30 April 2013

Project Life-Update

I got behind on Project Life after Noble's birthday-I used ALL of my photo pocket pages to complete his 350+ photo album of his 4 year old year. So, last payday I stocked up again...and it's been driving me NUTS to have the supplies on hand but not having time to work. So, I've been stealing a few minutes here and there with the immediate goal of just getting the past 7 weeks IN the book.

My sweet friend Mitzie dropped by last week, and I showed her our 2013 album. It's so easy, I want to shout it from the rooftops--Moms, you CAN make time for this! :) Mitzie, who lost her Mom a year after my Dad died, pointed out something that I needed to hear: someday, these pictures will be all that's left of our family of 4. While I know now that the picture's of, say, Noble's friend Levi, my kids may not be able to recall his name 50 years from now or his importance to our family. So, that got me thinking...after I get caught up, I'm going to backtrack and start journaling on the backs of pictures.

Oh, and I ordered a corner-rounder today! That will make everything look so much nicer in the album.

I've got 35 minutes before everyone starts moving...better go do a couple of pages!

24 April 2013

Earth Day...a couple of days late

From Monday, April 22:

Yesterday I had this great idea that we should celebrate Earth Day by going on a picnic.  But of course it was a last-minute idea, and we didn't actually have picnic stuff with us.  So I came up with this great idea of how we could go to the store and challenge the kids to put together a picnic with as little waste as possible (i.e. no Lunchables).  And then church happened, and a meeting, and it was 1:00.  We still had to go to the Farmer's Market before nap, too.  So we called an audible.  James and I had been talking a LOT about how we've slipped back into lazy eating habits, and after I showed him some of the stuff I've been reading about fast food and processed food, he felt the same conviction I did.  So we told the kids what we'd been talking about, and it wasn't news to them because we've been talking about this with them for years.  They're both trained to eat healthy, but when I get busy or lazy I don't offer them healthy food.  Isn't that crappy?  So, they were on board.  We told them that we'd have one last fast food meal, and from now on fast food would be a treat when they were out with friends or Grandma, but it will no longer be a choice for our family.  Noble chose McDonald's, Kayci chose Sonic, and Daddy and I enjoyed some extra-nasty Taco Bell.  We both got the large drink that came with our meals, but neither of us drank them--it was only the 2nd soft drink I'd had since Lent, and I just don't care for them anymore.  I'm grateful I no longer crave them!

The kids and I have been talking quite a bit about what we can do to reduce waste.  We cut out paper plates (for the most part) last year, so we had to dig a little deeper this time.  One of the things that drives me crazy is plastic grocery bags...I try to use reusable bags, but sometimes I forget or don't take enough, and I don't have produce bags.  So, on Saturday Kayci and I went shopping for those little mesh lingerie bags to use for produce bags, which will reduce most of our plastic bag consumption.  We have been recycling the grocery store bags as trash bags in our bedroom & bathroom trash cans, but I realized the other day that they're unnecessary...if the trash cans get dirty, I can just bleach them--one's plastic, one's metal.  That was kind of a "duh."  And the kids can still share the responsibility on trash day if one empties the bathroom and one empties the bedroom, and both take care of their own trash cans, as well.  (Up until now one of them has taken the bags of trash out, one of them has put clean bags in.)

So, that took care of plastic bags.  But there's still something we use a looooooooooooot of:  paper towels and napkins.  This is a change I've been resisting for years, but at the rate we're going through paper napkins, I'm surprised the rain forest hasn't shown up on our doorstep begging for mercy.  So, I pulled out some small towels we can use as cloth napkins until I am able to buy some (I'm updating this post on day 3, so I'm happy to say that's been going well!).  The kids haven't made a peep, which I find interesting.

As for the paper towels, I have a TON of dish towels, and a couple of varieties of the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday kind.  So, I moved the paper towel dispenser to the laundry room (closet, actually, and we'll still use paper towels for nasty stuff!) and pulled out a basket to keep dish towels handy on the counter.  Again, so far this has gone well...I'll just throw these in the laundry as needed.  DaddyBoy is the only one who's hit a snag with this one, but I fixed it by keeping a clean dish rag in the sink.  I think the key to all of this is keeping clean towels/cloths/rags handy...but we'll see.

