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Needing Inspiration, Please

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Well, I have disappeared, right? 

Wrong! Still here... just insanely busy and way too tired to sit at the computer and blog these days. 

I have so many posts that I've started and just haven't finished... one of the biggest ones is about my list. I haven't stopped working on it. I've just stopped blogging it. Sigh. But, it's good that I'm still working on it, right?! 

Maybe... I'll get caught up... before I die. Maybe. Unless I die tomorrow. You just never know, right? 


... so, I turned 32 yesterday. 

I remember a few years ago how I had a nervous breakdown over turning 30 and decided that I had to find a purpose in my life through my list. Oh, how I loved (and still love) my list. How it has inspired me to step up and make things happen, even when I am too busy or too tired to make it happen. The list... has just been incredible. 

Well, this year's nervous breakdown is brought to you by my relationship with my husband. It will not replace my list by any means, but will only help it. 

Yes... we are still happily married. 

No... I'm not going anywhere. :) Sorry to disappoint you, Brad... you are still stuck with this old woman. ;)

BUT... it recently occurred to me that I have now known my husband for more than 15 years. That's almost half of my life. 

And, well, sometimes, I know him better than I know myself. Sometimes, I find that the things I like or love are things that I like or love only because I always have... because Brad has... because we have... because it's just always been that way. 

Now, I don't want to go and give you the wrong impression. I'm not unhappy. I love our comfi-ness... our familiarity... and I love that every time I say something, Brad typically knows exactly what I'm really thinking (for better or worse). But... I just kind of had that Runaway Bride moment where I wondered, "How do I like my eggs? Like really... how do I like my eggs?" 

I like mine over-easy, by the way. That is something I really do know. :) 

Anyway, I think that sometimes I need to remember to try new things and to discover new things. I think sometimes it's important to re-evaluate and think about what you really do want and like and dislike... 

Maybe it also has something to do with the book "My Year with Eleanor," a must-read that my friend Kristi lent me. It's all about facing your fears and challenging yourself daily. I'd almost try the project myself, but well, I'm too scared. ;) 

So... last night... after a couple of drinks... I decided I will try 32 new things in my 32nd year. 

Give me your suggestions, because truly, so far, I'm kind of just hoping that things will hit me. These don't have to be big things. I mean, Brad's two suggestions are a perfect example of how small these things can be. 

Here's what Brad suggests I try:

  1. Sushi with raw fish.  
  2. Gumbo Ya-Ya.
And, well, that's the full extent of my list at this point. lol. 

So... tell me what you think I should try. I need your inspiration! ;)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Well, I have to make this quick, but I couldn't resist the chance to tell you all about Jake's football experience thus far.

First things first, he has to wear a cup. You know... a cup... in the crotch area. Imagine my skinny little baby wearing a cup. Now, imagine my grown up husband shopping for a cup for Jake at Dick's. I mean, there are just so many crude jokes I can think of with this one sentence... a grown man in Dick's shopping for protective equipment for my son's package. I mean, really. It's quite funny... at least it is to immature adults like me. ;)


... Brad went and shopped and found a very nice set of compression underwear with a protective cup for Jake to wear. And, yes, I know that Jake will hate me when he's a teenager for writing about things like this. Brad brings home said cup and tells Jake that he needs to try it on. Jake is completely perplexed about why in the world he would need to wear this hard thing in his underpants for football. I can see that he's wondering what in the world we have signed him up for. So, we explain that this is to protect him from getting hurt if he were to get hit there, etc. Jake, in normal Jake-fashion, decides to test this out. He takes off running toward our dresser - wearing nothing more than his compression shorts and cup - and rams himself into it, crotch first. When he sees that it actually does work, he continues to try this. Repeatedly. Brad and I are laughing so very hard that neither of us can even stop him. We just keep laughing.

Once we got all that equipment taken care of, there was the mouthpiece to set. He couldn't believe that we would stick his mouthpiece in boiling water and then make him bite into it. I think he thought we were joking. But, he sucked it up and did it... despite some whining about it being too hot.

This all happened before his first practice.

That was the day that he came home, totally excited about football... telling me about how he loved to do his drills... and how he had told his coach that he believed in God. Then, came practice number two, where he came home with his pads. Equipment issues reign... Jake doesn't really like to wear a helmet. He says the pants are too hot. He loves his shoulder pads, though.

In true controlling-mother-who-is-overly-excited-about-her-son-playing-football fashion, we convince Jake to put his pads on and practice in the yard. I tackle Jake almost immediately, hitting him kind of hard... ramming him into the ground so that he'll be ready for a hit. He laughs. Brad scolds me for hitting his head on the ground so hard. Jake laughs. I explain that I want him to get hit hard when he is at home, so if he is going to cry or get upset, it will be here and not at practice.

It worked.

Tonight, they hit. He didn't do what we had practiced. He definitely needs to work on things. BUT.... BUT... he got hit. He gave some hits. There were no tears (at least not from hitting) - only from being tired and hating his helmet when practice was nearly over. All in all... a win. He wants to go back. He enjoys playing. He knows we support him. And, he's getting more confident. We are incredibly proud of our smallest kid on the team. :) Fingers crossed that he keeps enjoying this... bring on the fall! I am ready for football!

