Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chaos. Fun. Family. Friends.

I was really good at wrangling a 16-month-old on planes, trains, and automobiles, at church and friends' and family's homes, restaurants, fitness classes, and all the other places Asher and I visited on our trip to MN. I was really good at seeing so many people who mean the world to me and working out and laughing and hugging and enjoying my time.

I was not good at taking pictures or blogging. I picked the right things to be good at this weekend.

Now I'm home. Because I visited a place I will always love and will always have a piece of me and be the place our family became our family, but now I'm home. I know we made the right decision. I missed the mountains and our little town and our small, winding roads. Our airport reunion with Jim and the kids made my heart soar with happy because we were all home together again. That felt so good. Home. Wow.

We got back at 10:30 last night and I unpacked from MN and packed for Arizona and our A goal is to leave at 9 this morning for our big road trip and our B goal is to leave sometime when the calendar says Tuesday. More Chaos and Fun and Family and Friends.

I'm so glad so many of you fall under one of those categories.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Minnesota, here we come!

Today I am willingly doing two things that most people would rather never do in their entire lifetime, much less in one day.

Dramatic much? Why yes, thank you.

First, I am choosing to fly with a toddler. As an aside, it pains me to write toddler. He is my baby. Always will be. Just like those three other big kids who are my babies. But this littlest one especially. Alas, toddler.

Second, I am flying to Minnesota in January. Back in our Omaha days, I was lonely and borderline miserable and I needed something to look forward to. Minnesota in January was that thing. I could get a flight using very few of Jim's points because, as previously mentioned, people just don't go to Minnesota, land of frozen tundra and deadly windchills, in January. Except me. Because my family and friends are there so away we go!

Let's just say I'm not bringing any books on the flight. At least not any books that don't have lift the flap pages or fuzzy bears or words to sing. Well, I am sneaking Little Women in my purse on the off-chance that Asher naps during the flight. Ha. I crack myself up just thinking that might happen.

Actually, we are hitting this flight at a really good time. When I booked the flight I was scared. Asher didn't like sitting for any amount of time beyond nursing and eating. Now he sits through church, which is a joyous miracle unto itself. He sits and listens to piles of books. So, I'm cautiously hopeful this will go alright and I won't make any lifelong enemies in the people sitting around us on the flight. The bag is packed with snacks, toys, and a few new books.

So, yes, I'm leaving on a jet plane. It's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds, but here we go!

P.S. I'll miss these kiddos something fierce. Our Monday reunion will be spectacular!

I know it's only Thursday, but I'm in weekend mode. Do you have any plans?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Run Happy. Be Strong.

Today we got our morning work done, had a nice little lunch, and got the kids settled down for reading hour/nap. Jim was working from home, so I quickly changed and dashed out the door to drive to one of my favorite new running trails.

I have a few races on my calendar for 2015. I get kind of nervous when I pencil things in on my racing calendar these days. The last time I got the pen out and made big fitness plans was 2012, the year I tore my ACL skiing, reconstructed it with surgery, worked my tail off in PT, and then got pregnant. So, yeah, I didn't really get to run many of my races that year. And then last year I had a baby who thought sleep was for the weak and we moved to lots of new places with our four kids and life was wild and crazy and running was not the priority. So, yeah, I didn't really run many races last year either.

Running remained a hobby, a sanity saver, time with friends, but it took a very necessary back seat to life.
This year I have a 10-miler planned for June, a half marathon a few weeks later, and my first full marathon in October. My goal for the first half of the year is to build a solid foundation through consistent running, strength training, and yoga. My goal for the second half of the year is to nail my marathon training runs and run a happy, healthy marathon.

Which brings me to today's run. My goal is to get three good runs in each week as I work my long run mileage up. Today I had time to get six miles in, so I headed to a local trail. Just me and my thoughts. I have never been one to listen to music while I run. I did it periodically back in Minnesota, but I usually ran with friends or used that time alone to think and be. There is so little time to be. Here I never run with music because I am either on a tight mountain road or I am sharing space with elk and deer,which I see often, and bears and mountain lions, which thankfully have stayed away while I've been in their vicinity. Obviously I need to be alert and aware while running so no ear buds for me. The added bonus is that I can hear the twigs snap and the wind swish, the rocks skitter away and my breath get heavier and slower, depending on the particular hill I'm working at the moment. There is a depth to the silence that surrounds me as I run that I wouldn't trade for the best beat-thumping song that JT could craft. Time to just be. It's one of my favorites.