So far, so good.  We've had no-waste lunches all 3 days this week, and I've been very mindful of waste as I've done our grocery shopping.  We've already cut out most single-serving foods and drinks (although I do keep a bunch of drink pouches/boxes out in the shed fridge...not sure if we'll continue that or not, so far this week we haven't used any, we've been drinking juice out of cups, even on the go).  A couple of years ago we started keeping water in the fridge in straw cups, and that cut down on tons of bottles used and also washing a cup every time someone wants a sip (maddening).  The key to that is keeping the straw cups clean...I run them through a bleach solution every week or so.

So, that's how we're working on reducing our waste/consumption.  You'll be proud of me--I haven't made paper banners for Kayci's STAAR testing days this week, either--I've used real items from around the house and just a little bit of paper!  :)

21 April 2013

First to go...

Yesterday morning the boys went to hang out with some friends from church, and Kayci and I got to do our own thing for a few hours.

Kayci wanted to go out to eat, just the two of us, and she requested Denny's. We didn't eat a ton--eggs and bacon for me, eggs and sausage for her, and we shared hashrowns--and we didn't eat a bunch of sweet stuff like we normally would. Kayci drank milk, and I had water (only because I'd had 2 cups of coffee, loaded with sugar, of course, at home). I felt okay about our breakfast, mainly because it could have been so much worse (and often IS).

The menfolk stopped in Chappell Hill for some breakfast tacos.

Like I said, our breakfasts could have been worse.

But let's go back...

Wednesday night was AWANA, so we ate $5 pizza.

Thursday night James was in West, so I let the kids pick. We ate macaroni & cheese (yes, the nasty Kraft box kind I never buy, but somehow had in the pantry) and sausage.

Friday night we wanted to sides time with Grandma to celebrate Grandpa, so we went to Big Daddy's. It was good, but neither kid ate a vegetable (the lettuce, tomato and pickle on Kayci's half of her burger don't count).  They both had macaroni & cheese instead of a veggie. Oh, and before that we went to Blue Bell for a special after school treat since they kept their room so clean this week without reminders.

Oh, and the boys and I had McDonald's for lunch on Friday--stellar.

So, yesterday's lunch was sammiches made on bread Grandma baked on Friday.  We don't do that enough, just eat sandwiches.  But I feel better when we do.  I cut up some fruit and put it on the table, and when I asked who wanted celery or carrots or tomatoes both kids looked at me like I was crazy--and that, I think, was the final nail in our fast food coffin.  

It hit me then how LITTLE fresh, plain old, non-processed  food my kids had eaten since Wednesday.  We ate well Sunday-Tuesday night, because we had some awesome produce from Home Sweet Farm and we planned our menu around grilling and fresh veggies.  But then we planned Wednesday-Friday around our schedule and planned to eat junk.  Do the two equal each other out?  Somehow, I don't think so.  James pointed out last night how much whinier Noble was the past few days.  While I'd chalked it up to tired and busy family, there was also a little niggling thought that maybe it was the fact that I'd pumped him full of chemicals.

Because face it, that's what fast food and boxed food, for the most part, are full of.  If you can tell me something redeeming about fast food, seriously, I would love to hear it.

AWANA wraps up this week, and the first thing James and I agreed is that $5 pizza Wednesdays are officially over.  Which means Kayci will not eat pizza leftovers for lunch on Thursday, and I'm okay with that, too.

This morning James and I sat down and talked through our week's schedule, and agreed to NO fast food this week (besides the free pizza the kids will have at AWANA on Wednesday for the end of the year party).  Today we'll head back to Home Sweet Farm and get some locally-grown veggies and plan our week's meals.  This evening we've got some ribs to eat, and yes, we're going to break out a can of ranch style beans because it sounds good.  In small amounts, I'm not opposed to some processed.  It's just when we eat a steady diet of processed, we feel like crap and look like it, too.

One thing I've noticed is that when I don't plan for a healthy breakfast and I eat what sounds good, it sets the tone for my day.  So this week I'm going to bite the bullet and go back to our greek yogurt smoothies...cross your fingers for me, this has been a challenge with my schedule for MONTHS and I just haven't had the willpower to make it happen.

What are your food goals this week?

19 April 2013

4 years

4 years ago this morning, Dad was gone.  I'm not embarrassed to tell you that most of what I felt that morning was relief.  I was relieved that he was no longer in pain, that he was released from that ravaged body.  Cancer took so much out of that big ol' man...but it didn't take his spirit.  4 years later, I can honestly tell you that when I think of Dad now, mostly it's happy.  I smile when I remember his silliness, or when I think about how he'd react to something the kids have done.  Sure, I still get sad, but how can I be sad that he's whole and happy again, in a place so much better than this one?  

