Gratitude Journal

January 2020

Day 1: I am thankful for times to reflect. I know it is cliche, and I hate being another one of those blogs that is doing the same thing. But it is refreshing to have a natural break in the cycle of life to reevaluate, reflect, and make some changes. I try to do this at the beginning of the school year as well since that is a natural break for me. I’m an internalizer, and it is nice when what I do on a “normal” day is celebrated. I’m excited to walk the kids through a reflection and to help them pick their word for the year.

Day 2: I am thankful for Mary’s 91 Day Declutter Challenge. This will be the fourth year I attempt to complete it, but this year the kids are (semi) on-board with helping me out. The goal of the challenge is to put things where they belong, throw out the trash, and re-home the things that are no longer serving their purpose here. Basically minimizing the stuff. At the conference I was at in December, the speaker talked about the need to care for what we already have as we ask for a bigger vision for ourselves. This struck home — we have too much to take care of, and I’m not being a good steward of what I have been blessed with. I’ve thought this several times before, but hearing someone else say it to me . . . The thing I really like about this challenge is that Mary breaks it down into small steps. For example, day 1 is the top shelves and cupboards in the laundry room. That’s not too much, it’s not overwhelming, and I have a specific stopping point. The kids like that most of the items will only take up to 20 minutes at the most! The other things I really like is I can accomplish this while still working full time. We can do this!

Day 3: I am thankful for the mornings where I read my Bible, have a cup of coffee, and listen to worship music without having to be rushed. The kids are still sleeping, the dog has stopped asking to go out and come in every two minutes, and I get to spend some down time being still. I do have a routine of reading and praying each morning (I once heard it called a time-tithe, and I like that idea), but it is super nice when I get to do it without having to keep one eye on the clock so we get out he door on time for school. I only get these opportunities over breaks. I feel the sting of being tied to the clock a lot the first few weeks back to work. I am thankful that teaching gives me the chance to have breaks so I can spend the time throughout the year.

Day 4: I am thankful for clean spaces. For my birthday, I got a coupon to have my van detailed. I clean it out, but we haven’t given it a GOOD cleaning since I got it four years ago. We pulled out the car seats, and it was beyond frightening! Before we took it into the shop, we pulled out bags of garbage and toys that had to be put away in the house, and vacuumed the bigger part of the mess out. I got it back several hours later (I’m praying it was because there were other vehicles ahead of me, and not because it was such a mess) all clean and looking new! The kids didn’t believe me that it was our van! I like the feeling of space that makes it easier to breathe when I drive. I’m debating on putting the CDs back in or not.

Day 5: I am thankful for spontaneous friendships. Especially when those new friends are under the age of 5. At church, I sit on the second row near the door to the Children’s Ministry. It is a quick out if the kids need something or if I’m in need of tissues and there are none at the resource center. It also is a great place to make sure all the kids make it into class or to be flagged down to help the teachers out. Today, Pastor got started on his message, I pulled out my notebook and bible, and then got distracted by two adults trying to talk littles into the classroom. I headed out to see if I could help, or recruit K into playing with them if she was already in the nursery. She had gone to class, so I made new friends and convinced them to come play in the nursery with me. I got to have an animal dance party, build a train out of duplo blocks, and help clean up an accident when we didn’t get a potty break in time. My new little friends held my hands, sat in my lap, and made sure I had plenty of pretend food to eat. I’m excited to be back to teaching this age group on Wednesday nights! Time to break out my play dough recipe and finger paints! Baby is excited that I get to be the teacher, but he made me pinky-promise that he gets to sit in the teacher chair and help out.

Day 6: I am thankful for a good day back from Winter break. I will admit that it was difficult to get up early, shower, and remember to get everything packed and ready to go. We did get out of the house on time! It was wonderful to see my students again (and I got a new one today) and hear about their breaks and what they got for Christmas. I’m glad that we had most of our specials today so they felt eased back into the routine. I had a chance to get things prepped for the week since I was really good and didn’t do ANY lesson planning over the break. I’m getting ready to move into 3rd term (half-way through the year already!) which means research papers in English, Personal Branding in business, and magnets/electricity in science. I’m looking forward to a teacher work day on Friday so I can get the whole term planned out, copies made, and unit tests finished up.

Day 7: I am thankful for Chocolate Milk. I don’t drink milk often — the smell makes me gag. When I was younger, I was allergic to milk (I can tolerate small amounts now that I’m older) so my brother and I used goat milk. One year the goats we got our milk from dried up, so we had to use powdered milk. DIGUSTING. I do happen to like goat cheese, but the milk is Yack. Once in a while I crave some chocolate milk, but I’m still picky. The milk has to be super cold and it has to be mixed with Nesquik. Tonight I feel like having some chocolate milk. Dinner is done and cleaned up, homework is done and the kids are heading to get jammies on. I have lesson plans for tomorrow. It is a good night to turn off the news, mix some chocolate milk, and read a good fiction novel.

Day 8: I am thankful for upcoming coffee dates. One of my resolutions is to be better at scheduling mom time with my adult friends. The kids have an upcoming church function, so my friend and I decided instead of going home we should meet up. I’m so excited! We make it a habit to get together for at least one adventure a week during the summer, so when school starts up again, I feel . . . lost. I’m reminded over and over that we are made for relationships, and I treasure the times when I get to connect with people. We are going to set another date for an adventure or a coffee break so we can get into a better habit of taking time out for us. And, I volunteered to start up our woman’s group again — her and I were the catalist for one a few years ago that slowly fell apart. As Rafiki said, “It is time!”

Day 9: I am thankful for snuggles. Even if they are fever induced snuggles. Baby woke me up at three am and asked if he could have a doctor appointent. That is how I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was staying home with a sick one. I got lesson plans written up and printed, found a sub, got the kids ready for school, dropped the bigger three off, chatted with my sub, and made it to the InstaCare all by 8:30! Doctor said to keep an eye on him and use medication to bring his fever down. So we decided the best plan of action was to snuggle in my rocking chair with blankets and watch Paw Patrol movies. He was asleep by 10, and I sat and held him while he slept and I read until 2 when I had to get moving to get ready to pick kids up from school. The rest of the afternoon was watched Frozen, more Paw Patrol, snuggled and broke a fever. I’m sure that in no time he will be up and into mischief, so I’ll take the cuddly side while I can.

Day 10: I am thankful my classroom is a safe zone. It was a teacher work day, and I had a list of things I needed to get done to be ready for this term. Grades had to be entered and locked, new gradebook set up, copies made for English, and lesson plans outlined for English/science/health. I spent most of my day talking to co-workers who needed a place to talk about things, cry, and prayed over. I am thankful that my room is that place. I am also thankful god had HIs agenda and I was prepared to listen instead of pushing my To Do List. I got to come home feeling connected before I went to coffee wih my friend. Today was an amazing day of building friendships and taking them to a deeper level.

Day 11: I am thankful my mom knows how to get rid of migraines. We had K’s birthday party this morning. Five kids come over for breakfast sandwiches, played games for over an hour, and ate Candyland inspired cake. After they all left, I laid down for a nap (I had to get up early to get the cake and breakfast stuff bought and made). Woke up with a ragins migraine. C called my mom to come over because I could hardly move. She brought her oils and pressed my head and rubbed the knots out of my neck. I’m thinking I may also need to make an appointment with a doctor to make sure there isn’t anything going on — I’ve been getting them more and more lately and I’ve been chalking it up to stress and my getting older. Now, I’m not so sure.

Day 12: I am thankful for friends, football, and french fries. Today my team (the Packers) played the team of a family friend (the Seahawks), so we invited them over for food and to watch the game. The guys fried up chicken wings, and she cut up potatoes and fried up the potatoes. I’m a sucker for anything with potatoes, and these fries were delicious! The game was tight (Pakers for the WIN!), and we enjoyed each other. I seems like most of my favorie words begin with “F” lately — faith, family, friends, focus, football, fun, following, freedom . . .

Day 13: I am thankful for last minute subs. Daycare is closed because there are too many kids and all of the teachers out with the same things Baby has — fever, cough that makes you throw up, no energy. I threw together lesson plans and worksheets that I will take up in the morning when I drop the big kids off. Working at a charter school, I have to find someone who will sub, and the list is very small. After the first five people said they wouldn’t be able to, I got a bit panicked. Number 9 finally was free, and I am able to go to bed knowing that everything will be taken care of in the morning.

Day 14: I am thankful for K. Nine years ago today, I woke up an hour before my alarm and knew I was going to meet her. Her dad didn’t believe me and went back to sleep as I pulled out my bag and finished packing the things I needed. When his alarm went off, and I was sitting on the bed packed and timing my contractions, he believed me. We headed to the hospital in a snow storm. I had just gotten an epidural when the doctor came in to see how I was — she was crowning. She was my easiest labor, and she stayed in the pattern ( B was born at 4: 45 pm on a Friday, C was born at 5:54 pm on a Friday, R was born at 6 something pm on a Friday, and K was born at 7 something am on a Friday). She has been a joy in our life since. She follows her big broher around wanting to be like him, yet doing it her own way. She makes frends easily and quickly wherever she goes. Her smile brightens up the room. She and I have had a bit of a struggle this past year, and I’m glad that we are coming out of it.

Day 15: I am hankful for sick days. Not that I love my kids to be sick by any means — I hate sitting around watching movies and listening to them whine. But I do love that when they are napping I have time on my hands. Today I balanced my bank statement and then worked on things for Summer Book Clubs. I have a few more things to finalize, but I should be ready to print flyers to get out to schools in April. I also got a few loads of laundry and dishes washed, dried, and put away.

Day 16: I am thankful to be back in my classroom. After having sick kids for a week, it was nice to be back in my classroom. I was able to catch up on grading, have conversations with kids I needed to have, and have connection with my teaching partner again. I really enjoy teaching and the kids I have in my class.

Day 17: I am thankful for friends who donate to my wild ideas. My doctor’s office and my dentist’s office both have my name and phone number on file so hat I can get their old magazines each month. I was counting on these donations for my vision board class tomorrow, and something happened and there are no magazines available! I’ll be honest — I freaked out a bit. Then I took to Facebook and asked all for donations. I have some amazing friends who brought all they had for me to use. I am thankful they reached out and helped in my disress.

Day 18: I am thankful for the opertunity to present my first Vision Board class. It went well, and I think I presented a different way of looking at vision boards. I got some good feedback, and I took notes on myself. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have the boards I like to use cut and there for people to use. My next baby step in presenting again is to contact the lady I originally bought my vision boards from to see if I can get her to be my supplier. If not, I need to findsomeone who will make them for me.

Day 19: I am thankful for answers to questions. I have a friend who she and I have talked about religion several times. She asks great questions, and we have amazing discussions. I’ve been praying for a way to help her in her journey, and today at church the answer came! Our pastor has picked a book that is the Bible put together as a continuous story, and for the next few months he will be preaching one chapter. She is one of my reading friends, and one chapter a week is not too daunting! I bought her a copy and will present it to her, askingher to read along with me, and invite her to church again. It a least opens the door to more conversations!

Day 20: I am thankful Baby came out of his dental procedure well. He is stubborn about brushing teeth which had lead to five cavities. Last month I went in to get part of the filled, and he refused to cooperate with the dentist. So we ended up having to sedate him so they could get it all done a once. I will be honest, it was a bit startling to watch him fall asleep with his eyes open, and not respond. But, I trust our dentist and his team. I read my book in the waiting room while they worked, and then got to come back in when he was waking up. He opened his eyes, asked for a popsicle and started to sing Paw Patrol. He makes me giggle! I’m also thankful that he doesn’t take after me — I do not come out of it nicely. He is cavity free, and so far more willing to have his teeth brushed!

Day 21: I am thankful for forced prep days. In order to make dinner, I had to open a large package of hamburger. That means I have to do soemthing with the whole package. I made spaghetti sauce, cabbage roll filling, and then browned the rest to wrap into foil packets to be thawed for later use. The nice thing about browning hamburger is that I can prop my book up and read while keeping an eye on the meat. Most of the time the kids suddenly have othere pressing things to do than stay and help me, so the kitchen is quiet. Healthy meals for the rest of the week are prepped. I get to go to bed feeling like a super hero!