Today as I ran I thought about blogging and I remembered that I needed to call my Grandma. I thought about my marriage and my kids. I thought about how running here is finally feeling almost normal. How on the rare occasions that I'm running on flat ground, the altitude no longer bothers me. How I no longer think I'll die from the hills. I thought about all that running has taught me, mostly that I'm tougher than I thought and that friends you run with turn into friends you trust with all of the best and worst of you. My lungs burned. My legs burned. I looked around at the beauty surrounding me and I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
I had this trail all to myself today

And this view.

Mostly I thought, I get to do this. I am healthy and strong enough to rely on my lungs and legs to carry me up and down mountains and through trees and around curves. I get to feel my lungs beg for more air and my legs power up a steep incline and then fly down the other side. I get to crest a hill and see beauty as far as my eyes can see. I get to rest in the accomplished silence, punctuated only by my slowing breathing, that follows a tough run.

Last night, Elliot and I finished The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. The last paragraph describes almost perfectly how I felt on my run today.

"As Louis relaxed and prepared for sleep, all his thoughts were of how lucky he was to 
inhabit such a beautiful earth, . . . and how pleasant it was to look forward to
another night of sleep and another day tomorrow, and the fresh morning,
and the light that returns with the day." 

The running goals I have for myself this year are my biggest yet. I plan on seeing them through. But I also know that injuries and babies and life happen. So I'm enjoying every run. I'm working hard and appreciating the beauty around me and the beauty within me. And it is just absolutely fantastic.

What do you do that makes you feel happy and strong? That makes you feel better at all the other parts of your life? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Parenting: Art, not Science. **

I am not a bad mama. I do have bad moments.

I do not have a bad life. I do have bad days.
Sometimes being a good mama is a day planned with all of the kids' favorite games and pasttimes and sometimes being a good mama is hearing, "mama, watch this," for the 37th time in one hour and saying, "OK" when under your breath you're mumbling, "I really don't want to."

Sometimes being a good mama is the birthday party the whole neighborhood talks about for ages and sometimes it's a candle in a Twinkie and a day of love and hugs.

Sometimes it's french toast and eggs and sometimes it's a granola bar on the way out the door.

Sometimes it's words of wisdom and understanding and sometimes it's walking away instead of shouting.

Sometimes it's PTA president and sometimes it's help with homework after a long shift at work.

Sometimes it's setting the table for your tired child and sometimes it's having them finish their chores even though they're tired.

Sometimes it's notes in the lunch box and sometimes it's lunch.

The other day I was remembering back to when we were a teeny, new, little family of three. Every decision felt so big then. I thought I'd ruin Isaac if I did this wrong or waited too long to do this or did this too early or on and on it went with what I thought I had to do to get it right. As if there were a checklist. As if one bad decision or wrong move would make or break my parenting deal.

A friend from Oklahoma called one day and gave me advice that I didn't really get at the time, but that I understand more and more each day. She said, "Parenting is an art, not a science."

There is not a set of beakers waiting to be filled with just the right ingredients in just the right quantities in just the right order to ensure a successful child experiment. Nope. There is finger paint and pencil and eraser markings. There is clay and crayons and papier mache. And you add a dab of this and a smear of that and along with your child you create a masterpiece. An absolute masterpiece, I tell you. There will be mistakes along the way. (Oh wow, will there be mistakes.) There will be flashes of brilliance. There will be moments so beautiful you will cry. There will be moments so awful you will cry.

And you will need help. From family and friends and nurses and teachers and mentors. And if you're the praying type, you will beg the heavens to give you a sign that these hard decisions will pay off.
And just when you need it you'll get a glimpse. There will be times you're sure you're getting it right. I always feel quite proud of my parenting skills when my kids tell me which National Public Radio show is their favorite. I'm nerdy and pompous like that, I guess. Maybe it's when your kid holds the door open for a stranger or reaches for your hand across the couch during movie night. Maybe it's when they ask for advice or when they talk about the church service in a way that lets you know they were really paying attention. Maybe it's when they show good sportsmanship during a tough loss or when they pray for a sick friend.

