Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Well-Balanced Day

Mother's Day has always been a challenging day for me.  Being a Mom is such an integral part of my life that I tend to build up expectations for this one day that are unrealistic.  I guess I just want one day out of the year where everyone gets along, helps me around the house, and okay, I will admit it, "rises up and calls me Blessed."  Well, guess what, that day has NEVER happened in my house and never will.  My expectations are just realistic.  In the past, I have usually ended the day feeling devalued and disappointed.

So, this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I decided to plan my day.  That way, I couldn't blame anyone if it didn't go well.  I lowered my expectations for my kids and put some fun things in the day that I knew I would enjoy.  In the end, it was the best Mother's Day yet.

Mother's Day festivities actually began for me on the Friday before.  Abby's class at school did a Mother's Day Tea for the moms.  When I sat I my seat, I was greeted by this lovely poem written for me by Abby.
This is what it said:  
Is loving, helpful, and kind
Loves family, God and chocolate
Is good at cooking, cleaning, and organizing
Makes me feel happy, loved, and thankful
Laughs when jokes are told, funny movies are watched, and kids act silly
Frowns when disobeyed, disrespected, and argued with
Loves to go to Africa, Hawaii, and Kentucky
Helps me with school stuff, dinner meals, and drives me around
Expects me to be nice, do my chores, and do my best in school
Is surprised when comes home to a clean house, receives gifts, and gets a treat
I couldn't live without her lovingness, kindness, and helpfulness
I was so touched by what she wrote and really felt honored by her words.  She knows me really well, and few of the things she said, proved that.  It brought a smile to my face.

Then, Laila brought this home for me from school:
I love the picture she drew of us.
"You are special to me because I love you Mom." 
Isaiah brought this little gem home to me:
 My mom is…
~as sweet as a daffodil
~as fashionable as a popstar queen
~as smart as a scientist
~as beautiful as a rose
~as fun as a roller coaster
~as busy as a bee
~as caring as a doctor
~as helpful as electricity
~as cool as an eagle
~As brave as Green Lantern
The day before Mother's Day, the kids cleaned out my truck.  That was my one gift request from them.
Then, the night before Mother's Day, I came home to a clean main level.
I was both surprised
and delighted
On Mother's Day, I decided to have 3 parts to the day:  1.  Time  with friends,  2.  Time alone for a nap, 3. Time with the family  That turned out to be the perfect balance to the day.
Rick took the day off from work.  We spent the morning relaxing and watching several episodes of the "The Middle" together.  I just love that show and the Mother's Day episode is my all-time favorite!
Then,  I headed out for lunch to Cheddars with my friends, Jeni and Jessica
Rick and the big kids watched all the kids while we were gone
Did I mention there was a blizzard going on outside!?!?!?
CrAzY CoLoRaDo!!
After my fabulous afternoon nap, we had some time as a family.
I really do love this crew
Isaiah gave me a wooden elephant from his African collection
Laila gave me a flower in a little flower pot that she decorated
Abby got me some Hershey's almond pieces!  YUM!
Sam gave me a book of poems that he wrote.
Lauren and Rick went in together and gave me a coupon for a pedicure
Cody gave me some dark chocolate Raisinets
Rick gave me a Chipotle gift card
The day ended with this fabulous Dark Chocolate Silk Pie.  
(I bought this for myself at Sam's the week before)
Really, when I look back on that day, I feel so grateful and realize what a special day it was.  The thing that changed it for me was my decision to lower my expectations and give input on what I would like.  That is hard for me, because deep down, I want to be known so well that they would naturally choose what I would love.  I want to feel like they will make the effort to really love me the way I want/need to be loved.  I have to give up that expectation.  Let it be what it will be and accept that.  I also found that breaking the day up into different segments made it much more enjoyable.  
I really am so blessed and have so much in my life to celebrate!
Happy Mother's Day to Me!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Time away with Abba-Doo-Yah