Day 22: I am thankful for heavy conversations. Today in school I started my “Say no to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco” unit. It’s a pretty touchy subject — lots of parents use something — and it is upsetting for several kids. The program I use is amazing because it give a lot of good skills (effective listening and speaking, critical thinking, and personal branding) along the way. Yeserday we talked about using only facts and not stories when we discuss things just because we want to be sensitive to people. I emphasized that no matter what choices our family and friends make, we love them and learn from them and make informed decisions. A few parents got notified, and our counselor was told to expect a few more kids on Wednesdays who need to see her. I’m thankful that I have a loving classroom envoronment where they are allowed to feel emotions that they might not be able to, that we have have honest conversations about addiction, and that I am able to relate having watched a loved one deal with it. I’m sad that they are so young and have to know some of these things, and I pray that what we talk about and their experiences make them choose a different lifestyle.

Day 23: I am thankful for my adinistration. Every year I have to have at least one (usually more) difficult meeting with a parent who is upset their student isn’t doing well in class, and I get blamed for it. Usually I get called incompetent, and in the past I have gone into these meetings trying to prove my knowledge base because I’m under pressure by both parent and administration. Weeks after, I’m still being called to prove that what I’m asking my students to do falls into the standards and there is research to back up the strategy. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. The meetings don’t change, the feelings don’t change, just the faces of the people I’m dealing with. This week I had another one of those meetings — the parent claimed that having to turn in a monthly reading log was a “damaging psychological game”. I started to get prepared by gathering my research, and then I talked to the administrator who would be in the meeting with me. After we talked, I realized that I was in a completly different place — he had my back and was willing to tell parents they were welcome to pull their child if they didn’t feel this was the best fit. I was calmer inside when the meeting started. I held the meeting just like I always have in the past — respectful, understanding they are upset about their child, giving knowledge and expectations as well as solutions to the hurdles they perceived. I leftthe meeting calm. I didn’t come home and stew about it or feel belittled or incompentent. It is amazing!

Day 24: I am thankful for class pictures yesterday. As a teacher, I’ve come to realize how much little things that throw off the schedule really mess up the entire day for some students. Class pictures do this. The emailed schedule was incorret, so the schedule for the day I had on the board was off. Then I had to step in so the other teacher could go with her class. A teacher in an older grade was absent, so my co-teacher stayed behind to help get the correct names to the photographer. Then there was a miscommunication on who was to get individual pictures or not. I had several kids in tears and more stressing out. The part I like though is seeing them dress up, watching them practice smiling, and seeing them get excied when we finally get the prints. I hang my copy of the class picture on the wall in the classroom, and they all love to see themselves hanging up eye level at my desk. It is also a good reminder to me when I get frusterated as I’m lesson planning or grading. I look over to the picture of the kids dressed up and smiling, and I remember why I do what I do.

Day 25: I am thankful for Clorox Cleaner. Last night I realized the strange smell in my bedroom wasn’t a dishtowel that had gotten put into the laundry — my laundry was done and the smell remained. I had to do some deep investigating, and discovered the decomposing body of a field mouse in the back orner of my closet. YUCK! I realize there is an acre of land beween my house and the neighbor in the back, and it is winter, so the mice come inside for food. I just don’t like to see evidence of them. Definately don’t like to find dead ones. Today I emptied my closet completely, sprayed the floor and walls down with Clorox, and scrubbed. Then I got to go through all my clothes (got rid of a few that I honestly don’t wear), returned kid items to their rightful owners, and put the stuff back into the closet. On to inspecting the house for holes these furry friends are using to get in (shudder).

Day 26: I am thankful for my boys. I got to host at church today. For us, that means I welcome visitors, give anouncements, share a thought, and pray over the gathering of tithes and offerings. Today I spoke about vision — it is the new year and most of us are updating vision boards and picking words of the year. In that searching for vision, I’m reminded of the blind man in Mark chapter 10:46-52 who called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stops and asked what he wants, and his request is to see Jesus. Because of his faith, he is healed. I encouraged the congregation to ask for the vision that only comes fro the Savior. I cried on stage as I spoke. Then I prayed, and I have a tendancy to cry when I pray in public. As I came off the stage adn Pastor got up to begin his sermon, both of my boys came to si by me and ask if I was okay. Baby took off my glasses so he could wipe my eyes with a tissue. R put his arm around me. I’m blessed to have tender boys.

Day 27: I am thankful for the abillity to dream. I lost that ability for a few years. Trying to make ends meet and day-to-day survival consumed all my time and energy. Even though I’m not all the way out of that point in life, I’ve got some breathing room and I have been able to start putting dreams on my vision board. This past week I have been dreaming about summer Book clubs, looking into college classes, and writing down ideas for summer vacations and staycations. I’m excited for what is ahead!

Day 28: I am thankful for the audio CDs we listen to during the morning and afternoon drives. We started listening to audios about developing qualities that will strengthen us as leaders. This past week we have listened to one about building character, one about forgiveness, and one about stepping outside your comfort zone. I like watching the kids take what they have heard and putting it into action. Last year, R signed up to do a presentation because of something that was said in one of the audios. K has a few favorite speakers that she asks for, then tells her teachers about. I have found lots of concepts that I have adapted to teach in my health classes, and that I put into play in my own life. The days I put the positive thinking into my head as I go into work, I find that I am more focused on the positive and more willing to build others. I’m glad that my kids are learning these skills now instead of when they are the parents.

Day 29: I am thankful that Baby likes to participate in the things I do. Tonight I told him we could play as soon as I got my gratitude journal updated. He asked what a “grat-it-tude” journal was, and I explained it was a place I write down what I’m thankful for each day. “Write I’m helpful and thankfu,l” he said. I asked him what he was thankful for. His list includes: family, food, soda, not going to jail, friends, clothes, mine Jesus. “Ever thing a’cept people who are mean.”

Day 30: I am thankful that K is taking her word for the year seriously. Her word is “Hopeful” because she wants to focus on hoping for changes that she can make. She has struggled with friends — making good ones, keeping them, geting along with them. At school, she has made changes in who she plays with and how she plays at recess. She is calmer when she comes home from school, and she had found some of the kids I’ve had my eyes on and hoped she would find. Her bestie was gone this week on a family vacation, and she missed him but happily played with some other friends.

Day 31: I am thankful to have R in class with me. It is difficult finding a balance between being Mom and Teacher for both of us. I don’t want to call on him or show favorites, and he doesn’t want to be singled out. But, he also needs to hear that he’s my favorite. I think we finally have the balance centered. This past month, he has been doing his homework easier, I’ve seen him get excited again about writing (he used to write me stories when he was little, then stopped, and is now writing a book!). It has been interesting to get to know him from a different perspective. I hope he feels the same way.

February 2020

Day 1: I am thankful for lunches with friends. Especally new friends who I am still getting to know. I got to meet up with some of the ladies I work with at Noodles and Company. It is fun to think back to 2006 when I started working for that restraurant — I was pretty newly divorced with two little girls who tagged along. They fell in love with the Mac and Cheese, and I had a new job. These ladies are new friends this year, but we talked about first jobs, dreams for the future, and how we got where we are today. I’m so thankful for them and the help they give me — both professional and personal. Looking forward to taping into their exertise.

Day 2: I am thankful for the health I have. Today we watched the SuperBowl, and the half-time show is always a bit intimidating. Watching performers who are about my age dancing and doing things I haven’t done for several years looking still young is a bit of an ego check. The reality is I take care of my body — feed it, get rest, and try to exercise — to the best of my ability. Are there things I would like to change? Yes. Do I have to get a personal trainer or turn to surgery to make things work. No. I need to set some goals, do some work, and be thankful that those who love me love me no mater the extra pounds or the mess hair or the no make-up.

Day 3: I a thankful for snow. It has been a pretty dry winter with little snow. I do like the big snowfalls. I love how the trees look like they are coated in powdered sugar, the falling of the snow muffles sounds, and how the cold makes it more than acceptable to wear oversized shirts and cary around mugs of hot drinks. I’m not so thankful for driving in it, but I am grateful that we arrived at school and back at home safely today. We didn’t slide at all, and we actually left early enough that I didn’t feel rushed to get to work on time.

Day 4: I am thankful for “same-same” friends. Baby has pink eye, and so does his best friend a preschool. He is getting pretty good at going to the doctor and not getting upset when they take his blood pressure. He is talking to the nurses and doctors and explaining what is happening. We played Ninja Turtles and I spy in the waiting room, and even sang a song or two. Doctor confirmed what I thought, so he is on medicine. 48 hours and he can go back to preschool — I think he just likes hanging out at home! He was excited that he and his friend had shared so they could be same-same. This kid cacks me up!

Day 5: I am thainkful for MPact leaders. I don’t think I mentioned that I’m back as Coordinator — at least temporarily. Tonight there were leaders who were out due to sickness and family things, so I ended up with three clubs at the last minute. I didn’t have lesson plans early enough to really know what I was doing, and I didn’t have crafts planned. We worked on the memory verses, then I turned on some worship music and let them color. They chatted, and I just listened. I am thankful they have leaders who plan lessons each week, who care about them, pray over them, and work on hiding Bible verses in their hearts. Teaching in any form is a work of love, and it takes people who are devoted and willing to sacrifice time and energy to do it right. We sat in the Stars’s room with cute decorations on the beautifully painted walls, and I loved that the leaders had made the time to make this room feel welcoming. I’m thankful K is part of this group and growing up with these girls as friends.

Day 6: I am thankful for the little blue barf bags from the doctor’s office. Today was my day to stay home with Baby because of the pink-eye. Problem is that he woke up and started puking, so back to the doctor’s office we went — after dropping R off at school, puking all over the van, coming home to take a bath and start a load of laundry, and being convinced by K that she needed to see the doctor as well. When I stepped up to check in, the nurse behind the desk recognized me. That is how I know we have been to InstaCare too often lately. Turns out that the pink-eye was a viral strand and not bacterial, so we will be home a few more days. We gathered a few more Barf Bags for the trip home (we used them everytime he got in the van) and went home to relax.

Day 7: I am thankful for lessons that go the way I hoped. As a teacher, there are lots of things I hope I teach my students. I hope the leave my class better writers, readers who have a new love of books, and speakers who aren’t afraid to stand in front of others. A series of lessons I have recently been developing have been about personal branding — thanks to teaching at a business focused school. This week we started the lesson series that will result in them taking a look at themselves and writing up a comercial for who they are. The first part was to listen to what other people think of us. We talked about how to accept a compliment, and then walked around hte room making yarn necklaces (fringies) of compliments for each other. I admit I cried. Several times. There were a few who complained, but most of the kids found ways to wear the fringies for several days, or decorated their backpacks with them. I’ve had parents write in to tell me how much their student has talked about what we did. And, a few students have shown me the exact piece of yarn that stands for a specific compliment. I was a powerful lesson, and I’m thankful it had the impact I was hoping for. I’m hoping the books I want will arrive soon so we can really dig in!

Day 8: I am thankful for motivation to do things differently. I’ve mentioned that we have a mouse thing happening, right? Today Baby was vacuuming, and it sounded strange. Stopped him, turned the machine over, and there was a dead mouse. YUCK! The kids freaked out and I struggled to not cry out of frusteration. They are more motivated to help me deep clean the house because we have an exterminator coming on Monday to to an inspection. Good thing we are coming to the bedrooms in my de-cluttering challenge. I’m sure they are more willing to listen this year!

Day 9: I am thankful for hot water. Last night I was sick — must have finally shared what the kids have had. I couldn’t get warm for anything. Blankets, warm jammies, socks on my feet, and I was still cold. Finally ran a hot bath after 1 am and sat in the water adn warmed up enough that my teeth stopped chattering. I am so thankful that is an option for me, and I realize there are many parts in the world where not only is hot water a blessing, but even running water, or water at all a blessing. I was reading somewhere this past week how faith is expecting things to happen — lights to go on when you flip the switch, water to run when you turn on the faucet, to wake up in the morning. I am going to start trusting God to provide the “hot water” better.

