Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New....

...unless the old is just fine, then no need for new.

Happy New Year.

On the last day of 2011 I worked.  Delivered mail to Wilton and Moscow. I'm getting better at it. 
And by "better" I mean I suck less this week than I did the week it's better. 

I'm not really concerned about setting extravagant New Year's Resolutions.

Unless you call Write-the-Book-that-has-existed-in-my-head-for-the-last-decade an extravagant resolution.

But really, other than that, I think my New Years Resolutions revolve around the word:  Simplicity.

Get rid of clutter.  Things that I do not love and do not bring joy and meaning.

Work hard at the jobs that God has given me.

Don't spend money on stuff that doesn't half a shelf life longer than my attention span.

Pay off debt.

Weight Loss.....this resolution may or may not happen.  But the key is still "simplicity."  Eat when I'm hungry.  Stop when I'm full.  Food choices:  Let's just say I am on the whatever is on sale at Jeff's Market Diet. 
Don't judge.  It can work. 

Pray.  Every day. Write them down.  Watch God work Miracles.  Maybe For me.  Mostly through me.  What a privilege. 

Wake up each day and
Cherish the people and situations that God has given me.
Encourage anyone that I can
Advocate for those who can't speak up on their own
Treat each Day
Like the Adventure
that it can be. 

Happy New year Everyone. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Find your game

LOVED watching a new movie that the Wildcat got for Christmas:  Seven Days in Utopia

It's a movie about a young golfer who happens to lose his cool on a pro golf tour, gets all mad at himself, runs into an old cow pasture fence, and then "finds his game." 

If you are a golfer or know a golf lover, then you will find this movie inspirational. 

If you are a young athlete with a love for any sport, you will find this movie inspirational.

The underlying story has the age old question:  what is better....improving your game or finding your game

With that being said, if you are a mama with game, you will love this movie. 

Because sometimes "you don't choose the game, the game chooses you." 

Go rent the movie.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joy to the World

The Lord is Come!

(and so has Just Dance 3... a huge hit under the tree this year)

God has showed up in many seemingly small ways for me this year. 
This is huge.
All I can really think t say about it is Thank God that He does care about the details.

Career-wise, the year started out with a lot of promise.  I had the opportunity to write content on a monthly basis for a regional hospice care business.  I learned a lot and was paid pretty well for this gig.

I was also a monthly contributor for a website in which I wrote parenting and education articles.  I also was given the occassional assignment in the area of health and fitness.  Which only goes to prove to those who know me that I possess excellent research skills.

Over the summer I kept busy writing a wide range of articles for one major website that owns smaller sites (like eHow, golf link, US Today, ect.)  By "wide range" I mean I wrote about valentine craft ideas, the registered potato varieties in the U.S., and end of the year classroom activities for elementary.  There is no glam and glitz in these articles.  But the paycheck is good.  Think of the last several things that you "googled" to get more information....someone had to write these.  And someone got paid to write them.  I was on that bandwagon. 

I also interviewed and was accepted as a freelance writer for the Quad City Times.  This is so fun for me.  It is a step up from the local paper that I used to write for.  I do mostly human interest stories.  Salute section.  I also just completed an article that I am told will appear in the Food Section in the next week or two.  I love writing about other people.  As I get the opportunity to share their own stories and passions, it makes me want to be better about living my own story. 

I also was published in a handfull of regional parenting publications this last year all across the country.  I re-sold an article that I wrote 2 years ago for LA Family Magazine to publications in New York, Texas and Virginia.

Career-wise things were successfull.  I paid my bills. 

But then the Hospice company made cutbacks, which included the newsletter budget.
Two of the websites I wrote for made big cutbacks and I went from having 3-5 assignments a week to that many every month.  The only apparrent cutback that wasn't made was with newspaper assignments.  But that gig alone isn't enough to pay the bills. 

I applied for part-time jobs. 

I didn't want to give up writing, but knew it was a possibility that I would have to give it up in order to make the ends meet.  Just like everyone else in the world, right?

But one of the jobs I applied for....I got.  It is local and part time.  And is enough to pay the bills that I currently have.  And it still gives me the time to pursue writing opportunities as they come. 

I now deliver the mail to Wilton and Moscow on Saturdays.
And when the regular carrier needs a day off. 
This job came just in the nick of time.
Or all in God's perfect time. 

I'm just getting started in it. 

And as I think about what the next step is for me in writing, I think that I can now afford to focus on the projects that bring me joy, not just the ones that pay the bills. 

Now that I got all that business talk out of the way......

It's time to get down to business:

Let's Dance!

These three are all texting......each other.

Nathan and a golfing gift bag.

Tookie found the tree ringing....her first phone.

Claire got an ipod touch.  It isn't new but she doesn't seem to care!

We didn't get alot, but we all got what we wanted. 
Except for me...I asked for long underwear and nobody really believed me that I wanted long underwear!
Don't mistake that last sentence for ungratefullness.  I got a shovel and jumper cables which I totally DID ask for! 

