Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thoughts on Gratitude

*Warning: long {and honest} post coming your way.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We chose to stay home this year, which was actually really, really nice.  The food was fantastic, the kids were in good spirits, and the atmosphere in the house was relaxing, peaceful, and calm.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving, however, were a bit challenging for me.  One of my least favorite emotions is jealousy, and it decided to rear its ugly head with a vengeance.  No matter how hard I tried to be grateful, I just couldn't stop comparing my life with someone else's.  

On Thanksgiving morning, Summer sat down at the kitchen table and began writing down her blessings.  She was thankful for everyone and everything, from her bus driver to her teeth.  I thought about counting my blessings too, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  It was way easier to stew about how some people just seem to have it all... and I didn't.

But an idea came to me that ended up making a powerful impression.  I decided to look at this past year, from November 2015 - November 2016, and just see how my life has been blessed.  Here is what I found:

This girl grew up right before my eyes.  Last November she and her sister decided to get their ears pierced, which required quite a bit of courage!  Kylie breezed through hundreds of books and continued to perform well at school.  In January she turned 8 years old and made the decision to become an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She began attending Activity Days {a program for 8-11-year-old girls at church} and took the plunge and joined gymnastics.  She also sat through "the talk" and has since showed maturity and responsibility with that special topic.  On a daily basis I can count on her to be honest, obedient, and helpful.

A year ago Summer was crying each day I dropped her off at preschool.  Now she hops on the bus and heads off to Kindergarten with confidence and optimism.  Her teacher says that he can always count on her to be kind, hardworking, and a good example.  She taught herself to swim and also began attending gymnastics - her beautiful cartwheels and splits are proof of that!  Summer recently decided that she wanted to ride a bike with no training wheels and mastered that skill on her first try.  I am constantly in awe of her determination.

What a year it's been for this little boy!  His vocabulary has exploded as well as his gross motor skills.  He ditched the high chair, crib, and car seat and has done incredibly well with each transition.  Jackson also mastered potty training (hooray!) and is practicing new skills everyday, such as dressing himself, drawing shapes, and combing his hair.

Josh continues to work hard at the office and at home.  He has passed several Microsoft exams and is just one test shy from receiving his MCSA.  After serving faithfully in the scouting program for 5 years, Josh accepted the call to serve as the Music Chair and Choir Director at church.  He began alternately driving a newer car and a motorcycle, which I'd say he deserves after driving an old vehicle with no AC for years!  Although he suffered a broken foot in May, he has healed well and continues to work out and play basketball several times a week.  We celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary, and as exciting as that was, Josh might have been equally excited to attend the wedding of one of his dearest friends this summer.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Everyone has a chapter of their lives that they'd rather not read out loud...and mine occurred this past year in the form of a deep and unrelenting emotional struggle.  In essence, I needed to learn to trust in God and believe that I was of worth.  Underneath the daily minutia, the activities with the kids, and the trips with my family was a scared little girl who was trying not to fall apart.  Instead of giving in to my inner demons, I fought them...hard.  And I pushed myself to become strong, resilient, and happy.  I began running regularly with a friend, who pushed me to go distances I didn't think I was capable of.  I challenged myself to attend a group fitness class, which initially scared me to death but ended up bringing me so much joy.  I ran a race.  I traveled to Idaho to see family and dear friends.  I taught myself how to harvest fruit and use power tools.  I created and implemented a summer schedule with my kids that brought lasting memories.  And I learned to appreciate the sanctity of the temple, a place that has brought me peace and healing.  I challenged myself this year to SHINE, and I feel like I've done that in large ways and small.

Our house truly became a home this year.  Some of the projects we undertook include: mounting the TV above the fireplace {which involved hiding the wires in the wall}, painting a wall-size calendar in the office, painting the powder room, edging the flower beds, painting/decorating the loft, organizing the garage, and re-finishing our stairs.  But what truly made the place home were the people.  We've hosted several neighborhood gatherings and have put up many of our visiting friends and family.  Indiana truly is the crossroads of America and we love that!