Life is good... life is chaotic... life is perfect

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Well, there is no shortage of things for me to write about. My spring/summer sabbatical from blogging has given me plenty to catch you up on. :) However, I couldn't possibly try to sit down and write it all in one post. And, I certainly wouldn't guarantee that those posts will ever really make it on here completely. It saddens me to think about all the things that the kids enjoyed this summer that might never get onto this blog... all of the fun that we had... but that's just how life is sometimes and focusing on all that I need to catch up on is just keeping me from writing about all of the things that are going on now. 

Which brings me to this post...about all of the wonderful things that I'm enjoying about life at this exact second. 

Bailey and Jake started school last week, which was bittersweet. I no longer feel like a taxi driver trying to get each child to and from camps all over the city... but I also don't get the option of leaving them sleeping in their beds while their favorite babysitter waits on them to wake. It's the sign of the end of summer... a somewhat (very somewhat for this summer) slower pace and relaxing existence. 

With the kids returning to school, I always seem to notice the changes that they've made over the past year. I suppose it is because I can mentally note what they were doing the year before more easily. This year, Bailey, who entered second grade, didn't seem to be interested in me walking her into school on the first day. When I said something to the effect of, "I'll walk you into your class and get you settled," she responded with a, "Oh... really? Why?" My heart sank a bit with the realization that she really doesn't need me to walk her to class anymore. Apparently my emotion was written all over my face, because Bailey quickly recovered and said, "Ok... that sounds great. But this will probably be the last year..." I smiled, because despite her request, I know I get one more year. I will get to walk Jake into Kindergarten next year... which means I will be walking her to class, too. Hehe. She thinks she's got it all figured out, but mom can impose herself for just a bit longer. :) 

On the other hand, Bailey still enjoys spending time with me and I love that. She and I went and watched the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green last week. It was a girl's night for us and we enjoyed every second of it. My sweet daughter, realized that this special night was as much for me as it was for her. A few minutes before the movie started, she reached over and held my hand. She asked me to come closer so she could whisper something to me. Then, she kissed me on the cheek and told me, "I love you so much, mom. Thanks for bringing me tonight." As I choked back the tears from the sweetness of her words and the genuine way she said them, I couldn't help but wonder how many more years will I have with her being happy to spend Friday night with me. I know it's not long before every activity we do has to involve her friends and everything that I say is "just her mom" saying something "uncool" again. I'm savoring these moments. Each and every one of them. 

Likewise, my little Jakey is growing up, too. The first couple of days of school went really well... drop off was not perfect. He has a hard  time telling his mommy (who he just adores, by the way) good-bye. It really isn't that he doesn't like school. It isn't that he has no friends (because he does). It's just hard to let your mommy walk away. So, we decided that this past Monday would be Jake's first day of walking into school by himself. I'd pull up to the front of the building, where a handful of teachers would stand and help him out of the car. He'd get out, make his way into the school and down the short hall to his classroom. Let me just be clear... I was about as nervous as a person can be. I was terrified that I'd pull up to the door and Jake would lay in the floor crying, refusing to get out. He didn't do that. Instead, I watched him climb out of the car, with big tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, and walk into the school like a big kid. I later heard that he did cry for a minute, but calmed down rather quickly and began his morning work. Of course, I felt like the worst mom in the world, shoving her little boy out of the car and into the big bad world. But, I also know that this is what I needed to do for Jake. He cries when I walk him in... he cries when I don't. This way is far less drama. Thankfully, day 2 (yesterday) was much easier... only a sad face and tear or two. Today, he was eager to get out, happy to go inside on his own, and has made a huge deal out of how he is such a big kid. His teacher is amazing and has bragged on him like crazy... and it has worked. I guess I need to remember that sometimes the mommy bird really does have to shove the baby bird from the nest to help him learn to fly. I look forward to a year full of mornings where Jake is eager and happy to get out of the car and walk into the school with confidence. :) 

Jake also started football this week. I am so excited about this that I really can't stand it. I have been a nervous wreck over how this is all going to go. So far, he's enjoying it immensely... he's excited to go to practice... and he's talking about how he can't wait to go back. More importantly, though, I'm so proud of one thing that he did. This morning, Jake and I were talking... and he mentioned something about believing in God. He kept rambling about a necklace and telling him that he believed in God. I had no clue what he was telling me. He said, "You know... the necklace my coach gave me." All the pieces came together for me. Here's what transpired: 

Jake's coach gave all of his team a set of dog tags (aka necklace in Jake's words) at his practice on Tuesday. The dog tags say, "Gratitude" on the back. His coach handed these out to the team, but first asked each of them to say something they believed in. Jake's response was, "I believe in God." His coach, who also happens to be a pastor, said, "That's AWESOME, Jake!" 