Day 10: I am thankful for homework. Okay, maybe not the actual homework itself, but the time I get to spend with each kiddo one-on-one for a few minutes. I love heairng K tell me that she likes to do math becase she is really good at it. I like brainstorming ways to make spelling lists and math fluency more interesting (we have written on the fridge, in the air, and making our bodies into the shapes of the letters). I really like the nights when we don’t have to fight or argue about what needs to be done. R jumped on his audio book with his paper copy in his lap with no argument — he was too focused on getting the last chapter finished. K asked to work on her math fluency because she is trying to pass off another multiplication level. Baby watched his movies (half of them in Spanish. Have I mentioned he knows the days of the week and several colors in Spanish?).on my phone. Doesn’t happen often, but I love it when it does!

Day 11: I am thankful for my long hair. All three of the littles can be talked into brushing it, or getting it ready for the ball. The only downfall is when the brushes get tangled in. There have been times I worried about having to get them professionally cut out. Thankfully it has never resorted to that — yet.

Day 12: I am thankful for the Rainbows I’m teaching every other week. Our lesson tonight was about how to show others love, and they wanted to make Valentines Day cards for each other. We spent a good twenty minutes coloring pictures for each other, talking about Valentines and how to show our parents we love them. They also had to share what they had for dinner, what they wanted for Christmas, and who was going to come to their birthday party. They make me giggle!

Day 13: I am thankful my kids are so thoughtful. We were buying Valentines cards and candy tonight (I completely spaced the entire holiday off!) and they really took time to think about what card should go to which friend. They also made sure they did nice things for their teachers (except for the shark card from R) and other people who help them.

Day 14: I am thankful to not be working in the junior high for this holiday. I love that my students dress up to impress each other, but there isn’t any pairing off. They got to have a party in the morning, and then we did a read-a-thon this afternoon. Sugar them up, then let them sit around with blankets and pillows when they are crashing. Perhaps not the best idea, but it wasn’t mine. Baby got all dressed up today as well and let R help him comb his hair and put gel in it — just in case one of his six girlfriends at preschool wanted to marry him today. These kids make me smile.

Day 15: I am thankful this is a three day weekend and we have no set plans. I have a running To Do and Reading list in my head, and I think this weekend will be a good time to hit both of them. I have a few books I’ve been reading that have given me some new insights, and I’m super excited to see where I’m going to go. Having a cup of coffee and hen getting motivated!

Day 16: I am thankful for days of rest. Not that I got a nap today (it was on the agenda, but Baby didn’t agree until it was too late for me), but that I took time out to just be. I’m so driven most of the time — lyrics from Hamilton pop into my head because I feel like I’m running out of time and have for most of my life. There is so much I want to see and do and become! Days where I can just go to church to take in a message and then come home to ponder what I need to do in the upcoming week are nice. I have been trying to put my sermon notes into a worksheet so I have to review them, and I like how it makes me reflect on what was the most important items.

Day 17: I am thankful for online yard sells! I have been needing a desk that is NOT the kitchen table for quite a while now. I have spent hours looking at desks and set ups in office stores (which, I have had to ban myself from going in because I seem to enter to look at desks and find myself leaving with office supplies; but no desk in which to store said supplies). I finally found the perfect desk in the price range I was willing to pay! The seller and I were able to meet up, and I came home with a fantastic desk that has space for my projects AND the kids’s and their homework! Now to clear out a space and get it set up.

Day 18: I am thankful for family members who endure me when I’m stuck on an idea. All I have been able to think about and do this afternoon is the desk that is sitting downstairs in what will be my new office space. I’m a bit overwhelmed thinking about the things I need to put away and de-junk as I go. I also know that this will be a blessing to everyone not having to eat around my work, or tolerating me trying to find the scrap of paper I had before we had to clear the table. I am thankful they love me enough to just roll their eyes and encourage me to keep going.

Day 19: I am thankful for my room mother. She has been such a blessing in my life this year — planning parties for the class and making me care packages for conferences. Today she delivered a tote of soda, candy, chips, and cookies. We ended up having three parents show up who weren’t scheduled so we missed dinner. Her care bucket helped us survive the night!

Day 20: I am thankful Conferences are done for the school year. They really aren’t bad — I like to talk to parents face to face and tell about the good things we see their kiddo doing. It is just that they are long, and a bit redundant, and I’m missing my own kids. We have finally gotten a good rhythm down, and I think next year will be even better. But I’m glad to be home and in my jammies.

Day 21: I am thankful for new opportunities. Today I was asked to observe a teacher upstairs in the junior high for a position they would like to see me take. I’m not sure what the final decision will be, but it was nice to spend some time reflecting on possibilities.

Day 22: I am thankful for the times I’ve been an audience member for C. It was a bit of a shock today to realize that this era of my life is almost over. She is a senior, and we only have competition left in the school year! Since she was three, I have sat in the audience to watch B and C sing, dance, act, and amaze me with the talent they have been blessed with. Since junior high, I have sat behind or next to the same families. Our family understands what hell week is like, and how to help support them through it. My time as her main go-to is coming to a close, and the realization is bitter sweet. Things have been a bit . . . rocky . . . lately. She moved out in November with no explanation and very little visitation. I have missed out on much of her last year as a dependant. My heart has been broken in ways I thought I was immune to. I miss the little girl who thought I hung the stars and controlled her dreams each night. I miss the random singing and begging for me to help her go over lines. Next year when she is at college, and her bedroom has been made over for R, I’m going to feel a bit more hollow. Proud of who she is becoming, happy for where she is going to go, excited for what she is going to do.

Day 23: I am thankful for word play. Baby has discovered Khan Academy for Kids, and I love watching him play the games. What he knows about math and letters is amazing! I totally have to thank Darcie and her preschool for how much he knows and how excited he is for learning. This week he has discovered the “I like to eat apples and bananas” song, and he goes around singing it. I love word play! Most of the other kids like math games, so it is nice to have someone who plays with words and sounds with me.

Day 24: I am thankful for date nights with my kids. R wanted to see his big sister in her final straight play of high school, so we hurried dinner and headed out for an impromptu date night. I like how they support each other, cheer for when they are doing well, cry when the others hurt. I love them asking questions to build deeper relationships, and trying new things because it is something I like. I like learning new things myself because they are interested in it. I know there are many things I fail at, but this is one of the few things I get right most months.

Day 25: I am thankful for pain killers and warm water. Rushing out the door to get to an appointment tonight, I somehow got tangled up in my own feet and fell down the last few stairs. My dad used to joke that we could never have patterns in the carpet because I would trip over them. It is amazing that I danced like I did — you wouldn’t know it by watching me walk down the hall. I’m glad it was a short fall. I’m definitely going to be sore and bruised tomorrow.

Day 26: I am thankful for surprises. I stepped back in as the coordinator for MPact, and it has been full of surprises this week! I found out last Friday that Saturday they were replacing the floor (and cupboards?) in the Mpact office. And I found out Saturday that we will have an awards night in two weeks. With my word for the year being Peace, I’m really focusing on what is important and not freaking out. Breathing through the initial panic, and riding the wave of my emotion until I’m back on solid ground. I’m also praying more when I feel like I’m going to be swept away. It must be a lesson I need to learn, because today at school was the same thing — my teaching partner had to leave in he middle of the day, the printer wouldn’t print the certificates I needed for the assembly I was in charge of, the awards fell out of the container as I walked down the hall with the entire 5th grade. I’m thankful that I have been teaching about being mindful and that I get the chance to show my students how to use it in a real-life example. Life is easier when I treat the things that could be upsetting as surprises and look for the blessing that surrounds it.

Day 27: I am thankful for job interviews. Tomorrow at school, the 5th grade will be interviewing for JA BizTown. The kids will come dressed up in their best, they will gather their applications and resumes we have worked on this week, and they will get giddy and talkative or super quiet as they wait in the classrooms for their name to be called by one of the volunteers. I will have them do a meditation ten minutes before the volunteers come, and I will walk the room and pray for each of them. After school, we will sit down and go through their paperwork and make decisions about the jobs they will have in a few weeks for one day. I’m so glad we do this. I’m also excited to see what R gets and how he does in the interview!

Day 28: I am thankful for family movie nights. R picked WONDER tonight. I love that they love this movie and are still confused why Auggie gets teased. I hope they treat others with respect no mater what, and that their friendships are honestly based on who they are with the other person. We talk often how they are the sum total of the people they spend the most time with, and how they have to be careful who those five are. We talk about friends and how they each act around those friends. I point out how they are happier and look to help others around certain people. I know that at some point what their friends say and think will become more important than what I say or think, and I pray that they have a good foundation to listen to when those friends are picked in the first place.

Day 29: I am thankful for days that people forget about. Leap Year! It still is funny to me that we have an extra day every four years — more proof that man-made things will always have quirks. Today I got to go to a science conference at Weber State University, and because this is a day that nobody really thought of, the whole campus was basically open for use which made the day run smoothly. It was a good conference, and I got to do some networking (50% of why I go to conferences). I realize how small my world is when talking to people I find ways we are connected — like doing an experiment in my first lab and realizing one of my partners knows my aunt who also teaches, or the lady sitting next to me is the aunt of one of my students. I also had lunch with a former co-worker and a current co-worker. I learned a lot and am excited about what next year has to bring for me teaching! Now, to see if I can get approval to purchase a hydroponics set up . . .

March 2020

Day 1: I am thankful for undone laundry. There are currently six baskets of unfolded laundry sitting in the living room, and one batch of clothes waiting in the dryer to be brought upstairs. Mine is the load in the dryer. I am thankful that we have washing machines and I don’t have to wash everything by hand. I’m thankful for a dryer so there doesn’t have to be a line hung in the house during the winter. I’m thankful there are enough clothes that we have choices each day. I am thankful that the kids are learning the skills of how to take care of their things and to plan ahead for the week. I’m thankful that we have a good network of friends who pass clothes down to us as their kids outgrow items, and that we in turn can pass on to the kids younger than us.

Day 2: I am thankful for Monday. Weekends are nie, but I also appreciate the structure of a school day. Having the alarm go off, exercise and shower before my Bible study time. After school, make dinner and do homework, cleaning jobs for the day. I’ll be honest — the home routine is not where I would like it to be due to factors outside my control. But I’m learning how to roll with it and not flip out. I’m learning there is a balance between unstructured time, and having a good routine. It is strange to see how different of a parent I have been first with the girls, then the littles, and finally with Baby. My philosophy has stayed the same, but how I structure it has changed. I do prefer the routines I had with the big girls, and I hope to get the younger three on a better one so we actually have time to just relax and not feel crazy all the time. One day at a time.

Exercise journal: Today I got up and did a Pilates video – 10 minutes of abs, 10 minutes of thighs, and 10 minutes of butt.

Day 3: I am thankful for my Dad. Happy birthday! It is strange to think that he will be retiring this year. He started teaching when I was 16, and now C is 17 and graduating. Time sure flies by. I am thankful for Dad’s quiet ways, his passion for his workshop, and how he passed a love for learning on to me and to my kids. They are always learning a new skill when they hang out with him — building a playhouse, making magic wands, discovering bugs, learning about gardening. I’m grateful for his patience with all their questions. And all of my antics when I was younger.

Exercise journal: I was too lazy (tired/sick) to set up the treadmill, so I just went for a walk in the living room while I listened to an audio. Leap of Faith by Chris Brady was a nice way to start off the morning. Feeling yesterday’s workout.

Day 4: I am thankful for the sun coming up over the mountain tops while we are driving to school. The kids are usually snoozing while we drive — both to and from school — so I get to listen to my choice of CDs. Typically I pick one from the Edge series from my super app. I love coming up the hill and seeing the sunrise. It makes a happy start to the day. On the way home, it feels a bit deja vu with the kids sleeping in the back. The sun is in my eyes again, but the mountains aren’t there to frame it. I’m feeling a bit of cabin fever and wanting to go camping.

Exercise journal: Did the pilates video again this morning. It was a bit harder to do the same things today — my butt hurts still.

Day 5: I am thankful for mis-adventures. Mom and I were supposed to go to a museum tonight. I got off work a bit later, dinner didn’t go as planned, and when we finally made it into the city, the museum was closed earlier than we had anticipated. We ended up going to dinner and talking instead. It was fun to just chat and catch up with Mom without having to share time with the kids. We need to plan more of these!