The best category is saved for last: our family.  Oh, how we've lived and loved.  As a family we traveled to Texas, Louisville, Chicago, and Michigan, where so many beautiful memories were made.  We began the year by doing a ton of maintenance and repairs on our beloved 12-year-old van, which has lasted us one more year {yay!} and could tell SO many stories if only it could talk. We have discovered some of the very best parts of Indiana-- from listening to music on the Prairie to riding horses on the trails.  And our family has grown by 16 "feet": Chelsea & Bella {sister-in-law and niece}, Kayo, Aden, Mykah {nephews}, Kate {niece}, and Roscoe {our dog}. That is definitely something to be grateful for.

My, what a year it's been.  I've witnessed miracles and been the recipient of countless blessings.  All I needed to do was take a step back and look.

"When you love what you have,
you have everything you need."

Friday, November 18, 2016


This month has been full of big things and little things.  I've been meaning to do several different blog posts but haven't gotten around to it.  So here's everything  :)

We made our annual Thankful Tree.  I love to see what my family is most thankful for.

And I love that you can tell who wrote certain things.


For the first time in my life I voted. {This could definitely be a blog post all its own}.  Although the outcome wasn't my favorite, I'm still grateful that I live in a country where I can have a voice. 


The unseasonably warm weather IS my favorite, though.  Josh recently bought a smoker and put it to good use the other night.  These ribs were delicious!

And I think it's safe to say that the kids are enjoying the prolonged sunshine as well.  The joy on their faces is priceless!




This guy discovered falling leaves for the first time and couldn't have been happier.  I learned something the other day-- the only thing more counterproductive than raking leaves on a windy day is raking leaves with a puppy around.


The puppy training is still going strong {and will be for about the next 2 years}.... 


So this happened today.  Poor guy.  He was gone all day for his procedure, and although my house hasn't looked that clean since before we got him, I'll admit that I missed him.

I finally finished this blanket ladder that I started weeks ago.  I really enjoy doing crafts and projects, but I hate when people mislead you into believing that something is simple when it's not.  Like this ladder.  I'm sure if I had clearer instructions and all of the right tools {which the tutorial did not specify, by the way}, I would have completed it in an hour as opposed to two weeks.  But I digress.


And Jackson knows how to keep me on my toes.  {That's another post for another day}.


Here's just one area we're working on.  I call it "pick up your stuff so the dog doesn't get it."


 Can you guess where we took the kids one Saturday afternoon?

Our neighbor is a local firefighter and invited us to come and tour the station.  The kids loved it!

Lots of great things have happened this month, many of which aren't pictured, but this moment might be one of my faves.  I have so much to be grateful for.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Happy November!

The crisp fall weather that I love has decided to stick around longer than usual.  It's wonderful!

But do you know what's really wonderful?

When family comes to visit.

OK, so it wasn't wonderful the whole time.  Kylie became a little sick on Saturday but after a nice nap and a little time to chill, she was doing much better.

We got to FaceTime with Kyle and his family {how cool is that to say?}

And we also attended a basketball game at Butler University.  Depending on who you ask, some might say that the best part of the night was the popcorn, the Butler jewelry, or the venue itself.  But I think it's safe to say that we all had a great time.

I sure do love this family of mine. 

Even if Grandma tries to convince us that Candy is a basic food group :)

The first "normal" day after family leaves is always bittersweet.  I always miss them, but I have to admit that getting back into a routine has its benefits.  I'm still weighing today's pros and cons--

Pro: I organized my garage.  Woo hoo!

Con: During that time, Jackson AND Roscoe snuck into the van and ate granola bars.
Hmm... that looks suspicious.

Pro: Jackson played happily for hours outside while I worked.

Con: My sugar was low by the time I came in and I was desperate to get him down for a nap.  Unfortunately, he had shut his {locked} bedroom door so I had to hunt for a tool to unlock it...just to get him down for a nap!

Pro: I got 6 loads of laundry done today.

Con: I'm exhausted. And I'm not the only one.
Yup.  He's just laying there.  For fun.

 I vote that it was a good day with a little chaos mixed in :)

Speaking of voting, this is how I feel about election day tomorrow: