Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A message for the Class of 2024

It's all been said already.  I've read a lot of it. Seems like everyone has a blog and opinion on the events that happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.  As always, the tragedy has been politicized, causing emotionally-charged arguments over gun control and mental health issues.  I don't want to talk about that.

What I want to talk about is the future.  In eleven years, the Class of 2024 will graduate from high school.  My first born will be a member of that group of kids.  They will look at the future with stars in their eyes as they prepare for adulthood, whether it means college, traveling abroad, working to buy that dream car, whatever.  But may this class of newly christened adults never forget that there are 20 less of them in this world to reach for those dreams.  Let them imagine that day when they were in first grade and it was a normal Friday when they did their spelling test "for real" and completed their timed addition test and maybe got to hop up to the next level.  Let them imagine eating cheese pizza in the cafeteria, or PBJ from home.  Let them imagine saying the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the birthdays on the intercom.  Let them remember practicing Reader's Theater for the upcoming class Christmas party.  Let them imagine PE. Recess. Their classmates. Their precious teachers and administrators.

Then let them remember the day when their parents chose to tell them about what happened to those 20 kids and 7 teachers that day in December 2012.  It may be several years down the road when they first hear about it.  But let them hear about it.  May their hearts feel something when they hear. Let them know they are safe, and protected. And loved.  And when they walk the graduation stage, let them remember. There should be 20 more of them in this world. Let them draw inspiration from the lives that were lost.  Let them live more intentionally in honor of those 20.  Let them be thankful for the love and courage of the 7.

Let us all remember.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

My Elfing Opinion

I'm going to be honest.  I'm not a fan of the Elf on the Shelf.  At all. I thought it was just because I'm somewhat of a Scrooge when it comes to silly holiday traditions.  I do see the fun in it, the magical Christmasy magical-ness to it all. I can even see why some people depend on that little Elf to keep their kids in line when it comes down to Naughty-list crunch time.  But, after having expressed my opinion to a small group of friends, have discovered I'm not alone in my general disdain for the whole idea.  I don't judge or think less of those families who are into it. In fact, my Facebook newsfeed is full of some really creative ideas, and we all know I applaud creativity! :)  But it is just not for us.  Here's why:

1. My children are "older" -- ages 4 and 6 -- and my oldest is on the verge of disbelief.  He's still pretty adamant that Santa is real, but the vigor with which he is holding on to his belief tells me he is trying VERY hard to believe. There is some doubt in there that he's trying to stamp out by his loud proclamations of belief.  Prolonging the charade about Santa by adding an Elf seems cruel to me when in just a few short years I'm going to have to tell him the truth about Saint Nicholas.  

2. The Truth about Saint Nicholas -- has nothing to do with elves or the North Pole, but with giving, and mercy, and love.  While Santa WAS a real person, I want to set up the things we tell them now about Santa that will translate easier to the REAL story about the REAL guy.  The fewer lies I have to talk my way out of, the better.

3.  Jesus-focused Alternatives -- I have recently found out about an alternative to the Elf that does tie Santa in with Jesus/Christianity.  It is called "My Secret Angel and Me." Instead of an elf, you get an angel, and she tells the Biblical Christmas story, reports back to Heaven, and doesn't disappear after Christmas is over. I'm not sold on that either, but it is an alternative choice.  I have also heard of "The Three Traveling Wise Men" but a google search came up short. Both of these focus less on Santa and more on Jesus. 

My family is doing a 24-day children's devotional called "A Meaningful Christmas."  This is a daily 2-3 minute verse, story, and discussion that walks us through Creation to the birth of Jesus and touches briefly on His sacrifice and why it is so important that Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior. (The physical earth-coming of Jesus began the process and prophecy of redemption for every human's soul. Therefore, we rejoice and remember and celebrate the circumstances by which God showed how much He loves us!!) There is an ornament for each day, and the kids love to touch, look at, and hang the ornament on our special small tree.  

Don't call me a total Scrooge (I do occasionally call myself one, so I guess you can too without hurting my feelings), because we DO Santa, we just also DO Jesus even more in our house. I don't intend to start any controversy, and I love all my Elf-Shelf-ing friends dearly.  But I don't intend to sacrifice any of my precious marshmellows in the Elf's fishing hole, or toss powdered sugar around to make a "snow storm" that I get to clean up later!  OR have kids waking up at o'dark thirty to find out what Mr. Elf has done THIS time. 

But y'all have fun with that!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Something to work on

When a parent overhears this from a 4-year-old daughter:

"I really need to work on my throwing up,"

a parent's mind can go to very interesting places.  That statement can also halt the conversation in a room and cause all the adults present to slowly turn to see the child who uttered those words tossing a small stuffed ladybug straight up in the air, and trying unsuccessfully to catch said ladybug.



commence laughter and bulimia comments....