Exercise journal: Went running this morning — just in the living room since the readmill isn’t up and running and I’m not brave enough to go out in the cold alone. I have an old dance injury that is acting up. It’s on the top of my left foot — I got dropped out of a lift and landed on myself. It swelled to twice my normal size and turned a lovely shade of purple after the original injury. Today it just aches.

Day 6: I am thankful for Fun Fridays at school. That is not the official title, but we do the fun things because this is an early out day. We start off with two specials (keyboarding and music — 5th grade is learning the Ukulele). Book clubs instead of regular English class. Lab days for science. Today in Labs, we started our paper circuits. Copper tape, mini led lights, batteries, and cardstock to create a working circuit that actually lights up! We HAD to turn the lights off and have a light show once everyone problem shot and got their lights working. I think I’m going to have to get them all a copy of Morris Code to practice.

Exercise journal: Went back to the pilates video. Have some strange aches and pains that I need to push through.

Day 7: I am thankful for laughter. I got to go out with some friends for a spa day in celebration of a birthday. During the pedicure, we talked and laughed. Afterwards we went out for treats (what is a birthday party without treats?) and we laughed more. Thinking about laughter, I remember back to making my kids laugh as babies and how that got everyone laughing. C can start to laugh so hard that she snorts, and that sets me off harder. B and I have the same dry sense of humor, and we like science jokes. Get my dad and us going, and we think we are pretty funny — the rest of the family thinks we have lost our minds. I miss laughing with the big girls, and I need to make more time to laugh with the littles.

Exercise journal: Instead of exercising, I got a massage. I never thought of a massage as a form of exercise, but it really is. Every muscle in your body gets worked on. I feel relaxed and the sore muscles from the week aren’t so tight!

Day 8: I am thankful for the chance to be an influence for good. I have a new friend at church who told me today that the whole reason she comes (and now brings her parents and kids) is because of me. I just do what I do — talk to people and involve the kids with what mine are doing. She said that she has visited other churches, but because I was willing to step out and include them, she is coming each week. I’m thankful that I was able to help her feel included and needed. Isn’t that what we all need deep down?

Day 9: I am thankful for field trips! Our school participates in BizTown where the kids get to be adults for one day and work in a business. All year they have been learning about checkbooks, balancing bank statements, speaking in front of people, and other job skills. The end of last month they all had an interview with community volunteers, and today they got a paper congratulating them on their position. R made CEO of Delta Airlines! I’m so proud of the hard work he has put in! One week and we get to put all those skills to work!

Exercise journal: The pilates video is where I’m at right now. I like that I can do ten minutes of a focused area, not feel wiped out, and still know that I did some great work. I know I have because my body is telling me that I haven’t used a lot of muscles for a long time. The hurt feels good, as strange as that sounds.

Day 10: I am thankful for tissues. With the warm weather came colds. I feel like I spend half my day blowing or wiping my nose, and the other half of the day doing the same thing for the kids at home and at school. I am thankful for parents who donated tissues at the beginning of the school year. I’m also thinking that next year I need to get on a donation schedule based on last names so we have a continual supply but I don’t have to store them all.

Exercise journal: The snooze button on the alarm won today. Most of my family has a cold, and this morning it kicked my butt instead of a work out. I’m not proud of my choice, but the extra 20 minutes of sleep will make my students happy.

Day 11: I am thankful for Spring. Picking Baby up from preschool, he noticed tiny flowers poking their heads up in front of the school. We had to stop and “discover” them. Tiny yellow and blue buds are open, and more plants are pushing their way through the dirt. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Spring appears. It seems we got from freezing temperatures and snow to buds and warm breezes in a week. I’m ready for our tulips to start growing!

Exercise journal: Changed things up a bit this morning and went with a yoga video I haven’t done in over a decade. Not the best one I have ever used, but is is shorter (30 minutes vs. 60 minutes) so I was able to complete it in my time frame. Feel good, but I know I’m going to feel this workout later today!

Day 12: I am thankful we usually grocery shop for a month at a time. Today we ran out of dog food and had to go to the store. With the panic of the Covid-19, it was NUTS! Shelves were empty (good things I don’t need tissues, toilet paper, or cleaning supplies). We stood in line to check out for an hour. Ran into a few students and their parents who were worried because they usually shop a week (or a day) a a time. I’m thankful that we live in a country where we can shop once a day or once a week. We have such a surplus, and I don’t think we even realize it — I know that I forget.

Exercise journal: I got up and went for a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. Yes, I finally go it up and running! I think I will go for a full run tomorrow morning.

Day 13: I am thankful I’m not in public office. The alert came out this afternoon that schools will be under a soft close for the next two weeks. Since we were notified after we had all left for the day, I’m not sure what that means. I know for sure the kids will be home. I know that I will be putting lessons out there that are online (somehow since our school hasn’t gotten on the Google bandwagon — yet). I’m glad I’m not one that has to make hard decisions and then inform people of those decisions.

Exercise journal: Treadmill again! Plugged into a Financial Fitness audio, and am convinced I need to focus on finances soon. I’m sure there will be some aches and pains in that area as well.

Day 14: I am thankful for spontaneous outings. Weather is warmer, kids are excited they won’t have school for a few weeks, and B came home from college for the weekend (her college is on spring break, but they will be going 100% online for the rest of the semester). We needed to get out. Went North to pick up deer tags for R and Trevor for the hunt in October. This is R’s first hunt, and he is super excited! With his birthday coming up, he has been asking for gear for camping and hiking. We met up with a family favorite friend for late lunch/early dinner. Then drove the hour home through the canyon that is starting to green up.

Exercise journal: I’m going to count running through the sports store chasing the kids who were pretending to be hunting as my exercise. Baby has to have as many toy guns as he can carry so he can hunt the animals on the walls. Then it turns into hide-and-seek with the older two, so I end up with the guns. We also pretend to be fishing, then camping. I’m tired 🙂

Day 15: I’m thankful for card games. Church is canceled for the time being, so we decided to have a jammie day. Broke out the legos and the board games. Our family favorite game currently is Dutch Blitz. Baby thinks he can play, and we all work around him as he “helps” me. We laugh and help each other when the initial competition dies down. The kids are taking a break, watching Frozen 2 and eating snacks. When Baby goes down, I think we will do round two of games.

Day 16: I am thankful for my co-workers. It is a bit . . . nuts? . . . around here with school doing a soft close Friday at 4 p.m. With little instruction of what that meant, I’m sure many of us spent the weekend signing up our classes for online programs in anticipation of distance learning. I know I did. Today there were lots of meetings and collaboration as we worked to make lesson plans for the next two weeks. I have a bit more to do tomorrow before I submit them to administration for final approval. Then comes the fun of getting information out to parents and setting up my gradebook. I’ve decided to have my kids write a daily journal about what they are doing each day, and I’m going to do it as well — but with a twist.

Exercise journal: I had fully intended on getting up and going for a run this morning. Unfortunately, I forgot to set my alarm for the week day instead of the weekend. I came home from work and played outside with the kids for a bit, so I’m going to pretend that was my workout for the day. I promise to go running tomorrow!

Day 17: I am thankful for down time. I hate having an empty classroom on days I’m supposed to be teaching. I miss the kids — even when they are testing my ability to creatively problem solve. Today my teaching partner and I submitted our lesson plans first thing, and I spent the rest of the day cleaning. My classroom books have been dusted, reshelved in proper order, and inventoried. Students got a notice of missing books. My file cabinet where I shove all the papers on my desk when I have a meeting in my classroom (like parent/teacher conferences) got emptied. I have a few things I still need to go through and organize, but it is functioning again. Science experiment remnants were put back into the correct boxes and stored in the closet. I made a list of the other things I needs to go through in the next few days between parent emails (I’m sure I’ll be getting them) and working with my own kids on their school work. I’m thankful I was able to get a jump start on some projects I’ve been putting off all year.

Exercise journal: My alarm wen off at the right time, I got up and got dressed to go for a run. The key to the treadmill is now missing. I’m sure I had to put it in a safe place so Baby wouldn’t get on the machine, but I don’t remember doing so! The kids are having a sleepover in the living room where my yoga and pilates videos are, so I dug out a hip-hop dance exercise tape and did 20 minutes of that. Not my usual style of dancing, but it was fun. My body hasn’t danced funk in a hot minute (or two) so it felt out of place for a second. After work, I’m looking for the key.

Day 18: I am thankful for new adventures. This morning Utah experienced a pretty big earthquake — the first I have ever felt. It was a surreal experience, and it slightly freaked the kids out. I still had to go into school, but once there they sent everyone home. The kids were freaking out a bit, I was feeling rushed with all the parents emailing in trying to get their students into the sites I needed them to go for school work. I attempted to get my kids to do their school work while I fielded emails — over 200 messages — and worked on creating a platform to send information out. My school doesn’t have Google Classroom or Canvas for the elementary. I’m thankful the kids were patient with me even though I was short with them. I have finally stopped answering email (it’s 8:34 at night) and winding down. The kids have picked a movie that we can watch together. Tomorrow we set a routine for our new normal!

Exercise journal: Success! Found the key, alarm went off at the correct time, and I got a run in! My heart is pumping, I can feel the blood moving through my body. It’s cool! Listening to financial audios while I run and thinking about what is up for the day. With the COVID-19, a lot of my life is changing, and we haven’t hit the new normal yet. I haven’t panicked and bought a bunch of groceries, but it has gotten me thinking about my financial position which, mildly put, is not great. It is nice to be running where I can get my head space cleared of the noise so I can honestly think things through.

Day 19: I am thankful for the kindness of others. Today was another frustrating day of teaching. I am really missing the kids, fighting with mine to do their work, and trying to figure out the best platform to use to get information out to parents who are just as stressed and frustrated as I am. Things keep changing by the hour, and I desperately want a semblance of routine. Book club was tonight, and they decided to hold it since we only have 13 members and we aren’t all there at once. Six of us showed up to talk about Tom Sawyer. It made me relax and feel “normal” for an hour. I swung by a member’s house who wasn’t able to make it, and she gave me a “small gift” — a Kindle! It made my heart melt that she would think of me enough. It gave me a bit of a reality check. What have I been giving this past week. Not stressing about, not working towards, but just giving. The sad answer is nothing. I have set my intention to be giving tomorrow.

Exercise journal: Went for another run again today. I love how it feels to be doing something that once game me a lot of pleasure. It’s also bringing back lots of memories — good and bad. I like being the only one up in the morning so I can deal with some things on my own. Listened to a talk titled Believe You Can Be a Leader. I didn’t check the time since most of them are 25-30 minutes. Looked down at 40 minutes and realized that this audio was almost an hour long! Not complaining, but it threw my schedule off a bit. Yes, even working from home I have a routine that I try to stick to.

Day 20: I am thankful to finally have a teaching platform. Several teachers and I have been asking the Powers That Be for an online teaching platform all year. This way we can upload the worksheets and assignments for parents to access at home, I can add instruction to those who need it retaught, or bonus things for those who want to go deeper. We were told no — elementar doesn’t need anything like that. Besides, they are too young. Enter the pandemic where we are all doing distance instruction. With no platform. It has been a stressful week to say the least. Today, we were finally given access to the sae platform the junior high upstairs is using! I’m so excited and worn out that I cried — honest to goodness cried in the meeting. I have the weekend to get it up and running for my students, so that means another long weekend with little contact with my family. But in the long run, I think that will mean I can stick to my new office hours and focus on helping my kids do their work.

Exercise journal: I decided to give my hips a rest from the treadmill today. Instead I did an hour long yoga practice. Yoga is my comfort go-to when I exercise. I like to stretch and go slow. I was also thinking that I need to get a routine for my exercise set as well. I need to figure out how to add in some weights for strength training as well as the stretching, toning, and cardio I do. If the PE teacher is at the school today, I’ll ask for some help in setting up a good schedule with activities that are going to challenge me.