So, this morning I won't walk through the events of that night and my last moments with Dad.  I won't dwell on his illness, or that last 9 months.  Today I'm going to remember what a mess Dad was, and how much James and I loved hanging out with him.  And I'll be honest and tell you that with the events this week, Dad would probably drive us nuts with his recaps of all of the news reports.  But he'd be so proud of James and he'd want to know all about West...and I bet he would have been on the phone with Don several times yesterday telling him about James' trip, whether Dad knew details or not.  He just loved to talk.  And exaggerate.  

And he loved to cook...and he was the best at frying.  None of us have the knack, fortunately or unfortunately.  I was looking for a certain picture of us from my wedding day, where we're getting ready to walk out the door and down the aisle and Dad was standing on my dress, but I can't find it (remember, I'm "organizing" a lifetime's worth of pictures, which means they're all in boxes in various locations).  Instead I came across this one, and it made me smile.  Dad was in his element here, in their kitchen, dishes everywhere, frying onion rings.  If you've never had one of his burgers with a side of his onion rings, you've missed out, friends.  

18 April 2013

All Your Heart

My whole life, I've heard variations of, "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."  I generally follow that rule, even if most of the time I do it well at the very last minute.  :)  This verse was in one of my devotionals this week, and has been running through my head on a constant loop:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
Colossians 3:23

Admit it, you hear the Stephen Curtis Chapman song in your head now, don't you?

"To do every little thing to the glory of the One who made you..."

It's true, isn't it?  Every time I say yes to a job, I have a choice--I can get it done and do enough...or I can do it to the best of my ability.  This isn't such a struggle with work, because I want my work to be awesome.  It's my name, after all.

Ah, but what about my other jobs?  You know, wife, mother, housekeeper, chauffeur, event planner, vomit cleaner...many of us, myself included, think of these as secondary.  If we have a job outside of the home, we identify ourselves that way.  If we used to have a job outside of the home but don't anymore, we might say we don't have a job right now.  And some of us wear the SAHM badge proudly.

But no matter if we pay our bills with our paychecks or our husband's or a combination of the two, I argue that our family, our home is our job, as well.  Whether we do it part time (around our work schedule) or full time.  Have I written about this lately?  It's been on my mind a LOT.  The Lord has really been working on my heart and my attitude, and I can feel the difference.

It's time for me to get ready to hit the road for a big day of workshops, but before I go I wanted to put this out there...are you doing everything you do today for the glory of the Lord?  Are you working on your house, with your kids, for your husband, with the right heart?  If not, then step back and regroup.  Talk to God about it--if you ask, He'll show you a better way.

And if you're off to work, even if it's been a crappy week, then take a step back and regroup.  Yes, pray--let God adjust your attitude.

No matter what you're doing today,

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
Colossians 3:23

15 April 2013

Proverbs 14:1 FAIL

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1

So, after that big ol' post yesterday about the things I try to do right...big ol' fail.  I've been reading a chapter of Proverbs every day, and yesterday morning I wrote down Proverbs 14:1 in my notebook since I found it inspiring.  I thought it made a good cautionary tale.  Wellllllll...a few minutes later, James came into the bedroom for something and mentioned something that he'd done (that had nothing at all to do with me and really isn't any of my business) and I threw out some words that did a great job of tearing down anything I've built in this past couple of months of Love and Respect work.

Oh, it gets better.  I felt bad.  So I stewed for a few minutes, then I got up and went into the office to apologize.  And I did, and he was gracious and forgiving.

Then, when I should have walked away and let. it. go...I kept TALKING.

And tearing down.


It's like I heard myself harping and couldn't get the stupid girl to SHUT UP.

Thank goodness James stayed calm and it didn't get blown out of proportion, and it blew over just as quickly as it blew up.  But man alive, was I humbled.

It made for a good share in our Love and Respect Sunday School class, but trust me, I'd rather not have BEEN the cautionary tale, dang it.