 A few weeks ago, Abby had a field trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens.  I decided to join her class and then she and I stayed in Denver for an overnight together.  We were overdue for some mom/daughter time.  She is so helpful to me at home and so responsible with her school work.  I wanted to do something special for her.  It was also a great opportunity to have some good discussions that don't come easily in the day-to-day craziness that is our life.  
Abby loves flowers and gardening so this field trip was right up her alley
 It was good and we saw some pretty stuff, but we both agreed that one visit was enough
 When we lived in Dallas, we had a membership to the Arboretum.  I was expecting this one to be like the Dallas one.  Not so much.  
 My favorite plants were the indoor tropical ones

 These trees look like something from a Dr. Seuss book to me
We were very excited to be done with the field trip so we could do our own thing.  First, we headed to Trader Joe's.  Abby and Rick are gluten free, so I was hoping to find them some new, more affordable foods for them to eat.  It was a very successful trip.  I am so excited that we are getting one in Colorado Springs in the Fall!!  You can see we found a lot of good stuff!!  They have liked all of it!
 Then, we headed to the mall.  We walked around and got frozen yogurt
 After checking into our hotel(which we got for only $40 because of hotel reward points), we found a pizza place that served gf pizza.  Abby wasn't thrilled with how it tasted, so I ended up getting her Chipotle, too!
 That night, we hand some "spa time" in our room with nail painting,
 a movie
 and face masks
 Have I ever told you how much this girl can eat.  We have no idea where she puts it all.  She is gluten free and likes very little meat.  That makes it very hard to feed her.  She is always complaining that she is hungry.  My goal during this little outing was to keep her full and well fed.   I think I accomplished that goal.
 We found a breakfast place that served gf pancakes
 She had no problem downing the 4 pancakes and 2 big pieces of bacon!

The rest of our day was spent at the mall and other stores shopping.  She had some basic things she needed for summer.  We found some of those things.  I am finding shopping with my girls to be a big challenge these days.  They have very strong opinions on what they like and finding those things has not been easy.  I miss the days of hand-me-downs and me deciding what they wear.  It was so much easier and way cheaper.
  We ended our time with a late lunch at Chick-fil-a. 

I am so thankful we had this opportunity.  Getting quality time with the kids can be hard to do.  Sometimes, you just need to get away from everything in order to really get time together.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Almost Done!! - Random thoughts about my life

It is 5:00 AM.  I am up because Sam threw up.  So, I thought I would catch up on some blogging.  I am so behind!!

1.  School
-We are finishing up the school year!!  All I can say to that is, "HALLELUJAH!!."  I  am so ready.  I need the craziness of May to be OVER!

-Cody was done yesterday.  Lauren, Abby, Sam, and Isaiah finish up today.  Well, Sam actually may already by done.  He woke me up at 4:30 this morning because he had thrown up.  I don't know if he is sick or if it is from the many cups of root beer and food he had last night at the Sky Sox game he and Rick went to.  Either way, I will keep him home today.  I know he is sad to miss his last day of school, but I don't want to risk getting others sick.

-Poor Laila does not get out until June 3.  Next year she will be at the same school as everyone else so this won't be an issue.

-Speaking of switching schools, Cody will not be returning to TCA next year.  After much prayer and consideration, we have decided to transfer him to a different school.  It was a tough decision, but we feel like this will put him in an environment where he can be most successful.  He is pretty pumped about not having to wear uniforms anymore!
I was very nervous filling out this piece of paper for his transfer

There have been a few end of the school year events that I haven't shared yet:
Lauren had her Spring Choir concert
7th Grade Choir
 This was her art work that was put in the art show at school
 This next picture needs some explanation.  Sam had to do a mini science project.  He decided to follow in Abby's footsteps and do a vinegar/baking soda volcano.  The whole point of the experiment was to learn the reaction when the two ingredients are mixed.  He accomplished that.  The volcano, is another story.  This was his finished product:
 It took every ounce of restraint in me to let him turn this in.  I have never been one to do my kids' projects for them.  I offer guidance, help them get supplies together  and cheer them on throughout the process.  I had given this project over to Rick to help with.  Rick was completely content with Sam turning this in.  I was horrified.  Needless, to say, I consider it a victory that I did not intervene.  He ended up getting a B+ on the project.  The points that were counted off had nothing to do with the volcano, but with some of his written work about his experiment.  Even after parenting for almost 16 years, I am still having to learn the lesson of stepping back and not intervening in some situations.  I desperately wanted to tell his teacher that I had nothing to do with this.  Once again, I kept quiet.  You probably have no idea how much progress this is for me.  At this rate, by the time Laila does it, I will probably make her go out and buy her own supplies! : )