Day 21: I am thankful for the ability to leave for short road trips. This quarantine thing is driving my kids nuts — they keep asking if friends can come over to play or sleep over. They don’t understand the reasons behind what is happening even though it has been explained to them a million times. I was reading through Facebook, and there was a reminder of Anne Frank. It gave the measurement of the attic she was hidden away with seven other people for two years. They had to be quiet, didn’t get to leave to buy food, didn’t see sunshine, didn’t run around the backyard. And they lived in fear for their life if they should be too loud. All things considered, we have it really good. I guess it is time to break out my Holocaust books and start reading them to the littles so they better appreciate what they have.

Exercise journal: It being Saturday, I didn’t get up early to do anything on my own. We spent time outside running around the backyard and riding bikes. Okay, to be honest, the kids rode their bikes and I sat on the porch with a cup of coffee and watched. I’m still counting it!

Day 22: I am thankful for forced activities. It feels like I have been sitting down in my basement office on the computer for several days straight now. I have except for those times I’ve packed the younger three up to head to the school to work. Today, we loaded fishing rods and tackle boxes into the truck and hung out at the neighborhood pond for a few hours. I’m really rusty with my casting. Baby refused to let me use his rod even though he was too busy picking up rocks and chasing ducks. R and K go some good casts out, and by the time we packed up, they felt like they had made good progress. Next time we hope to catch a fish.

Day 23: I am thankful that homeschool went much smoother today. It definitely helped to have office hours before the kids got up and going so they could focus on their work. I actually got to help! I checked my email several times when they needed a break, so I didn’t completely abandon my students. We got done in the allotted 2 hours each and Baby had his fill of videos and Khan for Kids. I need to get some new activity books for him that are age appropriate. Good think I’ll be having a book party this week!

Exercise journal: The kids have somehow lost my pilates video. So, I put in a different one. I was longer, but not as focused. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. I’ve noticed that my clothes are fitting a bit different lately. That is a good thing because it means I’m doing actual work that is producing results. Its a bad thing because I already have limited clothing choices. By the time school starts up again, I’m going to have to do some wardrobe exchanging!

Day 24: I am thankful for off key (and tempo) singing. On the way to work this morning, the kids decided to play a variation of their favorite car game. INstead of picking songs to sing, they would look up songs to sing. R picked God’s No Dead by Newsboys, K picked Into the Unknown from Frozen 2, and Baby picked Even When the Lions Roar from VBS last year. We all sang with gusto at the top of our lungs. And I remembered to take a moment and be thankful that these are the songs that have helped shape and define them. These are the songs hat bring courage to them in the face of their fears. They aren’t afraid at this moment — they are alive and fully embracing it. I’m thankful we have music in our home – even though none of us are on key.

Exercise journal: The alarm went off minutes after K had a nightmare. I sa with her and rubbed her back until she fell asleep again, so exercise didn’t happen this morning. The plan is to revisit it once we get back from the school — sounds like a great day for kids Yoga!

Day 25: I am thankful for magical days. I feel like a hot mess most of the time, but once in a while, things just flow and all is well. Today was one of those days! I was able to get almost two weeks ahead in my lesson plans, so when the kids go up, I was done for the day (except answering parent emails and texts randomly). They all did homework without complaining (Baby made some up for himself), we made English Muffin Pizzas for lunch, played a new game, and had a nap. After I got up, R and I had a few minutes to chat before the others got up. My book kit arrived! We spent about an hour going through the books — we had to read each one — and then R and K worked together to make a dessert while Baby and I made dinner. I got two loads of laundry washed and dried (only one folded and put away) and most of the dishes finally caught up (one of the hazards of being home all he time is I like to try new recipes and bake. There are an extra bunch of dirty dishes!). I ended the night running my very first book show! I like going to bed knowing that I bonded with the kids and got things done that I need to.

Exercise journal: Had a good walk this morning. I have eczema on my feet basically year round. I’ve seen doctors, used medicines and special soaps and lotions. Nothing has helped — still searching. Today for some reason it is especially painful to be on my feet. But, I plugged in my headphones and go on the treadmill and walked while I listened to an audio on my Super App about the importance of being a leader in the bad days. Some great information — including the importance of not giving up even when you want to. Humm . . . kinda spoke to my day! Now my blood is pumping and tingling through my legs, I can feel my muscles pulsating, my head space is clearer (except for the new lesson plans swirling around), and it is time to Carpe Diem!

Day 26: I am thankful for clean drinking water. Because I was going to read my Bible longer, I turned on some instrumental worship music. Before the music started, there was an ad that sucked me in, and I watched 5 minutes about a charity that is working to bring clean drinking water to villages in Africa. My heart broke. These are the same areas I feel called to help, the same kinds of children who desperately need an education in order to break the cycle they live in. Where hope needs to be built just like the wells. I bawled. And, I prayed. I’m so thankful that I am able to give my kids clean water to drink, to bathe in, to wash dishes and clothes in. I am thankful that even in this madness we are living in, it’s not even close to the madness many people have lived in for generations.

Exercise journal: Ya’ll! I think I’m going to have to figure out a way to see the doctor. My feet are hurting so bad, I can hardly walk! I was really looking forward o a walk this morning, but that isn’t going to happen. Still looking for the pilates video (the kids all blame the others for moving it). I’m thinking of just bagging exercise today and spending more time in the Word. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Day 27: I am thankful the doctor’s offices are still up and running.

Exercise journal: No exercise for a few days. Ended up at the doctor’s office yesterday, and I have a secondary staff infection in two of my toes — one on each foot. I go some medication, drained the infection, and have been keeping my feet up to get the swelling down. I do have to say that I am proud that I made it most of this month, reignited an old passion for running, and feel better that I have. It was a success even if I’m not going out with the anticipated ending — I have a new habit built and kicked inactivity to the curb! Goal complete!

Day 28: I am thankful for R. It’s hard to have a birthday and be in quarantine, but here we are doing it. He was really upset when he realized last week that there would be no birthday party. No Lego store. No Lazer Tag. And with the new snow that fell overnight, no fishing on a local lake or pond. We would be stuck around home. For an 11-year-old boy on his birthday, that kinda sucks. But, he has been a good trooper. We decided since C has officially unofficially moved out, tha it was time to repaint the bedroom from the purple to Blue and Green so he could move his bedroom from sharing upstairs with Baby to being on his own (K likes to point out there might be mice, spiders, and snakes in the basement for friends — pretty sure we are going to have to get a night-light for him). This kid is my rock and many times my strength and example. He constantly thinks about others and how to make life easier for them. I will forever remember the day he came home from school upset because some girl had been bullying him and his friends on the playground. He spoke about how sad she must me, and came up with a plan to make her feel welcome. He write her notes to cheer her up, took her a treat, and invited her to play. She continued to be rude, but she stopped trying to physically fight him. I love that his heart broke for her. He is a good kid, and a great person. I’m so proud of him and grateful to be his mom.

Day 29: I am thankful there is online Church. I miss seeing my people! I miss hearing about their weeks, hugging them, and praying with others. I’m glad that there are so many pastors (ours included!) who put up sermons with worship music. The kids joined me for worship, but filtered out when the taking started. Our kids ministry added a video that we will watch later this week. I like hearing recommendations from friends on oher services that touched them. I’m thankful my spirit is still fed even though I’m missing my people.

Day 30: I am thankful for kids who engage in creative play. We have a big back yard, but no play structures — that always seems to be on the “next year” plan. We have a trampoline, and the younger three have been making up games to keep themselves entertained. But, today you could tell it was getting old — they were starting to fight more than play. Dad introduced an old tent and some sleeping bags, and suddenly they were off on a grand adventure! They created their own fire, hauled the plastic food outside to be cooked over said fire, and made sleeping arrangements. They planned hikes in “the wild” with Princess the Black Lab. When I had to call them in for showers, there was lots of protesting. Tomorrow I feel another adventure coming on!

Day 31: I am thankful for the coming of April. Birds singing, grass greening, trees budding, flowers blooming. National Poetry month! I have a blog I follow (https://stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com/) where she introduces a new poem style each day. I fully participated last year, and am excited o do it again this year! It was so much fun that I’ve decided to take my students along with me, so they will also be writing a poem each day! I’ll have to post some here — you know, the accountability piece (and, I sometimes like to show off as well). Good-bye March, Hello April!

April

Day 1: I am thankful for the support of my new administration. I honestly don’t remember the last time I felt like I was valuable and needed at school. This distance learning has been difficult — to say the least. I am putting in more hours trying to make sure that I’m not over extending the kids or putting a burden on parents. I’m emailing hours a day, uploading curriculum, trying out programs, and making adjustments to lesson plans. And this week, dealing with angry parents who suddenly don’t like the way I teach or grade and who are questioning everything I am asking the kids to do. The worst ones have been the parents who are teachers themselves, which has been the hardest to deal with. These are my peers who are cutting me down and bad-mouthing me to their child. It is Wednesday, and this is the third parent meeting I’ve had. My principal was super supportive during the meetings, backed me up, and help me feel valued while we made some adjustments. I’m feeling better (after a shake and a bag of chocolate as I bawled in my closet so the kids didn’t see). Tomorrow is a clean slate.

Day 2: I am thankful for the ladies I work with. We had another meeting about expectations for work load. It was good to get permission from admin to do less then I have been doing — not that I won’t continue to reach out and connect with my kids, but I don’t have to sacrifice my own kids for my work. The 5th grade team sat down and decided what we needed to do, and then the ELA team has been emailing to figure out where everyone else is going to take their lessons.

Day 3: I am thankful for instant emails that start I am out of the office until after Spring Break! I turned them on today at 3, and I will not be looking at emails or Remind texts until Monday the 13th! I have a new schedule with boundaries in place for when we come back, and I’ve been working all day on adjusting my lesson plans. There is still some work I need to do (videos to make and upload, pages on Canvas I need to update) but I have promised I will stick to my morning routine until the kids get up — then NO MORE WORK for school. For the rest of break.

Day 4: I am thankful for mantras. The microwave went out the other day, and that has put a cramp in my cooking. Today was the day we went to get a new one. I did online research so I could just walk into the store, get the microwave, and get out. Except they didn’t have the one I had researched. I picked a different one, and it was in stock — at another location. Stood in line an hour to buy the paintbrushes and lightbulbs we needed to work on painting R’s room. At the other store, I was told they didn’t have the microwave even though the other store had called to verify. Found the last one (finally), and got it bought after another long wait at the self-checkout. Once home and unboxed and half way put up, we realized that it would hang much lower than the old one — low enough that I wouldn’t be able to use the stove top. Back to the store to return, to another store to pick up a counter top unit. Through it all, I kept thinking, “Breathe. This is fine. Breathe.” Guess what? My new countertop microwave sings when the timer is done! It heats up food faster and more evenly. The smaller kids can reach it and so they are more independent. And, the gaping hole above the stove is the same size as an extra shelf I had hanging around, so I will soon have a spice rack above the stove. It all worked out!

Day 5: I am thankful for our Kids Church Leader who continues to teach the kids on Sunday. She has uploaded videos and challenges every week for the kids to watch and participate in. I’m also thankful for the Mpact leaders who continue to inspire me to be better. I have one who is reaching out to get emails for all of her club members so she can email the lessons they would have been working on. That way they continue to earn their badges and build their faith through this uncertain time. I need to follow her example and figure out a way to get things to my Rainbows. Being on Spring Break this next week, I’ll have to put some thought into how my kids and I can do something more.

Day 6: I am thankful to be moving R into his newly (almost) painted bedroom! The accent wall and closet doors still need to be painted, but we were able to move the bed, bookcase, Lego table, and dresser into the room. This week we will move him into it, and then I will deep clean the bedroom the boys shared so Baby’s toys will all fit and have their own place. It has been a bitter-sweet change, but I’m excited for R to have his own space.

Day 7: I am thankful for my morning routine. Being up as early as I am, I get to hear the bird songs in the morning without any other distractions. Sitting at my desk and either reading or updating grades, I get to take time to remember how joyful it is to wake up every morning. I do miss driving to work just as the sun tops the mountains, but the bird song is a fantastic replacement.

Day 8: I am thankful that this is spring break. I have kept to my schedule in the mornings, but once the kids are up we just start on activities. C has come over to craft with us, and we have had fun painting, baking, decorating, and sneaking off to the store to pick up a few things when we can find them. Easter is coming, and I feel like we have done some fun things to celebrate it.