You know if you're parenting out of love. You know if you're doing your best. You know the days that are harder than others and the things that trigger your impatience or anger. You know your child's favorite book and how to rub their back just so when they're having trouble sleeping.

And that is enough. The bond formed, the relationship nurtured, the love shared. That is more than enough.

So let's dish ourselves up a heaping scoop of grace, love, and forgiveness. Let's keep plenty for ourselves and let's share it abundantly with those around us.

What glimpses do you get that let you know you're doing a good, no, great, job? 

** Please know that I am talking about a regular day of parenting with its ups and downs, joys and frustrations. When mental illness, abuse, addiction, single, divorced, or widowed parenting, chronic illness, and a host of other very real and very difficult situations are added to parenting, it takes it to a whole new level. If you are going through any of those situations, please know I do not meant to simplify things. And you are a rock star. Like Bon Jovi status.

P.S. I mentioned that I was making a french toast bake and writing a blog post in my mind and got a request for the french toast recipe. So, here you go. Baked Pumpkin Cream Cheese French Toast. Oh yes I did! FYI, I do not make the crumb topping because it's enough like morning cake without it, we do not serve it with syrup for the same reason, and they always eat eggs with it because a morning without ample protein is a tough morning indeed. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Operation Order. 2.

The first full week of 2015 is in the books. We had a great week getting back into our school groove after a bit of a tough start on Monday. So far I love having my One Word. Order is always in the back of my mind and I'm always on the lookout for ways to implement it. This week I focused on getting everything ready for our school day the night before and getting the house cleaned up before I went to bed each night. I wasn't perfect, but that's not my intention. My intention is to use my time to reflect my priorities. In essence, to order my life so that people know what is important to me without me saying a word. Keeping my house more orderly is a piece of that since clutter and mess add stress and waste my time.  

Here are some things that are very important to me: people. Relationships. 

I am not a host or party planner by nature. Clearly this skipped a generation because my mom and Audrey are in their glory when they are planning menus and designing invitations and creating elaborate table settings. As for me, I am uncomfortable having people over and I never feel like I get it quite right. We live in the age of Pinterest perfection, but I'm more of a chips and queso, bonfire and BYOB, jeans and hoodie kind of girl myself.

But we are in this new place on our little mountain and neighbors are spread out and kids aren't playing in the yards right next door and across the street and around the corner, so we have to take matters into our own hands. If people and relationships are important to us, we have to make an effort. So we did.  

Yesterday we hosted a Meet the Neighbors Bonfire and S'more party. We were hoping to meet some neighbors with kids and specifically invited people with swingsets in the backyard or where we'd seen buses drop kids off. Alas, no kids came, but we did get to meet lots of great neighbors, including one who brought over the most delicious homemade oatmeal molasses bread we ever did taste. Even Isaac, who was really hoping for kids, said, "We have really nice neighbors."

The weather was wonderful at sunny and 50, the company was delightful, and the s'mores were tasty. I'd say that's a really great day, living our priorities.

How are you doing on your One Word or your resolution? Link up below or leave a comment. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday

We are in such a time of transition. Our New Year is still New. We have found our new hometown, but have now started the daunting task of finding a house to turn into our home. All of this New got me thinking about things I'm missing and things I'm looking forward to.

5 Things I'm Missing:

1-sweet itty bitty squishy babies
my first itty bitty baby boy, almost 2 months old

my itty bitty daughter, ten days old

sweet baby Elliot, one day old

my littlest squishy, a few weeks old
 A friend posted this article on facebook and, just yes. I know how stupidly fortunate I am to have these four babies, but that doesn't stop the ache I feel when I look at Asher and see my baby grow into a little boy. I just love babies and their little coos and their little sleepy smiles, their curled up fingers and their squishy snuggles. And I want about a million of them. Job wanted: baby snuggler. Call me.

2-my BRFs (best running friends for the non-runners in the group)
I went from running with friends 90% of the time to running by myself 99% of the time. Thankfully the scenery has improved and I'm working so hard on conquering hills and breathing that I don't have much oxygen left over for conversation, but I sure do miss my tribe.
These are just a few of my BRFs. Man, I miss all of them.
3-the show Parenthood
Ok, technically it's still on. Did you see last night's episode?! It hurt me so. Yes, I know it's fiction, but still. . . hurts me. 

