Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Memory Making is BEAUTIFUL

At the beginning of the year, my husband had to go to Virginia to attend a military school.  He went last year, and I really missed out on a lot of experiences with him, so this year I asked if we could join him.   Sending the whole family out for several months during school wouldn't be practical.  We decided to fly the children and I out for his graduation.  We figured we could take the children to D.C. and have a lot of really cool experiences.  I have ALWAYS wanted to see the Smithsonian museums.  I couldn't be more excited about the whole thing.  We also decided to keep it a secret until the day we flew.

Most of the plans worked.

We told the children about the trip the day before we left, so that we could pack together.  We flew out there without any issues.  It was most of the children's first time on a plane!  We were able to upgrade my husband's hotel room so that there was enough space for us.  What made it really special was that my husband's sister and her family were able to come down for his graduation.  They are a really fun family to be around, and I can't even tell you how SUPER excited the children were about having some cousin time.  You know how every family has that one really fun couple that are totally creative and everyone wants to be around them?  That's not us, that's them.  It was so good to be with family.  I wish so often that we could live closer.  What made it EVEN MORE SPECIAL was that my Beloved's parents flew in as well.  I don't know how it works in your family, but having parents present to say we are proud of you and we love you means the world to my husband.  It was a surprise that meant more than we could ever explain. We had a family reunion, graduation, and family vacation all in one weekend!  It was truly amazing.  

We were able to spend time in several of the museums, walk the museum mile, and even spend some time in Williamsburg.  

We even got to stop for a quick break to see our favorite TV stars!  

If we wouldn't have taken the moment to dare to ask each other if we could pull it all off, we would have missed out on so many amazing memory making experiences.  We would never have walked the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  We wouldn't have stared in awe at the amazing sights in the Air and Space Museum. 
 We wouldn't have been able to visit the memorial walls and honor the fallen.  We had so many once in a lifetime experiences, I am so glad we were both bold enough to dream.  Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the schedules, budgets, and time constraints.  If we don't boldly run towards those new experiences and make those memories, we will have regrets.  

I don't EVER want to live with regrets.

Please, dear readers, don't miss out on those opportunities with your children.  Big or little, it is worth it to make time to give them those memories.  It is worth it.  It is beautiful


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I know I started this series with the intention to blog every day for 30 days.  Part of choosing to be PRESENT in my family life means that they come first.  I have been gone for a few days enjoying my family.
The perfectionist side of me wants desperately to type up some kind of post for each day and back date it, but the grace-embracing side of me says... LET IT GO.  {Seriously, enough with that dang song, right?}

My last few days have been spent celebrating, reading with, and enjoying my children.  My two Cub Scouts moved up in rank.  I have a Webelo 1 and a Webelo 2, now.  Guess who the Den leader and Assistant Den Leaders are?  ;-)  My Beloved and I are looking forward to making this next year super fun for them.  We enjoyed a slow day, pool time, and family cooking on Sunday.  This week, the children started VBS.  They so enjoy Vacation Bible School.  It is such a great outreach ministry.

I have no words of wisdom to share with you other than STOP, SLOW DOWN, BE PRESENT, AND ENJOY THE LIFE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN.

Thank you for allowing me the grace to take a break to enjoy these amazing young people!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Being an Imperfect Mother is BEAUTIFUL

I feel like I know an awful lot about imperfection.

As a person crippled by perfectionism, it can be a complicated thing.  I am beginning to have a really ugly relationship with Pinterest.  I go back and forth between LOVING how easy it is to organize information for reference later, and HATING how frustrating not being able to do MOST of the things I pin is.  Inevitably, I will end up going back and pinning a million more things I want to do, and hating my inability to manage time to do six million things a minute. But hey, I've probably got a pin for increasing productivity.

Who said we had to do weeks of crafts before every single holiday?  Some holidays, when I am really on top of things, we do a lot of crafts and activities.  Some holidays, I am thrilled to just make it through without my children noticing we did nothing.

Who said we had to spend hours and hours baking and decorating every single birthday cake?  You know what?  I bought ice cream cake for my daughter last year.  I LOVED how easy it was, and how very happy it made her.

Who said we have to live up to other people's ideas when it comes to mothering?

We don't.