Day 9: I am thankful for creative way we have found to connect with each other. R and K tried to do a friend party over the internet today. A few kids said they were coming, but only one actually made it. We played a guessing game, drew a picture on a plate on our heads, attempted to fold origami. I learned a lot — some of the activities aren’t good to do over long distances. But they all had fun talking and laughing. That was what it was all about in the first place. Now Baby is asking if we can video call all his friends!

Day 10: I am thankful for redirection that is better. I have been working hard to plan Summer Book Clubs, and with all that is going on, it looks like we aren’t going to be able to hold those this year. Trying to not pout (I was super excited and I have put in hours of work) I decided there had to be something I could still do. Inspiration! I’m going to still hold them for my kids at home and offer the packets (modified) to other parents who will have been doing home school for two months before summer break. People will still need what I have worked on! I’m going to have to do some rewriting and figure out how to make them available digitally, and my advertising will be different. But I think this will work!

Day 11: I am thankful for yard sells – online or in person. The kids have been spending lots of time outside in their tent and on the tramp, and inside begging us for a clubhouse. I’ve been looking for several years, but just can’t swallow starting prices at $1,000! What happened to the cheap $100 swing sets we used to have? Success earlier this week when someone posted their used swing/slide/clubhouse because their kids had outgrown it. And it was at a reasonable price! Even needing a few repairs, it is so much fun. Now if it would just stop raining so we can go out and play . . .

Day 12: I am thankful for new traditions. It was strange to not get dressed up to go to church this morning. We hung out in jammies and painted Easter eggs and then some ceramic eggs. We made treats, played games, and listened to church online. One thing I’m learning is to make new traditions. I don’t think I’m going to stress so much about having things “ready” for holidays — it is perfectly okay to decorate eggs ON Easter for one. It is time to look at what I’ve been doing and see how I can improve on quality time and less on “perfection”.

Day 13: I am thankful for audios that bring wisdom and challenges perspectives. I like that I get to plug into one in the morning as I get on the treadmill and run. I have a confession: I hate running until about mile 8. And, I really hate running alone. I need the mental distraction so I can make it. Running for me is more mental than physical. Listening to someone talking to me about topics I want to improve in help the montontany and I’m able to run the whole time. Plus, I get fed some good words to start my day!

Day 14: I am thankful for good friends who support each other. One of my friends is expecting her first baby over the summer. With the soft closure of schools, that means we won’t get to do a baby shower at the school for her. I got to do a book baby shower for her! I love this new business! We were online and got to chat, look at books, and talk about being a new mom. I baked banana bread and chatted with Baby and R at the same time. By the end of the hour I spent in the shower, most of her wishlist had been purchased for her, and I felt connected to those who came and my boys who sat with me.

Day 15: I am thankful for clocks and calendars. Being at home all the time without outside activities to look forward to makes the days blur together. I am thankful for the jokes about how time is blurred. I’m thankful for this journal to help me search each day for something I am thankful for. R asks me every night what my favorite part of the day was. Lately, there are days that have been really difficult to find an answer to — all I did was work on the computer, listen to the kids argue, and wish that there was something different to do. Watching the days pass, I realize that I have control over what goes into those hours. I have a quote from Haim Ginott, a philosopher and teacher, that sits on my desk at school. I try to read it everyday before the kids come in. I think it may be time to move that to my home office to remind me of the same thing:

Dr. Michele Borba on Twitter: "#Teacher reminder:"I've come to the ...

Day 16: I am thankful for the work of others. Six book ladies got together and created an AMAZING six week course of Kids Camps. The camps are engaging and fun, and FREE. I’m so excited to present these to my kids and their friends. We did the first one today – Cooking — and it was a blast! Going to advertise for Spy camp next week!

Day 17: I am thankful for learning experiences. I have been learning a lot of technology and quickly over the last month. I’m by no means proficient at most of it, but I like the challenge of trying something new and getting it to do what I expect. I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with the programs and mastering them so I can do more with my new skills. I remember back in high school teaching some of the older people in my neighborhood how to use a computer for the first time. Many of them were scared by the technology, and I vowed to never let things intimidate me. I don’t always know how to use the technology, but at least I’m not afraid to try — jump in with both feet.

Day 18: I am thankful for the short day trips we get to take. They aren’t grand adventures to solve world problems, but after being at home all day all week, it is nice to get out and go for a drive. I forget how awesome it is to see snow on the tops of the mountains while trees and flowers are in full bloom here. I would like to get a picture of that sometime, but I don’t think about it until I’m driving. I think that is a sign that I need to take more walks around the neighborhood.

Day 19: I am thankful for family camp outs. Because the tent is up in the backyard, we had to try it out. B was up from college so she got to join in as well. This morning we got up, and had breakfast strata and scrambled eggs and sausage gravy (I didn’t make biscuits, but the kids don’t like those as much anyway). It was nice to relax outside and dream of the weather getting nicer so we can camp away from home!

Day 20: I am thankful for running water. Not just clean water, but piped into the house where I don’t have to walk miles to collect it to come home and use it. I’m blessed to have access easily and on demand. Today the water main in front of our house sprung a leak — it has done this several times, and the kids get excited every time it happens. They love to watch the big trucks come dig up the patch in the road. the water spraying the workers, and the different machines they have to use in the repair. I had them fill up water bottles and get ready for the water to be shut off. Which is why I’m thankful. It was a bit of an inconvenience to have to use a wet-wipe to wash hands for a few hours. Thankfully it was only a few hours. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to have a lot of luxuries accessible at my demand.

Day 21: I am thankful for hand-me-downs. With school not reopening for the res of he school year, mos of us have gone in to close our classrooms for the year. This means taking things off the walls, putting books and supplies in closets and drawers, stacking furniture in one spot so it is easier to paint walls and scrub floors. For those retiring this year, it also means packing up personal items and redistributing others. I cant even begin to imagine the sadness that is there this year — I cried just stacking desks because I didn’t get to finish out my year. How about not being able to finish off your career like this? Anyway, my dad and one of my really close friends are retiring this year. As they are cleaning and packing, I keep getting offers for things I might be able to use in my class — rulers, board games, science things, mini-fridge. I am so thankful that I was thought of to pass these things to. I know the thoughts and feelings that went into gathering them originally, and I appreciate the opportunity to use them with the same intent of blessing the lives of those who enter my classroom. In life, I spend so much of my time wondering if I was in the lane I thought I was, checking with friends to get the bigger picture. They often give me feedback on the whole situation along with pointers for how to do it different next time, and what I did well this time. Today I had a blind spot check with my parenting. Another near collision that didn’t end so gracefully, and an evening to reevaluate my actions and suggestions for moving forward. I realize that I get offended when correction comes and this is something I need to work on. I also realize that I don’t have good enough boundaries, and that needs to change.

Day 22: I am thankful that I’m almost through April and haven’t missed a day in this journal yet! It got a bit more difficult when we went to quarantine — the days blend together more often than not. I am grateful that I have to dig deeper and think about what I’m truly thankful for. And it forces me to stay present and not wrapped up in the projects in my head.

Day 23: I am thankful for Peppa Pig and how she is teaching my kids to pay attention to the small details. Baby gets to watch the iPad while the big kids do homework and I attempt to help. He has recently discovered a few stations that he loves to watch, and in the afternoons I find myself playing the role of The Naughty Witch while he is The Brave Knight and sister is The Sleeping Princess. He has also started to ask for strawberries in an British accent. The first time he asked me for an “Ice Lolly” I about cracked up!

Day 24: I am thankful for the kid’s teachers. Distance teaching is quite the most interesting thing I have done in a long time. I miss the classroom — the smiles, the hugs, the ah-ha moments when things click. I am thankful for the teachers my kids have who let them know how much they are missed. Who keep putting new things out there to keep their attention with the learning even though the glamour of not being in the classroom is long gone. I am thankful they keep in touch with me on what is happening and reaching out to see what else they can do to help them be successful.

Day 25: I am thankful for reflection weeks. We are almost half way through the year, and this is when I start thinking about what I want to do next year here in the blog. What books do I already have that I need to read (or reread and apply better)? What areas so I feel I’m lacking in? What do I need to make improvements on based on what I’ve seen in my goals this year. Where do I need to dig deeper? This week was NOT the planned week to do this, but that is what it turned into. Down to two months that don’t have a plan, and one book I want to buy. I’m pretty impressed!

Day 26: I am thankful for worship music on YouTube. I turned on a station and let it play for a few hours while I did laundry and cleaned out a bedroom. Deep cleaned – moved furniture, dusted, vacuumed, got rid of things. It felt good to rearrange while I sang along to songs that uplift my mood. I miss worship time in church with others. But, it is nice to have my own personal worship service.

Day 27: I am thankful for big sisters. My three littles are in Arizona for the week visiting grandparents. They called this morning to say hi and tell me about their morning walk. Baby old me he “sleeped good” because sister made it “not scary”. She confirmed that he climbed into bed to snuggle with her sometime in the night, then woke her up this morning wanting her to snuggle with him again. I’m pretty sure he conned her into scratching his legs. I’m so grateful that they look after each other.

Day 28: I am thankful for the wind chime on the back porch. It was nice to sit outside in the sun and feel the warm breeze and listen to the wind chime. Usually I hear the kids laughing and playing which I also love to listen to, but I’m trying to focus on my word for the year – Peace – while they are gone. What can I find peace in when there is silence and I feel lonely? Today the chimes played, and I listened to them. I thought about the wind in the leaves when we used to go camping or up to my grandpa’s cabin. I get way too caught up in being busy. I resolve that this summer I’m going to take more time to get caught up in finding the silences.

Day 29: I am thankful for ice cream shakes that I don’t have to share. After dinner, I decided I needed something sweet, so I drove myself to the nearest fast food place that had ice cream and bought an overpriced shake that I read while reading a book.

Day 30: I am thankful for the “almost made it” goals. Even though I hate the feeling that comes with almost making it, but not quite being successful. The pit in your stomach, the tightness in your chest. Don’t like that feeling. But I do like taking the emotions behind the feeling and figuring out what I didn’t do well that I can do better at next time. Thinking, “What am I willing to give up this time that held me back last time?” It’s always an eye opener. And it shifts my perspective from feeling like a victim into a success. Tomorrow is a new day, and a new month.

May

Day 1: I am thankful for a new month to begin some new challenges! I’m setting up my vision board for the month and excited to see how I’m going to make things happen! I’m also excited because this month I really focus on teaching my kids how to use their vision boards. Which means we will probably need to make new ones to hang up in their individual rooms now that they each have their own space! It’s going to be a good month!

Day 2: I am thankful for binge watching shows that are recommended by friends. I’ not a huge television watcher — there are any other things I have going that take up the time. But today was a day that I needed to relax and not think. I had answered more angry emails from parents who don’t like the work I’ve assigned. Life stuff at home that I had to get through. And trying to figure out if the curriculum I’ve got scheduled to go out on Monday is going to be okay, or how many more angry emails I’m going to get before the end of the school year in three weeks. It was time for some mindlessness stuff, so I binge watched a crime show. I’m thankful that I was able to relax and not get stuck in my head.

Day 3: I am thankful for a shelf of books I haven’t read yet. With the kids gone to Arizona for the week, I’ve tapped into it when I’m feeling lonely. I have started and finished two books in the last two days, and am moving on to the third. Good literature that has made me laugh and cry and find joy in the strange silence that currently fills my days.

Day 4: I am thankful for conviction. I used to feel guilty all the time for everything. Someone would say something or make a suggestion, and the feeling would rise from my toes and wash me in guilt and shame. My ears would buzz, my face get hot, and I would struggle to hold back the tears as I realized how little my worth was. Thankfully, I don’t do that as much or as intensely as before. I was in a church meeting where it was explained that the Holy Spirit speaks by conviction, not condemnation. If you feel condemned, that is the devil speaking — he wants you to feel small and worthless. If you see the error of your ways but feel hopeful, that is the Holy Spirit showing you the path you need to be on. Life got intensely better after realizing what I had been doing was allowing myself to feel condemned. Now when I feel convicted, there is usually a path to follow to make corrections, and I don’t get caught up in the ‘I’m not enough’ web of lies. Today I was listening to some audios as I cleaned, and there was some conviction. I’m thankful that it didn’t ruin my day, that I was able to sit down and set some new goals and a better plan for change, and get on with my day with new priorities set.