4-The holidays and the family who made it so incredibly beautiful
I didn't go nuts 2 days into having company over this year. Maybe this means I'm almost a grown-up? And I want them all to come back as soon as possible. Maybe this means I'm not the worst hostess on the planet? Elliot wants his cousins from Michigan to buy a house on one side of us and his cousins from Minnesota to buy a house on the other side of us and all would be right in the world. I can't argue with the kid on that one. 

7/8 of the cousins sledding on death by driveway
winter bonfire and s'mores

A hot game of Ticket to Ride

the family 
goofy cousins
Asher has taken it to a new level. We are trying to gently help him sleep better. I am not a Cry It Out person. I just can't. Not my deal. So, we are up. Repeatedly. Trying to help him back to sleep without nursing him and without picking him up, but also without screaming. It is exhausting. And not really helping. Ugh.
Displaying IMG_20141231_224700690.jpg
for the record, I would gladly co-sleep if it meant he wouldn't wake up 14 times a night.
He still does. It's brutal. But dang, is he lovable.
5 Things I'm looking forward to:

1-Visiting MN and AZ to see family and friends
Asher and I fly to MN soon to see family and those BRFs I mentioned before. Then we fly home and the next morning the whole family drives to Arizona to catch some rays and visit grandparents while Jim works. It will be a whirlwind, but we are all really excited. I am thinking of making a CD of myself singing so I don't have to sing the entire 12+ hours we'll be driving in order to keep Asher-boy from screeching my name for 12+ hours. It might be my best idea yet.

2-Watching my kiddos grow
As much as I miss the little squishy baby stage, this stage is so fun. The conversations we have, the games we play, the books we read. It is so amazing to watch them grow into their own people. It is seriously an honor.

3-Buying a house to make our home in Colorado
We have started this process and we're so excited. As with every church we visit, the kids think we should buy every house we see. They are just so eager to get settled. They have been such troopers through this whole crazy adventure. We have honed in on a few neighborhoods that we like so we will see what happens. No matter what, we're trusting we'll end up just where we're meant to. 

4-Running consistently to get a solid base for my first go at marathon training!
Yep. First marathon, baby! So far I am signed up for a half marathon in the mountains in June and the Twin Cities Marathon in October. I am so excited for this mental and physical challenge. Any advice? Do tell. 

5-Life. Opportunity. Adventure. All of it!
One day you'll wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now.
Let's do this, people!

What are you missing? And looking forward to? Happy Weekend!

It's link up friday. 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healthy kid snack

Current kid snack obsession:
3 cups raw nuts. (We like pecans and almonds)
1/3 cup honey.
2 tsp cinnamon.
teeny little bit of cayenne pepper.

Stir together and bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
Unless it's me today. Then forget about them and bake them until the house starts to fill with smoke and the smell overwhelms you. Remove from oven and bring to the deck. Once they cook, feed them to the kids who remark, "They're a little burnt, but it's ok." Domestic goddess. All the way.

What are your favorite healthy afternoon snacks? I'd love some recipes to mix it up a bit.

Nerd Alert.

I love books.
See what I did there. Love. Books.
I may have mentioned that once or twice before. I am currently reading a few books on my own, plus one chapter book for each kid over the age of two. Reading makes me happy, relaxes me, heals me, teaches me, transports me, challenges me, and helps me see life from another perspective. Wow. Pretty sure I couldn't sound nerdier if I tried, so I'll just leave you to ponder that while I run out to purchase a new pocket protector since my old one got broken in my latest beat-down by the school bully.

But really, there are a few things that recharge me when I'm feeling tired or cranky or anxious and reading is one of them. It's also mostly free, excepting those pesky late fees that I managed to compile over the holidays when getting to the library to return books just didn't make it onto the to-do list as often as it should have.
I will finish up two of my books shortly and then I told the kids that they could each pick one of their favorite books for me to read. Two of the three thought about their selection and Elliot just shouted, "Droon," because that is his current book series obsession. As in, we were watching a movie with all the cousins on New Year's Eve and he sat on the couch and read a book. Bless that boy of mine. I will read the first in the series, which will be torturous, but I will suffer through since he was so happy I was reading one of his favorite books. Then we will discuss it for ages since discussing Droon is almost as exciting as reading Droon. Obsessed.