Swoon. This is just an example of one of my very favorite things about Jake's age at this exact moment. He has formed his own answers, opinions, and thoughts about things. He tells me what he likes and dislikes and sometimes, he can be pretty profound for a 5-year old. I am so incredibly proud of the little boy he is. And, just to put it in perspective... his coach also asked them to go around and say their name and what school they attend. Jake responded with, "I'm Jake and I go to sandsitional kindagaten (aka transitional kindergarten)." :) He asked me later if that was right and I told him he could have just said LCA. He laughed and said, "That would be much easier... I can't say that other thing." :) 

And, last, I have to share this... I am so excited about some upcoming plans. We are planning a SURPRISE trip to Disney for fall break! It has been in the works for a while, but I officially paid for it today, making it a complete reality. The kids have no clue. They've complained all summer about how we didn't go on a vacation. Brad and I have totally built it up... talking about how we don't have any money for vacation (which is really kinda true) and how we will just have to wait and go on vacation next year. They've been sad... said it isn't fair that other people can do this, etc. So, our plan is to wake them up early on the first morning of fall break and head to the airport. When we have our layover in Atlanta, we'll surprise them with a gift that will give them a clue about where we are going. We are wrapping up Mickey Mouse ears and revealing it then. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about all of this... everything from the surprise to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations for Bailey to the Pirates League reservations for Jake... from the princess meal at Epcot to the plane ride... the kids are going to be so excited. It really will be a magical five days! So, we are on the countdown (secretly). There is so much to do before then - I have so many things going on at work between now and then. The kids have so much going on with school, swimming, and football. And, then, there's me and Brad and our plans to go to UK games, train for a half marathon (together - yay!), and a trip to Cincinnati to watch the Reds play the Dodgers in September. Life is full... life is chaotic... and I would not have it any other way (unless someone really could clean my house for free or give me one more day in the week restricted to only relaxing and playing at home!). 

Jake's Five... and almost a half.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Well, it has been over 3 months since my little man turned 5. I guess I should write about it, right? Maybe I'll eventually get caught up!

Dear Jake,

I can’t believe that you are really 5 years old. It seems impossible to me that my little baby boy is already old enough to start Kindergarten. It kind of breaks my heart… except that you love to be a baby still. You’d let me treat you like a baby every single day of your life if I could. You would let me carry you everywhere, dress you, feed you, and cuddle you up every second of the day. You are my lazy boy. While I try my hardest to make you be the big boy that I know you really are, it’s so hard to resist your charms. And I really don’t want you to grow up so fast, so I keep hanging onto your baby days. You make my heart melt with your adorable smile and big green eyes. You remind me so much of your dad… you both always seem to have that unique ability to get me to laugh or smile when I don’t want to. I hate it for all the women that will come and go in your future… they are going to have a rough time with you, my little charmer.

You have grown up a lot, despite your desire to still be babied every day. In the past year, you have actually grown enough for us to justify buying you new clothes. J For what seems like the past three years, we have just added a bit to your wardrobe each year because you’ve been wearing the same size forever. You are growing taller and skinnier each day. I wish I could get you to eat more, but you really just don’t require much food. You don’t like a large variety of foods. You take the same thing for your lunch every single day – spaghetti-o’s (or red soup as you call it), cherry tomatoes, grapes, pepperoni, a boiled egg (ugh, the smell makes me want to die), yogurt, and a nutri-grain bar. Occasionally, we can mix it up with some trail mix, raisins, and strawberries. That’s about all you’ll really eat. You love cereal, pop tarts, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and fries… oh… and spaghetti, pizza, and Mexican dip. That’s all. I really think that is everything that you would eat. You love soda… love it. I have to sit mine up high where you can’t reach it or you’ll sneak it up to your room and hide to drink it all. And, you’ll drink the entire can in one steady stream, just like you are drinking a baby bottle. It’s awful. J You are my baby, though. I love soda, too.

You have most recently decided that you want to grow up (sometimes) and get big muscles like your daddy. I love that you have begun idolizing him so much. I heard you telling one of the neighborhood kids the other day that your daddy’s muscles were huge and he could beat up everyone… except the Hulk, of course. J You are still obsessed with superheroes, but it seems to be wavering a bit. Or maybe I should say expanding some… you are now also very interested in Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  You love to reenact scenes from your favorite movies and video games… and you laugh so hard at yourself that we end up laughing with you even when we have no idea what you are doing or saying. You have a great sense of humor… unless it’s morning time. In which case, God help anyone within earshot. You are still hateful and whiney until you eat. I started waking you up about 30 minutes early and feeding you before I get you dressed or anything else… and that seems to really make a big difference.

You played soccer in the fall and the spring… and you really seem to love it that your dad coaches you. I don’t think you really care that much about soccer – you just like it that you get to play with your friend, Warren, and that your dads are the coaches. I asked you to play basketball and/or t-ball, but you stuck with soccer only. You did do swimming lessons all winter at the YMCA and you are incredible at swimming. You make it look very effortless (which is probably because you don’t really try that hard), and I keep thinking that if you actually applied your full ability to it, you’d be awesome at it. But, I’m being patient and not pushing you… I hope it’s something you want to do as you get a bit older. You’ve got the perfect little build for it and you really seem to be talented at it.

The theme for you, Jake, seems to be that you have so much potential in everything. You are so smart… you are so funny… you are so athletic… but you just don’t seem to care to try. You are still very immature. And, while it sometimes drives your dad and I crazy, because we know you have so much more potential, we also realize that you are 5. And, we also realize that you are stubborn like both of us. And, if we push you too hard, you are only going to totally rebel against us. So… we sit and patiently wait for you to decide that you want to apply yourself.

