, waiting for me to ask.  I think I've done a little better this week on this front.
#3) I really need to work on prioritizing myself.  When I get too exhausted or too stressed, I take time out.  But I push until I get to where I physically can not continue before I rest.  That isn't right.  And that isn't healthy.  I do it with good intentions and while keeping in mind what goal I'm working towards.  But people are made to require rest, not just sleep.  I tend to count sleeping as resting, and it's just not the same.  That may sound like simple logic to you; but it is really something that I need to remind myself of regularly.
Tonight I am thankful for yet another chance to learn to manage life better.  I look back and see the stress that I put on myself.  I don't plan on stopping really.  Because I've got big goals.  But I plan on managing it all better . . . and reaching my goals strong and healthily.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Late

Just a little "rest of the story" from last night's blog:  1) I added an emergency trip to the orthodontist today, making the total dental visits for the week equally the big #4!  Crazy!  2)  All 4 kiddos had No Cavities!!  :)  Hooray!
Ok, moving on, with all the extra appointments this week, I had to make evening work assignments for myself.  I very much dislike doing that.  But, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.
While we were at the dentist office, I was playing on my phone and saw a bike for sale.  A good bike!  A really good bike!  And, it was only about a mile from the house I had an appointment at tonight!
See, I had a new bike for a present two birthdays ago.  And I killed it last summer.  We usually buy a bicycle from Meijer or Wal-Mart.  And I guess when a person is an adult size and riding 15 miles, that those kinds of bikes just aren't good enough.
A couple weeks ago I went to the MSU used bike sale.  Although I didn't buy a bike from there, I did talk to some very knowledgeable bike people who told me some things to look for and some brands that are good.
With my new found knowledge, and my smart phone to reference things, I went to go look at the bike.  And . . . . drum-roll please . . . . I am now the proud owner of a Diamondback Wildwood bike ($350 - starting price new) for only $80!!  I looked the bike all over.  With my limited knowledge, it's in very good condition!  It looks only a couple years old.  And now it is all mine!!!!
Tonight I am thankful for my new bike!!!  I can't wait to ride and ride and ride without worrying that the thing is going to fall apart beneath me! And I am very thankful that none of the kids had cavities!  That is always something to be thankful for :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Anti-Denti

Somehow, with my less than superb scheduling tasks, I managed to have three different dentists in one week.  One child had the orthodontist on Monday.  Tomorrow the kids have their dentist.  And I have my dentist on Friday.
Throw in there that the orthodontist child needs me to call tomorrow morning asap, since her mouth has hurt since we were there Monday and she has some loose metal.
This week I am definitely not "anti-denti".  Come on now . . . where are my Seinfeld fans??
Tonight I am thankful that we have dental insurance!  And instead of being bummed that I will be devoting so much time to teeth this week, I will be thankful that we are knocking all these appointments out at once :)
Sorry this is so short . . . I've got to go floss!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Safe

I look at houses day in and day out.  Over the years I've learned quite a bit about structures from home inspectors, builders, contractors, Mike Holmes, property owners who have renovated, and any other source that would take the time to explain anything new to me.
I've been in to buildings where the foundation walls are curving in, where lines of block have tilted over at at least a 45 degree angle, where water had infiltrated from the sides and base.  I've been in to houses where the roof trusses have broken, where the headers have snapped, where walls have crumbled, stairs crushed, and floors just given out.  I have been in million dollar homes and homes that I have valued at a negative number due to the cost to doze the thing.  I've been in renovated homes where the homeowners have become irate after spending tens of thousands of dollars to fix up a home, and then found another several thousand dollar repair needed to bring the home up to current standards.
For awhile now, the buzz around my town has been the middle school building.  From the outside, the building looks pretty much the same as it has for decades.  From the inside, the building has changed, the classrooms have changed, since I've been in that school.  
There has been debate on the benefits of building a new school.  Many of the "pros" made great points.  The "cons" had some points, though not ones that I particularly agreed with.
My number one issue was safety.  I've read the engineer's structural report of the building.  And I don't want my children in that building with hundreds of other people.  I will have two children in that building next year, and for several years following.  I want them safe.  
I go in to buildings where I have felt the second floor sway, the floor give out beneath my feet, and the exterior walls shake when I move a door.  I go in to these buildings by myself, by my own free will, and with full knowledge of the dangers that I may encounter.  I have no desire to send my children in to any buildings with structural issues . . . ever.
So I didn't care about the money.  I didn't care about the history of the building.  I didn't care about the good things that the new building can offer (although I will admit that I am excited about an indoor track . . . for when I can run again).  I didn't care about my memories of being there.  And I didn't care about the generations that have been in that building before me.  I care about my children and their safety.
Tonight I am thankful that "unofficially" the bond has passed to build a new school and keep the kids safe!  :)  Now I'm just waiting for the "official" results to confirm everything!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Lunch Lessons (for the kids)

