Deliberate

planner

My new planner, stickers, and an inspiration journal, which actually goes with a different planner, but I loved the layout.

I am challenging myself in 2017. I have a word that will define my year; deliberate. I have 3 verses from the Bible to focus on (they go together and also go with my word); Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” and Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” and Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

I have a new top-secret life plan (it is currently between Marco, God, & me), I have a new planner, a new journal, a new determination.

Back to deliberate…
I have always been a picture-taking Momma. I am also a person who throws useless junk away, but I tend to do it in moments of anger because there are messes and stuff just laying around. I want to be more organized about it; more deliberate.

I am also going to be deliberate in my memory-catching. Each day I want to take a picture with a theme. There is a catch though. Each picture has to also have a story. Whether personal to me directly or one of my kids, my husband, my brothers, parents, etc. It simply can’t just be a random picture. It will be interesting how I make some things more than just a random picture. I got the picture list from a Google search (get it HERE). It is not my list. I do not credit myself with it. Do not give me credit in the creation of the list. I do not own it.

I also want to be more deliberate with my purging. Currently I toss stuff that simply angers me because it is in my way in that moment. I want a method to my purging madness. It will not be everyday; just a few per month. The point is I want to be deliberate.

I am going to test run this challenge in January and take it month by month and tweak it as needed. I am not sure if I will post daily or weekly. That is why January is my test run. Here is my January schedule.

January 1 — photograph favorite color & purge clothing, shoes, hats, scarves, etc
January 2 — photograph a circle
January 3 — photograph an animal
January 4 — photograph a favorite item
January 5 — photograph something delicious
January 6 — photograph myself
January 7 — photograph inside fridge
January 8 — photograph a wall
January 9 — photograph a bag
January 10 — photograph 2 things
January 11 — photograph time
January 12 — photograph a leaf
January 13 — photograph people
January 14 — photograph a path
January 15 — photograph where I sleep & purge in side toys
January 16 — photograph music
January 17 — photograph mail
January 18 — photograph today
January 19 — photograph a shape
January 20 — photograph something white
January 21 — photograph growth
January 22 — photograph in my town & purge DVDs
January 23 — photograph this is mine
January 24 — photograph what I do
January 25 — photograph in the backyard
January 26 — photograph yum
January 27 — photograph I can’t live without
January 28 — photograph a sign
January 29 — photograph shadow & purge old bikes, scooters, skates, etc
January 30 — photograph hello
January 31 — photograph something colorful

I will leave you with my favorite saying that I made into a picture.

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~Andrea

Gingerbread Train

In an effort to make memories many families make gingerbread houses for the holiday season. I saved up and opted for a train. I also opted for a pre-packaged kit because, even though we can’t eat it, it is cheaper than trying to make a gluten-free version that might not even work.

I brilliantly opted to set up the train station (hee hee, see what I did there) while Zen napped. He usually naps, at the very least, an hour but usually 2-3 hours. My plan was perfect.

The kids and I set out. I squirted out the Royal Icing and the kids built the train. We started decorating and the train was turning into a masterful work of art. Our hands were sticky with sugar and we were laughing and suddenly Zen was in the kitchen with us. No one heard him wake up. No one heard him make his way over to us. He is stealth-like. Next thing we know his hands are grabbing all the candies faster than we could say “Stop eating our gingerbread train!”

Our peaceful decorating turned into a crazy scene of “Fast! We need to finish this before he eats it all!” Between squirting frosting, flying shreds of coconut, and candy being pried from chubby baby hands we finished the train….mostly. It sure isn’t pretty any more. It is wilty and a bit sad, but it was fun and we laughed a lot. Score 1 for memory making!

Sure Zen made the moment crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. He made us laugh a lot. He got to be a part of the process. It is OK he pulled wheels off and took the roof off and made the train tip over. We all had a fantastic time and that is really the point.

Merry Christmas!

It may not be pretty, but it was lots of fun!

It may not be pretty, but it was lots of fun!