With that being said, we made the decision to give you a full year of maturity before sending you to Kindergarten. Yes… we are sacrificing and paying another year’s worth of tuition (J) at LCA for you to go to Transitional Kindergarten… to take your time to mature and grow into the Jake that we see just under the surface of your charms. We know that you could totally do Kindergarten this year, but we also know that a year’s worth of growth has made a huge difference in the past year… so I know it will be better for you in the long run.

Plus, you are learning so many wonderful things at LCA… your prayers are enough to make me beam for days. I think my heart will melt when you ask me to say a prayer with you on the way to school… and then you pray that it won’t rain so that you can play on the playground. J The innocence of your age and the sweetness of you saying, “Thank you, God… I wuv you” reminds me that I could be such a better child of God myself.

Your sweet little smile and your big eyes are enough to make anyone smile. I hope that you will always keep your sweetness, and your stubborness, too, because I know that it will make you such a strong and compassionate leader. I hope that you will never outgrow giving me hugs and kisses whenever you feel the need, that you'll always come into the room just to tell me you love me, that you'll always be such a good little brother to your sister, and that you'll always admire your dad.

I'm sorry I'm always late on these things, Jake, but I hope that one day you'll remember that I was spending a lot of time beating your butt at video games, taking you out for a run or a bike ride, playing the damsel in distress for you to rescue, dancing with you to our favorite (country) tunes, and taking you all over the place to enjoy life. You are the most amazing little boy (my favorite in the world) and I love you with all my heart... to the moon and back.


My Baby is Seven

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
In the past month, both of my babies have had birthdays.

Sigh. I'm so behind... and blogging is just the last thing on the list to get done.


Seven sounds so much older than 6. I don't know why, but it feels like she is almost 10 now... not just a little over 5.

It was tough when I was talking to Brad about planting some trees in our yard and I said something about planting a tree that would be big enough for a treehouse right behind the kids' swingset... and he said, "By the time that the tree would get big enough, the kids will have outgrown treehouses and swingsets." The pit in my stomach got huge... and tears welled up just a little. Is that possible? Time has slipped that far away already?

It made me regret not planting those trees years ago... regret not realizing that the time was going faster than I wanted, even though I seemed to know that it was.


Dear Bailey,

I can't believe how fast time has flown by since you were born. It seems like yesterday when you were kicking me in the ribs and then remaining completely still for hours, worrying me over and over. Then, I think about the past year, and I truly can't believe how fast it has gone by. It hasn't been the easiest year since your birth. As a matter of fact, it's been my favorite year, but also the hardest. First grade has just been rough. But, you're becoming so much more grown up.

You are so smart... we are so proud of how well you do at school. You love to learn, often surprising everyone with how well you read, with how many things you can remember (all 50 states, the Preamble of the Constitution, many of the Presidents of the United States, basic facts about random things, like fun facts about Helen Keller, President Reagan, and Anne Frank), and how you seem to have so much common sense about solving problems. You seem to remember everything anyone tells you and you love to make sure that we know what everyone has told you, too. You love to talk... sometimes completely wearing us out. But, you are beginning to understand when it is appropriate to talk about things and when you need to quiet down. I'm putting heavy emphasis on the "beginning" part of that sentence. :)

Over the past year, you've become more sensitive about things... more self-conscious. It's not something I love about watching you grow up. It is hard to see you worry about things. You have always been so confident... so sure of yourself. There have been times over the past year where I've seen you hold back... wring your shirt with nervousness... or ask me if I think you look pretty or are doing good at something. It's hard being a mom on those days. I hate the thought of you feeling like you are less than perfect. In my eyes, you couldn't be more perfect.

I have reminded you over the past year of all of my favorite things about you. I try to tell you everyday how beautiful you are and how smart and sweet you are. You are one of the most caring people I have ever met... you genuinely care about other people and spend so much time worrying about taking care of others that you often have to be reminded to take care of yourself. Sometimes it seems like you are being nosey or a little bit of a busy body, but mostly you are just wanting to be a part of everything and making sure to help your friends do everything "right."

I am so impressed by how happy you are almost all of the time. Every morning, you wake up with a smile on your face. Even on days when you are tired or not feeling great, you are smiling. You are happy with whatever the day will bring... it makes life so much better for me. I love that everyday, even when Jake is whining and yelling and crying about hating mornings and life altogether, you try to find the bright side of things and make him smile. You make me feel like a really crappy person, because you are always being so sweet and I'm ready to just karate chop Jake. :)

With that being said, you still have some bad moments. You'll snap at me or your dad or Jake over the smallest things sometimes. You tend to be a little more mouthy than I expected (I have no idea where you got it from haha) and sometimes we butt heads over EVERYTHING. It seems like there are days when we really just snap at each other over and over all day long. It is not perfect, I tell you. I am trying to learn to let you win a few battles here and there so that I don't break your spirit... but there's a fine line where I also want you to learn to respect me (and other adults). Thankfully, you don't seem to be so mouthy with others... just with us. lol