Before today is over we will eat a ton more food in Wilton and Durant.

And I am hoping to start a new tradition with the kids. 
Each year at Christmas I want to talk about what we can each give back to Jesus.  It is afterall, His big day!
Hopefully the kids won't think I'm being all dumb.
(Not that this would be different than any other day)

This year, I am giving Him my writing. 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Highlights for Danielle

Danielle, aka--Tookie, is in 4th grade.

She plays basketball and softball and is all into her 4th grade social studies projects.
She has discovered facebook and is developing an  addiction to it.
And she begs me for a phone for Christmas like every. single. day.

Reminds me a little of me and how I BEGGED my parents to get a "teen line" so I could have my own phone in my room.  That was only a hundred years ago when I actually had to dial the phone.  They never did get an extra phone line and the closest I ever had to my own phone was the one with a cord long enough that I could pull it to the top of the stairs when I was on the phone. 

I digress. 

Raising Tookie is way different than with the others.  I am finding myself getting all nostalgic as she hits all of her "firsts."  Because for this mama....her "firsts" are my "lasts" as mama.

I've done a thousand 4th grade projects with the kids over the years.  And now I am going through my very last year as a mama with a 4th grader.

We celebrated our last first day of elementary school.

Just got done with our last ever elementary Christmas concert.

My baby girls is trying really hard to hurry up and grow up like her siblings.
And I am putting my efforts into not letting this happen
Any quicker
it has to.

But isn't she beautiful?

And when I say beautiful, I mean on the inside as well as the outside.

She is conscientious.  She cares about people's feelings. 
She genuinely feels bad when she tries to get away with something that she knows she shouldn't be trying to get away with.  She actually feels sick about it.  I love that in this girl. 

So this year we read "tales of a 4th grade nothing," are totally in to "Ramona and Beezus," and are learning the states and capitals.  We have 'movie Mondays' and what we call 'word Wednesdays.'  Traditions that the two of us still hang on to and enjoy. 

Here is Tookie on her 9th birthday with her newborn picture and her jar of beads.  There is one bead for each day from now until her 18th birthday.  Each week I remove 7 beads.  A visual reminder that time is not waiting for any of us.  I have an opportunity as a mama to make each bead count for something. 

All of this talk about "time"
and Lasts
and all Tookie wants to know is
"will I get my own phone for Christmas?

Probably not.

All  in good time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Claire's 2011 Highlights

aka:  Claire-Bear

The Wildcat calls her "Clear-to-partly cloudy."
Which Claire totally hates.
(when the kids took a trip to Kentucky, someone there must have pronounced her name this way and the Wildcat, being the wonderful brother that he is, picked up on that and has tormented her ever since.)

Claire is in 5th grade this year, her first year of middle school.
She opted out of playing softball,
She plays basketball
She went to church camp
And is learning to babysit her neices and nephews.

This year more than any other, I have noticed how Claire is really trying to find her own "thing,"
in her own way. She has to work harder than her older sister at reading and grades in school, and she just isn't in to every sport like she used to be.

In thinking about how I can sum up exactly what Claire's "things" are this year, I would have to say friends and faith.

At an age where many girls her age are dropping out of girl scouts, Claire is embracing it more than she ever has.  She has awesome troop leaders, went on a trip to Wisconsin Dells with her troop, and is really getting into the community service aspect of being involved in girl scouts. 

Also this year, I mentioned that she went to church camp again.  This is her 3rd year in a row to go.  It was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa.  The grandparents are cutting back and tightening their budget-belt like most of us....
Knowing this, Claire told them that they didn't have to get her any birthday or Christmas presents ever.  Because going to church camp is better than any gift she could open. 
She told me that she asked Jesus in her heart at camp, something that she knows she did before, but she did it at camp again because she forgot about the first time and she knows that she will never forget about camp as long as she lives.


Claire and I butt heads at times. 
Probably because we are so much alike.
One of my favorite arguements goes like this:

Claire:  Mom, I love you.
Me:  I love you too, Claire-bear!
Claire:  But I love you more.
Me:  I don't think so...I love you more!
Claire:  Mom.  I love you more.  End of discussion.

Our secret code is a hand signal.
She pinches her thumb and pointer finger together to make the "okay" sign.
The three fingers held up in this gesture stand for:  I. Love. you.
The fingers pinched tightly together stand for:  This Much.

And by "this much," we don't mean a little bit.
We mean from this finger, all the way around the world, and right back to this thumb.

(we saw this in a movie)

My favorite text message in the whole world to get comes from Claire.
And all she says are:  3 fingers and a pinch.

Claire is teaching me that we all need to find our way
in each season of life
Somedays the paths are "clear"
And some days they are "partly cloudy."

But one thing is always certain....
This girl will always fit in perfectly right here with me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


aka: Marz

My 8th grader.