Why do we do that to ourselves?  Each of us is going through something completely different than the person next to us.  We all have different children, who are in different stages, dealing with life differently.  WHY on earth would we think we have to do everything as well as, or in the same manner as someone else?  Why is there so little encouragement and grace in the mothering community?  Why are we not celebrating our differences and reminding each other to just do our best.  My best may look a lot like your worst.  Your best may look pretty similar to another person's worst.  There is no point in comparing.  We won't get anywhere with that.

Can you imagine a world where we all got together and celebrated each other's parenting.  I'm not talking about congratulating a mom who beats her children for being mother of the year.  I am talking about most moms.  Moms who are waking up each day with the intention of doing their very best for their family. The mothers who spend each day giving of themselves again and again in an effort to fill their children's love tanks.  I am talking about all of the moms out there who go to bed at the end of the day feeling guilty for not being able to do more, give more, create more.  I believe in my heart that most mothers go out of their way almost every day to make the world a better place.  So often, at the end of the day they feel like they haven't been successful.

Mama.... you are enough.

You will never be a perfect mom, but you are the perfect mom for your children.  The fact that you have the child or children you do is not a mistake.  Every day you make the choice to do your best, every time you start over (even the days when that has to happen hourly), you are doing something great for your children.  Childhood goes by so very quickly.  If we don't invest early and often with our time and our love, we will miss it.  You don't have to get it right every time.

Let them see you fail.
     Let them see you struggle.
          Let them see you broken.


Let them see you try again.
     Let them see you choose to not give up.
          Let them see you ask for forgiveness and accept help.

Embrace imperfection.  Celebrate it in each other.  Love on another imperfect friend.  Allow your children to be imperfect as well, and show them how wonderful it is to get back up and try again.

Imperfectly yours,

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


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I love books!!!!

 Remember books?  The things with paper.  The ones you have to turn the pages, not swipe them on a screen?  The ones you buy and excitedly sniff?

Wait...doesn't everyone sniff books?  
(My mother-in-law and I had that discussion once.  I was thrilled to know she to sniffs books and touches the pages to feel the texture.)

Don't get me wrong.  I love that books are more accessible on every electronic device we use constantly.  I have been incredibly thankful for my kindle app on my phone during long waits at the doctor's office many times.  I just don't like reading a screen that much.  I want to feel the pages in my hand while I turn them.  I don't want a screen glowing at me while I read.
I would definitely consider myself a bibliophile, a person addicted and obsessed with books.  I love them.  I carry them in my purse and my car.  I have several in every room of my house.  They are just a part of every day in our lives.  When the children were younger, we would read in each room for at least 3 hours a day!  {How are they not sick of my voice, yet?} I am thankful we have chosen a homeschool program that focuses on great literature.  We have read biographies about Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas and several others at Jamestown, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and Johnny Appleseed.  My children and I feel like we KNOW these people.  History has become real to them.  *THE MAGIC OF READING*  We have read many, MANY other stories this year.  We read great poetry, fairy tales, and faith stories together every day.  It isn't something the children question.  Even with 3 reluctant readers, they all snuggle into the couch and listen to any story I tell.  You can see when they become excited over the adventure of a plot or emotionally connected to the characters in a story.  I think that is beautiful.  I thought I would share a few of our favorites from this past school year.
We read Fireside Stories every year.  It has stories from around the world for Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years, and more.  We love our Barefoot Book stories.
We also started the Legend series that began with Nicholas St. North.  We really enjoyed the adventure of E. Aster Bunnymund.  The series is very imaginative and well written.
The biggest hit out of our required reading for the year was Seaman.  It is a story about the sweet Newfoundland dog that traveled with Lewis and Clark.  We learned a great deal about the journey taken from the book, but there were several of us who teared up at the end.  It is a touching story and suitable for everyone who loves silly dogs and adventure! 
Anah wanted to focus on poetry, so we started with one of my favorites, and have been reading The Children's Own Longfellow.   I have part of Haiwatha's Childhood memorized from when I was a little girl, and have been reciting it to the children their whole lives.  I love to see them fall in love with poetry.

Another favorite from my childhood that we have enjoyed is Blinky Bill.  It is a story from Australia about a very easy to relate to koala.  It was my favorite book then, and the children all have enjoyed it now.  Books are timeless.

I have three favorite books that I read throughout the year, every year.
Handbook of Nature Study which I would carry with us at all times if I could.  It has stories, facts, and great questions to ask about everything out in nature.  The children can identify most types of local ducks and geese because of it.