You haven't lost any of your zest and energy for life. You want to sign up for everything and be a part of everything. I can relate, as I often feel the same way. In the past year, you have been involved with Girl Scouts, soccer, t-ball, swimming, tennis, and you've taken several theatre and art classes. Every time we have to register for something, we have to have serious discussion about what you really want to do. It's not easy, because you really do want to do everything. With that being said, you seem to have found a real passion for swimming. You are growing into a very good swimmer and I'm very proud of how far you have come over the past couple of months. You have breezed through each lesson and moved up to the next level without any trouble. You were in one of the top classes during the last session, which is typically one that takes a little longer to progress through. I should have told you that beforehand, because when it came time to see who moved up, you were deeply upset by the fact that you didn't move up to the next level. You cried for over an hour, which I totally didn't expect. It was heartbreaking to watch you hurt, but I think I finally got through to you when we talked about how you have to work hard in everything and sometimes it takes longer than we want to accomplish our goals. The good thing to come from this is that we saw that you really had found a passion... something that you are dying to do every single day. We had hoped that we would "know" when we saw what you loved. I've often felt like we are just grasping at straws with different sports... trying things to see if you like them, but never "really" knowing if you love any of it. So, despite the fact that we had already signed you up for soccer for the spring, we are continuing with swimming lessons, too. So, our schedules are staying busy.

You love art. You love nature. You love to read. No one would believe that if they were around you on a regular basis, because you are so energetic. No one would guess that you can be calm and thoughtful, quiet almost, in thinking about all of the beauty of the world. I recently told your dad that I thought we were raising little tree-huggers, because we are always talking about waste, recycling, growing things, conserving water, etc. Later that very same day, we had planted some trees in the yard... you came out and said, "Oh... that tree is so cute. Can I just give it a hug?" I thought I'd fall over with laughter.

Physically, you have grown so much over the past year. It is that growth that often makes you kind of clumsy. I remember being just like you... growing a lot really early on, feeling clumsy all the time. The good news is that I stopped growing at about age 10, with the exception of about a half inch... so if you are like me, you'll be full grown in a couple of years. :) I can't promise that the clumsiness will go away... you are my daughter, after all. :)

I love that you still believe in things like Santa Claus, but you are very realistic about other things. You know the difference between most things fantasy and fiction. I hate that someone in a leadership role in your life told you that Rudolph wasn't real at Christmas time. You weren't sure what you should believe, but I was able to pull out a reason to keep you believing. I hate it that so many people want to rush you and the kids your age into growing up so soon. You are so smart and so mature, but you should get to enjoy just being a kid for a while. I am so hopeful that we will get to Disney this year... before you completely lose your love of fantasy. Oh, who am I kidding? I am still excited to get to see Cinderella's castle again... I guess you can't outgrow it. :)

I love that your friendships have become such a big part of your life. It seems like nearly every week you are either inviting someone over or being invited over to someone's home for a play date or a sleepover. I love the little girls that you are friends with... they are so sweet and fun... and you guys have so much fun together. I hope that they'll be lifelong friends for you and that you guys don't go through the mean girls phase.

Your friendship with me is one of my favorite things in the world. When we aren't arguing over something like you talking back or not cleaning up your room like I asked you to 500 times, we have a great time. We have a great time having girls' nights... and you love to help me do everything (except clean up your toys). We talk about everything and I love that you will ask me questions about anything and everything. I try really hard to answer any of your questions honestly and openly. They are getting tougher... so I'm wondering how I'm going to handle some of the questions that I'm sure will come over the next three years. It makes me appreciate this age even more. :)

Your relationship with your daddy cracks me up. You want him to baby you, but you are quick to ignore him or argue with him about anything and everything. You get frustrated with him when he doesn't do things as fast as you want, but you still want to crawl up in his lap like a little baby whenever you get a chance. It's quite funny to me to see you interact... it reminds me a lot of my relationship with my daddy... except that my daddy wasn't as big of a pushover as yours is. :) Well... maybe... :)

And, probably my favorite relationship you have is the one you have with Jake. I don't think I've ever met a little girl who loves her brother as much as you do. Jake recently had stitches and you were more worried about him than anything. You were so sweet... so worried. The entire way to the ER, you were watching Jake like a hawk. I think you thought he was going to pass out or something. Of course, he didn't... but you didn't take your eyes off of him.

Bailey, even if you weren't my daughter, I would think you are the coolest little girl in the world. I love your sweetness and spunk. Your frilly girl style and your tomboy toughness. Your personality is amazing... you can make anyone feel like they are the center of the world. I don't really enjoy certain phases that you go through... the know-it-all-ness and the mouthiness. But, at the same time, I love your strength and passion and I would not trade you for anyone in this world. I hope that you remain strong, both physically and mentally, and that you always do everything with kindness in your heart. I hope that as you grow, you find the perfect balance in everything... because I think that's the key to happiness. If I had any advice to give you at this point in your life, it would be to act. Do all the things you love. Don't worry about what anyone else in the world thinks or likes. Be you... because there isn't anyone else that could be more perfect.

I love you more than the world itself! Happy birthday, baby girl.


Gratefulness Post... I don't know how to number this :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Well, I haven't posted these in a while... and I have been trying to keep track of them. Shew... I don't know what it is, the new job? The kids' schedules? Bailey's birthday party prep? Dirty house? Laundry? I don't know... I think it might be all of the above. :) Anyway... I'm posting the ones that I have ready and will post some more later this week. I'm not sure anyone wants to read each and every day anyway. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - Hmm. Today, I have had to think a little more on what I want to post. I had a good day. Nothing was bad about it; it was just busy and a run of the mill kind of day. So, I'm going small. Today, I am grateful for my crock pot. Yes. I know. It sounds silly. But, I am very grateful for it. We had dinner last night and today already cooked when we got home. Dinner on the table about 10 minutes after I get home... I just can't ask for more than that, right?