Christmas Trees

I like Christmas decorations. A lot. I guess it is better to say I love them. I especially love Christmas trees. I love the lights and the twinkling. White lights or colored lights, it doesn’t matter. I love the pretty ornaments and the sentimental ones.Store bought and homemade. Real trees and fake trees. I seriously love Christmas trees! I guess that is why Elf is one of Santa’s elves.

Each year I have numerous trees. I have a small one for those small ornaments that seem to get lost on a big tree, I have a fake tree, and I have a real tree. The real tree is for me and I like it to be a themed tree (color-coordinated). This is the tree that will have white lights.

We have a medium-sized unlit fake tree. I don’t like pre-lit trees. We learned the hard way they are a pain and once the lights die you have to replace the tree. We stick witht he unlit ones. Our fake tree is the kids’ tree. They decorate it with colored lights and all the mismatched ornaments they have. This year was fun because it was the first time Zen helped.
He clapped and high-fived me after he placed (or threw) each ornament onto the tree. He didn’t care that I went after him to actually hang each one. The big kids loved remembering each ornament. “Oh! I remember this one!” “Hey, where is the puppy one?” “Look! This one used to be Mommy’s and now it is MINE!!!” “Sunny!!!! Stop eating the tree!”

That last one was said by me about our real tree and it was said several times. Dang dog.

Yes, much fun was had. I treasured up each second because I know that in a blink of an eye life changes. I thought it would be fun to post pictures of the kids decorating their tree. I hope you enjoy these.

Oldest and youngest

Oldest and youngest

My 2 middle kids

My 2 middle kids

Oldest kiddo

Oldest kiddo

My littlest girl

My littlest girl

The youngest 3

The youngest 3

And the completed tree looked fantastic! Drum roll please!

A happy mismatch or ornaments full of memories.

A happy mismatch or ornaments full of memories.

Merry Christmas!
May all of you have special memories this month.
~Andrea

**About 10 minutes after I wrote this Zen pulled both trees down. Yes, both. We always anchor our trees (and furniture) and somehow talked about it but then forgot to follow through. Thank goodness no one was hurt; scared but not hurt. This is my reminder to you that if you have little ones, even if they are visitors, that is is always best to anchor trees! We lost some ornaments, but it really could have been much worse.
This is life and it is messy 🙂

200,000 Miles

My van hit 200,000 miles this summer. I knew it was coming and one day I looked down and it had passed. I had missed it. Nothing spectacular happened. No fireworks. No cheering. Thank the stars there was no disastrous breaking down. It was quite anticlimactic.

It made me think about when we bought this vehicle. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t really that long ago in the grand scheme of life. A lot has happened since we bought this van so I decided to write about my life in 200,000 miles.

It all started in 2007 when I bought the van……

In 200,000 miles I was working in lactation for an inner city WIC office and doing hospital rounds. Mark was working at a very small account for his (now former) company.
In 200,000 miles I had 3 children.
In 200,000 miles my eldest was trekking through kindergarten and my baby daughter was allowed to go to work with me as a living example of how to breastfeed.
In 200,000 miles Mark took a transfer to a new state; moving our family halfway across the country.
In 200,000 miles I crossed the Mississippi River for the first time ever.

In 200,000 miles we made our home in the Midwest.
In 200,000 miles my eldest son started first grade.
In 200,000 the school nurse called to tell me my son’s head got cut open on the playground; he had to be stapled shut. This was our first “tragic” accident as parents.
In 200,000 miles I made it through my first tornado.

In 200,000 miles I discovered I was pregnant with baby #4!
In 200,000 miles I loaded up 3 kids and my very pregnant self and traveled to Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then New York again for a summer-long trip to see family and friends (some whom I hadn’t seen since graduating high school!) and watch my beautiful cousin get married while Mark worked.

In 200,000 miles we drove to Iowa in the August heat, went to the famous Iowa State Fair, and watched one of our favorite people get married to his gorgeous bride.

In 200,000 miles my eldest son had surgery. This was a very hard time for me, yet he took it in stride. Bless him.
In 200,000 miles my second son developed a golf ball sized lump in his neck and we waited in scared horror for the results.
In 200,000 miles we learned that we were lucky and our son didn’t have cancer but rather a spectacular infection that would stick with him for quite some time.