14 April 2013

No News is Good News

A couple of months ago, James was out of town.  Grandma, the kids and I went into Houston to visit GoGo and Angus and Great Grandma Hagler, and the whole family was there--Adam, Katie, Johnny, Aunt Brenda...it was a quick, but great visit.  As often happens in a group like that, we were going around kind of talking about what was new since we'd been together last, and when Katie asked me what we'd been up to, my immediate answer was, "Nothing, really.  No news is good news, right?"  Because in my mind, we'd had no major calamaties, hadn't won the lotto...nothing was really different in our lives since we'd spoken last.  My Mom leaned over to me and said, "You guys are ALWAYS busy--how can you say 'nothing'?"  

That exchange has sort of stuck with me.  We are always busy, frankly, as hard as I work for the opposite to be true.  It seems like we're always running hither and yon, even as we limit the kids' after school activities and I try to limit my work time to their school time.  Hmm.  I've been thinking on this, and I think it all comes down to attitude.  It drives me NUTS when people (Moms, especially--sorry, girls) complain about being busy.  Some wear it as a badge of honor (and truthfully, I used to see it as such.).

But now, I see it for what it is:  a roadblock.  An idol.  Something that keeps us from living fully--and from fully living in the moment.  

That little "every day matters" button has been on my blog for years, and I truly believe if our family had a motto, that would be it.  My Dad's illness and death was life-changing for James and me.  I've blogged about this so many times...we truly learned to keep the first things first (faith, family, friends) and to slow down and really, fully enjoy the little things every day.  

Because when you get right down to it, it's those little things that make a life.

I talk about that a lot, too, because I believe it so strongly.

Yesterday's Jesus Calling made me remember that visit at GoGo's house and my conversation with my Mom...and it affirmed my feelings about "no news is good news."

"Be thankful for the quiet days, when nothing seems to be happening. Instead of bring bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My face."
Jesus Calling, April 13

Right after I finished my quiet time, I moved a stack of photos that are waiting to go into our Project Life book (yeah, I ran out of page protectors after I finished Noble's 4 year old year and haven't had $$ until this week to order more...I have a big ol' stack of pictures from March 8th on that need to go into our book).  Anyway, when I picked up the pictures, I thought about how true that quote above is--how much living we do on quiet days, how much life is in our routines.  

These are the pictures--there's one kind of towards the top that's our posed Easter picture (and yes, the one right before it where James is griping at Noble and I'm rolling my eyes behind my sunglasses will go into the Project Life book right beside it!), but other than that, our Project Life book is filled with little, every day things and crappy phone pictures.  Not the posed, "perfect family" moments because we don't have a lot of those.  :)  And besides, do you really think our kids are JUST going to remember what we want them to remember?  No--they're going to remember life as it really is.  And it ain't about those few moments a year when the stars align and everyone smiles pretty for the landmark picture.  

Life is...gray hairs.  I'm 38, for pete's sake, it had to happen sometime, right?  But life isn't just about finding the gray hairs, or mourning them--it's in all the crazy things my kids and Boy have done to put those gray hairs there.  Right?  

Life isn't...just where we go, it's how we get there.  And going together, as a family.

Life is...taking time together.  MAKING time together.  And appreciating that time, even if it's only a few minutes here and there.  (And yes, for James, life is about playing with fun new apps.  :) )

Life is...mundane.  It's practicing to get better, piles of pollen on the trampoline, the new hand dryers at HEB (woo hoo!), testing a new camera, going to the orthodontist for the first time...think about it, guys.  I could just share/post that gorgeous picture of Kayci at her recital next month, or a knucklehead doing the perfect flip once the trampoline is clean, or a cart of only healthy groceries--but that's only part of our lives, the part maybe I'd like you to see.  This stuff?  It's our real life...and it's mundane.  But that's where we spend 99% of our time, where we live and where we love, and so, we celebrate the mundane.

Life is...giving.  (Are we accidentally reinforcing to our kids that life is about getting?  Is that what WE focus on?)  Kids need to learn from the start about giving and yes, about tithing.  Noble was so proud to collect money to buy farm animals for poverty-stricken families throughout the Lent season.  He put the whole roll of quarters the Parkers gave him for his birthday into his barn, and his Valentine money, and any money he could get his hands on.  He was so, so excited to GIVE.  I hope he never loses that excitement!

Life is...being thankful.  Every day.  Thanking God for the little things and the big.  Thanking people who make a difference, big and small.  And letting those people know it.  This is a thank you "note" James made for Aunt Peggy...it's actually a series of 4, and it cracked me up that he would take the time to stage all of this and make this for her.  Would James have written a thank you note 15 years ago?  Nope.  Heck, would I?  Nope.  (See stories about wedding thank you's.  Argh.)