The Book of Virtues is a book full of great character building stories and poems.  When we are all having difficult days, it is great to be able to pull out this book and use the stories to offer a different perspective.  There are a million awesome activities to do with it online.  If anyone needs resources for that, please let me know in a comment.  I am always happy to share resources.

Finally, A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning(TM) is a treasure.  Charlotte Mason was an educational savant.  I have enjoyed her writing, but it would take an awful long time to make it through all of her books each year.  I LOVE this book by Karen Andreola.  It condenses the ideals of Charlotte Mason into an easy to understand and very practical book.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has ever considered homeschooling.

There you go.  I love these books.  They are all worn and loved.  They are unique and intriguing.  They are beautiful.

Read on my friends.


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Dreaming is BEAUTIFUL

Are you a dreamer?

I don't know if I am what one would consider a dreamer.  I have a lot of type A tendencies, so I am more of a goal oriented person.  In the midst of my constant goal setting, I have these dreamy ideal ideas in my head.

Our someday dream home... a craftsman style home in the country, away from the noise and chaos of city life.

My dream homeschool... a place where the children LOVE to learn and are pursuing their passions while learning incredible things about our world.

That moment I figure out how to become Stepford...when my home is perfect and I accomplish everything I want to every single day while looking an awful lot like someone who isn't me.

It isn't real, but I tend to stay focused on those things and they offer me hope.  Maybe I will never accomplish the things I hope to, but I sure will enjoy the journey.

Dreaming offers us a chance to imagine the impossible, then reach for it.
I didn't realize how important having time to dream was until I started talking about it with our children.  I love hearing their plans for the future.  I know that they may not end up doing the things we talk about, but until they have to face that, I am going to do my very best to encourage them to pursue their dreams, to embrace their passions, and to never loose hope.

My Josh is an avid reader.  I may be wrong, but it seems that people who read a lot have much more vivid imaginations.  Readers have to picture the lives of the characters in their books in such detail that they know them well.  Having to create such imagery in their minds must make them more imaginative.  Doesn't that make sense?  Is imagination a mental muscle that has to be flexed?  
Anywho... He is a young man who has a passion for science.  I caught him a few years ago having a lengthy discussion with a little boy on our front porch about creationism.  He explained both the viewpoints of creationists and evolutionists, then described the scientific evidences for both cases.  It was truly impressive.  He would love to become a paleontologist.  He thinks there needs to be a greater stance for creationism in professional science.  He knows there will be a lot of hurdles to accomplish this dream because it is so counterculture, but he is doing everything he can to learn about the sciences so that one day, he can confidently pursue that passion.

My Matthew has wanted to be a police officer as long as I can remember.  He is the boy who clapped when President Bush came on television, who watched c-span, and who has always been quietly determined to do whatever he wants.  He is the kind of serious kid who will do what he sets out to do.  He even spent time doing research on what he would have to do before police academy, so that he would have the requirements filled before he finishes high school.  He is 10.  This boy dreams of dressing in blue and serving and protecting.  I stand behind him 1000%.

Nathan is a wild card.  He has no idea what he wants to be.  He isn't sure what he loves to do.  He is quite content just being a little boy.  I am going to have to work hard to convince him that he can not just be a cute little boy for the rest of his life.  He is a sweetheart, and I am sure he will be able to charm his way into whatever he dreams of.  He does love math.  I have thought about doing some activities with him to see if he would like engineering.  I can totally see him finding a lot of success there.  I guess his dream is to live each moment to the fullest.... and to beat his high score on the video games against the older boys.  Priorities
 people!  ha!

Anah is totally a dreamer.  She is my left-handed, super creative, totally blonde, only girl.  Sometimes, I have no idea what to do with her.  Her over-analyzing, uptight, tomboy mom is a little clueless.  The great thing is, she loves to just lay outside with me, watching the clouds and talking about the future.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these moments.  Anah wants to go to college to become an artist and teacher, get married to a handsome soldier, have 3 girls and 1 boy, and happily paint with her children for the rest of her life.  She wants to own horses, and learn how to do equine vetrinary stuff.  She absolutely loves horses.  She didn't know she had such an inclination until she did a horse badge at girl scout camp.  I completely believe horses and little girls belong together.  