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - I forgot to write anything down... but every night, I think about how I want to write how grateful I am that my babies sleep together each night. There's nothing sweeter to me than walking in to check on them to see them all cuddled up together sound asleep.

Friday, February 24, 2012 - Tonight, I am grateful for cousins. I drove a couple of hours after work to get Bailey to my cousin's little girl's birthday party. I was tired. I wasn't really wanting to make the trip. But, I had promised my baby girl that she wouldn't miss the sleepover. So, we drove. And, I was so happy that I did. It wasn't only fun for Bailey to get to hang out with her cousins... something that I wish we were able to arrange more often... but it was fun for me, too. I stopped and picked up my mom along the way and we hung out with my cousins, their families, and my good friend, Lisa. It was fun laughing about everything under the sun, watching our little girls all act just like us or completely opposite of us (mainly). It's great to have lifelong friends and family that you can go years without seeing, but can get right back into your old friendships within minutes. Love you girls!

Saturday, February 25, 2012 - Grateful that my baby girl actually took a nap in the car on the way home from Louisa. I don't think that has happened in, well, maybe years. :) And she did it without any whining or fighting it... she just said she was going to sleep and then did. We might have a grown up girl yet. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012 - Today, I'm grateful that the kids had friends over to spend the night last night and they didn't get up until 8 a.m. I was fully anticipating a 6 or 7 a.m. wake up from them all... with them demanding pancakes. :)

Monday, February 27, 2012 - Today, I'm so thankful for the sweetest little boy in the world... and for the Christian preschool that is teaching him compassion and prayer. He asked me if we could pray on our way to swimming lessons tonight (it's not that uncommon for Jake to ask, which I have to say completely melts my heart). His prayer had me nearly in tears. One of his friends, C., became a big brother this past week. C's baby brother was born prematurely and is in the hospital. He is looking great, making big strides in a very short time, but my son's teachers have been praying with the kids about it this week. I felt chills when my Jakey prayed, "Dear God, Please make C's baby brother big and strong. Help him feel happy and help him get big. Don't let him be sick anymore, God. He needs to be strong like my daddy. Oh. And, I love you, God. Amen." Maybe I won't complain about that tuition bill ever again.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - Today, I am grateful for sun shining in my work window. I am grateful that I feel so wonderful about my choice to take this job. I feel like I am actually in the right spot at the right time. It feels really reassuring. I'm one week in, already busy, and feeling really good about it all. I'm even more grateful that our macaw (yes, a bird lives at my work, as well as a variety of other jungle animals), decided to not sound like an alarm this morning when I went in. Maybe he's getting used to me. :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - The extra day for the year! I'd be lying if I said I felt like today was an extra day. Instead, it felt like one of the most rushed days ever! But, I'm grateful for a husband who is able to help me get the kids to and from swimming lessons, school, and all that jazz. Bailey got a last minute invite to go with a friend to an Army Band concert tonight. So, we rushed her home after swimming lessons, she scarfed down some dinner, and off she went. Thankfully, she is easy when it comes to rushing. She multitasks just like me. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012 - I can't believe it is March. Slightly panicking that Bailey's party is 23 days away and I have done nothing. Eek! Very grateful today for a night without any big plans. Hopeful for a few minutes to catch up on the blog. lol.

Friday, March 2, 2012 - Forever grateful tonight that we did not get hit by one of the tornadoes that plagued our part of the world today. Forever grateful that our school system called school out early so that we could safely have our babies at home in the event that something happened. So grateful for an incredible workplace and co-workers who didn't bat an eye when I said I had to leave to the get the kids. So grateful that Brad's awesome company let him come home early to be safe with us. Incredibly grateful for a good friend who told us we could come to her home and basement if we needed to. So very grateful that the storm practically by-passed us. So grateful that my grandfather's house was somehow protected from the winds that destroyed his two barns and our extended family's home.

Saturday, March 3, 2012 - So completely overwhelmed with gratefulness today. So many homes and lives destroyed in our state. So many people left with nothing. Words simply cannot express how grateful I am to be safe and to know my family is safe.

Sunday, March 4, 2012 - Grateful today for life. Just life in all its simplicity.

Gratefulness Posts Week 6 & 7

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 (Day 39/366) - Thankful for having a day off from running today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012 (Day 40/366) - I'm grateful today for my little swimming babies. Watching them swim today was extra fun... Jake spends most of his time at the bottom of the pool these days, holding his breath for incredible amounts of time. I laugh at how well his little lungs do. I guess being small means that you don't need tons of oxygen because you don't have much of a body to push air to. :) Bailey was my little rock star today, diving like a pro. I love to watch her learn... and she is learning so much.

Friday, February 10, 2012  (Day 41/366) - Thankful for a great night of fun with my hubby. See post here for more info.