Yes, baby girl, we can work on throwing up anytime you want!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I know I've blogged before about my lack of ability to follow cooking instructions.  I really wanted to link that post here, but alas, I can't find it.  Which just speaks to my alleged organization skills.  Let me just give you a recap:

I stink at cooking.

That's pretty much the gist of it.

I CAN bake, however.  And occasionally I even get compliments on my baked goods.

So it's no big deal to throw some muffin mix in the mini muffin pan real quick-like for a teacher breakfast in the morning.  Right?  But no.

When the recipe calls for ONE TABLESPOON of butter for the streusel topping, it's no big deal to glob one large scoop of margarine spread with a medium soup spoon.. Right?  But no.

It's no big deal to cram 3/4 of the batter into 24 muffin spots when the recipe very clearly (in 8 pt. font) says it makes 48. Right? But no.

(In my defense I didn't see that last instruction until it was too late. WAY TOO LATE.)


My brand new oven has crispy streusel carbon snakes on the bottom. Boo. And the teachers didn't get any muffins from me this morning.  Wah. And my hubby just called from the store for help finding the ammonia because nothing else has worked. Ick!!

I won't even mention the smoke detector going off because of my baking skillz.  After the kids were in bed.  But let's not talk about that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I spent all my humor on the post, and left nothing for the title.

You know what makes me laugh? Other people's blogs. Funny people like Jen Hatmaker.

You know what makes me sad? I think I'm as funny as her but I just. can't. get. it. out. of. my. brain. like. I. want.

You know what else? The fact that I even think I'm as funny as Jen Hatmaker means I have mental delusions.


Add that to my constantly growing list of ailments.  My back! My digestive system! My personality in general! Delusions of hilarity!  My Dr. Pepper addiction!

Call the people in scrubs. I'll go willingly, as long as they have Dr. Pepper there.

Now let's talk about sarcasm. (Really?  Yes. Random subjects changes are easy for crazy people)

Yesterday I laughed out loud at the guy on the radio, in the car on the way to school. Of course his joke was overly sarcastic, which is why I laughed out loud.  If you know me, you know sarcasm is one of my love languages.

So, I laughed at a sarcastic joke on the radio, and my 6-year-old son asks from the back seat, "What's so funny?"  I stupidly took the opportunity to try to explain sarcasm to him.  Keep in mind, kids can't grasp the concept of sarcasm (I read that in a book, written by a professional person-helper. Which makes it true), and we were exactly 3 minutes away from school at that point.  I love a challenge (or maybe I can't tell when to just not talk)!

I explained it like this: "Sometimes people say things that aren't quite true, just to be funny.  It's not really a lie, because it's just to make people laugh.  It's called exaggerating.  Which can also be called hyperbole.  Ummmmm, you'll learn that in school. But probably not this year. Yeah."  I looked in my little rear-view mommy-mirror to see if he was still following.  His glazed-over eyes were staring out the window.  No answer.


A word of advice: when kids ask "What's so funny?" from the back seat.. just say "nothing," and change the subject!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

In the midst

We are officially "in transition"... or "displaced"... or even "homeless" if you want call it that. That awkward time between the sale of one house and the completion of the purchase of the next one.  Usually it works out where you go right from one to the other, but this time it just didn't happen that way.  Our dates will end up with us being "in between" for a week or more.  Our stuff is taken care of, but living with other people can take its toll.  Especially for someone like me, who is a homebody. I just like to have a place to go home to, a place to retreat to and hide from the world.  You know, sometimes you just want to go home!!  Even during this short time of non-home-ness, I am immensely blessed to have many family members willing to let us stay.  Although this will be a lesson in perseverance for me, you won't hear me complaining.  I intend to make the best of it!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer!!

What's been going on... life is crazy!  Our house is sold. We are still working out details of a new home.  That has been a major stressor for me in the last week.  Moving is agonizing!  A friend said last night, "What you imagine to be the most exciting, magical, fun time of creating a new home always turns out to be the most stressful, painful, un-fun time of your life and makes you never want to do it again!"  I wholeheartedly agree at this point.  You would think, as many times as we've moved in our 10 years of marriage, we would have learned our lesson by now.. but noooooooo.  But THIS time, (just like the last 3 times) I'm already saying, "Never again!!" Ask me in 4 years... and I'm sure it will be a different story.. that's just how we roll.  Apparently we love to move.  Every 2-4 years.  I'm working on breaking that cycle this time!!  LOL