On my phone calendar there is a reminder that goes every Sunday morning about 7am to do "Household Management".  Some Sundays I'm not even awake yet when the little ding goes off.  Some Sundays I ignore it.  Honestly some Sundays I don't even notice it.  When my calendar goes off, it is just one little ding and nothing else.
Yesterday I did some of the tasks though.  School lunches are always a biggie.  Different from prior years, I haven't spent a ton of time on lunch prepping this year.  The kids are old enough to make sandwiches.  The last few times I've done muffins, they didn't all get eaten.  I haven't really had the ambition to do my huge batches of home made popcorn.  So I buy enough healthy groceries for the kids, they have a laminated chart of what they should back (i.e. entree, healthy side, fun side, dessert), and no one has starved this year.
We have had to change how we handle school lunches for the kids.  The school has a wonderful program where a parent can go online and deposit money in to the lunch account for the student.  The rule at our house is that each kid gets a drink a day and one hot lunch per week.  For whatever reason, this year in particular has found a problem with charging breakfasts or additional lunches.
With our journey in to Dave Ramsey budgeting and all, I found this a good opportunity to make a few points before we put the kibosh on the charging lunches.  Whether the money is in the account or not, the school lets the children charge.  So sometimes I get an email that one student has overdrawn, I get online and I find that 3 children have overdrawn.  There isn't any consequence for the student, it rests on the parent . . . except in this house.
The weekly commission chart, from a few months back, for the children has been working very well.  I would say that to-date, it is the best method we have encountered for multiple children / multiple chores.  The problem for the children is that payday only comes on the weekend.  So they decide during the week to charge an extra lunch here or a breakfast there, knowing that they will be getting paid on the weekend and they can pay for their school food.  Like an interest-free credit card, kind of, don't you think?
Just like for adults though, the children get to payday and they don't get any money because they've already spent it.  Some weeks the children have still owed us money after their payday - so they've had to go a chore of our choosing to pay off the rest of their debt.
We are at the point now where I've called the school and put restrictions on their lunch accounts so that this over-charging can't continue.  The kids have found though, that if they sweet talk the lunch people, they can still charge here or there.  And I was very impressed to have two of my children come to me with cash to pay for the extra that they charged, without me calling them on it!
This week I finally put up envelopes on the bulletin board with the week's hot lunch money for each child.  It'll stay in the envelope until they pull it out.  No reminding from mom or dad.  If they want one hot lunch a week, they'll have to be responsible enough to remember to grab their free money for it.  And if they want more than one, they'll have to grab their own earned money.  I'm liking this!
Tonight I am thankful for weekly tasks to stay organized.  Not only did the monthly event calendar get updated, the monthly hot lunch calendar was posted so the kids can decide how to use their money, and we ended up having a family discussion again about being responsible, working hard, and budgeting their paychecks.  I am still rereading "Smart Money, Smart Kids" in my free time.  I am excited to see the harvest of the skills we are planting in the children!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Setting It Right!

Last week I worked with the goal to be there for my customers and my family.  This week I will also be there for myself!  I've made some goals.
Goal #1)  Sleep at least 7 hours a night.
  Sound reasonable enough, doesn't it?  But I really have problems with this because I think: well, I could make it on 5 hours and then I could get this other report done.  NO!  This week I will tell myself NO!  I will tell myself that my health and well being are more important than a couple more hours of work!
Goal #2)  Don't eat crappy food.
  Should be easy enough, right?  And it very well might be.  Because when I am sleep deprived, I reach for more sugar to keep me energized.  Or I just sit and munch because I'm not really caring what I'm doing, as long as I'm staying awake.
  I went and bought groceries today.  I bought healthy snacks.  I've prepped just a little food for the week.  But, a little is better than nothing!
Goal #3) Exercise this week.
  I pretty much went Monday thru Friday last week doing nothing.  I was all excited last night because I was dancing without pain.  It was wonderful to be able to be on a dance floor and move, like really move and have my knee comply with no arguments!  I had dreams of Zumba-ing last night!  Alas, I woke up this morning with a swollen, angry knee.  Technically I have five more months before I should be all back to normal, so I'm not getting down about it.  And there is still plenty that I can do, and will be doing tomorrow morning!  The stationary bike, the elliptical, and my weights are ready and waiting for me!
Tonight I am thankful for including myself as more of a priority this week!  It is ok to sacrifice one's well being for a short time for the greater good, I think so anyway.  But not to let it become a lifestyle, as I have done in the past.  So, I'm setting it right!