Saturday, February 11, 2012  (Day 42/366)- Today and tonight was fabulous. I missed my kids, because that's what I do when they are away for the weekend. But, Brad and I had a nice, enjoyable, slow morning and afternoon. We ate a late breakfast at Ramsey's. Oh. My. Goodness. The food was enough to feed an army. We needed it after a late night of skiing. Then, we went home and relaxed for a couple of hours... Brad napped while I worked on the computer. We worked out at the YMCA, then went to Drake's for sushi and fish tacos, which I am still wanting more of as I type. And, that's when the night got really fun. We went home and got dressed up in 1950's gear for the Living Arts & Science Center's H'Artful of Fun. My hubby was so cute... and we had a great time. We hung out with new and old friends (one of those old friends being a former middle school classmate of mine). It was fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012 (Day 43/366) - Today, I am grateful to have my babies home. I am grateful for their sweet hugs and kisses and their plans for a Family Night. I'm grateful that they want to play games with us instead of spending their time doing their own thing. I'm grateful that those games include physical games that we can play on the XBox Kinect... and mind-stimulating games, like board games and cards. I am grateful for a night together... and can't help but thank God for the changes that 2012 has already brought to our small little family's life.

Monday, February 13, 2012 (Day 44/366) - I am thankful for a very patient little boy. We spent 2 hours in line at Sandersville Elementary this morning so that we could hold a spot for him in Kindergarten, just in case we decide to move forward with starting him in regular Kindergarten next year. Transitional Kindergarten is really what we think we will do, but I wanted to be safe and have him a spot at Sandersville, just in case. Jake was so patient as we waited in the long line. He was so patient as I filled out paperwork. He patiently asked me to play Rock Paper Scissors with him. He patiently waited when we had to drive to Frankfort to get a copy of his birth certificate. Truly, I have never been so impressed with his patience. He definitely would have preferred to stay home and play in his PJs all day, but he didn't complain (much anyway). Maybe he is growing up a little bit. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012  (Day 45/366)- Hallmark's holiday. Normally, I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. I kind of think it's silly... trying to find one day each year that everyone in the world should be in love and romantic. I'd much rather have love and romance at a random point in the year... making it a little less expected and routine. But, I am grateful that I have a hubby I love and two fabulous kids to smother with love. Since Brad and I spent our weekend together, we counted that as our Valentine's Day celebration. Tuesdays aren't exactly ideal for us to have a romantic date or anything anyway... it is by far the busiest day of our week. Anyway, I had been pinning things on pinterest for months about Valentine's Day. There were so many cute ideas. Of course, I barely did any of them... instead, I cut the kids sandwiches into hearts. I put conversation heart candy into their lunchboxes. I wrote "Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Mom and Dad" on their ziplock bags in their lunches. I am so grateful that both of our kids were able to have parents at their school today - I went to Jake's Valentine's Day party; Brad went to Bailey's showcase. So very grateful to be able to be there for these little big moments in their lives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012  (Day 46/366)- Just so very grateful for breakfast for dinner and how easy it is to fix for dinner. Also, we watched the movie, The Help. It was good, but not as good as the book has been!

Thursday, February 16, 2012  (Day 47/366)- So very proud of our kiddos... both of them are moving on up to the next level in swimming lessons. They are excelling so much... and I'm just so proud. I know it's not like they are moving into Olympic swimming here, but you know, it's important that I am grateful for how well they do. I am also really grateful for a great last day at my job at BCTC. The people I worked with there are good people... and I will sorely miss their friendship and our regular discussion.

Friday, February 17, 2012  (Day 48/366)- The beginning of a long weekend! I am grateful for a kitchen full of groceries and a dinner plan for the next two weeks. It's the little things that make me happy some days. Also, grateful for the Redbox and a night of cuddling and watching movies. And, grateful to have finished my first audiobook, The Help.

Saurday, February 18, 2012  (Day 49/366)- Thankful to have week 7 of 18 complete in the marathon training program. I still haven't committed to doing this thing, but I'm feeling good about it. Tired, but feeling like I might be able to pull it off. Ran 12 miles in the most perfect running weather today.

Sunday, February 19, 2012  (Day 50/366)- I am grateful for sweet kids at church to make me smile. Grateful for a husband who took the kids to the YMCA to swim today while I cleaned. Very excited to surprise the kids on Monday with a skiing trip to Perfect North on our day off!

Monday, February 20, 2012  (Day 51/366)- Tonight, I am so completely thankful for the kids and their really awesome ability to hang in there and try anything. We took them skiing today... the second time for Jake and the third time for Bailey. They were awesome... brave... and I thought my heart would explode from pride as I watched them fearlessly take it on. We had so much fun... so much fun... that it truly deserves a post all on its own. So, that is next. :) But, for this post... know that I'm so grateful for my babies and their awesomeness... their courage, their sweetness, and the sheer fact that they are so incredibly fun. Oh... and the fact that I marked off another list item to SNOWTUBE! :) And, it was AMAZINGLY FUN!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012  (Day 52/366)- I am thankful for a great first day at my new job. I am so thankful for nice co-workers who made me feel welcome, for a great (and long) meeting with my boss to discuss the plans and get directly to work, and for the feeling that I'm where I need to be. I am even more grateful that Bailey loved her after school program and Jake was disappointed to see me when I picked him up. That is a good thing... they don't seem to have any issues with this adjustment at this point and I could not be happier.