In 200,000 miles I made the extremely difficult and personal decision to homeschool my children.
In 200,000 miles I taught 2 children to read.
In 200,000 miles I learned things I never knew as I taught them to my children.

In 200,000 miles we made an autumn family trip to Indiana to see another beautiful cousin get married.
In 200,000 miles I suffered from extreme hypotension and had to be induced and after a very scary birth of a blue baby (cord wrapped 3X around the neck) we welcomed another beautiful baby girl into our family.

In 200,000 miles we heard the gut wrenching scream of a child falling and breaking their arm.
In 200,000 miles my eldest endured a second surgery for the same issue as previous and my mom flew to Missouri to be with us.
In 200,000 miles we drove to Florida and saw family and went to Sea World; our first real family vacation.
In 200,000 miles we traveled to Florida a second time in order to visit with my grandmother who was staying with her daughter for a spell; a trip I am so glad I made because it was the last time I would see her healthy.
In 200,000 miles I made weekly phone calls to my grandmother and learned so much about her I never knew beforehand.

In 200,000 miles Mark’s baby sister celebrated love and got married.
In 200,000 miles we made several trips to AL to visit my parents.
In 200,000 miles we sat helplessly watching difficult times hit friends and family and we prayed.
In 200,000 miles we rejoiced over the good things happening to friends and family and we praised God.

In 200,000 miles we said good bye to Mark’s grandmother, my Great Uncle L (who I thought would live forever), and many others whom we loved.
In 200,000 miles we watched friends and family joyously welcome new life into the world.
In 200,000 miles we walked beside and prayed for friends who took the journey of fostering. We have learned so much through this and them.

In 200,000 miles our parents (all 4 of them!) had various surgeries as we stood helplessly hundreds of miles away and simply prayed for the best for all of them.
In 200,000 miles we learned just how grateful we are for siblings.
In 200,000 miles our second son had surgery on his tongue and we praised God the lump wan’t cancer (what is it with him and weird lumps?).

In 200,000 miles I learned baby #5 was coming. This was an enormous shock.
In 200,000 miles my eldest daughter went to kindergarten at the public school but after 2 months dropped out because we moved to a different district (that was awful).
In 200,000 miles I homeschooled 3 kids.

In 200,000 miles I went through a deep depression and learned who my real friends and family are as I was surrounded by loving support.
In 200,000 miles I made new friends.
In 200,000 miles I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in a pool of water; a birth that was able to heal the trauma of my daughter’s not-so-smooth birth and the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy.

In 200,000 miles we learned the account Mark was at had to close its doors and we were going to be transferred to Indiana.
In 200,000 miles our eldest earned an academic scholarship to attend Space Camp!
In 200,000 miles we moved and were shocked to discover our east-coast hearts were actually in Missouri and that we wanted to go back.

In 200,000 miles Mark came home from work carrying a box….

In 200,000 miles Mark was unemployed for the first time ever.
In 200,000 miles we learned what poverty really is, that no one is immune, and that there are people who are selfless and help those in need.
In 200,000 miles we learned humility.
in 200,000 miles we learned judgement.

In 200,000 miles, with some help, I was able to fly to MA and make good on a promise to my grandmother. She met baby Zen and I said goodbye to the woman who had more influence in my life than I think she ever realized.

In 200,000 miles I drove to Ohio with 5 children and a dog to visit family.

In 200,000 miles both older boys broke a foot each.
In 200,000 miles my eldest called me while I was out and said, “I cut myself really badly.”
In 200,000 miles he got stitches (a first for our family).

In 200,000 miles we made the decision to move back to Missouri.
In 200,000 miles Mark found the job that would allow us to move home.
In 200,000 miles we learned that being homeless sucks but that we are lucky that we have friends and family to take us in while we transition.

In 200,000 miles we cried, we laughed, we loved, we were scared, we were optimistic, we were sick, healthy, tired, full of energy….
In 200,000 miles my love for my husband only grew and my respect for him deepened.
In 200,000 miles we lived life and made memories.

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Here is to another 200,000 miles.

Rain Shower Blessing

The kids played in the rain today (Tuesday May 13, 2014). This is the stuff childhood memories are made of.