Audrey decided I should read one she recently finished called What the Moon Said by Gail Rosengren. She has been reading a bit more historical fiction lately and is also interested in books about families that move. Hmmm. I'm no therapist, but I think she might be trying to work through something here. She reads and we talk about it and I hope it helps her work through whatever needs working. She assures me I will absolutely love this book and I believe her.

Isaac chose an adventure book called North by Donna Jo Napoli about a boy who heads to the Arctic Circle to escape the life he lives. He is all about biographies, adventure, Greek Mythology, and strong characters so I'm interested to read this book to see what captured his interest.

As the kids get older, we continue to share books, but they also read lots of books on their own. I like to have them recommend a book every now and again so we can discuss it and so I can keep track of their interests.
2013-sharing books with my Elliot as he uses his baby brother (in my belly) as a pillow

I always have the goal of 52 books per year. This includes the books I read on my own and the chapter books I read with each big kid before bed, but does not include picture books. I came across this Reading Challenge online and I think it looks like a really fun one. Although my One Word is Order, I'm not going to go all crazy and follow this to a t. Instead I'll use it as a guide and cross off as many as I can or reference it when I'm in a reading rut. (This is me not adding unnecessary stress to my life by giving myself an unnecessary goal to reach. I'd actually like reading to remain fun and not feel like another job.) I share it with you in case you are a bibliophile like myself and would like some new ideas on books to read. If it's going to stress you out, forget it. If it sounds like fun, let's read together.

So far I've done book by someone younger than 30 and I'm working on funny book now. I recommend Hope Runs to everyone who loves inspiring stories and seeing the goodness in humanity again. I recommend Hyperbole and a Half to people who don't mind copious amounts of swear words and biting humor. Don't say I didn't warn you! These are books I'd already started reading when I came across the list and they just happened to fit in. Hey, I just looked again. Isaac's and my current Harry Potter book has more than 500 pages and Anne of Windy Poplars. which Audrey and I just finished, has been made into a movie. Hooray!

So, if you're a reader and this will add zero stress to your life, join the reading challenge fun. Are you in?

What are you currently reading? And what book do I just HAVE to read in 2015? It can be classic, new, or something in between.

Monday, January 5, 2015

bring the love. and lots of it. My free guide.**

**I know, I know. This is me preaching to the choir, but most of the yahoos of the world don't read mom blogs about cute kids and improving marriage and not being a-holes. So you get me. Sorry. **

Who doesn't love a little self-help from an absolutely unqualified, muddling her way through life, blogger? Step right up, my friends; you've come to the right spot!

My friend posted a link on facebook about people getting all huffy and puffy and rude about stuff that affects them exactly 0% in life. I commented about how I'd suggest those people get a hobby, but it appears that being hateful is a full-time job for all too many. She agreed and made a comment I've been thinking about. Just repeating in my head.

"I have been thinking about people being desensitized, 
and then needing powerful emotions like hate to feel alive."

Maybe you've heard about that happening with pornography and violence; people being so desensitized by watching pornography that normal sexual situations no longer cause arousal, or seeing so much violence in video games or movies that it no longer registers as totally inappropriate violence. 

Both of those situations sicken me, but she got me thinking about it on another level. I started thinking about the world that surrounds us, the words that we hear in our minds, the emotions we stifle until we don't even recognize them anymore. The comments on social media, the 24-hour news cycle and its incessant need to fill us in on every frightening and terrifying detail of every disaster, real or invented for CNN/MSNBC/Fox/you get the idea's monetary gain, everywhere in the world. The drama. The high stakes. The reality TV. Everything is super-sized and super-emotional and super-over-the-top. All of this creates a need for bigger and louder and more intense to even catch our attention. 

And then there's just you and the neighbor two doors down and the person at the bank and me, sitting here trying to live our lives and make them count for the light we shine and the love we share. It doesn't require rocket science or reinventing the internet. It doesn't require organic, no-sweat shop sweaters for your rescued shelter dog or all clean eating all the time for your toddler.