Life is...celebrating.  Celebrating successes, big and small.  Celebrating every day stuff, and big stuff--birthdays.  Celebrating each other, and letting each other know how much we value each other and love each other and...celebrate each other.   The kids made James a banner for his birthday out of some of his favorite things, and their favorite things about him.  :)

Life is...silly.  Document the silly games you play, or the silly things you talk about in the car--at 4 and 5, Kayci was all about the slug bugs and kept count of how many we each saw in a day.  It was an ongoing contest.  Well, Noble's Noble...and whenever anyone sees a slug bug, from the back seat comes, "I take your points."  Several months ago, he finally, finally decided that IF a slug bug was parked in the grass, you could keep your points.  But just last week he decided that, if as in the case of this slug bug, the car is on BRICKS in the grass...well then, he'll just have to "take your points."  I drove by slowly and tried to snap a pic so I can write that down in our Project Life book...it's so silly and goofy, but SO Noble!

Life is...turning off the TV and spending time together.  Playing games, reading books, doing dishes...it doesn't matter.  Some of us think we can only have fun when we go places, or again, when all of those stars align and everyone's on the same page.  How often does that happen?  I used to think I couldn't relax until my house was clean (ha!).  Dude, I'd NEVER relax now!  We have to make time, and take time, for each other.  Whatever it looks like, your kids don't care.  Just stop and BE.  It gets easier the more you practice, trust me.

I don't normally blog on unplugged Sundays, but I wanted to share.  Maybe you had lots of big plans today--maybe there's a lot you want to get done.  But maybe, just maybe, you needed to read this and be reminded to spend some time doing nothing with your family today.  Do something that's not picture-worthy, that your kids will enjoy.  Start living as if every day matters.

Because it does.  It's all we have friends...our lives are made up of those every days, not those once in a while perfect days.  Teach your kids to really live, and to enjoy, and to savor...not to be discontent unless everything is perfect and we have exactly what we want how we want it.  Because that's the opposite of being content, right?  Discontent.


12 April 2013

Seeds and Weeds

From April 2.  This has been languishing in my drafts folder, 
waiting for me to have a few extra minutes...

This verse was in my quiet time reading today; this is from the Love Language Minute devotional.  The language is different than what I'm used to, but it jumped out at me.

Remember this-a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop.  
But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.  
2 Corinthians 9:6

Earlier this week I met with some girlfriends to talk through some issues a friend is having with her oldest child.  Real, life-changing issues, y'all--drugs.  As we sat there and I listened to my friend who did it all right, it made me wonder about myself.  About the things I work so hard at doing right...and the things I am constantly doing wrong.

When I came across this verse this morning, it really spoke to me.  I tried to explain how I felt in a text to another friend, but I did a poor job of it:

I think we all need to be careful what we're teaching our kids through our actions.  
This is a cautionary tale.  Just praying for them.

After I sent the text, I knew I'd missed the mark.  Here's what was in my head, and my heart when I wrote that...

We work so hard to tell our kids the right things.  We work so hard to be where we're supposed to be and do what we're supposed to do...but that's just a small part of the story.  We're teaching them so much that we don't WANT them to learn--selfishness, depending on others for happiness, not trusting in God, judgment, lack of faith...these things, I suspect, are big neon signs to our kids where the positive traits we try to demonstrate and teach blend into the background and become a quiet noise.

Frankly, I've thought so often that yes, I spend a lot of time volunteering for the kids' various activities and school stuff--but is that for THEM, or for ME?  I had a big ol' reckoning with God over that a couple of years ago after I got really grumpy with Kayci over not appreciating something I'd done "for her."  But the truth of it was, it may have been "for her" but I'd done it while she was at school and I was resentful that she didn't appreciate the time it took out of MY day.  Why would she?  She's a kid.  And I realized then how much time I invested in doing stuff in the name of doing it "for" my kids...and all they want is for me to do stuff WITH them.  For them?  That's for me.  With them?  That's for them.

So I spend a lot of time working on the wrong things--the things that the world can see and pat me on the back and say, "you're a good Mom."  Do I work as hard at the things no one sees?

I don't work hard enough at saying the right things.

Sometimes, I just react.  And it ain't pretty, and I'm left to either apologize or act like it didn't happen--right.