Laila had a Spring Concert 
 Abby put her hair in piggies
 Her smile these days is very interesting
 Can you find my little flower girl
The  Kinder "Garden"

2.  Swaziland
-We are approaching the one month mark until our Swazi trip.  We are so blessed by all of you that are supporting us in this through your prayers, financial donations to cover the costs of the trip, and supply donations for us to take over.  Every time we lead a team, we realize this ministry is a group effort.  We could not or would not want to do this alone.  I am always amazed at what we can accomplish as God's people when we come together to accomplish a goal.  We are praying through all the details as a team and seeking God in how we minister.  Please keep us in your prayers.  I will share more as we get closer to the trip.  I also love how this experience teaches our kids a lesson in God's Provision.  Sam is seeing God provide the funds that we need in order to go.  He is witnessing what it looks like for others to sacrificially give in order for us to go.  I pray this experience and the many more that he is going to have through this process will deepen his faith and the spirit of giving to others will take root in his heart.  Thank you to each one of you who has given to us.  

3.  Driving
-Cody is now officially a driver.  After 30 hours of classroom instruction, passing his written test, and the gathering of various documents, we went to the DMV yesterday to get his permit.  We were prepared for a several hour experience, me with my Kindle, Laila with snacks, and Cody with his iPod.  Much to our surprise, it only took 22 minutes!  We did get in the truck and realize that they had our address wrong on his temporary permit, so we went back in and started over.  The second time through was even quicker and the whole process from beginning to end, with the redo, took less than an hour.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Now, we begin logging his driving hours.  This time next year, he can take the driving test to get his license.

4.  Whole30
-I decided to do another Whole30.  I am on day 11.  It has been much easier this time.  I am finding that I just feel so much better when I am eating good, healthy, natural food.  I am hoping this second time through that I can pinpoint more specifically what foods affect me negatively.  Last time, after about 2 weeks of going off Whole30, I could just feel the negative effects in my body.  I also began have stomach issues regularly.  I can see the difference in how I feel when I am eating better.  Now, I just have to make it through this round and slowly reintroduce each food category so that I can see how I feel from the different kinds of food.  I will share new recipes and foods that I find.
I made my own mayo out of avocado oil.  
 I then used that may to make a homemade ranch dressing
 They both turned out great!!
This pineapple salsa was so yummy!
 One of my many salad combinations.  I like the mixture of apple, walnuts and chicken in this one.
 This is a sweet potato hash with a fried egg on top
 Breaking the yolk and letting it be the sauce in this dish is perfection!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Love/Hate Relationship

I really love this time of year, AND I really hate this time of year. 
 I love that the weather is changing and flowers are blooming.  
I love that the snow is ending and we are beginning to have some warm days.

The hard part is ending the school year well.  

This is how the "not-so-morning"people in the house feel as we trudge through the early mornings of the last few weeks of school:
It really doesn't help that the schools try to pack every field trip, concert, field day, teacher appreciation project, art show, and end-of-the year school project into that last month of school.  I find myself barely making it through each day with no margin at all for sickness, calendar changes, or unexpected events.  
We also currently have Lauren in soccer, Sam in baseball, and Cody has been in driving school.  
Let me share some pictures of our latest school events!
Isaiah's Field Trip to the Space Foundation
Daddy went on this one!
Sam's Patriot Day project
Introducing, John Hancock

Each student had to create a button that would be pushed while they did their Living Museum.  When someone pushed the button, the student would give his speech as the Patriot he was representing.
Since it was Good Friday, Sam made his button as Jesus on the cross. 
That made me smile. 
Delivering his speech

Then, there was the Art Show:
Isaiah's Art Work
Sam's Art Work
Abby's Creation
 Abby all dressed up for her spring concert.  She had a special part playing the xylophone
I "got" to go with Laila on a field trip to the zoo on a very cold day!  

Every year, I question whether I will survive the month of May.  This year is no exception.  
Is it really only May 7th?!?!