It requires love. Kindness. Forgiveness. Grace. Peace. Patience. Gentleness. For ourselves and for the people around us. In hopes that they'll share those things with the people around them. And then around them. And on and on it goes until it meets the yahoos full in the face with love and forgiveness. 

Yes, it's hard to tune out the noise. We have kids and we hear about mommy wars. We buy the new car and we hear about carbon footprints. We go to the grocery store and we hear about organic and GMO and local and clean eating. Which is to say that anyone can create a controversy and argument and all-out verbal war spanning email and twitter and instagram and facebook about anything and can find the study, website and scientific paper to back it up. 

So let's stop. It's the season of resolutions and thinking about our place in the world and how to make our place brighter and better, so let's stop. Not for the month, but for good. Forever. With a few fumbles because we're forgetful humans, of course, but mostly forever.

Let's turn off the big noises coming at us from all directions telling us how horrible the world is and how terrible we are because we aren't enough of whatever we're supposed to be. Or we're too much of what we shouldn't be. Or, you know, whatever junk you're hearing. 

Because it's junk and when we fill our lives with junk we don't leave room for all of the good stuff. And, oh goodness, there is so much good stuff. Sure, it hides sometimes and it isn't as noisy as the bad stuff and the sadness can get in the way of it, but sometimes it just shines, all radiant and sparkly and begging to be noticed. And sometimes we pick away at the bad stuff until just a sliver of the beauty is shining, but it still overwhelms the bad stuff. That's the power it holds. And that's what we have to hold on to. And that's what we have to grow. And that's what we have to be. And that's what we have to share. Until that big emotion people need to feel alive is love. Until hate is the little sliver and love is the big stuff.
This. This is good stuff.
I may be an optimist, but I'm no Pollyanna. We can't fix everything and the world is full of hurts we can't begin to understand. But we can be the good, bring the love, to the people in our circles. And we can expand our circles to include new people. We can just do the best we can.

I'm going to boil it down for you (and me since I'm forgetful about life's big lessons)

10 Steps to being yahoo-free in 2015
-DeNae's free edition
1-Read books that make you laugh and make you think. (May I suggest Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua? I just finished it yesterday and it is a beautiful and inspiring story, simply told, of how hard life can be for people and how beautiful life can be when we help each other.)

2-Hang out with people who make you laugh and make you think and who make you feel loved and special. Like this.
Asher with his great-grandpa. And love.
3-Don't hang out with people who make you feel dumb and crappy.

4-Sing in the car. Or, if you're not a car singer, crank up the music and car dance. It's nearly impossible to be gloomy in this situation.

5-Do kind things often. 

6-Find out what you're good at and share that piece of you with others. Don't think. Just do.

7-Err on the side of love and forgiveness. 

8-Get enough sleep. It's so much harder to handle life when we're sleep-deprived.

9-Find out what makes you happy and then do that. Reading or running, hockey or drawing. Just fill up your happy bucket so you have some to share with others.

10-Breathe deeply and LIVE!!! 

What would you add to the list? What are you doing to really live and not just exist? 

And are you a Sunday blog reader? I'll be checking in with my one word on Sundays. Here's yesterday's post if you missed it. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Operation Order. Week One.

As the piles of wrapping paper grew taller around our feet, my favorite gift sat under the tree just waiting to be opened. But it didn't have my name on it. It was a gift I put together for my husband, with love and trepidation, care and uncertainty at how it would be received.

If my kids don't know that I love them, then they aren't as bright as I give them credit for. If my husband knows I love them, he's a pretty good detective.

Sadly, that's how it's been for far too long. We've been stuck in this place where we both felt wronged and hurt and didn't want to make the first big move because. . . because we were stuck, I guess. And we both like to be right. And we both dig in our heels. Seventeen years of wedded bliss and anger and joy and wrath and we know just how to push each other's buttons and just how to make each other smile. Lately we've been doing much more button pushing than smile inducing. And that's just wrong.

When my kids are bothering each other I remind them that we are a family and we are supposed to make life easier for each other, not use our words or our actions to hurt each other. That's our job as part of a family and part of this world. So, I decided to take my own advice. It really is good advice.