Their dreams are so different.  I love seeing their plans and their hopes evolve.  Everyone should spend time dreaming.  We just need to remember that they are just dreams... We need to spend time enjoying our reality as well.  
If we live in a state of contentment, our dreams never seem too far away.

Blessings to you dear dreamer,

PS:  I love comments.. good or bad, I can take it.  I hope these words aren't just going out and disappearing into cybernothing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Do you resist change?
  In times of change, people often offer us great advice.  My favorite statement made to me when I was freaking out about my life being uprooted again was "The only thing you can count on is change."  Well, thank you.... I had no idea.  How about "Pull up your big girl panties and soldier on."  That one was really helpful.  It just conjures images of granny panties and drill sergeants.  Nope.  Not helping.  "Just keep swimming."  Yes, I know that perseverance often pays off.  I will actually admit to saying this to someone.  *facepalm*  Sorry, poor stressed out friend.  I ran out of useful things to say  that day.  Please forgive me.
  Change comes in many forms.  Children growing older, adding to your family, loosing members of your family, moving, changing careers, making better life choices, and finding a new normal are only a tiny sampling of the changes going on in the lives of people around me.  In my life, we are settled in and trying to change habits, live differently, constantly improve as a family, waiting on the next thing the Army has planned for my husband, and trying to figure out where we all belong.  It feels like we only have moments of stillness in between our lives getting shaken up.
  It isn't always easy to see the good in the changes we go through.  Some things are so difficult to go through, we can't even imagine what is on the other side of the hurdle.  Sometimes we can't see that a future is even possible.  Why do we think that in the midst of the most stretching parts of our lives, we are alone?  Where is God in the middle of change?  He reminds us in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us, or forsake us.  Does that mean that we won't experience frustration or stress?  Nope.  That means that we need to press in, to lean on Him even more.  Psalm 55:2 says cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.  If it seems like a situation is too crazy to handle alone, it's because it is.  We aren't meant to live this life alone.  We are meant to live it in and with the Lord, and with the people He placed around us.  Allowing friends and family to come in and love on us in the midst of life change is a good thing.  Some of us just need to feel useful.  Just sayin'.

That is a promise that you can hold on to.  I know this to be true.

  The thing that I have found to be beautiful in change is that I am never the same person.  Duh, right?  Stay with me here.  There is such a rich experience in taking whatever we have gone through and learning from it.  We become stronger, we love more, we realize what is truly important in our lives.  I am in the middle of trying to change a lot in my life.  The process is long, and rarely ever easy, but I know that every step I take toward becoming the woman I hope to be someday, is worth it.  I know that even in the middle of the process, I am a better wife, a better mother, and a better friend.  It is never comfortable, but who said life was going to be simple?  We would never have the saying "that's life," if it was easy. 
  I think we would all struggle with our lives so much more if everything always stayed the same.  How could we ever appreciate how amazing life is, if things never got shaken up?  
  I am so thankful that my life has changed so much in the past few years.  I have had healing in relationships in my life that I never ever thought would be restored.  I have learned to see others through God's eyes.  I took of my judgmental legalistic lenses and saw with fresh eyes.  Amazing.  
Life is beautiful.
(but that's another day's topic)

Thanks for sticking with me and reading my blog.  I tend to type as I speak, which is pretty disjointed and awkward, but I hope you can see the sincerity.  I really hope you are noticing the beauty around you.  There is a lot of it.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Belonging is BEAUTIFUL

My children are all in Scouts.  We have completed a full year of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts (Bear and Webelo), and Girl Scouts.  I don't always agree with the overseeing foundations they are a part of, but our local groups are great.  My children have all found success, challenges, and a place they belong in Scouts.  My husband and I had both participated in Scouts when we were younger.  In fact, our children are third generation Scouts, which is pretty cool.

It took a while to settle into our new troops and packs.  We got the boys all started in scouts as soon as we found out about the membership drive.  Josh and Matthew had done Cub Scouts back at Fort Irwin and loved it.  It seemed like the natural thing to plug the boys in here.  I like that Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts focus on teaching the boys how to be honorable, resourceful, and respectful men.  It places emphasis on duty to God, family, and country, which is something we believe is important.  It offers them opportunity to learn more about the world around them, discover new passions, and have fun with friends along the way.  It is a great way for boys to work through these age nine to teen awkward stages.  It helps us to find new and interesting ways to bond with our boys.