Day 5: I am thankful for opportunities to use my talents. One of my friends needs help with her son’s grades. She said that she does what she can once she gets home from work, but she it tired and he is not motivated, and nothing gets done. I totally understand! Working with my own kids at home on their classwork has been . . . interesting. The first week, K was begging me to home school her forever. By the second week, she was begging to go back to school. By the third week, homeschooling was not something you mentioned unless you wanted to deal with tears and screaming. We are finally on a good routine, but I know both R and K will be happy to be back in class with someone else in the fall. So, I now work with this friend twice a week to get his homework done. I’m sure I’m doing the same things Mom was doing, but it helps that it’s not a his house and with his mom. I’m also excited that we are doing 8th grade science and history because I’m learning a lot!

Day 6: I am thankful for a reliable vehicle. Today we drove to Arizona to pick up the kids, ate lunch, and drive back home. It was a long 12 hours of driving. It is nice to have the kids back. Playing made-up games like pretending to watch football games under blankets, singing family songs, and talking. Baby has discovered jokes, so now we tell the same jokes over and over while he laughs hysterically every time — the rest of us just laugh at him laughing. We had a comfortable ride home with music and air conditioning and no vehicle troubles beyond the taillight I need to get replaced (yes, I’ve got one on order).

Day 7: I am thankful for gratitude journals. While they were gone, the littles started an online program with their grandma to help them process their emotions and thinking. Part of the program is for them to write things they are thankful for each day. I have told them about my blog and my gratitude journal, but I don’t think they bought into the concept — back to the entry on the 5th. Someone else had to tell them about it. I love to hear the things they are grateful for. R tries to not copy what he has said before. Baby and K seem to start off the same way, but they can usually find something that is new each day. I’m excited to see where these go!

Day 8: I am thankful for routines. We are off ours again. We need to incorporate more things into the morning so that the day runs smoother. We sat down and discussed things that needed to happen so that there was less grumpy and more willingness to do what needed to be done. We also planed time to do fun things. Now to put it into practice next week!

Day 9: I am thankful for my big girls. Mother’s day is tomorrow, and I really struggle with this holiday. I have for a long time. One of the books I’m reading talks about how sometimes we hate things because we don’t feel worthy for them, or we don’t believe we should be served. Definitely an idea I’m going to have to explore more. Anyway, the girls know I struggle with this, but they made plans anyway. I got banned to the basement while they worked upstairs on a painting project with the littles. I heard giggling and talking and am thankful that they all like to be together and doing things. I miss being upstairs with them and it is taking all my will power to not join them.

Day 10: I am thankful for encouragement that comes from unexpected places. I haven’t been in a good place emotionally for a few weeks — too much going on and lots of processing I’m trying to do. I got a card in the mail from a friend I haven’t keep in close touch with thanking me for my example of being a mother. I broke down and cried (again). I have been told quite a few times by a few people this past week how I’m not doing a good job and the kids are suffering because of me. I know I’m not perfect and I know I have things that I need to change. It is really difficult to sit here on Mother’s Day thinking about those things and my kids and feeling like I should be celebrated. Not to mention that it is a requirement to celebrate your Mom on this day. But, to have a card from someone not closely involved, that means so much. It also makes me think that maybe I need to be better at dropping my own cards in the mail thanking the people who I watch for inspiration on days that are not expected.

Day 11: I am thankful for challenges. If you would have asked me a few years ago if I was competitive, I would have old you no. I’m not fantastic at sports — I like to play when there is no pressure to score. I like to play games for the sake of playing. I’ve come to realize that when it comes to personal development, I’m competitive. My upline sent out a challenge to get 100 people to say no to booking a party with me. Seemed like a bit of a strange challenge, but I took it. And I’m competitive! She has a page where we can update our progress, and I check that daily to see where I am in comparison to the other people. It has been three days, and I’m up to 20 no’s, five parties booked, six who I need to check back with in a month or so, and I’ve talked to 32 people. Yep, I like a challenge!

Day 12: I am thankful for the parents of my students who put up with my crazy distance learning projects. They aren’t crazy if we are in a classroom, but I’m sure they feel crazy doing it from home. Throughout the school year, we really focus on getting the kids to be comfortable speaking in public. We work on holding themselves, writing what they want to say, how to make eye contact, voice tone and levels. This last month we do a project called Teach the Teacher where they get to present to both classes something they have a lot of knowledge of — we get everything from airplanes in WWII to Zoology. It is amazing how they have bloomed and enjoy getting in front of their peers to talk. I didn’t want to give this up, so I had the kids make a video. Parents have been amazing at helping them film and edit, narrow topics into manageable bites, and working the technology. I feel bad that there have been a handful who haven’t been able to get their videos to upload to the platform we are using. These parents have made appointments to come in to show me the video so their student gets credit for the project. I’m sad that not all of the projects will be seen by everyone, but I’m so thankful these parents are willing to go the extra mile with me. This has been the one project (so far) where no parents have written me nasty notes about how hard it is or how is is a waste of time and energy. And this year, the kids have gotten to teach about things they do at home — boats, gymnastics, taking care of pets — that we probably wouldn’t have seen had we been at school. I’m going to have to think about how we do this project in the future.

Day 13: I am thankful for friends who take on new projects. I have my first recruit! One of my friends is always buying books, so I asked her to think about joining me in selling them. She looked into it, and now I have a partner! Tonight was her first show, and she did great. I see where I need to help her grow, and how I need to grow as a leader. I have a lot to learn.

Day 14: I am thankful C is graduating. Last night we got her senior pictures taken (yes, I’m behind) at a park we used to play at when she was little. One of the places we stopped to shoot used to be her favorite place to play “Magic”. She would find two straight sticks that became wands. She was the Spring Fairy, B was the Summer Fairy, and I was the Autumn Fairy. Then we spent the rest of the game turning each other into things from that season — I was usually a frog or a caterpillar. Memories of her dancing around and giggling floated around as she smiled and turned her head in her cap and gown or her Drama Presidency jacket. How proud I am to be her mom and to have had the chance to watch her grow into the young woman she is. I hope she knows without a shadow of a doubt that I love her bigger than the whole entire world and I will be there cheering her on no matter what life brings. She has been a blessing to me from the time she was tiny, and she continues to amaze me with what she knows and how she is growing. I’m proud of the way she has handled the disappointments of this last bit of her high school career and how she is looking forward to what comes next. Happy Graduation!

Day 15: I am thankful for the uncertanity that has happened. I have been asked to stretch and find peace in the turmoil. I don’t mind change — in fact I often welcome it. I don’t like sitting in limbo (purgatory) while the parts of change move me into the newness, but I’m starting to gain an appreciate for it. I’ve been able to take the time to look at characteristics that have been nagging at me, and I’ve been able to start to focus on doing the deep work I need to do to fix them. I’m hopeful for the changes that are coming, and getting comfortable with the whole process of change — yes, even the waiting part.

Day 16: I am thankful for friends who are humoring me in my new business. It is exciting to see my blog and my book business starting to come together! My dream of owning a book store is slowly coming to fruit. With Usborn, I have quality books I can market and sell and use to suppliment my Book Clubs. I have friends who are holding parties for me (they get the benefits of free books!) and those who are spreading the news about my Book Clubs. I’m so thankful they are supportive of me and my ideas and ventures.

Day 17: I am thankful that church is going to reopen! Of all the things closing, curch is the one I have missed the most. I know that the people are the church and we don’t need a building to hold services and gain wisdom. I believe God speaks to us personally and daily. But, there is nothing like going to worship service and being with like-minded people. There is nothing like sharing an experience with close friends. There is nothing that can replace the church family I have, and the way we gather in and support each other. I’m ready to be back so we can pray with and for each other in person. I’m ready to lift my voice in song with the rest of the body. I’m eager to hear Pastor in rea life and not over the computer where I get interrupted and distracted.

Day 18: I am thankful for mis-adventures in gardening. It has been a few years since we last did a garden, and this year is the year to start it back up. The tiller brok, so we had to hunt down a new one — usually not a difficult task, but it seems that all of the state decided they also needed to start a garden. We bought THE LAST tiller in our county. Next up was getting seeds. Yep, you guesed it. No seeds. Okay, to be honest, there were flower seeds, and one packet of corn seeds. No beans, No watermellon, no peppers, no lettuce, or cabbage, or beets, or . . . You get the picture. Luckily there were a few flats of veggies left in the greenhouse we went to. We got the last of the pole beans, the last bell peppers, and the second to last peas. I haven’t done a garden off of starts before, so this will be a new adventure. We got most of the plants transplanted before the wind picked up too much. I still have corn I need to get in the ground, but it has been raining and blowing too hard the last few day. The weather feels more like March than May. All of this said, I’m excited to learn about pole beans and see my garden grow!

Day 19: I am thankful for quiet time. I’m trying to keep to my schedule of getting up at 4:30 to exercise, Bible study, shower, and Power Hour for work before the kids get up. I haven’t been so diciplined this week, but until now I’ve been good. I feel good — my eczema on my hands and feet is under control, I’m staying hydrated, I have energy. Problem is I get tired after lunch. I’m so glad we all decided to have quiet time. The kids put in a movie and Baby and I snuggle with the idea that he will fall asleep with me. I’m not sure this plan is working out like I had figured it would because I’m the one who is falling asleep first. But, the kids let me snooze and when I wake up I’m ready for the afternoon.

Day 20: I am thankful for friends, and play time, and hugs. The last few days the kids have been able to have friends over, and we have taken FULL advantage of it! Jumping on the tramp, running around the yard, sleep-overs. It is nice to be around other people and have new ideas about games to play and pretend.

Day 21: I am thankful for R and his desire for deeper conversations and connections. Today he asked a question that led to a discussion and more questions. I love that he asks and really wants to know. That he will listen and ponder. I like that he thinks about his answers to the same questions. I’m excited for things to start opening so we can have date nights again so we can have alone time to talk. It hasn’t happened since we are always around at least two other people all the time. I know I’ve missed my alone time with him.

Day 22: I am thankful for three-way-ties in Phase 10. B was home for the day, and we broke out Phase 10. In our family, this is one of the competitive card games we play. It floors several of my friends that even so young, the kids can stick to it and for the most part play independently. Later this week we are going to work our way through more of the games that have been sitting on the shelf gathering dust. Yahtzee, Racko, Scatergories. I lost (like usual) behind two phases and with WAY more points then I want counted up. The three kids playing phased together, and counted up points to come up with a three-way-tie! We had to check the math again, and it came out the same.

Day 23: I am thankful for the chance to be of service. I have a friend going in for surgery next week, and she asked if we would be able to watch her kids for the day. The kids have BIG plans for the day with friends: Stamps, Hide-and-Seek-Tag, movies, Wii, board games . . . I hope we have enough time to get it all fit in!

Day 24: I am thankful for the Self-Care Support group I have discovered. I’m not sure if they have always been run like this, but they are phone calls that I join in and mostly listen to readings and then experiences and feelings of the others who have joined in. I like how they challenge the lies I’ve told myself, and then give hope for uprooting the damage and moving on to healing. I’ve been guided to some great resources and met some amazing people. Today K asked to listen in on the other earbud, so we snuggled in my chair and listened. Today the topic was about releasing anger. My favorite reading talked about gardening – how it brings you to the present moment, gets you back in nature, and how to that the anger out on the weeds with the hope of vegetables at the end. Something good coming from the emotion at the beginning. It really hit home for her and I — and we now have another tool for those moments she gets upset. We went out to the garden and pulled some weeds. I’m thankful that this group is going to change my life which in turn will change my kids.