This year my sweet girl ran hurdles in track, was a catcher in softball, and went another year undefeated in basketball.

She gets like all A's in school
She has a busy social life
She babysits
She is raising money to go on a DC trip
And she wrote her first children's book.

(isn't she lazy?)
I kid.

Here is Marz with Deb Bowen, the creator of 'A Book By Me' program.  She is being recognized at a red carpet event for her work on a children's book about WWII Veteran and liberator, Dr. Paul Hauck.

This is Marz with Dr. Hauck after she interviewed him.

This girl is amazing. 

I love it when she wakes up in the morning and says "mom...i just had the weirdest dream." and then she procedes to tell me every single twisted detail.

I love it when she says "mom...wait to you hear about this..." and then she goes on to tell me the details of her day.

I love it when she says "mom, you are my best friend." 

And I love it when says nothing but she points to her eye, her heart and then back at me.  And then she walks out into the world.

If I would take a picture of her each day, she would have an expression pretty much like this in most every one:

I realize that I am blessed beyond belief when I think about the gift I have in this girl. 

I can only hope that she will want to keep telling me about her dreams and her days and that she will always know that I will continue to be her biggest fan and her best friend as she continues to walk out into the world.

And every time she steps out in the world, my heart goes right along with her.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011.....The Wildcat

Here is his photo.
That, I might add...he posed for.
so if he is embarassed for now untill kingdom come,
then it is his own fault.

Grandparents: Please don't tell me that I didn't warn you.

Now let me tell you a little bit about this kid hugging the Christmas tree.
He is a freshman.
I refer to him as "Wildcat."

He is an athlete.

I believe that he used to be defined as an athlete by what he accomplished on the court or on the field.

And I wouldn't be off on that at all.

But this last year
We learned what it was like to be
a Role Model
When you were the one on the sidelines.....

Thanks, Coach White.
You have no idea the influence you have had
on our family
the Wildcat.

An injury defined who this kid was for the last half of the season.

But he didn't let that define who he was.

This kid is a leader.
He was able to see that.
From both sides of

Unfortunately it can take that to show us what we are
What we can be
And the influence we can have to others.

My heart spent the fall season
wearing a jersey
with the # 6 on it. 

The 4 Days of Christmas

You know how alot of Christmas letters you receive really show off the accomplishments of the year?

Ya.  Me too. 
And I'm not about to stop doing that here.

But while I was attempting to take the perfect Christmas photo, the kids were all squirreling around and making jokes and posing for photos that will probably embarass themselves.  If not now, then when they are trying to take their own family Christmas photo.

(there is some mama satisfaction in knowing that this will be true.  first hand.  not because i am the oldest of 5.  just saying.)


In looking through the photos that didn't make the cut...didn't really show us all off....I discovered a truth. 

It's the real pics. 
The real snapshots
Of everyday life
That we don't pose for
That really make up
Who we are.

Just sayin'.

And wouldn't you rather hear about
Who really are
And what we really accomplished
Or, in most cases....didn't accomplish?

Not that I don't want to show off.
Because I do.
And I'm going to try.

Christmas isn't about me.
Or my family.
And accomplishments.

Christmas is about Christ.

And since it is Christmas
I am just going to go ahead and say
As in in
is about

Thank goodness.
Because I can't really compare.

With that being said.....
The next sereral Christmas posts
Will perhaps be
what we thought
at the time
to be our
biggest epic fails
of the year.

But look in between the lines
And you will see
the heart
behind it all.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Nicest phonecall came yesterday.....

Did you see the Salute Cover Story this week?

Click right HERE and check it out.

Yesterday I got a phone call from Mr. Nelson, the person the story is about.  He loved it.  And he thanked me.

That was better than a paycheck.

So go visit Brad Nelson at Northpark and get some dogtags made!

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Job

So for the last two weeks, and the way things look, the next two weeks, I have had a full-time training schedule....for my new, part-time job. 

I am thankful for the work.
And I look forward to the job.
But am feeling completely overwhelmed right now. 

Trying to keep up with my interviews and deadlines right now, because I LOVE this work and the training schedule won't last much longer....but if  miss a deadline, it could affect whether or not an editor will throw more assignments my way.

And I can't go without saying that my kids and Brian have been great in all of this.  Kids are getting up and getting ready for school. 
And they are understanding when I buy frout roll-ups for our 4th grade snack day instead of making something great.
And on on night, mama was so exhausted that one of her kiddos tucked her in to bed at night, instead of the other way around. 

Needless to say, I am not used to this. 

And I don't know if I have to get used to it as much as I have to get through it. 

On this note, I'd like to quote one of my favorite disney character, Dori the fish, and say "Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming." 

So wise. 

I'm signing off tonight, at 5 or so p.m.
Gonna shower and watch the disney channel till I fall asleep
And keep swimming through tomorrow. 

And the next day.

And the next.