Back to the gift. A handwritten note and 12 certificates good for one year of date nights as we discover Colorado together. Some were simple and free. The hike of his choice. A picnic at Lake Evergreen. Some would take time to prepare for. The 5k or 10k of his choice. Wicked at Denver Center for Performing Arts. Some would just be lots of fun. A night of comedy at Bovine Comedy Club. A dueling piano bar in Denver.

The certificates were easy. I knew we'd have fun and he'd think it was cool to discover new things about our new home state. The handwritten note was harder. It promised my time. My commitment. My heart. Things I'd promised him many years ago and had forgotten about somewhere along the way.

Somewhere between lots of moves in lots of states and a few countries. Somewhere between three kids in four years and a baby cuatro to round out our family of six. Somewhere between deployments and new jobs and homeschooling. Somewhere.

These are not valid reasons and couples have stayed strong and connected through situations far more stressful and daunting than anything we've ever experienced. Instead, they are excuses and, really, it just got to the point that enough is enough.

So, order. I am making time with my husband a priority.
I never want him to doubt my love for him. I don't want him to have my leftovers and I don't want his. Because our best is what we gave each other all those years ago and that's what we continue to deserve and need today. We need to be each other's support system, the one who makes life easier.
I want my kids to live with parents who show them what love can be. Not always easy and not always simple, but always worth it. Always worth fighting for. Always worth choosing. Full of forgiveness and fun. Laughter and tears. Sadness and beauty.
We're worth it. These goofy kids with their cute dogs and that suspect hair cut are worth it.
Lajes Field, Azores. Waaay back in the day.

This week I'm focusing on marriage. On making my husband a priority and ensuring he knows just how I feel about him by the way I spend my time, the words I use, and my actions. What about you? What are you working on this week with your One Word or your resolution? Link up below or add your comment. 

FYI: I'm failing miserably so far. I can't get the stupid link up thing to work even though I spent way too much time trying to get it all set up last night. I am tired and cranky and acting like a heel. Sometimes it seem likes I try to make changes and the world conspires against me to make me second-guess myself and my decision. Like, is it really worth it? Do you really want to work this hard? Wouldn't it be easier to just let it slide? So, I'm taking a crappy morning as a sign that I'm starting some really hard work in myself and that I should keep going because it matters. And I'm posting this even without a linkup and I'll try to figure it out after church and after I'm done hating technology and feeling like an idiot for not understanding something that is probably designed for a third grader. Oh, life, you are a tricky little thing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word-2015

(Who made it until midnight? Not this girl! But that's no surprise.)

As I wrote about here, I've decided to focus on one word for 2015 and blog about it each Sunday throughout the year. I hope that some of you will join me in this adventure of growth and thoughtfulness and intentionality. Whether you have a blog or not, there will be plenty of room and time for conversations on the big job of becoming the full humans we want to become, full of forward progress and backtracking, big love and epic fail. Will you share your word and tell what it means to you or how you decided on your word? Either on the Facebook page or in the comments?** Or, if you don't have a word, please share your resolutions and each week you can check in here to let us know how it's going and what you're doing to keep it up.

My word for 2015 is
I chose this word because I want to live my priorities. I want to order my priorities and then I want my life to reflect those priorities in how I spend my time and my money and my energy. I don't want anyone to wonder what matters to me. I don't want to wonder if I've spent my time well. This will involve time with my husband, time spent staying healthy, time spent reading, time spent with the bible, less time on the computer, time spent planning for school to make our days go even more smoothly, meal prep, plus a whole lot of things I haven't even thought of yet. Things that will present themselves to me as I put more order in my life. It will also involve more order in my home as we, as a family, work on keeping our house more orderly.

I have books to read on these topics and lots of thinking and implementing to do. I'd love your help in staying on track and I'd love to hear your thoughts on my one word.

So, I hereby declare 2015 the year of Operation Order. For me, anyway. What are you focusing on? What are you looking forward to? What are your goals? Let's turn our goals into reality together.

Happy 2015. May we all find the beauty in the pain. May we be the beauty to each other.

** I have started the research in how to do a link-up and hope to have that ready for Sunday, but having eight houseguests has me too busy playing games and feeding people to have it ready for today. Sorry.