A few weeks ago our church had Vacation Bible School.  This year I volunteered to be a coordinator of first grade teachers.  My job started in February when I started recruiting teachers to fill 10 classrooms with teachers.  Usually I "just" teach a class, so stepping into a more behind-the-scenes leadership roll this time was different and fun.  Although I don't enjoy trying to convince people to work for me, it was fun taking care of them once they were in the classrooms.  I don't know that I'll do it again next year, but I definitely enjoyed the experience.  My favorite experience with VBS this year was being available to counsel kids who came forward to ask questions about becoming a Christian.  In the past years I've been relieved to teach in Kindergarten, who aren't present for that invitation time.  I wasn't ready to lead others into a relationship with Jesus.  I don't know what exactly has changed in the past year, but this time I felt comfortable and willing to talk to the kids.  Maybe it is the fact that my own kids are getting older and I've gained more experience just talking to kids.. maybe it is the small training session I attended on what questions to ask the kids.. maybe it is just TIME for be to be bold and share what I have in my heart with others!  I ended up having the privilege to pray with two groups of kids and lead 4 little ones into a brand-new relationship with Jesus.  THAT was an amazing feeling.

I've taken the summer off from orchestra and praise team, and have been concentrating on my family more.  It is nice to attend ALL of Sunday school and sit with my family during the service.  I do miss participating in the orchestra though.  I'm looking forward to getting this move behind us so I can jump back in with the orchestra and praise team.  Meanwhile, I'll enjoy worshipping with my family!

Caleb finished his Kindergarten year in May.  He had an excellent teacher who I LOVED and was great for him.  He began the year not reading, and ended the year reading at an end-of-1st-grade level.  He loves math and is becoming more creative.  Overall we had a wonderful experience in our first year of school.  More than likely, Caleb will be attending a different school in the fall.  (I say "more than likely" until we are actually IN our new house.)  I've talked to several people that know the new school and feel very excited about the possibilities ahead for Caleb next year! And Carly the year after!

My mom comes home from Congo THIS SUNDAY!  I'm getting excited to hug her neck and just have my mommy back in the country!  We are making plans for her to come help me set up my new house and spend time with the kiddos.   She'll be in the States until September when she's going back to Africa for another 6-month assignment.  

Sometime in May, I decided to end my AlexiaJean business.  Orders had become a burden for me, and I dreaded doing things I had once enjoyed.. that's when I knew it was time for a change.  I also came to the realization that in about 18 months, my youngest child will be starting Kindergarten.  All along in this journey of parenthood, we've agreed that once the kids are in school, I will need to go back to working full time.  Staying home was a huge financial sacrifice for us, and it's been a wonderful experience that I highly recommend.  But, it is a season that is coming to an end in my heart, and I'm planning on taking these next 18 months to prepare my household, my resume, and my heart for the major change in lifestyle that comes with being a working mom.  I also need to evaluate my interests and experiences and decide what kind of work I want to do, and get the education/training/etc, to make that happen.

So, that's the long version of the last several weeks.  Summer vacation is a third over and I feel like we still have a long way to go before school starts again!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Altering length with original hem!

Recently I've been having closet issues. As in, I had several pairs of jeans that I wasn't wearing for various reasons. Too long, too short, or just not my favorite. I also have been wanting some denim capris, but that's not in the budget! I had this tutorial pinned on Pinterest and finally found time to use it this week!

Before: L to R: 2 pairs of too long, one pair of meh, and one old worn out pair of too short.

After: two pairs of adjusted length awesomeness, and two pairs of "new" capris!

Close up of the capri hems:

Close up of the jean hems:

If you look super close you can see the seam I sewed right above the original gold hem.  But from far away you totally can't tell! And I don't expect to have my feet examined anytime soon. If that happens I have other issues!

I did all four of these in one (busy) day.  They each took no more than twenty minutes!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Niagara Falls

Greg was invited to be an usher in a friend's wedding in Pennsylvania, so we decided to make a vacation out of it.  There are lots of travel possibilities "up there" but we ultimately chose Niagara Falls.  SO glad we did. It was breathtaking!  The trip served as our 10th anniversary celebration, which is coming up in July.  It also served as our first ever extended trip without kids.  

 Flower Clock

 There were tulips everywhere!!  beautiful!

 Buterfly Conservatory

 Maid of the Mist boat ride.. aren't we cute.

 view of the American falls from Canada

 Horseshoe falls.. that boat is the Maid of the Mist.. we did that. And got soaked!!

 Anniversary Dinner at the top of the Tower Hotel.. spectacular view and really good food!

 Looking at the American falls from Niagara State Park, New York

 We also drove by Lake Erie.  It was very.... lake-y.

All spiffed up for the wedding.  Another beautiful place! Rural Pennsylvania is just darling! 



Two weeks ago I decided to close my AlexiaJean business.  I had been dreading filling orders and found myself waiting until the last minute and then scrambling to do them.  There was no joy in that.  When I came to that realization, I knew it was time for a change.  It felt great!