I don't work hard enough at having the right attitude.  You wanna talk about not pretty?  Urgh.

But I don't want my kids to say what I say or act how I act--I want them to be only the good parts of me.  And I don't give them enough grace when they act like the rest of me.

This week I've really been thinking about relationships, and the verse (and another) this morning helped me see them as a garden.  Whether it's my husband or my kids, everything I say or do plants a seed--the thing is, I only want the "good" ones to sprout.  If I only plant a few good seeds, I'll have a small crop of goodness, right?  But if the majority of the seeds I plant are good...or all of them...can you see how that crop will yield goodness not just for now, but for generations?

Generations will reap what I sow.  
I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.
-Sara Groves

This is something I think about a lot.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago here.

Ironically, my other devotional on the day I wrote this post was also about seeds--and the weeds of pride, worry, selfishness, unbelief. 

This is something I think about a LOT, and it came back to me while I was sitting there listen to my friend talk about all of the things she'd done right and still her daughter was making the wrong choices. Y'all, we can try all we want to plant seeds of righteousness in our kids.  But as we're walking through the gardens of their lives, we need to be disciplined and intentional about what seeds we sow and how. Because when we're lazy, or human, those weeds pop up.  Sometimes we introduce weeds into the garden, through our words and actions--and inaction.  Through focusing on the wrong things in life, or wrong attitudes...even when we think we're right.  We don't want our kids to notice that stuff, but they DO.  And it speaks volumes to them.

This parenting business is tough.  I think about it a LOT.  I pray about it a LOT.  I prayed about it this morning, actually, when my daily reading took me to Proverbs 12:1:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Ouch--this is a conversation that Kayci and I had yesterday, when she got all dramatic over a homework correction.  James and I are hitting this brick wall often, with her freaking out when it appears maybe she doesn't know as much as she thinks.  That hard heart breaks my heart, because I know it's coming straight from me.  I want so much to take correction well, but even now it's something I struggle with.  That is a weed I have introduced into her garden, and even when I'm conscientious about pulling it out, I get lazy and end up throwing it back down to pop up again, even when I meant to eradicate it.  Yikes.

I don't have any answers, just hope that I'm planting more seeds than weeds.  I know only time will tell, and I pray that our kids turn into godly adults who live to please and serve Him, and raise their kids to be even better.  Oh, I hope.  

The seeds and weeds--another thing to think about is how hard we try to sow the right seeds...then the world (TV, our friends, kids at school, extended family, you name it) introduces weeds.  Ugh.  I could write about this for days.  I guess that's why it's been sitting in my drafts box, because I kept feeling like I could finish it.  Maybe not.  

Besides, I've got PTO today.  Ha.  Kind of ironic, no?

11 April 2013

Write Stuff

It's so much fun when kids are just learning to read and write. I saved reams and reams of paper that Kayci wrote on during her PreK year, because everything just seemed so amazing!

Noble's at that stage now...the other night, I was reading the menu to him and I left off "Mac & Cheese" and "Pizza" because I really didn't want him ordering those at a Mexican restaurant. He listened closely as I read, then asked me to read it again. This time he pointed and said, "What about these two?" I think that's when the balance of power shifted slightly in our little universe!

Tomorrow is Uncle Timmy's birthday, and Noble was SET on being the first one to write on his card. It seems somebody has been learning some new sounding-out skills that are pretty cool when combined with his memory. Oh, that kid!

If you don't speak preliteracy, that's "happy birthday from Noble & Kayci." I almost hate to put this one in the mail...thinking this pic makes the Project Life cut this week!

Happy Thursday!

06 April 2013

Gone Girl (MommyGirl, that is)

My work partner is sick. Leave of absence, needs our prayers sick. All semester I've asked my boss & coworkers, "what can I do?" I meant it.

Well, about 2 weeks ago my boss told me what I could do to help out--attend a conference that my partner had registered for. A 5-day conference.

Huh. I ran it by James and agreed to go--if THIS is what I can do to help ease the strain, this is what I should do. And that was that. I told the kids, and we just went on about our business. I think since Daddy and I weren't stressed (visibly-I was freaking out a little on the inside...it was STAAR week for Kayci! Noble still wants me to cuddle him-a lot!), they didn't stress.

All was well, until Noble woke up screaming the day I left...he was looking for me, and held on tight for a good half hour.