Day 25: I am thankful we have a love for music in our home. Baby has taken to singing made up songs about everything — especally if there are directions involved. “First you take off your boots. Then your socks. Find your jemmies. That is how we get ready for bed. Mom, do you know that song? I’ll teach you.” I’ve also learned the How We Wash Our Hands song, and the Making Dinner song. He keeps promising he will teach me the Ninja Turtle Song, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Day 26: I am thankful for mom friends. Those who are willing to come play at my house while I run an important errand and Baby sleeps. Who will then tag-team and go do a batch of laundry and clean their house while I watch the kids. Who will bring over corn dogs to add to my pasta salad and grilled hamburgers for dinner. Who take my craziness in stride with their craziness and we all understand it take all of us to raise these kids.

Day 27: I am thankful we were able to watch C walk at graduation. With all that has been going on, we were not sure if there would be a graduation ceremony at all. The students petitioned the governor, and the school worked hard to come up with a way that the students could make an appointment to come to the school to take pictures and walk across the stage so we could cheer and take pictures. I cried — no, I bawled. as she got to the end of the stage, my Dad who is retiring, was pulled up to do his final walk at the school he has give 25 years of service to. What an incredible moment for them to stand at the end of the line and get their picture taken together. So much of life is changing, and I’m thankful to be a part of it for both of them.

Day 28: I am thankful for the upcoming conferences I have next month! I have one for work, one I’m going to do with the kids, and I start y final two classes for my general education license. I stress out leaving the kids to do these things, and one of the nice outcomes from COVID-19 is that I get to stay home with them while I also do what I need to. Takes away some of the Mom guilt I feel, and they also get to be involved a bit. It makes me more aware of being present when we are together, and I am better at scheduling down time for myself. Here is to lots of learning next month!

Day 29: I am thankful for technology. Graduation was held virtual, so we got to hear C’s name read aloud and took a picture of us watching her. Then the littles scampered off to go play and I got to listen to the speeches. It will be interesting to see what happens to graduations from here on out.

Day 30: I am thankful for hard physical work. It grounds me in the present, and at the end of the day, gives me a sense of pride in the work I was able to do. We decided today was the day to clean out the stuff that had accumulated over the year on the side of the house. Dead leaves from the grape vines, broken items that got loaded up on the trailer for a run to the dump, piles of sticks the boys gathered up. We aren’t fully done, but the heat got too much by the time we quit. Monday we will pick up where we left off and get it done. It feels good to have the space cleared — there is room for the house to breathe.

Day 31: I am thankful for morning snuggles while listening to birds singing outside my window. Little arms wrapped around my neck, and how Baby pats my back while he “rests mine eyes for a minute”. He has his collection of blankets and animals that I have to make up adventures about. He is Super Baby this week and last week he was The Brave Knight. I like those moments where there is no agenda, and no need to rush somewhere or to get things done.

June

Day 1: I am thankful this month has things written in on the calendar. After not having anything specific planned for three months, it is nice to have things on the calendar to do. Granted most of that is my last two classes of school for my license, my last big test for my license, a conference for UBAM, and another conference that I signed up for in January that will now be online instead of live. The awesome thing is I can do all that I need to do, and still be home with the kids. As soon as I know the work load of school, I can do that in the mornings before the kids get up so we will have most of the morning to work on reading for Summer Book Clubs and brushing up on math skills. The we have the afternoons open for some mini adventures!

Day 2: I’m thankful for my little garden. This year is much different than other years. I haven’t been disciplined and gone out to pull weeds. We had to start it from starts instead of seeds. There are huge gaps because there weren’t enough plants to fill it. But I am thankful that I get to go out in the morning and water it. That I get to reflect for a minute how difficult it is to grow from a small space into a full rendition of potential. I try to remind myself that in the days that feel dark, it just means I’ve been planted and I will be growing soon.

Day 3: I am thankful I live super close to Winn-Co. I haven’t been out on my big grocery shopping sprees lately, and it is nice to jump over to the store when I need to for milk or butter or whatever (ice cream lately!). I’m thankful that we have a good stock of the essentials we need so I only really need to go for fresh things when we run out. I also am thankful that the kids are old enough to stay home and watch Baby while I go pick up two gallons of milk, strawberries, squash, and ice cream so I can make dinner.

Day 4: I am thankful for trees. Got to go hiking with some friends this morning, then went to the dam to let the kids splash around and play in the water. While on the hike, I kept thinking about the trees that surrounded us. I’ve always loved the pine trees, and as I’ve aged I’ve come to realize I love all trees. The Aspen and their secrets they pass through their gossipy leaves, the Scrub Oak and the twining branches, Japanese Maple in their beautiful colors. We pulled out most of the trees at my house. I’m thinking I would like to add some back in.

Day 5: I am thankful for teaching opportunities. We went bowling today! If you know me, you know I’m not a great athlete. When I was younger, my peers would fight over who had o have me on their team in gym class. I was all for volunteering to sit out — that way I could read. I’ve grown into a better appreciation for activities now that the competition is gone. K killed us all in the first round with 92 points. Baby decided that he liked the snacks part better than the bowling part, so the other two divided up his second round. I loved watching them instruct each other on how to do better after they had practiced some of the things I told them (like when to release the ball and how to aim).

Day 6: I am thankful that my business is growing! I had two new ladies sign up to be book ladies with me! I’m two people away from advancing, and that makes me excited! But what really gets me excited is watching them grow. One of my friends on my team is learning computer stills she never thought she could. A second one is going to be providing books for her preschool. And the third is contributing to the family income and helping out her sister who is starting to home school. I’m excited to listen to their stories and watch them grow in who they are! This is part of the business that doesn’t get enough hype!

Day 7: I am thankful that church is going to be opening up soon! We got word today that next week Kids Church will be back up and running. We are all ready to be back in physical connection with friends. Church online has been great, and I’m thankful to all the pastors in all he churches who stepped up and worked hard to create what they could. Listening to sermons has been easy, and it has been fun to see what other worship teams do. That being said, I’m ready to come back to my church with my people, my pastor and my worship team.

Day 8: I am thankful for sunscreen. The kids keep having the neighbors come over to jump on the trampoline, turn on the sprinklers, and have ice cream. I like to sit outside and watch them bounce and do “tricks” or make up games that make sense only to them. I like the sound of laughter floating up to me on the deck while I read or do other tasks. I like being the expert at scooping ice cream.

Day 9: I am thankful for my neighbors. For those who text to see how I’m doing. Because they pull together when there is sadness in the neighborhood. For all the times they have jumped in to help me. I enjoy their company when we get to sand around and chat. I’m thinking we need a backyard party with a fire pit and food soon!

Day 10:

Day 11: I am thankful for sad days. I don’t know why I was sad today, but I was. Everything made me want to cry, and I struggled to not in front of the kids. Until I realized that wasn’t me being transparent and hones with them. So, I cried. We talked about how it is okay to be sad and talk about things. I spoke about some of the things I was worried about and some of the things I had been learning in my CoDA classes. It was a good bonding day for us. And you know what? Once shared, the sadness eased up. It didn’t go away, but it was easier to move on with the day.

Day 12: I am thankful for Zoom. This weekend is going to be filled with conference meetings for UBAM! I was a bit sad that I was going to be attending a virtual conference alone — part of the thing I like is being around the people. Then my team decided to watch most of the classes together in a Zoom meeting! What a wonderful idea! We got to chat and see each other, cry together, talk about what touched us and how we were going to be better. After the sessions we all hung out and processed together. AMAZING! One thing COVID has done is help technology work to bring us closer. We all need relationships!

Day 13: I am thankful for my kids who were super troopers while I was in meetings for two days. K hung out with me a few times to see the new book releases, they all got excited for the two books that were sent to us to open during the conference. They helped each other get snacks, make Kool-aide, pick up, and entertain each other so I could listen. I’m thankful they realized the importance of what I was trying to do, and worked to help me.

July

Day 1: I am thankful for our dentist. I’ve always had pretty healthy teeth — a bit crooked, but healthy. Back in junior high I had braces, three oral surgeries, an no cavities. I didn’t get my first cavity until I was in my late teens. My boys didn’t inherit my teeth. R has had three extractions because the tooth went bad (poor baby), and Baby has already had several cavities. Neither of them like going to the dentist. Our office staff are so amazing! They are patient and go above working to the comfort level of the boys. Baby’s favorite thing to do now is squirt me with the water before he will get his teeth cleaned.

Day 2: I am thankful for the kids and their singing. R and K have come up with a collaboration on some of their favorite songs. She sings, he beat boxes. Baby joins in with his rendition of whatever. My favorite two are “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” (Baby says it “boo-tee-ful”) and “Into the Unknown” from Frozen. While I drive and they sing, I catch myself smiling and giggling to myself. I was afraid when the big girls moved out there wouldn’t be music, but these three have stepped up the game. Music continues to be a blessing in our home!

Day 3: I am thankful to have accomplished a mile-stone in my business! Each month, UBAM gives a Home Office Challenge to all of the consultants. My goal has been to make the level one, but the April and May I fell short. June ended on a different note — I almost made the level two challenge! I am so excited! This month I’m planning on reaching the level two. I realized today in the shower that part of why I’m so driven to make this business work is because I need a new challenge in my life. The last time I was in this same place, I was challenged to run and that became my first marathon. This business is my new marathon — something that takes consistent practice while I grow myself in order to achieve something bigger than I anticipated.

Day 4: I am thankful for freedom. I know with all the COVID stuff, there are lots of mixed feeling about our freedoms being taken away. I need to get out of the country and travel with my younger three more so they understand the world differently. I can not imagine living in a world where you aren’t allowed to express you opinion, where questioning the government is risky, and where we can do pretty much what we want when we want. Tonight I think of all the books I’ve read about different parts of the world and I realize how blessed and naive we are as a nation. Instead of rioting and pointing blame, we need to figure out how to work together better. How to forgive the past and look ahead. How to be grateful instead of demanding more comfort no matter the cost to anyone else.

Day 5: I am thankful for healthy puppies! Last night our dog, Princess Aurora Sleeping Beauty Patchett, went into labor. I’ve never been around when puppies have been born, so it was a bit frightening not knowing what I needed to do. But she was amazing and took care of everything! Two puppies — a brown and a black one — were born during the neighbors coming over for our firework show, kids running in and out for drinks and snacks, and me trying to keep things calm because on a good day Princess hates fireworks. It is so much fun listening to the baby puppy cries and watching her be a good momma! We all want to hold the babies all the time, and it is hard to be patient for three weeks to hold them.

Day 6: I am thankful for deep discussions with my kids. Today I sat down and worked on balancing my finances for my business. I reported to my kids the progress since they are my business partners. Then I talked to them about budgeting — how I put 10% into giving, and how I need to put 10% into savings. They have money coming because they just did a fundraiser for their upcoming sports (given sports actually open this year). I talked about where I already give money and asked them where we should give from the business. It was a good discussion that came to the conclusion that I need to do some research on a few places and bring that information to the table so we can all decide together. I also got called out on spending so much money on new books — I promise that I will do better at saving my commission and not turning around and buying more books!

Day 7: I am thankful for

Day 8: I am thankful

Day 9: I am thankful for friends who extend grace to me. I kind of close up and become a recluse in July. If you’ve followed this for any amount of time you might have picked up on that pattern. I am thankful for friends who refuse to let me do that to myself and my kids. Friends who meet me at the park to drop of pillows and mugs; friends who bring lunch and offer to watch the kids so I can have some silence; friends who make it a point to have an adventure each week so they know I’m getting out of the house.

Day 10: I am thankful for a garden to weed. I’m sure you noticed the Gratitude Journal kind of went MIA in June. It’s not that I wasn’t thankful for things — it’s about not realizing when I’m falling into a funk and needing to call time out. July is a hard month for me. I’m trying to write about it, but right now the words are stuck in my chest and trying to push them out makes it hard to breathe. The going is a slow process, one that I know is necessary. It’s like weeding my neglected garden. There is a 20 X 60 patch of land on our half acre that needs to be weeded more than once a week. I know this, yet I haven’t made it a priority to go out and do it. The weeds are thriving! This next week I have promised to go out and clear the weeds away from the plants I want. The same thing needs to happen in my emotional life. It will be a slow and uncomfortable process for both. The good news is that the weeds don’t care if I cry or yell at them, so it will be the perfect place to try to work this knot in my chest out.

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