It took me longer to get Anah involved in Girl Scouts.  In general, I have been against her joining since she was young.  I had to look outside the box a bit.  I don't avoid voting or participating in civic opportunities because I don't agree with how our government is being run.  I don't boycott the government because I am pro-life.  Even though I don't agree with a lot of the stuff going on with the people running Girl Scouts, I can allow my daughter to participate in a troop that focuses on moral, fun, educational, and appropriate things.  I don't think we are doing anything terrible by selling cookies.  It isn't blood money.  It is my beautiful daughter having an opportunity to learn about running a business.  This year, she has thanked us EVERY SINGLE TIME she had a meeting or event.  This girl LOVES Girl Scouts.  She is finding success.  It is helping her learn to schedule and work through badges.  She has learned so many great skills already, I have no doubt she will be better off every year she participates.  She has found a place she feels like she belongs.


I love knowing my children feel like they are a part of something bigger.  They feel like they can make a difference.  They feel like they will be missed if they aren't able to attend.  They know that they are taking steps to make themselves better people.  I love that they have scouting friends.  It is a brotherhood and a sisterhood that they can carry anywhere we move.  It is a good thing.


Sunday, June 1, 2014


I am not going to pretend that I know ANYTHING about art. 

I remember my poor mother trying to expose me to "culture" when I was young.  She took me to the ballet, to see different museums, and to view different works of art.  I have to admit, I didn't really get it when I was younger.  Even now, most abstract or modern art baffles me.  I just don't understand it.  I can't do out of the box thinking like that.  

I took an art history class in college.  It was crazy.  I had an ENORMOUS textbook that weighed more than at least one of my children at the time.  I learned about the different types of art, where their influences came from, and how to tell the difference between them all.  I remember almost nothing.

I do remember thinking how beautiful impressionist artwork seemed.  I love how the colors seem to blur harshly together when you look up close, but they almost magically come together to create almost a perfect story once you step away.  I love the texture of the brushstrokes.  I love that my brain adds many of the details that aren't included in Impressionism.  Truly, I would fill my home with pictures of the great Impressionists if I could.

My tastes are all over the place.  I do tend to focus on watercolor or chalk pastel work.  I like whimsical or unusual things, just because they make me laugh or smile more.  My Pinterest boards tend to reflect whatever is inspiring me at the moment.  One thing is for sure... I am completely in love with acorns and foxes.   Yes, I do know that is weird.  That's okay.  I wouldn't want to be overly normal anyway.

My FAVORITE art is Katie Daisy's stuff.  Every single thing she paints is like a breath of fresh air... a cup of great coffee...the feeling of sunshine on your skin after you step out of air conditioning.  It is good.   Her etsy
store is like a candy store.  Go take a peek!  The Wheatfield  I'm going to be honest... I'm not sure about posting pictures and copyright infringment, so I am not posting any pictures of her work, but seriously.... it is cheerful, meaningful, fun, and perfect.  I would have a print in every single room if I could.

I have several artists in my family.  One is my Aunt Janet.  She painted one of my very favorite paintings of my grandmother and I at a picnic.  It is a treasured memory and captures everything that was amazing about my grandmother.  She really was something.  I am thankful to have the painting as a reminder of both her and my Aunt who lives so far away.  
Another artist is my Great Aunt Libby.  She paints china, and it is beautiful.  She has made cups or piggy banks for my cousins and I and all of our children.  I inherited a Libby collection of items from my grandparents and I love them dearly.  I am often inspired by the delicate details she captures. 

 My grandmother Libby on my father's side was an artist as well.  I have no memories of her, but I have a box full of hand painted cards that she made for each one of my birthdays.  They are simple and whimsical, but treasures none the less.  
My brother-in-law is an artist.  His art is very different than what I would normally be drawn to, but there is an honesty to and story told by each piece.  The link under the picture sends you to his website.  ;) This is my favorite of his more recent work... 
Check out Ben's amazing video in which he creates a work of art in 7 days on camera.  He is truly gifted, and it's because of him that I am making sure to expose my children to ALL kinds of art.  I want my daughter, who loves to draw and paint, to explore her creativitiy as often as she wants to.  She has always wanted to be an artist, and I will make sure she has that opportunity.
Are you inspired by art?  Do you think art is beautiful?