I remember playing in the rain. The entire neighborhood would come out and we would jump in the fantastic puddles our poorly drained street would get. I swear I could nearly swim in those knee-high puddles. I insist this is not some poorly recollected exaggeration. My childhood town used to have flooded streets all the time. They have since improved the drainage. I feel bad for modern children in that town because they will never know the pure joy of swimming in street puddles.

I remember one time we were running around the house in the rain and I stepped on a snake. It was a stupid garter snake but it felt nasty under my feet. It was so unexpected. My brother killed that snake. I think it was his way of protecting me.

In college there was an insane rainfall. The streets turned to rapids and the soccer field and parking lots flooded. The water was halfway up the cars. I lost my flip flops crossing the street-rapids. The force of the water literally pulled them off my feet.  Mark remembers standing at the window of his job and watching me chase my shoes down the street. To this day he laughs quite a lot at my expense. I can’t help but laugh also. I must have looked quite ridiculous. I should of just let the shoes wash down into the Hudson River.

I am watching my children as they are running and sliding. Splashing and jumping. They are soaked and muddy. Sadly the puddles here aren’t nearly as epic as the ones from my childhood but they don’t know this and they are quite pleased to be playing in the rain. Their laughter is joyous and heartwarming against the chill of this spring rain. I can’t help but laugh along with them as I stand under my multi-colored striped umbrella. This is a rain shower blessing.

 

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Bug and Princess playing tag in the rain

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C-Dog and Elf splashing in a mud puddle

Happy Valentine’s Day Mama!!

I woke up to the kids making Valentine breakfast. So sweet!

Now before you get jealous and filled with the urge to punch me because I live such a lovely life with amazingly considerate children get the pretty image out of your head and instead insert this:

C-Dog yelling at Elf “You can’t help! You are ALLERGIC!!!”
Elf crying hysterically “But I helped with Mother’s Day! I want to help! Let me help! (pause) Daaaaaaaadddddyyyyyy!”
The kitchen counter tops had mysteriously disappeared under everything imaginable. Bug was crying because no one gave him a Valentine (they made Valentine’s and put them under each other’s pillows). This wasn’t exactly true but we like to jump to assumptions in this house and over-react before realizing we are wrong. Sigh…

Best of all was the coffee grounds. They were EVERYWHERE! C-Dog forgot the filter and grounds for a 10-cup pot were everywhere; the side of the fridge, cabinets, counter, floor, the water well of the coffee maker…..  
It all ended with cayenne pepper in poor C-Dog’s eyes. Can you say ouch! I am still not sure how I managed to keep my cool.
I very calmly cleaned the coffee grounds and water and gently showed C-Dog the correct way to make coffee. I helped crack all the eggs for the omelets he wanted to make….I put in a lot of effort considering it was supposed to be a gift for me. Mark whispered into my ear “You are such a good Mama.” Melt my heart.
Mark helped get the burning pepper out of C-Dog’s eyes. In the end everyone was happy. Elf got to pour the OJ, which went all over the freshly wiped counters (sigh). Bug got his Valentine. We got our breakfast. 
It was so hectic I can’t even remember what Princess and Zen were doing! 

Of course it is also snowing…thanks for the slap in the face Mother Nature. I am thinking she needs some Rescue Remedy. Meh.

I hope your Valentine’s Day started smoother than mine. Enjoy your day. I leave you with this gentle reminder from my wise godmother whom I adore.
“I so miss my babies. Believe me- ENJOY every moment. I wish more people told me to stop and treasure it, I did and we have so many wonderful memories and traditions. When they are all waking up not under your roof for more than 1 night, you will look back and tear up as well!” ~RD

Her girls, my cousins, are in college. I babysat them! I can’t imagine the time when my kids will not be sleeping under my roof every night, but it is going to happen and it will be here before I realize it. I am going to take today and treasure it even if it wasn’t the picture perfect Valentine’s Day. Below are some pictures from today….this was AFTER I cleaned a bit! Image
Counter? What counter?

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Mmmmm! Burnt egg on the stove! 
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They left the table for me to clean. I love them, I really do!