The very next day, we found out we were getting an offer on our house.   Talk about timing.  Hubby and I had recently come to the conclusion that our 6-month contract would probably expire with the realtor, and then we would take the house off the market and wait a while.  We were cool with that.  I am very happy with the school Caleb attends and wasn't super excited about moving him anyway.

Then we got the offer.  It was the best offer we could possibly get, considering the short amount of time we've owned the house. (Funny... this is longest we've ever owned a home/lived in one place... just under 4 years.  Nomads much?)  So we took it.  That's when the frenzy begins with finding a new place, negotiations, financing, inspections, appraisals, packing, changing utilities, etc..... I'm confident it's going to work out the way it should, however that may be.  Transitions actually exhilarate me, the crazy weirdo that I am.  

Last week Greg and I went on a much-needed, far overdue trip by ourselves without kids.  It was a nice getaway, and I'm so thankful to our parents for helping with the kids while we were gone. They all had a great time, and we knew they were in good hands.   

Since we've been home from our trip and I have my chicks back in the nest, I've felt somewhat lost.  It's too early to start packing the house.  I don't have any orders to fill. (except for that one for my friend.. but she understands...)  I could organize closets, but then I'll just be packing them all up in the near future.  I don't have any more showings to plan for.  So I've been cooking more. And trying to spend more intentional time with Carly.  Going through the office and getting rid of the crazy amount of someday-stuff I've accumulated over the last 4 years.  Today we went out back to watch the neighbor's donkeys.  I am basking in the freedom and time I've been given.

It's a strange feeling, this total freedom.  I can do anything I want to with my time.  There's so little structure, so few demands that I feel lost at times.  But free.  Today while Carly tossed almost-rotten grape tomatoes to the donkeys, I pondered this.  Haven't I really been free all along?  I've always had the freedom to do these things with my daughter, and cook and bake, and clean--- if I so choose--- but having that perceived weight of to-be-filled orders at the back of my mind, I've felt like a slave.  When really, it was always my choice whether or not to take orders, or commit to projects.  I put those things on myself, and no one forced me.

Isn't that how spiritual legalism works?  Grace has made us free -- totally and completely and utterly and blissfully free -- and yet we put ourselves through the torture and practices of things.  Rules, guilts, events, volunteering for this and that, working for this, committing to that, and judging others that don't work as hard as we do to be God's favorite.  But when you realize that it's all so... unnecessary... that God loves you no matter what you do, it is a fantastic feeling of freedom.  All He wants is you.  The way you are, where you are, with whatever flaws you have.  Bask in that. And quit trying so hard.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

Our Easter started off the weekend before, when we got the box of plastic eggs down from the attic. Immediately the kids were asking, "When will we have an Easter-egg hunt?" So, that Palm Sunday afternoon we had some practice hunts with empty eggs in the back yard.

Monday morning Carly was invited to her friends Will and Luke's house to hunt some eggs.

Tuesday, Carly and I went to Abigail's house for another hunt!

By the time Friday rolled around, Carly's hunting skills were sharpened, and Caleb was out of school so we went to our friends Hannah and Ava's house and had another hunt!

Saturday we drove to Aledo for a family get-together with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. There was food, music, and -- you guessed it -- an egg hunt!! The sweetest part of the day was the music. We sat around the piano and sang worship songs about our risen Savior! I loved it. We even had my cousin Stacey via Skype on the iPad "there" with us all the way from Chile.

Then Easter Sunday was church and afterwards we had lunch at our house with my dad and stepmom, and in-laws. Naturally, after lunch the kids hunted eggs.

Monday, Carly asked me when we would get to look for eggs again. Is 5 not enough!? Good grief. I'm egg-specially glad to put those away until next year! We had an egg-cellent time, but I was eggs-hausted after all the festiviteggs. (ok, that last one was a stretch.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Break!

I guess this is our first official spring break, since we now adhere to school schedules. Ahhhh, the days when I didn't know or care when the school-age kids were on spring break... the only reason to know was to avoid the zoo/parks/museums that week.

We had a fun filled week. It started with a long stay at my grandparents house out in the country. It rained a good bit of the weekend, but by Sunday after church, the sky was clearing up and soon the sun came out.

Walking out to the car with Great-Grandpa

We played in the sun,

climbed fences and gates,

rode the tractor around,

and swang in the woods.

I love this place so much. The quiet of the country calms my spirit and brings rest to my soul! The beauty of God's creation sings everywhere I look.

After we came home we took PaPaw's fishing boat out to the lake. It was the kids' first time on a real boat on a big lake. Caleb was pretty terrified, and Carly loved it!! It took about 45 minutes of driving around before Caleb finally got comfortable enough to get out of his seat. We floated a while and fished a little. By the time we left, both kids agreed that we HAD to come back and catch a fish next time.

Greg let me drive! Look out!

Carly drove too!

I am exhausted but relaxed all at the same time! And sooooooo ready for summer now!