Our Throwback Date Night

Sunday, February 12, 2012
It was about a month before Brad and I got married when we moved out of each of our apartments (mine in Richmond, Kentucky; his in Smithers, West Virginia) and moved into our own joint place. The day that we moved was one of the longest days of our lives. Moving us always takes a lot, because we both keep too many things... So, we started moving out of my place at like 6 a.m. and finished moving the last of Brad's stuff (well, almost all of it) at like 2 a.m. that night. It was exhausting. That night, Brad and I were starved. We hadn't really had much for dinner. I don't really remember us actually eating dinner. What I do remember and will forever be in my head, is eating the best tasting Funyons, Snicker's bar, and Diet Mt. Dew ever.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, this past weekend, Brad and I had what I'm referring to as a "throwback" date night. No, I know it sounds like we threw back a bunch of beer. We've had those weekends, too, but not this weekend. :) On Friday, after I dropped the kids to the grandparents for a weekend of complete and utter spoiling, I rushed home, started pulling out all of our ski clothes and got ready for a night of night skiing. I have been watching the Facebook photos on Perfect North, Winterplace, and Snowshoe for weeks. Honestly, I was almost mad at a lady who works with me who told me that she was going to Snowshoe for a weekend, but that she would just read a book and not ski. Ugh. I'd love to be going to Snowshoe. Anyway... getting back on track here...

... when Brad and I were first married and living in West Virginia, we went night skiing a lot. I would pack all of our stuff the night before, load it into the car, and as soon as we would get off of work on a Thursday night, we would make a mad dash out of town to hit the slopes. I can even remember us changing clothes in the car, on the way up to Winterplace, just to maximize the amount of time we had on the slopes. We would eat in the car... we would share pizza and water at the resort... whatever we could do to make sure that we spent as little as possible so that maybe we'd get to go again in just a week or two. We would spend the evening skiing/snowboarding as much as possible, taking breaks only when we absolutely had to, and talking non-stop about how amazing some of the little kids on skis were. We made big plans to have our kids learning to ski early... to maybe even move closer to Beckley once our kids were older so that we could get season passes... we quite simply were bitten by the bug.

We spent a few weekends at Snowshoe... it was wonderful. I miss it. Every. Single. Year. One weekend, we drove to Snowshoe in a snowstorm. The roads were so bad that the lines weren't even visible. I look back and wonder what in the hell we were thinking driving up there like that. But, we made it safely (thanks to our awesome Ford Escape and a husband who likes to drive in the snow). And, we had an amazing time.

As with everything, life got busier. We moved to Lexington. Promises to keep skiing and to make annual trips without the kids and with the kids, well, they fell to the wayside. Expenses on this or that came up. Summer vacations aren't something we were willing to trade... babies were too small to go and mom guilt was too strong to leave.

Last year, we took the kids skiing at Perfect North and they did wonderfully. So, making the decision to go without them was really tough. But, I looked at the night skiing rates and times, knowing that it would be a long, late, and probably cold night... a little tough on two kids, no matter how awesome they are. I sent Brad the link, convinced him that it wouldn't be much more expensive than a really nice dinner and a movie, with the exception of the gas money, and decided we would do this. I even decided to try snowboarding, since I've used the excuse that "I can't try to learn to snowboard AND help the kids" for the past two years. It's on my list to learn to snowboard... so I have been pretty excited to get this one marked off. I had no reason not to try. I didn't tell the kids the plan though. I just couldn't bear to see the look on my daughter's face when I told her. :)

So, we left for Perfect North as soon as Brad got home from work. I was sitting by the door waiting on him. :) We stopped on the way up, grabbed Subway for the road, and kept on driving. It was fun. It was like old times. We even laughed about how it felt just the same. I was nervous about snowboarding, just like I used to get nervous about skiing. It felt just like it used to.

We made it to Perfect North in time for me to take a snowboarding lesson, which I was thrilled about. There weren't many people there and my lesson was just me and the instructor. It made it really nice... and I was able to pick up on it so much faster than I expected. It was different than when I learned to ski. I was terrified of falling then. There were people everywhere and I was scared to run into someone. This time, I was ready to fall. I knew I would fall and it wouldn't hurt that bad. I felt stronger. And, I was decent. If I had an entire day on the slopes, I would have it. Maybe not great, but I would be able to go on some long runs. I wasn't able to on Friday. I snowboarded for about 2 hours, then switched to my skis so that I could go with Brad to the top of the mountain and enjoy the few short hours we had. It was great. It was so great that the thought of moving back to West Virginia popped in my head at least five times. It has been years since that thought has even crossed my mind.

We were exhausted at the end of the night... my legs hurt from the workout. I was a little cocky with myself... as soon as I got on my skis, I had felt stronger. My legs were just plain stronger than they were the last time I went. The running is paying off. :) But, with that strength came some arrogance and I skiied faster and harder than usual. I worked myself harder, probably too early in the night, and then my legs were done. We left at midnight... starved and cold... and feeling so good and tired. We stopped at the nearest gas station in town and bought coffee and hot chocolate. We wandered the aisles a few times, looking for a snack. Brad grabbed two Snicker's bars. I grabbed a bag of Funyon's. We were exhausted and hungry... it was a late night... we had stopped with empty bellies, happy to have had finished a great night. I have rarely eaten a bag of Funyon's without remembering that night we moved... but I wasn't sure about Brad. I smiled when he recognized the similarity... it was the perfect ending to our "throwback" night.

And, for the record, we drove in snow to get home, too... but we could actually see the lines on the road for most of the way. :)