But, kids are resilient, right? They take our cues from us. So we went about our morning, and all was well.

I didn't take a picture, but I had an idea to make my absence more fun for the kids (and Daddy). I bought several little happys (like we pack in Daddy's bag when he travels) and lined them up on the dining room table. I put each happy and a note (or notes) in a brown bag labeled with WHEN they should open it.

Well, when Noble got home and saw the bags, he was ready for me to leave. True story.

The time came for me to go, and it was smiles all around. I didn't see that one coming, actually.

Here's what's made all the difference: James. He's s great husband and Daddy, and he really stepped up this week to keep everything on track for the kids (with some help from Grandma). But truly, if he weren't so awesome, this wouldn't have worked. 5 years ago, control freak me wouldn't have LET this work. But we just worked together to go over the typical schedules, and he took it from there. I left, and I didn't question him on where or when or how--I just had faith that he could do it. We talked about the fact that he didn't have to do it all like I do it (this would have been a deal breaker for old me!), that I trusted his judgment. And you know what? He's more than met my expectations. Perhaps I just needed to move over so he could step up? Hmm...are you listening, girls? There's a lesson here for all of us!

I was floored when I opened my bag and saw the thought that James put into my happys (which I wasn't expecting, so that was cool!). The kids wrote sweet notes, too. I love that Boy--I can't believe he had time to do what he did to make me smile. :)

Here's one happy:

We facetimed at least once a day, and the kids were all smiles every time. Pretty cool, huh?

I sent pictures to them of stuff they'd like...

...and places we can visit together.

All in all, this week has been a wonderful experience for me...it's shown me that even Mommys aren't irreplaceable. And it's shown me that my Boy is exactly as awesome as I thought he was, probably more. It's reinforced the same idea that kept my classroom going--if you establish routines, kids can stick to them and be successful without a ton of adult direction.

I'm a happy Girl, and so relieved to be heading home in another hour or so!

02 April 2013

Vote for Mrs. K!

You guys know I'm a big fan of Kayci's school (hopefully Noble's school, next year!) and Kayci has been blessed with wonderful teachers all 5 years so far.  I'm hard to impress, but her 4th grade teachers have really knocked my socks off...they work HARD, y'all.  I was worried about 4th grade being tough, but while they're working on some pretty hard concepts, the teachers are putting in time behind the scenes to create hands-on experiences and finding ways to present things in more than one way so the kids really get it.  And they do it all without complaining--you know I'd know.  :)

4th grade is different (for parents, anyway) because the teachers never ask for ANYTHING.  No snacks, no extra supplies, nothing.  The kids get special snacks every Friday, but the teachers do it all themselves and don't make a big deal of it.  This sounds like a little thing, but my teacher friends know what a big thing it is.  I'm telling y'all, these ladies are wonderful, wonderful teachers who are obviously passionate about what they're doing.

One of Kayci's teachers, the famous Mrs. K. (well, she's famous at our house because she loves Texas as much as we do!), is in the running to go on a Toms giving trip.  You know Kayci is a big fan of Toms, and she'd love to help Mrs. K make her dream come true.  The voting ends in 10 days, and Mrs. K is a good 2000 votes behind the winner.  Could you guys please take some time and go vote for her? She's a wonderful lady and teacher, and we'd love to see her win this awesome experience!  Thanks!


01 April 2013

Keepin' it real

So, after church yesterday we asked our friend Lisa to snap a pic of our family, since we SUCK at getting pictures of the 4 of us.

Here's what I want you to see.

But, since it's me, and we keep it real around here, here's the rest of the story.  Turns out the photographer's son didn't want to look up and smile...and while we didn't have to threaten him (much), I think I actually like this picture better than the "real" one.  Because it's REAL.  

I've been on a facebook & blog fast since February 13th...and it turns out, I *can* live without all of it.  I think the key, as with all things, is to keep it all in moderation.  

And yes, I totally had a Pepsi with Sonic ice yesterday, too.  :)  I haven't decided if I'm going to stay off that wagon, though--I really can't think of any good reason to drink soda, but then again, that goes for beer, too, and I'm not sure I'm motivated to give up beer.  Hmm.

Wish I could say I have some great April Fools Day ideas for my kiddos today, but it's hard for me to switch gears from Easter to April Fools in just a few hours.  I guess there are worse things than not having any Pinterest-worthy pics from April 1st, right?  

Happy Monday, one and all!